Crispy Gamer, a game media company that raised $8.25 million, self-destructed today. The company’s board of directors fired all of the online game site’s editorial staff. Then its chief executive quit in protest, according to the game news site Joystiq.
Just a month ago, Crispy Gamer bought GamerDNA, a social networking service for gamers, to increase engagement with its community. But now the company has imploded. Staffers affected include writers Kyle Orland, Scott Jones, John Teti, Evan Narcisse, James Fudge, Ryan Kuo, Managing Editor Elise Vogel, and Chief Marketing Officer Anne Mischler. CEO Chris Heldman quit; and co-founder John Keefer had left earlier (back in September) for Game Politics.
It’s too bad. I liked the site and its consumer-friendly approach to game journalism and reviews. The company vowed not to take advertising money from game companies and it strived to produce independent editorial content. The mistake was that it probably raised too much money and the expectations were too high. After all, it was one game media site among many.
I raised my eyebrows when I had heard that Crispy Gamer had raised $8.25 million from J.P. Morgan’s ConstellationVentures. When you raise that kind of money, investors expect a big return. The traffic trend from Compete.com doesn’t look so good (right). It’s unclear what is going to happen with the site and GamerDNA.
One of Crispy Gamer’s most popular stories to date carried the headline, “The 10 people we hope shut the f*** up at this year’s E3.” The story generated considerable conversation, Keefer said, including dialogue with the people targeted in the article for their outlandish promises. It’s a shame to lose that kind of independent voice in the video game industry.