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Topspin Lays Off Half Its Staff…

topspinhalf

It was one of the most heavily-hyped, overblown startups of the last ten years.  Now, Topspin could be crashing: according to sources now ‘outside’ the company, Topspin is executing massive layoffs amidst continued investor unhappiness and financial concerns.  At this point, everyone’s talking except the company itself: we don’t have exact numbers or percentages, but it looks like Topspin is chopping half or more of its entire staff.

That includes head of operations Brad Barrish, the highest-ranking layoff confirmed (please fill in more names below).

Others have already jumped ship, including senior VP Bob Moczydlowsky, who exited the company last year for Twitter Music.  But the most troubling defection came from CEO Ian Rogers, who effectively abandoned Topspin to head the sexier Beats Music (Rogers remains on the Board; while Jeremy Bellinghausen assumed the position of CEO).

The development follows two important deals for Topspin: one with Spotify, and the other with Beats itself.  Now, both of those companies face the prospect of  a dying partner.

billboardhype

The warning signs on Topspin have been percolating for years.  Back in 2011, investors shared details of early unrest and broader competitive difficulties with Digital Music News.  At that point, efforts to reduce and de-risk invested capital appeared underway, with investors reconsidering whether solid returns would ever materialize.  At the time, Rogers blasted Digital Music News for splashing ‘haterade’ and inaccuracies, though it now seems we had the facts basically correct.

“I am disappointed you’ve gone for the sensationalist angle instead of at least making a call to try to get the truth,” Rogers criticized, while effectively ending his relationship with this publication.   “Thankfully our business is great.  Our investors are very happy and I’d like to keep it that way.”

Less than two years later, Rogers was off to head Beats.

Brian O’Neal, head of media relations for Topspin, has declined to offer any comment.  More as it develops.

Image by Peter Woodman, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Comments (18)
  1. Joda

    Only people that don’t understand the business couldn’t see that one coming. They do have a great staff though. Hopefully they all land on their feet. It’s never cool for that many good people to be unemployed due to clueless leaders.


    Reply
  2. Anonymous

    Regardless of if people saw this coming or not, the sneer and satisfaction with which this article was written is sad.


    Reply
    1. Carlos

      Not so sure about that one. Companies point their guns pretty hard at DMN for not servin’ up the Kool Aid.


      Reply
      1. Paul Resnikoff

        I’ll say this on this topic:

        There’s a prevailing and popular attitude amongst many companies and executives that the way to deal with more critical media is to bully, obfuscate (or outright lie), and attempt to force coverage that fits the party line. Even if it’s not true at all.

        Some companies will take this strategy to extremes, and we’ve experienced the worst.

        Of course, I question this strategy, though the dark reality is that it seems to work in many cases. Sadly, I think a lot of publications get easily intimidated, and the tragic result is that coverage goes soggy and vanilla.

        So, I think this behavior deserves to be called out, in bold thank you very much. I’ll add more on the dialogue from Ian based on this.


        Reply
        1. Chris English

          “deal with more critical media is to bully, obfuscate (or outright lie), and attempt to force coverage that fits the party line”

          Reminds me of the cult that was once BurnLounge.


          Reply
  3. tippysdemise

    The people always seemed top-notch but Topspin’s backend/interface/functionality were a nightmare. Downright inscrutable for artists/managers without a tech degree or an inordinate amount of time. As simpler and more elegant direct-to-fan options kept appearing, Topspin just flatlined. They had big names, but those are the kind of artists who have a team of tech-types who could deal with the learning curve. Right intentions (tools to empower the masses), wrong product.


    Reply
  4. Jag

    Someone please tell me who Topspin is really for? If I’m a big artist my label won’t let me sell my stuff there. If I’m a small artist not enough people know about me to make much $$. It would seem this was only suited for the big artist without a current deal or the up-and-comer before they sign the big deal. Too niche to be impactful. Ian is a super smart guy but even he saw the end a while back.


    Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Wow. This article is filled with fabrications and inaccuracies from the headline to the last sentence. Sad to see DMN readers fed a story to read that is shoddy on the facts, at a minimum. Paul, you appear to have deceitful intentions, a disgruntled editor who was called out a long time ago.

    With Ian at Beats, who is trying to bully and intimidate you now, Paul? “There’s a prevailing and popular attitude amongst many companies and executives that the way to deal with more critical media is to bully, obfuscate (or outright lie), and attempt to force coverage that fits the party line. Even if it’s not true at all.” If you write lies, speculation and untruthiness, of course you should expect to get called out it. Your snear and satisfaction is clear.

    Stick with getting your facts correct and solid reportage (you know, check three sources to confirm data points) you would have a clear conscience. It seems a weak claim for you to be bridled as an editor by a ‘company’ trying to force coverage of false facts. Truth makes a solid backbone.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      I think the facts in this article and earlier articles stand up pretty well, thank you. And so does the research that went into obtaining those facts. And remember, Topspin was given ample opportunity to respond.

      Whether you (or your ego) like those facts is another question entirely.

      Be well.


      Reply
    2. Vail, CO

      Ian responds.


      Reply
  6. Anonymous

    I’m not Ian, Mr. Vail, CO. Not even a close guess.

    Paul, you admit in the article, “We don’t have exact numbers or percentages, but it looks like Topspin is chopping half or more of its entire staff.” If you don’t have the facts., how can you honestly tell your readers about the number?

    “research in obtaining those facts” “stand up pretty well.” Pretty well? The numbers are either right or WRONG. And what sources do you cite, Paul? Posting a few tweets from former employees? You don’t cite a single source other than two year old investor comments and you vomit up a note from Ian that is two years old? Other reports have the number at LESS than half yet you are saying ‘half or more.’ Who’s right? Not you.

    What are a few numbers anyway, right, Paul? Be well.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      I think you’re disagreeing more with the style of how this information is provided than anything else. This article does not pretend to know the exact number of people laid off, and the reason for that is that Topspin has publicly refused to state anything official on the matter.

      They are not a publicly traded company, and they don’t want bad news to spread.

      Here. DMN presents information from various sources who decided to talk after the layoff, and those assessments are as close as we will get for now. Read the article, that’s exactly how it’s presented. And it’s done in that way because Digital Music News readers are intelligent people: they can decide based on what we present.

      If I subscribed to your approach, which I obviously don’t, there wouldn’t even be an article to discuss. I’d be twiddling my thumbs waiting for an official statement or update, which may or may not happen (probably the latter).

      Sorry, DMN readers want to know what we know, right now. And I write based on that demand.


      Reply
  7. Joda

    The “sources” are the unemployed workers.

    Somewhere In LA, probably on the West Side, Ian is trying to struggle with his zipper because his boy Friday is too busy posting here instead of gently holding his balls as he takes a leak.


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Joda, you’re pretty funny. That might qualify you as a DMN reporter. You actually had something very worthy to say in your first comment, “Only people that don’t understand the business couldn’t see that one coming. They do have a great staff though. Hopefully they all land on their feet. It’s never cool for that many good people to be unemployed…”
      As a writer who covers this beat, I’m really only interested the truth in the number because I have been told differently by my “sources.” If you want to take to a personal level, what do you do…besides pretend to be a troll?


      Reply
      1. Anon5

        Says….wait for it….Anonymous!
        Likely still employed at Topspin, or just recently fired, and it hasn’t processed…


        Reply
        1. Anonymous

          wrong again, Anon5.


          Reply
  8. Anonymous

    Meanwhile, DMN has no news on Topspin. Way to go, DMN! You’re really on top of it.
    What, no tweets from former employees to quote?


    Reply

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