A number of sources have told Video Ad News they haven’t been been paid by Say Media, with some debts going back to last Autumn. Say Media was once the VideoEgg ad network, but when it acquired blogging platform Six Apart it took on the Say Media name. The company was one of the first ‘platishers’ that aimed to combine tech and publishing, and included sites like xoJane and ReadWrite in its portfolio. Say Media sold its owned and operated content sites in 2014 to focus on its Tempest content management system, whose publishers use Say Media for monetisation.
Video Ad News has seen a letter one customer received offering either a cash settlement of just 20 cents for each dollar they were owed if the amount was under $10,000, but if the amount was over $10,000, just 15 cents on each dollar would be paid. However, if the creditor was willing to wait for the funding from a ‘strategic financing’, they could expect to receive 35 cents for each dollar owed.
Say Media have raised $54 million in five rounds, and investors include include WPP, First Round Ventures, August Capital, New Enterprise Associates, Koh Founders, Rose Tech Ventures, Shea Ventures and Maveron.
There are various reasons Say Media could be struggling. Firstly, while they should be lauded for their attempts at innovation, it seems they have made one too many pivots and have struggled to find a sustainable and scalable model. Say Media went from ad network, to having owned and operated sites alongside technology, to offering a CMS with monetisation. However, one major blow to the company was when a minority investor, Relativity Media, (who was also a customer) went bankrupt last July, in what was one of Hollywood’s most high profile bankruptcies.
Relativity Media, a Hollywood studio which has co-financed movies such as Fast & Furious 6, Bridesmaids, Salt and The Social Network, filed for bankruptcy at a time when it still owed Say Media $1.5 million (as an aside, agency Carat USA were also badly hit by the same bankruptcy and were owed $36 million). The company’s bankruptcy filing last July also revealed more than $1.2 billion in total debt versus assets of nearly $560 million.
Michelle Panzer, Say Media’s VP of Global Marketing and Brand Development, told Video Ad News, “It’s certainly no secret that the bankruptcy of Relativity Media negatively impacted a ton of good, strong companies – including ours. I’m not going to get into the specifics of how we’re handling any debt from that period, but will emphasize it’s not at all a reflection of our core or current business. We’re still committed to working hard for our customers and partners, we’re still a strong, strategic choice in market, we’re still running business as usual and we’re still singularly focused on providing great products and services to advertisers and publishers.”