It’s More Like Undead Universe

I’ve been debating posting about this because I’ve been afraid that it will come back to haunt me in some way. But frankly, if complaining about inconveniences and speculating about other peoples business on the Internet is wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

Here’s my question: When is a company dead? When can you bury it?

I’m thinking specifically of LiveUniverse. The company was started by Brad Greenspan, who was one of the original backers behind MySpace. LiveUniverse is basically a roll-up of media websites tied to an ad network. Not a terrible business model, but the media websites themselves have to draw traffic, and they just haven’t been in the top tier.

For example, they bought the startup I used to work for, MeeVee. By total coincidence, I was departing MeeVee at the same time, so LiveUniverse only had me in its employ for one day.

They were supposed to send me some kind of paperwork about my stock options, but they never did. I don’t mind, since the odds of them being worth anything were never very good, and are worse now. That was probably the first sign of trouble. There were others, later, but I won’t bore you.

The big question mark came about a month ago, when Brad Greenspan was forced to issue a press release insisting that the company is doing fine, despite their websites all disappearing for couple days. Both major service outages and press releases saying there’s nothing wrong are big signs that something’s wrong, but website outages can happen to the best of us.

Worse signs are things like failing to send out W2s to former employees. Sure, paperwork can get lost in an acquisition, but really, your payroll provider should handle that paperwork for you. Obviously, I didn’t get my tax paperwork.

When I called to inquire about it, I found that their phone had been disconnected. That’s kind of a bad sign. Although I suppose it’s possible their website just has a typo on the “Contact Us” page.

More likely, LiveUniverse seems to be totally dead.

The only thing is, there’s been no obituary. No notice of going under. Their websites are, in fact, still loading, although the content hasn’t been updated in awhile and the TV listings on MeeVee are all broken.

TechCrunch had a post awhile back in which they asserted that death was at hand, but comments and updates disputed it. No mention in the Wikipedia page about Brad. No bankruptcy filings. Just… silence.

If a company goes under and TechCrunch isn’t there to gloat, is it still in business?

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