Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Hits Just Keep on Coming...

Lots of interesting news from the Anime Economatrix today:

"The Publishers Weekly trade magazine reports that the North American manga and anime publisher Viz Media has laid off up to 55 people at its San Francisco headquarters and closed its New York branch, which had five employees. According to the magazine, the layoffs represents about 40% of the publisher's workforce. Viz confirmed the layoffs with Publishers Weekly on Tuesday, but not the number of layoffs."

Wow, 40% of their staff. This will be the second big downsizing for Viz in the last 18 months, but the last time they only let go a dozen or so people. We all know what going on in general with manga, but on the Video side they have only themselves to blame. The switch in marketing and distribution last spring from S&S to Warner effectively killed their video line in the direct market (that's the domain of guys like us and Nation and Brand X), and the sacrifice was in vain because the mass market sales they were hoping for have not materialized. The effects of that move are probably transparent to most of you folks, but it causes us pain every day because Warner makes it SOOOO hard to sell Viz Video, and we service the market they need to build from. That's life I suppose, but I do feel very bad for the folks that had to loose their jobs because of it.

Also being reported today, and not a surprise at all to us, is that manga publisher Go Comi! has finally been put to bed:

The North American manga publishing company Go! Comi has let its website domain expire as of May 8. Former Go! Comi Creative Director Audry Taylor has also told ANN that she is no longer working at the company. According to retailers, the last volume of manga published by Go! Comi had shipped in October of 2009. The website had shut down its user forums in April. Go! Comi's Twitter account has also been deleted. A Google cache of the website from April 8 indicates that its last Twitter update was on February 1. Go! Comi had posted an update on its web forum regarding the status of the company and its publications in January. In the post, the site administrator apologized for the company's delays and explained that the company was being hit hard "due to a combination of economic downturn and digital theft." The post also said Go! Comi may need to scale back on its website and online community or may need to shut it down altogether "until the economy picks up again."

But the economy never did pick up again, and now they are gone. Like I always say - "old Anime companies never die, they just fade away". Sometimes that's true.

It looks like 4Kid's, while still hanging on, needs an angel investor [really] fast:

"4Kids lost $3.5 million in its first quarter, representing deterioration from the $2 million loss in its Q1 a year ago. Sales were $4.2 million, down from $9.3 million a year ago. Revenues were challenged in a number of areas. The company reported “substantially no revenue” from the Chaotic TCG in Q1, and acknowledged that “over-all lack of demand for the Chaotic property” required 4Kids to grant $300,000 in allowances and promotional markdowns on Chaotic during Q1. Other drop-offs included reductions in licensing on Monster Jam and AKC Properties; the elimination of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles revenues as a result of the sale of the property; reduced international sales of Dinosaur King and Yu-Gi-Oh! TV shows; and reductions in advertising on its TV show and Websites, including make goods from Q4... ...4Kids is in danger of having its stock delisted by the New York Stock Exchange because its market cap is too low. Kahn did not offer any hope in the company’s conference call that he would be able to get the company’s stock price up in time to avoid the delisting. If the company’s stock is delisted from the NYSE, it would trade on pink sheets. "

When you start looking at quarterly losses comparable to gross revenue, you know it's all over. 4Kids is a classic example of a company where management got a few hits early on and then had no clue where to invest those new found riches, so they spent years throwing darts at a board until they ran out of money. Chaotic is a great example. Holy crap Batman, what were they thinking?! Hopefully Al Kahn has a good parachute clause in his contract.

And finally - OMG! - Stu Levy has dreamed up yet another HAIR BRAINED SCHEME to try to promote his Manga brand. You just can't make stuff like this up:

"The North American manga publisher Tokyopop will be touring the U.S. this summer to promote the company and film a reality show called "America's Greatest Otaku," in which Tokyopop CEO Stu Levy, Associate Producer Daisuke Kinouchi, and six interns will "search America for the #1 otaku." The tour will visit conventions, bookstores and libraries across America and interview fans competing for the title. Tokyopop had been searching for someone to be the tour's manager. Tokyopop has also launched a dedicated website for the tour."

Geeeze Stu, everyone already knows that I'm America's '#1 Otaku'. For crying out loud, I'd really have to be wouldn't I? -_^ Just send your film crew here and save the plane fair everywhere else. Based on how hard it is to get back stock on your books, you guys clearly need the money anyway...

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