The Great Radical Entertainment Layoff (aka Black Tuesday)

I found out this morning that I’m worth keeping. Needless to say, this is a big boost to not only my esteem, but also my ego.

What’s all this stemming from? The Radical restructuring. Today will forever be known as “Black Tuesday” within the walls here at Radical. Today will be an example of why we hate Disney.

A couple of years ago, Radical negotiated a contract with ESPN, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the American Broadcast Corporation, who happens to be owned by Disney. We were making (and were in the process of making) games for ESPN Digital Games — a venture between us and ESPN. We had three: Hockey, basketball, and a snowboarding game.

A couple of weeks ago, we got the bad news — Disney said “no”. We weren’t allowed to try a publish them. TRY. It was like talking to Yoda: “Do or do not, there is no try.” Someone (dunno who) believed we were incapable. We had been gearing up for publishing for quite a while (which is why we have an office in San Francisco, and are technically an American company, so investors won’t be spooked). Either way, it doesn’t matter — we aren’t doing jack with ESPN anymore.

Unfortunately, ESPN was our major revenue stream. In other words, we’re screwed. And that’s what brought us to today. We’re closing the San Francisco office. We’ve released our CEO and CFO (much to the delight of everyone here). But we also had to release about 50 people here. That didn’t go over so well.

We knew this was coming. We’ve known for a couple of weeks. It’s like walking on broken glass around here. You feel like there’s a sniper ready to take you out at a single command. Okay, *I* felt that way. Most of Pure3D is safe — they’re pretty bulletproof. Well, almost all of them.

Greg James and Nenad Ukropina weren’t. I thought I was a goner, for sure. Resume ready to roll at a moment’s notice. Not that I wanted to leave, but I needed to be ready to bail if the plane started diving.

Pure3D actually had private meetings to plan our escape, should things go really bad. Tim’s a Big Guy here — he knows almost everything. But even he sounded worried. (Either that, or he’s utter brilliant at getting us to think along safety lines.) We worked out a plan of attack — five of them, actually, Option A through Option E. These various plans went from things going according to plan, to Pure3D leaving as a team and going somewhere else (this was “Option D”, a running joke for several weeks before and after “Black Tuesday”), to casting off to the four winds.

This morning, we were all called to the lounge for a short meeting. It was a short meeting. It went kinda like this:

Management: Good morning. We’ll keep this short. We have to release about 50 people so that we can keep the company afloat.
Us: (To ourselves) Oh boy…
Management: When you return to your desks, some of you will have email. If you do, please return here with your personal effects immediately.
Us: (Pure stunned silence.)
Management: You will have to turn in your keys and anything else that belongs to Radical. You will then be escorted from the building.
Us: (Pure stunned silence.)
Management: Thank you.

You could have told us this would happen, and we wouldn’t have believed you. No way in a million years would we have guessed that this was how they were going to deal with the issue. It almost felt like Nazis had replaced our cool management team overnight with a bunch of assholes.

Tim wasn’t in a good mood. I don’t blame him. He didn’t want to do what had to be done, and I know he didn’t like what had to be done. Radical did the only thing they could — remove the people before their anger did anything damaging. It was possible, though nothing seems to have happened … yet. The day’s long from over.

Lunch will be an interesing one. I’m certain there will be talk. Mostly about Option D. We have no idea what’s going on, or what will happen in the coming days, let alone weeks and months. I think I’d better keep my parachute ready…

2 thoughts on “The Great Radical Entertainment Layoff (aka Black Tuesday)”

  1. Hi,

    I dunno who this is, but yeah I was there… through both layoffs… lotsa bitter sweet feelings…… good things sprouted from all of it, in the end.

    It brought back memories reading your words.

    Just thought I should drop you a line,

    jen

  2. I was there that day too. I just remember the atmosphere and morale being so miserable for the month before and a couple of months after. But mostly I remember Radical in that era being an awesome place to work. Lots of really great people.

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