SpiralFrog caught in death spiral?

SpiralFrog — a startup that said it would launch a music-download service supported totally by advertising — seems to be on the verge of joining the Web 2.0 dead pool, according to this report from Cnet. There had already been reports a week or so ago (which started on a music message board) that the CEO had been ousted. Now it seems several senior executives and board members have also gotten the boot or otherwise headed for the elevator.

From the sounds of it, there was a large-scale management walkout. The story says that “three directors with strong music-industry ties resigned almost immediately after Kent’s departure,” and that in the days following that, “more directors walked out, as well at least six members of SpiralFrog’s senior executive team, including the chief marketing, strategy and operating officers.” Apparently the founder has stepped in and still plans to launch.


SpiralFrog got a lot of attention last fall because it was pitching a completely ad-supported service, and also because it had reportedly signed an agreement with Universal Music Group, one of the four globe-spanning record companies, and that was seen as giving the idea a tremendous amount of legitimacy. But the proposed launch date of December passed by without a peep from the company. The CEO then failed to appear at the MidemNet music conference on the weekend.

As Mike Arrington has written over at TechCrunch, and Steve Rubel writes here, the number of Web 2.0 companies (and I use that term loosely) that have either failed or are on life support continues to grow, including FilmLoop, Browster and others. But many of those were features rather than companies.

What I’d really like to know about SpiralFrog is what caused all those executives and officers to leave en masse (something that wasn’t a surprise to several people). Was it a lack of confidence in the company’s financial health? Meddling by the record companies? Personal issues? There’s obviously a lot more to this story. Cynthia Brumfield of IPDemocracy has some thoughts here.

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