On Wednesday, MBW asked, ‘What on earth is going on at CÜR Media?’
Now we know exactly what’s going on. And it makes for grim reading.
We can now confirm that interim CEO & Chairman Jim Urie resigned from the streaming music company last week (August 12), just three months after joining.
He was not alone. Director Sanjan Dhody resigned as a member of the company’s Board a day earlier (August 11).
Then, on Tuesday (August 16), the company laid off all employees.
Also gone are CFO and Treasurer Kelly Sardo (who continues to serve as Secretary), Chief Strategy Officer William Campbell, Chief Operating Officer John Egazarian, Chief Marketing Officer J.P. Lespinasse, Chief Technology Officer Michael Betts and Chief Content Officer Joseph LaPlante.
CÜR has now admitted that it doesn’t have enough cash to meet its operating needs.
It says that “we intend to seek, investigate and, if such investigation warrants, engage in a business transaction that presents an opportunity for our security holders”.
If CÜR collapses, it will be a dark day for the music tech sector, and for the music industry at large.
MBW has combed through CÜR’s history of investment for a product that was first scheduled to arrive in 2014, then 2015, and now this year – but has never publicly materialized.
We’ve discovered that over the past three years alone, CÜR Media has raised more than $21m through a combination of stock sales, warrant exercise offers and debt.
That’s $3m more than UK startup Crowdmix generated before it ignominiously fell into administration last month.
As MBW reported earlier this week, CÜR failed to file its quarterly 10-Q form with the SEC on Monday (August 15), which would display its fiscal performance in the three months to end of June.
The company requested a postponement due to “unreasonable effort or expense”.
Instead, we’ve sifted through CÜR’s last available quarterly filing, for the three months to the end of March, for clues about its financial health.
Across the quarter (Q1 2016), CÜR’s total operating expenses stood at $2.27m – an average expenditure in excess of three-quarters of a million dollars every month.
With no product publicly launched, CÜR posted zero revenues in the period.
Its net loss across the three months: $1.006m.
Even more worryingly, CÜR spent the $734,000 in cash it had left the kitty – appearing to leave it with no spare money.
However, a month later – in April this year – CÜR secured itself a lifeline.
It raised $2,060,000 in debt (Convertible Promissory Notes) at a 12% interest rate – of which $255,060 came from members of its own board.
This money followed another debt raise of $2,113,500 (Convertible Promissory Notes) during the four months to January 2016 – of which $586,000 came from members of its own board.
It doesn’t take a genius to do the maths: remember that CÜR burned through $2.27m in operating expenses in the three months to end of March.
In April, with no cash, it then raised $2.06m in convertible debt.
One of those numbers is bigger than the other. It’s since run out of money.
In its end-of-March SEC filing, CÜR’s board admitted that, without a big whack of extra funding, it had “substantial doubt about the ability of the Company to continue as a going concern”.
It remained optimistic that a Q3 launch for CÜR Music – billed as a “streaming music experience that intersects Pandora and Spotify” – was a possibility, but not without “an additional $15-20 million” in investment.
That, for a product yet to directly generate any money, seems a big ask.
According to MBW’s research, CÜR Media has raised in excess of $21m in cash over the past three years.
This has come across a range of activity, including:
- $4.075m in private placement offering, as CUR Media bought Raditaz, LLC and took it public (January 2014)
- $9.6 million in total equity financing, through the sale of 9,630,000 units at a price of $1.00 per share (March 2014)
- $3.23 million from a warrant exercise offer, which it said would be used for “potential payments to music labels” (April 2015)
- $2.1m in convertible promissory notes, as mentioned above (between Oct 2015 and Jan 2016)
- $2.6m raised in convertible promissory notes, as mentioned above, from investors including Intuitive Venture Partners and Katalyst Securities (April 2016)
Frankly, this is looking like another disaster for the reputation of the music tech sector in 2016.
After the shame of Crowdmix, trust in music startups from the investment community will surely plummet through the floor.
The most galling thing for the music business, however, will be how little actual money it has seen from the entire CÜR exercise.
Last year, CÜR inked licensing deals with Universal, Sony and Warner for use of their content – for a combination of cash and equity.
According to CÜR’s later SEC filings, it agreed to pay $14m to publishers and labels in the first year of the agreements, of which approximately $8m was due on January 31, 2016.
It also agreed to pay $25.5m in the second year of the agreements, and $18.5m in the third year of the agreements; a total of $58m.
That initial $8m payment, though, never arrived.
Eventually, in April this year – using a quarter of its latest debt-raise cash – CÜR handed over just $500,000 to rightsholders.
As far as we know, this was the last money the music industry saw from a startup which has raised 42 times that amount in under three years.Music Business Worldwide