Fandor, the independent-film streaming service, has laid off nearly all of its employees and sold off its assets, Variety has learned.
Reached for comment, Fandor CEO/chairman Chris Kelly sent a statement in which he said Fandor has a deal in place that will let a “new entity” continue to operate the service. He declined to identify the entity that now controls Fandor.
GlassRatner Advisory & Capital Group, a unit of B. Riley Financial, is advising the new owner of the Fandor assets.
“We have completed a transaction that allows a new entity to seek to continue the service under different management,” Kelly’s statement said. “This is of course a disappointing outcome for all who have contributed to and embraced our mission to date. We continue to hope that the prospect of reaching diverse audiences with great visual storytelling will inspire creators everywhere.”
“Fandor has prided itself on providing access to great film and visual expression to a broad audience. While we have had notable successes, the business challenges of the space we have operated in are immense,” Kelly said in the statement.
According to sources, Kelly — who had been Fandor’s principal investor– on Wednesday (Dec. 5) informed Fandor’s staff that a round of financing the company had been trying to secure to keep the doors open had fallen through. As a result, most of Fandor’s employees, about 40 people, were let go.
“There were cutbacks before Thanksgiving but nobody was expecting this,” a source told Variety.
Fandor’s streaming service has offered a selection of 4,000 independent films, international movies, documentaries and classic movies starting at $5.99 per month. Fandor had been planning a relaunch of the service in January 2019 with refreshed apps, along with a new lineup of international and independent TV shows as well as expanded editorial content.
The Fandor layoffs come after WarnerMedia’s FilmStruck closed down, effective Nov. 29, with the company saying it had been “largely a niche service” and indicating WarnerMedia would pour its resources into a new, broader subscription VOD service launching in 2019.
, Fandor had launched a special discount offer targeted at FilmStruck customers. Last month, Criterion Collection, which had an exclusive distribution deal with FilmStruck, announced plans to roll out a direct-to-consumer streaming service.
Kelly, who previously was Facebook’s first general counsel and chief privacy officer, originally invested in Fandor in 2011. He also is part owner of the Sacramento Kings.
Kelly took over the CEO role in October after the departure of Larry Aidem, who left Fandor last month after more than three years as CEO to join tech investment and consulting firm Reverb Advisors.