There are two commercial P2P stores which, if they were to succeed, would probably be the epicenter of file-sharing marketing – BitTorrent’s BEN (BitTorrent Entertainment Network) and Vuze’s HD Network. Both BitTorrent, Inc. and Vuze (the BitTorrent client formerly known as Azureus) have two very important attributes going in their favor: they are both trusted by their respective communities, and they both have impressive populations following them. Certainly, with millions of individuals using both clients, it shouldn’t be so hard to translate just a fraction of them into paying customers, right?
To say that either store or company has been unsuccessful would be flat out wrong. Both BitTorrent, Inc. and Vuze have gained a certain level of traction since their inception. According to NewTeeVee, Vuze has started to abandon its paid content in exchange for ad-supported downloads. Additionally, Vice President of marketing, John Fernandez told NewTeeVee
that revenue has increased 5 fold since April, and expects to break even in 2009. Not bad considering the dismal state of the economy. Both BitTorrent and Vuze have been able to generate impressive capital as well, an indication that venturists have faith that the platforms could be successful in the future.
But the future is where things could get dicey. Both Vuze and BitTorrent, Inc. have gone through at least two rounds of layoffs this year. Vuze laid off 12 individuals in both April and August of this year, while BitTorrent, Inc. laid off
20% of its staff in August, and half its remaining employees
earlier this week. That leaves BitTorrent with around 20 employees – not to mention the loss of President and co-founder Ashwin Navin, who gave the company an identity and consistent message.
Now we’re left with a BitTorrent, Inc. with an uncertain future. Its management has been shaken up, including the announcement
of a new CEO on November 7th. By replacing the CEO with a former CTO, the move appears to focus the company more on the technology side of BitTorrent, rather than the BEN. The NY Times report stated that a company insider divulged the BEN might be completely shelved. We’ll see.
It remains to be seen how BitTorrent, Inc. and Vuze emerge from their current economic situations. A turn around in the world economy may change the fortunes for both companies. But to put the trouble that commercial P2P is in right now, think of it like this. If The Pirate Bay, BitTorrent, Inc. and Vuze were all hiring right now, which would you submit your application to?