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HBO turns down the volume

Missing the Mark

Volume.com has been emitting mixed signals.

Though the site has yet to launch, the company laid off about 30% of its workforce, letting 20 editors and producers go. Though many would view the layoffs as signifying financial troubles, CEO Kevin Dowdell says the newly restructured company is “healthier than ever” with a “leaner meaner business model” and a “much lower cost structure.”

The New York-based site, which plans to offer “community, content and commerce” for Gen X and Gen Y urban audiences, was formed this past year and funded by HBO, a subsid of Time Warner. The cabler has received abundant accolades from critically acclaimed shows “Sex and the City,” “Oz” and “The Sopranos,” but has not enjoyed the same success online.

Last spring, the site reportedly began experiencing labor pains, with the staff bickering about the focus and amount of site’s content.

“That certainly never came to my attention,” says Dowdell, dismissing the reports as gossip from former employees. “But I presume that there are always healthy debates and people challenging what we are doing in order to make decisions. It was nothing out of the ordinary at all.”

Nevertheless, the site suffered a significant setback when McLean Greaves, Volume.com’s content chief, resigned. Dowdell declined to comment on the reasons surrounding Greaves’ departure, only to say that it was a “mutual agreement.”

Dowdell says that Volume.com is moving forward as planned, but can’t commit to a concrete launch date. “By reducing staff it will take us a little longer to launch,” he says. “But not much longer.”

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