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Defy Media Is Shutting Down, Will Lay Off Employees

UPDATED: Defy Media, the digital media company whose brands include Smosh and Clevver, is shutting down operations and laying off its employees.

“Regretfully, Defy Media has ceased operations today,” the company said in a statement released Tuesday evening. “We are extremely proud of what we accomplished here at Defy and in particular want to thank all the employees who worked here. We deeply regret the impact that this has had on them today… Unfortunately, market conditions got in the way of us completing our mission.”

The company at one point reported having nearly 400 employees. Defy did not confirm its current headcount, which has shrunk in recent months as it pared back the business in the hopes of staying afloat.

The company’s in-house studios had produced 75 regularly scheduled shows. It’s not clear what will happen to the Defy brands going forward, but the company indicated it’s seeking buyers or partners for the properties. Defy’s brands, which include Smosh, Smosh Games, Clevver, AWEme, Break and Made Man, have more than 140 million followers across YouTube and social media, according to the company.

“Our main focus right now is to find homes for these great brands and people so that they can continue to thrill and delight their millions of viewers with as little interruption as possible,” Defy said in its statement.

Ian Hecox, co-founder of comedy group Smosh, said in a tweet Tuesday that the Smosh team is in the process of “finding a new home.”

Defy Media’s shutdown “doesn’t mean Smosh is going away,” Hecox wrote. “We’re already in the process of finding a new home and will update you all as soon as we can.” He formed Smosh in 2006 together with his longtime friend Anthony Padilla, who left the group last year to pursue a solo career.

Clevver executive producer and host Joslyn Davis posted a similar statement on Twitter saying the lifestyle and pop-culture outlet hopes to land somewhere else. “Making awesome videos for you guys is our number one priority, and we’re hoping to have exciting news to share with you soon!” she tweeted.

The official confirmation of Defy’s shuttering came after word earlier Tuesday that the New York-based company was closing its production facility in Beverly Hills and would lay off all employees at the location by the end of the year. Per notices sent to Defy employees, the Beverly Hills office at 8750 Wilshire Blvd. will be closed effective Jan. 2, 2019.

The company notified employees of the plans under the requirements of the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and California’s State Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. The closure of the L.A. office was first reported by Tubefilter.

Earlier Tuesday, a staffer who answered the L.A. number for the company said she was unable to provide any info on the closure. Calls placed to the main phone number listed for Defy Media’s New York office were answered with a recorded message: “The Google subscriber you have called is not available.”

The shutdown of Defy comes after a series of cutbacks and divestitures by the company. This past March, Defy laid off 8% of its workforce, exiting its programmatic advertising and video licensing and syndication businesses. Then in July, the company sold its long-languishing The Escapist video-game website to Canada’s Enthusiast Gaming and also announced a deal with Fandom to sell Screen Junkies, its entertainment news and parody property.

Defy Media was formed through the merger of Alloy Digital and Break Media in 2013. Two years ago, the company announced $70 million in funding led by Wellington Management Co. Previous investors include ABS Capital, Lionsgate, Viacom and Zelnick Media Capital.

Defy distributed its original programming across more than 25 video platforms, including YouTube, subscription VOD services and TV networks.

Defy’s website currently lists seven job openings for its Beverly Hills location, including for a VP of brand and content strategy, a post-production supervisor, and a supervising producer.

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