Business development

After a slew of staffing changes, Poptent merged with a UK company and is now called Vizy

The last of Poptent's four original founders stepped away from the company in 2014. One cofounder compared it to watching a child go off to college. “Our work is done,” he said. The company's Philly future is unclear.

When Poptent moved into its Center City office in early 2014. (Courtesy photo)

Crowdsourced video production network Poptent merged with a European company called Userfarm last January. The new company is called Vizy. The merger allowed both companies to increase their global footprint, CEO Nick Pahade, who is now Vizy’s CEO, told Venturebeat. Vizy plans to launch a new platform in the coming weeks. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
The merger feels like the clincher after a series of personnel changes in 2014, including the last of Poptent’s original cofounders stepping away from the company.
All Poptent’s employees at the time of the merger moved over to Vizy, Pahade said through a spokeswoman, and employees still work out of the company’s 2401 Walnut Street office (Mayor Michael Nutter cut the ribbon on the new office in early 2014, celebrating their move from Conshohocken).
Pahade, who joined the company in 2013, declined to share how many full-time staffers Poptent employed at the time of the merger. He also declined to share how many currently work out of the Philadelphia office. (As of early 2014, about half the company’s 46 employees worked in the Center City office, while the rest were spread between cities like San Clemente, Calif., New York City and Dallas.)
A number of employees, including those who held leadership positions, left Poptent in 2014 before the merger, according to LinkedIn. Those include

  • CTO Sandy Dondici, who’s now at Facebook,
  • Director of Business Development Mark Schoneveld, who runs popular music blog YVYNL and currently looking for his next venture,
  • VP of Sales Christa Phillips, who’s now at Maker Studios,
  • Director of Technology Jason Johnson, who’s now at LinkedIn and
  • VP of Product and Technology Tim Breslin, who’s now the SVP of Product and Technology at The Onion.

When asked if Poptent laid people off before the merger, Pahade said, through a spokeswoman:

As a private company, Vizy doesn’t disclose the specifics of personnel changes. But, as directed by our board, we did make some adjustments, partly driven by redundancy due to the merger and the new offering, but also to be fiscally responsible to the business and our shareholders.

When it was still Poptent, the company had raised $10 million, according to SEC filings. At least $8.5 million of that were from rounds led by MK Capital, which has offices in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Mich., and Santa Monica, Calif. Two MK Capital partners — Mark Koulegeorge and Karen Buckner — are on Vizy’s board, a spokeswoman said.
Other board members include

  • Pahade,
  • former Userfarm CEO and now Vizy General Manager Bruno Pellegrini,
  • TL Capital partner Ido Sum and
  • Innogest Capital partner Stefano Molino.

(TL and Innogest are European venture capital firms that invested in Userfarm.)
The board has seen an upheaval since 2010 — the only remaining board member from that time is MK Capital’s Koulegeorge. None of Poptent’s four original founders are associated with the company anymore (one has even scrubbed his online profile of the company). When asked about the founders leaving the company, cofounder Neil Perry, who left the company in 2013 and now works in consulting and recruiting, said it was the next step in Poptent’s growth.
He wrote:

It’s sort of like a parent of a college aged child…you watch them grow, guide them, make sure they are on the straight and narrow … but when it’s time to go to college, you have to let them go. The Founding team proved the concept and build the core company, but Nick [Pahade] and his team now need to take it to greater heights with an international focus. Our work is done.

Perry is the reason the company landed in Philadelphia. Cofounder Rich Parkhill, who came up with the idea and initial funding for Poptent, asked Perry if he wanted to run the company, and Perry said yes, as long as he could run it out of Philly, where he was living.
Will Poptent keep a Philly presence going forward? If we’re going by CEO location, it’s unclear.
Pahade, who lists New York City as his location on LinkedIn and works out of both Philly and New York offices, did not respond to our question about where he lived, though this 2013 article places him in Princeton.
Here’s a quick recap of the comings and goings of former company management:

  • Poptent appointed a new CEO in 2010 (Andy Jedynak, who’s now running a San Diego startup called NeuroGym). He was replaced in 2013 by Pahade.
  • Parkhill, former chairman of the board, left the board in the fall of 2014 and now runs a West Coast company called VMA Media.
  • Cofounder Richard Bruck, listed as a Poptent executive and board member on SEC filings, no longer lists Poptent on his LinkedIn. His Poptent user profile describes him as the company’s secretary and general counsel.
  • Cofounder Tony Romeo left the company in the spring of 2014 and now does consulting.

Back in 2012, when the company announced a $5.5 million round of funding, the company said it had ambitious plans to double its staff to 70, though in early 2014, those plans seemed to have been dialed back, as Poptent employed 46.

Companies: Poptent
People: Mark Schoneveld

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