Update 7/10 at 12:34 pm ET
Since our initial report, All Def Digital CEO Chris Blackwell told Variety that the company isn’t folding, but is undergoing a major restructuring “in advance of a strategic deal.” Reached by email, ADD general manager Jon Scarlett declined to comment as to how many layoffs have been conducted, whether the company is leaving its Los Angeles offices, and whether it is looking to sell its digital properties.
Rolling Stone reported yesterday that ADD “abruptly laid off its whole staff” on July 2. The outlet talked to six former employees who called the company “the epitome of toxic work culture,” and said that it had been run to the ground by mismanagement.
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All Def Digital (ADD) — the digital entertainment brand founded in 2013 by hip hop entrepreneur Russell Simmons, which produces urban music, comedy, spoken-word content, and more — is shuttering, multiple sources have confirmed to Tubefilter.
Sources say that layoffs have been widely administered, and that executives from a business advisory firm arrived at ADD’s Los Angeles offices this week to divvy up assets, including its digital properties.
Simmons, co-founder of the iconic Def Jam Recordings music label as well as the Phat Farm clothing brand, was accused of sexual assault by multiple women beginning in 2017, and subsequently said that he was stepping away from ADD and his other business and charity ventures in Nov. 2017. Simmons denied the allegations of assault, stating that he has “never been abusive or violent in any way in my relations with women,” and explaining that he’d stepped down so as not to become “a distraction.”
Two months prior to that decision, ADD CEO Sanjay Sharma departed his post to launch his own digital media venture, whereupon day-to-day management duties at the company were assumed by Osman Eralp, a longtime Simmons associate.
The ADD YouTube channel (4.1 million subscribers, and recently clocking 20 million monthly views) is still live, but hasn’t posted any new content in five days. The company’s Facebook page (4.9 million followers) and Instagram channel (489,000 followers) appear to be active, though its Twitter account is suspended.
ADD launched as a YouTube channel in 2013 in collaboration with AwesomenessTV (which was then owned by DreamWorks Animation). Eventually, the brand came to develop content for a whole host of different distribution venues, including HBO, Facebook, Spotify (Traffic Jams), linear television (World Star TV), and feature films available for digital download (Major Deal). In April 2016, the company launched a branded content studio called ADHD.
ADD raised a $5 million Series A funding round led by Greycroft Partners in Aug. 2014, and then raised another $10 million — in a round led by venture capital firm Third Wave Digital — in June 2016, bringing total funds raised to $15 million.