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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Peerflix/Live Universe is a deadbeat

Time to go public about this, as my online-movie-critiquing colleague Eric Snider has.

Almost exactly a year ago, I was approached by Peerflix, the DVD-trading company, which was setting up an advertising network geared to movie-related Web sites and wanted me to join up. The idea was that once enough respected movie-related sites were onboard, Peerflix would be able to go to advertisers with a big movie-related block of sites, and it would be Good Stuff for everyone involved: for webmasters like me, who’d maxmize the revenue-generating potential of our sites; for readers like you, because ads would be geared to stuff you might actually want to know about; and for advertisers, who would be able to get interested eyeballs in front of their ads. In the interim, while that network of quality sites was being assembled, Peerflix would guarantee a certain minimum level of ad revenue to webmasters. I agreed, even though that minimum was just barely above what I had been earning, on average, from the ad network I was with at the time, because the potential for greater earnings and ads that were more related to my content seemed promising.
Fast-forward to this summer. Everything had been fine: checks for the guaranteed-minimum were coming in regularly, even though, according to the reports Peerflix was sending, the actual revenue for my adspace hardly ever approached said minimum (part of the reason for that surely had to do more with the unfocused and repetitious quality of the ads, not with my traffic). But then Peerflix was bought out by Live Universe, a self-proclaimed “leading entertainment company.” As Eric explained, the checks stopped coming. At first, this didn’t seem too terrible: my Peerflix accounting contact asked me to submit new tax-reporting forms, and then said that payment would be slightly delayed. Fine: that’s what happens when companies take over other companies — there’s a bumpy transition period.

Fast-forward to today, though. I haven’t seen a check since July. I’m owed three months’ worth of that contractually guaranteed minimum, plus a prorated slice of that for October through this morning, when I finally said, Fuck it, and took down the Peerflix ads and replaced them with those of my prior ad network, which had never, ever stiffed me. It’s not an enornmous sum of money, as Live Universe would tally it — the company is still stressing in its media kit [warning: PDF] that it is “one of the world’s largest online entertainment networks,” with 56 million unique visitors per month and that it is “a top-tier solution for all of your advertising needs” — but it is almost the equivalent of a month’s rent on my apartment (before I pay self-employment-level taxes in that income, that is), which, you know, would come in quite handy right about now, with the first of the month barrelling down on us again.

So, not that I think it will have much impact at all on a company that appears to be stiffing its own employees on their pay, not to mention lots of other small-fry Netizens, but I want to take this public opportunity to announce that Live Universe is a deadbeat, and that I intend to sue them for the money they owe me, plus court costs, if they don’t pay up immediately. I would also ask that you, my dear readers, avoid patronizing any of Live Universe’s businesses — such as Live Video — if you can.



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  • joey

    That would be the same company that was spun off from Clear Channel, right? Luckily, I haven’t been planning on seeing any concerts at the Coral Sky Mars Music SoundAdvice Cruzan Amphitheater anytime soon, so I think we’re good.

  • PaulW

    Time to find new sources of revenue. You get the gun, I’ll get the car, and we’ll go rob some banks. (pause) Whadda ya mean, Wachovia’s already been cleaned out???

  • jim

    i used to work there. it’s better if you run far, far away and never associate with them, because you’ll never get paid. hell, i heard they didn’t even pay their internet bill, so their office internet was shut down last week and the employees had to work from home.

  • PaulW

    How the hell are they generating any money in the first place??? At some point, aren’t the banks/creditors gonna step in on this?

  • MaryAnn

    One source of income: three and a half months of revenue from ads shown on FlickFilosopher.com, and on lots of other sites the Peerflix ads ran on, too.

  • As a Revver user (first commenter on that linked page) and someone who has been watching this unfold since the LiveUniverse takeover I still find it incredible that this was allowed to happen.

    From the look of it, every single company involved with LiveUniverse (recently purchased or otherwise) is in a process of decay.

    Considering that this is supposedly a company run by the founder of MySpace you’d think they’d have some money to pay their employees at the very least. Clearly they’ve gone overboard with their acquisitions.

  • Dillnuts McBag

    Revver owes me $900. Do not under ANY circumstances waste your time uploading to REVVER. Pass it along. Yet another deadbeat LU site.

  • Splitter

    It would appear LiveUniverse haven’t been paying some other rather important bills. Check out some of their sites.

  • I, too, sadly, am in the same boat.

    Lauren responds once a week or so, saying that she doesn’t know when we’ll get paid. They haven’t paid us since July, making it 4 months they owe us, and have no end in sight.

    I’ve shut off their ads as of 10/31, and if not paid by the end of November, I’ll be taking them to small claims court.

    Unreal that a company can get away with this.

  • MaryAnn

    I’m looking into small claims court, too.

  • I’m one of the founders/creators of ComicBookMovie.com. We had the same agreement with PeerFlix (now LiveUniverse) to run their ads on all 20+ of our sites.

    We, unfortunately are in the same boat. Luckily we pulled the ads down once they were roughly two months behind, so we didn’t lose out on all of our ad revenue.

    Our attorney is drafting our letter now. Enough fooling around with these guys. We’re not owed as much as some ($50K! How long did you run their ads without being paid?), but when your livelihood is on the line, every penny counts.

  • MaryAnn

    $50K? Who is owed that much by Peerflix?

    I should have an update on this situation soon. Stay tuned.

  • I last emailed Lauren 3 weeks ago, asking for her bosses contact info. It was ignored.

    I tried e-mailing her again today, and it bounced back. (Mailbox doesn’t exist.)
    I went on Peerflix Media’s site, and used their general contact e-mail. It also bounced back (mailbox doesn’t exist.)

    Looks like they’re packing up shop, and heading for the hills. A shame, I would certainly love the money I’m owed.

  • I’m in the same boat — I finally pulled my Peerflix ads in mid-November, so lost four and a half months of ad revenue.

    Would any of you other folks who are owed money be interested in working together to recover payment from LiveUniverse? It might take quite a bit of work for an attorney to get what we’re owed out of the company, but might be worth it to recover the combined money owed to five or ten web sites.

    Feel free to email me direct if you’re interested (bruce@the-numbers.com). Please put Peerflix in the title somewhere, so I can spot it among the spam.

  • MaryAnn

    Don’t contact Peerflix — focus on Live Universe. And scream as loudly as you can. I see that LiveUniverseSucks.com is available…

  • MaryAnn

    And see my post here about how Live Universe DID finally pay me!

    You can wrangle the dough out of them too. They clearly fear embarrassment, as well they should.

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