The U.S. Supreme Court put the nails in Aereo's coffin last year. Today, it became clear that any dreams the once-highly touted startup--and its investors--still nursed of making much profit off of its technology or intellectual property are dead as well.
It's been a rough week for what remains of the company formerly known as Aereo, one spent attempting to auction off the company's intellectual property and hardware in accordance with its Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. The cloud-based TV technology startup, which sold access to major broadcast stations by licensing tiny, dime-sized antennas to consumers, was once considered wildly disruptive. Along the way, it amassed a reported $100 million in funding, from a slate of blue-chip investors including media mogul Barry Diller.
And what became of all that? The company sold its name and customer list to TiVo, and its patent portfolio to RPX Corporation, which, Gigaom notes, is a sort of patent troll. Alliance Technologies bought all of Aereo's remaining equipment--save some technology, which the company will still try to sell. The grand total raised in the auction this week? Just $2 million.
"We are very disappointed with the results of the auction," said William Baldiga, a partner at Brown Rudnick serving this week as Aereo's counsel. The company had previously said it expected to raise between $4 million and $30 million with the auction. "This has been a very difficult sales process, and the results reflect that," Baldiga added.
The company was required under its bankruptcy filing to put its intellectual property and hardware up for sale at an auction to pay creditors, which include the several law firms the company worked with en route to the Supreme Court, as well as other parties, including apparent landlords, a public relations firm, and fellow tech companies, including Facebook and Google. It is unclear what, if anything, will be left to pay back other creditors and investors.
The auction, which took place at the office of Brown Rudnick on February 24 and 25, was complicated by the same parties that propelled their arguments against Aereo to the U.S. Supreme Court: major broadcast networks and their allies.
The broadcasters, longtime sworn enemies of the company, have continued to haunt Aereo by pressing claims for significant damages, and filing objections to the auction.
Talk about adding insult to injury.