Final whistle sounds at Quokka

The Internet and sports content continued to make for bad teammates last week as pioneering sports site Quokka Sports told employees it was throwing in the towel.

          The Internet and sports content continued to make for bad teammates last week as pioneering sports site Quokka Sports told employees it was throwing in the towel.

          Although the company had a potent lineup of partners, which included Olympic organisers and television network National Broadcasting, the San Francisco-based company couldn't generate enough revenue to remain viable, sources within the company said. Quokka's 220 employees will lose their jobs and the company is expected to file for bankruptcy this week.

          Quokka's demise is the latest in a series of casualties in the sports Web site category, which has found it difficult to grow revenues despite the popularity of both professional and amateur athletics. Since January, Broadband Sports, Rivals.com and MVP have shut down. Earlier Wednesday, competitor SportsLine announced it would lay off 92 people.

          "We had the Olympics and NBC, and if it can't be done with them, I don't think it can be done," said a former employee who asked not to be named.

          In a meeting and conference call with employees, Quokka executives blamed the company's problems on a general economic malaise and two deals with major partners that had been completed but were not yet generating income. The deals had the potential to provide Quokka with a combined $1 million, enough to keep the company operating for at least another month, the sources said.

          Quokka, which handled the official Web site for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, will turn over the Web site it has developed for the 2002 Winter Olympics to the Salt Lake Olympic Committee, the source said. Rights to the site, which had been awarded to Quokka, will also revert to the organising committee.

          The future of Quokka's other premier sites, which include FinalFour.net and Golf.com, are uncertain. A skeletal staff of about 10 employees will remain in San Francisco to wind down operations.

          Shares in Quokka, which started about five years ago as a sailing site, fell to 41 cents. Earlier in the week, Quokka executed a 1-for-50 reverse stock split to boost its stock price.

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