Monday, August 18, 2008

So, the cat has been let out of the bag

Just so we can keep those crazy ol' rumours at as low a roar as possible, I'm writing this posting to announce the winding down of Collideascope.

Yep, you heard it here first, folks. Well, not really first. We announced to the general community on Monday and things like this don't take long to disseminate. We're closing the company. Why? Well, there's never just one reason for things like this, is there?

Collideascope recently celebrated 13 years in operation. We started out as a little, 2 person shop cranking out web pages for people who wanted to put their businesses onto the "information superhighway", and thereby become multi-bazillionaires in the process. We also made commercials and broadcast graphics for the local TV business. It seems we came a long way since. At our peak last year, Collideascope was employing about 120 people on long term full time contracts. To me, that's a lotta people, eh?

13 years of running any one thing is a long time. Reason #1 is that I'm just ready to go off and find something else to do.

Reason #2 is more related to the timing of this announcement than the decision itself. I'd been working for a long time on a project that was slated for a Fall '08 start date. The project has experienced a delay that meant the start date was now delayed indefinitely. As this project was my main one slated for the fall, I decided that I really wasn't interested in putting Collideascope into hibernation, pending what might come through later on.

There are, of course, lots of things that go into making a decision like this. These 2 points are just some good ones to toss out to satisfy people's curiosity. Just know that the decision wasn't made quickly, though it looks like it was.

Of course, when bad news comes, there's inevitably the search for who the bad guy is, and the rumour mill has a surprisingly efficient way of magnifying conjecture in order to cast that role. In this case, there's the temptation to have Steve take that place on stage. However, even though both he and I have occupied our good cop and bad cop roles over the years, it would be wrong to lay the closure at Steve's feet. He's been a huge reason for Collideascope's success over the years, and his contacts brought the steady stream of work in that we enjoyed. However, as I said, 13 years is a long time to be running any company (plus almost 3 years for a company we ran immediately before Collideascope), and the truth is at this time, we're both pretty tired and neither of us has the energy anymore to want to deal with the latest moves made in the industry. Between the shift in broadcasters' more aggressive approach to CRTC regulations and a quite sudden and surprising shift back to Asian studios last year, these were changes that, while not insurmountable, require a retooling that we didn't want to go through.

Nonetheless, I think now is the time for Collideascope to be able to make a graceful exit, for Steve and me to finish it on an up note, and to be able to do right by the people who are finishing the projects on the slate. I've got to say, since the news came out, I've been gratified by people writing to say how they've enjoyed their experience at or working with Collideascope. It hasn't always been an easy ride, but we've always made it the priority to do business in an upfront and honest manner, so it's nice to see that acknowledged. After all, being the boss, I don't get performance reviews. It's nice to see that at the end, some people think I've done a good job.

And of course, this message wouldn't be complete without thanking everyone who's been a part of the Collideascope experience, whether that was working at the animation studios, being part of our small but mighty new media crew, helping keep the infrastructure of the place running, or everyone on the outside who helped and cheered us on. That's what made this a great 13 years for me. Of course, I must single out Ron, who may just be the best person who ever ran an animation studio. His dedication to the place has inspired everyone who ever worked with him, and was a huge factor in giving Collideascope the reputation we gained as a place people wanted to come to work at. Thank you, Ron.

One last thing - it's not Collideascope unless there's a party involved, so everyone is invited to our last blowout. I don't have the exact date yet, but I'm planning for early October, and I'm shouting out to recent employees, alumni from far back, and all of our friends in the extended community to join me for the send-off. I'll post more details here once it's firmed up.

All my best,