Blade is in turmoil. The company behind Shadow, the French-style cloud gaming service, is currently looking for a buyer after a difficult 2020. As its platform attracts more and more customers, the spending galore and the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a toll on its finances.
Blade, this is one of these French successes we can be proud of. Founded in 2015, in 2017 it launched Shadow, the cloud gaming platform that now rubs shoulders with the biggest without trembling. Fundraising after fundraising, the company has had a series of successes until today more than 100,000 regular users. However, Blade has no more money and is currently looking for a buyer.
Rumors have been rife for some time about his financial situation. The leaders follow one another and are not alike, the employees leave their posts en masse while the new Shadow offer, at the heart of its communication for months, is slow to arrive. The latter was even a forerunner of future concerns, as we learned from our colleagues at Next Inpact.
Blade in a very unstable situation
It has been now more than a year that subscribers expect the launch of this new offer that Blade has been talking about since the end of 2019. After months of beta, the company finally announces that the release, initially scheduled for January 2020, is postponed to December 2021. Officially, the start-up faces “Material concerns”. Officially, she abandons her hosting at OVHcloud to turn to 2CRSi, also a shareholder in the company. Problem: the change has taken place at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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With a blocked transport network and customers mainly abroad, the situation got complicated very quickly. So much so that several employees decided to abandon the ship in 2020, including Emmanuel Freund, one of the founders of the company. Cyrille Even tried to impose himself at the head of Blade, without success. She was immediately replaced by Mike Fischer, accompanied by Jean-Baptiste Kempf (VLC) as CTO. Goal : take back control of the teams upset by these repeated departures, but also and above all the finances which are at the worst.
Like all start-ups, Blade spends more than it earns. The constant arrival of new subscribers fails to replenish the coffers, and the failure of a fundraiser at the end of 2020 drives the point home. Adding to this the multiple technical concerns of the platform, the company unsurprisingly leaves the Next40 ranking, a year after its sensational arrival. Neither the price cuts nor the alleged effects of the lockdown are helping to turn the tide. Internally, tensions are intensifying and some decisions destroy team cohesion.
Blade initiates bankruptcy proceedings
Once again, the “Shadow Boost” offer is at the heart of the discord. Some indeed denounce the strategy of Blade, which has decided to make it available first to American data centers. For their part, the French, some of whom have pre-ordered months ago, still have to wait until the end of 2021 to be able to take advantage of it.
After suspicion that the company ended up in commercial court, it finally protected itself by launching judicial reorganization proceedings. This saves time in repaying debts, while trying to keep the business afloat before finding a solution. In this context, only a buyout seems to be a viable option. Telecoms companies would be particularly interested.
Until then subscribers can continue to use the platform. But Blade must quickly find new sources of funding, otherwise the situation will deteriorate further. It seems unlikely that the service will close its doors, given its success around the world. It remains to examine the recovery files presented, and to make a choice which, we hope, will be the right one.
Source: Next Inpact