eBaum’s World’s Long Saga Comes to a Close with Layoffs

The staff of long-running video and web ephemera site eBaum’s World was let go on Friday by its acquirer ZVUE, according to blog posts by staff members including eBaum’s founder Eric Bauman. Web commenters are crowing about Bauman’s complaints that eBaum’s was stolen out from under him, as eBaum’s was often criticized for allegedly ripping other people’s web content without attribution.

HandHeld Entertainment/ZVUE, a maker of media players and a conglomeration of various web sites, bought eBaum’s World for $15 million in cash, $2.5 million in stock and a potential earn-out of $50 million in August 2007, after eBaum’s had been on the block for quite a while. The site was to accompany its acquirer’s other web properties like Putfile and Dorks.com. At the time, eBaum’s claimed 10 million uniques per month, though comScore said it was more like 2.3 million.

In 2008 ZVUE’s stock price sank below $1, and it received multiple warnings from NASDAQ, restructured, raised funding, saw board members and execs quit, and appointed new leadership. The company announced it would put Rochester, N.Y.-based Bauman in charge of its web operations (previously run out of San Francisco) and grouped its properties and other entertainment sites together as the PopSauce ad network.

Bauman (known as eBaum) wrote on Friday,

As you may have heard our parent company (ZVUE) has decided to let myself and the rest of my team go. We have been running eBaum’s World for 10+ years so this is a very sad time for all of us.

Another former staff member added that some employees were offered the chance to stay on to run the site with a new team, but they all declined. They were apparently told that the Rochester office was being closed for “operational and financial” issues, though we have not yet confirmed the eBaum’s office closure with ZVUE.

The former eBaum’s staff looks to keep the web curation dream alive independently on a new, barely developed site, eBaum.tv.

Though some commenters offered Bauman their condolences, many more seemed to think the occasion a sort of overdue justice for the ripped-off content the site had been known for. eBaum’s had often posted its own watermarked versions of other people’s videos from around the web and racked up massive views for them, especially in the early days of web video before people were more savvy about building up their own distribution on sites like YouTube. “Glad to see karma catch up to him. He’s been stealing content from people for years,” said one Digg commenter.

Whatever your judgment, though, Bauman certainly made out well from selling his site, and besides, eBaum’s World had lost relevance as the world of web video expanded.