It seems that DirectResponse Technology employees were met recently with a huge surprise. Out of nowhere it seems a bunch of HR employees from Digital River HQ, black suits, sunglasses and all arrived in Greentree Pennsylvania, with one purpose: to fire a dozen employees including the President and General Manager of the company, George Bordo. From what I have been told, they were asked simply to pack boxes, sign confidentiality and separation agreements and to promptly leave the building without much of an explanation.
I received this information through a source affiliated with the company, who identified himself only as “DeepPixel,” (ala DeepThroat) and provided me with enough information to verify it. A phone call to Direct Response’s office provided more than enough to know that what I was being told was more than just conjecture and that something was seriously wrong.
At first, I tried to reach George Bordo via his direct extension, with absolutely no success. Even though it was almost noon, dialing 0 was met with hundreds of rings, until eventually a meek sounding woman answered the phone. I immediately asked her if George Bordo worked for the company, and her response was “Not Currently at the Moment.” I’m gathering this didn’t mean he was taking maternity leave.
When I asked her about additional firings and who else was fired, the response was clear: she hung up the phone. Additional calls to the number, pressing zero was met with absolutely no one picking up the phone, and known extensions either rang excessively or went to voice mail – except one random extension in which the gentlemen on the other end only told me that they were instructed to not talk to anyone about anything. He didn’t want to talk about the subject of firings and eventually hung up the phone also.
Does this mean Direct Response Technologies is closing or that their employees are just incredibly secretive and rude? Who knows really, but it’s obvious that they might be on their last legs and that their parent company, Digital River no longer has much faith in the company. In January we reported that DRT was going to be sold, and had complete faith that this deal, confirmed by insiders was going to go through. However, the deal never matured, leaving people wondering why it was so abruptly canceled.
Now the truth, that has never been revealed: Simply put, the board of Digital River put an end to the deal because the potential buyer was the former CEO and Founder of Digital River, Joel Ronning. Ronning just that year had resigned from his position after numerous well documented public fights with his board. He didn’t like the way his company was being run anymore, and the board of Digital River didn’t like him. Regarding the deal, they had felt that any purchase by him would be met with SEC scrutiny (as they are a public company), because he was an insider at the company and also one of the people who wanted to at one time shutter Direct Response Technologies completely.
What’s next for Direct Response Technologies and DirectTrack? Personally, I think the company is standing on its last legs. They recently launched Direct Track X, which is supposed to be a next generation tracking platform… but they are about 3-4 years too late and the technology is still way behind what other companies produced half a decade before. They are still playing catch up, and without any faith from their parent company, I don’t see them getting much budget to improve their technology solutions. It’s clear that their history of problems over the last year or so has hurt them in the eyes of the marketing community, and that their masters are looking to either shut them down or sell them as quickly as possible.
I’ve also heard rumors that several competitors have been inquiring about buying DirectTrack themselves. They aren’t looking to actually buy the technology, but instead take over the company, fire all the employees and trash the system. They only want the customer database, which while dwindling, still has value.
Love your input on this, and what this means for the industry as a whole.