If you are a regular Youtube watcher, or somewhat familiar with popular networks like Clevver or Smosh, then you are probably aware of their sudden halt on all media and productions. Last Wednesday, many entertainers from the channels announced that their parent company informed them of a full shut down without notice, effective immediately. This comes with shock and confusion for the millions of subscribers, as well as over 100 employees and content providers. While there are no definitive reasons for the mass layoff, some of most popular members of the companies have spoken out on their point of view.
Joslyn Davis, an original and long standing employee of the Clevver network created a personal YouTube channel in order to keep the fans and subscribers updated on what is happening with the many channels of the company. In the video she posted, she went on to explain the whole timeline of the company’s history, as well as the details of the shut down. Her summary started with the explanation that Defy Media is a parent company. This means that Defy owns Clevver, Smosh, and other freelance channels. They control contracts, money, and funds.
On Friday, November 2nd, Joslyn and other employees of Defy’s Beverly Hills location received a conference call where it was explained that due to financial issues, their entire office would be laid off on January 2nd, 2019. This notification came as a legal 60-day notice following the guidelines of the WARN Act, in place to protect companies from sudden mass layoffs. But flash forward to the next Tuesday, all office employees were informed that they would be shutting down production, effective immediately. This is part of the statement given to the press. “Regretfully, Defy Media has ceased operations today. We are extremely proud of what we have accomplished here at Defy and in particular want to thank all the employees who worked here. We deeply regret the impact this has had on them today…..Unfortunately, market conditions got in the way of us completing our mission.”
While Joslyn didn’t go into specific details of the reasoning behind the shutdown, Lily Marston, one of the main producers on Clevver and creator of segments like Beauty Break and Cheat Day posted a video on her personal YouTube channel explaining her inside speculation and confirmation on some of the situation. She made a point to explain that the ‘shutdown of the Beverly Hills office’ always entailed the shutdown of Clevver and Smosh. All videos and media production come from the Beverly Hills office, as Defy’s other locations only include the business side of the company. So the one month notice was to all content creators under Defy.
This shutdown effects more than the 80+ employees of Clevver and Smosh, as Defy is also a multi channel network and employs many freelance creators. This means that YouTube pays Defy, who then distributes that money to it’s creators. But, following the reported bankruptcy, it was revealed that many of these independent YouTubers had not been paid by Defy for a month or two. Some claiming they are owed up to $60,000 believe that their money was instead used to pay off the company’s debts after suddenly filing bankruptcy.
While it is unknown at the moment if these creators will be compensated for their work under Defy, YouTube has released their channels from the company in order for them to further create content independently. As for the Clevver network and Smosh and Smosh Games, it is not necessarily the end. Since Defy didn’t originally start these brands, only bought and invested, the channels are able to be bought by other investors or companies. Due to the high popularity and profit coming from these networks, it is likely that Clevver and Smosh will be saved, but a time frame is unknown at the moment.