Alphabet Media goes into administration five months after shutting Australian office

Screen Shot 2015-05-19 at 9.46.48 AMAlphabet Media, the owner of public sector technology title FutureGov, has gone into administration after 12 years of publishing, it has emerged.

The editor of FutureGov, Joshua Chambers, wrote in a post on Medium yesterday headlined ‘FutureGov has closed’, that he received an email indicating that Alphabet Media had gone into administration with immediate effect.

The news comes five months after Alphabet Media closed its Australian office and its Singapore-based events arm.

“The company’s two events arms shut last year, but the debt they accumulated was too great, and the (profitable) digital arm was paying this off too slowly,” wrote Chambers, who was spearheading FutureGov’s subscription digital offering.

“Revenues have been strong over the past year, but legacy debts from previous businesses seemed to bring us down,” he said.

Chambers added: “It is a great disappointment that our parent company  – Alphabet Media  – has gone into administration, but I think the entire team has valued the experience we gained at FutureGov, and is proud of what we achieved.”

Alphabet Media has been operating while massively in debt with outstanding bills owed to former staff, government event delegates and other suppliers piling up in recent years.

The company, owned by British expat James Smith, is facing three law suits – two against former staff – over outstanding payment amounting to more than S$1 million (US$743,000).

The two former staffers taking legal action against Alphabet – former company directors Mohit Sagar and Ellen Quek, whose dismissals Smith announced on Twitter and LinkedIn – launched a rival to FutureGov, called OpenGov, a month after leaving the company.

Debt collectors were also called in last month to retrieve around $15,000 owed to Australian consultant Peter Hind, who wrote reports for FutureGov. But Smith said he had no money to pay and then threatened to sue the debt collector for invasion of privacy.

Hind told Mumbrella the threat had not been taken seriously and added he has virtually written off clawing back any money.

“Two former employees have claims and I am well down in the queue. I think it will be a case of putting it down to experience,” Hind said. “It would have been so much better if James had said, ‘look I am going to struggle to pay this’ rather than make promises that were never kept.”

A former events executive, Vinita Penna, took legal action against Alphabet over $3,500 in unpaid salary after she left in March – six months after another staff member, Fiona Cher, sued Alphabet for S$2,700 (US$2,160) in outstanding salary.

Since stories of outstanding debt have emerged, more people and companies have come forward claiming they are owned money by Alphabet Media.

Smith has not responded to Mumbrella’s questions about whether a new company would be launched under a different guise and how outstanding debts will be settled.

Robin Hicks & Steve Jones


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.