Seven West-backed user-generated video platform Crowdspark goes into liquidation

Seven West-backed video service Crowdspark, formerly New Zulu, has gone into liquidation following a strategic review by the company’s management.

The ASX-listed user-generated content management company promised “to make everyone with a smartphone a potential journalist” and at one stage was endorsed by Pauline Hanson.


Crowd Spark was founded as New Zulu in 2012

Since its founding by Dot Com boom prodigy Alex Hartman in 2012, the company had raised over $37m from investors.

Hartman rose to prominence as Australia’s youngest tech entrepreneur in 1996 when the then 16-year-old founder licensed his internet access software to Telstra Bigpond.

The New Zulu founder was deposed from the board in 2016 shortly after Seven West Media took an 18.73% stake in the business and appointed Clive Dickens as director.

Dickens resigned from the Crowdspark board on May 30.

Hartman, whose brother John was convicted with Roxy Jacenko’s husband Oliver Curtis for insider trading offences committed in 2007 and 2008, then relocated to Switzerland where he has since held positions with a charity associated with race driver Michael Schumacher and Bang Showbiz, a UK-based entertainment new site.

New Zulu was not without controversy during its existence with founder Hartman backing down in a domain squatting row with media rival Newsmodo.

The company’s core technology was originally developed by the French national news wire Agence France-Presse to deal with the volume of user-generated content it received during the Arab Spring in 2011.

Clive DIckens_M360 2018

Seven’s Clive Dickens quit the company board in May

In 2017, the company reported $10m in losses and finished that financial year with $5m in cash having incurred $56m in losses since its 2012 listing.

During its life, New Zulu entered into a number of deals with media companies including a 2016 deal to equip Seven West journalists with its Live Reporter Kits, enabling reporters to file video directly from their phones.

At the end of last year, New Zulu announced its Moments app developed with Seven West to collect user-generated content at sporting events, along with a deal with Drive Network to incorporate its software development kit into the motoring publisher’s online properties.

Mumbrella has contacted Seven West Media and the Drive Network for comment on the fate of those projects.

A Seven West spokesperson told Mumbrella: ““Seven was a later-stage minority investor in Crowdspark having successfully used some of its innovative UGC digital products.

“We wish the company well in sorting out a restructuring plan and realising value for all investors.”

Mumbrella has contacted liquidators Korda Mentha for comment on the possibility of the business being restructured.


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