Cryptocurrency-focused media startup BlockTV has shut down operations due to the economic strains of the COVID-19 crisis, according to two former employees.
Following an initial round of layoffs in March, all remaining members of the 35-person Tel Aviv-based firm have been laid off.
“The Covid-19 crisis affected us strongly and we had to close down BLOCKTV,” BlockTV COO Noa Tamir told CoinDesk in a LinkedIn message. “We’re very proud with the brand we built and with all the fresh content and news we brought to the Blockchain and Crypto community. Hopefully we’ll be able to bring BLOCKTV back to life in the future.”
The news organization was launched in 2019 with backing from controversial crypto entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg. Last November, BlockTV tried to raise $2 million via the sale of its BLTV token on crypto exchange Bittrex, according to The Block. Similar to Brave’s Basic Attention Token (BAT), the token incentivized readers, publishers and journalists to collaborate in revenue sharing, the startup detailed in a blog post.
The token sale did not help the startup during the crisis, however.
“Unfortunately they were forced to effectively close shop with the coronavirus lockdowns,” said former BlockTV senior analyst and anchor Asher Westropp-Evans. “As with so many, it was hard to keep operations running smoothly under such strenuous conditions.”
Having a “skeleton crew” following the March layoffs ultimately did not work out, Westropp-Evans added.
BlockTV initially listed its token for a pre-sale price of $0.01. At press time, data provider CoinGecko listed BLTV at $0.003, down some 70% since November.
It’s not the only crypto media startup to have dabbled in tokenization. Decrypt announced the launch of its own token at EthCC in Paris in early March 2020.
“In the environment of the early COVID days when everything seemed to be in freefall, people weren’t eager to take on additional [investment] into tokens. So that wasn’t going to help a short-term squeeze,” Westropp-Evans said.
Prior to the pandemic, BlockTV had planned on launching a studio in New York City in Q1 2020 to complement its lineup of broadcast-news-style reports. The startup continued to issue content intermittently through the spring months, as seen on its Twitter feed.
The news comes a week after Civil, a blockchain-based publishing platform backed by ConsenSys, announced its official closure.