hark-logoSomething is going on at Hark.

The Seattle startup, known for its huge repository of sound bites, from classic movie quotes to historic speeches, laid off staffers last month. Its Twitter account has gone dark. And the site has removed several of its key categories, including famous movie quotes like “I’m Gonna Make Him an Offer He Can’t Refuse” and “Surely You Can’t Be Serious?”

In fact, the amount of content on the site appears to have been dramatically reduced to just two categories in recent weeks: politics and sports.

We’ve heard from two sources that Hark is in the process of shutting down, and our attempts to connect with CEO David Aronchick over the past month were unsuccessful until today.

Aronchick, who co-founded Hark in 2007 after working at Microsoft for several years, apologized for his “radio silence” in recent weeks. But he declined to say what is going on, simply noting that the reports of its shutdown are “inaccurate.”

David Aronchick
David Aronchick

He declined further comment, saying that he’d be able to talk more in a few months.

We last reported on Hark back in February when the company inked a deal with the Associated Press, one which was to provide 100 years worth of audio files and photos. Hark also had sealed partnership agreements with a number of movie studios over the past two years. It’s unclear what the status is of those deals.

At the time of the AP deal, Hark said that it attracted 45 million unique visitors each month — amazingly about on par with publicly-traded Zillow. It also claimed to be one of the top 10 sites on the Internet for movie content.

The 6-year-old company, which had said it posted more in profits last year than revenues in 2011, employed 21 people at the time of the AP deal. But we’ve heard most of the staff was let go on June 1.

The situation seems a bit bizarre. Anyone else know what’s going on there?

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  • Thomas R.

    Something doesn’t seem right here. I don’t want to say that the CEO lied, but the data doesn’t support his assertion that hark had 45 million monthly unique visitors, the google search traffic for things like ‘sounds clips’ or ‘sound clip’ doesn’t even break 500,000 monthly global searches…Compete data, as inaccurate as it may be, only shows them having a peak of 6 million uniques. Alexa ranking doesn’t match up either.

    Keep digging John, I think there’s more to report on here.

    • http://blog.calbucci.com/ Marcelo Calbucci

      Long tail.

      • SEO Guru

        Highly unlikely, think about it, even with a highly optimistic 10% CTR they would need to appear on page 1 in the top 5 at least 450,000,000 times. Their Moz numbers are not that high. Plus the outside data does not support a long tail SEO strategy. Not even close.

  • _Hater_

    Another jenius giving advice to others on Seattle 2.0? Or a victim of VC death acceleration by capital injection?

  • Guest

    Sounds like they sold the media and many others canned BS on a pallet and then ran off.

  • http://blog.daryn.net daryn

    While the long tail is likely a big traffic source, a number as big as 45M here seems to suggest a counting methodology that includes widget viewers as visitors, not just visitors to Hark.com. That’s how slide and rockyou made themselves look so big back in the day, and depending on how you count it it isn’t complete BS – these are engaged interactions (if you don’t count widget loads, but rather any person who clicked / played a soundclip)

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