Something 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.”
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?