The story of Hark — a Seattle startup that was attempting to build the YouTube of audio clips and once claimed more than 45 million unique visitors — is a strange one. As we reported back in July, most of the audio clips, including famous sound bites from movies and TV shows, were quietly removed leaving the site as a shell of its former self.
That’s still the status of the bare-bones site, which now shows just a few audio clips from President Barack Obama. But now new details have emerged about the six-year-old company, formerly known as Entertonement and Right Sized Media. Back in July, Hark co-founder and CEO David Aronchick asked us to follow up with him in a couple months when we had questions about the business.
Now, we’ve learned Aronchick has taken a job at Amazon.com, working as a product manager for the Amazon Local business.
Aronchick’s social media profiles still list him as CEO of Hark, though he confirmed in a Tweet to us this week that he’s now at Amazon. He declined to comment on the status of Hark, though several signs continue to point to stresses on the business and indicate it may no longer be a going concern.
Delaware corporation records indicate that Hark last filed an annual report in 2010, listing an outstanding tax balance of $407,252. Its status is also posted as “void” — which occurs when a company neglects to pay franchise taxes or fails to file complete annual franchise tax reports. Failure to pay results in the charter of the corporation being voided and “all powers conferred by law upon the corporation are declared inoperative.” (More on what that means here).
A representative for Corporation Service Company said a void status means the company is no longer in good standing, and no longer incorporated under the laws of Delaware.
In addition to Aronchick, several other employees have moved on to new positions, including vice president of business development Jeremy Laws who is now at Microsoft and vice president of engineering Wes Maldonado who is now at INRIX. Co-founder and board member Fouad EINaggar is listed on his LinkedIn page as the chief strategy officer at CBS Interactive.
What’s particularly unusual here is how quickly Hark fell on tough times, given that a number of key employees were recruited last year and Aronchick had made several positive comments about how well the business was doing. The silence from Aronchick, a well known member of the startup community, also is somewhat baffling.
Earlier this year, the company employed 21 people, and the company said it planned to move into new offices to grow to as many as 30 people. A spokesperson for Hark also told us in February that the company did more in profit in 2012 than revenue in 2011.
As I mentioned in my last post, the whole thing is kind of bizarre.