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Icebox.com: Out of Cold Storage and Into Program Syndication

10 Apr, 2001 By: Staff Reporter

Icebox.com, which was purchased at auction for $500,000 by five members of its management team, has retooled as a syndicator of online and offline entertainment product.

The five purchasers, who have each embraced the title of managing director, have kept the Icebox name but run the company on a shoestring compared with the big-budgeted former incarnation of Icebox.

The five have put up their own money, along with just a few individual investors and one unidentified corporate investor. After the purchase price, the company has enough money to operate for a year, said Tal Vigderson, one of the managing directors, along with John Collier, Howard Gordon, Rob LaZebnik and Scott Rupp.

But whereas the former Icebox set a goal of profitability in two years, the new Icebox plans to turn a profit in only three months. The company will announce today a syndication deal with Mondo Media.

The Icebox purchase included physical equipment, the icebox.com domain name and rights to 21 shows but not to "Queer Duck," which Showtime has already bought, insiders said.

The sale by assignee for benefit of creditors was concluded April 3 by Development Specialists Inc. The live auction drew a couple of interested parties, but when the bidding was concluded, the company went for the minimum bid of $500,000, insiders said. The purchase price won't be enough to settle the former company's debts in full, let alone return any money to investors.

Icebox will not be a destination site, as it was before. Visitors there who click on a show will be taken to a site that has syndicated the program from Icebox.

"We won't do things on spec," Vigderson said. "We'll make people pay for our projects."

And many of the creative forces behind Icebox shows are expected to continue creating content for the new Icebox, though, unlike before, they don't receive equity in the company but only in the shows they create.

"Writers still want to work with us," Vigderson said. "They've said working with Icebox was the greatest experience they've ever had in terms of creative freedom."

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