Well Epic’s free from the clutches of hapless Huveaux’s John van Kuffeler, and his hopeless sidekick, Gerry Murray. Huveaux is basically a bunch of washed out, paper publishing guys (ex-Emap) who think the internet’s a sort of giant magazine. Their board was, and still is, a bunch of lazy boomers who can’t buy, integrate or sell businesses, especially online businesses. Having bought Epic for over £22 million, Murray put in a series of his mates as managers, none of whom had a scooby about managing an online business. The collapse in revenues and profitability was predictable and it has now been sold for a song (£4.75 million) – got to congratulate the new buyer, as that’s a snip. They had to sell, as the debt burden was threatening to sink them. Of course, that’s not stopped them repeatedly rebasing all of their options to cash in on the collapse of value. This is not the first time that the incompetent Kuffeler has completely destroyed the value of a business. He was involved in the collapse of Eidos, which imploded after late delivery of Tomb Raider product under his watch. Only in the City do ageing, paper publishing men in pinstripes get to manage internet companies. ‘Success may breed success’, but in this case ‘failure breeds failure’. No wonder we can’t match the Americans. What’s amazing is how these guys hang on in there, kicking shareholders and fund managers in the teeth, no matter how much value they destroy.
The lesson in all this is; don’t let paper publishers anywhere near your internet or e-learning company. They’ll kill it within weeks. Thankfully it’s back where it belongs in the hands of someone who knows a thing or two about the e-learning market. What a mess.