IST, as it was known, had been a significant player in the digital signage field service space in recent years, and a big presence at DSE. From anything I knew, IST was very much a going concern in this business and doing well. Things appear to have went south, quickly, after this deal.
I prefaced this with “appears” because I cannot find any formal announcement. I have emailed the company’s executives and called the office, but had no response.
This is what I have pulled together. First, news of the company’s troubles reached all the way to New York and NEC’s showcase this week.
The Kansas City office, which had 65 or so people before the acquisition, went through several layoffs through the intervening months. The handful that were left were out of jobs at the start of this week.
There are lawsuits flying. Jacob Horwitz, IST’s founder, left last spring after only a few months with SkinnyIT and there is a Horwitz et al v. Skinny IT Corp et al in the Missouri court system at the moment. I am told there are others, but a Canadian trying to use the US legal look-up system is challenged (you register, they send you something in the mail, etc etc).
One read through GlassDoor reviews on the firm reveals a lot of very disgruntled employees, or more accurately, former employees.
Here’s a review from the end of September:
At this pros were the employees that have gotten fired.
Prepare yourself to be fired or sued! Upper-level management is at mercy to the CEO who terminated majority of all employees in one day. Poor management. “Titanic” like situation. Deceiving practices. Payroll nonexistent at this point. Work outsourced to the south of the border.
That’s very representative of the general tone of the reviews.
This is a screen capture of a memo sent by email this week to employees, posted on Facebook amidst a pile of what happened and WTF? comments:
As noted, I have asked for confirmation from SkinnyIT, and what the implications are for customers and suppliers. Sent an email to the CEO, HR and legal. Tried calling. Goes to voicemail.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.