Texasville: Bye-bye Boxerjam
Boxerjam has seen layoffs before. When the dot.com bubble burst, the company seemed to be teetering on the brink of annihilation until Media General swooped in to rescue it from bankruptcy in 2002.
But a recent round of layoffs signals the death knell for the Charlottesville company that created online games such as Strike A Match, Flexicon, and Mahjong Medley– although its content will live on.
In July, Media General acquired a Texas company called Blockdot, a game development firm considered a pioneer in advergaming– the use of interactive games to create brand awareness by luring consumers to an advertiser's website.
For instance, Blockdot created games for Star Wars III: Revenge of the Siths that sent players to the Skittles website. The company boasts Fortune 500 clients and popular game sites like kewlbox.com.
"We're consolidating operations and moving them to our Dallas operation," says Media General Interactive Media Divisions president Neal Fondren. "Boxerjam will exist as a game site."
Boxerjam was founded in 1995, when Temple Fennell and Allen Cunningham's innovative film advertising company, Boxer, merged with Jam, the gaming company that was the brainchild of Jeopardy! founder Julann Griffin and her sister, Maureen Roberts.
In its heyday, Boxerjam had 75 employees, millions in venture capital, and provided most of the content for AOL games. In its post-dot.com incarnation, Boxerjam Media– its name after the Media General purchase– tried to generate income with cash prizes, the sale of downloadable games, and subscriptions to puzzles.
In August, the eight remaining Boxerjammers learned their jobs would end.
"I'm happy what we created is alive and well," says Fennell, who left the company in 2003 to work for ATO Pictures, Dave Matthews' film production company.
"It would have been nice for the other company to be rolled up into Boxerjam and managed by Boxerjam," he says. "I would prefer Charlottesville be the headquarters for that."
Griffin, too, is glad the games will live on. "I'm just sorry the kids in Charlottesville are going to lose their jobs," she says.
Temple Fennell: "I'm happy what we created is alive and well."
FILE PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO