As the clock ticks down on a contract between UTOPIA and Provo for a shared video headend, the fight over who owes who money is starting to heat up. I’ve had a lot of anonymous tipsters relating details and rumors over some strong disagreements regarding compensating UTOPIA for their portion of the headend, a subject that appears to be strongly muddied by unclear contracts with Broadweave.
I’m no lawyer, but from looking at the headend agreement, it appears that Provo sold UTOPIA’s interest in both the VOD and Wildvine servers to Broadweave as a part of the sale of iProvo and used UTOPIA’s unused exercise of the right of first refusal as consent to do so. If that is the case, UTOPIA would naturally like to be paid for their share of that asset; it just isn’t clear who should cut the check, City of Provo or Broadweave. Given that the total is rumored to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars range, I can imagine that all parties involved are taking a strong stance on their respective positions.
The Daily Herald reported that both Kevin Garlick of Provo and Todd Marriott of UTOPIA are confident they can work something out, though I’ve heard that the problem in all of this is Broadweave CEO Steve Christensen who refuses to reach any kind of agreement. It looks like the headend agreement with Broadweave was signed in August of 2007 and I don’t think UTOPIA was involved in that discussion. This is coming back to bite Provo since they decided to make a lot of assumptions instead of talking it through with their partner.
Given the price tag and the tight financial situations with Provo, UTOPIA and Broadweave, I’m anticipating that this disagreement will get ugly if none of the sides plans to budge. Here’s to hoping they work out some kind of equitable solution instead of ended up in an “all sides lose” expensive legal action.
It looks like there’s a new sherriff in town: UTOPIA Watchdog and Broadweave Watchdog. The sites are registered anonymously, but the information posted leads me to believe that the person(s) operating them has been following both systems very closely and plans to not hold back at all. For instance, the websites allege that Provo intentionally over-valued the video headend in an effort to prevent UTOPIA from exercising the right of first refusal. (That would go a long way towards explaining the acrimony between the two over this shared asset.) I’m sure that as time goes by, we’ll see some interesting developments popping up on these two sites.
Remember how Broadweave was operating without a business license in any city it did business in? It seems that despite having gotten licensed to do business in South Jordan and Provo, they still can’t get their ducks in a row in Washington City. Company lawyer Jay Cobb said that Broadweave through they had the matter taken care of yet when I spoke to the city recorder in May, she claimed that Washington City had been trying for months to get Broadweave to take care of its business licensing issues without any success. I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised at a lawyer who bends the truth.
I did a bit of checking on my own and found that that Broadweave still continues to operate in Lehi without a proper business license. I guess they’re too busy in Provo not fixing the program guide and not adding new VOD options to take care of that.
The Deseret News recently ran an article on iProvo in which Mayor Billings claimed that iProvo is seeing a major turnaround under Broadweave’s direction. Certainly there are areas that have been improved drastically, live support being the most notable. Unfortunately, this improvement in response time has been at the cost of frequent outages with the TV programming guide, a 3-4 hour outage this morning for all Internet users and a lack of general notification as to what the heck exactly is going on.
Mstar is reportedly still receiving payments for customers they sold to Broadweave. Bills have arrived from Broadweave without explanation as to who this bill was from and their purchase of the network. Rates were scheduled to increase, but not notification was sent as to how existing plans will be migrated. This is top-notch management? There’s just two weeks for Sorenson to complete their review of the financing without so much as a peep as to how that’s going.
Amidst all this are many disturbing rumors floating around. CEO Steve Christensen is reportedly having to pay employee salaries out his own pocket. It’s also alleged that Broadweave is using trucks with city plates to do business in Provo. We’ve also witnessed the departure of all iProvo NOC techs and a significant amount of the rest of the staff, a major loss of expertise that cannot be easily compensated for. With the lack of basic notifications and the “silent running” attitude, it’s no wonder that rumors like this continue to persist.
Sounds like Broadweave needs to reconsider who’s doing their PR. Anyone out there willing to fill in the gaps?
High placed sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, have confirmed that Veracity has pulled out of the merger with Broadweave and that Sorenson Capital may have withdrawn financial backing as a result. The 60-day delay cited by Broadweave in the papers is rumored to be buying time to find new backers. The loss of Veracity combined with the iProvo NOC employees who have left means that video experience is almost non-existent and staff resources will be stretched dangerously thin. This may account for anonymous commenters who have reported issues reaching customer service over the last several days. When asked about these details, Provo City employees involved in the deal were unaware of the failure of the merger.