MyToons No More

MyToons

We heard last week that the MyToons site had shut down for good. MyToons, for those who don’t know, was a “social networking” site for animators. A quick search reveals that the company had already laid off most of its staff last January and was floundering.

The TechCrunch article linked above includes some damning allegations against the company’s founders–Dan Kraus, Paul Ford, and Stacey Ford–and alleges that they blew over $6 million of venture capital in just a couple years without ever coming up with anything that remotely resembled a business plan. Citing anonymous staffers, TechCrunch claimed:

Among the allegations put forward by former employees who wish to remain anonymous: grave mismanagement, a complete disinterest from the company’s co-founders to turn MyToons into a revenue-generating business along with more serious accusations that the executives have been misrepresenting the company’s financial and operational status to their investors and moreover wasting VC money on personal purchases like trips to Hawaii, fancy dinners with relatives, home electronics for personal use and so on.


  • Chris Webb

    Are they corrupt? There may be some truth to this.

    Paul, Dan and Stacy’s previous project was a 2-D animation software program called Bauhaus Mirage. Paul was on record saying they were supporting the software, and new and exciting developments were happening with it. Then one day last year the Mirage website shut down completely – with no explanation. They left many of thier customers in the lurch.

    Fortunately, the Mirage software was taken over by a French company called TV Paint. The application is terrifc and the support they give is outstanding, and the user group is first rate. So Mirage/TV Paint survived, but many people feel a lot of anger toward Paul Ford. And now some of his MyToons staff feel the same way.

    Some of the lost money was a grant from the State of Texas. I wouldn’t want to be in the Kraus and Ford’s shoes. After the whole Wall Street/banking bailout, there are politicians who would love to prosecute businessmen who use public money irresponsibly.

  • http://mymedicatedlife.blogspot.com/ Bitter Animator

    Internet company squanders venture capital and goes belly-up? That’s so 2001.

    Not the Kubrick movie. That would make no sense.

    I blame Dreamworks.

  • http://www.abelboddy.com C.Edwards

    What’s up with that secret service character???

  • http://www.artisticanatomyblog.com/ Chris Hatfield

    Wow, that is sad to see mytoons shutdown. I was never really in love with the site, a lot of mediocre animation featured, but as a social networking tool for animator’s it was initiative worth exploring.

    P.S. On a non-animated front Armin Vit is shutting down Speak-Up, all be it not under suspicious circumstances.

  • Klee

    No social networking or new media site has a real revenue plan. Facebook? Not a chance. MySpace? Nope. Twitter? No way. Take YouTube for example…sold to Google for $1.3 billion last year. Projected to lose $470 million this year on expected revenue of $240 million and costs of $710 million. Yikes. The founders of companies like this want one thing and one thing only–to sell out for millions or billions to the likes of Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, TimeWarner or Fox. They aren’t in it for the long term, or to build a great company culture, or to take care of their employees and their families. It’s all about them and the $$$. Cha-ching!

  • http://beesbuzz.biz/ fluffy

    Well there’s always Channel Frederator’s social networking site, which is pretty okay as far as targeted social networking sites go. Really the best idea is to just keep on using existing social networking constructs (such as blogs and/or Facebook) to keep in touch with people you care to keep in touch with, though. I never really got the appeal to centralized sites.

  • gman

    This is crazy… ..I have never even heard of this company before!! And apparently I was part of their target audience!! Damn, I missed the party!

  • http://billfieldtrip.blogspot.com Bill Field

    A close friend of mine was responsible for the fund that their grant came from- I always wondered why the conversation changed from animation to anything else- when I walked up to Kraus at any event here in San Antonio, I thought maybe it was a trade secret thing- but when I was given their entire software pkg to use and to give input on tweaking it- I realized that wasn’t the case. Now, I think it was to avoid questions he may not have had good answers for.

  • T. Reynolds

    never heard of these guys, been working in the industry for 15 years

  • http://wardomatic.blogspot.com Ward

    I got a couple of emails in ’07 and last year asking me to join, or to mention some contests that they were promoting for Drawn!, but I never took the bait. Didn’t appeal to me. Oh well!

  • Charles

    Even if it were good enough, would animators even use a social networking site?

  • Martin

    These guys wanted so badly to be Hollywood players that they flew out to the Annie Awards and impressed themselves.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    What Klee said kept echoing sentiments of the video game industry in the early 80′s to me as well. It was definitely not long-term then, as it is now.

  • Pedro Nakama

    So that means the t-shirt they gave out 2 years ago at the union Christmas party is going to be a collector’s item. Hello Ebay!

  • Gerard de Souza

    YouTube, Myspace, Facebook…..Popular, yes, but do any make money?
    Sounds to me like a universal business model problem to me, not necessarily that there must be “bad guys”.

    Indeed sounds like 2001.

    Socializing with with other animators tends to work better than networking imo and the medium already exists online in general and animation specific.

  • http://www.hunteachother.com Max W.

    THIS is our social networking site…

  • http://www.drawn2gether.com/blog Tina Price

    I am sorry to hear this. That might explain why I never got an answer to any of my emails.

  • Graham

    That’s unfortunate. I can’t really say I’m disheartened by this news, but that explains why they didn’t update their YouTube channel in over 2 months (I was subscribed to them till I discovered they closed).

    Oh, well. There’s still aniBOOM.

  • EffEwePaully

    I started out as a beta tester for Mirage, but from the beginning, something was amiss. Each of the features I would suggest, simple ones at that.. couldn’t be added because in fact Bauhaus (Paul Ford and co.) had LEASED the technology from it’s original creator, Herve at TVPaint in France. I should have known and remembered: TVPaint was originally on the Amiga, and Herve at the helm!

    Long story short, some sort of agreement between TvPaint and Mirage went south, and Paul and the gang at Mirage tried, in a Texas court, to claim whole ownership of the entire TVPaint source code, because they created a few plugins for it! In fact, they never had the source code, and led many frustrated users (and beta testers!) through such a minefield of lies, it’s incredible. In the end they abruptly shut down their message boards and closed up shop.

    Their court case failed miserably, of course, after stalling for what seemed like a year or more.

    When I learned that they had started this whole MyToons website, with a clause in their TOS that stated that they owned everything uploaded to the site, I couldn’t believe the gall. I posted a small message to my sketchblog, warning the animation community against any involvement with MyToons, and that they were the same folks behind the Mirage fiasco. I was promptly sent a cease and desist letter from their fancy lawyers that they can no longer afford.

    Don’t be disheartened, these guys were not good people, and just making your own film, getting it into a few festivals (or hell, even a good mention on the Brew!) is worth a hundred thousand times more than being involved with any flim-flam man who sets his tent up on the web with a little venture capital.

    All I have to say is *WOW* .. I LOL’d..!
    What comes around..
    :0)

  • http://www.animotionarts.com Gig

    This is crazy. Not unlike another internet company I supplied work for who pays the artist crap and runs off with all the profits! That’s double “0″ not fun. Shame on you mytunes! The animators and artist that supplied the work were the ones that made it work, I’d like to know what they did with all the files I uploaded… They could have at least let us know so we had the opportunity to delete our animation files:(

  • http://www.fooksie.com Fooksie

    It was a good site while it lasted, like Icebox back in the day.
    But like Icebox, Mytoons fell apart when they tried to get a plan in gear to make money.
    I had a lot of my animations and illustrations featured on the site, and also connected with some really cool people through them.

  • http://liesjekraai.blogspot.com/ Liesje Kraai

    It’s nice to see that even animators get to have scandals that involve squandering loads of cash on trips to Hawaii.

  • http://www.elmwoodproductions.blogspot.com Jon from Elmwood

    Let’s hope this doesn’t happen to Puppethub!
    http://www.puppethub.com/

  • http://www.honkbarn.com Todd

    Sorry if I’ve reapeated anything from above.

    Wow! Money spent on trips to Hawaii and home electronics and then they offer $1000 as a first place prize in their ‘Mytoons Bumper Contest’. It would probably cost them $50,000 to have an ad agency produce the same bumper. Unfortunately I wasted some time creating a bumper for the contest. That was my first lesson in submitting work to a website without reading the terms first.

    If these animation social networking websites want to attract some of the best independent film makers then they need to start with a terms of agreement that benifit the filmmakers and not just the companies.

    I imagine that Mytoons still own the right to all of the films that were uploaded to their website.

    Show me a site that allows me to obtain full rights without any gimics and I might be interested in showcasing my work there. In the meantime I’ll keep them on my own website.

    I’m glad these guys are no longer in business.

  • Dave

    Liesje Kraai says:
    “It’s nice to see that even animators get to have scandals that involve squandering loads of cash on trips to Hawaii”.

    ——

    Well, except that no “animators” were involved in trips to Hawaii and other luxury fringe benefits in the alleged scandal. It was the 3 founders/owners of the MyToons site that are alleged to have been living the high life on that good ol’ Venture Capital money , not any animators. (the MyToons owners are not animators) .

    And it will be interesting to see what happens to everyone’s animation files and other artwork that was uploaded to MyToons since the fine print in their TOS was very comprehensive about how they “owned” distribution rights to anything and everything that was uploaded to their site. For those who didn’t remove their files from the MyToons servers prior to MyToons being shut down keep a close eye out for your content appearing elsewhere without your permission.

  • http://liesjekraai.blogspot.com/ Liesje Kraai

    Dave,

    Very true. I meant it more in the sense of ‘we get our own personal scandals that involve the animation community’.

    The best part is I use to know a kid in high school named Dan Kraus. I highly doubt it’s the same one, but if so, he was a jerk then too.

  • http://www.honkbarn.com Todd

    I’m so glad that I read the TOS and pulled my films before they closed shop.

  • not surprised

    I never really understood how this company could stay afloat. They gave away major prizes willy-nilly (ipods, cash, cintiqs, etc). I also think they paid for the back cover ad of just about every Animation Magazine issue for the last 2-3 yrs. That can’t be cheap. Were they bringing any money in? Their business plan was probably a crappy drawing of a bubble animated in Flash.

  • William

    Webhosting is so cheap nowadays… sheesh!

    TVPaint and Bauhaus software had falling out over business agreement, where TVPaint prevailed. Mirage was version of software preceeded by Aura, and many others. They maintained control of product that was already theirs. Those fellas at MyToons have history of ripping off.. Thats what happens when investors want to make the fast cash.