|September 1, 2011|
|VMS Closes its Doors|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|VMS, the 30-year-old media monitoring company which was a dominant player and icon in the PR services sector for three decades, shut down operations and laid off its entire staff today.|
Staffers were told of the news during a noon meeting and conference call today from New York. Company executives spent Thursday weighing options after VMS' primary lender, Capital One, said Wednesday that it would no longer fund operations.
VMS ad from 1995.
The company is believed to have filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy, although that has not yet been confirmed.
CEO David Stephens, who took over for Peter Wengryn last fall, told staffers that high costs from rent agreements, coupled with VMS' lack of market share in the social media monitoring space were among factors contributing to its downfall.
"I think people are shocked," said Darren Drevik, communications and marketing director of VMS who joined the company last year, told O'Dwyer's.
Staffers were paid through today but were not offered severance or ongoing health benefits, said Drevik. Unresolved payments like expenses, as well as communications with customers, will be handled by a trustee to be appointed by a bankruptcy court.
VMS, or Video Monitoring Services of America, provided videotape copies of news clips which were a PR industry staple for decades, but the evolution of digital video made for cheaper alternatives and a rise in competition from companies like Vocus, Cision and Critical Mention, among several others, in recent years. VMS also monitored advertising content.
Wengryn joined VMS as its chief financial officer in 1999 and was tapped as CEO three years later. He handled the company’s transition from providing tape of broadcast clips to a services and consulting business steeped in monitoring.
The company was founded by Robert Cohen in 1981. He died in June at 82.
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