Well, well, well, look who we have here. It’s Amp’d Mobile, that MVNO that came crashing down last summer. You can read the gruesome details here. Basically, they fell into so much debt that their largest creditor, Verizon, had enough and told them to pay up. Clearly, Amp’d couldn’t, and then went into bankruptcy proceedings. It all came to an end on July 23rd, when Amp’d announced that they would shut down. But now they’re back to collect $10 million they paid to creditors right before filing for Chapter 11.
Back when we were 13, we saved our money for over a year so we could buy our first electric guitar. It wasn’t the easiest of years, as we couldn’t do the things all of our friends were doing; if we spent money with them, we wouldn’t have enough for the instrument. So we skimped and saved, and eventually brought the guitar home with us. It served us well for the next four years — until we bought another one — and we still have it in the closet today. Now, how do you think we would have felt if the guitar suddenly stopped working after six months, and there wasn’t a repairman in the country that could repair it? Devastated, right? That’s surely how 13-year-old Dalton Garcia felt when his newly-bought Amp’d Mobile phone was shut off on July 31.
As most of us are aware, Amp’d Mobile is officially out of business. This is the result of their bankruptcy filing in early June, as they were over $100 million in debt. In the early stages of the hearings, it looked like Amp’d would reemerge with restructured debt settlements. However, as time wore on, Amp’d only fell further in debt to their largest creditor, Verizon Wireless. After weeks of failing to find a debtor in possession, Verizon renewed efforts to shut down the network, and on July 23, it did. As of this writing, if you had Amp’d service and haven’t ported your number, it’s back in the enormous pool of unassigned phone digits (don’t say we didn’t warn you). We’re all familiar with the outcome, but there are two pressing questions that remain: how did this really happen, and what does the result mean for cell phone users?
Apparently, Amp’d subscribers have been receiving messages over the past few days from a company called Prexar Mobile. They work from the same network as Amp’d, and have an agreement with the company to transition their subscribers to the new service. You can keep your handset and your number — but you can’t keep your minutes, no matter what your plan or status was with Amp’d. There’s just this slight problem, though: they don’t offer prepaid services.
As we give you mobile industry updates throughout the day, we’re usually focused on the news. Sure, we throw our two cents around, but it’s normally not the focus of the post. We’re going to try something different this time around, as we recently stumbled across an interview with Peter Adderton, former CEO of Amp’d Mobile. This comes from the folks at mocoNews who, as they say, are unhealthily obsessed with mobile content. You’d expect we’d be best friends by now.
It was widely reported that Amp’d would shut its doors as of midnight today, hence it was imperative to port your number before then — when Amp’d goes, so does your number. However, it appears those who haven’t yet ported their numbers have been granted a reprieve: Amp’d’s doors will remain open until July 31. Of course, you won’t be able to reach a live customer service rep if you run into a problem. They were all out the door at 12:01 a.m.
Update: They’re shutting down at 12:01 a.m. on July 24. Port your number today!
Know how much cash Amp’d Mobile has as of today? Try $9,000. Yes, it’s looking that grim for the Verizon MVNO, who filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection back in early June. Of course, Verizon isn’t too happy about this, and they’re pulling out all the stops to get Amp’d’s network shut down permanently. Can you blame them? We know we wouldn’t want some bums — who have no means to pay at the moment — mooching off our stash.
It doesn’t mean that they’ll emerge from bankruptcy, but Amp’d has reached an agreement with Verizon to stay in service during the proceedings. This extends the agreement reached last week, which was to end today. In exchange for this concession, Amp’d has dropped a lawsuit filed against Verizon after they moved to drop Amp’d from their network.
While we find the Amp’d bankruptcy case amusing in some ways, we do understand that his has a real effect on Amp’d’s loyal subscribers. That covers about 120,000 people (~200,000 subscribers minus the ~80,000 who reportedly aren’t paying their bills). Those people got a little relief yesterday, as a bankruptcy judge ruled that the company can stay up and running at least through June 25. Without a judge’s ruling or permission from the creditor (in this case Verizon Wireless), these funds would be frozen and unavailable to the company. Amp’d customers would presumably be cut off from service at that point.
Have you seen the promos on Comedy Central for their new show, Lil’ Bush? It’s about a kid version of our president cavorting with his buddies: Lil’ Cheney, Lil’ Rummy, and Lil’ Condi. We haven’t seen anything more than the brief previews, but we think it’s safe to assume that many a jab will be taken at George W.
The best part, though, is that this show started as a short on Amp’d Mobile. Soon after the five-minute shorts began appearing on the mobile network, they were Amp’s most downloaded feature. Not just at the time — ever. It became a smash with a larger audience once it was introduced to Break.com and YouTube. Eventually, Comedy Central picked it up as a full half-hour show.
We’ve opined before that management may have been the problem with Amp’d mobile. They had a quality vision, but everything came tumbling down when they didn’t have structure or strategy in place to handle an onslaught of customers. And, when customer service is that bad, it speaks further volumes of the management over them.
So, in the interest of seeing Amp’d reemerge from their bout with Chapter 11, we’re glad to see that founder and CEO Peter Adderton has left the company. Sometimes, the guy who got the ball rolling just isn’t the guy to keep it moving. This appears to be one of those cases.
We all know that Amp’d Mobile is currently going through bankruptcy hearings. We suppose that’s what happens when you sign up 200,000 customers and don’t have management strategies in place to handle that many. So when 80,000 of those subscribers stiff you on payments, yeah, you kinda did it to yourself (though that’s no excuse to not pay your bills).
There have been varying opinions on whether they will reemerge. Obviously, the company’s figureheads believe they will return stronger than ever. However, they’re in a whole boatload of debt, so restructuring that may be more than they can handle. With many of the facts still under wraps, it’s really tough to speculate at this point.
In a move that doesn’t come as a surprise to many, Amp’d Mobile has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware.
For those not familiar with Chapter 11, it means that the company is filing with the government for temporary protection from its creditors. While the company is protected under Chapter 11, it will figure out how to restructure debt and seek additional funding. However, there is always a chance it could fold.