Bankruptcy Hits Cambridge Analytica
Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the centre of this year’s Facebook privacy row, filed for voluntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy in a New York court late on Thursday.
Cambridge Analytica LLC listed assets in the range of $100,001 to $500,000 and liabilities in the range of $1 million to $10 million.
Cambridge Analytica and its British parent SCL Elections Ltd said earlier this month that they would shut down immediately and begin bankruptcy proceedings after suffering a sharp drop in business.
For months, Cambridge Analytica employees had heard whispers of a rebrand that would save their business.
On Thursday, any lingering hope was extinguished when the embattled data firm linked to Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign declared bankruptcy despite weeks of efforts to leave behind its controversial past.
Even before CEO Alexander Nix was ousted after an undercover investigation showed him bragging about using sex workers to entrap the political opponents of prospective clients, the data firm was preparing to combine with parent company SCL under a new company called Emerdata. There was talk of rebranding under a new name, Anaxi, or possibly Firecrest Technologies, according to three former senior employees at the company, each of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to protect their interest in finding new employment.
But on May 2, without warning, Cambridge Analytica’s acting CEO Julian Wheatland announced to some 40 staffers in the New York office that Cambridge Analytica and SCL were no more, that the companies were filing for bankruptcy, and that employees should clean out their desks by 12:30. The meeting, which was postponed half a dozen times already, had started by that time.
The staffers were packed into a conference room, with Wheatland at the head of the table. As he read a scripted speech, Wheatland “got emotional,” according to former employees. He didn’t mention severance or next steps. The CEO simply told those in the room to send any questions to the human resources representative.
“He literally grabbed his belongings and got on a plane,” said one senior employee. “He didn’t even say goodbye.”
The rebrand now dead, Cambridge Analytica’s remaining U.S. employees filed out of their office on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and into P.J. Moran’s, a nearby Irish pub.
“You know how people go through the stages of grief? This was acceptance,” a former executive said. “You could kind of see the writing on the wall, but most people never thought it was going to be total bankruptcy.”