John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Mind if I Pay These Late Fees With a Few of My Blockbuster Shares?

“We do not intend to file for bankruptcy….We have lots of plans to grow our business.”

Blockbuster spokesperson Karen Raskopf, March 3, 2009

blockbuster_sign_smashedBlockbuster in a Monday filing told the Securities and Exchange Commission what anyone who’s observed its fast-declining fortunes has known for some time now: The company isn’t sure it can stay in business much longer. In a PricewaterhouseCoopers assessment included as part of its latest 10-K, Blockbuster (BBI) acknowledged that its financial situation raises “substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern” and said it may have to close its doors if its financial situation doesn’t improve in the near future. Seems that $250 million revolving loan Blockbuster announced last week is conditional, and the video rental chain says there is “no assurance” that it can meet its requirements.

An unfortunate turn of events for Blockbuster, but far from an unexpected one. The company did not fare well in its battle against DVD-by-mail pioneer Netflix (NFLX), and its recent efforts to stay relevant have been head-shakers at best. A $1.3 billion gambit for an electronics chain that would go bankrupt less than a year later? A weak (and costly) set-top box offering that would later be made redundant by a deal with TiVo (TIVO)? A vending-machine program with partner NCR (NCR) that, like its entry into the DVD-by-mail market is late to a game it’s already losing? And all these things conceived and launched amid a challenging macroeconomic environment and constrained capital markets. Sad, really. Hard to imagine that 10 years ago Reed Hastings was doing all that he could to convince Blockbuster to buy Netflix…