Spike pikers strike back

Spike pikers strike back

Former Spike employees have vehemently denied recent claims by a Spike executive that seven staff were made redundant because their skills were irrelevant.

A number of former employees told ARN the mass exodus of Spike's core team of Web developers, business managers and technical experts to rival start-up Oven Digital was entirely voluntary.

Former Spike production manager and multimedia officer David Dwyer left Spike two weeks ago with six other employees to join Oven.

Dwyer, who is now the production editor at Oven, claims that within the past year 12 people have willingly left Spike, the majority of them for Oven, because "they were unhappy with Spike management".

Ben White, now senior producer of APL Digital and an ex-Spike employee, resigned just over two weeks ago because of an acute dislike of the work environment at Spike. "We were worked like dogs just to be abused," White claimed.

"I was offered more responsibility and a better package but I didn't want to stay there. It was a very stressful environment."

Apparently the stress is to continue with White claiming that Spike is attempting to sue Oven for "poaching" its talent.

Dwyer thinks the whole situation is ludicrous. "There is nothing that legally stops us from going to another company. It wasn't written into any of our contracts, I didn't even sign a contract," Dwyer asserted.

Dwyer explained that Oven is a natural haven for "some of Australia's foremost digital media talent, many of whom have recently left long-standing senior positions at Spike".

Oven is an international Web development company with offices in New York, San Francisco and Toronto and is in the process of establishing an Australian presence in Sydney, Dwyer said. It will focus on the provision of media and broadband content, putting it in direct competition with Spike.

Despite statements from Spike CEO Chris O'Hanlon claiming that seven staff were made redundant due to the irrelevancy of their skills to Spike's new multimedia direction, job advertisements appeared in Saturday's May 1 edition of The Sydney Morning Herald for senior art directors, application developers and Web site producers.

According to White, these are nearly the exact same positions left vacant by the departing employees.

Spike claims that although it has "reduced" the number of its Sydney-based employees, the overall number of Australian employees has increased and additional management staff are being added in the United States.

Both Dwyer and White explained the actions of O'Hanlon as a man desperate to protect his company in the build-up to going public.

"Going public means there is a lot of change going on and seeing as all the people who left Spike were the core of the company this is the only defence he [O'Hanlon] has got," White claimed.

Officials from Spike declined to make any additional comment after ARN contacted ex-Spike employees.

Meanwhile, Spike announced last week it has raised $13.75 million in a pre-IPO arrangement with finance and investment group Hunter Bay Partners.

Raised by way of a convertible preference share issue, the funds will be used to support Spike's offshore expansion and plans to move into media content production while leveraging the company's experience in the provision of Web development services and infrastructure.

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