Tough week for Doug Richard as Library House hits the rocks

A bad week for Doug Richard gets worse as Library House hits the rocks following massive scaling back at TruTap.

By
5th December 2008 at 5:51 pm

Early yesterday afternoon I found myself sitting opposite Doug Richard who had graciously agreed to do an interview for the SmallBizPod podcast (now released).  He was generous with his time, but as we chatted in The Hospital Club in London, it transpires that the company he is best known for was itself in intensive care.

Doug Richard - Library House to go bust?

Doug Richard - Library House hits the rocks

Reports in Paid Content a few hours later and then today in East of England publication Business Weekly broke the news that Library House has in essence gone bust.  Short of a last minute rescue package it will enter administration.

The conversation I had with Doug, particularly a discussion about cutting costs to survive a downturn now seems particularly poignant.

And not just for the ex-Dragon and Tory adviser on business support himself, but for all those who’ve lost their jobs at Library House and TruTap, another Richard business in trouble as reported by Techcrunch UK earlier this week.

Having mentioned I was interviewing Doug on Twitter yesterday, I received an email from an anonymous, but apparently well informed source, who claims that another company Richard chairs, VizWoz – a virtual community for teens – is also in trouble.  I have no way of substantiating this rumour, but if it proves true, Doug could be facing the kind of media storm that another celebrity entrepreneur, Rachel Elnaugh, endured when Red Letter Days went bust.

All of which is very sad, but I suspect par for the course when it comes to the kind of high risk investments that entrepreneurs like Doug Richard are used to accepting.

Nevertheless, the extraordinary economic situation has clearly helped to dent the former Dragon’s strike rate.  As he said to me yesterday:

I’d consider myself a base hitter so far (to use an American baseball term).  I start them, I grow them, I sell them.  My name hasn’t been attached to a YouTube, my name hasn’t been attached to a Google, so I’ve yet to view myself as a success.  One of these days I think I’ll hit a home run and I’m still working on that.

When one of Britain’s best known entrepreneurs has a week like this one, it’s clear that others in the web and technology industry are going to face similarly tough times.

Batten down the hatches.

[Picture credit: Benjamin Ellis @ Flickr]

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Alex is the founder and editor of SmallBizPod, the UK's first podcast dedicated to small business, start-ups and entrepreneurship. Alex writes about topical small business issues, entrepreneurs and anything else that catches his eye here on the small business blog. http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk

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  1. Dan Wilson says:

    Alex,

    Fascinating teaser for the podcast leater in the month. 😉

    I’m personally intruiged by how he seemed as a man in a difficult time. It’s always fascinating to think about the human response to such situations at these.

  2. Thanks Dan, I found him pretty relaxed, although perhaps philosophical in hindsight is the best description. Bitter about Gordon Brown, though.

  3. Richard Boyd says:

    “Bitter about Gordon Brown, though”

    Sorry Alex I nearly choked on that statement with the pound currently @ 1.146 against the Euro, if that isn’t a clear sign to all of us that the world thinks Brown’s policies suck there will never be a clearer sign.

    I feel sorry for Doug but I have to say all around me clients, friends…95%+ of people in business that I am in contact with are very very worried people.

    I have never been so glad that I run two companies. Since I took on Safety Scene, which at the time seemed like a terrible burden because I was so strapped for time and energy but without it and in this climate instead of aging about 10 years in the last 10 months I think I would have aged 20.

  4. Richard Boyd says:

    Sorry should have added, keep up the good work.

  5. Gordon Brown’s got a lot to answer for, but so have the banks and the public. To me the chart I compiled in June says a lot http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk/blog/2008/07/04/long-boom-long-bust-why-business-could-get-brutal/
    … I agree things are going to be painful.

  6. Richard Boyd says:

    Yes things will be very painful, after Xmas is when I expect to see some seriously horrific statistics, if not and I will be absolutely overjoyed if I’m wrong, then it’s fingers crossed and carry on. Otherwise we are looking at a wind down and sell off of stock by June.

  7. I really hope yours and other businesses can find a way to hang on in there. Good to know you’ve got fingers in more than one pie though – sounds like a smart move. Meanwhile my fingers are firmly crossed.

  8. Richard Boyd says:

    Thanks Alex, likewise for yourself, friends and family.

  9. […] a rebuttal. VCs and Angel investors are certainly struggling, blows have been felt even by big name entrepreneurs like Doug Richard. Does that mean the end of the VC world? Of course not. Models are shifting – for example Scott […]

  10. Adam Arnold says:

    I was aware of the Library House collapse, but not of the other two. It will be interesting to see how Doug picks himself up from this – I very much doubt this will be the last we see of the Dragon!

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