OK this just came out of nowhere. The last news item for the week at StarTrek.com, the official site for Star Trek, is titled “Goodbye from the STARTREK.COM Team” In short it states that CBS Interactive is restructuring and that the entire StarTrek.com team “has been eliminated. Effective immediately.” It also states “We don’t know the ultimate fate of this site, which has served millions of Star Trek fans for the last thirteen years.” There is also a big banner on the homepage that says ‘FAREWELL.’
UPDATED: Deja vu?
TrekMovie.com has learned that the StarTrek.com cut was part of a larger restructuring and cost cutting at CBS Interactive. Apparently there were dozens of people laid off across CBS in addition to the StarTrek.com team. But StarTrek.com seems to be the only case where an entire team running a specific site was let go. StarTrek.com is somewhat unique within the CBS empire as the only site for a legacy brand (for example, CBS continue to syndicate and license “I Love Lucy,” but have no dedicated site for that brand). It could be that some bean counter took a look StarTrek.com it and realized that since there was no currently running first run Star Trek TV series and that the new Star Trek movie was a Paramount property, that the site was expendable. Two years ago when Viacom split, Paramount Digital (the former home for StarTrek.com) was shut down…putting the future StarTrek.com into doubt. With CBS Corporation being the new home for the Star Trek brand, CBS Interactive decided to take StarTrek.com over. It is possible the same thing might happen again. However, that time the team wasn’t let go.
UPDATE 2: Official Statement from CBS
News of layoffs at CBS Interactive were reported across the web, mostly focusing on the firings at CBS News (conflicting reports have it at either seven or twenty CBSNews.com employees fired). CBS issued the following statement about the layoffs, but there was no mention of StarTrek.com:
Along with the core success of CBSsports.com, new online sites from Last.fm to Dotspotter have infused invaluable DNA into the division, and are actively translating their experience in community-building to all of the Company’s properties and content. In the coming year, we intend to build on our success by expanding on that strategy of building communities online. Part of achieving this goal is reorganizing the way we do business to align the division’s workforce with our new vision, including increasing our operations in the Bay Area — the heart of so much of this activity. We’re confident that CBS Interactive’s focus on consumer involvement will help the Division experience another record year of growth in ’08 and beyond
StarTrek.com was running out of the LA Area, so it is possible it will be reborn in the Bay Area, but it doesn’t appear that any of the current team was offered the opportunity to move. At this point it is still unclear if the site has any future at all.
UPDATE 3 – A Message From Tim Gaskill
StarTrek.com Senior Producer Tim Gaskill made the following statement in the talkback section below
I would just like to pass on a quick note of gratitude to thank the people who supported STARTREK.COM all these years. At this point, it’s still a bit confusing as to what has happened, but maybe it will all make sense in the weeks to come. I hope something lives on in the form of STARTREK.COM, as this is the golden franchise and I can’t really see the site disappearing completely. We shall see.
Thanks to Anthony for his support and his recognition as to what we do/did at ST.COM. It is /was a completely different animal to the independent sites such as this one and he recognizes that.
There will be more news to add soon, so I will wait until more is known, but again, thanks to the fans and their infinite diversity in infinite combinations.
UPDATE 4: Dec 17th Statement Plus More
Read the new official statement and more info in the latest update
On a personal note, over the 16 months since TrekMovie.com has been active, I have got to know the guys at StarTrek.com. We see each other at all the same events and email each other regularly. I consider them friends and colleagues and Marc Wade, Tim Gaskill, Sandy Stone, Larry Nemecek and the rest of the gang are all huge Trek fans who are dedicated to the franchise and the fans. I certainly hope that CBS are not planning on treating Trek just like another one of their TV properties and folding it into CBS.COM, like they do for CSI for example. StarTrek.com has been around since the early days of the Internet over a decade ago (including some time on the MSN Network). Although sites like this one and Memory Alpha have cropped up since, the official site still serves a vital function in the online world of Trek. And that function should have dedicated Trekkies involved. One last note to CBS…couldn’t you have waited until after Christmas?
Trekkies love a good campaign. Well the ‘farewell’ article noted:
If you have comments, please send them to editor @ startrek.com – we hope someone at CBS will read them.
I have sent an email letting them know how I feel, maybe you should do the same.
TrekMovie.com will keep track of developments and report them as they are learned.