With four Emmy Awards, a TV development deal and US$1.6 million in revenues for 2015, it may seem like an unlikely time for CloudKid to close its doors. But the six-year-old Boston-based children’s media company is doing just that while it moves to join social robotics startup Jibo.
“After spending the last six years running CloudKid, we’re seeing that the content landscape has changed. The iPad didn’t even exist when we launched,” says CloudKid co-founder and creative director Dave Schlafman. “Now, there is an inherent challenge to monetizing kids content. And that trickles down to content producers. What we do is funded by marketing budgets, and they aren’t high enough to build this big well-oiled machine.”
As a creative digital content studio, CloudKid has done service work for the biggest names in the US kids media market, including PBS KIDS, Nickelodeon, Hasbro and Sesame Workshop, while also churning out original IP like web series Fizzy’s Lunch Lab (PBS KIDS) and Bro Duel for Nickelodeon (pictured).
Despite the company’s financial and creative success, Schlafman says he and his partner Matt Karl felt compelled to re-evaluate what the children’s media landscape – and their company’s role within it – looked like over the next five years.
“The answer was that there’s no shortage of content producers right now. A kid is not going to notice a difference between our games and someone else’s. When we started, we wanted to be on the risk-taking tech side, so we wanted to start winding things down now.”
Starting in January, nine of CloudKid’s current 14 full-time employees will be making the move to Jibo’s downtown Boston offices, where high-tech robotics will meet the CloudKid way of digital storytelling. Jibo is currently developing a robot designed to be the hub of the house, and one that will have seamless interaction with kids.
“The timing worked well for the partnership with Jibo,” admits Schlafman. “We actually wanted to originally create content for them, so this is a good next transition.”