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Popular YouTube gaming channel Machinima lays off about 20

December 14, 2012|By Dawn C. Chmielewski
  • Machinima has laid off staff as part of a reorganization.
Machinima has laid off staff as part of a reorganization. (Luis Sinco Los Angeles Times )

Popular YouTube video-game lifestyle channel Machinima is laying off about 10% of its staff as part of a reorganization.

The company issued a statement Friday saying it is adjusting staffing to position the company to capitalize on its global growth. About 20 employees of the company's 200 were laid off as part of the reorganization, even as Machinima is hiring across key divisions including sales, marketing and product. The job cuts are in the L.A. area.

"This is growing pains. Machinima has grown a lot in a short amount of time. We had to look at the business, look at where we're focusing," Machinima Editor-in-Chief Rob Smith told the game publication Joystiq. "It has hit the editorial group, but we are still doing editorial coverage in a slightly different way."

Machinima ranks among the 10 most popular channels on YouTube, attracting more than 5 million subscribers and almost 1 billion video views. Its success in building online audiences around entertainment that would appeal to video-game aficionados led to a $35-million round of investment earlier this year, in which YouTube parent Google Inc. joined the existing backers Redpoint Ventures and MK Capital.

The channel got its start in 2000 as a website for filmmakers using video-game environments and characters to create original stories. In 2005, brothers Allen and Philip DeBevoise acquired the website and turned it into a destination for gaming and gaming culture.

Machinima has reached beyond its roots. It introduced live-action programs, including the zombie apocalypse show "Bite Me" and the retro "X-Files"-ish  show "RCVR." 

The channel has achieved success with long-form content, first with the Warner-Bros. produced “Mortal Kombat: Legacy,” based on the epic game franchise. That series alone delivered over 50 million video views, making it one of the most successful web series of all time.

This year, “Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn,” a five-part series based on the popular Microsoft game franchise, attracted 27 million views.

Employees turned to Twitter to report the job cuts. 

"Effective immediately I am no longer at Machinima," tweeted Justin Fassino. "Would love to send an official email with my contact info but they took my computer."

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