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'Abrupt, Uncoordinated Wind-Down': Popular Employee Rewards Company Blueboard Shutters

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Blueboard's home page as of March 12, 2024.  (Screenshot)

Updated 1 p.m. Tuesday

Popular employee rewards software company Blueboard abruptly ceased operations this week, KQED has learned.

“Effective immediately, we are ceasing our operations and shutting down our website and applications. We will not be able to deliver any services going forward,” the company wrote in an email to users on Friday.

Founded in San Francisco in 2014, Blueboard offered software for companies to organize rewards and recognize employees with gifts or activities. A message on the company’s now-defunct website simply states, “As of March 12, 2024, Blueboard has ceased its operations. To everyone that supported us over the years, thank you.”

Blueboard raised a seed funding round in 2015 and Series A in 2020, according to Crunchbase. However, financial struggles ultimately toppled the company, which moved its headquarters to San Diego in 2017.

“Blueboard has been working for many months on securing funding to continue our operations, but unfortunately, we were unsuccessful,” the company wrote in its email to users.

It isn’t yet clear whether its users will be able to use rewards banked in the system.

“There are a few parties working toward a resolution,” CEO and co-founder Taylor Smith told KQED.

Blueboard’s creditor shut the company down last week, Smith wrote on Linkedin on Monday. The company is now going through a business liquidation process, he wrote, called an assignment for the benefit of creditors (ABC).

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They are also seeking a new buyer to salvage some of the rewards and programs the company offered, according to Smith.

“While ultimately the secured creditor shut us down, I never should have had us in the position where that was a possible option. The speed of the closure took us by surprise and led to an abrupt, uncoordinated wind-down,” Taylor wrote. “Our clients and many reward recipients were seriously affected, and I am incredibly sorry for the chaos that we created.”

Blueboard claimed to have about 500 customers at the time it closed, CFO Scott Broomfield wrote on LinkedIn over the weekend.

In online message boards, Blueboard users clamored for more information about the closure and whether they could access their accounts.

“A ‘fantastic’ case study in how NOT to shutdown a company,” a user wrote on Hacker News, a message board run by the technology accelerator, Y Combinator. “No mention of returning funds was made, which is the #1 question of (sic) any customer of theirs needs to know. A close #2 would be the status of awards that were currently in process or booked, also not mentioned in the email.”

On X, the website formerly known as Twitter, one user wrote: “Wow @blueboard is really just going to close up shop and keep the $500 they owe my wife?”

On Friday, Blueboard had not yet issued any Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notifications, which provide advance notice of mass layoffs, according to the state’s Employment Development Department. Employers are required to give a 60-day notice to employees and government representatives before closing a plant or laying off large numbers of employees.

This is a developing story and will be updated. 

Editor’s note: KQED is among the companies that contracted with Blueboard for employee rewards.

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