Inition London’s office closes after bailiffs notice is served
The future of Inition London is in doubt after its office was suddenly closed this week. Its staff were today (27 September) informed that they have all been made redundant with immediate effect.
Based in Shoreditch, Inition is an agency specialising in virtual and augmented reality content. It counts Google, Vodafone, Adidas, Jaguar and Samsung among its previous clients.
However, on 26 September its employees were prevented from entering the Curtain Road office and basement studio after the landlord instructed a firm called Quality Bailiffs to take possession of the premises.
The Drum has contacted several senior employees within the company but was awaiting formal comment at the time of writing.
Inition was founded in 2001 by Jim Gant, Stuart Cupit, Andy Millns and Chris Sutton.
Sutton left in 2005 and the compay was then sold to The Parity Group in 2012. Millns and Grant subsequently left in in 2016 but Cupit is still listed as the company's chief technology officer.
According to a filing on Companies House, it owed £1m to group undertakings for the year ending 31 December 2017.
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In the face of mounting losses, The Parity Group then sold Inition to a Dubai-based company called Digital Communications, led by entrepreneur Abdul Bakhrani, in April 2018 for £300,000.
The Drum was unable to reach Bakhrani for comment.
Inition has not published a financial report for 2018. However, it was still listed as 'Active' on Companies House at the time of writing.
One staffer said on Thursday 26 September that people were waiting on information from its owners.
They said staff had been stopped from entering the premises to collect personal possessions without arranging a visit and paying for the time of a bailiff to open the office and supervise each person.
They described the situation as "very strange and distressing".
It has since emerged that staff were informed that they would all be made redundant from 27 September.
The agency had worked with many advertisers on VR and AR projects.
Just a day prior to the shock closure, Inition had been celebrating its nomination for a Lovie Award for a project with BBDO Dublin for the Road Safety Authority in Ireland. It had been asked to create an immersive experience to bring to life the potential consequences of drink-driving. The tech was taken to schools and offices around the country and proved so impactful that the RSA had planned to bring it back in 2020.
Earlier in the month it also launched a campaign for Mastercard to support its Rugby World Cup sponsorship. The agency created the first virtual reality (VR) "tackle" which allowed members of the public to experience the sensation of a professional rugby tackle while wearing a haptic feedback bodysuit and VR goggles.
Mixed fortunes of VR studios
Much of Inition's work had focused on virtual reality, a space of mixed fortunes after an initial influx of companies eager to experiment with the technology.
Some of the industry's biggest players have invested hundreds of millions into VR content but ultimately struggled to make a long term business case for it.
Facebook, for example, shuttered its virtual reality content shop, the Oculus Story Studio, in 2017 while entertainment giant Imax struggled to justify investment into seven virtual reality "centres" it launced in 2017 - including one in Machester. It eventually annouced their closure in December 2018.
Just a few months later, in March 2019, Google confirmed that it was closing its VR film unit, Spotlight Stories, after six years.