Partnership between Aspenite, ESPN ends
An Aspen resident who dreamed up a unique online trivia game has ended a partnership with espn.com, but says he’s looking for another partner to expand his business.Bruce Kallenberg, whose TriviaShootout appeared on espn.com’s fantasy sports page last December, disappeared in June when he and the sports network decided to end their relationship. The game had several different trivia contests that paid between $1 and $5,000. Its profited were derived from monthly subscription fees.But Kallenberg said the partnership with such a big company was frustrating since he ended up being “a small piece in a huge empire.”We felt that we should have gotten more attention than we got,” he said. “As a small company I could get something done in an hour that it would take [ESPN] a month to do. It’s just the way they operate, with a bureaucratic process. We’re more entrepreneurial than that and can change on a dime.”But an anonymous e-mail sent to The Aspen Times said that the sudden cancellation of TriviaShootout left many players in the lurch.”TriviaShootout was abruptly canceled on the eve of the big monthly $5,000 game,” according to the e-mail. “For reasons unknown, it took nearly three more months before Kallenberg began to pay frustrated subscribers/winners the money supposedly held in their accounts.”Officials with espn.com could not be reached for comment.Kallenberg said the end of his agreement with the sports company and the $5,000 game was coincidental. He agreed that it took awhile to pay subscribers what they were owed, but said they have all now been paid, regardless of a delay of two and a half months, rather than within 30 days, as was promised to subscribers.”That was an issue because of a contractual dispute between us and ESPN that eventually got settled,” he said.Although online gambling is illegal by federal law, TriviaShootout went ahead regardless of its cash pay-outs because the game is categorized as “predominantly a game of skill,” Kallenberg said. The game offered three skill levels.No one had to be an expert to play. At espn.com, TriviaShootout was, of course, all about sports trivia. Now, Kallenberg said he is talking to several major Internet companies to branch out into different topics, including television, music and history.”Eventually we want to give people who subscribe to the service a choice. You don’t have to play just one game, you can play them all,” he said. “It shouldn’t be just sports, it should be an every-walk-of-life-type thing. We were limited by the marketing done by ESPN, and now we need a broader Internet company.”Kallenberg, who has lived in Aspen for 12 years, is a former Wall Street executive.”Everything was settled amicably with ESPN, but now we have different visions for what our future is going to be,” he said.Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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