Print View

Inside the Tokyopop Restructuring

The Cutbacks, the New Directions

Published: 06/08/2008, Last Updated: 06/09/2008 05:29am

We’ve been able to obtain more information on the Tokyopop restructuring announced last week (see “Tokyopop Splits into Two Companies”) from former Tokyopop publisher Mike Kiley, who will be taking a yet-to-be-named position at Tokyopop Media. 

 

We asked Kiley to clarify the timing of the publishing cutbacks.  “The easiest way to explain it is that we’re going to be at an average of 225-250 releases in the period of time that begins in September of this year,” he said.  “Between September and December of this year, I believe there are 20-22 releases per month and an equivalent number [per month] scheduled for the calendar year 2009.  I would guess the total releases for '08 will go down to the very low 400s--a diminution of about 80 titles.”

 

We also asked about the breakdown of the publishing cutbacks between Tokyopop’s various publishing lines (OEL, licensed, Japanese, Cine-manga, etc.), but Kiley was less able to provide detail there.  “That’s difficult to say. We’re working through that with retail; we’re working through that with our partners abroad.  I don’t think it would be fair to divvy those up yet by product line or by product type.”

 

At a fundamental level, we wondered about the reasons for the corporate reorganization into two business units, and asked why two lines of business led to the decision to split into two companies.  “I think the most immediate and practical answer is that we wanted to set things up in ways that would very clearly and definitively allow those businesses to focus on what they need to do to succeed,” Kiley responded.  “The goals in each company are different and the achievement of those goals is more realistic, more possible if everyone working in each of those companies is very clearly focused.” 

 

Kiley did not directly respond when we asked if there would be different ownership structures or financing between the two companies, but said, “That would be a little premature to say at this point. Right now the main goal of this restructure is to allow each of the businesses to focus on what they need to do.”

 

Kiley would also not provide detail on the revenue streams for Tokyopop Media.  “We’re going to be able to be more forthcoming with the business model for Tokyopop Media in several months,” he said. “Clearly this is an area (because it’s related to the very innovative exploitation of digital platforms, (and) technologies that are extremely cutting edge and new) where our competitive advantage is very important to us, so I think that we’ve made a great start in this area and there are a lot of really exciting plans, but I don’t know if we’re quite prepared to reveal something as specific as revenue streams.

 

He did say that Tokyopop Media would operate the Tokyopop.com Website, although it would continue to promote the Tokyopop publishing properties. 

 

The 39-person reduction in force was about 35-40% of total employment at the U.S. offices of Tokyopop.  “Every department in the company was affected,” Kiley told us.  “I can tell you that the reduction in force was mainly a function of right-sizing our release schedule, that those people that were closest to the actual production of physical books were more heavily impacted than in more general support categories.”  Asked whether Tokyopop was getting rid of its sales and marketing staff, as speculated by some, Kiley said “No.  HarperCollins clearly is our sales and distribution and fulfillment partner, but no, we still have marketing entities and sales support entities in both of the new companies.”

 

We also asked Kiley for his current thoughts on the changes at Tokyopop. 

 

"I sent out a message Thursday night to all of the manga writers and artists that we work with, telling them to hang tight. We realize this is a tempestuous time for them. And that we would be in the process of reaching out to them on their specific projects over the next few days. That was an important thing for us to do to quell any anxiety on their part. And other than that, we’re beginning to just get down to business executing the plans in these two divisions.

 

"We’re a fairly small company.  We don’t have hundred of people here and we worked together with some of these people for years and years and years.  You don’t end relationships like that, personal or professional, without some sadness involved. We went through that, we’re dealing with that. We’ve got the remaining crew focused on doing what they need to do.

 

"On the publishing side, although I won’t be directly involved, I’m actually very excited about this direction because there’s simply too much product being published. The market can’t absorb it. Retail’s been telling us that for several months now and so, to use a horrible business cliche, we think we’ve right-sized the release calendar to reflect current conditions. I think the remaining list is going to be fantastic. 

 

"On the Tokyopop Media side, that’s the brave new world. We’ve been investing in that business internally for a couple of years now, and we finally brought over some significant firepower to really take that to the next level.

 

"We’re Tokyopop.  We do ridiculous things and reinvent ourselves all the time. That’s who we are."

 
 
Updated 'Dungeon!' Game
From WotC in June
Wizards of the Coast will release an updated version of the classic fantasy board game.