On Friday, the beleaguered television-streaming service Aereo announced it would file for Chapter 11 reorganization. Founder and CEO Chet Kanojia wrote in a blog post that the move would "permit Aereo to maximize the value of its business and assets without the extensive cost and distraction of defending drawn out litigation in several courts."
It's been a long journey since the cloud-based television streaming company got started three years ago — Aereo's promise to change the way we watched television was immediately met by a lawsuit brought on by major TV networks.
Says Kanojia, "I think we struck a chord in a lot of people’s hearts that there was something arcane about how television was distributed and watched.”
Aereo celebrated some victories: this year, when ABC's live-stream of the Oscars failed where Aereo's succeeded. But ultimately, a 6-3 vote from the Supreme Court found that the company violated federal copyright law by retransmitting copyrighted programs without paying a fee. In other words, the court didn't buy Aereo's technological argument.
When asked about the court's ruling, Kanojia doesn't mince words: “We believe the court got it wrong.”
The company was considered a favorite among cord cutters—people who favor streaming services over cable—and there's been a rise in networks jumping on the streaming bandwagon since Aereo lost in the high court. "I think we certainly recognized the game was evolving, and we taught the consumers that there was a different way of thinking about entertainment," says Kanojia.
And in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision, there have even been companies looking to take Aereo's place.
In spite of Aereo calling it quits, Kanojia remains optimistic about small companies' ability to disrupt at large. As he points out, "Amazon used to be a very small company when it started, and it's not that long ago."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misspelled Chet Kanojia's name. The text has been corrected.