Gizmondo's Spectacular Crack-up
This month's Wired Magazine includes a feature about the gaming gadget company that continued to live la vida high-burnrate long after their mobile device bombed... then came that mysterious, high-speed Ferrari crash on PCH.
Wired editor Robert Capps tells BoingBoing,
We recruited investigative reporter Randall Sullivan (who literally wrote the book on the Biggie Smalls murder/Rampart scandal) and commissioned famed comic book artist Jae Lee to illustrate the piece (Captain America, Fantastic-4, the Hulk, X-Men, Spiderman, and is illustrating Steven King's Dark Tower -- some say he's the next Frank Miller).
Snip from Sullivan's piece:
The crash became an instant media sensation. In Los Angeles, the destruction of the rare million-dollar Ferrari - and the strange story that rose from the wreckage - dominated local radio talk shows and TV newscasts for days. For most, it was just another diversion, the newest twist on the high-speed-chase formula the city loves. But the public attention would spell disaster for a handful of people connected to Eriksson, many of them fellow participants in one of the biggest debacles in the history of the videogame industry: the epic meltdown of Gizmondo Europe, Eriksson's former company.Link
In the early 2000s, Gizmondo rose to prominence as the maker of a handheld gaming device designed to compete with Nintendo's DS and Sony's PlayStation Portable. The company touted its gadget as the next big thing in pocket electronics and, at one point, talked of moving half a million units in just a few months. But critics panned the device, and it failed to entice many customers. A month before Eriksson went off the road, Gizmondo declared bankruptcy, having hemorrhaged nearly $400 million in less than four years.
It might have ended there, another high-flying company with big ambitions and a lousy product. But the crash put a spotlight on Eriksson and raised a series of questions: Who is he? What kind of person drives nearly 200 mph on a coastal highway? The answers led to even more puzzles. In just a few years, it seems, Eriksson went from languishing in a European jail cell to making millions as a tech executive to, even more improbably, becoming deputy commissioner of antiterrorism for an obscure Southern California transit police force. Before Eriksson lost control of his Ferrari in Malibu, no one in the US really cared about his strange story. But after the supercar came apart, Eriksson would find every inch of his life under scrutiny by the LA County Sheriff's Department, federal law-enforcement officers, and the media. That's when Eriksson and a tangle of cohorts would find out just how large a little bump could loom.