College Online Music Service Ruckus Closes Down

This story was written by Rafat Ali.
Ruckus Networks, the Herndon, VA-based college music and digital media service, has closed down, according to a notice on its site, picked up by TC. The company started in 2004 as a subsidized subscription service in about 82 colleges and universities in U.S., but didn't do as well, and retooled a few month later in early 2007 as a free, ad-supported, Windows Media-DRM laden downloadable service for anyone with a .edu address. At that point, for an extra $15 a semester, students could also access 4,000 movies and TV shows. University faculty and alumni could also use the network, but had to pay a monthly fee.

But as with college students everywhere, the alternatives were too lucrative (being free and unrestricted: the service wouldn't play on iPods or even MSFT's own Zunes), as other competing services from *Napster*, RealNetworks' Rhapsody and Cdigix also found out along the way. In fact Cdigix closed down its college service early 2007.

Ruckus was backed by Battery Ventures, Shelter Capita, Eastward Capital and Pinnacle Ventures, and raised a total of $22.7 million in two rounds, as of late 2006. Not clear: if it raised any more money after that. It even hired digital media vet Michael Bebel as CEO then. Bebel was previously CEO of Pressplay when it was acquired by Roxio, and became president and COO of the Napster (NSDQ: NAPS) division.

That didn't work either, apparently, and Ruckus was later sold to TotalMusic, the major labels-led digital music service that didn't materialize away after a DoJ antitrust investigation. The Sony (NYSE: SNE) and UMG music JV wanted to use Ruckus' technology as as a backend service, but that never happened as well.

By Rafat Ali