Given how outspoken ESPN baseball analyst (and former Boston Red Sox pitcher) Curt Schilling can be on the air, it's not all that surprising that he's come out fervently blasting the government of Rhode Island in the wake of his video-game company, 38 Studios, laying off its entire staff Friday. If anything, the more notable element is that it's taken Schilling so long to talk about this; he was cited as "unavailable for comment" in just about every report on 38 Studios last week. Despite the delay from the news to his reaction, it's still worth relaying some of what what Schilling had to say Tuesday, which mostly focused on blaming governor Lincoln Chafee for hurting the company's public image:
“The governor is not operating in the best interest of the company by any stretch, or the taxpayers, or the state,’’ Schilling told the Providence Journal, Rhode Island’s largest newspaper. “We’re trying to save this company and we’re working 24/7. The public commentary has been as big a piece of what’s happening to us as anything out there.’’ The former baseball star also disclosed that he has invested some $50 million of his own money into 38 Studios, and he risks losing it all. “To be clear, I’ve never taken a penny out of this company,’’ Schilling told the newspaper. “If this company fails, I will be financially devastated, and so will other people.’’
Of course, Chafee doesn't exactly concur: Late Tuesday Chafee rebutted Schilling’s accusations, in particular that his pessimistic statements about the viability of 38 Studios deterred outsiders from saving the company:
“Investors are not going to be scared away by some governor’s comments," Chafee said at a news conference at the State House. “It just defies logic. Investors look at the bottom line: ‘Can I make money.’"
Without being on the inside, it's tough to properly judge who deserves how much blame, but both sides have a few points. Chaffee's comments don't entirely ring true; if a state governor, and one whose state is as closely financially tied to a company as Rhode Island was to 38 Studios, is publicly raising questions about their solvency and announcing to the world that their checks aren't clearing, it doesn't defy logic at all that said comments will make outside investors wary. Moreover, the government's handling of the situation doesn't exactly speak to maximizing the remaining value of their investment; with a little less public indigination and a little more behind-the-scenes work, they might have negotiated a sale of 38 Studios to another industry company and received at least a substantial portion of their money back.