SEver heard of Uber.com? Join the club. But the Los Angeles-based social networking startup now says it's a victim of "the crisis in the economy." Investors like Discovery Communications and Universal Music Group, which sunk up to $7.6 million in the social network-turned-publishing platform, want what's left of their money back. Discovery's investment came just last May, with the company looking to use the site for its Miami Ink and LA Ink shows on TLC. But was it really the economic meltdown, or just investors coming to their senses?Artist and designer Glenn Kaino originally envisioned the site as a social network for jetset hipsters, and his cousin Scott Sassa signed on as CEO after a spell at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins. You might remember Sassa as the CEO who presided over Friendster's slide into irrelevancy, or as a Hollywood executive managing NBC's West Coast entertainment operations. Sassa likely was the one to hustle up the investors, as well as celebritard users like Rob Lowe, Lisa Ling and Cory Kennedy. But in May, the site was drawing only half a million users a month according to Nielsen Online. (Sassa put the number at 2 million.) That's orders of magnitude smaller than similar sites like Six Apart's Vox or off-the-shelf social network Ning, either of which could have done more for Discovery with less money. Our theory: Events on Wall Street did have something to do with Uber's shutdown. But not the way Uber would like you to think — that the site was a thriving concern kneecapped by some kind of mysterious liquidity crisis. No, the market meltdown merely provided the convenient excuse to close down a stinker of a company. Expect more cash clawbacks in the months to come — from startups that should never have gotten money, in good times or bad.
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