Here’s What #DSE2020 Organisers Walked Away With

Adrian J Cotterill, Editor-in-Chief

You may not be surprised to learn that before Exponation, LLC, producer of Digital Signage Expo (DSE), LED Specifier Summit, Lightshow West, and West Coast Lighting Insider filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy before disappearing, leaving behind debts of USD 2.8 Million, it managed to get a fair bit of money out of the company to friends and family.

In the 90 days leading up to the liquidation of all assets and permanent closure of the company…

  • Owner, Angelone Varrone paid himself a total of $42,059.99, the last payment made just three days before Chapter 7, on September 18, 2020.
  • Karen Varrone, apparently a consultant to the company as well as being Angelone’s second wife, was paid $13,300, the last of these payments made on September 15, 2020, a week before Chapter 7.
  • Their long term PR agency partner Geri Wolf was paid a total of $8,400, the last payment made on September 5, 2020.
  • rAVePubs was paid USD 12,000 in the middle of August, 2020

Despite Exponation LLC’s apparent financial woes this year, it didn’t stop three of the registered owner / shareholders in taking out some big sums in 2020…

  • Angelo Varrone took a 2020 salary of $228,511.20 (slightly down from the previous year which saw a salary of $357,304.06 and a distribution of $349,608.00
  • Chris Gibbs took a 2020 salary of $207,666.56 (in 2019 he took home a salary of $349,608.00 and a distribution of $136,800.00)
  • Danielle Gibbs took a 2020 salary of $32,300.00 (in 2019 she took home a salary of $54,800.00 and a distribution of $136,800.00).

As always, the losers are the exhibitors, both large and small and those companies and individuals who purchased conference or attendee passes. This is not a small sum either, Exponation LLC left the digital signage industry out of pocket to the tune of two million dollars (some of the money owing was to banks, hotels and real estate companies).

2 Responses to “Here’s What #DSE2020 Organisers Walked Away With”

  1. Bart DeCanne Says:

    If you think about it, you have to believe this was likely premeditated.
    This kind of tradeshow is fully paid by exhibitors and attendees in advance, so does not make money at the time of the event.
    So let’s just keep postponing the event until close to 270 days from the original show date (after which contractually refunds were required), then file bankruptcy 50 days before the show data. A convenient out.

  2. Hinckley Says:

    You’re out of your mind if you think this was pre-meditated. Sure, they apparently made out okay. But a final distribution of $42k and a salary of $228,511.20 in the final year doesn’t make up for an annual salary of $357,304.06 and a distribution of $349,608.00. I think their incentive to keep making $700,000 a year slightly exceeds their parachute of a final payment of about $300,000.

    I’m sure they postponed and postponed in the desperate hope they could deliver on the product and keep that cash-flow machine printing money.

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