When the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica announced last week it would be closing its doors and filing for bankruptcy in the wake of the Facebook Inc data scandal, speculation mounted that it would be revived under the guise of two new companies set up in London. Not so, said Nigel Oakes, the founder of Cambridge Analytica’s British affiliate, SCL Group. “It’s the end of the show,” he said by phone Tuesday. “The whole lot is gone. There’s no secret. For anything like this to recreate itself you need a team of people to work together but nobody is working together. Everybody has gone off to do their own things.”
Several media outlets had pointed to filings on UK business registry Companies House showing Cambridge Analytica executives had set up a London-based firm in August 2017 called Emerdata Ltd. Rebekah and Jennifer Mercer, the daughters of conservative hedge fund tycoon and Trump supporter Robert Mercer, joined the board in March.
Oakes said the original idea was to acquire Cambridge Analytica and SCL and put them under one roof. Now Emerdata is also in administration, he said. Firecrest Technologies Ltd, another company created in March by former Cambridge Analytica Chief Executive Officer Alexander Nix, would also be wound down, he said. Firecrest’s main shareholder was Emerdata, according to company filings. Nix declined to comment when reached by phone.
Both companies were set up before revelations from a whistle blower were released in March that Cambridge Analytica had misused data from millions of Facebook users that underpinned work on US President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Oakes didn’t say what would happen to the company’s intellectual property or the voter profile data it had built. “That’s the end of it,” Oakes said. “The whole group has been closed down. There’s no other organization that’s been created.”
Cambridge Analytica announced last week that it was beginning bankruptcy proceedings, saying the media storm over its use of Facebook data had scared clients away. The scandal worsened with the release of an undercover video showing Nix talking about the use of bribery to trap politicians in foreign election campaigns. The company then suspended Nix while it started an independent investigation. The results of that investigation challenged some of the allegations made about how the firm acquired Facebook data, but the company concluded it still couldn’t continue.
“Over the past several months, Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of numerous unfounded accusations and, despite the company’s efforts to correct the record, has been vilified for activities that are not only legal, but also widely accepted as a standard component of online advertising in both the political and commercial arenas,” the company said in a statement announcing insolvency proceedings.