I’m quite busy today, but that doesn’t mean I’ve left you with nothing to read.
Phil “Pud” Kaplan, the founder of FuckedCompany.com, the Web site that tracks the downfall of dot coms and their absurdity, has an e-mail newsletter called FC Sporadic in which he rants about whatever he crosses his mind. He’s an interesting guy who writes about a good number of things other than doomed dot-coms, and FC Sporadic often provided me with some of the best reads in my inbox when I was a subscriber. I don’t subscribe to it anymore, but my friend Adam Smith still does, and he forwarded the following story to me.
It’s Pud’s story about a bully who tormented him in junior high and how the tables have turned now that he runs FuckedCompany and the bully was the CEO of a failed dot-com. Enjoy!
When was the last time you were picked on by a bully? Heckled?
I thought I was done with that shit after that dude Roberto who used to beat me up in sixth grade wound up in jail for dropping a rock onto a moving car from an overpass.
But no, it happened again yesterday. This jock guy was picking on me like I was twelve. Specifically, it was Jason Wolfe, CEO of MyCoupons.com/DirectResponse.com.
What I’m about to tell you is the true, accurate, non-embellished story. In case you don’t believe me, I encourage and implore you to ask Mr. Wolfe yourself for his side of the story. He can be reached at [e-mail deleted -- Joey], or more conveniently on his cell phone at [phone number deleted -- Joey].
…think he needs some magazine subscriptions? i’ve just finished signing him up for the Marines… Semper Fi, Jason!
Anyway, here’s what happened. I was here in NYC speaking at this online marketing tradeshow called AdTech. Specifically, I was helping out my friends at ClickSquad.com with their presentation.
So Andy from ClickSquad does his shtick, selling his wares in front of the full crowd of about 50 people in the conference section of the tradeshow floor. He then introduces me, as I’m supposed to talk and give examples from my book about companies that squandered money on failed marketing ideas.
As soon as Andy introduces me, this meathead-looking dude standing to the side wearing a green monogrammed polo shirt starts to “boo” me. I notice that he’s standing next to two or three other frat boys, all wearing the same green shirt. The normal people in the room are politely applauding my introduction, and this guy is booing.
So I walk up with a copy of my book in hand. I open with, “hey look, the green shirts are booing me. They must be in my book!”
Everyone laughs. Except this idiot in the green shirt. “It’s all lies!” he shouts. “EVERYTHING YOU WRITE ABOUT, IT’S ALL MADE-UP LIES!” At this point, random people around the tradeshow are wondering what the hell is happening and a large crowd starts to form around the speaking area, around the filled seats.
“LIES!! STORIES!!” he shouts like he has Turrets [sic -- I believe Pud meant "Tourette's"] or something.
“He’s right,” I say to the crowd. “Everything on my website and in my book, I made it all up.”
Figuring that would shut him up, I continued as planned. I’m introducing myself to the audience for a minute or two – he starts back up, heckling. “IT’S BECAUSE OF PEOPLE LIKE YOU THAT ALL THESE COMPANIES WENT OUT OF BUSINESS!!!”
“What?” I asked.
He repeats his claim, yelling even louder. At this point, everyone in the tradeshow has moved over to the speaking area, a few hundred onlookers. The green-shirted asshole moves really close to me, separated only by the velvet ropes around the podium.
“I’d love to take credit for the downfall of all these dot-com companies,” I said. “I really would. But I think it has more to do with superbowl ads, $800 chairs, $1 million launch parties, and more generally, the fact that most of the companies in my book went out of business because they didn’t make enough money.”
I go on to give examples of companies going out of business that were clearly “my fault”. For example, Pets.com and their multi-million-dollar superbowl ads. Furniture.com spending more money to ship items than they were making from them. DigiScents spending $20 million so you could *smell* websites. Hell, I’d like to take personal credit for Enron and Worldcom while we’re at it.
You get the point, and so did the audience. Mister green-shirt’s face is turning purple, clearly realizing that he’s waged a losing battle. Guys like Mr. Wolfe aren’t exactly known for their intellectual prowess or debating expertise, if ya know what I mean…
You have to realize, at this point I had no idea who this freak was or what his problem was. At one point I thought maybe he was mentally handicapped so I felt bad arguing with him in front of all these people. So I continue with the presentation.
Thirty-seconds later, “YOU POSTED COPYWRITED [sic] INFORMATION ABOUT MY COMPANY!!!” he screams loudly.
“You have a company?” I asked, figuring he has an ice cream route or something.
“I’m the founder and CEO of MyCoupons.com!” he exclaimed proudly, like the fat kid who finished all his pie.
Ah ha! This guy is a bitter CEO of a fucked dot-com! An actual dot-com CEO! This weirdo actually runs a business! I dunno, I might be going out on a limb here but I’m gonna have to say that it’s PEOPLE LIKE HIM who drive their companies into the ground — I just stand around and watch like everyone else. I was flabbergasted.
“You posted copywrited [sic] information on your website!” he yelled again, making sure the crowd could hear him. Apparently he didn’t realize that everyone thought he was nuts.
The first thing that popped into my mind – in the microphone for all to hear, “Bet I made more money from your copywrited [sic] information than you did..!”
That was a proud moment in my pathetic little life.
Editors note: Later that day when I got home I checked FC to see what “copywrited [sic] information” I posted. I posted a note that he sent to all MyCoupons users notifying them about impending lawsuits and the company’s financial problems. It wasn’t even an internal memo, it WAS intended for distribution.
Anyway, getting back to the story… I ignored his stare-down and finished my presentation.
Presentation over, audience loudly applauding me, Mr. Wolfe looking like a dumbass.
As soon as I walk off the stage, he gets all huffy in my face. Flashbacks of sixth grade, I’m actually kinda nervous, thinking this nut-job might actually hit me. Then again, my apartment needs new floors and I could use the money so I’m kinda hoping he’s gonna take a swing.
At this point I’m supposed to walk back to the ClickSquad booth and sign books. There’s a huge crowd of people following me and this pinhead — who’s in my face. His face is turning purple and I can’t make out what he’s babbling about but he’s doing that thing where he’s talking and spit is coming out of his mouth. It was kinda gross so I said to him, “Your breath smells. Could you stop talking to me?” in my best I’m-not-twelve-anymore-you-fuckface delivery.
I turn around to sign a book or something. He whips around and gets in my face yelling, “WHAT’D YOU SAY!??! WHAT’D YOU SAY?!?! WHAT’D YOU SAY!?!!”. Serious flashbacks to sixth grade here, remember the guy who used to say “You gotta staring problem??!” It was like that.
“I said your breath stinks. Invest in a fucking toothbrush,” I replied. I had a stern facade but I spot his clenched fist and inside I can feel this dude about to deck me.
Suddenly the other green-shirts appeared out of nowhere and forcefully pulled him away before he could pummel me.
The moral of the story? There is none. I’m just a big pussy.