PodTech, the online video startup left to reliving better days when charming shill Robert Scoble was a frontman for the company, has found a buyer, ViewPartner, and for the paltry sum of $500,000. Hopefully the company's creditors will be getting more than a few pennies back on their dollars — the company has been at the mercy of their bankers, and one commenter says that they were racking up tabs with vendors. VCs like US Ventures and Venrock probably won't be getting any of the more than $5.5 million invested in the company, however. Founder and chairman John Furrier must be relieved, as he was all smiles at recent reunion of DEMO conference attendees.(Photo by Brian Solis, bub.blicio.us)
Douglas Merrill, CIO at Google and recent Fast Company coverboy, is leaving Mountain View to become president of record label EMI. At first I thought former PodTech CEO John Furrier was pulling a fast one, but John Paczkowski confirmed via email that it's no hoax. Look for the official press tomorrow, Furrier added, before complaining that TechCrunch didn't cite him for the scoop.
Irina Slutsky of Geek Entertainment TV has found a way to carry on her idea of celebrating the best in video podcasting. Under PodTech, where Slutsky brought the awards last year, the event was badly mismanaged. Slutsky left Podtech, but the "Vloggies" name remained with PodTech. Former CEO John Furrier "openly" trademarked "Vloggies" shortly after firing the event's organizer. At the Winnies, in a dig to PodTech, which failed to have a sufficient number of Vloggies awards made last year, attendees will bring their own, old trophies to swap "instead of wasting money on 'made in Hong Kong' trophies." Oh, and it gets better.
At last, I understand the vision of synergy between News Corp. and Dow Jones. It's all about Kara Swisher, basically. The abrasive, pint-sized reporter-turned blogger spent dinner at Web 2.0 Summit locked in conversation with gregarious, pint-sized megamogul Rupert Murdoch, News Corp.'s CEO, and, come December, Swisher's boss. Swisher, of course, has been blogging hot and heavy on AllThingsD about Facebook, MySpace's chief rival. She's just the starting point. News Corp. is so vast that next year, it could easily assign an army of Wall Street Journal reporters just to cover itself. Check out the photos for Swisher's encounter with Murdoch, and more.
Now that PodTech founder John Furrier is without a day job, how will he fill his free time, now that he doesn't have to manage Robert Scoble? Probably with the same hobby he appears to have wiled away his time while still on duty at his online video network: hounding bloggers and Facebook members. In the waning days of his employment at his own company, Furrier treated Tree Shapiro, a near-septuagenarian ex-professional gambler from Boston, to the full treatment on Facebook. Shapiro is relatively new to "this internets kick" but, as he says, he knows his tells. Shapiro ably dispatched the startup entrepreneur and provided this observation:
John Furrier, the recently deposed CEO of PodTech, is working the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco in a lime-green shirt. His outfit, like his equally glaring smile, suggests that he's unbothered by leaving the Internet video network he founded. No longer even an employee at the company, he's trying to spin his departure by trotting out all of the usual clichés. He writes in his blog: he's had "a blast," remains "passionate and motivated," and is "even more excited by the possibilities available for entrepreneurs" in the future. He even uses the excuse of family, recently mocked by Jack Shafer in Slate, by mentioning the tragic passing of his mother. For his next move, he plans to jump from one buzzword-ridden business opportunity, podcasting, to every conceivable new one: "collaboration, communications, social application development, new media, and emerging online advertising 2.0 solutions." Oh, and he's building a Facebook app. In other words, he has no clue what he's going to do next.
OutCast PR held an AfterHours party at Frisson, the restaurant co-owned by Facebook board member Peter Thiel. So cozy, since Facebook is OutCast's biggest new client! The place was overrun with hacks and flacks. No surprise, since OutCast wants to show off its chummy press relationships, and other flacks are drawn to journalists like moths to flames. And, of course, OutCast wanted to keep things well-staffed to watch over reporters chatting up executives from Facebook and Yahoo, another big OutCast client. No need, it turned out.
PodTech founder John Furrier, now that he has dethroned himself as CEO of the troubled Web-show network, has time to finally review the online-video competition. Referring to John Dvorak's CrankyGeeks, Furrier says, "Is this considered the best tech show on the net??? Time to think about doing a new tech show." John, while CrankyGeeks may not be the "best tech show on the net", it is better than PodTech's lineup of more than twenty tech shows. The time to think of a new tech show was a year ago, before you started firing your best tech-show video producers.
PodTech may finally have rid itself of founder John Furrier's so-called leadership. But how will new CEO James McCormick fare? We've already pointed out that, despite 23 years of experience, he has never been the public face of a company. His past as an operations and finance executive is also littered with repeated failures: disgruntled employees, lawsuits, bad mergers, and other flameouts. McCormick may get by for a time simply by not being Furrier, but the failures linked to him through his resume do not bode well for the troubled videoblogging network.
The chaos at Technorati and PodTech, two startups which saw outside CEO searches end in failure last week, should be instructive to company founders everywhere. If you're asking yourself if it's time to step aside, it's too late. Entrepreneurs are often excellent evangelists — the peculiar Silicon Valley breed of marketer who seeks to create fervor for a product few even understand, let alone think they need. Sifry and Furrier are both typical of this kind. But the career of evangelist bears a particular occupational hazard: The risk of starting to believe your own preachings, and of thinking that no one else is fit to deliver them.
PodTech has officially parted ways with "idiot comedian" Loren Feldman, within hours of announcing that founder John Furrier was stepping down as the online-video network's CEO. It's no coincidence. We've heard for some time that PodTech was looking "to separate the wheat from the chaff," and it's done so, both in its management ranks and its stable of so-called "talent." The rank amateurism of both Furrier and Feldman exemplifies the chaff that has, to date, dominated the Web-video world. Goodbye, and good riddance.
John Furrier, CEO of troubled videoblogging startup PodTech, has finally replaced himself, as promised. But the long search for a CEO to lead the faltering video network can only be judged a failure. James McCormick may have "23 years of operational, finance, and senior management experience," but he has never served as the public face of a company. His appointment, too, can hardly be said to be the result of a "search": He's been working behind the scenes as PodTech's COO for the last nine months under Furrier. Had he really filled the company's needs, and more importantly, the demands of PodTech's restless investors, he would have been promoted without interviewing outsiders. Furrier's skills of persuasion — which seem to be the main thing holding the company together — apparently didn't sway any candidates. (Photo by Robert Scoble)
Through her Demo conference, Chris Shipley strands some of the most important people in tech together in the desert and forces them to pay attention to strange new ideas. It's like Burning Man without the playa dust and with much fancier drinks, or so I'm told. The experience is apparently scarring enough to bond people for life, judging by the palsy-walsy crowd of past Demo participants and guests who crowded into Palo Alto's Zibibbo restaurant Tuesday night to mingle and mix with other "alumni."
Updates below. There's a rumor going 'round that attention slut Robert Scoble* is booted from PodTech. (Background: I have a long-standing death wish for PodTech.net, the video network that covers business and tech in Silicon Valley. Why? Because the content's dismal and perpetuates the worst parts of Valley culture, but also because I wouldn't trust the management to housesit a cardboard box.) Outsiders say Scoble has lusted for attention ever since he left his role as Microsoft's public blogger (sort of an unofficial ombudsman). He quickly took over the personality of PodTech, seemingly running the entire company, or at least taking the blame for PodTech's screw-ups that should have fallen to president John Furrier. Why would Furrier fire such a loyal employee?
"I want to apologize to all the black tech bloggers. It could have been any ethnic group. It could have been gay guys, could have been Jews, could have been micks, skinnies, chinks, any of them...It was just your guys' bad luck that it went down that way...I'm a fucking idiot comedian and I did this." When PodTech promised to sign on more "professional producers," did it mean a white guy putting on a blackface minstrel show? Because that's what PodTech talent Loren Feldman has been up to, as part of a freakish little "opera" this videoblogger has engineered over the past week. Here's the story as told in videos, from "TechNigga" to Loren screaming, "No balls on any of you, you're just fucking sheep."
A failed side project, dubious funding, and an inconvenient employee gets scrubbed from the site in this story about the meltdown of one of the Bay Area's most-known tech video networks. (I'm not chronicling the death of PodTech out of glee for sticking it to the man, but because the company has broken its promises to the community that tried so hard to make it work, and because its founder John Furrier has shown blatant disregard for the truth and for his employees in his crass race to inflate PodTech's value and sell off the doomed company. Okay, also a little glee.)
PodTech ombudsman Robert Scoble, in a videoblogger mailing list, on why he makes such a terrible ombudsman: "I'm an executive at a company I have to be a lot more careful about what I say in public because what I say can hurt careers of people you and I both love. We have a whole chapter on how to avoid getting fired and it covers just why I can't tell you everything that's going on behind the scenes with our financing, with mistakes like Lan Bui's photo [which PodTech stole and enlarged], why certain Vloggie statues didn't get mailed out [which PodTech founder John Furrier denied until Valleywag caught him red-handed], and other personnel issues, etc."
PodTech, the video podcast network apparently dedicated to screwing over as many people as possible without actually profiting from it, has dropped so many fresh cowpies that I need to pack OH MY GOD SIX STINKING STORIES into one post, just so I don't overload and nauseate the people who aren't gleefully watching this bullshit company get properly prison-raped.
- Overheard Podtech founder John Furrier (pictured) saying a few things at the Vloggies, an award show organized by his company: For example, "Vloggercon was too nerdy." That's a little less respect than he paid this summer's videoblogger conference when he went on stage. But I can't recall which vlogger he called "a hottie" at the afterparty. [Photo by JD Lasica]