A few people mailed me to tell me that Lowtax over at SA was pretty upset with me for something I did five years ago. He has a little history of SA post that mentions the efront scandal that we were both caught up in. It’s true I was pretty pissed off at him back then but I had no idea he was still mad. Honestly I don’t have any hard feelings for the guy anymore. He made a decision back then that I thought was bullshit and I called him on it. Now looking back on the whole situation I honestly can’t blame him for it.
When efront went under, someone inside the company release the ICQ chat logs of the president Sam Jain. You can still find them if you do a search for “efront chat logs”. There’s a lot of material there and most of it’s pretty boring but they also explain exactly what went down back then. I pulled out some clips from the log to give you an idea of what the situation was.
So here we have Sam Jain the president and Will Bryant who also worked at efront. Essentially it was his job to interface with the webmasters. We had received a few checks from them and then the money just stopped coming in. They kept asking us to put more and more bullshit ads all over our page but we weren’t seeing any money. So I decided to be very public about what the situation was. I was in the efront forums trying to get the rest of the webmasters to revolt. So the conversation below is Sam and Will trying to figure out how to shut me up.
bryant 14/01/20 5:45 am Sorry back - seems one of the PA guys is
continuiing to shit on us in public - and is
being specific about myself and Jon in the
process. Trying to diffuse that through the
other PA guy, but with no luck.
sam 14/01/20 5:46 am what do you recommend?
bryant 14/01/20 5:49 am I think we need a cease and desist letter from
sam 14/01/20 5:49 am and shut their site down?
bryant 14/01/20 5:50 am I think that needs to go out as soon as
possible. If he continues, I think we need to
take some action.
sam 14/01/20 5:50 am do you recommend shutting them down
sam 14/01/20 5:50 am to get their attention?
bryant 14/01/20 5:51 am No, I think we fire a warning shot with the
letter. If that doesn’t work I think we come
down hard and furious in every way we can.
bryant 14/01/20 5:51 am If Mike manages to impair our ability to
operate we have legal recourse, but what good
does that do us if we go under because we miss
out on some big deal?
bryant 14/01/20 5:52 am Shutting them down now would just fuel the
bryant 14/01/20 5:52 am The letter gives him enough rope to either
hang himself, or climb off his soapbox.
sam 14/01/20 5:52 am do you have a sample cease & desist letter
sam 14/01/20 5:52 am i’d like to get it fired off today
sam 14/01/20 5:52 am im looking on my hard drive to see if i have
sam 14/01/20 5:52 am we put specific evidence, etc. and quote laws
sam 14/01/20 5:53 am and fire a warning shot..
sam 14/01/20 5:53 am and using his letter he sent us also as
evicence of breach
sam 14/01/20 5:53 am and violating our confidentialty policies
sam 14/01/20 5:53 am as well as defamation
bryant 14/01/20 5:54 am Yeah, we have to do something. It needs to be
Mike ‘Gabe’ Krahulik to, and not Jerry ‘Tycho’
Parkinson. Jerry isn’t being vocal.
sam 14/01/20 5:56 am im seeing if i can find a sample copy of a
generic c&d .. then we put specfics in there..
and fax it to him on efront letterhead
and on the bottom we can do
cc: Melody Dapp Williams,
[full title, esquire, etc.]
that way it makes it seem intimidating that
the lawyer is ccd on it
sam 14/01/20 5:56 am and we can send it to our lawyer as well
sam 14/01/20 5:56 am but it brings more credibiilty
bryant 14/01/20 5:56 am Yeah.
sam 14/01/20 5:56 am and we order eerything to be ceased in 24
hours and retract everything they said
sam 14/01/20 5:56 am and delete their postings
sam 14/01/20 5:56 am or we will take action
sam 14/01/20 5:58 am do you guys wnat to prepare it and ill review
it then you can fax to him?
bryant 14/01/20 5:59 am Yeah, have a template?
sam 14/01/20 5:59 am still searching :)
bryant 14/01/20 6:03 am Is Greg writing a letter as well? Or is that
the one Jerry is having me do the first draft
sam 14/01/20 6:04 am oh thats probably you.. not sure who was doing
bryant 14/01/20 6:04 am ok cool - just wanted to make sure we weren’t
bryant 14/01/20 6:05 am These people kill me. They’re so short
sighted and immature. I’ve been trying to
talk sense to Tycho but I’m not sure I’m
bryant 14/01/20 6:10 am So naive.
bryant 14/01/20 6:11 am I might have talked some sense to Tycho. I’m
going to watch the messageboards closely this
weekend to see if Gabe persists. If he does,
sam 14/01/20 6:11 am http://www.creditmania.com/Letters/cease.htm
sam 14/01/20 6:12 am one sample :)
sam 14/01/20 6:12 am looking for more
bryant 14/01/20 6:12 am In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of issues that
I want to try and work into the letter to try
and diffuse all of this. I don’t think pissed
of webmasters is the end of the world, but
better to have them on their backs wagging
their tails than snapping at us.
sam 14/01/20 6:12 am yes i agree
bryant 14/01/20 6:13 am Yeah, found some samples too. I might also
call in a favor from some people I know at
Paul Hastings under the premise that his
actions are endangering my livelihood by means
of endangering eF. If they’ll do it it will
be from eF, not from me so should work fine.
I hope they will, they’re some of the best.
bryant 14/01/20 6:15 am Some part of me is still carrying a Corps
mentality. I keep thinking a rifle butt to
some kneecaps would solve all our problems.
Instant collections and quiet webmasters. =)
sam 14/01/20 6:15 am i like that attitude :)
So here we have Tim Eckles who ran a site called Arcade at Home. It was a part of the efront network just like us. I’m honestly not sure whatever happened to him or if he still runs that site. Anyway, at the beginning there he is watching a message board that we all used to post to. I wasn’t supposed to talk about efront anymore and they were baiting me trying to get me to make a post. He’s talking to Sam here and says that he’d be happy to take over drawing Penny Arcade after they fire us. He even has some ideas for what the new strip will be like. This is a real treat to read.
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:01 am COME ON GABE!!!! RESPOND!!!!! I gotta hear
what you have to say!
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:02 am Heh
sam 16/01/20 11:02 am heh
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:02 am You know how he was bitching about his
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:02 am Scott is tempting him =)
sam 16/01/20 11:03 am yeah.. heh.. he better not:)
sam 16/01/20 11:03 am or we’ll take his stupid site.. and do the
cartoons ourselves everyday and lock them out
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:03 am Heh I’ll do the cartoon =)
sam 16/01/20 11:03 am and make fun of the LAZY web-generation
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:03 am And totally trash it.
sam 16/01/20 11:03 am who just whine and complain
sam 16/01/20 11:04 am actually we’re allowed to do it already..
wanna come up w/ a cartonn? we’ll post it on
his site :)
sam 16/01/20 11:09 am actually we shouldve done that awhile ago when
they started bitching..doing the stupid comix
sam 16/01/20 11:09 am they wouledve been pissed huh
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:10 am I know an artist that would probably love to
do it. =)
sam 16/01/20 11:11 am iBLAMEj00 (ICQ#8906076) Wrote:
I know an artist that would probably love to
do it. =)
[another options.. kick PA guys out and we can
do the comics ourselves]
sam 16/01/20 11:11 am their email basically said they are not going
to cooperate with us.. thereby they are in
breach of the entire contract.. which means we
fire them :)
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:16 am So they don’t want to leave either?
sam 16/01/20 11:17 am http://www.penny-arcade.com/
well he said they are being evicted..and
they’re violating the termination agreement
already.. continuing to write about us
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:18 am I read that already. But, did they sign it?
sam 16/01/20 11:18 am no not yet.. but they promised jonathan they
wouldnt talk about us anymore
sam 16/01/20 11:19 am my preference is to kick them out
sam 16/01/20 11:19 am and let your guy do the comics
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:19 am Heh, it would rule =)
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:20 am But they would stiill whine and bitch.
sam 16/01/20 11:20 am at least they have to start a new site to
whine about us :)
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:21 am Let me see if she’s interested in doing a
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:40 am Okay, artist is all lined up
sam 16/01/20 11:41 am do you have Will Bryant’s icq
sam 16/01/20 11:41 am he’s going to be dealing with PA guys
sam 16/01/20 11:41 am maybe use this as leverage?
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:41 am nope.
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:49 am Okay, we’ve got an artist and the first comic
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:50 am bryant: Not yet, let me see what I can do.
sam 16/01/20 11:50 am first comic already done? geez :)
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:50 am Heh, I don’t mean drawn, but the storyline is
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:50 am Typical PA style.
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:50 am thin on humor.
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 11:51 am High on stupidity.
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 12:10 pm Will doesn’t want to play hard-ball with Penny
sam 16/01/20 12:10 pm im talking to him.. he wants to feel them
out.. Jonathan had us sign an agreement w/ PA
like 4 months ago giving them intellectual
property rights stuff back..argh..
never have a geek tell you how to do business
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 12:11 pm Heh.
sam 16/01/20 12:11 pm esp. ones who wear a T-shirt of the person
you’re doing business with :)
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 12:11 pm Still no problem, we will use different
sam 16/01/20 12:11 pm btw, we’re accepting infospace.com’s
sam 16/01/20 12:11 pm heh yeah :)
iBLAMEj00 16/01/20 12:12 pm “Small Penis Arcade”
sam 16/01/20 12:12 pm ha ha
So now here is where Lowtax comes in. What they want is for him to be on their side. They figure that among the rest of the webmasters Lowtax is pretty well respected and so if all of a sudden he starts talking about how great efront is the rest of us will just fall into line. They offer him the opportunity to work at efront and become a sort of corporate cheerleader. Now at this point Lowtax isn’t getting paid and he’s in a pretty tight spot just like the rest of us. I can’t blame him for making the decision that he thought would get him paid. Honestly his capitulation certainly had a better chance of earning him a check than my fight the power routine.
bryant 14/01/20 6:27 am Lowtax can help us without transparently being our
puppet I suspect, and should be willing to do
sam 14/01/20 6:27 am yeah just talk to him.. tell him that we think
he can be a good spokesperson for efront to
the webmaster community and we want to
completely prioritize him and make sure he’s
taken care of
bryant 14/01/20 6:28 am Tim Eckles is taking a beating in the closed
discussion groups though. Gotta love the guy,
he’s going toe to toe with people and trying
to bring them down.
sam 14/01/20 6:28 am i know.. tim is awesome :)
sam 14/01/20 6:28 am im feeding him info and material :)
sam 14/01/20 6:28 am if we got SA on our side, then there’s more
sam 14/01/20 6:29 am so thats why i was thinking forget the 13k..
have a heart to heart with him.. does he
really like what he’s doing? does he want to
do it instead of getting a regular job? well
we think there’s a way that can be done
sam 14/01/20 6:30 am and work something out with him where he can
continue to do what he enjoys while we get
what we want from him : revenue projects +
pro-efront support 100% no matter what :)
sam 14/01/20 6:30 am this is truly like the corps huh :) strategy &
intelligence to overthrow the opposition
bryant 14/01/20 6:31 am The salaried thing is something intriguing -
pretty comfortable with that approach? I’m
thinking if we do that he’s instantly our
“webmaster advocate”. That could be painted
as a real plus. “We know you all are upset,
we’re trying to be upfront with you but
communications sometimes break down - so we’re
appointing one of your own as the liaison for
sam 14/01/20 6:31 am yeah.. but he also has to position for us
bryant 14/01/20 6:31 am Heh, it’s like the Corps, but even more like
my old counterintelligence work. As stressful
as it can be, it’s also a lot of fun.
sam 14/01/20 6:32 am meaning in good times and bad times he has to
bryant 14/01/20 6:32 am Well yeah, but obviously we wouldn’t position
it that way to the webmasters.
sam 14/01/20 6:32 am and we’ll make sure he never gets evicted as
long as we’re around :)
There’s obviously a lot more in the logs but those are a few of the gems. Like I said this was all five years ago and at the time I was pretty upset about it. We were on the verge of loosing Penny Arcade and everything we had built. I remember when efront went bankrupt and Sam fled the country after being charged with tax evasion Tycho and I considered quitting PA. We had both quit our jobs during the few months we were receiving checks from efront. Now the money had dried up and we were unemployed. We figured we had to quit PA and try and get our old jobs back.
Right at the same time Amazon started their Honor System that allowed readers to donate money to websites they liked. At the time only about a dozen sites were using it and none of them were making any money. We figured we’d give it a shot and if it failed we’d close down the site and go back to our old jobs. We never told you guys that was the situation because we didn’t want to worry you and we didn’t want that to be the reason you donated. Obviously you guys stepped up and gave us the income that we needed to keep the site going. We ran Penny Arcade off of your generosity for a few years before finally returning to an advertising model.
After these logs came out and I saw what Lowtax had done I was pretty upset. I guess I felt like he sort of betrayed me and the rest of the webmasters. Now five years later I don’t have any hard feelings towards the guy. He handled things differently than I did and in the end none of it mattered. Efront collapsed and we all got our websites back. Penny Arcade and SA have both been very successful. If he’s still mad about what happened back then that’s unfortunate.
-Gabe out :o: