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Gabe / on Mon, May 9 2005 at 5:30 pm

This is long and boring

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
                      the lawyers.

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
                      fire.

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
                      any

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
                      of?

sam     14/01/20 6:04 am oh thats probably you.. not sure who was doing
                      it

bryant   14/01/20 6:04 am ok cool - just wanted to make sure we weren’t
                      overlapping.

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
                      gettomg anywhere.

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                       contract?

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                       kiddies

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                       ourselves

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                       indirectlye ven

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                       comic =)

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                       already done.

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                       done.

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                       Arcade =)

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                       characters.

sam     16/01/20 12:11 pm btw, we’re accepting infospace.com’s                       investment proposal

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                       so.

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                       voice 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                       all concerns.

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                       stick together

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:


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