As I’ve written previously, the issues around UserLand’s future are tied up in litigation by the company’s former attorneys. I know the readers of Scripting News don’t know the details of UserLand’s corporate structure, even so, I want to outline what I think a reasonable deal would be for Russo & Hale, and UserLand’s other shareholders. If their issues with me continue, I have no doubt that all the details will eventually come out.
So here, in a nutshell is what I think we should do.
First Russo & Hale claims that weblogs.com belonged to UserLand. I don’t agree, but suppose for the sake of argument we concede the point.
Not coincidentally, just before I started operating the site on my own server, there was an offer from another company to buy weblogs.com for $250,000. I didn’t want to sell it, for a variety of reasons.
It’s lucky we had that offer, because that clearly puts a value on the service at the time of the transfer. From that point, there was a lot of work, a lot of rewrites, a lot of technical challenges (remember the June 2004 explosion), a lot of risk, and huge growth, which resulted in a sale, after much negotiation, to VeriSign.
The story of the sale leaked before we were prepared to announce it, unfortunately, while I was flying from San Francisco to Greensboro, North Carolina to participate in a blogging conference. I found out the story leaked while I was transferring planes in Cincinnati, and then when I got to Greensboro, I had to change hotels to find one that had good Internet connectivity so I could help explain to the blogging world what the deal was and why we had done it.
However, before I even got off the plane, I was getting emails from Russo threatening to sue me. Note that up until this point, Russo was my attorney, UserLand’s attorney, secretary, board member, shareholder, and friend! Before I could even get one word in, he had already escalated to suing me. He never even picked up the phone before he started getting legal with me.
And as he taught me so well, when that happens, you have to get a lawyer to do your talking, which is exactly what I did. And now two years later, we still haven’t tried to work this out as honorable gentlemen. People may be wondering why an attorney is suing his former client, without trying to work it out, and honestly so am I.
Anyway, if I were an arbitrator here, I’d say we’re pretty lucky there was a clear price set. So let’s do the math, distribute $250,000 to UserLand shareholders, according to ownership, shake hands and let’s move on with our lives. I’ll overlook the fact that Russo & Hale forced me to waste over $50K on legal fees. And most important to most of the people reading this, we get to focus on getting UserLand working again.
Doesn’t this seem eminently reasonable?
Microsoft mistakenly sent this reporter his own dossier.
Steve Goodman visits a Phnom Penh amusement park.
Seattle P-I: “Humane law enforcement officers discovered 110 parakeets in an apartment in the 4200 block of Ninth Avenue Northeast in Seattle on Tuesday.”
TechCrunch: Yahoo Mail offers Unlimited Storage.
Ars Technica: “Get ready for EVDO Revision B.”
I have the whole API covered in the OPML Editor, no user-level functionality yet to report, but I’ll have an update for this feature as soon as possible.
It’s great to see them evolve the API. It’s a pretty nice one. Easy and quick to implement.
BTW, I’ve noticed that Technorati now includes Twitter references. Might have some effect on the rankings on TR.
I don’t know Kathy Sierra, but I do know and have been abused by Chris Locke, Frank Paynter and Jeanne Sessum (and quite a few other people).
I’ll tell you what — the mob that’s going after them looks a lot more dangerous than they do. Locke and Paynter are pretty harmless, although they are nasty mofos, on the net (which is an important distinction). Sessum is a champion sexist male-basher, a real piece of work. I’ve never met her, and if I had the chance, I’d run the other way. Which is what I wish the mob of well-intentioned do-gooders would do.
On this one, I take the side of the mean kids, because no one else is, and I have a soft spot for people who are being attacked by a mob, no matter how pathetic they are.
After posting about the future of UserLand, a lot of comments, all constructive. What a change. It used to be that when we opened this kind of discussion, the users were crowded out by flamers. It feels in a way like we’ve popped the stack back to 1995 or so, when everyone in the then-nascent blogging world was full of excitement and hope, and the negative stuff hadn’t shown up yet. The world was smaller then, and now it’s smaller again. :-)
This morning over coffee I reflected on how unusual this situation is. It’s hard enough when a key person resigns, or your lawyer resigns, but I’ve never seen or heard of a situation where they stick around after they resigned and make unspecified demands. As some of the posters say, we hurt when people like Doug, Brent, Andre and Jake left, but they all went on to do other things, and either helped UserLand or at least stayed neutral. I certainly tried to help UserLand after I left. But this idea that Scott could get a new job, at a company that just raised $15 million in VC, and still stand in the way of cleaning up UserLand, is a mystery to me. Maybe once it’s resolved I’ll understand it.
I remarked in a comment yesterday: “The way this company is structured, the people who are central to the support of the product have no stake in its success other than they get to use it. For a company that has played such a central role in leveling those kinds of structures, it has a pretty conventional structure of its own.”
With so little to lose, it seems, we could make some big changes, and try creating a company that rewards its community when it succeeds, in a more substantial way.
Sunday night’s episode was the last of the HBO series Rome, which became one of my favorites.
I didn’t know the season was going to end with that episode, but as it proceeded it was clear that they were wrapping things up. Without spoiling the end for anyone who hasn’t seen it, I just want to say, it was a satisfying end, not as dramatic as Six Feet Under, and not the disappointment of Deadwood. Something inbetween. Satisfying yet a bit disturbing.
In the end it was the story of friendship between two Roman soldiers and the love these men have for their children. A sweet ending to good story.