You know I’m not one to mince words and that I value my integrity as one of my best traits, so I’m always SHOCKED when someone isn’t as overtly honest as me. Right now, I’m reeling from a situation I just learned about from friend, blogger, and wickedly smart entrepreneur Danny Brown.
I’m so shocked and angry, I don’t really know where to begin.
I’m going to assume most of you know BlogCatalog. If you don’t, they are a resource for bloggers to both submit their own blogs and to find new ones. In their own words, they “bring the voice of the people to you. From breaking news, to personal blogs, we are the largest user submitted blog directory the world has ever seen.”
Overall, a pretty cool site that is extremely helpful in finding new readers for your blog, but also for finding blogs you didn’t already know exist.
That’s why what I am about to tell you is so disturbing.
SELINA ECKERSALL AND HER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY
Late last year, BlogCatalog partnered with Selina Eckersall to create a new platform called IMHO. The idea behind IMHO is that it partners brands with bloggers who do reviews, without repercussion for being totally honest. It was billed as “an ethical consumer review site where bloggers creatively and candidly review products or services that compliment the content of their blogs, with no marketing persuasion from advertisers.”
Great idea, huh? Selina agreed to take a third ownership, with BlogCatalog maintaining two-thirds, and majority. She was not to be paid until the platform generated revenue, but she agreed to donate her time, energy, network, and advertising/marketing prowess to get it launched.
In return, BlogCatalog would contribute capital to design, program, and launch the site, form the LLC, draft an operating agreement, and provide cash flow until the business was self-sustainable.
IT ALL COMES APART
And then the wheels came off.
After a soft launch at SXSW, Selina noticed little to no activity from her partners on behalf of IMHO. They explained they were revamping BlogCatalog and that IMHO had taken a back seat. From what I can tell, Selina was very gracious in her response and asked, because IMHO was her intellectual property and she’d done all of the work to that point, that she take on the majority of ownership in the company so she could get it programmed, designed, and launched.
The gist of what happened next is several phone calls and emails later, the position of BlogCatalog is all of IMHO belongs to them and Selina is to return all copyrights, resources, and designs, she delete her own account, and she not contact any members or legal action would be taken. And then they began diverting members to a new site (because the IMHO site was set up by Selina and all of its properties are owned by her).
BlogCatalog has not responded to emails or phone calls, so we don’t have their side of the story. But what we do have are copies of emails between Selina and BlogCatalog that clearly show an attempt to capture all intellectual property, move IMHO from Selina’s GoDaddy account to their own domain, capture the members, and launch the site without her.
Selina decided to walk away and to give up her intellectual property, brand recognition, and any future revenue. Her resignation letter to the IMHO members explains this in more detail and you can find a comment there from the BlogCatalog CEO, Tony Berkman.
BlogCatalog describes themselves in their communications to IMHO members as, “about humble opinions about humble companies. Companies that don’t say one thing and do another.”
IMHO is, as you know, In My Honest Opinion (or Humble) in online slang. Kind of sounds like a company that says one thing and does another, IMHO.