31 Jul

It Seems We Had a Mole on the AOL Blogger Conference Call

Late today there was a conference call for AOL Bloggers affected by the recent budget situation. Senior VP of Programming, Marty Moe, did most of the talking. For the most part, it was a warm fuzzy call that was clearly aimed at calming the fears of bloggers and bringing more clarity to budget situation.

It’s apparent that the message sent out to bloggers last week to stop posting was erroneous. Management wanted strict budget control for a week or so as the new budget process is refined. They did not want all posting to stop an any of the properties, and programmers who told their bloggers that were mistaken. (Yes, I was skeptical about how things were really supposed to go down, but after listening to Marty, I believe what I’ve written in this paragraph.) Read More

29 Jul

If Patrick Byrne Leaves Overstock.com, What Excuse Will the Company Have?

With today’s announcement that Jonathan E. Johnson III has been appointed president of Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK), it got me to thinking about the future of the company. I don’t think many people would argue with the suggestion that Patrick Byrne is one of the worst CEOs in the country. He has been for a while.

And I don’t think many would disagree that shareholder value is not enhanced when Byrne is busy running around commenting on message boards and blogs, evangelizing his naked short selling conspiracy theories, and being a “journalist” for his Deep Capture website. Really…. How focused can one be on running a company like Overstock.com with all these other “interests”? Even Byrne’s dad thinks he can’t do his job with all this nonsense. Read More

29 Jul

The Dismissal of the Usana Health Sciences Case Against Fraud Discovery Institute

This week, it was announced that Usana Health Sciences (NASDAQ:USNA) and Fraud Discovery Institute had reached a settlement in their legal battle. Usana basically had most of its case thrown out by a federal judge, but still could have pursued allegations of illegal manipulation of the stock.

The most interesting thing about the whole case against Barry Minkow and FDI is that Usana repeatedly called the report issued by Barry “false and misleading.” Yet the company never addressed any of the substantive allegations in the report or proved that they were incorrect. And no one held their feet to the fire and demanded that they prove that what he said was false. Read More

29 Jul

Examining LifeLock Testimonials

I’ve written a lot about what I think about LifeLock: That it’s not worth it and consumers shouldn’t waste their money. Even at only $10 per month, consumers are getting next to nothing. They certainly aren’t getting any meaningful protection above what is already available to them for free. Even the company’s CEO Todd Davis hasn’t been protected from identity theft with LifeLock.

And the “LifeLock Guarantee” is so worthless that I don’t expect the company will help any customer after they’ve been the victim of identity theft. Read More

29 Jul

Patrick Byrne, child CEO of Overstock.com

At least Patrick Byrne, nutty and incompetent CEO of Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) can admit that he’s nothing more than a child who is playing grown-up with the shareholders’ money. From today’s press release:

“Jonathan has developed into a tremendous asset for our team,” said Patrick Byrne, chairman and CEO of Overstock.com. “He has gone from simply providing adult supervision for me, to being a fine, aggressive contributor across many facets of our firm’s operations. He has grown from being the lawyer working in business to a businessman who happens to be trained in the law.”

Who says something like that in a press release about an executive promotion? Apparently Patrick Byrne does, since he appears to have absolutely no professional judgment.

25 Jul

Newsflash: Overstock.com Paid Stalker Judd Bagley Admits to Use of Spyware

Cyberstalker Judd BagleyJudd Bagley, paid Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) cyberstalker (and now “Deep Capture reporter”) has openly admitted to using spyware against third parties. It has long been believed that he maliciously and inappropriately placed spyware on people’s computers, but this appears to be the first time he’s actually admitting to it.

He writes on the Investor Village Overstock.com message board under his screen name De Daumier-Smith:

Dan Schoenherr factoid
Back in the day (early to mid 2006), when I first started doing recon on the obviously paid bashers, my first master stroke was getting a tracking cookie placed on the laptop computer of Dan Schoenherr (also known as Wilburonefor3, HeadLizard, htis2008, etc, etc).

What made this so great, was being able to see where Dan was (based on his IP address) when he would access certain webpages.

As far as I know, putting spyware on someone’s computer without their knowledge or permission is not against any law. However, this certainly is completely unethical.

UPDATE: I must clarify my comments here. The ethics or lack thereof depend upon how Judd got the cookie on the computer. If Dan visited one of Judd’s sites, then a cookie could have been legitimately received. If, however, Judd used his methodology of secretly inserting tracking software in message board posts on sites he did not own, and where readers would have no reason to believe they’d be secretly receiving cookies from random outsiders, that would be unethical. Thanks for pointing this out to me, Judd. I forget that not everyone is aware of how your shenanigans work.

24 Jul

No Secret About AOL Budget Cuts

I’ve been writing for AOL on WalletPop (consumer finance site) and BloggingStocks (public company analysis and news site) since December and it’s been fun. Word came down today that there are big (hopefully temporary) budget cuts and everyone is to stop blogging immediately. I toyed with the idea of writing about it here, but wasn’t sure if that was okay or not…

Well… several people apparently talked to TechCrunch about it and they’ve reported it, so I see no need to hold my tongue. Here’s what TechCrunch had to say: Read More

23 Jul

The Blog Net News controversy

Several months ago, I stumbled on Blog Net News (BNN) and liked what I saw. The site has different “channels” that focus on geographic areas or certain topics. Each channel aggregates the RSS feeds of various bloggers.

For those who aren’t tech types, an “RSS feed” is basically an automated tool that sends out the title and first couple sentences of each post that I make on this blog. An “aggregator” assembles the feeds of several different bloggers into one site or page.

After trading some emails with David Mastio, the owner of BNN, he created the Accounting channel and the Fraud channel, both of which I edit. I helped David comb the internet for good blogs to be included on the site, and I’ve gotten notes from bloggers who noticed new traffic and wanted to thank me. Read More

23 Jul

Workplace Discrimination Against Women Largely a Myth

This morning someone sent me a link to this article on the mythical discrimination against women via corporate pay, thinking I’d be outraged. Except I agree with Steve Chapman: There’s no evidence supporting that claim, but it sure sounds great to say women are paid less for the same jobs.

I ticked off some of my female colleagues at AOL’s WalletPop in May, writing that the glass ceiling for women is merely a myth. While I think there are some instances of discrimination in the workplace, that’s not the reason women are paid less in corporate America. It’s because of their chioices.

Here’s what Steve Chapman had to say: Read More

22 Jul

Overstock.com’s Mounting Accumulated Losses

Patrick Byrne, Sith LordToday Patrick Byrne, CEO of the ever-flailing internet retailer Overstock.com (NASDAQ:OSTK) went on Fox Business to talk about naked short selling and conspiracy theories. And to whine about CNBC and the fact that he thinks people at CNBC take orders from Hedge funds: “They won’t let me on to talk about it.”

Byrne was asked the question on everyone’s mind: Isn’t the hammering of Overstock’s stock price really related more to the fact that the company has never turned a profit, rather than the naked short selling conspiracy?

Patrick’s response? Overstock has “….made money in some quarters.” Read More