Friday, December 28, 2007

Under New Management

As checks and balances go, the internet has become the defacto 'court of public opinion' with little if any laws to reign in its growing negative affect on businesses and individuals.

Yes I am aware of the libel laws etc, but the net is an organic beast that does not tie a website owner to one specific Internet Provider for any length of time. If a site is sued then the site owner just moves his website to a Chinese provider or a Russian provider. As is the way with many cases of libel, unless you have the money to go cyber hunting for your tormentor, you have little, if any, chance of facing your accuser in court.

And this my friends is the reason that we are re-evaluating the business that we have here in Switzerland. In a Internet smear campaign that is far out of proportion to the size of our business we have been accused of everything bar the Kennedy assassination and, it appears that the only reason the CIA web site has not received a post from our nemesis is because non of us were born in 1963. We would have thought that if any of this bile was true, someone would have sued us by now, of course no one has come forward, because it is rubbish.

We think this campaign has come from our corporate finance involvement in one firm. We recommended a director who was subsequently sacked, he has, from that day forward, taken every opportunity to create anonymous and libellous statements on every site that will listen...even though we didn't have anything to do with him being sacked, only hired.... We have contacted sites only to be rebuffed claiming that US laws protects free speech etc it then turns out that the particular site we were immortalised on is owned by a Portuguese man with an ISP that changes between Canada and China to avoid being sued...

It is, for humble investment managers and corporate finance guys, all a bit much. The last straw came from a UK site which we respect immensely. We have sent the obligatory messages to have the posts removed but will see what actually happens. What we do know is that this site is going nowhere as it is an established site based in the UK and the US so finally being able to sue someone will be a welcome relief. We suspect however, that the offending posts will be removed...any sensible site would, and they seem to be that way, but if they are not we will be spending more time in court making more in damages than we will be in fees...

Anyway our company as we know it is being sold to new management some of us will stay others will go. It will not affect the operational nature of the business, just the structure. Part of that restructuring is a healthy paranoia about posting on the web, so the Asset Manager site may, or may not continue, we will see.

We may come back in the New Year having slain a few cowardly anonymous posters, if only to whip off their veil of secrecy and to post the research that we will have done on their, undoubtedly, nefarious backgrounds. To be honest though, the Internet is becoming a festering heap of bile spurted out of the keyboards of those who never got picked for the football team and who are still not over it, and we are a little sick of it.

Those of us who played in the first eleven and married the 'Prom Queen' are used to people sitting on the sidelines telling us how to play or how 'lucky' we are. The funny thing is we never encounter these people on the pitch and they would never say the things they say on the sidelines to your face. I guess nothing has changed.

Thanks for your support and we may see you in the New Year.
Thanks to all for your messages of support. I am pleased to report that the web site in question has removed all the anonymous posts in recognition of the absolute rubbish that was posted there. If only other sites were as responsible.