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Thread: Former Graphicly Employee Speaks Out About Failed Merger With Blurb

  1. #1
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    Default Former Graphicly Employee Speaks Out About Failed Merger With Blurb

    Yesterday, Micah Baldwin, former of Graphicly, now at Blurb, wrote,
    Today is the Graphicly team?s first day at Blurb. (I?ll leave talk about the transaction to other more journalistic channels. Let me just say that everyone is happier today than they were yesterday.)
    Not everyone, We already reported one publisher now feeling the pinch and more have been posting their woes.
    Balls. With Graphicly closing it looks like I won't get paid any of the money I'm owed for sales via Kindle or iBooks http://t.co/dlAeoKGncP

    ? Marc Ellerby (@MarcEllerby) May 28, 2014
    But then former head of quality control at Graphicly, Owen Wears?*got in touch and told us version from the inside. We also reached out to Micah Baldwin to answer Owen's claims. Owen told us,
    Myself, along with the other members of the conversion team, were located in Boulder, Colorado where?*Graphicly?*started. I began with the company back when it was known as Graphic.ly and stayed with it for four years. In that time I watched as we went from being a destination marketplace to a digital conversion house that worked directly with Amazon, Kobo, etc.

    The reason I felt compelled to write in regards to the story you published about how much?*Graphicly?*owes and to whom is because of what myself, and the other members of the conversion team, were told after?*Graphicly?*decided to "close its doors." Things do not line up, they do not jive with what Micah seems to have been saying about?*Graphicly's relationship with Blurb. In an email that we received at midnight on April the 11th from now former CEO David Fox explained that the merger with Blurb had completely failed and that all members of?*Graphicly's staff were to drop what they were doing and walk away. Were went unpaid for our last seven days of work and were denied all severance. From what I have read recently it sounds like Micah managed to sell himself to Blurb along with other key elements of the company. To me this sounds like Blurb has acquired some, if not all, of the software we used to convert comics into eBooks. I can't imagine that came cheap. Having seen the results of Micah's flagrantly disturbing accounting practices, I'd be inclined to say he and several other key execs have walked away with a pile of cash, not to mention jobs, at the expense of the creators?*Graphicly?*serviced. All the Colorado based employees were left out in the cold without so much as an apology. Someone is making a profit off of this nonsense and it is at the expense of the people who actually built the company.

    Thank you for your time,
    I got in touch with Micah Baldwin, now at Blurb, who told me,
    I can understand Owen's disappointment and frustration, but he is incorrect in his assessment of the situation. I refer you to the press release that Blurb put out:http://www.businesswire.com/news/hom...celerate-ebook. Blurb did not acquire any of the Graphicly assets or software as it has its own set of industry leading tools for authors and publishers to use. There is no "pile of cash," and yes, Graphicly no longer exists. I am sorry that Owen feels slighted by me personally, I will reach out to him immediately and see what I can do to improve that situation.
    While telling me he was unable to comment on financial matters, I did ask Micah if he stood by his statement that everyone was happier yesterday than the day before. He told me,
    In situations such as these, there will always be some people that are not happy. But we did everything we could to do the right thing and make the best of a difficult situation. I'm personally disappointed that it wasn't perfect in the end.
    The original release was presented very differently, with an overwhelmingly positive spin. But there appears to be much more to learn. And much less happiness as a result.

    For those who want to discuss these issues in person, Blurb will have a stand at the Book Expo in New York this week.

  2. #2
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    I am betting the execs behind this absorption are really promoted sales people. The thing about sales people that become execs is a) many are bad at running companies, b) they are loyal only to themselves but expect absolute loyalty from everyone else and c) their lack of moral compasses tends to infect whatever company they join. So while Blurb might have been an above board company, if they allowed enough not aboard board people from Graphicly to join their term, that standard may start dropping quickly and in unexpected ways. Or to sum it up as with any business relationship - trust but verify frequently and diligently.

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    Not sure how close US laws are to Norwegian/European ones on this, but in our laws, if executives, key employees and assets start getting moved over to a new company the law may see it as a de facto merger, even if that's not the "deal" made, meaning that other employees, creditors etc are still owed (employees may in fact be entitled to their jobs back, only with Blurb instead).

    It may be the case that Blurb is using its own software, but if there is some sort of "we buy your software so no one else can use it" deal, that amounts to the same.

    If there is a suspicion that this is a fake bankrupcy to cover for a defacto merger for the purposes of asset-stripping and cherry-picking employees while shedding the debts and "liabilities" (contractual commitments), then former employees and customers / clients should have the whole thing looked at. Certainly there must be some sort of judicial review of Graphicly's assets by the courts. Putting formal, written questions to whoever oversees the dismantling of Graphicly might be the best course of action.

    Companies try to pull a fast one all the time, but this Graphicly/Blurb thing seems a bit too sloppy, there might be some legal openings in there.

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    "Today is the Graphicly team's first day at Blurb."

    Except all those fuckers we laid off in Colorado. Who gives a shit about them, amirite? --Micah Baldwin, douchebag of the month for May

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    Is there anyway those of us at the consumer level can work to destroy Blurb until the Graphically execs are purged and all former workers/creators have been paid, or would pressure need to be placed at a level between the consumer and Blurb?

  6. #6
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    Good for Owen to speak up and have a platform to let the truth be known. Considering that top level execs have recently become available at Comixology, I don't see why Blurb would only hire certain employees from Graphicly, unless they did bring in some proprietary software to the table. Not sure if an audit can be conducted, but I'd like the see the results of that.

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    Thanks, Rich, for covering this story. Corrupt business dealings need to be exposed like this.

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    Bleeding Cool Richard Caldwell's Avatar
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    Capitalism: In the end, there can be only one.

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    Is anyone else having trouble unpublishing with Graphicly? They have failed to report sales for my book at all, for months, despite people buying copies on their Kindles in front of me. Amazon will not release or transfer the ASIN because they insist on treating Graphicly as the publisher.

    I have no interest in sales going to a company that isn't paying me and since my disabling and withdrawal of the title from Graphicly has had no effect, I'm thinking the response may need to be for me to file a DMCA complaint against the Graphicly edition of my title to get it removed. It seems wrong that they have defaulted on debts and failed to report sales and yet Amazon will continue to take orders from them and pay them.

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    Digital comics have been so promising, with sales increasing exponentially year after year, but now i think between this and the comixology blunder a lot of people (consumers and producers) are gonna wanna stick to floppies, or worse yet, explore other forms of entertainment. We got the perfect medium here people let's not let these cash-hungry parasites fuck it up.

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