It has now been over two years since I got tangled up with UK-based ‘entepreneur’ Sam Sethi, and I still regret the day I first had a Skype conversation with the man. I figured that, so long after the well-documented implosion of the blognation network I used to work for, both the defunct blogging venture and he would have become nothing but a distant, bitter memory by now. That valuable lessons would have been learned by everyone involved, and all that jazz.
Alas, Sethi won’t have it that way and continues to throw himself under the bus making all sorts of random noise, when even single-celled organisms would realize when they would do best backing off, keeping a low profile. Paul Carr advises him as much in his recent blog post about Sethi, and since I was actually mentioned in it, I feel compelled to tell my side of the blognation story because frankly the world needs to know what a horrible excuse for a human being Sam Sethi really is. In fact, it cannot be repeated enough.
When I was hired as one of the first writers for the blognation blogging network, I was pretty excited. I had just quit my second ‘regular’ job and had the ambition to become independent in what I loved doing most: writing about and advising web startups, and someday maybe even starting up my own Internet venture. I was bullish about new media, blogging and its potential to disrupt the publishing industry. Also, I thought blognation was a really good idea, and I still do. I have to admit I even took a liking to Sam and where he was going with the project, even if his ambition was somewhat colored by his relentless hate for all things TechCrunch and Michael Arrington from day one.
Young and hungry, I didn’t give the business model of blognation much thought to be honest, and I only later found out Sethi had actually borrowed the idea for the blog network from someone else in the first place. I just loved that I was being offered a chance to do what I loved to do and get paid reasonably well to do it. Unfortunately, the contract that was signed by myself and Sam Sethi was apparently only meant for me to honor. I did my job, and did it well too, for about 5 and a half months. Sethi had repeatedly informed me and other writers that the funding for the venture was in the bank, and that we’d soon be seeing the first payments rolling into our bank accounts.
In case you’re not familiar with the whole story, that’s not exactly what happened. The reality is Sethi blatantly misled all of us by repeatedly lying to us over the course of several months about the funding that he had allegedly secured to get the network off the ground. There never was any funding, and nobody ever got paid or even told the truth about the financial situation.
Bank transfers that were supposedly done at his end for some reason were never processed, and he at one point even resorted to sending one of the writers screenshots from a bank transfer ‘in process’ to prove he was effectively transferring the money (too bad he never clicked the ‘confirm’ button). To this day, I’m still owed approximately 22,000 euro for my work. Needless to say, this was a financial blow for me since it was my first half year as an independent and my costs would have even exceeded my income had I been paid. I’ll never everforget that and won’t be makingthose mistakes again. Thanks for the valuable lessons about watching out for people who will gladly screw you over while smiling to your face, Sethi, I won’t forget it.
There’s one little anecdote I would love to share with you about something that occured during those nearly 6 months I was a blognation ’employee’, that I think is even more telling.
At some point, there was a pretty well-attended conference about new media being organized here in Belgium, and thanks to my local connections I got Sethi a speaking gig after some convincing on my part. He was scheduled to speak about the business of blogging, which I was pretty excited about. I made sure his name and bio appeared on the conference brochure correctly, spread the word to a bunch of friends so they wouldn’t miss it and even booked him a €85 hotel room near my place using my own credit card to make sure he was fully accommodated during his stay here. Hell, I even looked up which trains he should be taking from and to London to make sure he wasn’t bothered too much with the organization of his trip.
The morning of the conference, I sent Sethi an e-mail inquiring if he got on the train alright, but didn’t hear back straight away. During the day, I kept trying to call him on his mobile phone, but he never picked up. I tried Skyping him from the event, asking him if he would get there on time or if I should ask the organizers to reschedule his speaking gig to a later time. Still no answer. Quietly starting to panic, I was forced to tell the organizers that something ‘must have gone wrong’ and Sethi wouldn’t be making it after all, half an hour before he was scheduled to deliver his speech. Needless to say, the organizers weren’t happy with the late notice, and it didn’t exactly do wonders for my reputation either. It wasn’t until the next day that I heard back from Sethi. He actually got a bit pissed at me and said something to this effect: “Listen Robin, I apologize but I had more important things to worry about, like making sure you get paid for your work.” I never did get paid for my work though.
And he never even had the decency to pay me back the €85 for the hotel room.
So this is what I made from my 6 months of work for blognation: minus 85 euro (probably even more considering no expenses I made during the time I worked for blognation were ever repaid) instead of 22,000 euro. Small anecdote, but it paints a picture of exactly how Sam Sethi thinks and acts.
Forget what you’re thinking about bias considering I now work for TechCrunch, the blog network Sethi so vividly hates, and the litigation between its founder Michael Arrington and himself. This is something I should have said a long time ago, before I ever started blogging for TechCrunch, when I first felt the need to tell the world about this character but held back because I didn’t have the balls back then.
Sam Sethi does not ‘inherently have a good soul’ like some misguided people are still claiming in private messages directed to me (you wouldn’t believe the difference in behavior and opinions when people talk publicly instead of privately).
Sam Sethi is evil and a pathological liar. He’s also a fraud and seems to be a borderline schizophrenic (but since I’m not a doctor I can’t confirm). What I can confirm is that the man is driven in life by the immense hate he feels for Arrington and TechCrunch, and nothing else. I’ll say this publicly – fuck if I care if I get sued for libel or whatever – because it’s been on my mind for too long: I truly believe Sethi did not care about the death of one of my co-writers whom I was working with at the time (Marc Orchant died as a result of a heart attack during the time we started getting worried about the money we were due yet never paid) other than its interference with his plans to ‘crush TechCrunch’.
I’ll gladly leave in the middle if he was indirectly the cause of the man’s passing or not, but I will say that it likely didn’t affect him one bit on a personal level. If he had one ounce of respect for Marc, his family, the rest of the editorial team and the people who supported him in the early days, he would have apologized for everything loudly and publicly, moved on and done everything he could to restore his good name.
Instead, Sethi goes to court to defend himself against libel, accusing people who did nothing but tell the truth about his persona that they’ve somehow wronged him and are to blame for everything that’s missing from his life. Which, in my opinion, is a lot, beginning with mental stability and ending with the ability to look facts in the face.
I could claim I’m largely indifferent to whatever Sam Sethi does or says nowadays, but if I’m honest I have to admit it still infuriates me to see him act tough and take the moral high ground about everything that has happened. Where the hell does he find the courage to keep drawing people’s attention to his unstable mental state and everything that he has done wrong on a professional level, when he would be much better off just leaving everything like it is and start fresh?
If hate can consume people, then his hatred for all that is TechCrunch and Michael Arrington has eaten him a couple of times, spit him out and swallowed him back in to date, and then some. I think these words will be lost on him (nobody seems to get through to this man), but at least I can warn the rest of the world – or at least those who ever wind up reading this blog post – about him.
My advice regarding Sam Sethi: avoid him like the plague and ignore his ramblings, unless you think you can actually help him out with his psychological challenges.
I, for one, am moving on.