Internet Brands, Lying Scumbags SAY WHAT!?!?!?!?!!! – !#@$%^&

In every story, there are two sides. There was a lot of criticism with people feeling that Internet Brands was not given a fair chance to comment in The Register’s recent article on vBulletin. Today, Internet Brands made their comment with The Register in a new article released today, and after reading it, I will have to say Internet Brands has hit a new low. Oh a new low indeed.

Earlier in the week, former core Jelsoft developer Scott Macvicar wrote on his Twitter “So sad to see the company I helped build up screw customers over. Glad I bailed when I did, funemployment rocks”  in a comment to the flood of tweets to the very first Register article on vBulletin.

vBulletin was definitely Scott’s baby. We know Scott for 7-8 years now and vBulletin was his pride and joy. I can honestly say I’ve never known a person like Scott who loves what he did. Let’s not forget he has our admiration and respect for the exact same time period and has been with vBulletin since the beginning.

But this a new low and a new low indeed. Legal council for Internet Brands, Patrick Stack dismissed Scott’s comment earlier today in The Register’s new article, saying that it is “not too worrisome” and that it came from a “disgruntled former employee.”

EXCUSE ME!?!? What are you smoking Mr. Stack!? Have you no shame?  YOU DID NOT JUST CALL SCOTT MACVICAR A DISGRUNTLED EMPLOYEE.

In my eyes, Mr. Stack has lead Internet Brands onto a powder keg. It will backfire if Internet Brands is not careful. If there’s ever a reason to pick a bone with Internet Brands, this would be one reason.  It’s rude to call Scott disgruntled. It’s disrespectful. It’s uncalled for a number of reasons.

Internet Brands just took a swipe at one of the most respected trio of management, leaders, and developers in the industry. This same trio also have the respect of the competition, including Invision Power Board’s lead developer Matt Mecham.  Let’s also not forget Scott’s extensive resume too. Not only was he a vBulletin developer,  he’s the lead developer of the SQLite3 Extension and the ImageMagick PHP wrapper. Plus he’s a former mentor for Google Summer of Code program.

The man’s a legend in short, and Internet Brands has an audacity to take a swipe at this guy? Scott knows what he’s doing, and he’s done it extremely well for the last several years. I can’t say the same for you Internet Brands. Talk about calling the kettle black. Look in the mirror sometime Internet Brands, and it might surprise you that you’re describing everything about yourself. If anything, Scott’s not a disgruntled employee; but rather he’s a smart and brilliant employee and has a far more comprehensive understanding of a customer than you currently have.

I hope investors are listening to this side of the fence. Internet Brands just lost a ton of respect in my eyes. It was bad enough they weren’t listening to us, but to backstab one of their former employees in an attempt to save face with the public? Wow. That’s just low.

If there’s ever a reason to leave Internet Brands as an employee, we most certainly found that reason. It’s the classic management case study in which employees don’t divorce the company, but rather they divorce management. Many of us wondered why Scott, Mike, and Kier left vBulletin, and I think we have a slightly more clear picture today.

Scott, we salute you. Let’s hope they don’t take a swipe at Kier or Mike next.

Some parting words from Scott in response to Patrick’s outlandish comments:

Disgruntled? I wouldn’t say I’m a disgruntled employee, I left on reasonable terms with the company and was answering questions for them just a few weeks ago. The fact that they’re simply ignoring customers is just shocking and it’s what troubles me the most.


Extended Sale! With a Price Hike Too!!

Well, Internet Brands announced an extended sale. They might as well call it a brand new sale given the fact that new vBulletin customers have to pay $160.00 instead of $130.00. I wonder who would notice.

Here’s my two cents. It’s my opinion they are  loosing customers and fast. To attract new ones or existing ones, they’re extending the sale. Let us not forget the bonus benefits of burying all the negative articles against them in the last few days. That’s most definitely an added bonus!

But like I said, who noticed the price went up?

During this extension period, the price of the Publishing Suite will be $160 for existing vBulletin customers with active licenses, a discount of more than 40 percent off of the regular price of the product. New customers can purchase the Suite for the discounted price of $235 during this period.
Source: Marketwire

So once again, being an original vBulletin customers only gets you screwed over more. Plus we’re now paying $160.00, the cost of the original vBulletin license. How poetic.

Paying the Brick Wall to think

Meet the new face of Internet Brands. The level of intelligence and negotiating with them is similar to talking to a brick wall in my opinion. Unyielding and refusing to move or budge. Refusing to compromise or hammer out an agreement
Meet the new face of Internet Brands. The level of intelligence and attempts to negotiate with them is similar to talking to a brick wall in my opinion. Unyielding and refusing to move or budge. Refusing to compromise or hammer out an agreement. Image Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Just a small reminder for everyone today’s the deadline for the license. While all this Internet Brands flames keep burning, at least remind yourself that the upgrade deal still closes today.

But let me say for the record, we’re getting screwed. We are being forced to buy new licenses.

Where I stand, this is how I feel how Internet Brands speaks to me as a customer:

All those updates we were promised for blog. Well, they’re worthless We’ve changed our mind. No more updates, unless you buy a vBulletin 4 Suite License

Your owned licenses? We don’t care about security or updates. No more updates after our license download period expires. No more updates, unless at minimum you buy a vBulletin 4 Forum license. But we think the Suite license is better.

Project Tools? You bought it? Well, guess you’re screwed now. It’s being given away for free. So look at it this way, you’re getting added value for your license!

So for those of us who actually are worried about security are being forced to shell out $130.00. For all us older license holders, stop and think a moment. Think how much in reality we’re really spending. We’re spending far more than we should. If Internet Brands truly wanted us as customers, they’d port our vBulletin 4 licenses at minimum for free to vBulletin 4 licenses, plus give us one year for free. Not make us pay our way into license changes.

We paid our $160.00 owned license. We paid our $180.00 license. We want our promise of paying for updates. We want our access to vBulletin.org. Why are you making us pay 72% of our original license cost? Or 82%? Is it because you want more money Internet Brands?


Oh it’s a suite license? Well then, let me remind me you too that we’re paying at least $290.00. Some are even paying $310.00. That’s more than the $235.00 price tag listed on vBulletin.com.

You say it’s a Pre-Sale Price and that price will go away today?

HELLO!? Do you hear yourself talking? Even after the pre-sale, the price tag goes up to 285.00. Furthermore you’re making the former vBulletin license holders pay even MORE after the presale, to the tune of $250.00 more. TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS MORE. So what happened to the $160.00 I paid? Or $180.00?

It’s discounted from $285.00 regular price tag?

I’m just sure customers loved knowing they saved $35.00 to convert their original license over and that they know their licenses are worth pennies.

Internet Brands only cares for you…when you have your wallet in hand.

So as I go off now to swipe my VISA card tonight to pay for the poor, stupid excuse of a license update tonight with Internet Brands, I’ll be doing it as one pissed off customer, for being forced to pay for something I shouldn’t, and at the same time, mourning, knowing that my beloved software, my beloved vBulletin, has been raped.

P.S. Don’t forget our support contract changes too! I was reminded the other day when visiting the vBulletin.com Forums. It goes away too. We have to pay a wonderful annual fee for ticket support. But support via the forums are free! That’s assuming if you’re able to access the forums because you’ve been banned.

More Numbers: Press: 2, History Books +1, Internet Brands: 0

There’s one thing you could appreciate when reading business journals, magazines, and text books: they show you three outcomes, the right way, the wrong way, and the ugly. And boy, it’s starting to get ugly, and it’s not only coming from customers, but from observers outside in the business world.

Internet Brands officially today became a case study on how not to do things. The question now is “How will history look back at Internet Brands?” Will they be looked as a company who made resolutions and gestures to resolve matters with their customer base? Or will they end up as dust in the wind, shunned, and labeled as pariahs?

But do read the case study.

Fair Use Excerpt:

Software licensing can be a tough business. But if you’re able to build a great product and acquire customers, it can be a rewarding business. The founders of Jelsoft, the company behind the popular vBulletin message board software, know that first hand.

Having built arguably the best message board software out there, they sold Jelsoft to Internet Brands in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. And two years later, Internet Brands is facing a violent customer revolt over a new product and new licensing terms.

Bite the hand that feeds you Internet Brands, and that body who controls the hand will fight back, tooth and nail.

Casualty Count

I’ve been watching from the sidelines as the Internet Brands PR machine have been spinning and spinning everything possible. We saw the launch of vBulletin 4.0 Alpha.. I mean Beta (heck, it feels like an early Alpha) on vBulletin.com.

But between last week’s announcement, and this week, I wanted to know what have you decided as a license holder. I’ve seen it all on the last few weeks, but Internet Brands spins it that they’re achieving record sales. Yet the question I want to ask to everyone is Who what have you honestly decided? Stay? Moved to IPB? MyBB maybe? Or another solution?

Let’s try to quantify the number of who has actually decided to stay or move on from Internet Brands and vBulletin. Leave a comment and let the world know whether you decided to stay or not, and why.

You can say anything you want…only if you say what we want to hear

CensorshipDid you read this? A new policy on forum moderation. We’re being censored. We’re being silenced.

Quote:

As vBulletin has grown over the years we have often allowed posts on our forums which frankly are not constructive and which other companies would not allow on their sites. We have done this in the belief that most people can be reasonable and conduct themselves maturely and constructively. We still believe that most people act this way.

However it is clear that this policy has only opened the door for types of conduct and comments that are simply over the top and not acceptable. This is going to change as of now.

Please be aware that we will no longer allow posts with non-constructive rants, inflammatory language and trolling on our forums. We are aware that some people are used to being allowed to get away with such things. But beginning now that will no longer be the case. Such posts represent a distorted picture to current and potential customers and while we would like to be able to trust people to act maturely, events have proven that is simply not possible. We will, of course, continue to respond to real questions.

To the vast majority of our customers that have supported us over the years and that have responded to the vB4 Pre-sales event positively with their record orders, we say thank you and will do everything in our power to reward your faith and vote of confidence with exciting new things for the future.

If you didn’t catch this particular portion, well I’ll shine a bit of light on it.

Such posts represent a distorted picture to current and potential customers and while we would like to be able to trust people to act maturely, events have proven that is simply not possible.

It pretty much allows Internet Brands to deem any post as distorted and delete it.  So much for the ability to post constructive feedback.

Breach of Contract? Internet Brands might have violated one

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, and I will not pretend to be one, so please consult one to verify my opinion. I’m merely voicing a legal opinion based on my understanding of law.

Second, I’m tired of reading on vBulletin.com from Team Members and Internet Brands that they have not violated the license agreement. They are correct that they have not violated the licensing agreement. However, our vBulletin license is governed not simply by a license agreement; it is also governed by contract law. We as license holders entered into a contract agreement with Jelsoft (now Internet Brands) when we purchased a vBulletin License and that contract is still very much enforceable.

Let me explain further:

West’s Business Law Tenth Edition defines a contract as ” ‘a promise or a set of promises for the breach of which the law gives a remedy, or the performance of which the law in some way recognizes as duty.’ Put simply, a contract is a legally binding agreement between two or more parties who agree to perform or to refrain from performing some act now or in the future.”

Jelsoft promised to sell us a license for vBulletin. Jelsoft ALSO promised a set price for renewal of vBulletin. The promise at the purchase of my license was $30.00, however I also agreed to a price increase of $40.00 before sixty days or $60.00 after sixty days on April 29, 2008. This in essence is part of an ACTIVE contractual agreement. The contractual agreement (implied and expressed during the pre-sales process) states that after one year, we are entitles to another year of downloads should we pay a certain said rate, thus the price being forty United States Dollars ($40.00) before sixty (60) days or sixty United States Dollars ($60.00) after sixty (60) days.

With the acquistion of Jelsoft, Internet Brands assumes fidicuary responsibility and therefore our contract agreement is with them. However, with the introduction of vBulletin 4, they’re trying to force us to buy a new license and into a new contract. Here’s the problem: They’re breaking our original contract (promise) to allow us to renew at the 40.00/60.00 rate. They’re forcing us to accept a new contract and new license agreement. The problem is they can’t make us. They can’t force us into a new contract. As of right now, they’re in breach of a contract by not allowing us to renew at our previous promised rate. We have to enter into a new contract at our choosing.

I think it’s time we take a hard look at what Internet Brands is saying. True they have not violated the license agreement, but that’s only partially the truth. We still have an ACTIVE contract with them. Until we accept the terms of a new contract, we’re still bound by the old contract, just as Internet Brands is bound by the old contract.

Where’s the proof? See http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showthread.php?t=268714. It’s written out. It’s expressed. It’s considered part of a contract. I encourage everyone to print out a copy before that thread mysteriously “disappears”.

Don’t let Internet Brands confuse you. Don’t let Internet Brands change the terms of YOUR contract. We as license holders still contractually bound and it’s time we remind them to uphold their end of the contract.

Beyond Our Voices

Internet Brands operates communities for anyone to speak. But more importantly, are they truly listening to their customers?
Internet Brands operates communities for anyone to speak. But more importantly, are they truly listening to their customers and what they are saying?

I’m merely one of many voices out there who is not happy with Internet Brands (NASDAQ: INET). In my eyes, Internet Brands has destroyed a flagship product. Internet Brands has killed the goose that layed the golden eggs. Internet Brands has completely demoralized a community based on honesty, truthfulness, integrity and openness by silencing those who appear to be the most vocal against Internet Brands, Jelsoft and vBulletin.

The message from Internet Brands, in my opinion, is clear as crystal: “If license holders do not like the changes, the changes will be forced upon license holders whether license holders like it or not. If we resist, Internet Brands will split license holders up so they feel alone and isolated. Divide and Conquer”

I think it’s time we put a stop to this. We need to shout together with one common message and at the same time. If one of us shouts, Internet Brands will not hear us. If we shout together as a chorus, they will hear us whether they want to or not.

Banning customers is not solving the problem; it’s only compounding the problem. Rather than spending time banning customers, Internet Brands should spend the time getting to the root of the problems and concerns, and address them one by one. If they finally address the core concerns and problems, it will help license holders, and themselves.

It’s time Internet Brands face customers instead of hiding in the shadows. It’s time they have they man up and turn to license holders for help. It’s evident they have no idea what they are doing, and they’re alienating, scaring, and panicing customers. Here’s a free bit of advice from a consultant: Internet Brands: WHEN IN DOUBT, ASK THE CUSTOMER. GET FEEDBACK. DON’T EVER GUESS.

I am one of the many co-founders behind this site, but we as Founders realize we’re only a small voice in a sea of many voices. In the last few hours, I’ve seen high praise for vBulletin. I’ve seen criticism. I’ve also seen people leave.

I want to give all sides an opportunity to share their voice here. My voice is but one voice, but YOUR voice is important. Tweet us your interest on Twitter.

Don’t let Internet Brands silence you. If they can’t take the heat, they should not have lit the fire.

IB would like to Remind You “Nothing is Ever Free”

I was driving down the street and I watched some 1st and 2nd graders jump up and down, and skip across the crosswalk as they’re escorted by their parents to go home from school. Cute little kids I thought. It reminds me of the old concepts you learn, like FREE Play. But then it dawned on me. The old adage applies. Nothing is ever free.
After picking up some milk from my market and I started pondering while waiting at the checkout line: Is vBulletin 4 Series Truly free? My conclusion: NOPE. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH. It’s not free.
This is how it works. Your terms of your old legacy license will still be carried forward. It will be honored (oh joy….). But to qualify for future updates, you’ll need to purchase a vBulletin 4 license.
vBulletin 3 Translation: That means even if we want our old vBulletin 3 updates, regardless if its major, or minor (and maybe the occasional security patch that’s too big for a plugin or file), we’re going to have to pay that dreaded price… of $175.00
vBulletin 4 Translation: If you want to keep on running vBulletin 4 after your legacy license expires and get the latest updates, you need to pay $175.00
So exactly how is that free? That’s my question. Oh and let’s not forget that wonderful $80.00 support fee they’re now wanting from us so we can talk privately over support tickets.
So let’s just Split $175.00 over 40.00 or 60.00 respectively:
40.00 renewal at 175.00 rate: Between 4-5 Years to recoup costs
60.00 renewal at 175.00 rate: Between 2-3 Years to recoup costs
Anyone want that $80.00 price tag slapped in there?
40.00 renewal at 255.00 rate: Between 6-7 Years to recoup costs
60.00 renewal at 255.00 rate: Between 4-5 Years to recoup costs
I however, think the most sad thing is the misinformation customers have bought into and are now spreading. Customers have drank the punch or the IB flavored Kool-Aid. They’re wearing the new IB Rose Coloured Glasses. They’ve been conned and scammed to believe that they’re truely getting vBulletin 4 for free.
A couple of excerpts from the pre-sales forum today:
“It *is* free to current license holders. Or will be when it comes out.”
“I looked in my members area and I have a current license and it said my upgrade is FREE! to the 4.0”
Internet Brand claims the vBulletin 4.0 Upgrade is FREE, but is it truly free? Think again.
Internet Brand claims the vBulletin 4.0 Upgrade is FREE, but is it truly free? Think again.

I was driving down the street and I watched some 1st and 2nd graders jump up and down, and skip across the crosswalk as they’re escorted by their parents to go home from school. Cute little kids I thought. It reminds me of the old concepts you learn, like FREE Play. But then it dawned on me. The old adage applies. Nothing is ever free.

After picking up some milk from my market and I started pondering while waiting at the checkout line: Is vBulletin 4 Series Truly free? My conclusion: NOPE. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH. It’s not free.

This is how it works. Your terms of your old legacy license will still be carried forward. It will be honored (oh joy….). But to qualify for future updates, you’ll need to purchase a vBulletin 4 license so you can get your updates.

vBulletin 3 Translation: That means even if we want our old vBulletin 3 updates, regardless if its major, or minor (and maybe the occasional security patch that’s too big for a plugin or file), we’re going to have to pay that dreaded price… of $175.00

vBulletin 4 Translation: If you want to keep on getting vBulletin 4 updates after your legacy license expires, you need to pay $175.00

So exactly how is that free? That’s my question. Oh and let’s not forget that wonderful $80.00 support fee they’re now wanting from us so we can talk privately over support tickets.

So let’s just Split $175.00 over 40.00 or 60.00 respectively:

40.00 renewal at 175.00 rate: Between 4-5 Years to recoup costs

60.00 renewal at 175.00 rate: Between 2-3 Years to recoup costs

Anyone want that $80.00 price tag slapped in there?

40.00 renewal at 255.00 rate: Between 6-7 Years to recoup costs

60.00 renewal at 255.00 rate: Between 4-5 Years to recoup costs

I however, think the most sad thing is the misinformation customers have bought into and are now spreading. Customers have drank the punch or the IB flavored Kool-Aid. They’re wearing the new IB Rose Coloured Glasses. They’ve been conned and scammed to believe that they’re truely getting vBulletin 4 for free.

A couple of excerpts from the pre-sales forum today:

“It *is* free to current license holders. Or will be when it comes out.”

“I looked in my members area and I have a current license and it said my upgrade is FREE! to the 4.0”

Folks, WAKE UP. We’re being scammed. They’re trying to lessen the hurt buy sugar coating everything. The reality is we’re still going to have to buy a vBulletin 4 License even if we want vBulletin 3 updates. So much for free right?