Blog Post

Is VON Creator PulverMedia Dot Gone?

Pulver Media, the New York-based company well known for VON, the trade shows for the VoIP industry and a magazine with the same name might be shutting down, joining the dot.gone club, according to sources.

The rumors of the shutdown of Pulver Media first started to show up on some VoIP blogs like that of our good pal, Andy Abramson. I am still waiting to hear back from Jeff Pulver, the founder of Pulver Media. Meanwhile, I spent some time trying to nail down specifics of what exactly went down and have been able to find some details.

According to my sources, earlier this month when the Pulver Media executives were in San Jose, Calif. For the Spring VON, their investors, TICC Capital Group pulled the rug from under Pulver Media, and shut down the company. They also seized control of the bank accounts. As a result many folks saw their checks bounced.

TICC Capital Group, a Greenwich, CT-based investment group that trades publicly on the NASDAQ stock exchange had invested $11 million in Pulver Media in June 2007. The investment was senior secured notes with warrants, i.e. debt.

In a filing with the SEC earlier this month, TICC said

During the first quarter of 2008, Pulvermedia indicated that it was projecting a sudden and dramatic decline in projected revenues and earnings for the coming year … Based upon the review of the company’s financial projections and operating cashflow forecasts, we determined that the debt investment warranted a complete write-down, $10.3 million, and the warrants were written-off as well, in the amount of $300,000. The investment was assigned a credit rating of Grade 5, and was placed on non-accrual status as of December 31, 2007.”

It seems Jeff and his team are trying hard to save the company and might pull a last minute miracle. This is a very sad development for the VoIP industry. Not only this puts one of the big VoIP trade shows at risk, it also is a setback for Pulver, an industry icon and a constant tinker. Stay tuned for more details as they become available.

Disclosure: Our columnist Daniel Berninger is a long time business associate of Jeff Pulver.

138 Responses to “Is VON Creator PulverMedia Dot Gone?”

  1. pulvermedicated

    $3.75 million? I think there’s a decimal place that needs to move to the left by one.

    Allegedly/supposedly, Jason put in $1 million of his own cash during the TICC investment in order to become a shareholder; TICC wanted him to have skin in the game.

    Soooo, $375,000 for stock that was worth pennies per share still sounds like a lot of money, unless Jeff needed to collect the stock and proxies for dealing with TICC on a clean basis. Probably means that Jason had to resign as well as a part of the settlement.

  2. RumorD.

    There was talk about 3.75 million between Jeff and Jason.What it relates to, I don’t know.It could have been anything.What we do know is that Jeff resigned from PulverMedia and Jeff has no interest in running a VoIP show.I doubt anybody knows much more!

  3. pulvermedicated

    Man, there are some bitter people on here :)

    Crack-based speculation: Jeff might want to buy Jason’s stock and/or employment contract out because 1) Jeff doesn’t want to have to deal with Jason as a minority shareholder and 2) Jason is a serious liability when it comes to negoiating any deal with TICC.

    Jason was the front man for the $11 million in TICC notes (which, oh-by-the-way kicked Jeff to the curb in a buyout), and Jason was the guy asleep at the steering wheel when the company stopped paying interest on its notes and ran out of cash.

  4. The following people want to hear from PulverMedia ASAP

    Ross Sampson, InterTalk
    Chalan Aras, PolyCom
    Matteo Gatta or Alan Johnston, Belgacom
    Hugh Goldstein, XConnect

    Jason pref. if not then Carl.

  5. sidelinewatcher

    Carl Ford has put out a post entitled Defending My Honor here http://carlscorner.pulver.com/

    I really thought he had went and got a chastity belt fitted but actually it is a response to some of the comments above on this site. He states-

    I am not at liberty to discuss anything, but for all who want to complain to me. I will listen.

    So there you have it; if you paid up for sponsorship or attending future VON events, received a bounced check from Pulver or you got pink slipped last month just contact Carl not befrienders.org

    [email protected]
    [email protected]
    631-961-8955

    Let us all know if Carl solves your problems and keeps his honor intact?

  6. SOMETHING_SMELLS_FUNNY_OR_ILLEGAL

    Why would Jeff and Jason need to cut a deal – who was owed what? Wouldn’t Jeff and Jason both be on the same team trying to cut a deal with the TICC – the TICC is the one that obviously wanted out.

    Why all this talk about Cross Tech media? Just because they hired some people from Pulvermedia doesn’t mean that Cross Tech/Exgenex has anything to do with the future of VON does it? Jason and Stephen are friends and Jason probably just got some of his cronies jobs because he felt guilty about their hungry families. All the “favorites” and teachers pets like Chris Erb, Kargman,Sell,Agranat,Ford, (the joke management team that choked)etc..will get placed by Jason or Jeff- rumors has it that some have all been working on “special projects” all along while the others told to go fend for themselves. I was also told that the employees have been waiting for a final announcement since the offices closed a month ago and that the closing was handled in the most un professional illegal way possible – Cobra was not even offered.
    How can that happen in this country to working people while the execs and/or the investors will end with a name brand for pennies on the dollar. Granted the brand name might not be worth anything due to the way this ordeal was handled but still.

  7. I’ve heard that next week (probably Monday 28th) there will be a PR release in relation to PulverMedia. Aside from that little is known except Video On the Net is off, VON.X Amsterdam is off and Jeff plans to work with TICC in some amicable fashion to carry on in the form of a new brand or a significant rebrand. It’s my guess that amongst other things they plan to try and take what was best from other shows that were not asleep at the wheel (like VoiceCon and EComm) and roll it into the new brand along with Jeff’s interests other than VoIP. Jeff and Jason have already cut a financial deal and settlement.

  8. pulvermedicated

    Cross Technology Group, runs Exgenex and the ITEC shows, seems to have picked up a couple of people out of the Boston offices. Someone forwarded along an e-mail from Bill Sell.

    Anyone smell a pool here?

  9. anonymous

    Bee, please feel me in on what Stephen Saber’s role is here again, why would he be contacted – what did I miss. Also, I think the only people working for Exgenex is Rich Erb – who else works there?

  10. For all those posting anonymously…nice job…if you feel so strongly and are willing to put names and blames…put you own name up there so when the time come for those to defend themselves and their actions….so will you!

  11. The supposed “VPO of Sales” and “CMO” was the king of pay for play in pushing deals that gave vendors big speaker roles for large fees. He loves his “big deals” (and Jason loved him for that), and did an excellent job of driving revenues with no long term vision or value regardless what damage it did to the core community.

    The customers then start to question the investment, the decline occurs and we have VON as we see it today ala TICC.

    Yes, the marketing is another great part of the story…..in case you did not know, there had been no CMO in the job for probably close to a year, but being Chris also feels he is a marketing guru, he took that one on. Great job delivering the numbers (or lack of)…half-ass marketing delivers half-ass results. Less people means less exhibitors, less exhibitors means less revenue. You get the picture.

  12. anonymous

    Voice on the Net? Or Video on The Net? Thought Video on the Net was Jeff’s baby, then it became a joint Jeff-pulvermedia production since Jason wanted to book some revenues.

    What about that Virtual Trade Show? I heard one vendor was told the virtual show was “on hold” rather than to be executing.

    Jeff not doing enough to promote the shows? This comes from Jason, who 1) Paid Jeff to go away and didn’t want his input in the shows 2) Spent money on a CMO who was more interested in high-level stuff than getting his hands dirty on day-to-day ops then 3) Thought he could run marketing after the CMO left, between golf games and charity functions.

  13. sadbuttrue, Stephen was very candid on the topic. Maybe he was just off balance for a bit and back with a tie on today he will be less candid.

    We seem to have a case where Jason is calling Jeff an a** for not doing enough to promote the shows (even Jason according to Stephen was bitching about Jeff’s obsession with Avery labels, QIK and Facebook). It was hilarious as it was hardcore “how the fu** can you sell a voice fu***** show if you only want to talk about fuing Facebook all the time and your ambition is to be a fuing poker player).

    From the tiny part I know on the Jeff side, Jeff is playing all his astute cards to get VON back at the right price under the right deal. It may even be the case that bad PR Etc. helps Jeff as it drives down any brand value Jason has.

    War of the Titans is on. Who can play referee? Carl can be jester. Stuck between the two are the people who have paid for Voice on The Net next month and also VON.x Amsterdam. It’s a shame that no matter which Titan wins, I doubt the vendors to Von.x San Jose will see any cash – i.e. all those who got a bounced check will have to live with it. Personally if it was me who got a bounced check I’d call Stephen.

  14. sadbuttrue

    Beware, Stephen Saber is closely joined at the hip to Jason so I would not invest much there.

    I guarantee that whatever deal is being worked on and is expected to be announced shortly, there is no way Jason will take a hit in any way.

  15. anonymous

    Blackmailed? I guess there’s nobody around to enforce a non-compete/NDA.

    Ain’t that embarassin’ I guess Jason is afraid to get TICC involved because the level of ineptness would be revealed.

    But then again, I think Jason caved for people on a number of occasions. So I’ve heard. Whine loud enough and he’ll cut rather than stand up I think Andy Abramson managed to weasel a couple of companies into “VON Awards” by that tactic.

  16. Buzzbee

    If TICC had done due dilgence in relation to some PulverMedia hires as suggested we would not have been landed in the position we are in today. Instead the honest PulverMedia staff have been screwed. Other Pulver staff are singing praises for Jeff because they have hopes that he will ride in and save the show. Face up to the situation and who was behind it.

  17. Buzzbee

    Rumor on the street has it that a PulverMedia employee who had been let go last month approached both the VoiceCon and EComm organizers to sell a marketing list or some other type of VON data that he took with him. Somehow word got back and Jason to head this off put him into a salaried position at Exgenex to stop any more data going outwards. The understanding was that the employee black mailed Jason into keeping him employed. That person was not Carl who I think also has been moved over to Exgenex.

    I don’t know how others are saying Jeff is innocent. He is the largest single majority shareholder. If he was nothing to do with VON then why the hell is he the figure head and why is he not speaking out?!?! He fronted and pimped it. Lets put it this way; last time he sold it, it was for 65 million and he bought it back 2 years later for 5 million. This time he sold it again say for ~11 million and expect a buy back within the next 45 days. The buy back will happen, it will be rebranded “VON.SuperX – The Money Grabbing Continuum” but nobody who paid for VON.x will see any money back and Jason plus the COO will take the wrap in the news. You can’t have it both ways, either Jeff is VON or he is not. If he is not VON, then he should be making statements on his blog and answering emails to people requesting money back. The way his cult followers make it, he can cut it both ways, i.e. have his cake and eat it.

    If PulverMedia is so clean then why did it reinstate credit card processing recently for Video on the Net in 3 weeks time? Some companies are automatically buying tickets now for their employees yet there is no way it can go ahead as they only have 4 speakers! So right as we speak they have taken action to get credit card processing working again for something they can not fulfill. And you think Jeff could not stop this? All he has to do is to put on his blog that Video on The Net is not going ahead!

  18. anonymous

    A class action suit against who? For what?

    Pulvermedia is not a publicly traded company.

    The best you can hope for is that TICC would file suit against Kargman and Chunofsky for gross mismanagement. Certainly, pissing through $11 million in under a year qualifies. And there’s some skeletons in the closet when it comes to HR issues, but TICC has sucked at doing due diligence so far, so I doubt they will find them before they get rid of the company.

  19. sadbuttrue

    The posts are correct that when Jeff allowed Jason (a supposed father type figure to Jeff), Jason would sell his mother’s soul before he would be honest about his plans (or lack of), his manipulative ways (ask both the customers and the employees) and his self serving agenda. The reaons there is nobody answering the phones or replying to emails is because he is NOT being straight, plain and simple). Jason loves to talk about his charity work, his great life accomplishments and COMDEX and you wonder why VON is in this mess????

    In fact, the funny thing is that while this supposed “business as usual” period, Jason has moved a few of his more favored x pulver employees over to the favorite registration vendor (one can speculate on his equity position in that company) and out of the pulvermedia camp. A skeleton crew of employees are collecting their unemployment now while they supposedly help Jason get the house in order.

    Jeff may enjoy a lavish lifesytle, but he has worked hard and has the right to spend the money if he wants to do so. He also allowed many companies to get their feet on the ground for no charge exchanging stock for boothspace at times when he believed in their story. He did put skin in the game and certainly gave at times where some may not know it. You can certainly only respect that as Jeff did put his money where his mouth is.

    He also spend much of his own money funding alot of the VON experience (including petitioning the FCC, paying for the parties we all know many of you thoroughly enjoyed, etc). Maybe Jeff does not always use the best judgement, but his passion for VoIP made a difference in this industry. His mistake was teaming up with the biggest con artist in the industry and not staying close to the camp.

    The ultimate in misfortune is their is a core group of people who have been involved in VON from the start who Jason has successfully screwed over! There is nothing wrong with the industry other than the wrong guy leading the charge.

  20. Rupertro

    I made the comment about Jeff standing up and saying something because (a) he founded the company, (b) he still has a sizable shareholding and (b) he is out there blogging away. All one hears from the CEO and CFO/COO is the sound of silence. I won’t get an answer by contacting any of the people you mention but one has to presume that something will appear, either from TICC or the analysts.

  21. anonymous

    Mark–

    You’re confusing the man with the business.

    Jeff Pulver sold out most of his interest in pulvermedia last June, leaving the company in the supposedly capable hands of President and CEO Jason Chudnofsky and CFO/COO Scott Kargman. Asking Jeff to give you your money back makes as about much sense as getting stiffed buying a Ford car and asking a member of the Ford family for a refund… rather than taking it out on the dealership.

    If you want to file a complaint, you can supposedly get a hold of Chundofsky at (631) 961-1100 or [email protected]. (See posting above) If the phones still work. You’re a customer, call him up. You have a right to understand what is going on because you handed them money.

    If that doesn’t work, call TICC directly. They are currently the majority shareholder in pulvermedia. Ask THEM what is going on.

    If you don’t get an answer/they don’t return your call, then call the analysts who cover TICC and ask THEM what is going on. If nothing else, they’ll call TICC and ask questions on the next conference call. Or write a report that calls for shorting the stock.

  22. Rubertro

    There was a comment here that came from Jeff or one that purported to come from Jeff and it has gone. The plot thickens. The time has come for some kind of official statement from pulvermedia.

  23. anonymous

    Jeff has made his tens of millions from VoIP. He sold Pulver on because he knew the industry was done. Jeff’s too busy taking first class flights to host breakfasts in order to talk about Facebook, QIK and how meeting people in real-life is so much cooler than on the Internet. In fact he said on Blog Talk Radio recently that he had invented meeting people in real-life (yes and Al Gore invented the Internet) and was going to write a book on that “new” application he had “invented”.

    So if you want Jeff to cough up some money, attend his breakfast and get ready to stick avery labels on him. He’s not interested in anything else let alone pesky VoIP sponsors/attendees.

  24. What about the poor sap vendors like me who do honorable business with what we hope would be honorable firms. Looks like a little guy like me is about to be hosed out of $16k from my own personal pocket and to read some of these comments about the lifestyle and spending habits of Jeff Pulver is hard to stomach. Takes quite a bit of unethical nerve to order goods and services knowing you probably will never be able to or have the intention to pay. Hope Pulver has the good conscience to realize there are real people behind his accounts payable responsibilities that have families to feed and bills to pay. Do the right thing Jeff. Pay your vendor bills and refund those that have paid deposits to you.