Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Cry Me a River

Dave Barton and the Bartonettes have responded in comments. And I have to say Dave doesn't take criticism very well. Anyway, let's take a closer look at what he has to say.

Here is his defence of Jeniffer Thomas' reporting.
Jennifer Thomas interviewed over 20 people over a period of four months before doing the story. She didn't just do her research by reading blogs.
By my count she quotes only five people in the article, Barton and four of the entrepreneurs he houses. If she started the reporting back in November this would place the start of her research during the period when The Blue Line was still the Lion Launch Pad. Certainly she would have wanted to interview the founder of Lion Launch Pad Robert Shedd and its chairman Robert Macy. I wonder why they aren't quoted? Maybe she didn't interview them because she didn't know about them. In which case, had she only gone to the blogs like I had she might have learned about them.

He also explains what happened with Lion Launch Pad.
After 9 months, the entrepreneurs who took the initiative to use the LLP were largely recent graduates of Penn State. Only 3 of the first 12 companies were undergraduate run and this spring it will be down to one. This was is conflict with the LLP board's intent for this to be an undergraduate experience, so the decision to separate was made.
Who made that decision? Was it you alone? Was it a mutually agreed upon by all involved? Why was the founder of Lion Launch Pad unaware of the decision as late February 7? A good reporter should know to ask these questions and who to ask them of.

The following comes from the Thomas article.
The Blue Line started last June as Lion Launchpad, a Penn State Smeal Business College-affiliated incubator.

It has since transitioned to house all types of entrepreneurs, from students to any adult with
a viable idea, changing its name along the way and ending its affiliation with the university, Barton said.

Barton said he didn't want to limit the entrepreneurs he can help to only Penn State students
This makes it sound like the LLP is now The Blue Line, but Barton tells us in comments that "The LLP will continue on campus. I let them to have the name, website and logo all of which we developed here." Why didn't the story, which according to Barton was researched for four months, mention that the LLP is still around. But what I find odd here, is that if Barton was only the money guy at LLP and was not on the board, why would he control the name, website and logo? Since LLP is tax-exempt all he should have gotten for his money is a tax write-off. Again a good reporter would have dug a little deeper.

Barton also explains why Blueswarf.com didn't generate the Centre County jobs for Penn State grads that he promised the University when he received the $125k no interest loan from them.
BlueSwarf technology was licensed to Kennametal (one of Pennsylvania's largest corporations and employers) and is marketed under their brand Kennametal 360 Powered by BlueSwarf. Of course a quick check to our website would have uncovered that fact, but that didn't support your rant. Our technology is used to increase the productivity in many American factories saving thousands of jobs from going offshore. Because of the difficulty I had in trying to start a tech company here (hence why we went the licensing route), I decided to take money out of my own pocket to create an incubator across the street from campus to try and help.
Barton is right that I didn't state what happened to BlueSwarf, but had he stopped feeling sorry for himself long enough to click the link-which I put in-in the excerpt from Thomas' story he would see that it takes you to the BlueSwarf Web site. The fact that his technology stayed with a Pennsylvania company is fortunate, but irrelevant. Barton made an explicit pledge to the University to grow jobs in Centre County for Penn State grads. He didn't.

He also explains his motivation for funding LLP came from a desire to give something back to the community.
Because of the difficulty I had in trying to start a tech company here (hence why we went the licensing route), I decided to take money out of my own pocket to create an incubator across the street from campus to try and help.
For a generous guy he never quite gets over the idea that it's his money, although he's was getting a tax break for giving it to LLP. Remember his unloading on Daehee Park started out, "As the person who is paying for the LLP." That sounds like someone that isn't too thrilled with paying the bills. It raises a red flag. Now again I don't know what's going on here, but I would like to know if the University made financing LLP a requirement of his interest free loan once the jobs he promised failed to materialize. A good reporter would have been curious too. And by the way, by severing ties with LLP, he no longer has to fund the $500-$5000 in seed money that LLP promised its young entrepreneurs.

Frankly, a good reporter wouldn't have left me with so many unanswered questions.

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1 comment:

David Barton said...

How about coming over and meeting with me? I would be happy to show you everything. Open the books and show you how much I have spent and how much PSU has given me ($0) for the LLP. Come over and talk to the entrepreneurs and see what they are doing. I wish I had the zero interest loans that you mentioned, but I don't and I am paying pretty hefty rates which I will gladly show you as well. You have my invitation. I will answer any question you have, all you have to do is come by. I am easy to find, since I use my own name and don't hide behind a pseudonym. You can wear a Lone Ranger mask and use one of those hand-held voice distorters. Maybe we could all put our hands over our eyes and promise not to peek. See you soon.