This Insane Letter on Twitlonger
Logan here. Wendell and I split ways and agreed not to discuss the terms of the split. However, this insidious twitlonger post from Wendell is still online… the damage has been done. First, for historic reference, I’ll cover my side of things in a paragraph or so.
I was the creative of the group who came up with the merch ideas, music, most of the video ideas, most the event ideas (lan syndicate, HighLANder, etc.), video game side projects, hardware side projects (now fenek.im), etc. I also did about most of the videos myself or with the help of Pistol (check our YouTube channel and count the videos before you argue). We bickered a lot because I’d have an idea that sounded crazy to everyone (nobody wanted a t-shirt store at first) then everyone would tell me to go make music and leave the nerdy stuff to them. There is some truth to that. Most of the team was better at the tech stuff, but I was better at the creative stuff. It was a nice mix. I am very disorganized when it comes to accounting and such. I basically just keep doing creative projects and trust that everyone has the rest under control. We even hired someone to keep the books in order. In the past I had used one account for everything. Tek Syndicate, groceries, dog food, hardware, etc. Then in quickbooks we would just mark things as personal or business. It was quick and easy… and since the company was a single owner LLC, this was legal. I know it irritated others, so when we really got down to business I used a personal account and business account. Anyway, nobody ever wanted to leave alone the fact that I had basically lived using one account when we first started Tek Syndicate. It’s a non-issue unless you want to make me sound like a crook. Past team members also spread rumors online that I was stealing company money for vacations and such. This is silly as well because my trip to China was to acquire more products for Fenek. Totally a business expense.
A lot of this mud slinging was due to the frustration behind the scenes, but much of it was a calculated attempt to take over the company. I was aloof and wanted to work on the video game and such more than tech stuff (and still do), and the team wanted to take over… but I was unhappy with many of their ideas and the quality, etc. So, that’s the crux of it plus a lot of bullshit that is nobody’s business.
The other thing that was really fucked up was that the people who had access to our quick-books used them make me look like an evil rich CEO. Payments to Pistol were made using bank transfer. Those were marked as “personal income” for me. We made a huge payment to a bank in HK (over $10k) to pay for hardware, that was listed as a personal payment to me in Quickbooks. This method was used for several little things then a W2 was (without my knowledge) submitted for me. An LLC owner doesn’t submit a W2 for themselves because they ARE the company and pay tax as such. Anyway, these docs were given to the community and the public to make it look like I was making $140k+ a year. The real total (After going through the accounting) was under $50k, less than I was paying Qain. Even then, we were doing well and I don’t see how it’s a sin to make money unless you are stealing or deceiving… I was planning to just spend any of my own money on making a game anyway.
Before all this happened I tried to remind everyone I was boss while also refocusing the team. Here is the letter I sent just before everyone went public with their misinformation campaign:
My letter to the team before all the bullshit went down: teksyndicate.com/letter-to-the-team-july-2016/
You’ll note that the first line was me saying that I was Steve Jobs until further notice. This was supposed to be an inside joke and a way to say, “I’m in charge here!” However, that was also given to the internet so that they could demonize me further. I thought the letter was positive and reasonable, but everyone freaked out.
Now, this tweet/twitlonger from Wendell sounds innocent, but this is an attack that was worded in a way to make the attacker sound like a protector of the people, a martyr. It’s a direct attempt to control how others see me because he was not successful in taking control of the company (my opinion). If you can’t control the person, control how others see the person… very basic stuff. It’s something I regret not fighting. I was trying to just let everyone part on nice terms. This matter should have been handled privately. I was being reasonable and open the whole time. However, I now see that posting this publicly was a way to damage my reputation and severely harm the company. I find it hard to believe that people didn’t see through this as it’s extremely unprofessional and totally it lacks evidence. It’s no different than a child throwing a tantrum when they don’t get what they want, and everyone bought it.
Below is the post from Wendell… Let’s set the record straight (my words in red).
wendell · @tekwendell
29th Aug 2016 from TwitLonger
Hmm, not sure
Yes, he is sure…
Wendell checking in here.
I would have posted this to the forums. I am not sure what has transpired, but Logan has taken the site and forums offline under the teksyndicate.com domain. They are still reachable if you know the IP however.
I had threatened to turn the site off for a while because users were harassing myself, pistol, and anyone on our side… photo-shopping me as Hitler and such. However, the website was taken down due to an DNS error when I tried to move it onto a cloudflare account that only I had access to. I provided proof of this via my video. I chalked it up to serendipity and left it off for a while.
I’m going to be fully, bluntly honest here. I am on my way out of having an ownership stake in teksyndicate and have been for several weeks. Am I also on my way out of making content with teksyndicate? That remains to be seen, but I would say yes based on how things have gone so far.
While privacy is important, transparency also keeps us honest.
First off, an apology. Community, I’m sorry. What for you may ask? Let me provide some background first.
Playing a martyr here… and the “transparency” thing keeps coming up. It makes the reader think I was hiding things despite everyone having full access to everything. Read on:
For me, co-founding teksyndicate, LLC with Logan and laying the ground work of our business plan has been an incredible experience. The support the fans have shown a couple of total bozos (and friend!) on the internet has been absolutely phenomenal.
For what it’s worth I was always the dweeby kid in high school that ate by themselves in the biology lab… I didn’t really figure myself out until college. So I really can’t convey the range of emotions that I feel in the here and now.
Wendell was not the co-founder of Tek Syndicate though he did help me in the early stages. I created it myself and was the sole owner of the LLC. I created the name and concept while in FL, before I moved to KY. I was going to go to NYC to work on Tek Syndicate on my own or with Qain. We even joke about this in early episodes of The Tek. However, Wendell convinced me to stay in KY. KY was less expensive and allowed me to put all my energy and money into the website. So, that did help. Also, Wendell was helpful when it comes to gettting things off the ground.
I saw the end of the last Tek episode and some other comments Logan has posted here and there about being low on money. Currently, I am a 30% owner in teksyndicate, LLC and I find this statement to be misleading for a variety of reasons.
It is also true that the company is earning record income – more income than at any other time in its history – and the gross income has grown by more than $125,000 per year for the last 3 years.
The agreement I have with Logan is that my shares in the company entitle me to 30% of the profits of the company year over year, and to date, I have been more than content to reinvest those profits back into the company to further the potential of the company. The work that I have done adds value to the company, and my shares, and the extra capital would let Logan realize his vision faster and later on I could begin earning a return for the value of my shares.
This, again, sounds more official than it really was. I was the only name listed on the LLC at the time. Other members of our team had tried to make a new company in Oregon (after I requested that we move the LLC to Delaware). On this new company they listed Jenny and Qain as “managing members”. I saw that as totally malicious because I wanted to terminate the business relationship with Jenny (which made me the bad guy). Also, I did not believe Qain was ready to be part owner. He simply did not do much other than police the forum and tell people he was an owner. We argued a lot about this. As for Wendell’s 30%, the only thing we had was a text message where he told me he should be part owner. I agreed. After this, his accounting person filed our taxes as 70/30. I actually didn’t pay attention and found out about this later (not an excuse, just a fact), I just let them charge me and do my taxes along with Wendell’s. So, I had no idea until later. Never the less, it was not something we discussed much and that was a bad thing for us all. Things were never as official. There was no contract or legal document between us. We almost never spoke of money and when I’d bring it up he’d tell me he was doing fine and we could worry about it later. I had to go to his wife to pay rent for the office. I didn’t like getting it for free. It felt weird.
The support staff, editorial staff, and equipment costs to the company for all of my videos for 2015 that were invoiced to teksyndicate was less than $13.5k. These are only expenses to my main company that I needed to be reimbursed on, and most of that cost was a part-time student editor.
Truthfully, Logan has recently sent an email to Qain and I that he ‘stepped back’ for the last ever how long period of time, and he has lately has made a lot of statements that, to me, seem strange. When I have asked for accountability, transparency or an explanation internally, I haven’t had good results with that. Quite frankly, I’m surprised the patrons have been as patient as they have.
Here they are clearly trying to sabotage my credibility. I was asking for accountability and transparency internally because we were spending money on projects or videos that I wasn’t always aware of (sometimes my fault for being aloof). Everyone on the team had access to my PERSONAL and business bank accounts through quickbooks… so they literally knew everything I did. If I had a beer, they knew. Someone internally was even able to take a picture of my personal Amazon account showing that I had searched for things like, “leather straps”… somehow the internet was given screenshots of this, so someone was trying to kink shame me.
Logan wants to do something new. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he wants to do, but I find myself in a difficult position feeling that I have a strong ethical obligation to the community on the one hand, but I don’t want to damage or undermine anyone’s right to work on the other.
I wanted to make a video game and do more creative projects with the extra income, mostly from the store. Everyone was paid and I don’t understand how it’s his business if I spend my money on a video game project. This makes it sound like I was really up to something… Some audience members seem to think that I was flying around the world with hookers on the company dime. Things explode like this online and I have no idea how. My bank statements were UPLOADED TO THE INTERNET, obviously by someone I trusted. So, anyone who actually looks at that data will see a very boring/normal story. There isn’t anything weird or embarrassing and you can dig around and find the records online, if you wish.
He said to me “It’s time for us to lower your involvement so we can do most of this at our main office in Portland.”
He went on to say that if I wanted to divest my shares, I could, but it was clear he had no idea those shares were worth anything. They are worth a significant amount of money.
I was unhappy with some of the basic videos (hardware reviews, mainly), that is true. I also knew I could do things cheaper in Portland. Doing certain videos in KY was costing us 3-4x compared to what it would cost me in Portland. Plus, I had a much better camera person and better gear. Beyond that, I was finding that basic videos were way cheaper for me to do with our team in Portland.
I have proposed to Logan that he take epic pants store and the large /razethew0rld channel with 600,000+ subscribers, but that he give up ownership and control of the smaller 100,000 subscriber /teksyndicate hardware channel the teksyndicate.com domain name, twitter, etc. to allow the teksyndicate community to exist independently.
In that scenario I would continue to support it and produce my own content.
I find a lot of the statements lately around money to be disingenuous and misleading. I can’t abide by them ethically because I know the full situation. Believe me when I tell you the fans have showered lavish support on the company not just through patreon but the store and other means also. Some missteps I have chalked up to inexperience running a business, but calls for accountability and reasonableness have been met with ignored emails, Logan cutting my access to the partnership’s corporate bank account and a lack of financial transparency with regard to the use of the company credit card.
Again, this is worded to make the reader think I’m sneaking around doing nefarious shit. I wasn’t sure where some of the money was being spent and I had people signing checks for things that I did not approve of. So, I did not hide anything, I simply told everyone that I was the only person who was going to sign checks until I got a good understanding of our cash-flow. This is good a business practice for an LLC owner. I did cut off access to the Chase account, but not the quickbooks. So, nothing was ever in the dark. This whole “lack of transparency” thing is bullshit. It’s simply charter assassination.
For me, the way that Logan runs the business has been deeply frustrating because of that lack of accountability, disorganization and apparent inability to learn from past mistakes. He needs a business coach and I’m fine with it if that business coach isn’t me.
Just like Patreon, many sponsors are also unhappy with us for a lot of the same reasons: missed deadlines, broken promises, etc. I have worked very diligently to use the resources I have to meet promises and obligations for both sponsored and unsponsored projects.
Again, casting me as an immature/crazy person. It’s a clear attempt to control the way in which others see me (and it worked nicely). It is true that I was not organized when it comes to accounting and paperwork. However, we hired someone and paid them well (too well) because I wanted to spend my time working on creative projects and video content. However, this person worked with the others in the company to manipulate the audiences perception of me. They categorized things incorrectly and released private documents after doing so. It was a huge mistake to ever hire them in the first place.
We did miss some deadlines, but this is very dramatic. Every company misses deadlines. I do not recall many paid/sponsored gigs that we missed deadlines on other than a video we were unable to deliver (in scope) for Fractal. We made it up to them. Otherwise the delayed videos were typically reviews that took longer than expected (or that we never got to). Maybe there were others, but I’m not going to go back through ever video project. Regarding Patreon and our promises… Yes, we did not deliver on all the videos we promised to make. I believe we over-promised because there was little room to deviate from what was guaranteed… Thus, it was a learning experience. I shouldered a lot of the blame for this. As with other things… when things are good everyone shows up for the reward. When there is a problem they point to the leader. I believe everyone was too focused too much on tech reviews and not enough on the content we promised. Tech reviews are way easier. That’s something we all agreed on and I’m as guilty as they come. However, I was trying to take the reins (as you can see in my email linked above). We wanted to make more documentary/editorial content and ended up getting bogged down with an influx of hardware. So, it was extremely stressful. I believe that if I was 100% focused on nothing but tech we would have been able to deliver more of what was expected of us. I also believed that when our team grew I would be able to focus on my creative projects more. I was wrong and I know I was unwise to hire Qain and some others.
If Logan has been working on the business or this new vision the last year, he hasn’t really looped in Qain, Jennifer or myself on what exactly that might be.
He has been busy with side projects like the game and other things which have used company money but he does not believe the rest of us should be entitled to profits from. On the contrary, when asked about these things, we got some nonsensical lines about Logan having “stepped back too soon” and none of us knows what that means.
This is silly. We had never had a formal discussion of this. I also resent the tone of this statement. He said I was using “company money.” I owned the LLC and therefore some of the profit was considered my personal income. I am legally allowed to spend my money however I like and I find it disgusting that he is using this as a way to turn the audience against me. If you say, “Logan is using his earnings to invest in a video game and plans to cooperate with and listen to the community while doing so,” it sounds nice. If you say, “Logan was stealing company money to work on some personal game project!” it sounds shitty.
For my shares and exit of the company, I don’t believe Logan understood that the value, minimally, was the profits that I had reinvested into the company. On that valuation criteria alone, they are worth over $100k.
So I remain in a holding pattern waiting on Logan to tell me what he intends to do for my ownership exit as he staffs up replacements for us on the Tek. After talking with Qain, I have no doubt that these folks have been fed some twisted version of the facts as that is what happened from my perspective with the relationship between Qain and myself.
For my own part of this, I am sorry it has come to this. I’m sure that I myself don’t have the full picture. When logan says “all will be clear in 5 days” I have no idea what that might mean.
I tried very hard to put the company first and give it the best shot for success that it could possibly have. I don’t see this as a zero sum game with regard to the fans, personalities, viewers, etc. but with Logan’s irrational actions, apparent hostile attitude and unaccountability to anyone here I really don’t see another option for a way forward.
How many times has he attacked my character in this letter… all without a screenshot of proof or an actual specific example of how I was being shady. The “irrational actions” phrase can include so many things. It’s subjective really. How many times did Atari say that Nolan Bushnell was irrational. How many times are creative CEOs and business owners misunderstood? When I first wanted to make a mouse… that could have been an “irrational action”. When I decided to make a t-shirt store everyone was frustrated with me… that was probably an “irrational action”. I’m sure I did some stupid shit here and there too… but the company was healthy, had a growing community, growing accounts, etc. The major turning point seems to be the assassination of my character. The internet really bought it and I didn’t realize they would. I thought, “this is so silly, how could anyone think these things about me… it will blow over.”
Whether I create a new name for the community or continue operations under the old name, I am not going anywhere. I am thankful for the many friends and awesome people I have met along the way and I support you all in whatever you might decide to do. I do not yet know what my role will be in the future.
Logan, for his part, is a brilliant entertainer and I have never met anyone more gifted with handling people and the oratory arts. He has many good ideas, and he has my full support in any future endeavors that he may undertake and I have no doubt we have not seen the last of his creativity and his ability to spin entertaining yarns. I truly hope that he can find satisfaction and happiness in his work and in time he will become an entrepreneur if he keeps at it.
ps. Apologies for grammar, spelling, etc. This was composed for brevity and I feel like it still needs a TLDR.
As you see here, this letter was an attempt to rally the mob against me. It is full of equivocations, fabrications, false statements, etc. It’s calculated bullshit. It’s very childish and unprofessional, though it sounds like a warning to the community about the “evil Logan.” In my opinion, this really sounds like a kid… kicking and screaming on the floor because they didn’t get what they wanted. They wanted to take over and when I reminded them who was boss and owner they exploded, defamed the company, and repeatedly made false accusations. Despite being extremely intelligent, not everyone has been through as many trials… and people make emotional decisions during a break-up. – Logan