Uh-Oh! Internet Fuckery Is Afoot At Snopes.com!
I fact-checked my cat!
You know Snopes. You love Snopes. Snopes has been giving you handy, easy to link rebuttals to your Facebook feed's constant thrum of Barack Obama's mama was A MAN, BABY, and whatnot for the past 14 years. And it's ever so much less annoying than mealymouthed ol' Politifact.
So it was EEK! today to read that Snopes.com is having to gofundme its operating expenses -- it's seeking half a million dollars, presumably for the year. Snopes is huge! Facebook goes to it hat in hand when it's in trouble for its Macedonian fake news run-amok! Why do they need our help exactly?
It comes down, as it does maybe every little once in a while, to Internet companies and greed.
Snopes was started by David and Barbara Mikkelson in 2003; they formed a "closely held" "S-corp" called Bardav as Snopes's parent company, in which David and Barbara each held 50 percent. In 2015, the pair divorced, and in 2016 Barbara sold her stake in Bardav to "Proper Media," which was running all the advertising and back-end nonsense for Snopes. Because shares of an S-corp can't be held by a company, Barbara Mikkelson's 50 percent went to five individuals from Proper Media, not Proper Media itself.
For independent websites -- even giant ones like Snopes -- the back end and monetization are often given over to third parties to run, since most journalists don't know an ad impression from their asshole. In the contract between Bardav and Proper Media, the first $85,000 a month went to Bardav, and anything Proper Media sold over that was to be split fifty-fifty. But according to David Mikkelson, Proper Media kept not paying him. And kept not paying him. And kept not ... you get the idea. So, abiding by the the terms of their contract, he gave them their necessary notice for firing their asses. Now he says they're holding the hosting hostage; he can't "modify, develop or place advertising on" his own website.
Proper Media? Is suing him for breach of contract, intentional interference with a contract, and civil conspiracy. They say David Mikkelson turned in expenses that were, like, his honeymoon and stuff. (That is bad, do not do company expenses like that! Instead, David Mikkelson should have thrown a Snopes Reader Party in Hawaii or Bali or wherever and then it is "marketing"!) They say he induced a Proper Media employee (one of the five people to whom Barbara Mikkelson sold her shares) to illicitly join with him, giving him a 56 percent controlling interest, when by all rights that guy should have been holding his shares for Proper Media's benefit, even though companies are not allowed to hold stock in S corps. They say ... other things!
We're not here to get into the Mikkelsons' divorce, or his seemingly vite remarriage to a Snopes employee (!). But as an actually independent website, just like Snopes, we have had a lot of people offer to run our advertising networks.
It has never worked out.
Quite recently, we were approached by a new platform. It has lots of shiny buttons you all might really enjoy! Maybe our readership would explode, since we were one of the few liberal sites that never got a Trump Bump, because Facebook thinks we are Moldavian teenagers or something. We would love to have new readers! And like with Bardav and Proper Media's contract, there was promised a very easy out clause should we ever wish to leave.
TRUST NO ONE.
The company we were in talks with offered us free hosting, which would add up to three-fifths of a fulltime staff salary per year. That would have been very helpful! Plus their platform, which was well-built by professionals! And perhaps a big bump in distribution! And in exchange, they only wanted fifty percent of our revenues -- even though they wouldn't even have been selling our ads for us, since we don't have any! (To be granular about it, the first $30,000 a month would have been ours, and the entire next $30,000 a month would have been theirs, and after that it would be fifty-fifty. So your Wonkette would have needed to double its revenues from our current roughly $30,000 per month, before Dok, Evan, Robyn, Dom, Shy and I got a raise of a single dime, when in fact we would like raises of at least FIVE dimes!)
We were actually close to thinking about considering consummating the deal -- which would have subjugated Wonkette's independence to an outside party and infringed on our sovereign rights as Free People On the Land -- until the third or fourth phone call, when the actual whore dollars were discussed, and we realized it was not actually a terrific deal, oh well. We will just keep on cranking, all on our little lonesomes, without a big fancy Internet company taking half our money in exchange for being their marquee name.
We'll wait until Shy divorces us and sells out, instead. JOKE'S ON HIM, HE ONLY GOT 40 PERCENT. Mama don't let fuckers have a controlling interest, y'all.
Rebecca Schoenkopf is the owner, publisher, and editrix of Wonkette. She is a nice lady, SHUT UP YUH HUH. She is very tired with this fucking nonsense all of the time, and it would be terrific if you sent money to keep this bitch afloat. She is on maternity leave until 2033.