Friday, April 11, 2008

Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies

After failing to get any response from Linspire as to why they are not holding annual shareholder meetings, I asked them publicly to do so in my last blog, in a hopes that pressure from customers, partners and shareholders would encourage them to do the right thing. I hold a fairly large amount of Linspire stock, but I remain in a minority position with about 100 other shareholders. Not only has Linspire not held a shareholders meeting, but to this day, they have not even responded to my inquiries with so much as a "we'll get back to you on that." Their lack of responsiveness only heightens my concern with Linspire's present management and the company's future prospects.

During the discussion that took place in the thread of my last blog, someone quoted Ron Paul's statement "Truth is treason in the Empire of Lies." I don't believe this quote was originated by Ron Paul, but it was recently popularized by him in his book The Revolution: A Manifesto. I found this quote very profound in light of my experiences over the last 8 months since resigning from Linspire. The message conveyed in this quote has pushed me over the edge to start the process of going public with details and facts about Michael Robertson, Larry Kettler, and Linspire since my resignation there.

I resigned from Linspire on July 31, 2007. On that day I believed Linspire still had a promising future, so much so in fact, that I personally tried to put together a multi-million dollar acquisition of the company within days of my resignation. To this day, that offer remains unanswered by Michael Robertson. I find it incompetent for Linspire's management to have not even responded to this Bona Fide offer, and I'm confident, had the offer been accepted, that I, Linspire customers, desktop Linux, and the other Linspire shareholders would be in a much better place today.

When I resigned from Linspire, my intentions were, of course, given my large number of Linspire shares, to do everything I could to help Linspire succeed. Unfortunately, in the eight months following my resignation, I have witnessed some of the worst management decisions I have seen in my 25+ years as a business professional. Actions taken by Linspire's Chairman, Michael Robertson, and their CEO, Larry Kettler, are, in my opinion, destroying the company. Not only do I feel that Linspire's current management is squandering Linspire's assets, but soon after my resignation, Michael Robertson as Chairman, and Larry Kettler as CEO, levied criminal allegations against six past Linspire employees: the CEO, CFO, Controller, two Vice Presidents, and the OS Team Lead. This group constituted two thirds of Linspire's then management team.

I resigned from Linspire, but the other five employees were laid off in good standing, with four to twelve months of severance for their many years of committed, quality work, culminating in a very profitable year. These employees who were laid off had worked for many years at Linspire, most from nearly the very beginning, six years ago. Some had employment agreements. I would hire any one of these employees today, and am honored to count them among my friends. They are some of the best people I know. Honest, smart, hard-working people of high character and morals. Fortunately, all of these employees have moved on to exciting futures and opportunities, and for those companies who now employ some of them, they will be blessed by these employee's talents and integrity.

Michael Robertson and Larry Kettler levied their criminal allegations at these six people in an unsuccessful, greedy attempt to retrieve the severance payments made to the five employees who had been laid off by me, the CEO, duly appointed by Linspire's Board of Directors. I had always, as CEO, made the decisions as to hiring, firing and severance amounts. (I never asked for, or received, any severance from Linspire since I willfully resigned, yet I too was named in their allegations.)

For the six individuals wrongly accused by Linspire, it has been difficult to try and individually find everyone who has been told of these accusations and tell the full story to clear our names. Indeed, "truth is treason" to those who have only heard one side of the story from "the Empire of Lies." It is time to go public with ALL the true facts.

As a shareholder, seeing Linspire's new management making what I believe are destructive decisions, gives me great concern and reason to suggest changes should be made. Likewise, as a friend and associate with these five good people, seeing Linspire's management trying to destroy their good names and reputations, is not something I can stand by and not publicly defend.

As hard as I have tried over the past 8 months to keep the full story private, Linspire management insists on continuing to spread their allegations, and I can no longer remain silent.

I am working on Part II of this blog which will outline the facts as to what Linspire has done since my resignation. The goal with this document will be threefold:

1. Make the argument to Linspire partners, customers and shareholders that Michael Robertson should resign or be forced to step down as Chairman from Linspire, as should Larry Kettler as CEO. I believe the actions of these two individuals over the past 8 months are destroying the company and squandering the assets of the corporation. I believe a change needs to be made immediately, before all the assets of the corporation are depleted. Linspire still has a bright future, IF a new Chairman and CEO are put into place quickly. I have a plan that I believe could turn Linspire around and make it once again profitable very quickly, but that plan would not be possible with Michael Robertson and Larry Kettler still at Linspire. Michael holds controlling shares of Linspire, so it's unlikely he would step down as Chairman without pressure from Linspire customers, partners and shareholders, or a class action law suit by the minority shareholders.

2. Defend the good name of the six former employees accused of criminal activity by Linspire by sharing facts and evidence as to the false nature of these claims. Linspire has spread their allegations to numerous individuals, government agencies, former and current Linspire employees, and others. I will present the facts, and each can judge for themselves if these allegations are, as I believe them to be, false and slanderous. It is my hope that just by publishing the facts, it will be sufficient to clear the name and reputation of the good people involved. As a means of clearing their names, there needs to be a published document, with the facts on record, that those who have been accused can point people to who have heard the allegations.

3. Let facts come to light about Michael Robertson. Many people "know of" Michael Robertson, but only a small percentage of those people actually "know" him personally. I have known Michael for ten years and worked closely with Michael Robertson for six, and I have witnessed first-hand events which bring insight into his ethics, morals, beliefs, and management style. I have seen first hand how he interacts with customers, partners, shareholders, and employees, as well as his family and friends. Michael holds financial power over many of the people who know him, and he has a understandable reputation as being litigious, so it's rare that someone will share facts as to his true nature. Michael holds no such power over me, and I'm not one to be intimidated by a lawsuit if I know I'm in the right and speaking the truth with facts, backed up by tangible evidence and witness collaboration. In the past several years I have often found myself questioning Michael's character, but his actions in the past eight months I personally find to be reprehensible, and it may be helpful for others to know the same truths I know, and judge for themselves if this is someone they want to be involved with.

One time Michael Robertson wrote a "Facts Sheet" about Bill Gates, which he publicly published and even had his employees (most were quite embarrassed to do so) pass out to audience members attending a meeting where Bill Gates was speaking. Since Michael felt it was important for everyone to know some facts about Bill Gates, I'm sure he won't find objection to me sharing some facts about himself and Linspire, allowing others to then decide for themselves how to interpret those facts.

I see Linspire failing, customers being ignored, and good people being wrongly accused. I've tried to obtain information directly from Linspire and have been unsuccessful, so going public with facts to customers, partners and shareholders is the only action I see to try and reverse this unfortunate trend.

What I have shared here is but the tip of the iceberg. The full story includes facts that lead me to believe Linspire has attempted to defraud a federally-insured bank, filed false documents with the IRS, knowingly filed a false report with the San Diego Police Department, and perpetrated deceit upon other federal and state government agencies. Look for my Linspire "facts sheet" and story in Part II of this blog in the near future.

Kevin

32 comments:

Mike said...

I agree with you 100% and I can't wait to read your blog next week. Also if you would of bought Linspire I would still be using it today.

Jay Kruizenga said...

Kevin... I stand behind you 100%. I sincerely hope that the names of your friends are cleared through your noble action(s) here in your blog.

If YOU were to take the helm of Linspire once again - that is, should the company become yours - I would jump aboard as a loyal supporter. I do have faith in your leadership abilities and while I don't know you personally, I know that you could turn things around based on what you have done for Linspire in the past.

I'll anxiously be waiting for your next post.

Take Care Kevin...

Anonymous said...

Kevin you and I may not have seen Eye to Eye, but freedom is far more important than the all mighty dollar.

I wish you success.

KingBahamut.

CaptainTux said...

Kevin,

I have apologized to you before, but I am going to do so again for the record. When you made the decision to sign on to the MS deal as the Linspire CEO, I disagreed with it. I could have done so in a mature and respectful fashion. I chose not to.

In the grand scheme of things you were always there on the forums interacting with the community. Through your efforts in the Desktop Linux Summit you provided small vendors like me (at the time) opportunities to make our business models known and I even had an opportunity to speak. Heck, during your time as CEO was when I did a few jobs for Linspire. Heather, Aurelia, and Kevin L were very helpful when we were working together in the Indiana one for one deal.

I cannot speak for all the names you mentioned that are accused of criminal activity, but I will go on record as saying that you, Chad, Theresa, and Randy always interacted with me in a professional and polite and ethical manner. I was ALWAYS impressed with the names listed above.

There are still current Linspire employees I have respect for and former employees I have respect for.

If there is any truth to what you have to say, and frankly, I have no reason to doubt you based on your character, I look forward to your next blog and though there is nothing I can do to change matters-for whatever it is worth-I support your efforts.

I was proud to use Linspire, I was proud to be a reseller of the products at one time, I was proud to have had a professional relationship with you, and more importantly, I was proud of the friendships I made there. I converted to Ubuntu a few months ahead of you.

These days I am no longer an IT professional/writer, after a 12 year absence, I am returning to the ministry. As such, my time is devoted to helping people,and trying to raise money for local food pantries for the poor, providing resources for single moms and trying to get medical centers and schools built in Haiti. I will, however, follow this story and share it with my fellow Linux users.

Thank you for being brave enough to draw a line in the sand. I appreciate it and respect you for it.

Kevin Carmony said...

Thanks all.

Yes, I have a lot of respect for all the past and present employees at Linspire, with few exceptions. Even Larry Kettler is a "nice guy," but he lacks the spine required to stand up to the likes of Robertson, so he'll simply rubber stamp Robertson's ideas, regardless of how bad they are.

Had I still been CEO, there IS NO WAY I would have EVER allowed Michael to call these people criminals! I sent them off with severance packages commiserate with their title, tenure and efforts over the years. This management team left Linspire with cash and a very profitable year. Robertson and Kettler chased them down with a police report. Instead of running the business, Kettler has had to spends countless hours salving Michael's bruised ego.

I'd love nothing more than to return to the helm at Linspire, but given Michael's majority position, that's not likely. However, it is my sincere belief that as long as Robertson and Kettler are running Linspire, it has little chance of continuing. They both need to give serious consideration to stepping down and letting someone else guide the company forward.

If they choose to stay in charge, if one day it does fail, they will only have themselves to blame. Why not let me take over? Then, if it fails, they can let me be the fall guy, and I will gladly take all the blame. If they'd hold an annual shareholders meeting, perhaps many of the 100 shareholders could express that desire to them directly...but alas...

Kevin

Joseph "Arv3n" Thomas said...

Hi!

I liked you in the Linspire 5.1 days, I liked you in the Freespire 1.0 days, then you left and I haven't cared for you much since.

I've gotta admit, though, you seem serious about this. So, maybe you do have something. Besides, it's obvious the CEO is a total "douche", since he hasn't even posted on the forum >2 times.

Then again, what do I care, I'm busy with my Mac. lol

Bai

Steven Rushing said...

You are the man. Truth to power and all that other nonsense.

Al said...

Kevin

thanks for the read.

I am sorry to read of the problems experienced by the former employees. I recall some of the names and know of the talent you speak of.

If they'd hold an annual shareholders meeting, perhaps many of the 100 shareholders could express that desire to them directly...but alas...

Is that perhaps the reason a meeting is not called? it cant be easy to schedule in your own execution.

facts that lead me to believe Linspire has attempted to defraud a federally-insured bank, filed false documents with the IRS, knowingly filed a false report with the San Diego Police Department, and perpetrated deceit upon other federal and state government agencies.

Those are serious allegations which I doubt that you would make such without credible evidence to substantiate it.

I have no reason to disbelieve you and the other parties silence is deafening!

I look forward to the next instalment.

cheers

Al

Chaks said...

Hi Kevin,

Linspire was totally different with you in position. It was roaring with all possibilities and I cant forget those days where we interacted a lot in forums, during the initial days of Freespire. All went wrong after you stepped down, its a total mess out there. I would like to see a revamp of total Linspire, eradicate the *spire distribution and just concentrate on CNR. But alas, Linspire missed the golden opportunity to make CNR, the best installer for Linux.

Many say, switching to Ubuntu was a major disaster. I wouldn't say so, it was a welcome move and you did prove to release few builds. The advantage of having Ubuntu base should increase the stability/performance of *spire, and would not put down at any cause. But many still wouldn't agree.

Many also tell that you are the reason for Linspire to go down. Thats real stupid. You aren't the reason and you were just an employer. A Company will have many people coming in and moving out. But the people who stay there should see that the Company lives up to the expectations of everybody, especially the Customers. That is not happening with Linspire. I know many people who were sticking to Linspire because of CNR, but now they all have been put down.

I would be really keen to read your next post :)

I am proud of what you are doing Kevin!

Regards,
Chakkaradeep

Kevin Carmony said...

Al: Yes, these are serious allegations, ones I personally believe to be the case. I will simply present the facts and let others judge for themselves if they agree with my assessment.

Chakkaradeep: You are spot on, as you'll learn in my coming post. My plan in partnering with Ubuntu was to do both of the things you mentioned. 1) be able to invest less time in the OS, and 2) spend more time focusing on CNR and have it become the preferred way for the millions of Ubuntu users to purchase commercial Linux software. Unfortunately, since my departure, the Linspire/Canonical relationship appears to have stalled.

History will judge my two years as CEO. When Michael was CEO I continually wanted to lower the price of CNR, but he refused. He also never felt the need for a free "community" version of our OS. Even small things, such as him insisting that we keep the Desktop Linux Summit at the fair grounds, and so on.

Those who are familiar with Linspire's history, know that almost immediately after becoming CEO I changed all of these things and more. We held the most successful DLS ever, in the Hyatt downtown San Diego, a much nicer facility, with Ubuntu, Red Hat, Novell, and more sponsors and attendees than ever before. I immediately announced Freespire, something that should have been done years sooner. I not only lowered the price of CNR, but I made it free for basic services. I made thousands of posts in our forums and mailing lists, a practice no longer carried out by their new CEO. I built key and important partnerships with Ubuntu and Microsoft. Many disagreed with the MS partnership, but it brought us millions in new sources of revenue, all without having any of the negative effects on the desktop Linux space that some predicted the MS/Linux deals would. I reduced our losses by millions in my first year as CEO, and made millions in profits my second year.

I left Linspire with cash, a profitable year, solid partnerships, and a plan for moving forward. As you'll see in my next blog, they didn't follow my plan even remotely, so one can hardly blame me for anything that has happened since my departure. They don't even respond to my emails, so they are steering the ship now, and will take all the credit if they succeed, and all the blame if they fail. The problem is, if they fail it will be too late for the shareholders to try and alter their actions, since the cash and assets will have been depleted by then. This is why Linspire should be holding their annual shareholders meeting so all shareholders can learn exactly what THEIR plan is for success, and allow us the opportunity to go on record if we disapprove of current management.

In my next blog, the shareholders will be able to read what my plan was, and I can assure you it did not involve calling well-earned severance payments "embezzlement," or failing to nurture the partnerships I had formed.

Kevin

Chris H said...

Kevin, would it not be better to sell your shares and invest in a new linux distro where you can put your vision into reality?

I'm concerned that the accusations you're levelling may damage the reputation and business standing of Linspire. If anything illegal has happened then let the courts get to the truth of the matter.



To me your method of

Anonymous said...

I own Linspire stock and if I'm not mistaken, Linspire hasn't held a shareholder's meeting since 2005 which means you, Kevin, did not hold a meeting during the final two years of your tenure as CEO of Linspire.

It seems the interest in having such meetings diminished when Linspire did not go public over three years ago.

To those who are choosing to take a side in this matter:
* If you are KC's friends and/or family, I understand the position you are in.
* If you are one of the aforementioned accused, I understand the position you are in.
* If you are not directly involved and have established a position based on these posts alone, I urge you to separate what you know from what you think and respond accordingly. Of course a wise decision would be to not respond at all and continue to wave your pom-poms from the sideline.

Kevin Carmony said...

Chris,

If I could find someone willing to purchase my shares, I would certainly do that, but given the current status of Linspire, I doubt I could find anyone to buy them. This leaves me with the option of just trusting Linspire management. It's difficult to trust management when they refuse to even hold an annual shareholders meeting.

Secondly, there are some things more important than money, such as one's reputation.

As I said, my intention is to both HELP Linspire's customers and shareholders, by calling for reform at the company, AND to clear my name and the others who have been accused by Linspire.

If the facts I share cast an unfavorable light on Linspire, it is only because of the actions of their management. It is my intention that by exposing these facts, changes will be made to HELP Linspire.

Just listening to the band play while the Titanic is sinking, won't save the ship, or those on board.

Kevin

Kevin Carmony said...

Shareholder meetings are a function of the Board, under the direction of the Chairman, who has ALWAYS been Michael Robertson. To the best of my recollection, we always held them annually, and if we didn't, that responsibility fell to Michael Robertson, not me.

However, I can assure you, even though I was not the Chairman, had ANY shareholder contact me when I was CEO, and asked me about the annual shareholder meeting, he would have been met with a quick response, the date of the next meeting, and encouragement to attend.

Kevin

Anonymous said...

* If you are...

What if I'm none of the above, and am just a Linspire customer who is disappointed in the lack of interaction from the new ceo and Michael? Do I not get a say?

I will await for Kevin's next "facts" blog before commenting on the allegations he refers to, but until then, I'm not blind to how different Linspire has become since his departure, and different in a disappointing way.

CaptainTux said...

Well, anonymous customer of Linspire, anonymous stock holder of Linspire feels you do not have a right to an opinion or of any of this information.

If I am incorrect, I am sure Duane can name himself and correct the record. ;)

Joseph "Arv3n" Thomas said...

@chaks: Stability on Ubuntu? You've got to be kidding me.

All Ubuntu IS is Debian Sid with several hacks added on (increasing bloat).

No stability, no performance, no win.

Chaks said...

@Joseph "Arv3n" Thomas, you may argue that Ubuntu is based on debian and so on, but check the reality, Ubuntu today is #1 desktop distro in the World.And it is creating wonders in the Linux world which never thought they could. If you look closely at how other distributions are now moving, you will see that they follow what Ubuntu does. Seriously, this isn't needed at all (the repetitive tasks).If you ask me, I would say its high time we "standardize" desktop distros which are the basic 2 or 3 distros that everyone should focus on and all others should be categorized as "perosnal". In that case, I would vote for #Ubuntu, #openSUSE and #Fedora

I am sure one can maintain a rock solid distribution with Ubuntu as a base. Klikit is based on Kubuntu base, which means that only the "base" part and not the "kde" part. Chris should be highly appreciated for that.

For those people who still see Linux geeky, Debian might be the ultimate choice to keep as the "base", but people who worry about the "user base" will choose Ubuntu as a base or choose Ubuntu itself as the preferred distribution, because of various advantages that one get.

I still stand by my statement that one can create good desktop distro by keeping Ubuntu as a base. If you aren't able to keep or maintain it, then there is something wrong and would be good to check your basic skills on how to maintain a distribution.

I think we are going off topic here ;)..so better to continue this discussion elsewhere....

Kevin Carmony said...

To the person who is trying to post to this thread under my name, please use a different name. Make up any name you like, or post anonymously, just don't use my name, it confuses people.

Kevin

Anonymous said...

To the person who is trying to post to this thread under my name, please use a different name. Make up any name you like, or post anonymously, just don't use my name, it confuses people.

I used your name because they are your own words. Wouldn't want anyone to be confused...

Kevin Carmony said...

Quoting me and pretending to be me are two different things.

Kevin

CaptainTux said...

Chaks,

Keep it on target man. Arv3n distracted, possibly without intention, from the topic at hand. The topic at hand is the accusations that people within Linspire's current leadership may or may not be behaving unethically and illegally.

The discussion on distro models is an interesting one, but one that has a time and a place. This blog comment is about ethics and law, not standards and distros.

Anonymous said...

I came here from the Linux Today and thought "wow! a blast from the douche of Xmas past". I asked people in a meeting we just had to comment on this and the best response I can print was "Only guy I care less is Darl."
You were a slick used car salesman type and like most developpers I work with didnt trust you for a second. Great verbal judo but rather transparent moves.
The Novell like sellout and capitulation to extortion only confirmed what people said out loud. Now, most people are thinking its vaya con dios time, let's hope FLOSS has closed this ugly chapter.

Anonymous said...

"The Novell like sellout and capitulation to extortion only confirmed what people said out loud."

Well Said!!

Trouble in paradise ... where's the popcorn?

Anonymous said...

kevin, i don't care what anyone says about you and what you did when you were ceo, atleast you tried do right and you listened to the users of los/fos. now nobody really cares and with the ubuntu core it has it quirks that can be fixed but it's still not right , aleast to me it isn't .

couple of things they have done of late that i don't like is that people that have los 5.0 or fos 1.0 cant use cnr(legacy) cause they shut down those servers and some of these people are still on dial-up too. what are they to do? atleast MS doesn't make update for win98se but you still can get the patches for it and use all kinds of software but with los5.0 no fricking way. it's upgrade or forget it and with that attitude and other little things going on and whispers i have either read or heard , i decided to leave linspire as a user and go with something else that is debian based that i can trust, and use and they won't shutdown a much needed server for older verions so if a newer version don't work on a system i could revert to the older verion and still use linux. i just hope that MR does see the writing on the wall and try to fix this problem with all that has been said here or he can watch his precious company go down the drain cause of bad management. this is only my oppinion so don't get mad or upset, i already am. P

Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin

When you're talking about such serious things, brevity is best. I've heard you speaking on LugRadio - you're able to do that.

Best wishes
R

Anonymous said...

Kevin, please stop this irresponsible public fight with Michael Robertson and Larry Kettler. This is damaging to Linspire, yourself, and everyone involved. Just stop it. Think first of the greater good.

Kevin Carmony said...

The greater good? So, I should just stand back, let them file false police reports about myself and several other good former Linspire employees?

Sorry, can't do that. I can't think of a "greater good" than one's reputation.

You should, however, email Larry Kettler and Michael Robertson and tell them to stop with the false allegations. I agree that is incredibly damaging to the company.

You can hardly expect people to stand by while their names are being run through the mud, false reports being filed with the police, IRS, etc.

Kevin

Anonymous said...

Kevin:
You were addressing someone in an earlier post that quoted your words with the appearance of being you. Could you tell me where you got your quote "Truth is Treason in the Empire of Lies". Didn't I see that in Ron Paul's quote...don't you think that Ron Paul delivered that quote?
http://www.ronpaulrevolutionbook.com/

Kevin Carmony said...

Yes, as I mentioned in the second paragraph of my blog...the quote is not original with Ron Paul, but he popularized it in his book.

Kevin

Anonymous said...

Then who did? I can't find that quote attributed to anyone else and I've searched my butt off.

Kevin Carmony said...

I don't know.