Friday, April 24, 2009
Michael Robertson Wants To Fool You About the Lala Music Store
I worked with Michael Robertson for seven years and watched first hand his methods. Anyone who follows my blog knows I wasn't impressed with his ethics or tactics. If you want to see a typical example of how Robertson tries to fool people to get his way by misrepresenting the facts (like when he falsely charged former employees for embezzlement to get money from his bank), look at his latest blog where he puts down the successful music service Lala.
To me, this seems to be Robertson's typical cycle: start a business, fail, then start tossing garbage at the companies who did it right and succeeded, thereby justifying his failure. Linspire lost to Red Hat, Novell and Canonical (Ubuntu). MP3tunes lost to Lala. SipPhone lost to Skype. And so it goes, leaving Robertson with plenty of companies to whine about.
Let's look at his latest drivel about Lala to see his typical MO:
First he starts off like a politician, by trying to scare you with some horrible, over-the-top threat that only he can protect you from: "An insidious new plot to wrestle control of your personal music library is underway." He then goes on to compare it to a "roach motel." Ohhhh, the drama! Whatever shall we do?!? Please Michael, save us from this "insidious new plot!"
Robertson talks about how Lala must be evil because it has taken investment from music companies. I have absolutely no idea if that's true or not (as I don't believe anything that comes from of Robertson), but what I DO know is that when I was CEO of Linspire, Robertson was more than happy to have Linspire take millions of dollars from "the evil" Microsoft and partner with them. So I guess Microsoft was pulling all of Michael's strings at Linspire?
Robertson put millions in his own pocket that came directly from Microsoft ($3M while I was CEO, and I'm sure more after I left). The money that flowed from Microsoft to Robertson more than likely helped fund MP3tunes. So, using Michael's logic, we can all assume that Microsoft is pulling the strings at MP3tunes, right? Such hypocrisy. The only reason MP3tunes isn't backed by "big music," is because big music is smarter than that. Warner Music tried one time to partner with Robertson and got stabbed in the back the second the ink was dry on the agreement. If one of the big record labels offered to put money into MP3tunes, Robertson would take it in a minute, just like he did at Linspire with the Microsoft deal.
Robertson's claim that he will never "sell out the consumer," is utter rubbish. As CEO at Linspire, I didn't see him raise one objection to Linspire's "deal with the devil" Microsoft, or him concerned in the least about how this would affect the consumer. All I saw him care about was how big was the check and him making sure that $3M was wired to his personal account on the very day we got paid from Microsoft to cover a line of credit Linspire had with Robertson. Many times I watched Robertson intentionally do things that would annoy our users because it would sell more product. As soon as I became CEO, I made CNR free and put out a free version of Linspire (Freespire), all going against what Roberson did as CEO. Robertson helped to justify Microsoft's patent claims when Linspire entered into their deal with Microsoft, so his claims of being the champion against patents, DRM, and protecting consumers' rights rings hollow. I only thing I saw Robertson ever care about was himself, his ego and his net worth. Robertson is the one person I know who can make the big record labels seem like good, honest, honorable people.
Next comes more lies and half truths. He says, "To participate you just need to upload all the tracks from your personal library." Lala should sue Robertson for that line, because it's total rubbish. You don't have to upload a single song from your library to participate at LaLa, but by lying about this, Robertson can make Lala seem so much more "insidious," so why let the truth get in the way?
Robertson's nonsense continues with, "Your music will be controlled by Lala and will eventually vanish, because no company lasts forever." There is no truth to the first part, and the second part would apply even more so to Robertson's companies, given their poor performance.
If you upload your music library to Lala, you are in no way transferring ownership or control of that music. You will still have all your music on your computer's hard drive or on your CDs. Lala can't touch those files and in no way does it "control your music." Lala could go out of business tomorrow and you'd still have your music. (Besides, if anyone's going out of business, my money is on MP3tunes tanking long before Lala.)
Robertson then offers a table where he laughably labels LaLa as the "Record Label Locker," and MP3tunes the "Consumer Locker." Robertson insults the reader with this transparent "BS." Lala is an independent music service, even though Robertson wants to scare you into believing otherwise.
Here's the table I'd offer you about Lala, the one Robertson DOESN'T want you to see:
Read what Ed Bott has to say about Lala on ZDnet.
Most of the popular music stores now all offer non-DRM MP3 files, so Robertson has to start finding other excuses to pick at them. Most consumers just want the lowest cost MP3, and Lala is an excellent service for that, perhaps the best. MP3tunes has little content and can't possibly compete with Lala there, so Robertson wants to scare you about their locker service, which honestly, most consumers don't even care about. (Most people can carry their entire music collection in the palm of their hand and sync it to all their devices without a locker, rendering MP3tunes useless.)
From what I hear, all the best employees have left MP3tunes and there are hardly any employees even left there. Why would anyone want to waste their time uploading their music to a business that will probably go the way of MP3.com, Linspire, AJAX Windows, and so many other ventures started by Robertson?
I've had years of watching Robertson closely. I wouldn't trust anything he says. If you want to have a great selection of music that you can buy in non-DRM MP3s, I'd ignore Robertson and check out Lala. You'll see why it's succeeding.