Monday, June 14, 2010

Did Michael Robertson Pull One Over on Google?

Did Michael Robertson pull one over on Google?

Last year, I warned Google, eBay, Skype, or any other would-be buyers of Michael Robertson's Gizmo5 (SIPphone) company to make sure and do lots of due diligence before agreeing to any purchase. Having worked closely with Robertson, I wouldn't advise anyone to do business with him. Well, Google went ahead and moved forward and purchased Gizmo5. At the time, I made two predictions:

1) The SIPphone employee shareholders would be left pretty much empty handed, and

2) Google will end up with junk technology and do nothing with the acquisition.

Seems like both of my predictions may have already come true.

In speaking with one SIPphone shareholder, it seems he got next to nothing for his shares. No surprise there. Robertson has a history of taking all the chips off the table for himself.

Last week, TechCrunch reported that Google may have decided to nix a Gizmo-based softphone for Google Voice. The "official" explanation is that Google doesn't build desktop software (well, except for Chrome, Picassa, Google Earth, and a bunch of other apps), so it makes one wonder if Google just decided to pitch the Gizmo client overboard. I wouldn't be a bit surprised, particularly after they realized the spotty tech they likely acquired from Robertson. I'm guessing Google got a real eye opening when they realized the state of their acquisition. I am completley surprised that deal even happened, as Google is usually pretty smart about technical due diligence, but this time they may have had more dollars than sense.

The moral of this story? Don't do business with Michael Robertson, and if you do, don't trust anything he tells you, but if you do...don't say I didn't warn you.



DP said...


It's been a while since your last post. Glad to see that you are keeping us informed about Michael and his business practices. I just read this latest article and I must say that it angered me a bit to read about a guy (Michael) who just makes all the wrong moves and passes himself off as a "successful businessman". I mean, one has got to wonder if this man is trying to make a name for himself, or is in it for the money--I bet he is in it for the money. And to think that Google, a tech giant, should know better and should have done their homework BEFORE investing or believing in whatever Michael tried to sell them. Sadly, I'm disappointed in them and even sadder that Michael was able to pull one off on them! I know that the world is filled with people like Michael, but I cannot believe that he can still do what he does and get away with it. Maybe I'm just naive or professionally inexperienced. It seems like Michael has found a way to take dog poo, wrap in tin foil, and sell it as "chocolate" earrings to the Queen of England!

Thanks for continued support. Look forward to your next post.



Anonymous said...


When I heard about the Google-Gizmo5 acquisition, I immediately shook my head and wondered if MR would repeat with the Gizmo5 folks what he did to the Linspire shareholders and employees.

$30 Million is pretty darn good money to pay for an Edsel

I wondered how much would be withheld from the shareholders by MR.

One thought that hit me had me wondering if MR was attempting to use Google to validate his business(es) & help restore his reputation.

Google is a huge name. If he's able to tell others about his deal with Google, there's an affiliation that forms with people's minds when they hear that sort of company & name linking.

Maybe MR was desperate to rebuild his name & image by associating his name & Gizmo5 with one as big and well-known as Google.

The good news is that Google seems to have finally saw the deal for what it was. The bad news was that the deal went through.

Let's hope MR isn't going to rebuild his business reputation only to do it again. And again.

Thanks again, Kevin, for putting the information you do. It's always nice to see.

Larry P.

Kevin Carmony said...


In talking with SIPphone shareholders, they didn't get much at all. This means either 1) MR didn't really sell it for the "rumored" $30M (would Google really be THAT dumb?), and/or 2) MR figured out how to take pretty much all of it for himself.

He did the same "save face" thing with Linspire when he "sold" it to Xandros. He basically gave it to Xandros. When I left Linspire, we had millions in the bank, had a very profitable year, and 10 months later he was giving it away to Xandros and the shareholders didn't get a dime. Gee, great leadership there Mikey. =)

Yes, Robertson is desperate to redeem himself. He doesn't want to be known as a one-hit wonder. Thing is, I don't know what his "one hit" even was. He tanked The stock went public at around $26 per share, had highs over $100, but in no time at all after the IPO, Robertson drove the stock down to around $5, which is what Vivendi paid for it. How is that a success? Lots of shareholders lost money because of his reckless moves and copyright infringements. We're still waiting for you to have ONE success for anyone but yourself Robertson. Customers, partners, shareholders, employees, they all get hosed.