Upset Dot.commer Wants a Piece of Web Site Publisher
Wolfe, founder/CEO of Direct Response Technologies/MyCoupons, Pittsburgh, caught Kaplan, founder and publisher of Web site F***edCompany.com, off guard by heckling Kaplan as he began a presentation at the @d:tech online advertising conference earlier this week.
According to witnesses, Wolfe booed Kaplan and shouted something along the lines of "You posted copyrighted information on your site!" and "You publish lies!" during Kaplan's talk, which began in front of a crowd of 50 or so people that grew as others heard the ruckus.
Kaplan, who recounted his version of the event in his aptly named "sporadic" e-mail newsletter, likened the incident to getting picked on in school.
"I thought I was done with that ... after that dude Roberto who used to beat me up in sixth grade wound up in jail for dropping a rock onto a moving car from an overpass," Kaplan wrote in the newsletter.
In an interview with DM News, Kaplan said, "Basically, he's a leftover from the dot-com heyday. I give him credit that he's been holding on longer than a whole lot of other people running a stupid dot-com company."
Kaplan also published Wolfe's e-mail address and cell phone number in his newsletter.
Wolfe said he regrets heckling Kaplan, but became so angry when he saw Kaplan that he couldn't help it.
"I overreacted a little," Wolfe said. "Maybe I shouldn't have heckled him, but I'm not just going to sit back and not say anything. ... When I saw him, my juices started to flow."
The reason for the anger goes back to February when Kaplan, who relies on the hundreds of tips he gets from readers weekly, posted a letter that Wolfe reportedly had on his site asking MyCoupons.com members for suggestions on how to help the company fight a patent lawsuit.
F***edCompany gained fame and infamy as the dot-com boom went bust by posting tips sent to him from company insiders about their firms going out of business. With each post, Kaplan generally includes a cynical comment.
The following is Kaplan's post that linked to Wolfe's letter: "The once mighty MyCoupons.com, which was sold for $23 million to Save.com and was then bought back for $5 million, sent this email to users, essentially asking them for charity."
Wolfe said it was not an e-mail, but a message posted on his site. He also said the company charged a $20 so-called loyal member fee for those willing to pay that would go toward a patent lawsuit.
When the suit was filed, Wolfe said, the site, which accounts for 10 percent of the company's revenue, was not making money.
"The choice was do I keep MyCoupons up if it's not making any money? Or should I give all these loyal members the opportunity to donate some cash?" Wolfe claims he received $80,000 from MyCoupon's 1 million members.
However, Wolfe also claims that as a result of Kaplan's post on F***edCompany, MyCoupons became the third-most-talked-about site ever on F***edCompany's so-called Happy Fun Slander Corner where site visitors post comments, "causing me a lot of damage, as you can imagine," Wolfe said.
"He took [the post] out of context and said I pissed through $5 million, which wasn't true," he said. "People were saying, 'Why is Jason asking for money when he's got $5 million?'"
Kaplan countered, "As one of my readers put it, if he thinks that taking something that he posted publicly on his Web site and making some smart-ass comment about it put him out of business, he is king idiot."
Wolfe claims that he asked Kaplan repeatedly to take down the post, and Kaplan refused.
Meanwhile, the two are still duking it out.
"Get the story straight ... Pud [Kaplan's pen name]," Wolfe said in an e-mailed response to Kaplan's version of events. "No one applauded you, no one had questions, a crowd gathered not to hear your message, but rather in hopes to see me kick your ass (** see my PS) ... Was I pissed at you, yes. Should I have heckled you -- maybe not. ... The point was you took a posting off the MyCoupons site, which was copyrighted. You posted a FALSE headline -- out of context -- saying that I blew through $23 million and was begging for donations. Was that true? NO. We offered a loyal membership level at $20.00 to raise money because site was being sued for a bogus patent infringement, which we eventually won."
As for wanting to beat up Kaplan, Wolfe's P.S. said in full, "A grown man wanted to kick another grown man's ass. Its [sic] true, and not as uncommon as you may think. Many grown men want to kick other grown men's asses. Many CEO's are grown men. Therefore many male CEO's want to kick men's asses. Phil Kaplan deserved to have his ass kicked. I didn't kick his ass, is the point. I brought some facts to the forefront, which many grown CEO's felt, but have never said in public."
Wolfe said he is considering suing F***edCompany.
"This guy's got a real grudge," Kaplan said.