Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Rocketboom - Amanda Congdon Sounds Off On What Happened To End Rocketboom As We Know It

Amanda Congdon wrote her explaination of what happened to end Rocketboom as we know it, in her blog. Here it is below.

I am disheartened by Andrew Baron's decision to spread misinformation. He knows I cannot move to LA without a job...but insists on spinning things this way to shore up his assertion that I am "walking away" from Rocketboom. I did not walk away. I did not accept Andrew's idea of "partnership". I'll explain more a little further down.

It's not true. I'm presently living with my parents in Connecticut until I can get back on my feet.

Below you will find a letter written by Andrew on Sunday, June 25, two days after he pulled the plug on Rocketboom. My responses, which were sent to Andrew on the same day, are in red (italics here).

Andrew responded the next day by saying he would not respond to this letter. This then was followed by days of back and forth negotiations, ending yesterday, on Independence Day, with Andrew telling Chuck Olsen, our mediator, that he was taking control of the show and my option was to be the "face" of rocketboom with no involvement beyond that (I might in the future be allow to "produce shows", but not for the time being). Very old media. Considering I have personally written, produced, and hosted Rocketboom and was already a producer on Jet Set, this was totally unacceptable. I don't know any "partnership" that functions like that.

I had hoped to keep things civil, and thought my video message to the Rocketboom viewers was very neutral. I felt the need to communicate with the RB audience, without getting into the nitty-gritty of "he said, she said". Dirty laundry is not attractive. That said, ALL the facts, at this point, based on Andrew's actions, need to be presented.


Dear Amanda, this is my last attempt to reach out and let you know I really wish you would stay.

Andrew, you fired me.

After everything that has built up over the last several months (and longer apparently) and with everything I have learned about your disinterest in my various levels of critical input, I can understand why you would need to leave and I as I have always said, I will never hold you back.

I'm sorry you feel that way. I've repeatedly expressed my respect for your many gifts. Especially:

1. You are an exceptional executive producer. Your instincts for what will work or not, and your general vision for the creation of content and distribution for videoblogs is, I believe, unparalleled.

2. You are an exceptional speaker. Whether at conferences, in business meetings or during consulting, you excel at describing the power of Rocketboom and the medium.

3. You are an ingenious curator. Your extraction of outstanding content from all resources is, again, unparalleled.

4. You are a superb navigator of the blogosphere. Additionally, I have always entrusted you with the final decisions of the physical design of Rocketboom.

In fact, it saddens me that you have not had the time and/or willingness to significantly participate creatively in Rocketboom for some months now. We've sent you things during the production process, and what we've received back is criticism after the show has already been produced or after it is too late to make changes. Statements like "I'll continue to check my blackberry but please dont wait on me if it starts to slow you down" and "I will have my phone so I can still chime in but dont feel ever wait on me for any answers if I cant respond in time" really don't cut it.

As you know, when I gave you the 49% of Rocketboom I told you that I hoped it would work out and that the reason why I gave you that percentage was so that you would become involved enough to stay with the company.

I have always been and still am intensely involved in Rocketboom.

Since I told you so many times that I would never want to hold you back from moving on to L.A. to pursue your own thing - since you always said this was really your passion well before I met you -we agreed that you would not take the 49% if you were to move away to L.A. on your own.

That is completely incorrect. There was no agreement about forfeiture of the 49%. We together have had a detailed plan for some time in preparation for the move to LA. And please note I was moving to LA on Rocketboom business, not only to "do my own thing". You did say you would never hold me back, and you also made it clear that doing Rocketboom would not be mutually exclusive of pursuing other passions. Our plan was as follows:

5/05 Amanda told Andrew she was serious about moving to LA by 10/05. Andrew agreed and said that was completely reasonable, since current technology allows Rocketboom to be produced from anywhere.

10/05 Amanda and Mario stored their possessions, gave up their apartment and took a sublet in preparation for the move. Andrew was fully aware.

10/05-4/06 Amanda and Mario continued to sublet. The move was repeatedly delayed, long beyond the original "completely reasonable" time frame. Finally, with Andrew's consent, Rocketboom moved forward to actual transition.

4/06 A plan was implemented for Andrew and Mario to co-direct shoots, gradually transitioning Mario to be interim director. A new professional director was to be hired in LA. What actually happened was that Andrew attended shoots infrequently and by 5/06 had stopped attending altogether.

5/21/06 At this time, the term of Amanda and Mario's sublet was up. Andrew had not attended shoots for nearly a month, and there would be no Rocketboom paycheck for June. Nevertheless, production continued by Amanda and Mario at Amanda's parents' home in Connecticut.

6/16/06 Andrew, Mario and Amanda agreed upon a departure date for LA within the next couple of weeks. Within the next few days, June 30th was chosen. Andrew's assistant had a list of possible editors in LA (which was never delivered to Amanda despite numerous requests). Zadi and Steve were excited to have Amanda nearby to better co-produce Rocketboom's project, The Jet Set Show.

6/23/06 Mario received a call from Andrew in essence saying that Mario and Amanda must either move back to New York or Rocketboom was over.

Since you have claimed that you are moving next week, and because you have never suggested a plan for how this move can integrate into Rocketboom, and because you have already said your goodbye, I get the message and will now move on myself the best I can.

Andrew, see our long term and extensive plan described above.

And, as it turns out, I cannot move to LA because our plan was for me to be engaged in, and compensated for, work on Rocketboom there. Since you will no longer allow that, I have no source of income and therefore cannot move.

With regards to tomorrow's show and the future of Rocketboom, I am not sure what I will do, but you will be honored and respected and encouraged. My plan is to simply say that you are moving on to L.A. to take on the world, that this was always your dream and that you are a obviously a brilliant personality who will no doubt take it by storm.

Please do not speak for me. We've had a long standing agreement in good faith about me continuing Rocketboom from LA, which you have now reneged upon.

Should anyone react and consider the move to be a shame, I will always defend you for following your own dreams and aspirations and staying true to your own interests with acting and now producing.

Again, please do not speak for me. My dreams and aspirations included Rocketboom.

You have wanted to move to L.A. since before I met you, so I am sorry that we could not manage getting there sooner together with Rocketboom still working.

As we've both acknowledged, Rocketboom could not only work but grow stronger by having a presence on both coasts.

With all my love and support for you as a friend, I will never stop caring about you and will always look forward to seeing you bloom.

Andrew, I've said repeatedly that I think you are a genius. Still, there have been problems. Recently, you have treated me as an employee rather than a partner. That may explain your feelings about the 49%.

Business and production can and should be done from both coasts, as we have both acknowledged. To dictate where I live is unnecessary and outrageous and has resulted in the present situation.

And Andrew, our agreement stands. I do own 49% of Rocketboom.

With respect to our show, I suggest we delve into the archives and do a "best of" week. This will allow us some time to work things through.

We had an agreement, Andrew. You should honor it.

Please let me know your thoughts.



posted by Amanda at 5:42 PM on Jul 05 2006

This is my -- Zennie's -- response to Amanda's blog post.

Sad. Tearfully sad to read, because the problem is obvious to me as I read this.

To look back, Andrew recruited you via his Craiglist post, but obviously -- even by his most current words expressed here -- failed to consider how your role would evolve.

When I started "SBS Personalities" I had (and have) this simple rule: "My job is to make you a star." Think about that for 30 seconds. It means that if I place you in a role to present an image, it's not only my job to promote you in that role, but to make sure your needs and desires are catered to.

I took on that idea because I knew four-square that such a relationship materializes anyway once the person in the "image" role becomes a hit.

Andrew forgot -- indeed, didn't know -- that he was placing you in this position. Moreover, and I think this is where he felt he was losing control as your popularity grew, "Rocketboom" became not so much your story, but you, your brother, and your boyfriend as a vehicle and Andrew probably believed your relationship with him was deteriorating to the point where the show was no longer fun for him.

In other words, Andrew may have felt -- I don't know him -- that he was becoming an "appendage" with every moment and with every "ally" you brought into the picture: brother, boyfriend, etc. I can see his point of view, but my approach would have been to really make sure we've got a detailed corporate structure in place, where you're a corporation with stock.


Because under that umbrella you can distribute stock to brother, boyfriend, etc, and Andrew can still have his 51 percent. But it would cause you to figure out how much stock you -- and Andrew -- were willing to give up to the others. Or just pay them, where they become employees.


Having written this, your relationship can be repaired, if you like. If you like. If you like (again). But what you have to return to is what you like about doing Rocketboom, and each other. Then really hash out the matter of who does what and the real big issue -- starting a company.

Funny. At Vloggercon I told Andrew this is what he needed to do.

I think the two of your are stronger as a team rather than separate. Amanda, you've clearly established a name for yourself and will go far. Andrew's new version of Rocketboom will not be the success it was because it lacks you.

Plus, there's the other problem: how do you, Andrew, regain the confidence and support of sponsors like Earthlink? This spat is public. Everyone of note is seeing it. It will impact the value of your sponsorships, and not in a good way.

In closing, I wish you God's speed. I believe Amanda that you have a singular talent and wit, and business savvy. I certainly see that, and I think all you wanted was to be seen as the great business woman that you are.

That's nothing to be ashamed of.

Dina Kaplan For Rocketboom Host!'s Dina Kaplan should be be the next host of Rocketboom.
See Dina, here!

Dina Kaplan For Rocketboom Host!'s Dina Kaplan should be be the next host of Rocketboom.
See Dina, here!

Amanda Congdon Fired From Rocketboom - Heads To LA??

Amanda Congdon -- in my view the business side of Rocketboom -- has been fired. As her vlog reports -- complete with an upside down map -- she's no longer with the organization she owned 49 percent of. I met Amanda at Vloggercon and -- as I told her -- came away convinced that she was developing a good business head.

I also explained to Andrew Baron that they seemed to work as brother and sister. Rocketboom -- at the time I talked to Andrew at Vloggercon -- lacked a real corporate structure, other than being an LLC without stock. If Amanda owns 49 percent of Rocketboom and there's no Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws to govern "who's bringing what" to the total value of the Rocketboom LLC, then Amanda could claim that her 49 percent is the "image" of Rocketboom, and thus be paid a royalty for each time Andrew uses a rerun in the future.

For his part, Andrew uses the RB blog to explain what happened:

"RB Announcement:

Amanda Congdon has decided to move to L.A. to pursue opportunities that have arisen for her in Hollywood.

We wanted to meet her request to move production out to L.A., however, we are a small company and have not been able to figure out a way to make it work, financially and in many other ways at this time. So sadly we bid Amanda adieu and wish her all the best.

Rocketboom goes on.

Andrew Baron, the founder and creator of Rocketboom, will stay with the company in New York and will continue to produce and direct the show. We are in the daunting process of recruiting a replacement for Amanda.

While Amanda will be sorely missed, we have big plans for Rocketboom and are determined to make the show better than ever.

After Field Week and a week on hiatus, we know that you are hungry for the news! Rocketboom will be back with a news episode and an interim host this MONDAY, JULY 10. "

....and certainly less than the 250,000 daily viewers the show drew with Amanda Congdon. What Andrew and others are about to get is a hard and tough business lesson: image rules on the Internet. Andrew took an unknown and made her known without a solid plan to build a business around her as her popularity grew.

It was obvious that he was in uncharterted water with this business venture. Now, he's got to dig himself out of a hole he's created. His ability to do that will be the test of his business savvy and determination.

But first, I'd give one more crack at working things out with Amanda. She's going to be huge -- can I say "huger" -- with or without Andrew. If I were him, I'd take the "with."

The idea of having a Hollywood location is totally workable, and at Vloggercon Andrew Baron talked about -- heck, bragged about -- the number of "Rocketboom correspondents" that were nationwide. So they could have worked out something.

The real truth's out there....

This video was originally shared on by unboomed with a No license (All rights reserved) license.

Hello folks!

Now a part of the SBS blog, I'm looking forward to contributing more material to coincide with the NFL's upcoming season. GO SEAHAWKS!