Thursday: Someone posts links of about 15 MB of Sam Jain’s ICQ conversations with his employees to an anonymous Angelfire site. Sam Jain is the CEO of eFront, a “new media” company that hosts websites and sells ad banner space on them, such as Something Awful and Betanews. It’s revealed later that apparently Mr. Jain had his hard drive shared over his cablemodem without any security and someone took the opportunity to download his ICQ logs. These logs are fairly damning in their portrayal of eFront’s business practices.
In what’s probably the first public “outing” of these logs, someone posts the Angefire URL on Something Awful’s forums along with a complaint that Lowtax, the webmaster of SA who posts often about his hosting woes, is in fact an eFront employee.
I don’t have a problem with selling out, but this just reeks. All respect is lost. How could you work for efront after knowing how they rip off webmasters?
Lowtax immediately responded:
Because instead of sitting on my ass, whining and complaining and bitching about eFront, I decided to take a job with them and TRY TO FIX THINGS. I’m sure you wouldn’t understand this, but I accepted their job offer so I could actually try and fix what’s fucked up in their company. Maybe you’re happy with webmasters not being paid and that crap, but I wanted to at least attempt to change the situation. They gave me the chance and I said okay. Sorry I can’t be as productive as you, MAGIC VOICE, and limit myself to bitching on other peoples’ forums, but I’m actually trying to rectify the situation and speak for the webmasters on the eFront Network.
Please point out SOMEWHERE where I have lied, mislead, or deceived anybody. That’s my challenge to you, Magic Voice. Back up your accusations here instead of simply trolling.
OH I AM SUCH A BAD MAN
Later that day, I post a link to and summary of the ICQ logs thanks to an anonymous tip.
Slashdot picks up the eFront story.
In short, eFront was a company which bought out successful websites and turned them into cash cows by maximizing profit through different ways of banner and other advertising. Not a bad idea, except that their methods aren’t exactly pretty ones. A disgruntled employee obtained some crucial ICQ logs (mirror), which show the true spirit behind eFront. It includes cheating on banner companies, cheating on top100 sites, talking about raping a female webmaster because she doesn’t agree on some points, tax evasion, delaying payment to webmasters, literally harrassing sites out of existance and all kinds of other nasty stuff.
eFront begins sending out cease-and-desist letters (signed “Legal Department, eFront”) to various sites hosting the logs and/or linking to them (but, interestingly enough, sent none to us, not that we’d comply).
According to rumor on Slashdot, stories on eFront’s collapse are set to hit the wire services Monday.
Most logs have been pulled from the net thanks to intimidation by eFront. Here is a page with the complete archived logs, pictures of Mr. Jain from a webmasters’ visit to eFront, and Mr. Jain’s prior charge (apparently not a conviction) for fraud. Here’s instructions on how to pull the logs from Freenet’s anonymous archive.
Attempts to reach Mr. Jain were unsuccessful.