IP Uh Oh
While you were distracted with the “nuclear situation” over at TechCrunch, Groupon, apparently, took the opportunity to make things even more toxic for itself in the press by once again flouting the SEC-mandated quiet period between filing for an IPO and actually going public.
Just before the long weekend, Michael Buckley from Brunswick Group, a PR firm employed by Groupon, not only called peHUB reporter Connie Loizos to complain about a story, but to get her facts straight, Mr. Buckley suggested taking a look at a leaked memo from Groupon CEO Andrew Mason that somehow found its way into Kara Swisher’s hands at AllThingsD. Yup, the very same leaked memo that Henry Blodget alleged violated securities law. Ms. Swisher’s role in that aside, as Ms. Loizos points out, the quiet period does not permit “calling journalists and urging them to read leaked CEO letters.”
As Fortune.com‘s Dan Primack sees it, however, the fault lies with the SEC, not Groupon. In the latest issue of the magazine, he makes his position clear with the headline, “It’s time to kill the IPO quiet period.”
IP Uh Oh
Henry Blodget knows a thing or two about securities violations. During the dot-com boom he rose to the the position of number one Internet analyst at Merrill Lynch. Bu after the bubble burst, he was indicted by Elliot Spitzer for securities fraud, when emails emerged that showed him bad mouthing stocks in private that he was pumping up in public. Mr. Blodget agreed to pay $4 million in total and was banned from the securities business for life.
Today Mr. Blodget, in his reincarnation as a tech blogger at Business Insider, pointed out what he saw as a suspicious series of events. Groupon, which has filed for an IPO, has been taking a lot of heat from both the press and the SEC over its unique accounting methods. Because of the SEC’s “quiet period”, which prohibits companies who have filed for IPO from promoting themselves, Groupon cannot defend itself publicly.
But Blodget argues that, “The clever method Groupon is using to try to get around the SEC’s quiet period rule is writing a detailed public communication in the form of a CEO “letter to employees” that Groupon has then distributed publicly with the help of a trusted media outlet.”
UPDATE: The FTC said, via Twitter, that it does not plan to investigate Mr. Kutcher.
With the scintillating cover line “Forget Hollywood: Ashton Kutcher is Silicon Valley’s Secret Weapon,” the latest issue of Details tries to make the case that @aplusk is an investor first and an actor second. No surprise here, after all Mr. Kutcher recently described the kind of mentorship he offers start-ups in his portfolio, telling TechCrunch:
“There are certain people in the media world that can be really, really influential to a company. And I can kind of get a return phone call from most people that I place a call to. That level of introduction for people when they’re first starting out a company can become extremely valuable.”
Unfortunately for Mr. Kutcher his “extremely valuable” skill may end up running him afoul of the feds, reports Bits blog‘s Nick Bilton.