My phone has been burning white hot today with people calling to express their complete and utter astonishment at how the SpinVox debacle is taking shape over the past week.
I’m less concerned with the various issues being debated around the media about privacy and so on. The thing that’s really winding me up is I feel huge annoyance.
I’m an brand ambassador (wholly unofficially) for SpinVox for years. I’ve been one of the cheerleaders singing the company’s praises wherever the opportunity arose.
And now I look and feel like a total unmitigated arse.
Because SpinVox’s lauded management have behaved entirely against my expectations. These are, after all, super-human people. They climb mountains for breakfast, bike continents for lunch, what the hell happened to them?
I understand from the various media reports that there are, apparently some bad eggs, some disaffected former staffers spreading rumours — and that’s the source of the problem.
Well it’s not.
That might have started things off and helped underpin the original stories, but where the hell are the management? Where’s the Chief Executive?
Who is the Chief Executive?
I don’t know. Is it Christina? Is it Daniel? Is it somebody else? I can’t be bothered to look it up.
Where’s the complete and continual updates and the robust defence from the talented management team?
Where’s the Public Relations Director? Everyone I’ve spoken to me today tells me it’s ‘some guy called Jonathan’ who, to the best of my knowledge, I’ve never met. I’ve always rated Jane Henry, Spinvox’s Global PR Director — whenever I’ve dealt with her, she’s been direct, fair, inclusive, welcoming. When I extrapolate that experience out and match it against what I’ve been witnessing from the company over the past week or so, I simply can’t fathom the management silence.
Why so silent?
Why send their social media chap, James Whatley, out to the braying masses only to have the BBC — the flipping British Broadcasting Corporation — eat up his comments and spit them out with a further rebuttal? You don’t mess with the BBC who are rightly spitting blood.
Have you read the BBC’s response? (“SpinVox: We stand by our story“). All of a sudden, James Whatley is the story. He’s being quoted across the web — and whilst I recognise he’s a talented fellow, I don’t think he should be carrying the can. Is it really such an explosive issue (or series of issues) that none of the company’s executive team can RISK getting involved?
Andrew Orlowski’s post on The Register (“SpinVox: The Inside Story“) arrived into my consciousness with no less than three different phone calls from industry luminaries howling at the latest set of SpinVox revelations. Here’s one quote:
But thanks to company insiders and company filings, The Register has built up a picture of the company that makes believing even SpinVox’s revised claims extremely difficult.
I can’t quite believe this is SpinVox we’re talking about. My impression of the company was wholly, and utterly wrong. I thought they’d be able to handle this kind of issue with poise. The total mismatch in expectations is alarming. The amount of off-the-record calls and emails I’m getting on SpinVox is simply ridiculous — some of it, I’m sure, if published, would be wholly, wholly actionable.
I got the most calls about this paragraph:
In Spinvox’s boilerplate text, attached to every press release, the company claims to have made “significant innovations in voice and network technologies which are protected by over 70 patents worldwide”.
Where does the figure of 70 come from? A global search of IP databases reveals just 8 listings. Most are patent applications, which offer the inventor some, but only limited protection. Each cluster contains multiple applications of the same patent to each patent authority, such as the UK IPO, the EPO, and WIPO for example Add them all up, and you get around 70.
Fast forward to a Guardian article this evening, not four hours ago, by Charles Arthur (“Spinvox hopes new funds will ease its cash crunch”). If you’d like to know how bad — how completely nailed SpinVox’s management are, at the moment, have a read of this sentence by Charles:
The company’s PR, James Whatley, also posted a robust defence of its systems for translating voicemails to text…
Whatley’s not PR. He’s their social media guy. There’s only so much the guy can do himself whilst his masters are….
– not concerned?
– busy getting on with company operations?
Which is it?
We all have to formulate our own ideas because management is nowhere to be seen.
I’d like to know who’s going to be doing the investing of these new funds. I wonder how the funding discussions are progressing.
How do SpinVox fix it?
Well the initial damage is done. Want an indication as to how bad things have got? Did you see the joke circulating Twitter this afternoon?
Just heard that Spotify is nothing but a call centre singing down a mic as you request songs. Gutted
I think SpinVox can still fix it with clarity and directness on the part of their senior management.
One of the mobile luminaries I chatted with today suggested that SpinVox take three journalists/bloggers on a worldwide tour of the company’s facilities across three days, allowing open access to everything and anything. That could change opinions in the industry.
But another rubbish terse statement from the management? Oh dear.
After visiting the SpinVox blog to get the link for that post, I noticed that their co-founder, Daniel Doulton, posted a blog the other day — Sunday to be precise. Do have a read. Withering.
He finishes with:
We’ll be talking more about the technology that powers SpinvVox over the next few days, so please keep coming back to read more.
Obviously, there’s been nothing more posted bar James’ update. This would have been perfectly fine, if Daniel had continued to deliver a set of continued updates.
Won’t somebody please buy SpinVox some public relations advice?
Or even better, offer it pro bono?