BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,

Unemployed again ...

OK ...

So I just realized that I hadn't mentioned this in here yet.

You know, how, after THREE YEARS of looking for work, I'd suddenly "landed" in a new gig with a company bringing a new HQ into Chicago? Well, that looks like it was a very brief situation ... only lasting a hectic 10 weeks from when I first met the principals to the implosion of the company at the start of the holiday weekend.

Now, this was a start-up, in total boot-strap mode (when am I going to learn?) ... so having it fail is not so unusual ... however, the WAY in which it failed is crushing. From the get-go, the local principal (I'm going to be as vague as possible here, because I have a feeling that this is going to be in legal proceedings for quite a while) had insisted that they had contacts with major financial players, and that one of these was interested in "underwriting" our projects to a very serious extent. All of our activities (and, by the time this fell apart, there were something like 8 folks on board) were predicated on this. And, we were running all over town meeting with hotels, meeting with caterers, booking entertainment, booking venues, etc.

As I probably mentioned previously, this was a revisioning of what had been a small negotiations consultancy that specialized in corporate training. It appears that the local principal had connected with the out-of-town principal (who had the rights for this particular system for use in the US from a European organization), and convinced them that there was a lot of promise in doing conference-based training for much larger groups. This is why what we'd been doing looked more like a meeting planning company.

Anyway, they brought me in to handle the web, social media, video, podcasts, blogs, etc., giving me the somewhat odd title of CTO (admittedly, all the stuff I was working on was web-based). One of my great frustrations over the past couple of months is that everything was highly "siloed" and I was frequently chastised about trying to get involved with the event aspects (hey, I'm a former CMP, I know this stuff), or even the writing of material for the web, being told "You're making the big bucks to handle the technology side of things!". I ended up rationalizing that I was working in a new industry, and that the "negotiations" stuff seemed to have been traditionally very hush-hush.

It appears that the out-of-town principal was also siloed off from the financial side of things (being responsible for the negotiation training aspects) by the local principal, who was "handling" all the deal-making with supposed backers, supposed sponsors (we were selling sponsorships on everything imaginable for these conferences), and supposed speakers, as well as handing paying whatever was needed to be paid. As we were getting a detailed stream of information about what "was happening" ... and everybody was putting in 12-18 hour days ... it never occurred to anybody to get verification.

Which was a mistake.

This all came to a head last week, initially while we were down at a hotel for two days with a video crew shooting commercials and promo bits for the upcoming conferences. We even had a staff meeting following the Monday session going over all the wonderful things that were coming in supposedly over the next few days ... including our finally getting access to the "underwriting" funds which would allow us to get paid a bit (and cover a number of other things that were due or well over-due). By Tuesday, however, odd things were happening ... and things just started getting odder by the day. And, on Thursday the questions that should have been being asked earlier started to get asked, and it suddenly appeared that the underwriting, the sponsors "on board", and even the ticket sales were bogus ... total fabrications by the local principal who now was nowhere to be found.

There are still HUGE questions needing answers ... since it appears that none of the money was ever real, what possible benefit was the local principal getting from lying about all this? And, alternately, what if some of the money was real and we just never got wind of it before they skipped town? I'm very worried on my end, as this was structured for the main players to incorporate and be contractors for the first year, and the local principal had "walked me through" getting a corporate tax number and the process of setting the incorporation up via LegalZoom ... and I'm pretty sure they may have been able to access (if by just noting stuff on the phone) that info. I sure hope that the underwriting money didn't go into an account set up in my new company's name, and got siphoned off!

Anyway ... figured I'd share. It's not been a fun few days as this stuff played out (there are details I'd love to vent about, but I figure that this is too much in flux to get into that in public), and I suddenly find myself, rather than being FINALLY financially solvent again (which is what was "promised" to start happening last week), in direr financial straits than I was 3 months ago, and having to "start over" on the job search.

Obviously, any leads anybody can give me (full-time to project free-lance) would be appreciated.

I just wish I could catch a break. I'm SO TIRED of having my hopes built up and then having things crash in the worst possible way.

Visit the BTRIPP home page!

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