Sunday, January 24, 2010

[Jason] Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *perhaps* why traders should short their stock)

-----Original Message-----
From: Jason Calacanis
Sent: 23/01/2010 8:00:20 pm
Subject: [Jason] Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *perhaps* why traders should short their stock)

Jason's List: Why We Should Boycott ComScore (and *perhaps* why
traders should short their stock)
Location: Brentwood, Ca 90049
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Comscore is the technology industry's biggest bully, and today I'm
calling for an industry-wide boycott of their services.

I'm asking journalist and bloggers to stop covering their stats, I'm
asking advertisers to not use their services, and finally, I'm asking
startup companies to not support their new and widely reported on
"$10,000 to get your stats correct" extortion ring.

If I was a stock trader I would short the stock--but I'm not--so I
won't (I keep my money in bonds and angel investments for the record).
Also, if you own Comscore shares, I'm not going to tell you that you
should sell them, but if I were an analyst--and I'm not--I would
probably tell folks to sell every share they had, and as quickly as

Additionally, I'm asking Comscore to drop their "pay for correct
stats" model in the next ten days.

Let's get into why.

Comscore's Reign of Terror
For over a decade, I've railed against our industry's leading metrics
company ComScore with little result.

It all started when I was a journalist in the 90s for the Silicon
Alley Reporter. I listened to company after company from Silicon Alley
to Silicon Valley complain about how ComScore's method of counting
traffic websites, via a sample of users, was incorrect.

People couldn't understand why the internet industry, with it's
ability to track traffic perfectly, would ever adopt the failed
sample-based methods used on television and radio. Comscore's ideas
were antiquated and unnecessary.

Entrepreneurs would show me their internal stats, which were typically
three to five times larger than Comscore's numbers, and beg me to
correct them in the Silicon Alley Reporter.

However, I noticed a pattern: the big companies didn't complain about Comscore.


Well, from what multiple people shared with me, you simply had to
follow the money. According to these folks it was an unspoken truth
for years that if you paid Comscore they fixed your numbers, and if
you were a small company and didn't, well, you suffered. Comscore
would probably deny this, but their recent "pay to play" product shows
their true stripes.

They screwed me at Weblogs, Inc.
It wasn't until I started Weblogs, Inc. that I really felt the sting
of not participating in the Comscore protection racket. You see,
advertisers love Comscore and they make advertising buys based on it.

Our small, but growing blogs, were under reported month after month
and Comscore basically told me to pound salt when I complained. It
cost me money, and I promised myself that if I could ever support
another service that wasn't based on payola I would.

Here you can see a smoking gun from 2005 when Comscore did a "study"
on blogs with Gawker Media as a sponsor. Interestingly, Gawker's blogs
did really well in the study. The only problem was that Comscore's
numbers were different than the SiteMeter traffic that Gawker and
Weblogs Inc. were publishing at the time.

Denton privately admitted to me he support Comscore because he had to
because of their reputation in the advertising industry. He thought I
should bite the bullet as well and get in bed with the bullies. Not my
style, sorry.

[[ Some links from 2005 Comscore: Show us the data or get out of Dodge and ClickZ: - Fred
Wilson throws me under the bus: ]]

I publicly complained about Comscore but no one would really listen.
Actually Jeff Jarvis did support me:

My good friend Fred Wilson, who had invested in the firm, turned away
and watched the bullies he invested in pummel me when I complained
about Comscore. Fred is outspoken and an advocate of startups--except
with Comscore. He's turned a blind eye while letting his huge venture
return in Comscore color his objectivity. In fact, it must be obvious
to Fred that Comscore is, in fact, holding back his other startup
investments by extorting money from them!

Fred's been an amazing supporter of mine over the years, but I've
never been able to get over the fact that he invested in and supported
these guys. Fred's continued support of this company is unconscionable
at this point. He needs to come out and say that Comscore charging
$10,000 for this product is a pure shake down.

Do it Fred... you know you want to! :-)

ComScore Tries to Buy Me Off
This summer the tough guys at Comscore approached me with a
clandestine deal after I continued to publicly complain about their
methods. The message was clear: if I stopped criticizing them and
publicly supported their server data measurement program they would
not charge me. The $10,000 it would cost a year for this service would
be free for me if I threw my fellow entrepreneurs under the bus.

Their email to me included something out of the a Sopranos episode:
"Normally there is a cost to implement, but in this case we will
gladly waive the charge if you are interested." Yeah, and if you're
not interested perhaps you would like to come on a fishing trip with
us this weekend.

You bastards think that after a *decade* of me trying to stop your
extortion you can by me off by simply waiving some fees? I could
easily pay the $10,000 fee today but I will never give you guys a
dime. I will remember what you did to me when I was coming up forever.

I'd rather lose half my revenue from advertising as Mahalo grows from
a top 1,000 site (2007), to the top 400 sites (2008) and now a top 200
site (2009), and eventually even a top 50 site I hope (2011?)--than
give you even one ounce of my support.

I wrote back: "You guys are evil for charging companies--I would never
support you. Quantcast and Google are going to crush you guys.... And
I'm telling everyone I know to support Quantcast."

They never contacted me again.

Comscore formalizes their extortion ring
This week you may have read over at the excellent "All Things D" that
Comscore is now willing to do real metrics on your website if you give
them $10,000 a year. They claim this is to pay for their servers.

This after they spent the last decade criticizing the direct
measurement methods of their competitors like Quantcast and Google
Analytics as being flawed! Now they say pixel tracking--actual
measurement on the server side--is the best method. What a bunch of
slim buckets.

Could it be that enough publishers and advertisers have told you to go
f-- yourself in the past year?

Could it be that Quantcast has a product that is 100x better than your
service and it's FREE?

Could it be that is secretly testing a server-side testing
method like Quantcast's and is about to kick your ass?

>From where I sit, this is Comscore's desperate Hail Mary pass to try
and save their dying protection racket. Comscore has ZERO value when
Google Analytics, and Quantcast allow you to publicly and
freely track your stats.

Bullies, Ethics & Your Part
As a kid growing up in Brooklyn, I learned that when you or your
friends were being bullied there was really only one solution to the
problem: punch the bully directly in the face as hard as you can the
second they approached you. Like really, the second they come at
you--the second the first word comes out of their mouth--punch them in
the face. Don't let them even finish their sentence. If they say "I
want your milk money" your fist should make contact right around the
"want" mark.


At a young age I tested this technique and it resulted in a couple of
multi-day suspensions from school and black eyes, but it is a
life-long strategy for success that has never failed me. Do not let
yourself or your friends get bullied--ever. Even if you get your ass
kicked, at least you got your shot in and you held your ground.

When someone from Comscore approaches, you should tell them to go
hell. (Note: do not literally punch them in the face--I'm not
advocating physical violence here, I'm advocating voting with your

I put up a good fight for a decade but made little progress and
frankly got my ass kicked by Comscore in the Weblogs, Inc. days.
However, their obnoxious behavior has finally been publicly exposed.
This means that we--as an industry--can finally run this bully out of

Again, here is what I'm asking for in the Comscore Boycott. Feel free
to republish this article in whole at your blog.

The Comscore Boycott: Play Your Part!
1. Startups: Do NOT pay a single penny to Comscore--ever.
2. Startups who are getting this program for free (I suspect a good
number): Opt out and tell Comscore to f-- themselves.
3. Press & Bloggers: Please do not run Comscore's inaccurate numbers,
and please expose their extortion ring.
4. Advertisers: Do not use Comscore to plan your media buys: use the
free and more accurate Quantcast.
5. Google: Please release your version Comscore killer (based on
Quantcast's model), or better yet PLEASE BUY QUANTCAST!
6. Please release your Comscore killer.
7. Stock traders & Analysts: Please think deeply about the potential
revenue destruction that Comscore could be facing.
8. Fred Wilson: publicly state that you do not agree with ComScore's
mafia-like methods.
9. Republish this email at your blog.
10. If you have information on Comscore that should be exposed send it
to me in confidence (say anonymous up top)

To My "Friends" at Comscore
You know I'm right.

As such, I'm asking for complete and unconditional surrender. Make
your tracking pixel program 100% free in the next 10 days or the
boycott will continue.

If you're a current or former executive at Comscore and you have an
opinion on this please send me your thoughts in confidence, and I will
republish them to the list without your name.

If you're a current employee who can't deal with this any more, please
add me on LinkedIn and ask for a LinkedIn introduction to the Google
Analytics, or Quantcast teams. I will gladly forward
talented people from Comscore on to companies I think are more

All the best,


You can find me here:
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-= (angel investor) (angel investor) (angel investor) (angel investor) (advisor) (65% correct!)

Copy editing of Jason's List: Jennifer Engevik

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Jason Calacanis
902 Colorado Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Office Phone: 310-593-6134

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