Why Jason Calacanis is the Ultimate Twitter Fail Whale

I don’t like openly criticizing people, but Jason Calacanis is the equivalent of the Twitter fail whale.

Now I’ve mentioned Calacanis in this blog before, and actually stated that while he may not be my cup of tea, I did find his “never-say-die” approach was better than a negative one. However, all that has changed and for the award for the human version of the Twitter fail whale, Jason Calacanis takes first place.

Why? Simple – his recent actions have shown him to be a pretty shallow creature.

Never one to back off from blowing his own horn, Calacanis recently had to let 10% of his employees go due to the current lack of advertising in the online market. Calacanis is the CEO of Mahalo, a “human powered search engine” that needs advertising income.

At the time, Calacanis stated, “It’s my responsibility to make this hard decision and I don’t take it lightly.” He also mentioned, “We’ve got a significant amount of cash on hand… The net result of this effort is we are giving Mahalo another year…”.

Reading that, you may feel that this is the difficult and upsetting decisions that many CEO’s have to make when times are tough – to keep the company going, sometimes people have to be sacrificed. It’s not pleasant, particularly for those let go, but then if the company can survive and then re-employ at a later date, it’s a decision that has to be made.

You would have thought that. Until you learn that Jason Calacanis is picking up a new $109,000 Tesla Roadster this weekend. Until you learn that Jason Calacanis is boasting about picking up his car and asking his Twitter followers if they know any media types that would be interested in going along to record the pick-up.

If Calacanis was really interested in the best interests of his company and his employees, then he wouldn’t be wasting $109,000 on a frivolous purchase. Yes, even in times of difficulty businesses still need to spend money to try and keep the business going. Yet this is normally for new IT systems that can improve performance, or core company-specific needs.

A $109,000 sports car? I don’t think so.

So enjoy your new car, Jason. Enjoy the “fresh from the showroom” smell and the adoring looks in the mirror. For when your company goes through even tougher times and you have to lay off more employees – the people who really make your business – at least you’ll have a nice car to drive to your computer to send out another sob story.

So, congratulations. For the inaugural Twitter Fail Whale Award – Jason Calacanis, come on down.

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  1. Jason Tryfon November 14, 2008 at 8:32 pm

    As a CEO of a company that just faced letting go 20 of my friends, I can say that I wasn’ taking vacations and purchasing high priced items right after. His ignorance and arrogance is beyond tolerable for me at this point. This should be a lesson to VC’s the world over who are dragging portfolio companies into board rooms to caution them and mandate them on spending. The profile attributed to these valley CEO’s who have only a user base with no business plan is ridiculous. Calacanis FAIL. Mahalo FAIL. VC’s funding this guy…well your time is up soon as well…how’s the markets today?

  2. Danny November 14, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    I’m sorry to hear of your own tough decisions, Jason – as a company owner myself, I know how hard it must have been. As you say, employees do become friends – making the decision harder.

    The point you make about ignorance and arrogance is telling. You can be genuinely under pressure as a CEO or company owner to make ends meet and stay afloat – yet you still need to stay in touch with reality, and the logic of sound financial planning to see you and your company through the hardships.

    Blowing over $100,000 on a sports car may be fun and a personal reward when you’re enjoying good times. Personally, I don’t see the connection between letting go 10% of your employees and good times…

    Thank you for sharing your views – as a CEO yourself in a very competitive industry, they offer a potent resonance.

  3. iGoByDoc November 14, 2008 at 11:36 pm

    Great Post – and I could not agree more.

    What is the deal with him and all the big corporate honchos that bilk the companies they have for more money than most will make in a lifetime, to only lay off the folks who helped them get where they are.

    I am all about making what you are worth, but not at the expense of others. With the companies I have had, I can not remember how many times I did not get a paycheck, just so I could pay my employees!

    Maybe he should re-think the car purchase!

    – Doc

  4. Danny November 14, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    You’ve hit the nail on the head, Doc – too many companies (or at least, the CEO’s of them) use VC’s to boost their bank balance and play company boss while they’re at it. They so easily forget that the only reason they have the money to spend in the first place is through investors who feel they can do a job, and employees that trust them to do that job.

    Unfortunately, too many are too busy with their own self-promotion that they ignore the things that are happening around them, and then try and blame it on anyone but themselves.

    Maybe the likes of Jason Calacanis should take a look at the ethics and business principles of people like you and Jason Tryfon to see how things should be done. Somehow, I won’t be holding my breath…

  5. captainsniz November 15, 2008 at 6:31 am

    Jason’s ignorance is unbelievable. Two BIG trips on the company dime (one the week before the layoffs to Greece and one immediately after to Japan) PLUS the Tesla. ignorant + asshole = calacanis

  6. Mich November 15, 2008 at 1:09 pm

    Did you see… from http://twitter.com/jasoncalacanis:

    @simplecrm I’m pumping tesla not 2 show off but to inspire others to get off oil. Sorry if it looks bad to you,my motives are true! Best j

    @PressReleasePR FYI ordered car 2 years ago,not sure how layoffs r really related.Supporting tesla is good 4 environment+energy independance

  7. Danny November 15, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    @ captainsniz. I guess when you feel you’re doing nothing wrong (despite the glaringly obvious opposite being in effect) then trips, cars and other luxuries are sadly acceptable.

    @ Mich. I did see these replies. If it’s not to show off, why the attempts via his Twitter followers to get the media there? I suggested that even if the car had been ordered two years ago, once the financial situation of Mahalo became clear he could (should?) have canceled and concentrated on looking out for his business. Still awaiting a response.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting guys, appreciate it.

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