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Heather and Derek are suddenly out of JPG Magazine
May 14, 2007 8:44 PM   Subscribe

Heather and Derek are suddenly out of JPG Magazine. Heather writes: "8020 has decided to rewrite the history of how JPG came into being, removing the original six issues from the site, and any mention of Derek and [me]."
posted by Dave Faris (214 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
And before any of you say "heather who? Derek?" Heather Champ and Derek Powazek founded JPG magazine a year or two ago. The fact that they're no longer a part of it is, to quote someone smarter than me, " like [jason] kottke being pushed out of kottke.org somehow."
posted by Dave Faris at 8:51 PM on May 14, 2007


Wow, that's lame.

JPG really only worked because of Heather and Derek. I also suspect that with their outing a number of their fans/supporters will simply scram and the mag will tank.
posted by dobbs at 8:52 PM on May 14, 2007


You've piqued my interest, despite not knowing who Heather and Derek are, and being only vaguely aware of what JPG magazine is. Your first link, however, explains very little about what has actually gone on. More hot gossip, please.
posted by Jimbob at 8:53 PM on May 14, 2007


That's the problem with lossy compression.
posted by gsteff at 8:58 PM on May 14, 2007 [44 favorites]


I guess you can create something and lose control of it? How do you make sure the business you create can't fire you down the line?
posted by parallax7d at 8:59 PM on May 14, 2007


How do you make sure the business you create can't fire you down the line?

Maintain a vice-like grip on it at all times. Retain directorial control. Don't trade money for executive privilege. Possibly remain scraping by instead of getting a bunch of cash from interested investors.
posted by cortex at 9:03 PM on May 14, 2007 [11 favorites]


I'm not sure, but I think this means that Derek will have to turn into the Green Goblin, and get killed by Spiderman in episode one. And I guess it's up to one of the chihuahuas to seek revenge in the second sequel.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:03 PM on May 14, 2007


parallax7d - to answer your question, you make sure you own the business you create.

I agree with Jimbob - this post has far too little information. We have no basis for learning the history of the mag, the power structure, the reasons for the ouster, etc.

As it stands, this is more of an FYI than anything, and I wouldn't jump to any conclusions. I've seen more than one company change control from those who were founders - and the change was a good thing.
posted by Muddler at 9:10 PM on May 14, 2007


In other Powazek news, whatever happened to Fray? This post from 2005 says it's on hiatus — it was fantastic, so why has it never returned?
posted by Aloysius Bear at 9:10 PM on May 14, 2007


Wow, yeah, these links tell us virtually nothing.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2007


Stories like this about startups are always very sad. I don't know the details here, but a key moment in JPG's history was raising over $1 million from Halsey Minor and Minor Ventures. Funding events like that have a way of defining company control.
posted by Nelson at 9:12 PM on May 14, 2007 [1 favorite]


so why has it never returned?

Presumably, he got busy creating a high gloss photography magazine and an online community for amateur photographers? Maybe now you'll get your wish.
posted by Dave Faris at 9:23 PM on May 14, 2007


I'm a bit shocked that anyone is investing money in print magazines nowadays.
posted by smackfu at 9:35 PM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


Heather's post is really sad, it's obvious she loved her creation and has lost it under circumstances beyond her control. The fact that there isn't much information is probably a testament to her not wanting to cloud JPG in any way... noble because posts like this are usually full of anger and gossip.

I do hope though that Heather or Derek or both post their side of the story here though, I am pretty sure both are long-time contributors.
posted by cell divide at 9:35 PM on May 14, 2007


Wow, that's unbelievably lame. I hope Paul Cloutier and the rest of that crew fail miserably in everything they attempt.

Fucktards.
posted by bshort at 9:48 PM on May 14, 2007


Since you asked, here's the story.
posted by fraying at 9:53 PM on May 14, 2007 [10 favorites]


here's more from derek for the curious types. Myself, I think these things happen enough and projects change as they grow that I'm not shocked about a change, but would like to join with those thanking Derek and Heather for their work on the project.
posted by 10sball at 9:55 PM on May 14, 2007


DOH! I guess derek beat me to the link, so I'll just leave it at thanks :)
posted by 10sball at 9:56 PM on May 14, 2007


Derek and Heather - good luck with everything. This must be one of the hardest things you've gone through.
posted by bshort at 9:58 PM on May 14, 2007


I meant no ill-will by posting the thread here. I hope the people who reply hereafter can do the same.
posted by Dave Faris at 10:05 PM on May 14, 2007


Heather is also behind the mirror project, and a member of the flickr team.

But more on topic, even though we're only seeing one side of the story, it looks like what went down was some shitty shit.
posted by kyleg at 10:10 PM on May 14, 2007


Well that completely sucks. The only good thing is that I suspect the site's community will remember this stupidity and be supportive of them - as they should be.

Damn, that was awkward sounding - sorry. Anyway, best of luck to both - and small world with one of them replying in this thread :) (That's fantastic btw how someone was able to provide background info - in 30 minutes no less... it's like watching the hive mind in near-realtime action)
posted by rmm at 10:16 PM on May 14, 2007


Yikes. I practically grew up on Fray and the associated community of amazing people that seemed to cluster around it in those days. I read their stories, kept up with their websites, was inspired by their lives and the beauty of their writing (on fray and other projects - Maggie's Colors, Alex then-Massie's afterdinner and assorted other projects, and... oh, man, regarding.com and glassdog and all the rest... Wow, nostalgia. Okay, back on-topic).

I hate to admit that I haven't kept up with their creative exploits lately, and knew nothing of JPG, but it saddens me tremendously that such things could happen, after all these years, to such good, smart, creative and wonderful people. It seems the sort of thing that happens earlier in life, the material for all those Fray stories, you know? I've kind of had this idealized unconscious thought that Derek, Heather, and all the others have since been living lovely happily-ever-after lives.

I'm sorry to hear that it's not so. I wish you guys all the best. Thanks for everything so far.
posted by po at 10:20 PM on May 14, 2007


Derek,

Thanks for the link to your post and the honesty behind it.

At SXSW this year, I introduced myself to Paul in the hallway and asked some questions about JPG's editorial perspectives and approach. I walked away from the conversation unsatisfied, as his answers did not match the reality of the issues I had in my possession. Your link explains the disconnect.

Good luck. Keep doing the good community web work.
posted by msjen at 10:23 PM on May 14, 2007


Man, what a crazy, awful story. I feel terrible for them, JPG seemed like just the start of something great.
posted by mathowie at 10:25 PM on May 14, 2007


huh.

Money makes people very, very strange.
posted by blacklite at 10:30 PM on May 14, 2007


The lesson isn't so much "keep an iron grip on your startup," it's "if you take on an investor, be clear about what you want to do, and be clear about what they want to do." If you are at all uncomfortable or unsure about them, don't do the deal, not even for a minority stake.
posted by zippy at 10:32 PM on May 14, 2007


Well, let's not nay-say. Look at how Sassy soared after its makeover.

I wish the khaki-pantsed visionaries behind this little episode as much success.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 10:48 PM on May 14, 2007 [2 favorites]


It looks like you can still buy Issues 1-6 via Lulu. It might become an interesting relic in a few weeks.
posted by printdevil at 11:03 PM on May 14, 2007


Its too easy to give armchair advice if you haven't been through this yourself. I started two companies but still wouldn't give out advice here. Every situation is different.

There's no way to guarantee you won't get fired. But you can do things to protect your equity stake. It sounds like Derek managed to do that.
posted by vacapinta at 11:09 PM on May 14, 2007


This is sad.
posted by blurb at 11:09 PM on May 14, 2007


.
posted by cior at 11:13 PM on May 14, 2007


There's no playing down how much this must suck, but I wouldn't be surprised if Heather and Derek end up creating something else new and great -- only with greater wisdom, not to mention better people, next time around. One thing that happens more and more these days is the real talent rises to the top, and the posers are exposed.

Sympathies, though.
posted by mattpfeff at 11:15 PM on May 14, 2007


And Halsey's cool with this? I'd have thought he'd learned the value of people in the start-up by now...
posted by deCadmus at 11:16 PM on May 14, 2007


That's so sad. When I first heard about JPG I thought it would be another one of those "blogger girl meets blogger boy, girl marries boy, girl and boy start awesome web enterprise together, girl and boy become successful and speak at conferences about how awesome their stuff is" stories. (Seriously—off the top of my head there's Mena and Ben building Movable Type, and Stuart and Caterina building flickr. I wonder if there are other husband-wife old-school blogger teams doing the same. Spooky trend.)

On the other hand, maybe this will be one of those instances that proves the rule, "ideas are cheap, idea people are priceless." I sure hope so.
posted by chrominance at 11:17 PM on May 14, 2007 [3 favorites]


Shit like this makes me want to re-read Sun Tzu and Machiavelli before bed every night.

Fucking backstabbers.
posted by exlotuseater at 11:19 PM on May 14, 2007


Here is the version of the JPG Magazine About page from April 2006 via archive.org.

I've met them a few times and they are kind, good people. It surely does suck when bad things happen to good people.
posted by Argyle at 11:49 PM on May 14, 2007


vacapinta is right -- except somewhere I saw a chart showing that you will probably have to choose between equity and control at some point. (Here's something along the same lines. Do you want to be Rich, or do you want to be King?)

This is all very similar to how Philip Greenspun was forced out of ArsDigita. Well, except for the lawsuits.
posted by dhartung at 11:54 PM on May 14, 2007


I don't understand the whole "erasing the history" thing. What a stupid fucking idea.

If the CEO wants to replace honesty, friendliness and personality with the same old cookie-cutter, bland corporate newspeak, then to be honest it's probably not a bad thing to get your asses off that sinking ship.

It all sounds pretty sad.
posted by Jimbob at 11:59 PM on May 14, 2007


That's really sad, and I feel bad for Derek and Heather.

On the other hand, they both have such good names among us webby folk, and nothing about that has changed. They'll go on to do more cool stuff.

The great thing about a labour of love is the love, not the labour.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:05 AM on May 15, 2007


Derek says:
In one evening, Paul removed issues 1-6 from the JPG website, removed Heather from the About page, and deleted the “Letter from the Editors” that had lived on the site since day one. Paul informed me that we were inventing a new story about how JPG came to be that was all about 8020. He told me not to speak of that walk in Buena Vista, my wife, or anything that came before 8020.
I see Paul has also removed Trotsky from the About page.

Heather and Derek, if you go out for drinks with old work buddies, don't order the Mexican Ice Pick.
posted by pracowity at 12:07 AM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


like [jason] kottke being pushed out of kottke.org somehow

Wait, I thought that after the micropatronage experiment Jason retired to his private Caribbean island, where he lies in the shade on a chaise-longue drinking Pina Coladas, bloated to Brando-esque girth, giggling and stroking a white kitty while plotting his revenge on everyone who crossed him over the years, and that the website itself has been outsourced to Kottke Industries LLC Bangalore, where a crack team of Indian Kottke impersonators crank out that quality daily weblog content to support their families back in the villages.

That's what I get for not paying attention.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:11 AM on May 15, 2007 [5 favorites]


man, that Paul Cloutier is really somethin'
posted by nihlton at 12:20 AM on May 15, 2007


Am I missing something? After reading the link fraying posted, which is Derek's side of the story. He voluntarily left because he couldn't agree on them not including the non-8020 part of JPG's history?

Seems that if 8020's big product is this new-fangled publishing method that they might not want to shout from the tree-tops that their poster child magazine was created without it. Fair enough. And if I still owned a chunk of 8020 like Derek does I probably wouldn't be dragging it's name through the mud on the web.
posted by markr at 1:04 AM on May 15, 2007


I don't agree - 8020's 'new-fangled publishing method' is what is driving the magazine moving forward. The fact that the whole shebang started from a P.O.D., community-driven magazine published by two people who love photography is what made the whole JPG story so compelling, and no doubt contributed to its success when it went to traditional newsstand distro.
posted by mahke at 1:18 AM on May 15, 2007


He voluntarily left because he couldn't agree on them not including the non-8020 part of JPG's history?

You know that magazine you built from the ground up with your wife and I? Well, we're changing things around so that she's not in the picture any more. We're not going to mention her involvement with the magazine, and you shouldn't either.

Maybe Powazek's lying through his teeth about all that, but assuming he's not, you don't think that request would be at all a problem? You would really just stand there and say, yup, I'm totally fine with that? Never mind whatever shenanigans may have gone on that we don't know about because Powazek took pains not to drag 8020's name through the mud.
posted by chrominance at 1:20 AM on May 15, 2007


Never mind whatever shenanigans may have gone on that we don't know about because Powazek took pains not to drag 8020's name through the mud.

That's what I'm getting at. If we're being told the whole story, all I can say is "meh". I'm assuming there is more to it. As it is I'll try to work up some outrage over dinner.
posted by markr at 2:00 AM on May 15, 2007


Always keep 51%.
posted by reklaw at 2:53 AM on May 15, 2007


If you want an education more valuable than any business school can teach you, scroll down to "What I Learned." Words of wisdom, indeed.

You take your lumps and you move on. This is especially true when you're playing with other people's money.
posted by SteveInMaine at 3:06 AM on May 15, 2007


Derek posted the MeFi link to this site, so I'm assuming he's reading it.

Derek: you have been a real inspiration over the years. Your tact is encouraging, and I really hope that this is a chance for you and Heather to move on to yet other interesting and exciting things.
posted by honest knave at 3:29 AM on May 15, 2007


this new-fangled publishing method, its informatics are inherently ubiquitous?
posted by quonsar at 4:00 AM on May 15, 2007


The urls for issues 1-6 still work, even though they don't show up on the back issues page anymore:
1
2
3
4
5
6

posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:06 AM on May 15, 2007


Just deleted my account. RIP JPG Mag.
posted by Hankins at 4:22 AM on May 15, 2007


That's a crap sammich, right there.

JPG magazine + Heather/Derek = a wonderful thing in my mind, and the best possible association. Makes no sense to erase that association and create a new fake backstory.
posted by Dok Millennium at 4:44 AM on May 15, 2007


I'd noticed their sudden non-appearance at JPG a little while ago and was hoping we'd hear what happened. It's total utter crap.

Don’t stay where you’re not wanted, respected, or happy. Even if it’s your company.

You can put those words right into the bank, Derek. Best of luck to both you and Heather.
posted by FlamingBore at 4:55 AM on May 15, 2007


Something doesn't sound right. The contractor-turned-CEO wanted to write-wash the origins of the company, and when the people involved disagreed with that, they were fired? It sounds like something important is missing from the story, like "There was once this really gigantic ship... it was enormous! I tell you, and on its maiden voyage there was a splendid party and all the important people were there. And later on, a bunch of them died. The end."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:03 AM on May 15, 2007


I interviewed Derek about new publishing/business models for magazines when I worked at The Atlantic Monthly. What really impressed me was that he (and Heather) had actually invented one and it was working. You can go read any number of Web 2.0 publishing blogs that have THE ANSWER (it usually involves incomprehensible abstractions 'economies of attention'), but Derek/Heather had a working magazine.

I imagine that there are a lot of trad publishers (especially in the dying mag sector) that would love to talk to Derek and Heather. Some of them are quite, um, "well capitalized." I recommend they take their excellent cred and build something new and great with that capital. Lord knows something new is needed.
posted by MarshallPoe at 5:10 AM on May 15, 2007


Hey, he linked to this thread.
posted by delmoi at 5:49 AM on May 15, 2007


MarshallPoe, was that publishing models article published?
posted by gsteff at 5:52 AM on May 15, 2007


A sad story of which we seem to only have a part.
posted by OmieWise at 6:12 AM on May 15, 2007


I also canceled my account. Life's too short to deal with dishonest people.
posted by EastCoastBias at 6:19 AM on May 15, 2007


We haven't heard all sides to the story, but it seems like an idiotic business decision to oust the founders like this. If they haven't noticed, there are approximately billions of websites dedicated to photography. That jpgmag was able to differentiate itself from this crowd is a huge feat, and I would say that this can entirely be attributed to Powazek's and Champ's reputation, fanbase, and design sensibilities. JPG wasn't perfect, but unless it turns out that those two were secretly, say, murderers or pedophiles, there is no good business reason for the company to ditch them and the company's history. Clearly the work of someone's massively overinflated ego. I notice that Paul's photography is trite, familiar, and gimmicky, and his half-lit photo of himself makes him look like a wanker.

I deleted my account on jpg just now.


posted by caffeine_monkey at 6:23 AM on May 15, 2007 [2 favorites]


Ousting the founders is part of the life cycle of many companies, sad to say. The founders are usually the people with a vision and a goal that includes, but is not restricted to, making money. The second part of a company's life begins when the politicker-people whose goals are solely about making money realize that visions occasionally interfere with money and remove the visionaries.
posted by Billegible at 6:30 AM on May 15, 2007


posted by Civil_Disobedient Something doesn't sound right. The contractor-turned-CEO wanted to write-wash the origins of the company, and when the people involved disagreed with that, they were fired? It sounds like something important is missing from the story

posted by Billegible The second part of a company's life begins when the politicker-people whose goals are solely about making money realize that visions occasionally interfere with money and remove the visionaries.


The part of the story we're missing is the part Paul hasn't revealed to us, which consists of him whitewashing all the untidy beginnings of the magazine so the entire project looks like his idea when he sells it to Google.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:40 AM on May 15, 2007


Why? The reasons are complicated, and the purpose of this post is not to air dirty laundry - it’s just to let the community know why the founders of JPG are no longer there. We owe you that much.

This is still a lot of glossing over, for it to be the "real story".
posted by smackfu at 6:42 AM on May 15, 2007


Similar sentiments over on the flickr jpg group.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:46 AM on May 15, 2007


Tremendously dissapointing... I'll be deleting my account shortly.
posted by blaneyphoto at 7:02 AM on May 15, 2007


Hey everyone, go Digg Derek's post.
posted by caffeine_monkey at 7:02 AM on May 15, 2007


I'd love to hear the other side of the story -- whatever that may be. I'm not sure what 8020 could say that would make them not look like jerks mind you.
posted by chunking express at 7:03 AM on May 15, 2007


also, digg fucking sucks. digg that.
posted by chunking express at 7:03 AM on May 15, 2007


I liked the idea but it was getting very "commercial" very fast, losing some of the small community feeling, and I also felt uncomfortable with some of the sponsors.

Account deleted.
posted by seanmpuckett at 7:06 AM on May 15, 2007


Am I missing something? After reading the link fraying posted, which is Derek's side of the story. He voluntarily left because he couldn't agree on them not including the non-8020 part of JPG's history?

markr, I think there is a world of difference between, "hey, we're rebranding the company so we're going to ditch the founding story and focus on our new mission statement," and "hey, we're rebranding the company so you as a human being and personal person are going to have to censor yourself and forever pretend that a piece of your life never happened."
The line is where you tell a man to lie about his own life.
posted by Billegible at 7:24 AM on May 15, 2007


gsteff, the article (which is really about Metafilter) isn't done yet. But even when it is, it may never see the light of day in a print pub, given the narrow interests and sad state of most long-form print pubs. Maybe I'll publish it in Derek/Heather's new venture!
posted by MarshallPoe at 7:24 AM on May 15, 2007


What a brilliant PR move by Paul Cloutier. He'll be the sweetheart of the internets now!
posted by designbot at 7:33 AM on May 15, 2007 [3 favorites]


"It just means some extra work to do"? For fuck's sake people. Looks like the nerd is the only awake person in the room, yet again.
posted by bonaldi at 7:34 AM on May 15, 2007


I don't post often, but this one has brought me out. I am really sad about this news and I just wanted to wish Derek and Heather the best in whatever the future holds for them.

Whatever it is, I hope you continue to engage and challenge us as a community.
posted by Slightlynorth at 7:36 AM on May 15, 2007


Canceling subscription. Deleting account.
posted by abosio at 7:40 AM on May 15, 2007


I'm pretty annoyed at this as well. I've been trying - sadly unsuccessfully - to get published in JPG for a while now, mainly because of how much I've been inspired by Derek and Heather's own photography. But now I've just deleted my JPG account. Without Derek and Heather there, the soul of the place is gone. Submitting work to the site anymore would feel like I was merely being willingly used for someone else's profit.
posted by dnash at 7:59 AM on May 15, 2007


I'm thinking they might want to sell that share they've got left right about... now. Or, in fact, before now. This interweb pile-on is just going to cost them loads if they don't.
posted by reklaw at 8:02 AM on May 15, 2007


Although I am sure Derek and Heather will bounce back just fine from this, I deleted my account as a show of support. Sorry such a sucky thing happened to you guys.
posted by thekilgore at 8:06 AM on May 15, 2007


Wasn't Heather the one given the unenviable task of running interference on the flickr discussion boards during the whole yahoo signup imbroglio? I remember being impressed with how gracefully she handled it. Representing senseless corporate edicts in a humane way is a rare talent.

What a shame to see them both so badly mistreated.
posted by felix betachat at 8:52 AM on May 15, 2007


I fist heard about JPG back when Kindall was e-mailing out the monthly project listings. A lot of greats ideas where in those messages, and the JPG mag was was one of them. It's been interesting to see the progression from the original project to the current incarnation.
posted by jmd82 at 8:55 AM on May 15, 2007


Oh God. This is ugly.

I bought the first issue of JPG when it was published. JPG was a great idea, flawlessly executed. Derek and Heather are amazing people.

Paul and I are also mutual Flickr friends, and from my (admittedly limited) interaction with him, he has always seemed like a very pleasant guy.

This certainly sounds heinous, but I'd like to hear the other side of the story.
posted by smably at 8:59 AM on May 15, 2007


Paul obviously never read Derek's book, "Design for Community." I have always respected Derek and Heather from my first virtual encounters with them and their projects (sf stories, kvetch, mirror project, etc).

Derek's post sums it up pretty well at the end with his points for entrepreneurs. I'd say the same is true of pretty much any business relationship or any work place environment.

As dnash said, the soul of the place is gone. A sad day indeed.
posted by eljuanbobo at 9:03 AM on May 15, 2007


I'm canceling my subscription.
posted by davidfg at 9:09 AM on May 15, 2007


This is sad indeed. The beauty of the magazine was the heart of it, the story of how it came to be. Now.. it feels empty.
posted by Jenguin at 9:17 AM on May 15, 2007


Heather and Derek should start pngmag.
posted by caffeine_monkey at 9:22 AM on May 15, 2007 [12 favorites]


I just caught up on this whole affair and am severing any and all ties I had with JPG Mag as a result. Shameful how they fleeced two good people.
posted by fenriq at 9:26 AM on May 15, 2007


The thing I loved about JPG magazine IS HOW it got started. What kind of ill-conceived plan decides to erase a history that was invested in by thousands of loyal participants? I was rooting for it on that basis, felt a part of it because of my participation (as a fan) from the beginning. I'll be published for the first time nationally in Issue 10 - and Derek himself was kind enough to notice and comment on my Flickr and also personally answered a question about blog RSS feeds. I assume he found my screencap of me on JPG's homepage because he really was that passionate about his publication that he was searching keywords looking for mentions so he could interract with the people that were passionate about his publication. I was surprised to be hearing directly from him. These two tiny acts said more about who cared than I've ever seen elsewhere.

I love this magazine. I love how it came into being (well before I even imagined getting published in it). I want it to succeed. And I want it to succeed WITH the people that birthed it and were that passionate about it.

I knew something like this happened with all the silence around the departure, but I hesitated to write to Derek out of respect for the time they needed to sort out what was clearly a quick and sad departure. I wish both of them the best and will be watching for their next innovation, but I'll always wish they could've stayed at JPG.
posted by suzen at 9:26 AM on May 15, 2007


I totally understand deleting online accounts in a show of support. I'm not so sure about canceling current subscriptions, though -- doesn't Derek still have a stake in the success of JPG? ("I still own a percentage of the company, so I hope to see JPG continue to grow and prosper.") I'm interested to see what the general consensus is on that point.

On a selfish note, I'm kind of close to this story because I conducted an interview in the next issue and it's the top item on the Contents page. Oh, well. There goes my brilliant interviewing career. ;)

I totally support Heather and Derek, as they know, and can't wait to see what they do next. It's bound to be remarkably brilliant.
posted by sparky at 9:52 AM on May 15, 2007


I just deleted my account. I'm sorry they took down the issue with my photo in it. I was really proud of that. Oh well.
posted by luriete at 9:55 AM on May 15, 2007


I started an account and deleted it just now.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:59 AM on May 15, 2007 [7 favorites]


I've been following Heather and Derek's work for years. Sad to see some trouble came their way, but knowing them, this is only a temporary setback on their road to success. I'd wish them luck, but they don't need it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 10:07 AM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


There is something I am curious about. The CEO is not the ultimate power in a company. The investors are. I wonder if Derek made an appeal to them.

doesn't Derek still have a stake in the success of JPG? ("I still own a percentage of the company, so I hope to see JPG continue to grow and prosper.") I'm interested to see what the general consensus is on that point.


The Machiavellian in me says this is a clever ploy to get those investors to realize this thing will not fly without Derek/Heather, bring them back and oust this Paul guy. Again, I don't know enough to make that determination but am offering that up as another potential outcome or motivation.
posted by vacapinta at 10:08 AM on May 15, 2007


I'd never heard of JPG magazine before this, but wow. The old about page made me interested, and I'm not even a photography person. Had I come across it before, I would have stayed around, for at least a little while.

The new about page reads like any other website out there. There's no character to it at all.
posted by Arturus at 10:08 AM on May 15, 2007


I remember when the mag was first announced and thinking it was smaller than it was, then more recently seeing it in art stores and chains like Barnes and Noble. This might have ended badly, but I'm still impressed with what they accomplished in a short time.
posted by deern the headlice at 10:09 AM on May 15, 2007


That's a very good point, sparky.

As a barely contributing member of JPG, it won't take much for me to delete my account, and they won't be affected much by it other than counting me among the losses.

However, I'm keeping the subscription. JPG's controlling owners may be bastards, but the content of the magazine and its creative (as opposed to business) mission is to highlight and expose amateur photography. That's still something I can get behind, and the magazine is fantastic. That hasn't changed with Derek and Heather's departure -- not yet, at least -- and it's still worth supporting.

Beyond all that, I'll echo those who've said it's a sad, sorry story that shouldn't have had to be told. It's an incredibly dumb move to try to revise the backstory of a product and community whose consumers and members are probably still largely made up of people who knew it back during that period you're trying to cover up. You can erase issues 1-6 from the website, but you can't erase them from people's memories.
posted by me3dia at 10:20 AM on May 15, 2007


Astro Zombie is my new Hero.
posted by Argyle at 10:21 AM on May 15, 2007


Here's what I decided to do: I deleted my photos but kept my account so I could leave a parting post.
posted by sparky at 10:29 AM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's very common in the lifecycle of a company for the founders to move on -- usually at the transition from start-up to expansion.

Heck -- most entrepreneurs take what they've learned and have subsequent acts!

In 1985, Steve Jobs was asked to leave Apple Computer. Following acts -- NeXT, Pixar, and, oh Apple again.
posted by ericb at 10:31 AM on May 15, 2007


I never heard of JPG before, and now it's all over the place. Who knew that firing people could be such cheap publicity?
posted by smackfu at 10:40 AM on May 15, 2007


sparky is right. Deleting accounts and cancelling subscriptions runs counter to the financial interests that Derek still maintains in the company. Folks should be hoping for it to succeed. On an emotional level things suck; on a rational level, one would hope the magazine thrives and that Heather and Derek take to the stage for another act -- which they'll undoubtedly do.

And -- often the board has significant influence in transitions that involve founders.
posted by ericb at 10:50 AM on May 15, 2007


Paul handled this very poorly, which should give other JPG employees pause. I wonder if they knew what they were signing up for. I loved the JPG website almost as much as the hard copies I keep on the coffee table, but when I went to go look at the About page, it felt hollow.
posted by jdb at 10:53 AM on May 15, 2007


Ugh, this does suck. Even though I participated very little, I loved the mag.

Here's Paul's (weak) response, so far anyways.

I can't imagine what the benefits of hiding the roots of your company are? I feel like there's a lot more than meets the eye here.
posted by patr1ck at 10:58 AM on May 15, 2007


I was planning to get a subscription before this erupted, but now count me in the deleted accounts tally.
posted by gfroese at 11:00 AM on May 15, 2007


Correction: I just noticed that link I just posted is actually 7 days old, and was Paul's response before this who mess (Derek's post, etc.) occurred today / last night.

Ooohhh internet drama.
posted by patr1ck at 11:02 AM on May 15, 2007


Seriously weak:

Hey guys, I'm JPG Magazine's publisher. Derek has indeed left the company to pursue other projects. He was a big part of getting us to where we are and we are all really proud of the work we did together.

We're all still hard at work at making JPG great and will continue to be a part of this community and forum to answer questions and let everyone know what is up.

posted by FlamingBore at 11:03 AM on May 15, 2007


Weak is a compliment to that post.
posted by gfroese at 11:08 AM on May 15, 2007


I went to look at jpg's blog archives to see if they'd gone down the memory hole too, and found this early post by Derek:
First, thanks to my 8020 cofounder and good friend Paul Cloutier. If you submitted a photo to issues 2 - 6, you used his upload tool. He and I built the plan for the new JPG together over the last six months, and I couldn't have wished for a better business partner.
Damn.
posted by caffeine_monkey at 11:12 AM on May 15, 2007


Letter from the Editors
posted by kirkaracha at 11:41 AM on May 15, 2007


How disappointing. I really enjoyed JPG, the concept and model as much as (if not more than) the finished product. And I've always enjoyed the pics and general niceness the couple have exuded. They were nice enough to include a bunch of my photos in an issue. I'm sure they will prosper in whatever lies ahead.

Having said that, I suspect there is more simmering on this, reading between what has not been said. Gone are the days of majority shares deciding all. Nearly all the goodwill drains away with the principled decision to leave. Decisions made on principle rule. The first post in this thread said "JPG really only worked because of Heather and Derek." I couldn't agree more.
posted by polaroid at 11:47 AM on May 15, 2007


me3dia, if you aren't against them then you are for them. Thankfully, it looks like you are very much in the minority in continuing to support and condone these actions.
posted by fenriq at 11:49 AM on May 15, 2007


I quote from some one above:

"Just deleted my account. RIP JPG Mag."

Me too... very disappointed at this turn of events.
posted by eddypcj at 12:08 PM on May 15, 2007


i didn't delete my account because i wanted my voice to be heard on the jpg site.
posted by leahpeah at 12:39 PM on May 15, 2007


me3dia, if you aren't against them then you are for them.

Mr. President, is that you?

Whatever, dude. I deleted my account. The subscription stays, for now.
posted by me3dia at 1:06 PM on May 15, 2007


I am sure Heather and Derek have learned some valuable things that they will take with them in the future. No doubt there is bigger and better in store for them. Good luck!
posted by ccjones at 1:37 PM on May 15, 2007


Yep, I deleted my account as well.
posted by bshort at 1:39 PM on May 15, 2007


It's hard for me to be sympathetic because I don't know the changes- omission? recasting? just a blankness?- on the history of the company. But, having read the archived "about page," it seems kind of cliquish and "in-crowd"- which is not unique to JPG, most startups seem that way to me. It would, though, keep me from submitting to the magazine, along with the requirements for having an expensive digital SLR (can we rename the magazine "RAW" as that's a more appropriate format!!) as I'm not sure I associate with their aesthetic. Of course it's Derek's right on his blog to give his side, it's just not convincing (to me) since he doesn't try in the least to represent Paul's side.

When Derek accepted only a minority interest in his company, he was setting it up to go live elsewhere, with other people, who have different designs. He could have kept it a small fanzine, with majority interest, and that would have meant he invested more in his vision and style and not trying to go big-money distribution and printing costs.

I'm sure they'll be fine in their endeavors. I'm wondering how different, though, as a publishing platform this is. And to the earlier journalist who was like "it worked"- did it? If it required such initial investing, and it wasn't off and out on its own, did it really "work"?
posted by bananesf at 1:42 PM on May 15, 2007


posted by bananesf Of course it's Derek's right on his blog to give his side, it's just not convincing (to me) since he doesn't try in the least to represent Paul's side.

The job of representing Paul's side of the story belongs to Paul and JPG Magazine, wherein Paul should explain why he insisted on rewriting the history of the magazine so it didn't include the two people who founded and built it. So far he's failed to provide any sort of explanation, which speaks volumes about his motives and the soundness of that decision.
posted by fandango_matt at 2:14 PM on May 15, 2007 [1 favorite]


When you think about someone's reasoning for doing something and come up with "I just can't understand why they would do that," there's a good chance you don't have the whole story. Good storytelling is populated with heroes and villains, but life isn't.
posted by wilsonminer at 2:16 PM on May 15, 2007


We can't know the whole back story -- and as Derek points out in his post there's no reason we should -- but the business decision as manifest in the removal of the early issues and magazine history is not simply bad, but surreal.

As anyone in publishing will tell you: what makes a magazine successful is voice. Voice, or POV, is another way of describing character, that elusive quality that makes a person (or a story or a joke or a photo for that matter) memorable and, ultimately, likable.

The reason magazine publishing is so difficult and more magazines fail than succeed is because it is hard to manufacture voice. Character doesn't arise from seed money, advertisers, or even a good concept. It comes from individuals --often editors-- who apply little pieces of their own quirky, individual filtering mechanisms to the sea of content available to them, who set a tone and cultivate networks of creators some fraction of whom decide to entrust the editors with little bits of themselves. Editors recognize and encourage talent, and they also make sure that at the end of the day something actually gets sent out into the world.

The reason JPG took off is because it had voice. Its voice began with the two people who launched it and who hung on during all the sleeples nights of its bumpy evolution. Trying to revise the birth of the magazine in its adolescence makes no sense, never mind the right and wrong of the decision. I am baffled.
posted by salutor at 2:20 PM on May 15, 2007


Hey guys, I'm JPG Magazine's publisher . . . We're all still hard at work at making JPG great and will continue to be a part of this community and forum to answer questions and let everyone know what is up.

Thanks, Paul, I have a question. Why did you suddenly insist on rewriting the history of the magazine so it didn't include the people who created it?
posted by fandango_matt at 2:26 PM on May 15, 2007


Paul has responded on the 8020 blog.

He talks about Derek's departure. He doesn't mention Heather at all, continuing to airbrush her out of history.

Buh-bye, JPG....
posted by geneablogy at 2:35 PM on May 15, 2007


I used to work with Derek in a previous job and only had excellent experiences with him. I hold him in high regard.

I used to recommend JPG mag to friends who wanted to learn more about photography. No more.

I will actively dissuade anyone I know who is interested in photography from visiting, or contributing to JPG mag.
posted by gen at 2:56 PM on May 15, 2007


Wow. This sucks. I have been a part of the lurking 80% around Derek's projects for...well, i'm out of college now and I first heard of him in high school. This is a big disappointment to me and must be an immensely greater one for him and Heather. I agree with the wayyy earlier statement about ideas vs. idea people--it's not the straw but the chick spinning it who makes the gold. I think. Does that metaphor work?
posted by Tesseractive at 3:40 PM on May 15, 2007


Paul has responded on the 8020 blog.

Sometimes things change so better to cut and paste. Full text, unedited:


Derek's Departure

Posted by Paul Cloutier on 15 May 2007

The last few weeks at 8020 Publishing have been difficult for us all.

It became increasingly evident that long-standing, significant differences of opinion regarding the direction of 8020 Publishing were preventing us from moving forward. We really had hoped to resolve these issues with Derek and work together as a team. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t come to an agreement and parted ways though Derek remains a shareholder in 8020 Publishing.

We recognize Derek’s contributions to JPG Magazine, past and present, and wish him well in his future endeavors.

posted by vacapinta at 3:41 PM on May 15, 2007


Dang, between that blog post and the earlier one in the Flickr thread -- that dude has a serious talent for PR-variety double-nonspeak. If there was any doubt before where 8020's soul resided, there ain't much left now.
posted by mattpfeff at 4:11 PM on May 15, 2007


so, what, are they going to renumber issues 7-10?

or hope people can't count or won't wonder?
posted by xian at 4:55 PM on May 15, 2007


Paul's post reads like pretty much every corporate farewell email I've ever seen about a veep who just got ambushed with a letter of resignation.
posted by Billegible at 5:23 PM on May 15, 2007


Yeah, that's pathetic. Doesn't this dude understand what a jerk he's coming across as? He's doing permanent damage by not responding frankly and promptly, I think.
posted by grobstein at 6:00 PM on May 15, 2007


It became increasingly evident that long-standing, significant differences of opinion regarding the direction of 8020 Publishing were preventing us from moving forward.
Dang, between that blog post and the earlier one in the Flickr thread -- that dude has a serious talent for PR-variety double-nonspeak.

No kidding. JPG won't survive this, nor should they. Which is too bad, for the ejected founders who still have a stake in the company. It's in their best interests for the site and magazine to continue.

But it won't, because the original authors had an authentic voice, while this guy doesn't. It's ridiculous to imagine that a 'community' would rally around someone who just dumped the well-loved people who started the company.
posted by delmoi at 6:16 PM on May 15, 2007


Flickr users leaving JPG magazine
posted by vacapinta at 6:30 PM on May 15, 2007


It became increasingly evident that long-standing, significant differences of opinion regarding the direction of the Department of Justice 8020 Publishing were preventing us from moving forward. We really had hoped to resolve these issues with these District Attroneys Derek and work together as a team. Despite our best efforts, we couldn’t come to an agreement and parted ways though Mr. NcNulty will be thrown under the bus Derek remains a shareholder in 8020 Publishing.
posted by deCadmus at 6:40 PM on May 15, 2007


I haven't deleted my account yet, as I'm planning a little on-site protest for later tonight, after I get off work. I only found out about all this through Kottke, so I'm sure a lot of JPG members don't know what's going on. Also, I'm hoping the shitstorm that's being kicked up will prompt Paul to at least explain himself to my satisfaction, although I doubt that's possible.
posted by diddlegnome at 7:13 PM on May 15, 2007


I'm out. Tons of my contacts on Flickr are out. That's messed up. To delete the existence of issues 1-6? No mention of the founders on the site? That's enough for me. I'm gone.
posted by abbyladybug at 7:28 PM on May 15, 2007


Very sad. I can only hope that the same thing that attracted people o the magazine (the voices and sincerity of Derek and Heather) will drive them away (by its lack).

[but it's "Derek and me," Heather...sorry]
posted by Joseph Gurl at 8:04 PM on May 15, 2007


Anyone arguing against cancelling subscriptions simply doesn't realize that 8020 is already dead. This was a startup. The only assets they had were JPG, and the name recognition and track record of Powazek and Champ. Apparently their nimrod VCs didn't realize that JPG's audience wasn't built from the ground up, but was brought to the magazine by the founders, who already had a sizeable following. So they go and oust these two assets for a bad photographer, a guy who executes his takeover so clumsily that in the process he alienates the company's last asset, the JPG community. This is the guy the VCs choose to back? What, they think this Paul guy will bring a loyal following to the next 8020 venture? The idiots deserve to lose their investment. The best thing that could happen to Heather and Derek out of all this is for everyone to delete their accounts, causing JPG to implode so spectacularly that it elevates their reputation even further.
posted by caffeine_monkey at 9:36 PM on May 15, 2007


I think people want their photos in print more than they care about the founders.
posted by smackfu at 10:04 PM on May 15, 2007


The JPG magazine that Derek and Heather created will always be an inspiration to us and we are committed to the principles that they set out.
This cinched it for me. I signed up for the JPG magazine that Derek and Heather created and it won't be that anymore. I signed up because it was a Powazek/Champ creation.

I just hope none of the predictions from here will come to pass.
posted by nramsey at 10:06 PM on May 15, 2007


Update: There have been a lot of questions from the community today about us rewriting history and we think it is important to say that we have no intention of rewriting the history of JPG Magazine. When 8020 was created we felt a photography magazine was a perfect first title to start with. JPG Magazine existed before and was absolutely the inspiration for the new JPG magazine. Derek and the contributors behind the early issues are a critical part of who we are and the heritage of JPG magazine is not something to be erased or forgotten. The JPG magazine that Derek and Heather created will always be an inspiration to us and we are committed to the principles that they set out.

Hm, okay. So you're not erasing the history of JPG Magazine; you're just creating a new JPG Magazine and getting rid of the original JPG Magazine. Just like New Coke!

Nice corporate doublespeak, Paul! Have you considered a career with the Bush Administration?
posted by fandango_matt at 10:52 PM on May 15, 2007


Someone really needs to start up "How Not to Write Like a Corporate Tool" courses. That PR-speak message will be the guy's real undoing, where a convincing response could have done a lot to turn things around.
posted by reklaw at 1:09 AM on May 16, 2007


There appears to be some backpedaling going on. The bottom of the About page now mentions Derek and Heather and links to Lulu's JPG page:

"The Early Issues

"The first version of JPG Magazine was created by the husband and wife team of Derek Powazek and Heather Powazek Champ. It was a quarterly printed publication devoted to brave new photography that took submissions over the internet and printed on good old fashioned paper. It was edited by Derek and Heather, printed in digest format, and sold through Lulu.com.

"These first six issues of JPG Magazine served as inspiration for the new JPG Magazine, and they are available exclusively through Lulu.com."

But yeah, Paul's corporatespeak on the 8020 blog isn't doing him any favors.
posted by diddlegnome at 1:18 AM on May 16, 2007


Derek: "Paul informed me that we were inventing a new story about how JPG came to be that was all about 8020. He told me not to speak of that walk in Buena Vista, my wife, or anything that came before 8020."

I'm going to buck the trend and take Paul Cloutier's side in this, in spite of my longstanding appreciation for Derek Powazek and the Wife Who Must Not Be Mentioned.

All I ask is that the new story of how JPGMAG came to be involve time travel, robots and statuesque alien women in leopard skin bikinis.
posted by rcade at 5:34 AM on May 16, 2007 [4 favorites]


How do you reconcile your account deletions with Derek's remaining share in the company and stated desire to see it succeed?
posted by thejoshu at 5:39 AM on May 16, 2007


The same way he reconciles his stated desire to see it succeed with his strongly implied wish for the public to let the webs run #FF0000 with they who has wronged him.
posted by rcade at 5:51 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, if he's willing to badmouth something he has an ownership stake in, he's clearly not concerned with the money side. Prudent people just keep quiet. I bet the wife thing is why he's talking about it.
posted by smackfu at 6:03 AM on May 16, 2007


If there's any lesson to be learned here, it's that when an investor, checkbook in hand, asks you, "Who is the CEO of your wonderful, beloved, labor-of-love company?" --- the answer is, always, an emphatic "I am."
posted by Dave Faris at 6:13 AM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


Paul from JPG Mag moderates the unofficial JPG Mag forum on Flickr, and posted his blog post over there as well. The response hasn't been to good.
posted by chunking express at 7:04 AM on May 16, 2007


This is bad leadership.
posted by Ajit AP at 7:37 AM on May 16, 2007


How do you reconcile your account deletions with Derek's remaining share in the company and stated desire to see it succeed?

Because the possibility that Derek and Heather created JPG for the love is far stronger than the possibility that they hoped to get rich from it. (I'm one of the ones who had never heard of JPG before, I'm just guessing.)
posted by msittig at 7:49 AM on May 16, 2007


This situation is very reminiscent of the whole deal with Rocketboom a few months back. Has Rocketboom since recovered from the departure of Amanda?
posted by Dave Faris at 8:40 AM on May 16, 2007


...

Frickin' incredible.
posted by metrocake at 9:03 AM on May 16, 2007


Disgusting that he simply copied and pasted the same response onto the 8020 blog and this Flickr forum:

"There have been a lot of questions from the community today about us rewriting history and we think it is important to say that we have no intention of rewriting the history of JPG Magazine. When 8020 was created we felt a photography magazine was a perfect first title to start with..."

Um... craft corporate communications much?

If there was ever a time for an about-face, this is it. Obviously he'll never have to work with Derek and Heather or their egregious 'differences with his opinions' again, so mission number 1 is accomplished. This guy is a fool for not just totally backpedalling the entire thing, eating a metric ton of shit, and begging forgiveness.

Damn... I mean, a fukup of this magnitude is going to haunt you the rest of your life. This guy's next VC pitch will be like AlexReynolds opening up an online community moderator service.
posted by scarabic at 12:35 PM on May 16, 2007


Paul's wife responds for him.
posted by vacapinta at 1:48 PM on May 16, 2007


"Such as why Paul took the CEO title. Derek got to be on the board, while Paul did not." - from Kitty Holmes's response

Very salient and important point. A CEO reports to the Board, not the other way around.

I am in the camp that not all of the details are known to the general public. Did Derek resign on his own accord? What were the "terms-and-conditions" of his employment? Did he have a Employment Agreement and a Severance Agreement in place? Has he been offered a Separation and Release of Claims Agreement?

Assuming the Board had a Compensation Committee (which most every Board does have), what involvement did they have in his departure? Were there performance concerns for any of the players involved? Are/were there "leaving on good terms" and "speaking no ill" clauses in any signed Agreements.

Folks, there's usually a lot of details which the general public is not privy to -- especially as they relate to a privately-held company.
posted by ericb at 2:01 PM on May 16, 2007


That's the sort of response I was waiting for. Shame we still don't really know the details of what went down though.
posted by chunking express at 2:03 PM on May 16, 2007


Discussion of Paul's wife's post on Flickr.
posted by chunking express at 2:06 PM on May 16, 2007


Paul's wife responds for him responds to the JPG Community from her "point-of-view."

If I were on the Board and/or an investor in JPG, I would mandate that any current employee of the company refrain from making comments in public and any/all be cleared before being released -- either on a web posting or in a press release. I would have our PR firm craft any-and-all communication and be issued as from our CEO.
posted by ericb at 2:08 PM on May 16, 2007


I think people want their photos in print more than they care about the founders.

Exactly. Most future contributors and "consumers" of JPG -- and other 8020 publications -- will not be aware of this temporary kerfuffle and have no interest in it. It has no impact on their participation.
posted by ericb at 2:16 PM on May 16, 2007


Not knowing the Board structure (e.g. how many voting members, how many non-voting observers), the equity distribution (ownership stakes, class of equity, etc.) and related voting power of investors, co-founders et al, it is impossible to know what really "went down."

With Derek being a Board member and Paul not, what influence did Derek have in trying to avert a forced resignation or firing, if that were indeed the situation? Or, did he outright "quit?" If not, does he have the interest, will and desire to appeal to the Board to reverse the severed employment status?
posted by ericb at 2:25 PM on May 16, 2007


Discussion of Paul's wife's post on Flickr.

On Flickr squarerootofnine makes some good points. I recommend reading his full comment.
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on May 16, 2007


If I were on the Board and/or an investor in JPG, I would mandate that any current employee of the company refrain from making comments in public and any/all be cleared before being released -- either on a web posting or in a press release. I would have our PR firm craft...

Really? Flickr, both pre-Yahoo and post-Yahoo never did that to their employees. I can pull out tons of comments from Stewart and George and others which were fairly loose-cannon. But they were trying to speak to the community not hover above them and talk down in corporate-speak.

If investors have such a stranglehold on what people can/cannot say in a 7-person startup, I'm sure I would have left too...
posted by vacapinta at 2:46 PM on May 16, 2007


If investors have such a stranglehold on what people can/cannot say in a 7-person startup, I'm sure I would have left too...

I think you may be onto something -- in that the culture amd operating environment of JPG/8020 may have evolved into one where Derek chooses no longer to be a participant. Different strokes and all that.

In the current situation I would personally still counsel and/or mandate that current employees not comment publicly, since any such statements might "fan-the-flames" that Derek's posting and resulting conversations online seem to have produced. Furthermore, this is an employment/personnel matter and is 'private.' Such personnel matters are often required by law to be kept as such. No company or its officers is likely to speak publicly about the situation. They are often prevented from doing so by corporate by-laws and often by state/federal regulations. The potential for opening the company to liability for (mis-) speaking publicly is significant.
posted by ericb at 3:01 PM on May 16, 2007


Really? Flickr, both pre-Yahoo and post-Yahoo never did that to their employees. I can pull out tons of comments from Stewart and George and others which were fairly loose-cannon.

Are there any in which they commented and provided details for the firing or resignation (forced, or not) of an employee?
posted by ericb at 3:17 PM on May 16, 2007


BTW -- I suspect you might be able to find some comments in situations where there were amicable, mutually-agreed, non-contentious resignations.
posted by ericb at 3:23 PM on May 16, 2007


Derek just left a comment on the Flickr thread Paul's wife started, here's an excerpt:
To be clear, this was never about ego for me. It has always been about respecting the community. Erasing issues 1-6 and pretending that the "new" JPG was somehow not the same magazine was what I could not agree to, and was what's made the community so justifiably angry.I also want to make sure everyone knows that the other employees at 8020 had no hand in this. That's why I named Paul in my post. If I'd said "the people at 8020" it would have been untrue. They had no idea this was going on. I'm really sorry this has been so hard on them. It sucks, no doubt about it.I'll tell you honestly, watching all the JPG account removals makes me sick. JPG was my life's work for three years. I hate watching it suffer. But I understand that a trust with the community has been broken, and there's always a price to pay for that.
posted by lia at 3:48 PM on May 16, 2007


Also note that Derek says he was asked to leave his position immediately—he didn't leave of his own volition, as most of us assumed.
posted by lia at 3:52 PM on May 16, 2007


God, this would be so funny if it was all about Paul's bad writing style and Derek's remorse that he didn't become CEO and/or majority interest.
posted by bananesf at 3:52 PM on May 16, 2007


Co-Founder "A" is not "forced-to-resign/fired" by co-Founder "B," unless co-founder "B" has the majority support of the Board (of which -- in an interesting dynamic -- co-founder "A' is a member and co-founder "B" is not).

There's more to this story than any of us "hoi polloi" are aware.
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on May 16, 2007


Are there any in which they commented and provided details for the firing or resignation (forced, or not) of an employee?

Fair enough. There wasn't a comparable event. An early founder of what became Flickr did leave but I think it was on amicable terms.

However, I do think there is room for this Paul guy to speak in more friendly, less corporate tones while still comunicating the same message. Its like he doesn't know who his audience is.
posted by vacapinta at 4:34 PM on May 16, 2007


BTW -- this JPG situation and the recent Digg controversy raise interesting points as to the impact online communities and the free-flow of ideas, opinions and thoughts (broadcast to all) have on the operations and performance of companies these days.
posted by ericb at 4:37 PM on May 16, 2007


However, I do think there is room for this Paul guy to speak in more friendly, less corporate tones while still comunicating the same message. Its like he doesn't know who his audience is.

I suspect Paul's statement was written for him and vetted by an attorney and PR representative and/or firm.

The firing/forced resignation (termination) of an employee is considered "private" and needs to be handled carefully by the company, so as not to be exposed to a potential violation of the fired employee's rights, reputation, etc.
posted by ericb at 4:47 PM on May 16, 2007


All of the responses from Paul's side treat the matter as something begun by Derek's post, when in fact his post was a response to something begun by Paul - the elimination of issues 1-6 and removal of the origin story. They make it sound like Derek just up and decided to start slandering Paul, when what he was doing was responding to people who were asking him what had just happened.
Paul's people are all defending Paul against Derek's post, but none of them are acknowledging what Paul did to cause that post.
posted by Billegible at 5:05 PM on May 16, 2007


When an employer calls the HR department of a company for which you used to work, seeking a reference check, that company will only acknowledge whether or not you did indeed work there and the dates of employment. The company will not reveal any performance reviews, reasons for termination/departure, etc. The potential liability for legal action (often charges of defamation) is too great to reveal detailed information.
"Many companies have hard-and-fast rules regarding references for former employees that result in handing out little more than name, rank, and serial number. The rash of defamation lawsuits brought by employees and former employees has made many employers uncomfortable about sharing any substantive information about their former workers."*
The fact that company officers, directors et al are not speaking publicly about Derek's departure stems from this.

BTW -- Derek himself has indicated that he may now possibly be regretting his actions of late.
"I would have loved to handle this privately....Maybe it was a mistake for me to tell this story. I don't think it makes me look good. It probably will hurt me financially. And it's certainly embarrassing."
Derek ackowledges that "stories are all subjective, and everyone has their take." Whether he now or at sometime in the future will regret the public airing of his departure is to be determined by him and him alone. He's wrapped up in so much emotion (understandably so) and as he puts it, "subjectivity."

In time he'll likely gain a broader perspective and take away lessons beyond those which he has already identified.

I am confident that he and Heather will be successful in any and all of their future endeavors.
posted by ericb at 5:15 PM on May 16, 2007


This is not just a personnel issue, and there is something here that Paul or 8020 can freely talk about without even mentioning Derek or Heather's name, and that is their disrespectful actions towards the community itself, the removal of the first 6 issues of the magazine. 2 years of work which was created by the community that Paul is hoping continues to create his magazine for him. That's the reason I left JPG, such crazy senseless revisionism without telling the community WHY is just utterly disrespectful.

I am not confident that Paul will be successful in keeping JPG together. The fact that he is avoiding discussing this aspect of the controversy, and instead making it seem like a mere disagreement between business partners, makes me think that he has no good explanation for what he did that would stand up in the light of day.
posted by voidcontext at 6:13 PM on May 16, 2007


he has no good explanation for what he did that would stand up in the light of day.

Was he alone involved in the decision to force a resignation/firing of a co-founding partner? My bet - probably not. The Board was likely involved.
posted by ericb at 6:28 PM on May 16, 2007


No no, not the firing of Derek. I don't care about that.

They (8020 or possibly just Paul) have no good explanation for what they did meaning removing the first 6 issues of the magazine. That's ultimately what the problem is and what they've made no attempt to explain.
posted by voidcontext at 6:38 PM on May 16, 2007


I am not confident that Paul will be successful in keeping JPG together.

Only time and market forces will tell.

...their disrespectful actions towards the community itself, the removal of the first 6 issues of the magazine. 2 years of work which was created by the community...They (8020 or possibly just Paul) have no good explanation for what they did meaning removing the first 6 issues of the magazine. That's ultimately what the problem is and what they've made no attempt to explain.

Maybe they don't care to explain it. You and others who care about the nuance of those actions may no longer be of primary concern. A transition of market focus, etc. may be at play, with them seeking to appeal to a larger "community" and "market." The business model may be one in which the investors and management are now seeking to move from being an Aperture to being a Popular Photography.

The "innovators and early adopters" helped to prove a business model predicated on getting people to submit photos online for reuse in a print publication. The company may now be looking to appeal to an "early and late majority," mass-media base.

These speculations/predictions may indeed come to be:
"1. A large camera company will sponsor a contest for the best flower/kids/pet/something pleasing to a mass audience. The winning photo will be on the cover of JPG Magazine, the winning photographer will be paid $100 and the camera company will own the rights to all submitted photos to use in advertising at their will.

2. Photographers who submit to JPG will have the option of their photographs being sold in a microstock capacity. This option will be turned on by default. Users will have to actively opt out if they don't want to sell their work for pennies.

3. Photography submitted to JPG will be used in other magazines published by 8020. Pay for these images will be better than microstock wages but still far less than standard magazine photography rates. 8020 magazines will not have staff photographers or use freelance photographers on anything resembling a regular basis. They won't have to."
This market-shift is evident in other media. A hardcore, passionate fan-base often brings to light an indie musician or band. When "discovered" and signed by a major label, issues of revenue, profit, visibility become paramount. The "early adopters" are often forsaken (i.e. the band "sold out") for the appeal of a larger audience and greater profit. It's capitalism at play.

BTW -- do we know if there were any legal issues relative to the first six issues (i.e. that they were deemed the property of and/or rights were maintained by Derek and/or Heather as individuals as opposed to by a legal corporate entity -- i.e. JPG) that may have required their removal upon the termination of Derek?
posted by ericb at 7:03 PM on May 16, 2007


deCadmus: And Halsey's cool with this? I'd have thought he'd learned the value of people in the start-up by now...

Speaking as one of the first hundred employees of CNET, I feel safe in speculation that Halsey didn't have a problem with this and could have very well been an influence in the decision.

But that's how it's always been in media. Out with the old, out with the slightly less old.
posted by dantsea at 7:13 PM on May 16, 2007


It's interesting comparing how Flickr's team handles fuck ups versus pretty much everyone else out there.
posted by chunking express at 7:46 PM on May 16, 2007 [1 favorite]


It's interesting comparing how Flickr's team handles fuck ups versus pretty much everyone else out there.

Is it possible that JPG/8020 doesn't considered this situation a "fuck-up," but a parting of the ways and a transition?
posted by ericb at 8:23 PM on May 16, 2007


Maybe fuck-up is too strong a word, but I think it's pretty clear this situation could have been handled way way better.
posted by chunking express at 8:40 PM on May 16, 2007


Paul's wife responds for him. seems to be confusing a case of friendship ruined by business - a very old phenomenon - with some new internet-age phenomenon.
posted by scarabic at 9:53 PM on May 16, 2007


I mean, really, you all say he made a bad business decision, but truly, people, he is a good husband. Why can't you understand that???
posted by scarabic at 9:54 PM on May 16, 2007


Paul posts a new, longer and less corporatey response.

Not very well written but sincere and with a lot of backpedaling...
posted by vacapinta at 1:00 AM on May 17, 2007


Thanks for that, vacapinta, I hadn't seen it. I posted my response in the flickr thread; all I'll repeat here is that I'm breathing a bit easier where JPG is concerned.
posted by diddlegnome at 2:58 AM on May 17, 2007


It's a shame Paul's response didn't come out sooner. He might have avoided all the internet lynch mob blowback.
posted by chunking express at 4:20 AM on May 17, 2007


Paul's second response is far better. I think there's an outside chance that those sorts of responses will become the norm in years to come, and we'll finally see the shitty PR-speak start to dwindle, particularly in online companies.

By that point, however, there will be courses and books on Writing Sincere Messages and special little people to vet your Sincere Response and we'll be yearning for someone to say that Mistakes Were Made and We Are Committed To Our Principles.
posted by bonaldi at 5:02 AM on May 17, 2007


In the current situation I would personally still counsel and/or mandate that current employees not comment publicly, since any such statements might "fan-the-flames" that Derek's posting and resulting conversations online seem to have produced.

More than that. If a lawsuit emerged from the split, which is the natural conclusion to all bitter business divorces, all of this openness is scrumptious lawyerbait.
posted by rcade at 6:26 AM on May 17, 2007


we'll be yearning for someone to say that Mistakes Were Made and We Are Committed To Our Principles.

It's too bad they weren't more committed to their Principals.
posted by mbrutsch at 6:54 AM on May 17, 2007


More from the 8020 team.
posted by soyabeanodoom at 10:22 AM on May 17, 2007


Once more from Derek: Why I Did It.
posted by chunking express at 10:28 AM on May 17, 2007


(It's a copy of a comment he posted on Flickr.)
posted by chunking express at 10:29 AM on May 17, 2007


As folks learn more about this situation, it is likely that there of some who question Derek's prior statement: "To be clear, this was never about ego for me. It has always been about respecting the community."
posted by ericb at 10:42 AM on May 17, 2007


Paul's second response is certainly better, but it's still not a good explanation for why he did what he did. It sounds like he's trying to attach, retroactively, crappy but justifiable business reasons to what was actually a move to remove all prior history from JPG and make it sound like it sprung, fully formed, from the head of 8020.

If he was going to be honest about the situation, I'd be willing to forgive him, but this latest explanation just sounds like an attempt to minimize the damage and confuse the issue.

I don't appreciate being lied to, and especially not if you're going to do it poorly.
posted by bshort at 11:43 AM on May 17, 2007


A commenter in the Flickr thread justifiably points out that both sides could have come to an agreement, issued joint statements etc. to try and avoid a situation like this. The fact that this is more of a public battle suggests that indeed the split was emotional and sudden.

If they knew Derek at all, and Paul's wife claims they did, they should have immediately posted a statement after his departure. Instead, they let a week or so pass. That suggests a severe underestimate regarding both Derek and the community.

It's clear they never understood the community at all and, despite having plenty of time to integrate themselves into it in the past, are now "suddenly" interested. Paul's first posts underscored this as well, since they read more like press releases than a sincere attempt to engage in open dialog. It almost seems as if they are realizing for the first time - Oh, hey, who are all these people and why do they care so much? Who knows but they're also our customers so maybe we should do something about it.... Too late, perhaps.
posted by vacapinta at 12:22 PM on May 17, 2007


Oh please, you're giving Derek too much credit. If he had left silently, no one would have noticed, community understanding ability be damned.
posted by smackfu at 12:48 PM on May 17, 2007


Why is this happening now, and not when 8020 relaunched the magazine? An excellent way of distinguishing the 8020 and non-8020 versions of the magazine would have been to launch the 8020 version with a new name starting at issue #1. It's strange that 8020 explicitly embraced the old version of the magazine by adopting its name and numbering scheme.

I'm having a hard time squaring Paul's second response with 8020's actions. He says:
We never intended them to be erased from the history of JPG and everyone that contributed to them has a right to be angry about that. The plan was to find a way to include the old issues on the site but to more clearly show that they came before 8020 and to talk about how they were different from what we are doing now.
I don't understand why that couldn't have been accomplished by adding some explanatory text to the Issues page, or moving the pre-8020 issues to a different page. If the intent wasn't to erase them from the history of JPG, then why were they deleted? (And they aren't listed on the Issues page now.)
posted by kirkaracha at 12:53 PM on May 17, 2007


It's strange that 8020 explicitly embraced the old version of the magazine by adopting its name and numbering scheme.

Well, then they could have just stolen the idea and not hired Derek and Heather at all.
posted by smackfu at 12:55 PM on May 17, 2007


Some thoughts --
Laura from JPG/8020: "Paul received funding for a publishing company based on community submissions. He brought Derek on as his partner, and later chose to re-publish JPG as the first project. Derek and Heather were paid by 8020 for the rights."*
So, it appears as if Paul was the one who founded/structured the publishing company and arranged for the equity financing of the firm. He brought Derek on as a co-founding partner of 8020 -- and paid Derek and Heather for the rights of JPG. JPG was bought out, becoming an asset of the publishing company and subject to future business decisions made by 8020's management team (and Board).
Derek: "I still own a percentage of the company, so I hope to see JPG continue to grow and prosper."*

Derek: "...I’ll tell you honestly, watching the JPG backlash makes me sick.*
Some might ask:

"Derek, did you consider the potential impact of you posting publicly a personal emotional reaction to your departure from 8020?"

"What responsibility do you have for igniting and inflaming a community from which you would (we assume) hope to profit from, as the result of being a founding shareholder?"

"Was all of this worth it -- the backlash, etc.? If so, how would you define 'worth it?'"

"Are you concerned at all that any potential future business partners and investors you seek to engage might be concerned about how this all played out?"

"If this truly 'was never about ego,' but 'about respecting the community,' how do you think the community benefited from this affair? Is it possible that the community and the future viability of the business model are both at risk due to how this has all played out?"
posted by ericb at 1:32 PM on May 17, 2007


FWIW -- I think JPG and 8020 will do well. This kerfuffle is a small ripple noticed only by interested parties and observers (many like myself who had never heard of the players or JPG*) who have been reading commentary here, at Flickr and a limited set of blogs.

For every JPG community member who cancels their subscription account, many others are/will be signing up completely clueless and non-caring about a recent personnel change and the deletion of some language and webpages from the JPG website. Many of the new (as well as old) community members seek a venue for getting their photographs noticed and published.

* -- That being said, I am impressed with JPG (and have subscribed). I am also now aware of some creative folks who I am confident will do well for themselves in future efforts -- and should be proud of their creation(s).
posted by ericb at 1:47 PM on May 17, 2007


Is the walk in the park story more important than the fundamental technology Paul developed to get the first issues out the door? Was it in the About Page? Yes, I'm rabble-rousing. Just noting that history is sometimes written by certain people in a skewed manner. I have absolutely no visibility into this company or how they made decisions, but I do think it's an interesting intersection of the transparency of social communities & entrepreneurship.
posted by bananesf at 2:03 PM on May 17, 2007


Oh please, you're giving Derek too much credit. If he had left silently, no one would have noticed, community understanding ability be damned.

Well that's obviously not true. The reason Derek posted his side of the story is that people were asking questions.

Get your facts straight.
posted by bshort at 4:17 PM on May 17, 2007


Babanesf:

I think it is important to credit both the folks with the initial concept and the people who brought the concept to fruition. In my opinion even the worker bees are part of the founding team. Some might say they are significant contributors? Regardless they form a significant part of the history of JPG. This should have been worked out at the time of founding the company.
posted by soyabeanodoom at 4:25 PM on May 17, 2007


It's reasonable to believe that Paul Cloutier had honest, good-faith reasons for thinking the business would do better with less focus on the origins of JPG.

But, I mean, if you care about the people who dreamed the original dream of a community-based company's core product, you still honor that. And if you care about the community that grew up around that vision, you should be forthcoming and forthright with them, for both business reasons and out of simple respect.

Maybe how this was handled was just an honest mistake, maybe no disrespect was intended. But, I dunno, then you'd expect to see acknowledgment of that, at least, if not apology. As it is, yeah, neither side is really stepping up. Sucks that things sometimes go this way, even moreso that it sometimes happens in public.
posted by mattpfeff at 5:27 PM on May 17, 2007


Luckily, Derek and Heather seem to be able to generate new and interesting community-based projects out of thin air and pixie dust. I'm sure it'll turn out fine for them.
posted by Dave Faris at 6:35 PM on May 17, 2007


Is it too early to ask about this crisis' long-term consequences? I ask as an outside party; I never really paid much attention to JPG until now, and don't know Derek/Heather/Paul from Adam.

Has JPG magazine/8020 been dealt a really serious blow, from which they might not recover?

Has the JPG community lost a critical segment for good? How many people left because of this, and how many stayed on nonetheless?

Did Paul's belated personal input turn the tide? Or did his corporatespeak initial comment hurt his credibility before that?

Has Derek also lost some credibility because of this? I could pick up some feelings in this direction on the JPG/Flickr comments board, but I'm not sure that it's a widespread consensus.
posted by micketymoc at 8:49 PM on May 17, 2007


This is all very similar to how Philip Greenspun was forced out of ArsDigita. Well, except for the lawsuits.

Ding fucking ding. And more fool me for thinking we were a few years past this sort of thing. Apparently you can't be one of the class of '98 (cabal? there is no cabal) without being introduced to the flamethrower of Business at some point.

Derek, Heather? You're the ones making money off JPGs 1-6 on Lulu? Offer a $100 package deal.
posted by holgate at 10:02 PM on May 17, 2007


Jennifer Love Hewitt and Merlin Mann weigh in.
posted by lia at 10:11 AM on May 18, 2007


The week I decide to spring for a 2 year subscription to JPG, this happens. Ironic, no?

From what's been written by both parties so far, it seems as though this whole thing could've been avoided by some good old fashioned reasoning and negotiation. Give and take. Maybe demarcating the old JPG from the new JPG is a good idea. Maybe totally obliterating any mention of the old JPG is a bad idea. Common ground, people. Find it.

Not everyone is cut out to be a businessman it seems.
posted by dsquid at 11:24 AM on May 18, 2007


>> This is all very similar to how Philip Greenspun was forced out of ArsDigita. Well, except for the lawsuits.

> Ding fucking ding. And more fool me for thinking we were a few years past this sort of thing. Apparently you can't be one of the class of '98 (cabal? there is no cabal) without being introduced to the flamethrower of Business at some point.


Let me make sure I understand your point: you're saying that both Philip and Derek willingly entered into business deals with people that gave them money in return for a controlling ownership interest in their business, and that both of them then, at some later point, acted whiny, hurt, and confused that the people they sold their businesses to didn't kowtow to their whims?

I guess I can agree with that summary.

I've written about this issue before in a slightly different context. Look. The fact is that the major decision one has to make in deciding to grow a company is intelligently hiring your replacement. Most founders lack the skills to grow a company past a certain point. It's fine for Derek to say that "this isn't about ego," but his actions completely belie that. He is, of course, free to complain how unfair it is that after he sold and was paid for his company he wasn't allowed to control it anymore. But in my opinion people are giving him much more slack than he deserves. The decision to sell his business was his. That he regrets it now is in no way this Paul guy's fault.
posted by peterb at 6:09 AM on May 21, 2007


Derek Powazek: Talented and Difficult.
"Derek Powazek's history of JPG Magazine -- from inspiration during a walk in the park with his wife, Flickr's Heather Champ, to his acrimonious departure -- is a classic tale of entrepreneurial naivete. When Paul Cloutier, the designer's partner, jumped at the chief executive role, Powazek thought that meant they were still equal partners in the photography mag; and he felt he still 'owned' the magazine even though he'd sold it, in exchange for a minority stake, to 8020 Publishing, a vehicle backed by CNET's Halsey Minor. Please.

In the interest of honesty with JPG's readers, Powazek draws six lessons from the experience, most of which are passive-aggressive rebukes to his former partner, who is portrayed as uncommunicative, incompetent, and dishonest. There's one lesson he didn't list. Creative talent and collegiality rarely go together. Stars like Powazek -- half of one of the web's celebrity couples -- make uncomfortable business partners. And their departures, as Powazek demonstrated yesterday, are rarely quiet."
posted by ericb at 12:36 PM on May 21, 2007


Wow, Eric. Trying to make a point much?

From what I understand, they sold their part of the company, and expected someone they considered to be a friend not to phase them out like a bad marketing slogan.

Maybe legally, technically, and whateverally, Paul was in the right. Maybe it makes business sense to take the focus away from Derek and Heather - symbols of a company that catered to what some might consider a cliquish community - and put the focus on a business that caters to anyone with money and a fancy camera.

Still, it sucks to have your history erased in the interests of business. It's bruising and painful, in particular when coming from someone you considered to be a friend. And while it would make some of you more comfortable had they not spoken out about it, well... as my therapist likes to say - we have a right, by merely existing, to use our voices.

So sorry to hear about all of this. Derek and Heather are iconic for me of the "good ole days" of blogging, I look up to and admire them, and wish them better luck in future endeavors.
posted by precocious at 8:58 PM on May 21, 2007


The I didn't quit jpg or unsubscribe thread on Flickr.
posted by Dave Faris at 8:21 AM on May 22, 2007


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