posted by Thom Holwerda on Fri 11th Dec 2009 23:09 UTC
IconThe CrunchPad/Joo Joo soap opera continues. Michael Arrington remained silent during the introduction of the Joo Joo, but today he filed the lawsuit against Fusion Garage, and posted the actual document of it on the internet (naturally). The case presents, in great detail, Arrington's side of the story.

And Arrington's side of the story paints Fusion Garage and its CEO as a company with money issues, and troubles delivering on some of the hard and software milestones. So far, this doesn't appear to be particularly surprising - I have little experience with these matters, and the only other startup whose origin story I know is Be, Inc, and they were in financial troubles all the time during the early years (and later on, too, obviously). Maybe someone with more knowledge on this subject can weigh in.

According to the lawsuit, TechCrunch played a major role in the development of the CrunchPad/Joo Joo, with Fusion Garage contributing much less. This of course directly contradicts the words of Fusion Garage, who claim the exact opposite - namely, that Fusion Garage did all the work. I guess we'll never really know the truth.

So, what are the actual claims made by Arrington against Fusion Garage? "The causes of action include Fraud and Deceit, Misappropriation of Business Ideas, Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Unfair Competitition and Violations of the Lanham Act," Arrington writes at the TechCrunch blog. Quite a list.

Sadly, Arrington also decided to start flinging the poo around, seriously discrediting the company and man who up until a few days ago we were supposed to trust completely. This leads to rather crazy situations - Arrington claims that he was well aware that Fusion Garage was "and always has been, a company on the edge of going out of business". Also, "Fusion Garage's financial situation is a mess". If this was indeed the case, why go into business with them?

It gets worse. Arrington also details how the CrunchPad "top tier investors [...] didn't love the way Fusion Garage and its founder checked out on background checks", but that they decided to support the project anyway. Again - why do business with a company and man whose backgrounds don't check out? Even if Fusion Garage turns out to be the bad guy here - weren't you simply asking for trouble? Something about a frog, a scorpion, and a river.

And then the poo flinging really starts. Arrington writes that "the founder of Fusion Garage, Chandrasekar Rathakrishnan, isn't a good guy", pointing to an article detailing that he has committed plagiarism. Arrington adds that "Chandra and Fusion Garage have shown a long term pattern of deceit in their business dealings", but that he didn't learn about this until last summer, "because Singapore media, including blogs, are largely controlled by the government".

At this point, I have no idea who to believe. All I see are a bunch of monkeys jumping up and down the monkey cage, with one of the monkeys throwing poo at the other. As usual, the truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, but at this point I most certainly wouldn't want to place my orders. Which is sad - the device itself is beautiful, and certainly powerful enough to run a real operating system (before the poo hit the fan, Arrington suggested it could run Windows 7 - want!).

Arrington alludes to this, and strongly advises the press not to link to the Joo Joo ordering page: "We believe it is irresponsible for press to link to the pre-sale site without disclosing this to readers." This in and of itself is rather... Unfortunate, as Arrington is part of the press himself. Mr Arrington, I don't need you telling me to what I can and cannot link. I think our readers are perfectly capable to decide for themselves whether or not to place pre-orders.

One big question remains, the one question which makes me doubt Arrington's sincerity: where is the contract? Arrington, a lawyer himself, should've known better than to cooperate without any form of a contract with a company which he knew to be problematic and shady. So far, Arrington refuses to tell us whether or not there is a contract, which probably means there isn't one. If Fusion Garage and its CEO were really as shady as Arrington claims he knew, then not having a contract seems utterly, utterly stupid.

Or, they really weren't as shady as Arrington claims, and therefore, cold and hard contracts weren't deemed necessary. I'm sorry Arrington, but you'll have to clear this one up first.

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