The CrunchPad that almost was….(and hopefully still will be someday…)

by Mike
Posted November 30th, 2009 at 12:42 pm

If there were ever a gadget that the tech world was so eager to see, touch, and play with, the CrunchPad was perhaps one of the top contenders. Eschewing any Apple related gear, in recent memory I honestly can’t think of a gadget that so frequently soaked up headlines. While the headlines were often negative in nature, detailing yet another delay or setback, geeks alike were still primed and ready, waiting for a date they could get their hands on this wonder device. After reading the final account by Michael Arrington himself over at TechCrunch we can now see the real reason to not necessarily past delays, but to why that now hallowed November 20th date came and went. A personal account by Michael Arrington sheds light on what is easily one of the saddest and most disheartening events for tech enthusiasts as well as the CrunchPad team alike.

To get things started: Greed. Need I say more? In reality there’s a lot, lot more. Essentially, Michael was told by his partner and best friend who’s company, “Fusion Garage”, was helping build and distribute the CrunchPad that he and TechCrunch were no longer involved in the device and that the only option for forward progress was the surrendering of any and all remaining CrunchPad trademarks and rights to Fusion Garage. You can see where this is going…

The shareholders and other senior levels of FusionGarage thought it would be a grand idea to “negotiate” a new deal 3 days before the CrunchPad was to debut at the November 20th Real-Time Crunchup event. The new negotiation was actually Fusion Garage telling TechCrunch how it was going to be. Until now, we as well as many others I’m sure have been left with raw scalp from the constant scratching, wondering what the hell happened and was going to happen concerning the CrunchPad and it’s future. For when the 20th came and went without seeing any CrunchPad (as was promised), many began to doubt the entire platform and people behind it.

Getting back to that “deal”, the actual provisions that Fusion Garage highlighted were anything but, with the company demanding Michael sign over any and all remaining CrunchPad trademarks and distribution rights. The cherry on top was that TechCrunch and Arrington were effectively ousted from the actual distribution with Fusion Garage deciding that they were going to sell the device directly. Happy Thanksgiving eh? Further adding insult to injury, several big players and investors were on board to promote and support the CrunchPad. Yes folks, the CrunchPad was this close from being a huge deal.

So what was Fusion Garage’s position for Arrington? A snippet of an email between Fusion Garage CEO and Michael Arrington’s ex-life long friend “Chandra”:

We still acknowledge that Arrington and TechCrunch bring some value to your business endeavor…If he agrees to our terms, we would have Arrington assume the role of visionary/evangelist/marketing head and Fusion Garage would acquire the rights to use the Crunchpad brand and name. Personally, I don’t think the name is all that important but you seem to be somewhat attached to the name.

How noble of them.

While it is indeed an extremely sad and frustrating turn of events, I find it somehow comforting that it wasn’t Mike’s doing, poor planning, etc. that got us to this point but instead the typical corporate greed that envelops the world like a cancer. While the immediate release or even progress of the CrunchPad is now all but stagnant, we have to hope that Michael doesn’t let this kill what was a great product. Pick up the pieces, make new friends, and forge new partnerships. In the end, I hope the CrunchPad survives and lives on for Arrington wasn’t really in it for the money. Sure some extra dough on the side would be nice, but he’s a true geek. All he wanted was what many of us want — a big screen in a small package to connect us with what makes us tick. Unfortunately, as is common in the corporate world, someone got greedy and started taking advantage of the little guy. In this case, we all (consumers) got screwed.

As several people have mentioned already, perhaps it’s a good thing this happened. Ultimately the delay of all delays, it reveals the true nature and colors of Fusion Garage and makes us wonder just what would have happened if the CrunchPad would have actually been released under this joint partnership and how they would have screwed over TechCrunch and Arrington then. Is it really truly for the better?

Until we meet again…

**By the way, if I were you and looking for any business partnerships — particularly those of you who are busy developing and designing your own wonder products — I would stay the hell away from Fusion Garage. Their lack of negotiation skills and outright greed highlight a company that isn’t exactly welcoming nor favorable to pursuing business ties with. If they don’t like the terms, they’ll wait till the very last second and “renegotiate” the terms of your deal and threaten outright theft. Ya, that’s really someone I want to deal with. After reading how this all played out, how could anyone in their right mind even think about doing business with such a pathetic company?

Complaints can be sent to [email protected]


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