Jeremiah Owyang – Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down

Crowdsourcing Jeremiah Owyang’s Fate

Jeremiah Owyang - Yah or Nay

Jeremiah Owyang - Yah or Nay

Forrester analyst Jeremiah Owyang wrote a blog post yesterday about some rumors at Mzinga that ended with a strong recommendation for any prospects to stall any movement until he is briefed by Mzinga next Monday.

Here are a few excerpts from the original post:

I’ve been hearing from multiple sources in a variety of folks that Mzinga is undergoing some changes. With the recent layoffs a few months ago, to apparently voluntary leave of the CMO this week, there are a lot of questions I have to ask.

I strongly recommend that any Mzinga clients or prospects stall any additional movement till they brief me next Monday.

First, I believe that such statements in a blog are incredibly unprofessional and border on negligent corporate behavior – especially when the post was written based on unsubstantiated rumors.  Second, the call to “stall any movement” until Jeremiah gets briefed next week is pretentious in that only Jeremiah can get to the bottom of this issue’?

Jeremiah is a respected analyst working for a respected firm, and has worked hard at covering and growing the social media and community space.  Jeremiah did issue an apology on his blog today and I heard that Forrester also sent Mzinga an apology as well.  Plus, there have been more than 60 responses to his original blog post and nearly 30 to his apology post today.  I’m sure that Jeremiah feels contrite in the same way that Alex Rodriguez, Bernard Madoff and Bill Clinton have felt in the past when they issued their own public apologies.  But that doesn’t undo any damages that Mzinga has incurred from negative mentions in the posts and on Twitter.

Because Jeremiah is such a proponent of social media, I think we turn his predicament over to the general public and use crowdsourcing to determine his fate.

Take a moment to express your opinion below in this quick poll:

Several other bloggers have piled on to this issue including:

I’m sure there will be more.

My disclosure – I have worked with Mzinga since December 2006 on two different community efforts and I believe that Forrester should fire his a** for this flagrant offense in order to protect their own brand and image.

6 thoughts on “Jeremiah Owyang – Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down

  1. Reposting this comment from Derek Showerman’s (
    http://derekshowerman.com/2009/03/17/jeremiah-owyang-taught-us-many-lessonssadly/) Blog:

    Full disclosure – I am a current employee at Mzinga and have worked with Tom on some level on both of the efforts he mentioned.

    “When I first read JO’s post I was outraged. Overnight as the mass of critical comments streamed in, I started to feel some sympathy for JO. “Jeremiah is a hard worker,” I said to myself. “He has done a lot to promote our industry and has generally directed a lot of attention towards Mzinga which I/we have greatly appreciated. Beyond that, I am indebted to him as a professional in the social media industry for generating a lot of the discourse from which I’ve derived my own expertise in the medium. Doesn’t that (and as you mention) give him some room to make a mistake?”

    However, when I read his subsequent apology that truly felt (grammar aside) that it had been copied and pasted out of the Forrester handbook filed under Forced Apologies, my anger returned. Precisely due to the fact that he holds such a prominent role in the industry he needs to hold himself and be held to a high standard. This post falls FAR short of that standard and he deserves criticism.

    Does he deserve to be fired? Possibly. Do I want him to be fired? No. As I said I think he is a valuable asset to the industry and I know I personally have a lot to learn from him moving forward. I also think that everyone deserves second and third chances. In this case, I think that forgive and forget is the wrong approach. Rather, I will conditionally forgive and try to move on. Good luck to Jeremiah getting through this and to Mzinga moving past it as well.”

  2. In his role as an analyst, meaning a paid advice giver to his clients, if he hears a scary story about a company (like their finances might be problematic, or an exec is leaving unexpectedly), he’s definitely going to tell his clients about this. In fact, there’s probably an internal bboard at Forrester, like at all the analyst firms, one which the analysts post information like this as soon as they hear it so the other analysts know what to say to *their* clients.

    Now JO is and has been playing an unusual role for the social space – he’s really been *our* analyst. He’s recommended interesting new social sw vendors, and now he’s suggested backing off a vendor until the smoke clears. Basically, we’re all his clients, which is why we like him so much in the first place.

    That’s why I said, earlier today: “@jowyang Stick to your guns – no apology nec imho”

  3. Nils,

    So you’re advocating passing along unsubstantiated rumour to client about a company? That is what happened here. At no time did he talk to Mzinga to verify the story or get comment. He was simply spreading a rumour. One that he started I might add. I’m pretty sure that we’ve all done the little exercise where you whisper something to the person next to you, they in turn tell whisper it to the next person and so on. What happens when it gets to the end of the line? That’s right. The story is different. If that is what you call good analysis, then I would question doing business with you as well. JO went well beyond the bounds of being an analyst and became a tabloid journalist.

  4. Nils,

    Problem is, JO takes money not only from companies looking to BUY software, but also from companies trying to sell software – the whole model is flawed and corrupt.

    Based on a few remarks from people, JO decided to NOT GIVE HIS CLIENT THE COURTESY TO COMMENT before derailing their sales processes. And, not only did he tell his BUYING clients not to buy mZinga until he said so, he also told the entire Twittersphere and Blogosphere.

    Just because you may have received a bit of information about a company that is helpful to you in some capacity doesn’t mean that it’s right for you to have it.

  5. Tom, thank you for raising the issue in a way that lets us discuss it. It was a very serious error in judgement, but I’m firmly in the mulligan camp for the following reasons.

    First, while I think crowdsourcing wisdom is a wonderful idea, I don’t think crowdsourcing justice works. That’s why there are only 12 people in the jury box, regardless of how many spectators are in the courtroom. ‘Hot or Not’ isn’t how I’d want my employment fate decided.

    Second, it’s always worth weighing someone’s contributions vs the cost of their mistake. Madoff’s contribution is a net negative. Owyang’s done valuable work that many of us have benefitted from. That should factor in.

    The hubris behind the ‘stall any movement’ comment has cost him credibility. He’ll have to work through that reputation damage. That said, I’d hate to see an environment where analysts become so risk-averse that they’re unwilling to say anything more controversial than ‘puppies are nice.’ At the point they’re not adding much value. None of which makes his mistake less egregious, but, combined with his prompt acknowledgement of the mistake, it does justify a mulligan IMHO.

    And BTW…puppies are nice.

  6. Ok, changes were in the air as Mzinga did announce a 18% layoff on March 19th as noted in CEO Barry Libert’s blog – http://www.mzinga.com/en/Community/Blogs/Barry-Libert/Changes-at-Mzinga/.

    But that doesn’t take away from the fact that a respected analyst from a respected analyst firm pre-announced the changes 2 days earlier without hearing Mzinga’s side of the story.

    I applaud Barry’s transparency and openness about their situation as very few companies openly admit and discuss their ‘dirty laundry’.

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