Pulver Puffery

The WSJ does Pulver, and misses the whole story

June 13, 2006

3 Min Read
Pulver Puffery

5:10 PM -- Funny, I got this strange PR pitch today:

Hi Scott,

I wanted to shoot you a note to see if you were following the buzz about Jeff Pulver’s next project. I’m sure you're familiar with Pulver, the “self-described futurist and entrepreneur” who had his hands on the Internet calling buzz before Vonage was even launched. I’m also sure you know Vonage is in a world of trouble between their disappointing IPO and FFC investigation into the company’s alleged inability to comply with federal emergency 911 regulations for calls made over the Internet.

Anyway, Pulver is now honing his focus on Internet Video. It seems he is devoting his time and energy to reach the next-generation of the Internet. He’s interested in making strides to enable consumers to get TV and video over what else but the omnipotent Internet. As IPTV continues to take shape there is one obvious hurdle – quality of experience. If the turbulent VoIP market is anything to go by, IPTV has little room for error. Consumers aren't going to rush to IPTV unless the quality of experience is optimal...

Coincidentally, this came into my inbox on the same day that The Wall Street Journal, that allegedly "serious business publication," today pushed out a puff piece on Jeff Pulver, who is CEO of Pulver.com , complete with a colorful depiction of his fondness for Rock & Roll memorabilia and how he "lost" his role in Vonage Holdings Corp. (NYSE: VG). It's all reported in almost a sad, melancholy tone (insert violin music here).

How cute.

[Disclosure -- Light Reading competes with Pulver.com.]

But this story told me actually none of the stuff that I really wanted to know. That is, the real story -- and it is an interesting one -- on Jeff Pulver's business empire.

What I really want to know about Jeff Pulver -- and you would think this is what we would get from the WSJ -- is exactly how many of the Pulver 100 companies are connected financially to Jeff Pulver. Or exactly how he uses his magazine and media platform to promote his own investments. Or how many of his investments have actually failed. Or maybe some background on the history between Pulver and Vonage founder and Chief Strategy Officer Jeff Citron. After all, they were allegedly the brains behind the tech industry's worst performing IPO, ever. I've also heard they're buddies. Is that true? Do they still hang out together? Or are they now in a big pissing match following the Vonage crackup?

There's even the story on how Jeff Pulver got rich -- smart stuff that he did -- like how he sold Pulver Media at the peak of the bubble for tens of millions of dollars and then bought the whole thing back later after Key3 Media, the buyer, filed for bankruptcy.

Did the WSJ article answer any of these interesting questions or go into detail on any of this background? Nope. Just cute stuff about the Beatles and Jerry Garcia. And did you know that Jeff wears Hawaiian shirts? Well, golly gee. That's some real muckraking. How colorful.And what's with the PR pitch? Did the WSJ get a similar PR pitch before it wrote the article? Or does this simply mean the Pulver PR team is following through to take advantage of the front-page hype?

Either way, it ain't the real story, I tell ya'.

— R. Scott Raynovich, Editor in Chief, Light Reading

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