NT SEGME E B Y REVENU GE’S

Bloomberg Businessweek (North America) - - Focus On / Mba -

Jan­uary 2011 to meet with Im­melt. Ruh says he was im­pressed by Im­melt’s vi­sion and his will­ing­ness to ad­mit that he didn’t fully know what he was do­ing. “Ba­si­cally, Jeff said, ‘Look, we’re on Step 1 of a 50-step process, and I just need you to help me fig­ure out what to do be­cause I can only see out one or two steps,’ ” Ruh says. He took the job, and sev­eral weeks later his new boss promised to in­vest $1 bil­lion in a soft­ware op­er­a­tion in San Ra­mon, Calif. GE’S am­bi­tions were greeted with skep­ti­cism in the Val­ley. In 2012, when Im­melt pro­moted the soft­ware ven­ture in San Fran­cisco dur­ing a com­pany- spon­sored event with Marc An­dreessen, the star ven­ture cap­i­tal­ist and a friend of Im­melt’s warned that it would be dif­fi­cult for a hard­ware com­pany like GE to assem­ble a team of data sci­en­tists that could per­formp the kind of tasks that GE had in mind. “It’s hard to be re­ally good at that,” An­dreessen said. “It’sit re­ally com­pli­cated.” (Bloomberg LP, which oowns Bloomberg Busi­ness­week, is an in­vestor in An­dreessen Horowitz.)

Jen­nifer Waldo, GE’S head of hu­man re­la­tion­stions in the San Ra­mon of­fice, says re­cruiters had a hhard time just get­ting peo­ple to come in for an in­ter­view.in­ter Nine out of 10 soft­ware de­vel­op­ersers they con­tacte­con­tacted had no idea GE was in the busi­ness or that it even had op­op­er­a­tions in Cal­i­for­nia. Nor were they nec­es­sar­ily in­ter­este­d­inte in learn­ing any­thing more: Al­most all had jobs and couldn’t see any up­side to work­ing for an East Coastco mi­crowave oven man­u­fac­turer. In 2013, Waldo ap­pealed to Im­melt for help when he vis­ited San Ra­mon. “I walked him through all those is­sues,” she says. “I needed to com­pen­sate dif­fer­ently. I needed to in-source my re­cruit­ing team. We were com­pet­ing in a mar­ket­place where we’re not even a rec­og­nized player.” A for­mer GE re­cruiter says the com­pany of­fered stock op­tions to job can­di­dates, but not ac­tual stock, the norm in Sil­i­con Val­ley. There were also no nap rooms, no on-site child care, no dogs wan­der­ing around the of­fice.

Waldo and her team found they could make head­way by telling prospects that they would have a chance to de­velop trains and power equip­ment rather than some in­con­se­quen­tial so­cial-net­work­ing app. “I had a can­di­date in the early days,” she re­calls. “She came in and said, ‘I’m sit­ting there try­ing to fig­ure out how to put a Pin­ter­est but­ton on some­thing, and I get this phone call from GE, and you’re talk­ing about mak­ing air­craft en­gines fly more ef­fi­ciently.’ ” (A GE spokes­woman says the com­pany now in­cludes stock in its com­pen­sa­tion for soft­ware de­vel­op­ers, too.)

GE also tar­geted startup veter­ans who’d spent years putting in hours for low pay hop­ing to be the next Mark Zucker­berg. “They went around to guys who were in their se­cond and third startup and had been eat­ing ra­men noo­dles for eight years,” says Nick Hey­mann, an an­a­lyst at Wil­liam Blair. “They said, ‘Look, how would you just like to have a nor­mal life­style, live an hour out­side the Bay Area, make a quar­ter of a mil­lion bucks a year, and give your kids a re­ally good education?’ ” At the end of 2013, GE had 750 peo­ple work­ing in San Ra­mon.

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con­trol, process-laden.” It’s a sign of his per­sonal charisma that, un­like many of his em­ploy­ees, the boss can speak cor­po­rate jar­gon and make it sound pro­found.

Im­melt also thought it was time to re­vamp GE’S an­nual re­view process to make the com­pany more palat­able to younger, soft­ware-lit­er­ate work­ers. Un­der Welch, GE was fa­mous for an­nual re­views that ranked all its em­ploy­ees numer­i­cally ac­cord­ing to their per­for­mance. Then the bot­tom 10 per­cent were fired. “The big­gest cow­ards are man­agers who don’t let peo­ple know where they stand,” Welch told Bloomberg Busi­ness­week in 2012.

“It just didn’t make sense any­more,” says Su­san Pe­ters, GE’S se­nior vice pres­i­dent for hu­man re­sources, of the an­nual re­view process. The com­pany de­cided to scrap them al­to­gether, re­plac­ing them with a gen­tler sys­tem where em­ploy­ees are “coached” by their more ex­pe­ri­enced peers.

Un­like some of Im­melt’s ear­lier man­age­ment ini­tia­tives—the idea jams and the imag­i­na­tion break­throughs—the new ones seemed to have the in­tended ef­fects. Fast­works, ac­cord­ing to GE, en­abled the de­vel­op­ment of a new gas tur­bine in a year and a half, rather than the usual five. “This is a bil­lion-dol­lar prod­uct line,” says Steve Bolze, chief of GE’S power divi­sion. “It’s go­ing to ex­pand to be one of our sin­gle big­gest launches in our his­tory.”

In April 2015, Im­melt an­nounced his plan to sell $200 bil­lion of its GE Cap­i­tal as­sets within two years, faster than Wall Street had ex­pected. Not sur­pris­ingly, he called it a “piv­otal day.” Pre­vi­ously skep­ti­cal an­a­lysts praised Im­melt dur­ing a con­fer­ence call when he ex­plained the plan. Even Bar­clays Cap­i­tal’s Scott Davis, who had spec­u­lated only a month ear­lier that Im­melt would soon be out of a job, was con­trite. “Con­grats,” Davis said. “I know we have all given you a lot of crap over the years, but this is pretty good stuff for re­demp­tion. That’s my best apol­ogy.” He added, “You can keep your job a lit­tle longer, I guess.”

Along with un­load­ing most of its risky fi­nan­cial busi­ness, GE struck a deal to sell off its ap­pli­ance divi­sion to Haier, the Chi­nese con­glom­er­ate, and in­creased its share of the global power in­dus­try with its 2015 pur­chase of Al­stom, a French en­ergy com­pany, for $10 bil­lion. As a re­sult, 90 per­cent of GE’S prof­its will come from in­dus­trial op­er­a­tions by 2018. (Dur­ing its glory years from the late ’90s into the mid-2000s, GE Cap­i­tal con­trib­uted as much as 40 per­cent.) Im­melt says this is the GE he’s been try­ing to cre­ate since the fi­nan­cial cri­sis, al­though he ac­knowl­edges that it might have been dif­fi­cult for out­siders to dis­cern.

In Jan­uary, GE an­nounced the move to Bos­ton, where the deer are few and the soft­ware de­vel­op­ers plen­ti­ful. “Sit­ting in a ru­ral set­ting, you can never be scared enough of what’s next,” Im­melt says. “You just can’t be. You can’t be para­noid enough. And I felt like it would be a good thing for the busi­ness just to be in the flow of ideas.” It could also help GE at­tract more young em­ploy­ees with tech­nol­ogy back­grounds, which re­mains a strug­gle be­cause most peo­ple still don’t as­so­ciate GE with soft­ware. GE has ac­knowl­edged this by run­ning TV ads fea­tur­ing a fic­ti­tious coder named Owen who gets blank stares from his friends when he tells them he’s been hired by GE.

“Guys, I’ll be writ­ing a new lan­guage for ma­chines so planes, trains, and even hospi­tals can work bet­ter,” Owen says. “So you’re go­ing to work on a train?” a friend asks. “No, on trains,” Owen cor­rects him. “On trains.” “So you’re not go­ing to de­velop stuff any­more?” It’s rare for GE to laugh at it­self like this, but the com­mer­cials have helped re­cruit­ing. “The Owen ads have in­creased the num­ber of ré­sumés we get by eight times,” says Ruh, now GE’S chief dig­i­tal of­fi­cer.

Head count at the San Ra­mon of­fice is 1,300, in­clud­ing some refugees from Google and Face­book. It al­ready has avi­a­tion cus­tomers us­ing Predix ap­pli­ca­tions to mon­i­tor the wear and tear on their jet en­gines and cal­i­brate their main­te­nance sched­ules based on that data rather than an av­er­age for the en­tire fleet. It’s cre­ated smart wind tur­bines that tell each other how to shift their blades to catch more wind, which GE says can in­crease their power out­put by as much as 20 per­cent.

But Im­melt needs to sell vast amounts of ap­pli­ca­tions and Predix-based an­a­lyt­ics to reach his goal of mak­ing GE a top 10 soft­ware com­pany in 2020. That’s not a ran­dom dead­line. Tra­di­tion­ally, GE chief ex­ec­u­tives have served 20 years, so his time will be just about up by then. He says the com­pany al­ready has a suc­ces­sion plan in place. If he can com­plete his dig­i­tal reinvention of the com­pany, he could de­part in glory, the way Welch did.

GE says it’s be­gin­ning to sell Predix-based ser­vices to cus­tomers who de­sign their own in­dus­trial equip­ment. Pit­ney Bowes is us­ing Predix on its mail­ing-la­bel ma­chines and let­ter-sort­ing devices in cor­po­rate mail­rooms; Toshiba is us­ing it on el­e­va­tors. “The In­dus­trial In­ter­net is go­ing to be the dark mat­ter of the In­ter­net,” prom­ises Harel Kodesh, chief tech­nol­ogy of­fi­cer for GE Dig­i­tal, which is what the com­pany now calls its soft­ware divi­sion. “It’s some­thing you don’t see, but it is ac­tu­ally the bulk of what’s hap­pen­ing on the In­ter­net. Other than porn, I guess.”

That may be, but GE faces com­pe­ti­tion from all sides. Ama­zon and Google are get­ting into the In­ter­net of Things along with IBM and Mi­crosoft. There are dozens of small star­tups with sim­i­lar am­bi­tions that don’t need Eric Ries to tell them what to do. Then there’s per­haps an even big­ger un­known: Will other large in­dus­trial com­pa­nies turn to GE to man­age their in­for­ma­tion? “If you’re a man­u­fac­turer of some size and so­phis­ti­ca­tion, are you go­ing to say ‘Hello, GE. You can own the data on my busi­ness’? ” asks Brian Lan­gen­berg, an in­de­pen­dent an­a­lyst and founder of Lan­gen­berg & Co. in Chicago. “Or are you go­ing to say, ‘I think I’m go­ing to do it on my own’? I’m skep­ti­cal.”

Not long ago, Im­melt gave a speech in Dubai about the In­dus­trial In­ter­net. He wasn’t talk­ing to tech peo­ple “with spiked hair,” as he puts it. He was ad­dress­ing at­ten­dees who worked at oil com­pa­nies and air­lines—in other words, his kind of peo­ple. Im­melt could see them nod­ding their heads ap­prov­ingly as he talked. “It’s mo­ments like that when you think, ‘ This might work,’ ” he says later. “‘ This re­ally might work.’ ” <BW>

saw the photo first, me in a bloody wash of red with “RACIST” puls­ing over my face. A cou­ple of clicks brought me to this:

“In the dark­est shadow of Bloomberg’s glossy of­fice build­ing in Man­hat­tan, you may find a woman by the name of Dune Lawrence—a ‘jour­nal­ist’ who has built a ca­reer on writ­ing sala­cious ar­ti­cles about China.”

That was my in­tro­duc­tion to The­blot, a web­site I hope you’ve never heard of. The ar­ti­cle went on and on: I’d been kicked out of China for poor job per­for­mance and eked out a liv­ing on min­i­mum wage. My ap­pear­ance was rav­aged by “years of con­sum­ing hor­mone-packed fried chicken and stress­ing over money.” Now, I’d found a way to save my sink­ing ca­reer by writ­ing neg­a­tive ar­ti­cles about China and tak­ing kick­backs from short sellers. In a cin­e­matic scene set at Ken­tucky Fried Chicken, this In­ter­net ver­sion of me laid out a strat­egy: “‘Bash­ing the Chi­nese could be a prof­itable niche for me,’ Lawrence said to a source while bit­ing off a juicy chicken leg quar­ter at KFC. ‘ The Chi­nese don’t vote, the Chi­nese don’t sue peo­ple, they just sit there tak­ing the s---. How much bet­ter can it get? I am mak­ing a liv­ing out of it!’ ”

It was dif­fi­cult for me to keep read­ing. In ad­di­tion to all the lies, the story was laced with creepy sex­ual im­agery: I’d had my “panties ripped off” and was like “a dog wag­ging her tail try­ing to at­tract a mat­ing part­ner.” I felt over­whelmed; it was as if some­thing heavy were press­ing into my fore­head. I wanted to fight back, and I also wanted to hide. I haven’t been able to do ei­ther.

The story, pub­lished on Jan. 8, 2014, had the by­line “John Ster­ling.” The site’s other ar­ti­cles were an odd mix of celebrity gos­sip, en­ter­tain­ment news, and stabs at re­port­ing on se­ri­ous top­ics such as drug mar­ket­ing. It wasn’t ex­actly high jour­nal­ism, but it looked pro­fes­sional, not like some am­a­teur blog. Google seemed to think so as well, be­cause the story in­stantly went to the top of the re­sults when I searched my name.

In Septem­ber 2015 the FBI ar­rested the man be­hind The­blot, one Ben­jamin Wey. Not for smear­ing me or the other peo­ple he imag­ined were his en­e­mies. He’s pri­mar­ily a fi­nancier, and he was charged with se­cu­ri­ties fraud and other fi­nan­cial crimes in­volv­ing Chi­nese com­pa­nies he helped to list on U. S. stock mar­kets. The U. S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice al­leges Wey pock­eted tens of mil­lions of dol­lars in il­licit prof­its that he fun­neled through as­so­ciates over­seas and back into ac­counts in the U.S. Wey de­nies the charges. A trial has been set for March 2017.

Mean­while, The­blot’s lies about me still pop up on­line. The same is true for a young woman who won an $18 mil­lion judg­ment against Wey and his com­pa­nies for sex­ual ha­rass­ment and defama­tion, a jour­nal­ist who wrote about her, a re­tired Nas­daq of­fi­cial, and a Ge­orge­town Univer­sity law pro­fes­sor. As Wey, 44, awaits trial, he reg­u­larly posts Blot ar­ti­cles call­ing all of us, and oth­ers, frauds, racists, and ex­tor­tion­ists. He’s found a way to ex­act re­venge with few con­se­quences, and he’s milk­ing it.

I

y the time Wey dis­trib­uted his case study, I was work­ing on a story about a for­mer client of his: Agfeed In­dus­tries, a Chi­nese an­i­mal-feed com­pany em­broiled in bank­ruptcy, a share­holder law­suit, and a U. S. Se­cu­ri­ties and Ex­change Com­mis­sion in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Wey didn’t re­spond to my calls or e-mails. I re­con­structed some of his in­volve­ment from In­ter­net searches and turned up a press re­lease from NYGG say­ing it had helped Agfeed raise $86 mil­lion in the U.S. My story came out in De­cem­ber. Less than three months later, the SEC sued Agfeed and its Chi­nese ex­ec­u­tives for al­legedly fabri­cat­ing rev­enue from 2008 to 2011. The com­pany set­tled with­out ad­mit­ting li­a­bil­ity and agreed to re­turn $18 mil­lion in il­licit prof­its.

Wey e-mailed me on New Year’s Day 2014. He said he was seek­ing com­ment for a se­ries of in­ves­tiga­tive ar­ti­cles about short sellers and fraud, and he had a list of ques­tions for me. Here’s a sam­ple. (All cor­re­spon­dence from Wey in this story is pre­sented as he sent it, un­cor­rected.)

“If you have no busi­ness back­ground and nei­ther have you ob­tained any education in the field of ac­count­ing of busi­ness, how could you have de­rived con­clu­sions on your own in­volv­ing com­plex global busi­ness mat­ters men­tioned in your var­i­ous ar­ti­cles?” “We were told you were ‘emo­tion­ally scarred’ while liv­ing in China and you are racially bi­ased against the Chi­nese peo­ple. Is it true?”

“Sources told us that you have an ac­tive busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties out­side your Bloomberg em­ploy­ment. What are those busi­ness ac­tiv­i­ties? How are you able to sup­port your life­style? What com­pen­sa­tion have you re­ceived from stock short sellers, hedge funds and other tabloid writ­ers?”

He ended with: “This is the time for you to come out clean, Dune.”

I didn’t re­spond. He fol­lowed up two days later with ad­di­tional prompts, in­clud­ing “Sources told us you have gained a lot of weight due to stress.”

Wey had al­ready started tweet­ing that I was im­pli­cated in “mas­sive frauds.” When Bloomberg’s lawyers sent him a let­ter telling him to take down the tweets and stop de­fam­ing me, he fired off an­other long e-mail. “You are a tabloid writer, a sen­sa­tional woman, a to­tal loser with ab­so­lutely no sense of moral­ity,” read the mes­sage, which none­the­less went on to say that “this is just the be­gin­ning of end­less ef­forts to ex­press our opin­ions for­ever, and con­tin­ues the de­bates of our dif­fer­ences in ci­vil­ity.”

I knew some­thing was com­ing, so I kept Googling my name and Wey’s name to see what it would be. That’s how I dis­cov­ered my star turn on The­blot.

I was rat­tled for days. I couldn’t fo­cus on a story I was re­port­ing about—as it hap­pens—on­line pri­vacy and anony­mous brows­ing. Still, some things struck me as ab­surdly funny. Wey tried to drum up traf­fic to the story with a tweet claim­ing I was im­pli­cated in a “new Bernie Mad­off fraud.” His e-mails, which kept com­ing, re­ferred to “twits” in­stead of tweets and to Bloomberg’s out­side law firm, Wil­lkie Farr, as Wilkie Fart.

Wey’s name wasn’t on the story, but he wasn’t try­ing too hard to cover his tracks. The web­site’s terms of use iden­ti­fied the­blot. com as part of FNL Me­dia, which a copy­right form placed at the same of­fice ad­dress and floor as NYGG.

As I looked into how to get Wey’s vile ma­te­rial off the In­ter­net, I saw that FNL’S busi­ness reg­is­tra­tion listed Hol­land & Knight, a re­spectable law firm, and a firm part­ner, Neal Beaton. That gave me some hope—maybe some­one there would be will­ing to talk sense into Wey. I reached out through Bloomberg’s lawyers. The mes­sage came back—sorry, can’t help. (Hol­land & Knight says, through a spokesper­son, “Our in­volve­ment with FNL Me­dia was only in re­la­tion to the for­ma­tion of the com­pany in 2013.”)

I had no bet­ter luck with the com­pa­nies Wey used to spread Blot posts. The site had a Face­book page, and Bloomberg’s le­gal team tried to get Face­book to re­move ref­er­ences to me. No re­sponse. (The “RACIST” photo was in The­blot’s photo stream when I checked as I was writ­ing this story. I re­ported it and got an au­to­mated re­sponse say­ing Face­book would re­move any­thing “that doesn’t fol­low the Face­book State­ment of Rights and Re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.” It’s still there.) When I com­plained to Twit­ter that Wey’s ac­count was abu­sive, I got a re­sponse from Twit­ter Trust & Safety, telling me Wey wasn’t vi­o­lat­ing Twit­ter’s rules and to block his tweets so I couldn’t see them. I sent in more ex­am­ples of Wey’s tweets, and Twit­ter sus­pended his ac­count. He was back in less than three weeks. Some­one opened a Twit­ter ac­count im­per­son­at­ing me. The only fol­lower was Ben­jamin Wey. Twit­ter did block that one.

My hus­band was en­raged and im­pa­tient: Couldn’t we

the Jus­tice Depart­ment, tak­ing hid­den stakes through fam­ily mem­bers and front com­pa­nies, then ma­nip­u­lat­ing trad­ing in the shares to ben­e­fit him­self and his fam­ily. The in­dict­ment out­lines how he al­legedly took a cut of al­most ev­ery trans­ac­tion as he shep­herded com­pa­nies such as Deer Con­sumer Prod­ucts and Cleantech to U.S. list­ings. He owned hid­den stakes in the shell com­pa­nies used for re­verse merg­ers, which then be­came shares of the new en­ti­ties. He hid th­ese stakes in off­shore en­ti­ties, through which he parceled out stakes to friends and fam­ily to boost the num­ber of share­hold­ers to the thresh­old re­quired for a Nas­daq list­ing. He also used th­ese off­shore en­ti­ties to con­duct fraud­u­lent trad­ing, at times ar­ti­fi­cially in­flat­ing share prices and then sell­ing to gen­er­ate mil­lions in prof­its. He caused stock and prof­its to be trans­ferred over­seas through ac­counts in Switzer­land and Hong Kong. (Wey’s Geneva-based banker, Seref Do­gan Er­bek, was also charged. He is at large.) The money re­turned to the U.S. and even­tu­ally to Wey, of­ten, the in­dict­ment says, as non­tax­able gifts to Wey’s wife, Michaela.

On Sept. 15, Wey pleaded not guilty to all charges. He’s also a de­fen­dant, along with his wife and sev­eral other peo­ple as­so­ci­ated with NYGG, in a civil suit filed by the SEC at the same time as the crim­i­nal com­plaint. Wey and his wife haven’t filed a re­sponse in the SEC case and are seek­ing to have it stayed un­til the crim­i­nal case against Wey is re­solved.

Wey is also bat­tling law­suits stem­ming from The­blot. A Ge­orge­town law pro­fes­sor named Chris Brum­mer sued him in April 2015. Brum­mer had the poor luck to be an ar­bi­tra­tor in a Fi­nan­cial In­dus­try Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity (Finra) dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against two bro­kers who sold shares of Deer Con­sumer Prod­ucts with­out dis­clos­ing to cus­tomers that they were paid con­sul­tants for the com­pany. Deer was a client of Wey’s. Finra barred the two bro­kers from work­ing in the se­cu­ri­ties in­dus­try, and Brum­mer was on a panel that up­held the de­ci­sion in 2014. Sto­ries on The­blot ap­peared promptly, pil­lo­ry­ing Brum­mer as a fraud, call­ing him an Un­cle Tom (Brum­mer is black), and ac­cus­ing him of be­ing in­volved in pump-and-dump stock schemes.

Wey re­sponded to Brum­mer’s law­suit with a mo­tion to dis­miss. It con­tends that Wey didn’t write the posts and that the suit is a “trans­par­ent at­tempt” to chill free speech, be­cause no rea­son­able reader would in­ter­pret the ar­ti­cles as fact, rather than opin­ion. The mo­tion notes that “it is undis­puted that the Posts are avail­able only on a sen­sa­tion­al­ist in­ter­net blog.” Pre­pos­ter­ous though this might sound, es­pe­cially given Wey’s reg­u­lar dec­la­ra­tions that he’s an in­ves­tiga­tive jour­nal­ist, it ap­pears to be de­signed to cloak Wey and The­blot in the man­tle of the First Amend­ment and pro­tected free speech.

Brum­mer wouldn’t talk to me, but one of his lawyers, Whit­ney Gib­son, agreed to dis­cuss defama­tion in the on­line era in gen­eral terms. In­ter­net com­pa­nies, he told me, are pro­tected un­der a clause in the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions De­cency Act that says no provider or user of an “in­ter­ac­tive com­puter ser­vice,” such as a web­site, a host­ing com­pany, or a search en­gine provider, can be held li­able for third-party con­tent. That al­lows com­pa­nies to ig­nore the headache of ar­bi­trat­ing right from wrong and fact from fic­tion on­line, for the most part. It also leaves Brum­mer, and all of us, vul­ner­a­ble to the likes of Wey, who dis­guised many of his at­tacks as sto­ries sub­mit­ted by anony­mous read­ers. Decades into the In­ter­net Age, there’s no sure­fire method to get defam­a­tory ma­te­rial taken down if the per­son re­spon­si­ble for it is ready to put up a fight.

Ear­lier this month, Brum­mer’s law­suit cleared a ma­jor hur­dle: The judge ruled against Wey’s mo­tion to dis­miss and spec­i­fied that Wey hadn’t shown the Blot ar­ti­cles should be pro­tected un­der the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions De­cency Act. It’s a vic­tory, though Brum­mer still has to pre­vail in the over­all case— and in the mean­time, the Blot ar­ti­cles stay up.

Al­most ev­ery­one I con­tacted for this story, in­clud­ing Emen, Brum­mer, and oth­ers who’d been at­tacked on The­blot, chose not to com­ment, and I un­der­stand that de­ci­sion. What’s the up­side? I know what the down­side is: more at­tacks. It took me a long time to de­cide to write about my own ex­pe­ri­ence, be­cause I just wanted to avoid any more in­ter­ac­tion with Wey. But I did have to give him a chance to com­ment for this story, par­tic­u­larly on the ori­gin of the Columbia “case study.” I e-mailed the lawyers rep­re­sent­ing him in his var­i­ous le­gal bat­tles, and in less than three hours, I got a 1,600-word re­sponse from Wey. This is just a piece:

“Howdy! Ni Hao! Hello! I am Ben­jamin Wey—your old friend. You know me well so let’s get to the point. I am an in­de­pen­dent in­ves­tiga­tive reporter and I like The­blot Mag­a­zine ( www.the­blot.com)—voice for the Voice­less, mil­lions of read­ers a year. In­ves­tiga­tive re­porters are eval­u­at­ing pub­lish­ing new sto­ries about you, your pe­cu­liar money en­tan­gle­ments with il­le­gal stock short sellers (Roddy Boyd, Jon Carnes etc) as their bribed mouth­piece, your al­leged ex­tra­mar­i­tal affairs with a man call­ing him­self ‘niu bi’—‘a cat­tle’s d---’—in Chi­nese on your own Twit­ter page, as well as your racist at­ti­tude to­wards the Chi­nese peo­ple. Be­cause you just reached out to me again af­ter two years of peace, you just did your­self a fa­vor by re­viv­ing our in­ter­est in you. …

“You men­tioned a non-pub­lished Columbia Busi­ness School re­search pa­per. I re­call you and your sex part­ner Roddy Boyd col­lec­tively pub­lished a tabloid hit piece on this mat­ter in 2013 in the NY Post. You said the Columbia pa­per was never pub­lished. Then how did you get a copy? How did you get hold of a draft Columbia Univer­sity in­ter­nal doc­u­ment? When and how did you hack into Columbia’s com­put­ers? How did you steal Columbia’s doc­u­ments? Who else was in­volved in your theft? Come clean please so our read­ers can judge. How long have you been steal­ing doc­u­ments from your em­ployer? You know, theft is a pat­tern. …

“We have 18 more ques­tions for you to an­swer. Each an­swer can be a sep­a­rate, fea­tured ar­ti­cle. Dune, to save you time, let’s start with the above list. Okay? Our dealine for your an­swers is 5 pm, Feb 24, 2016. As it is said, ‘a thief re­mains silent’. If you do not re­spond, we will re­port to our read­ers such. …

“Don­ald Trump said the main stream me­dia is full of dis­hon­est peo­ple. I have to say I agree with him. You are one of those duck­ings feel­ing like some white swan. There is no swan lake in my life to dance around, okay? I know your tricks and how you ‘me­dia’ peo­ple think. I am one of you, a fear­less reporter and I have buck­ets and buck­ets of ink—more than you do. ”

I wrote this story be­cause I have a plat­form to fight back. How can I, with the re­sources and reach of a global mag­a­zine, let him in­tim­i­date me? It’s my job to write about Wey. Still, I’m not look­ing for­ward to what’s com­ing next. <BW>

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