Open Letter To The Washingtonian Magazine
The December issue of the Washingtonian features a story titled “Meet Mr. Cranky.”
While the story appears balanced, it is less than fair. The article ignores the groundwork and research that goes into my posts. For example with regards to Danny Boice and Trustify, I have interviewed well over 30 people including, former employees, former current employees, relatives of traumatized former employees, vendors, co-workers, partners, startup executives who shared office space with him in two separate accelerators and family members. These interviews cover Mr. Boice’s employment with Trustify, Speek, and The College Board.
The Washingtonian ignores the fact that I have 40 years of experience and training which includes years as a turn-around CEO employed by private equity investors to clean up messes created by irresponsible CEOs like Mr. Boice. The article ignores that I served as the President of a leading Proxy Advisory Firm, consulting to Institutional Investors on corporate governance matters regarding their publically traded portfolio companies.
The article does not mention the fact that I have over a decade of formal training and experience as an executive coach, or that I am certified in personality and behavioral assessments. The article implies that I don’t have the qualifications to assemble and analyze facts in order to reach a credible opinion. It would seem that the editors of the Washingtonian were unwilling to hold themselves to the same high editorial standard that they demanded of me.
I am sure you will see that my ‘invective’ is not ‘unsubstantiated.’”So without quibbling over every single point, I will address just three specific points.
Point 1 – Attorney Tom Clare’s Quote:
“It also might explain why the firm (Trustify) has retained a pricey libel lawyer. In a statement, the attorney, Tom Clare, calls Hellman’s claims “reckless and irresponsible.” Hellman, he says, has “ignored prior demands from the company to cease and desist his false reporting. As such, our firm has been retained to review statements on Hellman’s blog about Trustify and its founders and advise the company regarding potential libel claims.”
To Pricey Mr. Tom Clare, I did not “ignore prior demands from the company to cease and desist.” In fact, I engaged a not-inexpensive attorney, Matthew MacLean of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP. Mr. MacLean replied to the demand letter and Trustify never followed-up. I find it reckless and irresponsible that Tom Clare was either ignorant or intentionally ignored this fact. Did the Washingtonian editors fact check the allegation made by MacLean that the demand letter was ignored? Fact-checking Clare and correcting his error should have been simple since the Washingtonian author was given a copy of my attorney’s reply to the demand letter (see this post).
A fair article would not just get a statement from the pricey attorney of one party, it would have interviewed the not-inexpensive attorney of the other.
Point 2 – Reporting On Tawdry Personal Details Quote:
“More recently, Mr. Cranky has targeted Mellon, posting photos of her with a man who isn’t her husband. “Things at the Boice/Mellon household appear to be deteriorating faster than anticipated as Jen has been seen around town canoodling a Mr. SR, a VP at a Major Insurance Company who is recently estranged from his wife,” he wrote in a September 25 update. That Hellman would make such tawdry and unverified insinuations only underscores the extent to which his campaign against Trustify has started to look like a personal vendetta.”
I agree that typically tawdry details like marital infidelity have no place in a business commentary. However, in my experience both personal and professional I understand that marital distress of top leaders of even the healthiest companies may put that company at risk. In a struggling company, like Trustify, when the married couple who are the two co-founders and also the two most senior leaders, are experiencing marital difficulties, it has the potential to be devastating for the company, its employees and investors. In this case, the Tawdry details are relevant. Furthermore, I assure you that I didn’t draw, Photoshop or doctor the actual evidential photographs of Ms. Mellon and Mr. SR VP out on the town. They were actual photos. I assure you my “unverified insinuations” were verified by multiple sources and documented evidence.
So I ask the editors of the Washingtonian, did you fact check that my “tawdry” accusations were unverified? I ask that you correct your unverified insinuation that my insinuations were unverified.
Point 3: The Doll House
“His office is decorated with framed paintings of country landscapes and photos of the couple’s children from previous marriages. In the corner, there’s a display case of dolls, propped up and dressed in outfits from around the world.”
Really? Dolls? Did you have to go there?
I’ll give the Washingtonian credit on one point, I am not as the article stated, Maggie Haberman. Otherwise, if one ignores the inaccuracies, misrepresentations, rambling nature of the article, and the double standard of editorial fact-checking, it was an excellent article.
Thank you and I look forward to the Washingtonian and Mr. Clare’s public correction of the record.
Glen A. Hellman
P.S. Calling someone a criminal can be used figuratively and literally… I typically use it figuratively, and yet literally, if someone that has been convicted of a crime is the definition of a criminal… a simple background search by one of your “crack” fact-checkers would have revealed that in the case of Mr. Boice the figurative and literal usages are accurate representations.
Update: December 8, 2018
- On November 26th, Danny Boice reported convened a company meeting where he fired 7 of the under 15 remaining employees of the company. Danny reportedly fired them for filing a complaint with the Labor Board for failure to pay them for their services.
- December 3, 2018, Instead of facing multiple witnesses against him in court, including Glen Hellman and Danny’s own Mother, and after being sanctioned by the court for failure to produce court-ordered discovery documents that included Trustify Accounting Ledgers and Bank Statements Danny Boice signed an agreement ceding legal custody of his 2 children to his ex-wife. Danny originally filed to sue his ex-wife for full legal custody from shared custody. His ex-wife counter-sued for full custody. When the court ordered Boice to produce the required discovery documents, he dropped the case. His ex-wife did not as he requested drop her counter-case.
- It is reported that no the Trustify offices were empty the week of December 3.
- On December 8th, it appears that the company phone has been disconnected. +1 (877) 415-7515
The article can be found here: Washingtonian – Meet Mr. Cranky
Update December 12, 2018: I was made aware that due to Danny Boice’s justified fears that the Washingtonian was writing a factual takedown article. A quote from the lawsuit:
the magazine The Washingtonian was going to do a big take down of Mr. Boice and Trustify. DVM spent dozens of hours in interviewing crisis firms, working with a new defamation attorney on Mr. Boice’s behalf, working with the company’s CMO who recently resigned over ethical issues, and crafting messaging for the lawyer to relay to the Editor in Chief of the magazine successfully shut down the worst elements of the story.
Did you see that? The company’s CMO resigned over ethical issues and Dini Von Mueffling (DMV) asserts they successfully shut down the worst elements of the story. Boice spent reported over $200 thousand dollars to spin the story. See the lawsuit. He didn’t pay the bill.
One other interesting note in the lawsuit is item #21 which says,
21. DVM’s good faith began to rupture when, on October 15, 2018, Mr. Boice sent DVM’s principal a fake and intentionally falsified receipt purporting to be from bill.com and showing that Invoices #694 and 710 (referenced above) had been paid on September 1 and October 1, 2018, respectively.
In addition, speaking about tawdry details pointing to trouble, Jen Mellon changed her work status from presently working at Trustify to finished working at Trustify in 2018.
Update: January 3, 2019: Andy Medici of the Washington Business Journal reports in a post titled, “Trustify’s unpaid bills continue to mount”
Excerpts from the article:
- “Employees say the first payroll issues started Oct. 1, when they did not receive their usual direct deposit from payroll processor ADP. They were told that it was a glitch and the payroll would be switched to another payroll provider during the transition, though they said that occurred sporadically.”
- “On Nov. 15, the former employees said, the employees were told to come into the office to collect another paycheck. But Boice told the workers he was busy before leaving the office with a promise to return with paychecks, the employees said, but he failed to return that day. On Nov. 16, the employees said they sent Boice one email jointly signed saying if they were not paid on Nov. 19, they would file a complaint with Virginia’s Department of Labor and Industry, prompting an angry return email from Boice over the weekend.”
- “On Nov. 19, eight employees arrived at Trustify’s office and confronted Boice about the lack of payment, the employees said. Boice declined to answer questions about whether they would get paid, they said, and was verbally abusive and intimidating, telling them repeatedly to “get the f— out of my office” and accusing the workers of being disloyal.”
- During the meeting on the 19th, one employee said that Boice was abusive and violent and that the police were called. The police confirmed the incident.
- The article mentions a long list of creditors that include:
- Multiple Employees
- Multiple Private Investigators
- Washington DC law firm Buckley Sandler LLP
- Security firm Kastle Systems
- Trustify’s landlord, JBG Smith Properties Inc.
- The Companies Phone was disconnected
- New York public affairs firm, Dini von Mueffling (seeking $240,000 in fees and damages)
- Boice is still on the hook for a personal judgment of $7250 against him from Northern Virginia cosmetic and reconstructive surgeon Suzanne Kim Doud Galli. And now a tawdry little detail, Danny Boice and Jen Mellon both had nose jobs.
Update: September 4, 2019: The woos keeps piling up for the Trustify founders. From distressed real estate sales to, to investors suing the company into Bankruptcy, to the Company facing judgments and lawsuits in excess of $1.5 million.