Originally Posted by OaklandRobb
But at this point, now that the truth has come out about the company, I would like to know the truth about my speakers, particularly the Strata Mini's. Who designed them? Did Shifty have anything to do with the design? Who manufactured them? Although they are operating fine, is there any support for them if a problem develops down the line?
The Minis were manufactured by Sound Art China, the same place that originally manufactured the Rockets (before they cut AV123 off for unpaid bills). I don't know who designed them, but SAC sold a variant of the Mini in China that included an additional tweeter - that suggests they either had a role in the design or at least were able to work with the designer independently from AV123. Hugh of Angel City Audio is now managing distribution of SAC's Onix speaker line in the US and is developing some speakers of his own that SAC is building for him - he has offered to help Rocket owners. He and SAC may be able to provide replacement parts for Mini owners.
Originally Posted by wyliec2
And today, I see MLS as a business operator that fell into a spiral of problems that he felt he could remedy if he could pull of the next big success. Unfortunately the more desperate he became, the bigger the next project had to be and the more unlikely it could be done.
I truly don't believe MLS set out to have a raffle and plan up front to just keep the money. I don't think he planned up front to collect prepayment and never deliver a product. Did these things wind up happening - yes; are some of these things illegal - yes; is MLS being dealt with - yes.
I've considered that rationale numerous times since some time back in 2009 - the idea that he got into a bind, used some money that he had in hand from a raffle with the intent of paying it back, and got in too deep to dig himself out. There's a problem with this. Actually there are a number of them. Here are a few:
1. Evidence suggests that he stole every cent of the very first raffle he ran, back in the fall of 2004. In 2004, AV123 was doing quite well and he was talking on his forum about spending lots of money on luxuries like fancy watches and sports cars. It would be hard to justify the need to steal a few thousand dollars from a raffle.
2. There are instances of him running multiple raffles for a single charity or beneficiary, raising tens of thousands of dollars in chunks of $5,000 to $12,500 at a time. Each raffle was started without any outside pressure - he volunteered
to do it. Each raffle started before he had paid much (any) of the previous raffle's donations to the intended recipient. Each time, he just kept taking and taking.
3. If he were truly concerned about the raffle money going where it belonged and not getting tangled up in his personal finances, he would have created a separate bank account and PayPal account to keep the funds isolated. He never did.
I know some have suggested that the raffle thefts started innocently and snowballed, but I have a hard time making that fit with the specific chain of events.
Originally Posted by wyliec2
It could end there, but we have many here seeking to vilify the guy beyond the simple guilt of his actions. IMHO those people fall into the same category vociferous fanboys did back in the heyday.
In my experience, the reality typically is neither as high as some would make out nor as low as others would portend....
I am not prone to hyperbole. Even as evidence regarding the raffles continued to accumulate last year, I could not believe that he would have been so bold as to steal more than a fraction of the total
raffle donations (which were close to $200,000 and included some high-profile charities like Red Cross Katrina relief). Even as each contacted charity yielded substantial missing funds, I never assumed it was truly across-the-board theft. When the indictment indicated that $150,000 of the $180,000 collected by Mark was undelivered, I was proven to have underestimated his crime. It explains his eagerness to suppress all discussion of the matter on AV123's forum - the facts fly in the face of his public persona of a charitable, giving person.
His business practices were and are a train wreck of unpaid manufacturers, unpaid designers (some of whom were tossed under the bus in search of justification for delays and defects), defective products shipped to customers, and significant refunds not paid out to customers who requested them. It is messy, and it is a curious contrast to the positivity and praise that surrounded the company even as business decisions were being made that led to this week's closure.