After my last post I received two emails from former Digital Domain 2.0 CEO John Textor. The contents of both emails were the same and posted below. The only difference between the two emails was the first one was sent with the subject “Blog” and the second was sent 15 minutes later with the subject “Private and Confidential”. I never agreed to any personal confidentiality with John Textor and given the abrasive nature of the contents I felt a response was merited on my blog:
Daniel…I understand that you are blogging about me again. Wow.
Last time around, while I was borrowing against my home to make your payroll, you did everything you could to attack me and the Florida business that was desperately trying to support the losses of Venice and your way of life. You can thank me anytime by the way.
You created a great deal of discomfort for me and many of your co-workers…and you were stupid enough to actually think you were righting a wrong, understanding nothing about the economics of the company that fed you and the people that risked everything to keep you comfortable. Let me guess, you are one of the geniuses that actually believes the California office of DD was thriving and covering its own payroll while Florida was siphoning off the profits.
Back then, I offered the unidentified Soldier an interview to help you understand the finer points of our business that you clearly did not understand…still do not understand…and you turned me down. You said it was your policy not to conduct interviews…after I was later surprised to learn that you were one of my employees, I realized that your Policy was to hide in the cubicle that I paid for, hope no one would notice and keep taking money from me for as long as you could while you stood strong in protest…anonymously of course. A fine employee you were indeed.
You are a coward Daniel. You didn’t have the courage to speak with your own voice until it felt really safe to do so. You didn’t even have the courage to raise your hand and question our programs during employee meetings…or send me an email as your CEO suggesting your shame in taking a paycheck from such an immoral company. If you had a righteous bone in your body, you would have walked out.
Seriously Daniel, I am looking for that thank you…and my wife and kids would like an apology. If not, maybe just return the money I paid you while you sold your loyalty for the celebrity of an anonymous blog.One last thing…your recent blog continues to mischaracterize early emails, resulting in materially false and misleading statements. You have also now challenged the integrity of the Pulse team that has accurately portrayed the experience of its artists on the Pulse website. Be careful. Now that you are an accomplished and known publisher, I look forward to holding you responsible for truth and accuracy.Feel free to call me at anytime if you think I am wrong about you…John Textor
Dear John,If anyone owes an apology it probably should be coming from you to the people that were negatively affected at Digital Domain 2.0 and the taxpayers of the State of Florida. Many of my friends and colleagues either lost their jobs or went unpaid as the company plunged into bankruptcy under your watch. During that same time Florida taxpayers we’re paying millions in subsidies for Digital Domain.
Your attempt to direct blame at me for all of that is wrong. If anything, my attempt on this blog was to blow the whistle to prevent what inevitably happened. As you may know I routinely point to subsidies that have led to price distortion to cause many good VFX companies to go out of business and cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. I’ve even gone so far as to hire a law firm in Washington D.C. to help end these subsidies at adaptvfx.org. My last post actually started off in defense of an investigation against you and DD 2.0 which I considered mostly political. Your objection was me pointing to a report that showed a private email from you that warned the Florida deal was going to be a “train wreck”. You sent this email in February 2010 before I worked for Digital Domain and before this blog even existed. Trying to cast blame on me for publicly warning about something even you were warning others privately about is wrong.
I have also pointed out nefarious and potentially illegal business practices that hurt professionals in the industry. Your business plan at the time was to utilize Florida taxpayer subsidies to build a school where students would pay thousands of dollars to Digital Domain to work on VFX projects. You went so far as to famously coin the phrase “free labor is better than cheap labor” as way to sell the idea that not only would you be able to utilize the free work of paying students but the taxpayers of Florida would also be paying your company to help you make millions in profits. This was going to be a huge disaster an I wrote about it on my blog long before many were starting to pay attention to it. You yourself even admitted to the public that your own business partner Michael Bay considered this a “Wacko Textor idea.”
It’s true I refused an interview with you because of my anonymity at the time but what you forgot to mention is that I also offered to post your side of the story on my blog. The last thing I want to say is that Digital Domain was a great place to work for in spite of your bad practices and it’s unfortunate. I can’t stop people from working or investing in your new ventures but I think it’s quite important that we get the facts out. For example, on your blog you said this about when you took over Digital Domain:
John Textor and his team were able to rebuild the reputation of the studio and expand its profits.
That’s pretty surprising when you consider that Digital Domain never needed to rebuild it’s reputation. Former Digital Domain founder Scott Ross points this out in my last post that DD garnered multiple nominations and awards on quite a regular basis. Furthermore, your statement that you expanded on Digital Domain profits are factually incorrect. DDMG’s financial statements are public and while DD suffered for low margins and losses at times that pales in comparison to the amount Digital Domain was losing when you took over: