The Bartercard IPO and secret deal with IRTA follows a longterm relationship building exercise filled with politics and self-interest. In this post I summarise the real reasons for something that at first glance seems so ridiculous, so out of the box, so detrimental to the IRTA organisation that it’s hard to believe it has actually happened. When putting it all into proper context however it all makes perfect sense.
WARNING: This post reveals information that vested interests do not want known.
First a brief overview from where I sit. I would note that this is all my opinion based on extensive research but I can already verify much more of this than some of the key players would be comfortable with.
In a nutshell
- Bartercard, one of the least respected, probably THE least respected barter company in the industry is currently up for listing on the ASX. It is a company in serious trouble for a whole range of reasons. Debt in various forms dwarfs its assets many times over, but it is creative in the presentation of the figures, for sure. It probably has more skeletons in the closet than the entire industry combined!
- Their Prospectus is riddled with misinformation, factually incorrect information and missing information. Rushed through in an ultra-short development time (January – July 2014) and an even more aggressive listing period (only one month), the IPO is subject to a complaint and is not a certainty, although the short time period indicates that deals have already been done.
- Their IPO was established on the back of a shonky deal with IRTA, supposedly authorised by the Board in a political move that contained a high component of deception, and with extreme self-interest from the Executive.
- IRTA attempted to sneak the deal through under the cover of darkness, but the cat got out of the bag on the back of the IPO and a blogger who took up the story and got it out there.
- Bartercard rushed their IPO through so that they could try and get the IRTA deal done before the September 2014 AGM (if the members found out about the deal they would have sacked the Board lock stock and barrel!)
- The Barter industry, particularly the barter software providers, is in an uproar. Some longterm IRTA Members are livid as I release more information and commentary day after day.
- Some IRTA Board Members are feeling uncomfortable (to put it mildly) and the IRTA Executive are in information lockdown, attempting to plug the leaks and keep the deceptions from outing.
On the surface, Bartercard’s IPO simply doesn’t make sense. Their business case is rather thin, perhaps even confused. The bulk of their projections relies on their secret deal with IRTA and projections are grossly exaggerated. From this they hope to grow through acquisition, move into the USA and the UK cementing themselves into the centre of the industry and carrying on the grand tradition of attempted global domination – their longstanding pipe-dream. Their conduct is worthy of attention.
The IRTA Executive’s Kamikaze acts belie logic also, but again make perfect sense when put into proper context. Why would an industry body destroy its reputation and run with one company exclusively (let alone that it’s seen as the industry rogue at that!), even at the obvious risk of self-destruction? I answer this question shortly.
Board operations from the outside look more like an Executive military operation with secrecy, confidentiality and partial information being fed to the decision-makers who appear to be unable or unwilling to resist the Executive juggernaut that has them under its thumb. Tail wagging the dog stuff. This is a core issue for IRTA Members to wrestle with. Matters of corruption should come second.
The current Bartercard/IRTA deal flows on naturally from an incestuous relationship between Bartercard and IRTA that had its roots in Paul Bolte’s arrival in the USA. His brief was no doubt to ‘sort out the mess’ and to get Bartercard re-established after a disaster for everyone when they went belly-up owing many in the industry a bomb. Paul appears to have opened the door to Bartercard with his seat on IRTA’s Board and a cosy relationship with IRTA’s Executive.
IRTA’s announcement that Bartercard had voluntarily agreed to pay out 50c in the dollar on the outstanding debts was a lovely PR story but there’s more behind the scenes not commonly known. Dissatisfaction is running high because not everyone has been paid, it wasn’t 50c in the dollar they paid, you had to be a member of IRTA of course, they supposedly paid using a loan from Universal Currency (debt then was essentially shifted from Bartercard to Universal Currencies, i.e. IRTA Members, so they really never paid anything).
That deal didn’t make sense at the time but most in the industry raised their eyebrows a little and carried on oblivious to the nepotism that was developing under the surface.
The deal between Bartercard and IRTA will have been done in January 2014. I’m certain that the IRTA Board didn’t know the full story if they did know about it and I can reveal that the processes used to get the OK to do the deal with Bartercard were corrupt to the core. The Executive manipulated and deceived to achieve their goal. More information will come out as various IRTA Board Members strip off from hugging the corpse and save their bacon, but when I’ve suggested in my previous blogging that the board is divided, I wasn’t guessing and I wasn’t overstating the case.
There are also several things that are not commonly known and certain people are attempting to hide them in regards to the Universal Currency software situation.
The first is that I’m told that the Bartercard representative Paul Bolte was on the IRTA Software Committee that recommended Bartercard’s software. Woah!!! That’s a scary conflict of interest situation if you ask me. The IRTA website (even to this day and after I’ve alerted the world to this error) STILL doesn’t mention this. IRTA Members would never know about this potential conflict of interest unless they were on the inside and actively sought it. This is a VERY convenient ommission or error. “Oh, sorry guys, the website maintainer didn’t do their job and we forgot to tell you all, for the last two years. Oops!”
Secondly, the Executive has attempted more than once over a long period to engineer financial benefit – for IRTA sure, but also for themselves; has attempted and failed to extricate itself from the incumbent GETs; has flip-flopped, burned it’s bridges and in a remarkable litany of disgusting commercial manouevers ripped off more than one provider. ‘Trust’ is not a word ever used in the same sentence as Ron Whitney in the barter software circles! ‘Cunning’ and ‘slippery’ though, yes. People do not like being screwed and Ron has a long track record of doing just that judging by the stories I am being told. I too have experienced this dubious ethical approach to things. I used to give him the benefit of the doubt but just stood up for what we agreed. Speaking to these people at the moment is not a pleasant experience as their past clearly painful issues are being revisited.
Thirdly, just as the official spin is totally misleading, so too is the reason for moving the platform from GETs. IRTA has no choice to do this because, according to Richard Logie and Linda Sim from GETs, they gave IRTA written notice in December 2013 that they had to move Universal Currency off the GETs platform.Why they did this is a subject for a future post and it will probably have the auditors, lawyers and forensic accountants all getting excited for sure, BUT when we put the Bartercard Software Deal into context then, IRTA had NO CHOICE. They’d sh*t in their own nest so much in the barter software industry and they’d been given notice so the Bartercard relationship seems to have blossomed quite nicely just at the right time. Overnight, and with no testing or analysis (certainly no third party analysis or verification) Bartercard’s software platform became the best in the industry. Golly!
Fourthly, the software is old, not spoken of highly in the industry and was never tested prior to doing the deal. Ron’s extraordinary personal endorsement in January 2014 is an embarrassment and will be one of the most credibility-destroying documents to have ever been generated on an IRTA letterhead. Did the board agree? Did they even know about that testimonial? I doubt it!
Lastly there is a serious personal issue between the IRTA Executive individuals and Richard Logie. This vendetta or hatred is a major factor and explains the desperate desire to get the Universal Currency away from GETs. It is my take that Richard is straight. I will be publishing an email interview I did with him shortly and in it he explains the history between the individuals. I’ve spent a lot of time getting background information from him to put informants’ stories into context and he might not be God’s gift to mankind but if there’s one thing about him, he’s straight. Those who have got something to hide, or who want to do things behind the scenes don’t like him. He can’t give me inside information on UC but as a software provider he will know what’s going on. Judging from his unwillingness to divulge things and his desire to get the UC currency as far from him as possible, even when he’s got a good solution for UC and is passionate about the industry, I reckon there’s something not right in there. I suspect that IRTA Members will probably be wise to get the UC figures and operation audited.
But it gets worse . . . a lot worse . . .
It is my belief that Ron Whitney, the Executive Director of IRTA will have some form of agreement with Bartercard that is to his personal benefit – future employment, private deals, personal commissions, backhanders or similar. I haven’t yet got the actual details [yet] so this is conjecture at this stage BUT I believe this based on all the observations that I’ve been blogging about PLUS information supplied to me via the Tipline PLUS direct communications with Ron over quite some time.
The thing is this . . . when you ask the question, “Quo bono [who benefits]?”in regards to the Bartercard/IRTA deal, on the surface its only really Bartercard. It’s certainly not good for the IRTA Members. On IRTA’s side, it has totally destroyed any credibility that it had left and (except for a long history showing remarkable resilience) it could easily be the death-knell for IRTA as an organisation.
Any deal on the planet and in the history of mankind requires a win-win otherwise there is no deal! So if only one party appears to be winning then you can be very sure that there is hidden benefit somewhere in there. Politicians do this all the time, doing deals even though it may cost them and appear to not make sense at the time. But ALWAYS, there will be benefit to them somewhere – the speaking circuit; a juicy contract; a business opportunity; a job or in many cases just straight cash. Think from the USA Bill Clinton, the UK Tony Blair, and where I come from Helen Clark. There is ALWAYS a payback somewhere behind the scenes for people will always engineer circumstances for their own benefit.
The current IRTA Executive are no different. It is human nature. Despite protestations to the contrary, they’ve been doing it for yonks. The latest debacle however has taken the self-interest to a chronic level and many believe that this is now WAY TOO MUCH. They’ve gone too far this time. Rest assured that there’s a lot more to all of this which I will share in due course.
The IRTA Executive is not widely liked or trusted. Even those Board members who are in on the game are cautious, worried and lacking trust, for those who participate in dirty politics never really trust each other.
IRTA is known as an old boy’s network. With a few exceptions, most Board members are in it to help themselves and their own Trade Exchanges “I’m on the Board, sort-of-thing”. We all know and accept that this is the case. BUT the Bartercard/IRTA deal seems to have galvanised into serious doubt about the conduct of the Executive. Given time, this may flow through into action. What happens in the future is anybody’s guess. Traditionally the Members are pretty apathetic from what I can tell and the few who are passionate lack political nouse to counter masters at the art.
Many are too scared to do or say anything. Some are scared of losing their seats (there is a history of dissenters being sidelined). Some are worried about negative press for the industries sake. Some are unable to speak for they will be essentially throwing stones in a glasshouse.
Some want to strike while the iron is hot and establish a new organisation, which will splinter the industry even more. Others are trying to negotiate or talk with the Executive. They’ll get defensiveness in the extreme and a whole bunch of spin. If they try the AGM route, matters will probably be spun out to the AGM (the reason the Bartercard IPO was rushed through would surely have been just to get it done before the AGM while they had the leverage from the inside) and then the matters will likely get delayed and pushed to the last 5 minutes of the meeting and then it will be too late. You know the drill and how manipulators do these sorts of things! They are smart; they lie, use every trick in the book and usually outfox the ‘goodguys’ every time!
Actually, while it is a hot subject at the moment, I don’t think the Bartercard/IRTA deal matters that much to Bartercard at the end of the day. The Directors most likely just want to use IRTA (through their ‘friendlies’ with the Executive) to get the money from their float. [BTW, check the physical location of the Executive Director with the Bartercard USA operation if you want to understand how close this relationship actually is.]
When (or if) the Bartercard Directors get the money they will be paying THEMSELVES first. Never forget that important point. Ignore the fluff, basically the new Bartercard operation is paying out the old Directors. They get a bundle of loot (cash) from the IPO. It’s all about the money. It always is. Bartercard has extreme debt levels through their own currency (even according to their own figures, but believe me much of it is not even revealed); has serious operational performance issues and is basically in deep doodo.
From IRTA’s side they don’t need to change their software. They just need to mend the bridges they have burned. They’ve got plenty of great options and Bartercard’s offering is very low on the list of viable alternatives. Kiss and make-up with GETs and I reckon their eviction notice will get rescinded. Apolgise for screwing the others and they’d be delighted to help IRTA out, I’m sure. Whatever the case, you heard it from me here, the real story is NOTHING like the story they’ve been telling the world – nothing like it!
I don’t think that IRTA or the industry is the IRTA Executive’s primary care for they have shown to me time and again that they’re in it for themselves first and are using the organisation quite badly. Secrecy (of meeting minutes, voting information, decision-making, UC accounts, and IRTA accounts) and apathy from the members are the tools they use to feather their own nest. They are ruthless in a political sense (flicking those who question them or dissent in any way) and they play the player, not the ball. Ad hominem atttacks abound. Their control of information, manipulation of organisational systems and processes (check the subtle changes to the IRTA rules and you’ll get some clues) seem to match more the style of Goebbels than what the sleeping membership is currently aware of.
In future posts I will be sharing about the politics at IRTA describing how the Executive got and maintain their powerbase and thus if they want to how Members can neutralise that excessive power (it’s very easy BTW, the same way that you get rid of cockroaches, you just turn the light on).
I will be exploring a range of Bartercard’s business practices and ethics, including their acquisition techniques (anyone planning to sell their exchange to Bartercard will REALLY want to read this post!), their creative techniques used to conceal massive deficits; their sponsorship model which is little more than an incredibly successful cash conversion and tax evasion rort and their attitude and approach to their members, their staff and others in the industry which explain why Bartercard are widely perceived as the industry crooks.
I will also publish a very revealing interview with one of the industries most prolific networkers, a man who knows virtually everyone in the industry going back a couple of decades, Richard Logie.
There’s a lot more important and interesting information to come in this expose into the Barter industry, rest assured!
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