SNOPES is one of the best known websites out there, and used by millions to help fact-check articles, memes, and other information that is passed around the Internet. While the site has been accused by many right-leaning political sites and individuals, they are still largely trusted online for debunking fake news and information.
In recent weeks, however, the founder and the company itself are running into some huge issues, many of which are directly related to the trustworthiness of the company.
SNOPES was founded by David Mikkelson and his then wife Barbara. When they got divorced, Barbara sold her 50% stake in the company to Proper Media, which provides SNOPES with a variety of services including advertising and more. Proper Media is now refusing to turn over the site to David Mikkelson due to contract disputes.
Where it gets really interesting is that Mikkelson is also accused of extensive fraud, including using company funds to pay for his honeymoon with his new wife, a former porn actress and Las Vegas escort. Additional charges accuse him of using money on prostitutes.
While these cases work through the courts, Mikkelson has raised more than $500,000 from a GoFundMe campaign. This money will help keep the company afloat and cover legal expenses. If he loses the case, the popular site may actually get shut down.
This is a prime example of why having integrity as a founder/owner of any company is essential, and why determining ownership of a startup is critical. Had Mikkelson and his wife split the company 51%/49%, many of these issues could be avoided.
Marketers often start companies without putting much thought into the long term impact of their initial decisions, which can cause huge problems down the road. Also, when partnering with someone on a business, their decisions can cause major problems for you down the road.