MonaVie threatens Ted Nuyten

Ted Nuyten regularly publishes articles about the MLM industry at BusinessForHome.org. He recently published an article about MonaVie’s purported 20% decline in revenue. MonaVie responded by threatening Ted Nuyten with legal action. Ted Nuyten wrote a response (it’s well worth the read). This is really bizarre. MonaVie is quickly becoming the company that it once condemned. We all know Ted! Ted is a prolific contributor to the direct sales space. I’ve known him for two years and I still have no idea if he’s a distributor in a particular company…so the allegation that he’s trying to harm MonaVie for personal gain is confusing. Instead of recognizing Ted as one of many industry commentators and privately reaching out in a respectful manner, MonaVie chose to lead with a hand gun. In my opinion, all they had to do was call up Ted and say, “Come on, man. This is crazy…and here’s why.” They’re leading with law, not grace, which is inconsistent with their character.

In Ted’s post, he links to the source of the stats about MonaVie’s revenue decline. Here it is. As Troy Dooly pointed out in the comment section of Ted’s response, the source of the info is not a MLM friendly source. Nonetheless, Ted made a Disclaimer Sandwich by starting the article with a disclaimer and ending it with a disclaimer. When was the last time you’ve read an article with TWO disclaimers;)? Maybe the information is inaccurate, maybe it’s not. But to lead with the litigation hammer and levy such strong allegations is really sad. In my dealings with Ted, he’s a nice guy. As far as anyone can tell, he’s not out to harm MonaVie no more than Rod Cook is out to harm MonaVie by talking about their 60% reduction in web traffic over the past year (Note: MonaVie has since lost another 20,000 visitors per month since Rod’s report). It’s simple: MonaVie is a large company and the rumblings about a decline is newsworthy. People are standing by to see how they respond. What new products will they offer? How will they tweak their pay plan? Companies with binary pay plans are especially paying close attention.

In my opinion, it would simply be a lot more productive for MonaVie to address their problems instead of dealing with the symptoms. What do you think? Did MonaVie overreact and draw more attention to their issues or should they turn the dogs loose on Ted?.

  • Alex Giftos

    Kevin,

    I've done some freelance writing and wrote for a trade publication journal (Floor Care Professional) for 10 years. I'm totally puzzled by the article, the disclaimers, and the motivation to write them, however.

    If you get your information from an anonymous source and it's unverifiable, isn't it just unfair play and shotty journalism to print the article?

    I have read a lot of what Ted writes, and I agree with most of it. But the more I read his disclaimers in this article, the more I got the feeling that he was just writing it to get page views and bolster his own numbers. It certainly was not representative of the work that Ted puts into his blogs.

    When you make, as Ted did, a "disclaimer sandwich," as you eloquently put it, generally you find the meat of the sandwich is a just a lot of boloney.

  • http://www.themlmattorney.com Kevin Thompson

    Well said, Alex. I especially liked the "baloney sandwich" reference at the end;) I agree with you! I'm not opining on the journalistic quality of the article. Should Ted have used better judgment or done more digging? Perhaps. Still, monavie's treatment of the matter is questionable.

  • Alex Giftos

    Yup, totally questionable. That is definitely not the type of behavior and direction I like to see companies take. It reminds me of the behavior of another company that I'm all too familiar with.

    The thing that really gets me is that there are other bloggers who have jumped all over this and are condemning the behavior of Monavie. But the same bloggers are not condemning the behavior of Ted, which totally discredits themselves as well.

    We have enough problems in this country with nationally known, professional journalists who run with articles that contain unverifiable facts that something has to be done about this. People have to realize that when they hit the "publish button," they are accountable for the information they print. Bloggers have to realize that defamation of character can cost a company millions, and as such, shouldn't a blogger be held to the same repercussions?

    Amazing what people consider freedom of speech, isn't it? I wish people would look at it more like freedom to share truth.

  • http://www.themlmattorney.com Kevin Thompson

    In the marketplace of ideas, the good ideas spread. If people were constantly afraid of litigation if they published something that was inaccurate, it would completely chill free speech. Look, the veracity of Ted's article is not the point. As readers, we can make up our own minds as to how much weight to give the stats. Ted did not position the stats as "fact." Instead, I think he positioned the stats as "these came from an anonymous source, this may or may not be the case."

    And yes, bloggers should be held accountable for "defamation." Ted's post was not defamation. There's a difference between defamation whereby someone purposefully and maliciously injures a company and gossip journalism.

  • http://www.21Ten.com/garry Tracey Gilmore

    This is a familiar story in the MLM Industry. A big company using it's weight in an attempt to crush people.

    I know the story well, and I thank God for people like Todd Duley, Kevin Thompson, and now Ted Nuyten, draw attention to issues like these. Perhaps the embarrassment will reduce some of this type of bullying in the future.

    Tracey

  • Alex Giftos

    Kevin,

    You make a great point in differentiating defamation and gossip journalism. That's exactly what this is….gossip journalism. Not much different than the super market tabloids.

    Thanks for the distinction.

  • Troy Dooly

    Kevin,

    I reached out to Dallin over the weekend, and he connected today with me on this very issue.

    I'll be posting tomorrow giving an update.

    I do agree with you on the facts, and believe there are far better ways of communicating than firing legal bullets.

    However, I am also concerned when MLM advocates take info from non-friendly sites.

    As for the traffic decline we may all want to look at the surrounding events over the last five years to see why the traffic was going to the company site. Maybe I'll do a little report on that also.

    I think Ted did a great job of responding to the MonaVie issue from a reporter standpoint. We just all need to remember there are millions of distributors whose lives we effect when we post, so we need to be careful.

    And as I pointed out to Ted there has been a new ruling come down in the 9th Circuit against TEAM in favor of Amwy in the area of anomimous blogging. If this is any indication, then we all need to be careful about posting anything from anomimous sources. I am glad he gave plenty of disclaimers.

    http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/07/13/28786.ht

    Would love your insight on this ruling.

    Living An Epic Adventure,

    Troy

  • http://www.themlmattorney.com Kevin Thompson

    Understood Troy. Ted referencing stats from a negative site is strange. But in my opinion, since there's a kernel of truth behind MonaVie's decline, the stats do not seem that outlandish. If figures support my suspicion of something, I just might post it and say "take this for what it's worth."

    How many times have you and I posted an article only to learn later that it wasn't 100% accurate? What do we do? We simply say, "Folks, there was an error here, I published this a little prematurely….here's the deal…" Imagine if we got slammed with a legal threat (actually, you already know what it's like;) within hours of publishing the article without receiving any facts to contradict the post? It's bizarre. I'm not agreeing with the content on Ted's article. I am disagreeing with MonaVie's method. With the speed of the internet, the truth usually finds a way to the top. As for being concerned about distributors, I understand your point. However, is it not MonaVie's job to arm the distributors with good information to counter-balance the negative? Where are the income figures for 2009? What are the revenue numbers in the U.S.? If the only source of information about MonaVie's revenue is on Ted's site, then MonaVie should not be surprised that people believe what's on Ted's site. If MonaVie were to give Ted the straight scoop, I'm sure he'd publish a post to set the record straight. Instead, they said "submit or die." Come on…

    And yes, I'm very familiar with the 9th Circuit opinion. I'm more familiar with it than I'd like to be. In this case, the person that originally posted the stats should be concerned. In Ted's case, he's not an anonymous blogger, so MonaVie already knows his identity and can easily sue him. With respect to the original author of the numbers, MonaVie will need to file a lawsuit against a John Doe anonymous author, subpoena Tracey Coenen and demand to learn about the anonymous author. If Tracey respects the anonymous author's right to free speech, MonaVie will need to demonstrate to the court that the statement (the stats of a revenue decline) were false and constituted "statements of fact," meaning a reasonable reader would interpret them as true. It's a strange circumstance because the anonymous author did not really publish the data. Instead of filing a lawsuit, MonaVie simply needs to provide the data to show that the numbers are wrong. There was a time when MonaVie regularly boasted about its growth, both in terms of their enrollment numbers and revenue numbers. Now would be a good time to boast to put this issue to rest.

  • Ted Nuyten

    Kevin,

    As an independent MLM website I bring the good news and the bad news.

    I agree very much with this:

    "MonaVie simply needs to provide the data to show that the numbers are wrong. There was a time when MonaVie regularly boasted about its growth, both in terms of their enrollment numbers and revenue numbers. Now would be a good time to boast to put this issue to rest."

    Nu skin just publised this distributor numbers, a great way to demonstrate outstanding performance:

    http://phx.corporate-ir.net/External.File?item=UG

    If the information about the decline in the Monavie revenue in my post is wrong I will instantly inform my 8,600+ subscribers. Maybe I am wrong, I can make mistakes, however I have a feeling the numbers are not that far off.

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  • Bill DeFalco

    I don’t see Ted Nuyten as having anything against any specific MLM Company. The downturn in the global economy has negatively impacted many Industries around the world, including the MLM Industry.