Guess My Cyberstalker

Let us play a game.

Loyal talkRA readers will recognize names of people who leave comments. They include Lionel Griache, Michael Lazarou, and Dan Baker, though I could easily name others. There are also recurring anonymous contributors too, like RA Manager and Dead Cat Bounce. We like to talk freely on talkRA, so we understand if people want to share their thoughts without sharing their identity, or who they work for. But a new anonymous contributor is missing the point of talkRA, which was set up as an expression of our human right to exercise freedom of speech. That reader, aptly calling himself ‘nobody’ and ‘no one’, is almost certainly a cVidya employee. Instead of commenting about topics involving business assurance, risk management, or related themes, his or her comments have a sinister focus, directed at me personally. The aim is to intimidate me into backtracking on criticism of cVidya. The comments are about:

  • my hobbies
  • my income (or lack thereof)
  • my friends (or lack thereof)
  • my career (or lack thereof)
  • my popularity (or lack thereof)

The comments never mention revenue assurance, or what cVidya’s products do. This is not unusual for cVidya employees. They often want to change the subject when asked difficult questions about revenue assurance, or what their products do. I must guiltily admit that I have read every single one of Gadi Solotorevsky’s posts at ra-blog.org, and I can assure you that in six years he only mentioned revenue assurance twice, and one of those occasions was by accident. But I do think this latest cVidya marketing tactic is going too far. Do they really believe they can sell more software by making fun of a film that I made, as shown at the Doha Film Festival? I can only guess at the connection they perceive between my creative passions and the purpose of talkRA. In that spirit, I want to play a guessing game, and I encourage you to join in. The first person who can provide me with evidence that identifies the cVidya cyberstalker will receive a free copy of the talkRA book. Or maybe I will send you something you actually want. That depends on how good the evidence is. To help your hunt for the troll, allow me to list the chief suspects so far…

1. Alon Aginsky, cVidya CEO

Known aliases: The Software Cowboy, Hop-Alon, The Most Powerful Man in Telecoms That You’ve Never Heard Of

For: A control freak, Aginsky pulls all the strings in cVidya. A few former cVidya operatives, when broken under torture, blame the company’s failings on his ruthless domination of everything his underlings do. Even the World RA Forum, a front organization run by cVidya that claimed to be ‘by the operators, for the operators’ used a web domain registered in his personal name.

Against: He really is very powerful, and nobody laughed when it was announced that the boss of a $40mn software company is actually the 95th most powerful man in the global telecoms industry. Nobody laughed because his true power lies in his connections to the Israeli secret services. I am joking of course, especially if you are an Arab worried about buying CDR analysis software from an Israeli company. If Aginsky really was that powerful, he would not waste time trolling a little blogger. He would just have me killed.

2. Gadi Solotorevsky, cVidya CTO

Known aliases: The Quiet Man, The Modest Man, The Man Who Knew Too Little

For: A bitter/comic rivalry – bitter for him, comic for me – began when Solotorevsky refused to blog for talkRA, and set up a rival website instead. Solotorevksy’s bitterness grew worse when he realized that in the last six years he has received more awards from the TM Forum than comments on his blog. Now he is even more bitter, because his website was canned to save costs. Meanwhile, talkRA just gets more popular. And now our content is published by BillingViews too! Naturally, this has made Solotorevksy even more bitter, if such a thing is possible.

Against: The troll referred to talkRA’s Alexa ranking, saying we have no readers. That would have been an unusually risky move for modest Solotorevsky. It took him 6 years of blogging to attain an Alexa ranking of: “we don’t have enough data to rank this website.”

3. Ronen Tanami, cVidya COO

Known aliases: Broken Promises Tsunami, The Man of a Thousand Contracts (that never materialize)

For: In recent years Tanami has lost credibility across the industry. Previously he courted scores of hungry freelance consultants, promising them lots of work with cVidya customers. But even close friends and allies of cVidya have been forced to stop begging for scraps of work, and have moved on to jobs elsewhere. The stalker asked about my income, then obsessed about the fact that I do not work for telcos any more. This implies the stalker is a cVidya executive that spends a lot of time monitoring contract rates, whilst tracking who is working, and who is not working. This fits Tanami’s modus operandi. He spent many years squeezing contractor rates whilst generating a fat middleman profit for cVidya.

Against: Compared to other cVidya execs, Tanami seems relatively nice. But note the use of the word ‘relatively’.

4. Amit Daniel, cVidya Executive VP, Marketing and Business Development

Known aliases: The Turnaround Specialist, The Abject Failure

For: Since getting the job of rejuvenating cVidya’s incoherent marketing, product management and business development, she has succeeded in making her predecessors look reasonably competent. Hence, she has many valid reasons to be upset about talkRA coverage of cVidya.

Against: Daniel is so lacking in originality, she would only think of trolling me if WeDo or Subex did it first, and better. Also, she would have to adopt the same approach to trolling as with everything else she writes for the internet, by paying a ghost writer to do her trolling for her. Serious questions were raised about her understanding of electronic communications technology when she scheduled a call, with the intention of telling me about a major new customer for cVidya. The result was that I was left sitting around my office, waiting for an international conference call that Daniel lacked the technical know-how to orchestrate. I left after 15 minutes. Telephones. Numbers. Dialling them. Even this is beyond the skillset of your typical cVidya MBA. Given the troll knows how to use proxies, they are more likely to be one of cVidya’s more technically-minded employees. For example, CTO Solotorevksy is known to have earned several TM Forum awards, based solely on his ability to host conference calls. (Though to be fair to Solotorevsky, cVidya is the only company where the CTO writes more marketing material than the Chief of Marketing.)

5. Ron Halpern, cVidya Executive Vice President of Global Sales

Known aliases: The American, 2-Passports, The Halpern Identity

For: Halpern is currently our top suspect. He was personally embarrassed when talkRA outed him for pretending that cVidya is an American company. Halpern’s reinvention of cVidya was part of an audacious plan to convince Arab telcos they should hand all their CDR data to an Israeli software company. Not that Israeli tech companies have any links to the Israeli secret services. No, no, no. Why would any Arab telco worry about that risk? Though I do hear that some intelligence services like gathering lots of CDR data. Halpern is rumoured to be very upset that the Arabs were not duped impressed by his clever subterfuge unswerving dedication to full transparency and total honesty, and he blames talkRA for ‘blowing the whistle’, Snowden-style.

Against: As an accomplished senior executive with over 20 years of experience, and more importantly, as an American, Halpern must have a keen understanding of what investors want. They do not want negative publicity caused by corporate trolls. That only invites downside risk, for no conceivable upside reward.

Like I said, the first person to provide solid evidence leading to the identification of my cyberstalker will receive a book about RA, or possibly something good, so long as I can afford it. Remember, according to the troll, I have no money, no friends, nobody likes me and everybody hates me. Also my film is crap, my dick is limp and I have poor taste in trousers. I joke, of course. Everybody loves my trousers. But be reasonable in your expectations about the prize I can supply you with. If you want a hefty cash prize in a brown envelope, then I cannot help you. I am not saying that cVidya can help you. I am only saying that I cannot help you.

Meanwhile, cVidya employees, did you enjoy my version of the cyberstalking game? How do you like this new, increasingly personalized approach to internet banter? Maybe you thought I had already used all the ammunition I could fire at you, but if you want this to continue, there is more in reserve. I do not want to dedicate even more of talkRA to an examination of cVidya’s failings, but the barking of your attack dog distracts me from thinking about other topics.

Perhaps cVidya’s corporate officers, the ones with those fancy job titles, and the big hopes of getting rich when the company is sold, should take some responsibility for their employees. After all, one of their offerings is the capability for companies to spy on their own staff. I know this because cVidya gave me an interview about it. They surely remember – the link to that interview is still visible on cVidya’s website. This only makes cVidya appear more ridiculous that they allow a creepy clown to further damage their brand, whilst the bosses pretend they know nothing, and can do nothing, about it.

cVidya need to get treatment for their dyspeptic loon, as soon as possible. I mean that seriously. The troll is on a downward spiral of negative thought and behaviour. Yesterday I made a very unusual decision for me. I decided not to publish the stalker’s latest comments. Why? There was a predictable escalation in bile, but I would not censor it for that reason. It could not be published because ‘nobody’ has changed his ritual, adopting the identity of real people, some of whom are well known to talkRA readers. That means I cannot publish those comments. To do so would mean allowing a mentally defective crackpot to bring innocent bystanders into this crossfire, putting their reputations in jeopardy. I can look after myself, and cVidya can look after its interests, but I see no reason to embroil unwilling participants in this farrago.

There is no justification for cVidya employees to attack my private life, as revenge for an article that uses publicly available data to analyse what a company’s revenues are. What would cVidya do if somebody showed an interest in buying their company? Would they kidnap the wife and children of the head of the due diligence team, threatening to hurt his family if he reports any problems with the book-keeping? How much money I earn, who I am friends with, whether I like to make films or write stories… these things have nothing to do with talkRA’s coverage of software companies like cVidya. But do not get me wrong, I am not protesting because I am intimidated by these tactics. These tactics cannot hurt me. They encourage me. cVidya should understand that by now, though they are slow learners. Their goon might libel me with the baseless assertion that I am unable to find work in UK telcos, but that cannot hurt me. I am not looking for work in UK telcos, or any telcos, so what difference can his comment make to my life? Innuendo and gossip will not stop me. They motivate me.

One of the reasons I started a website was because I suffered a spell of malicious gossip many years ago, from a rather lame little business who actually went from telco to telco saying I had been fired by T-Mobile. Why they did that, I do not know. They soon looked ridiculous. I would turn up to industry meetings, as the representative of T-Mobile, and I would comically sit next to them, so everybody who had heard their slander could see how much I enjoyed ridiculing them. But I also became conscious of the potential benefits of having a permanent platform to put across my side of the story. I was interested in the new possibilities created by the internet. And call me arrogant if you like, but it seems to be working pretty well for me.

The only people hurt by cVidya’s troll are cVidya, and its investors. Maybe cVidya deserves it, but surely the investors have suffered enough already. Trolling makes cVidya appear petty and vindictive. It makes them seem afraid. They generate $40m a year in revenue, but they appear worried that a guy with a WordPress blog will cause their company to fail. And it looks like the best communications strategy they can devise involves a whacko leaving nasty comments. More successful firms invite me to their media events. cVidya sends me anonymous trolls. I know which strategy delivers better results, for all concerned.

To everyone at cVidya, let me state the following. I know I hurt you with some of the things I wrote. For that, I am sorry. But you make it too easy for me. I am still learning about cVidya, even if you do not answer my questions. It turns out you act tough on the outside, but you are soft on the inside. So why act so tough? You just make it worse for yourself. Nobody likes a bully. When you act like big-shots, trying to intimidate everyone else, I want to knock you down. Others feel the same way, which is why so many people find secret pleasure in reading blogs like this. Based on the behaviour of your pet whacko, you feel the blows I keep landing on your business. So take some genuine advice. Cut out the more ludicrous aspects of your corporate behaviour, and then a guy with a WordPress blog will run out of the ammunition necessary to take pot-shots at you.

The choice is yours. We can keep playing this game, a game that only you can lose, and only I can win, or we can play a different game. Maybe you want to play hardball, by threatening to sue me for this amusing post. That would be a mistake. If you do that, I will sue you back so hard for the libel that I cannot find work that even your negative net assets will plumb to new depths of value destruction. Or, there is another alternative. We can play nice. The basis of that game is that I will ask questions about your company, and you will (pretend to) answer them. Like you used to. Like your competitors do. Then this website’s readers will get to see the questions and answers. I like all the games we might play, so I have no need to make a decision. But you should decide now. Your troll has created a problem for you, not for me. If he keeps getting worse and worse, which he surely will, then the damage he does to your reputation will be compounded by your inaction.

To be honest, I am tired of games. Both cVidya and talkRA can be more businesslike. But cVidya really needs to be a lot more businesslike – they claim to run a business, whilst I enjoy my retirement from telecoms by writing comic material about the things cVidya really does. So this is the very last advice I will address to cVidya, though I will continue to write about cVidya, either way. If you want to succeed, be businesslike. Reverse your misguided PR strategy by responding publicly, via a comment on this website. And use a real name, this time. I keep criticizing your company for a lack of transparency, which makes you appear dishonest. If I were you, I would address that head on, by being public. But you can talk to me privately, if you prefer. I know you have my phone number, though you sometimes suffer technical issues when you try to dial it. And you have my email address. You have used them both before, like the time Solotorevsky wanted to boost his failing site by republishing talkRA content (I refused), or the time Tanami pretended to have contract work to offer (probably another kind of game, trying to influence the things I write). Be sensible. Put a leash on your troll, and cut out the silly comments. You are welcome to call me, or email me, telling me how you want to undo some of the harm you keep doing to yourselves. Or if electronic communication is proving difficult for you, like they used to say about games played on television, you can send me your answer on the back of a postcard…

Eric Priezkalns
Eric Priezkalns
Eric is the Editor of Commsrisk. Look here for more about the history of Commsrisk and the role played by Eric.

Eric is also the Director of the Risk & Assurance Group (RAG), a global association of professionals working in risk management and business assurance for communications providers.

Previously Eric was Director of Risk Management for Qatar Telecom and he has worked with Cable & Wireless, T‑Mobile, Sky, Worldcom and other telcos. He was lead author of Revenue Assurance: Expert Opinions for Communications Providers, published by CRC Press. He is a qualified chartered accountant, with degrees in information systems, and in mathematics and philosophy.