After our meeting with Sean, the three of us (PWD, MBB and I) walked up towards Harcourt Street to perform a post-mortem. It took us approximately 23 seconds to come to the conclusion that bringing Sean & Co. onto the Learnology train was not an option. It was my job to break the news to Sean, and here is the email I sent him:
Sean was not a happy bunny when he received my mail, and a few days later he replied with the following:
As you can see, reading an email from Sean is a pleasure compared to reading one from BS. Not simply because it could take you the same time to read a PhD thesis, backwards, as it would to read one of BS’s emails, but also because Sean’s emails were emotion-free. He was always very composed and level-headed.
All correspondence from this point on was going to be with Sean. BS went to ground immediately after the Everyone Shites letter was sent. This was most probably because he was burying his head, but then again, maybe he was out of the country (for a change) and there was no internet coverage in Ulan Bator (he wanted to discover the other side of the world, he had already explored every nook and cranny that exists in the Americas, and that was during our 6 months of broadcasting alone).
You may notice that Sean is still wearing his poker face in this email. He still makes out that he has a case against me, and more importantly, Learnology. He threatens to come after Learnology, if we didn’t ‘let him in’. I knew that this was a super bluff, but the guys in Learnology weren’t so sure. In fact, MBB was pretty shaken.
What did Sean want?
To get a clear understanding of what Sean wanted, I sent him an email in which I bluntly asked him what he wanted? He replied saying that there were a number of options, 7 to be precise. These were as follows (click to enlarge):
The were some similarities between these options and the options BS gave me in the last chapter. Having been given the option of relinquishing my shareholding in OnlineGrinds.ie and walking away from the company by both, and having been put under some pressure from my colleagues in Learnology, I decided that the time had come to take flight and get the hell out of OnlineGrinds.ie.
You would think that it would be very difficult for me to walk away from a company I founded and ran for two and a half years, with no return whatsoever. While I admit that it wasn’t easy for my pride, the truth is that my departure was somewhat tinged with relief. Relief that I didn’t have to interact with, or even see, BS ever again. Considering that the very sight of BS would make me gag and vomit incessantly for hours, I think it was best for my health that I departed (SL).
In addition, I was also acutely aware that OnlineGrinds.ie had no future. It had no hope of working, never mind success, for the following reasons: (a) Mammies are simply not ready to send Johnny up to his room to do grinds with ‘his computer’ (to that end, I’m not sure if online learning will ever work at secondary school level, if I’m honest). (b) Any company in which BS plays a role, silent, loud, present, absent, in the same country, in a different country, in the same galaxy, in a different galaxy, would not succeed. As long as BS was involved in a company, even in the most minute capacity, it would fail. If he walked into a company, stood in it for 6 seconds, breathed in and out, and walked straight out the door, the company would be cursed forevermore.
So, on 19th October 2013 I wrote a very official ‘good luck’ email to the rest of the team in OnlineGrinds.ie.
My theory was that neither BS nor Sean thought that I would leave the pitch and hang up my boots. Even though it was an option they both gave me in their respective emails, I still believe the outcome they wanted, and thought they were going to get, was that somehow we would ‘let them in’ to Learnology. In the words of Alicia Silverstone, as if.
It turned out that my theory was correct. When I sent the email of relinquishment of shares, and my letter of resignation as director, I never received any acknowledgement. A number of weeks passed where I got no correspondence from them whatsoever. I’d say my resignation had literally gob smacked them and now they hadn’t a clue what to do without me, considering that neither of them had been actively involved in the company thus far (Sean because he didn’t need to be; he was simply the man with the money, BS because…… he was BS).
This now meant that someone would have to replace me i.e. be in the office virtually 7 days a week and be present for every single live broadcast. This was obviously not going to be Sean as he lives in the UK, and this was obviously not going to be BS (no need for qualification of the latter). They were rightly screwed. I suggest at this point they highly regretted giving me the ‘escape’ option (SL).
I eventually heard back from Sean in relation to my relinquishing of shares. In this email Sean states that he is ‘considering’ my relinquishment of shares, despite the fact that it was a clear option he had given me previously:
The Stool Pigeon
Approximately one month after sending my letter of resignation, I got a call from Sean. Sean basically reiterated that there was no real advantage (to them) in me leaving a company that had debts (why give me the option in the first place, says you). After a brief argument along the lines of ‘so it was okay for me to leave a month ago and now it’s not?’ Sean made a proposal to me.
He said he was going to get his solicitor to draw up an option agreement. The option agreement was a document that I would sign which would allow Sean and Co. to take my shares at any point over the following three months, at very short notice. If the agreement was triggered, they would take the shares and there would be no further threat of legal action. If the agreement wasn’t triggered, they could still take legal action against me (and Learnology) during the three month period.
At the time I hadn’t a clue what they were playing at. My initial reaction was one of non-description tinged with slight confusion, further tinged with not giving a shit. Having given the matter further thought and spoken to a few people who actually gave a shit about the whole agreement (a bit more than I), I learnt that this agreement simply amounted to Sean & Co. having their black forest gateau, and also consuming it.
They decided to renege on their original promise of allowing me walk away (without being sued) if I relinquished my shareholding, as they realised that the company couldn’t survive without me. They were now going to try and get another partner to replace me, and if they managed to find somebody within the next 3 months, the option agreement would be triggered, my shares would be transferred, and everybody would live happily ever after. I may go in peace to love and serve the lord, amen. In the case that they weren’t successful in finding somebody to replace me, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for them, as they would still have me (and Learnology) standing in the corner like a stool pigeon for 3 months, waiting to be sued.
The 3 month time frame was actually quite a clever move on their part, as it would give them time to see if Learnology was going to be successful or not. A lot can happen in 3 months, especially given that the school year only lasts 9 months. If they had seen that Learnology had done very well over the 3 months, they probably would have sued for damages and tried to claim Learnology profits.
When someone with much more sense than I explained the whole situation to me, I felt as used and abused as Solomon Northup. The kind of behaviour in which Sean & Co. were engaging brought me back to my days in the Merrion Hotel, a five star hotel in Dublin City. In any five star hotel you usually have a very special type of clientele. The type of people who walk around as if they are minted, yet they don’t have a penny to their name. The type of people who comment on the ‘beautiful nose and bouquet’ of a red wine, when it is probably corked. The type of people who eat caviar, yet they can’t spell the word. In other words, total tossers.
The feeling I experienced in relation to the option agreement wasn’t dissimilar to how I used to feel after presenting a bill to a guest in the Merrion Hotel. You would present the bill and then have to stand there like a complete and utter gob shite waiting for the guest to take money from his wallet, put it into the bill folder and hand it back to you. This process could sometimes take a couple of minutes, as the guest would continue to talk (bollox) to the others around the table, distracting him from the act of taking out the €50 note from his heavy-laden-with-other-clearly-visible-€50-notes wallet, and placing it in the bill folder, all the while without making eye contact or acknowledging your presence.
If I had one very small request to ask of you, my beloved readers (all 7 or 8 of you): BE NICE TO WAITERS. They are, in fact, human beings. Don’t be an asshole when you are in a restaurant or bar. It’s already a demeaning job. They already feel like gob shites. Please make their work easier by treating them nicely. Before you make fun of a waiter or waitress the next time you are in a restaurant, put yourself in their shoes for a minute. Imagine how much of a twat they feel. Don’t make them want to call you a cunt. Respect them.
I realise that today’s chapter was a little downbeat. So to end on a lighter note, do you remember this video? Can anyone spot a Doberman?
Next Chapter – Chapter 16: OOPS and Buy Me Out Oh Baby Buy Me Out