A Public Apology to Mzinga

Yesterday, I wrote a blog post about Mzinga. Although I had the best intentions, I posted without complete enough information, which was a mistake on my part.

I apologize to Mzinga for any problems this has caused for them. As soon as I get the complete information from Mzinga, I will share it with you.

I know that I have influence in the space and need to make sure that I do so responsibly.

The comments are open, and I will continue to read and absorb all of the thoughtful and tough feedback, I’m listening.

64 Replies to “A Public Apology to Mzinga”

  1. Jeremiah,

    I took time out yesterday to critise you so I will take the time today to say you have done the right thing and that draws a line under it as far as I am concerned. Ironically, yesterdays events were a big lesson to us all and so maybe we should actually thank you. I will continue to enjoy your posts and useful Insight.


  2. Don’t beat your self up over this Jeremiah. Your original post was carefully balanced. You have a following of clients who would question your sitting on information that could have helped them avoid problems. I believe you did the right thing responsibly.


  3. Good for you, Jeremiah! We all make errors of judgement. Some are more public than others. You’ve done the right thing and will make it through this episode just fine. Thanks for reminding all of us to think at least twice before we hit the “Submit” button.


  4. After reading that “apology”, it wreaks of:

    “I have been asked by my employer to write something, but do not believe that I an in the wrong”.

  5. Was what I tried to get across in my email to u yesterday ….came across very alarmist without anything but rumour and no opp for mzinga to tell there side 1st …abuse of power. Your apology makes me a believer once more though . And we ALL make mistakes


  6. I can’t help but see this whole episode through the lens of the Jon Stewart / Jim Cramer dust-up last week.

    In time we’ll all learn whether these cautionary words were justified or not. For now though, Jeremiah, I think you need to decide if you want to be an analyst for the benefit of your clients, or a pundit for the benefit of your network.

  7. For anyone who has ever wondered about the influence Internet rumours can have, this is an example for the ages. The volume of traffic this apology post is getting speaks well on your reach (internal server errors 4 our of 6 pings) – I applaud your willingness to make the public admission, and accepting the responisbility for your mistake.


  8. I appreciate the folks that are noting the lessons learned, and accepting my apology.

    Joseph, yes, my server is just aching, there are a lot of folks visiting.

    Just want to set expectations, I’m going to meetings today, then board a plane back to SF, I won’t be very responsive here in the comments, but I’ll read them carefully when I get landed later tonight.

  9. Having only just read the original post and subsequent apology, I’ve noticed a lot of the comments seem to from people just waiting for a chance to criticise (Notice how the critics rarely use their real name or have a link to their own blog etc).

    Yes, it was probably unwise to publish the post without further details being confirmed – and personally, I’d have sat on the information until the briefing with Mzinga – when you write news about a company for publication in a newspaper, for example, it’s a requirement to give them a right to reply, even if it’s simply ‘no comment’.

    But it’s certainly nowhere near the worst article I’ve read online or in print – you stated that it came from rumours, and that you weren’t going to speculate further until you received a proper response etc, which seemed eminently reasonable. And depending on the scale of the things mentioned to you, and the fact you hadn’t had response, it seemed reasonable to suggest people wait a bit before committing to any buying decisions, just to have the situation clarified.

    You’ve responded well, and it’s a definite reminder to all of us that as blogs grow in influence, there’s a need to look at the ethical and legal implications of publishing content.

    Personally, this hasn’t altered the respect I have for you, or lessened the likelihood I would hire Forrester if appropriate.

  10. Jeremiah

    We all make mistakes. You are a respected and valued member of our community. Your apology was well done.

    Keep your chin up.

  11. Hmm… pundits paid by software companies to rate them and paid by clients to advise them, and we’re only NOW crying foul?

    Cry me a river, and score one for transparency in the scheister analyst business.

  12. On behalf of Mzinga, thank you for your apology this morning.

    As a trained former independent advisor to large organizations (I’m an alumnus of McKinsey, John Hancock, and Andersen), I understand the importance of providing timely and unbiased information to clients that does not do unjustified damage to the company. Further, I know that you and your team, as employees of a publicly traded company, fully appreciate the value of enabling companies to provide quality information to their constituents “ employees, customers and investors – before others make sweeping accusations that may negatively impact their business.

    In the future, it is my hope that you will work with your clients in a more professional and disciplined manner, thereby protecting the well-being of the industry, your individual reputation, and Forrester™s place as a leading provider of thoughtful advice.

  13. Now. Perhaps this will die down as swiftly as it blew up. But with lessons learned.

    Let’s move on, folks.

  14. I think your brief apology might be better seen as Truth if you follow up and disclose the reasons for your original post.

    Why did you say what you said? Why did you feel it was imperative to post so quickly? By your own admission on your “about” page, you need to improve your focus and time management. I hope you see this incident as a message to you, personally, to slow down, pay attention . . . hopefully leading to less twittering and more insight.

    Finally, if you want to shape this blog as a “career blog” then leave your “clients” and buying advice out of your posts. That is your “day job” . . . this (as you claim) is your night job. Best of success in your journey.

    -Scott Lawson sml at qad dot com

  15. I honestly don’t know which is more disappointing, JKO’s barely-an-apology or the mystifying chorus of “well done”s from folks here.

    Jeremiah thinks the problem was that he posted “without complete information.” That was only partly it; the real item of concern (that he evidently still doesn’t get) is that he used his position in what appears to be a petty and vindictive way (irked that they hadn’t called him back), and that he misused his power **as a Forrester analyst** to try to shut down a company’s sales.

    There’s also no real acknowledgment here (either from the glad-handers or from JKO himself) about how JKO’s blog, despite disclaimers, **does** speak for Forrester when he references “his” clients and “his” Wave product. It’s not just that he has “influence in the space”; it’s that when he speaks about social media anywhere, he **is** a Forrester spokesperson, plain and simple. How can people not get that?

    I’m sure I’ll get jumped on for throwing rocks here, but hey, if we don’t all collectively learn the necessary lessons, more comments are in order.

  16. Jeremiah, I think your apology here is warranted. As I was watching your Tweets yesterday along the lines of “Somebody from Mzinga better get in touch with me now because I’m hearing bad things about you”, I did think to myself – ‘getting a little full of himself.’

    I actually found the original blog post to be less of a problem than the tweets. One thing to consider with your stance of holding the interests of clients foremost is that your reach goes far beyond just clients – you’ve got 36K plus followers on Twitter and god knows how many readers of your blog.

    Letting your clients know that you have concerns about Mzinga’s stability would have been one thing – broadcasting it to the world with a “prospects and clients stop what you’re doing” was an abuse of your reputation.

    So yes, good to apologize, but better look through your analysts lens before jumping to conclusions and sounding an alarm.

  17. Apology or not, the post yesterday was clearly irresponsible for someone in your position. If you are a journalist, then (as mentioned above in other comments) you should get at least a “no comment” from the company before publishing a rumour about the company’s disorganization. If you are a headhunter/networker, then you’ve outed several colleagues who trusted you with “inside” information– and I would assume that trust is now diminished. If you are an industry analyst, then– as others have mentioned– you have a responsibility to discolse any relationships, business interests, or other motivations that you may have when dissing on a company like you did in yesterday’s post.

    The apology is a nice start, but– as you’ve said yourself– the Internet is in permanent ink. My trust in you is lower today than it was last week.

  18. Objectivity comes in a couple different flavors. There is objectivity in practice – Jeremiah’s “We must maintain objectivity for clients as we would non-clients,” and objectivity in fact. Taking money from vendors you’re supposed to be even-handedly covering makes you, as a matter of fact, incapable of being objective.

    Jeremiah’s WAVE report, like all publications from analysts that take money from vendors and clients alike, should be taken with a lot of salt.

  19. It must be hard for such a mistake to be called out. And that is what it is. Simply a very human mistake.

    But I, like many, trust your good intentions. But you own up the haste (which I have done so myself) that sometimes causes us to make mistakes and errors.

    Personally, I think this makes you ever more credible, and I believe that you did not use your influence for malicious or selfish purposes. And I believe that if we do ever challenge you in the future, we would trust that you would readily admit your mistakes, if we’re have valid points.

    We are an alternative website/community platform vendor to Mzinga indirectly in the small-medium market segment, but I, nevertheless, am sincerely wishful that you can be just as influential in repairing/enhancing Mzinga’s image once you have your discussion with them. And that would be a good result for you, Mzinga and the social media community. And life moves on for all of us to continue to enjoy your insights and thought leadership without further prejudice.

    That would be fair redemption, I think, for what is an honest mistake to Mzinga.

    Keep chins up, please.

  20. @CharityHisle ~ “Your apology was well done.”

    I have to disagree with this. There was absolutely no emotion behind this “apology”. At least none that I could feel. Like Peter said above, you have yet to address the real issues in your previous blog. It’s easy to apologize when you are hiding behind a monitor, but imagine the employees that could end up losing their job based on your recommendation to your clients. We are already in a tough economy. Why make things worse for EVERYONE!? Congrats on impacting the lives of many. You should be canned for such negligence. Kudos for the apology, but I’m sure the real lives that are affected by this wouldn’t accept it.

    JO ~ “I know that I have influence in the space…”

    If you already knew this, then why be the person to start all the rumors in the first place? Why write a very poor blog based on your own rumors? Why “demand” a response from the company? What were your motives???

    Disgusted and feeling sorry for the company involved.

  21. As a fellow analyst (who also covers Mzinga et. al.), I would argue it’s part of our role to understand whether hearing a lot of smoke from vendor customers means there’s a real fire underneath. This can be very instinctual, and based on what we’ve experienced with Mzinga, my sixth sense tells me JO’s initial instincts were not far off.

    To the extent JO felt he made a mistake, at least he owned up to it, something we analysts don’t do as much or as well as we should.

  22. I’m sure Jeremiah is having a tough time with this folks. It’s a bad situation all around. I’m still shocked over it.

    But what is most bothering me is that I feel TERRIBLY for Mzinga’s employees–several of which, through tweets and dms, have said how tough this has been on them.

    Why would we put any additional stress upon people at any time… much less a tough time… without full information? One lesson is just how much benefit or damage we can do; so I’m hoping we all learned that (though I truly thought we all knew that).

    Folks, while thanking Jeremiah for this apology (thank you, Jeremiah, wish you well), please give thought to Mzinga’s employees. And understand that they are the victims here.

    Also understand that all those clients that we urge into this oh-so-groovy space now have more cause to be concerned. And, to be honest, I can’t blame them; but I’ll keep nudging them forward.

  23. “I know that I have influence in the space and need to make sure that I do so responsibly.” This is a valuable lesson for an analyst to learn. I won’t add to the beat down, but just agree with the above that the folks most impacted by communications such as yours are the non-executive employees. This is the audience we often forget about while we opine.

    Now you have something else to write in your profile section “What I need to Improve on.”

    I wish you luck going forward, but I reserve most of my concern for those hurt most by your mistake.

  24. I held off on commenting yesterday because I wanted to think my thoughts through clearly.

    Qualifications: Mzinga is competitor. Haven™t met Barry Libert. Have no financial or other interest in Mzinga.

    The Point: Both the Twitter post alleging financial problems based on undisclosed interviews and heresay and the blog post demanding attention and discouraging customers were amongst the most unprofessional behaviors the industry has ever experienced in this environment.

    This type of commentary affects a lot of people – their employees, families, friends as well as customers. As I understand it, JO™s role is as an industry analyst – not a financial analyst. And as I also understand it, Mzinga is/was a client. At a minimum I look back to Barry Libert™s promotion of JO as one of his favorite follows on twitter. The bond seemed close to the outside world.

    The type of comments made should never be made at all. They should never be made casually. They should never be made for purposes of anything other than objective analysis of the industry – never personal motivation. The consequences should always be considered – the innocent people who are impacted.

    And at a minimum, the sanctity of client relationships should always be honored. Assuming that Mzinga is a client, my gosh. How would any client (or prospective client) view this objectively? Can we imagine any other analyst or analyst firm doing something like this?

    Everyone in the industry should be very disappointed in what happened here. It was about as unprofessional as anything that we have ever seen. Unless there is a heightened level of objectivity in our industry, the industry is going to experience a complete lack of credibility – fueled by this kind of behavior. If Jeremiah is a recognized leader – what can the financial industry, marketing industry and customer groups be thinking about now?

    This was very serious. Barry Libert™s comments above were more than gracious (and restrained). Though a competitor, we have nothing but respect for what the Mzinga team is trying to accomplish. And they have done it nothing but professionally.

    Apologies are important. I agree with several of the thoughts above that the point isn’t just “incomplete information”. But this goes beyond apologies. It is just very serious in all respects – not limited to Mzinga and Forrester. The comments were completely unnecessary and ill-conceived. I hope that it can get sorted out and that the damage to all can be minimized – Mzinga, JO, Forrester, and the industry as a whole. Hat™s off to Barry Libert for being so restrained.

    Complete lack of good judgment from someone upon whose judgment the industry depends.

  25. Kim and others

    I’m back home now, and am reading –and am thinking very carefully about all of this. To say the least, has been a very difficult time, I’m kicking myself harder than any nasty comments. Lots of lessons learned here. I know there’s some things I need to work on. –a sleepless night.

  26. This has been an interesting exchange. I’ve gotten to know Jeremiah over almost two years now, initially as a blogger and then when he joined Forrester, and I have to say he’s one of the most earnest and straightforward people I’ve met in the industry. Regardless of how you may feel about his opinions, I’ve always found that his intentions come from the right place.

    After spending time with him professionally and on occasion, personally, I’m know that he’s taking all of this feedback very seriously and to heart. Some seem to think his apology is insincere (hey…I’m about as skeptical as they come) but I think the record shows on this blog that he’s extremely engaged, transparent and puts himself out there–good or bad. That alone is should say quite a bit.

    [Note: I work for KickApps. This comment reflects my personal opinion, not that of KickApps.]

  27. Guess what, I have never heard of Mzinga before this flare-up. I wouldn’t have read Jeremiah’s original post if it weren’t for the apology, which drew my attention because I’ve spend a long time in the media, and with analysts.

    He made a mistake. He copped to it. I will keep reading him — as I have done since hearing him present about a year ago — because he is smart and insightful. Twitter is an awful medium for considered thoughts, and I am sure he will be more careful in the future. There is no separation between his day job and night job, and I’m sure he sees that now, whatever his future at Forrester is. Should we all go back to work now?

  28. @Kim — “But this goes beyond apologies.” That’s a bit extreme don’t you think? Is that a business or life practice that you advocate in general?

    Let’s not get carried away. It’s not like he fucked the country out of billions or murdered kittens. He made a mistake, apologized for it–which is much more than MOST people in business and life would ever do.

    He’s been credible and I believe he will take this experience and it will be reflected in his work moving forward. A good thing in my opinion. Maybe the rest of us can learn from it too–except those of us that never fuck up or have to apologize.

    [Note: I work for KickApps. This comment reflects my personal opinion, not that of KickApps.]

  29. Having seen a fair number of other blogs repeating the topic, I just wanted to come back and say that although I’ve never met Jeremiah personally, or had any professional dealings with Forrester, I’ve really appreciated the time and effort he’s put into sharing plenty of useful and interesting information, and the efforts he’s made to link up social media people, for example, via the blog.

    And I wouldn’t want one earnest mistake in a couple of years of publishing to risk ending that!

    It happens on national news media, it happens on local news media, and it happens on blogs, and the first two examples generally have teams of Editors and Sub-Editors to try to catch everything.

    If you really want to improve the situation, how about linking or writing some best practice guides for how non-journalists can avoid similar situations?

  30. Forrester is a very well respected firm.

    Let’s all be honest Mzinga should of answered the call from the only analyst that is taking the time to follow these companies.

    Someone dropped the ball at Mzinga. For a company that is trying to spread open communication they seem very hard to talk too.

    I am curious as why you wrote the entry? Was it an ego thing? Genuine Concern?

  31. Jeff,

    Mzinga has a right to wait to talk to me till they choose an appropriate time. I made my intentions clear, it was for my clients, please re-read the post. I’ll be up front, my approach was wrong, but my intentions were right. You are right, I do care about this space, with a passion, and am thinking about how I could have done it better.

    Thanks for coming by and looking at multiple sides of the topic –that’s rare now a days.

  32. Wow. Having read all of this and having just sat on a panel with JKO at SXSW this past weekend I am blown away. Not a person among us has never made a professional decision we later regretted and I am sorry to see Jeremiah taking such a pounding. Ironically, turns out that is concerns re: mzinga were right all along. Here is the post from the company blog today: http://www.mzinga.com/en/Community/Blogs/Barry-Libert/

    Turns out that the concerns that JKO expressed were correct, if not the way in which tey were communicated…

  33. Just wanted to let everyone know (and I posted this on the other post), I’m still thinking this all through. The lessons have not escaped me.

    I’m grateful for the positive and negative feedback, I’m taking it all in.

  34. The one thing that I want to add to bring closure is that there is difference between being critical of the person and the behavior, though one often reflects the other.

    All of us at some point in our lives have made mistakes – professionally, personally, and otherwise. It is part of the human condition. It is how we grow from those experiences that says a lot about us. Jeremiah’s energy, passion, and understanding of our industry is solid and deserves respect from all. I count myself in that group.

    It is up to Forrester and JO to go through the self-examination and come out of it stronger – and as leaders. That is something that only they can do. A year or two from now, we will know how this all played out, and whether the entire industry – not just JO – is the better for the experience and discussion.

    I optimistically believe that things can and should get better. JO is very intelligent and genuinely cares about the industry. Let’s all agree on that and move on.

  35. This is the price of a very narcissistic occupation. I do not feel one ounce of ‘sorry’ for Jeremiah. From what I see, Forrester is leading the charge among research firms – to tarnish the value of quality research in a social media world.

    In fact, Jeremiah is not the only analyst at Forrester to engage in such poor, immature, inexcusable behavior (via blog, twitter, etc.).

    Merv Adrian (a former Forrester analyst) is starting a great discussion on this issue in a blog post titled: “Analyst Bloggers – Threat or Menace?” http://mervadrian.wordpress.com/2009/03/19/analyst-bloggers-threat-or-menace/#comments

    When will Forrester management realize that their brand is greater than that of any individual analyst? This behavior is a slap in the face of ‘research’ and will continue to hurt Forrester in the long run unless they take serious and immediate action to govern how their analysts use personal blogs for conducting and syndicating ‘so called research’ outside of traditional research processes. Totally inexcusable and I hold Forrester management more accountable than any analyst – because they SHOULD KNOW BETTER. They have been conveniently ignoring these issues for months.

  36. Jeremiah,

    While we haven’t met in person, I have followed you for some time and respect the heck out of you for sharing such great insights and information with us all. And I respect the heck out of the fact that you made the original post with the right intentions. I really believe that your heart was in the right place, and your clients were your #1 concern – a pretty amazing feat in and of itself for any business, but especially in today’s economy, it seems.

    I also respect the heck out of the fact that you took a chance, made the post, and then – and here’s perhaps even the most important part (and I really hope folks are paying attention here) — you read and responded to the feedback, concerns, even inappropriate commentary and lash-outs from everyone by posting this follow-up apology. It takes a truly great person to listen, digest, and respond, let alone admit when they made what some feel is a mistake. Kudos to you, Jeremiah, for stepping back and doing what you felt was the right thing, even knowing that some people would still find fault with it. I admire you deeply for that, as well as for your sincerity and candor.

    This whole situation brings to light a very interesting phenomenon that I’ve seen a lot recently – I don’t know if it’s the economy, or people just getting confortable with public commentary and social media in general (although I guess I wouldn’t call it entirely public for the folks who can’t step up and share with the rest of us who they are), but I’m noticing an increasing tendency for people to just kook out on commentary and lash out at anyone about anything they disagree with…Maybe it’s just me, but I keep seeing this happen more and more. What happened to responsible and respectful discussion and debate? Do people feel braver with their words when they’re writing/typing instead of talking to someone in person? What is it that brings out such unprofessional behavior in some people? I don’t think most people even mind others disagreeing with them, but it’s all in how they do it…I know one thing’s for sure – if I come across the folks that were nasty and distasteful in their responses to you, I’ll think twice about wanting to have a sincere chat with them. But I guess that’s just me.

    Keep on doing what you do – there are many, many of us that thoroughly enjoy your insight and perspective, benefit from it, and wouldn’t know what to do without you.

    All the best,

  37. Jamie

    Thank you, really. Yes, I took some lashings, I touched the live wire and clearly know where the boundaries are now. It’s interesting that many of the lashings came from anonymous folks, some which were from the same IP address I do appreciate your attempt at trying to understand intent, I’ve learned a lot, and know where I went wrong — intentions are important, and I’m glad you took the time to take a look.

    I will continue to listen as I know I need to continue to learn, thank you.

  38. Here’s another example of a young and impatient “analyst” not being willing to receive information on the terms of the people who own it–his impatient demands for Mzinga’s management to update him, and his subsequent decision to offer Mzinga’s prospects and clients advice to “wait” before buying more products or services is stupid at best, criminal at worst. Executives go to jail for making “forward-looking” statements that can affect stock prices; maybe we should consider similar treatment for brash men and women whose blog postings of innuendo and subtext cause businesses to undergo cash strapping…

    At the very least, Forrester needs to have him on closely supervised probation–and at the next whiff of trouble like this, show him the door.

    The reporter is NOT the news, and the reporter does not MAKE the news. Reporters who forget that simple rule can’t be trusted, and need to be removed from positions where they can influence public trust.

  39. Jeremiah,
    Did you ever get a chance to have that follow up meeting with Mzinga? If you did what are your thoughts on it?


  40. Jeremiah,
    Did you ever get a chance to have that follow up meeting with Mzinga? If you did what are your thoughts on it?


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  42. So what are some thoughts on Mzinga now — a year later? Anyone know who is using their Flash Chat application?

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