Seattle’s Marchex is the latest target of Barry Minkow, a reformed stock scammer who now trolls corporate biographies, looking for false information to expose after he’s shorted the stock.
This, according to the latest piece by Al Lewis, a Dow Jones columnist who raised Minkow’s profile last month.
In a followup piece today, Lewis shares a new tip from Minkow: the Marchex official biography of Peter Christothoulou, co-founder and chief operating officer, said he received a bachelor’s in economics from the University of Washington but he never graduated.
From the column:
Christothoulou responded to my questions in an e-mail and promised to fix his corporate bio.
“I attended the University of Washington from 1991 to 1995 with Economics as my declared major,” he wrote. “Because of my father’s battle with cancer and subsequent death, I was forced to take a leave … and despite returning and doubling up on my classes, I ended up one quarter shy of the degree. … I have always intended to complete the remaining classes, but with work and family obligations, I have not yet been able to do so.”
Christothoulou’s bio has indeed been edited – the UW reference in the last line, visible in the Google cache, is now gone. He’s not alone: All the education references for the executive team are gone today.
Christothoulou wouldn’t discuss the situation when I called this afternoon. He referred me to a spokeswoman, Leigh McMillan.
“We frankly think there’s not that much to say,” she said. “We’re aware of the situation. We made the appropriate corrections to his bio and now we’re getting back to business. He’s a co-founder of the company and he has everyone here’s full support.”
If Minkow was trying to make a few bucks shorting Marchex, he should have bought before its Feb. 19 earnings report.
The company said it lost $128 million in the fourth quarter, when it wrote down $176.7 million worth of goodwill and assets. It also declined to provide guidance on 2009 earnings.
After the report, the stock fell from $5.03 to $3.95 the next day, going as low as $3 on Monday.