First the producers of Occupy Wall Street's livestream team got arrested, and now a nasty feud over money and work ethic among the producers of The Other 99 has spilled over into the public sphere. It's been one hell of a week to broadcast the revolution. Daily Intel points us to a Thursday Pastebin post from Tim Pool, one of the most prolific live-feed producers of Occupy's New York happenings, who says his partner in creating the live-feed site, Henry Ferry, squandered their donation money and didn't do enough work, then shut Pool out of their collaboration when he complained. Pool stopped short of accusing Ferry of skimming cash, but he said Ferry "didn’t know how to run a business" and said, "I didn’t think he was keeping track of where everything was going." Ferry didn't pick up the phone when we called him, nor has he been active on The Other 99's Twitter account, but we'll add his comments to this report as soon as we speak with him.
Friday update: Ferry has issued his own statement on the website We Are the Other 99. Please see below for excerpts.
Before we get into the squabble tearing apart The Other 99, let's differentiate between the various Occupy live feeds. Earlier this week we reported on Global Revolution, which is a live feed aggregator that mixes footage from New York as well as other Occupy sites worldwide. That group got shut out of its Brooklyn headquarters and some of its organizers were arrested on Tuesday. The Other 99 is a separate entity, and a much more New York-focused outfit. It's got a website, but the real attraction is a Ustream channel, where footage mostly shot by Pool captures what's happening with Occupy in New York. The night Occupy got ousted from Zuccotti Park, and the following day, and during the huge protest on Nov. 17, Pool walked around with his camera showing the goings-on to tens of thousands of viewers. Since then, The Other 99 has been the go-to live stream for Occupy's New York actions.
The current squabble within The Other 99 started when Pool, who has been featured in The New York Times, Time, and Fast Company got invited to a meeting with a book agent. Pool said via telephone that he invited Ferry to the meeting. "Henry was really excited and was like, 'this is a day that will change your life; it’s an important moment.' But we got into an argument about how a book deal would work ... Now he brings it up in every argument [we have]. It’s the first thing he jumps to every time."
Ferry and Pool started out as collaborators. After Pool started The Other 99, Ferry got the idea to put a fund-raising button on the stream to collect donations. Pool wrote in his Pastebin post that Ferry spent $37,000 they had raised, "yet has produced almost no content, at least not enough to warrant how much money he has spent." He used donation money to buy Pool a computer and a backpack, which Pool says helped him shoot video at minimal expense. "I would say out of all of it, about $1,000 was spent on stuff that I got," Pool said over the phone. "He’s spent the money on web hosting, domain names, food when we had meetings. Nothing illegal or unethical but stuff I wouldn’t spend money on. I was sleeping in the park, eating from the Occupy kitchen." After the raid on Zuccotti, when Pool put in marathon live-streaming stints on two separate days, "about $8,000 came into The Other 99 because of my broadcast. I found out about two weeks later that only $2,000 was left. I said 'where did that money go?' No one had an answer." Pool said Ferry once told him that "he gave about $6,000 of the donations to the occupiers," but "a couple of weeks ago when he was taking account of his finances, he said I’ve given 10,000 to the park." That made Pool question Ferry's book keeping.
Then there was the question of work ethic, which Pool said Ferry lacked. Ferry took a two-week vacation in November and another one in December, Pool said, and opted out of their work frequently to watch football.* The time off is a major annoyance for Pool. "It was always me sleeping in the park, me gathering information, me making sacrifices," he told us. "I understand people want to take vacations. But at the same time, I’m sitting here and working through all of them."
Their feud came to a head on Wednesday, when Pool says Ferry locked him out of their jointly controlled accounts. "Tim here, Henry has blocked me from Ustream by changing passwords," Pool tweeted from @TheOther99, which is still jointly controlled. He says he's given back the computer but still had an iPhone and mobile hot spot, both of which were deactivated on Wednesday. Pool said Ferry "sat me down [and] told me that he doesn’t see me being part of the Ustream channel anymore."
Pool's now broadcasting on a Ustream channel called Timcast, and his separation from Ferry seems pretty permanent, especially now that it's so public. But perhaps a very public breakup is the only way a team dedicated to organizational transparency could end.
Update: Ferry wrote in a Friday statement on We Are The Other 99 that "The Other 99 grew out of the combined efforts of many beginning with the earliest documented arrests and our funding was used to build a platform that could act as a primary news source of Occupy Wall Street. All donations have been directed for this purpose, including office space, media equipment, stipends, technology, and legal or accounting fees. The responsibilities and real-world realities of building a media platform from scratch were of little interest to Tim, who instead pursued personal appointments without communicating with the team." He stressed that no archived footage had been locked or sold, and said of the accounts that had bee closed to Pool: "From the beginning all accounts or contracts signed of The Other 99 were in my name and at my risk alone, including personal emails."
Ferry also wrote that Pool was now looking for paid appearances, a move that seems to have rankled the other members of the group: "As of this writing, he is pursuing an exclusive contract with a live streaming service where he bluntly told me his “minimum” compensation should be $156,000. Though he did not ask us for this amount, our team would not be able to afford to pay him this sum."
*Note: An earlier version of this story cited Pool as saying Ferry took Sundays off to watch college ball, but Pool actually didn't specify a day of the week.