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ScamVille: New Offerpal CEO Admits Mistakes, Makes Bold Promises

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Yesterday Offerpal Media changed CEOs. Cofounder Anu Shukla, who just last week denied that her company engaged in any questionable advertising on social gaming applications, was replaced by veteran startup executive George Garrick. For all the background, see our Scamville post and the related updates at the end.

Garrick, who has been the CEO of Offerpal for less than 48 hours, is already taking a polar opposite approach to his predecessor. He left a lengthy comment, reprinted below, on a post earlier today about Facebook’s policy and enforcement changes around application offers.

The full comment is below. But he doesn’t beat around the bush.

Garrick admits that Offerpal made mistakes – “I have quickly concluded that regrettably, Offerpal has been guilty of distributing offers of questionable integrity from some of our many advertisers.” And he says that recent communications with partners stating that Offerpal was in compliance with Facebook rules were innacurate – “…we’ve also made some erroneous communications to partners and developers about the state of our compliance. In particular, we recently sent a letter to our Facebook developers which assured them that we were completely in compliance with Facebook standards, when in fact we were not.”

Garrick also makes a series of promises in the comment, including “any offers we distribute meet stringent standards of integrity and quality, as specified by our partners, credible industry experts, and good old common sense” and “we will do everything we can within reason to lead the industry and set the example in these efforts.”

Garrick is very much taking the Mark Pincus approach to dealing with this situation. He’s admitting mistakes and he’s promising his company will do better. Compare his words to Shukla’s a week ago. It’s night and day.

Offerpal Today:

I am the new CEO of Offerpal (as of yesterday) and although I’ve only got 48 hours under my belt, and have entered this industry in the midst of a recent firestorm of controversy, I thought it was time to share some of my thoughts and plans.

Direct marketing, in particular lead-gen, has always been full of questionable, misleading, and outright fraudulent marketers and offers. We all get these daily via snail mail, email, phone, and late-night TV. Unfortunately, this is the nature of the Direct Marketing beast.

Although a distribution channel which carries or distributes such offers does not actually create the offers, I do believe that a channel that wishes to be perceived as credible and of high integrity does indeed have a responsibility to make sure that the offers it distributes are not deceptive or “scammy”.

Over the last year, the use of offer-based payment systems such as Offerpal has skyrocketed, and it’s pretty clear today that the industry has not kept up with its explosive growth in terms of properly policing the offers that are being distributed.

I am not going to comment on events leading up to this situation, nor on other players in the industry, but I have quickly concluded that regrettably, Offerpal has been guilty of distributing offers of questionable integrity from some of our many advertisers.

The policies we’ve had up until now have not been thorough enough to prevent such offers from airing, nor has our organization had the proper focus and accountability to ensure quality assurance over the offers we distribute.

As a result, we’ve had a number of offers which were recently taken down by either ourselves or our partners. Although we believe that the majority of our offers were valid and not misleading in any way, we have acted conservatively by taking down the majority of our offers and we are now in the process of letting them back into the system after inspection.

However, we’ve also made some erroneous communications to partners and developers about the state of our compliance. In particular, we recently sent a letter to our Facebook developers which assured them that we were completely in compliance with Facebook standards, when in fact we were not. This was not a deliberate tactic of any kind, it was a mistake that reflected our ineffective checks and controls. But nevertheless, it was an inaccurate claim and for that we take full responsibility, and I apologize to Facebook and to their user community.

The good news in all this is that it has brought to light some very important issues for our collective industry which need to be addressed immediately. For our part, we will be doing the following:

1. It will be a fundamental part of the Offerpal culture that any offers we distribute meet stringent standards of integrity and quality, as specified by our partners, credible industry experts, and good old common sense.

2. We will individually inspect and approve every single individual offer before it is allowed to go into distribution on our system.

3. We will customize our offer profiles to meet the needs and standards of each partner and will not attempt to have a “one size fits all” approach.

4. We will do everything we can within reason to lead the industry and set the example in these efforts.

Over the coming weeks you will hear much more from us on this issue, but more importantly you will see action and results. I will remain personally involved in this initiative and consider it one of my highest priorities in assuming my new role here.

Offerpal a week ago:

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