Chalk it up to process journalism, or to a sneaky “stock promoter.” The CEO of WiFi provider ICOA Corp confirmed to TechCrunch — and Google has now also confirmed — that it has not been acquired by Google for $400 million – a story that had made the rounds earlier today. “This is NOT TRUE!!” wrote CEO George Strouthopoulos in an email. “Never had any discussions with any potential acquirers!! This is absolutely false!” he wrote in an email. “Someone, I guess a stock promoter with a dubious interest, is disseminating wrong, false and misleading info in the PR circles.”
The false information was further confirmed by ICOA’s CFO Erwin Vahlsing, Jr. “It is false,” he wrote in a separate email.
A source at Google has now also confirmed this: “100% false,” we have been told. AllThingsD also reported Google sources denying the deal.
It’s much easier to say it in hindsight, but it did seem fishy that a Google acquisition of $400 million — pontentially kicking off a whole new area of business for the company in its nascent role as a network service provider — would be announced in the form of a press release from the company without any statement from Google. That release, on PRweb, is still live at the time of writing.
The company’s news page was last updated only in 2010. But more recently, the company itself had to back out of an acquisition it had announced, of Tango Software, because it hadn’t raised enough funds to complete the deal. The company has been going through an ongoing restructuring that led it to cancel 23% of issued shares.
Update: Despite this now happening a couple of hours ago, PRWeb still has the story as an active link on its site. This is despite Strouthopoulos telling TechCrunch that “WEBPR [sic] promised to remove the PR.” He adds that the company is in the process of finding out who the sender was “in order to report them to SEC.”
Update 2: Strouthopoulos still says he is none the wiser on who wrote the erroneous release, but PRWeb has issued an acknowledgement of sorts, bringing us up to speed on what happened but not giving much of an explanation: “Even with reasonable safeguards identity theft occurs, on occasion, across all of the major wire services,” it writes. PRWeb says it has “removed the fraudulent release” — although it is actually still online — and “turned the matter over to the proper authorities for further investigation.”