KEARNEY COLUMN: Message sent, received in Mount Pleasant firm's Twitter lawsuit
Remember that lawsuit over whether a guy could take his Twitter followers with him when he switched jobs?
If not, don't fret, it's been almost a year since the first-of-its-kind suit made national headlines, and that's a long time in the Twittersphere.
To quickly recap, the guy was mobile technology reviewer Noah Kravitz, and the company he left was Mount Pleasant-based PhoneDog.
The local website wasn't too keen on Kravitz defecting to a California competitor with the 17,000 followers he had attracted writing under PhoneDog's banner and claimed hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, under various theories, including a per-follower value of $2.50.
People thought the case would lead to official guidance we could all live by, and maybe even set out standards for the value of a Twitter follower. “It's bigger than Noah Kravitz and PhoneDog,” Kravitz's lawyer, Cary Kletter, told The Post and Courierat the time. “Because it's being litigated in federal court, a precedent is going to be set.”
Well, not quite.
The federal judge in San Francisco made a preliminary ruling or two, but before anything substantive or precedential, the parties entered mediation this past summer. Last week, Kletter announced a settlement had been reached.
The only part of the deal that was revealed was that Kravitz “will maintain sole custody of the @noah kravitz Twitter account,” once known as @Phone Dog_Noah.
While the resolution, which almost sounded like a holiday reconciliation in the press release, is good news for Kravitz and PhoneDog — their dispute dated back more than two years and actually involved multiple lawsuits and counterclaims — where does it leave everyone else with a Twitter account is used, at least partially, for work?
Unfortunately, the flap was little more than a cautionary tale. But for most employers and employees that should be enough.
“If anything comes out of this,” Kravitz said in a statement, “I hope it's that other employees and employers out there can recognize the importance of social media to companies and individuals both. Good contracts and specific work agreements are important, and the responsibility for constructing them lies with both parties. Work it out ahead of time so you can focus on doing good work together — that's the most important thing.”
Tom Klein, president and CEO of PhoneDog, declined to comment on the settlement but said people in his position already have taken the cue.
“You can see evidence around the corporate world of things that have changed that are probably due to what's happened in the case,” he said.
Reach Brendan Kearney at 937-5906. Follow him on Twitter at @kearney_ brendan.