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AGORACOM Settles With OSC On Contrary To The Public Interest

Posted by AGORACOM at 2:32 PM on Friday, November 12th, 2010

Good afternoon to you all.  I am pleased to announce that we have reached a settlement with the Ontario Securities Commission on the basis of acting “contrary to the public interest”.

It is an understatement to say that we are all happy to have fairly settled this matter.  We have worked very hard and take great pride in the fact that AGORACOM has become the leading online platform for small-cap companies and investors, so we are more motivated than ever to get back to the business of delivering an industry leading platform for years to come.

LESSONS LEARNED

Our organization has learned some hard yet very important lessons through this matter.  Specifically, the need for strict written policies is absolute in order to avoid potential problems and conflicts.  I assure you that we are well into that process on multiple facets of our operations and that we will continue to operate within a different policy culture.

More than just lip service, for example, AGORACOM has implemented a public facing IP address check that displays any multiple aliases posting from the same IP address on our website.  Furthermore, as part of our settlement with the OSC to avoid any potential future conflicts of interest, we have agreed not to serve as officers or directors of any of our clients.

It’s also an expensive lesson. We have agreed to pay $150,000 in costs and monetary payment over the next 18 months. That’s fair given the resources expended by OSC staff, whom I would also like to thank for working with us towards this fair settlement.

With respect to recent revelations concerning our private messaging system, I want to assure our members that stricter controls and policies have been implemented to protect your privacy.  Specifically, even in the case of a violation being reported within the messaging system, no private message of a member can be viewed without your prior written consent, with the exception of a court order.

An official press release with more complete details will be issued within 24 hours of the settlement.

ONWARD AND UPWARD

With this matter firmly behind us, we are anxious to move forward with upgrades to AGORACOM that we have been holding back on.  For example, over the next few days we will be:

  • Launching our iPhone App
  • Announcing our Facebook integration
  • Launching a front-page blog for the best AGORACOM members.

Our upgrades won’t end there, so keep a look out for news pertaining to another online conference, CEO Skype interviews and further cutting edge developments that you have come to know us for.

THANKS AND ACKNOWLEDGMENT

AGORACOM would like to thank the following for their unwavering support over the last 7 months:

  • Consolidated Spire Ventures, Northern Tiger Resources, and Razor Resources
  • The numerous CEO’s and industry participants that took the time to call, e-mail, Skype or pull us  aside at industry conferences to show their support
  • Our amazing members for their unconditional support and great words of encouragement
  • Our great employees for believing in our vision and vowing to make it even stronger
  • Our friends and family for never losing faith and reminding us of who we are
  • Jim Douglas, Tyler Hodgson and their team at Borden Ladner Gervais for their outstanding work and support during the settlement phase.
  • Dominic Bortolussi and his team at The Working Group for their great web and iPhone development/ideas these past few months.

I want to personally thank everyone above for their great support over the last 7 months.  We asked for the benefit of the doubt in our April 1 Public Response when more severe allegations were announced – and you provided it.   I am eternally grateful for your courage and faith.

The fact that this experience was at times a difficult one does not overshadow the fact that it was also a great one. You have truly served to reaffirm both the value and purpose of AGORACOM as a place that amalgamates great people and great ideas, leading to great decisions.  I look forward to delivering this ideal to the small-cap industry for years to come.

To this end, I want to apologize to everyone in this group for everything that has taken place over the last 8 months.  Things happened on my watch, so I take full responsibility for them.  They will not happen again.  I will personally see to it that AGORACOM is worthy of the contributions you have made to our success by emerging as a stronger and better organization for years to come.

Regards,
George Tsiolis, LL.B
Founder
AGORACOM

OSC Update

Posted by AGORACOM at 4:56 PM on Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Good afternoon to you all.  Please find enclosed the latest update on our matter with the OSC.

The Commission issued an Order which provides that

(1) a further confidential pre-hearing conference shall take place on September 21, 2010 at 9:00 a.m.; and

(2) the hearing on the merits shall commence on February 14, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. and shall continue to and including March 11, 2011 (other than February 21 and 22 and March 8, 2011), or such further or other dates as shall be agreed to by the parties and fixed by the Office of the Secretary.

Regards,
George

Great Support From AGORACOM Members and The Industry

Posted by AGORACOM at 1:38 PM on Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

Image Courtesy Of http://school.discoveryeducation.com/

I want to take this opportunity to thank our members for the great support they have shown over the past few days.  We’ve been keeping track of many comments via our del.icio.us account and invite you to see the testimonials here.   for the lazy linkers out there, here are just a few:

MEMBERS

“Agoracom has provided a much needed service. It has allowed knowledgeable responders/investors the forum to share fact based additional information. It all helps us retailers to better understand what the companies press releases mean. best wishes to continued success at Agoracom.”

“The truth is that power serves it own ends and businesses are not democracies. But they benefit from opening ownership up to a public that thinks shareholding is a form of business democracy. You and your members actually demonstrated that principle a couple of times and clearly those in power didn’t like it. To them it is supposed to be a democracy in name only.”

“I believe Agoracom is the best investing tool i’ve ever come across .  The voice of such a large number of retail investor from all walks of life from around the world makes this place the most open voice to engage in reflection on my placement and gives me a better view of the value of the stocks i invest in.”

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In addition, we’ve received great support from clients, CEO’s of other companies and consultants who have called, texted and e-mailed us over the past few days.   Here are just a couple of great comments:

PUBLIC COMPANIES

“Hey, bro. I have no doubt you’ll come out the other end OK. You’re one of the good guys.”

“George you keep up the good work. you are not doing anything wrong by helping investors sift thru all the noise out there, you are the Canadian online version of CNBC. we need you to help us determine which companies are using online tools to speak with shareholder and or media. Keep providing us with a great forum to speak with the companies we are investing in.  Thank-you – we support you.

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From Vancouver and as far away as Mexico, CEO’s have called in to voice their support and remind us how important AGORACOM is to the small-cap industry.

Despite being restricted as to how much we could say (and we want to say a lot), investors and industry participants understand what we have built together and have chosen to stand behind us until we’ve had our day in court.  That’s all we’re asking for, so we thank you for that.

As always, if you want to track posts about this specific matter, we’ve created a specific category that you can bookmark and follow http://blog.agoracom/category/osc

Regards,
George

Top Online IR Consultant “OSC Has No Case For Fraud”

Posted by AGORACOM at 8:26 AM on Friday, April 2nd, 2010

As most readers of this blog know, I often read and quote the opinions and findings of Dominic Jones.  He publishes the best research and information about online investor relations practices through IR Web Report.  He has counseled some of the world’s biggest and best-known corporations across every sector and in more than a dozen different countries. As such, when he writes, I’ve always listened.

When we posted the AGORACOM Response To OSC Allegations, I purposely did not contact him directly so as to give him an opportunity to read both the allegations and our response. I wanted to.  I badly wanted to.  But Dominic Jones is a former investigative reporter from South Africa that broke some big stories during its most volatile and dangerous times. He doesn’t need to be handled.  He can figure things out for himself.  I anxiously awaited his response.

It turns out he had a couple of responses. I won’t dilute them.  Here they are.

——-

——

I would say thank-you for the responses – but Dominic isn’t doing me a favour.  He is telling it like it is and opening my eyes a little further in the process.  For that I will say thank-you. Now, I will call him.

Regards,
George

Blackballed By The Big Boys On Bay Street

Posted by AGORACOM at 10:08 PM on Thursday, April 1st, 2010

It’s Holy Thursday and I should be heading for my annual midnight appearance at church, so I will keep this short and continue over the next couple of days.  Specifically, one good thing about today is that I can finally open up to a reality that we’ve been living with ever since the following:

AGORACOM Noront Community Serves Notice That Main Street Now Has Muscle. Staves Off Hedge Fund In Board Battle

Aurelian Shareholder Revolt HUB Hits 816,000 Page Views (Past 30 Days)

Most on AGORACOM know these stories very well.  For those of you who don’t, have a quick read as I’m just too tired.  The fact of the matter is that, despite doing our job and teaming up with members to launch two of the greatest online retail investor revolts in recent memory, AGORACOM was blackballed immediately after both events and the repercussions haven’t stopped hitting us ever since.

We did our job.  We even created some history – and we got blackballed.

Why? As one prominent executive in the small-cap mining space told us “You cost a lot of these big guys a lot of money….and they’re not happy”

The old guard simply doesn’t want retail investors to have a say. Buy stock or don’t buy stock, we don’t care. Just shut up and take a seat at the back.

Believe it.

More later.

Happy Easter.

George

AGORACOM Responds To OSC Allegations

Posted by AGORACOM at 8:29 PM on Thursday, April 1st, 2010

TORONTO, APRIL 1, 2010 – AGORACOM, North America’s leading small-cap online investor relations firm and second-generation online financial community provides the following response to Ontario Securities Commission allegations announced earlier today.

George Tsiolis, Founder of AGORACOM, stated “It is an understatement to say that we are all shocked to receive the allegations made by the OSC earlier today. As the person who founded this company from his home, based on a passion to create a better online investor relations model for the small-cap industry, we at AGORACOM have strived to do nothing less than deliver great, affordable and cost-efficient solutions of the highest standards. Since inception, AGORACOM has spoken out against the pitfalls of an industry plagued by fast-money boiler rooms, e-mail and fax spam, and chose to focus on long-term online investor relations campaigns. This includes search engine marketing and other Web 2.0 strategies that provide small-cap companies with an opportunity to connect with investors, something that was never before possible. We at AGORACOM are extremely proud of this feat, outright disagree with allegations made by the OSC and look forward to vigorously defending them at any future proceeding.”

ALLEGATION – FRAUDULENT POSTINGS BY AGORACOM

The OSC allegation of fraud pertaining to traffic and activity on client HUBS is unfounded and without merit. AGORACOM initiated conversation on some client HUBS to simply act as a catalyst to spark conversation amongst members and forum users.

As a new medium that is still unfamiliar, the initiating of conversation was also meant to remove inhibitions of members that often feared being the first to post or “sound stupid”- a dynamic that is common to most social settings.

Tsiolis added “We are all acutely aware of the dynamic in which complete strangers are brought together into a community for the first time and the inhibitions that prevent people from interacting. From our first days in school, to our first high-school dance, to the local town hall meeting, people are naturally afraid to be the first to speak or act. The minority of people that do tend to speak or act first tend to be the best, brightest or loudest in the group, which further drives the inhibitions of the majority. My extensive face-to-face experience with small-cap investors has shown they are no different. I have heard time and time again about their fear of asking “simple” questions that might demonstrate a perceived lack of knowledge, or contributing information that isn’t “smart”. We helped those investors open up and begin sharing their knowledge.”

Although AGORACOM has been advised by counsel not to respond to the OSC allegations publicly, AGORACOM feels it is important to put the alleged quantity of posts in context.

First, AGORACOM client HUBS during the period in question ranged between approximately 30 – 90, while non-client HUBS ranged between 300 – 2,000.

Secondly, AGORACOM traffic during the period in question (as measured by Google Analytics) provides further relevant context to the statistics used by the OSC.

o Absolute Unique Visitors 2.204 million

o Visits 14.036 million

o Page Views 163.11 million

o Total Clients 170

o Total Countries/Territories 217

* AGORACOM began using Google Analytics in July of 2007, so no traffic figures are available for approximately 11 of the first 35 months in question.

Moreover, for the years 2008 – 2009, AGORACOM employees accounted for just 0.23%, or just under ¼ of 1% of total visits to the site.

Finally, AGORACOM outright rejects any allegation or insinuation that AGORACOM posts were intended to be promotional and promoted purchasing or holding of stock in order to increase the value of stock options in our clients. To this end, senior account executives of AGORACOM provided the following unified statement today:

“This allegation is simply untrue. In fact, we were repeatedly instructed and reminded by both Mr. Tsiolis and Mr. Kondakos to not post promotional materials and provide information and dialogue that will stimulate conversation. The fact that a former employee decided to use the message boards for his own benefit last year is unfortunate but in no way reflects the honest and hard work that we have delivered to our clients over the last several years. ”

Tsiolis concluded “Our experience unequivocally demonstrates that small-cap clients engage AGORACOM for its ability to use Web 2.0 strategies to reach potential investors and audiences that could not otherwise be reached through traditional investor relations methods. Those services are listed below. This is what clients are promised, this is what AGORACOM delivers.”

o Search Engine Marketing

o Exposure On Our Tier-1 Content Partner Sites

o Exposure On Global Mobile Partner Sites

o iTunes Videos and Audios

o YouTube Videos

o Podcasting

o Webcasting

o Blogosphere Marketing

o Daily Video Broadcasts

o National Business Television Advertising

o Online Conferences

o Twitter Exposure

AGORACOM has not received any supporting documentation from the OSC to support its allegations. We look forward to defending our reputation vigorously.

About AGORACOM – Online Investor Relations Firm For Small-Cap Companies

AGORACOM Investor Relations is North America’s leading online investor relations firm for small-cap companies. We have partnered with some of the world’s biggest Internet and mobile companies to market our clients to a massive and targeted audience of new small-cap investors. Our traffic ranking is above the top 1% of all websites around the world, with almost 2.5 million visitors, 15.7 million visits and 168 million page views from 220 countries and territories in 2008-2009 (As tracked by Google Analytics).

CONTACT INFORMATION

George Tsiolis, LL.B

President

AGORACOM

info@agoracom.com

http://agoracom.com

http://blog.agoracom.com

http://twitter.com/agoracom

http://facebook.com/agoracom