Monday, August 18, 2008

Waiting for Nirvanix

As you know from reading this blog, Nirvanix said that it would try to give Mediamax users access to the files held on its servers if Mediamax agreed to provide access to its front end programme/database.

Mediamax has agreed to do so.

But I have had no response from Nirvanix responding to this offer. Nirvanix said it would not delete the files it is holding. But will it try to reunite them with their owners?

There is much that is still murky about why it may not be possible to simply restart the Mediamax system. There is also the question over whether the accidental deletion of data as the old Streamload set up was being prepared to split into Nirvanix and Mediamax is the root cause of the problems.

I think we will only really be able to proper, documented disclosure by some sort of action against the current owners of Mediamax, which appears to be Windward Ventures. I have already contacted them, but had no response. As creditors, Mediamax users who have time to run on their accounts, have a right to be notified of any bankruptcy hearing if Mediamax is wound up. Nirvanix has promised to inform us if they hear anything.

Quite a few people have emailed to say they would be interested in being part of a legal action. If you are interested and haven't emailed, please do so via my profile. If you wish to take on a coordination role, please let me know.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Mediamax - Luzo discussion : so long to Mediamax/The Linkup

The Linkup is now off line. I spoke with Steve Iverson, CEO, on its last day of operation (8 August) to try to gain a little more insight into what hope there is, if any, for retrieving files that did not make it into The Linkup from the Mediamax system. I won't keep you in suspense. As Steve said in a post here, there is no hope. This posting sets out what we covered in our conversation and has been checked by Steve Iverson as an accurate record.

Access to the front-end/database

Steve told me that he has had discussions with Nirvanix engineers and senior management - though not Jonathan Buckley, the Chief Marketing Officer, who spoke with me last week following email conversations. Jonathan had suggested it may be possible to retrieve files on the old Streamload servers inherited by Nirvanix if they had access to the Mediamax front-end/database. Steve has confirmed that this is not the case.

He said Nirvanix can have the database if it would do any good, but the engineers have not requested it and nobody is talking about that issue besides Jonathan Buckley.

Where are our files?

We discussed what had happened with the files that did not transfer into The Linkup.

Steve says that Mediamax has tried with Nirvanix to retrieve lost files, but failed. As recent information here from Nirvanix and Mediamax suggest, there is some friction between the companies over this. However, Steve stresses that if they could have got the files back, they would have. Mediamax/The Linkup wanted to be a thriving business, since the spin off from Streamload. It has creditors and investors who wanted it to thrive. Customers too wanted it to work. He says they tried everything they could, but it is now game over.

It is unclear what happened to the files that did not transfer, but there is a possibility it is linked to the accidental deletion of files that took place at Streamload (which had been renamed Mediamax for a short duration) in June 2007, shortly before the formal split that led to the creation of Nirvanix and Mediamax as separate legal entities. But he admits that this too is just speculation because nobody from Mediamax knows for certain because they did not maintain the storage servers.

The accidental deletion

This took place in June 2007, prior to the legal formation of Nirvanix in July 2007. There was work going in preparation for this separation, during which the deletion took place. Nirvanix took on the role of file recovery, as it inherited the Streamload servers, contracting a third party to help with this. While a high success rate was claimed (96% was mentioned in a recent DEMO article; 99% was reported to Mediamax by Nirvanix), it is not certain how accurate this is. The audits conducted by users of these blogs on their own large files archives would suggest a lower figure.

The future of Mediamax/The Linkup

The company now has no staff, offices or equipment. It has creditors and investors (Windward Ventures being one mentioned in the DEMO article, which I have tried to contact).

The Linkup ultimately failed because the company felt it could not bill existing customers when so many files had not transferred. With no subscribers, there was no income stream. Money was invested in making The Linkup a better platform - and participants in these blogs tried to help in beta testing - but it was not to be, which became apparent pretty quickly. Hence the announcement to shut down.

It is not yet clear whether there will be a bankruptcy process.

Relationship with

I asked Steve about the relationship with which advertised on The Linkup site and in a mailout to users. Steve said that they are now simply selling all assets (including domain names and web site traffic) to try and pay all their creditors back as best as possible. There is no other connection.

Lost data

So the conclusion from this conversation is that no data is now recoverable. If Nirvanix wants access to the front-end/database, they can have it, but that should not give any hope.

What users visiting here do next is a discussion for another day.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mediamax comment

Steve Iversen posted the following comment on the blog entry:

---Quote begins
MediaMax has tried to avoid adding more fuel to our bad-PR fire because we do not have any new, useful information to add beyond what has been posted on our official blog, but I do feel it is now necessary to correct some new misinformation.

I'll start now with a short clarification now, and will try and follow up in a couple days with more details.

First, I'm sorry if there has been false hope given that additional access will be made to customer files. This is simply not the case. Only the files that are currently in your account are the files that will be available for download through this Friday. I think Nirvanix is in panic-mode and is, not surprisingly, trying to divert all responsibility to MediaMax. There is nothing we can do. If any of this were possible we would not be closing our business.

Many of Nirvanix's claims are not true. Given that we now have zero employees, no money, and are shutting down in 5 days, MediaMax is an easy target. Nirvanix also has millions of dollars to continue their PR campaign and has indirectly threatened John and I with personal lawsuits. If continuing this fight would bring back customer files or fix problems of the past, I would do so. But, at this point, there is nothing to gain and the major problems cannot be fixed. Answering questions or "telling our side of the story" is not going to provide any true benefit to anyone (get customer files back), and exposes me to significant personal liability. Right or wrong, this is America and they can sue anyone for anything, and John and I and trying to move on with life and find new jobs. Further, I think Nirvanix has learned that I may be going to work for one of their competitors, and they are doing their best to discredit me and the value that I bring to a competitor.

Regardless, to clarify Nirvanix's most recent campaign of misinformation:

- As I stated above, the "MediaMax front-end" or database is not a solution to the problem. We do not have access to the files. Nirvanix knows this is our position. I could go on for hours about the technical problems involved and solutions attempted and place blame elsewhere, but at this point, it really doesn't matter whose fault it is. Fundamentally, MediaMax is responsible because you are our customer, and the biggest mistake we made was to trust Nirvanix to manage our customer data - yes, it was on the "old Streamload system", and not their new Nirvanix SDN, but I believe the care and attention that was required was not there and was beyond unprofessional.

- I am in communication with Nirvanix, and to state otherwise is patently wrong. In fact, I sent their CEO emails (and cc'd 3 other Nirvanix employees, including a direct report to Jonathan Buckley) on 7/21, 7/25, and 7/30 (Wed), and received a reply on 7/31 (Thursday) and another email from their CFO on 8/1 (Friday). After reading your blog post last night (Sunday), I emailed Jonathan Buckley and have now heard from him and their CFO again this morning (Monday). Jonathan has my contact info and he probably works with 15 people daily who also have my contact info if he had misplaced it.

- And irrelevant of solving customer problems, I will note that Nirvanix is actually not a creditor of MediaMax as Jonathan claimed as they have been paid in full for their services.

The popular thing for me to do would be to say "yes, all will be fine if Nirvanix can just get their act together" and divert attention back to them, but that's not the case. It's game over, and there is no new information since our last "official" TLU blog post. It's not the popular statement, but it's reality and it's unfortunate for everyone involved.
---quote ends

Mediamax says only files in The Linkup can be accessed

I have been contacted by Mediamax regarding the last blog entry:

Mediamax has stated the position on the last entry on The Linkup blog, which was updated on July 11, still stands:

Their 11 July update stated: "The only files that are available for download are the files that are currently in your The Linkup account. Nirvanix cannot provide access to any additional data or assist with accessing your files. Please do not contact them."

Nirvanix have confirmed the position in our conversation. Files will not be deleted from their servers when The Linkup stops operating on 8 August, though they will go off line as there is no way to access them.

However, if the Mediamax system cannot be restarted, there never will be any way to access the files that did not make it into The Linkup.

I hope a statement from Mediamax in the next couple of days will clarify why there is nothing that can be done to restart the old system.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Nirvanix - Luzo discussion: a way forward

Following email exchanges, I was invited by Jonathan Buckley of Nirvanix to discuss the situation with the Mediamax users data residing on the server system inherited from Streamload and did so on Friday (1 August 2008).

Background to the conversation

The focus of our discussion was on a way forward to reunite as many people as possible with data that did not transfer from the Mediamax system to The Linkup system. For the historic situation regarding the split of Streamload into Nirvanix and Mediamax, see the Nirvanix blog.

Nirvanix insist they have operated as separate companies since the split and dealt with Mediamax/The Linkup as a customer of their storage service. Nirvanix also reiterates that the Mediamax data is stored on the system inherited from Streamload and that its new Storage Delivery Network (SDN) offered to their 400 new customers is a different system. Further Nirvanix stresses that the problem with accessing Mediamax data that did not make it into The Linkup is due to the Mediamax database not being on-line and not due to any problem at their end.

We did not discuss the history of the files being accidently deleted from the Streamload servers prior to the splitting of Streamload into Nirvanix and Mediamax. This has been the subject of much conjecture of a conspiracy to get rid of legacy data. It seemed evident last year that this data had gone for good. The priority has to be reuniting people with data that is recoverable. The issue of compensation for lost data may be an issue for a possible Mediamax bankruptcy hearing (see below).

In an email prior to the invitation to call, Nirvanix stated that they were trying to make contact with Mediamax with the view to persuading them to restart the front end. As the Nirvanix blog was saying there was no assistance that Nirvanix could give to Mediamax users, I welcomed this and was particularly keen to know what the practical difficlties are for achieving this and how they can be overcome.

The 8 August deadline

The Linkup front end is due to go off line on 8 August and users were told by The Linkup to download data before then. Nirvanix is keeping the servers online until 8 August. Nivanix has not been notified of any pending Mediamax alternatives to the 8 August closure as of this call.

I asked whether the data would then deleted after 8 August. Nirvanix said that, as there will be no front end from Mediamax or The Linkup operating to access the data after 8 August, it will be taken offline. However, even though it costs Nirvanix money, Nirvanix will continue to store the data. Nirvanix would welcome a third party to come in to assist Mediamax users. Without the Mediamax database it is impossible to identify who owns what data by design.

So the first piece of good news is that the 8 August is not the end of all hope. The data will continue to be stored, though not indefinitely (see below).

Retrieving the database/front end

Nirvanix says it is unable to make contact with anyone from Mediamax and they are in the same situation as users in this regard.

Mediamax needs to provide access to the database, which is not stored on Nirvanix servers, but by a third party,

In a last communication from Mediamax/The Linkup to a user, it was suggested that the company is filing for bankruptcy. Certainly there are creditors looking for money from the company, not least users who paid fees running through this year and on into 2009.

As a major creditor Nirvanix expects to be informed of any bankruptcy hearing and has agreed to inform us when they are informed. If we can turn up to the court, or contact Mediamax lawyers in advance of that, we should be able to obtain answers regarding the database.

As the database is arguably one of the few assets that Mediamax posseses its handover could perhaps be offset against refunds of fees and handed over to users.

My view is a possible bankruptcy hearing is a good milestone for all involved. If Nirvanix can maintain the data until we either have a response from Mediamax or are able to raise questions at the bankruptcy hearing that will be welcome. We will then know if it will be possible to restart the front end. Any information people have about US bankruptcy law and when and where this will be filed would be appreciated.

How to restart the database/front end

There is, of course, the possibility that Mediamax can be persuaded to restart the database to give people time to access their data. If not and we have to retrieve the database ourselves as suggested above, then the question arises of how to run it.

There have been comments on this blog suggesting another company may be interested to take this over. Nirvanix told me they would be sympathetic to any approach being made to them by such a company, but none has been made at present.

If anyone has any information or contacts who may be interested, please put them in direct contact with Nirvanix and ask them to keep us posted via this blog.

It may be we have to set something up ourselves, or come to an arrangement with Nirvanix or another company to host the database.

Setting up our own register of Mediamax users

I suggested to Nirvanix that the users group could set up a register of people who are interested in retrieving data. This would give an indication of the level of serious interest to them and any third company interested in restarting the database. We could publicise this registration process ourselves and call on Mediamax to alert their customer list, perhaps as a request to any bankruptcy hearing.

If people agree with this, we could perhaps set up a website with a simple registration form and database, obviously respecting data-protection regulations. Please contact me if you are interested in helping with this.


This posting has been shared with Nirvanix to confirm it is an accurate record of our discussion. In summary, this is what they said and I suggested:

1. When The Linkup switches off their front end, no data will be accessible, but it will not be deleted. The data, including that available through the old Mediamax system, will continue to be stored at Nirvanix on the old Streamload system (separate to their new SDN).

2. Storage cannot be indefinite due to costs, but Nirvanix is making efforts to contact Mediamax to persuade them to restart the front end so people can access the data. A possible bankruptcy hearing may be a good time to take stock of the situation, if Mediamax is not heard from before then, as it should provide clarity as to whether data will ever be recoverable. Anyone with expertise in this area please contact me.

3. Anyone with information on possible intermediary companies interested in restarting the Mediamax front end should encourage them to contact Nirvanix and keep us informed.

4. To keep users updated on developments and to show the level of serious interest in recovering data, we should consider setting up a register of users. If you can help with this, again, please contact me.

Nirvanix has said it will keep us informed of developments at their end.

Please let me know your views by commenting below or by email.