Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Spoke.com is Evil

Spoke.com has built a scheme to capture and then sell the personal contact information of practically everyone connected via e-mail. The plan is genius -- evil genius. Read on...

Spoke.com says it is growing rapidly. Their press release claims:
Since introducing its free service in August 2006, Spoke Software has added more than three million new contacts to its database and has enabled more than 6,000 sales and marketing professionals to improve sales productivity with higher quality, more targeted leads. With no requirement to track points, make trades or give away the direct contact information of colleagues, users are flocking to Spoke's online business contact information database which now provides access to more than 35 million people and 900,000 companies -- more than any other online business database.
This means that over 6000 sales people now have access to 35 million other people using spoke.com. If you are in the business of selling stuff that sounds like a good thing. The problem is that as one of those 6000 people you have entered into a real Faustian bargain.

How the devil will get your soul...

Spoke says that it launched it's free service in August and that they have added 3 million new names since August. How did they do that? It was easy! To get access to Spoke's "free" service, you must install the Spoke toolbar. The Spoke toolbar then copies all of the information from your address book into the Spoke database. It's at this point you should be able to smell the burning sulfur.

If, for example, I pressed the button for Spoke's free service, the Spoke toolbar would install and then copy the roughly 2100 names, phone numbers, and email addresses out of my Outlook Contact database and then add them to Spoke's database. Spoke would then be able to sell those names, titles, companies, addresses, and email addresses to direct marketing organizations. Participating in this scheme is a sure path to hell.

Consider the horrors:
  • You will be submitting the unlisted phone numbers of family, friends, and confidants that may appear in your address book.
  • You may be submitting passwords, PIN numbers, and other private, privileged information stored in your address book because you think no one has access to it.
  • If you are in sales, you've just given away the contact information (and trust) you have worked to develop with your best clients. Now every S&M (sales and marketing) person in the Spoke universe will be bombarding your best clients with calls and potentially competitive offerings.
Instead of joining Spoke, you should be asking congress to outlaw it.

Labels: ,

48 Comments:

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Tim said...

Any idea if Plaxo.com shares information like that? I believe they claim not to at all...

Thanks!

 
At 12:38 PM, Blogger Jeff Leroux said...

It is always interesting to see people get on a high horse only to forget to make sure their saddle is cinched.

First, Spoke does NOT publish or sell any direct contact information on individuals. For example, you claim that Spoke publishes private email addresses...it does not. It publishes email patterns for companies. Spoke does not provide any direct contact information such as direct dial numbers or actual addresses other than the corporate headquarters of a person "associated" to a company.

Second, of the terabytes of data available on the Spoke.com site, a very small percentage of that data is actually derived from the "Toolbar". The majority of the data comes from four primary sources. The Toolbar is one small part of the model.

Finally, if you had explored the Spoke.com site further you would find that there is a web version available where you do not have to download the Toolbar or share your contacts with our community of business users.

As a Web 2.0 company, our customers and users have the option of sharing business contact data. The primary value of the Toolbar is not to take information from your address book. Rather, the primary value of the Toolbar is to "validate" and date stamp business contacts via their email signature when they exchange emails with our 28,000+ community of users. There are a variety of other networking and referral benefits to the Toolbar as well. The address book contacts are of such insignificance to the model that this feature is being terminated in the next release of the Spoke service in February.

The Toolbar is far less intrusive than many other similar and accepted technologies from many other vendors. When you become a Skype user, their agent crawls your address book and builds out a Skype phonebook for you as an example. There are many examples of this type of technology and the value it creates for its users far out weighs implied privacy issues.

Spoke users must actually agree to share their data before they are allowed to download the Toolbar. For those customers that do not read the Terms of Service agreement and realize afterwards that they do not like what the Toolbar does, Spoke has consistently removed all data associated with that person's Outlook when requested to do so within a reasonable period of time.

The fact that large numbers of corporate accounts and their IT departments have agreed to become part of the Spoke community and use the Toolbar for the net value it creates is a further testament to the fact that the Toolbar is not an evil plot.

Please feel free to call me directly and I would be happy to help you find the link to the web version of the service.

Jeff Leroux
Vice President of Sales
Spoke Software Inc.

jeff.leroux@spoke.com

Phone: 650-403-5981

 
At 12:46 PM, Blogger doctorow said...

Jeff, my own personal contact information is in your database -- FOUR versions of it, in fact.

 
At 1:02 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

Hey Jeff, mine's there too.

Only, you have my job history all screwed up and an address for me that is not only not mine, it's not even in a state where I've ever resided.

You're evil AND useless.

not a good combination.

 
At 3:17 PM, Blogger Teacher said...

Wow, I think I'm in thier database, or at least I think I am. I can't imagine anyone else with my name with the same job description. Unfortunately, I can't verify it as I am not registered.

I don't like the idea of the toolbar collecting data either. I doubt my data, if it is mine, came from an address book. (I'm too white and nerdy to be in anyone's address book.) More likely, the data came from a public online posting or something.

 
At 4:11 PM, Blogger Jeremiah said...

My info's on their site, and it's wrong as well.


While I can appreciate Mr. Leroux taking the time to address this blog's concerns (a wise move on behalf of a company), his opening line deserves a cockpunch:

"It is always interesting to see people get on a high horse only to forget to make sure their saddle is cinched."

...at which point, I could care less what this company does....this guy's a d*ck.

Secondly, Jeff's responses don't really address the blog's concerns..."if we'd only explored the site we'd have figured out there was a non-raping version of the toolbar."

Spoke.com does not provide a means for someone to have their information removed from Spoke's database. NOT THE OUTLOOK USER WHO'S DATA WAS SUCKED IN...people like myself who don't care to participate in Spoke's business model.

 
At 4:54 PM, Blogger typographica said...

I'm in the database three times and all of the information is slightly incorrect. I never gave my consent for my private information - part of which is a classified government telephone number - to be part of this database.

 
At 4:55 PM, Blogger jg70124 said...

My data is wrong too, as is that of my brother, my cousin, my father and my father's cousins. (None of us are willing participants).

With all this wrong data, why would any company subscribe to their service?

 
At 5:16 PM, Blogger jeremyNYC said...

How do you check if your data are in there? I'm scared to even visit this effed up site...

 
At 6:09 PM, Blogger Jenonymous said...

Hey Jeff, I never downloaded your POS "toolbar" but my info is still in your datasewer. I never asked to be listed as a "lead" or a "prospect." Wanna tell me how to get out of your program as I never asked to be in it? Oh, I thought not. Good thing that the NY State Attorney General is going to be asking you the same thing shortly.

 
At 6:13 PM, Blogger Bob said...

It looks like my information is in there at least 3 times but there is no way to confirm it is my data without paying for the program and there is no email contact information available to contact Spoke.com directly.

These people are sleaze. Before Mr. Leroux tells someone that they need to make sure their saddle has been cinched he should make sure that he hasn't already stolen the horse.

 
At 6:53 PM, Blogger Jenonymous said...

Let me echo the theory that some of the contact info is suckdown from online posts. Let's just say that one of the inaccuracies in one of my listings could ONLY come up that way. Dirtbags.

 
At 7:00 PM, Blogger jkgokpexapvqy said...

Hey, Jeff, my name is in there no less than six times.

Luckily, being a member of Congress, I'm not quite as powerless to do anything about it as most others are.

Enjoy your success while it lasts.

You'll be able to figure out who I am soon enough.

 
At 7:13 PM, Blogger Paul said...

This post has been removed by the author.

 
At 7:19 PM, Blogger Some Yahoo said...

Let's all just "correct" our entries to include Jeff's email and phone numbers.

Problem Solved!

 
At 3:27 AM, Blogger Phil Yanov said...

How is Spoke keeping that information from collection agencies, unscrupulous investigators, or law enforcement agencies that just don't want to go through the hassle of getting a warrant?

 
At 6:22 AM, Blogger Phrej said...

ummm... so I'm not the only one who has a Spoke "profile" listed without my consent.

While Spoke claims to remove data associated with Outlook, they won't delete a profile posted without your consent. I asked and this was the reply I got:

"Spoke combines information from multiple sources, including published data, information available on the Web, and information validated by members. In most cases, information about a person, such as their name, title and company, has come from multiple sources and is not protected by copyright or trade secret laws. Spoke does not publish direct contact information such as a person’s direct e-mail address or direct-dial phone number.

When requested, Spoke will remove information about a person if it is proven to have been added in violation of the law, a non-disclosure agreement, or an employment agreement. Since Spoke regularly combines information from multiple sources, including the Web, Spoke cannot guarantee that information removed will not be recreated by another independent source.

Thank you,

[Name removed]
Spoke Support"


Seems I can't argue because the info displayed is available in the public domain.

 
At 9:00 AM, Blogger Phil Yanov said...

I don't think I care what they say they publish, because they can change that whenever they want without notice or consent. It's what information that they have that is so troublesome. They have the entire contents of the Outlook address book of everyone who installs the toolbar. They can decide later what they'll do with it. Right now they are using it to build their database.

 
At 9:40 AM, Blogger Howard Greenstein said...

Not sure how you all found your contact info, but I found my title as the 3rd listing when I searched my company.
[This is NOT good.]

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger Maginot Line said...

First off, hats off to Phil for sharing this information.

I have a few questions and insights on the matter.

I want to pre-empt what I'm about to share by saying that I am not taking any sides on the matter. Any advocacy that may be construed from my comments are based on arriving at some semblence of truth, and in hopes of effecting some positive outcome for the company in question.

Phil, I'd like to understand how you were able to definitively determine that the toolbar has the capability of stripping address book info from the client pc? Don't take this as anything more than my own need to validate your opinions, and to abate my own technical curiousities.

Again, I'm asking this with very little knowledge of your background, and really to determine whether your info is first or second-hand (ie. did you decompile, and analyse the inner-workings of this toolbar yourself, or did someone else provide you with this information).

To Jeff, I can appreciate the need to defend to your companies practices, however I didn't quite appreciate the dismissive tact. Relegating responsibility to the end user, and deflecting attention away from the problem by pulling the Terms of Service card is not going to go over well with most people, especially those on the pro-privacy side.

I mean this is not quite the same as walking through a trade-show floor, and getting your exhibitor badge scanned every time you decide to snatch-up a "free" promo. Most trade-show attendees are well aware of the risks associated to that type of activity, and will prepare themselves for the onslaught of spam by providing a free email address that won't annoy them at home or at work.

This type of savvy has partly to do with a matured marketplace that has become informed by trial, fire and sheer annoyance, and any initiatives that are taken are done so to preserve some level of sanity against a sea of unrelenting spammers.

There is a very good reason why for instance Canada started up a Task Force in 2005 in an attempt to eliminate the scourge of spammers from the internet:

http://strategis.ic.gc.ca/epic/internet/inecic-ceac.nsf/en/h_gv00248e.html

I will add this much to what I've already said and hopefully you will take heed of the insights being shared.

The data that I've referenced from your site appears to be severely outdated. I am thinking that whatever data collection methods you are using, they need to be calibrated to more current mining methods. The instances of data that I can reference are not only inaccurate, but date back to information that was collected some ten years ago. Mind you, I have not downloaded any software from your site and this may explain why my information is inaccurate and so badly out of date.

But more importantly, and as certain as you may be on the way the data is being mined and collected with respect to the parameters governing privacy, I think that you need to be mindful of the fact that as soon as you make your mark with an online presence, your reach instantly becomes global.

And just as there are different privacy laws, practices and conventions in each country, there too will be people on the lawmaking and upholding end of things that will work vigorously to enforce those laws in their own differing ways.

My best suggestion to your firm would be to align your business practices with that of the SCIP:

http://www.scip.org/

Whether your business model hinges on B2C or B2B, abiding to a prescribed code of ethics in the strictest sense will insure that your business will have staying power in the international sense.

And if you none of what I've said above has yet sunk in, you ought to recognize that your firm has a responsibility to the slew of high-caliber affiliations/partners listed on your home page to properly address some of the concerns raised in this blog post.

 
At 12:55 PM, Blogger Suw said...

I'm in there five times, and I've never joined. Apparently, I work for a bunch of companies that I've never worked for (wow, I had no idea Google's recruitbot was so effective!), and I doubt very much that there's someone else with my name kicking around in the tech market. I think I'd know.

 
At 2:22 PM, Blogger Jenonymous said...

Hey Jeff I can't seem to sign up for my "free" trial in order to see just how badly you screwed up my contact info. Having some issues or are you just trying to keep folks from finding out just how bad their privacy has been violated?

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger Dweller said...

Someone posted a concern about contacting Spoke. Mr. Leroux has a blog profile that lists his email as: jeff.leroux@spoke.com.

My suggestion is two-fold: First, write hime with your concerns. Second, add his email information to every databased you can find that will spam him until Kingdom Come. Likely those databases will also come with the caveat: you didn't add, you can't delete.

Good luck Jeff!

 
At 8:45 AM, Blogger Outta Names999 said...

The comments by Jeff Leroux are helpful, but I can't help but wonder why this information is nowhere to be found on Spoke's own web site. In fact, they have dumbed down there UI so much that you can hardly figure out what their service consists of. But please, just go ahead and click the button.

 
At 6:19 PM, Blogger gguthary said...

I just read through the Spoke.com terms and conditions. It's found at http://center.spoke.com/public/license.jsp

Here's the part in question:
"2.1 Collection of Your Submitted Information. Depending on the terms of your subscription with Spoke, you may need to install the Client Software on your computer in order to use the Service. The Client Software (or other software agreed in writing between you and Spoke) may collect Your Submitted Information from your e-mail client (in conformance with privacy preferences you select) and transmit that data to Spoke’s database server for use in the Service, including the Spoke network and your personal “SpokeBook”. Depending on the privacy preferences you select, Your Submitted Information may include, among other things: (a) your address book or contact entries, (b) the header (including “To” and “From” information) and signature information from your e-mail messages, and (c) if you authorize, the subject lines and first 256 characters of your e-mail messages. Your Submitted Information will be indexed and analyzed in order to identify your contacts and to estimate the strength of your relationships with them. The strength of your relationships is determined by, among other things, how often you e-mail, and receive e-mails from, your contacts. Spoke also collects and accesses information concerning your selected privacy preferences to establish and deliver the Service to you."

To make it simple, by installing their toolbar, they "may" (and most likely will) collect your personal information from your email client (presumably Outlook). Note that they also have built in technology that is capable of collecting the subject lines and first 256 characters of your email messages. YIKES! It states that you have to authorize it, but you're already authorizing a boatload of invasion by simply checking the "I agree to the terms and conditions" box. I have not installed the software (nor will I), but I have to wonder if the default setting is "Yes" to that option. Anyone have any experience to that effect?

This company is obviously a terror to privacy. That being said, the accuracy of their data can never be assured, and therefore I would never even consider using them for a legitimate business lead generator. Makes me wonder if they are fueling non-legitimate businesses that are focused on collecting immeasurable amounts of data with low accuracy for the purpose of sending out spam.

Here's an idea - I'll set up a newly formatted computer with a fresh install of outlook, fill up outlook with a million bogus names and addresses using a simple script generator (easy to do), and then install the toolbar. If four or five people did that, then Spoke could easily double or triple their database size.

NEVER INSTALL THIS COMPANY'S SOFTWARE ON YOUR COMPUTER.

 
At 2:10 AM, Blogger Lance said...

I google myself from time to time to see what type of things are popping up on the internet - was very surprised to myself listed at a site I never heard, and as has been listed several time - INCORRECT INFORMATION - I have asked them to remove and have not heard back from them. Maybe we should all start blogging the name "jeff leroux" and "spoke.com" and associating them with the truth about him and his company, tags like, scumware, spyware, invasion of privacy, useless, inaccurate, immoral, unscrupulous, deceitful, with out permission, and anything else you can think of. Hot link his name, and spoke.com to all these terms, that way, Google will find these articles as the measure of him and his scumpany (I just coined that :) The only way to put a log-jam in a scum venture like this is a concerted effort by as many netizens as possible. I think the best legal angle may be all the reports that their information is NOT correct or current, that it a shoddy compilation of un-verified information gleaned in unscrupulous ways.

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger Farrah said...

I am a teacher and I did not want any references of my name available on the net for my students to find. I contacted Jeff Leroux after I found his info on this page. I called him, told him the situation and he removed it immediately. He was very nice about the situation and apologized. I would suggest that anyone having removal issues do the same.

 
At 10:17 PM, Blogger Phil Yanov said...

Ten months later, the unverifiable "Farrah" above says that she is a got her name removed. Huzzah! FYI, Spoke has brought on a PR guy to try to shiny up their image. My advice to them, either really clean up your software, or just get ok with being evil. Hiring some guy to say "Hey! We're not evil!" without actually demonstrating any real change just won't get it.

I will have to say that the perfectly worded comment from "Farrah" above may be real, but she sounds like a shill to me.

 
At 11:00 AM, Blogger Farrah said...

Hi Phil - Yikes!! While I can say that I am flattered you think I am a PR guru, I must reiterate that I am just a humble English teacher from Chicago. Perhaps that is why my response is so well written, no:)? I was honestly having the same issues with Spoke and luckily found your blog to get it resolved; Yahoo answers was completely useless.

 
At 6:06 PM, Blogger Phil Yanov said...

Farrah, thanks for the reassurance. I think I actually implied you were a shill. The PR Guy I fingered is Constantine von Hoffman. He says he speaks for Spoke.

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Curse You Khan! said...

FWIW, I'm the PR guy Phil is talking about. Phil and I talked either last week or the week before. My memory is that we discussed whether he thought any company in our line of business was evil or whether there was something we in particular were doing.

I also asked Phil if there was anything we could show him that would let him verify whether we gather any information besides people's names and titles. I didn't take notes so I'm not even going to try to give Phil's answers to those questions.

Let me be clear about one thing though: at Spoke all we do is check people's names and job titles to verify that the information we have already gathered from public sources is accurate. Any information that someone chooses to upload is theirs and theirs alone to use. We do not publish anyone's phone number or email address or physical address. Go look it up. Check out the information on your profile. It will have the corporate HQ address and the main number for your company. If this isn't true, please please call me a liar. Shout it. Post it. We deserve nothing less.

Phil was gracious in a conversation that, by its nature, had a few socially awkward pauses. I made a joke about working for Mordor and he replied something to the effect that it wasn't often that he got to talk to someone who employed by Sauron. Typical Geek stuff.
Sincerely yours, Lord Vader.

 
At 2:30 PM, Blogger Curse You Khan! said...

Hey Phil,

Just wanted to let you know that we have _finally_ caught up with all the requests we had from people asking us to delete their information. It took a lot of work which is why it took so long. Fortunately this means from now on we are promising a 24-48 hour response to any request for deletions.

One other thing: it will take the search engines (and us) 7-10 business days to clear all their cache. So information will continue to appear until that happens.

Thanks,

Con

 
At 10:25 AM, Blogger what about? said...

What about discrimination? Can these people representing companies be giving opinions about other former co-workers that they have had bad-experiences with. There seems to be a large number of important companies sharing information? HR Recruiters, what if you are blacklisted, can this be a tool for discrimination?

 
At 8:41 PM, Blogger seeing too? said...

It is like capillary action. You inject something, wait, remove it, and draw out all that is attached.

 
At 7:49 PM, Blogger About Jeff Leroux said...

I contacted Spoke and asked them to remove my unauthorised profile from thier site. Mr. Jeff Leroux refused and was very arrogant about it.. I did some research and found this interesting post that provides information on how to deal with spoke and Jeff Leroux. It does make sense for all of you who were abused by Spoke and Jeff Leroux.
http://www.xomreviews.com/spoke.com

The best ways to get back at them is:
1. The law! If it is expensive for you or you think you cannot win, use the following is more effective ways:
2. Treat them the same way! Search the information about Jeff Leroux , Lisa Browne and Kim Cline on the net, get as much information on them as possible , then publish it on free web hosting services all over the net like geocities etc.

You can add the bad reviews from this site about them as well as add wrong information (just like they do about you). Their names will be associated with their work and will do wonders to their company or careers! This will teach them responsibility and to respect others!!!
3. Keep calling their phone and fax numbers and send them Very large emails every day (you can CC: their names multiple times in your address field) until it they are overloaded so they drop your name from their list

BUT it is only fair that you send them a warning first (to save your self time too) if they do not listen and give you some arrogant answer, just let them taste the result of their work.

Jeff Leroux -- Another Name is Lisa Browne
VP, Sales & Service
Spoke Software, Inc.
1670 South Amphlett Boulevard, Suite 350
San Mateo, CA 94402
Direct: 650.403.5981
Fax: 650.403.0710

I would add that you contact all people related to spoke including the investors and employees this should make teach them to change their attitude and other people doing business with them would understand who they are and what they do.

After all when they publish your info they should be the one to delete it, right?

Contact
Jeff.Leroux@spoke.com
lisa.browne@spoke.com
kim.cline@spoke.com
administrator@spokesoftware.com

 
At 7:56 PM, Blogger About Jeff Leroux said...

I contacted Spoke and asked them to remove my unauthorised profile from thier site. Mr. Jeff Leroux refused and was very arrogant about it.. I did some research and found this interesting post that provides information on how to deal with spoke and Jeff Leroux. It does make sense for all of you who were abused by Spoke and Jeff Leroux.
http://www.xomreviews.com/spoke.com

The best ways to get back at them is:
1. The law! If it is expensive for you or you think you cannot win, use the following is more effective ways:
2. Treat them the same way! Search the information about Jeff Leroux , Lisa Browne and Kim Cline on the net, get as much information on them as possible , then publish it on free web hosting services all over the net like geocities etc.

You can add the bad reviews from this site about them as well as add wrong information (just like they do about you). Their names will be associated with their work and will do wonders to their company or careers! This will teach them responsibility and to respect others!!!
3. Keep calling their phone and fax numbers and send them Very large emails every day (you can CC: their names multiple times in your address field) until it they are overloaded so they drop your name from their list

BUT it is only fair that you send them a warning first (to save your self time too) if they do not listen and give you some arrogant answer, just let them taste the result of their work.

Jeff Leroux -- Another Name is Lisa Browne
VP, Sales & Service
Spoke Software, Inc.
1670 South Amphlett Boulevard, Suite 350
San Mateo, CA 94402
Direct: 650.403.5981
Fax: 650.403.0710

I would add that you contact all people related to spoke including the investors and employees this should make teach them to change their attitude and other people doing business with them would understand who they are and what they do.

After all when they publish your info they should be the one to delete it, right?

Contact
Jeff.Leroux@spoke.com
lisa.browne@spoke.com
kim.cline@spoke.com
administrator@spokesoftware.com

 
At 7:59 PM, Blogger About Jeff Leroux said...

I contacted Spoke and asked them to remove my unauthorised profile from thier site. Mr. Jeff Leroux refused and was very arrogant about it.. I did some research and found this interesting post that provides information on how to deal with spoke and Jeff Leroux. It does make sense for all of you who were abused by Spoke and Jeff Leroux.
http://www.xomreviews.com/spoke.com

The best ways to get back at them is:
1. The law! If it is expensive for you or you think you cannot win, use the following is more effective ways:
2. Treat them the same way! Search the information about Jeff Leroux , Lisa Browne and Kim Cline on the net, get as much information on them as possible , then publish it on free web hosting services all over the net like geocities etc.

You can add the bad reviews from this site about them as well as add wrong information (just like they do about you). Their names will be associated with their work and will do wonders to their company or careers! This will teach them responsibility and to respect others!!!
3. Keep calling their phone and fax numbers and send them Very large emails every day (you can CC: their names multiple times in your address field) until it they are overloaded so they drop your name from their list

BUT it is only fair that you send them a warning first (to save your self time too) if they do not listen and give you some arrogant answer, just let them taste the result of their work.

Jeff Leroux -- Another Name is Lisa Browne
VP, Sales & Service
Spoke Software, Inc.
1670 South Amphlett Boulevard, Suite 350
San Mateo, CA 94402
Direct: 650.403.5981
Fax: 650.403.0710

I would add that you contact all people related to spoke including the investors and employees this should make teach them to change their attitude and other people doing business with them would understand who they are and what they do.

After all when they publish your info they should be the one to delete it, right?
I would add to thier contact info
Contact
Jeff.Leroux@spoke.com
lisa.browne@spoke.com
kim.cline@spoke.com
administrator@spokesoftware.com

Other can also add more information about who are these people to this post and every blog and every site review

 
At 10:15 PM, Blogger hjs.c said...

Either Spoke has gone completely evil or they have been owned. When I google someone's name, a link comes up for their website and then tries to install a trojan (malware) on my system called XPAntivirus. It's been around awhile and luckily my AV caught it. Very annoying, tho.

 
At 6:03 PM, Blogger glued said...

Wow, has this been a strange 4 days. I've called and called and could not get a live human being on the phone. So I finally said to myself, Self, what the hell... I'll use Spoke for its intended purpose. No since in me COLD CALLING! I needed A NAME! A PERSON! A CONTACT to get my foot in the door. So I searched for people who worked at Spoke and came across a guy named Frank Vaculin, who was the CEO. Impressive! Go Frank, go! I dialed into spoke's main number at 650-403-5900 and used their directory service (#) to search for his ext. 650-403-5984 got me in touch with Frank, who I like to call Frankie. Frankie wasn't too eager to help me. He kept insisting that I give him my full name, employer, and phone number for someone to call me back later. After a few minutes on the phone, using my southern charm (kidding), I said "you mean to tell me you don't have any representives working in this place right now? I'm starting to think this isn't a real company. Whats going on?" He had a friendly chuckle and asked if I'd hold, he'd get someone. At this point, a lady introducing herself as Kathy Frankland came to my rescue. Kathy is pretty impressive too, shes a CFO. I don't know the difference between a CEO and a CFO, but at any rate, she said she'd take care of it personally and I could call her back at 650-403-5985 if I had any questions. She only took down my name and the company (my college, how the hell did they even get that?) that appeared on the website. Since there was only one profile listed on Spoke with my info on it, she assured me it would be easy to find. She didn't even demand my phone number, she happily accepted my email address (a junk one, b.t.w.) to let me know when she got rid of my profile. So there ya have it, just search Spoke for someone who looks important and use the auto-operator directory to call 'em up! Hey, maybe this Spoke concept isn't so bad after all. I should look up "important" a-holes at Skybus and give them a piece of my mind.

 
At 4:43 PM, Blogger schmuug said...

I know this is an old post but it came up second on google listing.

Everyone here has written about the privacy issue. I think what's more important is the fact that since most everyone that has found their information on the site multiple times with a lot of mistakes, THEIR DATABASE IS CRAP. I know my info is on there incorrectly...several times. So, if some shmoe buys access to this, he's not going to be able to reach me anyway. And if he does reach me, it will be because he's trying to reach someone else and he got me by accident. What a waste of time and money.

 
At 1:30 PM, Blogger cambridge said...

We should all join forces and stop spoke from doing business.

I have found that by using Trust-e website you can file a complaint against spoke using their privacy watchdog feature at the following link.

http://www.truste.org/pvr.php?page=complaint&sealid=102&PHPSESSID=d03e08f27fe8f9991b1875cd8f6bf290

I think that if enough people are filing a complaint agianst spoke they will do something about.

We need to warn people and communicate their violation of privacy and infringement to our human rights.

Let's all do it NOW

 
At 1:35 PM, Blogger cambridge said...

We should all join forces and file a complaint against spoke.

Trust-e is offering a privacy watchdog feature to allopw people to file complaints against companies violating privacy.

Click on the following link to file a complaint

http://www.truste.org/pvr.php?page=complaint&sealid=102&PHPSESSID=d03e08f27fe8f9991b1875cd8f6bf290

We need to spread the words and stop spoke from doing business.

 
At 5:26 PM, Blogger zimsky said...

I just discovered that the company I work for has been listed with wrong information, and with three people as employees whom no-one here has ever heard of.

So I did my own kind of checking.

It turns out that there are two companies named spoke listed, but not accredited by, the Better Business Bureau. Besides the company in question, there is another spoke listed in San Mateo, which offers internet shopping services. The addresses and phone numbers are different, but they do share one factor in common -- Jeff Leroux.

Through peoplesearchnow.com, I found that all three people all show signs of locational instability (they move alot), and they have a lot of aliases, and their ages are between mid-thirties and mid-fifties; but what is really strange is that their profiles on spoke.com show that their only jobs have been with my company, as if they had just gotten out of college.

I don't know what their motive is, but the fact that there are three of them scares the bejeezes out of me. Like Mr. Goldfinger said,"Once is chance, twice is coincidence, three times is enemy action"

I have left messages with Vaculin, Larue and the California Attorney General. If anything happens to our company as a result of being listed in spoke...

 
At 4:18 PM, Blogger Jeff Leroux said...

I am no longer with Spoke but feel compelled nonetheless to answer some of these posts as my name is listed and disparaging remarks have been made. And yes, I am the real Jeff Leroux.

Spoke is nothing more than a business directory taking advantage of the power of the internet so that where mistakes occur in the data - individuals may have the data corrected. All you have to do to correct inaccurate data or to request data listing you personally be suppressed, is make your way to their support website and submit a support ticket.

I sit here shaking my head at the exaggerated distortions and hysterical representations being made about a legitimate company. Look at the company information they provide on their website. Google their investors and board members - this is a who's who of Silicon Valley.

For those of you wondering why you have to submit a request to suppress a listing as you never gave permission in the first place - well, that is a whole different discussion. Spoke is a business directory that publishes public domain data. Their right to do so is protected by the First Amendment. All the accusations that Spoke publishes personal or private data are silly and just plain false.

As for the BBB listing - all I can say is that when I was at Spoke I wrote the BBB many times trying to explain to them how their records on Spoke were inaccurate and offered the BBB the correct information. It seems, unlike Spoke, the BBB has no mechanism for businesses or individuals that want to correct inaccurate data.

For those of you still in the "I hate Spoke" mode all I can say is get over it and go find a life. There are many businesses just like Spoke including some Fortune 500 corporations that list who the CEO of IBM is for example. Just because your small company and less-than-CEO status still rates a listing in a business directory does not make the company evil. Making silly and unsubstantiated claims just makes you look foolish.

You can file a complaint through the Truste watchdog and get action that way, but I suggest you just go to Spoke's support website. I assure you, all the people that work there want to help and will accommodate your requests for corrections and suppressions if you are polite and professional when you make your request.

Besides, by flooding the arbitrator with requests, you only hurt the arbitrator. These types of suggestions demonstrate the lack of research & thought put into some of these posts.

Spoke is one of the most conservative companies in their space when it comes to privacy. To suggest otherwise is to completely misunderstand the market segment they are in and what Spoke does.

 
At 3:36 PM, Blogger Aziz said...

has anyone been able to get their info removed? i have emailed the people listed here and got no reply yet

thanks

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger Keith said...

Spoke sucks...and wouldn't ya know it's the VP of Sales that gets on his high horse...it figures. The information they have about me is sooo out dated its not even funny. The company is correct, but it's over 2 years old. They think they're providing a useful service because investors are pumping money into them and VP's like the idiot know as Jeff Leroux are getting paid FAT salaries and likely FAT bonuses...more corporate rhetoric from an Exec.

 
At 2:24 PM, Blogger Jim said...

I just found out from spoke the the person who signs my paychecks and has the owner tag on his business card is not really the owner of the company (according to spoke). Now I have to find this supposed owner and demand more money!

 
At 12:36 PM, Blogger Carl said...

just found my details via google on spokes crappy site.... emailed them to remove, and they better had! first amendment or not im in the uk and its my right under the dataprotection act to remove false informtaion (which it is)

 

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