Christos Cotsakos has the opposite of the Midas touch. Everything he touches seems only to implode. This happened to E-Trade back in 2000-2002 when he was the CEO. Cotsakos was famously replaced after enriching himself with a $78 million pay package during a year the stock tanked 53 percent (see chart detail at left). He had to give back some of that money, but kept enough to live lavishly in Florida and pour millions of dollars into an ill-conceived social network for international swingers called Moli.
Never heard of Moli? Don’t worry. It also just imploded. Moli was a me-three social network that was founded in 2006 way after that train had left the station, and didn’t launch publicly until January 2008 at DEMO. The main differentiating factor, if you can call it that, was the ability to show different profiles to different sets of contacts (personal, business, family). The site never got above 2.5 million visitors a month, according to Compete (see chart above). And we have learned from several former employees that most of its staff has been laid off, from a peak employment of about 55.
There was a big round of layoffs last September, when all but 15 or so people were let go. Last week, most of the remaining employees were cut loose. The site is still up, but it seems like there are only a handful of people left keeping the lights on hoping for a sale. That is unlikely to happen. We are placing Moli in the deadpool. (And something tells me many more social networks are headed there as well).
Although the company (officially called Mainstream Holdings) reportedly raised a total of $56 million, including $30 million just last January, one source tells us that most of that money was never actually disbursed to the company. And in fact investors from the $30 million round, which included Wall Street billionaire Kenneth Langone and Home Depot founder Bernard Marcus, refused to release the second tranche of funds after the stock market started to go south. That led to the September firings.
Really, anyone could have seen this coming a mile away: A no-name social network run out of Florida, backed by a guy known primarily for his greed—what did the investors think was going to happen? Oh wait, I forgot, Kenneth Langone is a big believer in greed. The business model, apparently, was to sell deep profile and targeting information to advertisers. The problem was that Moli needed users before it could sell their personal information. The company also sold e-commerce tools to subscribers so that users could try to sell things to their friends. Hmm, I wonder why nobody wanted to hang out there.
Today, nobody picks up the phone at the West Palm Beach headquarters. And e-mails to company executives, including to president Judy Balint, go unanswered. The site seems to be sponsored by SECFilings.com.
Here are some screen shots for posterity: