As I wrote at the time, the InTrade-TradeSports websites were unavailable, last Friday, August 29, 2008, during a good part of the morning.
InTrade-TradeSports is not only an event derivative exchange, but also a webspot that non-trading people often consult to get the latest market-generated probabilistic predictions. Last Friday, in addition to the traders, many people visited InTrade just to see what their prediction markets were saying about who would be John McCain’-s pick as Republican vice presidential nominee. InTrade-TradeSports CEO John Delaney has said that that Friday saw 10 times more web visitors than any usual peak day, and that their server bandwidth was not large enough to cop with all solicitations. It is well known in the media business that servers should be configured many times bigger than for the normal usage —-so as to accommodate exceptional peak times, when some impacting news break. My sentiment is that the InTrade-TradeSports technical team has probably not fully anticipated the growth of the InTrade-TradeSports followers.
As the result of this black Friday, some traders complained. One trader (Todd) started a thread on the InTrade e-mailing list. Unfortunately, Todd spiced his message with sarcasm. Which immediately irked John Delaney, who responded to the complaint, but also added a twisted line in effect inviting Todd to close his InTrade account.
That remark offended another InTrade-TradeSports trader (Lucy Vega), who talked back to John Delaney:
BetFair and InTrade-TradeSports are de facto monopolies (with 95% of the total business on their geographical zone, according to my estimation), and their direct competitors have far less liquidity, thus making them uninteresting for the big traders like Todd.
If John Delaney were really sincere in his wish to see the US public prediction market industry becoming legalized and experiencing a big growth in the coming decade, he should refrain from making offending remarks to his customers —-even when those clients started the feud with some sarcasm of their own. This kind of bullying behavior could attract the attention of the US regulators in a negative way, which is exactly the reverse of what is needed at this time.
I can understand that John Delaney is sometimes upset by some of his ultra-demanding and sarcastic customers. However, as I said, the real-money prediction exchanges are in a situation of being de facto monopolies, where their market-generated information is of high social utility, which creates a social responsibility for the executives and managers of these prediction exchanges. You don’-t insult and castigate a blogger who exposes a scandal. You don’-t censor the CNBC reports. You don’-t ask a complaining customer to close his / her account. All those things are big no-nos.
I am re-publishing an old post of mine, as an appendix, to respond to some comments:
Dan Laffan of InTrade has just given me permission to republish his e-mail(s) to Todd Griepenburg:
We will absolutely not continue to be part of or facilitate any further diatribe with you on these issues.
If you are not satisfied that we
1. Have listened to your comments
2. Have replied to same and
3. Will take or have taken whatever corrective action is within our power and/or appropriate
then we reluctantly suggest that you consider closing your account on the exchange (or cease using it until our service meets your expectations). We say “reluctantly” as we do not wish to see any member leave, but we seem to be causing you immense dissatisfaction which is not our intention.
We will promptly close your account and return any funds you have in your account at your request. We await your decision and instruction.
Previous: A Big Trader’s Open Letter to TradeSports-InTrade + Second E-mail to InTrade-TradeSports + Third E-mail to InTrade-TradeSports + InTrade-TradeSports to Todd Griepenburg: GO TO HELL.
Dan Laffan to Todd: #1 – #2
For the full information of my readers, InTrade-TradeSports’-s behavior is not the worst behavior that a prediction exchange can have towards an annoying customer. I am aware of another real-money prediction exchange who does close the accounts of the customers whom they view as problematic (and that, without citing any reason) —-as opposed to just asking somebody to leave.
Todd’-s new message to John Delaney