Some of you may already know me from LeakyCon. I unexpectedly became a volunteer last year at LeakyCon 2011, after a major debacle resulting in insane registration lines. I worked hard to keep people happy, deal with frustrated attendees, parents/chaperones, etc. In 2012 I was formally hired on as staff, officially working registration and assistant to Melissa Lawson, head of programming. I also worked again with volunteers and within the entertainment department. This was of my own volunteering, however, to try and help as much as I possibly could. I discovered, that because of the fact that I would do basically anything needing done, many management-level staffers depended on me for various tasks. Needless to say, I spread myself very thin over the duration of the conference.
In July of 2012, I also began working within the LeakyNews brand. Nothing much was able to come from that endeavor because I recently became the co-founder of PopWrapped; a brand I believe many of you are now familiar with. Not too long ago a post was written regarding me by Melissa Anelli, stating how professional ties have been cut with me, as part of a series of posts fueled by heinous prefaces and malicious lies and half-truths regarding the separation of Zach and LeakyNews. Anelli’s posts are filled with many factual errors that can easily be dis-proven.
The thing I am now worried about is how my company and reputation will fare with so much hatred being aimed at us, when there is absolutely no reasonable justification for it. Aside from being a vaguely competing brand, Melissa’s only agenda seems to be a personal, highly unprofessional vendetta against Zach. Everything I say can either be backed up via saved Skype messages, multiple witnesses, other forms of documentation, or is of my own personal witnessing. Anelli has taken to potentially illegal and unarguably questionable business practices to libel and defame my brand and my business partner.
Prior to LeakyCon 2011, LeakyNews was nothing more than a very vague, nameless idea that was discussed with Zach during the 2011 charity ball. At the time, Zach was working on his own, similar project called “PopWrap,” and became excited at the prospect of teaming up with someone, whom at the time, seemed very passionate and excited about the prospects of a partnership as well. Zach founded and controlled a very large entertainment brand with over 60,000 Twitter followers, 2,800+ Tumblr followers, 3,500+ Facebook “likes” and almost 1.5 Million YouTube views. Zach brought a number of these properties into the LeakyNews “Partnership” (at least that’s what Melissa was originally calling it). It was made known, and agreed to many times during this “partnership,” that if things went sour, and the decision was made to separate, each person would regain what they brought to the table; in this case, Zach would leave with the Twitter and Tumblr, Melissa would keep the website. This was also publicly verified by Melissa herself.
After a years worth of poor management and a lack of care from Melissa Anelli (Only three executive meetings were had over the course of 12 months and there are innumerable instances where Melissa would ignore Zach completely when he had questions or concerns, all of which can be proved by extensively saved and recorded Skype messages.) Over time, Zach began to fear going further in this business venture with Anelli, as she became more and more controlling, and less and less a “partner.” Over 12 months, Zach continued to invest time and his personal money, without ever seeing any return, even when it was promised repeatedly that he would. He genuinely believed that LeakyCon 2012 could be a great kick-start to refuel the passion he once had. Following in this belief, Zach invested over $10,000 in professional photography, video recording and editing gear to be sure that LeakyNews could properly cover LeakyCon 2012.
After two days of grunt work at LeakyCon 2012, (work in which he was of no obligation to perform) and after innumerable questionings of a plan-of-action for the press relations and panel obligations at the conference, Zach finally cornered Katie Burnside, head of publicity, in the staff office regarding the disorganization and lack of accountability to these issues. After fully planning a coverage schematic and spending ten-thousand dollars on gear, he was told “all official LeakyNews press” was going to Rosianna, a friend of Melissa’s. He was told that this instruction had been passed down via Melissa, and if he had any questions, to talk to Anelli about it. He was given a generic press sheet, detailing only limitations, and not assignment. (He later showed me this document.)
Shortly after his conversation with Katie, Anelli showed up at the staff room, at which point, he calmly asked why he was being pushed to the side, and what exactly Melissa wanted him to do at the conference. Anelli immediately became hostile and told him she didn’t have time to deal with him, and that she was not going to hold his hand and figure out what he needed to do for him. After a year of hearing this, Zach became extremely angry and told her off. In more or less words, he told her he was done with LeakyNews. In the heat of the moment he changed the email and password to the Twitter, however it was still the LeakyNews handle. Zach had planned to leave the conference, as he saw no point in spending over a thousand dollars to stay in the hotel, which was not covered in any way by LeakyCon. Other LeakyNews staff members, myself included, talked him out of leaving the conference, and he changed the password back and planned on dealing with it all, professionally, when the conference was over. After LeakyCon, Zach sent Melissa this message both via Skype and to her cell phone via text message: (Screen Capped below)
This was sent on August 15th. He got no response. On August 17th, he sent the identical message yet again. Again, no response. After over a week of zero communication, he decided it was indeed time to cut ties with Melissa Anelli and LeakyNews and re-start his original project, which was renamed “PopWrapped,” as the trademark was clear, and the websites and social media avenues associated with it were all available.
PopWrap(ped) has been an idea of Zach’s for longer than LeakyNews has been in existence, and even before he MET Melissa Anelli. This can easily be proved be looking at the @PopWrap twitter account, which was created, as Melissa Anelli pointed out (below are her stills from her post) on July 28. However, a closer look clearly shows that the first PopWrap post was generated on July 28 TWO-THOUSAND ELEVEN; The month before Zach and Melissa ever met and first talked of what would eventually become LeakyNews.
Link for a zoomed look: http://tinypic.com/r/148k6tf/6
Link for a zoomed look: http://tinypic.com/r/25rf8lh/6
Zach and I became friends over a year ago now when we, funnily enough, met the first day of LeakyCon 2011. We kept in close contact until May, when I moved to Florida for the summer to work for him. It was Zach who hired me to LeakyNews, about two weeks before LeakyCon, as I have a knack for finding stories as they happen. However, after LeakyCon, I was disheartened in my passion for the Leaky brand. I was a staff member, and worked as hard as I could for everyone. I stretched myself thin and to the limits, barley eating or sleeping while there. As mentioned before, I was assigned to work Registration and also to be Melissa Lawson’s assistant. I would run to registration and help them, then when they were doing well, I would seek out Lawson, and if she did not need anything, I would then run to other staff members/volunteers to see if they needed help. This was my day-to-day system. I apparently spread myself too thin when I was given the task of helping to organize LeakyStars, which had fallen through the hands of many upper-level staffers, and into my lap, a mere 36 hours before the event was to take place. Through a series of events in which I believe no party is at fault, I was of the understanding that I needed only to contact applicants and ask if they would like to be a part of the opening act for LeakyStars. I was also to create the set list. I was incorrect in my initial understanding, as I was also expected to have organized the entire hour of programming myself. Instead of doing this, I had thought I had completed my task and started working on another assignment given to me. That caused LeakyStars organization to be completed by Melissa Lawson. Lawson was absolutely furious that she had to finish organizing the program instead of attending the StarKid event. I was abruptly told that I would not be a part of her team in 2013, less than five hours after closing ceremonies had ended. It was heartbreaking. I had done everything I could for LeakyCon for two years, going way above and beyond any reasonable call of duty, and was used as a scapegoat for an hour of Main Stage programming that should never have fallen into my lap in the first place. I considered LeakyCon a second home, and I was proud to have helped it run, and just like that, it was no more. It was disheartening and very disturbing to say the very least. Knowing my work ethic, spirit and knowledge, Zach asked me to be a part of PopWrapped soon after this.
We began to plan the website on August 19th. We wanted to have everything ready, so that when ties were officially cut with LeakyNews, (which was inevitable) it would come to an end on good, civil terms and both parties would be able to go out and continue their respective businesses. We sorted everything and had planned on talking to Melissa and the upper-level LeakyNews staffers the night that Anelli started to hastily and repeatedly change everything. We had planned on talking to everyone and afterward, getting back the Tumblr and Twitter that rightfully belong to Zach and then giving them the Instagram, finally sending out a tweet over the PopWrapped account letting people know we were no longer LeakyNews and to re-follow the Leaky brand if they wanted to continue to receive updates from them.
This is where things get completely out of control. After a 14 hour flight and 8 additional hours of work, Zach told another co-worker of PopWrapped to change the password, intending to give it to LeakyNews the following day. The PopWrapped employee mistakenly thought Zach wanted him to change the username as well to turn it into the PopWrapped Instagram, as the employee couldn’t understand why we would be giving LeakyNews an Instagram account with over 3,500 followers, as Zach DID create this account and was the ONLY person to ever post on it. The PopWrapped employee then posted a picture under the new name. A LeakyNews writer saw this early the following morning, and then it ends with us being accused of stealing the Instagram. What really happened was a mis-communication with an employee that led to Melissa Anelli panicking over an accidentally renamed Instagram, which led to her original post about Zach Jaydon and tweets about PopWrapped.
We never wanted this to happen. The Leaky brand is one I have been a part of for over a year. Many of my closest friends come from Leaky. I would never have purposely allowed for such an ending as this, especially where such vile and unfounded accusations now fly. I wanted to end on the best of terms, as did Zach. Unfortunately, Melissa Anelli has taken a route in which no one could defend as professional, starting a character assassination campaign against PopWrapped and Zach Jaydon. People are being falsely led to believe we “hacked” / “stole” the LeakyNews Twitter, which is patently false, and Melissa Anelli is well aware of this fact. She’s even as far as to bring many other high-profile individuals/talent into this, in hopes to drum up sympathy for her cause. Please also note that after Anelli changed the password to the Twitter that has all along, rightfully belonged to Zach, she began sending multiple tweets from the Twitter, telling people to UNFOLLOW the Twitter. The fact that she was seemingly caught off guard when Zach deleted those tweets and had Twitter immediately restrict her access to the account is ludicrous and unbelievable. Of course he’s not going to sit back and allow Anelli to trash his investment in a childish fit. Had she have merely posted promotional tweets to a new Twitter account, that would have been just fine. We had intended to do that all along. The entire situation saddens and sickens me to no end. This community means so much to me. It has honestly shaped my life and kept me going through some of the toughest of times, and now, because of mean-spirited attacks from Melissa Anelli, many of you would have me out to be a monster, when in fact, that couldn’t be further from the truth. Neither Zach nor I ever meant for anything to go down like it did. Nothing at all was stolen from Melissa Anelli. In fact, the opposite is true. The fact that she and her staff would lead people to believe otherwise is a major source of concern. We hope you will support us as we begin anew. Thank you for taking the time to read this and for your support in the future.
May the Hippogriffs always bow back,