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Snopes case and gofundme website is it community?

by | Jul 28, 2017 | Division of Assets, Divorce, Firm News

Often the most complicated part of any divorce that has assets deals with the  division of a business.  The analysis into determining the value of the business and the contribution of community and or separate property is quite intensive. In order to adequately evaluate the business a party must do a thorough analysis of the business.  This means that a forensic accountant needs to be appointed to look at all aspects of how the business is run and which spouse is controlling the day to day running of the business.

The bitter 2015 divorce of David and Barbara Mikkelson is the fuel that ignited the battle for the popular fact-checking Web site, Snopes, which is now resorting to a GoFundMe drive to keep it afloat.

The showdown takes on added gravity because the popular site, owned by Bardav Inc., is one of the outlets that Facebook turns to for verification of stories when it receives complaints of fake news.

Fans of Snopes have been responding in droves since Monday, when the company said that Proper Media — both tech partner and part-owner after buying Barbara’s shares in 2016 — has been withholding ad revenue.

David Mikkelson said the company was in danger of running out of money and asked for readers to help it raise $500,000.

By 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, the GoFundMe site had already raised more than $530,000.

Proper Media, meanwhile, claims in a San Diego state court lawsuit that David Mikkelson is spending money wildly and should be removed as a director and officer.

“Mikkelson has for years been looting Bardav, to the detriment of its shareholders, first his ex-wife Barbara and now Proper Media,” the suit claims.

Mikkelson, who denies the allegations, tried to boot Proper Media as the technical support firm earlier this year and claims in a countersuit that PM is “wrongfully withholding money owed to Bardav and effectively holding the site hostage by preventing Bardav from moving the site, advertising and other back end functions to another service provider . Shortly after the Mikkelsons started contentious divorce proceedings in 2015, his wife sold her 50 percent ownership to Proper Media.

The two had founded the site in 2003 and were both the only listed board members — each with a single share in the company.

But because the company was listed as an S corporation, its stock had to be held by individuals, not a corporate entity.

Proper Media insisted that it could not be terminated as a vendor because David Mikkelson had never called for the full board to approve it.

David Mikkelson insisted that one seat on the board was vacant once his wife resigned as part of the sale. Therefore, he claimed, he had sole right to make decisions.  These issues create a very complicated anaylysis as to who runs the company and does Mikkelson have a free and clear right to assert his control over the company because his wife has resigned.  And if so does she still get her community share of the business regardless of his taking complete control of the busieness.