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— Weiss also attacks companies that stifle investors' right of free expression. His major example is ZiaSun Technologies, a onetime Solana Beach company that owned a number of dot-com enterprises. That was glorious while the dot-com bubble expanded but -- well, you can guess what happened. On Internet chat rooms, investors claimed they had been hornswoggled to buy the stock by offshore boiler rooms. Some said the whole thing was a scam.

ZiaSun sued those who posted negative remarks on the Internet. A long fight ensued. Finally, there was a settlement, and the Internet posters didn't have to cough up any money. But they agreed to give up their First Amendment rights -- a perpetual gag order. They promised never to post anything negative about ZiaSun again. It "shows you how terrific a lawsuit can be when you're a company and the defendant is some poor slob who says something you don't like on the Internet," writes Weiss. There were no screams from guardians of the First Amendment.

ZiaSun charged that some of the Internet posters were in bed with short sellers betting the stock would go down. (It turned out to be a profitable bet.) "If a company makes a big fuss about short sellers, I would view that as a red flag," says Weiss. "I would avoid such companies like the plague, because history tells us that companies that engage in such conduct are more concerned with hyping their stock than making their companies succeed."

Weiss's book is relevant to your pocketbook and to San Diego. Read it.

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