The True Complete Story of the Founding of Turntable
The original concept for Turntable (TT.live) was created back in 2011, when I was VP of Engineering for a company called StickyBits, a QR code company originally started by Seth Goldstein and Billy Chasen. Brands could stick QR codes on their products and users could scan them for rewards. That Stickybits model was well liked but never really took off with users. I was one of the first employees and in my role, VP of Engineering, I contributed to the company’s technology, product, and strategy efforts. I had already co-founded 2 other startups before this time. Although my scope of work encompassed many of the responsibilities and values of a cofounder, that title was never publicly conveyed to me.
I told Chasen many times that the StickyBits concept and technology were flawed and that the growth was stalled. I had a passion for music discovery and for meeting people at music events (I’ve been to Burning Man 9 times). I often shared my product ideas with Chasen, including for a music sharing social media network. I was in a long-distance relationship with my girlfriend at the time, often trading YouTube music videos back and forth, which made me come up with an idea to make an app to swap music with my girlfriend and others. Chasen and I brainstormed ideas for the name for the new app together. Then, Chasen, one other engineer, and I together wrote all of the original code for Turntable at that time. From the head bobbing and YouTube videos to the playlist queue and the viral Facebook login system, many of my original features were eventually adopted into the final product. Most of the backend and CSS code was also architected and built by me. Chasen also contributed to the original design. The domain tt.fm is the original mobile domain for the app.
Excited with what the future would hold for Turntable, the we continued to work together, with Chasen taking more of the public facing role as CEO and myself more behind the scenes as a quiet cofounder. However, Chasen began to take full credit for the idea, consequently leaving me out of the limelight, even internally, and refusing to give me the title of cofounder.
I attempted to reason with Chasen, to secure the equity compensation I was promised and the co-founding title I deserved, but those efforts resulted in no success. Instead, Chasen threatened to damage my reputation and never honored the work and leadership I contributed. Within months, Turntable went viral, raised more than $7 million and caught the eye of big-name music professionals. As popularity for Turntable grew, Chasen continued to take credit for Turntable, but also pivoted away from Turntable and launched a totally different app and brand, which led to the final demise of the company. In 2014, Turntable was completely shut down.
Over the next decade, fans of Turntable continuously reached out in hopes of a rebirth. I attempted to engage Chasen several times in good faith efforts to work cooperatively together to bring back Turntable, but Chasen refused all attempts and continued to threaten and defame me. Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, fans of Turntable began to surface in droves, wanting it to come back. The desire to socially connect was intensifying and what better way than through music. During the shelter in place period, people were missing live music more than ever. During this time, I decided to rebuild from scratch an all-new Turntable, started crowdfunding, building followers, raising funding and planning a launch. As the new Turntable began to take shape, Chasen threatened me with lawsuits and further refused to discuss a possible settlement.
In January 2021, Chasen reiterated that Turntable was not coming back, expressly making yet another public statement of abandonment. At the same time, he continued to discredit my role as cofounder once again. In March 2021, Chasen bought josephperla.com and joeperla.com. He cyber-jacked a number of web domains of my name and redirected those domains to his website which housed disparaging remarks against me. After undertaking those actions, he emailed me again, explicitly stating that he would transfer ownership and control of the web domains (of my name) that he had wrongfully acquired only if I paid him money and complied with various demands. Essentially, he was trying to extort me with a classic cybersquatting scheme. I felt shocked and dismayed by his behavior. He also resurrected the old Turntable code, presumably to spite me.
He again reiterated why Turntable was not right for 2021 and why:
I hope to resolve that matter eventually, but in the meantime am focusing my business efforts on the all-new Turntable LIVE (TT.live), which is currently in beta… because music is better with friends.