Intelius cancels its cell phone directory, saving me the trouble of having to opt out of it every three months


A few years ago, I wrote about a new cell phone directory that charges $15 to give you incorrect information, and from which you have to renew your opt-out every three months. Well, apparently, less than a year later, due to "complaints from consumers and Verizon Wireless," Intelius decided to discontinue the service.

Intelius is back in the news, because they have filed a preliminary prospectus with the SEC for an initial public offering. (According to TechCrunch, this is their second attempt at an IPO.) "It's important to know the history. Many investors looking at his history would be very careful." The person being referred to by that analyst is your friend and mine, Naveen Jain, current CEO of Intelius and more notably former CEO of InfoSpace.

My guess is that Naveen did this for the attention, because it has been too long since the last time he got to tell a reporter how awesome he is.

(By the way, his Wikipedia article at publication time demonstrates a bit of Naveen-like grandstanding. The article claims that he joined Microsoft in 1989 as a senior executive. I worked in an office down the hall from him in the early 1990's. He was no senior executive. He was just another middle manager, notable for being significantly more annoying and loud-mouthed than your average middle manager. And the quotation "My job was to define what a product should do from a consumer point of view and what it is that Microsoft wanted the program to be" is just the job description of a Program Manager at Microsoft. Nothing special.)

Comments (16)
  1. Nish says:

    Geez! The wikipedia entry has already been updated and it now quotes you, Raymond!

  2. TJ says:

    I find it amusing that the Wikipedia entry already cites this as reference.

  3. someone else says:

    Wow, Raymond actually talking bad about a person with a name. You must be pissed!

    [He’s a public figure, this is a reaction to public news, and his penchant for grandstanding is well-known. There is nothing new here. -Raymond]
  4. AC says:

    You normally go to lengths to make sure companies who write bad code etc aren’t named and shamed, but here you make a personal attack on an idividual¹.

    I understand why you may dislike Naveen or view him with scepticism, but is a little consistancy too much to ask? …I’d rather you named everyone that no-one btw!

    ¹What, no ‘The opinions expressed herein are my own and are not an official position of Microsoft Corporation’?

  5. Nish says:

    Okay, this is fascinating! The entry has been updated again, and Raymond’s name has been removed but it is mentioned that he’s a Program Manager (with citation to this blog entry). Raymond actually said he was a middle manager, so it’s likely that Naveen’s actual designation may have been more on the lines of Lead/Group PM. I can’t believe Wikipedia moderators are this active – it’s truly amazing!

  6. John says:

    I don’t see this as being inconsistent at all.  Developers who write bad code are just ignorant (usually); this guy is a major league asshole.

  7. DWalker says:

    Jain’s personal web page (linked from Wikipedia) has a quite overblown-sounding biography.  He "worked on several crucial projects" such as OS/2, Windows NT, and Windows 95.  I presume that many Microsoft employees who worked at Microsoft in the same time period, would have "worked on" those same projects.

    Then he "got tired of making billions for Bill."  Wow.

  8. DWalker says:

    Wow, Jain’s biography says he won the "Albert Einstein Technology Medal".  Wikipedia says this is formally called the "Albert Einstein award" and comes with a gold medal.

    It is an award for work in theoretical physics.  Jain has never won it.

    There are other similarly named awards:

    The Albert Einstein Medal http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Einstein_Medal is an award presented by the Albert Einstein Society in Bern.  From what I can see, Jain has not won this.

    The Albert Einstein World Award of Science http://www.consejoculturalmundial.org/winners-science.php "was created as a means of recognition, and as an incentive to scientific and technological research and development. It takes into special consideration those researches, which have brought true benefit and well being to mankind".  From what I can see, Jain has not won this award either.

    It sounds like Jain is deluded and makes up things.

  9. Nick Lamb says:

    The founder of eXfuze, an MLM company with an 8-ball compensation plan that screams "pyramid scam" to anyone in the know is apparently "a former Microsoft executive".

    Much is made of this, but with such high employee numbers the statistics suggest Microsoft’s ex-employees ought to include among them a fair share of fraudsters, and even more serious criminals, as well as the novelists, Olympic athletes, oboe players or Price Is Right contestants.

    In fact it would be odd if we discovered that no ex-Microsoft employees were involved in anything shady – they’re not saints after all.

  10. JenK says:

    [He’s a public figure, this is a reaction to public news, and his penchant for grandstanding is well-known. There is nothing new here. -Raymond]

    Agreed.

    • Another former coworker of Naveen’s.
  11. Neil (SM) says:

    The discussion page on Jain’s Wikipedia entry is actually more interesting than the article itself.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Naveen_Jain

  12. Marc says:

    When I read that headline I thought it was going to be something about the use of the Prefix ‘Inteli’  – as Microsoft use that a lot (InteliMouse and InteliSense spring to mind) but I was totally wrong ! Interesting read anyway :)

  13. “I can’t believe Wikipedia moderators are this active – it’s truly amazing!”

    All three changes to the article today are by the same editor. It’s just a single guy thinking over what it should say.

    (And Wikipedia has no “moderators”).

    [And also violating Wikipedia policy by using a primary instead of a secondary source. -Raymond]
  14. McKay says:

    [And also violating Wikipedia policy by using a primary instead of a secondary source. -Raymond]

    Yes, but a primary source is better than no source at all (which was the prior state of the article), and he later found a secondary source.

    [Now that the secondary source is there (actually it was always there) there is no need for the primary source citation. -Raymond]
  15. Cooney says:

    You normally go to lengths to make sure companies who write bad code etc aren’t named and shamed, but here you make a personal attack on an idividual¹.

    I would imagine that identifying code that Raymond sees at work would open him/Ms up to liability and at the very least make people less willing to send him code to fix. Naveen, not so much – his whole business model is creepy.

  16. Wasn’t Jain running MSN?  I remember a certain Win95 developer (LB – worked on USER/USER32) really not liking Jain and rejoycing when he left MS.

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