Hello pinheads. My name is Jeff and I am editor and creator of This Week in Pinball. First off, thank you so much for reading TWIP and for all the support from the pinball community.
I started This Week in Pinball in July of 2017 because I love pinball. As of the time of this writing, we’ve had just shy of 2 million visitors to the site from 184 different countries, which is just crazy.
As the site has grown, the time I’ve spent on the site has grown as well. Last year I partnered up with William Oetting, who also runs the website Silverball Swag and is amazing to work with and a website wizard. Both of us have full time “real” jobs and just do the TWIP and Silverball Swag stuff on the side. One thing we’ve always said is if stops being fun to do these things then we don’t have to keep doing them.
Over the past several months I have tried to spend less time on the website due to “real life” stuff. During that time I’ve been brainstorming on how to spend less time on the website and increase revenue to help make This Week in Pinball more sustainable long term. Our income has all been from folks in the pinball community (THANK YOU!!), and most of that income has been pumped back into the websites and brands and the TWIPY awards show to improve our products and content (last year we broke even for the year).
We had a couple formatting changes we were going to make and were going to look for a marketing consultant to help us with ideas (we were actually going to post that tomorrow), but we’re putting that on hold.
In recent weeks as I’m sure you’ve seen, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Robert Mueller and entities under the deeproot umbrella (including deeproot Pinball), in a $58M investment scam.
I’ve been working on a massive article about deeproot similar to the one I did about the fall of Heighway Pinball (https://www.thisweekinpinball.com/twip-the-fall-of-heighway-pinball-new-info-on-elvira-3-iron-maiden-le-more/).
Deeproot has been controversial from the moment they came onto the pinball scene. They were the definition of talking the talk before walking the walk. They made huge claims. They did not take any pre-order money. They promised to make Zidware customers “whole”. They also sponsored and advertised through many entities in pinball, tournaments like Pinburgh, pinball shows like TPF, IFPA, several content creators including TWIP, and many others. I ended the sponsoring/advertising when they decided to start taking pre-order money from customers.
Monetizing TWIP has always been a struggle, and the optics of being sponsored by manufacturers or other pinball companies in this small community has always been a concern. I cover my thoughts on it more in depth here on a post from 2019: https://www.thisweekinpinball.com/this-week-in-pinball-ads-thank-yous-and-the-pinball-media/
I keep notes on information I’ve heard about and from all pinball manufacturers. My notes are separated into a few different sections, but the big two are public stuff (for example, rumors from podcasts on upcoming titles), and private stuff (stuff I was told off the record in confidence). The private stuff is not shared until either 1. It becomes public from someone else, or 2. The person that told me the information in confidence gives me the go ahead to share it.
In working on the timeline of the article about the fall of deeproot Pinball, I was going through undated notes (I think from the end of 2020) from a weird phone call I had with Robert. It was sometime after the failed launch in September 2020. I had only talked to Robert on the phone a few times, so I was hoping for a big (positive) update. My notes from the call were mostly about the fact that they were going to start taking pre-order money. One of the notes said that he mentioned “FCC official investigation?”. He shared some worst case scenario stuff, but was “confident” that the pinball venture would succeed. I had made some additional notes that Robert explained that the FCC would likely fine deeproot and there was a “small likelihood” of a (temporary) shut down. It is clear that FCC meant SEC and that I had not heard him correctly. He also shared some updates of the development of the machines. My biggest takeaway from the conversation was that they were starting to take pre-order money – non-refundable.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting some anonymous cryptic messages that borderline on blackmail. This weekend as I was researching the article and contacting people about it, the threats ramped up. People threatening to destroy TWIP and that they had “information”.
Maybe I should have handled things differently and dug deeper, investigated, tried to get some facts on it and try to report on it. Maybe I shouldn’t have done any interviews with them or reported when they did other interviews. I’m definitely not perfect and have made a lot of mistakes with TWIP and learned from them. This whole deeproot scam has just made me sick. My policy for TWIP has always been to (as much as possible) cover everyone and everything, but maybe that is not the right approach.
All this has made this not fun anymore for me. Getting threatening messages is not helping.
With all that being said, due to many many factors (not just ones mentioned in this post), it is time for me to take a hiatus from TWIP for a while. It’s been an absolute pleasure and privilege over the last four years being involved so deeply in this hobby. A break wil allow me to recharge and regain some of the fun and passion and drive to create for This Week in Pinball.
We have one more article already scheduled, it will be released on Wednesday morning, a guest post called “VIDBALL: The Untold Story of Midway’s Last Pinball Project by Teri Bertram”, it is a very interesting story that I had not heard before. I think you’ll like it.
Thank you as always for reading TWIP. And play some pinball.