Jason Calacanis, CEO of search engine startup Malaho, published an open letter on his blog explaining “why he employed a felon.”
John Schiefer was charged with and pleaded guilty to installing malware on computers, without the knowledge of the computers' owners, in order to intercept private information and conduct identity theft and wire and bank fraud in November of 2007. Not too long after, Schiefer applied for a job in Malaho.
Calacanis starts out by clarifying that he didn’t know John Schiefer was convicted of infecting 250,000 computers with bots when he was hired by the company. Calacanis details that while they ask for a number of references (between three and five) for all employees and Schiefer passed “with flying colors,” the fault lay with his CTO, Mark Jeffery, who screwed up by not doing a simple Google search on John’s name. If he had, he would have easily found out about these crimes, and John would never have been a Mahalo employee.
When Calacanis did find out about the crimes months later, he sat down with Schiefer and eventually decided not to fire him. He says Schiefer will still have a job to come back to when he gets out of prison.
“John’s work is well-supervised. Mahalo follows strict security policies and we don’t store any sensitive data anyway. (Even if one of our employees did go off the deep end, the most they would have access to would be your questions and answers on Mahalo Answers–not much damage can be done there since they’re all public anyway).”
We think it's a noble thing, letting a felon keep his job and standing by him when he's sentenced. On the other hand, we're not sure it'll do much to assure Malaho users. Check out the full letter on Jason Calacanis’ blog.