More on USA Technologies CEO George Jensen's suspension: Message Board Wars

Tom Paine

The announcement by Malvern-based USA Technologies on Wednesday that its chairman & CEO George Jensen has been suspended and is expected to resign from the company "in the near future" for posts he made to an internet message board naturally raises the questions: what did he post, and to which message board did he post it?

No further definitive information has come out about this that I've been able to find, although some posters at the Yahoo Finance message board for USA Technologies (USAT) have speculated about whether Jensen was one of the posters there. Yahoo Finance message boards are well known, particularly in the case of thinly traded stocks, for having some participants who might "pump the stock", perhaps having a personal interest in it or representing someone else's interest, or others who might try to depress a stock (although there is nothing at this time to suggest that was the case here, nor am I implying it). They are not good places to go for investment advice in general, although there may be some nuggets of truth. These boards can also evolve into platforms for bitter, sometimes personal attacks on company management, as was the case with Mr. Jensen.

Last year USA Technologies became so upset with some critical posters on the Yahoo board that it filed suit in Pennsylvania against two of them, claiming defamation and securities fraud, and alleging they had financial interests in denigrating the company. The company speculated that the posters may have had ties to a dissident shareholder group that was trying to initiate a proxy fight around that time. One of them, who posted under the name "Stokklerk", went to Federal Court in California to quash a subpoena requiring Yahoo to reveal his (or her) true identity. Stokklerk had called Jensen on the board a"known liar" who believes "humanity exists to be fleeced", among other things. A District Judge in San Francisco rejected the company's request, saying that a target of anonymous online attacks must have evidence that the postings violated its rights and caused serious harm before enforcing a subpoena. Stokklerk still posts on the Yahoo board.

Although USA Technologies has made some financial progress in recent years, it has a long history of losses and doubts remain about how it will fare against competing technologies. In its fiscal year ending June 30, USA Technologies lost about $6.5 million on revenue of just under $23 million.



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