Travis' article: Pangburn
Philosophy & Sam Harris
Transitioning from old corporation to Pangburn
EP#29 The Pangburn Podcast - Old & New Business
Sam Harris is great. On of my favorite philosophers in human history. We've done some excellent work together. I do however agree with Dave's account of the evidence to what forced the previous corporation to close. Sam played a big hand in it crashing and he blamed me personally for it all.
Pangburn is now stronger than ever. There are new battlefields to be set for the war of ideas. Lots to come for 2020. - Trav
Trav & Sam exchange on Twitter
every event that I presented you in, you were paid and treated like a prince. The conference model that we built together for Syd & Aus didn't work out, then you left me hangin for NYC. You still made a lot of money for Syd, but for me it was a big loss.
10:58 AM · Oct 15, 2018
Sam Harris goes after Travis
This was and is still posted on Sam's website. Samharris.org . Was also shared on social media.
It is now Nov 25th, 2019
November 16, 2018
As many of you know, the Day of Reflection conference, scheduled for November 17 in NYC, has been cancelled, and some hundreds of ticket holders are now left seeking refunds.
I was forced to pull out of this event nearly two months ago and have said very little about it since. Now that Travis Pangburn has officially announced that he will be “folding” his touring company, Pangburn Philosophy, I can give a brief account of what happened.
I participated in 10 events organized by Pangburn Philosophy between September 2017 and July 2018. I didn’t always approve of the way those events were staged or marketed, but all of them appeared to be successful.
However, after the cancellation of an August 2018 conference in Auckland, Pangburn seemed intent on running his business off a cliff. He owed a lot of money to several speakers at that point, in the form of unpaid fees and reimbursements. Most egregiously, he seemed less than fully committed to refunding ticket holders for the cancelled Auckland conference.
At this point, I had two more dates on the calendar with Pangburn in 2018: a dialogue with Brian Greene in Toronto (September 5) and the Day of Reflection conference in New York (November 17). I kept my appointment in Toronto because I was contractually obligated to do so. I also didn’t want to do anything that would harm Pangburn’s ability to pay his mounting debts.
After Toronto, however, it became clear that Pangburn could not be trusted to put his house in order. Facing a total lack of transparency, and realizing that Pangburn was using my ongoing association with him to book future speakers, I withdrew from the NYC conference on September 21 (as well as from a Vancouver conference scheduled for March 2019). Legally, I was able to do this because Pangburn was in breach of my speaking contract. Ethically, I had a far more compelling reason to back out: I couldn’t promote or participate in an event for which I believed other speakers were unlikely to get paid; nor could I continue to work with someone who still hadn’t given refunds to ticket holders for a conference that had been canceled more than a month before.
After I withdrew from the NYC conference, my management team asked Pangburn to give us the email addresses of all ticket holders so that we could notify them that I was no longer involved with the event. Pangburn refused to provide this information. However, he assured us that he would notify everyone himself. (I do not know whether he ever did.) He then stopped responding to our emails.
At the time I pulled out of the NYC conference, I assumed that the revenue from ticket sales was still safely in the box office and that Pangburn would be obliged to issue refunds should the conference fail. That’s how things normally work, especially at a reputable venue like Lincoln Center. It hadn’t occurred to me that New York ticketholders might suffer the same fate as those in Auckland.
I was left with a legal and ethical puzzle that I could not solve. Again, I had no way to communicate with ticket holders directly, and discussing the chaos surrounding Pangburn on my podcast never seemed like an option. Several friends and colleagues still had events on the calendar with him, and I didn’t want to do anything to derail them. In addition, many speakers who were aware of my reasons for pulling out of the NYC conference were still signed on and seemed intent on making it work. I couldn’t see anything to do that wouldn’t risk creating further harms.
Although Pangburn still owes several speakers (including me) an extraordinary amount of money, we were willing to participate in the NYC conference for free as recently as a few days ago, if he would have handed it over to us and stepped away. I have been told that this offer was made, and he declined it.
I find it appalling that so many people were needlessly harmed by the implosion of Pangburn Philosophy. I can assure you that every speaker associated with the NYC event will be much wiser when working with promoters in the future.
Travis Pangburn shares Dave's tweet
(Nov 17th, 2019)
I agree wholeheartedly with almost all of Dave's points here Sam.
, thank you so much for the support. My new company & live event policies will protect against any nonsense in the future: https://bit.ly/2Xnshnn Everything goes through me now.
Fan & Contributor
Dave Schroeder responds
(Nov 16th, 2019)
Based on my understanding of the evidence, I am going to challenge
Sam Harris on this document:
1) Seems very straight forward & demonstrable.
2) You are claiming that Travis had an "intent" to run the corporation off a cliff? What is your evidence to support this? Owing money is part of business ownership sometimes. You say he owed a lot of money, but did you listen to him when he responded to one of your tweets with "There are a few speakers that are still owed some money. They have all been flexible due to lack of attendance at events." This seems very much hurt Travis' reputation. It's defamation if you cannot prove this. Travis said publicly, in a response to one of your tweets "We have 20 accounts left to refund (from Auckland) . Working on clearing those up." So what you found to be most egregious, may not even be true as this claim hasn't been demonstrated. If you think it has been demonstrated to you then you should include it in this statement.
3) Most of this seems pretty reasonable. You finish off with "I also didn’t want to do anything that would harm Pangburn’s ability to pay his mounting debts." It's interesting that you used the word "mounting" to describe his debts. How do you know they were mounting and not being consolidated and dealt with? Why would you categorize them as "his" debts when they really are the companies debts? This is a false statement as they are not his debts.
4) What new evidence came to that made you believe that Travis could not be trusted to put his house in order? Travis had just finished firing all of his staff and was of course behind. He made this all public. It was no secret that you two were working together, so why wasn't his association with you an issue before the Toronto event? You went from not wanting to hurt Travis' ability to pay off company debts to pulling out of the big NYC conference in a very short amount of time. You make the claim that you could not continue to support an event where other speakers likely wouldn't get paid. What is your evidence for this? Do you not think if you would've helped instead of leaving that speakers would've been paid? Like almost every event in the companies history? Was it wise to pull out of an event the way you did, that was obviously going to have catastrophic effects on the corporation, if you wanted the remaining accounts in New Zealand to be reimbursed? Maybe you could've covered those remaining accounts with some of the speaking fees you acquired to eliminate that stressor to give Pangburn Philosophy more time to recoup? I understand it's not your legal obligation, but wouldn't that have been the most wise play?
5) Well that's because the event was still on and you removed yourself from it... Travis did provide these emails to your team eventually, when it was cancelled. Did he not? I'm sure I've seen a public post with the actual email and date. Because you were planning on doing something for those ticket holders. Did you? I probably would stop responding after the things you said publicly and the fact that you abandoned an event.
6) Perhaps you shouldn't have assumed this Sam. Obviously the conference model was set up in a way, after what happened in Auckland, that cancellation would be catastrophic. The conferences were trying to operate under a "no cancellation" model. "Speakers will be replaced if they cannot attend". Once you abandoned, many followed your move.
7) I don't think this was unsolvable Sam. I believe I have given you some pretty good alternatives to decisions that were made by you and your business managers. "Chaos surrounding Pangburn." What chaos exactly? This word use is very strange. He created some conferences with you and they failed. Some people lost money. This isn't chaos in my mind. This is a failed business project. Your extreme use of language again looks like you just trying to laser blame in precisely one direction. Perhaps some of your decisions here are to blame as well.
The event could've happened. Pangburn Philosophy was forced to close and cancel, but that doesn't stop you from keeping the event alive. My conclusion here
Sam is that you used your position of power to direct all of the blame at
Travis Pangburnpersonally and take on no responsibility yourself and made no obvious plea to your followers to not attack Travis or to stop their slandering of his name. My legal opinion is that you have an obligation to clarify if what you have said has caused this reaction. You also slandered Travis' name. "Travis, have you lost your mind? You have a moral and legal obligation to refund ticket holders. What is your plan for doing this?" Using inflammatory terms like "Pangburned" at his reputations expense. You chose to attack Travis the person and claim that "he" has a legal obligation to refund ticket holders. This is just false. And it is not immoral for a business project to fail. This is clear in the moral landscape.
*New Live Event Policies*
- I will not be taking on any staff for these. It will all be organized by myself and carried out by venue staff.
- All ticket proceeds will always be managed by the venues.
- Speakers will be offered deals based on the net success of the event, which will essentially eliminate the need to ever cancel an event.
- Speakers will need to agree to allow for live streaming of the event.
- All speakers must engage in book signings, if they have published a book.
This model eliminates potential staff corruption/theft, anyone being left out of pocket if a company goes down or an event is cancelled, guarantees live streaming (whatever the quality may be from event to event based on budget) and make damn sure that you get that damn book signed. The old school model of paying an incredibly massive amount of money up front to speakers is too brittle and open for disaster. I believe this is the right way to move forward. Adjustments and better ideas are always possible, but after my experience with producing these kind of events I think this is the proper next step.
If you are interested in speaking at one of my future events, please get in touch. Thank you!