You have reached this page because you attempted to visit Collarme.com and the site is down. If you wish to know why Collarme is unavailable, I suggest you grab a drink and some popcorn, as this tale is a long and harrowing one.
My name is Tiffany. I am one of the two founders of Collarme.com. I have been involved with Collarme from its inception as a fledgling idea to give individuals in the BDSM community greater freedom of expression than existed on other sites to the thriving community it has turned into.
I have poured years of my life into Collarme and those who were on the site early on as well as all of the wonderful volunteers we have had throughout the years know who I am. I generally keep a low profile, but for anyone who dealt with Collarme, from volunteering to advertising to press coverage and resolution of legal issues, I was responsible for managing the site’s non technical operations.
I am the individual responsible (please don’t hate me!) for the ads on Collarme and therefore the person to thank for keeping Collarme free. I transformed Collarme from a pet project into an extremely successful business and would have done much more if I had been given the opportunity.
During many of these years of work on Collarme I was largely uncompensated, living as friends with its co-founder. I was fine with this arrangement as I always assumed that I would be able to earn a modest living from the site’s operation or sale at some point. While my partner controlled the servers, I was given ownership of the domain, which I have retained for many, many years. We never entered into a contract because we were the best of friends and trusted each other implicitly.
Unfortunately, several years ago, my relinquishment of daily control of the site led to a rapid decline in Collarme.com and the experience of many users. I moved back to the East Coast and helped with Collarme as requested, but for the most part let my partner run Collarme.com as he wished. Under his management the site began to fall apart. If you have been on Collarme for more than five years, then I am sure you know the issues to which I allude, difficulties that are mirrored on the administrative side which most users do not see.
My partner begged me to quit my full time job and “captain the ship.” When I managed Collarme.com on a daily basis, the site thrived and we both wished to return it to its former glory. At the time I was considering this request, a friend of mine insisted that I enter into a formal contract to establish my interests in the site I co-founded and was abandoning a well-paying career to run.
A contract was drawn up which granted me a modest salary, less than what I was currently earning at my job, as well as accrual of a small percentage of Collarme.com’s gross revenues.
This contract was to last for two years since this was the anticipated time frame I believed would be necessary to turn the site around. By the end of the contract, I would be receiving 12% of the site’s gross revenues as long as it was in operation and receive 48% of proceeds upon sale if it were ever sold. This contract was meant to formally establish me as an equal partner in the site, which was our intent from is creation.
The contract led to an initial period of substantial improvement. Many administrative changes were implemented and the site’s revenues increased significantly. Unfortunately, my partner became increasingly difficult to work with. I hired numerous developers to code new features and improve existing ones and all of them quit because my partner was extremely uncooperative. He began stifling my attempts to make even the most minor changes and projected his personal tastes onto everything. As an example, an advertiser wanted to put up an extremely tasteful ad which showed several young ladies’ perfectly manicured legs and feet. The ad was obviously for the large segment of the BDSM community who have an interest in foot fetishes, but he was “grossed out” by this and insisted that “no one wants to look at womens’ feet.”
I could provide dozens of examples of how I was prevented from doing my job and within the extremely limited powers I had, I did the very best I could. My partner gradually continued to take away any autonomy I possessed. He would routinely pull my access to administrative functions, affiliate accounts, and analytics. There was even a point when the advertising e-mail was broken and I would contact him multiple times a day about fixing it and offering suggestions. It took two months before he restored it.
My partner would routinely ignore my phone calls, emails, and texts. I was doing my absolute best to help him and work with him, but someone put it in his head that I was out to take the site away from him and that is how I was treated. Ten+ years of working lockstep with each other within the closest of friendships and I was treated like I am a total stranger.
Eight months into the contract, I discovered I was pregnant. At twenty weeks I discovered that my daughter would be born with a severe congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. The variant she was diagnosed with was particularly rare and complex. I continued to work on Collarme.com and even answered work emails while I was at the hospital in labor.
Five days after I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, we discovered that her condition was far more severe than anticipated. So much so that the best pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon in NYC suggested that I consult with the world’s leading pediatric cardio-thoracic surgeon who specializes in her condition. He stated that she was in the top 10% of most severe cases he had ever seen.
When I told my partner this news and indicated that I would have to take a few weeks off to deal with this, the very next day I received an email with a notice of termination of my contract as well as a note from an attorney that I would not be paid for my prior month’s work or for the two month notice period provided for in the contract, during which I offered to continue working.
Despite Collarme.com’s substantial revenues, I was told that the company cannot afford to pay me and would be reviewing its finances. The stated objective was to provide me the payments due under the contract to the extent that the company could afford them.
Out of respect for my former partner I wanted to resolve issues amicably and waited. Since my daughter was born in October I reached my insurance’s out of pocket maximum for both 2013 and 2014, with an open heart surgery occurring each year.
My daughters father earns a high five figure salary which is fine in NYC as half of our household income goes to rent, but not enough to live off of and deal with the costs of flying across the country for weeks at a time, thousands of dollars worth of medical expenses and the expenses associated with a new baby. I was unable to look for a job because my daughter was so fragile that she was (and still is) unable to be put in daycare.
During this entire time, my partner, someone I considered at one point to be my closest friend, did not contact me once. I was in California for my daughter’s heart surgeries, a thirty minute drive from him, and he refused to meet and work towards living up to his obligations.
The day I was leaving California following my daughter’s second heart surgery, five months after the termination of my contract, I received a settlement offer. This was a one time “take it or leave it” offer that was, kindly viewed, a joke. I was so desperate at this point that I indicated I might agree to it. The only stipulation I had was that in the terms of the settlement agreement my non compete, which was to be up one year from the date of the notice of termination, not be extended and that I could build a site of my own and compete in a commercially reasonable manner if I so wished. I was never told this offer was withdrawn but suddenly, days would turn into weeks of emails and phone calls to a non responsive attorney who I believe was being stonewalled by my former partner. I was simply told over and over again that my partner was unreachable or that this was a particularly bad month or an accountant was working over the finances.
What does that have to do with why CM is down?
As I mentioned above, I am the legal owner of the domain Collarme.com. I never would have contemplated taking the site down but at this point things have turned into a farce. I have gone over seven months without a cent while accumulating significant debts and caring for with a daughter who has a severe medical condition while my partner enjoys a lavish lifestyle while claiming abject poverty.
I could litigate my breach of contract claim and I would win as my former partner has no defense for his actions. Litigation is an expensive and messy process that would take years and unfortunately I have expenses now. As the registered owner of the domain for many years I have sadly concluded that the only means to bringing about the resolution of this sad drama is to put my former partner in exactly the same position he put me.
If you know him, as some of you do, I implore you to reach out to him and convince him to do the right thing and live up to the promises he made as well as his moral commitment to a friend who built Collarme with him. To the rest of you, I want to sincerely apologize that you are the innocent victims of his wantonly irresponsible behavior and the unfortunate results it has brought about. However this conflict is resolved, I now know that I cannot rely upon my former partner and dearest friend and in the following year may work to build a BDSM dating site that is run effectively, responsibly and for the benefit of its users, not as a personal kingdom.