Sony, Chafee, 38 Studios and reality

Feb 11, 2014

Now comes another high-tech blabber seeking to blame Gov. Lincoln Chafee for the Curt Schilling -38 Studios fiasco that was actually done in the waning days of Gov. Donald Carcieri’s administration.

John Smedley, president of Sony Online Entertainment, slammed Chafee in a series of twitter comments this week. But his arguments are so incongruous that it is very difficult to take him seriously.

It’s more like he has been sampling the new legal stuff in Denver or Seattle.

Smedley says Rhode Island state government should never have done the $75 million Schilling deal. ``Dear people of Rhode Island. Look at your elected government for failing to protect you. That 38 Studios deal just never should have been….public funds shouldn’t be backing risky things like online games,’’ said Smedley.

That is a curious statement because it is exactly what Chafee said in 2010, as the deal was being rushed through the Carcieri Administration and the state Economic Development Corporation in Carcieri’s last few weeks in office. If Chafee had been listened to, the entire mess would have been avoided.

``If the fact that no other venture capital were investing  wasn’t enough of a clue..then you damn well shouldn’t be surprised by failure…anyone with a brain could have told them no one would buy it. They contacted us and I told them so,’’ said Smedley.

After basically agreeing with Chafee’s stance, Smedley slams the governor, saying ``if that idiot Gov. Chafee hadn’t trash talked right at the time Curt (Schilling) was trying to get funding you would be playing the game now.’’

That’s where Smedley is trying to seriously rewrite history. He also shows that he knows nothing about the imperatives of private sector leadership versus a public sector leader’s obligation to be transparent with voters and taxpayers.

Let’s not forget that 38 Studios was so mismanaged that Schilling blew through the $75 million quickly and failed to attract any private investors. Then when the pinch came he wanted Chafee to tap more taxpayer money to keep the scam going.

At this point Chafee had no choice but to ``talk.’’ That’s what public officials have to do when things don’t work, whether it is a poorly responded to snow storm or a financial deal gone bad. Chafee decided he wasn’t going to throw any more good taxpayer money after bad and he had the obligation to tell the voters about that.

If Smedley thought this was such a good product, why didn’t he invest in it? Why didn’t anyone else with private capital put their money into 38 Studios? This was a crony capitalism deal all the way, where a chuckling governor and a retired baseball player had no problems gambling with other people’s money.

The grand irony of the Schilling deal is that both Schilling and Carcieri pretend to be free-market conservatives, opposed to government meddling in capitalism. Unless, of course, it is to their political/economic  benefit to do so. Thanks Don.