Terry Drayton may Pay High Price for Telling His Side of the Story at Count Me In


Meet Terry Drayton, the Chief Executive at the embattled Count Me In.  This company recently made headlines when 200 youth sports programs that used  the company’s online services to collect registration fees and donations were not appropriately paid.  Apparently, Count Me In has a $5 million shortfall in client moneys.

Recently, John Cook interviewed him, and Terry had a lot to say, maybe too much.  Obviously affected by the slew of negative press over his company’s troubles, Terry wanted his side of the story to be heard.  He even said that the interview with John was “cathartic”.  

Well, the interview may have been therapeutic for him, but it also may cost him plenty if criminal charges were to follow. Washington State Attorney General’s office has received more than 30 complaints.  A New Jersey soccer club has filed a lawsuit alleging that Count Me In has failed to pay more than $100,000 in registration fees.  

Terry’s claim that he just didn’t know about the shortfall because the company didn’t keep detailed financial records is interesting.  Obviously, Terry wanted to show that there was no malice intent to take money from the youth programs.  He certainly wanted to make a clear distinction between his situation and that of Entellium, where the CEO and CFO knowingly cooked the company’s books to raise funds.

The question of whether a seasoned executive would really run a company for eight years, handling more than $175 million in funds, without proper financials is being widely speculated.  Regardless, one thing is clear, even in Terry’s own words:  He and the company had been negligent.  And negligence will not be an adequate defense in the court of law.  Although in a much larger scheme of things, Enron executives tried to use “not knowing” as a defense as well, but to no avail.  The point is that Terry should be careful at what cost he is publicly telling his side of the story.  Interestingly, he had his PR executive with him during the interview, not his lawyers.

Personally, I do think that Terry was sloppy (negligent), but not malice in intent.  I know he has a good reputation in the local business community.  And he really wants to be liked.  In fact, he started Count Me In after trying to help the local youth programs that his children were involved in.  But at this point, he should be cautious about what he says.  In looking at the comments in John Cook’s story, he’s not even winning any PR points by having told his side of the story.

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11 Comments on “Terry Drayton may Pay High Price for Telling His Side of the Story at Count Me In”

  1. Kendall
    January 5, 2009 at 11:11 pm #

    This is a shame. Though I don’t know Terry, his reputation is strong in Seattle. Speaking out to tell your story, no matter how much you want to clear your name, can only hurt in this situation. Why is it so many Entrepreneurs feel they have to talk so much?

  2. Phillip Blevens
    January 6, 2009 at 12:27 am #

    I know Terry well. He’s a good guy, but needs to follow the advice of his attorneys and keep his mouth shut. As we’re seeing, it cannot help and can only hurt. It’s hard for me to imagine a way that this turns out well.

  3. Minna
    January 7, 2009 at 12:00 am #

    Just because a person is well liked does not mean he has no intent/malice. Look at the case of Bernie Madoff. That guy was a respectable figure in his community and not just because he made a lof of money for his clients… yet he freely admitted he ran a multi decade scam.

    John, you are right, Terry is making a big mistake here because as the commenters in Tech Flash have said, he has contradicted the facts a few times in his interview.

    Personally if Terry was such an upstanding character, he would have stopped collecting payments the minute he started defaulting on payments to clients which is before the lawsuit by the New Jersey club.

  4. meetjohnsong
    January 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm #

    Not sure about his character. I can certainly understand why people would question it. Negligence is no excuse. Regardless, he definitely is not helping himself out by talking publicly. He seems to think he can convince everyone that he’s not at fault, but having the opposite effect.

  5. Lost
    January 12, 2009 at 8:25 pm #

    “negligent” “a good guy” ….Come on. Drayton’s company was hired to collect the entry fees and contributions of families, bundle them up and transmit them to the sports leagues where the payers intended them to go. This is not a case of unfortunate business losses. This money never belonged to Drayton. This is no different than a courier service hired to take a store’s daily receipts to the bank. If the truck crew had mixed the store’s money up with their own, then blown some of it on a stereo for their truck, they’d already be in jail. The only difference apparent here is that Drayton is a rich guy who lives in Bill Gates’ neighborhood. Somehow, it is forgivable that he “misplaced” over $5,000,000 that never belonged to him, because he didn’t really mean to do it. A really “good guy” (1) wouldn’t have done this to start with; (2) if it happened, would have owned up immediately instead of trying to hide it and (3) would immediately start liquidating personal assets to pay the money back.

  6. Anonymous
    February 18, 2009 at 7:46 am #

    I worked closely with Terry in his homegrocer days and became familiar with his ethics. The loss of funds is not an “accident”.

  7. Terry Madoff
    March 12, 2009 at 10:55 am #

    I know Terry. He should be ashamed of himself. He does know better and to say otherwise is a flat out lie. His PR spinning is his feeble attempt to line up his next business venture and to attempt to purify his name. Fat chance you crook. I am sure glad I didn’t accept Terry on my Facebook page. Wonder how many of his 109 friends dig him now? I see that he is busy hiding all his assets, transferring his house to his wife’s name, and other wrangling. You took parents hard earned money and ran off with it. What about the kids Terry? Imagine a Mom or Dad having to explain to their child that they can’t play soccer because some jerk stole their money. Drayton is just a mini-Madoff.

  8. Kate Hodges
    May 19, 2009 at 10:22 am #

    Drayton was a crook back in his homegrocer days, selling the company to Webvan and bailing just before everyone knew it was going down. It was nothing but a ponzi scheme like so many other start ups funded with ‘angel money’.
    I worked at HG, and was there the day they launched the Portland opening. Notices were sent to the media, and the PR company hired to promote the launch stood there red faced as no one and I mean no one, showed up. Drayton made his little speech to the employees, rocking back and forth and never making eye contact with us. I remember thinking this guy is a joke and doesn’t know what he is doing-It was the beginning of the end for the stupid ‘peach’ as they tried to promote it. Even their HR dept was named “people capabilities” instead of human resources. All they ever did was market and spin and spin and spin. No substance! He does not have a good reputation and they only people who persist in saying so are the journalists who kiss his ass in order to get and interview!!!

  9. Soccer dad
    June 1, 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    John you should follow up on this crook, here is the latest link to his deception.

    He got the company back for $200K and no one will get a dime back.


  10. Brad
    June 16, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Look who crawled out from under a rock:


  11. Bill
    April 6, 2012 at 2:11 pm #

    What would you say to Terry if you saw him? I did see him at the Bellevue Club and was at a loss…

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