PayPal makes good

  • 4:20 – (all times GMT+3) I received an email from the PayPal Executive office, apologizing for the problems, and clearly outlining what needed to be done to get our account straight. They said I needed to detatch my personal account (via return direct email) and confirm my business account (also via direct email) with a scan of an HFC business account statement.
  • 6:07 – (Uganda telecom is < 5Kbsec earlier than this) I reply to the email with the authorization and the bank scan
  • 6:13 – The first of many subscriptions attached to the personal account (support for our subscription software, sprout for our widgets, etc) begin to cancel, indicating that the account was removed from PayPal.
  • 6:18 – The email arrives indicating that we’re back in action.

I want to thank everyone in the community that RT’d, emailed, called offered (prayer, financial, moral, humorous, haranguing) support and generally stood in the gap for us. You guys made this happen.

Some highlights of the day:

  • offers for wire transfers
  • Tweeting @CNN, @oprah, @msnbc, @paypal, @wsj, etc
  • Tweeting the phone number of PayPal’s PR firm
  • Emailing  journalists
  • Emailing various people inside PayPal including security, risk management folks and the CEO(!)
  • Bans of PayPal
  • Google Hacking PayPal (ironic)

Now as to PayPal’s role in all this…They have every reason to suspect that something’s amiss with just about every business account that’s requested. They are not (as many people have mentioned) a bank. I understand their screening, and honestly I wouldn’t want the job of tightening / lubricating their screening process. It’s ugly in the world of e-commerce. So I get it.

I will remain a PayPal client, and HFC will as well. No hard feelings.

Besides, I made mistakes in this whole thing. Yes, I should have waited for the IRS paperwork to come back before clicking that 501c3 button, or revealing that donations are tax-deductible (which they are, retroactively before the paperwork comes back). I should have checked the right button on the PayPal form. These things are all true, and there are other things I’ve done wrong and I’ll continue to screw some things up. But I’m not sorry I charged ahead, following my passion, fueled by the prayers, support and money of the community. Why? Because we’ve done a LOT while waiting on papers and processes. (More on that during my BH/DEFCON talk.) Yes, it’s reckless and unplanned and seat-of-the pants sometimes, but it’s coming together. The gaps are filled in by faith.

This whole thing had gotten me pretty down, and I found myself wondering what, exactly I had gotten myself (and my family) into. At conferences and such it’s easy to see that people dig what we’re doing but as the days tick by here in Africa, it’s not as easy to gauge.

But today bolstered me for the year to come. I’m not a lone-ranger crackpot…well, I am, but I’m certainly not alone in this.

Let me quote my friend Simple Nomad (by permission) from a personal email:

Fortunately our industry seems to value skills over everything else, and so for the most part people of different races, religions, sexual orientations, and hat color can talk shop and improve the world a little bit at a time.

Time and again, our community has proven that we can do things that the society at large can not. We can unite across barriers that restrict the rest of the world. In this age of intolerance and hatred, we move ahead, pushing the envelope and making the impossible possible.

Edison, Murgas, Babbage, Atanasoff, Meucci and Bell existed before the term “hacker” existed, but if they could see it, they would be proud of our community.

I know I am.

Thank you everyone for the support.

Johnny