Some Houston foodies sounded the alarm over the weekend when it was revealed that an organizer of the upcoming Poke Showdown was one of the guys who posted dozens of fake restaurant pages on Facebook in 2016, using photos and addresses of actual restaurants.
Pichoudam Peou, the self-described "creative mastermind" of Reverberate Marketing Agency, which is hosting the June 11 fish-in-a-bowl competition, posted an apology on Instagram, once the news turned up on reddit. We've got to give Peou props for explaining the situation, as well as announcing that profits from the competition will be donated to Kids' Meals Houston, which provides meals for children in need.
Peou was one of two University of Houston fratboys vomiting forth faux-Facebook pages for a similarly dubious company called WG Health Resources, which removed its website after we spoke with its co-founder, Liam Walter. Walter had denied any association with Peou and refused to answer any more questions.
Walter was quite the online entrepreneur and lifestyle coach. As we wrote at the time:
Walter's profile on Angel List states, 'I'm in this game to make money. Nothing else matters.' He also wrote that he achieved '7 million revenue in 2015 with no investors [and] 2 million Revenue in first couple weeks of 2016.' (He also briefly launched a lifestyle website, now defunct, called 'Dear Liam,' which contained his reflections on picking up hotties, losing weight and making money.)
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His partner, Stanislav "Stan" Gershengoren, didn't respond to multiple requests for comment. They now are featured on a website for a company called "Sense-Marketing" — a site that's identical to WG Health Resources, and which we're guessing will also come down once this story gets around. (We suggest they rebrand the company as "Digital Optimization Utilizing Consumers' Hierarchy of Effects," or D.O.U.C.H.E.)
From Peou's statement:
"I created mock business pages on Facebook over the course of two months in Summer 2016 using pictures from Yelp and Google and random addresses to assess the potential markets for different businesses. My actions were part of an internship for a highly specialized Facebook advertising company who assured me my actions were legal.
Following instructions from my superiors, I used random addresses from Chinatown business[es]. not anticipating the repercussions of my actions....
I'm apologizing now for my actions and for not coming forth last year because I was 19 years old when the internship began and naive about my actions at the time....I apologize to my family, friends, and peers for how they have been affected by proxy through their relationships with me."
We respect how Peou has handled this, and we look forward to some kick-ass poke.