Make us your home page
Instagram

Alstott venture looking shaky

Has one of the A-Train's business ventures derailed?

JustLookItUp.com, a commercial search engine co-founded and personally marketed by Tampa Bay Buccaneers legend Mike "A-Train" Alstott, is showing signs of financial distress.

Launched two years ago by Alstott and Clearwater-based Bottom Line Productions, JustLookItUp.com lets consumers search by name or topic for the Web sites of Tampa Bay area businesses. A print version of the database, JustWebsites, was supposed to be mailed to 1-million local households. Alstott and Bottom Line CEO Mike Harter claimed the service would help the bay area economy by encouraging consumers to buy local.

But signs of trouble are mounting:

• Last week, three former employees of Bottom Line Productions sued Alstott, Harter and other project backers for allegedly bouncing multiple paychecks. The plaintiffs include the company's former general manager and comptroller.

• In February, a Pinellas County court gave Bottom Line's landlord permission to take over its 4,200-square-foot premises due to nonpayment of rent. Bottom Line did not respond to the lawsuit.

• An unrelated lawsuit filed last month by a Bottom Line client, Health 4 Wealth Corp. of Largo, accused Harter of misappropriating company revenues for personal use.

Attempts to reach Alstott were unsuccessful Monday. In an e-mail, Harter gave limited responses but said Alstott "no longer has any affiliation with this company and it would be unjust to discredit him and his name in this community."

Harter also took aim at the lawsuit filed by ex-staff members Carl Thompson, Lindsey Carmichael and Gayle Levine. "Carl Thompson was the general manager that wrote the bad checks and Lindsey was the comptroller and assistant to Carl," Harter wrote. "I am shocked that they would open up this can of worms for themselves."

Dianna D. Williams, a JustLookItUp.com investor, defended the project Monday. In an interview, she said the bounced paychecks were an honest mistake. She also accused Bottom Line's landlord of illegally seizing the company's computers and other property and called JustLookItUp.com a "great idea" that merely ran out of capital.

Williams said Bottom Line ultimately printed just 100,000 directories because $1-million in pledged investments fell through at the last moment.

She also criticized the "little brats" who sued Harter, investor Alstott and others last week over unpaid wages. "They were on board until a bump in the road, and when the bump in the road came, they all scattered," Williams said. "These kids don't understand how business works. … They just want to be angry."

Although JustLookItUp.com lists the St. Petersburg Times as a "sponsor/affiliate" of the Web site, Times creative manager Robin Lankton said the newspaper was strictly an advertiser. In a one-year agreement signed in April 2007, the paper paid $10,000 for banner ads and for a half-page ad in JustWebsites.

Scott Barancik can be reached at barancik@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8751.

Alstott venture looking shaky 03/31/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 3:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Bucs and Bucks: HBO's Hard Knocks series boosts local businesses

    Business

    TAMPA — Men can enjoy yoga, including the most athletic ones. That is the message that the co-founder of Camp Tampa, a fitness studio located in South Tampa, wants to push after a few Tampa Bay Buccaneers players were shown practicing on HBO's television series Hard Knocks.

    Longtime hairstylist, Katie Ellwood styles Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Kwon Alexander's hair last week at New Identities Hair Studio of Tampa Palms. The camera crew follows Kwon Alexander and other Bucs players during the team's training camp for the HBO show "Hard Knocks," a documentary television series about the ups and downs of an NFL training camp. [Courtesy of New Identities Hair Studio]
  2. Old Time Pottery adds store in Largo

    Business

    LARGO — A home decor and furniture store opened Thursday at 1111 Missouri Ave. N, according to a news release from the Central Pinellas Chamber of Commerce. This is Old Time Pottery's fourth location in the Tampa Bay area, joining stores in Kenneth City, New Port Richey and Brandon. The company, which has 41 …

  3. Tampa Bay has two new million-dollar ZIP Code areas — is yours one of them?

    Real Estate

    You might not be a millionaire, but chances are greater now that you live in a million-dollar Tampa Bay neighborhood.

    Tampa's ZIP Code 33606 is among the six bay area ZIPs in which at  least 10 percent of the homes are worth $1 million or more. This  Davis Islands home sold in January for $6.275 million. {Courtesy of Smith & Associates]
  4. Powerball jackpot climbs to $510 million, 8th largest

    Nation

    DES MOINES, Iowa — The Powerball jackpot has climbed to an estimated $510 million, making it one of the largest in U.S. history.

    A store clerk pulls a Powerball ticket from the printer for a customer, Tuesday, in Hialeah, Fla. The Powerball jackpot has has rolled 18 times, since the June 14, drawing, resulting in an estimated $510 million for Wednesday night's drawing. [Associated Press]
  5. Security threat leads Florida to cancel prison visitation

    Crime

    TALLAHASSEE — Visitation to all Florida state prisons has been canceled this weekend after evidence surfaced that inmates are planning possible uprisings to coincide with Saturday's march for prisoners' human rights in Washington, D.C.