Kryptonite makes locks for two wheeled vehicles. It is etched into blog history as the first company to have been soundly trashed by the Blogosphere. In September 2004, the company heard from someone who claimed he had picked one of the company's popular tubular locks with a BIC pen cap. A few days later the same claim was made on bikeforum, a cycler's bulletin board.
The story soon spilled into the Blogosphere. Darren Barefoot posted a video of a Bic picking a lock and it hit Engadget who released a video on how to Bic-pick a Kryptonite lock. From there, all Hell broke loose and the story spread like wildfire into traditional media.
The 25-person, Massachusetts-based company was overwhelmed with what suddenly, from almost out of nowhere, it was immersed in a well-publicized crisis that was mentioned by bloggers, usually in a negative light, over a 10-day period.
Kryptonite remained mute in the Blogosphere. By january 2005, it was the legendary poster child of how to do things wrong in the blogosphere as well as the case study for the power of bloggers to raise attention and damage unresponsive companies.
That was how Robert and I wrote it in an early version of our Naked Conversations Chapter on Doing it Wrong posted here back in summer 2005. We emphasized in particular how the company hurt itself by ignoring the Blogosphere.
That is when Donna Tocci, Kryptonite's dedicated, passionate PR manager decided to break the company's silence via a comment to our blog, and then through an ongoing email conversation with us. Her side of the story described a company overwhelmed as a 2x4 whacked them from behind. She talked of the company's entire workforce working around-the-clock to assess the situation and how the locks could be fixed. She talked about how the company replaced all locks with new secure ones at a cost that Forbes magazine estimated at $10 m. She talked about Kryptonite not know anything about blogs and how the company answered all calls from traditional media and paid its closest attention to customers.
Our chapter got revised--and considerably improved--by reporting Donna's side of the Kryptonite story.
In the end, bloggers learned a bit about balance. I think we have a bit more to go. Kryptonite, the media and a good many other companies learned a good deal more about the Blogosphere.
Now, a year-and-a-half later. Kryptonite has started a blog, called Unbreakable Bonds and several posts have already been entered. Like most business blogs, it has started a bit gingerly. This is a company that has reason to be apprehensive about negative commentary. But it is nce to see Kryptonite joining the blogosphere. It is a company, well-positioned to get conversations about the joys of cycling going, and this is a subject for which there is great passion.
Welcome to the blogosphere, Kryptonite. I look forward to watching your evolution.