Do you trust your data? Do you trust your data provider? Do you trust that someone on your team will parse the data that you do trust into common sense insights that can be acted upon?
People say data is more valuable than gold. People also say all that glitters is not gold.
I once got in trouble for saying “Comscore absolutely does not fucking matter” in a fancy meeting where I was the youngest person by 20 years and I’ve never regretted it and now I never regret it even more
— Helen Rosner (@hels) September 24, 2019
“Bringing trust and transparency to media.” Uh, no.
Washington D.C., Sept. 24, 2019 — The Securities and Exchange Commission today charged global information and media analytics firm, Comscore, Inc., and its former CEO with engaging in a fraudulent scheme to overstate revenue by approximately $50 million and making false and misleading statements about key performance metrics.
The SEC’s orders find, among other things, that from February 2014 through February 2016, Comscore, at the direction of its former CEO Serge Matta, entered into non-monetary transactions for the purpose of improperly increasing its reported revenue. Through these transactions, Comscore and a counterparty would negotiate and agree to exchange sets of data without any cash consideration. Comscore recognized revenue on these transactions based on the fair value of the data it delivered, which had been improperly increased in order to inflate revenue.
The SEC’s orders also find that Comscore and Matta made false and misleading public disclosures regarding the company’s customer base and flagship product and that Matta lied to Comscore’s internal accountants and external audit firm. This scheme enabled Comscore to artificially exceed its analysts’ consensus revenue target in seven consecutive quarters and create the illusion of smooth and steady growth in Comscore’s business.
“As the SEC orders find, Comscore and its former CEO manipulated the accounting for non-monetary and other transactions in an effort to chase revenue targets and deceive investors about the performance of Comscore’s business,” said Melissa R. Hodgman, Associate Director in the SEC’s Enforcement Division.
To settle the charges, without admitting or denying the orders’ findings, Comscore and Matta agreed to cease-and-desist from future violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws and to pay penalties of $5 million and $700,000, respectively. Matta also agreed to reimburse Comscore $2.1 million representing profits from the sale of Comscore stock and incentive-based compensation pursuant to Section 304(a) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and to the entry of an order barring him from serving as an officer or director of a public company for 10 years.
Publishers are gleeful that Comscore got rung up for fraud. Cathartic moment brought on by two decades of complaints about inaccurate web traffic measurement — and Comscore charging to directly track traffic.
— Brian Morrissey (@bmorrissey) September 24, 2019