For the most part, I tend to let the business dealings of fringe historians slide. People have the right to make money, so I don’t typically criticize, for example, David Childress for running Adventures Unlimited, one of the largest purveyors of self-plagiarized, Eurocentric, and nutty books on the alternative history circuit, except for egregious misconduct, such as when he printed and sold a copyrighted work without the permission of its author. I have never criticized Scott Wolter for his work on concrete stability issues, nor have I made much of Giorgio Tsoukalos’s business ventures in the world of competitive bodybuilding. (Yes, competitive bodybuilding.) Similarly, I have generally refrained from discussing Ancient Aliens pundit Jason Martell’s technology empire, which at one time included an ownership stake in GodTube.com, a Christian video site that once had a restrictive policy forbidding any non-Christian views, while Martell simultaneously was selling ancient astronaut readers the claim that Christianity is a false religion plagiarized from “Sumerian” sources.
I made an exception to that policy when Jason Martell directed his email list to send me hate mail last year and threatened to sue me for libel for misstating the number of years he believed it took the imaginary planet of Nibiru to orbit the solar system.
I mention this because Jason Martell had an interesting new title on Friday’s Ancient Aliens, and to understand it involves looking into Martell’s complex business dealings. I don’t really like doing this, but I can’t see any other way to talk about his new venture because it emerges directly from his other business operations.
He is now the founder of something called Ancient School, an online subscription service founded at the end of last year and based on the coding and marketing practices he developed while serving as creative director for Spark Networks, a niche dating company that operates JDate, Christian Mingle, and many other specialized dating websites. Treating ancient astronaut believers as a niche akin to those of the dating world, Ancient School promises to share “secrets” that “we” can’t tell you “on TV,” referencing, apparently, Ancient Aliens, whose trademarked name he is not allowed to use for commercial purposes without express written permission.
According to the website of Ancient School, as of this writing, the topics Martell “can’t tell you” about on TV include:
Needless to say, all of these topics have been covered on Ancient Aliens, as I have linked above (because I am ornery), but on the school’s Facebook page, we learn that he also plans to teach about the fake “power plug” found in a rock and recently discussed on this website.
“When people come to a site, they don’t necessarily know why they’re coming. They don’t know what they’re looking for,” Martel told CIO magazine in 2008. “The important thing is to keep experimenting with what we know about people and technology.”
Martell, who now describes himself as a “leading researcher” of “ancient civilization technologies,” has taken the template from Zecharia Sitchin’s old “Sitchin Studies” program and married it to the ethos of the internet, producing a subscription website where “leading Ancient Astronaut researchers [and] Ufology experts” (so far mostly him) offer weekly video “lessons” on fringe topics for $17 per month, a recurring charge billed directly to their credit cards or PayPal accounts. I am resisting the urge to comment on his new tiger-stripe hairdo, as seen in the introductory video on the website.
Consider this: If just 200 people signed up for his “school,” that would translate into revenues of $40,800 per year. If 1,000 people signed up, he’d be taking in $204,000 annually from this venture. Against that, costs are practically negligible; the videos cost next to nothing to produce (I made my own for $0.00), and the only real expenses will be hosting the videos online, which he does from servers he already owns for his other business ventures. It’s pretty good money set against the much smaller profits from individual book sales. One video subscriber is easily worth five or ten book buyers.
The domain for AncientSchool.com is registered to Jason Martell as a private individual, according to ICANN WHOIS records. I was unable to find a record of Ancient School or ancientschool.com being incorporated as a business in the state of California, where Martell operates. The company he founded and ran, Booya! Media, was registered in California in 2009 (though incorporated in Delaware in 2008 for tax reasons), but the name recently went into forfeiture according to the California Secretary of State’s Office (search for Booya!), a status that occurs when the name’s owner fails to either pay state taxes or file a mandatory status report. (I’m not paying California to find out which it was.) As of today, the Booya! Media website is still offering services for sale, though Martell claims on his website that he has “moved on” to another project. To forestall any libel allegations this time, I am including a screen shot from the website of the California Secretary of State documenting the forfeiture. I have blacked out the street address for privacy:
According to the State of California, under forfeiture, Booya! Media’s “powers, rights and privileges” have been terminated, and Martell’s company is no longer authorized to conduct business in the state or enforce any contracts. Jason Martell was the registered agent of service for Booya! Media and therefore responsible for it. This status could change at any time, provided Martell corrects the deficiencies found by the State of California, but the forfeiture status is accurate as of the last update to California’s system on February 7, 2014. Martell uses Booya assets to promote AncientSchool.com.
It is possible that AncientSchool.com is registered as a separate business in another state or country, but I can find no record of it in Delaware, where Martell incorporated his other business. He might have it incorporated under a different name, but if so, the business fails to explain this. I also checked public records in both San Diego County, Calif. (where Booya! Media was officially located) and in Orange County, Calif. (where Martell registered the AncientSchool.com domain and listed his current address), and neither has a record of a DBA for AncientSchool.com, required for an individual to do business under a name other than his or her own. I also tried Los Angeles County since that is the largest metropolitan area in the region and home to many corporate offices, including the claimed headquarters of Booya! Media. There is no record there either. This is interesting because Martell asserts copyright over Ancient School in the name of ancientschool.com, for which I can find no record as a legal entity. If he did file somewhere, it is not in any of the obvious places, and I would be interested to obtain copies of the relevant records, wherever they have been filed.
So where does the money go? An attempt to purchase a subscription via PayPal shows that the money goes to an entity registered as Xfacts.com, one of the personal websites of Jason Martell. Martell privacy-protected the ICANN WHOIS records for Xfacts.com, but Xfacts.com and AncientSchool.com both share the same name servers, registered to Booya! Media, Martell’s e-business app-building enterprise that he claims to have moved on from. His personal email address also uses the Xfacts.com domain.
If the video service is not a formally independent business (or even a business), then it would seem that all money would go directly to Jason Martell, mostly as profit. Unless, of course, it’s a division of Booya! Media rather than Jason Martell’s own private thing, but AncientSchool.com does not state this anywhere. At any rate, Booya! Media is no longer legally allowed to transact business in the State of California. The legal boilerplate on the site isn’t even done by a lawyer; it was generated by an online legalese-generation program. As of this writing, Martell has left in by mistake a link back to GeneratePrivatePolicy.com.
I doubt that anyone failed to realize that Martell was making money off of his Ancient School, but I wonder how many guessed that is little more than Martell and a webcam. Great work if you can get it, almost a license to print money.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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