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Laptop Shot Heard Round The World: The Dad Speaks Out

Tommy Jordan has another job in addition to parent: He's the CEO of VAR Twisted Networks. In an exclusive interview, Jordan talks about how social media can change your life -- and your business -- in an instant.


The man who shot his daughter's laptop and posted the video of it on YouTube just happens to be a solution provider.

Tommy Jordan, CEO of Twisted Networks, Greenville, N.C., said in an exclusive interview with CRN that he may even gain business as a result of the notoriety, adding he's received support from customers, employees and other solution providers since the video went viral. At last count, at least 50 solution providers across the U.S. have reached out to him.

Jordan shot the laptop in an emotional response to his daughter's Facebook post, in which she complained pretty strongly about having to do chores. The video has been viewed more than 28 million times since being uploaded Feb. 8 and clips have been shown numerous times on national television.

[Related: Social Media Lessons: Always On, Always Be Careful ]

Jordan has drawn criticism for his actions from some and he considers it a hard lesson learned on the dramatic impact social media can have on somebody's life. But, he told CRN, the people who matter most to him, -- his family, friends, employees and customers -- have stood by him.

"That's all been supportive. The peers in my channel have all been supportive, at least the ones I've heard from. There could be others I haven't heard from," Jordan said. "With customers, I haven't had any problems. I've even gained a few maybe, one from way out of state. They said, 'If we pay you, will you come out here? We just like your style.' It definitely wasn't designed that way, but I won't say it's hurt my business."

Twisted Networks' Web traffic also has skyrocketed since Jordan posted the video. Jordan hadn't checked his visits since before Feb. 8 and even he was shocked at the increase.

"It skyrocketed a couple thousand percent right after. It's petered back down a little bit but it's still 20X to 30X more popular than it was two or three weeks ago," Jordan said.

Unfortunately for Jordan, he's the Web developer as well as the CEO and he said he hates Twisted Networks' Web site.

"It is horrible and labor-intensive. I had started the process to rebuild it. Dang, I wish I had," Jordan said. "I get messages saying things like, 'This page doesn't work.' I know, I know. I wish I had fixed that six months ago."

Jordan said he doesn't want to directly attribute any increase in business to the video because he feels it would be wrong to capitalize on his daughter's embarrassment.

"I'm not saying people came to me because of the parenting. I'm saying they came to me because my name is out there and then they had a face to put to the name. Now people are calling me on a first-name basis. It's been interesting," Jordan said. "I've turned down things even while trying to actively pursue my business. I don't want to be 'I'm that guy that embarrassed my kid. Use me [for your IT].' That's a crappy message to send to my daughter."

Jordan, meanwhile, also said he's deflected a host of IT-related questions such as what software did he upgrade on his daughter's laptop (he said in the video that he spent $130 upgrading the laptop before he saw her Facebook post) to people asking for free IT advice.

He's trying to balance that with keeping the business going. "I can't give you all my tricks for free on Facebook," he said.

NEXT: 'Punishment Has Accidentally Outweighed the Crime'

Twisted Networks is a sub-$1 million company and cut back from six employees two years ago to two as the economy slowed IT spending. Jordan said business was starting to come around again, in line with what he's hearing from other solution providers, before the uproar over the video started. He didn't expect the video to go viral and figured that it would be seen by his daughter's friends and that's about it. "I was so unprepared for the whole [viral] concept. I sat once at my computer and [thought] this is way more traffic than it probably should be," Jordan said.

David Powell, vice president of managed services at TekLinks, a Birmingham, Ala.-based solution provider, said he thought Jordan's actions were extreme but that he was within his rights as a parent to shoot the laptop. But, the impact on Jordan's business remains to be seen, Powell said.

"As I teach my own kids, choices have consequences. So, while it was his choice to shoot the laptop, there could be the consequence of people not wanting to do business with him," Powell said, adding that it's increasingly difficult to draw a distinction between someone's online personal profile and their online business profile.

"We have to continually consider that our online comments, thoughts and posts are being viewed by our customers, co-workers and competitors. It could have an impact, without question," Powell said.

Jordan has since created his own Web site, because the feedback on his Facebook page was getting too much.

The one area where Jordan admits he will look to capitalize on his newfound notoriety, however, is by raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Before the video went live he had started a campaign to raise money for the charity and has since raised several thousand dollars.

He's also negotiating with a parental control software vendor. In exchange for giving the company some publicity, it will make a donation to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

"If I can drive some traffic down to that part of the IT channel, that part’s kind of cool," Jordan said.

Jordan has been asked several times if he regrets posting the video. He said he stands behind his actions but that he's not sure he'd do it again because of all the attention -- both negative and positive -- it has wrought.

"The mantra I've adopted is the punishment has accidentally outweighed the crime. My daughter posted to her 400 friends. I thought I was posting mine to 400 people but it's now at 28 million and counting. It's a lot larger audience than I anticipated, and I regret that," he said. " I'd rather have sacrificed her friends seeing that lesson on YouTube than dealing with all this."

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