Brian Hogan, the then 21yo student who found an iPhone 4 prototype in a Silicon Valley bar back in 2010, is telling the story and answering questions in an ‘Ask me anything’ thread on Reddit.
Hogan found the phone on the bar of the Gourmet Haus Staudt in Redwood City after it was accidentally left there by Apple engineer Gray Powell, and arranged to sell it to Gizmodo for $8000 – a sum he says he never received.
Gizmodo told me they would give me $5,000 for the story, and another $3,000 after it was confirmed by Apple to be real. They knew that there was no way in hell I was going to be able to ask for the $3,000 after the story aired, but I didn’t. I ended up having to hire and expensive lawyer and had to pay him much much more than $5,000 …
Hogan, and his friend Robert Sage Wallower who helped arrange the sale to Gizmodo, pleaded ‘no contest’ to charges of misappropriation of property and each sentenced to 40 hours community service and a fine of $125. No charges were filed against any Gizmodo staff.
The Reddit thread, which Hogan started yesterday, is ongoing, so you still have a chance to ask him any questions of your own – but here’s a taster of some of the other things that have been revealed so far …
Q: So Gizmodo ripped you off? What scumbags! Did it ever cross your mind to approach companies like Samsung or HTC to see if they were interested in buying the phone?
A: Yeah they did. It did, but shit was crazy and happening really fast, Hindsight is 20/20.
It’s likely that Gizmodo agreed to pay for the phone before its lawyers told them that would amount to buying stolen property, but that’s clearly a conversation that should have happened before, rather than after, the site made the offer and used the misappropriated phone to run a big story.
Q: Am I left to assume that you were threatened with a lawsuit for accidentally finding this device?
A: The threat was/might still be looming of a civil suit, but I don’t have anything they could sue me for.
It seems unlikely that Apple would progress a civil claim against Hogan at this point.
Hogan also says he was identified because his room-mate contacted the police, hoping for a reward.
Q: How long was it until you went back to your house?
A: All it all probably 3 weeks after the police first tracked me down. Turns out my room mate was talking to the cops the whole time, giving them everything they wanted to try and collect a reward. She took pictures of my things, wrote down conversations, and flat out lied about certain stuff so the cops could get the most damning case possible. She told them when I caught wind of what she was doing and they came to “talk.” I went to my parents house and she told them where that too (sic).
Hogan said that the phone was fully-functional at first, but later ‘bricked’, likely due to a remote wipe by Apple. The employee who lost the phone was, he says, fired but later rehired.
Hogan says that he feels no ill-will toward Apple, but does now have an Android phone … You can read the full thread here.