It’s Deja Vu All Over Again

I really didn’t know what to title this article with – here are some other suggestions …

‘This Stuff Is Hard’

‘Investigative Journalism’

‘Fake News’

‘Fact versus Fiction’

‘Triangulating The Information’

‘Question Everything’

…. what would you have settled on?

I’d never heard of Marshall Medoff until I saw a ‘60 Minutes’ interview with him. The video linked to is only available with CBS All Access, but there’s a pretty solid transcript if you click through. It was a compelling story. Marshall is 81 years old, doesn’t have a science degree but that didn’t stop him spending 15 years developing a process to convert biomass into useful products. Etc. Etc.

And this was on CBS. Lesley Stahl was the correspondent. I had filed the piece away to come back to later.

Just this past week I was preparing my weekly newsletter for People First which was going to be focussed on several real-life stories about Passion and Purpose. Marshall was one person I was going to include. Seemed perfect really. I mean as CBS wrote …

Who says things like that? Marshall Medoff does. He’s a man on a mission who decided one day that he was going stop global warming.

So in order to fill out the story a little, I decided to check out some other facts and went over to their web site. All looked good. The site’s company page describing the board reveals some pretty solid people with credentials that seem to be impeccable … professors, leaders of industry, Nobel prize winners …..

Marshall had sequestered himself away for many years so initially not a surprise that there was so little information about him … but his company Xyleco? Surely there should be more beyond their main web site. I mean for a company that is ‘leading the sustainable industrial revolution’ (as their web site claims) I would expect more than a count of 94,000 when searching for the company name and a Twitter account with more than 942 followers.

Time for Google

Uh Oh. Check out that third hit. Not only that, but five of the top ten results are job board sites, with two links take you to articles that are suggesting that Xyleco is a scam. BUT … who the hell is Mary Cummins or Alice Friedemann or Jim Lane? What do they know that Lesley Stahl and CBS don’t?

Back to Xyleco’s site and that board of directors.

I googled each board member, found their entry on Wikipedia and confirmed that Wikipedia at least listed them as board members. But something sat oddly.

ROBERT C. ARMSTRONG: Announced 2016

SIR JOHN S. JENNINGS: outside of the Xyleco website I could find no mention of his Xyleco affiliation – although on the site there is a quote attributed to him!

STEVEN CHU – Wikipedia: “Chu is on the board of directors of Xyleco, a company developing alternate energy.” (retrieved Jan 6th, 2019)

MARIO J. MOLINA – Wikipedia: “Dr. Molina currently sits on the board of directors for Xyleco” (retrieved Jan 9th, 2019)

WILLIAM J. PERRY – Wikipedia: “Perry currently sits on the board of directors for Xyleco”
(retrieved Jan 9th, 2019)

RICHARD R. SCHROCK – Wikipedia: “Schrock currently sits on the board of directors for Xyleco” (retrieved Jan 9th, 2019)

GEORGE P. SHULTZ – Wikipedia: “Shultz sits on the board of directors for Xyleco.” (retrieved Jan 9th, 2019)

A quick reminder. The original CBS program aired on January 7th, 2019 (note the retrieval dates of the last 5 entries). And in case you don’t know, Wikipedia allows you to check editing history to understand not just when a page got edited. But who edited it.


John Philpin
John Philpin
JOHN'S career spans 30 years, 2 continents, and organizations as diverse as Oracle, Citibank and GE. A Mathematics graduate, John moved to California in 1990. He helps technology companies create, develop and deliver their story for fund raising, market development and influencer programs. He also works with businesses to ensure they understand, and are ready, for the ever accelerating changes that technology is bringing to their industry. John is a co-founder of Expert Alumni and gleXnet and long before futurists and industry watchers were writing about the impending challenges that industries were going to be facing, they predicted a perfect storm of issues like skills gap, declining work forces, the gig economy, people trained to do work no longer needed, demographic shifts, economic and social change, market upheaval and rapidly changing ways of doing work. From the beginning they have promoted the idea that massive change was coming to how organizations should think about their workforce, with a singular focus on simplifying the interface between people and their work. Understanding the challenges ahead of the curve, the solution was built to arrive at a better understanding of the greatest restraint to business operations - competence, not capital. gleXnet provides unparalleled insights into an organizations people and operations by flipping the problem from the perspective of people, not the business.

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. I’ve certainly heard about Theranos, John; at this point, who hasn’t? Never heard of Xyleco, but now I’ll be sure to read about it if I see the name.

    What boggles my mind is the amount of digging YOU did her! Quotes and info everywhere — that took a lot of time! Did you miss your calling as an investigative reporter???

    • Thank-you Susan – and no – I didn’t. In fact one of the points I am trying to get at is that if I – who comes from a standing start in terms of knowing anything and has nothing other than a computer and a search engine – can get at this stuff so readily and QUICKLY – then surely somebody who’s JOB is to do this can also find the same stuff – and maybe even ask questions …. you know like investigative reporters, investors, job seekers, customers … it really isn’t that hard.

      And I’m not even saying I am right – just that there are enough warning flags to make any passing observer sit up and ask.

      So why don’t they?

salon 360°