Exclusive: Dominion Voting Systems tells its Fox News lawsuit story

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Fox News, one of America’s most powerful media companies, earlier this month agreed to pay $787.5 million to settle a $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, related to false statements made about Dominion on Fox’s air.

Oral history: What follows is an edited transcript of an exclusive interview with three of Dominion’s key players, including its CEO, private equity owner and outside attorney on the Fox case.

  • They discuss Dominion from founding to the 2020 election to now, including death threats, loss of customers and the post-settlement firing of Tucker Carlson.
The beginning

John Poulos, CEO of Dominion Voting Systems: We founded the company in 2003. The first check was from my sister for $50,000. We survived and grew in the following years, really relying on friends and family.

By the time we got to 2017, heading into 2018, two things happened: One was the friends and family were looking for an exit. We hadn’t distributed anything, not even a dollar to our investors, even though we had grown substantially.

So we hired an investment bank in late 2017. They identified a number of interested parties, one of which was a strategic that wanted to buy 100% of the equity. We weren’t interested. As part of that process, I met Hootan.

Hootan Yaghoobzadeh, co-founder of Staple Street Capital: I remember the first dinner we had with John. It became very clear that he had a very clear road map to transform his company and take it to another level.

Poulos: We executed the transaction in mid-2018. Me and my leadership staff kept our same stake in the company, but we replaced our friends and family.

Yaghoobzadeh: Dominion had a phenomenal reputation in the marketplace. We did a survey and Dominion had double the net promoter score of its main competitor.

The company was founded in Toronto, and relocated its headquarters to Denver in 2010 after some acquisitions.

Poulos: One of the goals in 2018 was we wanted to have a U.S. buyer be the control interest of Dominion, which we accomplished with [New York-based] Staple Street.

By Dan Primack

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