Anaheim's Akihabara Expo Convention Cancelled (Updated)
posted on by Karen Ressler
The official Akihabara Expo event page on Facebook announced on November 4 that the December 18-20 event in Anaheim, California has been cancelled. The announcement said the convention was cancelled "due to recent rumors and allegations" that have caused staff members and guests to leave.
On October 30, Facebook user Mikey Pham, after hearing his friend Eddie Lehecka's concerns about the convention, accused Akihabara Expo CEO Michael Pham (no relation) of using convention funds for personal gain, not drafting contracts for guests, and not having a properly registered business. Mikey Pham told ANN that he was not involved in the convention, and that he'd based his post on what he heard from staff members, guests, and friends of Michael's. He told ANN that he has documented proof, but could not share it because he had promised his source that he would not spread the evidence.
Mikey claimed Akihabara Expo had an investor from Asia, although Michael denied this to ANN, saying he planned to front the money himself, with the help of crowdfunding, and through the financial support of a personal friend who wished to remain anonymous. Michael also referred ANN to Masuod Karkehabadi, who made a post on the Akihabara Expo events page claiming that he had done an unofficial audit and found no evidence of using convention funds for personal gain.
Michael told ANN he had previously invited Karkehabadi on board to run the games room for Akihabara Expo, but Karkehabadi had declined to join the staff officially. Karkehabadi told ANN that, after Mikey's post, he had offered use his background as a tax preparer and accountant to conduct an unpaid, independent audit. Michael said he agreed to give Karkehabadi access to his financial records, including the PayPal account and bank account.
Mikey also said that he had heard from a friend who knows Teddyloid that Teddyloid did not have a finalized written contract to be at the convention before his name was added to the website. Teddyloid's name was later removed from the guest list. Other guests, however, including Japanese bands BRADIO and Chelsy, had confirmed their plans to appear at Akihabara Expo. The convention's official website also listed Crunchyroll under "guests," but Crunchyroll clarified on November 3 that it was "not involved with Akihabara Expo in any capacity." Michael told ANN that he had been "contacted by [Crunchyroll's] community outreach program." Crunchyroll runs an outreach program for conventions that grants streaming video accounts to conventions.
Finally, Mikey pointed out that the Akihabara Expo, LLC business, which was filed in July 2014 and registered to Michael Pham from Garden Grove, California as the sole principal, was cancelled. Michael told ANN that this was because he planned to move Akihabara Expo under another business.
After the initial announcement of the convention's cancellation, Michael put up a refund form. Michael told ANN that he plans to process all refunds, and he is "finding a job to pay everyone back." The money, he said, went to the cancellation of the Marriott; guest flights, gas, and food; and equipment for the show "that is now in liquidation from the Marriott."
Update: Miles Thomas, who ran Crunchyroll's outreach program when Michael Pham was planning Akihabara Expo, contacted ANN to say that Michael's statement that he had been "contacted by [Crunchyroll's] community outreach program" was "not true." Thomas said that "it was our policy not to reach out to conventions, preferring, at that time, to have conventions reach out to us."
Thomas added that Akihabara Expo reached out to Crunchyroll on July 25, 2014, and Crunchyroll "accepted their application for a free streaming account and legal permissions later on 10/24/2014 in return for Crunchyroll promotion." Thomas added that that Crunchyroll's acceptance of the application and free streaming account were "only for the 2014 event, which never occurred." Thomas also told ANN that Akihabara Expo reached out to Crunchyroll in July of this year, but that Crunchyroll wasn't "interested in their proposal at that time and did not offer the same deal."
this article has been modified since it was originally posted; see change history