Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

January 07, 2008

From The Steve Gilliard Files: "How to Read a 10Q" Financial Reporting

From The Steve Gilliard Files: By the Spring of 2001, Steve Gilliard had come to the realization that the only way to win online arguments with his many critics on was with facts, not assertions, and so was born his "How to Read a 10Q," which ran from April through May.

"How to Read a 10Q" was a big hit on, and I encouraged Steve to market the concept as a short business book. Steve was receptive to the idea but was less enthused with writing an actual proposal, so the book concept was still-born. Still, we are left with nine marvelous articles (plus an intro) providing a blend of hard facts, terse (and often hilariously funny) commentary, plus Steve's keen-eyed analysis that's eminently readable today, even though most of the companies Steve discussed are gone and forgotten.

These articles are being made available as a complete online set for the first time since their initial publication on in 2001. Make sure you scroll down to read the comments that Steve made during post-publication discussion -- he would often lurk and strike with an able epithet when you least expected it!

  • Introduction (Exploring Public Documents (A Forensic Analysis of Failed Internet Companies) (April 22, 2001)
    "I only learned how to do this over years of training and research. It was not easy to learn, so there is no reason to feel bad about not knowing it. Examining the earnings of small, public companies can prevent you from making serious errors in the future."

  • Part 1: (April 19, 2001)
    "IVillage has lost $384.3 million since it began operation in 1995. It has lost $351 million of that sum since 1998. This is the largest single loss of any dotcom and could go higher. "

  • Part 2: Salon (April 20, 2001)
    "In our look at Salon, we see a company which is losing money steadily, with no real hope of profitability, not now or in the future."

  • Part 3: Razorfish (April 23, 2001)
    "Word on the street, and from former Fish employees, is that their customers were pissed with both attitude and delivery."

  • Part 4: (April 24, 2001)
    "One gets the feeling that they are nibbling at the edges of solutions and they may never be able to capture the audience they need to survive."

  • Part 5: (April 27, 2001)
    "Watch the losses climb. $6m to $52m to $189m. Wow. You have to wonder what management was doing to get their losses to exponentially increase every year, besides their silly commercials and marketing campaigns which no one seems to remember."

  • Part 6: (April 28, 2001)
    "So who doesn't it compete with? Crack dealers and gun stores? This is everyone from Kroger and Piggly Wiggly to CVS and Rite Aid to Wal-Mart and K-Mart. They are taking on American retailing."

  • Part 7: (May 3, 2001)
    "We are a high falutin' Web hostin' kind of company. You will pay us a lot of money to use our software, which seems to have had its genesis in technologies Netscape was using in 1996."

  • Part 8: (May 4, 2001)
    "By going public, the Globe ensured that a few key investors would get rich, but as we all know, the stock has dropped to being nearly valueless today."

  • Part 9: (May 7, 2001)
    "They aren't as embarassing as Razorfish, but because the recipe is flavored differently doesn't necessarily mean that you aren't eating liver. Nor does it necessarily mean that they are hiring experienced people who actually know what they are doing."

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Can Blogging Actually Kill You?

Can Blogging Actually Kill You?The New York Times has a short but interesting article triggered by the much-publicized heart attack of Om Malik, who runs the popular GigaOm Blog (note: I have been linked to by Om and consider him an online friend, although we've never actually spoken or even e-mailed each other).

As the article notes, being a successful Blogger means being a one-man (or woman), "twenty-four by seven content machine" in an environment wherein there is no fixed publishing deadline. Instead one is in a constant race with competitors (many of whom may be in different time zones) for link-worthy posts. Add the pressure to "monetize" one's pages and to publish frequently enough so that unforgiving Google (which counts newer pages as more significant than old ones) keeps you spidered every hour or so and you've got a prescription for a heart attack. I don't even need to mention how Blogging can reduce your intake of fresh air or Vitamin D through sunlight; the average American only spends 10 minutes outdoors and I'd imagine that the average Blogger only spends about a minute outdoors every two days.

One of my online buddies used to drink two gallons of diet cola each day as he created his online content, smoked a pile of cigarettes and continuously inhaled laser toner fumes. He's still alive after years of Blogging but another good friend, Steve Gilliard, died before he was 40. I can't say that Blogging killed Steve but it sure didn't help his health any. What I can say is that when you're Blogging in a conversational way, i.e. via the "comment" function or in a non-Blogging environment such as a Bulletin Board, your adrenaline levels spike and ebb violently during the day and night. Flame wars (which can be highly addictive) play havoc with your serotonin levels and sleep habits, which everybody knows is bad for you. Add to this the kind of substances (legal and perhaps non-legal) that you have to consume to stay "in the Blogging zone" (a zone slightly to the East of total Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and it's obvious that Blogging isn't just dangerous: it's a killer with the power to take out an entire generation.

I suppose one can make an argument, Freakonomics-style, that Blogging may have saved as many as it's killed. After all, when you're Blogging you're not likely crash your car into a pole or be run down by a bicycle messenger. But the same could be said for any activity that keeps you off the streets and roads.

I firmly believe that as we enter what techno-optimist Bill Gates calls "our second digital decade," we'll learn enough about the long term effects of our increased dependence on technology to scare us to death. The larger question is whether these revelations will be sufficient to cause many to rethink their total immersion in cyberspace and follow the course of Jennifer Ringley, who at the peak of her cyber-fame chucked it all and disappeared back into the analog world.

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