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Lighten Up 28 June 2002 Edition
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Time for another weekly dose of fun, crazy or just plain scary stuff from the wierd world of the web.

If you're one of the many who can't afford (or are too sensible) to drive an exotic supercar, then this is the site for you.

And if you think those guys have had bad day, check out what happens when the Navy gets it wrong: nice landing -- uh oh, was that supposed to happen?

Here's a perennial favourite that never fails to raise a chuckle or two. Yes, it's a collection of Engrish signs.

Now this is a scenario that I think many in the IT industry can relate to. Show it to your boss and tell him it's not a joke. Update: Apparently you have to go here first so that the site doesn't complain about remote linking

Feature: Promoting Your Website
Dont' forget to check out the series of hints on how to promote your website which will be regularly added to throughout the next few weeks.

New this week: The Importance Of Branding

Salon: Get Back To Basics
I'm sure that all Aardvark readers will know of Salon.com, one of the oldest magazine-styled websites on the Net.

Like most ad-funded online publications, Salon was bitten hard when the dot-com bubble burst in early 2000 and it has been struggling ever since.

As advertising revenues dried up, they took the bold step of shifting some content to a subscription-based model in the hope that loyal readers would cough up cash.

Unfortunately, but perhaps not surprisingly, it appears as if this move hasn't been the overwhelming success they'd hoped -- and now they're struggling to survive.

Readers Say
(updated hourly)
From Yesterday...
  • Weights and Measures... - Bahu
  • ADSL Usage meters... - Paul
  • Jetstart usage monitoring... - Matt
  • ADSL Metering... - Jon
  • Usage Metering... - Steve
  • Useage Meters... - Steve
  • Weights & Measures... - Keith
  • Have Your Say

    Given Aardvark's own recent brush with death, I can understand and empathise with their predicament.

    Salon has been lucky enough to raise quite a significant amount of operating capital during its lifetime, and even generated over $7 million in revenues a couple of years ago -- so what's gone wrong?

    Well in a decidedly paradoxical twist, it could be that Salon simply hasn't embraced the Net adequately.

    A look at the most recent figures show that the company showed a US$11.3 million loss in the last financial year.

    That is a serious amount of money for a web-based publication to lose and you really have to wonder where it all went. Salon is a nice site with some great content -- but I honestly think something is very wrong when their expenses total almost US$15 million in a single 12 month period -- that's over US$1 million per month!

    Well perhaps I do know how they're losing all that dosh...

    When "investors" took control of 7am.com back in 1999 I was astonished to see the monthly outgoings increase almost twenty-fold.

    Was there more or better content being published as result? Not really.

    Was their more revenue generated as a result? No.

    Virtually all of that money went into non-essential expenses (much to my annoyance). Offices, staff that sit around waiting for the phone to ring, sales people that play computer games behind the closed door of their offices, fancy stationery, international travel, "consultants", poorly conceived, managed and implemented software projects, etc.

    What the folks at Salon have likely forgotten is that every penny saved is the equivalent of three pennies earned.

    Before 1999, 7am.com was a perfect example of the "virtual business" -- it had no offices (therefore paid no rent). Those who helped provide the content all worked on their own computers, in their own homes, filing material through the Net. When a meeting was necessary, we just got online and used our keyboards -- there were no expensive conference calls or air fares involved.

    Phones were answered by me -- but this could have been done 24/7 on a rostered basis with calls being automatically forwarded to whoever was on duty at the time.

    There were no company cars, no high-paid game-players, no coffee machines, no "perks" -- it was a lean, mean, publishing machine.

    This is what a virtual business is all about. Strip out those massive costs and overheads associated with the traditional physical burdens of business and use the Net.

    Although I have never visited Salon, I suspect they have very nice offices, filled with people stuck behind divider screens. These people are probably paid a nice salary and spend 2 hours per day commuting to and from this lovely office. I'm sure the executive staff have very nice chairs, expensive company-supplied PCs, maybe even company cars.

    Well, if Salon wants to survive, I'd recommend that they ditch the offices -- they can always hire a conference room or office by the hour when necessary.

    Get all your writers teleworking -- you'll save them a whole day's worth of commuting time every week. Let them buy their own PCs (if they don't already have one), and tell the CEO to drive his own car.

    Give me a sharp knife and I'd carve a way a huge chunk of that $15m in expenses without sacrificing the quality or quantity of the content. Yes, I'd use the Internet to replace all that dross and superfluous expense.

    One of the problems with companies that have had the benefit of large sums of investment capital is that they often forget the "lean and mean" strategies that made them successful in the first place. They accept the myth that to be successful you have to look successful.

    The reality -- as so many dot-com companies are learning all too late, is that the only real measure of success is the colour of the ink on your balance sheet.

    Adapt or die Salon -- spend more time working and less time combing your hair.

    Gooey?
    Aardvark's sponsor has launched a new online service called (who was responsible for this name?) The Gooey.

    I'd like to hear what readers have to say about the concept and implementation of this site. I'm in the process of doing my own review (no mercy will be shown) that will be published next week, but it's always nice to have 3rd-party input.

    What's good? What's bad? Would you subscribe? Why? Why Not?

    Have Your Say
    As always, your comments are welcomed. Please remember to select "For Publication" if you want them included on this site.

    Have your say.

    Linking Policy
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    Did you tell someone else about Aardvark today? If not then do it now!

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