The Search for Terrestrial Intelligence Continues.
Our last issue precipitated a couple lightning-fast unsubscribe requests. Evidently, our "Make Money Fast" section looked a little too much like the real thing (though personally, we felt the P.T. Barnum reference was a fairly good clue to the contrary). That we received only two of these and not 50 reflects the fact (to us) that our PARODY differed little from what people have come to expect on the free-run Internet.
Whatever. <>p In the current issue we blow our horn a lot, fail to adequately express our appreciation to readers (not having even tried), then cleverly segue into exploring a business model that really could end up making EGR subscribers a few quick bucks.
Finally, we speculate briefly on the legality of such models. e
Eccentrics 'R' UsOvernight and worldwide, EGR is being hailed as the toniest new development in Post-Gutenberg virtual bathroom reading.
In less than one week since the initial announcement of Entropy Gradient Reversals, this list has grown to well over 100 subscribers -- 122 to be precise, though this will likely increase before we can finish typing the next few paragraphs (yup, it did). As word of mouth races through router hubs from Brooklyn to Bangalore and back, the pace is definitely picking up. [by 2003, the total readership was still under 5000, as it has been for years now. this note inserted merely to test how well BBedit can modify and update files via Transmit2 ftp.]
And you are not just any old readers, either. You constellate a broad array of markup-crazed webmasters, hypoglycemic hucksters, burned out writers and bummed out editors, veteran hackers, political flakkers, slightly-less-than-merry pranksters, outright dyspeptics, self-styled analysts, and net-weary corporate wage slaves of every turn and stripe. Make no mistake, folks: this is a BIG demographic we're going after here!
Although we are taking all due precautions to protect your Sacred Right of Privacy (not to mention our unique market niche) -- and thus will not reveal individual subscriber names -- we can tell you in good conscience that this list also includes some Genuine Hotshit Bigshots (you know who you are). Even if you're not yet a Bigshot yourself (you know who you are, too, we suspect), imagine the impact EGR will have on your career as you get to read in Real-Time what the The Industry Movers and Shakers are not only reading, but drawing their best inspiration from. Move over Upside and Red Herring!
Oddly (at least it surprised us), the one reader category we seem to be light in is Stupidity. If you doubt this, check out our new Flames & Kudos page.
We wonder if the unexpectedly high collective IQ reflected here is not perhaps a harbinger of ill tidings for Content Provider wannabees that clearly hope to service a mass market in this newest and most hotly contested media arena: the lowest common denominator is already well over their heads.
The Word is Out (and how we got it there)Many of you are no doubt wondering how we have accomplished all this in so brief a time. No magic really; we simply leveraged some of the penetrating business acumen now becoming available on the World Wide Web! For example, this excellent advice on how to CREATE A PROFESSIONAL IMAGE on Microsoft's Small Business Resource Center: "Effective promotional pieces are great tools for attracting new clientele." We couldn't agree more. In fact, as you may have noticed, we are all promotion and no product. Have we missed something you'd like to see? If so, be sure to let us know!
We only live to serve.
But What Does It All Mean?To some of you, our circulation figures may not seem particularly compelling, and indeed they would not have been in the thankfully bygone era of traditional hardcopy publishing. However, since the Internet has added order-of-magnitude new semantics to the concept of "pass-along readership," we are already fast approaching the status of an urban legend -- or perhaps of that infamous Get Well card that someone once suggested people send to a British lad then thought to be dying of leukemia. He recovered well over a decade ago, yet still receives literal mountains of net-generated snail mail. Where even cancer failed, all this well-wishery has made his life a living hell.
Online, as in life, one must have a model, or at least a metaphor. Something to strive for.
Language -- it's a virus.William Burroughs,
Consider: if each of you were to bring in just one new subscriber, and that subscriber were to bring in one more -- and so on, you get the idea -- in approximately 14 weeks we would have reached our target audience of two million readers and be ready to begin the process of a public offering. Would-be investors -- especially those who missed out on the Netscape and Yahoo sleigh rides -- would be madly searching Lycos and Alta Vista for clues. When they found nothing, speculation about initial pricing and likely IPO performance would escalate into dizzying flights of fancy. And there is quite solid precedent for this scenario.
Friends, it is still yet Springtime on the Internet. Think of the financial ferrets half-insane with cabin fever after the long winter of our pre-Netscaped discontent.
Clearly, the results would make us so inordinately well-off that we could hire starving-yet-clever graduate students to think this crap up for us while we watched reruns all day on the American Movie Channel. We'd be made in the shade. We'd be cruisin on Easy Street. Perhaps best of all, we'd never have to wait for another dadblasted webpage to download.
But where's the incentive in this for you, dear reader? Ah! For the best of it, you must read on. For, as it is written:
Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.
King James Bible, 1611
(from an Oxford University Press marketing page).
The Reverse-Subscription Model (RSM)Advertising, sponsorship, subscription sales, you name it; nothing has worked to lever money out of your pockets and into the hands of Savvy Web Entrepreneurs. The trick, of course -- as the Inner Sanctum has always understood -- is to "give something back" to the Internet community. While many startups have adopted this slogan as a form of High Jive Crypto-Totemic Lipservice, no one has really taken the concept to its logical conclusion.
Until now, that is.
Ready to get cut in on the ground floor? OK. Once we hit that magical two-million mark, here's how the IPO will work.
We offer 10% of our 25 million shares at a starting price of $13. Since we figure we can do at least as well as Yahoo, it goes to $43, but in our case stays there -- a jump of 230%. This gives us a market value well over a billion dollars, and raises a $100 million war chest.
Who needs this much to put out a crummy little e-rag like EGR? Or Yahoo for that matter. You could build the Great Cathedrals of Europe for less.
Sure we'll keep at least half of it to get some high-powered hosers on the Executive Team -- cable industry is crawling with em -- and mount an advertising campaign that'll make AOL look like Quaker Oats. Plus, of course, we'll salt a bunch away in Swiss banks as fast as we can vest it.
The rest we'll give to you!
Yeah, you heard that right. And here's how. For every new subscriber that had accompanied a bona-fide subscription request with something like
"firstname.lastname@example.org told me EGR was like way cool..."
billy-joe would be entitled to 43 bucks -- or one share to hang on to (if b-j is an utter fool!). Now we're sure most of you would agree that $43 is certainly more than this scurrilous excuse for a newsletter could ever be worth, so billy-joe makes out handsomely on the deal.
If billy-joe had sent us 10 subscribers, the take would obviously be ten times sweeter. And imagine making a cool grand just for being willing to delete a bunch of incomprehensible ravings from your inbox. You don't have to read them -- or even be literate -- to play!
There's no limit on the potential subscribers you can point to us, of course. Just make sure they tell us you sent them, and ask them to cc you as proof of "purchase" -- just in case.
Are we actually serious about all this? Ha, you must be joking! This is going to be bigger than Pet Rocks and Hula Hoops combined! All the hand-wringing about Internet business models is over: this is the one that's gonna burn down the house. No lie.
Is it entirely legal? Well, we can't give you quite as quick an answer there. Suffice it to say that we have Counsel looking into it. Our plans do not appear subject to litigation under the various precedents covering pyramid schemes, but there is the dilution factor to consider, and how that will likely be perceived by the Securities and Exchange Commission. All in all, however, we are confident that for certain valuable consideration -- say the right number of valid EGR subscription vouchers -- we can convince the Powers That Be of both our fiscal responsibility and ethical intent.
Man, this is going to be like printing legal tender for the cost of the paper. Come to think of it, not even that. Whoooooooooooo-ee!
So be a part of Internet history: keep those cards and letters coming.
Entropy Gradient Reversals
All Noise - All the Time
Some of you have asked whether I'm still at IBM. Absolutely. Of course, the views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the organization as a whole. Just in case you wondered.
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Entropy Gradient Reversals CopyLeft Christopher Locke firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.rageboy.com
"reality leaves a lot to the imagination..." John Lennon
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