Saturday, December 09, 2017

Examining Grifol's

As mention in the last post: I am examining acquisition chains.

I noticed an ad at a local University soliciting "plasma donations" by a group called Grifols Plasma. The word donation is a bit misleading. Technically what happens in you donate your plasma, but they compensate you for your time. Their site says people can make up to $200 a month donating plasma (I do not know if this is a good deal). They put the money on a prepaid Visa. You must given them your SSN and must have a photo ID. I suspect you have to pay taxes on your compensation.

I went to Wikipedia and found out that Grifols was a Spanish company. Wikipedia had little info on how Grifols entered the US Market.

Anyway, I went to the site GrifolsPlasma.com and found the site listed 150 centers. The centers had names like Talecris Plasma Resources and BioMat USA. The site did not tell me how these collection resources were related to Grifols.

I googled around for the term "BioMat" and finally found that had something to do with a company called SeraCare. I then discovered articles that claimed Grifols bought SeraCare in 2002 and others that said Linden Capital Partners bought SeraCare in 2012. Linden has a huge list of companies which it bought and sold.

This is what I think happened. A company called "SeraCare" had two divisions. One division collected plasma, the other processed it. They decided to sell the collection centers and began rebranding them as BioMat. Grifols bought the collection centers as a subsidiary in their effort to enter the US market.

There ended up being a financial scandal 2006. So, BioMat collected the plasma. SeraCare bought the plasma. The CEO of SeraCare was on the board of directors for both firms. He was in charge of negotiations and accounting for both firms. This is a guaranteed crisis. A audit discovered discrepancies. The SeraCare stock crashed and several people fired.

The acquisition of Talecris went as follows: Talecris was created in 2005 when Bayer sold it blood processing unit to a private equity firm called Cerberus. Cerberus hoped to sell Talecres to CSL Plasma but was blocked by the FTC. Cerberus began buying up shares of Grifols. Grifols had a market capitalization of $2.36B in 2010. Cerberus arranged a deal in which Cerberus acquired Talecres for $3.4 billion. (The smaller fish swallowed the bigger fish). Cerberus is reported to have made $2B in this deal. The FTC tried to block this merger as well but failed since Grifols was a relatively smaller in US plasma collections at the time.

Examining acquisition chains

It broke my heart. Most of the small businesses that I've worked with over the years have failed. Something is happening in our economy that is systematically wiping out small businesses.

I wasted years trying to convince small business owners that the only way small business can survive in the Internet economy is if small businesses created mechanisms that linked their small business to the other small businesses in town.

Google wrongly describes the organic links between small businesses in a local communities as "link farms" and people are scared of Google.

So, I've decided to concentrate on acquisition chains, private equity firms, conglomerates and other entities which are accelerating the destruction of small businesses in our towns. As I delete the links to all the failed businesses in town, I am creating "information pages" for the big businesses which are displacing the small business. Once I have the basic structure in place, I hope to transfer the information articles into a database that will allow for a more detailed examination of acquisitions.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Small Business Saturday Report

Small Business Saturday is a marketing gimmick created by American Express (big finance) in an effort to sell card processing services to small companies that, to be frank, prefer cash.

The marketers of this effort are so out of touch with small business that they failed to realize that most small businesses are closed on the weekend.

Small Business Saturday resonates with big media. This reporting has a populist appeal that increases ratings.

In other words, Small Business Saturday is a tool created by big finance and used by big media to centralize things.

It is a funny paradox.

It is a funny paradox, but I have been worried about the state of small business in our communities for awhile.

I find it such a concern that I have invested thousands of hours into creating directoies for communities in the Mountain West to help raise awaress of the plight of local communities in the internet age.

I have been woking on this project for seventeen years.

I build directories. I add sites as I find them. I check each link periodically to see if it is still live. If not, I pull the links.

This project gives me a feel for how our communities are evolving.

My current stats show that, through the years, I've added 47642 links. I've pulled 17432 links. The vast majority of the pulled links are failed businesses. Many of the dark links were for events and political campaigns.

Of the links that belong to institutions, the majority are small businesses that have failed.

I wanted to write a good quality post on my findings. My data really isn't good enough and I lack the resources to get the quality data that I need.

I happen to live in Utah. As I am not LDS, I started the project by moving North. I helped some groups develop directories in Idaho, Montana and Oregon. I gave away all but Missoula.ws..

I moved back to Salt Lake for the 2002 Olympics. I believe that everybody who lives in an area is part of the community. I have been told multiple times by members of the LDS church to leave.

I was born in Denver and Longmont. So, I started creating directoris in Colorado for places like Grand Junction, Boulder and Colorado Springs. Arizona has a small number of counties; So I started a top down directory called Arizona Color.

Anyway, I believe that the best way for people to promote their local community is to get involved with their local community.

Like most Americans these days, I feel frustrated with our politics. I am working on a project where I am trying to find ways to support businesses from the bottom up. I have receive nothing but open contempt for the effort.

The revival of our small business community is not going to come from the top down. Small Business Saturday is a joke. The event is used by big business to gain populist feel. Anyone who actively engages with small business knows that small business owners like having the weekend off.

If you want to help small business, you need to visit web sites of the small businesses in your community and to talk to small business owners. Hint, I have a small business. I build directories that feature small businesses. I have been working on this problem from the bottom up for years.

Any I have a large amount of data showing that the small business community in America is in trouble. About 70% of the small business web sites I listed a decade ago have gone dark. I don't want to quote the exact figures because I need to clean up the data to make sure I have not built a bias into my data.

I know that there are troubling statistics. For example, state agriculture departments have been reporting steep drops in the number of locally owned farms. Most of the Chamber of Commerce web sites I visit are listing fewer businesses in their directories. Locally owned banks have been consolidating at a record clip.

I believe that a directory project is a good way to start an investigation into the fate of small business in our communities, but I need a better source of data before making any broad claims about what is happening.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A Day Wasted on FTC Compliance

Oops, I just discovered a problem. I told blogger to use ssl for this. I can't afford an SSL certificate for my site; So I can't post resources from my primary site on this site.

I just wrote a post on FTC compliance that I put on my other blog.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Never Shop At a Store that Uses Domain Privacy

I was reading through the "Terms and Conditions" page of a web site that I was considering promoting.

Line 15 of the terms read:

15. 1. It is mutually understood and agreed that this Agreement shall be governed by the laws of the place where the Company holds its principal place of business,

The web site itself does not say where the company is located.

Their contact page just has a web form. They use a 1-800 number and they bought the domain privacy feature from Godaddy which masks the information used to register the business.

The fact that this company does not report its location makes the whole idea of doing business with this company absurd.

If you are considering doing business with a company you should always check the company's contact page and find out where they are. Any contracts you make with a company will be governed by the state (or country) where the company resides.

If the company does not report their location on the contact page; you can often discover it with a whois tool like whois.domaintools.com or whois.icann.com or even whois.godaddy.com.

If a company does not report its location on a contact page and is using domain privacy; you should not do business with that company.

I decided not to do business with the company in question. Quite frankly, I suspect that others have decided not to do business with the company for the same reason.

Businesses Should Never Use Domain Privacy

I believe that we need to protect the privacy of individuals. If you are blogging about a political opinion; buying domain privacy is smart.

If your goal is to engage in business, you should never use domain privacy.

Domain Registration and SEO

Millions of people look up whois information. There are robots that troll the whois database as well. These people compile lists and make reports. Many of these reports end up online.

These people end up creating free links and traffic to your business. When you buy domain privacy, you lose out on a bunch of free traffic.

The robots that troll the whois database send a lot of spam. The answer to this spam is simply to create a throwaway mailbox for your domain registration. See, if you have a domain name, you have an infinite number of mail box addresses. I used the mailbox spam for my registrations: eg spam@example.com. I only use this address for domains.

You do not need to buy domain privacy to protect you from spam because you get an infinite number of email addresses with your domain name!

If you have money (I don't have money); you should get a box at a local mail center. The starting price is usually $8 per month. (Postnet, UPS Store, post office. The address should have the correct city and state of your business. Some local office buildings will offer mail boxes.

ADVERTISEMENT: If you had a lot of money (starting $50/month); you might consider getting a virtual office with DaVinci Office. This option gives you meeting space at prime locations around the globe. You can add a virtual reception and other cool features.

Conclusion: Business contracts tend to be regulated at the location of the business. You should never do business with a company that uses Domain Privacy services. Conversely, if you are a company and you want to do business; you should avoid using domain privacy.

The best way to protect your privacy is to get a mail box or virtual office. You can protect your email address simply by using a dedicated email address for domain registrations.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Outdenting the Listings

I am a big fan of using defaults.

The original concept behind the web was that people would customize their browsers to the font and font size that they found the most readable. Web designers should then use the default fonts.

What happened is that manufacturers increased the resolution of their screens. The browsers kept the default font size in pixels and web sites relying on defaults became less readable.

Anyway, I decided to clean up broken links. I've removed 700 so far. While doing so, I decided that the site was just too illegible at the current defaults.

So, I switched the lists to a sans-serif font. I also decided to outdent the list.

I am happy with this change.

I think I will be able to pull another thousand broken links from the site.


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Reviving the Community Color Project

In this last year, I've been investing my efforts in a fool-hearty attempt to revive the Community Color project.

This project examines the way that different communities are reflected on the Internet. The projects includes directories for towns in Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming.

I actually started this project for towns in Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. I gave away the first directories, but kept the Missoula.ws domain.

My effort to revive the project began by rewriting the code for the site from scratch. I then began feverishly adding new pages and "site reviews." I have also been investing time in removing broken links. The number of web sites that failed in the last few years is disheartening.

I now need to work to build some inbound links. I figure that the best way build such links is to blog about the site and the efforts I am taking to revive the site.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Updated About Page and fixing broken links

Maintaining a web directory is time consuming enterprise and has little reward. Anyway, I just updated the about page for Community Color.

I also started fixing some of the broken links to pages in the directory which will hopefully increase traffic.

My last server could only deliver 10,000 pages a day. I believe that the new server will be able to deliver several hundred thousand page views per day. The challenge is figuring out how to create content that is worth that many page views.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

DMOZ Died

I logged into DMOZ.org yesterday and was sad to see that Mozilla's "Open Directory Project" had finally failed.

DMOZ was a really big thing back in 2000.

DMOZ was a human edited directory maintained by volunteers. The directory was arranged in a hierarchical fashion which is a common structure for organizing data.

The DMOZ directory was a primary source for some of the early search engines. For awhile a listing on DMOZ resulted in a big boost in one's position on Google and Yahoo.

Apparently, DMOZ inspired the creation of Wikipedia.

DMOZ was owned by AOL (America Online). AOL was a huge thing back in the 1990s. AOL provided online access before the general public was allowed to connect to the Internet and instantly became the biggest internet service providers when the public was allowed access. AOL was acquired by Verizon in 2015.


My desire to build community portals coincided with the creation of DMOZ. I never found a funding source. I never developed a network of volunteers because I believe strongly that people should be paid for their work.



My idea is to mix affiliate ads with the free listings on the directory. This income stream fails because people don't use directories for shopping. They use directories for browsing.

Anyway, I am staring at the blank page for DMOZ and am left wondering if I should see the fall of the largest Internet directory as an opportunity or if I should see it as yet another sign that the days of my project are numbered.

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Home Computer

I finally faced up to the fact that the last computer I purchased did not have enough power to do complex tasks like edit photos, open spreadsheet files or load ad laden web pages such as Tumblr.

The computer had enough power. IMHO, the real problem was that Windows10 had become so bloated even fast computer is bloated down by bad software.

So, I bought a new computer.  Since I've been using Ubuntu for my web server, I decided to get one built for Linux. It is Meercat from System76.


System76 Meerkat

Sunday, March 05, 2017

Porting to new server

I am finishing the job of porting web sites to the new server. The new site uses PHP7, SQLite and HTML5. Things are different enough that I have to rewrite every single line of code in the program.

Anyway, I would love to receive comments on the site. I've been working on this project since 1999 and have actually received any comment on the idea of creating local directories.

The site currently does not have any interactive features. So, I will use this blogspot blog for comments.

I just moved iMoab.com to the new server. The site seems to respond quickly. The last Utah directory to to will be the Salt Lake Directory.

Monday, February 20, 2017

The Martyrdom of Parley Pratt

I was raised in Denver and grew up loving the history of the Old West.

One of my goals in creating the Community Color sites was that sites would justify taking time to explore the colorful history of different regions.

My family moved to Utah some decades ago. The problem I face is that I really do not like the history of Utah.

Utah was settled by Mormons. Mormonism, it turns out, is a culture war religion. The Book of Mormon claims that there was once a great extermination war that took place on this continent between the Nephites (who were white and delightsome) and a variety of other tribes who were dark and loathsome. The Nephites lost the war.

Both Joseph Smith and Brigham Young claim that the proof of the Book of Mormon is the base observation that Europeans have lighter skin that Native Americans.

Mormonism teaches that a group of righteous saints are to be gathered in the "latter days" and that these saints are locked in an unending culture war with everybody who is not a member of their tribe.

Joseph Smith liked the ladies. Smith restored the principle of polygamy and sealed himself to as many women as he could get his hands on. Smith's band of wives included some fourteen year old girls and the wives of his followers.

Polygamy is an interesting device in that it allows powerful men to grab even more wealth and power.

The history of Utah is one in which Brigham Young and the Mormons would form powerful polygamist clans and would then use the clans to grab as much territory as possible.

There were invariably conflicts between the immensely powerful Mormons and everyone else.

The story of Saint Parley Pratt provides the typical settlement story, but with one sensational twist. (Members of the Latter Day Saints consider themselves Saints on earth).

Anyway Parley Pratt was an early convert to Mormonism and was a part of Joseph Smith's twelve Apostles. Pratt saw the potential of polygamy and took to marrying multiple women with a vengeance.

After emigrating with Brigham Young, Pratt helped with the survey of Parley's Canyon and, being an extremely powerful member of the LDS Church, grabbed the choice chunk of land which is now Park City.

While in San Francisco, Parley Pratt seduced a woman named Eleanor who was married and had three children with a man named Mr. Henry McLean. Without gaining a divorce, Eleanor was "sealed" to Parley Pratt in Salt Lake.

I need to point out that Joseph Smith had sealed himself to the wives of several of his followers. So, marrying another person's wife is not considered outlandish among Mormons.

Anyway, Henry McLean was cantankerous. He tried sending his children to their grand parents in New Orleans to keep them from the clutches of Parley Pratt.

Parley and Eleanor went to New Orleans to collect the children. After Pratt took the children, Henry McLean followed and eventually shot Parley Pratt.

So, Parley Pratt, who was an Apostle of Joseph Smith, was pursued, persecuted and martyred by an evil gentile named Henry McClean.

This martyrdom of Apostle Parley Pratt is held by Mormons as one of the great persecutions of their faith.

I guess Mormons hold that a great man like Parley Pratt should be able to marry the wives of non-great mean like Henry McClean without repercussion.

Now, here is the problem I have with Utah history: Mormonism is a culture war religion. The LDS Church teaches that its adherents are the righteous who were gathered in the latter days to engage in an extermination war with the evil gentiles.

Because the area was built by people engaged in culture war, every piece of history in this state gets interpreted as part of the culture war. It is impossible to research the history of the state without getting drug into this mean hateful culture war.

The town of Park City was originally named Parley's Park City after Parley Pratt.

Park City is one of the choicest pieces of real estate in the Mountain West and is now an internationally recognized destination resort.

One cannot talk about the history of Park City without discussing Parley Pratt.

One's opinion of Pratt almost always follows culture war lines.

The righteous hold that Apostle Pratt was a great patriarch of the faith who married 12 women  but was persecuted and martyred by an evil gentile. Non Mormons tend to look at Pratt and see a lecherous lout who broke families apart by seducing married women.

The great culture war that dominates live in Utah means that people in general cannot talk about the history of the area without being drawn into a mean hateful culture war launched by Joseph Smith.

BTW, I do not believe that Native Americans are loathsome. My observation is that people in southern climates tend have darker skin than people in northern climates because they spend more time in the sun than people in cold northern climates.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

New Site and Advertising

I am finalizing the the new site design for Community Color. I have only two sites pointed at the new server.

The new site is much faster than the old site, and I hope it will be able to handle a hundred times the traffic of the old server.

The Community Color project had over 10,000,000 page views last year. The old server would freeze up whenever I exceeded that amount.

Sadly, I made less that $3,000 revenue from the site. Last year I performed three test purchases on the site. I received credit for only one of the three purchases. It makes me livid. I am sending hits to advertisers by the thousands who are not crediting me with the traffic.

I figured my best bet for salvaging the project is to replace the affiliate ads with direct advertising. The problem with direct sells is the collection cost. Spending two hours to collect $10 from an advertiser is a path to insolvency.

So, what I decided to do is to sell the ads in units of 100,000. The price for the unit will be $25.00.

As mentioned, I had 10,000,000 page views last year. I should be able to consume 100 lots of 100,000 ads.

Advertisers can order an ad (I need advertisers in Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Southern Wyoming.).

If I approve the ad; I will place the ad on the site and send a Paypal invoice show the ad placement. If the advertiser is happy; the advertiser can pay the bill. If not; I will delete the ad after a week or so.

Now for the scary part. I am betting the boat on my ability to sell 100 ads for $25 a pop to make $2,500.

The market for local advertising has been so weak for the last few years that I am not sure there's a hundred businesses in the Mountain West that would buy the ads.

Anyway, I have the ad ordering program online. The ad is 738x90 banner that goes above the fold on the page. I have at most one such ad per page. The ad can be text or an image.

I am looking for ads in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Southern Wyoming. Here is the ad ordering page.  You can order an ad. I will put it online and send a Paypal Invoice. If you like the ad, you can pay the invoice; Otherwise I will remove the ad.

Monday, February 06, 2017

Reviving Utah Color

I have put this project off for too long!

I am in the last stages of moving the Community Color sites to the new server. Due to changes in PHP, I've been forced to rewrite the code from ground up and it is going extremely slow.

I decided to start the migration with the UtahColor.com. The new design will feature a subdirectory for each of the 29 counties in the state. Egads, 29, this is a lot of work.

I am laying in a framework starting with Beaver, Carbon County, etc.

I appreciate any feedback on the site.

Quite frankly, the reason that I've taken so long on the rebuild is that I have not received any feedback and the lack of input has zapped my enthusiasm for the project.