March 2007 Archives
Many readers know that I have posted frequently on the inane aspects of the Sarbanes-Oxley regulations. Needless to say I believe these regulations are onerous and not helpful to the investor. All that is required (Mr. Greenspan agrees) is for the three top executives of every public corporation to sign documentation every quarter pledging on penalty of fines and criminal action that all financial figures are correct.
Michael G. Oxley, one of the authors of Sarbanes-Oxley, decided not to continue as a congressman. Ironically he has landed at NASDAQ as non-executive chairman of NASDAQ! This is amazing to me. I imagine that Mr. Oxley will certainly get an earful of protests as he meets with executives of NASDAQ-traded companies.
Perhaps Mr. Oxley will finally realize that he created a monstrous regulation that has hurt stockholders. And perhaps he will now turn on this legislation and get it rescinded.
I mentioned the other day how things have been zippy at Jupiterimages.
A few more thoughts:
1. Rights Managed image sales have been growing significantly. The main reason of course is that Jupiterimages has as fine a Rights Managed collection of images as any orgainzation in the world. Included in our offerings are collections called Foodpix, Botanica, Nonstock and Workbook (and several others). All sales start with excellent images. The next reason for increased sales is the terrific sales team that our head of sales, Rick Thompson, has put together in the past year. Rick started with a solid team from his Dynamic Graphics days. However, last March Rick brought in about 30 more sales people and supervisors and combined we now have a crackerjack sales team to go along with terrific images. We took lots of grief last year when we made the hires for the sales team. It appeared we were premature bringing in so many people at one time. But the bet appears to be paying off. In addition our international sales offices in England, France, Germany, Spain, and Australia have been adding sales people and are increasing Rights Managed sales as well.
2. JupiterImagesUnlimited has been growing at a good clip as well. I have mentioned this new subscription service several times. But it is indeed revolutionary and evolutionary for the stock photo business. Once again sales start with terrific photos. This product line offers nearly 600,000 wholly owned Royalty Free photos via seat license subsriptions. Nobody else in the industry offers (nor can offer) such a valued added services. This service can be purchased without the aid of a sales person, but in most cases it is our sale team worldwide that closes sales for this service. And in most cases several seat licenses are sold with every transaction. Also in many cases we are making sales to larger orgainzations that previously had not purchased even a single image from us. Just the other day a wonderful sales person that we have in our Peoria office, Alanda Hunt, knocked off a multi-seat $50,000 sale to an organization that never purchased from us before (by the way, Alanda is a heck of a softball player too!).
3. Stockxpert is our acquired micropayment division. It is thriving. Sales are increasing. We have also beefed up our community forums (e.g. check out Ron Chapple on the forums). We must be doing something right as once again we find competitors taking our brand name - stockxpert - and using it "illegally" to promote themselves on Google (we will formally protest this to Google today).
4. Our creative teams that ensure a steady flow of fabulous new images are hitting on all cylinders. These seasoned professionals make it all happen as they oversee photographers worldwide who supply Juiterimages with new quality images everyday. We have teams worldwide. I am in the midst of visiting some of these creative teams around the world. I start today in New York City and Mountainside, New Jersey and then head out to visit our UK and French team later in the week. Then I will be back in the home office and off to Japan, Australia and back to our offices in Pasadena, California, Peoria, Illinois and Gatineau, Canada.
5. Competition is fierce out there. However we have a great combination of assets and product lines that enable us to compete regardless of technological and marketing evolutions. 2006 saw some significant changes in the stock photo arena. We were knocked about a bit, but have been able to evolve to remain strong and competitive.
I will send reports from my various image ports of call.
Our good friend Ron Chapple has started a new blog.
Ron is one of Jupiterimages' top photographers and is also the founder of our terrific Thinkstock RF and footage collection. On top of all this, Ron is a wonderful person. We bought Thinkstock from Ron in the summer of 2004 and the dealings were always friendly and above board.
Ron has done it all in stock photography. Therefore anyone interested in the stock photo field should check out Ron's blog.
I have been a relatively lucky person since the early 1990s. This is particulary true in and around business deals that I had considered and then for a variety of reasons did not not take place.
Recently we did not go ahead with a deal with Getty Images. Quite amazingly almost to the day that this decision was made our business metrics across the board have become zippy (please feel free to interpret the word zippy!).
I have also had quite a few meetngs with Wall Street financial types over the previous 8 days (with more to come) and I believe our story is understood, appreciated and believed.
Therefore to use one of my favorite expressions (based on the Tom Clancy novel)- "Jupitermedia Rising!"
We are rolling. Our staff is pumped up again and products that have been created over the previous year are starting to take hold. Yes - Jupitermedia Rising (of course I make no guarantees).
Dateline LaGuardia Airport. I am on the financial PR road again. I am about to fly to Boston for a day of meetings with various financial institutions. Tomorrow I do the same in New York City. These kinds of days are not the most fun, but a necessity when running a public company. This is of particular importance when your stock has been whacked by Wall Street pundits as one that has questions about its financial prospects.
We all know that our images division has had questions about its growth viability. I stated on our conference call last week that stability has returned to this platform and this is a point I will be hammering away at over the next two days.
While in Boston I will also visit the Seaport Hotel where our bITa trade show will take place in late May. This show starts a 30-day period in which we run four trade shows. We are starting to get some registrations and momentum is picking up for our new trade show division.
Off to the airplane.
We are blessed to have John Patrick as a member of our Board of Directors. John is truly the "father of the Internet" at IBM. In addition to serving on our Board, John serves on numerous other Boards and is on the road about third of the year as a sought after speaker.
What John is doing with music clipart on his blog is a prototype of what I think we will be commonplace on Web sites and blogs over the coming years. The use of digital content on Web sites to enhance the user experience is sure to happen. We as a company, of course, will benefit from this use of digital content since we are the largest owner of digital content in the world.
Now that discussions on Getty Images are over, I am free to start talking about Jupitermedia and its two divisions (Images and Online Media). The discussions start tomorrow with a visit to the JPMorgan Internet Conference in New York City where I have about 12 one on ones as well as a group presentation. Then on Wednesday I will be in Las Vegas at the Citibank Small Cap - Mid Cap Conference for more one on ones. Thursday at 11am Eastern time we will have our conference call to discuss fourth Quarter 2006 financials.
I look forward to getting out on "The Street" and telling our story once again. I am a bit handicapped in discussions due to the fact that our fourth quarter numbers are not yet public, but I can speak about trends and already discussed plans. For example we now own 90% of micropayment site Stockexpert.com. We have been gearing up promotion and administration of this terrific property and growth has been very positive. Several of our subscription programs have been doing well, but the leader is our high end subscrition offering called JupiterImagesUnlimited.
And there are lots of positive developments with our Online Media division which we are soon renaming Internet.com.
I realize many Wall Streeters read this blog. Therefore it is a good additional channel to the financial community and stockholders to provide added color to press releases about Jupitermedia.
Tonight we issued a press release indicating that we had to delay publishing our fourth quarter 2006 financials. There will be negative speculation about the delay. What is the main reason for the date change: the terminated Getty Images deal. We are a relatively small company and our financial team was diverted from our quarterly closing in order to supply due diligence information for the proposed deal which of course was ended yesterday. Therefore we need a few more days to close the books.
Therefore hold tight and do not speculate on negatives about the delay.
Yesterday Jupitermedia made lots of headlines. Some type of possible deal with Getty Images ended.
Interestingly nobody would have noticed the end of a "possible" transaction if the deal had not been leaked by somebody based in New York City to the NEW YORK POST. Once the story was printed in the POST, investors rushed out and purchased Jupitermedia shares. Speculators decided to bet that a deal would be consummated.
Looking ahead: We are confident that we have a great lineup of image and other digital assets that can do quite fine in the marketplace. We believe that we have a solid array of properties and pricing plans that can make Jupiterimages and even greater force that it has been in its first three years of existence. Watch carefully as we unleash revolutionary concepts in selling digital assets in both images and music.
Don't tread on Jupiterimages.
Our new trade show Web Video Summit is percolating nicely. Some of the speakers and their backgrounds follow:
Hossein Eslambolchi ran the largest network in the world as CTO of AT&T and now is CEO of a video startup called Divvio. Brian Conley whose "Alive in Baghdad" was voted "Best Vlog 2006" will be with us. Others include Dan Gillmor of "We the People" and Greg Brannan of CNET who produces excellent video reporting on professional technology.
We are also covering how video creators need to learn how to optimize for search engines. Speaker Tim Tuttle, VP of Search for AOL will be on an exciting panel including Mike Gordon of Limelight, Ian Blaine of Platform/Comcast, CTO Tom Hammer of Akimbo and Chief Strategy Officer Phil Kaplan of Vitalstream.
Over the next few weeks I will report on other aspects of the seminar program. However I want to mention that we have a "launch session" for new companies which will have reviews by senior venture capitalists and Stanford University Professor John Cioffi explaining how broadband networks will soon reach 100 megabit to homes.
Do not bet against Google! And perhaps I should say "Do not get in Google's gunsights"?
Much like what Microsoft has done to Apple, Intuit, Netscape and Sony in a variety of areas, Google is now going after important Internet turf. In Google's case we see them creating online Web applications that are getting more robust and certainly are in part aimed at Microsoft. And Google is now stepping up its assault on Yahoo finance.
I am certain that Google does not enter a field unless it thinks it can be number one. Sounds like Microsoft.