Send in the clowns
Roll up, roll up. See amazing acts of bravado, unthinkable contortions and mind-boggling manipulations! Yes, even the Chinese Circus currently visiting our shores can't be any more entertaining than the three-ringed Wilson Neil, IT Media, Yippee show.
Last week Bernard Montgomerie, the receiver for defunct shareware company Yippee, could restrain himself no longer. Labelling Wilson Neill chief executive Phil Vosper, chairman Trevor Mason and director Maurice Crosby purveyors of "bullshit" he called for the registrar of companies to ban them. He had just abandoned his legal fight against the company.
Yippee went into receivership last June when investors Web Media Investments and Keystone Funds No 2 became nervous about its lack of revenue and called in debentures of around $1 million.
At the time Yippee was subject to a $2.7 million sale agreement with Wilson Neill. Wilson Neill had changed the name of its company Flying Pig Trustee to Yippee NZ in readiness for the sale and Yippee staff had set up office with Wilson Neill’s publishing subsidiary IT Media (which ran the failed Flying Pig and New Zealand Business Times). The sale was subject to Wilson Neill shareholder approval, which kept being delayed. At the time Wilson Neill blamed the hold-up on a 50% buy-out by Transram which never eventuated. Montgomerie took Wilson Neill to court to enforce the sale but after months of frustration has given up.
Now Shane Keohane, head of the national enforcement unit at the Ministry of Economic Development has begun a preliminary investigation into Wilson Neill, which is late filing its 2001 accounts with the Companies Office. And last week the NZ Business Times failed to make it to the newsstands while staff contended with bouncing pay cheques. The Independent business weekly reports they’re still at work on the next issue which is supposed to come out today (a chocolate fish to the first person to spot a copy).
Meanwhile Wilson Neill's wireless internet provider Radionet is understandably trying to keep as low a profile as possible. It's business as usual says general manager Wendy Stein. But given the way that Wilson Neill usually does business one has to ask -- is that a good thing?
It's a numbers game
Here's hoping it's not just a big talk fest -- the internet ratings forum next week, that is. An industry forum of online publishers, including Xtra and IDG Communications, will meet next week to try to thrash out a new way of measuring web ratings.
Coverage at the moment is patchy. ACNielsen, which runs NetRatings, closed down its local office last year. It uses a panel of selected home-based users and monitors their online activities but the trouble is, a huge amount of surfing (whether business or personal) is done at work. The panel is still running but now reports to Australia.
Red Sheriff adds software to a paying customer's website that tracks visitor numbers but then how do you compare those numbers with websites that aren't Red Sheriff customers?
Hitwise has agreements with a number of ISPs to access user logs but until they have all ISPs they're not providing the full picture.
Lack of solid numbers is one of the factors holding back the take-off of online advertising in New Zealand and we want advertising to work so that websites can continue to offer top quality and free-to-the-viewer news, right? So if you have a brainwave between now and next week, drop us a line and we might pass it on.
Polyunsaturated, caffeine free, low fat FryUp
Well, the first week of FryUp as HTML plaything went relatively smoothly. Normally I reply to every email I get (except for spam, of course, and PR email) but you swamped me with comment, for which I'm very grateful. But it did mean I didn't reply to them all.
There was the odd hiccup. I'm not one to point fingers, but I have to say the copy itself was as flawless as fine white diamonds. Some of you may have received coal instead, however, because Netscape seems to dislike the FryUp and so squished it into a fine thin line.
Other problems included forcing readers to scroll sideways to reach the punchline which, while oddly apealling to me, seems to have gone down like a cup of cold sick.
This week should be much smoother as bugs are systematically hunted down and slaughtered, their wee heads put on electronic spikes around the firewall as a lesson to their kith and kin. That, coupled with the fact that someone else has written practically all the copy this week, means you should have a relatively stress-free day of it.