Archive for the ‘General Commentary’ Category

Mike Apyshkov, Reflections On His Passing

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

Michael ApyshkovI hardly know how to express how terrible it was to lose my friend, Mike Apyshkov, this last weekend. Some of the light went out of the sky for me when I received the news that he had fallen to his death from the top of one of Kyiv’s tallest and trendiest skyscrapers in Ukraine, at the Olympic business center (Олимпийский).

To say that Mike was one of my friends seems to understate what he was to me. Certainly he was a friend, but it was deeper than “just a friend”. He was an inspiration to me, a protégé, a roommate, an adoptive son, a colleague, a collaborator, and a sort of a muse. I feel it all the more intensely because he has left as abruptly as he came into my life, and at far too young an age: 26 years old.

The Ukrainian news story - a young man fell from the 29th floor of the Olympic business center.

The Ukrainian news story – a young man fell from the 29th floor of the Olympic business center. (source)

I’m unable to attend Mike’s funeral this week in Ukraine, and so I’ll write a bit about him here on my blog as a tribute and as a means of mourning him. Word of his passing has left me raw, and weak, and it seems some of the air has gone out of my lungs and I cannot regain it, no matter how much I inhale. I also set up an online memorial site at: Mike Aphyskov: Forever Missed.

How I Came To Know Mike Apyshkov

I met Mike through another good friend of mine — his father. Vlad worked with me when we were both at Verizon’s Superpages, and we became good friends after I left the company in 2007. In about 2011, Vlad notified a number of his friends that he was delighted by the fact that his son, Mike, was moving here to Dallas to live with Vlad and to go through the process of becoming a U.S. citizen. I don’t precisely remember that first meeting, but it was probably at some restaurant for dinner. I didn’t have much interaction with Mike until a few months later when Vlad had to leave the country for some weeks on business, and he asked me to be available in case Mike needed help with anything while Vlad was away, since Mike was unfamiliar with the city and with the American ways of doing things.

Mike, doing a sort of planking pose in a hallway in Ukraine, I think maybe in the building where he launched his company.

Mike, doing a sort of planking pose in a hallway at Donetsk National University in the Mathematics Facility. Playful, gymnastic interactions with his environment were something he was always doing.

When I realized that Mike was going to be all alone at Vlad’s house for the last few weeks of November, I immediately felt that he absolutely had to experience a traditional American Thanksgiving. My mother, who lives down in central Texas, readily agreed — in fact, bringing in foreigners for our Thanksgiving feast is a very long tradition in our family, and it likely started because my parents were professors and we lived in academic communities where there were always people who were far away from their homes during the holidays. I was going to my mother’s place a few days early, and planned to work from my father’s old home office before Thanksgiving day. Mike agreed to go with me early, and he worked on his computer from the office as well. (more…)

Seattle Seahawks File For Trademarks To Escape 12th Man Agreement – Can They Do This?

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Seattle Seahawks Retired Number 12The Seattle Seahawks have applied for 24 trademarkes in the last 15 months, three of which involve the number “12”. As I wrote a year ago, the Seahawks were once sued by Texas A&M over using the “12th Man” name. That earlier suit was settled, resulting in a multi-year licensing agreement. The Seattle Times reports that the Seahawks are aggressively registering a few variations, such as “The 12s”, “We Are 12”, and others.

The Eagle’s article on the subject quotes A&M’s Interim V.P. of Marketing & Communications, Shane Hinckley, stating merely that the licensing arrangement satisfies A&M’s needs and that the Seahawks have been a “great partner”. However, the agreement will expire in mid-2016 if the two teams do not renew it.

Home of the 12th Man by UW Dawgs - October 13, 2013 game between the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Home of the 12th Man by UW Dawgs – October 13, 2013 game between the Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans at CenturyLink Field. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Can A&M officials actually be happy about the Seahawks’ efforts to trademark variations around the number 12? (more…)

Church Launches World’s Largest Chalk Painting ‘Skyvertisement’

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

I’ve mentioned before how my church, Fellowship Church, has leveraged their position directly in the landing path zone near DFW Airport to promote themselves through the use of a huge logo painted directly on their roof — a form of ‘Roofvertising‘, as it were. They’ve now done yet another type of “Skyvertising” by painting a huge chalk portrait of Jesus on the church parking lot:

Fellowship Church's Chalk Portrait of Jesus

Fellowship’s Chalk portrait of Jesus. The chalk portrait coincides with the week leading up to Easter holiday weekend, and the chalk painting is a form of skyvertising. Aerial Photo Credit: WFAA

While this is clearly more of a novelty and a PR ploy to remind people that this is Easter weekend (many people only attend church twice per year — Easter Weekend and Christmas services), roofvertising and skyvertising are actually serious forms of marketing that can often reach a great many people who are exposed to the promotions when they fly over them or see them when browsing through satellite imagery and aerial photos in Google Maps, Bing Maps, Mapquest, and other mapping applications. KFC’s “Space Ad” — an image of their iconic “Colonel” mascot/logo built at large scale out in the desert of Nevada — was probably the most famous example of this type of marketing.

Fellowship’s chalk portrait of Jesus certainly allowed them to abruptly stand out from the crowd of other churches all vying for attendees this weekend. Many churches do little more to promote themselves at Easter than to hang a large banner outside. (more…)

The 12th Man

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014
12th Man Logo

The logo of the 12th Man Foundation, designed by Chris Silver Smith

The recent Super Bowl hoopla brought the Seahawks 12th Man to national attention, but I wonder how many realize that this fan support concept was founded by Texas A&M University? Most of my friends and acquaintances are unfamiliar with my past ties to the A&M organization and its iconography as well. Shortly after college, I worked for TAMU as a scientific illustrator, mapmaker and graphic designer. While in that capacity, I designed the 12th Man’s iconic logo.

If you’ve driven around the state of Texas for any length of time, chances are good that you’ve seen this logo on decals on the back windows of a great many vehicles. I think it’s probably the most widely visible thing I’ve ever designed.

So, how did the 12th Man itself come to be associated with the Seahawks, way up in Seattle, Washington? (more…)

Ever Wonder Where Santa Claus’s Home Is Located?

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Ever wonder where Santa Claus’s north pole home is actually located? Well, Rovaniemi, Finland makes a pretty credible case, claiming themselves as the official home to Santa.

Rovaniemi's tourism website - home of Santa Clause

Homepage of Rovaniemi's tourism website featuring Santa Claus

A number of characteristics of our Santa myths (a.k.a. “Father Christmas”) appear to’ve been adopted from Sápmi (a region of Norway, Sweden, Finland and part of Russia often referred to as “Lapland”) and its indigenous people, the Saami. Rovaniemi is well within the Sápmi lands. (more…)

Google’s Dracula Logo

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

I can’t resist mentioning Google’s Dracula themed logo today celebrating the 165th birthday of Bram Stoker!

Google Dracula Vampires Logo

Google Logo - Bram Stoker Customized Search Results Page

Sponsored search results associated with Google's Bram Stoker logo. (Click to enlarge.)

The logo presents scenes from Stoker’s Dracula uber-famous vampire book, done up in a woodcut-illustration style very reminiscent of the illustrations of Aubrey Beardsley, from the same time period. Dracula was published in 1897.

What may be more significant for search marketers, however, is the special search results page the logo is linked-to, which features Bram Stoker-related books, the Sponsored “shop for” sidebar box and the Wikipedia entry highlights box, along with the usual Universal Search items peppered through the search results listings: news search, author-tagged posts, video and image search results.

This logo and associated search results treatment seems to be specifically designed to help propel featured sponsor ad clicks, as well as to promote Google’s robust search results features.

It calls to question — will Google continue to specifically try to monetize their future Google Doodle logos in a similar fashion?

Double Bankruptcy Required for Dex One / SuperMedia Yellow Pages Merger?!?

Thursday, October 25th, 2012

In nothing short of earth-shattering news, it was reported that the Dex One – SuperMedia yellow pages companies merger is apparently on the rocks due to the companies’ creditors being unwilling to accept financial terms. Worse yet, the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission filing states that the companies might have to restructure under a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to make the merger deal work!

Quoted from the Form 8-K filed by Dex One:

In light of the current negotiations, however, Dex One recognizes that the parties may not be able to obtain sufficient approval from the senior secured lenders to any proposed amendments to the parties’ respective credit agreements. Therefore, possible alternatives to the current transaction structure to effect the Merger are under consideration, including a “prepackaged” restructuring of the parties’ senior secured indebtedness through proceedings instituted under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code to implement possible amendments that may garner sufficient, though not unanimous, support from the parties’ respective lenders, while otherwise maintaining the basic economic terms of the Merger Agreement.  However, there can be no assurance that Dex One and SuperMedia can effect a transaction through an alternative structure, that the necessary consents will be obtained, or that the Merger will be consummated.

SuperDex! Dex One - SuperMedia MergerIf you haven’t kept up with recent years’ history, the surreal part of this is that both companies already emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy restructuring not that long ago. In June of 2009, R. H. Donnelley Company filed for bankruptcy, and Dex One rose from its ashes in February of 2010. Idearc Media, earlier known as Verizon Information Services, had been spun off from Verizon with an irresponsibly high debt load, and as a result filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in March of 2009, later to emerge from the rubble as SuperMedia in December of 2009.

The Triangle Business Journal headline reports that bankruptcy is a possibility for Dex One, perhaps because the filing states that “Dex One recognizes…”. However, the wording is such that it clearly states that possible (more…)

Bain Capital & Mitt Romney’s Involvement with Italy’s Yellow Pages Debacle

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Bain Capital, Mitt Romney, and Seat Pagine Gialle - Italy Yellow PagesMy attention was drawn to this Bloomberg article today, “Romney Persona Non Grata in Italy for Bain’s Deal Skirting Taxes“, brought to my attention by a Tweet from Greg Sterling.

Let me note upfront that I’m politically a moderate and a non-partisan, so my interest in this article is primarily from the perspective of the business and historical aspects involving the Yellow Pages industry, which I’ve written about from time-to-time.

The article outlines a possible reason why Romney’s trip through Europe didn’t include a stop in Italy, one of the G8 countries: some years back, Bain Capital, Mitt Romney’s company, purchased a major stake in Italy’s Yellow Pages, Seat Pagine Gialle, and then they later resold their portion during the height of the Internet bubble for a very hefty profit, in the process circumventing taxes that could have benefited Italy. Subsequent to the Internet bubble, though, the Italian Yellow Pages declined very sharply in value at the expense of company shareholders (many of whom were possibly Italians) and the devaluation probably negatively impacted the service provided in Italy which could be said to affect virtually all Italians, one way or another. (more…)

Argent Media

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012

I have just launched my own agency, Argent Media, a search marketing firm focused on SEO, Local SEO, Online Reputation Management, and Social Media.

Argent Media - Local SEO Agency in Dallas Fort Worth, Texas.

It’s just me for now, although I have friends and contractors I’ve partnered with to collaborate on some projects.

Read the formal press release announcement at: Local SEO Industry Expert Founds Argent Media Search Marketing Agency in Dallas.

Interviewed at Train SEM

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

Chris Silver Smith InterviewI was interviewed over at Train SEM by the esteemed Ash Nallawalla, arguably the top local SEO and IYP SEO expert of the Asia-Pacific region.

Read it at Train SEM: Interview:
Chris Silver Smith.