August 6th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
My 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. Read the rest of this entry »
May 7th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
If you’ve ever tried to piece together the location of where some historical events occurred, you often will find that it’s very, very hard to do. I find myself doing this every so often, and each time I’ve thought that there is likely a large niche for a site which could attach timeline information to locations. There are often times when it would be useful (or interesting) to know what past events happened at a particular place, or to find the more precise locations for some notable historical event. Since there isn’t any central site for this sort of thing, people end up trudging around trying to find often-vague historical documents which mention the historical event, then try to match the historical locations up with current maps.
I found myself in this situation just this past week. I was half-watching Whitechapel, a crime mystery show set in England on BBCA, and the detectives had been in the home of a batty old woman who suffered from obsessive hoarding. Another character in the show was a sort of consultant for the police about historical crimes, and he’d mentioned a serial killer in America in the late 1800s, H. H. Holmes, who’d murdered potentially considerable quantities of people he’d lured into the hotel he operated, and the rooms were set up in some maze-like arrangement. Since Holmes was entirely unfamiliar to me, and since the whole story sounded so over-the-top, I figured it was fictional. But, not so! When I Googled this on my Android cellphone, I quickly discovered that there was indeed such a killer! Read the rest of this entry »
May 7th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
I was quoted in the Seattle Times over the weekend in reference to a piece they did on upgrades Costco plans to perform on their online site.
While it might seem I was picking on Costco in the article, there wasn’t room in it for the reporter to really include all the information I provided. Costco really isn’t alone in performing less-than-optimal optimization for search engines — a great many online retail catalog sites are in the same boat.
I go into this in more detail over on Argent Media’s blog: Costco.com SEO Lacking, But They’re One Of Many.
April 11th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
Playroom at Google offices in Dallas area, 2007
The Dallas Business Journal reports that Google opened a new office in Frisco for around 50 employees in March.
The DBJ writer states that this is Google’s “first office in North Texas”, which is unfortunately incorrect. Google Audio, their radio ads project, had earlier opened offices back in 2007 next to the facility I worked at in Coppell, as I reported on Natural Search Blog, and as Search Engine Land mentioned.
Google also previously had an office in Dallas, as Bill Hartzer has mentioned, and I recall that they had previously had an office in Irving which was devoted to PPC ad optimization specialists.
In fact, Google has opened and closed offices with such frequency here in the DFW Area over the past handful of years that one now can’t help but wonder if they’re really serious, or is this to be an extenuation of the schizophrenic office-opening exercises they seem intent upon doing?
Here’s the office location:
View Google's Dallas Area Offices in a larger map
Read the rest of this entry »
April 11th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
AT&T has decided to sell a 53% stake in its Yellow Pages unit to Cerberus Capital Management for $950 million.
Jennifer Fritzsche, an analyst with Wells Fargo, referred to the valuation as “sensible” at roughly 2.1 times an estimate for EBITDA, “given that the directory business is declining fairly quickly.”
Beyond “sensible”, AT&T may have well decided that they would incur undue risk of intervention from state and federal regulation authorities if they had pushed for a much higher valuation. I had earlier suggested it would be grossly irresponsible if AT&T overvalued their Yellow Pages, and, after Verizon’s divestment of Idearc/SuperMedia, I’m not sure another company could get away with an unreasonably high price tag. Read the rest of this entry »
February 27th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
A class-action lawsuit brought by stockholders against the former R.H. Donnelley Yellow Pages company and some of its executives was settled earlier this month for $25 Million.
The stockholders in the suit (“Local 731 I.B. of T. Excavators and Pavers Pension Trust Fund et al. v. Swanson et al“) had said that executives had made false claims during the period, stating that print Yellow Pages were not becoming obsolete, among other things, and that they had made false assurances about the financial condition of the business.
RHD had filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in 2009, and later emerged from bankruptcy under the new name, Dex One Corporation, in 2010.
Aside from the claims around the company’s finances, the issue of whether print Yellow Pages are becoming obsolete or not has been a controversial one in the past. Read the rest of this entry »
February 24th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
AT&T (NYSE: T) appears to’ve obliquely referred to their YP unit as a “low-performing” “non-strategic asset”, and signaled that they might sell it off.
If this sequence of events sounds familiar, it is — because Verizon did this when they spun off their Yellow Pages to form Idearc.
It’s a little disappointing to see AT&T likely planning to divest itself of Yellowpages.com and their print directories, because only in January of last year it had seemed possible that they might have toyed with the idea Read the rest of this entry »
February 14th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
I have just launched my own agency, Argent Media, a search marketing firm focused on SEO, Local SEO, Online Reputation Management, and Social Media.
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.
February 11th, 2012 by Chris Silver Smith
I 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.