Imx Fix in my experience
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April 22, 2003 7:18 AM

While sitting in the airport, on my way to the O'Reilly conference, all paid for by my employer, I hear new news that the company has some more bad advert deals. When I say bad, I mean 'under investigation' and with their recent history, I'd guess that there is at least something to the allegations. It comes as no surprise that the WashingtonPost was the paper to break the story (and this time along with the New York Times).

If you add up all of the deals that have been admittedly fraudulent, and are currently under investigation you come to a big number...

  1. HomeStore - $190 million
  2. Bertlesman - $400 million
  3. Someone other company - $150 million
  4. Someone else - $10 million
  5. Another - $25 million
  6. Dr. Koop - $25 million
[I can't remember the names of the other companies right now, and my AirPort card is not working very well at 35k feet in the air. Not having a network connection feels like paralysis.]

Grand total: $800 million US dollars. That translates to over 100% of one year's "free cash flow" of the AOL unit (which is often quested in the $750 million range). In those terms, if everything the WashingtonPost says is true, then you can pretty much say that the advert market killed one entire year of AOL cash flow, and no revenue growth happened. This isn't going to help the stock price in spite of the strides the operations groups inside of AOL who have been working hard to saving real dollars (as far as I can tell, millions of them).

This is bad news to get when you are about to board a plane and spend a week in California on the company's dime at a technology conference. It's a good use of their money (imho) though and I was able to do it all pretty cheaply. I got the registration to the conference for free, and I'm flying jetBlue, and staying at the hotel for three nights instead of four and doing so at a discounted rate. I'll be taking the redeye back, and that means that leg of the trip is less than $100. Total cost for the week: less than a grand.

Making my life easier is the ticket-less systems that jetBlue is using. I hate checking my pocket ever 2 minutes to be sure I have my tix (which I have to do due to my somewhat flighty mind and short buffer that over runs easily).

On board the plane, everyone gets their own TV screen and complimentary headphones (which are the ones that squish your ears and cause headaches) but I brought my own Sennheisers with me this week. So, I got to listen in stereo to reports that AOL is selling off the Comedy Central channel to Viacom for $1.2 billion. CNBC has yet to mention the story I saw on CNN earlier in the airport about the potential funny money deals mentioned above.

It's also pretty disconcerting to be on a plane while suspicious powders are being found in Washington State and Florida. Since the incident in Florida is at an airport, that's kind of scary for my short week of two flights.

The incident in Washington seems to be another postal mail thing, and will likely be handled much more effectively than what happened in the District two years ago (two years already?). That same is probably true for the incident in Florida, but who knows, it may all be bullshit. I hate to fly though, and have chosen to take my anti-anxiety meds after having a little bit of a light headed spell. Good thing I got some orange juice at the Dulles airport Starbucks.

[Here's a pano of the view from my hotel room.]