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Your morning coffee

Bless up, GL
Of note for electric vehicle makers (TSLA, NIO, NKLA), Nissan (NSANY) unveiled the first of its new electric vehicles as part of a turnaround strategy for the loss-making company and is hoping its new all-electric SUV Ariya will sell well in China, but it faces tough competition from Tesla (TSLA) in the region.
COVID-sensitive sectors (AAL, UAL, LUV, CCL, RCL, MAR, H) are seeing gains pre-market on positive vaccine updates from Moderna (MRNA) and reports that there could be a positive update tomorrow from AstraZeneca (AZN). Meanwhile, the stay-at-home beneficiaries (AMZN, NFLX, ZM) are weaker in the pre-market.

DOW JONES

Apple Inc. (AAPL) – Europe’s second-highest court ruled against European Commission on whether AAPL has to pay EUR 13bln in Irish back taxes. Four years ago the European Commission said AAPL benefited from illegal state aid via two Irish tax rulings that artificially reduced its tax burden for over two decades. Analysts say defeat for EC could also weaken or delay pending cases against Nike’s (NKE) deals with the Netherlands.
Goldman Sachs Group (GS) Q2 2020 (USD): EPS 6.26 (exp. 3.78/4.16 reported); Revenue 13.3bln (exp. 9.75bln). Loan loss provisions: 1.59bln (exp. 1.01bln). Net interest income: 944mln (exp. 1.23bln). Trading income: 4.24bln (exp. 3.8bln). Global markets revenue: 7.18bln (exp. 4.22bln). Fixed Income revenue: 4.24bln (exp. 2.53bln). Equities revenue: (exp. 2.04bln). Investment banking revenue: 2.66bln (exp. 1.8bln). Tier 1 capital ratio: 13.6% (exp. 12.46%). Dividend: 1.25/shr (exp. Q3 1.25, Q4 1.25, FY20 5.02). During the second quarter of 2020, the firm recorded net provisions for litigation and regulatory proceedings of USD 945 million, which increased net provisions to USD 1.13 billion for the first half of 2020. These amounts reduced diluted EPS by $2.60 and annualised ROE by 4.5 percentage points in the second quarter of 2020 and reduced diluted EPS by USD 3.15 and annualised ROE by 2.8 percentage points in the first half of 2020.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) June net credit losses 2.06% (prev. 2.34%).
Merck & Co. (MRK) CEO announced COVID-19 vaccines under development are not guaranteed to work and people who say to expect a vaccine by year-end are doing “grave disservice to the public”.
United Health Group Inc. (UNH) Q2 2020 (USD): Adj. EPS 7.12 (exp. 5.28/5.09 reported); Revenue 62.1bln (exp. 63.5bln). EPS guidance: FY20 16.25-16.55 (guidance maintained) (exp. 16.29 reported). Premiums revenue: 49.39bln (exp. 50.04bln). Product revenue: 8.25bln (exp. 8.17bln). Services revenue: 4.16bln (exp. 4.97bln). As the pandemic advanced, access to and demand for care were most constrained from mid-March through April, began to recover in May and approached more typical levels by the end of the second quarter.

NASDAQ 100

Alphabet Inc (GOOG/GOOGL) announced it signed an agreement to invest USD 4.5bln (INR 33,737 crore) in Jio Platforms Ltd, taking a 7.73% stake in the company, pending regulatory review in India. Elsewhere, it has been accused of tracking user activity through hundreds of thousands of apps, even when users followed Google’s recommended setting for stopping the monitoring, a lawsuit alleges.
Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN) AWS announced it has been selected by HSBC (HSBC) as a key, long-term strategic cloud provider to drive their digital transformation and provide new personalised banking services.
ASML Holding (ASML) reported a near 58% jump in Q2 profit but fell short of market estimates and forecast overall growth for 2020, despite the coronavirus outbreak. Net profit jumped to EUR 751mln from EUR 476mln in the same period a year earlier. Net sales rose to EUR 3.33bln from EUR 2.57bln (analysts had expected net profit of EUR 860mln and revenue at EUR 3.42bln); ASML said that sales would have been in line if revenue from two systems that shipped had been recognised. CEO said the company is in a “privileged position” with an order backlog of worth more than EUR 10bln, and that while the COVID was hurting the global economy, demand in some sectors is stronger than ever, predicting that 2020 will be a growth year for the company.
Facebook, Inc. (FB) and Sony (SNE) are reportedly preparing to increase output of upcoming gaming devices by as much as 50%, according to Nikkei.
Sirius XM (SIRI) announced an additional USD 2bln share repurchase programme (taking the authorisation to a total USD 16bln) and declared a quarterly cash dividend of USD 0.01331 per share.
Tesla (TSLA) – A county in Texas, home of Austin, approved a plan to provide millions of tax subsidies to TSLA if it builds a USD 1.1bln vehicle factory in the area.

S & P 500

Bank of New York Mellon (BK) Q2 2020 (USD): EPS 1.01 (exp. 0.91/0.92 reported); Revenue 4.01bln (exp. 3.99bln). Loan loss provisions: 143mln (exp. 127mln). Tier 1 capital ratio: 12.6% (exp. 12.41%). Net interest revenue: 780mln (exp. 776mln). Net income: 965mln (exp. 811mln). NIM: 0.88% (exp. 0.91%).
Becton Dickinson (BDX) is supporting the US government COVID-19 testing efforts by expanding point-of-care tests; expects to produce up to 10mln test from July through September, running at 2mln per week by September-end.
Delta Air Lines Inc. (DAL) announced it would record USD 3bln charges of USD 3bln on employee voluntary retirement and separation plans in this quarter.
Diamondback Energy (FANG) cut its 2020 production forecast due to higher-than-expected curtailed volumes in Q2 and volatile oil prices; the shale producer said it had suspended almost all completion activity and cut about 5% of production in Q2, adding that nearly all of the curtailed production was now back online
Garmin Ltd. (GRMN) European counterpart TomTom swung to a net loss for Q2, though it said operational revenue was on track to recovery from the lows it experienced in April due to COVID; it posted a net loss of EUR 62mln when stripping out the telematics unit vs a net profit of EUR 742mln for the same period a year earlier.
Medtronic (MDT) Health Care/Health Care Equipment) announced it is to acquire Medicrea in an all-cash tender offer for EUR 7/shr.
PNC Financial Services (PNC) Q2 20 (USD): EPS 0.40 (exp. 0.51), Revenue 4.1bln (exp. 4.11bln). NII 2.5bln (exp. 2.51bln). NIM 2.52% (exp. 2.61%). CET1 ratio 11.3% (exp. 10.44%). Net Charge-Offs 0.35% (exp. 0.48%). Loan Loss Provisions 1.56bln (exp. 1.19bln).
PVH Corp. (PVH) announced plans to streamline its North American operations which have been hit by COVID. Actions include exiting its 162 outlet store Heritage Brands Retail business and reducing its office workforce by approximately 450 positions or 12%
Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) board increased quarterly dividend to 70 cents a share from 69 cents a share.
U.S. Bancorp (USB) Q2 2002 (USD): EPS 0.41 (exp. 0.22), Revenue 5.838bln (exp 5.54bln). Loan loss provisions 1.73bln (exp. 1.64bln). NII 3.22bln (exp. 3.23bln). CET 1: 9.0% (exp. 9.11%). Expects to maintain quarterly dividend at 0.42/shr.
Wells Fargo (WFC) CFO said he does not expect the bank’s dividend to fall to zero; his remarks came after WFC reported disappointing earnings where it also cut its dividend.

OTHER

AstraZeneca (AZN) – ITV’s Peston reported he is hearing positive news is coming on the Oxford COVID-19 vaccine, that is being produced by AstraZeneca (AZN LN). The vaccine is reportedly generating the kind of antibody and T-cell (killer cell) response researchers hoped for.
Beyond Meat (BYND) is partnering with meal kit service Home Chef, a subsidiary of Kroger (KR), to offer the Impossible Burger as an alternative to other traditional animal-based proteins, according to Fox.
CoreLogic (CLGX) again rejected an unsolicited USD 7bln buyout offer as inadequate after meeting with the two investment firms that made the bid, Senator Investment Group and Cannae Holdings (CNNE)
Eldorado Resorts (ERI) / Caesar’s Entertainment (CZR) – New Jersey regulators will meet today to decide n the planned merger between the two. NJ is the last state approval that it will need to complete the deal.
Energy Transfer LP (ET) - The Dakota Access oil pipeline can continue to operate amid an ongoing court battle, a US Appeals Court said, setting aside, for now, a lower court’s order earlier this month to shut and empty the line. Dakota Access, controlled by the co., was granted an administrative stay while Court considers whether the line should be shut due to permitting issues dating to 2017, meaning that oil can keep flowing through the 570k BPD pipeline.
GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) FDA has voted to approve Belantamab Mafodotin for the treatment of patients with relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma.
Infosys (INFY) Q1 (USD): EPS 0.13 (exp. 0.12), revenue 3.12bln (exp. 2.94bln).
Moderna (MRNA) announced its COVID-19 vaccine trial produced ‘robust’ immune response and produced neutralising antibodies in all patients that were tested. However, only 45 patients were tested, and some experienced severe side effects. However, NIH Dr. Fauci noted the side effects were not alarming and were typical of those experienced with other vaccines. Although Tony Moody, a doctor and researcher at the Duke Human Vaccine Institute, said it was unusual for a vaccine to have this rate of side effect, but the antibody levels produced were really encouraging. The results were published in the peer-reviewed New England Journal of Medicine; note, this is the trial that MRNA released preliminary results for in May.
Moleculin Biotech (MBRX) has entered into an agreement to produce WP1122 for expanded development of the potential COVID-19 and oncology drug candidate; believes the mechanism of the drug is very different from other drugs being developed against COVID-19.
MorphoSys (MOR)and Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) announced the FDA approved its psoriatic arthritis treatment for adult patients, Tremfya.
Uber (UBER) / Lyft (LYFT) is now also being sued by Massachusetts, following California, over allegedly misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors instead of employees entitled to extensive benefits. The complaint claims Uber and Lyft violate state minimum wage, hour and sick time laws.

Additional US Equity Stories:

Zoom (ZM) is launching Zoom for Home, a new category of software experiences and hardware devices to support remote work use cases.
Forescout (FSCT) and Advent International reach amended merger agreement, where FSCT will receive USD 29/shr, with the board unanimously recommending its shareholders tender their shares in support of the transaction.
ViacomCBS (VIAC) announced a multi-year deal with Cox Media Group that renews CBS Television Network affiliation agreements for five stations, including two top 50 market affiliates, KIRO-TV in Seattle, WA and WJAX-TV in
Tesla (TSLA) is reportedly planning a Fremont factory shutdown for upgrades, opening a new assembly line
Amazon (AMZN) announces a new fulfilment centre in Texas, anticipated to launch 2021 and will create 1,000 jobs; workers will work along side robots.
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Venus Retrograde Through the Houses: What You Can Expect.

Tomorrow Venus stations retrograde in Gemini. Actually, Venus has been slowing down for a bit now, called a station, meaning her footprint is heavy in the sky. Likely, you've already been acquainted with the pitter pattering of themes you can expect during this period. Venus retrograde corresponds to general themes such as: relationship reviews, rewinds, renewals and reversals--evaluating how you relate to your own self-worth and esteem--retooling what you actually value/need--budgeting, getting serious about finances--hiccups with beauty related tools, industries, purchases and decisions.
But Venus RX means more when you account for the house it will be drudging stuff up in. My general take on Venus RX is: detouring into the ugly and resurfacing with a new appreciation of beauty. Kind of like the plot of Shrek. Where are the ogres in your life? And can you just decide to marry them and live happily ever after in a swamp with your donkey dragon friends? I digress...
This RX will be decidedly less brutal than the 2018 one in Scorpio. Those were some dire, uggo times. Venus in Gemini is peregrine, and to me, far more effervescent. Like a La Croix. Some gross flavors. But mostly ok. The reviews and themes will have more to do with ideas, thoughts, beliefs, etc. Very much juggling many dissonant thoughts and being okay with not settling on a conclusion. This will be a mentally exhausting time for some.
Gemini occupies a house in everyone's chart. Welcome to the circus:
First House: a time to reconsider what makes you feel beautiful, to redefine what beauty has to mean and look like. a time of enhanced social awareness (from a distance) and learning how you bring a distinct value to people--but first settling on how you wish to value yourself. being comfortable with your many faces, but also eliminating the faces, the out-grown personalities, that do not suit you anymore
Second House: a time to reevaluate how material possessions add beauty, add value, add ease-- or completely distract you from the assets that matter the most. a renewed version of self-care, a hard and honest look at your bank account and closet and cabinets, a purging to make room for new beautiful things to bloom. divine dividends
Third House: a time to reconsider what needs to be said. holding space for new ideas to take the place of old ones. learning to value your unique perspective, whilst also respecting the perspectives of others. work that neuro plasticity, pave new grooves into your gray matter. a time to stop and smell the roses as you are out and about. rekindling bonds with siblings and teammates.
Fourth House: a time to spackle, paint, hang and rearrange. where has the beauty in your home become stagnant, and how can you insert new pathways of inspiration into your halls? retooling your roots, beautifying your sanctuaries, finding Aphrodite in your ancestry. this can be a time to reacquaint yourself with the value a tribe, a home, a family, and a foundation gives you. that's how beauty can blossom.
Fifth House: a time to make friends with that blinking cursor on a blank page, the dried paint brush, the stack of half-finished poetry in the corner of your room, and the project that makes your heart sing--but that you've been too afraid to sing along with. retool your relationship with your inner child, that spark in the dark. your authentic self could use some authenticating
Sixth House: a time to throw out ugly habits, dead-end jobs, and the futile and self-deprecating sense of duty and responsibility you hold. time for new rituals. time put your worth and value ahead of the needs of others. you are more than a cog in a machine. you are the machine. an extraordinary one. and an extraordinary one needs all the tonics, tinctures, remedies and herbs. beautiful insides make for a beautiful outside, so celebrate your vitality, and appreciate all that your body does--in sickness and in health
Seventh House: a time to throw out ugly people! where are your relationships failing to live up to the happiness, joy, and wonder that you deserve? time for the talks, time to press send on an apology, time to ask for help, time to delete the dating profile and jump into the vulnerability of committed partnership, or time to unwed yourself from the security of singledom and start to mingle your heart out. also a good time to take inventory of the people you've invited into your hopes and dreams, the business affiliates that either help you sink or swim. choose people who bring beauty and warmth into your life. unbreak your heart. time for new patterns.
Eighth House: a time to get a handle on your debt, obligations, on your portfolios and investments. where are you over-sharing, where are you under-sharing, where can you give more, and where can you divest? immaterially, your heart, your humanness, your deeply disowned ugliness--they all deserve some TLC. those ogres aren't so scary or ugly when you get to know them. nothing to fear but fear itself. a time for magic and mysticism to inform your path forward.
Ninth House: a time to reevaluate your schooling, your education, what you have accepting as TRUTH actually has more to it. become more nimble with your personal dogma and ideology. challenges to your way of seeing the world don't have to be challenging, but rather, give you a wider array of intellectual and cultural beauty to sample from and enjoy. though not a good time for travel, certainly still a good time to plan. that faraway corner of the world is calling out for you. and that faraway corner of your mind could use a refresh. where are your gurus and mentors failing to inspire you? ditch the old paradigms. there's a yellow brick road with your name on it.
Tenth House: a time to reevaluate your career, your place in the world, the value that you bring to the world, and your unique set of talents. where are you asking to be respected yet still bumping up against gatekeepers? where can your creativity be better suited? you are your own boss, and your manager can't manage you. time to step up into a firmer sense of self and confidence. take up space. be loud. this is your world and we are living in it.
Eleventh House: a time to reevaluate your social networks, your friend groups, your hopes, accomplishments and your communities at large. unfriend the group think. jettison the crusty cliques. deactivate the profiles. consider where society has perhaps let you down, and recommit to creating environments worthy of the cause that is you. there is beauty to be shared. humanity has cracks but that is where light enters. be the light, even if you need to go dark for now.
Twelfth House: a time to reconsider where you self-sabotage, where you isolate, where you needlessly alienate yourself and others. this can be a deeply creative time when you burrow in the right direction, where unconscious gifts lay, where spirituality sparkles, where the undulations of life at large are within your grasp. beautify your alone time, make it work for you. give your mental hardships some love and tenderness. play around with the unknown, remold your trauma and psychic entanglements, find the beauty in necessary endings and loss. for that is how you begin again.

Mazel!
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Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ May 13, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY:
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002 4-8-2002 4-15-2002 4-22-2002
4-29-2002 5-6-2002
  • Okay, look, here's the deal. The obituaries, as sad as they are, contain some of Dave's best work. But good lord, they are looooooooooong. And they never contain anything newsworthy that is relevant to 2002 or anything. But they're always super interesting from a historical perspective. But last week, Dave wrote a brief obit for Lou Thesz (only 5,000 words, ahem) and promised to go into more detail this week. So this week, we open with a 16,000+ word obituary for Lou Thesz and I just can't. Sorry. It's really good though, you should all go read it. But I've got, like, a family and a job and responsibilities and stuff. I can't recap this. It's an incredible piece of work though.
  • The World Wrestling Federation is no more. On May 5th, the company unveiled its new name, World Wrestling Entertainment. Dave recaps the history of the company briefly (was originally called "World Wide Wrestling Federation, or WWWF, until 1979 when it was shortened to WWF, which is has remained for the past 23 years). But as of this week, the company has been rebranded to WWE. The website domain was changed to WWE.com and all references to "WWF" were changed to "WWE." The scratch logo was also changed, with the F being removed, so now it simply looks like "WW" (which, honestly, never really did make much sense to me. Even though the logo has changed, it's still "WW" to this day). Anyway, this all stems from the World Wildlife Fund lawsuit over in the UK, in which the WWE lost every court case and appeal. They were planning to appeal the ruling in the UK's highest court, their final last-ditch effort to save their name, but the reality is, they weren't going to win that case. Vince McMahon and the company blatantly and repeatedly violated the agreement they signed in 1994. It was 1000% obvious they were in the wrong here and they had gotten spanked by every single court before, often losing their appeals by unanimous decisions. So they weren't going to win this final appeal either and they knew it. So they dropped the appeal and threw in the towel and finally agreed to just change the name. The WWE has until May 15th to remove all references to "WWF" from their shows and merchandise. Any merch with "WWF" on it can no longer be sold after that date. All video packages and posters will have to be changed and any "WWF" mention or logos after that time on television or in past footage will have to be censored. Last year, during the court case, the WWE claimed it would cost them more than $50 million to change their name and to deal with all the legal and rebranding headaches that come with it. But this week, they backtacked on that and said it wouldn't be that expensive after all. Who knows if that's true, but the idea of this costing $50 million was enough to make the shareholders shit themselves, so Dave says they claimed it won't cost that much in order to keep the stock from plummeting. Anyway, none of this had to happen. In 1994, Vince McMahon and the Wildlife Fund signed an agreement that the wrestling company would not use the "WWF" name for promoting itself outside of the U.S. (since the Wildlife group is based overseas) and that worked well for a year or two. But then Vince McMahon apparently decided, "Meh, who cares about agreements?" and began repeatedly and blatantly violating it, constantly, for years, at which point the Wildlife group finally got upset enough to file a lawsuit. Anyway, on the first Raw since the name change, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler repeatedly stumbled over the new initials, accidentally saying "WWF" multiple times. Gonna take time for everyone to get used to calling it the new name.
  • The buyrates for Wrestlemania 18 are in and it appears the event will have to settle for being the #2 biggest money show in wrestling history after it came up short and failed to surpass Wrestlemania 17. Final numbers aren't in yet, but latest estimates put it somewhere around the 800,000 buys range (ended up being about 880,000) which is quite a bit down from WM17. It was also #2 in total revenue from live gate and merch. Internally, it's actually being seen as something of a disappointment because with the power of the Hogan/Rock dream match, they were hopeful this show would top 1 million buys but unless something drastic changes with these buyrate numbers, it looks like the final total will be a good bit short of that.
  • NJPW's latest Tokyo Dome show is in the books. The show drew a sellout crowd of 57,000 fans, there to see the Masahiro Chono vs. Mitsuharu Misawa dream main event (which ended up going to a 30-minute draw). It was the biggest non-Jan. 4 crowd NJPW has drawn to the Dome in 2 years. So that's the good news. The bad news is that the show flopped in the ratings on TV. A big part of that is because the Chono/Misawa match didn't air as part of the show (due to the Asahi-TV/Nippon TV network issues discussed in past issues) so the televised show was built around the Shinya Hashimoto/Naoya Ogawa vs. Scott Norton/Hiroyoshi Tenzan match and man, the fans sure didn't seem to give a fuck about that. In fact, the rating was so bad that there's concern that this will be the end of pro wrestling on prime time TV in Japan for the foreseeable future. But there are justifiable reasons for the rating. The show went head-to-head with the Kirin Cup soccer tournament, which was a huge deal and did more than double the rating the NJPW show did. Unlike the U.S., wrestling and "real" sports in Japan have a major crossover audience, so having real sports competition severely hurt NJPW's show. Also, while Ogawa is a draw as a singles star, putting him in a tag match against Norton and Tenzan isn't exactly setting the world on fire. The show lasted 6 hours, which was way too long and the crowd was burned out before Misawa vs. Chono even started.
  • Other notes from the NJPW show: it opened with an hour long 30th anniversary ceremony. They had a 10-bell salute for Lou Thesz and brought out a bunch of legendary NJPW names from the 70s and 80s. Then they did an angle where Antonio Inoki came out to give a speech, but he was attacked by Tiger Jeet Singh. But then Chyna made the save, attacking Singh, running him out of the ring, and challenging him to a match. Inoki's ex-wife, famous Japanese actress Mitsuko Baisho then made an appearance, getting a huge pop, and she and Inoki did his famous catch phrase to kick off the show. Minoru Suzuki of Pancrase (who started with NJPW as a pro wrestler) was also there. Jushin Ligher and Minoru Tanaka won the IWGP Jr. tag titles and then Liger challenged several NOAH wrestlers who were at ringside (most notably KENTA) and they all jumped in the ring and it ended with a staredown. The Steiner Brothers reunited to face Hiroshi Tanahashi and Kensuke Sasaki, with Chyna as the special referee. Tanahashi was working hurt, but he still worked. They did a spot where Tanahashi ran into Chyna and he went down off the bump instead of her and Dave seems annoyed by this since Tanahashi is a guy they really need to be pushing who can be a huge star for this company. Dave doesn't like him selling bumps for Chyna. Anyway, decent match but the Steiners basically steamrolled them and Tanahashi was pinned by Scott Steiner. Chyna then challenged several All Japan Women at ringside as well as Scott Steiner, Tanahashi, Sasaki, and even IWGP champion Yuji Nagata, saying she wanted a title match. Dave thinks this company has lost its damn mind. Speaking of Nagata, he retained his title in the next match. And then, of course, the main event. Usually during interpromotional matches, the crowd is always super pro-NJPW but this time, they went insane for Misawa and it was clear there were a ton of NOAH fans in the building. Chono did some Inoki moves and Misawa did some Great Baba moves, to kinda have a spiritual "Baba vs. Inoki" tribute in the match I guess. Ended in a draw and by the time it was over, no matter how big the dream match was, the crowd was burned out and weren't as hype for the match as you might expect once the entrances were done.
WATCH: Misawa vs. Chono highlights
  • Goldberg has received a full buy-out of his WCW contract from Time Warner and as of this week, he is now an unsigned free agent. Goldberg did not request the buy-out, the decision was made by the Time Warner side after the most unprofitable quarter in their history. The company was looking to cut expenses, even at a loss, just so the books can look better in future quarters. Goldberg reportedly received almost all of his remaining salary (more than 90% of the nearly $3 million he was still owed) in order to get him off their books. When Goldberg realized he's going to be a free agent a year earlier than expected, talks with WWE started up. But as usual, they went nowhere. WWE (I feel like I'm having to get used to typing that all over again. Really does feel like 2002 again) has interest in him, especially given the way ratings continue to plummet lately. But Goldberg has always wanted more than WWE is willing to pay. Plus, they're feeling burned right now after signing Hall and Nash to big money, long-term contracts for part-time work, only to have Nash get injured and Hall likely to get himself fired at any moment (that moment is coming sooner than you think), and neither of them really getting over in any meaningful way. Even Hogan, who is also making big money for a reduced schedule, was hot for a minute and boosted ratings and buyrates. But after only a few months, that train already seems to be out of steam and TV ratings are back to floundering with Hogan as champion leading the shows. So WWE is kinda gun-shy on opening the checkbook and paying out the ass for these big stars, futilely hoping that one of them is the quick-fix that can stop the bleeding.
  • There's also the question of how Goldberg would fit within the WWE locker room. He hasn't been shy about his dislike for Triple H, dating back to WCW when Triple H trashed Goldberg in a radio interview and saying that even if Goldberg was available, they wouldn't want him (which, at the time, when WCW was still alive and Goldberg was the biggest star in the company, is just about the dumbest thing he could have said. In 1998, WWF would have gladly traded 10 Triple H's for Goldberg). Anyway, Goldberg took the comment personally and even confronted Triple H face-to-face at the Toy Fair convention in New York a couple of years ago, in a bit of an ugly scene where Goldberg was yelling at him and Triple H and Stephanie kept their heads down and said nothing. Goldberg also has a lot of dislike for Scott Hall, which is another of Triple H's good friends, so ya know. The latest on Goldberg is that he's considering working some in Japan but he's just fielding offers right now. Word is he's interested in working with PRIDE as well as NJPW. Of course, if he's looking to maximize his money potential, WWE is still the place to go if you want to make big bucks. If promoted right, matches against Rock, Austin, Triple H, and others could do huge buyrates. And if they keep Goldberg and Austin apart for a year and build to a match with them at Wrestlemania, well, needless to say, that show would set records. Dave talks about how Goldberg got nuclear hot in 1998 and even in 1999, he was the biggest drawing wrestler in the business. But by 2000, the company was dying, Goldberg was injured, and "Jesus Chris with an Etch-a-Sketch" couldn't have drawn in WCW. Dave again does the math and talks about how WWE should have brought Goldberg in for the Invasion angle. Yes, it would have cost them a lot of money and upset the salary structure, but he would have more than made up for it with the kind of buyrates he could have drawn with those dream matches and the Invasion angle might have had a chance. But alas.
  • And of course, who's to say how WWE would use Goldberg? They already have Brock Lesnar and they're currently giving him the unstoppable monster push. Lesnar is bigger, younger, and a more legitimate athlete (for whatever that's worth). And WWE probably isn't going to give Goldberg an endless string of jobbers to beat. In WWE, he's going to be expected to work longer matches, sell for people, etc. They won't book him the way WCW did so who knows how he'd get over in WWE? If they wanted to build to an Austin/Goldberg match, it would make sense that Goldberg first has to plow through guys like Triple H, Undertaker, etc. And politically, that just ain't gonna happen. Dave doubts NJPW can afford him for anything more than one or two big shows. As for PRIDE, he could probably make a lot of money there, but the problem is.....PRIDE is a shoot. They haven't had "worked" matches in a couple of years and doing so now would kill their credibility. Which means Goldberg would have to go into a legit shoot and one embarrassing loss there would severely hurt his future earning potential. In the end, Dave thinks it's inevitable that Goldberg will end up in WWE, but probably not any time soon. But he's certain it will eventually happen. There's too much money on the line for both sides and WWE's ratings woes are making them desperate, so it'll happen some day (yup, less than a year from this).
  • And the moment is here! For those of you who had "under 3 months" in the "How long will Scott Hall last?" pool, come collect your prize. Scott Hall was released by the WWE this week due to misbehavior on the European tour. Firstly, he went on a drunken binge during the entire tour and was even worse on the plane ride home (much more on that in a bit). Dave says this was inevitable. WCW fired him. Even ECW stopped using him when he got arrested at one point. And even though he was seemingly behaving during his Japan tours, even NJPW cut ties with him shortly before he went back to WWE because they were fed up with some of his antics. And now WWE has fired him. Dave talks about how Hall made a drunken spectacle of himself in the locker room on his very first day back in WWE, before the NWO even debuted on TV, then he showed up in Toronto for Wrestlemania in no condition to perform (later came out that he was hungover from the night before), which caused Austin to insist on ending their feud at WM (which was the plan, but Dave says Austin has continued working with Hall afterwards simply because they don't really seem to have any other credible opponents for him). Hall's match with Bradshaw at Backlash was an embarrassment and the night before that show, agents had to help him back to his hotel. Just endless incidents like this. In Europe, Hall was such a blatant drunken mess that even the other wrestlers were calling for him to be fired. Hall was 45 minutes late for the bus they all took to London and then passed out in the locker room during the show. On the plane ride back, he was starting fights with people and eventually passed out and it got to the point that people were worried about his health. When they got back to the U.S. for Raw, they literally had to wake him up from a drunken stupor backstage to send him to the ring to do his segment (and yes, he wrestled). After the show, they fired him. No one came to his defense, and even Hall's closest friends are now admitting that he simply can't handle the pressures of being on the road and being released is the best thing for him right now. Dave talks about how a lot of wrestlers have been fired in the last couple of years for drug and alcohol issues and that's all well and good, but the big problem is why hire them in the first place? Scott Hall's issues were not a secret. It wasn't like he cleaned himself up before he came to WWE. He was getting in trouble and collecting arrests like Pokemon all the way up until the day they brought him back. Anyway, Hall had a 2-year deal, believed to be worth $600,000-per-year downside for only 10 dates per month. So a really sweet deal, but it's gone now.
  • Hey, speaking of that European tour, turns out there was a bit of trouble on the flight back to the U.S. Perhaps you've heard of it. Most of the trouble wasn't even due to Scott Hall. Turns out Vince McMahon didn't make the trip and lots of people decided that was a good reason to cut loose and have fun. Plus, since everyone has seen Hall get away with being drunk 24/7 for the last few months, they figured nobody would get in trouble. So....folks got DRUNK. Among the various incidents on this flight: Goldust got on the speaker system and began drunkenly serenading his ex-wife Terri with love songs. Terri was extremely uncomfortable and begged him to stop and then Jim Ross had to go sit him down. Ric Flair also "started to get wild" but Jim Ross calmed him down as well (Dave doesn't seem to know just yet exactly what Flair "getting wild" entailed, but if you don't know, it involved getting totally naked except for his robe and started helicoptering his dick at flight attendants. And it gets worse if you feel like researching it. The flight attendants later filed a lawsuit against Flair and accused him of sexual assault). Curt Hennig was spraying people with shaving cream and he kept trying to get Brock Lesnar to fight him. Lesnar, being a newcomer, didn't know how to handle it and didn't want to get in trouble, but he ain't gonna let Hennig talk shit to him either. So anyway, Lesnar got up and basically annihilated Hennig, repeatedly taking him to the ground and embarrassing him because, well, of course he did. It's Brock Lesnar. At one point, Lesnar slammed Hennig up against the side of the plane, right into the emergency exit door, which freaked everybody out for obvious reasons. Michael Hayes got into a scuffle with Bradshaw and then tried to pick a fight with Hall (although everyone on the plane said Hall had it coming). Anyway, Hayes was apparently obnoxious as hell and annoyed everyone. But then he made the mistake of falling asleep and someone (believed to be X-Pac) cut his hair off. When Hayes woke up, he was furious and tried to fight several people. The next day at the Raw tapings, his entire mullet was in a plastic bag, pinned to the wall of the locker room for everyone to see. Gerald Brisco, Arn Anderson, and Hayes all caught a ton of heat from Vince afterward since they were the people who were supposed to be in charge. Anderson and Hayes especially, since their jobs are to keep the boys under control, but they were apparently having just as much fun as everyone else. Everyone's waiting to see how Vince is going to handle this situation. As noted, Hall was already fired and Hayes got an earful from Vince, Stephanie, and JR at Raw the next day, but there will likely be more fallout. Undertaker was also said to be furious over how out of hand everything got (I'm sure we haven't heard the last of this).
  • Anyway, while they were in Europe, WWE presented its latest UK PPV, Insurexxtion. As usual with the UK PPVs, this was little more than a glorified house show. They announced the show as sold out, but there were empty seats everywhere. RVD vs. Eddie Guerrero for the IC title was the show-stealer according to every report Dave heard, and was said to be far better than their Backlash match. Brock Lesnar teamed with Shawn Stasiak (lol wut) and lost to the Hardyz. Brock beat up everybody after the match. Triple H beat Undertaker in the main event and Dave doesn't know why since Undertaker is the one challenging Hogan for the title at the next PPV. The top rope broke during the match when they did an Irish whip into the corner and when the rope snapped, a metal piece broke off from the corner and flew into the crowd and barely missed hitting a small child in the face.
  • Smackdown on 5/2 drew the all-time lowest rating in the history of the show. Dave says that's the scariest thing to happen to WWF in the past 5 years. It was also the 3rd lowest rating for any Smackdown or Raw dating back to 1998. The rating was a full 18% drop from the week before, which was already scary. The rating was even lower than previous holiday episodes. So what was the problem? Well, it was headlined by Hogan defending the WWF title against Chris Jericho (as it turns out, the final time the "WWF" title was ever defended). Dave says the title has been meaningless for years now and Hogan's steam is running out. And Jericho hasn't recovered from spending the first part of the year being emasculated and playing second fiddle to Stephanie McMahon in the Wrestlemania feud. Add all that together and you've got a recipe for a shit ratings night. Among other things. Dave isn't blaming this all on Hogan and Jericho by any means, there's a lot of problems with the company as of late, from bad storylines to failing to make new stars, and it's all starting to come home to roost.
  • Keiji Muto wrestled a match in AJPW under his alternate gimmick of Kokushi Muso. Turns out "Great Muta" isn't his only other persona. The Kokushi Muso gimmick is basically like Hakushi in WWF, where he's covered his entire body in Japanese writing. He originally debuted the gimmick in Michinoku Pro last year, when teaming with....Hakushi (Jinsei Shinzaki, who occasionally brought back the old Hakushi gimmick in Japan). Anyway, same thing here. He teamed with Hakushi for this match, while using that gimmick (Muto would use that gimmick a handful of times throughout the years, always when teaming with Hakushi. It's like that was only his gimmick for that team. The last time he used it was in 2009, also in a tag match with Hakushi).
  • Former NOAH Jr. champion Naomichi Marufuji underwent knee surgery this week and should be out around 6 months (ends up being 9 months).
  • NJPW is doing an angle (according to Dave) similar to the Vince/Flair angle last year where Antonio Inoki and Masahiro Chono are battling over control of the company. Although it's more realistic. Inoki is in the press talking about how many of NJPW's shows aren't doing well and is pushing for them to use Naoya Ogawa more, while Chono doesn't want to. Inoki is also saying Chono needs to retire from wrestling and focus his energies on managing the day-to-day business of the promotion full-time. Dave says this is an angle, but it doesn't sound like much of one to me, and I think later years have kinda proven there was a lot of blurring between fiction and reality here, because there was a ton of behind the scenes turmoil in NJPW during this period.
  • Will Smith appeared alongside Antonio Inoki at the Japanese movie premiere for the film "Ali" based on Muhammad Ali's life. Crowd went absolutely insane for Inoki (I've tried like hell and can't even find a picture of them together. But then again, I can't find a single pic from the premiere at all).
  • When reviewing the recent Dos Caras Jr. shoot fight in Japan, Dave talks about the guy's potential as a wrestler. He has a strong amateur background, legit shoot skills, and a famous name. Dave thinks, if he's even halfway a decent worker, he can almost be a guaranteed star in Mexico (based on his name alone) and probably Japan too, if he decides to pursue that career (indeed he did, and indeed, he was fairly decent at it. Of course, he later became Alberto Del Rio, accused rapist and pretty much confirmed all-around piece of shit).
  • Former long-time WCW referee Randy Anderson passed away this week after a long battle with testicular cancer. Back when WCW was still around and he first got diagnosed, they did an angle out of it where Eric Bischoff fired him and then laughed at his wife and kids when they begged him to give Anderson his back. Of course, he was later re-hired when Flair became on-screen commissioner and continued to referee until 1999 when the cancer forced him to retire.
  • Random news and notes: Bobby Heenan is said to be in good spirits and is especially excited because WWE recently contacted him about doing a WWE Magazine feature on him. Verne Gagne's wife Mary passed away from cancer this week. Goldberg will be appearing on this week's Wrestling Observer Live show to be interviewed. Mil Mascaras is releasing an autobiography (in Spanish of course) and man, I'd love to find an English translation of that because I bet it'd be interesting. Chyna appeared on "Sabrina The Teenage Witch" this past week.
WATCH: Chyna on Sabrina The Teenage Witch
  • Bruno Sammartino turned down an invitation to attend the Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame ceremony in New York (yes, that HOF existed and still does, in a different city now). Bruno did an interview with the local paper and said "Wrestling is how I made my living and supported my family, but it's over. I don't want anything to do with it anymore." Bruno managed to turn the discussion to the WWE, despite them not having any affiliation with this HOF and grumbled about how Vince McMahon blocked him from being inducted into the Madison Square Garden Hall of Fame. However, the new MSG owners have apparently promised Bruno he'll be inducted this year, since he sold the place out 200 times (Dave jumps in here to correct it and says the real number of sellouts is closer to 45. Bruno only main evented the Garden 127 times and by no means were they all sell-outs. But it's one of those myths that has been perpetuated for so long that Dave begrudgingly recognizes that people are always going to believe the 200 number is true, but it's not even close. He compares it to the claim that Andre The Giant was 7'4, which also wasn't true but people repeated the lie so often that it became accepted as fact).
  • Afa Anoa'i Jr., the son of the legendary Wild Samoan, is a star football player at his high school and is being recruited for Penn State. He also sometimes wrestles on his father's indie shows (that would be Manu, who was very briefly part of Legacy with Orton, Dibiase Jr., and Cody).
  • Former WCW announcer Scott Hudson will be doing commentary for Jerry Jarrett's new promotion, and Bob Ryder is said to be in a major front office position.
  • Jarrett has put out a press release saying that his new promotion has had talks with Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior. Word is Warrior wanted a 15% ownership stake in the new company, which pretty much ended those talks right there. They're also apparently interested in Scott Hall now too, with the idea that since they're only doing 1 show per week, he won't be a screw-up here. Dave is skeptical. Anyway, currently Road Dogg and Brian Christopher expected to be some of the company's top stars and Dave's not optimistic.
  • XWF wrestlers were told last week that a television deal should hopefully be finalized this week. But Dave has been told no chance it's happening that soon. The rumors are that the deal is either with the FX or Fox Kids networks. Ted Turner had inquired about buying this promotion a few months ago, but when he learned how much it would cost to get them off the ground and make them competitive, he lost interest (TV deal never materializes, company is already dead, etc. etc.).
  • The Scorpion King slipped to 2nd place this week, falling to the new Spider Man movie which did a record breaking $114 million opening weekend. Randy Savage has a small role in that movie.
  • Speaking of, The Rock worked his first match in about a month at a Fort Lauderdale house show, teaming with Hogan to beat Jericho and Angle. After the match, Hogan tried to get Rock to pose with him, but Rock wouldn't do it. Rock thanked the fans for the success of Scorpion King and said it would likely be his last match for awhile. There was a ton of local media there, but Rock didn't talk to any of them. Basically, the house show was in his neck of the woods and he simply decided to show up and work it just so he could see his friends and hang out with the locker room, he had no interest in doing interviews. He was just there because he wanted to be. Backstage, Rock was telling people that Hollywood higher-ups have told him he has to leave the wrestling business if he wants to be taken seriously as an actor. Those in the company feel it's a certainty that Rock really is leaving and he's likely going to break out of wrestling into Hollywood and actually become a rare success story (yeah, you could say that).
  • Look how long this is already. Imagine if I had covered that Lou Thesz obituary in full. JUST IMAGINE!
  • Notes from Raw: Dave compares it to an episode of Thunder, with the crowd half-dead for everything. Also, the roster was exhausted after just returning from the Europe trip (and the plane ride shenanigans) and that was apparent too. Brock Lesnar won his match via pinfall instead of the usual ref stoppage and Dave says that word is Triple H got in Vince's ear and convinced him to end the ref stoppage gimmick for Brock. Sure, why not? Hogan was supposed to ride off on Undertaker's bike at one point, but then the motorcycle wouldn't start. It was one of those awkward live-TV moments where time stood still and nobody knew what to do. Flair finally turned heel on Austin, to a shocking lack of heat from the crowd. Nash returned, etc. Dave recaps the rest of this show and it sounds like a lot of bad WCW stuff, coincidentally enough with a lot of the same people.
WATCH: Hogan can't start the motorcycle
  • The man who played the effeminate gay guy applying to be Vince McMahon's secretary on Smackdown a few weeks ago was new creative team member David Lagana. He recently joined the company and has written for several other TV shows, including "Friends" and has a strong knowledge of the industry (Dave says if you've been reading the Observer closely for the last few years, you're probably familiar with him, he's written in to Dave a lot over the years).
  • Dave goes on a brief rant about how to use older stars. In the past, everyone, even Vince McMahon, talked about how you should use guys like Hogan and Flair in small doses and how WCW's reliance on older stars like that is what made them less special. Dave talks about back in the day in Memphis, Jackie Fargo would come back once or twice a year and he was always the biggest star in the company when he did. Because he was used sparingly. But WWE has pretty much built its company around Hogan and Flair (and to a lesser extent, Vince and Undertaker) over the last few months and they've been totally overexposed because of it. Just 6 weeks ago, Hulk Hogan was getting some of the largest crowd reactions in the history of the business. Now, he and Undertaker are practically hearing crickets during their on-screen interactions.
  • Lita underwent neck surgery this week and isn't allowed to do anything physical for 9 months. Scotty 2 Hotty also had neck surgery and is expected to be out for about a year. Both are expected to make full recoveries though.
  • Jesse Ventura admitted this week that he received WWF stock options as partial payment for some work he did with them. Dave doesn't know if it's related to the Summerslam appearance a few years ago or the XFL announcing gig. Ventura says he has 10 years to exercise those stock options but wouldn't give any further details.
  • Scott Steiner told WWA he will work their next UK tour but after that, he's going to WWE. Dave is skeptical. Reports are that Steiner was in horrible pain after every match he worked on the last WWA tour and there's significant doubt that his body will hold up to a WWE schedule.
  • The new Steve Austin "What!" DVD has a lot of WCW footage, including the full Austin vs. Steamboat match from WCW Bash at the Beach 94. Dave doesn't say so, but I believe this is the first time WWE used any of the WCW library for commercial release after they purchased it the year before.
  • Someone writes in and asks Dave to stop spending so much time writing about steroid use in wrestling and instead says he should write a story about racism in the business. This person writes about the allegations from years back of Dusty Rhodes using the N-work with impunity, or the time DX parodied the Nation by wearing blackface. The WCW discrimination lawsuit, the embarrassing angles they've done with Mark Henry such as Sexual Chocolate, etc. This guy is asking why is it white wrestlers outnumber black wrestlers by 35-to-1 ratio in the U.S. (70-to-1 in Mexico and 80-to-1 in Japan). He wants to know why Dave isn't writing about that stuff. Dave responds and agrees that the blackface DX promo was racist, and it was racist when Buff Bagwell did it in WCW and when Roddy Piper did it in the 80s. Dave says wrestling, especially from the 70s through the 90s, had a horrible history of exploiting stereotypes and/or saying and doing racist things. You can argue it's gotten better, but no doubt the problem still exists. Dave lists some examples but he also pushes back on some others. For example, he's heard people complain that Booker T isn't being used properly due to his race and Dave disagrees. It's true that Booker T probably deserves a bigger push, but you can make the same case for guys like RVD and Jericho and Raven or DDP (when he first debuted, at least) and that didn't happen either, so Dave doesn't necessarily think Booker's lack of top-star push can be blamed on his race (we're less than a year away from Triple H definitively proving otherwise).
  • There's also 2 letters about the Rock/Hogan match at Wrestlemania and they couldn't be more different. One guy writes in and he can't understand why people are praising that match because if you put aside the hot crowd, it was awful, everyone's moves looked bad, it was embarrassing, etc. and says Hogan should have retired afterward. Then someone else writes in and says he was there live and, taken as a whole, Rock vs. Hogan was the greatest match he's ever seen. Basically the same "love it or hate it" opinion people have about that match to this day. Also, someone else writes in about the recent Low-Ki vs. American Dragon match from an ROH show and puts it up there among some of the greatest matches of all time (listing off several classic WWF matches like Shawn/Razor and Owen/Bret at WM10 for example). So there ya go.
NEXT WEDNESDAY: more fallout from the Plane Ride from Hell, more on the beginning of Jarrett's new NWA-TNA promotion, more on the NJPW Tokyo Dome show, and more...
submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]

Wrestling Observer Rewind ★ Apr. 8, 2002

Going through old issues of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter and posting highlights in my own words. For anyone interested, I highly recommend signing up for the actual site at f4wonline and checking out the full archives.
PREVIOUSLY:
1-7-2002 1-14-2002 1-21-2002 1-28-2002
2-4-2002 2-11-2002 2-18-2002 2-25-2002
3-4-2002 3-11-2002 3-18-2002 3-25-2002
4-1-2002
  • Buckle in everybody, it's business analysis time! Fuck yeah, math and percentages! The WWF is still stronger than any other promotion in wrestling history, but they've still seen some declines. 2001 live attendance was down over 20% from the the year prior. Even with increased ticket prices, gate revenue was down 12%. Sellouts were down 53%. And even though Wrestlemania 17 and the Invasion show did huge numbers, 2001 PPV buyrates were still down 20% from the year before, though some of that decline can be attributed to the DirecTV conflict during the final months of the year. Raw's TV ratings are down about 21% from last year. Dave weirdly doesn't mention Smackdown's ratings, but I looked it up and they were also down 16% from the year prior. Needless to say, 2001 was a tough year for the WWF. But they're still riding the momentum of the Attitude Era and even though all these numbers are significantly down from only a year ago, they're still in strong shape.
  • Just as things were starting to finally go right for AJPW, disaster struck as Triple Crown champion Toshiaki Kawada suffered a serious knee injury this week when Steve Williams landed on his leg in a match. Kawada is expected to need reconstructive surgery to repair several torn ligaments and will likely be out about 6 months (ends up being out for over a year). The match was stopped immediately (which is how you know it's serious in AJPW, because "working through injury" is practically the foundation of that company) and he had to be carried out of the ring and taken to the hospital. The timing is terrible, as Kawada just won the title about a month ago, after chasing it for nearly 2 years and the long-term storyline with he, Muto, and Genichiro Tenryu. As expected, it was announced that Kawada will vacate the title, which is expected to set up a Muto vs. Tenryu match to crown a new champion. Muto vs. Tenryu was the 2000 Observer Match of the Year so...should be a barn burner! To make things even worse, Kawada's injury took place during the Champion Carnival tournament and because of the way the tournament is laid out, with wins and losses and point totals being carefully booked to get the desired result in the finals, an injury to the top guy completely destroys those plans (it's the same round robin format as NJPW's G-1). So who knows how they'll work their way around this. But AJPW was just starting to gain some momentum for the first time in 2 years, so this couldn't have come at a worse time.
  • Dave talks about the big story in Japan with K-1 promoter Kazuyoshi Ishii being investigated for tax evasion and writes about what it would mean for K-1 and MMA in general if Ishii were to go to prison and how the business could be affected. In the overall "sports entertainment" landscape, K-1 is the biggest thing going in Japan and the second biggest in the world, behind WWF (in 2003, Ishii does indeed get found guilty on tax evasion charges and goes to prison for almost 2 years).
  • More questions and details regarding recent WWF pay cuts. First, Dave mostly talks about how the loss of WCW completely destroyed all negotiating leverage for wrestlers in the U.S. and how dire the industry is for the workers. Now you're pretty much forced to accept whatever Vince wants to pay you or hey, fuck off and go find a new career if you don't like it. Up until 1996, WWF offered very minimal guarantees. As late as into the mid-90s, many guys were only paid a guarantee of $50 for TV tapings. Of course, with gate money and all the other streams of revenue, most guys made plenty more depending on their position on the card. But $50 was the only thing you were promised. There were always exceptions of course. Don't think for a second Hulk Hogan left AWA in 1983 for a $50 guarantee, for instance. But for the most part, that's how it worked. Then in 1996, Nash, Hall, and Piper all jumped ship to WCW for big guaranteed money and Vince was forced to start offering the same in order to keep everyone from leaving. And then there's the comparison to major sports. WWF pulls in double the money that most pro sports franchises do annually and in many cases, draw better TV ratings, larger crowds, sell more merch, and do bigger PPV numbers than any of those sports franchises do. And yet Rock and Austin aren't making even a fraction of the money as guys like Michael Jordan, Mario Lemieux, Randy Johnson, Lennox Lewis, Alex Rodriguez, etc. In fact, Austin and Rock don't even make the same amount of money as guys lower than them in other sports. Many of the lowest paid pro athletes make more than all but the highest paid WWF guys, even though in many cases, WWF generates far, faaaar more money. And then, add to that the fact that WWF stars still pay their own road expenses (rental cars, hotels, meals, etc.) WWF pays for air transportation but that's usually it. That's unheard of in any real pro sport. Other pro sports also offer a pension plan and post-career medical insurance. Wrestling? Nope. (It's now 2020 and to this day, almost all of this is still true). Wrestlers get none of these benefits from the money they generate. This just goes on and on but TL;DR - unionize already.
  • God, this section isn't even close to done. Pay cuts. Anyway, Dave talks about how, with the split rosters, more guys will be working more shows, which is good. But the real money is in TV revenue based on ratings, and the ratings are declining already. The brand split is likely to cause them to fall even further, at least in the short-term, since they're diluting the star power of both shows. PPVs are still going to be dual-branded for now, which means more guys fighting for less spots on PPVs to share in that money. Long story short, the undercard people in WWF are really going to feel these pay cuts hard. A $25k-per-year pay cut might not affect Rock or Austin at all, but 25k less per year definitely hurts, say, Hugh Morrus or Mike Sanders in developmental. Seriously, none of this is news and it just keeeeeeps going...
  • And now, Dave writes—I shit you not—over 7,000 words about the crossover history between pro wrestling and shoot fighting. You know, the lifelong question in wrestling: if it was real, who would actually win? There must have been NO news this week. Jesus. In the end, this is an analysis of NJPW's failures in recent years that have come from Inoki trying to steer the company in an MMA direction, which has resulted in some of NJPW's top stars getting humiliated by PRIDE prelim guys and is a big reason why NJPW business is struggling so much right now. The whole history is here. From guys in the early days like Strangler Lewis and Frank Gotch, who had to be legitimate tough guys to keep from being double-crossed by promoters, to Bill Watts firing any wrestler that lost a real out-of-the-ring fight. Territories in the 70s and 80s bringing in real amateur wrestlers to take on all-comers in shoots. Things like that. But then MMA came along in Japan, and Brazillian jiu-jitsu, then UFC, and then everyone realized how much of an art form there is to real fighting. It became a major part of the training for pro wrestlers in Japan, since Inoki wanted guys who could do both, and of course, Inoki made a career out of having shoot matches with athletes from other combat sports, most famously with Muhammad Ali. Guys like Haku had the tough guy bar fight reputation as being the toughest guy in the business, and to this day, he has that rep. But put Haku in there with a skilled MMA fighter, and he'd get eaten alive. WWF's Brawl For All exposed just how easily untrained "tough guys" can be dismantled in a shoot. This just keeps going. UWF in 80s Japan, Akira Maeda and Nobuhiko Takada, PRIDE, Ken Shamrock, Dan Severn, K-1, Cro Cop, Tank Abbott, Naoya Ogawa, Don Frye, RINGS, the Gracies, Kazushi Sakuraba, Pancrase, Kendo Kashin, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar....you name it, Dave touches on it. It's a great history lesson on how these 2 sports are so intertwined and how they have affected each other.
  • AJPW is planning to give Tenryu some time off on the upcoming tour because he's old and has been working a lot of singles matches and he's beat up. And now, with Kawada's injury, the pressure is on Muto to carry the load. Muto hasn't worked a full schedule in years and his knees can't handle it over the long haul, but it's all on his shoulders for the time being.
  • Mitsuharu Misawa reportedly tore some ligaments in his knee at the latest NOAH show, in what is probably the worst possible news for the company. Misawa worked through it and even did a short match the next night and an angle after (he ended up taking no time off at all). Naomichi Marufuji is also in need of knee surgery but is working through it (he works one match to drop his title and gets surgery and is out for a loooong time).
  • NJPW's 30th anniversary Tokyo Dome show will be airing live in prime time on TV-Asahi in Japan, going head-to-head with the World Cup, which is the biggest sporting event in Japan in decades and, on a global basis, is the biggest sporting event in the world. The World Cup is being broadcast by rival network NTV, which is the television network NOAH is signed with. NJPW had planned for several NOAH wrestlers to work the show but that may not happen now because of this (it happens, Misawa works the show but there's more to the story, we'll get there).
  • NJPW opened a dojo in Los Angeles and most of the roster flew out for the grand opening. They also had several matches, including one featuring a young Rocky Romero. Chyna was there as well, took photos with Inoki, and talked about wanting to face male wrestlers in NJPW. "Oh dear God," Dave writes. Just wait.
PHOTO: Chyna working out at the Los Angeles NJPW Dojo in 2002
  • One of NJPW's big problems in recent years has been the failure to create new stars, which is what made them so successful in the 80s and 90s. But they're finally getting aggressive on that again and have recently brought in a new batch of trainees. Their names are Shinsuke Nakamura, Hirooki Goto, Naofumi Yamamoto, Ryusuke Taguchi, and Yasuke Moriakaku. Dave runs down their athletic backgrounds (mostly all accomplished amateur wrestlers).
  • A big show in Japan featuring Japanese shoot fighters against Mexican luchadores in legit shoot fights went....about as you'd expect. In the undercard, Pancrase founder Minoru Suzuki ("who is now a beaten up shell of a fighter") defeated wrestler Solar in just 2 minutes by DQ when Solar twice kneed him in the groin. The main event saw Pancrase fighter KENGO defeat Dos Caras Jr. (Alberto Del Rio) by submission in the second round, avenging his loss from last year when he suffered a broken arm in a fight with Caras Jr.
  • Latest on the old WCW racial discrimination lawsuit. Turner Broadcasting has been added as a defendant in the case. There are 10 wrestlers involved in filing the lawsuit and they're seeking $2 million each. There was a recent story about the case in the Atlanta Business Chronicle and Dave spends most of this paragraph talking about all the obvious things the article got blatantly wrong about WCW and the business in general. Otherwise, the article featured quotes from some of the wrestlers (Sonny Onoo, Hard Body Harrison, etc.) about how they weren't pushed, were paid less than white stars, or were told to do offensive racial stereotypes (Onoo in particular talks about how WCW had him do the broken English Japanese stereotype, leading Dave to point out that Onoo kept doing that gimmick on the indies long after he left WCW. And for what it's worth, Onoo's boss who allegedly forced him to do this was his close friend, Eric Bischoff, who he remains friends with to this day). The lawsuit also claims wrestlers shouldn't be classified as independent contractors and should be given the same retirement and health benefits that other Turner employees got.
  • Notes from the latest Ring of Honor show: despite all the rave reviews of their debut show, the attendance was down for this one. The show was build around Christopher Daniels, Low-Ki, and American Dragon all working separate matches against each other. All those matches ended in submissions, with them clearly trying to get that style over. Dragon vs. Low-Ki in the main event was reported to Dave as a possible 5-star match but he hasn't seen it yet. Ken Shamrock was the referee for it. So once again, this ROH company is getting rave reviews for putting on another excellent indie show. A wrestler named Chris Marvel suffered a broken ankle that was said to be as bad as the Sid Vicious injury.
  • There's talk that Jerry Jarrett's new promotion will be affiliated with the NWA, which would allow Jeff Jarrett to, inevitably, become the NWA champion. Dave says that's a big win for the NWA because Jeff would be a better champ than Dan Severn and if this promotion has any level of success, it'll be the biggest thing to happen for the NWA in years (indeed, that's what we eventually get).
  • Steve Wilkos, the big bald security guard from the Jerry Springer Show, made his pro wrestling debut at a show for Maryland Championship Wrestling. Wilkos teamed with Gillberg against some local guys. He was awful and the match was clearly comical and Wilkos' only offense was clotheslines. But the crowd of 1,600+ was the biggest in the history of the promotion and were there specifically to see him. ABC World News Tonight was there filming it as well.
WATCH: Steve Wilkos & Gillberg vs. some dudes
  • Various news and notes: Nicole Bass is back to bodybuilding after a recent health scare and she still has a sexual harassment lawsuit pending against WWF. Dusty Rhodes is in a TV commercial for Northwest Title Loans. K-Kwik is not working indies right now because he's still got a non-compete in his WWF contract, so he still gets paid and can't work anywhere else until that runs out.
WATCH: Northwest Title Loans commercial. Tell 'em Dusty Rhodes sent ya.
  • XPW is claiming promoter Rob Black (who also produces porn) suffered a stroke while editing a porn movie and is in critical condition. But Dave says there's no record of him at the hospital they claim he went to and this is apparently yet another of XPW's stupid hoax publicity stunts (yup. Rob Black is garbage).
  • If you recall, Eddie Guerrero won the WWA cruiserweight title on their last PPV. But just like Curt Hennig with XWF, Guerrero wasn't signed to a contract. Now he's heading back to the WWF and won't be around to drop the belt. Once again, Dave says if you're serious about starting a company right now, you have to lock your key guys into contracts or else Vince McMahon will pick you apart before you can get off the ground. Especially if you're gonna put a belt on a guy.
  • Notes from Raw: the show was built around Austin deciding which show he's going to sign with since he's a free agent. But Raw had a new opening video, featuring only the Raw stars that were drafted last week and Austin was heavily featured in that video, so they pretty much gave away the answer to the storyline from the second the show went on the air. They also had a new Raw stage setup for the arena. Eddie Guerrero made his return to the company, attacking RVD and getting a huge pop. So naturally, WWF capitalized by never once acknowledging his return for the rest of the show. Dave talks about how Jeff Hardy's physical decline over the last year is scary for only being 23 years old (drugs are bad mmm'kay). Trish took on Terri Runnels, while wearing bikinis, in a paddle-on-a-pole match, which is just about the most Russo sentence ever. Bubba Ray Dudley, Spike Dudley, and Bradshaw seemed to be the new guys getting a little bit of a push in this new split roster era. They presented Triple H with a new undisputed title belt to replace the 2 (WWF and WCW) that he was carrying around. And of course, it ended with Austin signing to Raw and giving everyone stunners.
  • Speaking of Austin, he and Vince apparently worked out all their issues which is why he was back on Raw. It was his first show back though, as he continued to no-show all his scheduled house show appearances last week. WWF knew in advance he wouldn't be there but never tried to make that clear to the public for any of those shows. Dave says it's one thing if a guy misses the show because of unforeseen circumstances, but if you know in advance he's not going to be there, to continue advertising them up until the doors open is bullshit. Especially a star like Austin who, let's be honest, is the guy most of the fans are there to see. And when they did announce it, even that was shady. At one house show, they announced Austin wouldn't be there and offered refunds. But then Undertaker cut a promo and commented that Austin was probably in the back hiding because he's scared of him. Naturally, fans then assumed he was there and would probably come out later in the show since a comment like that from a heel is an obvious tease. But....nope.
  • Random WWF notes: former WCW wrestler The Wall worked a dark match at the Smackdown tapings. Rock is hosting Saturday Night Live next week. The plans to have completely separate writing teams for both Raw and Smackdown seems to have already been dropped and looks like it'll mostly be the same people writing both shows. Former ECW performers Nova and Dawn Marie were both signed to WWF deals this week.
  • Bill O'Reilly on Fox News had a show that featured Linda McMahon among several other guests. The hook of the show was O'Reilly confronting all of these random people from different forms of entertainment (wrestling, music, movies, etc.) and accusing them of marketing to children and corrupting the youth. Along with Linda McMahon was Insane Clown Posse, Opie & Anthony, Russell Simmons, and others (in different segments, not all sitting together because holy shit, what a group that would be). Naturally, they all defended themselves and said it's up to the parents and yada yada. Linda came off better than everyone else on the show, but it was a low bar.
  • WWF has sent Rey Mysterio his contract. Dave doesn't give exact numbers but says it's in line with the baseline that they're trying to get everyone to sign for after the pay cuts (so figure in the $100-125K range per year). Dave also says Eddie Guerrero is rumored to have signed a similar contract, but he's also heard rumors that Guerrero's deal is possibly as low as $75,000 per year. Dave is skeptical, but then again, given how he left last time (rehab, DUI as soon as he got out, fired), it's possible WWF is hesitant to make a big commitment to him until he proves himself again.
  • Here's a quote from Big Show in a recent issue of the UK tabloid The Sun, presented without context: "Married life is good. Bess (his wife) is a good friend and my teammate. She is good looking and has one hell of a figure. Before this interview, I was looking at your Page 3 girls, and one of the guys said that one of the girls (Jordan) had Double F breasts, but they were just Double D. I told him: 'Trust me, mamma at home has got bigger.'"
  • Several of the wrestlers who had tryouts recently have been offered contracts. Dave isn't 100% sure on the names but he thinks it was Matt Stryker, Race Steele, Chad Collyer, Rene Dupree, Kevin Fertig, Doug Basham, and AJ Styles. The contracts are said to only be for $500 per week. Dave expects most of them to take it because, well, it's WWF and it's a steady paycheck. But AJ Styles is said to be leaning against it actually, because he knows he can make more money as a major star for one of these new start-up companies (WWA, XWF, or hey....maybe he could make a name for himself in this Jarrett promotion that's starting soon). Plus, he would have to move to Cincinnati and that's not much money to uproot your entire life (I think Styles has said in years since that his wife would have had to give up her job to move there and the WWF offer just wasn't enough money to make it worth it, so he turned it down).
FRIDAY: A look at Rock's rising movie career and what it means for his wrestling future, Kodo Fuyuki diagnosed with cancer, Yuji Nagata wins IWGP title, and more...
submitted by daprice82 to SquaredCircle [link] [comments]

How to achieve explosive startup growth!

Here is the summary of the book Traction: How any startup can achieve explosive growth.
I hope that you find it useful!

Traction is a sign that your startup is taking off. If you charge, it means customers are buying. If your product is free, it means your user base is growing.
If you have traction, all your technical, market, and team risks become easier to handle. It becomes easier to fund-raise, hire, do press, partnerships, and acquisitions.
Traction trumps everything.

How to think about Traction?

Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.
You should spend your time in parallel, both constructing your product and testing traction channels.
This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50% on traction. This rule seems simple but it’s hard to follow because the pull to spend all your attention on the product is strong. You’re probably making a startup because you want to build a particular product. You have a vision, but a lot of traction activities are unknown and outside your vision and comfort zone. So you try to avoid them. Don’t.
Doing product and traction in parallel has these benefits:
Before trying to get traction, you’ll need to define what traction means for your company. You need to set a traction goal. Maybe your current startup goal is to raise funding or become profitable. How many customers do you need and at what rate? You should then focus on marketing activities that result in a significant impact on your traction goal. It should move the needle.
Your startup has 3 phases:

Phase I: Make something people want

In phase 1, your product has the most leaks, it really doesn’t hold water. You shouldn’t scale up your efforts now, but it’s important to send a small amount of water through the bucket so you can see where the holes are and plug them. \ Your goal in phase 1 is to get your first customers and prove your product can get traction. You focus on building your initial product and getting traction in ways that don’t scale: giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you know, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

Some founders believe that startups either take off or don’t. Actually startups take off because the founders make them take off!
– Paul Graham

Phase II: Market something people want

Once you hone your product, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts. You fine-tune your positioning and marketing messages.

Phase III: Scale your business

As your company grows, smaller traction strategies stop moving the needle, so you’ll start to scale.
In phase 3 you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and you’re focused on scaling to further dominate the market and to profit.

Traction for funding

When pursuing funding, first contact individuals who understand what you’re working on. The better your investors understand what you’re doing, the less traction they’ll need to see before they invest. Also, try friends and family who may not need to see any traction before investing as they’re investing in you personally.

To pivot or not to pivot

Many startups give up way too early. The first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it’s only a few dedicated customers. If you have such an engagement, you might be giving up too soon. Look for the bright spots in your customer base and see if you can expand from that base.

How to get traction? The Bullseye framework

The Bullseye framework helps you find the channel that will get you traction. Most businesses actually get zero distribution channels to work. If you can get even a single distribution channel to work, you have a great business. If you try for several but don’t nail one, you’re finished.
You’re aiming for bullseye: the one channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage. Here are the 3 Bullseye framework steps:

Find what’s possible: The outer-ring

The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. It’s important not to dismiss any channel in this step. Think of at least one idea for each channel. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Running ads on Facebook or Twitter is a channel strategy within social ads. You could research what marketing strategies worked in your industry as well as the history of companies in your space.

Find what’s probable: The middle-ring

Go around your outer-ring and promote your best and most exciting ideas to your middle-ring. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to find if the idea is good or not. These tests need to answer the following questions:
  1. What’s the cost of acquiring customers?
  2. How many customers are available?
  3. Are they the right type of customers for you now?
You want to design small scale tests that don’t require much up-front cost or effort. For example, run 4 Facebook ads instead of 40.

Find what’s working: The inner-ring

The final step in Bullseye is to only focus on one channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel. At any stage of your startup, you should have one traction channel that you’re focusing on and optimizing.
Most founders mess this up by keeping around distracting marketing efforts in other channels.
If search engine marketing is significantly better for you than other channels, you should focus all your efforts on this core channel and uncover additional strategies and tactics within it.
If no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. If you tried several times with no success, then your product may require more tweaking and your bucket might be still leaky.

How to test traction?

Middle-ring tests: You should be running several cheap tests that give you an indication of how successful a given channel strategy could be.
Inner ring tests:
You’re doing two things:
  1. Optimize your chosen channel strategy to make it the best it can be.
  2. Discover better channel strategies within this traction channel.
There is always a set of things you can tweak. For targeting blogs, you can tweak which blogs to target, type of content, call to action, etc. For search engine marketing, you can tweak keywords, ad-copy, demographics, and landing pages.
A common approach is to use A/B testing, where A is the control group and B is the experimental group. The purpose of it is to measure the effectiveness of change in a button color, an ad image, or a different message on a web page. If the experimental group performs significantly better, you can apply the change, get the benefits, and run another test.
You can use tools such as Optimizely, Visual Website Optimizer, and Unbounce.
Over time, all marketing channels become saturated. To combat this, you should always be trying to discover new strategies and tactics within your channel and conduct small experiments. Also, experiment with new marketing platforms while they’re still in their infancy.

Tools

To track your tests you could start with a simple spreadsheet or use an analytics tool with cohort analysis. You’ll need to answer these questions:
  1. How many people landed on the website?
  2. What are the demographics of my best and worst customers?
  3. Are customers who interact with my support team more likely to stay?
A basic analytics tool like Clicky, Mixpanel, or Chartbeat can help you with these questions. You can use a spreadsheet as the tool to rank and prioritize traction channel strategies. You should include columns like how many customers are available, conversion rate, the cost to acquire a customer, lifetime value of a customer for every given strategy.

How to focus on the right traction goals? The critical path framework

Define your traction goal

You should always have an explicit traction goal you’re working towards. This could be 1,000 paying customers or 100 new daily customers, or 10% of your market. You want a goal where hitting the mark would change things significantly for your company’s outcome.
Once that is defined, you can work backward and set clear time-based subgoals. Such as reaching 1,000 customers by next quarter.
The key is to follow the critical path towards that goal and exclude all features and marketing activities that don’t help you reach your goal. Everything you decide to do should be assessed against your critical path.

Avoid traction biases

Your competitive advantage may be acquiring customers in ways your competition isn’t. That’s why it’s critical to avoid have traction biases. Stop your urge to refuse channels like speaking engagements, sales or affiliate marketing, business development, or trade shows just because you hate talking on the phone or you find the channel annoying or time-consuming.

Targetting blogs

Targeting blogs that your prospective customers read is one of the best ways to get your first wave customers.
Mint’s initial series of tests revealed that targeting blogs should be its core channel. They asked users to embed an “I want mint” badge on their personal blogs and rewarded them with a VIP access before other invitations were sent out. They also directly sponsored blogs. They sent bloggers a message with “Can I send you $500” as the subject and told them a bit about the product.
To find smaller blogs in your niche:
You can also target link-sharing communities like Reddit, Product Hunt, and Hacker News.
Dropbox, Codecademy, Quora, and Gumroad all got their first customers by sharing their products on HackerNews because their products were a good fit for users on that site.

Publicity

Starting out, an article in TechCrunch or The Huffington Post can boost your startup in the eyes of potential customers, investors, or partners. If you have a fascinating story with broad appeal, media outlets will want to hear from you.
It’s easier to start smaller when targeting big media outlets. Sites like TechCrunch and Lifehacker often pick up stories from smaller forums like Hacker News and subreddits. Instead of approaching TechCrunch, try blogs that TechCrunch reads and get story ideas from. It’s easier to get a smaller blog’s attention. Then you might get featured on TechCrunch and then The New York Times which reads TechCrunch!
What gets a reporter’s attention?
A good press angle makes people react emotionally. If it’s not interesting enough to elicit emotion, you don’t have a story worth pitching.
A good first step is using a service like Help A Reporter Out (HARO), where reporters request sources for articles they’re working on. It could get you a mention in the piece and help establish your credibility. Also, you could offer reporters commentary on stories related to your industries.
You can use Twitter to reach reporters online; almost all of them have Twitter accounts and you’d be surprised how few followers many of them have, but they can be highly influential with their content.
Once you have a solid story, you want to draw as much attention to it as you can:
Once your story has been established as a popular news item, try to drag it out as long as you can. Offer interviews that add to the story. Start “How We Did This” follow-up interviews.
As your startup grows you may consider hiring a PR firm or consultant.

Unconventional PR

Nearly every company attempts traditional publicity, but only a few focus on stunts and other unconventional ways to get buzz.

The publicity stunt

Customer Appreciation

Be awesome to your customers. Shortly after Alexis Ohanian launched Hipmunk, he sent out luggage tags and a handwritten note to the first several hundred people who mentioned the site on Twitter.
Holding a contest is also a great repeatable way to generate publicity and get word of mouth. Shopify has an annual Build a Business competition.
Great customer support is so rare that, if you make your customers happy, they’re likely to spread the news of your awesome product. Zappos is one of the best-known examples of a company with incredible customer service and they classify support as a marketing investment.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is placing ads on search engines like Google. It’s sometimes called “pay-per-click” because you only pay when a user clicks on an ad.
SEM works well for companies looking to sell directly to their target customer. You’re capturing people who are actively searching for solutions.
Click-Through Rate (CTR) The percentage of ad impressions that result in clicks to your site.
Cost per Click (CPC) The amount it costs to buy a click on an ad.
Cost per Acquisition (CPA) How much it costs you to acquire a customer, not just a click. If you buy clicks at $1 and 10% of people who hit your site make a purchase. This makes your CPA at $10.
CPA = CPC / conversion percentage

SEM to get early customer data

You can use SEM as a way to get early customer data in a controlled and predictable way. Even if you don’t expect to be profitable, you can decide to spend a certain amount of money to get an early base of customers and users to inform you about important metrics such as landing page conversion rates, average cost per customer, and lifetime value.
Archives.com used AdWords to drive traffic to their landing pages, even before they built a product, to test interest in a specific product approach. By measuring the CTR for each ad and conversions, they determined which product aspects were the most compelling to potential customers and what those people would actually pay for. When they finally built their product, they built something they knew the market would want.

SEM strategy

Find high-potential keywords, group them into ad groups, and test different ad copy and landing pages within each ad group. As data flows in, remove underperforming ads and landing pages and make tweaks to keep improving results.
Use tools like Optimizely and Visual Website Optimizer to run A/B tests on your landing pages.

Keyword research

Use Google’s keyword planner to discover top keywords your target customers use to find products like yours. You could also use tools such as KeywordSpy, SEMrush, and SpyFu to discover keywords your competition is using.
You can refine your keyword list by adding more terms to the end of each base term to create long-tail keywords. They’re less competitive and have lower search volumes which makes them ideal for testing on smaller groups of customers.
SEM is more expensive for more competitive keywords, so you’ll need to limit yourself to keywords with profitable conversion rates.
You shouldn’t expect your campaigns to be profitable right away, but if you can run a campaign that breaks even after a short period of time, then SEM could be an excellent channel for you to focus on.

Writing ads

Write ads with titles that are catchy, memorable, and relevant to the keywords you’ve paired with it. Include the keyword at least once in the body of your ad and conclude with a prominent call to action like “Check out discounted Nike sneakers!”
Each of your ads and ad groups will have a quality score associated with it. A high-quality score will get you better ad placements and better ad pricing. Click-through rate has the biggest influence on quality score, so you should tailor your ads to the keywords. Google assigns a low-quality score to ads with CTRs below 1.5%

Tactics

Social and Display Ads

Display ads are banner ads you see on websites. Social ads are ads you see on social sites like Facebook and Twitter.
Large display campaigns are often used for branding and awareness, much like offline ads. They can also elicit a direct response such as signing up for an email newsletter or buying a product.
Social ads perform exceptionally well is when they’re used to build an audience and engage with them over time, and eventually convert them to customers.

Display ads

The largest display ad networks are Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Advertising.com, Tribal Fusion, Conversant, and Adblade. Niche ad networks focus on smaller sites that fit certain audience demographics, such as dog lovers or Apple fanatics.
To get started in display advertising, you could start to find out types of ads that work in your industry. You could use tools like MixRank and Adbeat to show you ads your competitors are running and where they place them. Alexa and Quantcast can help you determine who visits the sites that feature your competitors’ ads.

Social ads

Social ads work well for creating interest among potential new customers. The goal is often awareness oriented, not conversion oriented. A purchase takes place further down the line. People visit social media sites for entertainment and interaction, not to see ads.
An effective social ad strategy takes advantage of this reality. Use ads to start conversations about your products by creating compelling content. Instead of directing people to a conversion page, direct them to a piece of content that explains why you developed your product or has other purposes than immediately completing a sale. If you have a piece of content that has high organic reach, when you put paid ads behind that piece, magic happens. Paid is only as good as the content you put behind it. You should employ social ads when you know that a fire is starting around your message and you want to put more oil on it.
Major social sites you may consider are LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Foursquare, Tumblr, Reddit, YouTube, and many others.

Offline Ads

Even today, advertisers spend more on offline ads than they do online. When buying offline ads, You should try to advertise to demographics that match up with your target audience. Ask for an audience prospectus or ad kit.
Not sure if magazine ads are a good channel for you? Buy a small ad in a niche publication and give it a test. Want to see if newspapers would be good? Buy a few ads in a local paper. You can also try radio ads and billboards.

Magazine ads

A compelling magazine or newspaper ad will have an attention-grabbing header, an eye-catching graphic, and a description of the product’s benefits. Also, you should have a strong call to action, like an offer to get a free book.

Direct mail

You could also try direct mail by searching for “direct mail lists” and find companies selling such information. (Beware that it can be perceived as spammy)

Local print

You could also try local print ads like local fliers, directories, calendars, church bulletins, community newsletters, coupon booklets, or yellow pages. These work really well for cheap if you want to get early traction for your company in a specific area.

Outdoor advertising

If you want to buy space on a billboard, you could contact companies like Lamar, Clear Channel, or Outfront Media. Billboards aren’t effective for people to take immediate action, but it’s extremely effective for raising awareness around events, like concerts and conferences.
DuckDuckGo bought a billboard in Google’s backyard and it got big attention and press coverage.
Transit ads can be effective as a direct response tool. You can contact Blue Line Media to help you with Transit ads.

Radio and TV

Radio ads are priced on a cost per point (CPP) basis, where each point represents what it will cost to reach 1% of the station’s listeners. It also depends on your market, when the commercial runs and how many ads you’ve bought.
TV ads are often used as branding mechanisms. Quality is critical for it and production costs can run to tens of thousands. Higher-end ones can cost $200K to make. You’ll also need an average of $350,000 for actual airtime. For smaller startups, you could try local TV spots which is much cheaper.
Infomercials work really well for products in categories like Workout equipment, household products, health products, and work-from-home businesses. They can cost between $50,000 and $500,000, and they’re always direct-response.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is improving your ranking in search engines in order to get more people to your site.
The most important thing to know about SEO is that the more high-quality links you have to a given site or page, the higher it will rank. You should also make sure you’re using the keywords you want to target appropriately on your pages, like in your page titles and headings.
There are 2 strategies to choose from: fat-head and long-tail.
Fat-head: These are one and two-word searches like “Dishwashers,” and “Facebook.” They are searched a lot and make about 30% of searches and are called.
Long-tail: These are longer searches that don’t get searched as much but add up to the majority of searches made. They make up 70% of searches.
When determining which strategy to use, you should keep in mind that the percentage of clicks drops off dramatically as you rank lower. Only 10% of clicks occur beyond the first page.

Fat-head strategy

To find out if fat-head is worthwhile, research what terms people use to find products in your industry, and then see if search volumes are large enough to move the needle. You can use the keyword planner tool for that. You want to find terms that have enough volume such that if you captured 10% for a given term, it would be meaningful.
The next step is determining the difficulty of ranking high for each term. Use tools like Open Site Explorer. If a competitor has thousands of links for a term, it will likely take a lot of focus on building links and optimizing to rank above them.
Next, narrow your list of targeted keywords to just a handful. Go to Google Trends to see how your keywords have been doing. Are they searched more or less often in the last year? You can further test keywords by buying SEM ads against them. If they convert well, then you have an indication that these keywords could get you strong growth.
Next, orient your site around the terms you’ve chosen. Include phrases you are targeting in your page titles and homepage. Get other sites to link to your site. Links with exact phrase matching from high-quality sites will give you a significant boost.

Long-Tail strategy

Because it’s difficult to rank high for competitive fat-head terms, a popular SEO strategy for early-stage startups is to focus on long-tail. If you bundle a lot of long-term keywords together you can reach a meaningful number of customers.
Find out what are search volumes for a bunch of long-tail keywords in your industry? Do they add up to meaningful amounts? Also, take a look at the analytics software you use on your site or google search console to find some of the search terms people are already using to get to your site. If you’re naturally getting a significant amount of traffic from long-tail keywords, then the strategy might be a good fit. Also, check if competitors use this strategy. If they have a lot of landing pages (search for site:domain.com in google), then it’s a sign that this strategy works for your market. Also, check Alexa search rankings and look at the percentage of visitors your competitors are receiving from search.
If you proceed with a long-tail SEO strategy, you’ll need to produce significant amounts of quality content. If you can’t invest time in that, you can pay a freelancer from Upwork to write an article for every search phrase you want to target.
Another way is to use content that naturally flows from your business. Ask yourself: what data do we naturally collect or generate that other people may find useful. Large businesses like Yelp, TripAdvisor, and Wikipedia all gained most of their traffic by producing automated long-tail content. Sometimes the data is hidden behind a login screen and all you need to do is expose it to search engines, or aggregate it in a useful manner.

How to get links?

Don’t buy links, you’ll be penalized by search engines for it. Instead, you can do:

Content Marketing

Companies like Moz and Unbounce have well-known company blogs that are their biggest source of customer acquisition.
Unbounce started a blog and an email list from day one. They used social media to drive readers to your blog. They pinged twitter influencers to ask for feedback, gave away free infographics, and e-books. These actions don’t scale but they push them to a point where their content will spread on its own.
OkCupid is a free online dating site. They intentionally wrote controversial posts like “How your race affects the messages you get” to generate traffic and conversation.

Tactics

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a personal channel. Messages from your company sit next to emails from friends and family. That’s why email marketing works best when personalized. It can be used to build familiarity with prospects, acquire customers, and retain customers you already have.

Email marketing to Find customers

Email marketing to Engage customers

If a customer never gets the value of your product, how can you expect them to pay for it or recommend it to others?

Email marketing to Retain customers

Email marketing can be the most effective channel to bring people back to your site. Twitter sends you an email with a weekly digest of popular tweets and your new notifications.
More business-oriented products usually focus on reminders, reports, and information about how you’re getting value from the product. Mint sends a weekly financial summary to show your expenses and income over the previous week.
You can also use it to surprise and delight your customers. Planscope sends a weekly email to customers telling them how much they made that week. Photo apps will send you pictures you took a year ago.

Email marketing to Drive revenue

You can send a series of emails aimed at upselling customers.
WP Engine sends prospects an email course about Wordpress, and near the end of the email, they make a pitch to signup for its premium Wordpress hosting service.
If one of your customers abandoned a shopping cart, send her a targeted email a day or two later with a special offer for whatever item is left in the cart.
You can use email to explain a premium feature a customer is missing out on and how it can help them in a big way.

Email marketing to get referrals

Groupon generates referrals by incentivizing people to tell their friends about discounts.

Tactics

Viral Marketing

Viral marketing is getting your existing customers to refer others to your product. It was the driving force behind the explosive growth of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Dropbox, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest.
It’s so powerful that even if you can’t achieve exponential growth with it, you can still get meaningful growth. If your customer refers a new customer within the first week, you’ll go from ten customers to twenty and double every week without any additional marketing.
The oldest form of virality occurs when your product is so remarkable that people naturally tell others about it — pure word of mouth.
Inherent virality occurs when you can get value from a product only by inviting other customers, like Skype, Snapchat, and WhatsApp.
Others grow by encouraging collaboration like Google Docs.
Some embed virality like adding “Get a free email account with Hotmail” or “Sent from iPhone” to default signatures. Mailchimp and other email marketing products add branding to free customers’ emails.
Some incentivize customers to move through a viral loop, like Dropbox giving you more space if you invite friends to sign up. Airbnb, Uber, and PayPal give you account credits for referring friends.
Some add embedded buttons and widgets to grow virally, like Reddit and YouTube.
Some broadcast users activities on their social networks, like Spotify posting on Facebook when you play a song, or Pinterest when you pin content.
The viral coefficient K is the number of additional customers you can get for each customer you bring in. It depends on i, the number of invites sent per user, and conversion percentage (who will actually sign up after receiving an invite)
K = i * conversion percentage
Any viral coefficient above 1 will result in exponential growth. Any viral coefficient over 0.5 helps your efforts to grow considerably.
You can increase the number of invites per user i by including features that encourage sharing, such as posting to social networks. You can increase the conversion percentage by testing different signup flows. Try cutting out pages or signup fields.
Viral cycle time is how long it takes a user to go through your viral loop. Shortening your cycle time drastically increases the rate at which you go viral. You can do it by creating urgency or incentivizing customers to move through the loops.

Tactics

Engineering as Marketing

You can build tools like calculators, widgets, and educational microsites to get your company in front of potential customers.
HubSpot has Marketing Grade, a free marketing review tool. It’s free, gives you valuable information, and provides HubSpot with the information they use to qualify you as a potential prospect.
Moz has two free SEO tools, Followerwong and Open Site Explorer. They’ve driven tens of thousands of leads for Moz.
WP Engine has a speed testing tool that asks only for an email address in exchange for a detailed report on your site’s speed.

Business Development

With business development, you’re partnering to reach customers in a way that benefits both parties.
Google got most of its initial traction from a partnership with Netscape to be the default search engine and an agreement with Yahoo to power its online searches.
Business development can take the form of:
You should have already defined your traction goal and milestones, and you shouldn’t accept any partnership that doesn’t align with it. Many startups waste resources because it’s tempting to make deals with bigger companies.

Sales

Sales is the process of generating leads, qualifying them, and converting them into paying customers. It’s particularly useful for expensive and enterprise products.

Structuring the sales conversation

Situation questions. Ask one or two questions per conversation. The more you ask situation questions, the less likely they’re going to close.
Problem questions. Use sparingly.
Implication questions. Meant to make a prospect aware of the large implications that stem from the problem.
Need-payoff questions. Focus attention on your solution and get buyers to think about the benefits of solving the problem.

Cold calls

Be judicious about the people you contact. You want someone who is one-two levels up in the organization. They have enough perspective on the problem and some authority for decision making. Avoid starting at the top unless you’re calling a very small business.
Try to get answers about:

Tactics

It’s better to gain traction through a marketing channel first, then use sales as a conversion tool to close leads. The next stage is lead qualification: determine how ready a prospect is to buy. Once you’ve qualified the leads, you should lay out exactly what are you going to do for the customer. Set up a timetable for it and get them to commit with a yes or no whether they’re going to buy. Closing leads can be done by a sales team who does a webinar or product demo and has an ongoing email sequence that ends with a purchase request. In other cases, you may need a field sales team that actually visits prospective customers for some part of the process.
A checklist that can help you with sales:
I removed the last sections because of the post character limit. Here are two:
submitted by alollou to startups [link] [comments]

Covid-19 update Monday 20th April

Good morning from the UK. I am late today but with good reason, my wife has had a really tough time this weekend with mental health (she is on meds for OCD, anxiety and Bipolar Type 2). Lockdown is tough for us all, but believe me it’s harder still for those with pre-existing mental difficulties. It could be worse, one of her friends (who has been sectioned before for mental breakdowns) is having to manage her mental health whilst fulfilling her duties as an A&E (ER) doctor in Wales. How my wife’s friend does it I have no idea, the stories coming out of UK hospitals are deeply disturbing (this link is 2 weeks old).

Anyway, onto supply chain; this morning I read an article from Forbes about the problems supply chain disruptions can cause. Here’s a lengthy quote:
“Our firm recently polled executives at major corporations around the world to ask them about the operational risks they perceived to their supply chains, and the response strategies they had in place. The results were enlightening. Executives identified a broad range of risks (see chart below), from volatile commodity prices (which 43% considered a major challenge), to protectionism (31%), to piracy (just 7%). That executives identified such a broad range of risks told us that global supply disruption is indeed a top-of-mind issue for managers of global corporations.
When we asked a subsequent question about the strategies in place to mitigate these risks (see chart below), we found no favorites. Rather executives were across the board, choosing a number of different approaches, but not necessarily those best suited to the operational risks they were facing: 33% of respondents indicated that they would make no changes to their supply chains, 20% intended to decrease the number of production locations, and 15% planned to increase the same; and a range of other options as well.
Given the nature of the modern, global corporation and the complex supply network that has developed around it, it is unsurprising that executives have not aligned on a unified strategy to mitigate supply chain risk. No longer does a supply chain consist of a simple process from factory to warehouse to delivery (if indeed it ever did). Rather, as new sources of supply have arisen, new markets have opened, and companies have sought greater scale and specialization. Supply chains have evolved into a network of hundreds of suppliers, sub-contractors and distribution centers, adding tremendous complexity…
...I was recently at a conference of supply chain executives in the United States who told me that planning is dead – the best they could hope to do was respond to risks as they arose. Who has the time, and what is the benefit, of planning in a world of continuous change, demand-driven marketing, and intense pressure for instantaneous responses?...
...In an environment where changes in global supply chain can be as sudden as they are unscripted, companies have to arm themselves with both foresight and peripheral vision, an understanding of the long-term, and agility to deal with the short-term. More than ever, companies have to provision for multiple scenarios and they can only do that by engaging in a dynamic and multi-dimensional scenario-based strategic planning process.”
----------
I like the last two paragraphs of the article in particular. In case anyone wants to read the rest of the article, it’s dated May 2010 and written in reaction to the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull and the chaos it caused to supply chains around the world. Plus ça change; it seems some boardrooms didn’t adjust their supply chains after that black swan event (maybe due to the cost and the resulting negative shareholder pushback). Link to the story.

Virus news in depth

Our Pandemic Summer: The fight against the coronavirus won’t be over when the U.S. reopens. Here’s how the nation must prepare itself. - The Atlantic has written a lengthy article about what the mid-long term looks like for the US in relation to getting back to normal after Covid-19. “I think people haven’t understood that this isn’t about the next couple of weeks,” said Michael Osterholm, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota. “This is about the next two years.” The article goes on to look at the pharmaceutical supply chain; “According to a University of Minnesota analysis, about 40 percent of the 156 drugs that are essential parts of critical care are becoming limited. Many of these depend on supply chains that involve China (where the pandemic began), Italy (the hardest-hit region in Europe), or India (which halted several exports)” … “Albuterol, the drug used in asthma inhalers, is scarce. Antibiotics, which control the secondary bacterial infections that afflict COVID-19 patients, are being depleted. Basic painkillers and sedatives, which are needed to keep patients on ventilators, are being exhausted. Hydroxychloroquine, the drug that Trump has repeatedly touted as a COVID-19 treatment despite a lack of good evidence, is running out, to the detriment of people with lupus and arthritis who depend on it. “It’s like everything we give to patients, we’re in short supply of,” said Esther Choo, an emergency physician at Oregon Health and Science University. “We’re now scrambling to find the backup medications, and we’ll run out of those too.””
(cont’d) If it turns out that, say, 20 percent of the U.S. has been infected, that would mean the coronavirus is more transmissible but less deadly than scientists think. It would also mean that a reasonable proportion of the country has some immunity. If that proportion could be slowly and safely raised to the level necessary for herd immunity—60 to 80 percent, depending on the virus’s transmissibility—the U.S. might not need to wait for a vaccine. However, if just 1 to 5 percent of the population has been infected—the range that many researchers think is likelier—that would mean “this is a truly devastating virus, and we have built up no real population immunity,” said Michael Mina, an epidemiologist and immunologist at Harvard. “Then we’re in dire straits in terms of how to move forward.” The article is lengthy and also discusses options for reopening the economy and society in the USA.

Virus news in brief


My usual sources are as normal The Guardian and CNN live blogs unless otherwise specified.















Personal note: If you are on the Eastern seaboard of the US and in a hurricane prone area, it would be a good idea to review your hurricane plans and supplies now, e.g do you have a generator and does it work, spare fuel, batteries, candles, do you have enough long life food already stored + cleaning products, do you have an alternative method of cooking food, what’s your evacuation plan, etc etc. See https://www.weather.gov/safety/hurricane-plan for help with this and note FEMA is already under a lot of strain due to the virus and would thus likely struggle with a major hurricane impact on the US seaboard - see also this USA Today article dated 6th April this year on that topic).



Supply chain news in depth


Susceptibilities of Solar Energy Supply Chains - The Global policy journal has written a detailed review of the supply chain disruption faced by the solar panel industry here. Whilst manufacturing was significantly reduced from January to March in China (down 13.5%) and is now almost fully recovered, its reliance on materials from around the world mean the supply chain is exposed in other parts. China has the majority market share in the mining or processing of most minerals used in solar panels, such as: silicon, aluminum, selenium, tellurium, arsenic, cadmium, and gallium. However, China still depends on many other countries to complete their solar panels, such as Peru for copper, Saudi Arabian oil for energy, and Japan for silicon wafers. In mid-March, Chinese owned mining company MMG Ltd reduced operations at its Peruvian copper mine after Peru declared a state of emergency in response to the coronavirus. Due to the damaged mining link in the supply chain, an initial spike in solar module price is expected due to shortages of materials for solar wafers and module glass, affecting the solar industry for months to come. Kangping Chen, the CEO of the top solar module supplier in the world, JinkoSolar, stated that around 400-500MW of Q1 2020 shipments are likely to be postponed to Q2 2020. The 500 MW postponement is approximately 14% of JinkoSolar’s 3.6GW quarterly solar panels production last year. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) stated that “before the pandemic hit, the solar industry was poised to set a record for deployment in 2020,” with solar installers being America’s fastest growing profession. A new SEIA survey now suggests cancellation rates for residential solar systems in the US are now at 19%, with postponement rates hitting upwards of 50% in some areas.

Illinois adjusts on the fly to meet medical supply needs in a coronavirus ‘Wild West’ - The Chicago Sun Times details a story from about two weeks ago where Illinois officials tracked down a supply of 1.5 million potentially life-saving N95 respirator masks in China through a middleman in the Chicago area and negotiated a deal to buy them. One day before they were expecting to complete the purchase, they got a call in the morning from the supplier informing them he had to get a check to the bank by 2 p.m. that day, or the deal was off. Other bidders had surfaced. Realizing there was no way the supplier could get to Springfield and back by the deadline, Illinois assistant comptroller Ellen Andres jumped in her car and raced north on I-55 with a check for $3,469,600. That’s just a taste of the “Wild West” world of emergency procurement taking place over the past several weeks as the state fights for equipment and supplies to protect frontline workers and patients in the battle against COVID-19. Most of that work is being performed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration through a rapid-procurement strike team, pulling together procurement specialists from around state government under the auspices of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. As Pritzker has made clear at his daily briefings, it’s an effort made all the more difficult by the absence of a strong, coordinated White House response. That’s left Illinois competing against other states, foreign nations and even our own federal government for the same materials. They’re all looking for what we have come to know as PPE or personal protective equipment — masks, gloves, gowns and face shields — plus coronavirus testing kits and swabs and, most prized of all, ventilators to help those most seriously ill keep breathing.

SWABS, STAT! Inside the Maine factory racing to supply America with virus test swabs. - If you’ve ever used a home DNA kit, opened wide and said “ahh,” or measured the depth of a knife wound in a stabbing victim, chances are you’ve used a device made by Puritan Medical Products Co, says Bloomberg. And if you’re tested for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, it’s quite likely that the swab used to collect a sample from inside your nose will have been made by Puritan, too. Located in Guilford, Maine (population 1,521), Puritan is one of two companies that make essentially all of the swabs used for coronavirus testing. (The other, Copan Diagnostics Inc., is in Italy, an epicenter of the deadly virus.)
(Cont’d) “Swabs could be a weak link in broadening testing,” former U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb tweeted on March 16. That was four days after Puritan first started getting calls from the U.S. government, according to Timothy Templet, executive vice president for global sales, who entered the conversations himself shortly thereafter. “I’ve been on the phone since Saturday with many government organizations—Health and Human Services, FDA, working groups—just trying to provide accurate information regarding the ability to produce as many swabs for the country as we possibly can,” he says. The federal government, however, doesn’t buy directly from Puritan. Instead it helps coordinate with Puritan and other medical suppliers and distributors to get the swabs where they need to go. “We are ramping up to produce and wrap a million swabs a week that we need to put into the supply chain across the U.S.,” Templet says. His problem? Not enough machines or labour to meet demand.

**In Pursuit of PPE (**Or if you prefer, “how I managed to buy some PPE on the American black market for my hospital”) - The New England Journal of Medicine is not something I often read (Actually I’ve never read it before in my life) but this article caught my eye: As a chief physician executive, I rarely get involved in my health system’s supply-chain activities. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed that. Protecting our caregivers is essential so that these talented professionals can safely provide compassionate care to our patients. Yet we continue to be stymied by a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), and the cavalry does not appear to be coming. Deals, some bizarre and convoluted, and many involving large sums of money, have dissolved at the last minute when we were outbid or outmuscled, sometimes by the federal government. Then we got lucky, but getting the supplies was not easy.
(Cont’d) A lead came from an acquaintance of a friend of a team member. After several hours of vetting, we grew confident of the broker’s professional pedigree and the potential to secure a large shipment of three-ply face masks and N95 respirators. The latter were KN95 respirators, N95s that were made in China. We received samples to confirm that they could be successfully fit-tested. Despite having cleared this hurdle, we remained concerned that the samples might not be representative of the bulk of the products that we would be buying. Having acquired the requisite funds — more than five times the amount we would normally pay for a similar shipment, but still less than what was being requested by other brokers — we set the plan in motion. Three members of the supply-chain team and a fit tester were flown to a small airport near an industrial warehouse in the mid-Atlantic region. I arrived by car to make the final call on whether to execute the deal. Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would take two distinct routes back to Massachusetts to minimize the chances that their contents would be detained or redirected.
(Cont’d) Hours before our planned departure, we were told to expect only a quarter of our original order. We went anyway, since we desperately needed any supplies we could get. Upon arrival, we were jubilant to see pallets of KN95 respirators and face masks being unloaded. We opened several boxes, examined their contents, and hoped that this random sample would be representative of the entire shipment. Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me. No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system’s urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks. But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE. Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse.

Supply chain news in brief








Good news section


Deserted Thai beaches lure rare turtles to build most nests in 20 years - Thailand has found the largest number of nests of rare leatherback sea turtles in two decades on beaches bereft of tourists because of the coronavirus pandemic, environmentalists say. In Thailand, with 2,765 infections and 47 deaths, travel curbs ranging from a ban on international flights to an appeal to citizens to stay home have brought a collapse in tourist numbers, but freed up the beaches for wildlife. The 11 turtle nests authorities have found since last November were the highest number in 20 years, said Kongkiat Kittiwatanawong, the director of the Phuket Marine Biological Center. “This is a very good sign for us because many areas for spawning have been destroyed by humans,” he told Reuters. No such nests had been found for the previous five years. Leatherbacks are the world’s largest sea turtles. They are considered endangered in Thailand, and listed as a vulnerable species globally by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They lay their eggs in dark and quiet areas, scarce when tourists thronged the beaches. People have also been known to dig into their nests and steal eggs. (link)

Minnesota trooper's roadside gesture during traffic stop brings doctor to tears - A state trooper pulled over a doctor for speeding on an east-central Minnesota interstate, told her she should know better and sent her on her way grateful for receiving only a warning and not a ticket. The trooper also gave her a fistful of coveted N95 medical masks that were issued for his protection from the deadly coronavirus pandemic. “I burst into tears,” Dr. Sarosh Ashraf Janjua, a Boston native and cardiologist, wrote in a detailed Facebook account of the traffic stop on March 21 along Interstate 35 in North Branch as she traveled from work in Duluth for a break in Minneapolis. “I think he teared up a little as well before wishing me well and walking away.” Janjua also saw the masks handed to her as having value beyond their role in stemming the virus’ spread. “This complete stranger, who owed me nothing and is more on the front lines than I am, shared his precious masks with me, without my even asking,” she wrote. “The veil of civilization may be thin, but not all that lies behind it is savage. We are going to be OK.” (Star Tribune link)
submitted by Fwoggie2 to supplychain [link] [comments]

As far as Health CPA affiliate networks are concerned More Niche is a good one. They have good products, do regular offline/Press PR, above average designed merchant sites, and an active forum. Some issues a new affiliate marketer may face while working with More Niche – their customer base is primarily in the United Kingdom – it can be a The Wire Cutter is one of the internet’s favorite review affiliate websites for electronics, gadgets and consumer goods. It was started by Brian Lam, the former editorial director of Gizmodo. Brian and team put all reviewed products through strenuous and innovative tests, so much so that the site is sometimes called “Mythbusters for gadgets”. Affiliate Window (AWIN) CJ Affiliate (previously Commission Junction) Linkshare; ShareASale; I hope you found this review to be insightful in deciding whether or not to join the Market Health affiliate network. Let me know your thoughts or questions below if you have any. Health Affiliate Programs Help Target a Niche. A suggestion that SellHealth’s affiliate managers give to new affiliates is to pick a niche. Don’t start with a broad category of health. Instead choose a subsection like sexual health, and then narrow it down even further to an area like men’s sexual health. One of the most popular, long lasting affiliate networks in the health and beauty industry is without a doubt; SellHealth.com. It's a well-known network which I also featured in a roundup post I did listing down the best health-related affiliate programs/networks available. Today I want to dig a little deeper in SellHealth and see if <a title="SellHealth Affiliate Network Review (All You

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