Please note the date of this post (and the many clues throughout) should tell you it can’t be trusted.
AFTER several weeks of intense negotiations, I’m proud to announce today that my company last night signed a binding agreement to purchase the investor relations website hosting and webcasting business of Thomson Financial.
The Thomson Financial business hosts the investor relations websites of more than 3,000 companies worldwide and provides more than 20,000 webcasts per year. The new business will be known as World’s Best IR Websites Inc. (WBIRW) and be headquartered in St. Georges, Bermuda. I will be the CEO and current Thomson Financial Corporate Communications Services senior vice president Greg Radner will be COO.
As a strategic investor in the venture, the Antarctic Progress Fund (APF) will hold 23% of the equity and appoint one director to the board of WBIRW. The APF is the sovereign wealth fund of the Republic of Antarctica. It is charged with investing proceeds from that nation’s penguin guano and fresh ice industries in new technology ventures as a hedge against global warming’s devastating effects on its traditional industries.
Exciting new services for clients
Under our ownership, we will provide companies using the current Thomson Financial platform with exciting new services that we believe will dramatically lower their costs and make their sites more engaging and useful.
Existing and future clients of the new company will receive the following value-added services:
- Free links to earnings call transcripts from SeekingAlpha.com.
- Free conversion of all PowerPoint presentations to HTML presentations using Google Presentations.
- Free conversion of Excel spreadsheets to HTML using Google Spreadsheets.
- Free RSS tools from FeedBurner.
- Free Twitter accounts for instant news alerts.
- Free mandatory WordPress blogging software.
- Free embedded YouTube videos.
- Free life-streaming kits and Ustream accounts.
- Free web analytics services from Woopra.
- A life-time free subscription to the IR Web Report blog.
Clients must meet minimum standards or face termination
We are committed to providing the world’s best IR websites and will be introducing certain minimum standards of practice that client companies will be required to meet. The new minimum standards include:
- All clients will be required to file their 10Qs simultaneously to issuing their earnings releases starting in the third quarter of 2008.
- Every IR website must provide personal contact information for IR officers, including email addresses, cellphone numbers, Skype and IM IDs.
- All disclosure documents must be provided in both HTML and PDF.
- Image-based and Flash-based text pages will be banned with immediate effect.
- Every client CEO will be required to host a live web chat with all investors at least once per year.
- Every client IR department will be required to maintain a blog and publish at least one article per week.
Companies that fail to meet these standards will have their contracts terminated. Terminated clients will have two weeks to make alternative arrangements for hosting of their sites.
A price we couldn’t refuse
I am personally looking forward to the challenge of bringing the old Thomson Financial IR website business into the social media age. There will be no staff reductions. Our intention is to grow the staff compliment to ensure that every IR website has a dedicated producer/editor to be known as online community managers.
Although the acquisition may come as a surprise to many readers, it is something we have been debating for several years but turned away from because we did not want to compromise our independence from the web building and hosting industry.
However, Thomson Financial’s poor performance over the past two years, coupled with the dramatic decline in the relevance of their product, resulted in the business being offered at a price we couldn’t refuse.
Subliminal messaging in webcasts
Of course, nothing in this business stays a secret for long. IR Magazine almost broke the story a few week’s ago when they discovered thecorporatecounsel.net editor Broc Romanek’s exclusive interview with conference call stalker Joe Herrick.
If IR Magazine had played the audio backwards, they would have heard the distinct muttering of “IR Web Report is buying Thomson Financial’s IR website business…”
Which reminds me, we will be doing some interesting things with conference call webcasts and video, such as embedding subliminal messages designed to make investors buy our clients’ stock and sell short companies that use the services of our competitors, especially clients of Shareholder.com and SNL Financial.
If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them. Use the comments form below or email them to me.