Friday, May 30, 2008

GoDaddy, Cashparking, and Clickfraud...TheBgRetort

GoDaddy is the largest domain name registrar in the 'electric universe'. During the final six months of 2005 approximately one-third of all domain names (the top five) were registered via this registrar. By the end of May 2006, it managed approximately 14.2 million domain names. As a 'best-of-breed' it is also North America’s largest shared website hosting provider. But when TheBigRetort tried to put a series of questions to its founder it met with a wall of silence - unusual considering its founder's usual retort: "If is anything, it is an outspoken company and I am an outspoken CEO." So why was Daddy being so evasive? First, a bit of blurb on founder B-o-b P-a-r-s-o-n-s.

Robert Parsons is the CEO and Chairman of GoDaddy. Prior to founding the company in 1997, he also founded Parsons technology. Bob and his then wife grew the software company out a basement kitchen. A decade later the pair sold it for many millions of dollars. Retirement did not sit well... Bob soon turned his attention to domain name registration. He had noted how expensive it was... And the entrepreneur was if anything the archangel of the low priced deal. He founded GoDaddy - a name that came out of the aether - and quickly established him (through dogged determination and chutzpah it must be acknowledged) as the Wizard of cut-price domains. At the age 19 he was a rifleman in the U.S. Marine Corps (1968 - 1970) and the recipient of several medals. He is also a Certified Public Accountant. He remains the titular head of GoDaddy. He and also wears an earring. He likes bikes as much as girls. (Godaddy girls that is. And if you saw them you would understand why.) But, to the nub of our Go Daddy rub...

In 2006 it was reported that GoDaddy planned to go public. Lehman Brothers was hired to handle the IPO. Prior to that date not much was known about the company's profitability. Go Daddy was a private company and its business was its business, however the S-1 filing was the first public scrutiny of its financial health... it revealed considerable net losses. With the books out in the open it became public knowledge that this had happened every year since the year of its inception. Under "Risks related to our Business" the filing also stated, '.... and may not be able to operate profitably or sustain positive cash flow in future periods.' As investors in GoDaddy's success, it was this that concerned us most. There were others...

GoDaddy planned to use the net proceeds received from the offering to repay approximately $7.2 million indebtedness (in addition to working capital etc). However, although the company was making year on year losses, it was, its founder later emphasised, also experiencing rapid growth.

At that time many wondered if Parsons himself might 'subdue his expressions' once the company went public. "He's one of the most outspoken CEOs in the industry, whose personal and professional leanings are never in doubt. That sort of divisive, outspoken approach may not gel quite as well with Wall Street investment bankers as it does with his blog audience," one online critic remarked. The offering hoped to raise more than 100 million dollars and value Go Daddy at 250 million dollars or more. But the IPO was abruptly pulled.

Dominic Jones later reported that a scrapped IPO is rarely a good thing. "It suggests the company being shopped is a lemon. Companies that pull their IPOs traditionally go off to some dark corner with their tails between their legs ... many observers might well have interpreted the news as Wall Street kicking another dog out to the curb."

However Parsons was never one for hiding in dark corners. (Unless it was in the rice fields of Nam, where it was thought wise to adopt such a position.) He later blogged that the submission was 'approved' by the SEC itself and that this assumption was wrong. There were three main reasons that he decided to pull the plug; (i) the Middle East conflict, interest rate jitters and tech stock weakness; (ii) lack of appreciation for GoDaddy’s cash generating power and, calling the financial media stupid, because none had studied the company's cash flow statements, he claimed (iii) that Daddy was not desperate and had generated significant operating cash flow during each reporting period.

Surprisingly Parsons claims that the submission had been 'approved' by the SEC. However, the S1 actually states: 'Neither the Securities and Exchange Commission nor any state securities regulator has approved or disapproved these securities or determined if this prospectus is truthful or complete.'

Oh Daddy... Bob may not realise it but any representation that suggests otherwise is actually 'criminal' and may make any claimant subject to a long stay at Guantanamo. (Mind you, as this is place he apparently approves of it may be most welcome.)

And that brings us to Cashparking...


According to the GoDaddy blurb it's easy with CashParking. 'Whether you have one domain or a growing portfolio, CashParking can turn those domains into a cash generator!' The offer is made via a number of Cashparking plans from which anyone buying a domain can
'get ready to share in parked domain revenue'. Really?

Bob Parsons himself, blind to any faults, directly boasts, ''Go Daddy is putting its reputation in the domain name industry to work for our customers so CashParking can provide the highest revenue share payouts, making for quick and easy income potential for domain holders from their parked domain names.'' Which leads to another... really?

GoDaddy itself earned $1.6 million from its own cashparking 'scheme'. But this was prior to sharing it with the persons who owned those domains. Now things are different and B-o-b wants to share his success... So why is it that when TheBigRetort invested in a portfolio of domains 'connoting the top five' we saw the dollars flooding out - not in? (In place of the two domains, and, was a little Sherlock Holmes sign, complete with magnifying glass, saying: This site is currently NOT available. (Emphasis GoDaddy's.)

What oh what had taken place?
We wrote to find out....

Coming soon in TheBigRetort... the answer. (Visit NamePros for domain discussion and advice. for informed views on the company.)


Wednesday, May 28, 2008


TheBigRetort can reveal that a recent allergic epidemic that has been studied in Lahti, Finland, has found that being a dog - or a couch potato for that matter -may seriously damage your health. In fact, if that sofa has been made in China reclining in front of the telly may not be so 'suite'.

A Finnish study into the background to a recent epidemic that stretched the length and breadth of Britain has identified the substance that has caused agonising suffering in thousands of people. Chinese-made settees sold by Argos and Land of Leather have been named as the culprits of a violent irritant-related eczema, blisters, weeping and cracking.

After studying five patients the Finnish study concluded that the allergies related to a newly purchased chair or sofa. Furniture samples were analysed and compounds identified using a mass spectrum library and measured. The patients showed strong reactions to upholstery fabric samples and to dimethylfumarate, 'down to a level of 1 p.p.m. in the most severe case'.

Scientists concluded that the cause of the epidemic was likely to be contact allergy to the dimethylfumarate, a novel potent contact sensitiser. All sofas were traced to the same factory owned by Chinese firm 'Linkwise'. Apparently it had treated the furniture with 'a potent fungicide' to stop them going mouldy in storage. Customers have now been warned of the batch numbers affected with what is now termed "sofa dermatitis" over one year after the first outbreak.

So where was Trading Standards in all this?

A number of personal injury lawyers are currently trawling the Net in search of clients. In Wrexham a woman who purchased a brown Bari sofa from Argos was left with a severe rash to her buttocks. In another regions one victim came out with an allergic reaction; shortly after purchasing the sofa in May 2007 his symptoms included a painful rash on his back, thigh and hands. 'The distribution of his eczema coinciding with where he would sit at the end of the sofa.' A doctor later concluded that it was due to 'sofa dermatitis'.

Meanwhile 'Answers at Yahoo' suggested to a concerned pet owner that a 7-year old Yorkie was 'most likely having an allergic reaction to something she rubbed her face on outside.' But the dog (not pictured) may have identified the source of the epidemic some time back...

It developed a red rash like look around both eyes and face like a chemical burn. The dog's eyes were swollen and the skin around them bright pink. Although it was claimed by the dog's owner that the dog developed the symptoms after being out alone in the yard for just a few hours, its concerned owner informed Answers that it would later 'rub her face against the settee'. It now seems likely that the crafty canine was trying to tell its owner that the sofa was the cause of its irritation.

When informed by the TheBigRetort that the source of the epidemic had finally been identified - almost a year after it began - the dog is alleged to have barked, 'Fang heavens.'

Sunday, May 25, 2008 MP3

Have we entered an episode of Lost? Or are we simply that popular a publication that major conglomerates wish to cosy-up with we pond life? If so, perhaps it's time we started practising safer sex. Because when TheBigRetort gets rogered we prefer a condom and a smile, rather than a dot.con.

Why is it that practically every article we write appears to carry advertising for "MP3" and the ISP ""? Complaints to "fronts" like (ON WHOM MORE LATER) - appear to go ignored. (This 'organisation' itself is shrouded in mystery.) And we are simply referred back to our domain name registrar where we are offered privacy... but at a price. In other words you pay we stop. Suspicious or what?

However, phew, UK law ensures that privacy does not have a dollar sign attached to it. In other words private details should, as far as human rights go, remain just that: p-r-i-v-a-t-e. So why is it that the registrants of domain names need to pay their registrars for that privacy? (Odd that, innit?)

However, we stroll too far down the path of righteousness. Privacy is not the thrust of our concerns. In our case a number of copyright articles are repeatedly hijacked by a person or persons selling MP3 and, although the headlines and body of the front text can be read, there is no story on the landing page, no link that acknowledges the fabulous BIGRETORT, just an MP3 'endorsement' - of sorts.

We say of sorts because it's downright dodgy. Certainly TheBigRetort would never endorse a product like MP3, or such an underhanded way of marketing it.

We conclude that this is obviously a dreadful product best avoided, peddled by a company that has little regard for copyright law or fair play - and one that needs its identity shield lifted.

In the forthcoming months we will be researching these cyber bloodsuckers and identity shield fronts... and lift the veil.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Alexa ranking

Since TheBigRetort's birth we have been known under a host of names; thebigretort.blogspot, mybigretort, myretort, etc. But have so many different e-monikers led to the dilution of traffic. If Alexa is anything to go by... then the answer is Yes.

According to the Amazon subsidiary, receives no ranking whatsoever. Whilst reached the dizzy (or should that be lowly) heights of 10,707, 828.

The data also shows that 63,004 sites have linked in to us, and that we are based in India - which we are not. Hijacked, forgotten, or simply ignored?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


There is nothing worse than writing a lengthy document than that moment, that split second, when the screen on your computer suddenly goes inexorably blank. You wonder if there has been a power cut... Until you realise that the computer you are using is a Dell Inspiron 1000. [So named because that's just about the amount of words you may be able to type before the screen fades to black.] It is a 'budget notebook' after all. Be warned...

When we encountered such a problem, Dell technical support instructed... 'empty the laptop of its battery, switch off the electricity, and to press the power on button for 10 seconds'. [It also asked us to fill in an online survey. As we could not get online that would, we said, be rather difficult.]

The call centre in India and the team was not to be dissuaded by the language barrier. There was a charge for getting the dead computer to recover, a service conducted over the phone, and one that we were grateful for. [In fact we wrote an article saying so - since removed - and one that should have left our investigative antennae quivering.]

Dell claimed zero liability as the Inspiron 1000 was out of warranty. Not true we said, your senior executives are jointly and severally liable and we will press our claim vigorously. (The warranty expiring does not discharge liability in the United Kingdom. But how about Nevada?)

Dell folded. It changed the battery (which had never worked when purchased), and the apparently dodgy hard drive too, and at no extra cost. (The power via the new battery lasts under an hour.) But, and this is what our complaint hinges on (couldn't resist the pun), the Inspiron 1000 problem still persisted, with the LCD screen going black, only this time threats of legal action aside, Dell wanted paying before doing any further tech stuff. And this time it wanted big bucks.

We were caught between a laptop and a faulty hinge. Closed down for a whole week - online - at least, TheBigRetort was left twiddling its fingers.

Until something rather curious came under our forensic scrutiny ...

Dell had returned the computer with one of its bolts missing. It was just a little plastic plug that was usually inserted on the left-hand side of the computer on its left hinge.

What we discovered

Surprisingly there were a number of complaints listed on the WorldWideWeb in regards to the Dell Inspiron 1000 'blank screen' problem - which centered around the left hand hinge of the LCD screen.

Coincidence or what?

The Dell Technical Support Denial
When confronted with our findings Dell technical support claimed that there were 'no (such) known issues' with the Inspiron 1000. In fact Dell repeatedly claimed that it had never heard of such a problem before. However, the Dell tech team did not comment on why the laptop had been returned with the missing left hinge plug, which is a coincidence. Instead, it did suggest that the problem could be any one of three things - and they would need paying for one or all of them.

But could it have been possible that the company knew about the problem but was ignoring it, due not only to a 'nice little earner' on unneeded 'repairs' but the mountain of liable claims that might follow the discovery (and this article)? Dell responded:

"After fully investigating the issues you have encountered, Dell has come to the following conclusion, there is no known issue with Inspiron 1000 as you claim. Dell is a company which strives to win with integrity and we are saddened by the fact that you felt that you we not provided the proper support. Once again we want to assure you of our total commitment to your satisfaction with our services and products, and apologize for not meeting up to your expectations on this occasion."

Not to be deterred we probed further, and asked Anu Meelu (Customer Relations/Legal team - UK & IRE Dell, Inc) what "investigation" it had undertaken?

Miss Meelu responded... "Your request of knowing (sic) about the investigation which I have gone by on (sic) the matter is a (sic) internal process, hence (sic) could give the give (sic) you the inside process. Your second question on Inspiron 1000 is (sic) little strange [rather like this response] to me as you claim you did so much of (sic) research on Insp 1000, as this is a stander (sic) step which is used to release flea power for all system irrespective of brand."

Ignore what will no doubt become infamously known as Dellspeak, or DellEnglish, or Dellgate, it is after all a world-wide brand, and we shall "give the give" (as Dell says). Let's instead concentrate on that 'flea power'? Just what is it?

"No it is not a Powerful Flea off you Cat," one online independent tech quips, "It is Power that is Left Between the Power Supply and Control Panel ( Power Button )." [Apparently there is still power in the computer when the power cord is switched off. After unplugging the computer and taking the battery out hold the Power Button in for 5 seconds to dispel it, switch it back on, and... pay Dell $80. ]

But what about that "investigation" we hear you ask... Actually, TheBigRetort did not understand much of what had been written by Ms Meelu. Indeed we wondered if our emails could have been intercepted by the wrong person. Dell responded via Ms Meelu, a legal "representative".

"I apologies (sic) for the error from my end. [Note she does not say which end.] Your request of knowing (sic) about the investigation which I have gone by (sic) on the matter is a (sic) internal process, hence could not (sic) give you the details of the internal process. But just to help you more (sic) on this , it is confirmed by the technical team that there is no such know (sic) issue mentioned with insp 1000 as you claim. Please let me know If I can be of anymore help to you on this matter."

So, is that clear?

Is it possible that English may 'not be your first language' we asked. After all Ms Meelu was offering a press statement on behalf of a computer conglomerate. She clarified (kinda?) But 'no such "know" issue mentioned'? A random sample of Dell customers, easily Googled, had this to say in their online posts:

Valerie19 posted as far back as 2005. "We got a Dell Inspiron 1000 laptop for my son at Christmas. The LCD display is no longer working. Nothing appears when it boots or runs. I can connect an external monitor and that looks fine."

Sound familiar?

Then there was... a poster styled Jakedeg who purchased his Inspiron in December 2004, and immediately had problems... he would turn the computer on and get 'dark screen'. He called Dell when the computer was still under warranty. But this did not assist matters.

"The tech support person I spoke to told me to try a couple of "quick fix" solutions that he gave me, which worked. But every so often when I would turn on the computer I would get a dark screen, so I would power it down and reboot like the tech support person told me to and when the computer would turn back on I could usually see the screen again."

Unfortunately the 'problem' occurred again. He then wrote, "Now I'm being told I need a new LCD, and in addition Dell is telling me that because the 90 day warranty expired, I have to pay out-of-pocket for a new LCD. I spoke with numerous reps and supervisors and expressed my dissatisfaction because not only is this a relatively new computer, but it is a problem that I started having and for which I called to get fixed when it was still under warranty, and tech support did not give me a permanent fix or offer to replace the LCD back in January, when it was still under warranty."

A case of now Dell fixes it now Dell don't?

Dell wanted $350 to repair the, err, 'problem' of a computer which Dell later claimed to TheBigRetort there were 'no known issues'.

No known issues?

Another poster, roger398, also wrote of the problem in that same year. "We bought the 1000 for our daughter last summer as a graduation present, and the LCD failed to work after only a few months at most. We have since been using an external monitor as well, but I have gotten the LCD to work twice after fiddling with connections under the screen's bezel (I did all this after the notebook was out of warranty). The screen worked fine for several hours just the other day after I checked connections, then I turned off the machine, closed the lid, reopened the lid, booted it, and the LCD failed."

Roger homed in on the problem. One that Dell claimed it had 'no known issues' with. (Or conveniently ignored.) "It's my impression that a physical connection might be to blame for my troubles, with opening and closing the lid causing a connection to loosen, causing the blank screen."

Roger thought that this might be "coincidence". It was what he then went on to say that contradicts Dell's claim further. And condemns it.

"I contacted Dell tech support and then the out-of-warranty department to see what it would cost for a fix and decided to look for alternatives (local computer guy?) to this high cost service. The bottom line is that I, too, am very disappointed with this product--and with Dell."
And Roger's not alone.

"Dell Inspiron 1000 Screen Problems" has become the new legend. (Don't believe us, Google it.)

Ben at "I have a Dell Inspiron 1000 that would randomly shut down... I discovered that when you move the LCD screen even an inch, the laptop screen would shut down, and I would have to reboot. I turned off all of the Power Saving Features in XP, but it still does this. Bad LCD, or is there something else that is causing this?"

Indeed there is... only Dell refuses to acknowledge it.

Coolkatz321 in complained; "...I'm not sure if it needs to be replaced or if there's just a loose cable inside. Once the computer starts up, it's fine; however, if the monitor is moved, then screen goes black. It seems to be a fixable problem," Fixable if Dell gets its bucks. So is the Dell Inspiron blank screen problem solvable?

A person also posting in had found the same problem... and a solution. This is how he did it...

"Ardnek" reseated all of the video connections and then reassembled the laptop. But the LCD didn't turn on at all. However intrepid Ardnek took the laptop apart again. He reseated all of the connections. But to no avail. He decided to replace the flex video cable. Unfortunately Dell didn't (conveniently) carry the part. (Dell has the part if you want to send in your laptop - at a price of course.)

Not to be thwarted by Dell and its machinations, Ardnek, obviously a bit of a computer geek, in his words: 'reseated all of the connections, and uncrinked the flex video cable; however, this time I booted the computer back up before reassembling it and the screen came to life.'

After this he reassembled the computer forensically. 'Piece by piece' he checked at each stage whether the screen would still come on. "It worked until I reattached the metal plate that covers the motherboard, fan, etc. I noticed that this metal plate severely pinches the video flex cable as it comes up to go to the LCD and so I assumed that this poor design was responsible for the black outs when moving the screen."

Remarkably Ardnek had not only discovered where the problem lay - the one that Dell denies all knowledge of - but, more importantly, how to 'fix it'.

He took a pair of metal snips and cut out a tab for the cable to freely move through without being pinched and then covered the sharp metal edges with electrician's tape. And the laptop worked perfectly. He advised, "Fortunately for me, the short in the flex video cable was mild enough that simply straightening it out was enough to fix it. However, for others, you might have to replace this cable (if you can find one). I would recommend cutting out a tab in the metal cover even if you replace the cable so as to avoid future shorts. One final note: the plastic outer housing still requires the cable to be squished a bit as it goes to the LCD but it isn't nearly as severe and damaging as the metal plate."

When presented with these findings (a few amongst the many), Dell responded:
"You are free to take this up further (sic). I have already given you Dell (sic) final stance on the matter. Answering your question I have already mentioned in the mail before that (sic), it’s been confirmed by the technical team in Dell (sic) if we ever had such (sic) issue with the product in Question. If you want I can even send (sic) the same stance in writing to your physical address as if (sic) you want to take this up with Trading Standards they will need something in writing from Dell on this. If you wish to discuss the matter any further , please let me know the preferred time when we can talk on this matter as we don’t communicate through mails. [We wonder why?] Our stance on the issue remains (sic) same."

Dellspeak if ever.
( is for sale here.)