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Salon.com expose on shady SEO firm

The rise and fall of Website Results

     
10:49 am on Jul 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Today's feature story on Salon.com is about Website Results, the SEO firm that sold for $95 million back in 2000. Salon pretty much accuses them of every dirty trick in the book, from cloaking to click-spoofing to creating fake search engines, and wraps it up by explaining how the firm's founders moved into the spyware/scumware business.

[salon.com...]

All in all, not a positive portrayal of the SEO business, and bound to make our professional SEO members a little touchy. Read it quick, before Salon goes out of business.

(And I noticed something on the second page of the story that some of you will really dislike: Instead of linking to Website Results' current site, Salon links to a 2-year old version via the Wayback Machine. And you guys didn't think archive.org was useful.)

2:35 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Looks like Salon went out of business already ;) I can't get that link to come up...in fact most of the Salon site is super slow if it comes up at all. Is that article mirrored anywhere?
2:42 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Came up for me. But I live about two miles from their offices. :)
2:44 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for the link (yes it worked here). Fascinating story.
2:49 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I have been at businesses run by people like that. Very scary.
3:18 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Interesting article... it's amazing that people put up with working in an enviroment like that; even more amazing the bosses acted like that and nobody put a bullet in them ;)
4:01 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Even more interesting... Ronald Penna was appointed to the board of Accesspoint.
[biz.yahoo.com].
Accesspoint Corporation is a provider of electronic payment processing solutions. They were just sued by shareholders [biz.yahoo.com].

Either they don't know his past, or they DO know his past.

4:05 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Great article. I remember reading about that company when they were bought and wondering how anybody could think they would be worth 95 mil.
4:10 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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its another sad reminder of why the "internet boom" of the late 90s collapsed the way it did. on a lighter note, i thought it was one of the funniest stories i've ever read about a shotty business. i'm thinking of making it into a movie.
4:13 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Methods such as this are still rampant in our industry. The tactics have changed but the underlying scams are still there.

Excellent article. I wonder where the culprits are today. With 95 million, I guess it doesn't matter!

4:18 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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its another sad reminder of why the "internet boom" of the late 90s collapsed the way it did. on a lighter note, i thought it was one of the funniest stories i've ever read about a shotty business. i'm thinking of making it into a movie

You can call it 'The Punisher' ;)

Methods such as this are still rampant in our industry. The tactics have changed but the underlying scams are still there.
Excellent article. I wonder where the culprits are today. With 95 million, I guess it doesn't matter!

I believe the article said 24/7 reposessed most of the stock, so hopefully those guys aren't doing too well...

4:34 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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> I believe the article said 24/7 reposessed most of the stock, so hopefully those guys aren't doing too well...

The earnings/interest off of 95 million for a short period of time would be more than enough for all of them to retire for life. And, they can make all the movies they want!

I'll bet there are a couple of more stories like this before the year ends. ;)

5:07 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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FWIW, there is a slashdot discussion on this:

http://slashdot.org/articles/02/07/01/143241.shtml?tid=98

Take care,

Louis

5:10 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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This story ring a bell with the older members?

Much of the story - until just after it was sold to 24/7 was told here in the forums. Many of the facts laid out here, were in that Salon story. <snip> The story was also shopped to a couple other big tech outlets and they passed on it.

I'm real glad to see someone of Salons caliber pick up on it with such good indepth reporting. Hat's off to Brian McWilliams.

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 3:53 am (utc) on July 2, 2002]

5:13 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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What a story! I've worked for a couple of companies (other industries) who use intimidation on their employees just 'cause they can. It usually comes back on them, but never soon enough. ;)

>>i'm thinking of making it into a movie
>>You can call it 'The Punisher'

Hehehe. A movie made about them would just get their egos more inflated...

5:16 pm on July 1, 2002 (gmt 0)

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scraps:
[webmasterworld.com...]
4:58 am on July 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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You wouldn't believe some of the things we see, and the stories we hear about people getting taken for a ride. There's some pretty bad folks out there.
8:40 am on July 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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*rubs eyes*

Scary, very scary. $95 million - that's a lot of money for changing Meta Tags*

* Just kiddin'

Tor

9:55 am on July 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

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This story ring a bell with the older members?

I remember it as it was yesterday Brett. I really hope that there aren`t many players like this out there. They could ruin the reputation of the whole industry.

4:00 am on July 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Since it was a stock swap, there may have been some kind of lockup period before the beneficiaries could sell. TFSM [moneycentral.msn.com] is practically worthless now, and it was dropping like a rock [moneycentral.msn.com] beginning around the time of the acquisition.
4:10 am on July 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Bill saved it, so if you stil can't get in I can send a copy.
4:44 am on July 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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Kind of hard to get into search engines with this!

From homepage:

<META content=" " name=keywords>
<META http-equiv=Refresh content=1800>
<META content=TRUE name=MSSmartTagsPreventParsing>
<META http-equiv=Pragma content=no-cache>
<META http-equiv=expires content="Wed, 26 Jul 1996 08:52:00 GMT">
<META content="noindex, follow" name=robots>
<META content="MSHTML 6.00.2716.2200" name=GENERATOR></HEAD>

5:44 am on July 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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fathom thanks anyway, but a few days later the connections from Japan to Salon cleared up ;) Interesting article.
1:57 pm on July 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

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I just read yesterday's TFSM release. Here [news.moneycentral.msn.com]
Exactly WHEN did Ask Jeeves become the second most popular search engine online???