March 29, 2023

Apple Executive Defends Pricing and Contracts in Antitrust Case

“Wow, we have really lit the fuse on a powder keg,” Mr. Jobs wrote in the e-mail dated Jan. 30, 2010, to Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet software and services.

The e-mail was brought up as evidence during the second half of Mr. Cue’s testimony in a Manhattan courtroom on Monday, where much of the discussion focused on whether Apple intended to help the publishers raise Amazon’s prices.

Mr. Cue testified Monday that Mr. Jobs’s e-mail was not a memo congratulating him about how Apple’s entry into the e-book market affected Amazon, causing it to switch to a business model called agency pricing, where the publishers, not the retailer, set the price of the books. (In the case of many new releases and best-sellers, the publishers chose to raise prices.) Instead, Mr. Cue said, Mr. Jobs was remarking on the company’s ability to “cause ripples” in the e-book industry, which was then largely dominated by Amazon.

While Mr. Cue conceded that some e-book prices went up as a result of agency pricing, he noted that many titles might not have become available in any digital store at all if Apple had not introduced agency pricing to the market. He said he learned from his meetings with publishers that they were unhappy with Amazon’s uniform $9.99 pricing for e-books and that they were planning to use on new releases a tactic known as windowing — delaying the release of a title’s e-book until after the more expensive hardcover had been in stores for a while.

Mr. Cue testified that both he and Mr. Jobs believed that “withholding books is a disaster for any bookstore.”

The Justice Department was not persuaded by this argument. Lawrence Buterman, a Justice Department lawyer, asked Mr. Cue whether he was aware that only 37 e-books had ever been windowed. Mr. Cue said he had no data on the number of e-books that were windowed, but he argued that it was an irrelevant point because the issue was that the publishers could delay sales of e-books.

“The number doesn’t matter,” Mr. Cue said. “What matters is which books. Thirty-seven could be a huge number if it’s the right books.”

Throughout the testimony, Apple’s presentation of e-mails and evidence was notably smooth compared with the government’s. Both parties showed their evidence on a projector screen. A member of Apple’s legal team was using a MacBook to artfully shuffle between evidence documents, stacking them side by side in split screens and zooming in on specific paragraphs when needed.

In contrast, the Justice Department’s lawyers could show only one piece of evidence at a time on the screen. One video that Mr. Buterman played as evidence failed to produce the audio commentary needed to make his point. Judge Denise L. Cote of the Federal District Court for the Southern District of New York provided some comic relief when she asked whether the government lawyers were using a Mac. The Justice Department said it was a Hewlett-Packard computer.

In its antitrust case brought a year ago, the federal government is trying to cast Apple as the ringmaster that conspired with five big book publishers to raise e-book prices. The publishers have all settled their cases.

On Monday, the Justice Department’s lawyers homed in on a condition in Apple’s contracts with the publishers: the “most favored nation” clause, which required publishers to allow Apple to sell e-books at the same price as the books would be sold in any other store. Apple has said this clause existed to guarantee that Apple customers got the lowest e-book prices. But Mr. Buterman argued that it defeated Amazon’s ability to compete on price, and that it left Amazon with no choice but to switch to the agency model while allowing the publishers to raise prices.

Mr. Cue said he disagreed. He noted that Amazon had 90 percent of the e-book market before Apple entered the game, so it should have had other options.

“Amazon could have negotiated a better deal,” he said. “They had a lot more power.”

Lawyers for Apple and the government spent much of the hearing debating whether the e-mails exchanged between Apple executives and publishers illustrated Apple’s intent to help the publishers force Amazon’s hand. In one e-mail sent to Mr. Jobs, Mr. Cue was reviewing his meeting with the publishers, saying they were interested in solving the “Amazon issue.”

Mr. Cue said he was referring to the publishers’ ability to price books above Amazon’s uniform price of $9.99 in Apple’s iBookstore. Apple had proposed price caps of $12.99 to $14.99 for new releases. But he said this did not refer to enabling the publishers to force Amazon to raise prices, too.

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Media Decoder Blog: Doctors Say Barbara Walters Has Chicken Pox

Barbara Walters, who has remained hospitalized since a recent fall for treatment of a persistent fever, is suffering from chicken pox, her doctors told her this weekend.

The news was revealed on the ABC network show that Ms. Walters owns, “The View,” by the program’s host, Whoopi Goldberg, on Monday morning.

The diagnosis explains the fainting spell that Ms. Walters, who is 83, suffered in Washington last week, which led to her fall, and the lingering fever that has kept her hospitalized, first in Washington and now in Manhattan.

Ms. Goldberg said on the show that Ms. Walters had never previously contracted the condition, which is usually associated with children.

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DealBook: JPMorgan Cuts Dimon’s Pay, Even as Profit Surges

JPMorgan Chase's headquarters in Manhattan.Mark Lennihan/Associated PressJPMorgan Chase’s headquarters in Manhattan.

Even as profit surged, the board of JPMorgan Chase cut the pay package of its chief executive, Jamie Dimon, by 50 percent, in light of a multibillion-dollar trading loss last year.

By the overall numbers, it was a good year for JPMorgan. The bank reported a record profit of $5.7 billion for the fourth quarter, up 53 percent from the period a year earlier. Revenue was also strong, rising 10 percent, to $23.7 billion for the period.

“The firm’s results reflected strong underlying performance across virtually all our businesses for the fourth quarter and the full year, with strong lending and deposit growth,” Mr. Dimon said in statement.

But the year was clouded by a multibillion-dollar trading loss stemming from a bad bet on derivatives. JPMorgan continues to unwind the bungled trade, which had racked up $6.2 billion in losses through the third quarter of 2012. The bank said it “experienced a modest loss” in the last three months of the year.

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In light of the trading losses, the bank’s board voted to reduce Mr. Dimon’s total compensation. That decision was driven by a desire to hold him accountable for some of the oversight failings that led to the troubled bet, according to several people close to the board.

The board cut Mr. Dimon’s total compensation for 2012 to $11.5 million from $23 million a year earlier. While his salary remained the same at $1.5 million, his bonus was reduced to $10 million, paid out in restricted stock.

On an earnings call on Wednesday, Mr. Dimon emphasized that this latest quarter largely signaled the end of the trading debacle. “We are getting near the end of it,” he said. Mr. Dimon acknowledged that the board “had a tough job” in assessing how to reduce his total compensation for the year. While “this was one huge mistake,” Mr. Dimon said, the board had to look at “the positives and the negatives.” He added that he “respects their decision.”

Although Mr. Dimon’s compensation fell sharply, he dodged much of the criticism for the trading losses in two reports released on Wednesday. One report details the result of a sweeping investigation into the trades led by Michael J. Cavanagh, formerly the bank’s chief financial officer, and the other outlines the board’s findings.

In the case of Mr. Dimon, the reports mainly took aim at his over-reliance on senior managers. “He could have better tested his reliance on what he was told,” the investigation found.

Instead, much of the blame centered on Ina R. Drew, who oversaw the chief investment unit where the trading took place. Ms. Drew resigned in May shortly after the losses were disclosed.

Under Ms. Drew’s leadership, there were failures “in three critical areas,” including the execution of a complex trading strategy and gaps in oversight of the large portfolio, according to the investigation. The report indicated that Ms. Drew failed “to appreciate the magnitude and significance of the changes” as the riskiness of the trades escalated.

Barry Zubrow, the bank’s former chief risk officer, was also singled out. Douglas Braunstein, who left his position as chief financial officer in November, was cited “for weaknesses in financial controls.” The investigation found that the organization should “have asked more questions or to have sought additional information about the evolution of the portfolio.”

Despite the overhang of the bad bet, JPMorgan produced record profit for the quarter, as economic and credit conditions improved. The bank reduced the money it set aside for potential losses, adding to overall profit. And the bank recorded gains in all its major divisions, showing strength in both consumer and corporate banking operations.

For the full year, JPMorgan reported earnings of $21.3 billion, compared with $19 billion in 2011. Revenue in 2012, at $97 billion, was essentially flat.

Despite the rocky market conditions and uncertainty related to the budget impasse, the corporate-focused businesses reported nice gains. Investment banking fees jumped 54 percent, to $1.7 billion, with improvements in debt and equity underwriting. Revenue in the commercial banking group hit $1.75 billion, after the 10th consecutive quarter of loan growth.

Income in JPMorgan’s asset management group rose 60 percent, to $483 million. JPMorgan has been ramping up the business, as riskier ventures get crimped by new regulation.

Like other big banks, JPMorgan’s earnings have been bolstered by a surge in mortgage lending, driven in part by a series of federal programs that have helped drive down interest rates. As homeowners seize on the low rates, JPMorgan is experiencing a flurry of refinancing applications. The bank is also making bigger gains when those loans are packaged and eventually sold to big investors.

Over all, the mortgage banking group posted profit of $418 million for the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $269 million in the period a year earlier.

But those low interest rates also present a challenge for JPMorgan, which is dealing with glut of deposits. The bank reported average total deposits of $404 billion, up 10 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011.

As deposits pile up, the situation is weighing on profitability. The margin on deposits continued to shrink, dropping to 2.44 percent from 2.76 percent the period a year earlier.

The bank also continues to face a slew of legal problems.

In the last year, JPMorgan has worked to move beyond some of the issues stemming from the mortgage crisis. Along with competitors, JPMorgan reached deals with federal regulators over claims that its foreclosures practices might have led to wrongful eviction of homeowners. JPMorgan and other banks agreed this month to a $8.5 billion settlement with the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve, which ends a costly and flawed review of loans in foreclosure ordered up by the regulators in 2011. The bank spent roughly $700 million this quarter on costs associated with the review.

Still, the bank is dealing with other cases that could prove costly. New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, filed a lawsuit against the bank related to Bear Stearns, the troubled unit that JPMorgan bought in the depths of the financial crisis. In the suit, filed in October, the attorney general claimed JPMorgan had defrauded investors who bought securities created from shoddy mortgages.

JPMorgan was also hit with two enforcement actions this week, the first formal sanctions from federal banking regulators over the bank’s multibillion-dollar trading loss. Regulators from the Federal Reserve and the Comptroller of the Currency identified flaws throughout the bank, citing failures in its ability to assess how big losses might swell as a result of the complex trades. In addition, regulators found that bank executives did not adequately inform board members about the potential losses.

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DealBook: JPMorgan Fears Traders Hid Loss, Now at $5.8 Billion

Jamie Dimon, chief of JPMorgan Chase, entered his bank's Manhattan headquarters on Friday.Jin Lee/Associated PressJamie Dimon, chief of JPMorgan Chase, entered his bank’s Manhattan headquarters on Friday.

12:36 p.m. | Updated

JPMorgan Chase, which reported its second-quarter results on Friday, disclosed that the losses on a soured credit bet could mount to more than $7 billion, as the nation’s largest bank indicated that traders may have intentionally tried to conceal the extent of the red ink on the disastrous position.

Amid a swirl of questions about how the traders marked their bets, JPMorgan also said Friday that it would be forced to restate its first-quarter results.

If the trades, made out of the powerful chief investment office unit in London, had been properly valued, the bank said it would have lost $1.4 billion on the position in the first quarter.

Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief executive who has consistently reassured investors that the losses would be contained, announced that the bank lost $4.4 billion on the botched trade in the second quarter. So far this year, the bank says it has lost $5.8 billion on the trades in credit derivatives.

In a statement, JPMorgan said that “the firm has recently discovered information that raises questions about the integrity of the trader marks and suggests that certain individuals may have been seeking to avoid showing the full amount of the losses in the portfolio during the first quarter.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission, which is already investigating the trading loss is “interested” in the valuation of the trades, according to a person briefed on the investigation who insisted on anonymity because of the investigation was continuing.

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On a conference call with analysts on Friday, Mr. Dimon said that the trade could result in another $1.7 billion in losses in the future, but added that the estimate was considering a worst-case situation.

Doug Braunstein, the bank’s chief financial officer, told analysts that the decision to re-file its earnings was made on Thursday, just one day before the bank reported its second-quarter results.

As a result of the restatement, revenue for the first quarter fell by $660 million, and net income dropped by $459 million, the bank told analysts.

In its earnings report, JPMorgan Chase said it had a profit of $1.21 a share in the second quarter of 2012, down from $1.27 a share a year earlier but beating estimates. In a Thomson Reuters poll, analysts expected JPMorgan to show a per-share profit of 70 cents.

Revenue fell to $22.9 billion, down 16 percent from $27.4 billion in the same quarter a year ago. Net income also fell, to $4.96 billion, from $5.4 billion a year ago. The trading loss reduced the company’s second-quarter profit by 69 cents on an after-tax basis.

The problems surrounding the value of the trades is another black eye for the bank, which has suffered a bruising public fallout after first announcing a $2 billion loss in May. Since announcing the multibillion-dollar mistake, JPMorgan has lost $25 billion in market value.

On the much-anticipated earnings call, Michael Cavanagh who has been leading an internal investigation of the losses, tried to assure investors that any issues with valuation or risk controls were contained within the chief investment office, not endemic to the larger bank. As part of its broad investigation, JPMorgan said it would claw back two years of compensation from three executives at the unit.

Throughout the call, Mr. Dimon told analysts that the company had strengthened its risks controls to stave off further losses.

He added that the unit will refocus on its “core mandate of conservatively investing excess deposits to earn a fair return.”

JPMorgan still has provided no clarity about how much of the bungled trade remains. Mr. Dimon said in the statement that the chief investment office “will no longer trade a synthetic credit portfolio.”

In midday trading, shares of JPMorgan rose 6 percent to about $36.10 a share, but the company has seen its market value plummet since it first announced trading losses on May 10.

Mr. Dimon has repeatedly told investors and Congress that the bank would remain solidly profitable despite the trading blunder.

“Importantly, all of our client-driven businesses had solid performance,” Mr. Dimon said in a statement.

In its earnings release, the company said that revenue for the investment bank was $6.8 billion in the second quarter, down from $7.3 billion a year earlier. JPMorgan was buoyed by its retail financial services. The unit reported net income of $2.3 billion, compared with $383 million last year.

JPMorgan also slashed compensation within its investment bank by 22 percent, to $2.01 billion. In the same period last year, the investment bank had set aside $2.6 billion to reward its traders and other personnel.

Mike Cavanagh, who led the investigation into the trading losses, outlined a series of flaws that contributed to the debacle.

He reiterated much of what Mr. Dimon has said in the past about the trade being “poorly implemented.” But Mr. Cavanagh noted that the chief investment office’s trades grew in complexity and outpaced the skills and ability of the managers within the unit.

As widely anticipated, JPMorgan announced it would immediately take back compensation from three executives in London.

Mr. Dimon said that Ina Drew, who oversaw the chief investment office and resigned in the wake of the trading losses, has agreed to give up “a significant portion of her compensation.” Mr. Dimon did not reveal just how much compensation would be turned over.

After the call, Jason Goldberg, a banking analyst with Barclays, circulated a research note, emphasizing the company was still attractive.

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Letters: Letters: Paying With Pennies

Re “Dear Starbucks: A Penny for Your Thoughts” (Strategies, Jan. 15), which described how Starbucks had raised the cost of a tall cup of coffee in Manhattan to $2.01, after tax:

I have a totally different reaction to that not-so-round price.

Every day I leave my apartment with a scooped-up handful of change, hoping to use it when paying for odd-priced items. How satisfying to buy a bag of clementines for $6.99 and plunk down 99 cents on the counter: it lightens my pocket and I get four almost weightless singles back from a $10 bill. Starbucks should be congratulated for helping us recycle our coins and reduce our mounds of change. Allan Ripp

Manhattan, Jan. 16

To the Editor:

If you’re thinking of buying a cup of coffee at a Manhattan Starbucks, here’s a whimsical idea: Go to the bank and exchange $2 for four rolls of pennies. Pour them into a clear plastic bag. Then go to Starbucks and order your tall cup of coffee. When the barista tells you the price, hand her the bag — with an added penny and a smile. Samm Carlton

Waquoit, Mass., Jan. 15

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Court Grants Delay in S.E.C.’s Case Against Citigroup

The United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, based in New York, ruled that further action in the case would be delayed until at least Jan. 17, giving it time to rule on whether it would grant an expedited hearing of the appeal and whether the two sides should have to simultaneously prepare for a trial.

Judge Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan threw out the settlement in November and ordered the agency and Citigroup to prepare for a trial in July. Although Citigroup and the S.E.C. have jointly appealed Judge Rakoff’s decision, he said the underlying case should proceed, with the two sides continuing to prepare for court hearings in the case.

Citigroup had faced a Jan. 3 deadline to submit an answer to the S.E.C.’s fraud charges, initially filed in October. That requirement, the S.E.C. said, “threatens a central provision of the proposed consent judgment, namely that Citigroup would not deny the commission’s allegation.”

The S.E.C. and Citigroup entered the agreement to settle accusations that Citigroup had defrauded investors in a $1 billion fund invested in mortgage-related securities. The fund was sold by Citigroup in early 2007 as the housing market and mortgage securities were already showing signs of distress.

According to the S.E.C., Citigroup sold the securities without telling customers that it was stuffing the fund’s portfolio with mortgage investments that it thought would fail and that it was betting against the portfolio.

Citigroup agreed to pay $285 million in penalties and forfeited profits under the condition that it neither admit nor deny the S.E.C.’s accusations, a common settlement method used by the S.E.C. and other government enforcement agencies.

That provision, however, led Judge Rakoff to say that he had no agreed-upon facts by which to judge if the punishment was fair and adequate. Therefore, he rejected the settlement.

After it said it would appeal, the S.E.C. first asked Judge Rakoff himself to halt the proceedings temporarily. But on Tuesday he denied that request.

“In short, it seems patently clear that the parties have no basis for an appeal,” Judge Rakoff wrote.

The S.E.C. and Citigroup told the appeals court that they would suffer irreparable harm if they were forced to prepare for trial while the appeal was pending. A motions panel of the appeals court will consider whether to further stay the proceedings beginning Jan. 17.

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You’re the Boss Blog: How a Doctor’s Web Site Can Generate More Business

Site Analysis

What’s wrong with this Web site?

Last week, my post asked whether visiting a service provider’s Web site made you want to use the service.

As you may recall, the Web site belonged to Dr. Debra Jaliman, a Manhattan-based dermatologist, and it provided much of the information you would expect: Dr. Jaliman’s education and credentials, an explanation of her services and a page showing the extensive media coverage that has come her way. In addition, Dr. Jaliman has developed a line of skin care products that she sells on the site.

We asked readers of this column to check out the site out and to offer their feedback. And what was the verdict? Well, the most succinct answer to the question posed in the headline — “Does this service provider’s Web site make you want the service?” — came from Technic Ally of Toronto, who responded, simply, “No.” The opinion seemed to be shared by most of the readers who chose to comment.

So What’s Wrong With the Site?

A service provider’s Web site needs to do more than just establish expertise; it must also establish a level of trust. Dr. Jaliman offers plenty of information on her site about her training, experience and expertise, but readers found it hard to get to the heart of that information. They felt overwhelmed by a huge amount of content that is not well organized.

“There is way too much information on your site,” wrote Bond. “Remove 80% of it. Rewrite copy to get to the point.”

Or as Karen in Brooklyn put it: “She needs to hire a professional copy writer; she can say the same things more effectively, with fewer words!”

For example, showing how the media treat you can be a great way to demonstrate expertise and credibility, but Dr. Jaliman’s press page is crammed with television, magazine and newspaper links. As Heather in New York pointed out, “All the media exposure is good, but that page is a mess. Split out the print from the television clips, consider a carousel where you’ve got just one video portal image, and then users can choose which clip to watch in that space. All those embedded clips down the page are not working for you.”

The Pink Sweater Lady“The pink sweater lady”

Other readers took issue with the way Dr. Jaliman has presented herself on the site, issues that may be making it harder for her to establish trust. In particular, multiple commenters objected to the photograph of her on the home page.

Marsha from San Francisco wrote: “I’m sure that Dr. J is extremely professional and competent, but the photo of her undercuts her power and credibility. She needs a sharp, smart outfit and/or lab coat, not a cardigan (particularly not one posed as it is here).”

Amy in Nevada wrote, “The pink sweater lady is the doctor? I thought that was the ‘after’ photo for a Las Vegas plastic surgeon. I would not trust this woman for any cosmetic procedure given the design sensibility revealed on her site.”

In the days after these comments were posted, Dr. Jaliman removed the photo from the site. Below is the updated top navigation without the pink-sweater photo.

Without the pink sweater lady.Without “the pink sweater lady.”

Another common critique focused on Dr. Jaliman’s double duty as both a doctor and as a purveyor of a personal line of skin-care products. There seemed to be a strong sense that by dabbling in sales she was undercutting any trust she might be trying to create.

Jen in New York wrote: “The products make me doubt the service. I’m sorry, but I definitely have a bias, which is that if someone is really great at providing a service, that’s what they should feature. I feel that if they sell stuff, maybe they’re not so good at the service part. The converse also true: I wouldn’t go to CVS for a dermatology treatment.”

Another reader, also a service provider with products to sell — albeit products that are very different from those sold by Dr Jaliman — explained how he approaches the issue. “Why would you try and promote a service and a product line in the same site?” asked Zack from Philadelphia, who sells cleaning supplies. “They are two completely different markets you are going after, they require separate strategies. We have two independent sites, an e-commerce site for commercial cleaning products and a site for our professional cleaning service, respectively. This allows for better analytics, better usability and better conversion rates. We are eliminating needless spending on marketing because we have a deep understanding of our successes and failures for each market and channel.”

My Take

When it comes to Web sites for services providers, there is a simple formula for success: Establish your expertise. Gain the trust of your visitors. And give them an easy way to get in touch with you.

Visitors come to you with one basic question: “Do you answer my need?” They are looking for something. They want you to tell them simply how you can serve their needs and they want you to make it easy for them to take the next step. Above all, they want to  know whether you answer that need better than your competitors do.

It doesn’t matter if you are a lawyer, a doctor, a plumber or a financial adviser. The rules are the same. There is a lot of competition out there; use your Web site to convince people to choose you. In Dr. Jaliman’s case, she has all the tools to do so. She has great credentials and a thriving practice, and she is recognized as an expert in her field.

The problem is that her Web site is not getting the message across. It needs to emphasize a simple, clear message. When I work with service providers, one of the first things I suggest is that they make a video. It doesn’t have to be a Hollywood production. Just tell the camera what you would tell prospective clients. Recreate the experience of having them talk to you in your office.

As for the products she’s trying to sell, I’m not as convinced as some that they don’t belong on the site. But until she does a better job of selling herself as a trustworthy dermatologist, the products will dilute her message. The good news for Dr. Jaliman is that it isn’t going to take a huge overhaul to fix what’s wrong. Get rid of the clutter. “Sell” your expertise with a video. Establish your points of differentiation quickly and clearly. Present your services clearly. Provide large “calls to action” to get visitors to request more information or make an appointment.

Dr. Jaliman Responds

While Dr. Jaliman didn’t agree with all of the points made by the commenters, she found their critiques useful and on point. “Most of the comments were spot on and reinforced the suspicions I already had,” she said. “Your readers were certainly astute. It’s hard to get an honest appraisal; most of the time, people are reluctant to speak frankly, because they don’t want to hurt my feelings.”

She has taken the comments to heart, and she said she intends to make more changes as soon as she can: “I plan to de-clutter, get rid of the stock photos, get a group photo of the staff, get a photo of me in a white coat, revamp and shorten the text, change the link to my upcoming book so it mentions St. Martin’s Press and has links to Amazon and Barnes Noble, change the font to make it easier to read, remove the ‘Promotions’ tab, and remove the section on the home page that allows people to ask for appointments (should be in “Contact us”). Your readers gave me plenty of ideas.”

Would you like to have your business’s Web site or mobile app critiqued? This is an opportunity for companies looking for an honest (and free) appraisal of their online presence and marketing efforts.

To be considered, please tell me about your experiences — why you started your site, what works, what doesn’t, why you would like to have the site reviewed — in an e-mail to

Gabriel Shaoolian is the founder and chief executive of
Blue Fountain Media, a Web design, development and marketing company based in New York.

Article source:

You’re the Boss: Does This Service Provider’s Web Site Make You Want the Service?

Site Analysis

What’s wrong with this Web site?

Dr. Debra Jaliman has run a dermatology practice in Manhattan for the past 25 years. Ten years ago, she created a Web site to promote both her practice and her line of skin-care products.

The site has generated some business, but not as much as Dr. Jaliman would like. “Most of the business that has come through from our site has been laser consultations, which are complimentary to any patients interested,” Dr. Jaliman said. “Consultations tend to be fruitful as many patients book treatments after receiving them.”

For sites that promote services, it is especially important to establish the expertise of the service provider and a sense of trust. In addition, the practice of dermatology is extremely competitive in New York City, and it is crucial for practices to try to differentiate themselves.

To gain the trust of site visitors, Dr. Jaliman offers several areas on the Web site where she presents her background and credentials. There is a partial bio on the home page and a more detailed bio in the “About” section that gives her credentials and highlights the procedures she performs. She also has a section devoted to media coverage she has received and another page — actually on a related site — that provides testimonials for her services and products.

Dr. Jaliman is a frequent guest on television and has been quoted in a number of print outlets, including The New York Times, InStyle, Glamour and Town Country. Making media appearances, Dr. Jaliman said, is the most successful way she’s found to promote her business. And yet, because she has so much competition, she has found it difficult to compete on Google and other search engines. Her site can be found near the bottom of Page 1 search results for “New York City dermatologist” and on Page 2 for “New York dermatologist.”

In the past year, she has invested $20,000 on search engine optimization, attempting to optimize the site for a number of keywords, including “dermatologist nyc,” “coolsculpting,” “thermage,” and “botox.”

“We were not pleased with the results,” she said. “It was not worth the cost.”

Unlike many sites for service providers, this one promotes both service and products. Along with her medical practice, she has created a line of skin-care products that she sells through a related site that she links to from the top navigation (under “Products”).

Dr. Jaliman has also invested time and effort in social media campaigns. She writes a blog on WebMD and has a presence on Twitter and Facebook. “I have a personal Facebook page as well as the practice and the upcoming book, ‘Skin Rules,’” she said. “We also utilize Twitter and continue to network with social media outlets. We have all our sites and pages linked to each other, which increases traffic and helps promote the practice. We have surely seen an increase since our investment in social networking.”

If you have read this column before, you know how important it is to pay attention to your site analytics. Dr. Jaliman has Google Analytics installed on her site, and she has learned a great deal from the numbers. “We have learned which procedures draw the most traffic to our site,” she said. “It has been surprising to see which ones actually attract the most people; it’s not always what you expect.”

Over the years, Dr. Jaliman has used analytics to help her make numerous adjustments and improvements. “We have worked very hard to build up our entrance page to appeal to the masses,” she said. “Consulting with experts who advised changes on everything from my profile picture to our contact form has lowered our bounce rates significantly. We’ve also changed the colors of the site to make them more aesthetically pleasing and attract more patients.”

Dr. Jaliman said she volunteered to have her site reviewed because she hoped to get some useful feedback from the readers of this column. “We are hoping to receive honest appraisals from real people,” she said. “In many cases, companies don’t have a real feel for what drives consumers.”

Please take a look at the site and consider a few questions:

•  Does this site make you want to come in for a consultation?
•  Does it give you sufficient trust in Dr. Jaliman to put your skin in her hands?
•  Are the products presented in a way that makes you want to buy them?
•  Do you have specific suggestions about the design, navigation or marketing?

Next week, we’ll collect highlights from your comments, I’ll offer some of my own impressions, and we’ll get Dr. Jaliman’s response as well.

Would you like to have your business’s Web site or mobile app critiqued? This is an opportunity for companies looking for an honest (and free) appraisal of their online presence and marketing efforts.

To be considered, please tell me about your experiences — why you started your site, what works, what doesn’t, why you would like to have the site reviewed — in an e-mail to

Gabriel Shaoolian is the founder and chief executive of Blue Fountain Media, a Web design, development and marketing company based in New York.

Article source:

Square Feet | The 30-Minute Interview: Ryan Freedman

Corigin is a spinoff of Coalco New York, the American operation of the international real estate company Coalco Development of Moscow.

Interview conducted and condensed by Vivian Marino

Q You’re a lot younger than the average C.E.O. How do people you do business with react initially?

A It’s surprised them often, but so far no problems.

Q What does your job entail?

A A lot of it has to do with the strategic direction, which these days, in such a volatile global environment, becomes a larger role than it typically is. So I spend a lot of time allocating capital and resources toward what we think is going to be the best use of those and the highest return on dollars that we could put out over the next decade or so.

Q Your firm, under a different name, was once affiliated with the Russian company Coalco. Why the split?

A We were a subsidiary of Coalco — we ran all their real estate holdings in the U.S., and operated as Coalco New York.

Last year at this time we decided to spin off from Coalco, and took some other domestic holdings here and aggregated everything and restructured under Corigin Holdings. We just wanted to be a little more efficient in the size of our operation. They’re still invested in some of our legacy projects, but we’re now separate companies.

Q What projects are you working on?

A Our development group has two active projects: Brynwood Golf and Country Club in Westchester and Canco Lofts in Jersey City.

Our multifamily group has been very busy. It made a few acquisitions this year on the smaller side, and there’s a large transaction in the works right now. That group has been focusing on sub-$20 million multifamily assets in Manhattan. And there’s a few debt transactions that we’ve taken down — one of them is 71 Clinton Street.

Q Let’s follow up first with the Canco Lofts.

A We’ve completed the first phase, which is 200 residential unit lofts. We are about 70 percent sold. The price is just north of $400 a foot on a typical deal there. We’re planning the next phase there right now — another 100 condo units. We’ll probably complete that process early to mid- next year.

Q Will you be doing anything differently in the second phase?

A We’re changing the unit layouts a little, but we haven’t set pricing. Some of the small one-bedrooms in the first phase absorbed a lot faster, and so we may put out more smaller units than we had planned. That’s the beauty of a phased project: you get to take advantage of what worked best in the first phases and continue to do that throughout.

Q Tell me about 71 Clinton.

A It’s a new acquisition. We own the debt. That debt is in a foreclosure proceeding, and we’re taking over that position from the bank.

Q So if the property is foreclosed on, you get the building.

A Exactly. It’s a very simple multifamily apartment building, so it would just be kept that way.

Q Switching gears, you decided early this year to get into the lending business.

A It’s almost a year now. We’ve had four successful transactions, of which three have paid off thus far — we loaned the capital, it met their bridge finance needs and we’ve gotten our money back. The average loan size is just under $10 million.

Q What kind of interest rates are you charging?

A It really depends on the transaction, but they’re higher than traditional banking rates. They’ll start in the double digits.

Q Where are you getting the capital to lend out?

A Thus far it’s all been our own capital. We have a good asset base here — we have a large student housing portfolio, the N.Y.U. portfolio — and that throws off a good deal of cash flow.

Q Is student housing your biggest income source?

A We call it the foundation of our operation. We have 715 units; we house 2,400 students; and we handle all the property management in-house.

Q You must have some stories to tell about these tenants.

A Oh, yeah. They require a bit more management than other tenants, and maintenance. There are plenty of things happening in the year. We have an occasional fire every few months for whatever reason, and there are a few other incidents that probably aren’t appropriate for print.

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Wealth Matters: Financial Advice Gleaned From a Day in the Hot Seat

This past Monday, I put that idea to the test, spending the afternoon in a Manhattan town house with eight wealthy men who are all members of an investment club called Tiger 21. I was there to hear an unvarnished critique of how my wife and I save, spend and think about money.

Each of the 180 members of Tiger 21 has a net worth of at least $10 million, pays $30,000 in annual membership fees and commits to spending one day a month with other members. Nearly all of them made their money — they didn’t inherit it — and most are men.

I had asked to sit in on one of the group’s signature sessions, the portfolio defense, but a few weeks ago, the members invited me to be in the hot seat. I jumped at the chance. Beyond looking at how money is invested, the portfolio defense is intended to force members to discuss their wealth in the broadest terms.

I had heard horror stories. One member was told he needed to lose a lot of weight if he was going to get people to invest in his new fund. Another was chastised for telling his children that he had lost his money in the financial crash so that he would not have to talk to them about his immense wealth.

Michael Sonnenfeldt, the founder of Tiger 21, used the term “carefrontation” to describe what happens in a portfolio defense. The assessments are meant to be direct, unsettling and possibly painful to hear, Mr. Sonnenfeldt told me. But the goal is to get members to think differently about what they are doing with their investments and about everything in their lives that is affected by their wealth, from their family to charities.

“It’s not meant for the faint-hearted,” Mr. Sonnenfeldt said. “This is a process that some people could clearly find offensive or discomforting.”

What I experienced was rough, but it was also thought-provoking. The value to me — and to anyone given a similar opportunity — was that the members challenged everything about my assumptions on saving and spending. Here’s some of what I took away.

OUR MISTAKES In the week leading up to this, I worked with Joel Treisman, an executive coach and the chairman of one of Tiger’s 17 groups, to gather up all of our financial reports.

I was confident that the group would think my wife and I were in good financial shape. We save a good percentage of our income. We don’t have any debt beyond mortgages and a car payment. We probably spend a bit too much on food and pet care, but we don’t run up credit card bills to do it.

The members were warm and welcoming as we filled our plates with poached salmon, grilled asparagus and buffalo mozzarella from the buffet. But as soon as we were seated, it was all business. And I was immediately on the defensive. There were two big surprises but also blunt advice and some thoughtful questions about our portfolio.

First, the surprises. The group agreed that we did not have enough life or disability insurance. We both have insurance that would cover about three or four years of earnings if one of us died. This seemed sufficient to get past a few years of sorting things out. The group disagreed. Going from two incomes to one would mean a radical rethinking of our life.

We needed more sizable policies to give us the freedom to sort through things. Though we both carry disability insurance, the policies are old and do not reflect our current income. They would also cover only 50 to 60 percent of our old base salaries. The members thought we should buy individual policies to add to this.

The second surprise was about our savings. We have been saving about 15 percent of our post-tax income. Alan Mantell, a lawyer who made his money in real estate, development and investment, said the issue was not how much we saved but how we thought about spending.

“You need to ask, ‘What can I afford to spend versus what do I need to spend?’ ” he said. We could be saving more money for retirement — or in case something bad happens — if we cut back on things we did not really need, he said.

All the members agreed that we should sell our vacation condominium. “You need to become more liquid,” said Thomas Gallagher, the former vice chairman of CIBC World Markets. “If something bad happens, it’s easy to get rid of a dog walker; it’s hard to get rid of a house in Naples.”

Florida real estate is in a sad state, so I asked what they would do with an offer that was less than our mortgage?

“Take it,” Mr. Gallagher said. “Write the check and be done with it.”

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