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Subject:  Re: Thank you for ten years and counting. Date:  2/4/2002  12:17 AM
Author:  badsin Number:  24174 of 92039

Hi David - thanks very much for taking the trouble to clarify your 'strategic decision'. Again, was surprised to learn that 'ad revenue from boards has always been negligible' - so it makes sense that you would try to 'create an incentive' to reinvest resources in them.

If the boards are currently not 'paying their way' in some form or another - obviously that's not sustainable. The so-called 'loss leader' strategy suggested by fcarlson, littlechap et al is, I think, inappropriate. It's relevant when you want to gain market share at almost any cost - like what Microsoft did to Netscape with free IE. But when the Fool already is the pre-eminent online community for matters financial, it would be really foolish to continue free boards regardless of cost.

However, you also go on to say 'we have created an incentive to serve this community by making it profitable to do so'. 'Making it profitable' is a whole different ballgame from just creating an incentive. The very fact the boards will soon start generating fees is incentive enough to put resources behind them. As for 'profitability' - what is your definition of 'profitable' and for how long will the current fee sustain it ? My reason for asking is - as an intending subscriber, it would help to know what one is committing oneself to - at least medium term - say 3-5 years.

In a sense, if we Fools are stakeholders in your future, may we know what the medium term business plan looks like? Specifically, if we're only committing to $29.95 p.a. for say, 5 years, then that's one kind of value proposition, based on what we know today's Fool to be worth. And I believe that is a fair proposition.

But you say the fees aren't factored into your 2002 revenues - that doesn't sound like it's going to make the boards standalone profitable anytime soon. If so, are you planning regular increases in the fee? What kind of proposition are we looking at then?

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