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Mark Cuban Talks About Tucows in Barron’s

Photo: Mark Cuban, from the cover of 'Barron's', May 9, 2005.Mark

Cuban is on the cover of the May 9th issue of Barron’s and is featured

in a Q & A cover story titled Wall Street Maverick [link will be valid for this week only; paid

subscription required to read the online version]. A good chunk of the

story is dedicated to the companies in which he’s investing, and one of these companies is one I work for: Tucows,

where I work in the Research and Innovation department and hold the

company’s longest title: Techincal Community Development Coordinator. Tucows is on his “longs” list.

(Don’t know what “longing” is, in terms of the stock market? Check out this entry.)

Here’s the part of the interview that pertains to Tucows:

Q: You also own shares of Tucows, a bulletin-board stock that I remember mostly as a software download website.


I met Elliot Noss, the CEO, at an industry event. We were talking about

peer-to-peer networking. I’m an investor in a company called Red

Swoosh, which is a peer-to-peer technology play. It turned out Noss is

a basketball fan, he has season tickets to the Toronto Raptors. I went

to a Raptors game with him, and we talked some more.


forgotten that these guys were a public company — and it wasn’t Elliot

who told me. It was someone else, when it came up that I’m an investor

in this other company called NetIdentity. NetIdentity lets you have

personalized email addresses, like

Q: Not my actual address, I might point out [Eric Savitz did the interview — Joey]. Is it public?

A: It’s private. Anyway, those guys had a

relationship with Tucows. And it turned out they’re profitable, making

probably 12 cents a share this year, for a $1 stock, so a P/E of less

than 10. They were generating cash. They’ve been around a long time.

They do back-office domain registration services; they do wholesale

domain services. It’s not sexy, but it’s a low-cost operation. If they

keep running the business the right way, five years from now, I’ll wake

up and it’ll be a $10 stock. I’m not in any rush.

(The company may be “not sexy”, as Cuban puts it, but

let me tell you — that accordion playing guy who does the developer

relations stuff? He’s dead sexy.)

I plan to be one of the reasons why the stock price grows tenfold.

14 replies on “Mark Cuban Talks About Tucows in Barron’s”

An anoymous reader posted a comment which I felt required editing. I’ll start with the edited comment, then explain the edit:

Accordian Guy, I am an investor in Tucows as well. I own a boat load of the stock – over 100,000 shares (a boat load for me – I am not a Cuban).

Anyway, why the heck doesn’t Tucow’s issue a press release about their new website and their clean software that does not contain adware or spyware. Tucows has both these press releases on their website but [name deleted] over there in the IR department doesn’t see it as worthwhie to make investors aware of these things.

With the recent fiascos in the investment community with spyware and adware, it only seems sensible that the IR department would issue a press release about the wonderful, clean Tucows site.

Beofre I invested in Tucows, I heard the IR team was pitiful and now I see it. They are so damn inactive.

Can you help us? Can you talk with [name deleted] for us, the investors?

I don’t think I’ve significantly altered the meaning of the comment by my slight edit. I edited out that person’s name because I believe that on my blog, the only employee who should be singled out for criticism is me. My personal policy is that our successes are a result of the a team effort, but any failures on my watch are my fault.

I’ll be happy to pass your message along, but as a holder of over 100,000 shares — that’s on the same order of magnitude as our CEO; see this page for details — there must be better and more direct avenues to voice any concerns than the comments of this blog.

I can safely say this without breaking any non-disclosure agreements: you’ll start seeing some changes in the way we communicate with everyone. You’ve noticed it in the content division, with the improvements in the Tucows Downloads site such as the new design, a cleaner user interface and a new blog. You may not be aware of the changes taking place on the developer relations front (that’s my department) with a new developer site, improved reseller/developer discussion forums, upcoming changes to our documentation and a much stronger emphasis on serving our customers. I think that these changes are just the beginning for the improvements in our communications across the board.

That’s great that changes are taking place, but please inform your investors in such a way as to attract new buyers. That we have to go looking for this information is frustrating to us and does nothing to draw outside interest, IMO. I’m long on Tucow’s, but tired of DR not capitalizing on good news. In your excitement over changes, don’t ignore appropriate PR’s. Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks.

I agree with the post above. Look how desperate we are! Investors posting on a Tucow employees blog to try to get our message across. How do I get an ID here anyway so you can see how many of us there actually are. I suppose you can track our ISP’s to see that we are different individuals. I’ve posted your link someplace else where Tucow investors gather in their dark hole where no one listens.

So lets bring it on guys! Let them hear it!

great to see that level of enthusiasm!

the truth is we simply wanted to make sure the site had/has no kinks or warts before issuing a press release. so far so good, but there are still bits to go.

if all goes well you will see a press release in the next week or two.

and remember, if you have the choice between the company sucking and ir sucking choose ir every time! 😉

Elliot Noss, you are a pure class act. One thing we never have to worry about is some type of sleazy crap happening at Tucows and for that, we owe you a lot. But I sometimes think you are too clean for Wall Street. I mean you seem more like a humanitarian than a CEO and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The whole world should be that way but it isn’t. The bottom line is we simply want to see Tucows be 10% as effective with attracting new investors as it is effective with running its other affairs (which it does an outstanding job).

I�m glad Elliot Noss took the time to post his thoughts here because it illustrates exactly what is lacking at Tucows. First, we must say it is fair that Tucows waited to test their new website before issuing a press release about it. However, Elliot Noss offered no response on the spyware/adware front and to be frank, Tucows missed the boat on this one big time.

Let me refresh your memory on what transpired just a week or so ago so I can make my point on this very clear. In the first week of May, there was a big fiasco on Wall Street over adware and spyware being secretly embedded in distributed software. Companies like Findwaht and Intermix were hit hard by the news and their stocks tumbled. Investors were frantic and nervous about tech related stocks, specifically software and web related stocks. Investors desperately looked for safe havens in tech issues over the course of 7 days or so. This was the opportune time for Tucows� IR department to issue a press release documenting the long history of safe adware/spyware practices by the company. Instead, we were greeted with silence and Tucows� IR department spent the days twiddling their thumbs in indecision. Investors did not know whether Tucows was guilty or not and the stock price fell from .90 to .83.

So what did Tucows do instead? Well, after the frenzy had passed (when a press release would have boosted Tucow�s share price), Tucows chose to put a small PR about spyware and adware on their new �untested� website. Does Tucows think Wall Street investors check the Tucow�s website daily for such news. And Tucows was not even sure about the reliability of the untested website to boot which Elliot Noss states above.

As the Buddha taught, it is the moment we force the world into some �mental formation� or concept we’ve created, we stop being open to truth. Tucows needs to top thinking that the entire Internet community, along with investors, belongs to the Tucows cult following that �checks in� daily to their homepage.

For your information, I, along with other investors, check stock quotes for news on Tucows and other companies. We don�t spend our days surfing Google to find company specific websites so we can find out who is posting information on spyware/adware policies. Get with it.

Lastly, Elliot Noss stated �if you have the choice between the company sucking and ir sucking choose ir every time.� Is this a candid confession from the CEO himself that Tucow�s IR sucks?

Sounds like we RB investors are here to amuse and/or pump egos. Once again, Elliot misses the point. If we have taken our concerns to the wrong place and created a egomanic blog monster as a result, it’s another indication of how difficult it is to communicate with this company. Elliot is right. IR sucks. And if he thinks that doesn’t muck with his company image, he is wrong. Thanks for passing this along to wherever the heck it’s supposed to go.

Look through the archives — I was an egomaniac blog monster well before I was hired by Tucows!

You must be concerned about the title of my last post, “I am Ten Scobles!” What I am implying by that statement is that I plan to work harder than him, and since we’re not Microsoft, with fewer resources.

You have to remember that this is my personal soapbox, not an official organ of Tucows, Inc. I’m just an enthusiastic employee. It’s just that this is a personal blog, and for me to announce a course of action on behalf of the company on my own initiative (I posted the articlyou refer to at midnight, which suggests I was at home) is what we call a “career-limiting move” and all-round bad idea.

As someone who sees things on the inside, it looks as though your concerns have been noted.

Could communications across the board be better? Yes.

Are we working on that problem? Most definitely.

Can I state categorically what will be done about Investor Relations? Not at the moment, because:

  • I don’t know what is being about that (developer relations is the area on which I can speak with authority), and
  • While I can make suggestions, I cannot decide the course of action.

I am going to make a suggestion to the muckity-mucks and see what they think.

As for investors using this blog as a sounding board, you’re more than welcome to do so. I do like to talk about the company because I enjoy the work, the projects and the people at Tucows. You just have to keep in mind that outside of developer relations, I don’t call the shots.

Ok Joey, we will call it quits but what exactly do you do at Tucows? What is developer relations?

Maybe we can come up with some suggesstions that will increase revenues and since Tucows is a public company, it is all about revenues, profits, etc…. We are not a humanitarian software company. We are capitalists in every sense of the word.

Well, nobody has to “call it quits” — I just can’t the final call on what happens with Investor Relations, just Developer Relations. But by all means, keep asking questions, making comments, telling me what you’d like. If our shareholders are happy, chances are I’m happy too!

What is Developer Relations? Good question, and I’ll cover Developer Relations in a later posting.

I read that Tucows recieves over 100 million hits per month. Is this true?

With that amount of traffic, it seems like the company could use this exposure to start up new ventures. The mobile phone content material was a great idea but the layout of the library smply stinks. If you compare Jampster’s site to the Tucow’s mobile phone webpage, you are left with no desire whatsoever to revisit that page of Tucows.

So what kind of influence do you have in the development of Tucows?

That is it exactly. The small steps IR takes makes all the difference. We are at .90, the Spyware fiasco hits, Tucows releases a PR on its safe practices, we get a 10% jump instead of the 10% drop, we are now at .99, the Mark Cuban article is released in Barrons, we get the 13% bounce from Cuban’s excerpt on Tucows, we are sitting on $1.11 a share, Tucows releases a PR about its new website, we jump more, nearing $1.20 then a mosquito bites my ass and I wake up……keep on dreaming. The Tucows that never was.

I ripped the Tucows IR Department on this blog and I just want to publicly share a letter of apology I sent to the IR Department this weekend. I BCC’d it to Elliot Noss as well.

Dear Hilda,

I want to compliment IR on what a great job it has done over this past year. The AMEX listing, analyst coverage, and the Wellington, Rambius, and Cuban investments in Tucows all show you guys have done more than your share of work.

I want to apologize for giving you a hard time on Joey deVilla�s blog a while back. I was just trying to give you an extra push.

I spent the weekend researching new ideas on what more you can do because of the sagging stock price. I came up with two ideas. The latter has not set a date yet for 2006.

As I promised I would pay the airfare to an investment conference a while back, I must keep to my word and if you go, my offer still stands.

Thanks again for the excellent work on the behalf of shareholders.


****** ******

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