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Monday, January 15, 2007 Embroiled in Legal Battle

A stones throw away from Portland, Oregon rest the corporate offices of online Astrology giant, I have been to their offices. I applied for a position there... twice. I believe that all things have reasons for not working out. Shortly after the second time I applied, when my resume sent as an Adobe Acrobat file (universal, right?) but mysteriously could not be opened until "after" the position had been filled, I spoke with a highly respected Astrologer friend of mine. Here is where the synchronicity begins.

He had just returned from a trip to do an Astrology show and while there, met with a friend of his, Kelli Fox, also a noted Astrologer. I happen to mention to him that was here in my neck of the woods, and he mentioned his visit and how he learned that she was unhappy with the direction was going and the misuse of her moniker and likeness on the site.

This got me to thinking about the ins and outs of finding a good company to work for that practices what it preaches, instead of being in it to exploit their bottom line. When I visited their offices, the employees seemed happy, as far as I could tell. That's usually a good sign, right? But what happens when a company provides content, yet has no control over how that is incorporated into a monolith such as iVillage?

Personally, I don't care for what the site has become. I don't refer to it's articles because it is generally intended only to sell Kepler Astrology Horoscopes. This is the same program I have running on my computer, so there is no new information from their readings. I commend Astrologers who can make a living from doing what they love. I think it's great and an excellent way to get information out there for everyone. However, this has become an animal of a different stripe. How many NBC Universal executives truly are passionate about Astrology and not just how much money a site can provide them?

Then on January 2nd, I received an email from AOL Horoscopes. I wondered if the email meant that I had arrived, or slipped? Apparently, other Astrology Bloggers received the same, as I noted that one reprinted the article they requested to be posted and mentioned a similar email. The email said (link removed at the bottom - they can get their own traffic):

Velvet Blade,

I just read your post on the best and worst of 2006. Very comprehensive. I'm with AOL Horoscopes and we just did a 2007 astrology forecast. This focuses on life and love prospects by sign for the new year. I thought this would be interesting to you and viewers.

I'd also like to send you other stories we do. We usually do topical stories, particularly pop-culture/celebrity/current-event type stories and connect them with the then-astrological climate.

Hope you can use the 2007 outlook.

Wow! AOL took notice of little old me? Or did they get my blog, Astrology Talk located on BlogSpot confused with a different site called Never mind, I am sure it was an honest mistake. I emailed back telling the sender to certainly send info to me, but that I would only post those items I felt would do justice to my readers. There was no, "Hey we like your blog! We'll link to you because we like your content." Which is the professional standard of etiquette in the web world. It appeared they just wanted exposure (as if AOL doesn't get enough) without any real commitment or conviction. Apparently they have had no more noteworthy articles to pimp as I have not received any more emails.

I wondered why that article was chosed. The Best and Worst of 2006 actually pointed to AstroFutureTrends for the article and did not contain much original content. If anything, AstroFutureTrends should have gotten the kudos.

I clicked the link in the AOL email, and it took me to an article written by Jeff Jawer, or StarIQ fame. I like Jeff and his writing most of the time. Underneath it stated, "Powered by". and is one and the same. That is one of my main quirks about the site itself. I am a firm believer that if you get your hands in too many "specialty" pies, you don't do justice to any one discipline.

On January 8th, CNet wrote an article, A star-crossed tale of Internet astrology. It covered the history of the Kelli Fox and saga. David and Kelli Fox started and soon had a hit on their hands. They were bought out, and then their buyers out were bought out. Yet, this $5 million revenue generator still used Kelli Fox in name and image to promote their site, despite their agreement to limit such use.

But at the heart of the issue is money. brought in $1.3 million for iVillage in the quarter that ended March 31, 2006 (before iVillage was acquired), about 6 percent of the company's overall revenue at the time, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. That revenue--which counts the sale of charts, advertising and licensing fees--grew by 17 percent over the same period a year earlier. Industry watchers say it's safe to assume that now has an annual revenue of $5 million.

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