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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bigfoot: The art of selling a website

What was most revealing about today's exhilarating and highly truthful Bigfoot press conference was not what was said.
It was the headgear.
Emblazoned with the a URL that sold their own Bigfoot tracking enterprise, the baseball caps worn by Matthew Whitton (aka Gary Parker) and Rick Dyer said so very much.
Their words on MSNBC's Countdown With Keith Olberman said it with a cleanliness only rivaled by Bigfoot's teeth. When asked by the lucky stand-in presenter, Rachel Maddow, whether they were out to make as much money as they could, Mr. Dyer, who had not uttered a word through the entire interview, firmly stated that this was the case. (Please take note, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg)
These are businessmen who put most Web 1.0 enterprises to shame. Most of Web 2.0 too. They have a geneticist's rigorous grasp of detail. And they have a clearly articulated business plan.
Messrs Whitton and Dyer are afraid of nothing, certainly not of the world's press. After all, they have faced and sniffed the body of Bigfoot. They have dragged his five hundred pounds back to their pickup truck. They have resisted the urge of calling the police, or Animal Rescue. These are men smart and courageous enough to have run Webvan.
In their interview with Ms. Maddow, they were amusedly unphased. They stated their case. They insisted that, despite previous reports (that might well have been true), they weren't hunters at all, merely hikers who happened to come across an incredible find and even braved the circling of other Bigfeet who were perturbed to see the body of their blood brother being dragged away, like a large, hairy Lindsay Lohan, to a career in Hollywood.
But they have learned one thing about life- and specifically about the internet business. They don't just talk monetization. They do it. On another of their sites.
If you hotfoot it to, you can pick up an authentic SearchingForBigfoot cap, in black or white, for $24.99. You can hitch up your trousers with a commemorative Bigfoot Lives pewter belt buckle, its price inexplicably reduced from $34.99 to $29.99. And for a mere $35 (reduced from $40) you can adorn your front porch with a Bigfoot Welcome Mat.
Were they hunters, which they avowedly are not, they might describe this as a great way to make a killing.
Of course, these products are merely loss leaders, because when the venerable scientists from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan or Georgiastan confirm that Matt (aka Gary) and Rick are, indeed, in possession of a Bigfoot cadaver, will rival Amazon and Fifth Avenue for traffic and profit. And it will rival Facebook on the engagement scale.
The possibilities are taller than some would accuse their story. Bigfoot perfume, Bigfoot dogfood, a Bigfoot steakhouse chain, perhaps even a Bigfoot blog from beyond the grave.
You see, it's not enough just to have a good idea, you have to have your business plan jingling with readiness.
I understand that the real reason today's press conference was held in Palo Alto is that the two intrepid businessmen had another meeting in the vicinity.
The Stanford Business School has already offered Messrs. Whitton and Dyer professorships. The two hikers from Georgia said they would think about it.
You see how clever they are?
news 2.

Georgia hunters Matt Whitton and Rick Dyer sparked an almighty Internet explosion late last week when they announced the discovery and frozen preservation of a Bigfoot corpse, claiming to have finally put credence to the mythological half-man, half-ape creature that supposedly roams the forestry of North America.
In light of such a media furore, and with sceptics reacting to the story with almost as much passion as true-believers, the hunters have duly attempted to support their claim during an official press conference, which was held yesterday in Palo Alto, California.
With several hundred expectant journalists and Bigfoot experts in attendance, Whitton (an officer of the Clayton County Police Department), and Dyer (a former corrections officer), sat alongside long-time Bigfoot hunter Tom Biscardi -- apparently the only person to have physically seen and verified the corpse -- and fielded a variety of probing questions.
While the hunters failed to produce the actual body, something Biscardi had previously intimated in a Scientific American report, their promised substantiation came in the form of a somewhat questionable e-mail communication from a scientist regarding DNA samples, and a selection of photographs showing the apparently disembowelled creature stuffed into a freezer in order to prevent decomposition.
One of the most telling, and potentially damaging, questions thrown at the insistent trio asked why anyone should accept the Bigfoot claim as truth given their continued unwillingness to reveal its actual frozen corpse or confirm exactly where it had been located?
Standing firm that their three DNA samples provided credible evidence, Whitton, Dyer and Biscardi offered up a supporting e-mail from University of Minnesota scientist Curtis Nelson. However, of the three samples tested and reported in the e-mail, the scientist returned that the first likely belonged to a human, the second to an opossum, and the third could not be tested due to technical issues.
“Extensive scientific studies will be done on the body by a team of scientists including a molecular biologist, an anthropologist, a paleontologist and other scientists over the next few months at an undisclosed location,” offered Whitton and Dyer via their official Web site. “The studies will be carefully documented and the findings will be released to the world.”
Photographs offered up by Biscardi to help support the claim included the same shot that recently swept the Internet, in which what appears to be an ape-like creature is lying in a large freezer with entrails visible across its torso.
According to press conference attendee Jeffrey Meldrum, an anthropologist at Idaho State University, the high-profile media event was “not compelling in the least.” He also commented that he thought the freezer photograph looked suspiciously “like a costume with some fake guts thrown on top for effect.”
Lending support to those calling the Bigfoot claim little more than an example of elaborate fakery, Whitton and Dyer have supplied a selection of different accounts explaining how they came across the corpse, according to an AP report.
Specifically, one outlines how it was shot by a former felon before the two men followed it into the woods, while a second version claims they found a “family of Bigfoot” in the mountains north of Georgia, and a third has them finding the creature while out hiking together.
Further compounding any clawing sense of being hoodwinked, a YouTube video posted by Whitton and Dyer introduces a scientist, Dr. Paul Van Duren, into the unfolding story. It was later revealed by the men in another YouTube clip that the alleged scientist was actually Whitton's brother.
However, despite the lack of irrefutable evidence and an exposed penchant for deception, the two hunters remain adamant that the secretly stored creature is authentic and that emerging sceptics are merely jealous of the find.
“They don’t have a choice [but] to believe us,” insisted Dyer. “We have a body.”
Outside of their day jobs, Whitton and Dyer offer short expeditions to search for Bigfoot throughout the northern forests of Georgia via their company Bigfoot Global LLC. They reportedly charge $499 USD for the weekend-long trips.
Biscardi, who claims to have been actively seeking Bigfoot for some 35 years, runs a group called “Searching for Bigfoot.” Despite his drive, Biscardi is not held in particularly high regard by other hunters, and has even been accused of committing Bigfoot hoaxes in the past.
Whitton and Dyer have announced they’re partnering with Biscardi’s Searching for Bigfoot Team in order to capture and return a live Bigfoot. The expedition is expected to start “very soon” throughout dates and locations that “are being kept confidential.”

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