I admit it. It’s been too quiet here of late. granted, I’ve tossed around a comment or two at the trailer park of posting forums called Topix but lately I’ve been more of a lurker when it comes to the antics of The Publisher, whom I am about to expose one more time. My apologies if “expose” brought other visions to your sick and twisted little minds than was intended.
Currently, The Publisher: Mark Halburn of Putnam(redacted).com, is facing some changes in his life. It would appear that all his ranting, raving and acting like a general fool has gotten him in a little hot water with the lady of the house. You know, the one that pays for his domain name for his “news” (Blog) site when he’s spent all his money on KFC and Taco Bell because a coupon for a freebie wasn’t enough. Knowing things are about to change for The Publisher, I decided to try and alleviate him of the burden of his web site by offering to buy it. Now, being an entrepreneur, I figured that I could buy his web site and actually turn it into a credible news site. Of course, that was just crazy talk. With all the damage he has done using that domain for his blogging and political attacks the best I could do is buy the domain and dismantle it. But, I figured I would go in with high hopes and with a professional manner.
What follows is based on actual events. No names were changed to protect the innocent. There wasn’t any.
Now, as you see I just wrote up a quick e-mail saying I was interested and I expected there would be some back and forth where we would eventually work out an idea. Would I pay for the just the domain and the name? Could I be convinced this was a successful business and I could take it over as a business? If so, would I get all the information I needed? As you can see, I only offered to buy the web site, meaning the domain, so I could perhaps continue to run the site. As you can also see, with no discussion, little fan fare and lacking in reality, The Publisher fired back with a price of $250,000.
Yeah, I know all about the fact he wants $300,000 for his little blue shack on a hill which is only worth $89,000 appraised, but good lord. I was even surprised by the price. $250,000?! Whew. Well, despite the quoted cost, I figured I would push this for all it was worth. At this point? I was done being serious about buying the site because I knew it would never happen. Not with a guy that had zero touch with reality. However, I kept up the charade to see what I could get.
At this point, I had my accountant working on more research on this site to see how much something like this would actually cost to run, what kind of billable income there actually could be and what kinds of overhead there would be. In an effort to learn more from The Publisher, I asked for the obvious, as you can see. By the way, we tabbed that this site, with it’s readership and projected readership was worth about $2500. He fires back by making this a package deal. $250,000 for the site and the “office headquarters”, which he quoted at an addition $300,000.
::laughs:: Whoa there Nelly. What the hell just happened here?
So, his “office building” is up for grabs too? Office building? You know, his soon to be second ex wife’s house, whom she shares with her mother. So now it’s gone from $250,000 to $550,000 but he did say “package deal”. I assumed the original asking price of $250,000. My question here is, does it come with a wife, kid and a mother-in-law in that asking price?
By this point he has no clue what he is doing. All I wanted was a balance sheet or an income and expense report to see what the numbers were. He tosses out the $2500 a month “billable” mail and then adds in a taunt about the “great debate” that I no showed to, like I was ever going to debate the mentally retarded. Oh, and because I am from Vermont he decides to taunt me with a maple syrup joke.
Hahahahahaha! Yeah, like I have not heard that before. Who’s the dumb one? me for living in a state that is famous for maple syrup or guys like Mark Haburn that pay $60.00 a gallon for it?
He gets a little ahead of me in the mail trade off’s, but he starts to offer some of the costs associated to this because he doesn’t want to send me anything. He doesn’t trust me. As you will see later, he even says that. He’s right though, he shouldn’t. He ends with sort of a “take it or leave it” finality.
At this point I decided to really get the facts. He’s called his web site a business for years and granted, we have seen a business licence and he has filed taxes on it, but I still say it’s not a business and I will tell you why a little later, just bear with me. I went right after him. I wanted a list of everything and if you are a business person serious about selling your business, you would offer that up. Especially if you were asking 100 times what it was actually worth.
This is where he starts to attack me, saying that his “employees, contributors, editors and webmasters” would not work for me. Of course they wouldn’t because he is all of that. He’s had one contributor (another crazy “journalist” named Lawrence Smith) do some work for him and at one point he claims it’s all volunteerism. We’ll get to that little white lie later.
As you can see, I kept at it. I want that information now and at this point, I was willing to give him like a$1000 bucks just to dismantle the damn site and let him watch all his years of “hard work” disappear. Plus, he’s been claiming for years that he has had editors, writers and photographers all working for him. He’s claimed an office just outside of city limits he was renting. If so, then I wanted the proof.
This was my last real attempt to get the information from him. It worked too. Mark said he was “traveling”. I didn’t believe him because he was at Marshall University Graduate College taking pictures and playing journalist again. That’s not traveling. he says in his next mail that he wasn’t in Putnam County. That was true. He was just across the line in Kanawha County.
Let’s wrap up the capture’s here, shall we?
There you have it. $1000 was my final offer. Of course he turned it down. My research of his “clients” revealed what we already knew. He does a “barter” with them and once you enter Hotel Haburn, you will never leave. He’s got a few fish on the hook that should have wiggled before they wrote the check but even when they are done paying him, he has left many of them on, just to have some sort of “proof” he has advertisers.
So, I asked for income and expense reports. Employee lists. Since this was a web based business, I wanted verifiable traffic logs. Lists of visitor IPs, ISPs, OS and location. He also would have had to send that same inform for his .com as well as his .org because of his change over last year. So, what did I eventually get after pressing? One page of his 2010 Tax forms. One page. Just a page from an online tax form that could have just been filled out with numbers and made into a jpg. However, I believe the form page I have is real.
Now, let me say that I have never doubted that the web site is registered as a business. I have seen the proof. I still call it a non business though, at least in the way Mark claims it. He’s not a journalist, he’s a blogger. Bloggers make money by selling advertising too. The good ones at least. The ones that are read. The ones that are worth paying for. He’s not a successful businessman, much less a successful member of society and he just can’t, won’t and will never see that.
Remember when I said I don’t believe this is a viable business? Here is why. It’s not for the fact that his profit (which is what you pay taxes on when you run your own business) was only $2448. At least it made some money, on paper. But don’t believe what you see. This “business”? Is really a tax shelter. I can also wrap up my explain of the little white lie I mentioned. He says that his contributors and “photographers” (interesting note here from Mike Balburn; the exif information that is embedded in photographs reveals that Mark takes all his pictures) are volunteer yet on his little tax form he supplied me, he writes off $1150 in contract labor. There is nearly 9 grand in car expenses, nearly $12oo in utilities. It goes on and on. Basically, he’s paying 100% of his household bills with income from his various jobs he’s held over the course of the year plus about a closer number of $600 for “advertising” on his site. By the way, speaking of advertising, he wrote off $1500 in advertising for his own site. $1500?! On what? Plus 4400 in “other expenses”.
Business? No. Tax shelter? Yes. Yes indeed.
So this begs a question. Will Mark ever sell his web site for $250,000? No. Will he sell his house….oh wait, I’m sorry… his wife’s house for $300,000? No. His soon to be ex wife may be able to sell the house and move away but she won’t get that much for it. If she thinks she can she is either as crazy as Mark is or has been so brain washed by Mark that she is a walking zombie.
Update: Rumor mill has it that Doed’s might have pulled the divorce papers. I will now go with the latter for the reason behind her brainlessness.
So there it is, folks. The Publisher has been exposed. He’s been pants’d in the middle of I64, if you will. He want’s no less than $250,000 for a web site that is worth no more than $2500, he still has delusions of being a businessman and a journalist which we have proven time and again that he is not and he uses his business licence to set up a tax shelter for his pathetic life.
To sell or not to sell, that’s no longer a question.