Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2021

About a year ago, Donald Trump graced Tampa Bay with his Trump Tower Tampa condo project. The coming of The Donald and his real estate machinations brought hopes of high-roller cache for the Bay, which were foretold by a touch of national exposure over the announcement.

So, where’s that vision/eyesore (depending on your perspective) on the Channelside horizon? The land’s been cleared, but Trump’s tower has yet to start ascending skyward, allegedly owing to the mogul’s too-tight scheduling. At this rate, it’s possible the building won’t be ready to open until after 2008.

That the Tampa project isn’t on a fast-track sort of underlines how much Trump’s association with this, just another luxury high-rise among many in the area, is mostly just in name only. The only thing that makes this endeavour stand out is the brand identity that Trump lends it. That’s why it sold out as quickly as it did (to mostly local buyers, it should be noted). Now that the units have been pre-sold, there’s no particular pressure to start pouring the concrete. And despite the other condos being built in the area, there’s no comparable designer-label competition for the same kind of money. So it gets built whenever.

I hope it’s worth the wait for the prospective tenants. I wonder how their attitudes might be adjusted if, for whatever reason, Trump decides to remove his name from the project?

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/01/2021 05:28:31 PM
Category: Celebrity, Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback

Ever since Burger King was spun off from Diageo in 2002, the goal was to take the newly-independent company public. A few management shuffles and franchisee squabbles later, that plan is set, with the initial public offering set for several weeks from now.

The company’s eroding market share would seem to make an IPO an iffy proposition. But if anything, going public now might be the best way to counter that trend:

Restaurant industry consultant Allan Hickok said Burger King’s timing was right, considering the success last week of McDonald’s spin-off of Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. Its shares doubled on their first day of trading.

The restaurant business is a bear, and very much subject to consumer whims. And when so much of the operation is reliant on third-party franchisor agreements, it’s really a prickly pear. On the other hand, BK is a long-established company, and there’s enough adventure capital investing going on on the Street that plenty will snap up shares on little more than brand value and blind faith.

Since Miami-headquartered BK is a Florida company, this means the $9.276 billion-dollar outfit will shift from this list to this one. (I’m not sure if that will be this year or next; if I were still putting them together, I’d guess the deadlines would be too tight to crown BK a Florida Public Company during 2006.)

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 02/01/2021 04:37:21 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback

Tuesday, January 31, 2021

A look at the TV ad lineup for Super Bowl XL shows this singular item near the start of the third quarter:

American Home Health - One :30 - PS line of home antibacterial soaps and disinfectants.

Summary: People in biosuits (”humorous”)

Ad Agency: Ronin Advertising Group, Coconut Grove, Fla.

The company, American HomeHealth, is a St. Petersburg-based upstart that’s looking at its $3-million worth of time during the big game as the ticket to instant national exposure.

The Times article makes it sound like AHH is shooting its entire marketing wad on the Super Bowl — a questionable all-or-nothing prospect. However, the company has already spent some dough in at least one other sporting venue, at least in its local territory.

During my last Tampa Bay Lightning game, I noticed continual ad rotations for the PS cleanser on all the St. Pete Times Forum’s video displays. There were enough of them, and they were presented vaguely enough with just the two-letter product name, that I distinctly remember my curiosity being roused. I wondered just what the heck they were advertising. I’m guessing plenty of hockey fans have been wondering the same thing.

So Super Bowl Sunday won’t be a complete coming-out party for PS. But aside from Tampa Bay hockey fans, no one will know the difference.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/31/2006 09:27:05 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Hockey, Football, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (2)

MIVA, an early bandwagon-jumper on the paid-search wagon, is apparently throwing in the towel, engaging Deutsche Bank to arrange a sale or buyout.

If this is the end of the line for MIVA as an independent entity, it would be more bitter than sweet. MIVA was one of the first companies to follow Overture into the paid search space. MIVA, originally FindWhat.com, had front-row seats to the contextual advertising revolution in which sponsors were paying for text ads served up on relevant search engine result pages. A few years ago, MIVA and Overture were the only two publicly traded pure players in this space turning a profit. Overture punched out too soon and too cheap, agreeing to be acquired by Yahoo! in 2003 for a mere $1.6 billion before its paid search business grew to dominate the Yahoo! income statement.

Now it appears as if MIVA will be punching out too late and far, far cheaper. MIVA’s stock was one of the biggest losers of 2005, shedding 72% of its value. It was a year filled with accounting controversies, executive defections, and crumbling profitability.

I’m not sure why this Motley Fool analysis interprets paid search listings to be some sort of untapped goldmine. Google has the market all but cornered, with Yahoo! massaging whatever’s left. After those two have marked out their territories, there’s not enough of a sliver left for even small-fry like MIVA to make a go.

Anyway, the main reason I find this interesting: MIVA is a Florida-based concern (headquartered in fast-growing Fort Myers), one that I’ve tracked for the past couple of years (under the former FindWhat.com moniker). I guess any news about Florida business, especially in glamour niches like new media, are going to pique my curiosity for a while yet, even though I’m out of sunshine territory now. And besides, in light of all this, MIVA might be the “tri” in my predicted trifecta of new-year Florida M&A poaches.

- Costa Tsiokos, Tue 01/31/2006 08:47:15 PM
Category: Internet, Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback

Saturday, January 28, 2021

Well, this is it. Assuming all goes as planned today, I’ll be making the drive up to New York State from Florida, starting today. Thus finally closing the book on 15-odd years of living in the Tampa Bay area.

I had kicked around setting up a couple of pre-dated posts to appear here while I was truckin’ up north. But between wrapping up personal and business things, and prepping for the logistics of the move, I didn’t find the time to do that. So I decided to just let things flow: If I have the time and opportunity to post while on the road, I’ll gladly indulge. If not, I’ll just have to take a day or two off — a rare occurence, indeed.

As far as perspective from this fairly major life move: Not sure I have much to commit here now. Fifteen years is close to half my lifespan. I’m leaving behind a lot of familiarity, and more than a few friends and acquaintences. And even though New York is where I grew up, in many ways, it’s like going into alien territory. It’s going to be an adjustment.

More later, once I’ve landed. In the meantime, scroll on down the page, click on the category links, and otherwise amuse yourself. From here on out, you’ll be reading an Empire State blog.

- Costa Tsiokos, Sat 01/28/2006 09:17:45 AM
Category: Florida Livin', New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Friday, January 27, 2021

If you’re going to hold onto a smart-ass remark in search of an appropriate prompt, you’d better make sure it’s a real good one:

I thought, at the moment, I might have a shot at a dream I’ve had for ten years now: having a guy say to me, “I don’t like the way you’re looking at my girlfriend.” To which I would reply, “Hey, don’t you flatter yourself. I don’t think that much of your girlfriend.” Like a spring, it is coiled and ready to be unleashed smoothly and with a grin, whenever the opportunity arises.

Tim: I’m thinking there’s scant chance of unleashing that witty rejoinder in Ybor. If you really want to have that spring sprung, take a road trip to Miami. Guaranteed some South Beach guido and his hoochie-mama will oblige you (including the Part II about getting jacked up afterward).

- Costa Tsiokos, Fri 01/27/2006 10:56:49 AM
Category: Florida Livin', Comedy | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Thursday, January 26, 2021

Small world. Alex Eckelberry, president of Clearwater-based Sunbelt Software, is the lead Trendsetter in this month’s issue of Florida Trend, which just went online.

Eckelberry’s also included in a Forbes.com column this week as a case study for effective business blogging, via his much-linked-to Sunbelt Blog.

Looks like Eckelberry’s going to have to hire a press agent soon…

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/26/2006 03:08:57 PM
Category: Bloggin', Publishing, Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback

holding waterFinally done. Nearly two weeks after agreeing to do it, I’ve wrapped up the February edition of FloridaTrend.com.

It looks pretty good. Considering how much I was juggling while getting set for my exodus to New York (starting this weekend), I think I managed a fine job at it. Not that I didn’t consider bailing on it a couple of times, as it was a serious time-consumer; but after the first week, I was pretty well committed, so I played through.

Partly, this was an experiment: I wanted to see how big of a job it was to do the work remotely (i.e., without being in Florida Trend’s offices), in anticipation of my being tapped to do it again next month (which is looking rather likely). It wasn’t the easiest sledding, especially considering I don’t have enough of the right tools on my home computer. If the opportunity comes next month, I’m going to have to work something out with the magazine to streamline the process.

Anyway, scamper on over to the site and check out my wicked webmasterin’ design.

And oh yeah, read the articles too — some pretty good stuff strung together. I highly recommend the cover story on the bottled water industry in Florida, particularly the lab tests on various pre-packaged waters compared to ordinary tap water. No surprise: The bottled stuff is generally no more free of contaminants than what comes out of the faucet (at least in Florida), but costs about 10,000 times more. That shouldn’t obscure the main reason why bottled water has blossomed into such a successful product:

[Gary] Hemphill, the beverage analyst, thinks consumers buy bottled water for three primary reasons: Convenience, packaging and price. “Whether it has a sport cap or a twist-off cap is often more important to the consumer than whether it’s drinking water or spring water.”

Capitalism in action. Who says you can’t sell coal to Newcastle? I marveled a couple of years ago, noting that Coca-Cola and Pepsi practically created the currently-robust market, and I marvel still.

“Party Favors” is another good read, offering a rundown of Florida’s political money trails by Congressional candidates, county, interest group and industry. Sure, you can extract much of the same information from Open Secrets, but not in such a convenient format.

- Costa Tsiokos, Thu 01/26/2006 01:40:26 PM
Category: Publishing, Politics, Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback (1)

Monday, January 23, 2021

Is the driver’s seat of a taxicab the ideal perch from which to blog?

It could be, as that angle scored New York Hack’s Melissa Plaut an Associated Press-penned profile on her online exploits as a female taxidriver in the Big Apple.

Funny thing is, she takes a lot of photos during her shifts. Which is a trait she shares with Tim Fasano at Tampa Taxi Shots, the Tampa Bay edition of the bloggin’ cabbie. Is there something so compelling about driving fares around that picture-taking is in order?

I think all these drivers should get together and form a taxi-blog network. There’s got to be at least one of them in every major city. Think of the photoblogging possibilities!

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 09:20:26 PM
Category: Bloggin', Florida Livin', New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback

last dance
Looks like I’ve got one last visit to the St. Pete Times Forum to catch some NHL action! My friend Kirby just scored a couple of tickets to tomorrow night’s Panthers-Lightning game.

Not a bad send-off. I’m looking forward to it.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 12:09:03 PM
Category: Hockey, Florida Livin' | Permalink | Feedback (1)

I woke up this morning sweating.

No, it wasn’t because of a nightmare, or anxiousness related to this week’s final move out of Tampa Bay (at least, I don’t think so). Rather, it’s kinda warm on this late January morning in Clearwater: 71 degrees.

The temperature in Manhattan: 39 degrees (but feels like 31).

Since I should be well-used to a sunrise temperature in the seventies after 15 years of it, I’m thinking my brain is sending an early message to my physiology. Good thing — it’s best to adjust to the New York winter as soon as possible.

- Costa Tsiokos, Mon 01/23/2006 09:17:37 AM
Category: Weather, Florida Livin', New Yorkin' | Permalink | Feedback (4)

Wednesday, January 18, 2021

Tampa Bay is not part of what is commonly designated as “South Florida”. So it’s kind of weird that the local public mega-university was given the geographically-challenged name “University of South Florida”.

Still, with a new economic impact study pegging USF’s contribution to the Bay area’s economy at $3.2 billion, I don’t think anyone will be asking the home of the Bulls to move to Miami.

Not a bad money stream from a bunch of eggheads. Being the fourth-largest employer in Tampa Bay and one of the nation’s fastest-growing research institutions counts for something.

Still, the school name’s gotta be a bitch for USF’s branding purposes, and probably for Tampa/St. Pete’s as well. They talked a couple of years ago about addressing this, especially in emphasizing the “USF” brand over “South Florida”, but I don’t think that’s gone anywhere.

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/18/2006 06:03:07 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Business | Permalink | Feedback (4)

I first learned about Pirates, the technically ground-breaking porn movie spectacular (it’s the first porn filmed in high-def, and has loads of CGI effects), while reading a New York Times’ report about the Adult Video News Awards and how it reflects the evolving nature of the industry.

Little did I know there was a Tampa Bay angle to this tour-de-force production: It turns out that high-seas pirate ship scenes were filmed at the St. Petersburg Pier’s HMS Bounty tourist attraction. And the moviemakers pulled some fast ones to get permission to shoot a porno flick at a family attraction:

On May 2, a Brain Zoo representative named Ali Davoudian e-mailed this film synopsis to Bounty officials (complete with misspellings): “The movie is a comedy Sinbad type of film in quest of a magical scepter with lots of special effects and sward fighting with skeletons etc… It is not going to be released in the theater it is going to be on TV like showtime. As far as rating I would say PG-13.”

“There was nothing in the script that indicated there was anything perverse,” said [Bob] Hansen, the ship’s owner.

The Pier, which is owned by the city, rented Davoudian an activity room for cast, crew and equipment storage from June 1 to 5, at a cost of $1,872.50, and roped off areas near the boat for camera equipment.

After the first night, the Pier got a tip that some of the actors on the ship resembled well-known adult film stars. Hansen said film reps admitted the actors were popular porn stars who might draw extra attention to the project, but the film was definitely not a porno. He said Bounty officials and crew remained on the set during the entire shoot.

“We actually looked at the concept of canceling it, but with the contract, I couldn’t do it for no reason,” Hanson said. “Just because they’re porn stars doesn’t mean they can’t come on the boat or walk down the Pier.”

Hey, there’s no such thing as bad publicity! It’s a shame the city insisted on the removal of any mention of their role from the film’s credits.

The Bounty leaves St. Pete in March, so if you want to drop by for a gawk, do it now. Not much chance that the production left behind any mementos…

- Costa Tsiokos, Wed 01/18/2006 05:08:48 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Movies | Permalink | Feedback

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