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  • Free to a Good Home? A Bad Idea Online!

    10:46 am on July 8, 2014 | 1 Comment » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: animal abuse, animal shelter, dog fighting, horses, pet adoption, pet sales, pets, , spca

    nopetsAny business owner needs to stay ahead of the trends, and unfortunately, that applies to trends in crime. I’ve said before in blog posts and TV interviews that we don’t carry personals because they can be used as a front for prostitution and human trafficking. We don’t carry pet sale ads, as they often trade in animals that have been bred through puppy mills—breeders who literally breed animals to death, leaving them undernourished and caged without proper exercise or loving contact. We simply won’t even take a chance at supporting criminal industries, so we don’t run the ads that market them.  
     
    Recent stories are showing that it’s not just online pet sales that can pose a threat to pets, but online pet adoptions, as well—often posted by well-meaning folks, under the heading, Free to a Good Home. Ads giving away dogs, cats, bunnies, and other animals to “good” homes may be posted by owners for a number of benign reasons, though they may lead to a life of pain and misery, and even death, for pets. 
     
    Remember the days of summers past when you’d ride down the street of your neighborhood in the back of your parent’s Pontiac or Buick, probably without a seat belt, and definitely without a car seat? You might pass a lemonade stand or a kid and his mom or dad on the corner with a cardboard box reading, “Kittens For Sale,” or, if you were really lucky, “Free Kittens.” No one thought anything of it. We survived, and for all we knew, so did our pets. But if not monitored, the reality of today’s digital marketplace can be a whole lot scarier for animals, just as it is for humans.
     
    The SPCA reports that animal abusers troll online classified sites looking for free animals, and they know just what to say to put unsuspecting pet owners at ease. Some abusers have even brought unrelated children to meet pets and pet owners in an effort to appear nonthreatening. Small animals offered “free to a good home” or to be “rehomed,” such as rabbits and cats, have been used as live snake food. Dogs have been found used as bait to train other dogs for dogfights. And crooks or kill buyers sell these free animals to research facilities or for slaughter.
     
    It’s not just household pets that face danger: While slaughtering horses for meat is illegal in the United States, it’s not in some other countries, such as neighboring Canada and Mexico. Kill buyers can often outbid adopters, and have taken advantage of the financial downturn to buy up horses on the cheap for transport and slaughter for meat. This poses a serious health risk to humans, as horses in the US are considered companion animals, and as such are often medically treated with drugs toxic to humans.
     
    A pet is a member of the family. Be sure you’re financially and emotionally prepared to keep companion animals—healthily—for the duration of their lifetime. Though if you must rehome for an unavoidable reason, it’s simply not safe to give away or sell animals to strangers via online ads without conducting strict home assessments and background checks. Most folks aren’t equipped for that, so volunteers at the SPCA suggest that anyone looking to rehome a pet work through their personal networks first—friends, neighbors, coworkers, church groups, their vet’s office etc.—maybe that’s why the neighborhood “Kittens For Sale” seemed to work fine back in the day? We all knew each other! 

    If your personal network doesn’t yield a reliable home, a reputable rescue group or shelter with good statistics in rehoming animals can help. Doing the right thing by your pet may take a little longer, may require just a bit more time and attention, but their health and safety is in your hands, and it’s worth it. We care about your family as we do our own, and that includes your pets. That’s why we don’t run Free to a Good Home ads at Geebo, and we hope you won’t anywhere else.

     
  • The Boss Always Answers to Someone - Even in Professional Sports

    8:37 am on May 6, 2014 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply

    damage controlI sometimes hear people say, with a tone of envy in their voices, about how great it must be to own a company, to be the boss, to call all the shots and not have to answer to anyone.

    Those perceptions of what life as the boss is like – especially that last one about not having to answer to anyone – are kind of funny to me, largely because, at some point, we all answer to someone.

    As the owner of a small business, I’m the one who makes the business decisions for Geebo. But in reality, I’m far from being the one who calls the shots. The customers – whether they’re the the people who post listings on Geebo or the ones who scour the site in search of products or services – are the ones who are really driving the business decisions. I answer to them.

    That brings me back to my point, that we all answer to someone. CEOs answer to their boards of directors, who, in turn, answer to the shareholders. Police chiefs answer to city and court officials. Politicians answer to their constituents and risk losing their jobs when voters head to the polls.

    And then there’s a guy like Donald Sterling, owner (for now) of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team.

    One might think that, as the owner of the Clippers, a guy like Sterling – who found himself in hot water when his racist comments made their way into the public arena – might be untouchable, free to say whatever he wants, especially with the team heading into its first playoff run in decades and fan fervor at an all-time high.

    But, alas, we were all reminded that Sterling – like all of us – does answer to someone else. The National Basketball Association is made up of franchises and its operations are overseen by a commissioner who has to answer to the other owners, the players, the advertisers and even the fans. It’s his job to look over the health of the NBA as a whole. And, just in case anyone is confused, it should be noted that professional sports is just another form of business. Tickets, merchandise and advertising all impact the bottom line – and as the commissioner, it is Adam Silver’s job to make sure that anything that might compromise the NBA’s ability to make money is dealt with, quickly and swiftly.

    When a doctor treats a cancer patient, it’s his job to remove the cancer as quickly as possible before it spreads and takes over the whole body. In a sense, Sterling and his racist rant became the cancer of the NBA – and Silver needed to go to extreme measures to get Sterling out of there, before resentment toward the whole NBA started to grow, before advertisers started to distance themselves (even more than they already had), before fans stopped buying tickets and merchandise or stopped tuning in to games on TV.

    Banning Sterling from the NBA for life was just the type of action that Silver needed to take to minimize the damage – and the praise for Silver’s swift action was immediate. Yes, Sterling is still around, but the message was clear that he’s not welcome in the NBA. The wheels are in motion to get the Sterling cancer out of the league as soon as possible. The fans expressed their support and approval and, so long as the league is taking action to get rid of Sterling, there’s little fear that the league’s cash flow isn’t in any sort of real jeopardy. Silver was smart enough to realize that, even though he’s at the top of NBA’s org chart, he has to answer to many people. He may make the decisions – but he’s definitely not calling the shots.

    As soon as Donald Sterling comes to the same realization, the NBA – and its fans – can start the healing process and put this ugly chapter behind them.

     
  • Risky Business: Watch for Business Models that Boost the Bottom Line but Tarnish the Reputation

    2:30 pm on April 14, 2014 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Airbnb, Eviction, Rent Control, Rent Ordinances, Rentals, San Francisco

    When Terms & Agreements Don’t Mesh with Local LawsThere’s an interesting debate going on in San Francisco with Airbnb, where a crackdown on short-term rentals – especially those being advertised on online sites like Airbnb – are leading to lease violations and eviction notices.

    The site, Airbnb, connects people looking to make a few bucks by renting out space in their own homes with visitors who are looking to save a few bucks by using alternative accommodations when they pop into a city for a short visit.

    It’s kind of like they’re hotel rooms, except that they’re not. They’re residential homes and apartments. And in San Francisco, the two – residential units and hotel rooms – are not allowed to mix, by law. In a city with tight housing and even tighter rental laws, the crackdown is sending some otherwise law-abiding citizens to the streets, evicted for letting a stranger crash on the couch every now and then.

    It’s an unfortunate story, though it appears that the city and Airbnb are working together to provide some better clarity around the ordinances, including a hotel tax on Airbnb transactions, which will certainly change the dynamic of the debate down the road. That may not change things for those affected – but at least it recognizes the problem. And that’s a start.

    In the meantime, at least one lawyer has raised the question about Airbnb’s share of responsibility in what’s happening to its customers during this crackdown. Is it the responsibility of Airbnb to provide each person who submits a listing with a notice of all laws and regulations – whether local, statewide or national? Or is it enough to remind people to check their local laws and leases before renting the spare room for a weekend?

    It’s a question that the company has faced before. A few years ago, I chimed in about some growing pains that Airbnb was experiencing as it was dealing with reports of people who were trashing rental units. The company rode that storm nicely and went on to see some amazing growth, with listings now expanding in Europe and investors suggesting a $10 billion valuation, bigger than some hotel chains.

    Airbnb, a site much like Geebo in that it connects two parties with a common interest, should have a responsibility to inform people of the risks they are about to engage in and, in some certain circumstances, take extra steps to ensure that people are compliant with the law.

    Geebo is a site with listings from cities across the nation across a wide range of categories. For the site to specify each of the laws and ordinances for each of the cities and each of the categories of products or services is unrealistic. In that sense, I understand Airbnb’s defense. On the other hand, I also understand the need for a company to be accommodating and to take action to be better safe than sorry.

    Years ago, I removed personal ads from Geebo’s listings, in part because I felt that what was being advertised wasn’t appropriate for my site. I’m not suggesting that Airbnb block listings with San Francisco addresses (or am I?) but perhaps it could do something else to drive home the point, maybe an extra acknowledgment prompt before the final submission.

    I want to make sure that my visitors have a good experience and that they return the next time they’re looking for something specific. I would think that Airbnb would like the same.

     
  • Lessons from Arizona: Business Owners Push Back Against Lawmakers Who Do More Harm Than Good

    10:02 am on March 3, 2014 | 1 Comment » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Arizona, Equal Rights, Extremists, Gay, Gov. Jan Brewer, Ideology, Lesbian, LGBT, Republicans, SB 1062, Tea Party, Veto

    pavingWhen you open a business in the United States, you have no choice but to deal with the long arm of government, whether it’s income taxes or business fees that you’re required to pay or a long list of rules and regulations that you’re required to follow.

    Regardless of political point of view, most business owners would likely agree with politicians when they say that businesses need the freedom to grow and flourish on their own, without the government creating more obstacles and challenges.

    That’s why you saw businesses – large big-named corporations like Apple, Intel and American Express, among others – speaking out against and encouraging the veto of an Arizona bill that, essentially, made it OK for business owners to discriminate against gay people and refuse service to them simply because of who they love.

    Sure, the bill was worded to suggest that this was not about discrimination against gay people but rather to protect the religious freedom of business owners – think bakers, caterers and florists – who might have a problem, based on religious beliefs, with providing services to certain people.

    In the end, Arizona Gov. Jan brewer vetoed the bill, correctly noting that there had been no actual instances where a business owner’s religious freedoms had been compromised and that it could, unintentionally, do more harm than good. That much was already clear. There had already been talk of moving next year’s Super bowl out of Arizona, companies were already re-thinking operations in the state and industry groups were threatening to take their conventions elsewhere.

    The thing about what happened in Arizona is that it never should have. Politicians – specifically Republican lawmakers who have been negatively influenced by the extremist views of the Tea Party – created this “solution” for a problem that didn’t exist. And when the state legislature pushed it through and sent it to the governor’s desk, it created a perception – and rightfully so – that the state as a whole is unfriendly and unwelcoming to gays.

    Put aside for a moment that gay people – and those who support the fight for their equal rights – would avoid Arizona and take their consumer dollars elsewhere. But that’s just the beginning of  the ripple effect. If gay people and their supporters – straight or otherwise – feel that Arizona is a “hate state,” they may choose to vacation elsewhere, which means that hotels and restaurants won’t benefit from their dollars. They may choose to live elsewhere, which means that businesses looking to hire will have a smaller pool of talent to choose from. They could boycott Arizona-based businesses, which could impact sales. Case in point: In 2010, when Arizona was under fire over a controversial immigration law, the beverage company that makes Arizona Iced Tea had to inform angry consumers that it was based in New York, not Arizona.

    Politicians catering to the extremist, ideological views of a far-right constituency have done more harm than good in recent years. The Republicans was once the party known for speaking out against heavy government influence on businesses. They used to argue that businesses needed the freedom to grow and prosper without the heavy hand of government weighing them down. And yet, here is another example where these same Republican lawmakers are trying to inject their ideological beliefs into business regulations, resulting in great backlash and – more importantly – bigger headaches for the very companies they claim to be protecting.

    Bottom line: The country is moving forward and the momentum for equal rights for ALL Americans is growing. It’s bad enough that the far right continues to find itself on the wrong side of history. But now they’re violating their own mantra – the idea that government should get out of the way – by moving bills that hurt businesses and economies.

    Speaking as a business owner, I say to the government, “Get out of the way and let me pave my own future.” Speaking as an American, the message is the same.

     
  • Sometimes, Moving Slow Can Help a Business Grow

    2:06 pm on January 22, 2014 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: : Patch, AOL, , Hyperlocal, News

    Sometimes, the fastest way to grow a business is to take it slow, especially when that business is trying something new or otherwise exploring uncharted territory.

    Case in point: AOL’s Patch. The “hyperlocal” news site had aspirations of blanketing the nation with a network of online small-town “newspapers.”. But, after bleeding some $300 million and already shedding half of its 1,000-person workforce this past summer, parent company AOL this month gave up control of the news network to an investment firm for an undisclosed amount.

    The problem? It grew too fast. It started as a small network of community sites in a handful of New Jersey communities but, after AOL acquired it and started dumping money into it, it wasn’t long until it was a network of 900 sites across the country.

    The problem was that Patch’s business (and news) model hadn’t yet proven itself. As the news business has been shaken up, reinvented and shaken up again in the digital age, business models for news are not only varied (advertising-based vs. subscription-centric, for example) but also unstable. To build the model, they have to offer news that will attract readers, which, in turn, attracts advertisers. These sites need real reporters talking to real people in these communities, sitting in their meetings and attending their functions. Delivering that sort of community news and building relationships in the community takes resources (read: staff), money and, most importantly, patience.

    When I started Geebo, there were no online marketplaces – and certainly no national networks of marketplaces – so the best approach was still anyone’s guess. Instead of trying to build a site that focused on categories – such as cars or real estate for sale – I chose to target a specific community. At the time, I was living in the Sacramento area – so that was Geebo’s first site.

    After launch of that site, I could have started eyeing the next geographic market  but instead, I focused on building relationships with potential buyers and sellers in Sacramento. By the time it came time for me to break into new markets, I had an established marketplace in my community, as well as some visitor metrics that I could point to.

    Today, 13+ years later, Geebo’s listings are available in 1000′s of communities, the result of a slow-go approach. Just a few years after acquiring Patch for $7 million, AOL had shed a chunk of Patch’s workforce and has now handed over the reins to a group of investors who will do who-knows-what with what remains of the company.

    For sake of disclosure: Patch approached me about my classifieds listings a few years ago but ultimately decided to go it on their own. That was certainly their choice – but here’s why it was an example of a bad business decision that eventually led to its demise. They were trying to reinvent the wheel in some parts of their business. If you’re trying to build something and someone you know has built a part that you need, why would you try to build that part from scratch?

    No one is arguing that AOL should have moved at the same pace as a site like Geebo. I’m a small company with limited resources. They are a huge mega company with deep pockets. Still, at some point on the road to 900 sites, wasn’t there an opportunity to pause, take a step back and assess the business model to see if it’s working?

    If they had, they might still be churning great ideas into strong business for the handful of sites that could eventually pave the way for others. Instead, potential readers will go another day without knowing how their planning commissions voted or whether the basketball team at the local high school won or lost.

     
  • Note to Washington: Don't Play Chicken with US

    11:04 am on October 22, 2013 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Congress, , Government Shutdown,

    I usually try to keep my politics out of my business decisions – but after the Great Government Shutdown of 2013, I think it’s time to speak up.

    You see, when it comes to running my business, I am neither Republican or Democratic. I make decisions about how to run my business based on things like market demands, competitive forces and industry outlooks. I invest in my company when I can. I scale back when I must. But I never stop working.

    I may be my own boss – but I answer to many others when it comes to running my online classifieds site. My clients expect their products and services to appear in the right places so they can reach the right audience. The visitors to my site expect a certain experience when they arrive. My partners expect me to deliver on my end of our agreements.

    I guess that’s what frustrates me the most about the 16-day shutdown of the federal government. We are the people who the elected officials must answer to. We are their bosses, the people who put them into these positions of power and can have them removed. We are the ones who need to remind them that, if they continue to fail to do their jobs, they will lose them.

    I can’t imagine telling my partners that I won’t be paying my bills this month or turning away visitors to my site because of some internal strife among the grown-ups who make decisions about the future direction of the company.

    Frankly, that’s no way to run a business. And while I’ve never subscribed to the idea that a government can be run like a business, it’s also an unacceptable way to run a government. It doesn’t matter what the issue at-hand may be. You don’t shut the doors because you can’t make difficult decisions.

    Yes, Washington is in shambles. Yes, the politicians have corrupted themselves by allowing their motives to be driven by special interests with big checkbooks. Yes, we’re probably looking at another showdown on Capitol Hill when the next budget battle and debt ceiling fight come up again early next year.

    But the message we send now, ahead of the next big showdown should be that it’s never acceptable to use the country – whether it’s the credit rating or day-to-day operations – in a political game of chicken

    Certainly, we can all agree to disagree when it comes to how our government is run. Whether you think we can spend our way out of a recession or believe that drastic spending cuts are the way to prosperity doesn’t matter. How you feel about Obamacare, Medicare or the Department of Energy should not come into play.

    The message that all of us should be sending to Washington – regardless of our political leanings or beliefs – is that it’s never OK to shut the door to government or to become a deadbeat nation. It’s a good thing for the politicians that the government isn’t run like a business. If it were, they’d all be fired.

     
  • Considering a Consultant? Five Tips for a Good Experience

    7:30 am on July 24, 2013 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Advice, Business Growth, Consultant, Expansion, Small Business, Tips

    For a small business owner like me, hiring a consultant can sometimes be the best way to get into a new market, grow the company or even understand the latest social media tool. And now that the economy is starting to rebound, an investment in a consultant may make good business sense. After all, I want to be able to tap into the same sort of brain power and strategic thinking that large companies are using to grow their businesses.

    I know that, in tough economic times, many out-of-work professionals turn to consulting, providing insight and knowledge that they otherwise would have provided to a full-time employer. That presents an opportunity for a guy like me. But with an abundance of people offering their expertise and advice in this current economic environment, it becomes a lot tougher to find the consultant who’s the right fit.

    Over the years, I’ve worked with a few consultants and learned a few things, sometimes the hard way. As such, I wanted to share a few of my own tips that can make hiring – and working with – a consultant a smoother process.

    1. Know What You Want: Before you can hire a consultant to develop a plan for you, you must have some idea of what you’re hoping to accomplish by hiring this consultant. It seems obvious but these big ideas need focus and clarity. Increase sales? By what percentage and over what time? Invest in Marketing? To increase brand awareness or promote a single product? What exactly are you looking to do and how will you measure the return on your investment?

    2. Have A Conversation: A good consultant will want to learn more about you and your goals before offering any advice or talking about fees or rates. Let the prospective consultant ask some questions. Picking your brain is a good way to understand how you think. At the same time, you’ll want to be interviewing the consultant about techniques and approaches, philosophies around his/her work and a general attitude. Be prepared for that conversation with questions jotted down and a way to take some notes. And, above all, don’t shy away from tough questions.

    3. Ask Tough Questions: Don’t be afraid to ask about things that otherwise might be uncomfortable, such as details about their work history or time on a specific job, for example. Ask them about the biggest lesson they learned from a mistake or misstep. We’ve all had them – but what have we learned from them? Consider a quick “work exercise.” Give them a scenario and ask for a few ideas off the top of head – just to get a sense for how they think.

    4. Online Consultant Check: Certainly, a good consultant should have a Web site and/or online portfolio that showcases their best work and their services. Beyond that, social media is where people live today – and your consultant is no different. Are they doing something cool with YouTube or Pinterest? That showcases their creative side. Are they positioning themselves as experts on Facebook or Twitter or are they just posting pictures of themselves in the bathroom mirror. This will give you some insight into their maturity level, as well as their commitment to their work. Check their online performance – and behavior – to learn more about them as an individual – and that might give you some deeper insight about how they work as a professional.

    5. Experience Matters: Some of the toughest experiences with consultants have been those who offered more than they could deliver – and it was clear that they’d bitten off more than they could chew. For example, a consultant may tout his experience at a big-name firm when, in fact, he was actually an summer intern his second year of college. Likewise, working on a project for a big name product or company is impressive – but how big was your consultant’s role on that project. Ask for specific details to make your own determinations. Certainly, you don’t want to question every element of a person’s resume, but you do want to be careful about hiring a young and inexperienced consultant to lead a team of 10 in the development and implementation of a new sales strategy

    Hiring a consultant can be a smart, efficient and effective way to grow your business. Don’t be afraid to invest a few dollars in a consultant – but also know when to cut your losses and move on. Know what you’re getting yourself into and, more importantly, be clear about what you’re looking to get in return.

    Good luck.

     
  • Site scraping may be bad business, but courts say it's legal

    8:51 am on May 13, 2013 | No Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: advertising, , courts, , , , partnerships, ruling, Scraping

    The purpose of a classified ad is to reach the largest audience possible, casting the largest net, if you will. After all, whether you’re selling a car, renting a home or advertising a service for hire, the goal of the classified ad is to make sure that a large number of people see that ad

    So, why would anyone want to hinder the ability to reach the largest audience? Through a lawsuit, that’s exactly what craigslist was trying to do by arguing that it held copyright on the user-posted ads that appear on its sites. But, earlier this month, a judge ruled against the large classified site, noting that the site itself – craigslist, in this case – does not hold copyright over an ad unless it’s granted exclusive rights to it.

    Call it a victory for the “scrapers” in that the courts have defended the ability to take an ad from one site and repurpose it on another. As a site owner, I’m definitely not advocating the idea that a new site could steal ads from Geebo and make a profit from it. But I also understand the importance of large net.

    By law, scraping may be allowed – but I think of it as the lazy approach. At Geebo, we take pride in our syndication efforts. We create solid business relationships with other sites to maximize the exposure for the people who have something to advertise. Geebo has relationships with real estate sites and car buying sites, for example, to not only put Geebo’s ads into bigger nets but also to put other ads in front of Geebo visitors.

    For us, syndicating content is good business. We’re open and upfront about it, making sure our customers know what we’re doing and why. To us, scraping content is not a good business practice, despite the widespread practice. It’s a free ride on the sweat of someone else’s work. Still, the court was right in noting that the ad itself does not belong to the site publisher but instead to the user.

    We know that publishers are constantly looking to harvest Geebo’s content. But instead of blocking them, we reach out directly and try to establish a bona fide partnership that includes cost-per-click/lead pricing, something that’s fair to both parties.

    Bottom line: The content is out there for the taking. But site publishers can either attempt to block the practice of scraping the way craigslist did or they can embrace it as a new business opportunity, the way Geebo has.

    The courts have spoken, leaving the ball back in our courts so that we can embrace the best business practices. The goal is to make sure the user – whether someone looking to buy or sell – has the best experience.

    That’s good business.

     
  • Raising Awareness to Aid the Fight against Human Trafficking

    9:05 am on March 19, 2013 | 4 Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , journalist, Kamala Harris, personal ads, San Diego

    A friend of mine, knowing that I closely follow news about human trafficking, introduced me to a new resource – a sharp journalist out of San Diego who is doing more than just following criminal cases that involve human trafficking.

    This reporter, a woman named Elizabeth Aguilera, is also looking at the trends around labor and sex trafficking – putting names and faces on the victims and, more importantly, illustrating how this isn’t just a crime that victimizes immigrants. Human trafficking is impacting kids right in our own neighborhoods, the kids we’ve seen grow from toddlers to teens before our very eyes.

    Earlier this month, Aguilera published a piece in the San Diego Union Tribune that raised awareness around a trend that, sadly, isn’t new. The headline of that story speaks volumes: “U.S. sex trafficking victims are mostly American kids.” The headline is based on the revelation in a report released by California Attorney General Kamala Harris last year that 72 percent of human trafficking victims are Americans, not foreigners. More importantly, it was also revealed that victims are now younger – typically ages 12-14, officials said.

    Statistics can be funny things. People like to twist facts and stats to meet the definitions of the point they’re trying to make at any given time. As a journalist, it would have been easy for someone like Aguilera to post the stats, find some official to talk about them and then write a simple story that might easily be overlooked.

    But Aguilera instead focused the beginning of her story around a typical teenager who found a job as a bookkeeper for a small, home-based business and instead found herself forced into a months-long ordeal of beatings and sexual slavery. Her employer – a pimp who set a $1,200 daily prostitution quota for the 17-year-old girl – is now serving 30 years in prison.

    As the owner of a classified ads business, I understand that people are being victimized through the Internet. I understand that predators use classified ads to find their victims and evade authorities. As such, I refuse to give these predators a place to lure victims into worlds of slavery. Geebo does not host personals ads where many of these encounters originate. Sadly, some of my counterparts in the industry still turn a blind-eye about the ads that are running on their sites, so long as the ads generate revenue.

    In the end, it all comes down to awareness – making our young children aware of the dangers on the Internet, making our law enforcement officials aware of the way predators use the Internet and, most importantly, making the public aware that these sorts of things are happening – not just in third-world countries, but in our own neighborhoods with our own kids.

    Trafficking cases are up across the nation – that’s the bad news. The good news is that, through education and awareness, this trend can be reversed. It must be reversed. I applaud journalists like Aguilera who work on the front lines every day to make sure that we, the people, are aware.

     
  • Geebo's "No Pets" Policy: Animal Lovers Understand Why

    1:30 pm on January 15, 2013 | 5 Comments » Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Animal Welfare, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Online ads, Puppies,

    Everyone loves a puppy – but you won’t find any for sale on Geebo.

    It’s not that we don’t love puppies. It’s because we love puppies, kittens and other animals that we won’t allow animals to be sold on our site. You see, we learned years ago about puppy mills, the commercial breeders that sometimes put profits over the welfare of the animals themselves, and made a decision that we would not provide a marketplace platform for these breeders.

    Now, a report released by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, finds that the majority of the puppies advertised for sale over the Internet are from commercial puppy mills where dogs are raised in unsanitary conditions without adequate food or water or even veterinary care.

    The organization tracked ads on a number of online sites and found that, among the hundreds of thousands of ads on those sites, the vast majority of animals were from mills. The group looked at a number of factors, including pups under eight weeks old being offered for sale, more than 20 puppies being advertised in a single post or the use of sale slogans such as “Christmas Pets.” In some instances, as many as 62 percent were believed to be from puppy mills.

    Certainly, we aren’t looking for validation for our business decisions in this report. But it’s a telling tale of what’s happening in the classifieds industry, all for the sake of money made from those advertisements. The report reads, in part:

    Dogs are not just another commodity to be purchased from an anonymous seller online. They are living, breathing, thinking creatures that can experience happiness and suffering. And the Internet is unfortunately a platform ripe for exploiting these animals. Remember that each click to purchase a dog over the Internet could be building incentive for a puppy mill breeder to continue their operations.

    Geebo is already known for taking strong stances around the types of ads we accept. We’ve called on other sites to follow our lead in taking steps to stop online human trafficking by refusing to accept personals ads. We consider this issue around the sale of puppies to be just as important.

    I realize that it’s unusual – or even unwise, from a business perspective – for the operator of a classified advertising site to refuse so many types of ads that could prove lucrative for the company. But I didn’t start Geebo to become a forum for the transactions of the underworld, a marketplace for any living creature, whether an immigrant forced into the world of slave labor or prostitution or a harmless pup who may someday bring joy to an animal lover – but is forced to live in cruel conditions until that day comes.

    If that means I lose business over my moral values, then so be it.

     
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