A Letter to our Investors (Fiction)

Sydney “Sy” T. Greenbacks
President/CEO OATS Inc.
1 Hot Place
Pinellas Park, FL 33716

Tuesday May 23, 2006

Dear Investors,

On behalf of myself, the management team and staff of Overpriced Access Technology Systems, Incorporated, I write with great pleasure to inform you that the OATS financial team has upwardly revised our fiscal outlook for the year ending December 31, 2006.  A number of global factors have gone the way we had hoped and the new marketing initiatives that I will describe in greater detail further in this communication have paid off far in excess of our expectations.

On the relatively dry, purely numeric side of the story, our CFO, Tony C. Goode, who will send a more complete set of documents later in the month, has told me that OATS can announce a 40% increase in our 12 period (annual) forecasts raising our original forecast of $43.5 million to approximately $61 million USD.  Following 2005, when we set a record with $38 million in sales, this demonstrates growth unprecedented in the current technology climate.

The OATS story, as I described during our last stockholders meeting, goes far beyond inventing our own assistive technology products and selling augmented versions designed by other AT companies to people with disabilities.  We, far more than any assistive technology company in history have taken action to increase the size of our market through highly innovative techniques.  In addition, certain social and global events which we try to influence but cannot take total credit for their success have contributed to the OATS EBIDTA.

Typically, I separate the executive summary by disability and domestic versus global income streams.  This year, all of our lines of business have converged in a manner that separating them would only cause confusion in my narrative but, when you receive it later this month, you can read the details in Tony’s report.

Our single largest success continues to result from injuries incurred by soldiers and civilians participating in the Iraqi and Afghani conflicts.  Simply put, war is good for the disability business.  Our brave returning soldiers continue to come home blinded, severely vision impaired, missing limbs, brain damaged, paralyzed and with some of the less popular but highly lucrative handicaps.  Thus, our sales of everything from screen readers to wheelchairs to prosthetic limbs to blow pipe systems have increased dramatically.

Additionally, our partners at Kellogg, Brown and Root have convinced the Bush Administration to open up a series of training centers and jobs programs for newly disabled civilians in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  Our relationship with KBR and our friends on K Street ensured that these projects would not require bids nor accountability as we’ve come to know it in the liberal US so, needless to say, the margins on all of our products, especially the Arabic language versions have increased dramatically.

Although some of our board members balked at working so closely with Freeman Scientology, our cross town competitors, the success we have had reselling the Suicide Backpack Mate augmented with a bit of C4 to partners like Islamic Jihad, Al Queda in Iraq and Hezbollah have generated a marked increase in disabilities in Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Jordan and have added to the remarkable sustained surge in sales in Iraq.  

While I had wished that OATS had designed our own weaponized PDA for the blind, we, by adding the highly valued explosive and selling into markets that Freeman cannot touch, can report a 500% margin on each unit which, I believe, represents far more dollars than the competition makes on the units we resell by adding value.  I expect that we will start exploring VAR relationships with more companies as we move forward.

I would like to applaud the Tampa jury for finding that our good friend and Middle East Technology Consultant, Sammy al Arian not guilty of most charges.  Now, with this reclassification, he can keep a laptop in his cell and has already started writing specifications for some new concepts that we will hopefully introduce into the marketplace by Q4 2007.  We have held discussions with Sammy and his family about his relocation abroad and will likely set up a development center headed by him when they choose a new homeland.  Surely some convenience issues will arise with Sammy located in a different country but, assuming he chooses an Arabic speaking locale, we can leverage the lower cost of labor in the desert countries and further increase margins on products he invents.

Thus, we have proven wrong those who called for our domestic political strategy to favor Democrats as, although services for people with disabilities shrink in each Federal budget, President Bush and the Republican Congress have created so many newly disabled people here and abroad that our numbers have reached heights we hadn’t expected for a few more years.  Even better, our relationship with KBR permits us to pick nearly any price, without any market restrictions for sales in Iraq, Afghanistan and, soon, Somalia.

The $1.3 million contribution to the Diabetes Foundation, Another of the controversial decisions I had to make over even Tony’s objections, has proven fruitful in an indirect manner.  Obtaining their mailing list helped with direct mail advertising to people losing their vision to the disease.  The coupons for Krispy Kream and McDonald’s have had an even more effective result as our statistics show that a solid 10% of the recipients of these mailings have gone blind far sooner than their doctors had predicted.  Marketing statistics show that a typical direct mailing with results greater than 2% beat all expectations, a 10% return resulting in thousands of dollars of sales can probably result in OATS receiving the AdWeek award for most creative strategy of the year.

As I stated at the beginning, we still face a number of challenges.  Only yesterday, Blind News reported that a doctor in the US has successfully transplanted stem cells into a human with RP.  This may result in an actual cure that can put a huge dent into one of our most lucrative markets.  Unfortunately, all of the contributions we have made to congressmen, senators and religious organizations to slow down or even stop stem cell research doesn’t help in this case as the doctor in charge of the project chose not to use controversial embryonic stem cells but, rather, takes his from the placenta, an item typically thrown away even in the most Catholic of hospitals.

We plan on launching a new marketing initiative aimed at the religious sector, similar to Exxon/Mobil’s Acton Group, which will take the position that Jesus, the last person to truly restore vision to the blind, did so through divine measures and that mere humans should not traffic in miracles.  Exxon/Mobil has gone a long way to convince this politically powerful group that only God can affect weather patterns and that global warming actually results from divine intervention so why can’t we convince the same group that restoring blindness has similar divine qualities that only God should perform?

Also, we find President Bush’s polling numbers disturbing and understand that our party might lose a significant number of seats in the upcoming elections.  We have advised our political action committee (OATSPAC) and our public relations firm to stir up as much hatred for Iran as possible in the coming months so the president can deliver an October surprise with some strategically placed bombs and a whole new front in the war.  This will, of course, help our boys win the election and keep our government cash flowing and will also open markets for a Farsi version of all of our products.

To conclude, OATS has never held a better position in the global or domestic markets.  The “war dividend” flows into our coffers and we expect to have the money and muscle to either acquire or push aside competitors like Freeman Scientology and Humidware in the coming 24 months.  

Sy T. Greenbacks
President/CEO OATS, Inc.


So, today we introduce another fictional alter-ego.  I did have my vision until I turned thirty-five or so and, therefore, can think of disabilities from both sides of the fence.  I’ve also worked for a number of highly leveraged, venture funded companies as well as for investment banks in New York and Boston so I know what it feels like to have someone holding the pawn ticket on my soul and the deals I’ve needed to make with the devil to get it back.  Thus, Sy T. Greenbacks falls into the category of an alter-ego, albeit the darkest one who shares the fewest dreams, goals and ambitions with BlindChristian, the regular author of this blog.

So, to keep everyone up to date on the pseudonyms and who is who around Blind Confidential, I add the following roster:

My real name, Chris Hofstader, rarely shows up in this blog.  I write everything here (unless otherwise cited) but do so using various pseudonyms that represent my various moods, ideas and feelings.  I do not always agree with everything written here as the alter-egos have their own “personalities” and tend to represent an archetype rather than a complete person.

BlindChristian writes almost everything that appears in Blind Confidential.  I “invented” BlindChristian when he played acoustic blues in Cambridge with a friend called Chunder.  We thought, Blind Christian and Chunder sounded like a cool name for a blues act.  The act went away years ago but the nickname has followed me.  Chris Hofstader, aka cdh, and BlindChristian share a lot of values but we do have our differences as BlindChristian tends to feel angry more than cdh who tends toward depression and agoraphobia.

Gonz Blinko, who has only written two stories here, takes his inspiration from the late great Hunter S. Thompson and blends in issues regarding blindness and the absurdity that the world around us brings to our lives everyday.  If you look around, the world tends toward the bizarre and Gonz sees it more clearly than the rest of the gang.  He and cdh share some things in common but I never had his kind of adventures, spent a lot of time with a tall African lesbian and, although I like guns and have had people shoot at me, I never participated in a real fire fight nor have I shot up my own house.  I really like Gonz and BC readers can expect to see him more frequently in the future.

Boris Throbaum, another alter-ego, came into existence when he joined the real life Corporate Pigs hardcore punk rock band back in the heyday of CBGB and the New York punk scene.  Like BlindChristian, he has appeared in public, performed, published articles and hung out with a lot of people back in the day.  For a while people had trouble telling Boris and cdh apart but, in 1984 or so, Boris went off to lead his own, fictitious, life and, unlike cdh, he never went blind.  Boris has yet to publish anything in BC as he actively works to get his own blog, “Hanging Out at 322” started but he will make an appearance here soon to announce his new blog and to reunite with old friends like Gonz, Samhara, BlindChristian, cdh and others who run through these pages.

Today, we introduced Sy T. Greenbacks.  He fills the role of “evil sighted twin” to all of the others who write here with the best interests of people with vision impairments and other disabilities as a goal.  Sy lets me say the most horrible thoughts that cross my mind in my deepest, darkest, most ruthlessly capitalist moments.

Others will emerge as time goes on and some characters like Blind Master Crash, our rap star, will start showing up soon.

Author’s Note:  As a purely intellectual exercise in writing, I intentionally refused to use the passive verb “to be” in this entire blog entry.  I did end up using it once in a reference to a common idiom in which I couldn’t avoid the verb without distorting the phrase.  I like active verbs much more than the passive.  I like sentences that do things rather than be things.  Of course, anything written by Shakespeare, including the very passive, “To be or not to be…” goes without criticism from this writer.  So does Earnest Hemmingway’s powerful statements of being.  I’ll think I’ll have to invent an English professor alter-ego, Igor C. Badinov?

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I'm an accessibility advocate working on issues involving technology and people with print impairment. I'm a stoner, crackpot, hacker and all around decent fellow. I blog at this site and occasionally contribute to Skepchick. I'm a skeptic, atheist, humanist and all around left wing sort. You can follow this blog in your favorite RSS reader, and you can also view my Twitter profile (@gonz_blinko) and follow me there.

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