Lord Ashcroft: Would I Trust Boris with my Wife?

Owen Jones’s customary Tory Conference video has just come out, which includes a rather amusing clip of him asking Tory grandee Lord Ashcroft whether he trusts Boris. The response took Jones and Guido by surprise…

mdi-timer 2 October 2019 @ 16:00 2 Oct 2019 @ 16:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Losses at Political Publisher Dods Surge to £5 Million

Guido is frankly stunned to report that political publisher Dods, whose publications include The House Magazine and PoliticsHome, has seen losses this year surge to £5,537,000. The firm shuttered Public Affairs News recently and rumour has it that Lord Ashcroft and Lord Bell fell out in relation to Sans Frontières Associates, Bell’s Ashcroft-backed lobbying venture. The losses are something of a surprise because Dods last year confidently claimed the bad times were over and they were all set for a profitable year. Given Dods main customer base, the public affairs industry in London, is coining it as firms try to figure out Brexit, it is somewhat mystifying. The digital future envisaged seems to have been less profitable than expected…

Something that was not unexpected was the writing off of 70% of the investment in Social360. In January Guido wrote:

Dods bought into Social360 – a social media monitoring service – which has not sold to clients as well as hoped. Many potential clients manage with a combination of Google alerts and Tweetdeck, both of which are free products. The social media crisis solution seems a bit unnecessary, because when you are in social media crisis, you know it without the need for expensive software. Making their database of “Dods People” acessible via a Salesforce CRM plugin seems like a smart idea until you realise public affairs professionals don’t use Salesforce, sales people do. “DODS Signals”, which “enables the tracking of social media profiles and interactions for over 5,000 political influencers”, is essentially a social media list with bells and whistles, which can pretty much be functionally replicated, for free, in Tweetdeck. Unless you don’t know how to search for a hashtag.

Not forgetting that in 2014/15 they bought “Social Lens” for a million which was also subsequently written off. There is also the very real competitive threat from Politico, which is a quality product written by journalists and read by the public affairs professionals who are Dods’ core customer base. All will work out next year says the new CEO after they raise £13.2 million to buy another software company, this time an Indian company, so they can get into AI. What could go wrong?

mdi-timer 4 July 2019 @ 16:36 4 Jul 2019 @ 16:36 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Brexit Party Voters Two Thirds Tory, One Seventh Labour

Rough breakdown from above is that two thirds of the Brexit Party’s voters came from the Tories, a seventh from Labour. Labour also haemorrhaged votes to the Greens and LibDems. Problems for both Labour and the Tories look daunting. The comentariat is already looking for another referendum, which is unlikely to be decisive. If instead the Tories elect a proper Brexiteer we could be out for Halloween…

More details here.

mdi-timer 27 May 2019 @ 16:33 27 May 2019 @ 16:33 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Political Publisher Dods Sees Share Price Plummet, Blames Brexit

Political publisher Dods, whose publications include The House Magazine and PoliticsHome saw their shares plummet 33% yesterday, knocking some £7 million off their valuation. In the last 12 months the shares have halved in value. New CEO Simon Presswell is blaming Brexit for an expected profits collapse because of the ‘unprecedented’ political uncertainty. Insiders blame the losses on a lack of customer interest in new products.

Dods bought into Social360 – a social media monitoring service – which has not sold to clients as well as hoped. Many potential clients manage with a combination of Google alerts and Tweetdeck, both of which are free products. The social media crisis solution seems a bit unnecessary, because when you are in social media crisis, you know it without the need for expensive software. Making their database of “Dods People” acessible via a Salesforce CRM plugin seems like a smart idea until you realise public affairs professionals don’t use Salesforce, sales people do. “DODS Signals”, which “enables the tracking of social media profiles and interactions for over 5,000 political influencers”, is essentially a social media list with bells and whistles, which can pretty much be functionally replicated, for free, in Tweetdeck. Unless you don’t know how to search for a hashtag.

None of this appears to have put Dods off expanding, their new CEO telling CEO Today that when it come to prospective mergers and acquisitions:

“we’ve done an extensive study that identifies tens of thousands of organisations that might possess an interest for us. We have defined the criteria of attributes that we look for in businesses that would benefit under our ownership, and we have applied this as a filter across those organisations and have a very specific target list.

If you imagine a 2×2 chart that has two axis [sic] on it, one is complexity, and the other is value. We are able to place our prospects into the appropriate quadrants: those that are high value and relatively low complexity take our priority, those that are high value and more complex take our second priority, and our third priority is on the opportunities that are not yet at high value and are relatively uncomplex. For those prospects, we will be seeking to partner with a select minority of incubators and innovators to bring on board those businesses and technologies in order to amplify them across our network.”

Shareholders, of which Lord Ashcroft is the biggest, might prefer an uncomplex focus on the bottom line…

mdi-timer 22 January 2019 @ 15:06 22 Jan 2019 @ 15:06 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Ashcroft Writing Biography of Jacob Rees-Mogg

Michael Ashcroft is writing a biography of the Moggster with the working title “Jacob’s Ladder” to be published by his publisher Biteback this summer. Which is likely to be too late to influence a Tory leadership election…

Lord Ashcroft thinks Rees-Mogg stands out among the current crop of politicians. This work will be on top of the book he is already writing – with regular collaborator Isabel Oakeshott – on the NHS. His biography of Cameron was seen as a revenge piece, the Moggster will be hoping for a kinder treatment…

mdi-timer 30 November 2018 @ 10:20 30 Nov 2018 @ 10:20 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
Voters Want MPs to Reject Withdrawal Agreement

This poll out this morning from Ashcroft’s polling might surprise readers of the Daily Mail and others who are lapping up the superficially appealing line, delivered to camera from Downing Street by May, that the British people just want the government to “get on with it”. They don’t want them to get on with this deal. The British people overwhelmingly want MPs to reject the agreement.

By 46% to 26% they want MPs to reject the Withdrawal Agreement, if you exclude don’t knows that is 64% of the British people want MPs to reject the agreement – an almost 2 to 1 margin. Both Remain and Leave voters overwhelmingly dislike the deal…

mdi-timer 23 November 2018 @ 10:00 23 Nov 2018 @ 10:00 mdi-twitter mdi-facebook mdi-whatsapp mdi-telegram mdi-linkedin mdi-email mdi-comment View Comments
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