VOLUME 1, ISSUE 1
Uncanny, is it not, that just last month, Brand Affinity Technologies Inc. went bankrupt without so much as a soul noticing? The single largest media firm in the western United States--with contracts from Snapple Computers, Verison Wireless and financial heavy-weight Stanely-Oakmont--filed bankruptcy in an Irvine, CA Court this June according to court records. Not a single article was published on BAT Inc. because for all intents and purposes, the company never existed. The average consumer never saw a BAT Inc. logo, the small business owner never considered using BAT Inc. for their next campaign because BAT Inc. is, or was, surrounded by a series of subsidiaries and subcontractors that would impress even the most avid corporate villains of our time. BAT Inc. charged, on average, a quarter of a million dollars for advisory contracts with some of the nation's largest tech giants and financial firms. Layered into these contracts were additional fees, commissions, and collections that could have easily added up to an additional half million dollars over a ten-year period. One line item included ten thousand dollars for paperclips within an eighty thousand dollars office expense account. No one knows exactly what BAT Inc. does or did, but it apparently involved thousands of paperclips and "executive collaboration teams." On their website, which is now a blank web page, they formerly listed such diverse talents as "micromanagement," "problem-solving," and "technical assistance." What a wealth of information on what appears to be a completely useless company.
Unsatisfied with the purposefully shady website, unresponsive phone lines, and hostile secretaries I was forced to turn the customers of BAT Inc. for information that was apparently far too confidential for the average blog-reporter. I spoke with Daniel S. Mead, CEO of Verison Wireless, who has communicated with Der Schuh before on matters of internal significance. He confessed that "Brand Affinity never came up in any board meetings and no contracts were approved for them," which is puzzling considering Verison's policy of board approval for all expenditures of more than one hundred thousand dollars. Mr. Mead promised to investigate but did not have any further information. Neither did Snapple Computer executives or Stanely-Oakmont--it seemed as though no one in the higher executive ranks knew anything about Brand Affinity or any of its three major subsidiaries. It was a dead-end investigation with no public information, no executive knowledge, and really no awareness of the company at all until I spoke with Adam Weishaupt III, CFO forSparre Corporation, one of the largest oil-based energy conglomerates in the world.
Mr. Weishaupt is the son of a wealthy oil tycoon, Ivy League graduate and born businessman. He was head ofSparre Corp's Middle Eastern Division at the age of thirty and joined the executive team as CFO in nineteen ninety-seven where he has stayed through several successive CEOs. He himself had heard of Brand Affinity only once. When visiting his secret homosexual partner during a routine business trip away from his wife of twenty years and three children, he heard him mention BAT Inc. It was during a particularly conversation sparse part of the evening and was expressed halfway between a gurgle and a euphoric exclamation--his head was pointed away so Mr. Weishaupt could not be sure of the words, but a quick search for his male mistress revealed more about Brand Affinity than three weeks prior. The kept man, whose name will be kept confidential for future blackmail, was a lower-level accountant for Snapple Computers. What was odd is that his salary and position had remained constant for the past ten years. His official file at Snapple Computers was empty and other the minor fact that he was employed, there was no official recognition that he existed.
Lower level accountant connected to Brand Affinity? Secret homosexual relationships? Ten thousand dollars in paperclips? Something was missing in the puzzle, so I bought a ticket to Irvine CA to observe the bankruptcy proceedings in person. When I arrived in court, I discovered that court proceeding are extremely boring an uninformative, so I left within ten minutes. I decided to visit the address listed on the court documents but assumed that I would find a vacant office building. What I found was shocking--a RadioSnack. RadioSnack is the now defunct electronics/trail-mix retailer, another recent business gone bad after their profits tumbled out of control. Confused and hungry, I called BAT Inc's main office for some answers. When I heard the phone ringing just a few feet inside the vacant RadioSnack, the full truth of the matter hit me like a load of RadioSnack trail-mix.
Low-level accountants all across the United States in strategic positions in some of the nation's top grossing businesses had been funneling millions of dollars into RadioSnack to fund research and development. Later that night, going through my research I realized that I had completely misunderstood the situation. It was not research and development, it was the paperclips. Littered through hundreds of pages of accounting jargon hints were littered. References to paper-fasteners, steel wire, paper-related costs, clips, miscellaneous wire and a dozen other synonyms all pointing towards the same thing paperclips. So much secrecy, millions of dollars, hundreds of accounts all employed in a grand scheme to revolutionize the way we hold paper together. It sounds like a typical trade secret story, a story of patents and inventions, but if that were the case, where is the replacement for the paperclip? Why is RadioSnack out of business? What happened to BAT Inc.? These questions all point to one inevitable answer, RadioSnack failed to reinvent the paperclip. That leaves an even more fearsome question, what did they create instead? What monster did they bring into being? Why did they hide it from the public? Why did they dismantle their entire network? Are we safe?
I do not know about my readers, but I threw away all of my paperclips when I returned home and bolted the door. There is no way to know what RadioSnack created, but I know that paperclips are part of the problem. I hope and pray that humanity is ready for whatever wire-related catastrophe is about to strike.
For Der Schuh