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First, I have been very busy so apologies for not getting into this a bit earlier.

Some bit of background. In the last few months two different things have been happening. One is my business ChaseCam has been "blowing up" as in growing by leaps and more. We are doing millions of dollars of business and it has been more of a struggle to give the business the due diligence it deserves. I have kept making decisions to spend more time on the business than on the community. It has become harder and harder to devote the time to running this forum, to developing community events, etc. Most people really have no idea how much time is required behind the scenes to run Lotustalk. I have even been approached by some dealers (intervention?) asking me to please spend more time on the business and product development and quit "playing" with Lotustalk. :)

Then I find I have been traveling a lot. Attending major races to work with the series and teams and flying off to UK and Australia, ALMS and SCCA Pro Racing. Trade shows. I was finding I was out of the office about 50% of my time. Which is ok, but I was not able to do much work behind the scenes. PMs were not answered. EMails asking about someone's password. Forum and server upgrades not getting done. Etc etc etc. Bad enough, but I can't even answer all my ChaseCam emails or replies on the ChaseCam forum. A major reason for selling my Elise was exactly this... I DID NOT HAVE ANY TIME TO MOD IT and drive it.

The other major change has been my health. Those that are close to me, know about this, but I have had to make major changes to my lifestyle after some recent heart issues. I was in surgery recently and will have to go back for another procedure at some point. I am recuperating now. But I am not out of the woods. But I need to spend more time on some other things that are not business or forum related.

This issue of a time problem has been going on for many months, but it became exponentially worse since January when my health rapidly deteriorated. We are also starting up the Toniq business and possibly involved in some other business ventures I can't mention publicly yet. Add all of this together, and the time crunch was getting to be way too much a load for me.

On the positive side, the hospital says I am the luckiest man alive, so that is good. They told me to buy lottery tickets. :) And I am on the mend. The realist in me though has been making contingency plans for me not being here. As I told the other mods a while ago, the Lotus community should never depend on one person, so plans were already in place for the admins to take over the site.

I have had people offering to buy ET/LT for some time, but though I was amused by the offers, I NEVER seriously considered them. The money is not a reason to sell. Again, the real business is doing quite well and rapidly growing. That is my financial focus. But at some point, Autoforums talked to us and offered to make a deal, and there were some things about that deal that were more appealing. One, they would not make a major change to the site. They showed me other sites they owned and promised we would not see more ads than those. Yes there would be the block of google ads below the banner, but that is all. No "adwords." No blocks of ads all over the page. I was not happy with any change, but I felt they got the user base and demographic and understood my concerns. This was the largest point of the negotiation.

I was pleased with the fact that Autoforums was run by car guys. The alternative if I was really looking to sell was Internet Brands and that would have been a bad thing for the site, even if there would have been more money involved for me.

Autoforums would add more muscle to the site with their experience and also with their other forums. Better search engine optimization, something Transio would tell you I sucked at. :)

Autoforums would take over the server and software work, something I also struggled with. They had the staff and time to do this. They would fix some of the problem areas of the site, the gallery for example. They would add some features and good things. Behind the scenes, they have already done some of these things. I kept asking for free server help from Craig and really, that was not fair to him.

And the most important thing, they don't want to change the community. They wanted the same people involved as before. In their words, they are taking over a successful community, why change it. The same admins. The same forum mods. They will just handle the advertising and forum administration and server stuff. We will still set the vision and direction of the community.

Of course, like anything in life, this all remains to be seen. If things change radically for the worse, then I will be the first to admit this was a mistake and I will catch you on the flip side. But I have no reason to think that at this point and I expect things will not change. We will soon have a "skin" that will look like the old ET/LT (which I did like, since I designed those colors) :) and choice is good. I will continue to listen and give my input to the guys from Autoforums. I think they will listen too, and they have so far to a couple of points.

I ask everyone for their support and to take a small step back and watch the transition. Give it a little time. See how it unfolds.

Thanks.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
THAT is coming. :)

There is something to be said for a smaller community.
 

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I'm sorry to hear about your health problems and wish you a speedy recovery to great health. Making lots of money is great but not worth sacrificing your health. All the best to you. Ron
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm sorry to hear about your health problems and wish you a speedy recovery to great health. Making lots of money is great but not worth sacrificing your health. All the best to you. Ron
That point was drastically driven home to me two weeks ago. I still can't do much physically as I used to and I am not allowed to autocross. :(


I am bringing in someone to help run ChaseCam, if not fully run it. I will be spending more of my time catching up on reading, doing some design work, and get back into playing volleyball.
 

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Thanks again Randy for all you have done for us! I hope you do get better as well! As long as the orignal flavor remains of ET/LT, I don't see a problem with hiring a different "real estate management" company to take care of the halls and walls around here :)
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks again Randy for all you have done for us! I hope you do get better as well! As long as the orignal flavor remains of ET/LT, I don't see a problem with hiring a different "real estate management" company to take care of the halls and walls around here :)

Thanks. That is exactly how I am looking at this. A bit of concern that the management company might start trying to make decisions... but so far I see it exactly like that. Let them paint the walls, change the signs, and pay for the utilities to stay on.

And if I am wrong, the Internet is a big place. :sheep:
 

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There is probably one other change we have discussed, that is coming. I have some mixed feelings about this, but there are some positives. That is that Lotustalk will follow the standard thing most forums do, not allow unpaid advertising.

I made it quite clear that my philosophy was to not do this. That people offering products for the community was a good thing for the community. The only reason to demand paid advertising was for the forum owner to make money. Well, Autoforums is a business, not a hobby. They are looking for a return, which is understandable. Me... I often toyed with the idea of not allowing any sponsors. :)

In talking this over with some of the existing sponsors, there was a lot of support for this idea. Most of the sponsors did not feel it was fair that they had no difference in rights as someone else that joins the forum and starts advertising their new exhaust or whatever, and I guess I can see that.

On the other hand, there are a lot of other less "commercial" enterprises and I felt it was not in the best interests of the community to crack down on those people. Autoforums agreed with that too. So someone like MattG could continue to sell his V1 mount. Anyone can still advertise parts or whatever. But a dealer or a commercial aftermarket company would not be allowed to spam the forums unless they were a paid advertiser/sponsor.
 

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Randy, thanks for everything you've done. Congrats on the sale. With as much time and effort you put into LT you deserve the reward.

Plus, it's the people that make the forum, and you won't find a forum with more quality people willing to share.

Ben
 

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I haven't said it in awhile, but thanks so much for the forums Randy. The long wait in the beginning wouldn't have been bearable without them, and the community I became a part of along the way is a great one.

Congratulations on all of your successes. Now enjoy the fruits of your labor for awhile. Take some time to unwind and hang out with your family.
 

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Hey Randy - I am glad to hear that you are doing well and hope that you have a complete recovery back to full health.

The only downside that I see is the one you just mentioned about no allowing the small guys to put together some small simple "product" just to help out the other owners. My friend Dan (tesprit) and his mirror mounts come to mind.

Maybe you could ask Autoforums if they would be willing to create an open "Product development" section where anyone could talk about things they were working on or thinking about selling? If they were really smart, they'd set up a store system and help these guys handle the sales process for a bit of a cut. Kind of a LotusTalk (and their other forums too) Etsy.com.

EDIT: And all of the Lotus Notes ads showing up now are really quite funny. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The future for the forum still looks bright. Unfortunately all forums cycle a bit, specially as the cars get more affordable, it is inevitable. But the new Eagle/Ethos and then Esprit will add more to the forum and I hope to be one of those with a new Eagle/Ethos. I look forward to the wait, the discovery, the mods. :)
 

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Hey Randy - I am glad to hear that you are doing well and hope that you have a complete recovery back to full health.

The only downside that I see is the one you just mentioned about no allowing the small guys to put together some small simple "product" just to help out the other owners. My friend Dan (tesprit) and his mirror mounts come to mind.

Maybe you could ask Autoforums if they would be willing to create an open "Product development" section where anyone could talk about things they were working on or thinking about selling? If they were really smart, they'd set up a store system and help these guys handle the sales process for a bit of a cut. Kind of a LotusTalk (and their other forums too) Etsy.com.
We did have this discussion and I was pretty clear I thought it was a good idea to allow something like this, and they agreed. There is a distinction between someone like Sector111 or BWR and the hobbyists like MattG, Tony, or Jim Clayton and his various cool products.
 

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I should also point out, there are some good things coming too. There will be some new features that will be added to the site and we are working on some other new things which I can't talk about yet.
 

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Randy I too must thank you for all you've done for all of us. I've met quite a few new friends and found and endless source of information here on Lotustalk.
While not a fan of the additional ads and the potential to ban unpaid advertising, I completely understand your situation. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery and we all hope to see you out at the next possible Lotus gathering.

take care and get well soon,

Sean a.k.a. pixlpush
 

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Randy,
How many of us could honestly say given the circumstances that we would of done anything different? Thank you for laying the groundwork and building this place up.

I certainly hope you stay on board.

Also, many thanks for the business ChaseCam has given me. I look forward to serving you in the future and best of luck in all your current and future endeavors, but most especially to your health.
 

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Thanks and Best Wishes

Randy,

You should be very proud of what the forum has become - an invaluable resource for the Lotus community. Many thanks for your massive behind-the-scenes efforts. Very best wishes for your continuing business ventures and for full recovery from health issues.
 
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