Abraxas was a word of mystic meaning in the system of the Gnostic Basilides, being there applied to the “Great Archon” , the princeps of the 365 spheres . The seven letters spelling its name may represent each of the seven classic planets—Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.The word is found in Gnostic texts such as the Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit, and also appears in the Greek Magical Papyri. It was engraved on certain antique gemstones, called on that account Abraxas stones, which were used as amulets or charms. As the initial spelling on stones was 'Abrasax' , the spelling of 'Abraxas' seen today probably originates in the confusion made between the Greek letters Sigma and Xi in the Latin transliteration. The word may be related to Abracadabra, although other explanations exist.There are similarities and differences between such figures in reports about Basilides's teaching, ancient Gnostic texts, the larger Greco-Roman magical traditions, and modern magical and esoteric writings. Opinions abound on Abraxas, who in recent centuries has been claimed to be both an Egyptian god and a demon. The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote a short Gnostic treatise in 1916 called The Seven Sermons to the Dead, which called Abraxas a god higher than the Christian God and devil that combines all opposites into one being. Wikipedia.
News Article | March 7, 2016
I blinked. I didn’t know Justin very well. I did know that he was a very affable bearded man, and we both lived in the Bay Area. At the time, he ran a small creative agency, while I worked as a writer and digital media consultant. “I think so,” I said cautiously. “I think I can keep a secret.” Justin raised his eyebrows. “Of course I can,” I said. “I’ve been thinking about giving you something,” he said. Justin told me he'd been considering giving me a gift for weeks, and finally decided to go through with it after reading an article I’d written about how people use pseudonyms to explore their identities. “But you have to promise me that you won’t tell anyone about it. No one.” I nodded, and he handed me a plastic card—much like a credit card, but pure white with a line of black zeroes. It came in a black slipcase embossed with the words “ABSOLUTE DISCRETION” and a distinctive golden hexagonal symbol. On the back of the card, in the spot that would normally hold a credit card signature, there was a sentence in elaborate black script: “You have received an invitation to visit the San Francisco House of the Latitude.” Below the script, I saw a web address and a code. I turned it over in my fingers. “What is this?” I asked, but Justin refused to answer my questions. He laughed as I pulled out my phone, went straight to the web address and entered the code in the form I found there. The website was elegant and basic, black serif text on a grey background. After I logged in, the site showed me two definitions of the word “discretion (noun).” One defined “discretion” as freedom of choice, while the other emphasized subtlety and secrecy. I clicked through these definitions, and then the website subjected me to an intimidating Terms & Conditions form before displaying time slots to “sign up for an appointment.” Justin’s offer, the dramatic website, the mysterious appointment—the entire experience made me catch my breath, made me laugh aloud. I felt like I was in a fairy tale. I felt like I’d been chosen for something special. I couldn’t help but wonder what this Society was building, what secret they were protecting. I looked at the blank white “credit card,” and I couldn’t help wondering how much money was involved. I signed up for an appointment immediately. After I made my appointment, the Latitude website sent me an email: Your appointment is for you, and you alone. A visit to the Latitude House is not for the wary or timid of heart. It is an experience reserved for those willing to bravely leap into the unknown. The message listed an address; it encouraged timeliness and, again, discretion. Weeks later, on a Saturday afternoon, I stood before a pair of grey doors in San Francisco’s Mission District. People walked past me, normal people walking around on a normal day, while I tried to be invisible. Beside the doors, there was a card reader embossed with the same golden symbol printed on the card case. I glanced around, then slid my card through it. The doors opened. Inside, I discovered a polished wooden fireplace—a fireplace that contained a white oak slide, descending into darkness. It was illuminated by two scarlet pulsing lights, and surrounded by a low thrumming. I saw nothing else but a camera above my head, with a small light that indicated I was being surveilled. The lights began to pulse faster, and the thrumming rose to an urgent hum. The floor vibrated beneath my feet. My heart thumped. I launched myself into the slide, emerging fast into a dim reception room with three wooden doors. A still, silent figure sat behind a frosted glass ticket window. Above the ticket window, a neon sign said SHHHH. I suspected the figure was a mannequin, but couldn’t be sure. As I gazed at this silhouette, a cabinet beside the window clicked open. There was a sign within it, asking me to leave all my possessions inside. Standing in that quiet waiting room, I remembered back to the day Justin gave me the invitation. I’d asked Justin: “How long will this take? Will I be able to meet my clients the next day?” He just smiled and shrugged. Now, confronted by the cabinet, I wondered if I was about to be hooded and bundled into a van, or removed from San Francisco by helicopter. How well did I know Justin? Not very well. And I had no idea who’d built this place. I felt scared and exhilarated, like I was falling down a rabbit hole. I drew a deep breath, then another one—and I surrendered both my phone and my wallet. The figure behind the ticket window seemed to watch me, unmoving. As I closed the cabinet, one of the doors thrummed. I tried the other two doors—locked—and then I opened the third, which led into a dark tunnel. I got down on my hands and knees, and the twisting tunnel led me into a library so tiny that I didn’t have space to stand. So I sat and looked around the stately shelves. Each one was lined with identical tall grey books, whose spines said The Latitude and bore that same golden hexagonal symbol from the card. The tiny library was as elegant as a Renaissance painting, as meticulous as Disneyland. Before me, on a short lectern, one of the grey books lay closed. I ruffled through the pages; they were blank. Then the blank white pages lit up, and a woman’s voice began to speak. “There was an island,” she said softly. “And at its centre was a village. And on its shore there was a port…” Her words drew themselves in calligraphy on the page. Alongside the words, an illustration of the sea coalesced. Quickly, the illustration’s perspective swept forward and arrived at the base of a towering rock that rose directly from the water. I wasn’t kidnapped, and there were no fanciful helicopters. But the day’s adventure did end up taking me all across the Mission District, on foot, following enigmatic messages and hexagonal symbols. After the glowing fable in the book, I pulled other books down from the tiny library shelves. Each book was blank—and yet, beyond the blank pages, each book contained an identical index that started like this: A Ghost Train ... AZURE 5305 Abraxoids (or Abraxas Stones) ... AZURE 4280 Absolute Discretion ... INDIGO 1937 Absolute Zero ... ONYX 4887 Abydos ... OPAL 0121 Administration of Sympathetic Resonance ... FERN 5457 Aerodamnation ... ONYX 6062 The minutes stretched on as I pored over the index, recognizing some names but not most. I’d heard of the Fibonacci Sequence and the Mesopotamian city of Nineveh. I knew the name of John Dee, the medieval scholar-magician who advised Queen Elizabeth I. Under W, there was an entry called We Are Being Observed. A disembodied voice came whispering softly into the library: “Lydia, you need to move on.” I glanced up and saw another red-lit camera watching me, and smiled. From the library I proceeded into a lounge, dim in tangerine-colored light, lined in dark couches and antique black-and-white photos. A low table bore a brass skull. A bar in the corner displayed a bottle of unlabeled liqueur and an inviting glass filled with ice. I picked up the glass; the ice was fresh, its edges crystalline. Someone else had been here, moments ago. They’d left this ice for me, but I was alone in the room. I felt a deep, unsettling thrill at the sense that I was being watched, tested, measured—welcomed, anticipated, and understood. There was an old-fashioned black telephone sitting on a side table. I picked up the handset, and it delivered a recorded message laden with cryptic clues. I retrieved my possessions from a locker, then sat on a black couch and waited, without drinking anything. I figured that since someone had told me to move on from the library, there was another person coming through behind me. When he arrived, I convinced him to work with me. We encountered another girl on the way. I snared their contact information, learned who invited them both to the Society, and started to build a mental membership chart. I’m not usually good at puzzles. But this was a new kind of puzzle. I was dying to know: Who else was a member of the Latitude Society? What was the internal hierarchy? How could I find the people who’d created it? I had never seen a real-life social network puzzle before. I was already obsessed. By the end of the day, our mission had led us to a roomful of arcade games. As we played one of the games, a staticky vision appeared and delivered a mysterious speech containing a code word. This word allowed us to return to the Latitude website and log in, whereupon we discovered Forums where all the participants used assumed names. I recognized some names from weird Bay Area art projects: Justin’s moniker was Dr. Professor. I chose Noisemaker, an old Burning Man nickname. Immediately, I set about figuring out how to meet the Society’s mysterious creators. The few people I knew in the Society didn’t know much (or acted cagey when I asked them for details). Through Google, I gathered only that it was a project created by Nonchalance, a company that previously created an art “cult” called the Jejune Institute. I learned many things from the Forums, and I grilled Justin—Dr. Professor—with a flurry of questions. Dr. Professor explained that, in Latitude parlance, he was my ascendant. (As the person who received the invitation from him, I was his descendant.) He was several steps ahead of me in the Society, and he had already gathered a lot of information. But in response to my thorniest questions, he always asked: “Are you sure you want the answer? Or do you want to figure it out on your own?” Aside from the Forums, the Latitude website contained a Marketplace where we could buy merchandise, like a t-shirt that said ABSOLUTE DISCRETION. The irony made me laugh, and I bought it immediately. The Marketplace also sold invitation cards for $25 apiece—cards like the white one I’d already received, each with a different unique code. I purchased several invitations, but invited only one person; I held on to the rest. I barely knew what I’d joined, and I had no idea what inviting others might mean. But I was eager to learn. I started wearing my ABSOLUTE DISCRETION t-shirt everywhere, because it helped me identify Latitude members in the wild. I even posted it to Instagram, with glee and trepidation. Was I breaking the rules? (What were the rules?) One day, I met a local artist for lunch. He laughed when he saw the shirt and spoke a Society code word. I carefully asked him for details. He shrugged. “Oh, the Latitude Society,” he said, and, for the first time, I heard some of the names of people who might be behind it. “It’s Jeff Hull,” he said, “Kat Meler. You know. Those people.” I nodded like I knew what he was talking about, and I held the names close to my heart, like a prize. For a few months after I joined, members met in person by arranging gatherings on the Forums. Often, we simply met for drinks or meals, but impromptu traditions emerged. For instance, some members conducted regular explorations of San Francisco’s privately owned public spaces. Then, after several months, the Society itself introduced official “Events.” The first Event was what the Society called Praxis: a ritualistic gathering in the lounge I’d seen on my first day, the lounge with the brass skull. Praxis always began with a senior Society member retelling the Fable that we’d heard from the glowing book: There was an island... And at its centre was a village. And on its shore there was a port.... The fable-teller was always from the Affairs Guild, a group of volunteers that ran Society events. Each Guild member had their own way of telling the Fable, which changed depending on their mood. After the Fable, each Praxis went in different directions, but it was always creative and ritualistic. The first Praxis I attended was led by an ethereal, soft-spoken redhead in her twenties. I thought she might be Kat Meler. Slowly, between jaunts and parties and Praxis events, I collected a group of Society friends; the artists, gamers, and general weirdos who formed its core. We traded tidbits about how the Society was structured and we investigated its mysteries. For example, the website contained a hidden form that enabled members to look up codes from the grey books’ Indexes. Several members mined that form to make spreadsheets of terms like “abraxoids” and “abydos,” and then we searched those spreadsheets for patterns. “Attendees were game and came focused,” Anthony Rocco, who was part of the Affairs Guild and ran a lot of Praxis events, told me later. (Rocco is a co-founder of the experience design firm Foma Labs.) “People made showing up a priority, and they dove in right away. I felt like part of a vast and dynamic underground community.” Greg Gioia, who tended bar at many Society events, said that “There was a feeling that by stepping into the lounge, you’d traveled in time to an underground world only slightly connected to the city above.” Soon, the community members developed new rituals in the Society style. Some members told the Fable as a bedtime story for their children. Others came up with unique invitation experiences when they gave away invitation cards. I heard a rumor that one ascendant led all his descendants through a stone tunnel and onto a beach at night, where a robed circle of candlelit chanters granted the card. I soon felt confident enough to start inviting people myself. There were no official instructions about how to choose descendants—we knew that we should invite people “of like mind and heart,” but that was all the criteria we were given. I went slowly, because I wasn’t always certain about who was right for the Society, and invitations weren’t free. Yet despite these limitations, I invited at least two people per month. The Latitude Marketplace raised the price on invitations to $32, yet I kept buying them. It was becoming an expensive hobby. In fact, granting invitations was one of my favorite aspects of Latitude membership. Everyone reacted to my invitations differently. A few of my descendants became highly involved members. Some people passed through those doors, had their adventure, and went back to their lives unaffected. And others never even activated their cards; they told me sheepishly that they were “too busy.” I’m an inveterate networker, and I thought the Latitude might be a good networking tool. But inviting colleagues and clients proved risky, even when I was certain that they’d love it. For example, one ex-colleague seemed thrilled and honored to receive the invitation. “I feel like I’m in a movie,” he breathed as I handed it to him. But later, he mailed it back to me with a note: “I started signing up for an appointment, but… While I'm cool with the cloak-and-dagger-ness (in fact, I kinda like it) the information asymmetry really bothered me, i.e. giving personal information away without knowing who I was giving it to or for what.” It ended up creating a new awkwardness between us. This became a known factor among experienced Society members—that many invitees never used their cards. One member wrote later that “I was stunned, flabbergasted, to learn that a significant number of people don’t even bother taking that step. A friend sits you down, asks of you absolute discretion, and then gives you a mysterious card that, if activated, literally opens a door to a new world of adventure, and you DON’T EVEN USE IT? C’mon, people: Be better.” Why were some of us drawn in like moths to a flame, while others reacted zero? “We were looking for meaning, and the Society seemed like a space where we were doing that together, more than being a performance,” said Thomas Lotze, a Society member in his mid-thirties. In his daily life, Thomas leads statistical experimentation at the payment processing company Square. “There was a focus on taking the time and attention to reflect on ideas. I feel like much of my life is so focused on Doing The Thing that I don't take that kind of time very often. The feeling of warmth and excitement and sparkling eyes was really strong, and it formed a lot of my sense of what this group was and why it was meaningful.” Lena Strayhorn, an experimental musician and stay-at-home mother who has worked as a nonprofit administrator, told me that “I was vaguely confused yet elated by Praxis. It was like performance art as a secret society meeting. I threw myself into participating, building the art-life project along with other members. The long-term collective storytelling arc deepened for me, every time I attended.” So although I can’t say exactly what drew me to the Latitude, I was hooked. Over the course of my year in the Society, I fell madly in love with a new boyfriend—yet even in sleepless delirium, I kept Society events on my calendar. I worked hard to build my consulting brand, which led to a dream job at a media startup. So my work schedule became punishingly intense, but I made time for the Latitude. And finally, after months of puzzle-solving and card-granting, I received an invitation from Kat Meler herself. She invited me into the Affairs Guild and offered me the chance to run a brand new Praxis—with Jeff Hull, the founder of Nonchalance. What is a social network? Is it a community, a zeitgeist, an artwork? The internet has shaped new ways to understand, utilize, and monetize human relationships. As digital media matures, the process of developing social networks is codifying into a set of best practices. Here’s an example of a Social Media Best Practice: When social networks begin, they should be exclusive, even if they plan to get big later. One reason startups tend to limit the early userbase is testing. It’s useful to test the product on a small number of people and make sure it’s good, before taking on the logistical burdens of a million members. A second reason to limit the early userbase is targeting: It’s easier to appeal to a small, well-understood market than to target the world’s diverse population. A third is to make users feel special. Networks often feel more exciting when they’re exclusive. This is relevant because the Latitude Society was, in reality, produced by the profit-seeking startup Nonchalance. The company’s founder, Jeff Hull, started Nonchalance in the early 2000s. His employees included Kat Meler and many other artists, community-builders, and engineers. The seed money came from Jeff’s inherited wealth; his father, Blair Hull, sold an algorithmic trading firm to Goldman Sachs in 1999 for $531 million. Within the Society, Jeff sometimes styled himself “The Anonymous Benefactor,” and he rarely posted on the forums or attended events. The company’s growth strategy was not discussed outside Nonchalance, but Jeff had reportedly said that he hoped to monetize the Latitude Society and make it self-sustaining. This wouldn’t be easy, because the Society was an expensive endeavor—given the technical design, manpower, and elaborate spaces, including multiple rented locations across San Francisco. The primary location took nearly three years to build before they opened it to members, and a staff member told me that the Latitude Society cost Jeff $2 million in total. (Jeff has neither confirmed nor denied this number.) It was obvious that if the company stuck to invitations and t-shirts, they’d never earn enough to cover Jeff’s investment. If Nonchalance’s growth strategies mimicked that of a social media product, its problems did too. The most obvious parallel is the grow-first-and-figure-out-revenue-later strategy, famously used by many media startups. (This attitude is sometimes mocked with the phrase, “Build it and they will come.”) But the company faced special challenges, too—like issues with its First Time User Experience (startups sometimes abbreviate this to FTUE). The Society’s invitation-only structure came straight out of the modern social media playbook, yet its FTUE was exceptionally hard to manage, because so many aspects took place in locations that weren’t directly controlled by Nonchalance. For example, the initial adventure around the Mission District was enveloped in real-world messiness. As I gave out invitations, I became accustomed to descendants texting me with technical issues (“I reached the third station, but the door won’t open!”) or confusion (“I received the special Society coin from the bartender, so I tried putting it in this jukebox on the street, but the jukebox jammed… I think I made a mistake. How do I get a new coin?”). Some of my descendants only got halfway through their FTUE, and never finished at all. In other words, there were major glitches because the product was buggy. Another hard-to-control factor was the invitation process. Some members, like me, thought carefully about each person we invited. Other members had a more casual flair. They carried cards everywhere, and handed them out to interesting strangers without even leaving a phone number behind. Nonchalance tried to manage this by issuing guidelines about what ascendants ought to tell descendants. Eventually, the company iterated on the invitation cards by printing instructions directly on the card case, where recipients couldn’t miss them. The new, more explicit card. Photo: Lydia Laurenson As I learned more about the company’s operations, I became increasingly curious. It felt strange that my extraordinary Society—to which I gave more and more of my personal time and energy—was “just another Bay Area startup.” But did that necessarily make the Society hollow at its core? Meaningless? I heard about people who got invited to the Society only to quit in disgust, saying that its elaborate mythos was nothing but a marketing ploy. Other people believed it was actively dangerous. One of the Society’s most articulate critics was Rebecca Power, the 26-year-old CEO of experience studio Quixote Games; she is now an artist in residence working on game design for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Rebecca was an early Society invitee, like me, but she canceled her account soon after she joined. Rebecca sent me an email outlining her critiques—here's an abridged version of her message: Rebecca’s concerns are similar to critiques leveled at social media platform companies, which often struggle with harassment and oversight issues. (Twitter’s harassment problem, for example, is legendary.) And yet, even as I heard stories like Rebecca’s, the Society was still giving me experiences I loved. I wanted to believe that Nonchalance would figure out how to do it right. And I wanted to help. Jeff Hull is a shaven-headed man in his mid-forties, with a neat dark beard. In the lounge with the brazen skull, Jeff sat on a black couch, totally at ease. During our early conversations, I didn’t ask many questions because I didn’t want to seem like a desperate fangirl. At the time, I was thrilled and honored by the opportunity to brainstorm a new Praxis with him. There was another Society member with us that day, Anthony Rocco. Together, the three of us had developed the idea for a Praxis called “Fable Exquisite Corpse.” It was named after the collaborative Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, in which participants create a story or drawing together. I perched excitedly on the couch opposite Jeff and asked, “Can I read a copy of the Fable before we begin? I don’t think I remember it all.” “It’s not written down anywhere,” said Jeff. “The Fable is never recorded,” he added emphatically. “But you’ve heard it enough times—you know it. Remember? The island, the village, the port....” He retold the Fable, and I memorized each plot point. We lit candles on the table and laid out snacks. As twelve Society members trickled into the lounge, we asked them to join us on the couches. We began with the formal opening ritual, and then we explained how Fable Exquisite Corpse would be played. There was an island.... “It was a tropical island with a beautiful beach,” said one person. And at its center was a village, and on its shore there was a port.... “The port traded spices from around the world,” said another. “In the village, the roofs were almost all blue,” said a third. “But a few roofs were yellow and green,” said a fourth. “Legal codes governed which colors were allowed,” said another. “There were political battles over who could use which colors,” I added. We went on for an hour. We added visual details to the village, developed its culture, explored the heroes’ motives. At the end of it, when the attendees left and we were cleaning up, Jeff said: “That was great.” A lot of members were obsessed, even in love with the Latitude Society. But what was Nonchalance building, exactly? A slide deck, recently posted on Slideshare, shows how Nonchalance tried to pitch the Society’s business case. Slide No. 6 places the Society at the center of a Venn diagram with three circles: “Peer To Peer Community,” “Social Gaming,” and “Cultural Events.” Slide No. 7 says, “A Dynamic Cross Media Roll Out With Multiple Revenue Streams.” Among other streams, that slide mentions “merchandise” and “membership services.” In mid-2015, Nonchalance rolled out the “membership services,” and they took the form of what the media business calls a “paywall.” With little fanfare, the Society announced that many aspects of being a member—such as Praxis and other official meetups—would now require a paid membership. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this caused controversy; if you watched the New York Times roll out its paywall, you might have predicted that Society members would be upset by one, too. Yet within the Latitude Society, there were extra reasons members got upset by the paywall. Many of us poured hours of volunteer work into the Society, and we felt hurt at being asked to pay when we’d given so much already. Plus, many of us weren’t rich. The new membership plan cost hundreds of dollars a year. The Society had its share of “tech gentry,” but membership was expensive even for some techies, let alone artists and social workers. So the paywall felt out of touch with the community—and it created a hierarchy of wealth, where previously members had distinguished themselves via creativity and service. It was a new and unwelcome type of exclusivity. The announcement hurt especially for members who were struggling to hang on to their homes in a city that was fast-becoming the most expensive in the nation. Much like San Francisco itself, the Society hadn’t felt like it was intended for people with money—until, suddenly, it did. Living in San Francisco, one often feels trapped in a playground for the carelessly rich, and it hurts to be treated like a toy. And finally: How could we feel good inviting others to the Society, knowing that our descendants would be asked to pay? Someone started a thread on the Forums titled, “When a gift comes with a price tag,” and it quickly gathered responses. Today, there’s a public staff list of who worked on the Latitude Society. (You can get a sense of the operation’s scale from Jeff’s “Epilogue” note on the Society website. I am credited as Noisemaker. Note that the site has been having trouble loading lately, so there’s a screenshot of the Epilogue here.) Back when I got invited, however, it was hard to determine who was officially employed, because there was no staff list and nobody listed the company on their LinkedIn profiles. The most visible team member was Kat Meler. She was an experience designer—when they built the tiny library, she’d spent hours hand-rubbing the carpet with oil of vetiver. She ran all the events, so she absorbed most of the negativity from the membership rollout. Although it was clearly painful for Kat to tell us something we didn’t want to hear, she held firm. Nonchalance really needed to monetize the Latitude, she told us. Other Nonchalance employees, including Jeff, supported her by attending events and posting on the Forums. The entire community held meetings and wrote comments about how the Society could earn money. Hundreds of people signed up as paid members. Yet ominous details emerged during that time, too. I learned that Uriah Findley, the longest-running staff member, had left. He’d been at Nonchalance since before the Latitude, and his departure portended major change. (Later, Uriah told me, “I was effectively Jeff’s partner in crime for years, but the company was changing direction.”) Rumors soon came that Jeff planned to cease production on physical locations and move entirely to virtual reality. I heard from a Nonchalance employee that Jeff had said he thought we were “entitled,” that he was angry because he’d given us a $2 million gift we didn’t appreciate properly. One person told me that Nonchalance didn’t have a profit-and-loss sheet—the most basic method of tracking business finances—which implied that the company couldn’t possibly have a meaningful monetization plan. Members started to ask each other: Given that Jeff was mind-bendingly rich, could he understand what he was asking the community for? And then: Did Jeff actually want non-wealthy members in the first place? I learned later that a few months after the membership services rollout, Kat and another core employee submitted their two-week notices. Then an article was published about the Society — an article Jeff had sanctioned. It was the Society’s first major modification to our official policy of discretion, which was jarring, and it didn’t help that Jeff was quoted saying unkind things. “I hate it, it’s so stupid,” Jeff had reportedly said of one community initiative. He’d also said: “I’d be happy to kick people out. My team is a little more sympathetic and they have more compassion than I do. But I, personally, would be happy to kick people out. It’s not for everybody. It’s not even for everybody who thinks it’s for them.” Naturally, members reacted to this article with confusion and pain, and there were more explosions on the Forums. Less than a week after that article was published, Jeff shut down the website. He left only a note that the San Francisco House of the Latitude was closed. It was so sudden that I had to contact two people and tell them their mysterious appointments, scheduled later that week, would never happen after all. The Society closed on Monday, September 28, 2015. In the year since I joined, I’d taken a full-time job. I was at work when I got the afternoon phone call from Dr. Professor. My ascendant—always several steps ahead of me—had become leader of the Affairs Guild, and he often worked on other internal projects too. My heart fluttered as I picked up the phone, then fell at his words. “Hey, you and I are supposed to run a Praxis tonight for new members,” said Dr. Professor. “But I just heard that Jeff is shutting the Society down.” Even as my stomach clenched, I wasn’t surprised. “Oh...,” I said. I got up from my chair and left the office so my colleagues wouldn’t overhear me. “What are we going to do?” I asked when I was safely outside. “Almost nobody else, yet,” he said. “I think you, me, and the employees know. Honestly, I wouldn’t even be telling you, except we’re supposed to run this Praxis tonight.” “When will it happen? Can we still get into the building tonight to run Praxis?” “I don’t have any details. I’m more concerned about what we’re going to tell the new members,” said Dr. Professor. “I mean, should we still run a newbie Praxis if we know the Society is closing?” I gnawed my lip. This is my last chance ever to run Praxis, I thought. I said, “Yes.” “In that case,” he said, “I’ll check on whether we can get into the building. But we can’t do the normal introduction into the Society, right? So we just have to tell them what it meant to us.” Soon after Jeff closed the Latitude Society, he posted an update on Facebook. A few Society members copied the update and passed it around. Some expressed anger, some sympathy: “I have been rolling a boulder up a hill for four years, and it kept getting heavier. It was my most audacious undertaking (beside parenthood) and getting to the top meant ‘success.’ Recently, as my shoulders began to give out under the weight, I looked around, and seeing no relief in sight, I decided to do the most healthy thing I could possibly do: let go." After he closed the Latitude Society, Jeff wrote publicly about its history: “It will be an enduring and inescapable mystery how a game built to offer shared whimsy, inspiration, and play can result in trauma for the people most closely involved.” I tried to contact Jeff via Facebook to learn more about his feelings, only to discover that he’d unfriended me (and some other Society members). I heard rumors that Jeff was absent when the equipment was dismantled, that he sent instructions to Nonchalance remotely. I texted Jeff and he agreed to an interview, but then he didn’t respond to any questions about why he shut it down, saying only that he’d written everything he cared to write. There was a vision behind the Latitude Society, but as it grew, it needed more than vision—it needed attention. For any product, you begin with a prototype, and then you work with your users to iterate and improve. Kat Meler told me that “off the top of my head, roughly 1,200 people came through the doors, and there were 200-250 paid memberships in a given month.” (Another estimate puts the number of attendees closer to 2,000.) Iterating a product with one or two thousand users (and 200 fiercely dedicated power users) demands a certain skill set. Iteration demands patience and process; it demands empathy and humility. The story of the Latitude Society is a parable of Bay Area tech culture genius and exuberance, and of the ways this culture can be fickle and fail. I will always wonder why Jeff felt so negative that he cut off most of the Society and employees that he mentored. Perhaps Jeff felt like the community rejected him. Perhaps he felt like a failure as a businessman—or an artist. But although many Society members felt burned and forsaken, many are still grateful. “It was just the beginning of something amazing for me,” said Society member Naomi Rifkin, a 46-year-old resource coordinator at a charter school in Oakland. “As awful as it was, the way the Latitude Society ended, I think ultimately it was good to realize that it didn’t rest in the hands of one person. Jeff tapped into something he didn’t own—it’s a mindset that we can cultivate for each other. The friendships I’ve made, with people who value the ability to incite wonder, is the most valuable thing I’ve ever had.” In contrast to Jeff’s feelings, his employees’ feelings seemed very clear. Even Jeff’s staff didn’t know that he was shutting down the Society until the day it happened. Thus, many of them felt a mix of sadness, anger, embarrassment—and fear, due to sudden unemployment. Their fear was compounded by the fact that Jeff owned all the intellectual property from the Latitude Society, and it was wrapped up in a Non-Disclosure Agreement. This made it hard for employees to develop a portfolio, or describe their work. (For example, Uriah told me that months after he left Nonchalance, Jeff texted asking him to remove a one-sentence phrase from his professional website because the two of them had often used it together.) On Facebook, many Society employees posted and reposted this status: “If I gave you an invitation to a Thing, that Thing is now over. I'm sorry you missed it, because it was the work of so many careful and skilled hands and it was truly a thing to behold. And if I didn't, I'm so sorry. There were a ton of invitations I'd been waiting until, well, this week to give out. I don't believe in harboring regrets, but this unfortunate timing does sting. There will be more things. But if you still have the card, it is now a fossil. “I personally believe that one good thing that occurred was a sort of social shelter where people could interact and connect in a very intimate way,” Kat wrote me in an email. “But as far as ‘secret,’ I’m rather off that word. I’m more for ‘surprises’ now, I think. A surprise is a secret that everyone agrees will only last for a finite time, and will ultimately be gifted and shared. I don’t want to hold my breath that long anymore.” On the night the Latitude Society closed, roughly a hundred members went to the Sycamore, a local bar that was significant during our first Latitudinous mission. A storm of messages flew among ascendants, descendants, and internal Latitude cliques. The Forums were gone, so the messages were a scattered spiral; we had no way to reach everyone at once. Many of us didn’t even know each other's names in “real life.” “No way. Isn’t Jeff just playing a new game?” “Jeff is the ‘anonymous benefactor.’ Anyway, I don’t think this is a game… Did you hear about Jeff’s Facebook update?” “Hey, I heard people were going to the Sycamore....” Late in the evening, I passed a Society friend in the street as she came home from the bar. She caught my arm and silently handed me a hexagon made from pipe cleaner. She was carrying a basket full of them. But I missed the Sycamore gathering, because Dr. Professor and I were running our Praxis in the brass skull lounge. It was strange. It had been intended to orient greenhorns to the Society, and instead it became a wake. After Praxis, I went back into the tiny library and opened the book to watch the Fable one last time. I began to take a video. Two minutes later, I heard Dr. Professor’s voice behind me. “Lydia! Lydia!” He was using my real name. “No!” he snapped, and squeezed into the library with me. “The Fable is never written down. It’s never recorded. That’s one of our traditions!” I blinked at him. “This is all going away,” I said. “We’ll never see it again if I don’t do this!” “I am surprisingly angry at you right now,” Dr. Professor said fiercely. “The Society might be done, but the traditions still mean something.” Then he deflated. “Please,” he said. “I can’t stay mad at you. But please don’t do this.” We fought for five minutes, and I finally acquiesced. I felt like crying as I crawled out of the library. But I went back into the library and recorded the Fable an hour later, when my ascendant was distracted, and couldn’t stop me. As I wrote this article, I debated whether to publish the recording. So I asked three people, including Kat Meler and Jeff Hull. In Jeff’s short email response, he wrote: “I don’t think any of the released material needs to be a secret. It’s out there already.” And Kat—who narrated the Fable—wrote: “I’d love for your video of the Fable as told in the SF House Library to be public.” The third person was Uriah Findley, the experience designer who originally created the Fable. “One of my proudest creations was that Fable,” he told me. “I respect Society members’ desire to treat our made-up tradition as a real thing, because it feels real to them and is important to them. But the Fable is one of the most beautiful portions and it’s one that we made, and I’d love to see it out there.” “I hope people realize we were trying to make something special,” Uriah added. “There’s this perception now that it was only about making money. But we were operating under the assumption that the Latitude could only survive if it could support itself. We always intended to start a real secret society that cared, and mattered, and treated people well. “We believed the Latitude Society could give people something that was missing in the modern age, and we wanted them to give that to others.” So, here you go. I wish I could offer you my invitation ritual, that I could grant you the fateful card, that you could have seen the Latitude Society yourself. But since I can’t give you those things, this will have to do. Update: After the publication of this article, Jeff Hull reached out to clarify that he did not inherit his wealth, but earned it by working at the Hull Trading Company before it was sold to Goldman Sachs.
News Article | May 9, 2017
SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Abraxas Petroleum Corporation (NASDAQ:AXAS) today reported financial and operating results for the three months ended March 31, 2017. Financial and Operating Results for the Three Months Ended March 31, 2017 The three months ended March 31, 2017 resulted in: (a) See reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures below. Net income for the three months ended March 31, 2017 was $13.7 million, or $0.09 per share, compared to a net loss of $40.9 million, or $0.39 per share, for the three months ended March 31, 2016. In Ward County, Texas, the Caprito 98-201H and Caprito 98-301HR are drilled, cased and scheduled for a June 2017 completion. The Caprito 98-301HR targeted the Wolfcamp A2 zone and the Caprito 98-201H targeted the Wolfcamp A1 zone. Abraxas plans to complete the wells with a high rate, high volume slickwater frac using 2400 lbs/foot of proppant and multiple diversions. Abraxas estimates it will own a working interest of approximately 88% in the Caprito 98-201H and 98-301HR. Abraxas recently spud a two well pad in the Caprito 83-304H and Caprito 83-404H. The Caprito 83-304H is targeting the Wolfcamp A2 zone and the Caprito 83-404H is targeting the Wolfcamp B zone. Abraxas estimates it will own a working interest of approximately 81% in the Caprito 83-304H and Caprito 83-404H. At Abraxas’ North Fork prospect, in McKenzie County, North Dakota, the Stenehjem 6H-9H are drilled, cased and scheduled for completion in the coming weeks. Abraxas plans to frac each well with a 41 stage completion using 870 lbs/foot of proppant and multiple diversions. Abraxas owns a working interest of approximately 75% in the Stenehjem 6H-9H. Abraxas recently spud a three well pad on the Company’s Yellowstone unit. The Yellowstone 2H and 4H will target the Middle Bakken and the Yellowstone 3H will target the Three Forks. Abraxas owns a working interest of approximately 52% in the Yellowstone 2H-4H. In Atascosa County, Texas, Abraxas recently spud the Shut Eye 1H targeting the Eagle Ford formation. As a reminder, Abraxas will be testing the use of diverters and other enhanced completion and steering techniques to improve the economic viability of the Eagle Ford formation at Jourdanton. Testing the Eagle Ford will have the added benefit of holding acreage through the entire lower Eagle Ford and maintaining the Austin Chalk rights. Abraxas will have a 100% working interest in the Shut Eye 1H, which the Company plans to complete in July 2017. Abraxas reiterates its 2017 full year guidance of 7,800 to 8,600 Boepd on a capital expenditure budget of $110 million. Abraxas also reiterates the Company's cost guidance for the year. As of March 31, 2017, Abraxas had $18 million drawn on the Company's $300 million revolving credit facility with a Borrowing Base of $115 million and liquidity of approximately $98 million. See "Reconciliation of Non-GAAP Financial Measures" for our calculation of liquidity. Abraxas expects the Company's Borrowing Base to be reaffirmed and the maturity of the revolving credit facility to be extended to 2021 following our regularly scheduled semi-annual borrowing base redetermination in May. Bob Watson, President and CEO of Abraxas, commented, “After a tumultuous two-year downturn, we are quite pleased with our financial results for the first quarter ended March 31, 2017. Comparing the first quarter of 2016 with the first quarter of 2017, we enjoyed a near doubling in our revenue, while our cash costs per barrel of equivalent ("Boe")(1) fell 20% to approximately $13.18/Boe. We expect this trend to continue with the substantial improvement we have seen in oil, gas and NGL realizations and our continued focus on cost control and the divestiture of properties with high operating expenses. “We ended March 31, 2017 with only $18 million of borrowings on our $115 million revolver. We are currently in negotiations with our bank group on re-affirming and extending this facility on similar terms. Looking forward, even without expected growth in the line due to associated drilling activity or additional proceeds from planned divestitures, we forecast more than abundant liquidity with which to fund our drilling expenditures and remain acquisitive. Specifically, we expect to be able to utilize our balance sheet strength to expand our position in the Delaware Basin where we continue to pursue bolt-on opportunities on reasonable terms. We look forward to providing an update on these efforts in the very near future. “Operationally we remain on schedule. The Stenehjem 6H-9H Bakken/Three Forks completions will be underway in the coming weeks. This will be followed by the June completions of the Caprito 98-201H and 301HR in the Wolfcamp and July completion of the Shut Eye 1H in the Eagle Ford. We are in the process of securing our fracture stimulation needs for our remaining completions this year in the Bakken/Three Forks, Wolfcamp/Bone Spring and Eagle Ford. Although service availability is tightening, we are confident that our operations will remain on schedule for the foreseeable future.” Abraxas Petroleum Corporation (NASDAQ:AXAS) will host its first quarter 2017 earnings conference call at 11 AM ET on May 10, 2017. To participate in the conference call, please dial 844.778.4143 and enter the passcode 8599480. Additionally, a live listen only webcast of the conference call can be accessed under the investor relations section of the Abraxas website at www.abraxaspetroleum.com. A replay of the conference call will be available through June 7, 2017 by dialing 855.859.2056 and entering the passcode 8599480 or can be accessed under the investor relations section of the Abraxas website. Abraxas Petroleum Corporation is a San Antonio based crude oil and natural gas exploration and production company with operations across the Permian Basin, Rocky Mountain, and South Texas regions of the United States. Safe Harbor for forward-looking statements: Statements in this release looking forward in time involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause Abraxas’ actual results in future periods to be materially different from any future performance suggested in this release. Such factors may include, but may not be necessarily limited to, changes in the prices received by Abraxas for crude oil and natural gas. In addition, Abraxas’ future crude oil and natural gas production is highly dependent upon Abraxas’ level of success in acquiring or finding additional reserves. Further, Abraxas operates in an industry sector where the value of securities is highly volatile and may be influenced by economic and other factors beyond Abraxas’ control. In the context of forward-looking information provided for in this release, reference is made to the discussion of risk factors detailed in Abraxas’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission during the past 12 months. (a) See reconciliation of non-GAAP financial measures below. (a) Excludes current maturities of long-term debt and current derivative assets and liabilities in accordance with our bank loan covenants. To fully assess Abraxas’ operating results, management believes that, although not prescribed under generally accepted accounting principles ("GAAP") in the United States of America, EBITDA is an appropriate measure of Abraxas' ability to satisfy capital expenditure obligations and working capital requirements. EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure as defined under SEC rules. EBITDA should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for other financial measurements prepared in accordance with GAAP or as a measure of the Company's profitability or liquidity. EBITDA excludes some, but not all items that affect net income and may vary among companies. The EBITDA presented below may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies. EBITDA is defined as net income (loss) plus interest expense, deferred income taxes, depreciation, depletion and amortization expenses, impairments, unrealized gains and losses on derivative contracts, and stock-based compensation. The following table provides a reconciliation of EBITDA to net income (loss) for the periods presented. We have also disclosed Adjusted EBITDA per bank loan covenants. Adjusted EBITDA per bank loan covenants is a non-GAAP financial measure as defined under SEC rules. Our management believes that information regarding Adjusted EBITDA per bank loan covenants is material to an understanding of our financial condition and liquidity. Adjusted EBITDA per bank loan covenants should not be considered in isolation or as a substitute for other financial measurements prepared in accordance with GAAP or as a measure of the Company's profitability or liquidity. Adjusted EBITDA per bank loan covenants presented below may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies. This release also includes a discussion of “adjusted net loss, excluding certain non-cash items,” which is also a non-GAAP financial measure as defined under SEC rules. The following table provides a reconciliation of adjusted net income (loss), excluding ceiling test impairment and unrealized changes in derivative contracts. Management believes that net income (loss) calculated in accordance with GAAP is the most directly comparable measure to adjusted net income (loss), excluding certain non-cash items. The calculation of adjusted net income (loss), excluding certain non cash items presented below may not be comparable to similarly titled measures of other companies. Unrealized gains or losses on derivative contracts are based on mark-to-market valuations which are non-cash in nature and may fluctuate drastically from period to period. As commodity prices fluctuate, these derivative contracts are valued against current market prices at the end of each reporting period in accordance with Accounting Standards Codification 815: Derivatives and Hedging as amended and interpreted, which requires Abraxas to either record an unrealized gain or loss based on the calculated value difference from the previous period-end valuation. For example, NYMEX oil prices on March 31, 2016 were $38.34 per barrel compared to $50.60 on March 31, 2017; therefore, the mark-to-market valuation changed considerably from period to period. Liquidity is calculated by adding the net funds available under our revolving credit facility and cash and cash equivalents. We use liquidity as an indicator of the Company's ability to fund development and exploration activities. However, this measurement has limitations. This measurement can vary from year-to-year for the Company and can vary among companies based on what is or is not included in the measurement on a company's financial statements. This measurement is provided in addition to, and not as an alternative for, and should be read in conjunction with, the information contained in our financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP (including the notes), included in our SEC filings and posted on our website.
News Article | May 15, 2017
Last Friday at the close, shares in San Antonio, Texas headquartered Abraxas Petroleum Corp. ended 6.04% higher at $1.93. The stock recorded a trading volume of 1.31 million shares. The Company's shares are trading below their 200-day moving average by 0.36%. Furthermore, shares of Abraxas Petroleum, which engages in the acquisition, exploration, exploitation, development, and production of oil and gas properties in the US, have a Relative Strength Index (RSI) of 52.97. On May 09th, 2017, Abraxas Petroleum reported financial and operating results for Q1 2017. The three months ended March 31st, 2017 resulted in production of 614 MBoe (6,822 Boepd); revenue of $18.8 million; net income of $13.7 million, or $0.09 per share; adjusted net income, excluding certain non-cash items, of $4.9 million, or $0.03 per share; EBITDA of $11.7 million; and adjusted EBITDA per bank loan covenants of $15.5 million. Sign up and read the free research report on AXAS at: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma-based Continental Resources Inc.'s stock finished Friday's session 0.19% higher at $42.06 with a total trading volume of 2.34 million shares. The Company's shares are trading below their 50-day moving average by 4.28%. Shares of the Company, which explores for, develops, and produces crude oil and natural gas properties in the north, south, and east regions of the US, have an RSI of 44.72. On May 03rd, 2017, Continental Resources announced Q1 operating and financial results. The Company reported net income of $0.47 million, or $0.00 per diluted share, for the quarter ended March 31st, 2017. Net cash provided by operating activities was $470.2 million, EBITDAX was $482.5 million, and net production totaled 19.2 million barrels of oil equivalent for the quarter. On May 05th, 2017, research firm Credit Suisse upgraded the Company's stock rating from 'Neutral' to 'Outperform'. The complimentary research report on CLR can be downloaded at: Shares in Houston, Texas headquartered Enbridge Energy Management L.L.C. ended the session 2.42% higher at $16.95. A total volume of 802,510 shares was traded, which was higher than their three months average volume of 480,090 shares. The stock is trading below its 50-day moving average by 3.99%. Moreover, shares of Enbridge Energy Management, which owns and operates crude oil and liquid petroleum transportation and storage assets in the US, have an RSI of 43.00. On May 04th, 2017, Enbridge Energy Management confirmed that its previously declared share distribution, to be paid on May 15th, 2017, will consist of 1.9493 additional shares for each 100 shares of record on May 08th, 2017. The distribution of additional shares is based on the notional cash value of the declared distribution of $0.35 per share and the average closing price of Enbridge shares for the ten consecutive trading days prior to the ex-dividend date. Register for free on Stock-Callers.com and access the latest report on EEQ at: Williamsville, New York-based National Fuel Gas Co.'s shares recorded a trading volume of 329,838 shares. The stock closed 0.25% higher at $56.71. The Company's shares have gained 4.92% in the past month and 0.81% since the start of this year. The stock is trading 1.31% above its 200-day moving average. Additionally, shares of National Fuel Gas, which operates as a diversified energy company, have an RSI of 53.75. On April 19th, 2017, research firm Jefferies upgraded the Company's stock rating from 'Underperform' to 'Hold'. On May 05th, 2017, National Fuel Gas announced consolidated results for Q2 FY17 and for the six months ended March 31st, 2017. Highlights for Q2 FY17 included consolidated net income of $89.3 million, adjusted EBITDA of $227.0 million, and net production of 45.6 Bcfe. The Company also raised and tightened its fiscal 2017 earnings guidance to a range of $3.20 to $3.35 per share. 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News Article | May 25, 2017
The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has spoken, agreeing to keep its oil production cuts in place for another nine months. The move disappointed some investors, who were expecting deeper or longer cuts, leading oil prices to fall around 5% and taking many oil and gas stocks down with it. All of which begs the question: Is it time to get back in? Oil and gas stocks were already on a downward slope over the last three weeks, despite a 7% rally in oil prices before the OPEC announcement. In fact, as of Wednesday, the S&P 500 Energy Sector Index was less than 3% away from its 52-week low, Seaport Global Securities noted in a report. This happens less than a quarter of the time when crude rallies 5% to 10% in a multi-week period. Usually a crude rally of that magnitude leads the energy index to rally around 2.5%, Seaport says. The situation could bode well for the index going forward, with Seaport predicting strong returns over the next month or so of around 7%. "The fact we are seeing a 'sell the news scenario' from the commodity off the OPEC meeting further supports that the energy sector has likely flushed out [and] will now play catch-up and bear strong returns short- to medium-term," the firm said. So which stocks to pick up? Among the bigger oil and gas explorers, Seaport has buy ratings on Continental Resources Inc., Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Concho Resources Inc., Devon Energy Corp. and Diamondback Energy Inc. Cabot and Diamondback in particular could be strong bets, having recently ranked as two of most efficient companies in Seaport's universe based on their "recycle" ratio, or return on capital, and production growth per debt-adjusted share. Smaller companies that are on Seaport's buy and efficient lists include Parsley Energy, RSP Permian and Comstock Resources. Looking for value? Seaport put together a list of companies that trade below the median enterprise value-to-expected 2017 Ebitda multiple despite having above median values for return on capital and production growth. The group includes eight names but only five carry buy ratings. They are Comstock, Abraxas Petroleum Corp., Carrizo Oil & Gas, Oasis Petroleum and Resolute Energy Corp. The others are Bill Barrett Corp. (neutral), Consol Energy (not rated) and Rice Energy (neutral).
News Article | May 23, 2017
SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Abraxas Petroleum Corporation (“Abraxas” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ:AXAS) today announced the signing of a definitive agreement to acquire 2,008 net acres and 33 Boepd in Ward County, Texas prospective for the Wolfcamp/Bone Spring. Highlights include: In Ward County, Texas Abraxas recently signed a definitive agreement to acquire 33 Boepd and 2,008 net mineral acres prospective for the Bone Spring and Wolfcamp formations for $22.2 million. The acquisition consists of approximately 1,888 net acres held by production and 120 net leasehold acres covered by a three-year primary term lease. The acreage purchased consists of two operated units, four non-operated units and additional interests in three existing Abraxas operated units on trend and adjoining the Company’s existing acreage position. The acreage is prospective for up to four zones across the Wolfcamp and Third Bone Spring, providing an additional 80 gross potential locations to Abraxas’ inventory (not including increased working interests in existing operated units). Abraxas plans to fund the acquisition entirely on the Company’s line of credit with an anticipated closing date in June 2017. Abraxas capital budget of $110 million remains unchanged. Included is a map of Abraxas’ updated acreage position. Bob Watson, President and CEO of Abraxas, commented, “During our January 2017 equity raise, our stated corporate goals were to add Wolfcamp/Bone Spring acres in the Delaware Basin at a reasonable cost, continue to derisk our Delaware Basin acreage position, build our production base to a critical mass by year end and maintain our best in class balance sheet. We are pleased to announce that we remain on track to achieve all of these goals. “This Delaware Basin acquisition fits seamlessly within our existing acreage footprint and increases our exposure to the Delaware Basin Bone Spring/Wolfcamp play by approximately 35% to 7,757 (1) net acres. Importantly this was done at a favorable price of just over $10,000/acre. We continue to evaluate similar bolt on opportunities to further expand our Delaware Basin footprint.“ (1) Includes 480 net acres on Abraxas’ Howe lease which is currently subject to a title dispute. Abraxas does not have any reserves or planned 2017 capital expenditures relating to the acreage that is subject to this title dispute. Abraxas Petroleum Corporation is a San Antonio based crude oil and natural gas exploration and production company with operations across the Rocky Mountain, Permian Basin and South Texas regions of the United States. Safe Harbor for forward-looking statements: Statements in this release looking forward in time involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause Abraxas’ actual results in future periods to be materially different from any future performance suggested in this release. Such factors may include, but may not be necessarily limited to, changes in the prices received by Abraxas for crude oil and natural gas. In addition, Abraxas’ future crude oil and natural gas production is highly dependent upon Abraxas’ level of success in acquiring or finding additional reserves. Further, Abraxas operates in an industry sector where the value of securities is highly volatile and may be influenced by economic and other factors beyond Abraxas’ control. In the context of forward-looking information provided for in this release, reference is made to the discussion of risk factors detailed in Abraxas’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission during the past 12 months.
News Article | April 26, 2017
(PRLEAP.COM) Templar Order The templar's path , the path towards the wisdom, a new book by Grand Prior Domizio Cipriani was published today.This book delves into the the Templar Knights and their beliefs. It is an interesting look into the ancient order and their ways. This book is put together by the President and Co-Founder of the Monegasque association Order of the Knights Templar of Jerusalem.This book delves into the the Templar Knights and their beliefs. It is an interesting look into the ancient order and their ways. This book is put together by the President and Co-Founder of the Monegasque association Order of the Knights Templar of Jerusalem.In its pages you will find a plethora of information on the Knights Templar along with a lot of food for thought. Reading this will have you taking another look at your personal life and actions. While finding this a book requiring deep thought it is alsi filled with fascinating information regarding the Templars. Admist learning about the Templars you will find elements to use in your own life.This is an insightful read but does require quiet so you can focus. "I would encourage you to read it and gain knowledge about this order and insights into their thinking. This is not a long read but very informative."Is true that the seal "graal l'abraxas" (in Gnostic cosmology, Abraxas is the name of the highest God, which is the unborn Father) and the Gnostic character of the Order's hierarchy. Christianity in all his knowledge claims, as stated by our Lord Jesus Christ: "The Kingdom of Heaven is for each of you, nothing else is to be found because it is clear that the rest will be given through faith."This Holy Grail, which is the revelation of the awakening, the Order of the Knights Templar the door in its essence, having regards to the awakening formula and the content of the traditional investiture ritual: Awake, brave knight! The Knights Templar were custodians of other initiatory traditions, a crossroads of cultures, the Knights Templar attended erudite and scholars coming from other civilizations.The Grand Prior Domizio also interested in a more occult aspect, which revolves around the Notre Dame currents, Mary of Magdala, currents that lead to subsidiaries of all the aristocratic families of the Holy Grail and certain organizations that perpetuate this tradition. No one doubts that the current Order brothers will, in this testimony of a committed Knight Templar, subjects on which to reflect.This book will incite the Knights Templar of the Order to deepen the subjects evoked. It will also be an indispensable manual for novices who want to be integrated on a little-known path. Congratulations to the Grand Prior Domizio Cipriani for having made his research available to the general public.Media Resources:
News Article | November 29, 2016
From the sounds of it, preliminary discussions before Wednesday's meeting of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Counties, or OPEC, aren't going so well, taking the price of U.S. crude down 4% at one point Tuesday to $45.18 per barrel and oil and gas companies' stock prices down with it. At volatile times like these, companies that have strong balance sheets will be better able to sustain further commodity shocks and those that don't won't. So analysts at Seaport Global Securities Inc. looked into which oil and gas producers it covers are least levered -- and which ones are carrying a lot of debt. "Headed into the wild world of OPEC, know whose balance sheet is a fortress or at risk if things start looking 2014-ish," they said. The analysts said that the industry overall looks to be in pretty good shape on the bank line front with the median exploration and production company only 8% drawn on total capacity. Hedge coverage for next year isn't as strong, however, with median names coming in at 35% hedged at $49.19 per barrel. Companies that haven't drawn down on their revolvers (excluding letters of credit) include some of the strongest names in the business, including Apache Corp. (NYSE:APA), Concho Resources Inc. (NYSE:CXO), Marathon Oil Corp. (NYSE:MRO), Noble Energy Inc. (NYSE:NBL), Pioneer Natural Resources Inc. (NYSE:PXD) and Cimarex Energy Inc. (NYSE:XEC). Those with more than 40% of their revolver capacity filled -- and thus are at more risk if oil prices head south -- include Abraxas Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:AXAS), Bonanza Creek Energy Inc. (NYSE:BCEI), Gastar Exploration Inc. (NYSE:GST), Contango Oil & Gas Co. (NYSE:MCF), Rex Energy Corp. (NASDAQ:REXX), Range Resources Corp. (NYSE:RRC), Stone Energy Corp. (NYSE:SGY) and Sundance Energy Australia Ltd. (NASDAQ:SNDE). On a forward-looking net debt-to-Ebitda basis, the analysts found that the stronger names include Pioneer and Cimarex as well as Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. (NYSE:COG), Energen Corp. (NYSE:EGN), EQT Corp. (NYSE:EQT), Earthstone Energy Inc. (NYSE:ESTE), Diamondback Energy Inc. (NYSE:FANG), PDC Energy Inc. (NASDAQ:PDCE), Ring Energy Inc. (NYSE:REI) and Synergy Resources Corp. (NYSE:SYRG). The weaker companies on that same basis, meanwhile, include Bonanza Creek, Gastar and Stone as well as Bill Barrett Corp. (NYSE:BBG), Chesapeake Energy Corp. (NYSE:CHK), Clayton Williams Energy Inc. (NYSE:CWEI), Jones Energy Inc. (NYSE:JONE), Oasis Petroleum Inc. (NYSE:OAS), Petroquest Energy Inc. (NYSE:PQ), Rex Energy Corp. (NASDAQ:REXX), SM Energy Co. (NYSE:SM), Sanchez Energy Corp. (NYSE:SN), Whiting Petroleum Corp. (NYSE:WLL), WPX Energy Inc. (NYSE:WPX) and W&T Offshore Inc. (NYSE:WTI).
News Article | February 16, 2017
SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Abraxas Petroleum Corporation (“Abraxas” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ:AXAS) today provided the following reserve and operational update. Highlights include: As of December 31, 2016, Abraxas’ proved oil and natural gas reserves consisted of approximately 44.7 MMBoe, a net increase of 1.5 MMBoe over 2015 year end reserves of 43.2 MMBoe. December 31, 2016 reserves consisted of approximately 24.2 million barrels of oil, 8.6 million barrels of NGLs and 70.8 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Proved developed producing reserves were 13.9 MMBoe and comprised 31% of proved reserves as of December 31, 2016. The SEC-priced pre-tax PV-10(1) (a non-GAAP financial measure) was $160.6 million, using 2016 average prices of $42.74/bbl of oil and $2.50/mcf of natural gas. Realized pricing, including differentials, used in this calculation equated to $35.54/bbl of oil and $1.41/mcf of natural gas. The majority of the reserve additions came from the Williston Basin, where Abraxas benefited from an upward revision in the Company’s Middle Bakken type curve to 832 MBoe from 530 MBoe at December 31, 2015 (853 MBoe at strip pricing which extends the economic life of the well). Abraxas also benefited from an upward revision in the Company’s first bench Three Forks type curve to 709 MBoe from 530 MBoe at December 31, 2015 (726 MBoe at strip pricing which extends the economic life of the well). In Ward County, Abraxas also added 5 gross (1.8 net) locations of proved undeveloped reserves on the Company’s Caprito lease in the Wolfcamp A2 zone at 571 MBoe (588 MBoe at strip pricing which extends the economic life of the well). Abraxas also sold 1.2 MBoe of reserves during 2016. The independent reserve engineering firm DeGolyer and MacNaughton prepared a complete engineering analysis on 98% of Abraxas’ proved reserves on a Boe basis. The following table outlines changes in Abraxas’ proved reserves from December 31, 2015: Production for the fourth quarter of 2016 is expected to average approximately 7,955 Boepd (4,923 barrels of oil per day, 10,087 mcf of natural gas per day, 1,350 barrels of NGL per day). Abraxas volumes were partially impacted by freeze offs in the Bakken and Permian in December 2016. During 2016, Abraxas also successfully closed two asset sales with approximately 175 Boepd of associated production and effective dates of June 1 and October 1, 2016. Despite the curtailments and asset sales, production for the year ending December 31, 2016 averaged approximately 6,181 Boepd (3,750 barrels of oil per day, 8,633 mcf of natural gas per day, 993 barrels of NGL per day) or the approximate midpoint of Abraxas’ guidance of 6,200 Boepd. Capital expenditures for the year ended December 31, 2016 are expected to be approximately $31.7 million or approximately 9% below the Company’s revised $35 million budget. In Ward County, Texas, Abraxas recently spud a two well pad in the Caprito 98-201H and Caprito 98-301H in February, 2017. The Caprito 98-301H will target the Wolfcamp A2 zone, which Abraxas targeted in the Caprito 99-101H (renamed to the Caprito 99-302H). The Caprito 98-201H will target an additional prospective zone in the Wolfcamp A1. Abraxas estimates it will own a working interest of approximately 88% in the Caprito 98-201H and 98-301H, respectively. At Abraxas’ North Fork prospect, in McKenzie County, North Dakota, the Company completed the intermediate sections of the Stenehjem 6H-9H and the lateral of the Stenehjem 9H. Abraxas is currently drilling the lateral of the Stenehjem 8H. Abraxas working interest in the Stenehjem 6H-9H is approximately 75%. In Atascosa County, Texas, Abraxas plans to spud an Eagle Ford test in April 2017 on the Company’s Red Eye Unit. Although Abraxas remains encouraged by the Austin Chalk, the Company believes enhanced completion techniques (specifically the use of diverters) could significantly improve the economic viability when applied to the Eagle Ford formation. Testing the Eagle Ford will have the added benefit of holding acreage through the entire lower Eagle Ford and maintaining the Austin Chalk rights. Abraxas will have a 100% working interest in the Red Eye 1H. Bob Watson, President and CEO of Abraxas, commented, “We are pleased to report our fifth consecutive year of significant production and reserve growth. Obviously, 2016 was a transformational year as our change in Bakken completion design led to a significant increase in our Bakken type curve and our first Wolfcamp completion opened up a multi-year low-risk development for Abraxas. Although the last two weeks of 2016 were plagued by downtime caused by freeze-offs, we are pleased that our annual production guidance still came in at the middle of the range. On the positive front, our gas volumes in the Permian, which were curtailed for almost a year and a half, have been producing at full rates since mid-January. We expect this to continue as a result of our third party processer making substantial upgrades to their facility. “We are embarking on a more aggressive development campaign in 2017 to capitalize on our 2016 success. By the end of the second quarter of 2017 we should have four operated Bakken wells, two operated Permian wells and one operated Eagle Ford well on production or set for completion. This will lead to a significant increase in our daily volumes. With a pristine balance sheet with over $95 million of liquidity, a solid hedging profile and a multi-year inventory of highly economic development wells ahead of us in the Bakken and Wolfcamp, we are well positioned to drive multiple-years of exceptional growth and returns for our shareholders.” (1) The following table provides a reconciliation of PV-10 to the standardized measure of discounted future net cash flows at December 31, 2015 and 2016: Abraxas Petroleum Corporation is a San Antonio based crude oil and natural gas exploration and production company with operations across the Rocky Mountain, Permian Basin and South Texas regions of the United States. Safe Harbor for forward-looking statements: Statements in this release looking forward in time involve known and unknown risks and uncertainties, which may cause Abraxas’ actual results in future periods to be materially different from any future performance suggested in this release. Such factors may include, but may not be necessarily limited to, changes in the prices received by Abraxas for crude oil and natural gas. In addition, Abraxas’ future crude oil and natural gas production is highly dependent upon Abraxas’ level of success in acquiring or finding additional reserves. Further, Abraxas operates in an industry sector where the value of securities is highly volatile and may be influenced by economic and other factors beyond Abraxas’ control. In the context of forward-looking information provided for in this release, reference is made to the discussion of risk factors detailed in Abraxas’ filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission during the past 12 months.
News Article | March 30, 2016
Ross Ulbricht, convicted creator of the Silk Road drug marketplace, asked for help with the site and posted his personal email address to a forum. Blake Benthall, the suspected administrator of the second Silk Road, registered a server in his own name. But both of those cases might have just been topped in terms of audacity, or sloppiness, depending on how you look at it. A suspected longtime dark web drug vendor has been charged, in part, because he supposedly attempted to trademark his drug-dealing brand under his own name. On Tuesday, the US Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of California announced the arrest of David Ryan Burchard, 38, of Merced, California. Burchard allegedly used the alias “caliconnect” on the original Silk Road, and similar usernames on its successor and other dark web marketplaces, including the now-defunct Agora, and Abraxas and AlphaBay, which are both still live. It's unclear exactly how the investigation into Burchard got rolling. Mathew Larsen, a Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) special agent writes in an affidavit that in March 2015 he observed Burchard's sale of “millions of dollars of Bitcoins to an unlicensed digital currency exchanger.” “I was, and continue to be, unable to identify a legitimate source of [Burchard's] large amount of Bitcoins,” Larsen continues. A GPS tracking device was then placed onto Burchard's car, and physical surveillance was carried out of Burchard allegedly delivering several packages of drugs to post offices. Eventually, Larsen somehow learned that Burchard “had registered or attempted to register and trademark the phrase ‘caliconnect.’” From here, investigators searched Reddit and other public websites, and discovered reviews from people claiming to have ordered marijuana from a dark web vendor called “caliconnect.” According to a list provided to Larsen by HSI Headquarters of high profile Silk Road vendors who have generated over $100,000, “caliconnect” was described as a marijuana vendor, with sales of over $1,250,000. The user “is listed on the NTC Vendor List as the [sic]one of the largest vendors on Silk Road,” Larsen's affidavit continues. “The FBI estimates that ‘caliconnect’ was the eighteenth largest vendor worldwide out of the approximately 4,000 vendors who sold goods on the Silk Road.” Larsen obtained Silk Road private messages, likely from the FBI's seizure of the Silk Road server in October 2013, and reviewed logs of conversations between Caliconnect and other users. Some of these chats related to drug transactions paid for with “money paks”—prepaid cards that can be reloaded with currency. A subpoena to the relevant companies lead Larsen to specific cards, registered to Burchard. In January 2016, investigators executed a search warrant at a residence and seized several computers and storage devices, as well as a Jaguar, two Mercedes and a Chevy. Larsen claims that a thumb-drive contained messages linked to previously known drug shipments uncovered by investigators. Bizarrely, and in perhaps another nod to Burchard's apparent desire to cement his own label, investigators found “pieces of clothing apparel with the label ‘caliconnect,’” according to the affidavit. In an interview with Larsen, Burchard claimed “Caliconnect” was the name of his clothing brand. “The Department of Justice and our federal law enforcement partners will continue to investigate and prosecute major interstate narcotics traffickers,” US Attorney Benjamin Wagner said in a statement. “Those traffickers who believe they can escape the scrutiny of law enforcement by conducting their business on the dark-web and receiving payments in digital currency are mistaken.”
News Article | November 8, 2016
SAN ANTONIO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Abraxas Petroleum Corporation (“Abraxas” or the “Company”) (NASDAQ:AXAS) today provided the following operational, financial and divestiture update and addressed the Company’s 2016 and 2017 guidance and capital budget. Divestiture Update Abraxas recently signed a definitive agreement to divest the Company’s Brooks Draw assets in the Powder River Basin assets for approximately $11.3 million subject to standard closing conditions and purchase price adjustments. The a