Matt Holder from Loop Golf clears the air on The Tech Caddie podcast
Episode 9

Matt Holder from Loop Golf clears the air on The Tech Caddie podcast

Matt Holder from Loop Golf joins the podcast to discuss Loop Golf. Matt talks about the early days for Loop and mistakes made along the way. Mike and Matt go into detail about tee time scraping and how Loop helps golf courses.

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Matt Holder

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29min

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Description:

In this conversation, Mike Hendrix speaks with Matt Holder from Loop Golf, a startup in the golf industry. They discuss the topic of scraping, which is the process of gathering data from websites. Matt explains that scraping is not a new concept and has been used by search engines like Google for years. In the golf industry, scraping is used to gather pricing and tee sheet data to provide transparency and options for consumers. They also discuss the controversy surrounding scraping and the concerns of golf course operators. Matt highlights that Loop Golf aims to provide a positive experience for both golfers and operators by offering a convenient booking system and helping operators increase their revenue.

Takeaways

  • Scraping is a common practice in the tech industry and has been used by search engines like Google to gather data from websites.
  • In the golf industry, scraping is used to gather pricing and tee sheet data to provide transparency and options for consumers.
  • Loop Golf aims to provide a positive experience for both golfers and operators by offering a convenient booking system and helping operators increase their revenue.
  • There is a growing demand for improved booking experiences in golf, and companies like Loop Golf are working to bridge the gap and meet the needs of golfers and operators.

Chapters

00:00 Introduction and Importance of Conversation
01:27 Innovation and Disruption in Golf
04:16 Scraping in the Golf Industry
05:42 Different Perspectives on Scraping
06:38 Educating Operators on Scraping
07:37 Scraping for Pricing Data
08:33 Priswing and Scraping Competitors' Websites
09:28 Data Accessibility and Impact on Business
10:25 Different Perspectives on Scraping (Continued)
11:16 Perspectives on Scraping in the City of LA
12:13 Understanding the Other Side of Scraping
13:10 Scraping in Other Industries
14:06 The Gray Market and Scraping
15:04 Loop's Unique Approach to Waitlisting
16:29 Loop's Revenue Model and Golf Course Sign-Up
20:19 Lessons Learned and Growing Pains
25:06 Scraping is Here to Stay
26:31 Loop's Business Model and Alignment with Golf Courses
28:48 Future Conversations with Loop's Clients
29:17 Closing Remarks and Contact Information

As Promised:

https://loopgolf.co/for-courses/

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Transcript:

Let's welcome in Matt Holder from Loop Golf and Loop Golf is one of the new startups that's gotten a lot of attention in golf. So Matt, welcome to the Tech Caddie podcast. Happy to have you here. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me, Mike. Really appreciate it. Absolutely. So listen, we wrote an article about scraping and you chimed in, which I think is great. I think it's totally fair. And, uh,

I just wanted to give you an opportunity to, you know, why, you know, you shouldn't have to do this on a message board or something like that. Everybody should be willing to have conversations, frankly, in this country. And I know we won't agree on everything, but I wanted to give you a platform. So, so, so happy that you could make time and come on. Yeah, no, happy to be a part of conversation. I agree with you that, you know, I think that there are a lot of companies out there that are looking to innovate in the golf space and.

Everybody's coming out from different angles and I think it's good to have open conversations about what that looks like because I think across the board, but from golfers to operators, everybody wants to strive for innovation and new ways of doing things and better ways of doing things. And, you know, sometimes it gets a little messy. Sometimes it's not exactly as the changes and exactly what you expect. But, you know, over over the long course of things, you know, we we find ways of working together and moving forward and making things better. Right.

You know, you say things can get messy. What we used to talk about back in the day was that scene from Moneyball about the Oakland As that scene from Moneyball when the owner of the Red Sox says everybody, the first person through the wall always gets bloody. That's just part of the gig, right? And you either sign up for it and you embrace it or frankly, you probably fail.

I mean, that's really what the life of a disruptor is. And so I have a lot of respect for people that disrupt industries and build new ways and that kind of thing. Obviously, there is another side to the coin when it comes to scraping. Talk a little bit like for people that are listening right now that don't understand what I mean when I say scraping or what scraping is. Just give us a little bit of an overview of what we're talking about.

Yeah, so, you know, it's interesting, like scraping is, I guess, kind of gotten a bad rap and seen as a bit of a dirty word within, you know, kind of within Tech and outside of Tech. But the simplest form of it is, is basically like Google. And it goes back to the days of search engines and the early days of the internet where everybody's trying to find content. You know, when the internet first came about, you had to know the direct path.

to find a page. And then that's when internet browsers came about and you had Netscape and things that started aggregating and trying to build search engines so you could find all the pages. So literally you have Yahoo, Google, all the different search engines that exist out there. They scrape the internet every single corner that's available every day. And they're scraping your website, they're scraping my website, they're scraping everything.

to aggregate all of those pages and make it easy for people to find stuff, which is a great service to the world and obviously has brought about huge amounts of innovation. There's also scraping that happens where there are companies that are going to, let's say like scrape pricing data at different retail stores and provide ways of bringing transparency to what prices are and where deals are and where you can find a certain shoe or a certain hat or things like that.

as a service to consumers to help give them options and increase their ability to shop effectively. And so I think in golf, what you see is that there are companies that are either scraping or using, you know, course websites like a normal golfer would be, but some of them are obviously, I think there are some data aggregators that are taking pricing data and T -sheet data and packaging that up for analytics.

that provides insights to certain customers that is something that I think is in the golf industry, I guess surprising, but it's also something that's been happening throughout the internet for decades. And just brought about a bunch of innovation and transparency into all industries. Yeah, let me give some context. So, you know,

Let's talk about the website that we have at golf course technology reviews .org. Right. We frankly want people to scrape it. Right. I want when someone goes and searches for tee sheet reviews or point of sale golf software. I want our site to come up very high in the results because I want frankly I want operators and decision makers at golf courses to know they can come to our site.

and read it and for free and make an informed decision, right? So we want to be scraped. We want to get our information out there as much as possible. Theoretically, somebody maybe doesn't want to be scraped, although I think we should have that conversation about, but why wouldn't you want to be scraped? But theoretically, someone would say, well, I don't want people coming to my website and scraping information off of it. I only want live humans to do that. I don't want bots to do that.

I think what I could say in your defense is, but don't you want as many human beings in the world as possible to know what you're selling and how much you're selling it for? Because if you can create a larger market for your inventory, then you theoretically will sell more of your inventory. But like you said, somehow, someway, scraping has gotten, at least with some people, a bad taste in people's mouths.

It's hard to explain. But some operators, some business operators just don't like it. Right? I mean, that's essentially where we are today. Right. And I can understand where they come from because there's an expectation that, you know, this is mine. I think what operate and this is a big reason why, you know, having myself and having Loop as a part of the conversation, I,

I think there's a big opportunity to educate on, educate operators so that they can understand the nuances and make better decisions for themselves in terms of how they conduct their business, knowing the full landscape. Um, I mean, to be clear, like with, with Loop and what we do with Loop, you know, we're, we're even as, as, uh, you know, some operators have acknowledged, like, we're not doing anything other than what a normal golfer could do. We're just simply giving golfers their time back by using a tee sheet.

helping them find a tee time so they don't have to spend all day looking for a cancellation. But there are other sites that are scraping data, they're storing that data, processing it and then putting it into some other product. And I think that that is what people typically look at as like an example of like, hey, what's going on here? I'm not sure if I like this, what are you doing? Yeah, listen, we don't need that. We can be specific on this podcast. So like,

that we're talking about Priswing using a feature they have that's called radar. And this is something that we talked about in our article. If you use Priswing to help you dynamically price your inventory, they will go scrape your competitors websites. So long as you're not a Priswing customer, which seems odd to me, that's a whole nother conversation to have, but they will go scrape competitive websites and help you. I don't know.

help to assure you that your pricing is in line with the rest of the market. But that's not what does. That's not what Loop does, that's definitely not what we do. Like we're spending our money to help fill a course's tee -sheet as much as possible and, you know, bring them full price golfers. But like with things like what Priswing is doing, which, you know, again, is kind of from an operator's perspective, it could be like, hey, what's going on here? I'm not sure if I like this. I think to help

understand the nuance of it is that a lot of the data that exists on tee sheets is in the public domain because it's being put out there in the public domain. And so when you think about where your data is and who has access to it, there is a decision that operators need to make about, about access and there and how that impacts their businesses. Everybody's transitioned to online tee sheets. It's

brought leaps and bounds of accessibility, of increased accessibility and increased convenience to help golfers book up your tee sheet. And it's had a great impact for that. And the power of that is as simple as you can make it to have to make for a golfer to book up a tee time on your tee sheet, the more business you're gonna do, the healthier your business is gonna be. The flip side of that coin is in order to do that, putting all that data out there,

it's also putting it into the public domain. As if I just took, you know, my entire company, you know, company financials and left it on a kiosk at the mall or, you know, dropped it on the floor at the PGA show. Anybody who comes across it, it's, it's, it's theirs. Right. But you, but you can appreciate, I think there's a whole bunch of people that are uncomfortable with what you just said that like they just don't fundamentally agree with it, right? Like,

No, no, no, that's not the point of me selling online tee times. The point of me selling online tee times is to so the golfer can buy them and frankly, so I don't have to answer the phone, right? That's why a bunch of guys are selling online tee times. I never intended for some bot to come in at 11 o 'clock in the morning and scan all of my prices and then go do some things with it. I'm just I guess I'm just saying you can appreciate that there's other perspectives on the.

Oh, absolutely. I'm just trying to offer those perspectives back to help operators understand the other side and why these bots are coming and how this is also, it's not just happening in golf, it's happening everywhere and has been for decades. But yes, I fully appreciate the fact that they're just kind of like, hey, we didn't intend for this to happen. Right.

We so just before you were on we had Kevin Fitzgerald on it was a public affairs with Southern California Golf Association also sits on the advisory board for LA City Golf courses. You and I had a conversation yesterday trying to set this thing up and make sure that we were going to play nice and that kind of deal. You had an interesting perspective I thought on this. I mean your point was well.

somebody's being a capitalist, right? I mean, somebody is hustling and they're, so talk about that a little bit, you know, share with us kind of your perspective and the other side of the coin, so to speak. Sure. I mean, like the city of LA situation, everything that's going on there is obviously very dynamic and new things are coming up and there's a ton of nuance to it. But you know, I think that,

where there's this kind of friction between what was intended and what's happening. And those two things are colliding and everybody's trying to make sense of it. And from the side of the city of LA and some golfers in the city of LA who are just like, hey, this is unintended. We don't like this or we're not sure we like this or we don't know what to make of it. There's also another side of a ton of LA golfers that are

very much willing to engage in paying a little bit extra to get a tee time and to get the tee time that they want. And they've been happy customers of tee time brokers and things like that. Not saying that we endorse any of it directly, but there is another side of that to see that what the brokers are doing is enterprising. And in fact, completely legal.

And it's something that happens across other industries as well, whether it's like ticketing or retail and things like that. Right. We secondary market. And we had another technologist who's actually owned some golf courses to on earlier today. A lot of people on that. And he made the point that, you know, in Ireland, the brokers buy 90 percent of the inventory and then they go resell it. Right. Like, it's not like this is unheard of. It's just a matter of is everybody kind of.

in the know and does anybody feel like there's something that's happening shady? You're the person. I have used gray market today more than I've ever used it before, Matt, because you introduced me to that idea yesterday. And it's really kind of like, is it gray or is it not? But no, you're right. There's certainly other industries and then other parts of golf where this happens all day long. So, yeah. Right. And within life ticketing, I mean, I'm sure.

a majority like you and I and a majority of the people are watching this podcast have probably used game time or SeatGeek or StubHub to get tickets to events or the concerts or sporting events. And you know, those came about because a huge gray market existed of ticket brokers within live events. And it's completely legal. It was just something that technology hadn't yet enabled. And then these came along.

I'm giving great optionality to consumers to access sporting events that they otherwise might not even be able to attend because there's just no liquidity for transferring tickets. So what I think this situation, I think like one of the big learning points and takeaways that operators should get from what's happening in LA is yes, that there's these unintended things, but I think also highlights just how much demand has

impacted pressure on pricing and highlighting the fact that there's a lot of price opportunity and a lot of revenue management opportunity that has yet to be extracted within golf that, you know, companies like Loop like we're helping, helping operators understand exactly how much of that pricing pressure, upward pricing pressure there is so that they can reprice their inventory, right? Should they want to increase their bottom line.

Let's talk about that because that's another thing that you said on the LinkedIn post that I actually, I think it's really cool how you guys are actually different than some other waitlist companies. And again, I don't mind mentioning names and I don't want to do it. I don't want to violate anything that's proprietary, but if you want to explain why you actually are a waitlist company and others are like a notification company, explain that if you want to. Sure. So I think that.

Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but I think that what makes us incredibly unique in the marketplace is that we have a stacked rank priority of golfers that are excited golfers that are ready to play your course. And oftentimes, they're willing to pay significantly more. Not saying that we currently charge them at whatever the course charges, but we also provide insights and data into how much they could charge.

to help inform how much the golf course could charge, how much the golf course could charge as future price, as, uh, you know, future pricing and future price demand, uh, for their tee times, which is not factored into any, you know, model based dynamic pricing that exists in the war and, you know, in the industry. Um, you said rank. What was the term you use ranked? What ranked? So basically a stack, like a ranked priority system for getting a tee time.

So cancellations happen or your tee -sheet opens seven days in advance. You have a limited amount of inventory. What we do is we make sure that if there's a cancellation for a foursome, we're back. We are filling that with the highest revenue group possible as opposed to a notification system, which is basically just a cattle call that to however many people are interested in a tee -time and it's first come first serve.

And you might just be over like overloading your, your software system to the point where the site crashes and then no one's happy. Um, and so one person for one person in the notification system, it's wildly convenient for the 99 other people. It's wildly inconvenient and frustrating. Yeah. And instead what we do is instead of doing this, like repeated catacall, we prioritize our list and make it a equitable, you know, a fair, you know, willingness to pay system.

where we're making sure that the course is getting the highest revenue to fill whatever spots are open. And you're able to do that because you've asked the golfer to say, what are you willing to spend? Correct? Correct. Okay. And we will, and we will book them at whatever, whatever the full rate is at the course, the course gets a hundred percent of what they expect. They get a hundred percent of their full rate. Um, but then on, on top of that, the golfer is the one who pays us a convenience fee to do the work of, you know, spending hours monitoring, you know,

the course's tee sheet instead of them having to do it, we take a portion of that and actually share it back to the course to reinvest in them as well. And all this is at no cost to the course. So you know, as I was talking to, you know, one of our recent customer customers that we just signed up the other day, his reaction was just like, yeah, so like, you don't cost me anything. And you're good. There are like three different ways that I'm going to make new revenue. Well, this is a no brainer. And that's exactly what we're trying to make it because we believe that.

the more we can do to help your golfers, your courses golfers have a very convenient experience in booking a tee time and show up excited to play your course and do so in a way that gets you more money as an operator, then we've created this really great win -win situation that'll help propel golf forward and really take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity to capitalize off of.

the new demand that's created by all these young golfers coming in. Right. So, so let's talk about this because I don't understand how you sign up a golf course, right? Cause I think that's what you just said. You had just signed up a golf course. My understanding is that your revenue model, all your revenue comes from the golfer. It doesn't come from the golf course. So what does that even mean to sign up a golf course? Like what I guess I don't get it. I guess like it's pretty simple. It's just a way to agree that one.

you know, we're going to share our profit to you and like, where do we send our check on a monthly basis? Okay, as well as like the we the only other thing that we need to get on paper is just like an agreement that we're going to share some share the golfers contact info with the course. And so as a part of that, like we all have to agree to California Consumer Privacy Act and other things that we just have to dot the eyes on. But other than that, like, we're just trying to find a way to make a better

booking experience for golfers and invest in the golfing communities in a way that they can they can grow and thrive. Yeah, because there's plenty of demand. And golfers definitely feel like the the shopping system for for two times it's broken. Right? Not up to it's not up to the expectations they have when they go to sites like Amazon or Airbnb or, you know, Zillow and things like that. Okay, I understood. You know, there's listen, we we built golf now with with no agreements.

We didn't ask the operator to sign anything. They would sign an interface form so that we could tell the tee sheet company that they wanted to interface. Now, then we got acquired and whatnot. And so then probably lawyers said, well, you have to have agreements, but you can run these businesses without agreements. I mean, it's not unheard of. We, I think we kind of proved that it's doable. So let's talk about some of the growing pains, because I know there have been growing pains for Loop. I think it's good to,

to flesh this stuff out. I think it's, you know, no reason beating around the bush. Talk about some of the growing pains you guys have gone through and some of the things that you've learned and that kind of thing. Sure. So I mean, like, as with any new company, when you're starting things out, you have identified a problem, but you don't know what the size and shape of the solution is going to be. And so in order to do that, and to try and figure that out, you know, you as a company, like you try to build some things and test some concepts and

doing it as lightweight and low cost of a way to be able to identify things that work. We've had times where we've had things where we've built concepts and we've booked at golf courses and doing some limited testing that honestly worked a little too well and caused a lot of unexpected booking behavior that eventually the course started noticing and they're like, hey, what is going on?

that caused a little bit of ruffled feathers and reasons for us to kind of pull back and reassess exactly how we're going about things. Because our mission from the get -go is like, how do we build something that is a positive for operators and golf courses so that they can grow their revenue? Because we realize there's an opportunity to do that while also helping golfers like myself and trying to solve my own problems of...

the frustrations of having to stay up late at night, search a bunch of different websites with different booking windows to try and just play the game that I love. And I think, you know, you have a lot of younger golfers that are less and less inclined to go through all, jump through all those hoops just to be able to book a tee time. And eventually they'll just churn from the sport altogether. And I don't think anybody wants that. So, you know, we've those kind of like early experiences that we had.

Definitely we learned a lot from them and have we've adapted the way that we work on that mission to bridging this gap between fixing and improving the booking experience in a way that benefit greatly benefits operators while providing golfers a really great experience. I think a lot of people, a lot of disruptors in golf, a lot of what I don't know that I would call you an aggregator, but people that are kind of.

in that space or quasi in that space, you learn pretty quickly that the guy that cuts the grass matters a whole lot, right? You know, that you have to have a ton of respect for the effort and the blood and the sweat and the tears that go into actually running that business. It's a lot harder to run a golf course than it is to run a Subway sandwich shop. You know, Subway sandwich shop is a thousand square feet, unlock the door, you take the money to the bank. Golf course is different. You know, there's a, there's a lot going on there. Well, there are five different businesses. There are five different businesses in one.

That's right. Sometimes you don't have enough people to do all the things. And that's where we realized like our goal from day one is like, let's do something that is essentially like mailbox money for golf courses where they don't have to lift a finger. It just works like magic. And they don't have to think about integrating new stuff or like, it's not a new job to do. We're just helping, you know, supercharge whatever system they already have.

That was one of the lessons that we learned at last minute golfer. So last minute golfer was my, was the deal before golf now. And we would mail money to the operators. Uh, and we were fanatical about how quickly we would get the money to the operator and that kind of thing. And when we would go back and interview people, this is after the company was acquired and everything, but you'd go back and interview people about why did you like us so much and what?

they loved the money, right? They loved the check coming in the mail, even though it was even back then we could have done ACH. We didn't. And we didn't intentionally. We wanted them to get the envelope and open the envelope and have that experience. And, you know, that's just another go to market strategy that some people employ and some people don't. But you do learn a lot about the power of sending dollars and what that does to a client. It can be really powerful. Yeah.

And I think we've done, you know, we're coming from the perspective of trying to flip the script in the same way of, you know, you don't pay us, we pay you and everybody wins. So, you know, we're, we've been having some healthy growth on the back of that. And I think our product and is as, as close to reaching our, our goal that we originally set out to reach as we've ever been. So we're excited. Will this be your first kind of full summer season in terms of.

I don't know. Are you coast to coast yet? Do you have clients in New York or North Carolina or something like that? Yeah, we're, we're, you throughout the U S and continually growing. So, you know, we spent, you know, a year or two doing a lot of concept testing and we've, we believe that we've, we've truly built something that's, that's exceptionally unique in this industry that's never been done before and no one else is doing. Um, so this, this year will be our first kind of like big push.

got it as a growth and we feel like we've got a good model where it's really working exceptionally well. And really, I guess one of the takeaways from this interaction could be scraping is not going away is what it sounds like to me, your position would be, it's not going to stop, it's going to continue to happen. Maybe there's ways to, I don't know, make everybody feel better about it. But scraping is here to stay and don't don't anticipate it stopping.

I wouldn't, I only anticipated stopping. I think that there are things that you can do to, you know, to potentially limit it. But in order to kind of like legally limit it, you'd have to make substantial changes to the way the people book tee times, uh, at your golf course, which might be the, to the detriment of your bottom line altogether. So you just have to be careful with how you, how you go about it.

Right. I've thought about that, that we'll, we'll, what if you made the bot have to sign in first or something like that? But then to your point, well, now you're going to limit the amount of eyeballs that get to see your inventory. And that's probably not, not a good thing. Yeah. Yep. Yeah. Okay. Well, um, I hope you guys, uh, you know, continue to learn and, uh, you know, I kind of root for everybody. I want you guys to be, uh, successful. And I don't think you being successful.

in any way means the golf course isn't successful, right? Like you said, you're trying to sell their inventory at full boat, they get full boat on it, you might make an upcharge. Ideally, we'd be selling it for more because we know we can. It's really up to the course whether or not they're ready for that. But our business model, the way that we've designed it is to be directly aligned with the course of success, right? You're not just paying us a fee. And then we say thank you and then go sell to the next person. And we're slow to innovate.

We make money when you make money. The more money you make, the more money we make. And it's a percentage of the amount of gain that you would get as an operator. And so we know that that's like the really great, like that direct link in terms of incentive will allow us to always be thinking about ways that we can deliver more value to the course and do so by providing the course and their golfers.

the best possible experience. So that's really, really the stance that we take in the industry and how we want to be partnered with, with golf courses. And if, like you said, I mean, if the golfers willing to pay more, then that's the golfer choice. So, yeah, so, so, well, it would be interesting, Matt, maybe, maybe in August or something, it'd be, it'd be interesting to have a client come on and talk about, you know, geez, I didn't know that there was this much demand or I didn't know we could price it to this level.

And the data that Loop shared with us helped us get there that that that would be an interesting conversation to have I think that'd be great. Yeah. Yeah. Okay. Well, listen, thanks for coming on the Tech Caddie podcast. I do appreciate the engagement. I think it's it's really healthy. And hopefully some people learned about about Loop a little bit more today than than what they knew in the past. Yeah. And if anybody's open to having conversations about scraping or or how we can work with them and help.

help their business help their help their course. They reach out to industry@loopgolf.co happy to engage in any conversations and talk about it further. There you go. You sound like Nikki Haley or somebody sending people to their websites. I think that's the first time we've had that on the on the Tech Caddie So that's good. All right. Well, thanks a lot, Matt. It was it was good to talk to you. Thanks, Mike. Really appreciate the time. Yeah.

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Tyler Arnold

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

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Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

01:50

Tyler Arnold

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry's standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum.

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