General Manager at TriplePoint PR, angel investor
1 year ago on Meet the man Silicon Valley’s CEOs turn to when they want to justify screwing workers
Gary Becker is among other things, a Nobel-prize winner for economics. He and Richard Posner write one of the most thoughtful blogs that live up to an early ideal of the internet of thoughtful conversations at http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/ which I'd invite readers to visit if they'd like to evaluate whether he is a "far right loon." But maybe they'd be guilty by association with the Chicago school too.
This article's spirit is straight out of valleywag - and when the same precepts are applied to evaluating Pando it rightly drives you nuts. If the CATO institute (etc etc) are evil front organizations because they receive money from someone with whom there are shared interests, obviously so is Pando since you have funding from Silicon Valley VCs, and this blog is also just a "valuable asset" for monied interests. You've done many thoughtful articles and hope for more in the future but this is a disappointing screed.
@mcarney @superacidjax @websterderek "Hail Mary"s are binary - you're either about to lose and you have to try your inner Flutie, or not. That is really not the case here. If Stripe is in fact substantially behind Braintree then the investors and board who made a mistake is more likely Braintree for selling too early, not the valuation accorded Stripe. First Data alone was acquired for $26 billion in 2007; if they are some wounded Mastodon I'd say even the number two player could well be accorded a multibillion valuation now. But I appreciate the journalistic guts to question a deal.
1 year, 1 month ago on Memo to Stripe: Winning the hearts of Valley startups is not winning payments
For an article urging precision in communication of medical information, I find the title of the article ironic. "23andme genotypes are all wrong" is not what the body of the text suggests. "All 23andme genotypes have at least one error in some SNP" is a less engaging headline to be sure. However, I didn't need government intervention to figure this out, nor would I have wanted the article pulled.
Same with the 23andme results. Their kit provided an incredible leap in my own medical self-awareness, for $99. Diseases blood relatives have suffered from are (highly likely) accurately flagged. That objectively requires me to assess risks - using information derived from but not limited to, 23andme results -- instead of sticking a head in the sand "I hope I don't get that." Indeed as the article cites my results flag warfarin sensitivity. Could it be assessing a false positive in warfarin sensitivity, or I make a mistake based upon it? Well the site is clear: "Only a medical professional can determine the right dosage of warfarin for a particular patient." I am now aware this could even be a problem.
The FDA has a role to play but it appears to always take the side of the "perfect" against the "good." 23andme discloses abundantly and positions themselves as a medical starting point, not a finish line. In a free society people should be able to make choices about information interpretation. There are plenty of deliberately fraudulent health products with large deceptive marketing campaigns that would be a better target for the FDA's energies.
1 year, 2 months ago on 23andme genotypes are all wrong
One corrective note: the all time high listed as $119 does not reflect a 2-for-1 split; yes it's still a $60-to-$30 drop. That's a function of the wild weird times of the late 90s.
For a CEO to take a tech company in it's fourth decade and take revenue from $22 billion in 2000 to $77 billion despite enormous technology shifts is pretty darn impressive.
1 year, 6 months ago on Steve Ballmer: The. Worst. CEO. Ever.
@rohamg is right to call out the tone of the article, which is closer to Valleywag than Pando. It's snarky simultaneously about the acquirers and the acquired, which is a feat. Worse is the dumpster-diving cartoon at the top of the piece. Consider the two other scenarios regarding Yahoo's M&A: Yahoo made no acquisitions ("Yahoo's Head is in the Sand!") or big acquisitions ("Yahoo Overpays in Last Ditch Gamble!") Yahoo has cash and needs talent. Talent needs cash to see their products to market. It is fair game to say this strategy has not worked for Yahoo in the past but it is premature to evaluate the effect now. If we are going to evaluate now and the consensus really is "No longer is Yahoo a boring old dinosaur to be avoided. It’s a place you could sell your company and start working with some smart people" then at least so far this is the often elusive "win win" of M&A deal making and both sides should be lauded.
1 year, 9 months ago on Can’t raise a Series A? Just sell yourself to Yahoo
A good litmus for this "cost be damned" thesis is if Apple had a balance sheet of zero, should they take on _any amount_ of debt to complete such a transaction? Apple really needs to get on with the dividend now as the volume and frequency of these calls increase (Twitter at ANY price!)
The two successful tech acquisitions you refer to are cases where there was something about the acquirer -- scale, resources, legal support, distribution -- that enabled the acquired to prosper where they might not have otherwise. The bad deals listed all happened because they were "highly strategic." Dropbox's value is in device independence, and Apple's is in device dependence. There would be risk of major value destruction even if they could be picked up at book value.
Apple will not likely ever be as good at storage as Dropbox but a few more attempts and they'll get it right enough. It _is_ just a feature in the Apple ecosystem.
1 year, 11 months ago on If Apple were smart, it would buy Dropbox, no matter the cost
@BryanGoldberg Love the passion but the ferocious endorsement of NY on these grounds seems misplaced. Are you aware that in 2009 New York state also passed retroactive tax increases? It was only going back four months instead of ten but your position holds any retro-activity abhorrent as a matter of principle. The Supreme Court ruled these on "asset seizures" in 1994 in U.S. v. Carlton and there have been no shortage of state retroactive taxes since - Ohio, Connecticut come to mind as well as the big guns.
I operate a business in both SF & NYC and from my experience alas the relief from maddening state behaviors is not going to be found in New York. I'll go on a limb and assume you're moving to NYC instead of Buffalo, and if so the total state & local rates are a wash. As a cumulative measure on state business tax climate according to the Tax Foundation you're going from 48th to 50th. And if you must choose between the two, Jerry Brown with Gavin heir apparent is better than a lot of other one party Democratic states including the Empire one.
New York is probably the world's greatest city on it's own and the best place to do a media company. So good luck, knock'em dead. An enlightened government tax refuge for Californians? Think again, or at least see who follows Bloomberg as mayor.
Seattle & Austin you've got to step up your game.
1 year, 11 months ago on Because of asset seizures, I am starting my new company outside California
The presence of a new (or large) set of data of course can generate confirmation bias, which manifests itself in investing as "trend following" as you have in the example of Viddy. If deep conclusions from "social media" is synonymous with "Big Data" then sure, there are perils. I'm not ready to uninstall Hadoop and go back to analyzing animal entrails for prediction. "Big Data" is surely more synonymous with trying to find patterns in unstructured data to help with more prosaic things like what bank service offerings a branch manager should offer, how much and where network capacity should be provisioned, or whether a spike in potash sales might indicate terrorist activity. Big data if used in investing would be an antidote to momentum investing in social media or accelerators, not a cause.
1 year, 11 months ago on Terabytes of deafening noise
@Pv @BrantCooper I appreciate the replies. Your two examples are interesting: I'm rooting for them but find it hard to see them as "disruptive" threats to anybody or would necessitate change at $10 billion free cash flowing even after 100+ years of bureaucracy at Ford. What outcome of these (or other) companies would falsify the "lean entrepreneur" methodology? The Thiel & co. argument I'm espousing about the lack of big problems being tackled I think merits more than a yawn. It doesn't argue we can know a good solution in advance or iteration is bad but that we know big problems to tackle but don't because the capital ecosystem is now geared to all small bets and incremental advances (which your philosophy appears to support if I understand it correctly.) There are of course many nuances here, and look forward to reading your book!
2 years, 1 month ago on Looking back to Henry Ford and ahead to lean startups
Crowdsourced car design will result in something like "The Homer" (http://onscreencars.com/tv/the-homer-the-car-built-for-homer/); I'd rather have a top-down designed Tesla. Companies that require capital-intensity -- and most disruptive technologies will -- need hierarchical planning because the cost of failure isn't just swiping out code when you pivot. Hierarchical planning is sometimes successful when a single visionary drives the train (Jobs at Apple) or you can listen to customers closely and adapt to their needs but still in a planned structure (say, Proctor & Gamble.) But either way you need to plan. If no one can predict the future, know best, or pick winners out of a crowd there's not much reason to read PandoDaily much less do your own startup. The ideology of "ecosystems" and bottom up design while appropriate for increased market responsiveness if that is your company need, is surely one of the main factors preventing the technology industry from making large bets and following through with world-changing companies. So cancer rates stay the same and no one goes to the moon in forty years, but we have a lot of "serial entrepreneurs" spinning through a series of very marginal, derivative companies.
The Warriors are a delight to watch this year...but obviously lucky despite themselves. If you buy an NBA team without a viable center, it doesn't take a captain of industry to know you need to get one. (Probably took such a figure to have the guts to amnesty Biedrins, but that didn't happen.) The Warriors failed to get among others Tyson Chandler, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard. In the latter case, they were openly willing to mortgage the team for exactly the overpaid superstar player (as a rental!) you correctly warn against. Larry Riley trading Ellis & misc parts with a plan to tank the rest of the season for a draft pick was a (prevaricating) desperation move because free agents didn't want to play in Oakland.
But they want to play in SF, and corporate sponsorships here will be bigger than Bug Zappers Pest Control. PandoDaily can evaluate the ownership group on their arbitrage which was more transparent than Bogut's health: buy the Warriors, move to SF's open arms at the end of the lease at the wretched Arena, and increase the equity value of the team as they anchor your own event center in a world renowned city. Though an avid fan himself, Lacob's role surely was to look over spreadsheets about real estate value and sporting broadcasting rights, not scouting footage. The Warriors could have the Wizards' record this year and that calculation wouldn't significantly change.
2 years, 2 months ago on Former VC Joe Lacob puts one in the W column as Golden State Warriors owner
The simultaneous vote on Proposition 37 corroborates elements of @bgoldberg 's thesis. That would have been an across-the-board income tax, not just on the "rich," and it lost in a landslide. What I can't reconcile is the vote for Obama as well -- who is vociferously for even larger rate increases on the same demographic. Both Prop 30 and Obama seek to steepen "progressivity" in the tax code; indeed the federal steepening will be larger. Why support one and be aghast at the other as shameful and despicable? The marginal impact in California is less likely about the high tech or Hollywood success story as the dual-income lawyer and accountant families, where those marginal dollars are the difference between saving and breaking even since the schools are broken and cost of private education is high (and undeductable.) The future of California as outlined by among others Joel Kotkin seems clear and prop 30 will accelerate: a highly wealthy upper class that seems indifferent to tax rates - a state employee bureaucracy-led middle class, and an often un-assimilated lower class dependent on the two above with very high rates of welfare participation. Charles Schwab doesn't leave California, but the white collar administrators of Charles Schwab inc. do; John Chambers does not but Cisco sales people live in CO., etc.
2 years, 3 months ago on Proposition 30: Yet another way California screws entrepreneurs over
This article commingles a lot of personal views with ones seriously flawed from a "valley" perspective. Top line, it's clear Obama can barely conceal his contempt for people in business. Government and "community service" is a higher calling and goods for civilization are best allocated by these noble central planners. Nothing is more antithetical to the spirit of Silicon Valley than that. With the exception of four years as a governor, Romney's entire career has been financing and support in private sector.
"Obamacare" has a new tax of 2.3% on medical devices and has the ultimate payment rationing system in the IPAB - designed even to trump congressional oversight: whether or not Obamacare is just, it is not remotely favorable to the tech industry. To abstractly discuss basic research even if it were accurate misses where the commercial rubber meets the road.
It's touching you find party platforms dispositive; but if they were - the GOP one is quite firm in it's support for highly skilled immigration: (http://www.gop.com/2012-republican-platform_Restoring/#Item4) "We can accelerate the process of restoring our domestic economy-and reclaiming this country’s traditional position of dominance in international trade-by a policy of strategic immigration, granting more work visas to holders of advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math from other nations. Highly educated immigrants can assist in creating new services and products. In the same way, foreign students who graduate from an American university with an advanced degree in science, technology, engineering or math should be encouraged to remain here and contribute to economic prosperity and job creation." What has the Obama administration done in four years to achieve the goals here?
Un-thoughtful at best is "There’s a good reason, after all, that Obama’s supporters in tech are of higher caliber than Romney’s" Marc Andreessen, Paul Otellini, John Chambers to name three you don't all support Romney; if the Democratic list is more august it would be awfully close. Heck, anyone who talks about disruption ideologically at the heart of the valley is quoting a Romney endorser/mentor Clayton Christensen!
The final point is when the federal government spends well over a trillion more than it takes in each year, it depletes available capital for the private sector to innovate. Neither party has seemed particularly serious about addressing the disparity but in the Ryan VP pick there is a glimmer of hope.
Could there be reasons of "social justice" or foreign policy or heck even taste about the candidates to support Obama over Romney? Sure, but the interests of SV are clearly more in line with the GOP and Romney.
2 years, 3 months ago on If you care about the tech industry, vote for Obama
Why then have a board of directors at all then? If it is the case investors are believing in a particular person then at a bare minimum greater health disclosures should be made about execs in question. "Old media" companies almost invariably had these structures and families/founders ran the companies into the ground - a collective warning sign. It really doesn't serve the fiduciary obligations CEOs have to other shareholders be they hedge funds or employee #8, which reduces the value for everyone. The problem of balancing long term interests is more easily addressed I think by having a voting structure for public equities that reflects the time of possession (vesting your voting rights so to speak.)
2 years, 7 months ago on Won’t Someone Please Think of the Activist Shareholders! The World Needs More Yahoos
To reconcile the interests here since video demos can be instructive would be to allow the journalist to annotate the video for the posting on PandoDaily, either with a synchronous audio commentary or text overlay. A confident company with viable product would assent to that. This is an analog of posting a quote from an executive and giving commentary before or after it, and is obviously the well respected practice.
2 years, 8 months ago on Why We Don’t Embed Demo Videos (And You Shouldn’t Either)
If fellow Bravo debutante "Gallery Girls" was hosted by Charlie Rose I would lament this treatment of Silicon Valley. Fortunately neither is likely to last beyond a few episodes and everyone can get back to watching TED talks.
2 years, 11 months ago on An Open Letter To Randi Zuckerberg: How Could You Do This to Real Entrepreneurs?
14% is an obnoxious hotel tax rate but it would be "ridiculous" not to apply it evenly whether it is a "business-to-consumer" or "consumer-to-consumer" tax. The problem is the insatiable appetite for government spending these taxes fund. The City of San Francisco has 22,000 employees and 23,000 pensioners running a 2.7 billion dollar compensation tab annually for a city of 800,000 -- over $3,000 per resident. (http://www.baycitizen.org/local/counties/san-francisco-employees/) 60% of employees live outside the city. Requiring them to stay in AirBNB rooms on work nights would be a better public policy objective.
2 years, 11 months ago on Airbnb Faces Off Against 40-Year Old San Francisco Hotel Laws