Tag Archives: facebook

Start-ups Take Two

Welcome to the future, again.

b2fMaybe it’s serendipity, things seem to be coming together for technical innovation these days. Maybe we’re experiencing the promise. Everywhere you look, literally, efficiency is being injected into our daily lives. Our PC and the internet in our pockets, in our cars, and at The Gap.

For those of us that lived through pets.com, boo.com, flooz.com, Napster, and the play by-play demise of these astronomically high valued companies on fuckedcompany.com, the ongoing optimism around  Twitter, Facebook, Bitcoin, Snapchat, and a myriad of others has taken me a bit by surprise. At the time (and for me personally) it was the tsunami of freshly minted marketing graduates descending on NYC that signaled the beginning of the end. The party was filling up with the uninvited. Time to cash out. Bye. France? Ok, why not. For those handing out the cash it was the start-up earnings that never came to the party. Time to apologize to our investors and move on.

This weeks Economist has a good piece on the whole start-up environment, it looks at funding, management styles, even the technology, which has evolved into something akin to a theoretical plug-and-play, or start-ups in a box. This time might be different they say, because the tools are available to create our craziest idea for next to nothing. The release cycle has turned into overnight – nothing ever leaves beta. In fact the cost of moving an idea into a fad like Snapchat takes place in the real world. That real world isn’t just Google or an internet site, it’s your phone, your car, your home, your entertainment and even your currency.

Andreesen’s op-ed piece in the New York Times, screaming Bitcoin is the future, reminds me of the excitement around mobile in 1999. Yes mobile. People forget that mobile was also all the rage even 15 years ago, very smart investors with vision and insight lost millions. They had to wait for the iPhone and the Apple’s app store to kick things off. The mobile promise has finally arrived,  open-source software is saving millions of dollars in development costs and today’s web 2.0 geeks are all enthusiastic about Bitcoin. And Marc Andreesen is probably right about virtual currencies,  but how’s his timing? Bitcoin is playing in a Keynesian sandbox full of politicians, central banks and federal governments. Napster pissed off A&M music, and lost. With Napster you could point the finger at three humans, Shawn Fanning, John Fanning and Sean Parker. There’s only the consumer to take to court with Bitcoin, and in it’s case, who will pay the lobbyists? Eventually the end-user is the only possible target as the Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht can attest. The real question for Bitcoin believers is: will politicians and federal governments treat Bitcoin as financial terrorism? And who’s coming to the party?

*Update:  I just stumbled on Jamie Dimon’s comment  that Bitcoin is a terrible store of value… (here)


Social Media Euthanasia

Every time I open Facebook I see a baby, a kid, a pet, or a plate of food. Sometimes I see a guitar, a bike, nail-art, a mountain, or a religiously inspired collection of words – though these, rarely in French. I also see likes, dislikes, thank yous and you’re welcomes. Depending how advanced in life you happen to be; crushing candies and farm animals. Most of what I see looks like what you see. But I see more babies than my 15-year-old daughter who sees more nail art and boy-bands; my mother sees more silver-haired trips to Europe…  But there is something none of us see.

L1002599Facebook ignores death. They do everything they can to mirror your every movement and sentiment, apart from putting a phone in your pocket, or no, they’re trying that as well. Facebook just can’t decide how to deal with death, a bit like in real life. How do we deal with death? Obviously, each individual deals differently, but in some fashion everyone celebrates death. They put flowers on the side of the road, throw flowers on the sea, bow their heads in prayer, or gather for a dinner. You can quit Facebook of course, but how do you celebrate your departure?

If I’ve had enough of Planet-Facebook, and I can’t take any more hamburgers, smiling kids in Halloween costumes, senior prom photos, or inspirational phrases, and I decide it’s time, it’s time for me to leave and find an electronic resting place with fewer cats, what can Facebook do for me? Nothing, absolutely nothing.

I’m sorry to go, I’ll miss you my friends, those that I’ve met on my travels through life, all of your kids and brilliant sayings. I’ll miss you, but you should all have fair warning that I’m leaving, shouldn’t you? We might want to fix a meeting on the other side of the curtain.

I’m imagining a Facebook Death-0-Timer or a kill switch Zuck. (Don’t hesitate to steal the idea, it’s all yours and I promise I won’t come after you for a little check, not before the movie.) I imagine my profile disintegrating, slowly, based on my Facebook death settings. Slowly my old photos disappear, my insightful commentary fades away, all of my data goes in the trashcan on the corner of your screen, and on the day and time of my choosing my profile goes black.

My friends, might even like it.


Escape To Belgium, Escape To Singapore

LVMHVery wealthy entrepreneurs leaving their country of origin strikes a chord, especially here in France but the differences with how the media react to similar phenomena is frankly scary.

The chief executive and controlling shareholder of French luxury company LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (MC.FR)  Bernard Arnault, decided he wants to live in Belgium, to be clear that’s 3 hrs by car from Paris. It’s like coming back from the Hamptons on Sunday, if you’re into that… Bernard probably has other means of transportation, but still. (reuters) Mr. Arnault is one of France’s richest citizens and one of their most successful entrepreneurs. (wikipedia) He’s even received the French Legion of Honour.

From Reuters:

“Get lost, you rich jerk!” said a front-page headline in the left-leaning Liberation daily, next to a picture of Arnault smiling in front of an overnight travel bag.

Arnault announced in a lawyer’s statement he was suing Liberation for public insult over the headline, calling it vulgar and violent.

Leftist Jean-Luc Melenchon told RTL radio that France did not need such “parasites” and Socialist lawmaker Bruno Le Roux said Arnault was “betraying France’s recovery”.

“When you love France, you don’t leave when the weather turns bad!” Harlem Desir, national secretary of the Socialist Party, wrote in a Twitter message.

Union leaders accused Arnault of profiting from French workers only to take his wealth across the border.

In America’s case it’s Eduardo Saverin, one of Facebook’s co-founders. He’s going to Singapore, a bit farther a field.

From Bloomberg: (May 12th, 2012)

Saverin, 30, joins a growing number of people giving up U.S. citizenship ahead of a possible increase in tax rates for top earners. The Brazilian-born resident of Singapore is one of several people who helped Mark Zuckerberg start Facebook in a Harvard University dormitory and stand to reap billions of dollars after the world’s largest social network holds its IPO.

“Eduardo recently found it more practical to become a resident of Singapore since he plans to live there for an indefinite period of time,” said Tom Goodman, a spokesman for Saverin, in an e-mailed statement.

Notice anything different about the tone of these articles? In the US, the IRS is looking into every detail and probably doing it’s best attempt at blackmail, but that’s unlikely to play out in the press. The French will use any means necessary to run a rich guy through the mud, not because he’s leaving or unpatriotic, but because, it’s his fault.

I don’t think anyone in the US blames Eduardo Saverin for the financial crisis, if anything Americans are blaming the government for scaring him away. In hindsight, and after the Facebook IPO fiasco, I’m curious if Eduardo is having second thoughts. In any case, one major difference is that Bernard Arnault is NOT obligated to renounce his citizenship, and he’s of course still just a short drive from Paris Plage.

Britney Spears

What I’m NOT Reading (WINR)

Britney SpearsI hardly had time to read, let alone NOT read. Here’s a quick list of crap.

Good Trading

Anderson Cooper

What I’m NOT Reading (WINR)

Anderson Cooper

Good Morning, a bit late…

Joe Arpaio

What I’m NOT reading (WINR)

I’ve perfected distraction. The best way to avoid this market would be to avoid reading the following:Joe Arpaio

Joe Arpaio’s Office Arrests 6-Year-Old Suspected Undocumented Immigrant (Huffington Post)

Quit Complaining About Mayor Bloomberg’s Soda Ban, Fatsos (Gawker)

20 Best Dressed TV Dads (EW.com)

Facebook makes $10m charity payment to settle lawsuit (BBC)

Juicy New Details About John Edwards’ Affairs From Rielle Hunter’s New Memoir (BusinessInsider)

Let us praise the paper clip (Slate)

Aiey, let the day be over… Good Trading.

Quotes of the Morning

And both from the same site. Serendipity at it’s best.

The site in question is a popular financial blog, The Big Picture. He has a Ernest Hemingway Quote on the right side of his blog.

Everything is on such a clear financial basis in France. It is the simplest country to live in. No one makes things complicated by becoming your friend for any obscure reason. If you want people to like you you have only to spend a little money. I spent a little money and the waiter liked me. He appreciated my valuable qualities. He would be glad to see me, and would want me at his table. It would be a sincere liking because it would have a sound basis. I was back in France. —Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises.

This is only half true, because if you show up with a bottle of Calva, that works as well.

He also has a good post this morning about Facebook’s neverending IPO where he closes by saying:

My best estimate of fair value is when its in the teens — just like most of its users average age . . .

Full agreement here!