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Month: June 2017

A Tale of Two Titans

A Tale of Two Titans

Last week, Travis Kalanick, ahem, tendered his resignation as CEO of Uber, the company which he co-founded, and of which he is a 30% shareholder. No mean feat holding on to that much equity, considering the many rounds of funding that the company has received – $8.8B in 14 rounds, according to Crunchbase. It took a shareholder revolt on the part of investors representing roughly 40 percent control of Uber to accomplish the task, according to NewCo.

Then again, he’s Travis Kalanick. Taking a walk down memory lane, here are 13 Instances Where Uber Screwed Up (A Brief Throwback), demonstrating a bit more ubris than was advisable or legal, including class actions; sexist comments (and Susan Fowler’s blog post that started it all); surge pricing; criminal behavior on the part of drivers who were supposedly vetted; falsifying numbers; what to speak of the number of executives who departed the company in quick succession. Uber may not have been Uber without Kalanick’s personality to drive it (no pun intended), and while it has been said that there’s really no such thing as bad press, well, there are many Silicon Valley mantras that are in need of revision.

Uber has always been a predatory, take-no-prisoners corporate culture. They cut corners (drivers were not all properly vetted, it seems; agencies that do background checks do not all follow the same set of rules), and to reach Uber-size in the amount of time it took the company to accomplish its current market share (they’ve been around since 2009 and yes, market share has been falling off of late, which has given its closest competitor a big lift – pun intended: “Uber’s US market share fell from 84% at the beginning of this year to 77% at the end of May, according to  research firm Second Measure. Meanwhile, Lyft’s bookings were up 135% year-over-year in April, according to PYMNTS.com,” says Business Insider), you have to be employing measures that simply do not pass the sniff test (Uber drivers underpaid in New York City for years). Read More...

Amazon/WholeFoods: The Gorilla in the Grocery Chain

Amazon/WholeFoods: The Gorilla in the Grocery Chain

We all saw @ChicagoPhotoSho’s tweet:

Bezos: “Alexa, buy me something from Whole Foods.”
Alexa: “Buying Whole Foods.”
Bezos: “Oh, Shit.”

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock, last week Amazon acquired Whole Foods in a deal valued at $13.7B, including the debt. Read More...

The Winds of Change

The Winds of Change

In case you missed it, The five biggest tech stocks lost nearly $100 billion in value on Friday. It was decidedly not a good day for FANG (Facebood, Amazon/Apple, Netflix, Google) stocks, now called FAAGM, although we prefer AGFAAM (Alphabet/Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft) – rolls better off the tongue (NOTE: Netflix was left out of the original FANG in the Goldman Sachs report released on Friday, “since its impact on the S&P 500 is still too small). As CNBC noted, “Facebook, Apple, Amazon.com, Alphabet, Microsoft all fell more than 3 percent Friday as investors rotated out of the stocks. The group has been the market’s leaders and is behind about 40 percent of its performance this year… While they may be loved, today’s tech darlings aren’t without potential flaws…During the bubble, the five largest tech names were trading at almost 60 times two-year forward earnings, with the cheapest stock trading at 36 times. Now FAAMG trades at 23 times forward two-year earnings with only one, Amazon, over 30 times.”

Walter Mossberg refers to them as the “Gang of Five.”

What was not said, and attention must be paid: the stock market, especially tech stocks, have been overheated/overvalued for quite some time, and we all do well know that what goes up, must come down. At some point. And as soon as the valuation of a sector – especially tech – at least somewhat begins to right itself, it isn’t long before the word ‘bubble’ is top of mind once again. Read More...

The Real Deal on Fake News

The Real Deal on Fake News

The term ‘Fake News’ has been bandied about for a while now and quite a few of you have asked us to address it.

There are at least two categories of so-called fake news: staged fake news, which should be more accurately called a dramatization in some cases and marked as such, but not always, as in the case of ‘Rathergate, when former news anchor Dan Rather falsely reported a story, using faked documents to get his narrative across – documents which were proven to have been faked, yet which Rather later called ‘skewed but accurate’ (with his credibility shot, he ‘resigned’ from his anchor spot a year before his contract was over). This ‘Oxymoronic Journalism’ very much fits in with the latest iteration of the Fake News rubrick, which is something of a misnomer.

Truth be told, many media outlets and social networks/information sources, including both Facebook and Google, have an unmistakable agenda. Just this week Marc Andreessen stated that “Silicon Valley is extremely left-wing, extremely liberal,” claiming that the technology industry’s libertarian stereotype is largely inaccurate, and…criticiz(ing) his community for turning a blind eye at the middle of the country. “It’s really hard for a lot of people in Silicon Valley to even articulate the other side,” he said. Read More...

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