In a pretty cool way, actually.
Posted on December 9th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
The Seattle Mariners offered Robinson Cano a $240 million contract after they heard that Cano was considering a $225 million offer. Not until it was too late did they discover that they were the ones who’d made the $225 million offer….
By mid-day Friday, Seattle had heard that some team bid nine years and $225 million for Robinson Cano, so the Mariners upped their bid to $240 million and 10 years before apparently realizing the initial bid had come from themselves, too.
Of course, the original mistake was offering Cano anything more than five years….
Posted on December 9th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
The Yankees, that is, letting go of Robinson Cano rather than give him an A-Rod like deal and signing a relatively young Jacoby Ellsbury.
But now they have gone and signed a 37-year-old outfielder to a three-year deal. Sigh. How many up and coming minor leaguers could you sign for $45 million?
Robinson Cano, that is, to the Mariners for $240 million over ten years.
(Note to Seattle: Are you insane?)
Let’s see if they can get him to run to first base…
The Times reports that the Yankees are close to signing Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, which would make their resigning of Robinson Cano less likely.
With the addition of Ellsbury, who turned 30 on Sept. 11, the Yankees would still have money to bring back Robinson Cano and stay under their stated goal of $189 million for their payroll. However, Cano would have to accept the club’s current price of seven years and about $170 million to $175 million. The Yankees offered Cano seven years for about $160 million and seemed unfazed Tuesday by reports that he was talking to the Seattle Mariners, who have been trying for years to add offense.
Here is the essential comparison between the two players: Jacoby Ellsbury stole home off Andy Pettitte. Robinson Cano doesn’t run out ground out balls.
I love that the Yankees don’t seem like they’re trying to sign Cano all that hard, and hope that my theory—that secretly they don’t really want to resign him—is true. I don’t know if this exchange would make the Yankees a better team, but it would certainly make them a more likable one….
Posted on December 3rd, 2013 in Uncategorized | No Comments »
In Los Angeles, a woman named Cecilia Abadie received a moving violation for driving while wearing Google glass—a citation, as the Times puts it, usually given to drivers who may be distracted by a video screen.
She has pleaded not guilty…but she is guilty, guilty, guilty!
Not to mention that she could kill somebody.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, some other tech bonehead was asked to leave a restaurant because he refused to stop wearing his Google Glass.
Fascinating to me how Google is force-feeding a product to a culture that not only largely doesn’t seem to want it, but is now actively fighting it. I wonder if the Google folks are so isolated in a Goo-bubble that they have failed to anticipate this hostility–and don’t understand it.
Addendum: a Valleywag commenter has coined a term that must make Google nervous: “Glasshole.”
Posted on November 29th, 2013 in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »
And no, I don’t mean his Connecticut mansion, which is up for sale anyway.
According to the Wall Street Journal, court-appointed bankruptcy trustee Richard Davis has issued a 300-page report on Buddy Fletcher’s hedge fund, Fletcher Asset Management, alleging that Fletcher created “’wildly inflated valuations’ for his investments to generate more than $30 million in fraudulent fees and attract new investors to his network of funds.”
Davis concluded that Fletcher’s funds were largely insolvent since 2008 and that his business was essentially a Ponzi scheme, dependent on an inflow of new money to pay previous obligations.
This is a far more thorough version of what I found when I reported on Fletcher for Boston magazine about 18 months ago, so all this isn’t surprising. But it does leave me with a couple of questions.
If Fletcher’s funds have been defunct for five years now, why try to buy another apartment in the Dakota, when he must have known that his financial records would be reviewed? And why make matters worse by filing a lawsuit charging racial discrimination? (Davis’ report found that Fletcher siphoned about $1 million to pay the expenses of that lawsuit.)
My only answer: The man has become delusional—convinced, perhaps, that at some point he would make the money back. Or possibly that race was an impermeable shield against accusations of impropriety (hence the Dakota lawsuit).
Here’s the second question: At what point is Harvard forced to rename the Alphonse Fletcher Jr. professorship, currently held by Skip Gates?
It’s not just that the man is a scoundrel and Skip Gates now holds a professorship named by and for a crook. It’s that you have to wonder if the money used to pay for that professorship wasn’t also stolen.
The Times has two pieces today that are interesting in and of themselves but more interesting when considered together.
The first is about how irritating rich techies have become in San Francisco, and how they’re making the city unlivable.
Resentment simmers, at the fleets of Google buses that ferry workers to the company’s headquarters in Mountain View and back; the code jockeys who crowd elite coffeehouses, heads buried in their laptops; and the sleek black Uber cars that whisk hipsters from bar to bar. Late last month, two tech millionaires opened the Battery, an invitation-only, $2,400-a-year club in an old factory in the financial district, cars lining up for valet parking.
My anecdotal supporting evidence: I was in Austin, Texas, last weekend, and met a young guy who had tried his hand at San Francisco. The people there just weren’t nice, he said. Everyone had an attitude. So he moved to Austin, and loves it.
The second interesting Times piece is Nick Bilton writing on the possibility of a tech bubble.
Money-losing technology companies are going public at you’ve-got-to-be-joking prices. The founders of Snapchat are getting multibillion-dollar offers — and turning them down. And the Nasdaq composite index, a visible symbol of the ’90s dot-com boom and bust, is a sneeze away from 4,000, a level it last reached just before, well, you know.
(Blogger: Nasdaq passed 4k about 9:30 this morning.)
The Snapchat thing is particularly interesting. Last week Business Insider’s Henry Blodget had a piece arguing that the Snapchat founders were right to turn down the $3 billion offer from Facebook, that they were going to make more on…advertising…and…selling virtual goods.
(Can you hear the skepticism in my ellipses?)
The average active Snapchat user, of which there are likely already 10s of millions, receives
~150 an estimated 20-50 “snaps” per day*. Snapchat has already experimented with mixing in one video or photo advertisement in every 20-30 snaps. Advertisers are jazzed about this, because Snapchat allows them to reach a coveted demographic (teenagers) that they have trouble reaching anywhere else…
Note all the suppositions (and one corrected mistake) in that one paragraph: there are “likely” tens of millions of Snapchat users, they won’t mind getting ads every 20 or so messages, the ads will be influential, teenagers won’t get as bored with Snapchat as they do with every other social media platform…
This LinkedIn post by a guy named Shane Snow devastatingly rebuts Blodget.
Snow points out that, unlike Facebook, Snapchat is easy to abandon; it doesn’t store any user data (friends, e.g.) that users want to preserve. Also, Snapchat’s technology is easy to replicate. But perhaps most important, advertising is no panacea. (I often wonder: Will we ever reach a point of advertising saturation? At the moment, advertising is expected to fund virtually everything.)
Face it: kids don’t like ads. As soon as Snapchat users start getting Snaps from Ford Focus and Citibank, they’re going to start thinking Snapchat’s about as cool as junk mail. The word they’re going to use is Spam.
Sure, some advertisers will come up with really funny ads that won’t bother users; they’ll try to fit the medium. But it’s going to ruin the user experience, and the users don’t have a good reason to deal with bad UX.
I’d argue there’s a bubble because of all the pitches that I get for new tech companies—dozens every week. And none of them seem to be offering a service that I actually need. I might try them, even use them for a while, but if they disappeared tomorrow, I wouldn’t miss them for a minute.
And here’s a key difference about this tech bubble versus the last one: I think there are a lot of people, myself included, who’d actually be kind of happy if this bubble popped. Tech people are having a disproportionate influence on our culture now, and for a lot of reasons (Google glass!) it’s not a healthy one. (Longer post, if I can find the time.) I mean, is Mark Zuckerberg really the guy you want to be one of the world’s most powerful people? Has he ever read a book that wasn’t intended to help get him into Harvard?
Plus, on a more tangible note, the riches generated by this tech bubble haven’t really translated to average stock market investors; they’re limited to founders, employees and investors. So if this bubble burst, the extent of financial damage would be limited, and frankly, some of the people who are now getting rich off tech would be improved by having to endure a little financial pain.
So I say, yes, it’s a bubble. Bring it on.