Archive for November 28th, 2011

Facebook is considering dates in early 2012 to go public, the Wall Street Journal is reporting Monday. That much isn’t really news, since that approximate time frame as been speculated for many months now because of technical, financial disclosure requirements. What is interesting is the re-assertion of the trial balloon (let’s call it) that Facebook …




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In business school in the late ‘90s, like just about everyone else in my class I attended a speech given by Morgan Stanley’s then CEO. Thanks to a strong dollar and relatively low taxes at the time, Wall Street was booming and Morgan Stanley was seen by most as one of the premiere jobs for an MBA student to secure.
Of note, the Morgan Stanley head stressed that as seemingly everyone desired San Francisco as a place to work, that better hiring options existed in other locales. In particular, so desperate was Morgan Stanley for India hires that he told anyone interested to…

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As Italy teeters on insolvency and the euro on collapse, European leaders are desperately seeking amendments to EU treaties that would legally limit national budget deficits. However, a new fiscal discipline would not address fundamental flaws in the euro architecture that caused Mediterranean states to become uncompetitive and borrow too much.
In the last week, Germany could not sell a significant share of a new bond offering, France and other stronger governments saw interest rates on their bonds rise to alarming levels, and European banks are scrambling to hold onto deposits and raise…

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Last Friday was Black Friday – the day after Thanksgiving – which is traditionally a big shopping day in the US as most people take the day off and many go shopping in preparation for Xmas.  The following Monday, which is today, has recently become known as Cyber-Monday as it has become the biggest day of the year for online sales, driven by a combination of discounts and offers, and (once again) the imminent arrival of Xmas.

The good news is that In a period of widespread macro-economic gloom (the Euro crisis persists, warning signs in the US are mounting, and on Wednesday this week up to 2m public sector workers will be on strike) there are sub-sectors that are continuing to grow fast.  Data from IBM Coremetrics shows that:

  • US online sales last Friday were up 24.3% on Black Friday 2010
  • mobile market share rose rapidly – largely driven by the iPad sales rose from 3.8% of the total in 2010 to 9.2% this year, and browsing share grew from 5.6% to 14.3%
  • social media discussion volume increased 110% over 2010 – topics included out-of-stock concerns, waiting times, and parking

There is some significant growth in these statistics and it follows that there is good money to be made in the companies that are driving the sales directly – i.e. etailers, and also in the companies that provide them with technology and marketing/advertising services.

The existence of large pockets of growth like this are what has kept interest and valuations in the tech sector on a different trajectory to the rest of the economy.  Moreover, with the pace of innovation continuing to increase I think we will see more exciting new pockets of growth over time.  Given that the overall economy is not growing the quid pro quo is, of course, that other markets are being destroyed just as quickly.

The existence of pockets of growth like this is enough to build great businesses with strong profits.  It doesn’t necessarily follow that these businesses will command high valuations in the way that they have for most of this year.  On the subject of valuations I stand by my comments of the last couple of weeks – i.e. that the key driver will be public market sentiment towards technology, and that will be guided by the performance of recent tech IPOs, including Groupon (see While the exits keep coming the party will keep rolling and Groupon’s bull run is over).

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Five years after the market peaked, the housing market remains depressed. October new home sales, released this morning, totaled 307,000, slightly below estimates. Meanwhile, prices rose slightly. But, as your real estate broker will happily mention - ‘Now is a great time to buy!’ Unlike 2007, when that obviously was not the case for most, [...]

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The 2011 retail holiday season has started with a bang. Retail sales over Thanksgiving weekend totaled $52.4 billion, a 16.4% increase from 2010, according to the National Retail Federation, an industry trade group. Shoppers spent an average of $398.62 over the holiday weekend, a 9.1% increase from last year and the biggest gain since 2006, [...]

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In light of the erosion of?privacy online, we need to be careful to protect our privacy at home, according to?Michael Birnhack, law professor at Tel Aviv University, speaking at?Intelligence Squared’s If conference.

In direct contrast to Martin Blinder’s?argument in favour of personal analytics, Birnhack said: “Yes we can measure stuff, but do we want to measure …




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Stocks surged early Monday on renewed hopes for yet another new solution to Europe’s sovereign debt crisis. Following huge gains for Europe’s major bourses, the Dow was recently up more-than 300 points while the S&P 500 was up 3.2%. The euro rallied sharply vs. the dollar, putting upward pressure on commodities like gold and oil [...]

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Originally published on Business Insider: Yes, it’s huge. But only 50 people work there. Optimists argue that the solution to the US’s sky-high unemployment and income inequality is more companies like Apple–the resurgent tech company that has revolutionized the digital industry and become one of the most valuable companies in the world. Apple has not [...]

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