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Michael Gracie

Don’t remind investors that you missed

A week after Google’s earnings report miss, the company is still trying to remind investors that it wasn’t their fault?

The screenshot above comes from none other than Google Finance, the morning of October 25, and the news item in question has been stuck there every day in between.

MG signing off (because the future looks bright, even if the past is entirely too sticky)

Google CEO channels Houston police chief

Google CEO Eric Schmidt on privacy:

“If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.”

The if you’re not doing anything wrong meme rears it’s ugly head once again, only this time it’s the CEO of a company who’s business relies on the accumulation of data (albeit not all of it is personal). Last time I heard the line it was coming out of a Houston police chief’s mouth, while trying to justify the installation of surveillance cameras in people’s bedrooms.

Taking into consideration the rumors of Mr. Schmidt’s open marriage, why does this all seem so ironic?

UPDATE: Bruce Scheier reacts.

Stuff worth reading between boozing and barbecuing – 07/02/09

Brought to you this one day only in true order of importance

Fly Fishing

  • Despite Economy Tackle and Fishing License Sales Holding Steady [Angling Trade Magazine] – When the going gets tough, the tough go fishing. Just like Lefty Kreh said they would.
  • It’s an L.L. Bean gear review long weekend [Up’North Maine Fly Castings] – You could be boozing and barbecuing, but if you’re reading this you’ll probably wind up hitting at least 762 boats with your backcast this weekend. Relieve a bit of the crowd stress by wishing you had some of this gear: a Double L. Rod and Reel, and/or a bug resistant shirt.
  • Technology

  • Got Ideas? Tech Companies Crowdsource Creativity With Contests [GigaOm] – Whether it’s clever advertising ideas or downright brilliant new business propositions, there’s money involved. And in some cases, big money.
  • Latest Thing To Blame On Google? Koi Thieves [Techdirt] – You can blame Google’s satellite imagery now, and you’ll probably blame Craigslist next. But these guys are the real culprits.
  • Finance

  • Auditing the Fed will Audit the State [Mises Daily] – If Ron Paul gets his way, a lot of dark and dirty secrets will come bubbling to the surface. In other words, Ron Paul probably isn’t going to get his way (and you’ll continue being royally screwed).
  • Starve the Beast [The Market Ticker] – There isn’t much you can do about the 98% tax bracket headed your way, but with consumer spending accounting for 70% of GDP, going on a buying strike would certainly get someone’s attention.
  • MG signing off (not really)

    Stuff you might have missed while searching for your old ‘Thriller’ vinyl – 06/29/09

    Technology

  • How Difficult Is It To Post A Bill On The White House Website For Five Days? [Techdirt] – Watch for a new government job listing for, uh, White House Blogger. Primary responsibility: cut and paste.
  • Great Wall of Facebook: The Social Network’s Plan to Dominate the Internet — and Keep Google Out [Wired] – All Google has to do is remove Facebook from their search results, and the fight is over.
  • Indian CEO Says Most US Tech Grads “Unemployable” [Slashdot] – The kingdom of outsourcing may be hedging its bets through the PR channels.
  • Finance

  • Krugman and the Housing Bubble: A Love Story [Reason] – Mr. Krugman is long to get his story straight. Looks like the ‘internet is forever’ mantra is getting the best of him.
  • Goldman Sachs: The Great American Bubble Machine [The Big Picture] – A must read, particularly the final blow on cap-and-trade. I suggest clicking through to the Scribd page and going full screen.
  • Frank Pushes Fannie and Freddie to Take On More Risky Loans [Contrarian Profits] – Along with a plan to refinance homes that are underwater, it looks as though we’ll all soon be in government housing, whether we like it or not.
  • Fly Fishing

  • Is It Time For Rodmakers to Get Out of the Warranty Business? [MidCurrent] – It would certainly force people to rest their rods someplace besides the door jam of their vehicles.
  • Invention Lets Fish Live Without Water [Cutthroat Stalker] – A fly fishing photographer’s dream come true? Heh, nothing can help my photog skills.
  • Elite anglers focused on FKO/IGFA Inshore World Championship [Fishing World] – Coming soon, and on EPSN to boot.
  • Adieu.

    Stuff I saved in my feed reader for the last seven days – 05/18/09

    Around the world in nine paragraphs flat – 03/30/09

    World MapTechnology

    – Jeff Bezos spent a week working in one of his own warehouses. When I first heard about it, I thought he was making a shift from strategic to operational, with an eye to cutting some costs. I was right. But I admire the man and the company enough that I can only believe those that were cut were treated right. If they weren’t, I’m assuming those cut couldn’t cut it themselves. I have a couple of friends working their, and have, on occasion, wished I could join the fun.

    – Google layed off some sales folks in the past few weeks, and I imagine it’s all for the better. Their top dog of sales, Tim Armstrong, is gone. New blood replaces, and cohesion will be key to Google’s finding their next growth spurt. Will the next chapter in Google’s story be charging full steam into the enterprise? They don’t want to suffer the curse of eBay, but I hope they don’t listen to BusinessWeek either – those guys suggest they first buy Twitter and then get better at acquisitions.

    – On that note, Twitter and Facebook are capturing so gosh darn much attention I’d usually be willing to bet that they’ll fizzle out in the blink of an info tech eye. But I don’t actually think that’s going to be the case.

    twitsearch

    I’m bullish on Twitter and Facebook – just wholeheartedly bearish on all the media who can’t find another story.

    facesearch

    And, I’m feeling sorry for the folks on the job hunt after they get their master’s degrees in social networking, as well as those businesses that try hitching a ride based solely on advertising. This is one godawful hype brawl, and plenty of folks are going to get knocked out.

    Finance

    – The S&P has been on a tear the last few weeks, but now it has the Quadruple Confirmed Evil Knievel Formation to contend with. If that technical analysis wizardry isn’t enough for you, there’s another economic bubble about to rear it’s ugly head. It’s called the budget deficit.

    – In the luxury goods department, modern art prices are getting slashed and burned as collectors run to the masters. I’m not surprised – tossing a couple of cans of paint on a 20′ X 20′ canvas and calling it a million bucks was bound to fizzle on the business model front. The art world is certainly not without it’s scammers. Top shelf wine lovers are getting a bit more cautious now too – cult wine lists, space on which once sold to the highest bidder (yes, before you got your first bottle), are now looking for the last sucker too. Once the lists start including grape juice in a box, I’m in.

    – This morning’s Asian markets were closing on an ugly note, with the Nikkei and Hang Seng off over 4.5%. Meanwhile, some commodities prices are on the skid as well. US markets have been on a tear as of late, but Nouriel Roubini was also saying a few weeks back to expect a bear market rally. I thought he might just be a little tired from all the media attention, and yet things are shaping up for him to be right. Again.

    Fly Fishing

    – There’s a recession in fly fishing – interest is down and nobody seems to have a solution yet. Still, there are a few folks keen on catching a big trout on the fly – my only suggestion is that instead of putting that goal on a list of things to do before dying, why not try making a habit of it. Easier said than done, and probably a significant part of the reason fly fishing is taking a hit – it’s less instant gratification than constant aggravation. Neverthless, I am, and shall remain, a glutton for punishment.

    – Thomas McGuane wrote what is easily my favorite book on fly fishing, The Longest Silence: A Life in Fishing. And this last weekend he took aim at shotguns, dogs, and dinner. I’m all for dogs and dinner, as long as the dogs aren’t begging for mine. As for the shooting, I’m pretty sure I’ll be spending more time at the clays course this summer, and I’ll credit the story as well. As for my dog, he’s a herder. Anyone have some spare sheep?

    And finally…

    – Speaking of the Wall Street Journal, there’s been a lot of hype about ‘brownlining’ over the past few weeks, and with Denver’s urban South Platte on center stage. Fly fishing history is being rewritten, and there’s even a new ‘nation’ for those who’ve been busted scratching rocks with their cleats and are now banished from the clear stuff. Even wholly unprofessional (at fly fishing) jokers such as myself have been fielding inquiries as to how it’s done, as well as a few more that say “great going Gracie…now the the joint is going to be packed all summer.” I don’t know how it’s done (I’m just lucky), and as for the crowds, well the flows looked docile in that WSJ video, but said water level won’t be a crowd pleaser for much longer…

    South Platte Flow

    MG signing off (to get some more coffee)

    News you gotta have to end your week – 1/30/09

    Or your month

  • TechCrunch’s Mike Arrington is ‘taking a break’ from blogging, and running for his life. While the latter part seems pretty serious, the editor of the venerable Silicon Valley news resource is also blaming a Wall Street Journal property and one of Nick Denton’s gossip columns for some of his woes. And if that’s not enough, Ted Dziuba has called Arrington on the carpet regarding the part of the story dealing with a purportedly known felon who also purportedly owns a gun. We haven’t heard the last of this.
  • Blackstone’s Steve Schwarzman says it’s a wonderful time for buyouts. Henry Kravis too says private equity isn’t dead. It may not seem all that obvious, but these guys have a point – valuations are dropping right along with forecasts, which will in part make up for the fact that nobody can borrow like they used to. Further, I think this will play well with the middle-market buyout houses too – I’m sure there are a lot of business out there which the owners (often the founders) would trade a pile of liquidity for right about now.
  • Of the top performing branded pages on Facebook, only two are really brands. I take that back – if you are selling Barack Obama or Homer Simpson collectibles, you should be jumping for joy right now. And not to be outdone by the furious ‘business competition’ (read: frivolous attention mongering) which always exists among venture-backed startups, Facebook itself is the 8th ranked branded page on Facebook.
  • Les Jones asks what if we had inflation, and nobody showed up for the party? The hyperinflation question is being bounded about, and at the same time so is the deflation meme. I suspect that when and/or if the dollar takes such a whacking that an iPod costs $1,000, people are just going to quit buying iPods. Same goes for TVs, autos, etc., although they’ve pretty much quit buying most of that stuff already. I think the tougher question regarding which way prices go is whether or not the US can provide its own staples – a gallon of milk at $20 would be a real problem.
  • Talk of Google’s mysterious GDrive offering is bouncing about again – it’s file access anytime, anywhere. Meanwhile, Joel Spolsky says don’t ever rely on Google Apps for anything mission critical, or even keeping your coffee dates straight. I won’t be using either, regardless of the reliability. And while I don’t believe Google is going to disappear anytime soon, Mark Glaser is warning on Facebook/Twitter dependence, using alternate reasoning for those two ‘businesses’.
  • Last but not least:

  • Moldy Chum finds the final connection between golf and fly fishing, which means there is still hope for you fly fishing folks looking for AMEX and Buick endorsements.
  • And finally…

  • A new study finds alcohol makes men better in the bedroom. Last week we had to be rich. Now we just have to be drunk?
  • Adieu.

    The new Google News is what we say it is? (UPDATED)

    Is Google moving into the [consent] manufacturing sector? Andrew Orlowski at The Register thinks so…

    Make no mistake, Google is moving into new territory: not only making arbitrary, editorial choices – really no different to Fox News, say, or any other media organization. It’s now in the business of validating and manufacturing consent: not only reporting what people say, but how you should think.

    Enough to make Noam Chomsky devour, even with a few extra grains of salt.

    But on the heels of the information oligarchy pronouncement comes this:

    Google Inc. has approached major cable and phone companies that carry Internet traffic with a proposal to create a fast lane for its own content, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

    Too close for comfort – something strange is afoot at the Circle K.

    UPDATE: Lawrence Lessig, prominently mentioned in the WSJ article, calls the ‘pipe favors’ a made-up drama about an alleged shift in Obama’s policies about network neutrality. This reader thought the piece more akin to a David and Goliath preface, and thought little if anything about the politics (and had completely forgotten about it until Lessig chimed in). Others saw the business angle too.

    A trio of death knells

    1) Buy and hold as an investment strategy – dead. The bigger question is whether people will still use Warren Buffett as an analogy for success of the concept (for better or worse), or whether people will trade their asses off from here on out and say “works for John Paulson.”

    2) Google – dead. Not sure whether it’s just because Goldman Sachs said it and they’re still standing (unlike most of their peers), or whether the old adage “the bigger they are the harder they fall” is just sticking better than usual nowadays.

    3) Wall Street bonuses – dead. I don’t think they should die (and I’ll have more on that later), but perception is reality and the perception of the taxpaying public is enough is enough.

    The undisputed king of one hit wonders? (UPDATED)

    Mike Arrington:

    It’s unlikely Google will ever find another money machine as efficient as search advertising, which accounts for about 40% of the $40 billion advertising dollars spent online each year. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to try.

    They have been trying for a while too. Each time winds up looking like a distraction – meanwhile, capex will remain bloated, brain drain continues, and shareholders’ 3-year return just hit zero percent.

    Maybe it’s time to clean out the entire M&A department, and wipe the R&D slate as well – start over, with a free-range cash cow in pocket. Sprinkling in a dividend yield might not hurt either.

    UPDATE: More reasoning on dividends (although I’m personally steering clear of the fat long position idea contained within).