Thursday, April 23, 2009

Twitter, seriously who has the time

I like blogging.  Tweeting - hell no!  Who has the time?

I cannot understand why people would want to know trivial things about others and let others know what trivial things they do - where they are drinking coffee, what they are reading. As a society it is understandable that we generate and consume more information than we have ever done in the past - but tweeting?

I teach a course on product management to the Tar Heels and most of them seemed to agree with me.  I tried to introduce them to SecondLife, Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin and the only thing that seemed to gel with them was facebook and I had to hard sell linkedin.  Secondlife and Twitter got the most sneers.

I agree.  Who has the time to live as an altar in a virtual world and buy fake real estate on an island with real money. There is more wasted land lying aroudn in the real world after the economic bust.  Comign to twitter, I cannot believe that people who have normal jobs and work 8 hours a day have the time to tweet. Much of the marketing hype that surrounds twitter is just liek the hazy cloud that surrounded the 5th online grocer back from the.com days.  I had written earlier about the various social networkign websites here.
That blogpost drew some interetsing comments from someone who claimed to be one of the founders of myspace.  True - you could look at investor interest to figure out the "potential". But history has shown tiem and again that early investors are very poor in calling the right winners.  For all the Ram Shrirams aroudn there are many unknowns who have lost millions.  As an intelligent investor, I woudl rather look at simple things such as if they have 1) a sound business plan to make money 2) invested in processes  and 3) can do it better than others.

Wish it was that simple...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Outrunning the bear

I read a story once whose moral was that if a bear confronts you and a friend in the forest, you don't have to outrun the bear but just your friend. 

The great saga of the detroit Big Three has a similar undertone.  Ford has managed to outrun the other two and come out the winner.  It is so hilarious to watch Goldman pick the winner as Ford, the same day GM announced that it will miss a June 1 debt payment.  Firms that have built-up fortunes by providing financial advice have more than adequately shown that they are no better than a monkey doing the same thing.  It is a wonder that they are still managing to offer advice.

For many years Wall Street has advised common investors to invest long-term while they made short-term profits with the greeks.  The irony is that the greeks came back to haunt them badly and lead to many a firm's demise.  There are no magic tricks to long-term investing except discpline and common sense - something the fianncial world was found wanting.

Real estate, Satyam and local goons in Hyderabad

Yes, Satyam provided livelihood for thousands of employees when it was run as a business. 

However, it was just a front for hoax companies that made money in other investments such as real estate and agriculture.  By inflating Satyam's revenues Mr. Raju and his team created an efficient machine to generate cash on the equity markets and then use that money to do whatever thay wanted - grow grapes and build apartments, among other things.
It seems unbelievable to me that people did not know this was happening.  Maybe many employees did not, however knowing the corruption in India's system I am sure there are many more who got rich due to this nice scheme.  The few auditors are just a drop in the ocean.

The real estate boom created by the economic growth in Andhra has lead to incredible riches for a few.  It is not by happenstance that people like Muralimohan have made thousands of crores in the Madhapur real estate boom.  Why Madhapur and no place else.  We have come to accept the corruption that was behing the whole high-tech city boom because we are just like sheep.  Why don't we ear about that few farmers who made hundreds of croses when they sold their land to developers? Because there aren't any.  Land grabbers just take whatever they want and leave nothing for the true owners.  Local authorities are either spineless and are scared of goons tied to political parties, or are themselves involved in taking bribes for dual registration of such lands. Congress is no better in such grabbing - it is just that whenever the government gives out a good fat contract one of its kith or kin will be a partner in the beneficiary company.  It is amazing how politicans have figured out ways of making money off of the taxpayers.

People who vote for politicians with a criminal record shoudl be ashamed for the same reason.  By giving them a legitimacy to carry on their evil deeds we are foregoing our right to question them.  Once they come to power, we don't see them doing much because they are busy making money for themselves and their family through the intelligence of their own or by riding on the back of people like Mr. Raju.  they also support an entire ecosysmte of local goons who survive in the name of the party's local strength.