I told you so

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen is out with his autobiography and Vanity Fair has an excerpt available online. As the Nth richest man in the world, Allen isn’t doing this for the money.  Maybe it’s for posterity. Maybe to settle old grudges, and he certainly does that in Vanity Fair.

The part of that excerpt everyone will be talking about this week is Allen’s story of overhearing Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer plotting to recover Allen’s Microsoft shares or dilute him into insignificance, this at a time with Allen was dying of non-Hodgkins lymphoma.  It’s a great story, that’s for sure.  But if you are a longtime follower of this column or its predecessor you’ve […]

By |March 30th, 2011|2011|56 Comments

Plutonium is forever

I have been doing business in Japan for 20 years, consulting for big and small companies, speaking at conferences, writing for Japanese publications, and helping both American and Japanese companies do business with each other. For years I flew to Tokyo once a month, generally in my role as giver of bad news, which I could get away with as an American. Throughout those 20 years I have been astounded by the energy and discipline of Japanese industry, and by its turgid impenetrability. For a country known for advanced technology, Japan is astoundingly resistant to outside ideas, as the current earthquake and nuclear crisis show yet again.

You’d think they’d want our help, and they do […]

By |March 30th, 2011|2011|87 Comments

Shoe death

This is my son Fallon’s shoe, a Skecher’s Hot Lights Chopper, U.S. size 12.  The toe, filled with LED lights, is glowing in the picture. It has been blinking at me from across the room all evening now. It reminds me of the heart of a shark I once saw beating on a dock in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, hours after it had been cut from the fish. Unlike that shark, Fallon’s shoe isn’t dead, but it is getting close, the flashes coming further and further apart.

Light-up shoes are a fact of life for American parents.  Fallon, who is four, is in the golden age of light-up shoes and he loves them.  But I gave little […]

By |March 26th, 2011|2011|37 Comments

IPV6 is coming (yeah, right)

Microsoft last week bought just over 600,000 IP addresses (a /10 block and a /11 block if you are counting) for $7.5 million from bankrupt Nortel. For a moment there it was everywhere on the web, a mild reminder of what happens during famine when gluttons hoard food. But what is really going-on here, and what does it mean in the near and longer terms? Well first let’s settle something: it is immaterial to Microsoft. Had the price been $7.5 billion or better yet $75 billion, I’d say that Redmond viewed as central to its survival having that block of addresses. But $7.5 million is pocket change and probably represents to Microsoft just a cheaper […]

By |March 26th, 2011|2011|88 Comments

Ivan the Terrible?

If you were Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, faced with suddenly becoming the number two mobile phone company in America following an AT&T/T-Mobile merger, what would you do?  You could try to buy Sprint, and for all I know Seidenberg will do just that.  You could make a counter-offer for T-Mobile, but that would just be too darned expensive. If I was Seidenberg, though, I would try to poach customers — millions of customers — from T-Mobile.

AT&T is paying $1300 per T-Mobile subscriber and by the time the deal is finished extra costs will probably raise that to $1400 or more.  Were I Seidenberg, then, I’d spend right up to that level to snag customers from […]

By |March 22nd, 2011|2011|42 Comments