Net Flixup

I first met Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings in 2001 at a Maxtor event where I was the dinner speaker. He explained then that the company had always intended to deliver movies over the Internet (hence the name Netflix) but was starting with DVDs because the network infrastructure simply wasn’t ready for digital delivery. They’d eventually drop the DVD deliveries, though I think his estimate of when that would happen was around 2007, not 2011 as the company announced this week. That wasn’t his only underestimation, of course. Hastings also underestimated consumer and Wall Street reaction to the boneheaded way Netflix handled a recent pricing change.

Day traders have to love this, but unless you have your […]

By |September 21st, 2011|2011|69 Comments

Truth About Fukushima Daiichi

Note — I have written previously about other aspects of this subject here, here, here, and here.  I am not by nature an alarmist about nuclear power or even particularly anti-nuclear. But sometimes truth just has to be told.

Nobody died following the nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in 1979. I should know because I was there. But this fact can’t be attributed to any wisdom of the U.S. nuclear industry, but simply to dumb luck.  The two TMI reactors were (and still are) the only such devices ever built deliberately on the approach path to a U.S. Air Force base, now Harrisburg International Airport. An extra […]

By |September 20th, 2011|2011|85 Comments

Ballmer's Last Stand

Moving sucks. Our furniture arrived late last week so I’ve been off the clock for awhile and there is a lot of catching-up to do.  We’ll start with Microsoft and Windows 8, which I’ll argue are going to be formidable competitors in the tablet space, primarily because it’s that or start spending all that cash on diversified investments to turn Microsoft into a Berkshire Hathaway. This is probably Ballmer’s last stand as a high tech CEO.

It was entirely by coincidence that I interviewed both Jon Shirley and Bill Gates in their last weeks as Microsoft CEO. In Shirley’s case it was his final day and I’ve never seen a guy more eager to get out […]

By |September 19th, 2011|2011|85 Comments

What's a Yahoo to Do?

This is my promised follow-up to How Not to Run Yahoo, so I suppose this should have been titled How to Run Yahoo, but I’m too much of a smart-ass for that.  I spoke to a bunch of smart people (past and present Yahoos) some of whom even allowed me to print their names, and here’s our consensus view on what the next Yahoo CEO really has to do to turn the company around. I’m sorry it all sounds so negative, but it is toward a positive end, remember.

Yahoo has a bureaucracy problem that I attribute to former CEO Terry Semel, who hired legions of vice presidents to insulate the former Hollywood studio boss from […]

By |September 11th, 2011|2011|60 Comments

To a Man With a Hammer: Some Thoughts on the Pentagon and World Trade Center Terrorist Attacks

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, here is my column originally published September 13, 2001.

My smarter and handsomer brother was in Northern New Jersey on Tuesday looking across the water at what was for just a moment longer the single remaining tower of the World Trade Center. A cold front had passed through the night before, leaving the day startlingly clear. The carnage was easy to see even from a distance. Only the rising cloud of smoke and ash marred the sky. And then that tower, too, was gone. The magnitude of this disaster and its sister at the Pentagon in Washington is too great to ponder, so we are left […]

By |September 11th, 2011|2011|195 Comments