WhatsApp is the first of several big acquisitions for Facebook

FaceAppIf yesterday’s announcement of Facebook paying $19 billion in cash and stock for WhatsApp surprised you then maybe you’d forgotten this prediction I published on January 8th:

#6 — Facebook transforms itself (or tries to) with a huge acquisition. I wrote long ago that we’d never see Facebook in the Dow 30 Industrials. The company is awash in users and profits but they’ve lost the pulse of the market if they ever had it. Trying to buy their way into the Millennial melting data market Facebook offered $3 billion for Snapchat, which turned them down then rejected a $4 billion offer from Google. Google actually calculates these things, Facebook does not, so where Google will now reverse-engineer […]

Some thoughts on how a Grinch stole Target’s Christmas

targetThere was a time when “activist investor” Carl Icahn actually owned and ran businesses, one of which was TransWorld Airlines (TWA), eventually sold to American Airlines. In an attempt to cut costs, TWA under Icahn outsourced reservation service to a call center built in a prison with prisoners on the phone. When you called to book travel you were giving your credit card number to a felon and telling him when you’d be away from home. Smart move, Carl, and very akin to what may have caused the post-Thanksgiving theft of 40 million credit card numbers from Target, the U.S. discount retailer.

Target used to do its IT all in the USA, then to save costs […]

How I Refresh my memory

refreshlogoMy friend Paul Tyma (ex-Google, creator of Mailinator, occasional stand-up comic) released a mobile product this week and one thing I find interesting is the difference between how he describes it and how I describe it

Paul:  “Let’s say you had an important meeting with someone you really want to impress. A smart person would probably spend a non-trivial amount of time scouring the internet for information about that person. What are they tweeting about? If you’re LinkedIn to them, then go check out their LinkedIn profile. If you were really interested you might go look up their house on Zillow. Or see how their company’s stock price faired today on Yahoo Finance.”

Bob: “Let’s say you […]

Edward Snowden is trying to be Daniel Ellsberg on Twitter

snowdenscreensWhat are the differences between Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower, and Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers back in 1971? Not much, really, but the distinctions that do exist are key:

  1. 1.  Ellsberg, a true product of the establishment he was undermining, had the New York Times and the Washington Post simultaneously releasing in its entirety all that he had to share, while Snowden is dribbling his news through The Guardian and the Post, with neither paper taking much of a legal or ethical stand behind him, much less printing verbatim thousands of pages of classified material as happened with the Ellsberg case in the early 70s. If Snowden is the Ellsberg of this century, […]

The Startup Channel

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 6.40.46 AMWe interrupt this book for a quick update on what’s happening in my so-called career. Shortly before beginning this serialization of Accidental Empires I explained that I would be doing some new projects including a book and a startup about startups – The Startup Channel (thestartupchannel.net). The latter project will now launch in April so it’s time to explain.

The Startup Channel will be an online video channel about startups and startup people. You’ll find it probably on YouTube unless some other Internet video outfit makes me a better offer (hint, hint). We’ll be launching with 40 hours of pre-produced content, which is a lot for online video where the […]