Microsoft AOL Patent Theater

Nothing is ever exactly as it seems in the business of technology and that certainly applies to AOL’s recent patent auction, won by Microsoft with a bid of $1.056 billion. This event wasn’t really an auction and had little to do with patents, yet it probably marks the peak of the current patent bubble.

On the face of it, AOL selling its 800 patents to Microsoft was about raising cash for the troubled online company, allowing it to pass some of that money on to disgruntled shareholders in the form of a one-time dividend or share buy-back. And the patents were substantial, since they included not just AOL’s own productivity but also that of Netscape, Mirabilis (ICQ), and any other AOL acquisitions over the years.  […]

By |April 12th, 2012|2012|40 Comments

Jann Wenner is my hero

This is one of those columns that will piss-off some of my geekier readers. They’ll complain that I am covering this subject at all, they will declare me dead or at least too stupid to be worth reading, and they will claim to be departing Cringelyville never to return. Frankly, I don’t give a damn. And it is important that I not give a damn, because that’s what freedom of the press is all about. This column concerns a particularly damning story about Goldman Sachs, the big Wall Street bank, that is available online now from the Rolling Stone. But I’m not so interested here in Goldman, or even in our ongoing global […]

By |May 13th, 2011|2011|99 Comments

Is Technology Evil?

evil_technologyThis column started out being titled “Is Goldman Sachs Evil?” until I realized the issue is far more broad.  It began with a blog post by my old boss Jim Casella, who now runs Asset International, a financial publisher.  Jim concludes after a review of some recent and very negative press that Goldman isn’t evil, per se, just cocky.  But by comparing the investment bank to sports teams and players I think Jim makes a grave error.  Goldman Sachs isn’t evil, just stupid.  And that stupidity comes in the form of their witless abuse of technology.

Jim’s sports analogies are misplaced because while sporting events must inevitably have winners and losers economies don’t. TRADING […]