Accidental Empires, Chapter 6 — Chairman Bill Leads the Happy Workers in Song

Young_Bill_Gates_4ACCIDENTAL EMPIRES

CHAPTER SIX

CHAIRMAN BILL LEADS THE
HAPPY WORKERS IN SONG

William H. Gates III stood in the checkout line at an all-night convenience store near his home in the Laurelhurst section of Seattle. It was about midnight, and he was holding a carton of butter pecan ice cream. The line inched forward, and eventually it was his turn to pay. He put some money on the counter, along with the ice cream, and then began to search his pockets.

“I’ve got a 50-cents-off coupon here somewhere,” he said, giving up on his pants pockets and moving up to search the pockets of his plaid shin.

The clerk waited, the ice […]

Advance to the rear: Is military Win8 computing the future of computing?

armydriveThe U.S. government, which is usually very slow to adopt new technologies, signed an agreement recently to move much of the Department of Defense to Windows 8. The three-year, $617 million deal for up to two million seats is a good proxy for where American business users are headed. Or is it? Microsoft of course hopes it is, but I think that’s far from a sure thing.

This isn’t just trading Windows XP for Windows 8. The U.S. Navy, which isn’t (yet) included in this deal, only recently signed their own agreement with Microsoft to take the fleet to Windows 7. But Windows 8, being touch enabled and running all the way from smart phones to […]

Silicon Valley conquers Hollywood, part 3 — think small, not big

Some readers of my last column in this series seem to think it was just about the movie business but it wasn’t. It was about the recorded entertainment industry, which includes movies, broadcast and cable television, video games, and derivative works. It’s just that the movie business — like the mainframe computer business — learned these lessons first and so offers fine examples.

Whether from Silicon Valley or Seattle, technology companies see video entertainment as a rich market to be absorbed. How can Hollywood resist? The tech companies have all the money. Between them Amazon, Apple, Google, Intel and Microsoft have $300 billion in cash and no debt — enough capital to buy anything. Apple all by itself could buy the entire entertainment industry, though […]

Silicon Valley conquers Hollywood, part 2 — There’s no business like show business

theproducersA friend of mine who is a securities lawyer in New York worked on the 1985 sale of 20th Century Fox by Marvin Davis to Rupert Murdoch. He led a group of New York attorneys to Los Angeles where they spent weeks going over contracts for many Fox films. What they found was that with few exceptions there were no contracts. There were signed letters of intent (agreements to agree) for pictures budgeted at $20-$50 million but almost no actual contracts. Effectively business was being done, movies were being made, and huge sums of money were being transferred on a handshake. That’s how Hollywood tends to do business and it doesn’t go down very well […]

In the land of the blind Krikorian could become king

krikorianThis may seem like a distraction from my theme of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, but please stick with me for a moment as we consider the fate of Blake Krikorian who is best known for the Slingbox and now seems to be selling his current company, the awkwardly named Id8 Group R2 Studios, Inc.. I think Krikorian’s career arc and our fascination with it give some insight into the whole tech-vs-Hollywood theme, showing how aimless and confused are some of these big technology companies.

The post I read that got me thinking in this direction came from Kara Swisher at allthingsd.com, which is part of the Wall Street Journal. Krikorian is reportedly selling his […]