Silicon Valley Exec Mike Homer Died Sunday – The Lost Conversation February 2, 2009Posted by John in Technology.
Tags: Mike Homer, silicon valley
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Kara Swisher has a classy post that pays tribute to Mike Homer. Mike died in his home on Sunday of a rare, neurodegenerative “prion” disease, which in Homer’s case has occurred sporadically rather than via infection (the well-known variant that occurs in animals is called mad cow disease), CJD’s incidence is one case in a million annually, and few survive beyond a year after exhibiting symptoms.
Mike Homer was a straight talking tech executive who didn’t mix words. A few years ago before Mike was diagnosed with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, Bud Colligan and Mike Boich went to see Mike to record a podcast on innovation and Silicon Valley. It would be one of the last times Mike would be in his normal ‘call it like he sees it’ mood. That podcast was never posted due to a hard disk error. From the description from Bud Colligan of that podcast it was a memorable conversation. I wish that we all could have heard that podcast. I’m sure his voice will carry on in the stories that he created here in Silicon Valley.
Homer is survived by his wife, Kristina, and three young children: James, Jack and Lucy.
His funeral is at Saint Raymond’s Catholic Church in Menlo Park on Thursday.
“Scotty More Power” – Users Love the iPhone Blackberry and Portable Devices and Applications January 28, 2009Posted by John in Technology.
Tags: Anton Wahlman, Apple, Apple App Store, Blackberry, iphone, Portable Devices
by Anton Wahlman
With the Blackberry app store launching by the end of March 2009, a
dramatic new problem will emerge with full force: Where is the
application memory to run these new applications? In order to
understand the magnitude of this problem, we have to look at the
mother of all app store pioneers: Apple (AAPL) and the iPhone.
Ask almost any iPhone user what excites them about the iPhone, and
almost all of them answer immediately that it’s the app store, with
many thousands of apps available. Many iPhone users have page after
page after page worth of applications that they have downloaded. It
seems like iPhone users install dozens and dozens of applications, and
I don’t see any signs of abatement. We may be entering a situation
where most iPhone users love their platform so much because they have
hundreds of applications running.
The Blackberry app store is being launched for the obvious reason that
it’s becoming the critical tool in the competitive tool kit. Without a
vibrant developer community, it’s very difficult to compete. The
analogy with the PC world is pretty strong, and possibly even stronger
given that location-based services generate so many more application
possibilities that aren’t as meaningful in the PC world. Here is the
problem: An iPhone has 8 gig or 16 gig worth of memory, compared to a
Blackberry, which has 64, 96, 128 or 256 meg worth of app memory,
depending on the model. Yes, I know these numbers are not perfectly
“apples to blackberries” (no pun intended), because Blackberry has an
expansion card slot and the iPhone doesn’t, and so forth. But keep in
mind that the Blackberry’s expansion memory is for multimedia
(pictures, music, etc) storage, not for running apps or even
containing things such as the address book that synchronizes with
Outlook. One can also argue that an iPhone typically contains a lot
more multimedia than most Blackberries, but Blackberries also synch
with iTunes for DRM-free content, so that gap should narrow as
awareness of this ability grows.
Those caveats aside, the SMALLEST iPhone (8 gig) has 32x the
application memory of the LARGEST Blackberry (256 meg for the 8900
model). The manner in which most users will feel this dramatic 32x
difference is in the ability to install new apps. Clearly, while some
Blackberry apps have tended to carry a small memory footprint, one of
the attractions of the iPhone is that those apps are very rich in
their appearance and functionality, so in order to compete, Blackberry
apps may have to become larger in order to be competitive.
What does this mean? It looks like this clash of Blackberry’s app
store vs the very small app memory will mean many unsatisfied users
who will be lighting up the customer service switchboards like a
Christmas Tree. Many people aren’t likely to understand why they can’t
download/install/run all of these new apps, and their devices could
start to freeze up, and their old emails and instant messaging
conversation could be wiped to free up memory.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity for RIM (RIMM). The
challenge will be all the unhappy customers calling to complain about
the lack of ability of their current devices. The opportunity will be
to start selling new Blackberries with an app footprint equal to, or
greater than, the iPhone. Such a “forced upgrade cycle” is not free,
and it is unclear how consumers will react to this. Either way, for
Blackberry to go from 256 meg or less worth of app memory in its
devices, to 16 gig and more – a 64x increase – will mark Blackberry’s
most important generational shift in the company’s history.
The installed Blackberry base is now approximately 20 million. Ask
yourself: How many of these will use the Blackberry app store as the
excuse to go to another platform such as iPhone, Android and Palm,
versus how many will upgrade to another Blackberry containing some 64x
more memory than your current Blackberry?
Yahoo Earnings 4th Quarter and Full Year 2008 – The Facts January 27, 2009Posted by John in Technology.
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I fully expect a decoder from Boomtown’s Kara Swisher soon and I will spare you my opinion for now. Here are the facts on Yahoo 4th quarter and full 2008 results.
Update: Kara Swisher has the decoder on for this – Her take is “Yes We Can...”..Apparently Carol is doing a fine job.
Here is the new CEO Carol Bartz in a written statement… “Despite the challenging economic environment, Yahoo! delivered adjusted operating cash flow above the midpoint of guidance for the fourth quarter,” said Yahoo! Chief Executive Officer Carol Bartz. “The company also made important investments while aggressively managing costs, leaving us better positioned to weather the economic downturn and emerge stronger when advertiser spending improves. We have work to do, but I am excited by Yahoo!’s opportunities, and encouraged by the tremendous innovation and momentum I’ve seen since joining the company as CEO.”
Fourth Quarter 2008 Financial Results
Fourth Quarter 2008 Segment Financial Results
“We are encouraged by our results for 2008,” said Yahoo! Chief Financial Officer Blake Jorgensen. “Yahoo!’s aggressive cost management and strong balance sheet helped us navigate this unprecedented economic environment. The cost reduction initiatives and investments we made in 2008 have positioned us well for challenging conditions.”
Full Year 2008 Financial Results
Full Year 2008 Segment Financial Results
What Pisses You Off About Blogs – The List January 27, 2009Posted by John in Technology.
I am launching a new blog next month and I really wanted to get a pulse from the twittersphere on what pisses them off about blogs. I put out a tweet today about what pisses people off about blogs – the responses poured in so I thought I’d keep the list here.
I will use the comments to document the things that piss you off about blogs: could be anything – My goal is to incorporate this feedback into my own blog. Extra points for funny useful comments.
Go comment away – What features of blogs do you hate?
Tags: entrepreneurship, Silcion Valley, startups
Comparing Silicon Valley to Detroit is ridiculous, but Dan Lyons does bring up a big issue worth discussing – innovation problem. Silicon Valley is not setup for long term research in a way that made it what it is today. We are seeing institutional research vaporize in front of our eyes. Checking around it’s apparent that there is very little core and applied research going on. If there is research it is controlled by short term horizons like business profits and venture capital horizons. I’ve said before that we need a new approach.
Here is a snip of my post from last year – Silicon Valley – The Rebooting Meritocracy
Silicon Valley is a special place for entrepreneurship, and it continues to be. The issue is not that there is a wrench in the machine, but that the machine is broken. It’s rebooting.
One thing I love about Silicon Valley is that there are no handouts. It’s the ultimate entrepreneurial meritocracy. Change happens and it happens both from the bottom up (entrepreneurs) and the top down (capital market). The question is which force is driving the change.
Redistribution of wealth is upon us. The entrepreneurs and investors that move on this current market opportunity will capture the proverbial “chips on the table”. As an entrepreneur, I love this market. Opportunities are everywhere. Unlike the dot com bust, this tech (entrepreneurial) market never really crashed. Everywhere I look I see discounts and new opportunities. Smart money will move around, but in select places. Is the market scary? If you’re an incumbent it sure is scary.
Silicon Valley Web 2.0 is hurting, but not for the obvious reasons. A bigger force is at play here – massive redistribution of wealth is taking place. Some are scared, and some are welcoming the opportunity of possibly acquiring the wealth “on the table”. I think that Facebook and Twitter are great examples of what might be possible. Facebook will become the next Google. The only thing holding them up is that the ‘new revenue’ model that is soon to arrive at the “station”. When that “train” arrives (and it will) Facebook will say Goodbye to all the naysayers.
Research & Development Void?
The bigger picture is more long term and that’s all about research and development. Judy Estrin recently came out to talk about something really important – the innovation gap. Let me translate her thesis – we are screwed if we don’t have steady research unencumbered by short term agendas. Think how important institutions like Stanford, MIT, and SRI have been to Silicon Valley and entrepreneurship. Without these deep research institutions we would not have many innovations that created wealth – hello Ethernet; hello Apple; hello Cisco; hello Google, ..etc.
The lack of institutional research leaves a void in the Silicon Valley ecosystem. John Markoff postulates in his book “What the Dormouse Said” that the culture and research of the 60s drove the PC revolution. The question now is what revolution are we developing and where is the research? Will we miss the next important energy, medical, or tech breakthrough? Where is our modern day moonshot mandate?
Even top HP executives agree with me. At HP, the concern reaches the very highest levels of the company. Shane Robison, HP’s chief strategy and technology officer, says he’d like to see the following: a permanent research-and-development tax credit, which would encourage tech companies to do more basic science research, which in turn would benefit everyone, not just the company that conducts the research; more government funding for basic science research; more spending on education; and changes in immigration laws to help foreign-born students who study in the United States to stay in this country afterward. “The technology industry is one of the crown jewels of our country,” Robison says. “It’s the one industry where we stand head and shoulders above the rest of the world. We need to protect that.”
Tags: Boomtown, Carol Bartz, yahoo
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Boomtown has a post speculating that Carol is taking the :bull by the horns” and charging hard to make changes. First up an earnings call that will surely be a bad report.
In the NFL they talk about franchise players. In business and startups they talk about the management team. Here Yahoo has one clear short term goal – GET A TEAM. More importantly get some ‘franchise players’.
There are more than a few great and wacky ideas that Yahoo could do, but if were advising Carol I’d say focus on the management team first. Overhaul that team. Waive all the people not performing, get a great staff, trade for players who want to play for you, and sign some fresh new talent.
Remember Yahoo still has a great revenue stream and a massive user base. Get the management and players then make the big moves.
Infrastructure 2.0 – The Next Big Thing in Cloud Computing January 26, 2009Posted by John in Technology.
Tags: Cisco, Datacenter, Doug Gourlay, Infrastructure 2.0
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I had a chance to meet with Doug Gourlay, Senior Director of Cisco’s Datacenter Business Unit, to ask him about what he thinks of Infrastructure 2.0.
Very interesting response. I have a few more segments: Modernization of the Data Center and What Cisco thinks of the phrase “Moving up the stack”.
Enjoy the video (less than 2 mins).
To view the entire Cisco event in video you can go here – Click here for the Cisco Infrastructure 2.0 event.
Tags: Anton Wahlman, Economics, Gas Crisis
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By Anton Wahlman
American memories are apparently becoming shorter and shorter. Various
misguided references to the alleged causes and cures of The Great
Depression aside, people don’t remember that we once upon a time, less
than 100 years ago, didn’t have a Federal Income Tax, that drugs were
legal (and then alcohol prohibited), and that inflation and interest
rates were double-digits less than 30 full years ago.
Among the most recent things to be completely forgotten are the high
gas prices, peaking in July 2008 with nationwide averages over $4 per
gallon and people in California paying $5 on occasion. Politicians and
pundits blamed this on “speculators” and called for the government to
“do something.” Toyota (TM) Priuses were selling at MSRP or higher.
Less than six months thereafter, gas prices had fallen by over 50%,
and Toyota Priuses now come with $750 rebates to make them move. Never
before did gasoline prices fall so far, so fast. Not even close.
What was the government program that fixed this economic problem? The
answer is none at all. The government didn’t lift a finger to solve
this problem. It let the market do its magic, curing the issue with
its own natural self-healing mechanism first described in Adam Smith’s
The Wealth of Nations . Sure, there was a lot of huffing and
puffing about what people suggested the government should do, but in
the end the government did nothing. The problem just went away. No
government intervention solved the problem.
Think about it: The one recent problem which the government left to
the free market to solve, got solved in record-short time. Contrast
this to the ever-ballooning demands for the government to “do
something” about the financial and economic crisis. The demands from
almost all ends of the political spectra suggest that we drop all
economic common sense and instead spend money we don’t have.
Think about it again: We got into this mess by borrowing too much,
spending too much, and making too many loans. What’s being proposed?
Let’s spend even more, borrow much more, and make even more loans.
It’s like an alcoholic trying to cure a whiskey bottle’s hangover by
drinking a whole case worth of whiskey the next morning. If there ever
were a more self-evident disaster outcome guaranteed, I can’t think of
The free market cured the high gas problem in less than six months
without the government lifting a finger or spending a dollar.
Likewise, the free market would cure the imprudent debt bubble by
allowing it to be pierced, seeing prices falling, wages falling and
allowing bankruptcies and foreclosures to clean up the imprudent
investments into orderly liquidation. Adjusting wages to demand, would
guarantee full employment as with any other market price.
In a free market, the current recession would probably be cured within
a year or two, and it would allow the government to cut expenses
instead of increasing them. Only by dramatically cutting the size of
our government, so that we can eliminate the deficit and start paying
back the debt, can we restore sanity to our financial and monetary
equation, which includes saving the value of the dollar.
As it stands, we are on a path that will put us in Germany’s World War
I surrender rail car and its 1918-20 aftermath. We will be left with a
debt burden so great that the only way out will be massive inflation,
as we essentially default on government bonds. Germany was left with a
huge war debt after World War I, but because the debt was not
denominated in British Pounds or French Francs, Germany simply
inflated itself out of its obligations, causing dramatic
mis-allocation of resources, societal chaos, the rise of Hitler and
the bloodiest war (World War II) in its wake.
In our case today, the debt-explosion path that we will apparently be
pursuing, will most likely also mean a massive inflation when we
eventually print the money to pay off the bond buyers (read: The
Chinese). China has one of the soundest economies in the world today,
with low or nonexistent public and private debt, and high growth, but
it has invested its surpluses largely in U.S. government bonds.
Whoops! All that the Chinese worked for during the last decade, will
go up in smoke. And in the wake of the Chinese losing their savings
invested in U.S. government debt – another war? We are clearly playing
with fire, taking on all this debt to finance unprecedented levels of
Cisco Buying Sun? – Cisco Announces It’s Move Into Server Business January 21, 2009Posted by John in Technology.
Tags: Cisco, Sun Microsystems
This past October I posted about Cisco getting into servers and compute. I broke the news quietly but only a few handful of insiders got the message (GigaOm reported early in March 2008). Word has been circulating on the street for many months on this announcement and it will sure have an impact on Cisco’s partners. Now it’s been finally announced.
What is now being kicked around is Cisco’s move to buyout Sun Microsystems.
What do you think? Should Cisco buy Sun and really get into the server business?
Obama’s Inauguration Speech – Alternative Version January 19, 2009Posted by John in Technology.
Tags: Inauguration Speech, Obama Inauguration, Obama Inauguration Speech Alternative
By Anton Wahlman
My fellow Americans, change has arrived in Washington. Not as much in
the area of foreign policy and homeland defense, because I realize
that my predecessor and distant cousin Dick Cheney had it right in the
hours and days following 9/11 when he set this great Republic on a war
footing to defeat the enemy and protect the homeland. Seeing as I
would rather not have another 9/11 – or worse – on my watch, the
change will come primarily in the area of economic policy, where my
predecessor presided over many failures and set a dangerous course for
this country, particularly in the last year.
My new administration promises a clean break with the failed policies
of the past. In the last eight years, government spending grew to new
heights, from $2 trillion per year to over $4 trillion this year.
This stratospheric rise in the growth of the US government’s burden on
the people is nothing less than a crime against our beloved
constitution and the intent of the Fathers of the 1776 Declaration of
Independence. In recent times, the US government has failed to impose
on itself any of the restraints that have made this country so special
for so long.
To the contrary, the US government is now engaged in a long list of
activities and spending not authorized by our most fundamental
governing document. Working with Congress, I will seek to restore the
US government to its constitutional limits in my first year in office.
What this means in practice is a rapid shut-down of all government
departments except the Departments of Justice, Defense and Homeland
Security. This means that all these other unconstitutional creations
of the 20th century, such as the Departments of Education, Energy,
Commerce, Health and Human Affairs, Interior will all cease operations
in this glorious year of 2009.
The Federal government’s budget deficit, which the first time exceeds
$1 trillion, will also be eliminated this year. Yet, I will also
abolish all of the destructive and unjust taxes that have mushroomed
over the last 95 years in particular: the income tax, the death tax,
the capital gains tax, the corporate tax and the dividend tax. These
tax cuts will once again make the US economy competitive with the
countries around the world where economic growth and liberty has
recently exceeded our own.
My first budget, which I intend to deliver to Congress already this
afternoon in the hope of a speedy approval, will authorize total
Federal expenses of less than $1 trillion over the next year, which is
an amount ten times greater than President John F. Kennedy’s 1961
budget. This will fund an efficient Federal judiciary, our military
defense, and the ongoing war against terrorism.
What the new budget will not do, because it is being returned to its
constitutional limitations, is to send checks – to anybody or
anything. If you or your company has an addiction to receiving money
from the government, this will be the year when you sober up. It will
not matter whether you are rich, poor or in-between – the time of
government spending money on you are now over. Every single
government program providing services or sending out checks, will come
to an end. You and your company will live in the freedom of keeping
what you earn and receive in voluntary help from your friends, family
and any charitable institutions, but the mirror image of this blessing
of freedom is that government will not support anybody or anything. I
am breaking the back on welfare state dependency and entitlement by
going cold turkey on all recipients, large and small.
This restoration of the constitutional legitimacy of the US government
will be funded by a simple flat tax on US adults: At $1 trillion in
total annual Federal expenses, a number which may end up even lower,
it represents a flat $5,000 tax on each of our 200 million US adults.
There will no longer be any need to file an income tax return, keeping
any receipts, paying a tax preparer, or equivalent. This flat $5,000
tax will be due in monthly installments of $417, equivalent of $13.70
I expect the impact on the economy from this simple flax tax to be
profound. People will be able to work as much as they want, and
invest in any way they want, knowing that every incremental dollar
they earn will be theirs to keep. All of the lost productivity
resulting from tax-avoidance and the administration associated with
corporate payrolls, will remain with us only in the form of an
unpleasant memory, similar to the memories of living behind the Iron
Curtain and Berlin Wall before 1989. Small business will be able to
form without any bureaucratic hassle. The entrepreneurial spirit will
be unshackled from all red tape, bureaucracy and tax disincentives.
My plan to cut over 75% of all Federal government expenses, and fund
the remainder with a flat $5,000 tax, will also help cure political
corruption in Washington DC. Lobbyists come to us because we have
money to spend, and they seek to maximize their share of the pie. My
cold turkey approach to restoring the US government to its
constitutionally legitimate size will make almost all lobbyists
obsolete: If the size of the pie is zero, there is nothing for which
you can lobby.
So in closing, I can say with confidence that the 75% or greater
reduction in size of the US government will bring about a rebirth of
the era of freedom, rugged individualism and self-reliance. It will
allow the US government to focus on its constitutionally narrow
purpose of securing the property rights of our individual citizens,
and to protect our country from those who seek to do us harm. This
focus will enable us to perform these duties better. With this, I
salute our constitution, our Founders and our Declaration of
Independence. Now let’s get on with it. Thank you, and God Bless