Entrepreneur

Doing what it says on the tin

How often do we buy products that don’t do what they claim? In the case of “Start ya bastard” it is a question of whether they spent more on the marketing than the R&D. Let’s hope the compelled speech brigade don’t attack this Aussie icon! CM is sure Nulon can make some fruitier arguments to protect the brand.

Carlos Ghosn facing arrest

The Asahi Shimbun says Nissan group President Carlos Ghosn is expected to face arrest by prosecutors for underreporting salary. Noone should be above the law but to think of the number of jobs at Nissan he saved plus the return to record profitability makes CM think the tax man is well ahead on the trade.

Crypto schmypto

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CM is not a fan of crypto currencies. Apart from the fact they are solely backed by greed (when you buy a share or bar of gold you get ownership of  a physical asset in return) there are too many of the damn things. We have approximately 190 fiat currencies in circulation. Of that only a handful trade. US$, GBP, euro, yen, A$, C$ and RMB. After that liquidity goes out the window. Try getting a good rate from the Travelex currency window on Malaysian ringit. If you invest in illiquid coins the same nasty spreads will ruin any thirst for making a fortune

With crypto currencies, there are over 2,000 variants. Bitcoin is the bellwether. It has a net worth of $94 billion. Only a handful of others trade. Many should have realised that when the Japanese started to get all excited over the craze the gig was up. Japanese variety show comedians were responsible for the promotion almost 12 months ago when Bitcoin was at all time highs. Some companies like Rakuten were offering to pay staff  in crypto in lieu of cash salaries.  Now Bitcoin is languishing at 20% of that value.

Take a look at some of the products being invented to become crypto. LivingOffset is a classic case in point. It used Wikipedia as a source for justifying the validity of its findings in its prospectus.  That settles it then. Who wouldn’t buy an asset backed by Wikipedia research?!?

From LivingOffset – “Global concern about climate change is growing rapidly. Five out of every 10 people now consider climate change to be a serious problem. In Chile and Peru the number is over 75%. Interestingly, 69% of Americans are concerned about global warming [if you believe Huff Post], despite their government’s position. There is no doubt demand for our offering is there, and like Airbnb, we can provide the means and the mechanism for easy participation. In just a few minutes ordinary people can start to make a real and meaningful difference.

In January 2017, IPSOS held a global poll asking what each country’s major problem was and climate change didn’t feature a mention.

Apart from the completely bogus stats on ‘69% of Americans being concerned by global warming, SUV sales remain a solid staple in the US. In fact the most popular car in America is the Ford F-150 pick-up truck where customers rank ‘fuel economy’ #28 in terms of reasons they buy it.

Here was the promise at prospectus time around March 2018. The launch was delayed on the basis there was a need to make it more global in appeal. It supposedly launches this month.

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Below lists how some of the other crypto currencies performed overnight. This is before heavy handed legislation has come down to regulate the industry. If you look at a crypto kiosk in Shinbashi, Tokyo you’ll likely see a Rolls-Royce parked out front, presumably owned by someone in the Yakuza. As far as money laundering goes, crypto’s are brilliant.

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In an event, crypto currencies are most at the mercy of cyber fraud. Don’t buy the bomb proof guarantees of blockchain. If state agencies want to destroy these markets, they can do it on a whim. Then again there is little need to do so given the numerous events of hackers breaking into crypto exchanges and costing them huge liabilities l. Coincheck in Japan lost $500mn in one day due to a breach.

In short, crypto is little better than betting on a roulette table. If the benchmark crypto is hemorrhaging like this, why put faith in the illiquid stuff being any better? Fiat currencies may not be good stores of value but there are far more sensible places to protect wealth than parking it in products which are underwritten by nothing more than greed.  If you like a flutter by all means throw some loose change into crypto.

Musk’s $20mn fine covered if Tesla shares jump 59 cents

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$20mn sounds like a lot. It is a lot. The SEC has struck a deal with Tesla’s Elon Musk which demands he steps down as chairman and hires two independent directors. Musk owns 33.7mn shares. Technically he would only require a 59c share price rise to cover his fine. Make it a dollar to cover taxes and transaction costs plus legal fees. In any event the fine is peanuts in the grand scheme of things.

To be honest, Tesla disciples will breathe a sigh of relief that their king still remains in the company and more importantly as the figure head. The question remains is whether a new chairman (from outside?) will see to it that the company is not just a one man band which has been painfully obvious with so many senior level defections. Too often the board has seemed to be an onerous burden for Musk in that his intergalactic brilliance shouldn’t require checks and balances.

Will a new chairman demand a thorough audit into business practices to date? It is likely that the SEC will expect a new chairman to lift the standards of the board to make sure that shareholders interests are properly decided with all directors heard. An independent audit should be viewed as the bare minimum. What would that unearth?

Tesla shares should bounce on this news and in aftermarket trading it is up. The question is how a new structure changes dynamics which reveal the short cuts and internal processes which have created so many reporting inconsistencies.

Google’s gaffe only proves the massive opportunity for others

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The publishing of Google’s internal post-election debrief video shouldn’t surprise anyone in the slightest. All the outer appeals to the group’s impartiality were smashed by this leaked video. In a sense Google was the victim of the half-life nature of the very digital media feeds it seeks to control. Even worse it was all the fromage-grande senior management talking about what really goes on. Sunlight is truly the best disinfectant.

Putting the need to respect the “confidential’ nature of the meeting  (it seems employees aren’t all following those protocols) to one side, this video totally backs up the CM piece which spoke of the opportunity to plug the gaping hole in social media.

We shouldn’t forget what this episode makes blatantly clear – how toxic the work environment must be for staff who don’t share the political views of the politburo.

Mark Zuckerberg openly admitted that Silicon Valley is dominated by the far left. Stands to reason only conservatives get blocked, suspended of banned. Poor old #WalkAway activist Brendan Straka was the latest victim. The articulate openly gay hairdresser was suspended for 30 days for highlighting he’d appear on the recently banned InfoWars. Not posting the video.  Just that he’d appear. Talk about the mixed emotions of the Facebook censor who probably required counseling for having to choose partisan politics over LGBT rights?

None of us need a technical overlord determining what they see as fit for us to consume. If it is Icelandic pig racing in winter or dwarf tossing into a mud pool, should demand for it exist and it is legal then who is Google to censor it outside of respecting government mandated maturity ratings??

If Google had half a brain it would publish the “raw” data of trends. Not its selective manipulated subjective view of what it wants to see but what might be driving populism in Europe or the 2016 Trump election victory? If Google had properly recognized the trends it’d have seen for itself the raw power of understanding motivations rather than cast aspersions and skew feeds to support its own narratives. Truth be told it isn’t working. Every person banned (and the hurdle gets lower every time) highlights the agenda based nature of these social media houses. Search impartiality and no social media house should pop up toward the top of the list.

The beauty of social media is that we are free to choose. Switching costs are effectively free. Yet we use Google because it’s the best search engine and there is little in the way of competing product.

Which stands to reason if a social media proposition with more conservative values which didn’t cut off those who didn’t agree with internal biases was built, the servers would probably crash due to the stampede to join it.

Growing numbers of people have become fed up with what they can’t say (even when completely appropriate) on social media. Not bleedingly obvious profanity and senseless racism but reasoned argument. People are also fed up with learning their data has been used without permission to profile them with ads. In all fairness if one openly publishes his/her/xir data on a social platform then there is an expectation that it’s “at risk”.

Still CM has all “location services” switched off yet a social media service asked to rate a Bavarian beer hall CM visited  the very next day. When a help yourself drinks counter in a reception area of a corporate office provided whiskey the ensuing discussion with a fellow delegate brought up his preferred brand – Johnny Walker Blue. The next day were banner ads on that brand on top of unrelated searches. Presumably the mic is being accessed. Or is it a purely freakish coincidence?!?

The market for free speech is being eroded before our very eyes. The big organizations controlling much of our social media are constantly being outed for their double standards. More consumers are not blind to it yet all the while no real alternative exists the social media giants hold all of the aces.

Therein lies the opportunity.  The demand is there. The day a comparable service is offered without big brother controlled censorship the door will be beaten down. Even if we wish to call the actions of Google et al into question we can choose not to use them at any time.

Let Google, FB and Twitter  treat us as mugs.  Let them exercise their questionable moral value sets on us. The more they do, the more they draw the ire of a growing number of  users. An alternative will come and their behaviour will backfire big time. Live by the sword, die by the sword. CM won’t have the slightest sympathy.

The attitude driven by these divine franchises can be felled very quickly. Bring on the alternative ASAP. Then Google execs will really start crying. #biasbackfire

 

Is Musk losing it?

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Is Tesla CEO Elon Musk losing it? More senior resignations from accounting and HR this week  reveal more cracks in the automaker. He emailed a journalist, calling him a “mother f*cker”. He went further to say he hoped the cave rescuer he called a “”pedo” sued him because a UK man who is single and spent so much time in Thailand must be a child rapist.

He rattled off he had “secured” funding of $420/share to go private and then all of a sudden he didn’t, prompting the SEC to investigate. He was then on radio with comedian Joe Rogan toking what is reportedly a mixture of tobacco and marijuana. Are these the actions of a man running a $50bn market cap company?

Clearly his board can’t control him.  With the shares collapsing and bond prices falling, refinancing will become problematic. Chief  Accounting Officer Dave Morton quit the company after revealing his concerns about the various obstacles Tesla faces.

Tesla’s Chief People Officer, Gabrielle Toledano, took leave in August and said she wouldn’t be returning to Tesla.

Musk has been a genius and visionary to get Tesla where it is today. Yet he is a direct victim of his own hubris. Sleeping under boxes with Tesla bankrupt written on them to living on the factory roof to rattling off about production hell while accusing families of drivers dead due to over reliance in a system he aggressively promoted.Tesla was technically asking for suppliers to refund a portion of the monies they were paid since 2016 to the EV maker so it could post a profit which is borderline accounting manipulation in an attempt to give the impression of an ongoing concern.

He also complained at the lack of support in the media despite being called out on this nonsense.

Musk’s compensation is also linked to a $650bn market cap, which is effectively saying to the market that his company will be worth more than Daimler, BMW, VW, GM, Ford, Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Renault, Fiat-Chrysler, Ferrari and Porsche combined. Just read that last sentence again. Do investors honestly believe that Tesla which consistently misses and is going up against companies that have been in the game for decades, seen brutal cycles, invest multiples more in technology and forgotten more than they remembered will somehow all become slaves to a company which has no technological advantages whatsoever?

The Tesla story is on the ropes. Expect more mega-releases on new products to try to keep the dream alive and the disciples faithful. I guess ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’ worked for The Beatles…