Shareholders

Google’s gaffe only proves the massive opportunity for others

5ADFA0A8-7474-43F0-A432-C467B335FE45.jpeg

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 BMW hurting bad enough to offer 10yrs free servicing?

F766F1E7-A008-441C-AEA7-EBF203AF1B5F.jpeg

10 years? Sounds a bit desperate. A bit like the Korean makes a few decades back using monster incentives to lure customers by a value to good to refuse proposition. Have luxury car sales become so hard to get in Australia that the prestige make has to offer 10 years of free servicing and 1yr free insurance?

BMW sales in Australia fell 12.2% year on year in August 2018. Audi crumbled 25.8%. Benz did better at -3.4%. Land Rover fell 32%, Lexus down 11.7%. Porsche crumpled 25.4%.

It is likely the fine print in the 10 years free servicing basic package isn’t transferable between owners so if most buyers hold their BMWs for 5 years the total incentive is much less to roll out. If the fine print allows transfers it only adds to the desperate state of having to hurl freebies to shift metal. Dealers tend to make less on the sale of the car but plenty on gouging customers for service and spares.

Seems the tyres are going flat. Total car sales in Australia were down 1.5% in August. Passenger car sales fell 13.4% while those eco conscious Aussies bought 8.3% more SUVs. Medium and large sedan segments fell 24.1% and 60.3% respectively. Every SUV segment rose except upper large. Toyota finished up 1.7% for the month with 19.8% share.

Is Musk losing it?

F52C5B1C-71A6-4BC6-9339-4CDDC6AD7F10.jpeg

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…

Nike & Colin Kaepernick

7EB3D471-D052-4233-BB4D-E2C3C5F66DCC.jpeg

Ultimately consumers will vote with their feet (no pun intended) after Nike’s use of original kneeler Colin Kaepernick as its latest “Just do it.” campaign face. Arguing over who is right or wrong over this has become somewhat irrelevant. The kneeling debate is over 12 months old.

Nike is free to market how it chooses but must bear full responsibility for the firestorm it creates for itself. There is no doubt the social media impact will be huge and the marketing department might wax lyrical at the attention gained all it wants but the question is will the majority of it be positive? Virtue signaling for corporates is a dangerous game. More often than not it backfires.

CM has always held that corporations should stay out of politics because as much as they might profess a united face on certain issues, there is no way they speak on behalf of all those that work for them. The risk is creating an unfair working environment to those who do not wish to participate in the manner the corporate desires, even if they might privately agree. Coercing staff to openly tow the party line is tantamount to making them slaves if forced against their will for fear of repercussions in the workplace.

Don’t think for a second it doesn’t happen. Think of the same sex marriage (SSM) debate. If you had a rainbow flag screen saver you would have been cheered by the internal apparatchiks. Had you a “Vote NO for SSM” screen saver it is likely you would have been hauled in front of your manager and HR to explain your inappropriate workplace behaviour. The matter was a vote of democracy. What place is it for corporates to enforce one type of opinion on changes to the Marriage Act? Let’s not forget the results of the 2011 Census where 0.03% of the population identified with being husband and wife in a same sex relationship. Yes. 1,338 people only. All that fanfare for less than 1,400 people.

We are already seeing people in the US burn Nike products to protest the company’s move.

4F2A07F8-BC36-4AB6-8CDE-DCE3E822DAD3.jpeg

In much the same vein as Democrat Party activists boycotting In-N-Out burgers for donating to the GOP, there is no real sense in die-hard NFL fans pushing to #boycottNike. What is the obsession with boycotts? Surely disgruntled fans can make up their own minds whether they’ll choose to buy Nike products or not. It is just more of the oppression obsession.

Nike will ultimately survive. The NFL has already seen ratings take a proper beating. The question is does this help? Probably not but Nike want to make a statement.

Knee jerk reactions where people burn football jerseys, season tickets, Superbowl pennants or Nike sneakers have become less and less about the subject protested about (Black Lives Matter) but more about people getting sick and tired of political correctness and social justice rammed down their throats on an almost daily basis. Even Buzz Aldrin is sick of the politically correct overtones in ‘First Man’ that went out of its way to delete scenes of an epic moment in America’s history – planting an American flag on the moon. Don’t forget Buzz punched a reporter who disparaged him in public. He said he is a “proud American

Sadly, many Americans feel their patriotism is under fire. That they should feel guilty for displaying Old Glory outside their homes. Maybe those loyal fans want to go and watch a NFL match to leave the financial, relationship, work, marital stresses behind. They pay money to unwind, not have political messaging paraded in front of them. Even if they think Black Lives Matter is a worthy cause, kneeling every match won’t make it sink in any deeper but dilute the message, as has been displayed by making Kaepernick the poster child.

Not all NRA members are cold blooded murderers. Those people that voted Republican in the last election aren’t all white supremacist, bigoted, racist Nazis any more than all those people that voted Democrat aren’t all whining, virtue signaling liberals.

Open debate is what is needed. Kicking people out of restaurants through open harassment, burning runners or boycotting businesses won’t fix a thing. Listening and debating the issues based on logical reason is the only way forward.  The only thing worth boycotting is the boycotters themselves. Sadly the lesson is unlikely to be learnt.

Musk to be investigated by SEC over tweets

F5258E32-BB7D-4C88-8983-84011F8CB8CB.png

CM has always thought that Elon Musk is the ultimate salesman. CM has also wrote that the biggest risk to being a short seller was then”cult” status of the company. On any rational investment grounds the stock is ridiculously priced but as the old adage goes, “the market can stay irrational longer than you can remain solvent!

Tesla is a car company that is worth more than GM, Ford & FiatChrysler combined. One that trades at 5x Daimler in valuation terms, a luxury competitor that is in the sweet spot of its product line up and rudely profitable.

Back in June, Musk bought $35mn worth of shares in Tesla. The whole idea that someone is willing to fork out $75bn on a whim seems somewhat implausible. Is it safe to assume that all of 100s of lawyers, bankers and brokers would need a little bit of time to prepare the necessary documentation to cement such a ridiculous sum? Or is money now just so free and easy that a billionaire deploys a vault full of cash loaded full of Zero Halliburtons into a private jet after a few phone calls?

SEC enforcement attorneys had already been gathering general information about Tesla’s public statements on manufacturing goals and sales targets. Now SEC attorneys are investigating whether his tweets about securing funding were factual.

CM is not accusing Musk of insider trading albeit as a matter of course the SEC should investigate when he knew about his mega financier. One wonders how it is that we know so little about the buyer, the term sheet, the question of shareholder approval and how “secure” it is? Taking it private will remove the lens of quarterly reporting but it doesn’t remove the fact of how dreadfully the company is run or how amateur production is. Even if public scrutiny is removed, the problems of profitability don’t disappear and the need for funds, credit ratings etc if he taps public markets for debt capital remain.

If Musk pulls it all off and the company becomes a roaring success then CM will gladly eat a whole humble pie and openly admit it was wrong.

As to the SEC investigation let’s hope it has learnt the lessons of its bumbling incompetency over Bernie Madoff and doesn’t miss anything that might be bleeding obvious.

Amazon’s Auschwitz?

D3CA4624-5358-4FB0-8985-4857E0FEDE24.jpeg

The Japanese Communist Party’s “Red Flag” newspaper wrote an article about the deaths of three Amazon Odawara warehouse workers. The article has been pulled down from the party homepage. The reality is that families of the dead never sued Amazon as the cause of death were deemed private matters. The Labor Safety Inspection Office never ordered remedial action to be taken after the deaths.

However the blogs about the warehouse are calling it “Auschwitz” because of low wages and long hours causing fatigue. In any event it seems that the Communist Party took it down on the basis that “Auschwitz” was deemed an inappropriate comparison to the plight of the factory workers at Amazon’s warehouse operations in Odawara.

The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare (MHLW) has been going to great lengths to improve work-life balance (e.g. Premium Friday) and limiting overtime to 100hrs a month and 720 hours per year.

Perhaps the MHLW could move to enforcing a minimum 10 working days holiday for staff. It is not hard to find holiday packages to Europe or America for  4 nights only. Hardly the ideal way to wind down.

Yet we mustn’t forget that Japan is not capitalism with warts but communism with beauty spots. Often change has to be driven at a government level because businesses are too afraid to make even boldly common sense moves by themselves for fear of losing face. Take former PM Koizumi’s “Cool biz” programme that encouraged companies to allow workers to abandon neckties and jackets in summer to combat the heat combined with power restrictions. Corporations were too afraid to think outside the “box”. The state needed to rubber stamp it as a norm.

Twitter, Twitter on the wall who should we shutdown after all?

F3570C69-B33D-4BA2-B56F-39A01CEA5DAD.jpeg

Black conservative Candace Owens gets a 12-hr Twitter ban for replacing the words of Sarah Jeong from “white” to ”black” or “Jewish”. Good to see the consistency in double standards from The Left. Of course Jeong suffered no such fate.

Candace Owens is an extremely articulate and intelligent person in her own right. Good to see more hypocrisy called out by her. If only Jeong could get as many likes or retweets. Perhaps Ann Coulter said it best, “Luckily for Jeong, the way “white men” saw the world in the 50s was that South Korea should be free.

#CancelIdentityPolitics