* Posts by Bernard

203 posts • joined 11 Mar 2008

Page:

Netflix scores $1bn own goal after company shoots off mouth

Bernard

It's a public company's statutory duty

to detail and analyse the risks which may impact their future success.

I don't see anything in that pdf which constitutes 'shooting their mouth off'.

If their trading environment spooks investors into selling then that makes them cheaper for other investors who think them an attractive prospect who were previously overvalued.

This is how the market works.

3
0

Why DOES Google lobby so much?

Bernard

The 3 stages of company growth

In the first stage you bring an innovative new idea or product to market and, if momentum and customer enthusiasm are with you, you grow like the clappers.

In the second stage your established, deep- pocketed but commercially stale competitors try to use political clout and (often absurd) legal arguments to stop you taking over. As a bright-eyed and bushy tailed upstart you have little clout of your own and, having realised that the status quo can be powerful and politicians will fight for the share of the gravy that your established competitors give them, you reluctantly push some money into lobbying for purely defensive purposes.

In the third stage your big new idea has peaked and analysts are getting restless for continued growth, while others are starting to erode your advantages and catch up. By now, though, you've discovered for yourself that doing favours for politicians pays big rewards and your mountain of retained cash is pushed into ever deeper, more exotic and more ludicrous attempts to seek rent and keep out the competition.

Google are firmly in stage 4 now, and the fact that they lobby against uk firms that pay uk taxes while avoiding them themselves is particularly galling. Our absurd political class have much to answer for.

19
0

HTML 5 gets forked up

Bernard

What's HTML ever done for us?

If noone else is going to pick up on the theme I suppose I better had.

2
0

Tech biz today is WORSE than dot-com bubble days

Bernard

Re: Very sensible article

As you say, they don't talk about quite the same things so I shouldn't be too pedantic.

The key points I would make, though, are these:

Firstly, although the VCs who incubate and market these companies and the people who build them want us all to ignore the question of money because 'this is a disruptive new idea with enormous growth potential', their own keenness to monetise the investment demonstrates that people should be extremely wary. If money now really didn't matter then all of the people involved would be less desperate to IPO and make their millions asap.

Secondly, and more importantly, the problem with the 'web 2.0 allows us to disrupt the market and build a giant empire which will make us hugely profitable' business model is precisely that the internet makes building giant and giantly profitable monopolies which last for generations (IBM, Standard Oil etc.) much more difficult. Even before Facebook is reliably profitable there are a dozen good reasons why they might cease to be relevant in the near future and even Google face threats to their absurdly profitable search business because the monopolistic behaviour and vagueness in explaining their business model is more visible and so less acceptable than for a similarly positioned company pre-internet/

All of that means that even exorbitant growth doesn't justify a valuation which assumes the type of monopoly power Microsoft had in the 90s.

The venture capitalists who push these disruptive startups are glossing over the fact that it's the ease with which business models are disrupted which really makes the internet scary, because if they spelled that out then noone would buy shares in Facebook or Groupon at even a tenth their current valuation.

That's why this is a bubble.

1
0
Bernard

Very sensible article

You should talk to this guy:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/05/01/startups_who_is_behind_them_who_makes_money/

He seems to disagree with you.

3
0

Who runs UK? 'Tories, Lib Dems and Google' says Labour

Bernard

I've always thought

That while lobbying would be hard and probably counterproductive to actually make illegal there should be some minimum requirement that the lobbying organisation pays a sensible amount of UK tax (perhaps directly in proportion to the amount of influence it can pay for).

Seeing companies which actively avoid uk tax funnelling relatively small amounts of money to our absurd political class in order to skew the policy agenda is distasteful even by normal political standards.

1
0

No one watches TV, Nielsen, and you know it

Bernard

This article is mental

The author must be sick!

6
1

Apple, Samsung snatch smartphone biz booty

Bernard

HTC were fifth in Q1, but with rapidly diminishing share

http://htcsource.com/2012/05/htc-global-smartphone-marketshare-plummets-to-4-8-in-q1/

Perhaps they've dropped out entirely now.

Shame. I really like Sense, but 2 innovative brands is how most electronics markets mature (with the others being aggressive copycats who aim to do as much as possible as cheap as possible). It does look bleak for HTC.

0
0

Facebook's ONLY failure: Expectations management

Bernard

Re: Tim Worstal

P/e is based on profits ('net earnings' in the chart you link to). Revenue is the sum total of money coming in, and so the revenue number doesn't automatically tell you how much profit a company are earning.

Price to revenue is a metric which is principally used by dot com hucksters to try to hide the fact that the firms they're pushing are usually drowning in red ink. If you tried to measure any normal company using it then you'd find a ratio in the low single digits (Apple's is a bit over 3, for example).

Facebook aren't drowning in red ink, and actually do make a profit. It's just not anything like big enough or growing anything like fast enough to warrant the valuation it has.

They're far from the scariest company to be invested in though. Linkedin's p/e and p/r ratios are absurd, and Salesforce are valued at $19Bn despite running at a loss and having annual revenue just over $2Bn.

The only reason not to short those two is that if the sheep keep plowing in (on the back of glowing analyst recommendations), then you might be bankrupted before someone spots that the emperor has no clothes.

1
0
Bernard

Re: Bernard

Looks extremely prescient. Full marks that man/woman/rogue AI (delete as applicable).

I suspect that the moral hazard effect doesn't just apply to the bank though. It won't have escaped anyone's notice that journalists tend to be gung ho to the point of inanity in their upward estimations of dotcom stocks while being extremely careful with their language in any rare stories daring to whisper the possibility of a bubble.

I suspect that being gung ho raises the likelihood of junkets, speaking invitations and PR puff-piece articles while being sceptical raises the likelihood of going hungry. Because noone wants to look stupid, though, wise-after-the-fact articles like this are put out to muddy the water over your position once everything falls in a heap so that you can smoothly jump on the next bandwagon.

Matt's understanding of business fundamentals looks shaky at best from the articles I've read, but I don't think it's really shaky enough to value Facebook above Apple or Google. I suspect that he wanted a share of the PR money they were squirting out to keep the brand on the road pre-IPO.

Whether corruption is better or worse than stupidity is a seperate question entirely...

1
0
Bernard

It's there?

I thought it was here:

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/07/09/facebook_trillion_dollar_valuation/

As Matt so eloquently says, whoever wrote that article should be ashamed of talking up the value of nascent companies before they're ready to deliver.

Oh, wait...

10
0

'Super-powerful' Flame worm actually boring BLOATWARE

Bernard

This article reads strangely, at least to a non-professional in the security field

Reading some paragraphs the virus was in no way special or clever (though it was big), while reading others it managed to go on completely undetected for an unspecified number of years, while deleting critical information and performing other functions which can't be ascertained or traced back to a culprit.

Likewise, the coding of the virus is not especially unusual or exciting, but will take months and possibly years to decipher.

It may be because I work in a commercial word used to trumpetting even modest failure as startling success, but if I'd delivered a project that met such clearly defined goals over such a long period and didn't leave any significant threads for people to pull apart at the end then I'd feel like i'd done a pretty good job.

11
0

Ubuntu will hit the big time on Amazon: Here's how

Bernard

My sense

is that this article and its author fall into the trap that says 'the field in which I work is the WHOLE WORLD' fallacy.

Sure Amazon are growing great guns and by many estimates have nearly a billion in revenue now, but nearly a billion is still a tiny slice of the overall software, hardware and services market and they'll find the headwinds much stronger moving forward.

It's a fascinating business, but people are turned off by the silly sleight of hand which starts with defining 'cloud' so broadly that my old black and white tv is part of it, then identifying Amazon as the runaway leader of a much smaller market and so concluding that they're poised to dominate the world.

If we're playing that game then I own a Samsung Galaxy, and the Galaxy is also a giant collection of stars, so as the Owner of the Galaxy I'm an important person who should be listened to.

0
0

Billion-dollar high-tech ghost town to run itself without humans

Bernard

Is this really a research project...

or did the corporate mainframe stage a coup, quietly tie up the board and then forge a signature to authorise the project?

Life is a lot easier without any of those irritating and irrational 'people' around.

3
0

NAO: 1 in 5 of Whitehall's mega projects at risk of failure

Bernard

I'll be shocked

If only 1 in 5 of these projects fail.

That would be a huge step forward.

If 4 in 5 are at risk of failure but the oversight is so weak that noone has yet realised on 3 of them then that will be more like the norm.

5
0

Facebook's new Open Compute V2 servers

Bernard

Inventing something new isn't really what big companies do after becoming big. It's actually Google's vast and diverse efforts to 'create something new' with Wave, Labs etc. which has sunk a lot of money and slightly taken the shine off their Amazing Moneymaking Machine (TM).

Innovation, on the other hand, is both something big companies can and should do well and something that's extremely valuable. It may not be as sexy to shave 10% off the resource requirements to build a server or the energy requirements to power and cool it but given the scale of and growth in modern computing requirements its a vital necessity both economically and ecologically.

Whether Facebook are any good at it I'm not qualified to say, but to doubt the value of the principle is to misunderstand that at least 95% of the world's research and development is well spent making things better rather than trying to invent new types of things.

It's why we're not driving around in Model Ts, playing Pong or working with 640K of RAM.

0
0

Are Valley VCs playing hide-the-money?

Bernard

It would help your case significantly...

If you didn't use the period 1995-2012 to try to refute the case that Silicon Valley has created few significant companies in the past decade.

That's like using The Beatles and the Doors as examples to refute an assertion that no good music has been made by the current generation.

As you say, the mere denial of venture capitalists that they've failed to create value is not evidence that it's true, but a denial 'backed up' by plumping the period from 10 years to 17 to take into account the successful few 'first wave' dot com firms does start to look like evidence.

It's also not true that a giant wave of poorly allocated VC funding to web 2.0 would cramp the tech sector. Quite the opposite in fact. The main overheads for a web 2.0 company are either hardware (from Cisco, HP and the like) or spending on services from Google, Amazon, Microsoft and the bidding up of tech sector salaries all of which serve to make the sector look very healthy.

Bilton's claim that Web 2.0 and the wider tech sector are being kept artificially inflated by a tsunami of poorly allocated VC funds which will never see a sensible return is not refuted either by harking back to 1995 nor by pointing to the boom that that artificial inflation has caused.

Quite the opposite, in fact.

6
0

CAPITALISM without PROFITS - Welcome to the Instagram Era!

Bernard

On the other hand

If Apple took this approach then instead of the iPhone they'd be claiming to have invented the Phone...

Which, given their recent legal positions, doesn't seem like such a huge stretch.

0
0

Matt Groening reveals location of Simpsons' Springfield

Bernard

Actually you know you're really over the hill

When you watched some fella called 'God' create the heavens and the earth and knew from long experience that by the end of the week he'd be burnt out and need a rest.

1
0

Planet-wide cloud dream burst by nations' laws - BSA

Bernard

One could argue

that the online poker sites were an early example of transnational collaboration clouds thwarted by the onerous and self-interested regulation of petty national interests.

I don't remember which country it was that ruined that party though.

I'm sure the Business Software Alliance are on firm ground here.

5
0

New species of dinosaur discovered... in museum

Bernard

'100 year old fossil'?

Does that mean this thing was terrorising the British Empire?

No wonder we went into decline.

2
0

Groupon snatches a great deal ... on itself

Bernard

My gut feeling on this one

Is that Groupon and their executives are so obviously a farce that the shareholders deserve what comes. If they gauged the risks and decided the rewards were sufficient to balance it, then good luck to them. If they didn't do any due diligence before investing then they can't reasonably claim to have been hoodwinked later.

Obviously illegal activity remains illegal activity, and the execs should go away if they perpetrate any, but in the likely event that Groupon's behaviour falls into the 'sharp but legal' category, the shareholders will rightly bear the consequences.

0
0

French nuke biz slapped in mystery cyberattack

Bernard

I know this point gets raised everytime something like this comes up

But I'm genuinely interested to know. What is the advantage to having critical systems like this connected to the internet? The disadvantages are frighteningly apparent, so what are the good reasons that lead to nuclear plants and other obvious targets being hooked up to the internet?

3
1

Intellectual Ventures wages patent war on Motorola

Bernard

I still remember...

One of the Freakonomics books eulogising Intellectual Ventures and Myhrvold as the people who were going to save humanity by solving hurricanes and global warming through technological innovation.

I guess the urgent global problem of Smartphones becoming too user friendly is a bigger threat to humanity. It's lucky for all of us they're doing such a heroic job of addressing it.

3
0

Groupon IPO back on the cards

Bernard

Going bust looks inevitable anyway

The key reason to go IPO as quickly as possible is to get a shitload of money out and hide it in swiss bank accounts so that when opprobrium and investigations inevitably follow he can be rich and despised rather than poor and despised.

I don't much fancy Facebook at the valuation they're given, but they've built a business and are welcome to ride the wave that's come with it. The morons trying to flog Groupon are clearly scam artists and anyone who doesn't run a mile is going to get seriously burnt.

2
0

Judge may order Page and Ellison into mediation

Bernard

I'm not an expert but

Don't you hate posts that start that way?

But it does seem to me that this is different from the normal patent trolling. As much as I dislike Larry Ellison, the patent system as it currently works in the US and, in particular, the idea of patents being bought and then used to sue people it does look like Google made an executive decision here to clearly and knowingly use Java as a cornerstone of their o/s without licensing it.

If the suit is dismissed just because Android is so widely used then I see things getting worse rather than better. The lesson for all large companies will be 'if you want to ignore patents then just make sure you have enough lawyers and that your product is high-profile enough by the time you're found out that noone can conceive of finding a judgement against you'.

I know that things are implicitly like that anyway as far as small organisations' IP is concerned, but I think this pushes things even further than they already have been.

0
0

Hey Commentards! [This title is optional]

Bernard

Optional

Now that I don't have to use it, I can't seem to break the habit.

1
0

Google lands patent for, um, estimating shipment time

Bernard

I'm afraid I've patented the process for mocking inane patent awards

My bill for $147 in actual damages and $796,456,123,357 in emotional trauma will be in the post (I'd send it via email, but someone in Nigeria has almost certainly patented the delivery of spurious bills through an electronic medium).

2
0

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo bow to Apple sales edict

Bernard

I don't see how this is 'bowing' to anything either

In a hypothetical situation where the government raised taxes to 80% and a stream of high earners left the country or found tax loopholes, I don't think the headline would be that those emigrants were 'bowing to tax increases'.

2
1

Is Facebook worth more than Google?

Bernard

This title bar bugs me.

So it's "beyond doubt" that Facebook is worth more because "its potential is arguably bigger"?

Bubbles come and bubbles go, but it's profit which determines a company's long-term stable value. Annoying though it's model is, Google's long-term stable profitability looks pretty sound at this stage. Facebook's is still very much open to question.

When I see how much obviously bright tech gurus think they know about company valuation I can fully understand why the dot com bubble happened in the first place.

2
0

Groupon faces multitude of legal headaches in US

Bernard

Re: 'My 2 cents'

'Anyway.. the Groupons being worth cash is not too big a problem. Coupons have been like this for as long as I can remember.. they are listed as having a cash value of 1/100th of 1 cent. And to redeem them, they have to be physically mailed somewhere (so, shipping costs exceed the cash value the mailer would receive.) In other words, a law that is on the books but fairly worthless.'

Henry, I'm not 100% sure on this, but I strongly suspect that only coupons which are ostensibly free can have a negligible cash value of this sort. If someone has paid x for a voucher then I suspect the law prohibits the issuer from claiming that it's only worth 0.00001 of a cent.

As for the rest, the big thing most people have noticed with these vouchers are that the deals have rapidly gone from being quite interesting as businesses try them out to being a perpetual cycle of cheap gym membership, dance classes, salons and so on that have relatively low marginal costs and are struggling because their business model was drawn up in the go-go years and based on people having more money than they knew what to do with. When enough of those go out of business that the ones who are left have a sensible clientele base I see the enormous number of Groupon wannabes bursting faster than you can say 'wow, that's a really pretty bubble'.

The only reason I can see to invest in it is if you're the lead character in Brewster's Millions.

1
0

Facebook value hits $100bn, to go public in Q1 2012

Bernard

Did Charlie Sheen call to give you the news?

Blue Horseshoe loves Facebook.

0
0

Here comes the zettabyte, says Cisco

Bernard

I think they just

I think they just wanted one prediction they'd probably get right (short of nuclear war in the meantime).

0
0

Data, not software, paves the road to riches

Bernard

That presentation is embarrassing

It reads like someone has taken two tablespoons of blue chip brands, a teaspoon of corporate buzz words and a pinch of aspiration ('just do what Google did and you can be like them') and stuck them in a blender to come out with a jumble of conclusions that have no value to startups trying to find their way to relevance or profitability.

Why is it a surprise to the presenter that when large established software companies routinely buy the cream of the smaller and more dynamic software companies this serves to consolidate their position in the market?

Further, given that Facebook and Google's sky high market caps are a product of the hopes of their investors that they'll build monopoly positions in the nascent data markets what value is it to startups to try to copy them? If he's unaware that dozens of Facetubes and Youbooks are failing by the day because Facebook and Youtube already exist then he needs taking out and putting down.

Finally, and most critically, the very fact that the smaller and more dynamic software companies get acquired and make their founders rich shows that there is continuing value in being genuinely innovative in this market. If anyone gets to that stage and wants to try to challenge the behemoths rather than sell out to them then I wish them the best, but the fact that most choose to monetise their investment at that point in no way demonstrates that the software business has ceased to be.

Google and Facebook are starting to get the same kind of regulatory scrutiny over their attempts to take over the world that IBM and Micrsoft went through when the software business was new. It will be interesting to see where the dust settles, but if collecting and retaining vast quantities of data to sell to advertisers is the new gold rush then it doesn't behove smaller companies to ditch their business plan and blindly follow the herd.

10
0

Billionaire Zuckerberg kills to eat

Bernard

I'm fairly sure the butcher shop weren't the first to coin that phrase.

Sweeney Todd's defence counsel used it way back...

4
0

Sky-high megablog names top 50 'cloud innovators'

Bernard

The list is as vague and poorly explained as 'the cloud'

In that sense I suppose it's apt.

2
0

IBM bumps up dividend – again

Bernard

From an economics perspective

It's pretty solid.

Large companies aren't the best at innovating, so there's no guarantee at all that spending that large cash pile on research and development would give the same shareholder return that a direct cash transfer to them will.

Those shareholders can then invest the money in whatever innovative smaller companies they want and try to find better returns.

If IBM are acknowledging that they're too big and too cumbersome to react quickly to new market opportunities, then I wouldn't be too upset as a shareholder.

The problem only comes if stupid people think that the earnings growth can go on forever and pump up the price too far but given that IBMs price/earnings ratio is 14 I don't think that's a big worry.

So what's the problem?

0
0

VAT fraudster gets 9 years for refusing £40m bill

Bernard

Where's the problem?

I've always been baffled by people who think white collar crime is automatically less of a problem for society than violent crime.

Unfortunately because it is such a widespread view, and the people who commit white collar crime are usually well connected, these crimes rarely get either the scrutiny or the sentencing they deserve.

If you don't think that tax evasion and corruption cause real world damage then you should spend a few brief moments studying the stastics and you'll quickly spot that countries which don't vigorously enforce these kinds of laws are characterised by crushing poverty and the routine disappearance of funds allocated for education, health and infrastructure.

0
0

Facebook set to unveil 'Gmail killer'

Bernard

In general I fall into the 'not very paranoid' category

In that I use both gmail and Facebook without worrying too much about dark dystopian consequences.

But picking either of them to the exclusion of the other feels like a step too far in the power it would give them to build a monopoly and then lazily use it to stifle future innovation.

That goes for Facebook email as much as for Google Wave or any future networking venture they may have.

8
0

Take a hammer to your hard drive, shrieks Which?

Bernard

Is it possible that ...

Is it possible that Which? are now sponsored by the hammer manufacturers association?

I look forward to seeing future issues on everything from car maintenence to personal safety recommending a hammer as 'the only practical tool for getting the job done.'

0
0

Is Google's culture grab unstoppable?

Bernard

It's lucky

It's lucky that Google's motto is 'don't be evil'. Otherwise I might not trust them with this kind of power.

0
0

DfT spends £81m to save £57m

Bernard

No doubt private sector contractors will be blamed for the mess

and then hired to come in and clear it up at great further expense (and great further mess).

One of the virtuous circles that can only be found in the public sector.

0
0

EDS carpeted for struggling prison project

Bernard

Having worked on similar projects in the dim and distant past

I'm fairly certain the project has failed because the civil service want it to fail.

In the private sector IT replaces people because companies need to compete or go out of business. In the public sector if IT replaces people then budgets are trimmed, civil servants laid off and precedents set. Great for the taxpayer. Bad for Sir Humphrey.

It's an irony lost on government planners that the civil service who are the key stakeholder with a powerful vested interest in the failure of the project are the ones who get to set (and reset, and reset, and reset) the project guidelines.

Cue planned failure.

That also neatly explains the question of why EDS keep getting rehired. They know that if they actually point the finger at the civil service they'll never win another project again. If, on the other hand, they keep quiet and take the blame (as they did for the Child Support Agency and numerous other public sector projects) then they win the next project (and the cycle begins again).

It's only mystifying if you fail to understand that the civil service is competing directly with the planned IT systems designed to streamline their workings.

0
0

MPs demand investigation into unlawful police action

Bernard

If you've nothing to hide...

As I've long said, if you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear (unless you're a muslim, an opposition MP, a journalist or an unconnected member of the general public... but they don't count).

0
0

Ofcom: No premium numbers for previous offenders

Bernard

Re: Scams etc.

Does this mean the BBC, ITV etc. won't be allowed them, or was that a different kind of scam?

0
0

Judge slaps Fasthosts for rubbish kit and support

Bernard

re: if they'd gone for linux servers...

I love it when people miss irony alerts.

It almost makes your brain melt reading people argue with deliberately ludicrous statements.

As for Fasthosts, they seem like a rock solid host who everyone should look at for their business critical websites (you see what I did there?).

0
0

Be Unlimited pulls plug on home CCTV service

Bernard

In fairness to them

If it isn't commercially viable because not enough people have bought it then they can't continue to provide it as a loss making service or their shareholders will revolt.

If it is, I suspect they wouldn't have pulled it.

Not great for the people who really need it, but this is where public services come in (or not, as the case me be).

0
0

Brown pledges annual commons debate on surveillance

Bernard

exaggeration of costs of the ID card scheme

"and insisting that public support for the ID card scheme remains strong, “despite years of exaggeration about its costs and its implications for liberty”.

How's that project going I wonder? I'm sure it must be on time and on budget, because politicians never lie about stuff like that...

0
0

US imposes 72 hour pre-reg for Visa waiver travellers

Bernard

Why would we want to make it more difficult for American tourists?

I never understand why people get so sensitive about this stuff and talk about retaliating. If the Americans don't want us to come, we won't go. Easy.

If they want to come here and pay vastly inflated prices to stay in London and gawp at things built before 2003 they're quite welcome to. Sure they can be annoying, but why would we stop them from subsidising the public services that they don't benefit from?

0
0

NHS IT four years late and over budget

Bernard

Another in the public sector IT project cycle

1. Commission giant IT contractors on lucrative project. Take huge backhanders.

2. Change the rules so often the project is guaranteed to fail. Ensure the contractors take the blame by promising them future projects if they keep quiet and blacklisting if they point the finger at impossible plans and a civil service that has no interest in making things more efficient.

3. Watch the project fail. Rub hands at prospect of more money going into a giant blackhole and therefore more backhander opportunities.

4. Give press briefings at which anger is declared. Promise big new IT project which will break the old cycle of failure and finally solve the problem. Demand even bigger budget to ensure success.

5. Repeat from step 1.

0
0

Page:

Forums

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2017