Category: Communications Technology


A “memorable” $211,703 Porsche or Land Rover?

A “visible” $86,423 Rolex?

And let’s not forget the applicable taxes on these two giveaways: $179,977 and $38,005 respectively.

For those scoring at home, Salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM) provided $516,108 in goodies to one man: newly minted co-CEO Keith Block, 57.

The Salesforce.com Compensation Committee justified the corporate largesse in its proxy statement filing:

“In this case, the committee approved this award because it believed that recognizing Mr. Block’s leadership and success in achieving company goals was warranted, and that doing so in a memorable and visible way would be motivational not only for the executive, but for other employees who observe exceptional performance being rewarded in exceptional ways consistent with the company’s philosophy of paying for performance.”

Paying for exceptional performance?

Does Block walk on water? Does he change water into wine? Does he dole out loaves and fishes to feed the hungry?

Before being named co-CEO last August, Block was already earning $2.3 million annually in salary and bonuses (not including stock option exercises) as the company’s vice chairman, president and chief operating officer.

Almost DailyBrett extensively researched and taught the relationship between fiduciary responsibility (doing well) and corporate social responsibility (doing good) as a master’s student at University of Oregon and later as a PR professor at Central Washington University.

Your author also served as the director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic (NYSE: LSI) for a decade including preparing 10-Q, 10-K and 8-K news releases and regulatory filings for financial media and the SEC.

More to the point, Almost DailyBrett is a long-time Republican, free-enterprise supporter, and up-to-now a more than satisfied shareholder of Salesforce.com founded by fellow USC alum Marc Benioff.

Let’s state here and now: giving away a cool car and groovy watch (plus paying related income taxes for these two goodies) is inconsistent with Salesforce’s fiduciary responsibility to its shareholders … including not trying to be SaaS-see,  yours truly.

God help the company’s corporate PR department.

Ready to make chicken salad out of chicken feces?

How do you defend the indefensible? How do you stand-up on behalf of the untenable? Did the Compensation Committee discuss its decision with the PR types before giving away a Porsche and a Rolex to Monsieur Block?

And where is Salesforce.com located? San Francisco.

Do you think Bernie, Kamala or Elizabeth supporters residing in the Sodom and Gomorrah by the Bay are going to seize about this outrageous caper as an example about everything wrong with corporate America?

Occupy Salesforce?

Publicly traded corporations (e.g., Salesforce) provide the products we need (e.g., enterprise software), employ millions (e.g., CRM, 29,000) and provide a return on capital to millions investing in their retirement, health care or children’s education.

Buy-side (i.e., mutual funds, retirement systems) and sell-side (i.e. Goldman, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley) institutions hold 82 percent of Salesforce’s 774 million shares outstanding.

In contrast, Almost DailyBrett is a lowly Charles Schwab retail investor with 300 shares.

If your author threatened to sell all of his shares because he is upset by the Keith Block giveaways, would company even notice, let alone care?

Heck, your author’s holding is a friggin’ corporate rounding error.

Salesforce has demonstrated by its regulatory filing temerity, it really doesn’t take fiscal stewardship and fiduciary responsibility seriously.

Actions speak louder than words. The perception and reality both stink.

No carefully massaged explanation and no amount of corporate social responsibility (CSR) – including calling for local tax increases to take care of the homeless – are going to change the undeniable fact that giving away a luxury car, a costly watch and paying the related taxes for one lousy executive … is wrong.

Dead wrong to be precise.

Almost DailyBrett editor’s note: According to Business Insider, the company did not disclose the exact make or model of Keith Block’s new car and watch. However, an educated guesstimate was made by the digital publication based upon the disclosed sales prices and related tax payments for the two luxury items. If the company actually bought Block a Lamborghini instead of a Porsche, your author will accept personal responsibility for the egregious mistake.

https://www.businessinsider.com/salesforce-ceo-keith-block-car-watch-2019-4

https://www1.salary.com/Keith-Block-Salary-Bonus-Stock-Options-for-SALESFORCE-COM-INC.html

https://www.salesforce.com/company/leadership/bios/bio-block/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/fiduciary-responsibility-vs-corporate-social-responsibility/

 

 

 

“(The intent of the Tax Wall Street Act is to) drive leeches that are front running the market out of business.” – Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon) on CNBC

Is the Eugene, Oregon-based author of Almost DailyBrett, a lecherous leech?

Your author builds a career. Your author works all of his life. Your author pays his fair share of taxes. Your author chooses the time (2018) and place for his retirement (Eugene).

Sounds good, but …

My congressman, Mr. DeFazio, wants to double tax everyone’s retirement with a 0.1 percent tax on every stock or mutual fund trade we will ever make as long-term investors, conceivably until it’s time to meet our respective makers.

Ostensibly, DeFazio’s tax targets high-frequency/high-velocity investors, many disguised as algorithms. The only problem is his sweeping tax also applies to millions of real middle-class people … including retail investors residing in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District.

All they want to do is invest their already taxed discretionary income to fund their retirement, pay for their children’s education (e.g., University of Oregon) and maybe to pursue their dreams. Alas, Rep. DeFazio has introduced the “Tax Wall Street Act of 2019” with its punitive stock and mutual fund trade tax.

Mr. Congressman, my family is not Wall Street in Manhattan. We are East of Willamette Street in Eugene.

The honorable congressman thinks he is punishing Wall Street, when he instead is taking dead aim at America’s investor class or the 52 percent of Americans (approximately 170 million), who invest in individual stocks or mutual funds.

Many of these mutual fund investment trades are made by pension managers and by individual employee managed 401Ks at work (e.g., public employees, including school teachers). Almost DailyBrett maintains a humble retail account with Charles Schwab. Sorry, no Goldman Sachs for me.

Why are you (DeFazio) sticking a Wall Street tax on all investors who live in your district, and any other investor in every congressional district across the fruited plain?

DeFazio’s Dithering Performance on CNBC

CNBC’s Kelly Evans asked you point blank on “The Exchange” last week why you didn’t “target” high-velocity algorithmic day traders instead of proposing a sweeping tax, which applies to every middle-class investor in the country.

You dithered, Congressman DeFazio. You know, you did.

When Evans inquired about the use of the projected $777 billion in additional revenues, you suggested restoring some of the expanding deficit triggered by tax reform. Congressman DeFazio didn’t know where and how the money will be spent. He only wanted to sock-it to Wall Street and with it, middle-class investors.

Maybe, you should Occupy Wall Street? How did that movement work out?

Fortunately, there are enough adults in the House of Representatives and certainly in the U.S. Senate to ensure this bill goes absolutely nowhere.

Having made this point, the coast is not clear. The mindset of my congressman and his partner in crime, Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and without a doubt many others in positions of immense power, indicates an antipathy to all publicly traded companies (none of which are headquartered in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District).

Every issue large and small seemingly requires the same remedy: a new tax.

Congressman DeFazio, you need to understand that middle-class retirees in your district have already been taxed on their nest eggs. Under your plan, each-and-every-one of your investing constituents will pay an additional tax just for the right to continue to invest their hard-earned money on their futures.

You know you are wrong, but you will piously insist you are right … err correct.

Almost DailyBrett has never been a “high-velocity” trader and never will be.

Just hoping to keep up my velocity for years to come.

https://www.cnbc.com/video/2019/03/08/rep-peter-defazio-on-the-tax-wall-street-act.html

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/03/wall-street-tax-act-financial-illiteracy-in-congress/

https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/its-premature-to-start-freaking-out-over-the-wall-street-tax-act-liz-ann-sonders

http://investsnips.com/publicly-traded-companies-in-oregon/

 

 

 

 

“As for the future in Russia and what will happen there, I can’t say I’m safe. I don’t know.” – Edward Snowden, speaking via internet video last year to a crowd in Austria.

Reportedly, Snowden’s asylum status in Russia is assured until 2020, and then …?

Almost DailyBrett earlier conjectured whether Snowden would be a lowly pawn on Vladimir Putin’s chess board, ready to be traded back to the United States.

The question now must be rhetorically asked … does the US really want him back?

Given the choice of nationally televised show trial or a desultory life in exile, which is the best public relations course of action for the United States when it comes to “whistle blower” Edward Snowden?

Snowden has been Vladimir Putin’s guest since June 24, 2013, or 2,070 Moscow days and nights, if you are scoring at home. Snowden faces up to 30 years in the slam back here for two violations of the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917 … assuming he can be convicted in a court of law.

And if Snowden is actually convicted, what would be the cost in terms on the reputation and image of the United States of America? There are some who see Snowden as some kind of champion … their hero … who will openly root against the U.S. Department of Justice.

Can you think of any celebrity lawyers, who would eagerly defend Snowden in an upcoming epic made-for-television-and-social media trial under the glare of the television lights, cameras and boom microphones?

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Ringo H W Chiu/AP/REX/Shutterstock (9691996n)

After representing porn star Stormy Daniels, the ubiquitous Michael Avenatti … and other reptilian lawyer types just like him … presumably would have zero compunction defending leaker Snowden, maybe even on a pro bono basis.

The question, which would predictably and eventually ensue: Is Snowden on trial or the National Security Agency (NSA)?

A preview of coming attractions would be the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial in which the guilty football stud was acquitted in a court of law, and the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) was convicted (in the courtroom of public opinion).

Even though parallels are never perfect, the flight of another traitor to Russia, Kim Philby, brings into the discussion whether it is best of leave the housing, feeding, caring and nurturing of Snowden to warm and fuzzy Vladimir Putin?

Kim Philby Died in Russia. What Will Happen to Snowden?

“How sleepless must be Kim Philby’s nights in Moscow? … How profound he and others like him must be aware that the people they betrayed are going to be the victors in the end.” – President Ronald Reagan

British spy novelist Ben Macintyre in his 2014 best-selling “A Spy Among Friends,” provides nearly exhaustive detail of Philby’s treachery and betrayal of Mother England as he labored as a mole for Russia’s KGB for three decades … at a cost of hundreds of allied agents.

When Kilby finally confessed in his Beirut apartment in 1963, and his words were recorded by Britain’s counterespionage MI6, it seemed relatively easy for the Brits to simply arrest Philby and transport him back to London for the Mother of All Trials … and yet he was able to easily defect to Russia.

Was MI6 lame in carrying out its responsibilities or was it better … for Philby to simply escape into the outstretched arms of the KGB? Philby lived out the rest of his days — even though he once tried to slash his wrists — in numbing exile in Communist Russia until he passed away in 1988 at the age of 76.

Did the Brits suspect that transferring Philby back to London would result in embarrassing courtroom proceedings in which MI6 would also be on trial? Maybe it would be less painful, if the Soviet Union used Philby for propaganda purposes, which is actually what transpired.

Snowden, 35, will celebrate his sixth anniversary in Russia on June 24. If the American whistle-blower reaches Philby’s final birthday at 76-years-young, the year will be 2060.

What will Snowden say on his 47th anniversary as presumably a citizen of Russia? Will he have anything new to offer? Will he deep down inside miss the opportunity of another Oliver Stone Hollywood epic, complete with his show trial?

Would Alec Baldwin play Snowden?

Maybe he could be buried in the Kremlin Wall with traitor John Reed as played by Warren Beatty in “Reds?”

Or Snowden could join Kim Philby in Moscow’s Kuntsevo Cemetery?

Most of all … will we care?

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/oct/19/edward-snowden-nsa-leaker-says-hes-not-safe-russia/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/01/21/has-edward-snowden-become-putins-pawn/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/02/28/the-coming-presidential-pardon-of-edward-snowden/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/11/pr-advice-for-edward-snowden/

https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/profits-and-losses-of-treachery-victims-of-kim-philbys-betrayals-are-staking-a-claim-to-the-cash-1447065.html

 

 

 

 

 

Ever wonder how Venezuela became … Venezuela?

Almost DailyBrett at one time expected that Amazon would announce Austin, Texas as the recipient of HQ2 with its estimated $50 billion total investment and upwards to 50,000 technology positions with full benefits.

As a major technology hub, Austin offers a well-trained workforce, the capital of a right-to-work state, no state income taxes, and politicians’ favorably predisposed to corporate capitalism. In addition, Amazon bought Whole Foods in 2017 for $13.7 billion, which is based in … Austin.

Instead, Amazon selected Northern Virginia with it well-educated workforce and proximity to the infinite wisdom emanating within the Beltway. The other choice, which raised more than a few eyebrows, was heavily unionized and über-taxed Long Island.

The original thinking was Amazon would be welcomed with the prospect of providing 40,000 real positions with annual salaries averaging $150,000 and full benefits – not strip mall jobs – and $27.5 billion in new tax revenues during the course of 10 years. Yes, there were $3 billion in tax incentives from the State of New and New York City and these are always controversial.

Let’s see $3 billion in exchange for $27.5 billion in new revenues and 40,000 direct high-paying positions, not counting all the indirect economic activity supporting Amazon HQ2 in terms of suppliers, vendors and utilities.

Buy Low, Sell High?

Alas the United States is a divided nation, not just Democrats vs Republicans … but more to the point: Socialism vs. Capitalism.

Some wish to punish Amazon and its wealthiest dude on the planet boss, Jeff Bezos, for pioneering digital retail, employing 613,300, generating $232 billion in annual revenues, and stimulating $798 billion in investor market capitalization.

Amazon was greeted to Gotham by a buzz-saw of those who disdain capitalism in favor of command-and-control socialism.

As a former gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett imagined what it would be like to be relaying really bad news to the boss – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo – and answering the flood of media calls.

The alternative of a root canal is looking real attractive right now.

Ever hear the one about banging your head against the wall?

It only feels good, when you … stop.

Is Amazon Serious?

Is Amazon just firing a shot across the bow?

“It (loss of Amazon investment) would certainly undermine confidence in governance. You can’t empower anti-capitalist ideologues and expect the capitalists to embrace them. I still think they will work this out, because the embarrassment would be severe.” – Joel Kotkin, Chapman University professor of Urban Studies

“You have to be tough to make it in New York City. We gave Amazon the opportunity to be a good neighbor and do business in the greatest city in the world. Instead of working with the community, Amazon threw away that opportunity.” – New York Mayor Bill de Blasio

“Threw away” constitutes fighting words.

These provocative words make it more difficult for the City of New York and Amazon to “work this out.” Why did da Mayor challenge Bezos’ manhood (we know it exists) in the first sentence of his prepared statement, and then charge the company with throwing away an opportunity in the concluding sentence.

Hey Mr. Mayor ever heard of the words … “disappointed”? … “concerned? … “let’s talk”?

If New York bids adieu to 25,000-to-40,000 Amazon positions and $27.5 billion in tax revenues in Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ congressional district, will those who are cheering today be demanding social justice from New York state and city tomorrow?

Even China with its brand of authoritarian capitalism figured out that buying low and selling high is the best way to provide prosperity for its people.

New York had the prospect of becoming a lucrative technology hub … but it “threw away” that opportunity.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/02/14/nyregion/amazon-hq2-queens.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alyyale/2019/02/13/leaving-long-island-city-what-losing-amazon-hq2-would-mean-for-nycs-future/#18d48f01127c

https://nypost.com/2019/02/14/de-blasio-amazon-threw-away-great-opportunity-in-nyc/

 

 

“Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – President John F. Kennedy, Inaugural Address, 1961

“Economic security for all who are unable or unwilling to work.” – FAQ for the “Green New Deal,” 2019

“Lately it occurs to me what a long, strange trip it’s been.” – Grateful Dead, Truckin,’ 1970

Almost DailyBrett remembers those who said same-sex marriage would never happen.

There were those who said that recreational marijuana would never be legal, let alone pot shops on virtually every street corner.

And that states (i.e., Virginia, New York, Vermont) would never adopt up-to-the-nanosecond-of-birth (and beyond), abortion.

They are all now reality.

Will the next breakthrough come in the form of Universal Basic Income (UBI), or income redistribution from those who achieve to those … who voluntarily do … nothing?

Call it the ultimate in cradle-to-grave dependency: The government taxes entrepreneurs/job creators up the wazoo to pay living-breathing recipients for the privilege to sleep-in-to-noon, play video games, binge watch, smoke dope, drink beer and repeat the cycle the following day.

Seems a long way from the days of JFK, once a Democratic senator from Massachusetts, calling for nationwide patriotism to Ed Markey, a present-day Democratic senator from … you guessed it … Massachusetts, advocating taxpayer payments to those “unwilling” to work.

To be fair, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Markey and other Green New Dealers, claimed it was a “mistake” for the plan’s FAQ to be distributed to the media … who in turn reported the details of the proposed give-away to those who just don’t want to work.

How did the word “unwilling” end up on a draft FAQ, if Universal Basic Income isn’t a part of the thinking of the Green New Dealers?

Talk about a public relations disaster.

Announced Democratic presidential aspirant and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, has actually dug into his own pocket to pay one family in New Hampshire and another in Iowa $1,000 per month to demonstrate the benefits of UBI.

The vast majority will rightfully ask ‘Andrew Who?’ but give him credit for having the courage to introduce Universal Basic Income into the Democratic presidential primary season social justice debate.

Will UBI be part of the party platform at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. Your author will take the “under” … for now.

If there are millions of people voluntarily not working (e.g., approximately 32 percent of working age males, source American Enterprise Institute), maybe the government can give them a hand as the face the repetitive boredom associated with doing and accomplishing … nothing.

Paying People To Do Nothing?

Almost DailyBrett never thought he would be compelled to ask: Is it moral for the government to take money from hard-working taxpayers to give it to those … who decide on their own to do nothing, achieve nada, and give zero back to society?

The debate about whether or not to establish a “safety net” for those adversely impacted by deep economic cycle downswings has long been decided. The questions remain about the extent, costs and durations of these assistance programs.

UBI is the ultimate public assistance cocaine dressed up as a basic right. The recipients are forever hooked to the green drug. The government is now obligated to forever keep providing this largesse to those who unwilling to work.

The pressure will always be present to increase UBI payments to keep pace or even exceed inflation, regardless of the consequences to the annual deficit or the rapidly accumulating national debt. The insatiable demand for more redistribution tax dollars for the do-nothings will accelerate.

Any efforts to curtail or reduce Universal Basic Income will trigger a cold-turkey effect (see “Yellow Vests” or gilets jaunes on the streets of Paris). The “program,” once launched will be eternal and unreformable.

Eventually, who is going to say “no” to free money from the government? Isn’t it in the recipients’ “best interest” to stay on the government gravy train? Don’t they as Americans have a right to not work … and get paid for it too?

Despite the obvious moral questions, the public policy fight over Universal Basic Income is closer to the beginning rather than the end. Those who worry out loud about the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – a good example is Elon Musk – have already pointed UBI as another tool in the safety net.

Universal Basic Income is not a safety net, but that doesn’t mean it won’t.

UBI is a shameful governmental give-away pure and simple.

Strong Almost DailyBrett opinion to follow.

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/07/ocasio-cortezs-green-new-deal-offers-economic-security-for-those-unwilling-to-work.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/right-wing-media-attacking-alexandria-ocasio-cortezs-green-new-deal-2019-2

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/the-green-new-deal-and-a-universal-basic-income/

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/10/andrew-yang-universal-basic-income-to-protect-jobs-from-automation.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/universal-right-to-a-paycheck/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/04/15/deadbeat-boyfriends/

 

 

 

“I can understand wanting to have millions of dollars, there’s a certain freedom, meaningful freedom that comes with that. But once you get much beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger.” – Bill Gates speaking to university students

There are 25.7 million Google results of an image of a middle-aged dude standing all alone with his hands in his pockets.

He is patiently waiting in line for his cheeseburger, fries and a coke.

The maroon pullover guy is patronizing the original Dick’s (1954), which unofficially serves as a gateway to the upper class Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle.

Is the pale dude (gasp) … privileged?

What gave him the right to buy a “Deluxe,” fries and a coke in Wallingford?

Did his parents dote on him? Where did he go to school? Where did he go to college?

Did he ever invent anything of value to society? Did ever provide a living to people?

Did he ever give back to make our world a better place?

And if the answers to these questions do not meet communal approval – Privilege? Family? College? Inventions? Philanthropy? – should we as a collective society even the score in the name of social justice?

It may seem silly to some to have this public good discussion, and yet 25.7 million Google results are triggered in 0.28 of one second, when one inquires about the guy in the sweater standing all alone in line at Dick’s.

Our Obsession With Wealth?

How many billionaires — members of the three comma club — would stand-in line all alone for a burger and fries?

And yet there was Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 63, waiting in line at Dick’s on Sunday evening, January 13.

In our always-on digital imaging world, it did not take long for the celebrity dude doing normal things to go viral, generating stories and impressions about Gates and his love of hamburgers.

The latest estimates place his net worth at $96.5 billion. Couldn’t Gates simply buy Dick’s as opposed to standing in line for a burger? Where was his entourage? Couldn’t he feed the homeless with Dick’s burgers?

And how did he make that money? Did he take full advantage of his privilege? Did he inherit the money?

As many Almost DailyBrett readers know, Gates and the recently departed Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975. Their entrepreneurial spirit and those that followed (i.e., Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella)  resulted in the ubiquitous Windows operating system, X-Box gaming console, Microsoft Surface PC, Microsoft Cloud and so much more.

Microsoft is one of the three largest competing companies in market capitalization (share price x number of shares) at $814.5 billion, generating $96.5 billion in total revenues and employing 134,944 around the world.

After departing the daily operations of Microsoft, the guy in the maroon sweater with his spouse established The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The charitable organization bearing their names has given a reported $36 billion to date to alleviate third world poverty and suffering. They are without any doubt the most generous philanthropists in America.

And yet …

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

“The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” – Former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

In her quest to become the 46th President of the United States, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed a 2 percent surcharge on net assets – not annual income – exceeding $50 million, and another 1 percent on billionaires.  Is Warren’s  “wealth tax” really confiscation in disguise?

There are questions about whether a confiscatory surcharge of assets – not an income tax – is permissible under the U.S. Constitution. This legal question is above the pay grade of Almost DailyBrett.

Having said that, your author must ask: Why do so many Washington elites want to punish achievement, service and philanthropy?

Some rationalize this obsession with wealth as a quest to reach some far-reaching social justice nirvana when the solution is the same-old tired remedy: wealth redistribution targeting those who provide great products, create jobs and give back to the less fortunate.

The answer always comes down to new and more burdensome taxes, but in Senator Warren’s case she calls for outright confiscation of assets. One thing is certain is the redistribution does not stop there. There will also be increases in tax rates, most of all the top rate from 39.6 percent, hiking it to 70 percent, 80 percent, 90 percent or beyond.

Once you have raised taxes and confiscated assets is that the end … or worse … is that just the beginning?

What’s next? Fees on stock and mutual fund transactions? Surcharges on bank accounts? Is the sky the limit?

How about a wealth tax/surcharge on Bill Gates’ hamburger?

https://www.geekwire.com/2019/billions-served-bill-gates-photographed-standing-line-burger-dicks-drive-seattle/

https://www.ddir.com/

https://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews/article/Billions-served-Bill-Gates-photographed-standing-13539669.php

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2019/01/24/senator-warrens-plan-tax-ultrawealthy-is-smart-idea-whose-time-has-come/?utm_term=.251e17e49629

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/Investor/earnings/FY-2018-Q4/press-release-webcast

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/08/23/three-comma-club/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/09/25/taxing-uncle-phil-to-death/

https://www.businessinsider.com/biggest-projects-of-generous-philanthropists-bill-and-melinda-gates-2018-8

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/138248-the-problem-with-socialism-is-that-you-eventually-run-out

 

“Did the (Dodge Ram) company really just use Dr. King’s words about the value of service to sell trucks?”New York Times, February 5, 2017

The unfortunate answer was … “Yes.”

Did somebody … anybody … at Chrysler suggest that its Super Bowl LII advertisement shown to 103.4 million viewers (Nielsen Ratings) may not be the best idea? One would hope the executive management at Chrysler is not exclusively composed of yes men and yes women.

If a viewer watching next Sunday’s Super Bowl LIII advertisements takes a sip of tequila every time a cause marketing spot comes across the screen, would that person be smashed by half time?

Based upon last year’s Super Bowl and the trend so far this year, Almost DailyBrett will take the over.

Even weighing Chrysler’s public relations/marketing disaster last February, it seems the trend toward questionable cause-marketing advertising is growing, not subsiding.

Razor Blades and #MeToo?

“Razor blade commercials aren’t supposed to make national headlines, but these aren’t ordinary times. Last week’s Gillette commercial playing on the #MeToo movement became the latest piece of corporate messaging to berate and belittle men.” – Karol Markowicz, New York Post

For Almost DailyBrett, it seems the growing use of cause-marketing advertising with predictable somber music and societal images are mostly lame corporate attempts to attach product brands to a public policy push or cultural icon.

The question remains: Are cause marketing advertising practitioners, who recommend paying $5.1-$5.3 million per 30-second Super Bowl LIII spots to their corporate clients, playing with fire works in the forest with a company’s hard-earned reputation and brand?

Consider Nike’s cause marketing folly of tying its “Swoosh” athletic apparel to Colin Kaepernick, who in many quarters is persona non grata for taking a knee on the flag, the Star Spangled Banner and America.

Is Colin playing in the Super Bowl next week? Will he ever play again? Almost DailyBrett will take the under.

We all know that Chrysler was burned big time for attempting to link the words of the late Dr. Martin Luther King’s sermons to the sale of Dodge Ram trucks.

Who thought this poor taste linkage was a good idea?

Ditto for Gillette tying razor blades to the #MeToo movement or Nike taking a knee on Old Glory.

Almost DailyBrett must ask: Were the ads submitted to focus groups (qualitative research)? What was the input of in-depth interviews from African-American respondents (Dodge), women (Gillette) and veterans and their families (Nike)? Was any random quantitative research conducted to validate or contradict the focus group reactions?

Tying the sale of muscle trucks by a publicly traded company to the words, works and deeds of a renowned assassinated civil rights leader/legend sounds risky at best.

The national response to boorish men continues to this day. Is Gillette taking a stand against the #MeToo movement? Hope not.

Does Nike management have a problem with the Star Spangled Banner?

Infamous Or Notorious Brand?

Defenders of dubious cause marketing ads, which draw justified rebukes, will predictably respond that millions of viewers now identify with the (tarnished) brand/product. They will piously state that nothing is worse than spending $5 million-plus for a 30-second spot and the viewers don’t remember the sponsor of the advertisement. Okay, but …

Your author is not carte blanche taking aim against all cause marketing ads.

For example, Verizon cleverly tied its wireless services to first responders running toward the flood, the fire, the earthquake … ensuring they receive the urgent call for their life-and-depth services.

What are Almost DailyBrett’s rules for cause marketing spots, whether or not they are intended for the Super Bowl of Advertising?

  • Appreciate that tribalism is rampant in America, and the warring camps simply do not care, let alone in many cases tolerate each other. Avoid taking sides (e.g., Nike). The predominant views in your locale (e.g., Beaverton, Oregon) are most likely not a reflection of the country as a whole.
  • Contemplate that movements are based upon redressing grievances. They have leaders. They have organizations. They have a determined cause. Don’t try to hijack a movement to sell your products (e.g., Gillette).
  • Invest in qualitative (i.e., focus groups, in-depth interviews) and random quantitative research (e.g. surveys). Don’t prejudge the results. If the respondents essentially question or even revolt against the proposed ad … don’t argue, don’t rationalize … drop it (e.g., Dodge Ram).
  • Embrace honesty with company management about the possible repercussions in terms of reputation, brand, sales, stock price, market capitalization, P/E ratio.
  • Consider that viewers are smarter than you think. They may not respond kindly to clumsy ads that attempt to sell trucks with the words of a slain civil rights leader. How about using puppies or horses to sell beer (just as long as no animals were injured making the ad)?
  • Know that cause marketing is overdone, and is almost becoming cliché. That statement does not preclude cleverly tying a relevant product (wireless communication) to first-responders (e.g., Verizon).

And most of all, follow the Almost DailyBrett Golden Rule: When in doubt, throw it out.

https://www.boston.com/sports/super-bowl/2019/01/24/super-bowl-ad-prices

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/09/04/nike-takes-a-knee/

.http://superbowl-ads.com/cost-of-super-bowl-advertising-breakdown-by-year/

https://adage.com/article/super-bowl/2019-superbowl-liii-ad-chart/315605/

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/business/media/mlk-commercial-ram-dodge.html

https://nypost.com/2018/02/04/dodge-ram-under-fire-for-using-mlk-speech-in-super-bowl-ad/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/arts-and-entertainment/wp/2018/02/05/its-been-a-tough-year-america-these-7-super-bowl-commercials-tried-to-give-us-hope/?utm_term=.3dc3a75c7cc3

Tired of screaming talking heads?

Are you just done … with polemics?

Want real news that is more than 24-7-365 bashing of Donald Trump?

How about real-time information, which is 100 percent relevant to at least 54 percent of Americans who constitute the nation’s “investor class”?

Digging deeper one finds that 73 percent of those with bachelor’s degrees and above, and 83 percent of master’s degrees and above, own publicly traded company shares or stock-based mutual funds … many in employer 401K plans or IRAs.

Buy Low, Sell High!

With all of these stats in mind, Almost DailyBrett welcomes you to the best network on television: CNBC.

What ever happened to critics who proclaimed that around-the-clock Wall Street market coverage would never work?

They are the same naysayers who proclaimed that 24/7/365 sports wouldn’t fly when ESPN was launched in 1979.

How did either of these forecasts work out?

Just as ESPN’s proven business model fostered a plethora of imitators (i.e., Fox Sports, CBS Sports, NBC Sports Network), the same is true with CNBC, born in 1989.

Two years later, CNBC’s parent acquired Financial New Network. There was obviously moola to be made from those who care about global markets, particularly their NYSE and NASDAQ investments.

Never-shy-about-about-exploiting-an-opportunity, Rupert Murdoch, debuted CNBC’s major competitor Fox Business in 2007, including raiding CNBC for proven on-air talent (i.e., Maria “The Money Honey” Bartiromo, Neil Cavuto, Liz Claman …).

Fox Business now leads in the Nielsen Ratings for cable business networks, just as Fox News is on top for cable news channels.

Almost DailyBrett believes that competition makes everyone better, and contends that CNBC can take full advantage of the opportunity that comes from adversity.

Can’t Quantify PR?

Working for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in the mid-1990s, your author as director of communications was interviewed each month on the chip industry’s book-to-bill ratio … or what is the relationship between the booked orders and the already billed orders.

One always wanted the former to be higher than the latter.

As a director of Corporate Public Relations for LSI Logic, Almost DailyBrett booked our CEO Wilf Corrigan on CNBC whenever we had good news to report, provided the markets were open and trading.

One particular time our stock was trading at $86 per share when the interview began. Three-or-more minutes later (an eternity on television), LSI Logic shares had jumped to $89 per share or x-millions more in market capitalization (number of shares x stock price)

And who says, you cannot quantify effective public relations?

The direction of a company’s shares can head to the north, but to the south as well, thus resulting in the term for a stock being a volatile, “Dow Joneser.”

Recently saw a sell-side analyst explaining on CNBC why he downgraded Nike from a buy to a hold with a lower sales target … the stock sold off during the interview. That is the awesome power of an analyst being interviewed on a financial news network.

Almost DailyBrett contends from years as a loyal viewer that CNBC covers real news: What’s happening with global markets, consumer spending, newest gadgets and gizmos, trade wars, Brexit, Federal Reserve rate hikes or cuts/quantitative tightening or quantitative easing ….

Is CNBC perfect? Far from it. Yours truly rolls his eyes whenever yet another report focuses on East Coast dino-tech legends General Electric (GE) or Itty Bitty Machines (IBM). The former is Sears in drag, and the latter is just a few steps further back on the same bridge to nowhere.

Having said that, there is a healthy consistency that comes from Bob Pisani from the floor of the NYSE and Bertha Coombs from the NASDAQ.

Who can avoid smiling when Jim Cramer is throwing bulls and bears on “Mad Money?” David Faber (a.k.a. “The Brain) is always solid with his reporting.

Carl Quintanilla, Morgan Brennan and John Fortt are especially credible with the coverage of technology to start the day. Wilfred Frost and Sara Eisen put a capper on the trading day by hosting “Closing Bell” with Michael Santoli providing analysis of the just competed trading day.

If you want wall-to-wall about what is wrong with the relationship between Donald and Nancy, there are networks, which can provide you with all the gory details on a 24/7/365 basis. Go for it.

And if you can’t wait for another update on the no talent Kardashian family, CNBC is not your cup of tea … and never will be. Thank the good Lord.

https://news.gallup.com/poll/211052/stock-ownership-down-among-older-higher-income.aspx

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-amount-of-americans-not-saving-for-retirement-is-even-worse-than-you-thought-2017-02-21

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/08/business/economy/stocks-economy.html

https://www.cnbc.com/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CNBC

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/10/02/lou-dobbs-maria-bartiromo-lead-fox-business-to-big-ratings-win/#4e449fd924bf

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/12/20/how-fox-news-keeps-on-winning-the-ratings-war/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pass the Maalox!

The Dow lost 651 points on Xmas Eve.

The Dow gained a record 1,066 points the day after Christmas.

The Dow lost 611 points Thursday morning only to finish up 260 points in the very same afternoon.

What’s the lesson for retail investors competing in an unfair market?

Don’t go all wobbly over the Dow Jones.

More to the point: Never panic.

And let’s not forget: Don’t morph into Gloomy Gus or Negative Nancy when the market gyrates downward.

Just as important, never become a Pollyanna when the markets surge. Stay grounded.

Since October 3, the ever-downward market psychology has resulted in traders selling the rallies as opposed to buying the dips.

Buy Low, Sell High has been redefined … at least for now.

Algos Giveth; Algos Taketh Away

Almost DailyBrett clearly recognizes the Wall Street playing field is not level; it tilts downward to the “institutions,” the Buy-Side and the Sell-Side traders.

Similar to Oakland Athletics general manager Billy Beane (played by Brad Pitt) in “Money Ball,” the Charles Schwab retail investor (e.g., me) is competing in an unfair game.

Isn’t the easy solution to simple not invest in Wall Street, stick your money in a bank with pathetic interest rates or maybe even under the mattress?

Having said all of the above, the markets remain the choice investment vehicle for the 54 percent of Americans who constitute the Investor Class. These optimists about America’s future devote discretionary revenues in stocks and stock based mutual funds to pay for retirement, health care, children’s education or that dream vacation.

There is a ton of advice out there about taming the markets – some counsel is sound, other “advice” is dubious.

What is the humble advice from Almost DailyBrett, who has invested in markets for 25 years and who taught Corporate Communications and Investor Relations at two major universities?

There are Bulls. There are Bears. And Pigs Get Slaughtered

 “Know what you own, and know why you own it.” – Investor Peter Lynch

  • Your author believes in building your own mutual fund, instead of always paying a fee for someone else (e.g., Fidelity) to manage your money. And when you do structure your very own mutual fund make sure you know why you own each stock (thank you Peter), and make sure you diversify these holdings (everything can’t be tech).

For example, Almost DailyBrett presently owns Apple, McDonald’s, Nike and Salesforce; just sold Boeing. Two are differing tech stocks, one feeds 1 percent of the world each day, and the swoosh just does it as the leader in athletic apparel.

  • Passive investing is a loser. Building wealth is work. Far too many just purchase mutual funds at work through pensions and 401Ks or IRAs at home and literally forget about them. Really? This is your money. What is being done with your money? What are your returns? Forget passive. Be active.
  • Use or consume the product/service of the companies you own (i.e., Apple iPhones, McDonald’s Big Macs, Nike running shoes …). Understand very clearly how a company makes money. If you can’t comprehend why shares are increasing (e.g., Bitcoin), don’t invest. There is a world of difference between investing and gambling.
  • The harder mental gymnastics is not when to buy, but when to sell. Think of it this way: On Wall Street, there are bulls, there are bears … and pigs get slaughtered. Set upside-and-downside sell targets for your stocks. When they reach these points, ring the register. Sure wish your author always followed his own advice.
  • Accept the algorithms. The big institutions (not you) have pre-programmed servers with instruction algorithms that automatically to the nanosecond buy or sell large blocks of stocks whenever certain market price points are triggered. The game is not fair. Accept it.
  • For the longest time the bulls have been running (e.g., November 2016 – October 2018), and corresponding market psychology has been optimistic (bad news discounted). Since the start of the bear market on October 3, the psychology has dramatically shifted to the negative (good news is irrelevant). If you invest, you will experience both moods.
  • Most of all: Don’t panic. Stay active. Remain calm. Sometimes strategic retreat is necessary. Sell underperformers and convert to liquid. Cash is always king. There will be a bottom. There will be a day to buy low with the hopes of selling high.
  • Know your level of risk. If you can’t accept gaining $10,000 one day, and giving $9,000 back in the next day (a $1,000 gain for those scoring at home), you shouldn’t be investing in markets. Pathetic bank interest rates or under the mattress is right for you.

Yes there will be a day when it is time to buy the dip, while those who try to sell the rally end up losing their … fill in the blank.

The liberal networks were not cutting it across the fruited plain.

The front page of the New York Times always dictated the topics for their evening newscasts.

What played on Madison Avenue was not resonating for millions in the Basket of Deplorables west of the Hudson.

For years, the Nielsen reports for the legendary “Big Three” ABC, CBS, NBC and their ideological cousins, CNN and MSNBC, were consistently going down to the right (from a ratings chart point of view).

As America was becoming a more moderate-conservative nation, the media elites in Manhattan and within the confines of the Beltway were moving further to the left.

There was — and still is — an economic disconnect: pure and simple.

And yet there was an unrecognized-in-plain-sight-new-source-of-money to be made in the always tough media business.

The much-vilified duo of Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes recognized a vast unmet need for a “Fair and Balanced” network resonating with the good folks in the so-called “fly-over states.”

Fox News Channel (FNC) was born in 1996, and just this year garnered its highest-ever ratings.

The Nielsen Ratings race was not even close.

FNC became the first cable news outlet to lead all networks, including the big three, in total audience for a November midterm election, beating second place NBC by 7.78 million to 5.64 million viewers. FNC even commanded a two-to-one lead over once powerful, CBS.

Legendary chief executive Jack Welch repeatedly said any business should either be number one or number two in its given market. Fox News is without doubt numero uno.

The unanswered question that must be posed: Is why is Fox News still unchallenged in serving the moderate-conservative psychographic, the one which elected Donald Trump to the presidency two years ago?

The self-anointed elites at the liberal networks, the all-knowing think tanks and the academic types at journalism schools denigrate the Fox News audience as uneducated racist dolts. They don’t seem to realize through their intemperate scolding and actions, they are contributing to the reciprocal scorn of the NYC/DC political class.

Almost DailyBrett to this day has never and will not ever understand the “political wisdom” of lambasting and making fun of hard-working people, who alas did not win the biological intellectual lottery.

It must suck to live, work hard and go to church on Sundays in impregnable Blue Wall states, such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

The End of Fox News?

The communal Schadenfreude of the political class celebrating the career ending capers of Ailes and Bill O’Reilly, coupled with the departures of Megyn Kelly and Greta Van Susteren, augured for the inevitable ratings/influence decline of Fox News Channel.

Using football parlance, it was next man (woman) up for Fox News. Sean Hannity vaulted to first place among all cable news programs. Martha MacCallum, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham successfully launched their own opinion programs.

On the news side, superb Bret Bair and MacCallum anchored the aforementioned industry leading midterms’ newscast with solid pros Chris Wallace and Brit Hume by their sides. Almost DailyBrett will always miss the insightful commentary of Charles Krauthammer. His toe-to-toe exchanges with O’Reilly were must-watch television. Krauthammer could have made Fox News’ industry leading Midterm election coverage even better.

The real question that must be asked: Is Fox News merely winning a ratings battle, or the actual media war as well?

Almost DailyBrett argues for the former: Fox achieved a major marker of its success. The network serves 2.5 million prime-time viewers, a 3 percent increase compared to 2017. MSNBC sports 1.8 million prime-time viewers, a 12 percent hike when measured against the preceding year.

Did MSNBC gain share against Fox? Or did MSNBC strengthen its position at the expense in the form of an epic decline by the other 24-7-365 anti-Trump network, CNN? Nielsen reported that CNN draws only 990,000 prime-time viewers, a decline of 6 percent compared to 2017.

What did Welch say about being number one or two in a given market (e.g., cable news)? This blog could easily be focused on what went wrong with CNN, founded 16 years before Fox News?

There was a time when Ted Turner’s network was the authority when it came to breaking news around the world. Remember Bernard Shaw? Those days have been replaced by Anderson Cooper and Don Lemon.

In the meantime Fox News moves forward as the only moderate-conservative oriented network, the television outlet serving the other side of America’s divide.

If Fox remains the only network for the fly-over states, and the liberal networks cannibalize each other for left-of-center crowd … is there any reason to question that Fox News will retain its ratings dominance?

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/11/07/fox-news-has-highest-rated-midterm-coverage-in-cable-news-history/#262c5105c867

https://www.forbes.com/sites/markjoyella/2018/12/12/fox-news-channel-has-highest-ratings-in-22-years-but-msnbc-is-growing-fast/?utm_source=TWITTER&utm_medium=social&utm_content=1994079623&utm_campaign=sprinklrForbesMainTwitter#20dfce6a6124

https://deadline.com/2018/11/fox-news-wins-midterm-elections-ratings-cnn-msnbc-donald-trump-1202497745/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/08/nine-fox-blondes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/12/27/dan-rather-father-of-affirmational-journalism/

 

 

 

 

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