Category: Silicon Valley


“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

 

 

 

 

 

“Can’t decide whether you are a Democrat or a Republican …”

Bless these two students, who on separate occasions, refreshingly relayed their puzzlement to your author.

Almost DailyBrett does not believe that classrooms should ever be the venue for the indoctrination, let along the formation of young warriors in the fight between noble socialism and evil capitalism.

Gee … maybe … just maybe these students are smart enough to make up their own minds on these issues?

Even though long-time Almost DailyBrett readers and contemporaries know or at least suspect your author’s political predilection, it was rewarding to know at least some of my students weren’t so sure … and that is how it should be for all professors or instructors.

There seems to be a contagious disease among tenure-track or tenured academic types (e.g., professors and instructors) that university students are there to endure for hours on end their personal political pontifications and bloviations.

Is that why students are taking out loans averaging $30,000 each, waiting tables or asking mom and dad to dig deep … real deep … for their college education?

Don’t think so.

Buy Low, Sell High

As Almost DailyBrett fondly looks back to more than five years teaching public relations, integrated marketing, corporate communications and investor relations, one particular moment always brings back tears to the eyes.

More than 30 of my Central Washington University PR students chanted in unison … “Buy Low, Sell High!” … at my retirement party.

Upon receiving the Central Washington University Department of Communication Faculty Spotlight Award, they gathered around me for a group picture. Your author will always remember this moment.

Isn’t Buy Low and Sell High the essence of capitalism, particularly publicly traded corporate capitalism?

The answer is “yes.” Keep in mind that buying low and selling high is easier said than done. More importantly this phrase is the backbone to the practice of fiduciary responsibility on behalf of the 54 percent of Americans investing in stocks and stock-based mutual funds.

America’s investor class — planning for retirements, funding higher education for their children, opening up a new businesses — require accurate and complete communication about a company’s business plan, financials and simply … how does a corporation make money.

The highest expected communications professional compensation levels … usually in six figures … are directed to students adept at financial communications, who are studying at today’s schools of journalism and mass communication.

Almost DailyBrett believes wholeheartedly the purpose of universities/colleges is to prepare students to attain and sustain salaried professional positions with full benefits … and maybe even employee stock purchase plans (ESPP) and/or stock options.

Universities and colleges should be professional schools, providing students with lifelong learning skills and tools to succeed in our increasingly complex digital world … including beating artificial intelligence (AI).

If students wish to Occupy Wall Street that should be their choice, not their command.

By the way, how did that movement work out?

Students should always be fully aware of the imperfections of Capitalism. For example, watching The Smartest Men In The Room (Fortune’s Bethany McLean’s tome on the Enron bankruptcy) was required for each of your author’s Corporate Communications/Investor Relations classes.

In addition to the aforementioned Fiduciary Responsibility, a publicly traded company needs to complement this requirement with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Besides doing well, a company should be mindful of doing good … including giving back to communities, protecting the environment … that make success, possible.

Certainly, students can be taught to live in tents, recite cumbersome theory or rail at the world back in their own bedrooms at mom and dad’s house.

They also can learn how to decipher an income statement, a balance sheet, a cash-flow statement and to understand the significance and formulas associated with market capitalization, earnings per share (EPS), and price/earnings (P/E) ratios and related multiples.

Looking back at your author’s professorship, there is no doubt about political disposition. There was also a comprehension that students are to be prepared for the professional world, and many of these graduates have done well, real well.

And if a couple of students or more, can’t tell whether Almost DailyBrett or any other professor/instructor, drifts left or right that’s the way … it should be.

 

 

 

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/

 

 

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/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 “San Francisco has many charms, but it is not particularly salubrious. People regularly encountering used drug needles, human excrement and sidewalks full of homeless people when they arrive home late at night at their $4,000-a-month one-bedroom flat in San Francisco sometimes think they might just prefer it elsewhere.” The Economist cover story, “Peak Valley, Why startups are going elsewhere.”  

A median-priced home in the SF Bay Area, including the Silicon Valley, costs $940,000. Where can one find this mid-range beauty?

Scenic Milpitas? Bucolic Sunnyvale? Hip Hayward? Utopia in Union City?

HUD considers a family income of $120,000 in San Francisco to be “low income.” Six figures is “low income”?

The traffic in the Bay Area, let alone Los Angeles, is beyond mind-numbing.

If you like taxes, California is your redistribution nirvana: Income, sales, corporate, property, gas, tobacco, liquor, special assessments, fees, surtaxes, bridge tolls … If it tastes good, it’s taxed.

The Bay Area Council quantitatively revealed that 46 percent of regional respondents want to move elsewhere compared to one-in-three just two years ago.

And where do many consider moving? Portland, Eugene, Bend, Lake Oswego, Ashland … all in Oregon.

The desire of Californians to adopt and embrace Oregon’s superior quality of life at saner prices (e.g., zero sales tax) is not new. What is notable is the disappearance of the term, “Californicators” from the vocabulary of Oregonians.

Are Californicators going extinct?

What happened to this threatened species, which at one time was feared and loathed by Oregonians?

Driving Housing Prices; Compounding Traffic; Polluting Campgrounds

“I urge them to come and come many, many times to enjoy the beauty of Oregon. But I also ask them, for heaven’s sake, don’t move here to live.” – Former Oregon Governor Tom McCall

When the author of Almost DailyBrett first moved to Portland, Oregon in 1990, it was a good idea to remove the California plates from a vehicle as quickly (e.g., two nanoseconds) as possible.

As a former “Californicator,” your author was immediately responsible for all the sins that ailed Oregon. The state’s timber industry was heading in the wrong direction and the national recession hit Oregon hard.

Let’s face it, Oregonians exhibited a pronounced inferiority complex vis-à-vis California with its glorious weather, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, Hollywood entertainers and yummy wineries in Napa and Sonoma Counties.

What Oregonians didn’t seem to appreciate was that times were-a-changing. California was becoming more image than reality. The estimated 9 million more souls (about the size of Michigan), who were projected to move to the Golden State by 2010, actually established residence … and then some.

Californians started commuting longer distances as traffic intensified and as taxes and tempers rose. California is more than Los Gatos, Los Altos, San Francisco, Tiburon, Malibu and La Jolla. The state is also home to hopelessness in Central Valley foreclosure communities including Stockton, Modesto, Fresno, and Bakersfield.

California used to be divided by north (e.g., San Francisco) vs. south (LaLaLand). Today, it is west (e.g., Palo Alto) vs. east (e.g., Visalia).

Doesn’t It Rain in Oregon?

Sure does and Oregonian loved exploiting the rain, dampness and gloom for their own purposes.

And then all the inferiority stopped cold, replaced by a smugness, even a sense that Oregon is superior to California.

Portland as evidenced by Portlandia became the place in which the Dream of the 90s survived.

JASON: “Remember when people were content to be unambitious? Sleep to eleven? Just hangout with their friends? You’d have no occupations whatsoever. Maybe you work a couple of hours a week at a coffee shop?”

MELANIE: “Right. I thought that died out a long time ago.”

JASON: “Not in Portland. Portland is a city where young people go to retire.”

Oregon became synonymous with the Nike Swoosh. The Ducks played twice for the national title, and won their last two Rose Bowls with Marcus Mariota accepting the Heisman Trophy.

Oregon’s Willamette Valley quickly became recognized as the home of some of the best Pinot Gris’ and Pinot Noirs in the world.

The state’s microbrews are literally second to none including: Widmer Hefeweizen (Portland), Deschutes Mirror Bond Pale Ale (Bend), Ninkasi Total Domination IPA (Eugene), Full Sail Amber Ale (Hood River).

The state diversified away from timber to become a leader in high technology, cancer research, and a whole host of service oriented businesses.

The departure of the figurative Californicators from the local nomenclature is both a reflection of the decline of California, but more importantly the growing coolness of Oregon.

https://www.opb.org/artsandlife/article/former-governor-tom-mccall-message-visitors/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2018/09/01/silicon-valley-is-changing-and-its-lead-over-other-tech-hubs-narrowing

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/29/the-death-of-californication/

https://genius.com/Carrie-brownstein-and-fred-armisen-dream-of-the-90s-lyrics

https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population

 

 

 

 

“Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” – Nike multi-million dollar NFL marketing campaign starring Colin Kaepernick.

Wonder if Nike marketers ever pondered those who literally sacrificed everything for the red, white and blue?

They made the ultimate sacrifice.

Where is their multi-million-dollar marketing campaign?

Guess they are not cool.

Nike knew it was going to stir the pot (not cannabis). Guess all publicity is good publicity, even coverage that brings into question the quaint notion of proudly standing for the national anthem and saluting Old Glory.

Seems Nike investors are making a stand this morning driving shares down 3 percent or $3.75 billion in lost market capitalization, while the company is taking a knee on America.

Based upon the early returns with shareholders of NYSE: NKE, there is no doubt the stock is under pressure.

The reason is Nike’s decision to base its NFL marketing campaign, its reputation, and its brand on a guy who disrespected the Star Spangled Banner and Old Glory.

By pouring millions into NFL non-player Colin Kaepernick, who by the way is suing the league for collusion, Nike is taking sides.

Nike claims it stands with the athlete, except Kaepernick is not a player. He’s a litigant.

Almost DailyBrett upon hearing the news of Nike’s controversial marketing campaign seriously considered selling all 451 shares of Nike stock

Investment discipline dictates that one does not sell dividend-paying shares producing a 77 percent gain in a down market. Remember: Buy Low, Sell High.

My hope is that Nike does not use my investor dollars to bestow millions upon a man, who defied our country, our national anthem and our flag.

Can Almost DailyBrett make this humble request to Just Do It management? Please.

Boston Massacre

Keep in mind, the Colin Kaepernick campaign is not the first time that Nike screwed up.

Remember the company’s “Boston Massacre” campaign?

Nike hopes you forgot the misguided Yankee colored t-shirts with bullet holes and blood.

The t-shirts were unveiled on 2013 Patriots Day … yep the same day as the Boston Marathon terrorist bombing.

Back to the point, who thought that a t-shirt with bullet holes, blood and the Nike Swoosh was a good idea? The answer is the same marketing department that is giving us the middle-finger Colin Kaepernick campaign.

There are some besides POTUS, who disagree with Kaepernick and his imitators taking a knee during the playing of Francis Scott Key’s poem, America’s national anthem.

How about campaign featuring NFL Hall of Famer and Civil Rights Champion, Jim Brown? He dares disagree with taking a knee before the red, white and blue.

Kaepernick is claiming the collusion against the NFL, Nike’s marketing partner. The only problem is another NFL Hall of Famer and Nike model, John Elway, stated ex-cathedra the Denver Broncos offered a contract to Kaepernick.

Details, details sometimes interrupt a pre-determined narrative. Right CNN?

Championing The Athlete, Not The Flag

As long as Nike is condoning the behavior of Kaepernick, maybe the company may want to add its iconic swoosh to the statue of black gloved John Carlos and Tommie Smith, displaying their defiance during the playing of the Star-Spangled banner during the 1968 Olympics.

What’s the difference tween Kaepernick and Messrs. Carlos and Smith?

Almost DailyBrett writes this blog post with a high degree of sadness.

Your author champions Uncle Phil Knight, his entrepreneurship (read his best-selling “Shoe Dog”) and his philanthropy. He deserves every dollar of his estimated $35.4 billion net worth.

He is happily retired. Too bad, he is not on the scene today on behalf of the millions of silent Americans, including thousands of military families, who don’t think Colin Kaepernick is cool.

And never will.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/early-lead/wp/2018/09/04/serena-williams-lebron-james-back-nikes-just-do-it-campaign-with-colin-kaepernick/?noredirect=on

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

 

 

 

Mark Parker of Nike is also one of my mutual fund advisors.

Ditto for Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com

Let’s not forget of Dennis Muilenburg of Boeing.

Can’t tell you how many times Almost DailyBrett has been told to invest anything and everything into mutual funds.

For the record 70 percent of your author’s Charles Schwab portfolio is held in mutual funds, the largest amount managed by William Danoff of the Fidelity Contrafund.

Having made this point, let’s take a contrarian stand.

Why can’t investors create their own mutual fund comprised of individual and diversified stocks within their own portfolios?

Whoa … aren’t you the investor taking on too much … risk? Shouldn’t you diversify?

The humble answers are “not necessarily” and “yes.”

As legendary investor Peter Lynch once said: “Know what you own, and know why you own it.”

When it comes to investing and in the spirit of Lynch’s axiom, Almost DailyBrett follows these self-formulated rules:

  • Never invest in a stock in which you personally detest/loathe the lead executive (e.g., Oracle’s Larry Ellison)
  • Buy shares in firms you personally use or have a 100 percent understanding of how the company makes money (e.g., Apple).

For example, ever cutesy Scott McNealy of extinct Sun Microsystems once labeled Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates as Ballmer and Butthead. McNealy would have been funny, if his company stock wasn’t trading at the very same time at $3 per share.

Whatever happened to Scott McNealy? His company was devoured by Oracle.

Another example: your author won’t touch Bitcoin because even though it is the choice of money launderers around the world, the crypto currency is not associated with any country and there is zero logical explanation of how it makes money.

Isn’t Tim Cook A CEO?

Why is Tim Cook my mutual fund portfolio manager?

Doesn’t Cook run the largest capitalized – $1 trillion-plus – publicly traded company in the world? Absolutely.

Almost DailyBrett clearly understands that Apple is not a mutual fund, but still it offers the complexity, confidence and diversity of a mutual fund.

Apple plays in the hardware (i.e., smart phones, tablets, wearables, PCs) space. Ditto for software (e.g., iOS) and services (e.g., iTunes). Think of it this way, Apple has as many if more investors as any mutual fund … including mutual funds themselves – both buy side and sell side institutional investors – and 75 million shares recently bought by Warren Buffett too.

And who runs this diversified enterprise with the expectation of $60 billion to $62 billion on the top line in the next (fourth) quarter? Revenues grew 17 percent year-over-year. Gross margin remained steady at 38 percent. EPS jumped year-over-year from $1.67 to $2.34 and dividends grew from $0.63 to $0.73.

The dilemma for every Apple investor, particularly today, is when is it time to ring the register at least for a portion of the shares? Almost DailyBrett does not hear very many bells clanging.

There is little doubt that Apple is tearing the cover off the ball. Apple has proven it is not necessarily the number of smart phones sold – even though these mobile devices are an absolute must for our lives – in many ways it is the average sales price, climbing closer to four figures for every unit.

Back to Danoff and Fidelity Contrafund. Today it has a reported $130 billion in assets under management. Cook counters with $1 trillion in investor confidence in Apple’s shares.

Which “mutual fund” manager would you choose, if you could only select, one?

And for diversification, you package Apple with Boeing (U.S. commercial airliner and defense aircraft innovator and manufacturer) …

And Nike, the #1 athletic apparel manufacturer in die Welt.

Finally, Almost DailyBrett has bought Salesforce.com nine times and sold eight times for a profit. To describe Salesforce.com as business software company seriously understates its business strategy.

With all due respect to Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Salesforce.com is THE Cloud pioneer selling software as a service (SaaS) to enterprises around the world.

Let’s see: Apple, Boeing, Nike and Salesforce.com in the Almost DailyBrett mutual fund.

Is your author right? Only time will tell. Will this “mutual fund” adjust and change its holdings? No doubt.

Here’s the point: As Ken Fisher of Fisher Investments would say, it’s time to “graduate” from pure mutual funds.

There is risk associated with selecting stocks for your portfolio, but isn’t that also the case for mutual funds? Some think that mutual funds are no brainers. Not true, and let’s not forget the fees.

When it comes to my “mutual fund” portfolio — AAPL, BA, NKE, CRM — the only fees yours truly pays are $4.95 per trade.

Not bad, not bad at all.

https://fundresearch.fidelity.com/mutual-funds/summary/316071109

https://www.apple.com/newsroom/2018/07/apple-reports-third-quarter-results/

Five years ago Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPE) was kicked off the Dow Jones Industrial Average, replaced by Visa.

Three years ago, AT&T (a.k.a., The Phone Company) was ingloriously removed from the index of 30 share prices, substituted by Apple.

And just last month, General Electric (NYSE: GE) was unceremoniously ushered off the exchange for Walgreen Boots.

Will Itty Bitty Machines (NYSE: IBM) be the next Dinosaur Tech heading for Dow Jones extinction?

Flintstones vs Jetsons

Under legendary CEO Jack Welch, GE was the most valuable (market capitalization) American company in 2000. The company was one of the founding companies of the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1896. General Electric was a consistent standard on the exchange since 1907, 111 years.

What have you done for us lately, Fred and Wilma Flintstone? GE was replaced on the Dow Jones two weeks ago by a drug store company? How embarrassing.

Almost DailyBrett earlier wrote about companies that are absolutely rocking (i.e.,  Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Netflix, Google, Salesforce.com), metaphorically packing stadiums as opposed to those reduced to playing “greatest hits” at county fairs and desert casinos (i.e., Intel, Cisco, Dell).

These latter companies were/are directly tied to the mature PC market and thus became fairly valued with limited prospects for investor growth unless and until they credibly changed their story with compelling new information (e.g., Apple from Amelio to Jobs2 to Cook) & (e.g., Microsoft from Gates to Ballmer to Nadella).

Apple was on the precipice of bankruptcy in 1997; now the company is the world’s most valuable at $912 billion. The Wunder corporation may be first to ever to achieve a $1 trillion market cap (share price x the number of shares).

Microsoft has cleverly reinvented itself as the market leader in the cloud, even though the PC software company was late to the party. Macht nichts. MSFT has a $762 billion market cap.

Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Netflix and Salesforce.com constitute the 21st Century version of the Jetsons.

Conversely, AT&T, GE, Hewlett-Packard and IBM are the Flintstones.

What Are Their Winning Narratives?

Having worked in corporate Silicon Valley public relations for more than a decade, Almost DailyBrett understands the virtue of championing a winning narrative.

What is your company’s raison d’etre?

How does it make the legal tender?

How is the company positioned in the marketplace against ferocious competitors?

What is its competitive advantage?

What is its legacy of results?

What are the prospects for reasonable and achievable expectations for shareholder joy?

For the record, Almost DailyBrett owns shares of Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Salesforce.com (NYSE: CRM).

Both companies have delivered. Both are leaders in their respective fields. Most of all, your author understands their business strategies – lead in consumer innovation and services; provide selected software via the cloud to business customers).

Investing or Gambling?

When you understand how and why a company makes money then markets are investing, not gambling.

What is the winning narrative for GE? The company is restructuring yet again. Give it up J.C. Penney. Forget it, GE.

Tell me more about the business strategy for AT&T. How will it beat Verizon? Your author doesn’t know either.

Your author loves his Lenovo Ideapad. Who commercialized the PC? IBM in 1981. Reagan was president. “Watson,” can you help?

HPites love the 1937 story of HP founders William Hewlett and David Packard and the Palo Alto garage.

If the two gents could see their creation in the post-Carly Fiorina era, they would most likely would be turning over in their respective graves.

When contemplating these four Dinosaur Techs – AT&T, GE, HP, IBM — in a Jurassic Park era, the hardest questions are also the most basic: How do these companies make money? What product defines their respective businesses?

In stunning contrast, Apple is the #1 company in the world, defined by game changing innovation (e.g., iPhone X) and services (e.g., Apple Music).

Amazon is the #1 digital-retailer in the world with 100 million Prime memberships.

Facebook is the world champion social media company with 2.19 billion subscribers.

Google is the #1 search engine and developed the smart phone Android OS.

Netflix is the #1 digital-streaming-video company (at least for now) with 125 million subscribers.

Salesforce.com pioneered SaaS (Software as a Service) and is a leading-business-software-via-the-cloud provider.

Quick: Can you name a signature product/service directly associated with AT&T, GE, HP or IBM?

Being a jack of all trades, master of none leaves investors will absolutely … nothing.

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/19/walgreens-replacing-ge-on-the-dow.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/what-happens-when-the-music-stops/

 

 

Does every image portraying Millennials always include a smart phone or does it just seem that way?

Soon – if not already – Millennials will be the world’s largest-ever generation.

Pew Research projects they will bypass the Baby Boomers as America’s most populous next year, not a moment too soon.

Millennials already are saluted and celebrated for being the planet’s most educated, caring and experiential generation.

This distinction favorably compares those born between 1980-2000 with their immediate predecessors: the nondescript, desultory X-Gens (1965-1980), and the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll Worst Generation, The Baby Boomers (1946-1964).

Is it fair — let alone accurate — for Almost DailyBrett and presumably thousands of other societal observers to instantly equate noses buried in a smart phone or other digital device when discussing, assessing and critiquing Millennials?

In the last two years of my face-to-face teaching tenure, your author has required Millennial students to put their phones into the “penalty box” during the course of graded classroom presentations or face the consequences of a game misconduct or worse, league suspension.

At first, the reaction was one of shock, horror and withdrawal. How can you take away the 21st Century equivalent of the teddy bear or security blanket?

Gasp …”What about my Snap, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram … accounts?”

“Can I visit and … even pet my smart phone during breaks in-between presentations? Pretty please with whipped cream and a cherry on top?”

Something magical happened when student devices were in the penalty box … the presentations were not only better; the follow-up questions from the audience were relevant. The reason: Student attention was focused, not divided.

Yes, these digital natives can actually live … for short periods of time … without the binary code of digital communications.

The Serendipity of Moore’s Law

The number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit doubles every 18-24 months – Paraphrase of Intel co-founder Gordon Moore’s 1965 “Moore’s Law

Almost DailyBrett remembers being asked as the director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) in 1994, whether Moore’s Law would still be intact in 2000.

The media question seems almost silly now. Moore’s Law is alive and well a generation later.

What does Moore’s Law have to do with Millennials? Everything,.

As a result of Moore’s Law, every subsequent generation of gizmos is more functional, more powerful, faster, smaller and consumes less energy than its predecessor. The smart phone, tablet, VR, AR or whatever device being used by Millennials is at least the 22nd iteration of the technologies available 1965.

Without any doubt, Millennials are the first generation, comprised of digital natives. If a Baby Boomer needs tech support, it is better to first talk to a … Millennial.

Should we care if Millennials are characterized by the device in hand? Should Millennials lose sleep over this perception and/or metaphorical portrayal?

Just think, driving is improved when one is not jabbering on the phone, much less sending and responding to text messages.

Almost DailyBrett reported about the book by MIT prof Sherry Turkle: “Alone Together, Why We Expect More From Technology And Less From Each Other.”

And what do we find on the book cover? What appears to be Millennials consumed with their smart phones.

Turkle’s main thesis is we have become a society — much more than Millennials alone — which can be physically present with living, breathing people, each with a pulse, and you would never know it because everyone is consumed with their own Bitmoji digital world.

There is good news for Millennial public relations practitioners and bad news.

The positives: There are more algorithmic tools than ever to micro-target and instantaneously communicate with virtually anyone of this planet in two-nanoseconds or less.

The negatives: Good luck breaking through to Millennials, who are addicted to their devices and rarely if ever come up for air.

As the author of Almost DailyBrett prepares to celebrate another happy class of Millennials graduating tomorrow, we need to be reminded that when it comes to Millennial metaphors, sometimes perception is indeed reality.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/03/01/millennials-overtake-baby-boomers/

http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/pages/millennials/

http://alonetogetherbook.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/06/the-worst-generation/

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