Tag Archive: Silicon Valley


“And with the (university) experience so dramatically decreased or disabled, a lot of parents are saying: ‘Do I really want to pay $58,000, $68,000 a year for a series of Zoom (Video) classes?'” — NYU Stern College of Business Professor of Marketing Scott Galloway on PBS, August 11

PHOTO: TOBIAS HASE/dpa/Alamy Live News

Who is kidding whom?

After 16 years in all-things-digital Silicon Valley and teaching public relations, corporate communications and investor relations as a Central Washington University assistant professor for four years, Almost DailyBrett knows from direct teaching experience that online education is a poor substitute for the real thing.

Your author has taught Introduction to Public Relations and Advertising Fundamentals in the classroom with my students working in teams, and online (hopefully students were listening and taking notes). Let’s state the obvious: Being able to look students in the eye and measure their reaction is far better than Panopto recordings.

If students are not receiving the same education online, why should they pay the same tuition or (gasp) even more for inferior education? Is it moral to charge the same or more for less?

More to the point: Shouldn’t students be paying less for a diminished product? The answer is obvious.

As Professor Galloway would say: ‘This is not a debate, but an I.Q. Test.’

Worse yet, one of the most expensive universities, if not the most costly in the country (NYU), just made the “tone deaf” decision to raise tuition 3.5 percent for … online classes only. How many others are making the same unfortunate decision for Zoom Video Courses.

The classrooms and university housing are closed; the HVAC and cleaning costs are diminished. Out-of-state and foreign students are still paying enhanced tuition and fees in order to stay at home and digitally participate through chat rooms and file sharing.

Buy Low Sell High

“It is a paradoxical truth that tax rates are too high today and tax revenues are too low, and the soundest way to raise the revenues in the long run is to cut the tax rates.” – President John F. Kennedy, Economic Club of New York, December 1962.

“From adversity comes opportunity.” — Former Notre Dame Football Coach Lou Holtz

Here’s a revenue enhancement idea: Increase the size of freshman classes through lower tuition and online education.

A student walks through the Diag on the University of Michigan campus amid reports of college football cancellation, during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ann Arbor, Michigan, U.S., August 10, 2020. REUTERS/Emily Elconin

The standards for admission need to stay the same, but the number of freshman can easily increase because they are not constrained by classroom size or university housing and parking.

Some prestige universities that thrive on noses-in-the-air exclusivity (i.e., Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Penn, Chicago, Stanford) may have zero interest in expanding their freshmen classes, but they are not the norm … far from it.

Just as Borders bit the dust because it was restricted by bricks and mortar, Amazon thrived in the same markets because of a lack of restraints on its inventory and ability to sell to an unlimited number of customers. Universities have zero inhibitors when it comes to expanding revenues because they can always attract more freshmen and transfers with online education and lower tuition.

Reducing tuition right in the midst of the Covid-19 catastrophe may seem counterintuitive, but it may be exactly what higher education needs right here and now. Universities historically do better when economic conditions are less than ideal (e.g., 2007-2009 mortgage meltdown).

Your author made the choice to go back to school in 2010 at 55-years-young, attaining his M.A. in Communication and Society from the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC).

The State of Washington demonstrated the wisdom and courage to reduce its tuition during two successive academic years by-20 percent, and the result was … more students.

If college and universities are under the gun because of Covid-19, then maybe they should reduce tuition and increase the number of students to actually generate more revenue? This model worked successfully for the State of Washington. Your author was right on campus in bucolic Ellensburg.

The limiting factors were the cost of student housing, which escalated because of the greater number of students (e.g., demand) and the lack of parking spaces. Are these constraints applicable in an all-online teaching and learning environment? Nope.

Looking forward to post Covid-19 vaccine environment, Galloway points to a more-or-less permanent hybrid in-the-classroom and online teaching environment. It’s hard to argue against this most likely conclusion. Higher education has permanently changed because of the Covid-19 100-year flood.

Let’s not kid ourselves. We can probably very well teach more introverted majors such as accounting, coding, semiconductor design and others online. Your author knows from direct experience this is not the case for public relations, marketing, corporate communications and investor relations. How can you teach music, education, architecture and other extroverted majors online?

It’s morally wrong to charge the same or even more for inferior online courses.

It may be even advantageous for colleges and universities to charge less and expand freshmen classes to actually increase, not decrease revenues.

The question then becomes one of retaining these larger freshmen classes into sophomore classes? That’s a happy problem to face.

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/pandemic-forces-students-and-parents-to-reevaluate-college-costs

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

https://hbr.org/2008/07/should-you-invest-in-the-long-tail

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/education/historic-tuition-cut-sets-state-apart-from-rest-of-us/

“My own forays into Wrongthink have made me the subject of constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views. They have called me a Nazi and a racist; I have learned to brush off comments about how I’m ‘writing about the Jews again.’” — Bari Weiss resignation letter as an opinion columnist for the New York Times

Almost DailyBrett must stop here and ask: Is anti-Semitism a fact of life and a demonstration of “moral clarity” in the New York Times newsroom? Where are the punishments for those who maliciously labeled a Jewish woman writer as a “Nazi?”

Isn’t it a little more than ironic that Weiss wrote the 2019 book: “How To Fight Anti-Semitism”?

Any appreciation or sensitivity of history? Nice workplace? Fair and accurate coverage?

“President Trump used the spotlight of the Fourth of July weekend to sow division during a national crisis, denying his failings in containing the worsening coronavirus pandemic while delivering a harsh diatribe against what he branded the ‘new far-left fascism.'” — New York Times lead paragraph “objectively” covering President Trump’s Mt. Rushmore address

Remember sentence diagrams? Let’s identify the … verbs:

Trump used … to sow division … denying his failings… worsening corona virus pandemic … delivering a harsh diatribe … what he branded.

How many incendiary verbs can be unleashed in one sentence?

Was this lead written by the Democratic National Committee?

Was it a news lead or editorial page content disguised as news.

Who can tell the difference?

Apparently, objectivity is out the window at big masthead newsrooms, replaced by a quest for “Moral Clarity.”

Whose “morals?” Whose “clarity”? Who decides?

Is there a link between how the New York Times and other elite mastheads and networks cover stories and the repressive intolerant culture within newsrooms? Is the Pope, Jesuit?

What was once whispered behind closed doors is now wide open for the world to see. The pursuit for a narrow ideological audience translates into more revenues for the Times and others … even though it generates even more tribalism and division.

Is Twitter, The Ultimate Editor?

“Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor.” — Weiss letter to A.G. Sulzberger, New York Times publisher

Who would ever think that a publicly traded Silicon Valley tech company would be the body and soul of a major “independent” Atlantic seaboard elite publication?

Almost DailyBrett recognizes elite media, universities, Hollywood and many other narrow special interests have earned their reputations for being liberal, but now they are becoming even more illiberal. Weiss is openly suggesting that all content must pass the social media litmus test, otherwise the feared online venom could quickly turn downright painful.

Has it become a new digital form of McCarthyism against anyone who departs from the orthodoxy? Is there no sense of decency, even in newsrooms?

Keep in mind that Weiss did not vote for Trump, she is anti-Trump … but she is not fanatically anti-Trump … and there is the rub.  She dared to question the 4,000th op-ed against POTUS #45. Is there anything else to write about?

“As places like The Times and other once-great journalistic institutions betray their standards and lose sight of their principles, Americans still hunger for news that is accurate, opinions that are vital, and debate that is sincere.” — Bari Weiss

There was a day and a time when the Paper of Record in the United States set the agenda for what was discussed by Americans over morning coffee and what led on the evening newscasts.

Your author recognizes it took a ton of courage for Bari to both resign from the New York Times, and to write a thoughtful letter about what is obviously wrong with partisan Journalism today. Hopefully, there will be a place for her in the media profession tomorrow.

More importantly, can we get back to the point when a liberal media outlet is left of center in uttering its opinions, its reporting is straight and their is respect for everyone who works in the newsroom or the studio?

https://www.economist.com/books-and-arts/2020/07/16/how-objectivity-in-journalism-became-a-matter-of-opinion?utm_campaign=the-economist-today&utm_medium=newsletter&utm_source=salesforce-marketing-cloud&utm_term=2020-07-15&utm_content=article-link-1

https://www.bariweiss.com/resignation-letter

https://www.thejc.com/news/us/bari-weiss-resigns-claiming-bullying-at-new-york-times-1.501577

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2020/02/26/lets-take-hitler-out-of-american-politics/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/is-the-word-racist-becoming-cliche/

Bari Weiss, opinion editor with anti-Semitism focus, resigns from The New York Times

“Yes, most likely.” — Boeing President and CEO David L. Calhoun asked if one of his airline customers will go out of business

Three little devastating words.

What is one of the Golden Rules of Public Relations? Don’t answer hypotheticals.

“What happens if the sun slams into the earth?

You can think we would all fry and die and the markets would close early, but you have the right to keep your thoughts to yourself and to deliver a boring response to a reporter, anchor or correspondent.

Today’s Savannah Guthrie asked Calhoun if an airline (e.g., one of Boeing’s customer) could go under, and he uttered those three little words starting with “Yes.”

Guess what? The entire airline sector took a dive (pardon the poor Almost DailyBrett pun) as well as one of their chief suppliers … that would be … Boeing. The company’s PR department reportedly tried to “walk back” Calhoun’s gaffe, but as they say … ‘You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube.”

Almost DailyBrett must first ask: Why “Today”?  Why now?

Even before Covid-19 sell-off, the company was responsible for two Boeing 737 Max-8 failure airplane crashes. As a former shareholder, your author knows the airline passenger market is on its back. Boeing turned into a ‘sell.’ It’s still a ‘sell.’

What’s the “great” news to bestow to the aeronautics rocket scientists at Today. Considering that Boeing is the ultimate B2B (business-to-business) is Today’s audience, your audience? Wouldn’t CNBC, Fox Business, Wall Street Journal or even Aviation Week be more appropriate media for Boeing?

Your Mother Always Told You To Tell The Truth

So did Immanuel Kant.

A former Silicon Valley colleague made a valid point that Boeing boss Calhoun should be given credit for telling the truth, and nothing but the truth.

True, but Calhoun went too far. Questions about the financial health of each and everyone of Boeing’s airline customers should be left to the … carriers themselves.

What was the alternative (besides declining the Today interview request)? How about not responding to the question, simply acknowledge the interrogative, say you can’t speak for individual airlines and pivot the discussion back to Boeing. The technique is known as Acknowledge-Bridge-SOCO (Strategic Operating Communications Objective).

SOCO is the answer, which coincides with predetermined before the Today interview Boeing’s agenda, not the wishes of Mizz Guthrie.

As a former press secretary for former California Governor George Deukmejian, your author and our press office staff parried each and every hypothetical question. It was our rule. It was our political discipline.

Consider one of the many questions that we received about legislation pending in the state Legislature, and whether the governor would sign or veto a bill? Unless it was one of the rare cases in which the governor deliberately wanted to send a discouraging message in advance — the bill would be DOA — we implemented our sacrosanct rule about not responding to hypotheticals.

Reporters would often voice their displeasure, but our answer made sense … bills are often amended. They are shelved in committee. They fail on the floor of one or the other house. You can’t make a judgment on a bill if and until it reaches the governor in its final form.

In governance, it’s sound public policy to plan for the future — California 2010 project in 1987. The Golden State foresaw the equivalent of the population of the State of Illinois moving to California. That prediction turned out to be true.

Having said that, there is zero upside with thinking out loud in the on-the-record presence of a reporter. Unless you have the internal green light from your management to float a trial balloon, the practice of speculating about the future is inherently dangerous.

And if you do venture into the hypothetical minefield, mind your own knitting (one metaphor following another),

Calhoun’s greatest sin in the eyes of Almost DailyBrett was conjecturing out loud about the business future of one of Boeing’s customers. That’s the carrier’s prerogative and responsibility, not Boeing, the B2B supplier.

Boeing’s PR department deserves more than its fair share of blame for this gaffe. Today was a bad choice at the worst time possible.

Calhoun was not adequately media trained, particularly when it comes to never answering hypotheticals.

https://www.nbcnews.com/business/business-news/coronavirus-pandemic-could-force-major-u-s-airline-out-business-n1205036

http://www.boeing.com/company/bios/david-l-calhoun.page

 

 

“You control the debt; you control everything. You find this upsetting, yes? But this is the very essence of the banking industry, to make us all, whether we be nations or individuals, slaves to debt.” – Actor Luca Giorgio Barbareschi as arms producer, Umberto Calvini, The International.

In the days of ole, one could buy a treadmill or an exercise bike and work out or employ it as a glorified laundry rack.

Now we have the recent Peloton IPO — (NASDAQ: PTON) — selling its bikes for $1,995 and treadmills for $4,000.

The key differentiator is streaming content (bike or aerobic instructor videos) for a recurring monthly charge of $39 or more. Peloton didn’t just sell a pricey bike and/or treadmill, they more importantly marketed a monthly obligation to a growing subscriber base … and that very well could include you.

The consumer bought high, and is paying even higher.

The stately The Economist reported the news and entertainment industry (i.e., Disney, Fox, ESPN, HBO …) along with major tech players (i.e., Apple, Amazon, Netflix) collectively spent $650 billion in the last five years on acquisitions and content, a sum greater than America’s oil industry.

For example the Mickey Mouse gang just unveiled Disney+ for only $6.99 per month (how long will that price last?), allowing binge watching of the Star Wars catalog to one heart’s content. The downside is another sliver of your financial independence given away for yet another monthly fee.

Sooner or later, the price of each kernel of streaming popcorn is going to add up.

They Have The Gravy, And You’re On The Train

During his Silicon Valley days, Almost DailyBrett was consumed by a litany of recurring payments (i.e., mortgage, utilities, taxes, insurance, car payments, credit card usage, mobile phones, cable, house cleaner, gym membership, pool maintenance, gardener …). In toto, all of these outstretched hands each month represented a seemingly out-of-control first-world dilemma on steroids.

Money was coming in, and going out just as quick each month. Similar to the IRS, each of the growing list of providers never forgot to remind your author of his annual/monthly obligations.

Even more than ever, our consumer-oriented economy (70 percent of the total) is predicated on enticing even more Americans to shell out an escalating amount of capital on a monthly basis, ensuring a consistent flow of money in one direction.

Hint: Someone is getting rich and it’s not the average Jane or Joe.

Some can avoid being “slaves to debt” to the bank (e.g., pay off your credit cards each month), but it’s way more difficult to avoid recurring annual (e.g., Amazon Prime or Costco memberships) and worse, monthly payments.

Let’s face it, some monthly outlays are unavoidable (e.g., utility payments). Most have mortgages or rent to pay every 30 days. Many have car payments. Even if you pay your total credit card bill religiously (which you should), it’s still a monthly obligation.

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t want to sound like a parent, but still must pose this question: How many of these recurring payments are absolutely necessary?

Shelter, food, power and water are essential to life. Most likely all or at least some of the above are financed/amortized through monthly payments.

Your author must ask, do we need a Netflix subscription on top of the cable bundle? We are already paying up the Wazzoo for up to and beyond 300 channels, the vast of majority we do not watch … and then we add on Disney+, ESPN+, Netflix and God knows what else.

And we are wondering what is happening to our money?

No Longer Driving The Top Line, How About The Bottom Line?

Follicly challenged Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) and others of the species are retiring … and Gen Xers (hatched 1965-1979) are not far behind.

Let’s face it, for most Boomers their peak earnings days are behind them.

If you can’t grow the top line, then reducing the bottom line is a great idea. Can one seriously reduce costs and still live a comfortable happy life?

Do you still require a mortgage? Can you downsize? Can you rent instead? Can you move to a lower-cost state or community?

Is good weather (e.g., California) worth the mounting hassles, congestion, rising costs and always higher taxes?

Can you avoid car payments? How about fixing up your ride?

And most of all, can you build a stone wall preventing new monthly payments from wrecking your budget?

If you must binge watch, is there a free way to enjoy the same content without the monthly ball and chain?

Retirement experts preach avoiding second (or more) homes, subsidizing adult children and overspending.

At some point, that one more monthly expense may prove to be A Bridge Too Far.

https://www.economist.com/leaders/2019/11/14/who-will-win-the-media-wars

“To liberals, the US is not good enough for the world. To conservatives, the world is not good enough for the US.” — Pulitzer Winning Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer (1950-2018)

My dear wife Jeanne and your author walked 125 miles, an average of 6.8 miles per day, during the course of 20 August vacation days, spanning three European nations: Austria, France and Germany.

We even dared visit  Paris in Verboten August, and were greeted by beautiful weather, easy access to restaurants and virtually no lines for Versailles and The Louvre. Wasn’t anything and everything supposed to be closed for vacation?

One never missed the living Renoir-style impressionism of the sidewalk cafes in France and the beer gardens in Austria and Germany, and could easily come away with the conclusion that all Europeans are happy, content and satisfied.

Touring the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, visitors are easily impressed with the union of 28 countries, speaking 24 separate languages, and serving as the home of 512 million people working together — sometimes in harmony — as members of the European Union (EU). Europe for the most part recorded almost 75 years of sustained peace since the establishment of the EU, rather than being at each other’s collective throats.

And yet there are storm clouds that won’t go away easily, namely Brexit.

A plethora of higher moral ground activists point to Denmark, Norway and Sweden as “happy little” royal countries. They rhetorically pose: ‘Why couldn’t the US be more like them?’ Almost DailyBrett must reply: We rebelled against monarchy (telling King George III where to put his royal scepter), so why wouldn’t we automatically reject monarchy, even constitutional monarchy?

If the expressed goal is true socialist justice, then how can one accept all the state-sponsored extravagance being bestowed upon the ultimate winners of a biological lottery, those born into a royal family? Versailles in France and Neuschwanstein in Germany are vivid examples of monarchial excesses, which ended with the King Louis XVI being guillotined and Mad King Ludwig II mysteriously drowning.

And yet dynastic monarchy is still being practiced in the three aforementioned Scandinavian countries, plus Belgium, Netherlands, Spain and of course, the United Kingdom. If the social justice types complain bitterly about the top 1 percent in America, how can they tolerate the birth-right exclusive … 0.000000000001 percent … in Europe?

Certainly, America has its own issues particularly when it comes to personal health, namely obesity, Diabetes, Opioids and more. Does that mean the vast majority of Europeans are better when it comes to waistlines and personal health? For the most part the answer is, yes.

However, the collective European commitment to the environment and public health abruptly ends with smoking. The deadly habit and its directly related second-hand smoke is right beside you in Europe, literally everywhere.

The warnings on packs of smokes are not mushy as is custom in the states. Even a non-German speaker can easily understand Rauchen kann ist tödlich sein (e.g., Smoking can be deadly), and still one can easily conclude the filthy practice is alive and dead on the European continent (some reportedly inhale to stay skinny). Most likely, they will have beautiful corpses.

Visiting Strasbourg in Alsace Lorraine in France and Baden-Baden in Germany’s Baden Württemberg, it’s easy to reflect on how many times these French-German towns have traded management teams at the point of the bayonet, particularly the former. The Germans took control in 1871, the French took it back in 1918, the Germans again in 1940 and then the French in 1944.

Is there any place in America that has been the subject of that many repeated wars in the 150 years? The answer is an obvious, no.

Let’s face it, a huge reason why Europe has remained peaceful for the past three generations has been the continued placement of U.S. troops and weapons systems in Western Europe during and after the Cold War. Europeans should write thank you notes to US taxpayers. Time for Europe to pay up in the form of their required 2 percent annual GDP equivalents to fund the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, otherwise known by the acronym, NATO

The French in particular were notorious (read: Charles De Gaulle) for not acknowledging our leadership in the liberation of France. Thankfully, French President Emmanuel Macron, gladly speaking English, has pointed to the countless U.S. GI graves in Normandy and recognized our role.

Sorry to say, Denmark did not liberate France and end Nazi and Communist tyranny in Europe. It was the United States in the forefront … of course.

Some complain about the presence of US corporate logos all over Europe, particularly Starbucks, McDonald’s, Apple, KFC, Amazon, Nike etc. The same concentration of European brands is not seen (exception: legendary German cars … BMW, Daimler, Audi, Porsche) other than French cosmetics and Spain’s Zara.

Let’s face it, there is no Silicon Valley in Europe and the entrepreneurial venture capital culture is not the same, maybe with the exception of Germany’s business software provider, SAP or Systemen, Anwedungen und Programmen (Systems, Applications and Programs).

According to The Economist, America’s top five companies in market capitalization (stock prices x number of shares) are technology firms with an abundant focus on services provided. Together, they average 30-years of age, generate $4.3 trillion investor capital and trade at 35 times last year’s earnings.

Conversely, Europe’s top firms are goods-oriented were founded a century ago (i.e., Royal Dutch Shell, Unilever). Collectively, they are worth less than $1 trillion (Microsoft alone is larger) and trade at 23 times last year bottom lines. When it comes to “unicorns” or innovative privately held start-ups, think USA not Europe.

In terms of market performance you can’t beat America’s NYSE and the NASDAQ … sorry Britain’s “Footsie,”France’s CAC-40 and Germany’s DAX. And if you want to tie up your disposable investment income for 10 years in government bonds, which guarantee a certain loss … Europe (e.g., 10-year BUND) is at your beckon call.

Buy high and sell low?

Having traveled to Europe four times in the last five years for holiday, and many times before for business and pleasure (no one goes to Brussels for kicks), Almost DailyBrett qualifies as a spirited Europhile. Having said that, your author is a proud American.

Denmark may be happy. Good for the Danes and their lovely harbor mermaid.

When it comes to changing the world for the better, there is no contest. Europe en-masse cannot compete against the U.S. when it comes to being truly exceptional. This reality may drive certain elitists crazy, but your author has to call ’em as he sees ’em.

https://beta.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/charles-krauthammer-pulitzer-prize-winning-columnist-and-intellectual-provocateur-dies-at-68/2018/06/21/b71ee41a-759e-11e8-b4b7-308400242c2e_story.html

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/society/tradition/g12797004/current-monarchy-countries-in-the-world-list/

https://www.townandcountrymag.com/leisure/travel-guide/g19733989/happiest-countries-in-the-world-2018/

https://www.economist.com/briefing/2019/09/12/the-economic-policy-at-the-heart-of-europe-is-creaking

 

 

 

Walking along Berlin’s Tiergarten park trails, one must be wary of stepping in the Hundehaufen.

On virtually any street in the permissive sanctuary city San Francisco, one is hard pressed to avoid encountering Peoplehaufen as well as needles and refuse.

San Francisco has long been a donut with a hole in the middle. The multi-millionaires of Rincon Tower literally must negotiate homeless, druggies and poop droppings to enter and leave their trendy lofty pads. The middle class is nowhere to be found.

Has a stinking pile of human poop replaced the brown bear as California’s mascot?

Is the abandoned high-speed train from nowhere (e.g., Bakersfield) to nowhere (e.g., Merced) become another metaphor for a one-party autocratic state in which so much as gone so wrong, way too fast?

The Golden State with about 12 percent of the country’s population is the “home” to approximately 135,000 homeless or 22 percent of the nation’s total.

For the first time after the 2010 census, California did not gain a new congressional district (electoral vote). After the next census, the Golden State will contract by one congressional district, and actually lose an electoral vote.

Part of the reason is a serious undercount (unreporting undocumented folks) by the state’s population experts. The other reason is people are leaving (net 1 million or 2.5 percent of California’s American resident population outflow in 10 years ending in 2016), accelerating the growing Golden State diaspora.

California will move from 55 to only 54 electoral votes – still the most in the nation – and yet the 40-million person state has less sway over the presidential general election winner.

The blue state is in the bag. Republicans can still raise money in California – The Mother’s Milk of Politics – only to spend it in states that matter (i.e., Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida).

California can still brag about its fantabulous weather, the software and hardware geeks of Silicon Valley, and how its $3 trillion GDP places California only behind the U.S., China, Japan and Germany in business productivity (not business climate).

The only problem with these assertions is they were all true back in the 1980s, when the author of Almost DailyBrett served for eight years as a chief message developer and spokesperson for California Governor George Deukmejian.

California was a “Great State” with a “Great Governor” back then. You can’t make that assertion today, not even close.

In the following decade, your author served in a similar capacity for Silicon Valley’s largest industry, the microcircuit designers and manufacturers.

Being modest, Almost DailyBrett knows a thing or two about California. Alas your author, similar to so many others is viewing California with great regret across state lines (e.g., no sales tax, lower cost Oregon).

Speaking ex-cathedra, the chances are slim and none – and “Slim” is out of town – that your author will ever again reside in über-congested California with its stratospheric property values, staggering high taxes of every sort imaginable, and intractable problems including rampant homelessness, acute Central Valley poverty, illegal immigration and yes, poop on the streets.

Want to purchase for $840,000 or more a 1,000-square feet fixer-upper 1905-era bungalow with an annual $9,000 property tax bill in God-awful San Jose? Undoubtedly, it is freeway close to your work in bucolic Milpitas five miles away. It will only take 45-minutes to get there.

No Checks. No Balances

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – John Dalberg-Acton, English politician, historian and writer

California is in dire need of an “Iron Duke.”

Alas, the Duke passed away and undoubtedly resides in heaven. What could he be thinking as he looks down at what was once the greatest state in the nation on his watch, only to see it easily passed by no-state income tax Texas and Florida?

Governor George Deukmejian refused to raise taxes to close a $1.5 billion deficit, a going away gift from his predecessor Jerry Brown. California’s vibrant economy with all Golden State geographies contributing, retired that staggering debt (1980s dollars) in less than one year without demanding taxpayers dig deeper into their wallets.

Next month, California will once again increase its highest gas taxes in the country (an excise tax of $0.473 on top of a $2.25 per gallon state sales tax). The state income tax regime ranges from 1 percent to 13.3 percent. The sales tax in Los Angeles County is (gasp), 10.5 percent.

Believe it or not, San Francisco City County is lower at 8.75 percent.

In 10 days, California with its record $21.5 billion surplus will surpass New Jersey as the state imposing the largest tax burden on its citizens. Something is not working in California. Will another tax, another entitlement, another social engineering scheme save the day?

Similar to other one-party “C” states (i.e., China, Cuba), California needs a loyal opposition, a few brave souls to demand that homo-sapien poop on the streets is not an acceptable representation of what once was, The Golden State.

Heroes are hard to find in Sacramento these days.

Oh heck, let’s just enjoy another California $15 six-pack with 10.5 percent sales tax and mandated deposit fee. Cheers.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/06/california-third-world-state-corruption-crime-infrastructure/

https://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-california-economy-gdp-20180504-story.html

https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-democrats-census-trump-2020-20180125-story.html

https://lao.ca.gov/laoecontax/article/detail/265

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2019/04/01/californias-rarefied-air-tax/

Tuesday was the day that Facebook Wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg came to Capitol Hill.

As Zuckerberg spoke on the right-side of the CNBC split screen, the left side told the story of surging Facebook shares.

Facebook’s market capitalization (share price x # of shares) vaulted $21.5 billion that day … that’s serious money.

When the dust settled Tuesday, Facebook’s total market value was $479.4 billion.

Who says you can’t quantify effective public relations? You can … let Almost DailyBrett illustrate at least $21.5 billion reasons why branding, marketing and reputation management make a world of difference.

If you are scoring at home, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) yesterday jumped $7.11 per share or 4.5 percent to $165.04 at Tuesday’s close of markets. The stock continued to climb today (Wednesday) to $166.32 or a total market cap of $483.2 billion … nearly $4 billion more.

For Zuckerberg, there was no hoodie, no t-shirt, but instead a nice navy blue suit with a royal blue tie.

The 33-year-old Phillips Exeter Academy grad/Harvard University “dropout” said all the right things (at least in his prepared testimony).

Was it a day in which Zuckerberg … Veni, Vidi, Vici … Came. Saw. Conquered?

Maybe not the latter … He was indeed grilled by U.S. senators Tuesday and members of the House of Representatives today, bringing a sense of Schadenfreude to many of the misguided, who want to see these daring entrepreneurs brought down, crashing to earth. Indeed, no good deed goes unpunished.

Nonetheless, Zuckerberg reassured his investors, who have placed their faith and their hard-earned discretionary cash into Facebook shares.

The largest communications platform – let alone social media site — in the history of the planet with its 2 billion-plus subscribers lived to fight another day, albeit government regulation is likely on the way.

Apology Tour?

“We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake. It was my mistake, and I’m sorry.” – Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg was chastised by members of Congress for repeatedly apologizing. Keep in mind these are the same critics who rant-and-scream that Donald Trump never apologizes. Which is worse: Saying you’re sorry or never giving a rat’s behind about anybody else’s feelings?

Almost DailyBrett has a habit of coming down in favor of the risk-taker, the entrepreneur, “The Man in the Arena” as described by Teddy Roosevelt in his famous address at the Sorbonne.

Mark Zuckerberg is surely not perfect as this blog has reported, but at the same time he obviously takes PR advice. He wore the suit, demonstrating respect and deference to the hallowed halls of Congress. His statement was well crafted, not overly long, not legalistic and most of all, it was humble.

He was coached and for the most part was prepared for the grind, the pressure and the questions.

Certainly, the Cambridge Analytica mess harkens concern. Facebook was five-days tardy in responding and the social media post was TLDR (Too Long, Didn’t Read). The last few months have not been the best of times for Facebook. They have not been the worst of times either as the company has the opportunity to do better.

What scares Almost DailyBrett is that members of Congress contend they are tan, rested and ready to craft, pass and enforce regulations to fix Silicon Valley, not only Facebook but Google, Apple and Amazon.

Watching Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) reading a prepared set of questions developed by his staff, one comes away with the sense that the honorable senator wouldn’t know an algorithm if it bit him on his gluteus maximus.

How will the senator and the majority of his colleagues, who are virtually clueless about Silicon Valley, develop regulation legislation that does not stifle the creativity of an American $40.7 billion market leader, employing 25,105, just 14 years after being created in Zuckerberg’s dorm room?

Almost DailyBrett must ask: Who are more vital to America’s future – entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos, Tim Cook, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Zuckerberg – or the regulators?

Has there ever been a Harvard Business Review article about regulators, let alone museum exhibits.

There are zero statues erected to honor critics, let alone regulators.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/silicon-valley-to-washington-why-dont-you-get-us-1523451203

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/10/us/politics/mark-zuckerberg-testimony.html

https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/11/facebook-ceo-mark-zuckerberg-testimony-key-points.html

http://variety.com/2018/digital/news/facebook-stock-mark-zuckerberg-testifies-senate-1202749625/

http://fortune.com/2018/04/10/heres-why-facebook-just-gained-21-billion-in-value/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/03/25/too-long-didnt-read-tldr/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s the edge of the world
“And all of western civilization
“The sun may rise in the East
“At least it settled in a final location
“It’s understood that Hollywood
“Sells Californication” –
Red Hot Chili Peppers, Californication

They received the same welcome as a swarm of locusts.

Blue Tarp Tenting at Scorpion Ranch on Santa Cruz Island

They polluted campgrounds.

They clogged freeways and roads.

They had the audacity to pay cash, and drove up real estate prices.

They were the dirty, rotten Californicators and they were coming to the pristine Pacific Northwest in droves.

That was the 1990. This is now.

Six Californias, One Oregon, One Washington?

When the author of Almost DailyBrett left California for the first time in 1990, the destination was Portland, Oregon … long before it became known as the city, “where young people go to retire.”

It took awhile, but eventually I learned to answer “Sacramento” when people asked: “Where did you come from?”

Oregonians who immediately equated the word, “California,” with gag-me-with-the-spoon, “San Fernando Valley” didn’t know how to process, “Sacramento.” The “Valley” with its sprawl of cookie-cutter neighborhoods (e.g., Chatsworth, Reseda, Encino) with the Ventura Freeway and Monopoly ranch-style houses epitomized everything that was wrong with California.

Keep in mind, California at the time indeed was a “Great State with a Great Governor.” I proudly worked for that governor, George Deukmejian, for eight years, the most popular California chief executive of the modern era.

Sorry AH-Nold.

One sensed that the resentment for Californicators was born out of envy and jealousy. California has wunderbare Wetter, Silicon Valley, the Napa and Sonoma Wine Country, great beaches, Venice’s weightlifting platform, the San Francisco Giants, USC Trojans, Los Angeles Kings …

Oregon and Washington were recovering from twin economic downturns in forestry and aircraft manufacture (e.g., Boeing in Seattle). The weather changes every five minutes. Hey, check out that sun break before it goes away!

Now the proverbial shoe is on the other foot. California still has Silicon Valley, but the rest of the state is suffering with clogged freeways, skyrocketing housing prices, chronic budget snafus, foreclosures and food stamps. One rich venture capital-type – Harvard-Stanford educated Tim Draper — has even proposed submitting a 2016 ballot proposition to divide California into six states with 12 U.S. senators and scads of House members.

sixcalifornias

Maybe this contemplated action and others in the Golden State are just another tangible sign that the quality of life is simply better in the Pacific Northwest, and everyone knows it.

The End of Californication

“The dream of the 90s is alive in Portland!
“Sleep ‘til 11,
“You’ll be in heaven.” Theme Song for Portlandia

Maybe the Northwest’s now superior quality of life explains the profound change when I moved to no sales tax Oregon for the second time in 2010 to pursue my master’s degree from the University of Oregon in Eugene (e.g., University of California at Eugene).

Naturally, I took immediate steps to get the offending California license plates off my little green chariot. And this time when I  asked where I came from, I simply replied: “Silicon Valley,” even keeping my 408-area code cell phone number to prove it.

Certainly, the Silicon Valley suffers from the same indistinguishable communities (e.g., Milpitas, San Jose, Cupertino, Sunnyvale) and butt-ugly topography that is the case for the San Fernando Valley. The difference is that Silicon Valley is the home of Apple, and UO academic types love their Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads. They really don’t associate their Apple Kool-Aid consuming cult with California or even (shudder …) corporate America.

portlandia

There does not appear to be even remotely the same California envy and jealousy (save Oregon losing to Stanford in football the last two seasons…the Cardinal visits Autzen on November 1).  Oregon pinot noirs command top dollar. Nike, Columbia Sportswear, Amazon, Costco, Nordstrom, Microsoft, Starbucks are some of the coolest publicly traded companies on the planet.

And just in case you forgot, the Seattle Seahawks beat the San Francisco 49ers for the right to win the Super Bowl. If you don’t believe me, just ask Richard Sherman.

And if you want to relive the 1990s, retire young, forget all about your fellow Californicators, the Pacific Northwest is just beckoning for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YlUKcNNmywk

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Californication

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/redhotchilipeppers/californication.html

http://geocurrents.info/place/north-america/northern-california/tim-drapers-proposed-six-californias

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_C._Draper

http://cnsnews.com/blog/lars-larson/portlandia-no-joke-city-where-young-people-go-retire

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZt-pOc3moc

http://blog.oregonlive.com/portlandcityhall/2010/12/portlandia_the_place_where_you.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portlandia_%28TV_series%29

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Only in America”

The old joke: “When has it been a bad day?”

“When Mike Wallace (in particular) and the 60 Minutes crew is waiting in the lobby.”

Sometimes having 60 Minutes coming for an extended visit can be great news for a company, and maybe for a nation that could use a kick in the collective pants.

pelley60Minutes

The Scott Pelley story this past Sunday focused on a 42-years young immigrant “engineer” from South Africa, Elon R. Musk, who is playing a huge role in reviving American heavy manufacturing in both automobiles (Tesla) and rockets (SpaceX).

Almost DailyBrett wants to hear, tell and relay more of these stories.

Driving repeatedly up the 880 (e.g.. The Nasty Nimitz) past industrial Fremont, one would cast a sad glance at the shuttered NUMMI plant. At various times, GM and Toyota cars and trucks would be made there until they weren’t any longer.

The negative narrative was that Silicon Valley with its unparalleled collection of gear heads would always be a center of innovation, but manufacturing was just too bloody expensive.

Oh, ya?

Tesla’s 1,000 employees at the recharged NUMMI plant can’t build the fully battery-powered (up to 250 miles on one charge with zero climate change emissions) $100,000 Model S cars fast enough to meet the demand. Overall Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) employs nearly 6,000 directly and indirectly results in the hiring of thousands of others in supplier roles, and quite well could be the first successful U.S. automobile start-up in 90 years. And the company is working to developing the technology to build $30,000 non-polluting all-electric cars with acceptable travel ranges.

Heck, Bill O’Reilly called Tesla a global “game changer” that will force all rival automakers to respond.

Earns Tesla Motors

But the story does not start-and-stop there; In fact it goes into the stratosphere and beyond.

Musk also pioneered privately held SpaceX with its 3,000 employees, which received a $1.5 billion NASA influx to deliver cargos via rockets to the agency’s orbiting space stations. SpaceX is developing the first rocket that can be landed right back on the launch pad, and may play the leading role in taking humans to Mars for the first time.

Don’t bet against Musk, Tesla and SpaceX.

We seemingly live in a culture in which no good deed goes unpunished, one in which we despise the 1 percent who have much more than the rest of us, and yet we don’t know them.

For example, Musk came to America … “Only in America” … because of its software prowess, particularly the Silicon Valley. After attaining degrees in physics and business from the University of Pennsylvania, he devised the software that provided on-board navigation for drivers, and made $22 million. He developed the online banking system, called PayPal, which he sold to eBay for $1.5 billion (Musk’s share, $180 million). Modestly, he said that was a “good outcome.”

And then he bet the ranch and his earned nest eggs on both Tesla and SpaceX, and was close to bankruptcy and a nervous breakdown. He had hundreds of electric cars that did not work and three failed rocket launches in succession…a fourth would have been game, set and match.

spacex1

With tears in his eyes, he told the story of how Number Four was the charm, and the NASA and further VC investments saved the day. His reaction was very human, very open-kimono. Maybe there are good people who happen to earn a lot of money?

The rest is history. Entrepreneurs by their very nature have to be prepared to fail. Caca happens more times than not. Musk stared failure and permanent debt right in the eyes…and the other guy just blinked.

As mentioned more than once in Almost DailyBrett, my former boss Wilf Corrigan came to America from Liverpool, England with his new Norwegian bride circa 1960. The initial destination was the wrong side of the tracks in blast-furnace hot, Phoenix, Arizona with barely two shekels to rub together.

In time, he rose to the top spot at Fairchild, lost the company in a hostile takeover bid, formed his own company, LSI Logic, which is now being driven into oblivion by his successor. Wilf succeeded, failed and succeeded again.

Failure is an option in Silicon Valley and America, but so is success…including new businesses, jobs and maybe heavy manufacturing (e.g., electric cars and rockets).

musk

Mounting the proverbial soap box, there are a record 47 million on food stamps and another record 8.9 million on disability, most legit…some not. We need to provide a safety net for those who are in real need…

We also need to not hate, but celebrate, the doers, the achievers, the entrepreneurs. The days of jealousy should be behind us, but you know they are not.

For the public relations industry, we should be unabashed and undaunted in telling the stories of those who dare to fail and ultimately succeed, providing us with great products and the best anti-poverty program on the planet: A good paying private sector job with full benefits.

Thank you Elon Musk and all the others who dare to follow in your footsteps. We can hardly wait to hear and tell the stories about you.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tesla-and-spacex-elon-musks-industrial-empire/

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2014/04/01/bill-oreilly-truth-about-obamacare-and-global-warming

http://www.teslamotors.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Factory

http://www.spacex.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/makers-and-takers/

 

 

 

 

Suppose an industry staged an annual forecast and awards dinner (e.g., SIA on November 29), and virtually no one gave a particle?

Considering that I worked directly for the Semiconductor Industry Association for two years, and later for a company run by one of its founders for a decade, it is difficult for me to say this, but I must: Semiconductors are now (and maybe forever) a taken-for-granted commodity.

sleepingaudience1

Would you like some salsa with your chips?

Yes, they power every digital and the remaining analog gadget under the sun just like ground beef, chicken or carnitas are essential for making tacos, burritos and enchiladas. Everyone knows this.

So what else is new?

The semiconductor industry is going to be flat this year at $300 billion. It seems like the industry is always at $300 billion. I wrote a speech in 1996 projecting a $300 billion industry in 2000 or 12 years ago for those of you scoring at home.

One company, Wal-Mart alone at $464 billion in revenues (and growing) is larger than the entire chip industry. This is not news.

Earlier this month, the stately Economist published a cover piece “The Survival of the biggest; The internet’s warring giants” about Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google with peripheral mention of Microsoft.

What happened to Intel, let alone AMD?  They didn’t even make the cutting-room floor.

What happened to the wonders of (Gordon) Moore’s Law (intellectual property content doubling on the same-sized piece of silicon real estate every 18-24 months)? Anyone want to hear that story for the umpthteen time?

What happened to the epic tales of the fight against the evil predatory-pricing, two-headed monster in the form of Japan’s “Business is War” government/industry?

All these stories are now contained in a coffee table book coming to a deep-discount rack near you.

The “Mass Intelligence” Economist references the great technology fights of yesteryear: IBM and Apple in the 1980s in PCs, and Microsoft and Netscape in the 1990s in web browsing. The U.K. popular “newspaper” displays a map, vaguely similar to England, Normandy, Bavaria, Prussia und Dänemark.

England is the “Empire of Microsofts.” Normandy is “Appleachia.” Bavaria is “Google Earth.” Prussia is “Fortress Facebook.”  Dänemark is “Amazonia.” There are small islands occupied by RIMM (Research in Motion) and Nokia, and a nest dedicated for microblogging, “Eyrie of Twitter.” The lowly chip is nowhere to be seen on this map or in the expansive article. Intel is not even afforded a shrinking iceberg.

Some may want to dismiss my musings contending that I am only focusing on one article in one magazine, albeit an incredibly influential publication. They will say the article can be seen as a mere anecdote. These critics could be correct. However, in this case I humbly opine the anecdote represents a trend. For the metaphor types: It is the sick canary inside the mine.

Certainly, there are 250,000 Americans employed in semiconductor innovation and (some) manufacturing. With all due respect to the engineering types in particular, they are mere role players. They are throwing the screens and opening up holes in the line for the superstars: Tim Cook of Apple, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Larry Page of Google.

The chip is essential, but so is the sun. They are everywhere. The sun is there. What is commanding attention are mobile platforms and the software that makes them do what they do. Algorithms über alles!

algorithms

Rarely did a day go by in the 1990s and the post-Bubble era when the San Jose Mercury, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times (not suggesting equivalency of influence) would write another gushing, fawning piece about “The Chip Giant,” Intel. No one could accuse the media of shorting the stock.

Today, Intel is trading at $20.52 with a market cap of $101 billion. Ten years ago on this date, the company’s stock traded at $17.58…sounds like a good stock to avoid. Even with all angst, Sturm und Drang about Facebook’s IPO FUBAR, the company still commands a $28.24 stock price and $60 billion in market capitalization. All things considered, this is not bad for a company publicly traded only since May 18 and which was founded in a Harvard dorm room less than one decade ago. If only Intel could grow this fast.

Don McLean in American Pie asked: If the music would ever play again? For the chip industry, the band could start playing if the industry starts growing again; if it comes up with a new way of making chips (e.g., nanotechnology); if it spearheads a new revolution. Incremental changes won’t cut it. And staying stuck in neutral at $300 billion will elicit the same yawns but only 10 years down the road.

Silicon Valley is called “Silicon Valley” for a particular reason that was germane decades ago. Let’s just hope no one seriously suggests changing the name to “Algorithm Valley.”

http://www.eetimes.com/electronics-news/4374705/SIA-expects-flat-chip-sales-in-2012-

http://data.cnbc.com/quotes/WMT

http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21567355-concern-about-clout-internet-giants-growing-antitrust-watchdogs-should-tread

http://www.economist.com/news/21567361-google-apple-facebook-and-amazon-are-each-others-throats-all-sorts-ways-another-game

http://www.sia-online.org/events/2012/11/29/public-event/35th-annual-sia-award-dinner/

http://www.lyrics007.com/Don%20McLean%20Lyrics/American%20Pie%20Lyrics.html

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