Tag Archive: Silicon Valley


“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 DeGaulle) 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 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

The World Is Their Oyster

Is a university campus the ultimate “start-up?”

Does this mean that Irish playwright, dramatist and Nobel Prize winner George Bernard Shaw swung and missed when he coined the clever and oft-repeated, “Youth is wasted on the young?”

One of the reasons that I made the decision north of life’s Mason-Dixon Line to leave the foreclosure and traffic madness of Silicon Valley for a college town in Oregon’s Willamette Valley pertains directly to quality of life. Another revolves around the young attitudes of the majority of people around me.

In the corporate world, it is populated by a cadre of middle-aged complainers/whiners who can’t believe that their lives turned out the way that they did. Worse, they don’t have time anymore to start over. And they will tell anyone their plight, who cares to listen.

These people have baggage, and in most cases it is not a carry on. For many, their marriages are a distant memory. Their trapped in an underwater house and the bank has no interest in providing them with a loan modification. They may have been laid off and the economy has been downright cruel. Gas prices are heading toward or exceeding $4 a gallon. The commute (if they have one is at least 45 minutes one way). Their job, let alone their life, is not what they anticipated 20 years ago. I just can’t stop humming Bruce Springsteen’s “Glory Days.”

In a college town, such as Eugene, another set of lyrics comes to mind, “Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow” by Fleetwood Mac. Students are dreaming about their futures. What do they want to do? How will they change the world? The tyranny of FICA has not yet completely made its presence known.

This point was made evident this past week when I was grading a series of three-and-four minute student multimedia (e.g. video, audio, still photography, graphics) autobiographies. Even though I had a template for grading these projects, I pretty much cast it aside. Instead, I was looking for quality in how they told their stories and made my grading decisions in how well they presented their futures compared to their student colleagues.

I was floored by the one woman who told the story of how her mom was on meth amphetamines and her father, heroin. She doesn’t understand why her parents have turned their respective lives over to these dangerous addictions. She is not following their footsteps, but she still loves them for being her parents. She is dedicated to making something out of her life. Some would say the deck is stacked against her, but she is not buying any of that and neither am I.

Another hearing disabled student, has learned how to interpret sounds and to speak with some difficulty. Nonetheless, she is going to become a story-teller. She has already overcome much in her life, so what’s another challenge?

One African-American student absolutely blew me away with the quality of his website. He wants to be a blogger for a major publication, such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times or the Washington Post. And at the same time, he wants to be a rapper. Blogging, rapping, blogging, rapping…Go for it.

An émigré (or the daughter of émigrés) from the Czech Republic told the story of how she has been stereotyped as just another pretty blonde. She has a very active brain under those golden trusses and a remarkable ability when it comes to audio, video and layout presentations. She already has the talent to work for a major corporation in telling multi-media stories.

Not only going back to college, but also going back to a campus environment has changed my life. Anybody who has known me for a few nanoseconds or more knows that I have faced more than my fair share of adversity. As the Germans would say macht nichts. I am stronger for the experience and I am surrounded by people who are excited about the future, so why shouldn’t I too be excited about the future?

Whether these students, regardless of their story and their backgrounds, make most of their opportunities is still to be seen. Some have already faced steep hills with a sneer of their faces. The challenges of this 21st Century world are great. They will take them on with an infectious enthusiasm. More power to you brothers and sisters. And thank you for being such as inspiration to the follicly challenged TA sitting near the front of the lecture hall.

http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/George_Bernard_Shaw

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glory_Days_(song)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don’t_Stop_(Fleetwood_Mac_song)

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

When is it ever time to put a six-figure salary and the financial well-being of your loved ones in jeopardy?

Considering the state of the economy, the short answer is never … but life is never that easy and clean.

What happens in those rare instances in which your employer is in the process of making a decision that you just can’t live with, maybe one that is immoral, unethical or even illegal? It’s easy in the abstract to say that you would take the honorable course of action and resign, but that is much easier said than done.

History has shown that meekly clicking heels and being complicit in improper activity is a non-starter. If you need further amplification just ponder the literally hundreds of Nuremberg defendants, who piously justified their atrocities by reciting: “I was just following orders.” They all hung just the same.

Fortunately in my three decades in public relations, I have only been faced with this dilemma once, and yes I was ready to resign if necessary. It concerned a planned layoff of 600 employees or 8 percent of our workforce at LSI Logic, a Silicon Valley semiconductor company.

laidoff2

What is immoral, unethical or illegal about a layoff? Certainly they are gut-wrenching, but most will conclude that sometimes they are absolutely imperative for companies to survive. And that was certainly the case shortly after the Internet Bubble burst circa 2000-2001.

Bloomberg reported the story accurately when it stated:

“LSI Logic Corp., the largest maker of custom semiconductors, said it will fire 600 workers, or about 8% of its worldwide work force, as it consolidates plants to cope with declining sales. The job reductions will be made mainly in Colorado Springs, Colo., where an aging plant will be closed by the end of October. A smaller facility in Santa Clara, Calif., also will be closed.”

The key is the report ran in newspapers and online September 20, 2001, the day after the actual layoff and LSI Logic’s corresponding announcement to Wall Street investors that revenues would be 10-15 percent lower than anticipated.

The real story is that the layoff was planned for September 12, 2001, the day after…

…September 11, 2001.

Sept11

Can you imagine the reaction both internally and externally if LSI Logic had the audacity to lay off 600 workers literally hours after the hijacked planes struck the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?

Would you want to work for a company that didn’t have the decency to wait before shedding 8 percent of its workforce only 24 hours after the country was attacked?

And yet that is what the leadership of the company Human Resources Department wanted to do, and they were arguing this point passionately to corporate executives.

Almost DailyBrett literally sat in horror as the then-vice president of Human Resources (a good person overall) described how the impacted would be informed, how HR reps were in place all over the country, and that all the final checks had been cut.

When your author was finally presented with an opportunity to weigh in as the director of Corporate Public Relations, I decided to hold off with my suggestion to be personally added to the layoff list. Instead, I diplomatically acknowledged the efforts of Human Resources, referenced the breaking September 11 news reports and suggested that the best course of action was to postpone this action until we knew more about the severity of the attacks. The decision was made to postpone until Friday…whew.

When we met again the following day, September 12, HR was still committed to proceeding that Friday, the National Day of Mourning for the victims of September 11. The nation’s flags were at half mast. The planes were not flying. The stock exchanges were closed. The baseball and football games were cancelled. It clearly was not business as usual in America, and yet the Human Resources leadership was bound and determined to prevail.

Even though the layoff was postponed once,your author was still prepared to tender my resignation if the company was going forward with the layoff that Friday. Once again, I put that proclamation in my back pocket (at least for the time being) and respectfully argued that there was a “stigma” associated with the work week of Sept. 10-14, and urged postponement until the following week.

Almost DailyBrett made absolutely no friends in Human Resources that week, and caused a lot of additional work on their part. But I could not in good conscience allow the company to permanently impugn its reputation and brand for both external and internal audiences.

Besides, who would want to work for a company that would lay off nearly 10 percent of its workforce just hours after hijacked planes brought down the Wall Trade Center?

I certainly didn’t want to.

Editor’s Note: Normally, Almost DailyBrett does not comment on the inner workings of the organizations in which I have served. In this case, the incident was a decade ago, names have been withheld and the company leadership has completely changed. More importantly, what should be a no-brainer decision is sometimes not a slam dunk. And what would you do if confronted with the same dilemma?

http://www.bloomberg.com/

http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/lsi-logic-corp

http://www.nytimes.com/2001/09/21/business/worldbusiness/21iht-techbrief_ed3__125.html

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

http://www.lsi.com/

Wikipedia defines the term “Ivory Tower” in the following manner:

“The term Ivory Tower originates in the Biblical Song of Solomon (7,4), and was later used as an epithet for Mary. “From the 19th century it has been used to designate a world or atmosphere where intellectuals engage in pursuits that are disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life. As such, it usually carries pejorative connotations of a willful disconnect from the everyday world; esoteric, over-specialized, or even useless research; and academic elitism, if not outright condescension. In American English usage it is a shorthand for academia or the university, particularly departments of the humanities.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivory_Tower

In short, the term “Ivory Tower” (and by extension those who reside there pontificate and bloviate to the gathering masses below) is not a positive and in fact it can seen as a repudiation and rejection of the academic world.

So what am I getting to, and why should you even care?

The point is that I have left the so-called “real world” for the perceived ivory-tower academic world. As I walk to-and-from University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication classrooms http://jcomm.uoregon.edu/ for lectures and discussions, I have been wondering whether I am also guilty of living in my very own ivory tower.

hoover

How’s that and what the heck is the reverse ivory tower effect?

It is very easy for someone who spent nearly two decades in California’s Silicon Valley to think that all of the earth’s innovation resides between Fremont on the East and Palo Alto to the West (okay a few nearby places as well). Undoubtedly, the greatest concentration of engineering talent (at least in the United States) is concentrated right there. So do they rule the roost when it comes to devising the next killer app and the next destructive technology? If you ask them, they would be more than happy to respond in the affirmative.

Years before that, I worked at another Ivory Tower, this one with a dome on top of it. As laughable as it may seem to some, there are those in Sacramento (yes, the capitol of the biggest state in the union) that seriously believe the sun, moon, stars and asteroids revolve around this town that would have little reason for being other than it is the state capitol. And if you think the folks in Sacramento have an Ivory Tower complex, then let’s not even contemplate Washington, D.C. even though many are wondering out loud whether government is permanently Balkanized and broken.

sacramento

Did I bring my own personal ivory tower by way of Silicon Valley and Sacramento (and other places) to the academic world? Do I think that just based upon my years and years of experience that I can’t learn anything new?

Harry S. Truman said that he distrusted “experts” because if they learned something they wouldn’t be an expert any longer.

One very reassuring event occurred this week in J350 “Principles of Public Relations” (please do not be the next person to ask me if there are really ‘principles’ in ‘public relations’) Professor Kelli Matthews http://www.linkedin.com/in/kellimatthews was teaching almost 100 undergraduates how to write cover letters and resumes, so they could get their careers off the ground. That doesn’t sound like an ivory tower approach to me. In fact, it sounds very practical and incredibly useful in the face of a very bleak employment picture.

Sure beats answering a Silicon Valley engineer’s question about whether the Wall Street Journal would be interested in covering PCI (Peripheral Computer Interconnect) Express. The answer would be “no.”

Pass the ivory tower.

%d bloggers like this: