Thursday, November 29, 2007
I first became aware of this type of oil production technique when a company I invested in, Newmont Mining (a gold miner), bought a huge track of land in tar sands country. The purchase was about 4 years ago, before Oil prices went crazy. Management of Newmont saw their energy costs going crazy and decided it would be a great hedge. Turned out they were right and turned something like a $100M investment into a $1B return and effectively immunized the company from rising energy costs for about 50 years. Not too shabby. That's what good management does.
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
On the surface, it looked like a terrible deal. Why would Citigroup raise a bunch of money at an 11% Preferred Dividend Rate? Way too expensive and must mean they're in trouble. At least that is what I thought. Then I came across this analysis of the security by Andrew Clavell and realized it was a DECS, just like the ones I studied at Kellogg.
It was actually a pretty cheap way of raising capital for Citigroup. I felt a little dumb for not seeing this right away. Thanks for passing it on Paul Kedrosky.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
Well, the good news is that all my friends have bought in places that figure to retain value - like San Francisco, Downtown Chicago, immediate East Bay suburbs of SF (not to be confused with outer suburbs), Santa Monica, etc.
The bad news is that a housing decline affects us in unpredictable ways. Check out the article below from Paul Kedrosky's blog. California is facing a monster deficit this year. Imagine cutting the state budget by 10% - that is going to be hard and very ugly. Last time we were in this position, we floated a bond that may have been technically illegal because California is not really allowed to go into a deficit. Crafty lawyers found a way around the problem last time, but can we really do that again? 10% is a lot of healthcare, school and transportation programs that are just going to disappear.
I'll leave you with an image from Kedrosky's Blog. This shows that we're still working our way through the sub-prime and adjustable rate mortgage problem. We've got a long way to go.
While I had been expecting that California would see a state revenue shortfall in 2008 of around $8-billion (up ten-fold from this year), Governor Schwarzenegger announced today that the situation will be even even more dire. Fueled largely by housing's collapse, the California state budget is now forecast to have a $10-billion shortfall in the coming fiscal year.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Monday ordered all state departments to draft plans for deep spending cuts after receiving word that California's budget is plunging further into the red -- largely because of the troubled housing market.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
By the way, for the longest time, my buddy Krantz, who grew up in Sacto and was a busboy there in high school, would wear a Mikuni shirt to Saturday hoops. We had no idea what it meant so we would always ask him. Krantz's response, "Oh, it means fertile young male." That always brought the house down.
Friday, November 23, 2007
But every once in a while he mixes in a really cool political point that serves as icing on the cake. He did just that this morning with his entry, "Technology Trumps Government Again." It's worth the 2 minutes it will take you to read.
I'm a big believer in technology. In fact, if someone asked me what my true religion is, I think I would respond with faith in humanity's creativity to improve ourselves. No where is that better demonstrated than in technology markets where devices, services and new ideas are constantly bubbling up to make out life better. It's nothing against Government. I believe it's better that Government is less creative, and Government programs often lay the foundation for discoveries that change the world.
Anywhoo, Fred doesn't really address this, but there is some ideal balance between Technology and Government and I think the U.S. is pretty good at managing it. But we have an Ace up our sleeves. We have those tireless entrepreneurs that Fred and others like him are funding. Willing to chase their dreams for the benefit of all of us. People are pretty cool.
I suggest adding Fred to your must read list.
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Just a quick shout out to all my friends across the country - actually world - on this fine Thanksgiving Day. Last year this time, I was having the time of my life living in London with Lisa and Dan, attending London Business School and hanging out with the Walm and his crew.
Today, I'm back in the Bay Area and as Fred Larson's photo to the right shows - it's been great. Thanks everyone who helped make the last year amazing and special thanks to the huge amount of people who have helped me on my job search! It feels great to have such great friends.
Let me leave you with a cool Jeff Tweedy (Wilco) song about Thanks. It's a catchy sing along tune that Tweedy used to defuse a touchy situation in Oregon on his last tour. My favorite part of the the song? The "we can make it better" lyric.
Thanks to everyone for a great year, and let's make it even better next year!
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Here are a couple samples. Day Brings is my favorite.
Unfortunately, Brad isn't huge on the Internet, so check out Secret Girl, Buttercup, and Screen among others.
Finally, Stone Gossard popped into my mind because I saw this interview he did recently. Brad is getting back together and will be releasing a new album soon. Pretty cool. Brad is also playing at Webster Hall for a benefit, which Stone was promoting in the interview. Check it out.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
They're playing the Fillmore in SF this Friday night. I'm going to try to make it, anyone with me?
Here are some of my favorite tracks.
Band of Horses on The Late Show at Culture Bully
The transformation is complete : Band of Horses at It's hard to Find a Friend
Band of Horses Hit the Right Notes at Glorious Noise - Rock and roll can change your life
Monday, November 19, 2007
Personally, I love it. Why can't politics be fun? And who dares to disobey Chuck Norris?
Sunday, November 18, 2007
That journalist? My friend Matt Belloni. Matt wrote a great article in Esquire's Best and Brightest issue on Ben Silverman, the entertainment guru at NBC. It's hard to believe that someone in such a high profile and powerful position could ever get fooled by a journalist who is nothing but professional and honest.
The NY Times picked up the story and that is where the bum rushed quote comes from. Pretty neat for Matt that his story got so much play.
Matt is as good as it comes. Check out the articles.
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Friday, November 9, 2007
I'll be listening to the New Pornographers, or maybe Andrew Bird. Wait, what about Death Cab, or the Yeah Yeah Yeah's, or Spoon. Options abound!
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I know it's deeper than those two groups though. I firmly believe that it all starts with those USC cheerleaders. The recruiting brainwashing begins early. Would-be football players are watching ABC at the age of 10, trying to decide where they want to go to school some day, and then the camera flashes the Dance Squad and it's all over. That kid is going to USC, no if's, and's or but's. It's a done deal.
It's ugly, I know. But it's the truth.
Taylor, a newly converted CAL fan, has infiltrated their secret society and provides this link. Do your research people. We need to know the enemy.
Sunday, November 4, 2007
I'm a big fan of Feedburner and use it to tell how many people read this blog daily and how many loyal subscribers I have (people who read through an RSS feed subscribe to the feed, it's much easier then remember to click on Kenny Kellogg). The company was acquired by Google in May for about $100M. Mad props to Dick.
While I was at Kellogg, he was kind enough to drop by once with one of his VC's to answer about a million questions from budding entrepreneurs at school. He then followed that up by having dinner with about 10 of us where he was asked another million questions. He answered every single one directly and honestly, and I think I learned more in those 3 hours spent with Dick then in a lot of my classes at school. He's the man.
One great thing about talking to Dick, reading his blog and following his twitter stream, are that he has a really funny, dry sense of humor. Even when it comes to customer service. His entry today made me laugh. Making customer service fun, now that is a talent.
November 04, 2007
If you saw your subscriber count drop precipitously in your Saturday, November 3rd summary from FeedBurner, the reason is that specific subscriber stats from Google Feedfetcher were offline because this service was apparently out late with friends on Friday night, and well, it completely slept through Saturday. It appears to have rallied, however, and amid firm declarations of "I'm never doing that again", Feedfetcher has started diligently reporting subscriber numbers to us, early this morning Pacific Time. FeedBurner publishers' subscriber counts should be closer to what you'd normally expect starting with reports that will be available on Monday morning.Posted by Dick at 11:05 AM
Saturday, November 3, 2007
Another happy birthday goes out to Mr. Gust Funnel himself. I'm sure he and the boys are celebrating properly in Chicago this weekend. Wish we could be there. Those of us on the West Coast will get our chance though, as our favorite beard sporting, red-head will be hosting a little get together before CAL vs. USC. Care to wager on which witty t-shirt he'll be sporting on gameday?
Friday, November 2, 2007
The losses were severe and life changing for many people. In my search for a silver lining, I stumbled upon this photo of the fire charging towards downtown San Diego and this New Yorker cover.
Both images capture some of the fear that the fire brought us. But the images themselves are beautiful. They can help those affected by diffusing the fear and bringing many more of us into the conversation. Art is cool like that.
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Today, Ames Bros in conjunction with Pearl Jam announced they are publishing a book with all the cool PJ posters from the last 13 years. Pretty neat stuff. Check it out here.
In the meantime, here are some of the cooler posters that I impress girls with.