Jun 27

NY Times: Private Equity-Owned Companies Liquidate Less

In the court of public opinion, private equity firms are painted as hack n’ slashers who are likely to pull the plug on companies when the going gets tough.

Hold the phone: that’s not true, according to a Moody’s report (reported by the New York Times) that studied one thousand struggling companies since 1988. In fact, private equity owned businesses that fell on hard times were half as likely to liquidate as their non-private-equity-owned counterparts.

What does that mean? If a company is liquidated, you will lose your job. If a company is not, you might keep your job.

The moral of the story: don’t jump to conclusions. It’s okay to dislike private equity, but do it for the right reasons — wealth aggregation, large paydays for execs and investors, putting too much financial burden on healthy businesses. Don’t do it for false facts promulgated by media.

Jun 18

The best rage comic ever?

I say yes! Click on it for its full glory.

 

May 10

Dale Hunter’s Washington Capitals are ALWAYS ready

And here’s proof:

Dale Hunter is a shocking 6-0 after a loss in the 2011-2012 playoffs. It took Bruce Boudreau four playoff seasons and six playoff rounds to reach 6 wins after a loss … against 10 consecutive losses!

Sure, a lot of the credit has to go to Darth Holtby, who is the most unflappable 22-year-old goalie that I can remember since Ken Dryden. And the hustle of guys like Matt Hendricks, Joel Ward (bless his heart), Keith Aucoin, and our ridiculous blue line dynamo team of Karl Alzner and Natick, MA’s own John Carlson.

But the bottom line: a team’s preparation begins and ends with the coach. And there is absolutely no doubt that, regardless of the outcome of Game 7, Coach Dale Hunter gets his team ready.

May 06

Dead Man’s Burden: Selected for the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival!

It’s official: the highly anticipated independent western film Dead Man’s Burden, written and directed by Jared Moshé, will world premiere at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival in June.

(from the film’s Synopsis)

The year is 1870, and a fragmented America still strains to pick up the pieces from a savage Civil War. Martha (exciting newcomer Clare Bowen) and her husband Heck (David Call, Tiny Furniture) are living on a homestead that Martha’s father purchased on the rural New Mexico frontier, and they struggle to make ends meet. When a mining company expresses interest in buying their land, Martha and Heck see their ticket to a better life.

Their hopeful plans are soon complicated when Martha’s oldest brother Wade (Barlow Jacobs, Shotgun Stories)—whom she had thought killed during the war —returns to the family homestead after learning of their father’s death. A defector to the Union Army, Wade soon discovers that Martha is hiding secrets of her own. As the two siblings become reacquainted, torn between a desire to reconcile with the only family they have left and their clashing convictions, tension and suspicion continue to mount. Filmed on location in the rugged high desert of northern New Mexico, Dead Man’s Burden, shot in the style of a classic western, marks Jared Moshé’s directorial debut.

Inspired by the classic works of Sergio Leone, John Ford, and Clint Eastwood, Dead Man’s Burden incorporates many elements of traditional westerns, layered atop a complex, emotional story of a frontier family’s struggles. The film explores the unhealed wounds created by the Civil War, and how that watershed moment in American history affected the decisions made by our predecessors — and the burdens that those decisions created.

Congratulations to award-winning independent filmmaker Jared Moshé, Writer and Director of Dead Man’s Burden, as well as the extremely experienced and talented cast and crew who came together to make this a possibility:

Head over to our Facebook page and give us a “Like,” or follow us on Twitter @DMBMovie, then stay tuned for more news and updates over the next several weeks. Also, make sure to check out our freshly launched website at www.deadmansburden.com.

Much obliged, and YEE HAW!

(2012 Los Angeles Film Festival press release)

Apr 30

Has North American/European E-sports Reached an Inflection Point?

Has North American/European e-sports reached an inflection point? Based on some of the numbers coming out of online viewing for DreamHack, I’d argue yes.

E-sports has always been a polarizing curiosity. To detractors, it’s another failed attempt for turbo nerds to legitimize their hours of playtime. These detractors support their claims by pointing to tiny North American tournament payouts and sponsorship levels, as well as poor on-site attendance at events such as MLG (Major League Gaming). Supporters, meanwhile, point to massive popularity for the games involved leading to — they hope — a United States version of South Korea, where gamers achieve six-figure pay and levels of celebrity saved for U.S. stars like Derrick Rose and Tony Stewart.

Well, now supporters can point to astonishing online audience metrics. The April 21-22 Dreamhack event, held in Stockholm, Sweden, received 1,076,914 unique views. Each viewer spent 47 minutes watching.

Compared to Nielsen ratings for major television shows, the viewership is low. “Glee” attracts 7-8.5 million viewers; “Bones” about 7-9 million. That said, compared with the advertising engine behind major network television, Dreamhack’s (and MLG’s, for that matter) budget is miniscule. Getting by on sponsorships alone, Dreamhack essentially managed to generate a 0.4 Nielsen Rating: 500,000 daily viewers of an hour-long show. That’s just about equivalent to half of the low end of Tosh.0 ratings on Comedy Central, and at-or-above syndicated network television reruns like Friends, Seinfeld, Bones, NCIS, Law & Order, etc.

Of course, the most important point: who is more attractive to advertisers, the syndicated cable television viewer, or the online viewer? I don’t know the answer, and I’m not certain anyone does. I’ve read a lot of hypotheses. I’ve read a hell of a lot of words about how advertisers “intend to spend more on online video.” But if someone can point me to a study done that states, with certainty, that one demographic is better than the other … I’m all ears.

That said, whether or not you support e-sports, now you have to face one undeniable truth: there’s a new and legitimate way to reach the extremely important 18-35 tech-savvy demographic. We already know that major tech brands are on-board (AMD, Steelseries, Creative Labs, Razr, etc.). Certain consumer beverage (Dr. Pepper) and product (BIC) manufacturers are getting on board.

How long before we see: “Dallas Major League Gaming Championships, sponsored by Dodge, State Farm, and McDonalds?”

Apr 11

Why are people complaining that Facebook bought Instagram?

Great post by the talented Courtney Boyd Myers of The Next Web. Look, I know a lot of people claim to be pissed off at Instagram and +Kevin Systrom for selling to Facebook. But let’s be real here:

1. Instagram is still a great product, and that is not changing. Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook are many things, but stupid is not one of them. Thus, common sense states that the new owners won’t muck with Systrom’s mojo.

2. Instagram is also a business. One of Systrom’s goals, in addition to making a great product, surely was to increase company value. Sorry, that’s the hard, capitalistic truth.

3. Important: From a fiduciary standpoint, Systrom absolutely had to seriously consider Facebook’s offer. It was his obligation as CEO and board member. Furthermore, a $1 billion valuation, or $33 per registered user, was just too good of an offer. How could any reasonable executive, responsible for shareholder value, possibly turn that down?

4. Regardless of corporate duty, at least 75% of the people out there would have sold for $1 billion, hell, maybe even 99%. So the “holier than thou” attitude should cease.

In my opinion, the most logical reason that people have to complain is Facebook’s historical wanton disregard for privacy. But honestly, if you were posting Instagram pics publicly anyway … what’s the big deal?

Like Courtney said: will you stop drinking Odwalla because Coke owns it? Will you never eat another Chipotle burrito, knowing that those pink meat slime bastards at McDonalds once owned the company?

Apr 06

It’s … FRIDAY!

I know all of you who work in an office have a colleague like this:

Mar 29

Official Memoir Tree Launch!

Please join me in congratulating Jed Lau (Ironport, Meraki, Cisco, UNC Tar Heel, and St. Albans Bulldog) on the launch of his company, Memoir Tree. Memoir Tree is an app/website that helps users tell, record, and share their important life moments and stories. Think of it as digital storytelling.

I have all the respect in the world for Jed. In addition to being an intelligent, motivated, and genuine guy, he has poured his passion into this project. Even though Memoir Tree is still in its infancy, results are already showing.

You can support Memoir Tree by checking out the app on the iTunes App Store. Let us know what you think — and PLEASE, if you like what you see, share the news with your friends!

As many of you know, I was a part of the company for a while, before duties and other responsibilities forced me to step back (with much regret). Even still, this launch has me excited like a gorilla in a banana store!

Below is the note from Jed announcing the launch:

- – - – - – -

Dear family and friends,

As some of you know, I walked away from my W-2′s a couple of years ago to pursue a project fueled by my savings account and a dream of building technology that elderly would want to use and would benefit from using. My company, Memoir Tree (http://www.memoirtree.com), went live on the Apple App Store today, providing an iPhone app to capture oral history.

There are 5 things you can do right now to help me get Memoir Tree off the ground:

  1. Download the free Memoir Tree app, if you have an iPhone or iPod Touch 4: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/memoir-tree/id468956804?mt=8
  2. Give us feedback at feedback@memoirtree.com. Be honest. Tell us what you like and what you don’t like. Tell us if something doesn’t work for you. And, tell us what you’d like to see in the product.
  3. Submit an app rating on the Apple App Store page (see #1), if you like what you see.
  4. Like and/or follow Memoir Tree on Facebookhttp://www.facebook.com/memoirtree1
  5. Vote for our entry into the Founder Showcase, a startup competition coming up in late April: http://showcase10.strutta.com/entry/253036

I’d really appreciate your help with these 5 actions.

I don’t get to launch a company that often in my life, so let me take this opportunity right now to thank my family for giving me the time, space, and support to pursue this adventure. I owe this company to you all.
I’ve learned a lot building Memoir Tree, and I may start writing about my experience once the dust settles. If you’re curious about anything, please ask; I’d love to hear from you. I’ll do my best to respond.

Thanks for all of your support. It means a lot to me.

Mar 16

Iceland: Jewel of the North

I love Iceland. I’ve been fortunate to have visited twice. I’ve seen the astonishing, alien-like terrain; the beautiful glacial vistas; the serene, relaxing hot springs; and the hip, vibrant capital city of Reykjavik. Shockingly, it’s only a 4.5 hour flight from Boston — very doable for a long weekend.

One of the most interesting facets of Iceland is its tight-knit culture that emphasizes its own Nordic legacy. Did you know that additions to the language are ratified by the parliament, and must be consistent with Ancient Norse? To that end, modern Icelandic is very similar to ancient Norse (which, by the way, is directly responsible for at least 5% of modern English, and some would say closer to 15%). Did you know that all men take their surnames with an -sson after their fathers’ names (i.e., Magnusson), and all women similarly take -dottir (e.g., Sigurdsdottir)?

Did you know that Iceland boasts the oldest existent parliament, the Althing, which first met at Thingvallir — which happens to straddle the continental divide between the North American and European continents? I’ve been there. The beauty is breathtaking.

Did you know that 81% of Iceland’s energy comes from renewable geothermal or hydroelectric sources? 100% of electricity is renewable (70/30 hydro/geo). Over 80% of Icelandic homes are heated by geothermal energy.

Courtesy Trey Ratcliff | StuckInCustoms.com

Here are some websites to check out regarding this tiny Nordic country:

For a neat Social Media-related writeup about Iceland, check out this recent article by Samantha Murphy of Mashable.

Mar 13

Admission of Collusion in Professional Sports

NFL fans, have you been following the recently imposed salary cap fines on the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins? Apparently, because of actions taken during 2010 — the uncapped year in between CBA negotiations — the league will be docking the Cowboys $10 million of salary cap room, and the Redskins $36 million of salary cap room. All of this on the eve of the 2012 Free Agency period (today, March 13, at 4pm EDT), widely considered to be the absolute best free agency crop in a decade.

Let’s do a little history lesson. In 2010, the old Collective Bargaining Agreement between the NFL and the NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) was lapsing. As a part of the arrangement between the two parties to bridge the two CBAs, the ensuing season was determined to progress without an official salary cap in place. Several teams, including the Cowboys and the Redskins, engaged in contract accounting adjustments in order to prorate dollar payments into the uncapped year. In NFL slang, this is called “dumping salaries” — paying off contract amounts now in order to save future money. In other words, the Cowboys and Redskins took advantage of the opportunity to dump salary.

Fast forward to 2012. The NFL now states that they warned teams not to “dump salaries” during the uncapped year, else there would be future ramifications. Dumping salaries is equivalent to paying money now rather than later, i.e. spending more now to save more later. So let’s re-state that: in a year where the CBA did not govern spending dynamics, a group of owners banded together to encourage other owners not to spend in a free market manner. Antitrust Flag #1. (source)

Next, word has broken that the collective group of owners pushed the aforementioned fine through the NFLPA negotiating process by promising a redistribution of the fine amongst the other teams. Worse still? If DeMaurice Smith and the NFLPA had not agreed to the aforementioned fine, the league would have forced a lower future salary cap. Let’s re-state that: a majority of owners banded together to strong-arm their employees into a non-market contract that benefited only a subset of the NFL’s and the NFLPA’s own constituents. Antitrust Flag #2. (source)

Oh by the way, in 2010, had there been a typical salary cap structure in place — which there was not – eight teams would have been below the spending floor, as typically instituted by said CBA. (source) Why is this not an issue, I wonder? Perhaps because the NFL wanted to suppress spending in the uncapped year in order to negotiate a more league-friendly salary cap going forward? Suppress. Spending. Antitrust Flag #3.

Lastly, per NFL procedures, the NFL itself approved the changes to the Cowboys and Redskins accounting changes. Now, it wants to retroactively punish the teams … for contracts that the league approved. Let’s re-state that: a majority of owners is attempting to band together in order to undo transactions it already approved. Antitrust Flag #4.

Think about it this way. The Cowboys and the Redskins are the two most valuable franchises in the NFL, according to Forbes. Jerry Jones, owner of the Cowboys, and Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, are among the wealthiest owners. The NFL has arbitrarily instituted a punishment for a collusive “rule” that doesn’t exist and has never existed in order to re-distribute salary cap space to the other NFL teams. It’s no wonder the other owners are colluding to push this punishment through!

I’m not even going to go into the fact that the Packers, Bears, Saints, and Titans all engaged in this activity as well, and aren’t being punished (source). Or, that the fine amounts appear to be arbitrary, as the Cowboys are being docked a net number for Miles Austin, but the Redskins are being docked a gross number for Albert Haynesworth and DeAngelo Hall. Or, that the head of the NFL Management Council is also the co-owner of the New York Giants, who happen to be in the same division as the Cowboys and the Redskins.

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