Posts from 2004

Traffic

I’ve been interested in where my traffic comes from and how it is growing.

The monthly traffic chart shows that November just barely kept up with October. 

I have heard reports that blog traffic generally was weaker in November than October and I wonder if that’s a trend.  Did the election provide a big boost for blogs that they have had difficulty sustaining since?

Another dynamic that I find interesting is the pattern of traffic on my blog from day to day.  As my blog grew, the pattern was somewhat random.  Popular posts would spike the traffic up.  It was hard to see a pattern. 

But now that the traffic has settled down, at least for now, I see a very predictable pattern.  Monday’s traffic is the highest.  It slopes down each day after that with a trough on the weekend, and then it starts all over again.

I guess the Monday spike results from the readers who don’t read on the weekend and come back to work on Monday and get caught up.  But the slide from Tuesday to Friday is less understandable.

A quick look at the Gawker sites’ traffic patterns show some of this flatness in growth and similar weekly trends on the more mature blogs.

I’d be curious if others see the same patterns in their traffic.

Firefox Popups

One of the main attractions of Firefox is the lack of spyware and associated stuff like popups that you get when you switch.

Well at least for me, that’s over.

Popups_1 

I got about four or five Firefox popups last week.  The one shown above was courtesy of Panasonic.

I’d be curious to find out if this is happening to others.

My 50 Favorite Albums (continued)

It’s friday night.  Time to add another record to my top 50 all-time list.

The Gotham Gal and I debated what should come next.

The Beatles’ Rubber Soul?

Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville?

Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come Soundtrack?

Van Morrison’s Moondance?

They will probably all make the list at some point.  I love every one of those records.

But it’s time to put the Ramones on the list.

Ramones Rocket To Russia is their greatest record.

And my trip to Rockaway Beach last weekend sealed the deal.

Welcome to the Top 50 Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, and Tommy!

The Ten Best CDs of 2004 (continued)

The Gotham Gal responded to my post with her own top 10 list.

Not surprisingly her picks are damn close to mine.

But she also posted Josh’s top 10. 

And points out that we have the same taste in music as an 8 year old kid.

That made my week.

Wifi iPod

Last night we had a party in our office.

I made a killer playlist using the "on the go" feature on my iPod on my subway ride back to the office from Jessica’s basketball game.

The iPod was in an Altec Lansing speaker system in the conference room.

We had the Bose table top "wave radio" in the reception area.

I tried to use the iTrip to connect the iPod to the Bose so we could play the playlist in both rooms but the iTrip signal wasn’t strong enough. 

Brad pointed to the wifi antennas in the office and commented that we needed a Wifi iPod.

So today, I read Ross Mayfield’s post on Wifi iPod with interest.  Ross links to some interesting other posts on the subject including an excellent piece by Eliot Van Buskirk predicting the coming of the "home iPod" which would be an excellent thing to have.

The bottom line is once you start thinking of iPod as your portable music library, stuff like iTrip is just the beginning.  I can’t wait for the Wifi iPod.  We needed it last night.

The Ten Best CDs of 2004

My friend Cliff sent around an email last week to a group of his friends with his list of the best CDs of 2004.  It was a great list and I replied to him with my thoughts on his selections plus some of my own.  That inspired me to make this post.

The idea is to list my 10 favorite discs of this year.  I missed by one, and I have 11 on my list because I couldn’t pick only 10 that I loved.  This list appears with album covers which are Amazon links on the lower left column of this blog.  I’ve moved the "Top 50 All Time List" which is still a work in progress to the lower right column.

Here we go, from best to almost best.

American Idiot, Green Day Maybe the best rock record put out this century.  There isn’t a bad song on the record.

Good News For People Who Love Bad News, Modest Mouse This was number one for most of the year and would have been the winner if American Idiot hadn’t shown up late in the year.  I hadn’t heard of Modest Mouse until 2004 and now they are one of my favorite bands.

A Grand Don’t Come For Free, The Streets I was obsessed with this record for most of the summer.  I love The Street’s music.  This, like American Idiot, is a concept record which is perfect for iPods and travelling when you can really listen.

Van Lear Rose, Loretta Lynn This is a fantastic record.  Many people will put this record at the top of their lists this year.  The secret is Loretta’s incredible songs and voice, combined with Jack White’s production.

Franz Ferdinand, Franz Ferdinand The best new band of the year.  Josh and I saw them live in September with Cliff and his kids.  That was a show to remember.  This record is great.  We’ll see if they can follow it up with something as good.

More Adventurous, Rilo Kiley Another band that I didn’t know about before this year that has made it onto my favorite band list.  This was a breakthrough record for them and it’s going to be on a lot of top 10 lists.

Transatlanticism, Death Cab for Cutie Great band, great sound, great record.  It’s easy to listen to.  The songs stick with you.  Plus, my girls like them too.

Encore, Eminem Cliff thinks Jay Z is the best hip hop artist working today.  I think Eminem is.  And I think Encore is great.

Final Straw, Snow Patrol We attended a party this summer and met a guy who recommended Snow Patrol and Keane’s new records.  Both records are great and we listen to them a lot.  But I like Snow Patrol better so they make my top 10 list.

How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb, U2 It’s softer than previous U2 records.  So what?  I love it.

Let Go, Nada SurfI couldn’t keep this record off my list because it was my favorite record for a good part of this spring.  I haven’t listened to it recently, but I am going to change that today.

Some notable records that didn’t make the list include Wilco’s A Ghost Is Born, Keane’s Hopes and Fears, Paul Westerberg’s Folker, Kings of Convenience’s Riot On An Empty Street, The Postal Service’s Give Up, and Damien Rice’s O.

I hope you all like this list.  If you are looking for a gift for a music lover this holiday season, any and all of these, including the ones that just missed, would be great choices.

Dan Gillmore Takes The Leap

A prediction.  We’ll see a lot more of this in 2005. 

Dan Gillmor, one of the top journalists in Silicon Valley, and a great blogger, is leaving the San Jose Mercury to "work on a citizen-journalism project" that has recieved seed funding.

This makes total sense. Personal media, grass roots journalism, citizens media, whatever you want to call it is the future.  Newspapers are the past. Great journalists don’t need big papers to showcase their talents anymore.

I applaud Dan for his courage to do this and look forward to seeing what comes out of this "project" he is working on.

Shorting Sirius

I said in a November 11th post about the coming of HD radio that I would not buy Sirius at its current price and that I’d rather buy Clear Channel.

Had anyone done what I suggested, they’d be out some money. Clear Channel (CCU) closed at $33.92 on Nov 11th.  If you’d bought it then, you’d be down $0.53/share right now.  Not a terrible loss, but not a money making experience either.

Sirius (SIRI), on the other hand, has been an incredible money maker in the past month.  It closed at $3.85/share on Nov 11th.  Yesterday, it closed at $6.90/share, but it has traded as high as $9/share in recent days.

That’s the problem with fundamental analysis and trading stocks.  The two aren’t often complimentary skills. Certainly they are not complimentary in the short run.  And that’s why I’ve never been particularly good at playing the public markets.  We now leave that to the pros with our real money and we sometimes dabble a bit here and there.  But rarely on the short side.

With that said, I am going to propose a hedged trade.  Go long CCU at $33.92 and go short SIRI at $6.90.

Clear Channel’s got a market cap of $19bn, they own a huge piece of the terrestrial broadcast radio industry and a lot of outdoor and live music related businesses.  They trade at 11 times trailing cash flow (as represented by EBITDA).  That is a discount to the price that radio stations are selling at privately in the M&A market.  Based on fundamentals, Clear Channel is a buy.  Buying CCU right now is also a bet that terrestrial radio has a future in the digital world.  And that is where HD Radio comes into this.  It’s a bet that as terrestrial radio goes digital, the broadcasters, CCU included, will use the new technology to offer a better experience for listeners and advertisers.  It’s also a bet that the device manufacturers, recievers, cell phones, digital music players, PCs, etc will find a way to integrate the radio experience into their digital devices.

Sirius has a market cap of $8.7bn.  They don’t have any cash flow.  Just a lot of promise.  So much promise (aka hype) that as of yesterday, they were being valued at as if they already had 45 million subscribers, according to this incredibly bearish piece by Jesse Eisinger in the Wall Street Journal.  Jesse is a pro, he used to work at TheStreet.com and I’ve read a lot of his stuff.  He’s dead right about this one.

I never like to buy stocks without a target, so I am going to put some target prices on this trade. 

I expect that within a year, CCU will trade at least at 15x EBITDA which is where a diversified media company like Time Warner or Disney trades at.  This should happen as the market discovers that terrestrial radio isn’t dead after all. The street thinks earnings will rise about 15% next year, so with the multiple expansion and earnings growth, I think CCU stock should be at $50/share by the end of next year.  It was almost there at the beginning of this year, so in many ways this is also a value bet.

Sirius on the other hand has nowhere to go but down.  Someday it will be valued on subs.  And a sub is worth $350 to Sirius, according to Jesse Eisinger.  So let’s say that Sirius triples it subscribers next year to 2.5mm.  At $350/sub, that’s less than a billion dollars of market cap.  Let’s say that all of the 8.5mm weekly Stern listeners become Sirius subscribers by the end of next year (which is a ridiculous assumption), then that’s about $3 billion of market cap.  I’ll predict it ends up somewhere in between, say $2 billion of market cap by the end of next year.  With 1.26bn shares outstanding (yes, you read that right), that’s a stock price of $1.60/share.

So if I was going to make this trade (and I am not for several reasons unlrelated to the economics involved), this is what I’d do.

I’ll buy $500 of CCU today and go long 15 shares.  If it trades to $50 like I think it should, I’ll get $750 when I sell at the end of next year.  I’ll get the $500 to buy CCU by shorting 75 shares of SIRI. If it trades down to $1.60/share by the end of next year, I’ll have to spend $120 to buy the stock back.  I’ll fund that $120 out of my $750 in proceeds from the sale of CCU.  And I’ll take $630 to the bank.  I sure hope it works out that way!

UPDATE:  My friend Seth Goldstein who started Majestic Research, which is hosting their annual Internet conference today, rightly pointed out that this post needs a disclosure.  So here it is.  I am an investor in and director of iBiquity Digital, the developer of the HD Radio technology.

Pulling Punches

Ross Mayfield says the veteran bloggers are pulling punches, editing themselves, and becoming more conservative in their posts.

It may be true.  I’ve been chastised on more than one occasion for a blog post that pissed someone off.  And it makes you pause.

But I’d rather stop blogging than be anything other than honest, open, candid, and transparent with this blog.