Things I Wish For In The New Year
No predictions for me. I’m done with that thanks to Brad Feld.
And I am also done with resolutions. I resolved to get off of Microsoft products in 2007 and failed miserably.
But I am looking forward to 2009 on this new year’s eve and so I am going to list some things I am hopeful for in 2009. These are in no particular order, they are listed as they came to me.
1) A gas tax – Tom Evslin made the case for a $1.50/gallon gas tax the other day and I totally agree with him. His proposal would be to immediately refund the gas tax in the form of a lower payroll tax so that it doesn’t actually take money out of the economy and people’s pockets. That’s a really good idea. But one way or another we are going to have to make using carbon energy more expensive so that alternative forms of energy and conservation can take hold.
2) An iTouch – I blogged about the iTouch recently. It’s funny because it’s now the number one search term driving traffic from google to this blog (other than my name and the name of this blog). I don’t want to get caught up in whether it can play music or not or whether it has a 9" screen or not. I just want Apple to come out with an agressively priced touch screen mobile computer that can be used to read books, blogs, watch movies, listen to music, and work as a home remote too. This is a huge opportunity for them and others too.
3) A cultural shift from cars to mobile devices – It’s already happening in Japan. Cars are no longer cool. Bikes, skateboards, scooters, trains, and subways are cooler and the coolest thing is mobile communication devices:
"Young people’s interest is shifting from cars to
communication tools like personal computers, mobile phones and
services,” said Yoichiro Ichimaru, who oversees domestic sales at
We need to follow suit in america. I realize we have a large suburban and rural population and not everyone can make the shift from a car to a bike or train. But even a 10-20% shift in the US would be huge.
OK, those first three are really the same thing. But this is a big deal. The world is changing. We must get on the train before it leaves the station.
4) The development of a real functioning secondary market for private companies – This is another thing I’ve written a lot about. The IPO market is dead. The M&A market is on hiatus for the most part and even when it works, many companies get bought and then slowly die inside the parent company. We need a way for founders, employees, and investors to get liquid on their investments or the whole startup ecosystem is going to get messed up. I am not talking about dumping our shares on widows and orphans. I am talking about a marketplace where seasoned, savvy, and qualified investors can transact in private company shares. The good news is that there’s already one well financed company operating in this space, called Second Market, of course. I am rooting hard for their success and also for anyone else who gets into this business. We need it.
5) An end to the housing slump – House prices are going to drop until they get to a sustainable price level. That price level will be determined by affordability levels (generally 30% of income), a rent vs buy analysis, the availability of credit for investors and/or homeowners, and the amount of foreclosures coming onto the market. It may well be that house prices in the aggregate need to drop another 15-20% before hitting bottom. And it’s also true that some markets are closer to bottom than others. But it’s the housing mess that got us into this economic crisis and I don’t think we can start getting out of it until housing bottoms. So I’d just like to see prices drop to sustainable levels quickly and be done with it.
6) Facebook gets profitable and cash generating – This is not a prediction, as I said, I’m done with that. This is a wish. I think Facebook is a great company and I witness my teenage children using it as I use outlook/exchange/blog/twitter/etc. They run their world on Facebook and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. Facebook now has 200mm unique visitors per month worldwide and it’s growth has picked up again in the US after being flat most of this year. They’ve launched a compelling new service in Facebook Connect. And there are a number of examples of significant new businesses being built on top of its platform. It’s accomplished most of what we’d agree that only the best internet businesses can accomplish. But it has one big dig against it. It’s not profitable and self sustaining. And so it taints the whole social media/social networking sector to some degree. I am hoping that 2009 is the year that Facebook gets serious about revenue, cost control, profitability, and ultimately cash generation. Once they do, I think the whole sector will benefit (and the whole sector should be doing the exact same things for the same reasons).
7) Google starts cutting products and services – This is a bit of the same wish as the last one. But very different in some other ways. Google can do almost anything they put their mind to because they have the engineering resources, the infrastructure, the balance sheet, and the huge revenue stream to support it. But that doesn’t mean they should try to do everything. As a shareholder, as a VC active in the internet market sector, and as a fan of the company, I think Google needs to "rationalize" their business in 2009. I don’t know how much cost they could cut if they really tried to get serious about a Jack Welch/GE style business unit analysis, but I know it would be significant. I wish they’d pick five to ten businesses they want to be number one or two in and invest heavily in them and forget about everything else.
8) Obama turns out to be a closet conservative – This one is fantasy of course. But Nixon went to china, LBJ brought us civil rights, Clinton eliminated welfare as we knew it, and FDR betrayed his "upbringing" and became the champion of the common man. Hell Sharon was close to bringing peace to the middle east when he was stricken. Anything can happen when someone realizes they work for everyone and everybody and have the world riding on their shoulders. In the case of Obama, I hope he realizes that the world is changing and not every company and industry can be saved, not every worker can keep their old job, and not every problem can be solved with money (money we don’t really have).
9) We all figure out how to do more with less – As I see it, about 40-50% of the world’s wealth was vaporized this year. It’s not even clear that we ever had that wealth. That’s the lesson I learned in 2000/2001 when the gotham gal and I saw 90% of our wealth vaporized. But the fact remains that most of us are a lot less wealthy than we were at the start of 2008. So we’ll just have to figure out how to do more with less. That will mean different strategies for different people, different countries, different regions. But I think that’s where we are a world right now. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing. We’ll adapt, change our ways, and move on. The important thing is we cannot dwell on the loss. You can’t change what you had for breakfast. So don’t try.
That’s it. I stopped at nine to be different. Happy new year everyone. 2008 was kind of sucky with a few notable exceptions. Let’s hope for a better 2009.
Just to be clear charlie in case it wasn’t in the post, the gas tax in tom’s proposal funds an equal reduction in payroll tax so if you need to drive to work, you aren’t out money. But if you can find another way, you pocket the difference
And driving for groceries, kids to soccer practice, dentist appts, etc.? What about the added cost of food and deliveries and such for commercial vehicles?I’m all for personal responsibility, but I still it’s backwards where Detroit we can make all the 300HP Mustangs it wants, have zero incentive to get my MPG up above 18, and my alternative is to buy some junky little hybrid with 120 HP.If anything, the government should be bailing out Tesla, not GM.It’s the same with cigarette taxes, soda taxes… How about limiting the amount of nicotine, sugar, etc that can go in this stuff before you start depending on the intelligence of the average American to make rational economic choices. I’m short American intelligence.
Carmakers’ll make the cars we want to buy. Right now hybrid technology costs more than a straight gas engine; plug in hybrid electrics even more. If we “order” the US car makers to make these, families will still buy the cars with the lowest total cost of ownership which, at today’s gasoline prices, are traditional gas powered cars.If we use a tax to increase the price of oil before OPEC gets a chance to do that and keep th profits, we create a market for fuel efficient cars without government having to decide which fuel efficiency technologies are best. IMHO neither GM nor Tesla should be bailed out.As Fred points out, those who manage to reduce their gas bill either by carpooling, taking public transit, or buying more fuel efficient cars get to keep the savings which should be rebated through payroll tax deductions. From an economic point of view, this tax is slightly redistributionist but it moves money to the low end of the economy where it is sure to stay in circulation.
Prices are behavioral management tools. It would be a lot easier for the government to impose a tax that incentivizes people to buy energy efficient vehicles than to mandate to innumerable industries what their product specs should be.I am long on the American consumers ability to choose in this scenario. Note that when gas went above $4, you could not find any hybrids because everyone was buying them. At the same time, you could have your choice of Hummers. That has changed since the drop in oil prices (which are only temporarily down).Go to Ireland and see what kind of cars on the on the road – all small. They imposed a high tariff on fuel years ago and the effect has been dramatic in favor of fuel-efficient small cars.Also note the effect on smoking that Bloomberg has had by raising taxes on cigs and not allowing smoking in bars in NY. Way down. In Massachusetts heart attacks went down 600 people fewer after the smoking ban there. That would not have happened I don’t believe if the Government had regulated nicotine levels. It’s all prices and usage rules for consumers.
Hmm. Thanks steve. Happy new year to you too
“Carmakers’ll make the cars we want to buy.”Been to an American auto dealership lately?
Yup, I did go to an American car dealer.It had the cars that most Americans wanted to buy (until very recently). It had the best trucks in the world; it had pretty good SUVs.That’s not what I wanted so I went to a Toyota dealership and bought a Highlander Hybrid (also an SUV) – but that was a lifestyle choice and driven by my own desire to reduce use of imported oil and play with the latest technology. Even at the $4.00/gallon that gas cost when we bought the car, it wasn’t a good economic decision and it certainly isn’t at the current cost of gas. Many families can’t afford to indulge themselves with paying such a high initial price and getting no return on it.I’m not an apologist for the American car industry; I don’t think there should’ve been a bailout at all. But I think we will kill both the carmakers and our investment in them if we force them to make cars which don’t make economic sense rather than creating a market for fuel efficient cars with a steep gas tax (and rebate thru payroll taxes).
I just struggle with the idea that at $4/gallon there’s a market for a hybrid, but not at $2.50.Even if you drove the same amount regardless of what the price is, the avg american drives 15k/year and prob gets around 20mpg… $1313. At $4, you’re talking $3000… so, about $1125 a year difference…. or rather, $93/month.It’s not chump change, but it’s also not enough to suddenly create a market for hybrids. If anything… it just makes people get a slightly cheaper car next time.For me, I drive about 8k a year… which means expensive gas costs me about $666 more a year, w/o cutting down at all…. since I do cut down a bit when gas is expensive, it’s even less of a difference than that. Added $666 of cost a year would not have effected my buying decision.What would have affected my buying decision is if, at the dealer, when I bought the car, they said, “Do you want the Mustang with 300HP that gets 18MPG or the one with 250HP that gets 30MPG”. I would have taken the Hybrid.You could say, “If we demand that, they’ll build it” but do you really think people wouldn’t buy it if it existed. Is there really a lack of demand for cars of equal quality and fun to drive that cost less to own?How many years of crappy quality did Detroit go through before they realized, “Hey, there’s a demand for higher quality autos?” The demand was clear… people were buying exports left and right. In the meantime, we had to wait 15-20 years for Detroit to even get in the ballpark on quality.
I think at $4.00/gallon there will begin to be economic sense and a mass market for plugin hybrid electric vehicles so long as we have smart metering and an incentive to charge up with baseload rather than peak electricity. There will be more of a market for “traditional” hybrids” – especially as the price comes down as the batteries become cheaper in quantity.But I also suggested that the tax continue to increase predictably over time.Tom Evslinblog: blog.tomevslin.comnovel: hackoff.comlatest: The Interpreter’s Tale
How does your scheming work in Montana? You want a subway from Boise to Billings?
His scheme doesn’t take money out of people’s pockets because the gas tax is refunded by a drop in the payroll tax. Clearly there’s no train in montana but one could get an electric or hybrid car and pocket money on that trade
What if someone has to drive a long way back and forth to work every day, but only makes $25,000 a year? I would think that the payroll tax deduction for that person would not be enough to compensate for the increase in their driving costs.For me personally, it would be great. I drive very little (most work from home, and when I do have to go to the office, it is not far) and make enough to where I pay the max every year in Social Security.But I think it would be tough for people in the lower incomes that have to drive long distances.
It takes a while to design and build a new car. Detroit would get there but they have to expect that gas prices will remain elevated for at least 5-10 years. However, they are already building small cars in Europe. The fuel efficiency laws make it impossible for them to import these small cars back to the US because of the way they are written.Demand driven change via a tax would probably have a greater impact than requiring higher fuel efficiency. Greg Mankiw has written about this stuff often (here are a few):http://gregmankiw.blogspot….http://gregmankiw.blogspot….http://gregmankiw.blogspot….
Nice Post Fred. Kind of ending 2008 on a sad note. No irrational exuberance. The gas tax is a great idea. That one idea – establishing a floor on energy to artificially support alternative energy – is worthy of noting.I love newspapers and all that they do – and blogs can’t – and hope that they learn how to make money on the web in 2009.I hope your dreams come true.
Great list. #1 is a tough sell, of course….Obama will certainly have everyone’s attention though. Maybe we’ll some real leadership on this point.#3 I can tell you also anecdotally that this is true. My kids have been in a Japanese immersion program since elementary school, and every winter we have students stay with us for a few weeks. The 16 year old girl that was just here actually mentioned that owning a car was on no one’s radar her age. I of course already owned a car at 16, and drove constantly. My 10 year old asked if she could just borrow my car if she needed to when she grew up. Cute. I am heading to Japan on the 15th of January, for 2 weeks, business and pleasure, and am really interested in following up on this point.#4 Crucial. I predict (oops!) a lot of activity in this space in 2009.#8 Obama, to my eyes, has a streak of realism in there with his much-discussed idealism. He seems results oriented to me. I think this is not as much of a fantasy as you think. Joe Namath won the Super Bowl in ’69 without throwing a single pass in the 4th quarter, right? Great leaders surprise you with their path to success.
We can afford a gas tax in NYC because there’s great public transportation…. but what about people who absolutely have to commute?It seems backwards to me that there are no requirements for automakers to make cars that use less gas but there’s a tax on driving around the cars that we get to choose from and many of us (not me) drive as a necessity.If you have three kids and all the gear that comes with it, you’re not driving around in a Prius to grandma’s house for the holidays. Let Detroit come up with viable alternatives… THEN tax people for not choosing the right way to go.I don’t think the major problem with our consumption in this country is recreational joy riding and wasteful gas consumption.
one of your best ever pieceshappy new year
Steve:Rather than have government get into the tricky business of deciding what is or isn’t a luxury and both creating a bonanza for lobbyists and encouraging the design of products just to technically avoid luxury classification, I’d rather rely on the rebate of the gas tax through payroll taxes to accomplish much of the same goal.There should be enough rebate so that families at the low end of the economic ladder are better off even if they can’t immediately cut their gas consumption. The rebates at the low end of payroll tax won’t even begin to match the tax that owners of heated second homes (like me unless I can get my geothermal working) will pay once fuel oil is included and that owners of corporate jets will pay so it does become somewhat of a luxury tax.
I agree but don¹t think these ideas are mutually incompatibleThe govt is already well into the business of deciding what is a luxury all sort of taxes and levies already in place. Yes, lobbyists try to createworkarounds and loopholes, but I for one do not hold lobbyists in disdain.We are all members of various special interests groups. Lobbying thegovernment is an essential part of a democratic system (albeit one ripe forscandal)I am a lucky member of the affluent class, and I think it is appalling howlittle the wealthier members of our society are expected to give back. Ihate tinkering with the income tax code most wealthy people couldn¹t careless and I am loathe to raise taxes on capital (e.g. Cap gains, dividendsetc). So I have come to believe that consumptuion taxes aimed at spendingthat is well above the middle class is the best way to share the communitywealth
My problem with targeted consumption taxes is both complexity and fairness.A few months ago I read a column scornful of the driver of an SUV pulling a powerboat somewhere. As a sailor, I was tempted to buy into the criticism of the stinkpot owner. But the columunist didn’t say what he was driving or where he was going when he saw the boater. Was his trip necessary or wasteful? Should he have taken the train or a bus? Does he take vacations by air.My sailboat is made out of plastic – a petroleum byproduct. Although I only used a gallon of diesel last year directly, my boat gets towed to and from my garage at the end and begiing of each season. How does that get compared to the guy with the powerboat?But I do understand your point and appeciate your thoughtfulness
Steve,Why don’t you just hold up the affluent at gunpoint if you think they should give more? Same thing the government would be doing.What does giving have to do with higher taxes? Does the government spending our money on terrible public works projects really make anyone but a developer’s life better. After all the money we spend on welfare, why do we still have poor people? Ditto for all the money we spend on government health care.I am fine with a national sales tax, but we should not be petty and design taxes specifically targeted at crap rich people buy.If we need to raise money, we should start taxing blogs and comments. People are wasting tons of time on blogs when they could be volunteering to make the world a better place. Blogs are causing more reading which increases obesity. Obesity increases flatulence which leads to increased methane which creates global warming. Let’s do it for the children.Happy New Year!!
lol, boss i know you gotta go along with the whole “run for your lives the world is melting and the only way to solve it is impose carbon restrictions” because of your investments, but carbon energy is not a problem, in spite of what al bore may say. tons of scientists and reams of evidence can refute mr bore. but let’s see the feds try a global carbon tax, perhaps the real agenda will be clearer then.and lbj is punk ass chump who helped cover up the hit on kennedy and issued NSAM 273 to reverse NSAM 263 which was kennedy’s order to withdraw from vietnam. financing vietnam forced the US to fully go off the gold standard to facilitate expansion of the money supply which resulted in stagflation of the ’70s and helped give the fed the almost limitless power it now has, which enabled the reckless policies under greenspan and now bernanke, which are the principal causes of our current crisis. so i suppose he brought us civil rights in the sense that he economically enslaved us all, regardless of race or creed.anyway i’m going to a party tonight but i’ll be on call so if things get out of hand here at AVC.com just hit me up on twitter boss and i’ll take care of it asap.happy new year,kid mercury, official AVC bouncer
Even if you’re a skeptic regarding anthropogenic global warming (as I am but that’s different than a denier) there are plenty of good security and economic reasons for reducing our use of imported oil. That’s why I proposed a gas tax increase – and eventually increases in taxes on other petroleum products – rather than a carbon tax.
completely agree – reducing oil consumption is a national security issue, even if not an environmental one (i’m also a skeptic)in addition to a simple gas tax, we should also have some “energy luxury” consumption taxes – massive levies on private jets and their fuel, privately owned limosines, all limo fuel, large recreational boats and their fuel, second and third homes, excessively large homes (say bigger than 3000 sq feet) etc
i view this matter, like i view everything, in simple terms:1. govt is filled with criminals; while there are plenty of honest people in govt, the institution as a whole is run by criminals, and hence it has a criminal agenda, not a public service agenda. in light of that, let us recall the simple equation of taxation = giving money to govt. ergo, taxation = giving money to criminals. because of this, giving money to govt (i.e. taxation) should be the last possible option, and done only when truly necessary. 2. the reason the govt = criminals equation is not apparent is because people don’t know the Truth. too bad the Internet is making it hard for this excuse to continue being viable, as it allows obnoxious brats like me to storm around the web ranting about 9/11 being an inside job and coupling it with jokes about arlington bliss mccrum jr’s name. boy, i sure do love the web!3. from points #1 and #2, we can deduce that any real solution begins with people learning the Truth.after knowing the Truth, the solution becomes obvious: reduce govt. cut govt spending. end the wars based on the 9/11 lie. fix the federal reserve problem. and let the free market do its job. that might sound hard, but fortunately we have a brilliant document called the Constitution that tells us exactly what to do, as it was created by folks who suffered from the same problem of a criminal govt that we currently suffer from. too bad we abandoned the Constitution. maybe we can go back to it.the economic problem is caused primarily by govt mistakes, just as it was during the Great Depression. more govt only magnifies the problem.– kid mercury, official AVC bouncer
It’s interesting that cars are no longer considered communication tools because surely that was their primary purpose back in the day. Really we’re just shifting to the more efficient (faster and cheaper) method for interacting and connecting with the outside world.
I love the idea of a secondary market for start-ups. Although I dont know how it changes things for most start-up founders. I do see the value for investors, but the founder is probably not going to see much of a difference from what they experience today. Maybe my wish would be a way to help both the founders, employee’s etc….and the VC’s through a secondary market.
Re #4: Your desire for a secondary market is limited by regulation. Even investment in your funds is limited to 499 people (right?). The Sarbanes-Oxley regulations are burdensome and are definitely keeping companies from going public. But, as a not high net worth individual, I have no opportunity to invest in any small companies or in any fund that invests in small companies. Few public companies are pure-plays in areas where I wish to invest and most growth gets lost to the cash cow portions of the businesses.So, you can talk about a secondary market for founders where only savvy people can invest, but frankly, I know some widows who are quite astute investors (after all, they have the time to read SEC filings and do research). If people want to buy into a company, why shouldn’t they be allowed to? If you want to create a bigger market, more people need access to it.I don’t think rich people are any better at investing than poor people, maybe they can afford to lose more. Look at the way the margin calls have hit some of the richest people recently (Sumner Redstone, etc). I never had to sell a major portion of my stock holdings to meet margin, does that make me a better investor these billionaires? By one measure, I would be a more stable investor to have in your company than Mr. Redstone.
I am not hung up on limiting this to qualified investors but I am alsorealistic about sticking with the rules that are in place to get this wholething started
Fair enough. But if you get it going, I’d love the chance to invest.
Hmmm… How do you disclose confidential company information to that market? If you can’t disclose the P&L and balance sheet, who would buy the stock? And if you are on the Board and you had that information, but you didn’t disclose it to the buyer because of confidentiality, is that even legal? (even if we are talking qual. investors only)
Second market is encouraging companies that list to post basic financials and some other data. Any company that lists can limit the people who can see the data and trade on it. Although its clearly going to slip out over time if they do that
Thanks, Fred,it does seem like an interesting idea, but I am afraid the need to disclose company info will limit participation.Happy New Year!
Me too. I am eager to see some of our companies list so I will face this hurdle and will need to overcome it. If enough leading companies do it, others might follow
Sure, critical mass is always the challenge but Second Market, by choosing to be an SEC regulated alternative market, is putting up too many hurdles for investors and venture-backed pre-IPO companies alike. Rather than encouraging liquidation, organizations like InsideVenture are providing a direct private market for an additional private round of funding in the absence, but with the expectant return of, a healthy IPO market. I can’t believe you are giving up on the IPO market forever.
That’s useful context. I never saw it that way
There’s a quite a debate in the economics community on this topic. E.g., check out Krugman’s recent blog post. http://krugman.blogs.nytime…How the Obama administration comes down on this point will make a huge difference over the next four years. For now, it looks like they’ll be siding with Krugman at al.
Krugman is only arguing about whether FDR wage policy lengthened the Great Depression.The regulatory stuff is undisputed. Grain that you grow on your own land to feed cattle that you’re going to slaugter and eat on said land is “interstate commerce” thanks to FDR. Do you really think that Walmart is going to be more affected by job regulations than Mom and Pop?
Great post (as usual), Fred. I think 1 is dead on arrival and 3 has already begun even here in the Midwest. Much more interest among my 18 year old and her friends in communications, computers, etc than cars and such. 6-9 are also spot on. Obama is going to lead from the center I think- if his cabinet choices are any indication. While there was significant suck in 2008, I remain bullish on 2009.Have a great new year.
I don¹t mean conservative in the political sense, more in the attitude sense
> FDR betrayed his “upbringing” and became the champion of the common manOnly in Hollywood.The “New Deal” biz regulations basically screwed the common man in favor of corporate interests. The seminal cases involving wage and hour controls were brought against small, individually owned, bakeries and the like that were competing successfully with “big bread”. The agriculture regulations hobbled the family farm. (The seminal “interstate commerce” case involves someone who was growing cattle feed for his own cattle that he was eating himself.)FDR believed that the Great Depression was caused by too much supply and worked vigorously to destroy production. This is what made the “Great Depression” great – it didn’t end until external events made it necessary for the US to become productive.http://newsroom.ucla.edu/po…
well said, you dropped it like it’s hot. analysis is spot on.
I still do not understand why we need to limit our gas consumption. I do not understand how exactly this improves our national security. If I want to buy it, I should be able to buy it without the interference of the feds. It is not up to the feds to determine how much or how little energy I want to consume.We need less government involvement in our lives not more.
I think that “closet conservative” is the wrong term to describe a Democrat who manages the economy sensibly. Conservatives pay a lot of lip service to that, but if you look at Nixon, Reagan, Bush 41 and Bush 43 (compared to the budget surplus we had under Clinton), American conservatives just don’t walk the walk when it comes to the economy.
The budget surplus under Clinton happened:(1) With a Repub congress.(2) After the savings and loan debacle had ended.(3) After the cold war ended.(2) and (3) freed up a lot of money and the fighting between Clinton and Gingrich kept it from being spent.Are Obama and Pelosi going to fight?
i agree on everything except perhaps about Facebook. I’m more skeptical about them than I was a year ago.And that valuation of $9B you set for them back then, I’d say it has mightly deflated.I’d really love a Private Equity Market of sorts. Thousands of little big companies working together.Now that would be something 3.0 and i don’t see it happening in the US.That could happen elsewhere, where we’re already used to downsizing costs and downsizing the downsizings :-)It will take a major cultural shift for that to happen in the US where the biggest and the mightiest are the most respected. And cultural shifts take a long time to happen, i hope it’s not too late for the US to get on this train. That’s my sincerest wish.And now, back to work, and cranking code and riding bikes :-)Have a great 2009 !
I like it when our profitable and cash generating companies pay incentivecompensation bonuses to the management tied to increasing cash flow andoperating marginsThat aligns interests well with shareholders but it doesn¹t produce the samebig paydays that equity sales can
Re: #4 (Secondary Market). While not providing liquidity on the equity, I wonder whether startups – if they focus on operational results as opposed to pure value-creation in terms of equity valuations (e.g. building up loss-leading user bases) – they can/should issue dividends to equity holders? If liquidity events on equity will be limited in the near future, then at least there could be some alignment/incentive in terms of getting startups into a cash-flow focused operation. That also might broaden appeal to a wider set of investors that may be comfortable with lower returns and even in “lifestyle companies”.Is there any precedence regarding a tech startup really issuing dividends? I just googled and noticed a discussion of “Accured and Unpaid Dividends” (http://www.technologystartu… that get paid out at a liquidity event, but seems like the dividend is never paid otherwise.Of course, dividends are moot unless startups are profitable, but it would be a shift of looking at ROI of putting money into a startup in sight of the restricted IPO/M&A market.Just a thought.
this post will definitely get techmeme’dlove the piece about the gas tax, but i’d bet that it will take a few years before housing completely bottoms. there are too many attempts to fix the problem that aren’t getting to the core (i.e. interest only loan mods, principal forbearance, etc.). too much trial and error is going on before everyone agrees to take a big hit and modify loans so that homeowners can sustainably pay and the market can start to strengthen.
We need a carbon tax, not a gas tax. Coal plants and whatnot shouldn’t get a free ride on the backs of motorists. Cars are our most visceral CO2 sources, but they are not the largest.
I agree completely
8) Define Conservative. It seems to me that the last several Republican Presidents(who are typically held to be conservatives) have had more of an impact on socializing our country and expanding the deficit than any Democrat. The only difference being where the money is spent, not if and how much.What I want from Obama is truth and realism. It’s OK to want to help everyone, just realize that you can’t and be truthful about it. Realize that some people/entities will fail because, even though their names are iconic, the balance sheet and the output no longer is.Realize that after ‘giving’ over $1 Trillion in bailout funds to companies to prevent the ‘collapse’ of our economy, a few hundred billion to prevent the hunger or ensure the health of our fellow citizens shouldn’t be too much of a strain. Regardless of how much those who have just been bailed out protest.While it’s true the country is in dire straits economically, I don’t want our next President to feel like he can’t help The People because The irrationally exuberant bankrupt corporations have taken all the money from the till.-Malcolm Lloyd
Well said. Its a balance and I hope he can find the right one
Certainly I have wishes for all of our portfolio companies but its hard for me to talk about all of them and I wouldn’t want to single out just one of them. Twitter gets a lot of buzz but we have many exciting companies in our portfolio and 2009 is going to be an interesting year for all of them. Revenues will be front and center for most, that’s for sure
Fred, no revenue generation wishes for Twitter?
I don’t think Obama will be a “closet conservative”, but I think he will be more centrist than some people might expect. The whole left-right characterization is so bankrupt, anyway: there are many, many issues and you can’t just assume that someone is “x% to the left/right” and that will predict his behavior on all the issues. Anyway, if you advocate a gas tax (me, too), you must not be an ideologically-pure “conservative” anyway, so maybe what you’re wishing for is OK with me. The rest of your hopes are my own hopes too. Happy New Year!
This is a great post. I like your positive attitude it is constructive and reasonable. Happy New Year.
#1 has been said for years, but it needs to keep being said because it’s right on the mark and hopefully somebody will implement it one of these days. #2, #6 and #7 are right on and very original. Thanks for your smart observations, Fred.
I wish someone would develop a browser plugin which would compare a website RSS/Atom feed with my Google Reader OPML file and let me know if I already am subscribed.A corollary wish is a blogroll feature which would offer all the RSS/Atom feeds as a single OPML file which could be easily imported into your reader of choice. This feature would be especially useful at this time of year when everyone seems to be publishing “Best of…” lists. It’s a bit of a pain to manually copy/paste 30 RSS feeds into your reader without also knowing which feeds you already subscribe to (see above).Lastly, I wish that Apple’s Safari development team would offer a feature in Preferences which would deactivate the auto insertion of the prefix feed://, instead of http://, whenever one clicks the RSS icon in the address field.
There’s a big need for a mobile/social feed/blog reader. That’s one thing I wish for
Fred, I agree 100%.Currently, I use the Google Reader on my iPhone. While it works well it doesn’t synch with my desktop client and so posts which I have already read remain on the desktop as duplicates. Plus, I can’t share with a note items on the mobile version.
I don’t know how I feel about the ipo market long term but I do know that being on the board or even managing a public company in this day and age is not an ideal way to operate. I like the private markets better. If only we had more paths to liquidity in them
I share most of the same hopes apart from the draconian demonization of gasoline on the consumer level. Instead, do the same thing but on a tariff level, so that only imported oil is taxed. This keeps the revenue approach more constitutionally aligned, and makes us, the main nation int he world really concerned with doing things cleanly, incentivized to produce cleanly and set an example the rest of the world will follow.
I am with you on the iPod Touch although I’d like to see Apple release an iPod Touch that has at least 80GB of space on the drive so I can replace my aging 60GB iPod 5th Gen. An iPod Touch with those sorts of specs would make an awesome media device and pseudo PDA (I wouldn’t consider an iPhone until it received a number of massive upgrades – sticking with my Nokia E71 and whichever super smartphone Nokia comes up with next).As it is I carry my E71 and my iPod with me pretty much wherever I go and having a more capable and powerful iPod Touch would hit a sweet spot for me.