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Archive for April, 2009

Here is an interesting editorial by way of The Deal and

“I like my doom and gloom as much as the next guy, but a whole year of unrelenting morbidity in the venture capital industry may be overdoing it just a wee bit. In some way, Sequoia Capital‘s famous “RIP Good Times” slide deck set the venture community off into a deep funk. How else to respond to the gravestone warnings to portfolio companies that they brace for a protracted slump, eliminate all but the most vital costs and learn to live without follow-on financings.

No less encouraging was the photo of a pig’s carcass with a butcher’s knife embedded into the animal’s fatty side.

Of course, there were many economic factors that were merely reflected in those slides. The lack of good exits (just five or six venture-backed initial public offerings for all of 2008), coupled with the steep drop in M&A activity and complete shut-down of the credit markets, significantly chilled investment activity, a frost that continues.”

To read the full article, click here.

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Here is a report on the real cost of the TARP program. As it seams, the plan does not always equal the result. The Power line Blog provides some stunning insights into the report submitted on April 21st. Click here to read the full article.

“On April 21, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Act of 2009–“SIGTARP”–submitted his quarterly report to Congress on his office’s activities in relation to the TARP program. The report is a disquieting document that should be read by every American–certainly be every taxpayer.

The Inspector General’s report documents the stunning and at least partly illegal expansion of TARP from the $700 billion originally allocated by Congress to what is now a $3 trillion complex of programs. This chart shows the various programs that are now included within SIGTARP’s oversight, and how they have expanded from the initial $700 billion. Note that some of the programs are still incipient; $3 trillion is by no means a final number.”

The article continues,

“The report is valuable for a number of reasons, not least because it provides the most coherent description I’ve seen of the various programs now underway to bail out–or take over, as the case may be–the country’s financial sector. So far, the report’s most commented-upon feature is its description of the many criminal investigations that are now underway, arising out of TARP:

Both from the Hotline and from other leads, SIGTARP has initiated, to date, almost 20 preliminary and full criminal investigations. Although the details of those investigations generally will not be discussed unless and until public action is taken, the cases vary widely in subject matter and include large corporate and securities fraud matters affecting TARP investments, tax matters, insider trading, public corruption, and mortgage-modification fraud.

It is safe to assume, however, that the investigations now in progress represent not even the tip of the iceberg. The most troubling feature of the SIG’s report is its documentation of reluctance on the part of Tim Geithner’s Treasury Department to make even modest efforts to protect the interests of the taxpayers. To take just one glaring example, Treasury has refused to require banks to account for what they do with the billions of dollars they receive in TARP money:

Treasury has indicated, however, that it will not adopt SIGTARP’s recommendation that all TARP recipients be required to do the following:

• account for the use of TARP funds
• set up internal controls to comply with such accounting
• report periodically to Treasury on the results, with appropriate sworn certifications

In light of the fact that the American taxpayer has been asked to fund this extraordinary effort to stabilize the financial system, it is not unreasonable that the public be told how those funds have been used by TARP recipients. Treasury is now conducting regular surveys of the banks’ lending activities; however, with the exception of Citigroup and Bank of America, Treasury has refused to seek further details on TARP recipients’ use of funds.”

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Here is some scary news reported by AP.

“The Treasury Department said Monday it will need to borrow $361 billion in the current April-June quarter, a record amount for that period. It’s the third straight quarter the government’s borrowing needs have set records for those periods.”

The bad news continues…

“Treasury also estimated it will need to borrow $515 billion in the July-September quarter, down slightly from the $530 billion borrowed during the year-ago period. The all-time high of $569 billion was set in the October-December period.”

“To cover the government’s heavy borrowing needs, Congress in February boosted the limit for the national debt to $12.1 trillion as part of the legislation that enacted President Barack Obama‘s $787 billion economic stimulus program. The national debt now stands at $11.1 trillion.”

One may only hope that the problems are to be solved…

Go to RealClearPolitics to read more on this story.

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Here is a short piece by way of Smarttrend.

“Invesco (NYSE:IVZ) and billionaire Wilbur Ross are leading a group of investors committing to purchase $1 billion in troubled bank assets through the government’s Public-Private Investment Program. In addition to Invesco and WL Ross (Ross’ investment fund), partners will include the LeFrak Organization, Assured Guaranty Ltd (NYSE:AGO), American Home Mortgage Servicing Inc, Muriel Siebert & Co, Williams Capital Group and Jackson Securities. On Monday Invesco CEO Martin Flanagan said, “The Public-Private Investment Program will help stimulate the mortgage market and provide individual and institutional investors globally with compelling investment opportunities in the legacy securities and legacy loan programs.”

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Since its inception in July last year, Appstore has become a steady and viable business model for Apple. With over 1 Billion downloads, its fair to say that the rest of the mobile industry needs to take a very close look at the model.

As a result, Apple can now show some very significant numbers towards the mobile content market.

“There are over 37 million devices running Apple’s mobile operating system: over 21 million iPhones and over 15 million iPod touches (with 35,000+ apps available in the store) according to the company. Besides driving the success of the App Store, these devices also helped Apple control 50 percent of the mobile ad market and drive the most mobile OS Internet traffic in the U.S., according to the latest market reports.”

In relation to mobile advertising, the PC World story continues;

AdMob’s research shows that the iPhone and iPod touch serve around 50 percent of the mobile ad requests in the U.S., followed by Research In Motion with 22 percent and Windows Mobile with 11 percent. Worldwide, Apple’s handsets go neck-to-neck with Nokia‘s when it comes to traffic generated by smartphones. AdMob’s data shows that Apple’s devices drive the most traffic world wide, counting in at 38 percent.”

Mashable, which mainly covers Web 2.0 news, made an interesting comparrison.

“The milestones comes just over three months after the company surpassed 500 million downloads, and about nine months since launching.

While it’s certainly an enormous milestone, how does it compare to some other massive numbers that various Web companies have reached recently? Here’s a look at a few huge stats:

While impressive in its own, and somewhat unrelated to eachother – web.20 have proven to produce some gigantic numbers that are serving as benchmarks for success.

Comprehensive blog coverage can be found here:  IntoMobile, MediaMemo, TechCrunch, SciTechBlog

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Widely covered, this story may actually indicate something big – Social Networking sites are in for some changes. The big buy out may be the goal for many, but is likely to provide stagnation or decline.  While Facebook has grp1-ap606_myspac_ns_20090423002610own rapidly the last few years, MySpace have stagnated.

Here are some good tidbits from Wall Street Journals coverage.

“People familiar with the situation said News Corp., was completing a deal to name former Facebook Chief Operating Officer Owen Van Natta as chief executive to succeed Mr. DeWolfe. He would report to Jon Miller, the former AOL chief executive who was recruited to join News Corp. this month in a newly created position of chief digital officer. Charged with all News Corp.’s stand-alone digital properties, he was particularly given the mission of shoring up MySpace.”

“More broadly, MySpace, like other social-networking sites, still must overcome doubts about the medium’s viability. Advertisers, for one, remain leery. “Advertising doesn’t fit so neatly into a conversation that people are having among themselves,” says Tom Bedecarre, chief executive of independent digital-ad firm AKQA. “The interruptive model of advertising hasn’t been successful.””

“Three top MySpace executives, including Amit Kapur, former chief operating officer, left the company in March to work on a start-up. MySpace has yet to name successors for those positions. Mr. Miller began discussing the job with potential candidates including Mr. Van Natta, but hadn’t finalized anything when the news of the talks leaked, according to people familiar with the situation. Mr. Van Natta helped expand Facebook but stepped into a less prominent role as chief revenue officer as the site grew, ultimately leaving the company in February 2008. At MySpace, he could serve as a bridge between Silicon Valley and MySpace, which has struggled to match Facebook’s technology prowess. Hearing of the talks, Mr. DeWolfe offered to resign, these people said.”

Its most often not a pretty site when things hit the fan. As far as MySpace goes, one may only wonder if the corporate culture of News Corp. will be able to uphold the indie status that draw traffic in the first place.

Read the full WSJ Online article here.

Comprehensive coverage can be found at these sites: Stephen Laughlin, Tech Blorge , SoCal Tech ,

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With a worse than bad report coming out of its first quarter, Yahoo is struggeling to find ways to stand on its own.  In the wake of Oracle/ Sun merge, next large Silicon Valley merge may come very soon. Microsoft who was once considered a no-no in the Valley may look like a saviour!

Here are some coverage tidbits from PCWorld.

“Yahoo had revenue of US$1.58 billion, down 13 percent from the first quarter of 2008 but higher than the $1.20 billion consensus expectation from analysts polled by Thomson Reuters.”

“Meanwhile, net income fell 78 percent to $118 million, or $0.08 per share, compared to $537 million, or $0.37 per share, in the first quarter of 2008, the company said Tuesday. On a pro forma basis, which excludes certain one-time items, Yahoo had net income of $206 million, or $0.15 per share, down 16 percent and 17 percent, respectively, compared to the first quarter of 2008 but exceeding by seven cents per share analysts’ expectation.”

With these bleak numbers, cutbacks will only solve parts of the fundamental problems.

“This time around, Yahoo will let go 5 percent of its staff worldwide. Yahoo ended 2008 with 13,600 employees, so this would mean that about 680 people will be laid off. Yahoo handed out pink slips to about 2,600 employees in two rounds of layoffs last year.”

One may wonder if this is the preparation for a merge with MSFT.

Other coverage on this story can be found at;  YogiMassMedia NowErik Bowman , 24/7 Wall Street

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