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Archive for November, 2014

 

RAOUL PAL: Bitcoin Is Worth $1,000,000

Raoul PalReal Vision Television Raoul Pal

“I did some analysis a while ago,” Raoul Pal said. “[It] was to try and create a valuation framework that gives some value to bitcoin because nobody really knows that it’s worth.”

Pal, a former global macro fund manager and current author of the Global Macro Investor newsletter, is talking about the bizarre digital cryptocurrency that saw its value surge north of $1,200 a year ago.

“So I said OK well let’s assume it’s something like gold—There’s a finite amount of it,” Pal said in an interview with Grant Williams on Real Vision Television. “There’s a finite amount that’s been mined. The rest is underground. We kind of know how long it’s going to take before all the gold is mined or before all the bitcoins. Put them in the same kind of equation we get a value of bitcoin and that value is a million dollars. Now, you’ll never hear an analyst say this—but I don’t mind this—I could be wrong by 90%, and it’s still worth $100,000.”

At the time of the interview, bitcoin was trading around $650. Right now, it’s at around $364.

Bitcoin chartCoin DeskHere’s how bitcoin has traded since July 2010.

One concern people have about bitcoin is the volatility in price swings. Pal said the volatility is fine. He thinks that the upside is “astronomical” compared to the downside.

Right now, bitcoin is still in its infancy and it’s not going to go away because of the amount of people behind it.

Pal expects central banks will have to regulate bitcoin over time, but that’s not a problem.

“What they can’t do is destroy it and that’s why bitcoin becomes incredibly interesting,” he said.

Even though he has a high valuation, Pal doesn’t recommend that people put their entire life savings in bitcoin. He suggested treating it like an option contract.

Buying bitcoin is something Pal strongly believes in, especially because he thinks we are at risk of losing faith in money. He worries about the consequences of central banks are printing too much of it. There’s an unfavorable perception that they’re “rigging” the system by keeping rates low and buying the bond market.

His suggestion is to avoid the bond market.

Pal also thinks that people should be careful about how they own their gold. Because of the proliferation of derivatives and ETFs, gold is just the collateral to a highly-leveraged “monster.” He thinks that it’s best to buy physically unencumbered gold instead of paper gold.

Watch the full Real Vision Television interview below:

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480px-Veterans_day

from Wikipedia

On Veterans Day we remember those who served and sacrificed with a toast –

“To the memory of those who once were and to the knowledge that they will be in the hearts and minds of their families and loved ones forever”

On Veterans Day we say “thank you” to those who serve today with a toast –

“Thank you for your service and we pray for your health and safety.  May you have courage, be safe and be just”

On Veterans Day we have “HOPE” for the future.

“May our leaders lead, provide support for the troops, provide medical recovery services for the wounded and do what is right and just”

May GOD bless and protect those who serve and on this coming Veterans Day, when you see a service person, go over to them and say “thank you”. 

We live in the “land of the free and the home of the brave”;  never ever, ever, ever forget that “FREEDOM IS NOT FREE”

with Honor and Respect

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7 Habits From Navy SEALs That Will Make You More Successful

navy seals

Flickr/Official U.S. Navy Page

Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Brad Woodard salutes as he jumps from an aircraft during parachute training.

I learned my best habits — and made some of my most dangerous mistakes — as a Navy SEAL.Once, when our platoon was preparing for a mission at one of our shooting ranges in Iraq, I had failed to reload one of my pistol mags after the previous night’s operation.

Our point man, the best-selling author of No Easy Day (under the pseudonym Mark Owen), discovered my mistake. To this day, I still think about the look of disappointment on his face.

The experience drove home the importance of good habits. The term habit generally has a negative connotation, but if you form the right habits that drive you toward success, you can’t lose. To be an effective team member, people usually need to break old habits and develop new ones by letting selfishness fall by the wayside. The SEAL community forces you to break habits that don’t positively contribute to mission success. If you can’t make that happen, you’re done.

I’ve gotten these habits right, and I’ve gotten them wrong. But those mistakes of yesterday have forged me into a better leader and team member today. If you want to be part of an elite team and are going to shed old habits, make sure to keep these!

  1. Be loyal. Team loyalty in the corporate environment seems to be a dying philosophy. Loyalty to the team starts at the top. If it’s lacking at the senior executive level, how can anyone else in the organization embrace it? Loyalty is about leading by example, providing your team unconditional support, and never throwing a team member under the bus.
  2. Put others before yourself. Get up every day and ask yourself what you will do to add value to your team, such as simply offering your assistance with a project. The challenge is overcoming the fear that your team member might say: “Yes, I really need your help with this project…tonight.”
  3. Be reflective. Reflective people often spend too much time analyzing their actions. But imagine if you could harness this talent into something highly valuable? Reflecting on your mistakes, such as mine in Iraq, ensures you never repeat them.
  4. Be obsessively organized. Some of us innately have this ability, often to a fault, and some have to work at it a bit more. You have to find a process that works for you. I’ve known people who will put something on their to-do list after they did it and then cross it off to feel a greater sense of accomplishment! Whatever your system is, make it work for you.
  5. Assume you don’t know enough. Because you don’t. Any effective team member understands that training is never complete. It’s true in the SEAL teams, and it’s true in any elite team. Those who assume they know everything should be eliminated. Those who spend time inside and outside of the workplace developing their knowledge and skills will provide the momentum for their team’s forward progress.
  6. Be detail-oriented. Attention to detail is one of our company’s values. Do we get it right all the time? Of course not. Imagine, though, if all members of a team are obsessed with detail in their delivery? My lack of attention to detail in the incident in Iraq could have had catastrophic results. Don’t ask yourself what you are going to do today to be successful; ask how you are going to do it.
  7. Never get comfortable. Always push yourself outside of your comfort zone. If you do this continually with every task you take on, that boundary will continue to widen. This process will ensure that you are continually maximizing your potential, which will positively impact your team.

You may be wondering how you could ever have a relaxed life if you maintain all of these habits. But that’s the beauty of it. If you enjoy what you do and form good habits, it all becomes second nature. Maintain these habits, and encourage your team members to do the same.

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What Bubble? Silicon Valley’s Younger Set Exhibits Optimism
By CHRISTOPHER MIMS CONNECT
Nov. 2, 2014 5:59 p.m. ET

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‘Have profitability in grasp,’ says Y-Combinator President Sam Altman. Gary Fong for The Wall Street Journal
There’s a generation gap in Silicon Valley, and it’s over a great deal more than who is using Snapchat versus who is still sending emails. In tech, the psychological dividing line is whether you were in the game the last time it all came crashing down.

“I remember the bubble bursting, but only just; I was 14,” says Sam Altman, president of Y-Combinator. Mr. Altman may have yet to see his 30th birthday, but as the head of the most-influential incubator of startups in Silicon Valley, he is among the most well-connected people in tech.

Everyone from Facebook FB +1.19% co-founder Dustin Moskovitz to YahooYHOO +0.92% Chief Executive Marissa Mayer guest-lectures in the course on startups Mr. Altman teaches at Stanford University. Companies that graduated from Y-Combinator include Airbnb and Dropbox.

“People have been calling the next bubble [in tech] since 2008, and it’s like they want it to crash,” says Mr. Altman, referring to recent talk about how overheated are the valuations of early stage startups. I admit I’ve been among those folks, calling Uber Technologies’ $18.2 billion valuation a “head scratcher,” given the competition it faces now and in the future.

Talking to Mr. Altman brings to mind another generation gap—between those who lived through the Great Depression and their children. Major economic crises can scar even the most resilient among us. The question about what’s currently going on in tech is whether it’s different this time.

I realize that is almost always a rhetorical question, but here’s how Mr. Altman—and to be fair, many others—frame it: In the 2008-2009 stock market crash, many tech companies that had little or no revenue were vaporized. Plenty of those kinds of companies still exist. Some may even be in the list of 49 privately held companies currently valued at $1 billion or more.

The good news is that since these companies remain private, public markets aren’t directly exposed to them. Companies waiting to go public until they mature a bit is perhaps the one lesson that everyone learned from the last bubble.

My own perspective is that of those 49 companies, there is no way to know how many could weather the kind of macroeconomic shock that is inevitable in our cyclical economy. Perhaps most of them learned from the last crash, or maybe none of them did, in which case a bunch of venture capitalists—and more important, their investors, known as limited partners—could take an epic bath.

For the average investor, that would be fine if LPs were just a bunch of hedge funds and wealthy individuals, but public pension funds are the largest single source of money for venture-capital funds, representing 20% in 2014. And, of course, there always is the danger that high-profile failures of big startups, which some VCs have said are inevitable, would spook the wider markets.

Mr. Altman says companies that come out of Y-Combinator are prepared for anything. “One of the things we urge Y-Combinator companies to do is to have profitability in grasp” he says. “If you need to get profitable before your A round of money, you ought to be able to do that.”

Whether or not companies that can make money when consumers are feeling confident can continue to make money when they are queasy about spending is a separate issue. And here’s where Mr. Altman’s optimism really comes in.

He allows that “there is too much capital available right now, and there are too many startups. It’s a little crazy right now.” But he also says that “I believe in the future, and to be a good investor you have to believe in the future.”

Thus, the 10,000 applications that Y-Combinator received for its last class of startups, in the summer of 2014, represent for Mr. Altman not the cresting of a great wave of entrepreneurial hype, but the logical result of Y-Combinator’s ability to concentrate power and influence in the valley through its alumni network, in which companies that graduate are made available to advise new recruits.

Also fueling record interest in Y-Combinator and other startup incubators is the increasingly global nature of tech. Forty percent of this year’s Y-Combinator applicant pool came from outside the U.S., says Mr. Altman.

A recent report by London-based venture-capital firm Atomico found that the number of billion-dollar companies formed outside Silicon Valley is growing at a faster rate than the number formed within it. More than ever, entrepreneurs are coming to the valley to learn its ways, then returning to their respective countries and creating their own startup ecosystems, says Mr. Altman.

All of this is good for tech. But is it good for those investing in tech, many of whom are propping up the valuations of big public companies whose taste for pricey acquisitions is fueling record acquisition prices?

This is where I, as a card-carrying member of Generation X, must part ways with Mr. Altman.

Economists say I’m a member of the first generation since the Depression to do worse than its parents. I graduated into the abysmal job market that followed the last tech bubble, and I survived the downturn that vaporized my own tiny startup in 2009.

The nature of capitalist Darwinism is that markets crash and companies die. It’s a necessary thinning of the herd, and it frees up resources for the fittest companies: engineers, office space, attention, everything that is scarce in our age of cheap capital.

The process is good for tech, and it’s good for some kinds of investors—those with foresight or just luck. But does it mean there isn’t a reckoning coming, even if it’s different than the last one?

Even someone who lacks the muscle memory for coping with economic free fall wouldn’t say that. Of today’s startups signing 10-year leases on lavish offices, piling on employee perks and generally spending like it’s 1999, Mr. Altman says, “If you are dependent on raising money, you will die.”

—Follow Christopher Mims on Twitter @Mims; write to him at christopher.mims@wsj.com.

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