Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?

Wednesday, 6 November, 2019

20191106 Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers? - Pix 0120191106 Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers? - Pix 02

I posted “Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?” as a comment on CostCo’s Facebook page yesterday. And Costco’s social media teams replied promptly (within the hour) to inform me my concerns have already been sent to the appropriate team(s). Will see what happen next.

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For the record, here is “Why does Costco shortchange loyal renewing customers?” ,

Hi, We just had a rather #awful Costco Wholesale Canada membership renewal experience this past Friday. Ended up spending ~30 minutes talking to three (4) different customer service employees/manager with one of them even threatened me to stop writing down her name (I said I might want to complain about my experiences at some point). I was told I’m not allowed to remember their names in order to properly complain if I wish to. Is this normal and standard operating procedure of CostCo employees to threaten members who may want to complain with precision?
Can someone explain why does CostCo treat loyal customers WORSE than brand new customers? Shouldn’t renewal NOT be taken “for granted”? Is it wrong to think each renewal should be treated as EARNED?

— Calgary Zoo example
In stark contrast, Calgary Zoo does things right and treat each member who decides to renew (some don’t renew) with full respect and work hard to earn each renewal. As a start, the zoo treats a renewing member EQUALLY as a new member and would NEVER shortchange/disadvantage a loyal existing member!

— CostCo: a multi-billion dollar entitled company?
Now back to CostCo, please correct me if I am wrong. When a NEW customer decide to take out a NEW membership on November 1st, his/her membership will expire in 2020 November 30th, correct me if I am wrong?
Now when we renewed on November 1st, we were told that our membership expired on September 30th! Major #fail with CostCo! In fact we were further explained, for ANYONE who “renew” within three (3) months of their previous membership expiration date, their membership expiration is the OLD date! So for example, members who decide to renew 89 days after expiration will have their membership shortchanged with 89 days LESS!
Fair? I don’t think so. This, to me and to be frank, is the actions of a multi-billion dollar entitled company that disrespect loyal customers because “it has always been done like this” or it is in the “terms and conditions” (which I tried to read “Membership Conditions & Regulations, and Privacy Policy” but is unable to find the exact exploitative legal language).

— More Training (not punishment) & Will CostCo start treating Loyal/Renewal customers with respect??
I will NEVER want anyone be punished for my stupid complains. Life is too short. Training may be. I want other customers be treated much better than I had been.
I take time to complain not just to benefit myself (sure, I want my complains fixed) BUT I take time to publicly complain in order to raise issues that I think companies like CostCo should think seriously and consider fixing.
I’ve laid out my complains and the issues (hopefully clearly and factually). Will CostCo review your corporate policy and START respecting all Loyal/Renewing customers reminds to be seen. Don’t take my words for it, Google or ask Calgary Zoo how they treat their renewing members and if they treat their loyal renewing members as good as their new ones and if they also shortchange their members because many are too busy to ask?


United CEO Oscar Munoz, Executives from Alaska Airlines, SouthWest, American Airlines testify in front of Congress

Tuesday, 2 May, 2017

LIVE FB video stream of senior airline executives testify in front of US Congress.

16:40 United CEO Oscar Munoz
22:28 Alaska Airlines
27:56 SouthWest
33:35 American Airlines
39:37 Consumer Union (policy arm of Consumer Reports)

See also Global News report (with video), “United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz tells U.S. Congress the David Dao incident was ‘a mistake of epic proportions’


Boycott United Airlines

Tuesday, 11 April, 2017

united

I tweeted “Seriously, enough is enough. I will never fly @United again!! #BoycottUnitedAirlines #fail” with the above widely shared photo and I meant it. And I tweeted “(CBC News, 10 minutes video) Gabor Lukacs, an air passenger rights advocate, calls @United’s behaviour ‘unacceptable’“, here (CBS News), here, here, here, and retweeted the following videos and photos. (see below) This United self-created mess has now become a viral talking points in news (in Chinese in Apple Daily) and chat shows around the world in multiple languages and cultures. This is million times worse than the United Breaks Guitars moment as not everyone has a guitar but no one wants his/her head bloodied and bruised!

News stories like “United CEO says removed passenger was ‘disruptive and belligerent’” and “Not so friendly skies: United Airlines’ public relations disaster” further highlight United and its CEO just doesn’t get it. United CEO Oscar Munoz doesn’t get that passengers and potential passengers can all see for themselves no human beings should be treated like this. (see videos for yourself) And ultimately, a global company’s weakest local links can bring the reputation down and costing million dollars of lost revenues.

Have a watch of this funny segment “Jimmy Kimmel on Passenger Dragged Off United Flight” that includes a re-imagined United Ad! #funny #fail

More headlines: WaPo, “The full timeline of how social media turned United into the biggest story in the country“; CNN, “Backlash erupts after United passenger gets yanked off overbooked flight“; HKFP “‘Shameless!’: China internet users in uproar over United passenger fiasco“; BBC, “United Airlines: Chinese and Vietnamese anger at passenger removal“; Financial Post, “United shares tumble as passenger-dragging social-media storm spreads worldwide“; CNN Money, “United Airlines shows how to make a PR crisis a total disaster

Charles Mok, a HK legislator, even shared a video of him cutting up his United Mileage Plus card.

Watch of this funny segment “Jimmy Kimmel on Passenger Dragged Off United Flight” that includes a re-imagined United Ad! #funny #fail

Update: UK Daily Mail some info on the 69-year-old Vietnamese-American Dr. David Dao “PICTURED: The internal medicine specialist father-of-five who was beaten and dragged off an overbooked United flight as CEO pens ‘tone deaf’ email DEFENDING staff Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4401444/Name-man-hauled-United-flight-Chicago-revealed.html#ixzz4dxgfMTes Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook“.

Apr 12, 2017 update: This is totally damage control stuff and Read the rest of this entry »


Remembrance Day – Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman (year round care, vigilance and actions)

Tuesday, 10 November, 2015
Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan's 2015 Remembrance Day message

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan’s 2015 Remembrance Day message

Remembrance

On Remembrance Day, it is customary to honour and show our appreciation of our veterans past and present for their service and sacrifice for Canada. Quoting our new Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan‘s Facebook posting,

On this Remembrance Day, we honour the courage shown, time and again, by our men and women in uniform, past and present. We show our deep appreciation for all they have sacrificed for Canada.

Once a year, we buy our poppy pins and wear them on our clothing to show we remember and we care.

Year round care, vigilance and actions

In 2010, Canada’s first Veteran’s Ombudsman Colonel Pat Stogran, via his passionate/frank words and actions (Ottawa Citizen “Embattled ombudsman Pat Stogran makes his last stand for Canada’s veterans“), got my blood boiled and taught me that as Canadians we could and should do more by speaking up to help our veterans at home by holding our governments in Ottawa accountable to keep our promises to take care of our veterans and their families.

Power of social media

As a start, please LIKE & SHARE the Canada’s Veterans Ombudsman & Ombudsman des vétérans du Canada official Facebook pages.

The Veterans Ombudsman works toward ensuring that the sacrifices of Canada’s Veterans and their families are recognized through the provision of services, benefits, and support in a fair, accessible, and timely manner. The Ombudsman plays an important role in raising awareness of the needs and concerns of Veterans and their families.

LIKE & SHARE these pages so we Canadians can help the Ombudsman to keep issues important to our veterans in Canadians’ hearts & minds and hold our government accountable to do the right thing for our veterans all year round. When we make noises in social media, call or email our MPs, they listen.

Blood boiled since 2010

In 2010, Rick Mercer talked about Canada’s first Veteran’s Ombudsman Colonel Pat Stogran’s battle with our government to fight for our veterans. My blood boiled and I was changed forever Read the rest of this entry »


“Chairs Are Like Facebook” #fail Wieden & Kennedy Ad for FB to honor users

Thursday, 4 October, 2012

"Chairs Are Like Facebook" #fail Wieden & Kennedy Ad for FB to honor users

Wieden & Kennedy is a great Ad company that bought us the exceptionally cool “Old Spice Man campaign” in 2010 but its lastest “Chairs Are Like Facebook” Ad to celebrate it had reached its billion-user milestone has left this reporter and many people scratching our collective heads. To many people, Facebook is a Lovemark to them but this ad isn’t one fit for a Lovemark.

Rebecca Van Dyck (FB), former exec for Apple and Levi’s and hired by Facebook in Feb 2012 as its head of consumer marketing, told AdAge, (emphasis added)

What we’re trying to articulate is that we as humans exist to connect, and we at Facebook to facilitate and enable that process.” “We make the tools and services that allow people to feel human, get together, open up. Even if it’s a small gesture, or a grand notion — we wanted to express that huge range of connectivity and how we interact with each other.

Ms Van Dyck continued, (emphasis added)

We started thinking about this a year ago and approached Wieden & Kennedy to help us craft a message that articulated our values and who we are. It wasn’t until recently that we realized we were close to reaching 1 billion, and we thought what an amazing way to honor our users, to create this piece for them.

For an ad that aspires to articulate “our values and who we are“, the least it should is to touch us emotionally, be meaningful, and may be have it stand the test of time. I’ve watched the Ad quite a few times now to make sure my comments express my feelings fairly. And I’ve also transcribed the words from the voiceover of “Chairs Are Like Facebook” so I can read it in full and you can see for yourself.

[red wood chair suspending in mid-air in a forest]

Chairs. Chairs are made so that people can sit down and take a break.

Anyone can sit on a chair and if the chair is a large enough they can sit down together and tell jokes or make up stories or just listen.

Chairs are for people and that’s why chairs are like Facebook.

Doorbells. Airplanes. Bridges. These are things people used to get together. So they can open up and connect about ideas and music.

Another things people share: Dance Floors. Basketball. A Great Nation.

A Great Nation is something people build so they can have a place where they belong.

The Universe. It is vast and dark. And makes us wonder if we are alone. So may be the reason we make all of these things is to remind ourselves that we are not.

in white appears on a black screen.

Reading the about FaceBook Ad copy, it just seems, to me, totally disposable and ready to be thrown away next week/month and ready to be replaced by something flashy, different and new. In stark contrast, Apple’s timeless “Think Different” Ad campaign is so impressive a copy that I’ve personally heard it read out loud in wedding ceremony! Yes, people love it that much! As this reporter wrote in 2011 when the Steve Jobs biography was published, the voice (someone has to read the copy) of the voice over deserves tremendous attention! And I don’t know what happened in the Facebook voice over casting?! Anyway, here is what Steve Jobs went through in his struggle to decide whose voice to use.

Jobs couldn’t decide whether to use the version with his voice or to stick with Dreyfuss. […] When morning came, Jobs called and told them to use the Dreyfuss version. “If we use my voice, when people find out they will say it’s about me,” he told Clow. “It’s not. It’s about Apple.”

Have a listen and watch of the following two versions of “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” videos.

Steve Jobs narrates The Crazy Ones (video, not often heard)

Richard Dreyfuss narrates The Crazy Ones (video, this is the official one many people have seen)

(note: By the way, I totally agree with Steve’s decision and rationale here.)

To this reporter, the normally cool Wieden & Kennedy has a big #fail in “Chairs Are Like Facebook” Ad. What do you think?

Cross posted by me at examiner.com


Cyberbullying Victim in Fake Facebook case can remain anonymous, Supreme Court of Canada rules

Sunday, 30 September, 2012

Good to read, “A Nova Scotia teenager has won the right to remain anonymous in a court battle against a cyberbully, but the Supreme Court of Canada rejected her request for a publication ban on some details of her case.

Read the Supreme Court of Canada ruling. Here is a brief excerpt,

“The critical importance of the open court principle and a free press has been tenaciously embedded in the jurisprudence. In this case, however, there are interests that are sufficiently compelling to justify restricting such access: privacy and the protection of children from cyberbullying.

Recognition of the inherent vulnerability of children has consistent and deep roots in Canadian law and results in the protection of young people’s privacy rights based on age, not the sensitivity of the particular child. In an application involving cyberbullying, there is no need for a child to demonstrate that he or she personally conforms to this legal paradigm. The law attributes the heightened vulnerability based on chronology, not temperament.

While evidence of a direct, harmful consequence to an individual applicant is relevant, courts may also conclude that there is objectively discernable harm. It is logical to infer that children can suffer harm through cyberbullying, given the psychological toxicity of the phenomenon. Since children are entitled to protect themselves from bullying, cyber or otherwise, there is inevitable harm to them — and to the administration of justice — if they decline to take steps to protect themselves because of the risk of further harm from public disclosure. Since common sense and the evidence show that young victims of sexualized bullying are particularly vulnerable to the harms of revictimization upon publication, and since the right to protection will disappear for most children without the further protection of anonymity, the girl’s anonymous legal pursuit of the identity of her cyberbully should be allowed.”


Social media video interview with Royal Canadian Mounted Police Ontario expert Jean Turner-Floyd

Tuesday, 14 August, 2012

Social media interview with Royal Canadian Mounted Police Ontario expert Jean Turner-Floyd

Astute readers may remember I had insightful chats with social media experts from Toronto Police (see video interview) and UK Police (video interview) few weeks ago. Well, after some planning, I had the pleasure to talk to Royal Canadian Mounted Police “O” Division (Ontario Division) (English: @RCMPONT, French: @GRCONT) social media expert Jean Turner-Floyd (@jturnerfloyd) two weeks ago about how RCMP “O” Division is currently using social media to help with policing work. I really appreciate Jean taking time in sharing her insights.

Following is my video interview with Jean.

P.S. When I find more time, I still plan to write up an in-depth article (possibly also conducting one or more interviews) to allow Canadians (and citizens in other countries) to see how social media tools have been used by police forces from around the world. And may be opportunities for police forces to learn from each others. Stay tuned.


London Olympics will take place in London – Facebook Likes/Shares are making us dumber

Sunday, 5 August, 2012

Internet (Facebook) makes us stupid

Funny? Well, not so fast. Liking and sharing the obviously “funny” may be in our genes. But I argue that without reading even beyond the headline (in this case, the first two lines) is often easier and more dangerous than you think. And I will say also potentially making us dumber than we are!

For the record here is the first two lines, “More often than not, the Olympic host city doesn’t really host the Olympics. It merely hosts a couple of IOC caviar buffets, while the real event tends to take place in a remote pasture or distant slum.”

For the 1,800+ “Likes” and 900+ “shares”, it is so easy to “like” and “share”, I guess is it pointless to even suggest fact-checking something before you re-share (or like)?

Here is WaPo article by Sally Jenkins, mind you, under a different, more “traditional”, title “2012 London Olympics are a refreshingly urban affair, though Mitt Romney might disagree“.


Use of Social Media tool by Police Services – Interview with Gordon Scobbie @DCCTayside National UK police lead for Social Media

Friday, 6 July, 2012

Insightful interview with +Gordon Scobbie @DCCTayside National UK police lead for Social Media

I am doing some ongoing research for in-depth article about the use of Social Media tool by police services around the world. This morning I conducted an hour long insightful video interview with DCC Gordon Scobbie, National UK police lead for Social Media (I’ve posted a video excerpt here). Like I wrote before,

“Average readers may not know but police services are now using social media tools to help communicate with citizens, report crimes, and, in some cases, even prevent crimes. Think for a moment, “prevent crimes” amazing right?!”

Gordon gave a very insightful talk “Police Leadership 2011 Conference/Seminar” in April 2011 at Vancouver. Also check out this Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) guide entitled “Engage: Digital and Social Media Engagement for the Police Service” (PDF file) (probably created around 2010). Both the presentation and the 22 pages guide are very informative and very worth your time in reading.


Did Bloomberg distort Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak’s view on Facebook as an investment?

Wednesday, 6 June, 2012

Did Bloomberg distort Apple Co-Founder Mr. Steve Wozniak's view on Facebook as an investment?

Here is an edited version of a request for clarification sent to Bloomberg reporters and editor for the May 13th, 2012 story “Apple Co-Founder Wozniak Would Buy Facebook At Any [Price]“.

*******

To: Bloomberg reporters Ms. Shraysi Tandon & Mr. David Fickling and editor Mr. Michael Tighe [see Bloomberg article for email contacts]
copy: Mr. Steve Wozniak

I was in touch with Apple Co-Founder Mr. Steve Wozniak electronically yesterday [see lengthy exchange in this public post’s comments]. And I was very disturbed to hear Mr. Wozniak telling me his view on Facebook “investment” had been distorted by Bloomberg. At the core, Mr. Wozniak told me that he made it clear to Bloomberg’s reporters that any purchase of Facebook shares would be just “ceremonial” (he gave the analogy, like “waiting in line for iPhones“). The following are Mr. Wozniak’s words. Emphasis are added by me to draw your attention.

if I bought Facebook shares (it wasn’t possible due to my schedule) it would not be as an investor but rather ceremonial, like waiting in line for iPhones. But that got missed by a lot of people. I’m very sorry if they duped you.

This is in direct contrary to the video excerpt Bloomberg decided to include. Here is a transcript of the broadcasted video exchange between Bloomberg reporter Ms. Tandon and Mr. Wozniak re investing in Facebook (~00:22 to 00:37)

Reporter: “Would you invest in Facebook?”
Answer: “I would invest in Facebook. I don’t care what the opening price is. I would, just for good reasons. Especially if was an investor looking to make money.”

Mr. Wozniak also wrote the following. And again, I have added emphasis to draw your attention. [see excerpt from public post’s comments]

“I have a great idea. Why don’t you contact the reporter and ask him if, before the interview, I told him how I don’t read financial papers and have never used the iPhone stock price app and that I couldn’t answer financial questions. He was a very good tech reporter but asked that question at the end. It was a trick and a setup, as he’d heard my explanation an hour before during my speech. I think this may have been in Singapore. You have to ask how ethical that was. He knew the truth but set it up in a way that would deceive you. And it was my intent at that time to buy Facebook stock, but not as an investment, and the reporter knew that well. I had told him that my wife and I don’t trade stocks and all we have is Apple and Fusion-io. So he knew the truth but published otherwise. Sorry, but at the end of a tired day one word may have been wrong (invest instead of buy) but 2 people, myself and the reporter, knew it was not an investment. I doubt I used the word “investment” since it’s a word not in my vocabulary. I have never in my life invested in stock. Please contact the reporter to verify this and let him know what you think. And ask him not to do it to the next “nice” guy.”

I personally don’t know Mr. Wozniak and had only got in touch with him yesterday. Mr. Michael Tighe, as the Bloomberg editor in charge of this article, can you please confirm with the Bloomberg reporters if Mr. Wozniak’s view got distorted seriously. At times I am a blunt reporter and based on Bloomberg’s original report, I had written,

“I love +Steve Wozniak for his tech but his investment “advice” was worst than idiotic.”

To me, Bloomberg’s reputation is on the line here. Distorting a “ceremonial” purchase of Facebook stocks and turning it into a story with title “Apple Co-Founder Wozniak Would Buy Facebook At Any [Price]” is a serious journalist blunder at least or an inexcusably unethical behaviour at worst.

Finally, Ms. Shraysi Tandon, Mr. David Fickling, and Mr. Michael Tighe, I hope if there was a mistake, Bloomberg will do the honourable thing and issue a formal correction and apologize. Since you are all professional journalists, I don’t need to remind why we in the business of reporting will all remember Jayson Blair (former reporter with New York Times) or Stephen Glass (former reporter with The New Republic) for a very long time to come.

Please kindly recheck the source and basis of your story and issue a correction and apology if a mistake was made. Please let me know an error was indeed made, I would like to promptly issue my apology to Mr. Wozniak in saying his “investment “advice” was worst than idiotic” based on Bloomberg’s May 13th report.

Best,
Kempton

Kempton Lam
B.Sc. MBA
mobile: 403.xxx.xxxx
freelance TV reporter, commentator & blogger

P.S. Cross posted onto examiner.com. I am hoping to hear from Bloomberg really soon to set the record straight.


Kempton and Wallace talk about Facebook “investing” in Cantonese

Tuesday, 22 May, 2012

The following is a recording of a LIVE broadcast of Kempton and Wallace talk about Facebook “investing” in Cantonese. If you understand Cantonese, I hope you will enjoy it and share some feedback with us. Here is a brief article in Chinese.


Angry Dad’s Facebook parenting for the troubled teen – Teachable moments

Friday, 10 February, 2012

Facebook Parenting- For the troubled teen - pix 05

The YouTube video “Facebook Parenting: For the troubled teen” has gone viral with over 2.1 million views since posting two days ago on Feb 8, 2012.

In the video, Tommy Jordan, dad of a 15-year-old daughter, publicly discussed and responded to his daughter’s Facebook status complain.

Facebook Parenting- For the troubled teen - pix 01

What turned the video viral happend near the end of the clip where Tommy took out a gun and shot her daughter’s notebook computer to “put a stop” to her disrespectful behaviour.

Facebook Parenting- For the troubled teen - pix 02

Facebook Parenting- For the troubled teen - pix 03

Gun as Parenting Duct Tape?

In a heated but yet civil KRNV TV debate (thx host Melissa) this morning, an American friend pointed out that the dad shot the computer on his private land to teach his teenage daughter a lesson, whats wrong with it? Well, there is nothing legally wrong. After all, it is just a computer and no one got hurt. What I have problem with is using gun as a parenting tool.

To me, taking out a gun to solve a parenting problem has simply gone too far, even if it is to shoot an inanimate object, a computer, to teach a lesson. The dad wrote, “As her father, I’ll definitely do what I say I will, both positive and negative and she can depend on that. She no longer has any doubt about that.” Sure, shooting and destroying the computer showed the dad will do what he said. At the same time, the dad also also showing bring out a gun to teach a lesson is OK. I don’t know if other parents will flow, I hope not. But I worry more about what will other children learn after watching this viral video? To me, the implicit while unintended lesson is that the destructive and wowing power of gun gets the job done. It shut someone up. Is this an acceptable lesson to learn for children?

Public & World Stage: Facebook status & YouTube video

The teenage daughter was wrong to use Facebook status to write disrespectful open messages about her parents. At the same time, the dad, the supposedly responsible adult here, was wrong to pose a public YouTube video to shame his daughter. Working in the IT industry, he should have know that a public (or even a private) video can get out of the intended target audience. Determined kids could have copy and extracted a private video and post it public. And once the video has gone viral, it is game over, no way to take it back because copies will have been kept by someone somewhere out there.

I will not be surprised that soon Tommy’s daughter’s name will be published and known. And if they decided to accept TV interviews, the daughter will be in the “public domain” too. And both of them will likely be associated with this negative story and the viral video for a long time to come.

Teachable moments

* If you have the urge to publicly shame your parents or children, or friends, my advice: don’t.

* Try to be careful of what you post, share, or say online. Because sometimes things may inevitably get outside of your intended audience and may even get out of control.

* Finally, if and when that inevitable thing does get out of control, try to laugh at it and try to learn something from it. No one is perfect. And in our internet age, unless we completely close ourselves up, there are bound to be funny pix, photos, stories of us floating around somewhere. Be forgiving of others’ faults and failings. Again, no one is perfect. Remember the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.

* This story is likely not finished yet. I am waiting for NextMedia to give it a Taiwan animation treatment! :) For the sake of the daughter (and the father), I hope they can laugh with us.

****

Since the daughter is “grounded“, I have no choice but to rely on the one-sided comment from the dad. Following is a direct word-for-word quote from Tommy Jordon’s Facebook page (emphasis added). (note: at press time, Li’s TorStar article has, unfortunately, only used one line from Tommy’s lengthy reply. I have quoted Tommy in full to be fair to him.)

“Media Response to Anita Li, from the Toronto Star

Since you took the time to email us with your requests like we asked, I’ll take the time to give you an honest follow-up response. You’ll have to forgive me for doing so publicly though; again I want to be sure my words are portrayed the way I actually say them, not cut together to make entirely different points.

Your questions were:
Q: Why did you decide to reprimand your daughter over a public medium like YouTube?

A: Well, I actually just had to load the video file itself on YouTube because it’s a better upload process than Facebook, but the intended audience was her Facebook friends and the parents of those friends who saw her post and would naturally assume we let our children get away with something like that. So, to answer “Why did you reprimand her over a public medium like Facebook” my answer is this: Because that’s how I was raised. If I did something embarrassing to my parents in public (such as a grocery store) I got my tail tore up right there in front of God and everyone, right there in the store. Read the rest of this entry »


Facebook $5 billion IPO: Invest (or not) based on SEC Form S-1 review

Wednesday, 1 February, 2012

Facebook

Facebook IPO - pix 01

Facebook has just filed papers for an initial public offering potentially worth $5 billion. Have a read of Facebook’s Form S-1 prospectus filing, pay special attention to the  MD&A section (Management discussion and analysis). According to MarketWatch,

“[Facebook] did not specify the amount of shares or projected price range in the filing, nor did it specify which exchange it hopes to list its shares on. The company said it intends to trade its shares under the ticker symbol “FB.” It said it had revenue of $3.7 billion with net income of $1 billion for the year ended Dec. 31.”

See also report in CNN Money,

How much Facebook is worth: In this initial paperwork, companies don’t declare how many shares they’re going to sell, or how much those shares will cost. Those details will be added in an updated filing shortly before trading begins.

Without that share price information, Facebook’s valuation is still speculative.

Facebook has its own guesses, though. The company said it conducted its own valuation of its stock at the end of each quarter, and as of December 31 determined it to be worth $29.73 a share.

Trading won’t begin for several months, as Facebook now has to field questions from regulators and court investors for its stock sale.”

Many Facebook users/amateur investors are feeling euphoric and wanted to invest in Facebook, viewed as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Some would invest in a company relying on the greater fool theory but I think it is wiser to invest based on proper research.

BNN’s Marty Cej said it concisely earlier today,

This will be the first opportunity for the public to see how the company really works, how it generates revenue, the pace of revenue and profit growth, the risks and the opportunities. Analysts and investors will finally be able to attach a valuation to the company and decide whether the stock will be worth a punt when it goes public in a few months time. No matter how well you think you know the company, there will be surprises.

From Form S-1Consolidated Statements of Income Data

Facebook IPO - pix 03 - Consolidated Statements of Income Data

Consolidated Balance Sheet Data

Facebook IPO - pix 04 - Consolidated Balance Sheet Data

P.S. As a general rule, use the SEC EDGAR database to conduct company research before investing. Informed investing is much more rewarding than speculating/gambling (to make/lose money) in the long run.

Feb 5, 2012 Update: MarketWatch, “Why Facebook is likely to do a face-plant – Commentary: Long-awaited IPO is Stupid Investment of the Week

MarketWatch, “Facebook’s IPO will be way overvalued – Commentary: Facebook price-to-sales ratio projected to be sky high

MarketWatch, “The year of FacebookCommentary: Social network is subject to shifts in online advertising

Guardian, “Facebook prepares for risks and rewards in its future


Facebook IPO – The Joy of an Echo Chamber

Saturday, 28 January, 2012

We may know more about Facebook‘s supposed IPO next week possibly as soon as Wednesday (or later, hedging “timing is still being discussed“). One thing for sure is it has been fun to see media outlets in US and around the world joining in unison to repeat the news quoting WSJ as the source, “Facebook Readies IPO Filing – Morgan Stanley Seen Leading Deal Valuing Giant at $75 Billion to $100 Billion“.

In the age of instantaneous news/media, the name of game unfortunately is to report something quickly. Writing CYA words like “according to XYZ” (in this case, according to WSJ) is as good as, if not better than, doing your own reporting and facts checking! Well, it doesn’t cost you a cent plus writing the words “according to XYZ” almost absolve yourself from responsibilities. If the report was later found to be false, well, it is XYZ that f*cked up, not you. At least it is not like you mistakenly reporting someone’s death or something!

According to WSJ “Facebook IPO: Morgan Stanley Close to Reeling In a Giant ‘Like’

WSJ says the IPO could come as early as Wednesday with a valuation of $75 billion to $100 billion.

When thousands of media outlets all are reporting the same piece of information, it must be true right?! Isn’t echo chamber fun? In case you missed it in the above quote, the echo chamber is going as far as quoting itself in Facebook IPO. Yes, WSJ is quoting WSJ. Why not?! The media outlets are stuck in a “no-win” commoditized news game and I would much rather be in games that are “win-win“.

As a business and technology geek, Facebook’s IPO will come when it comes. What I am more interested in is to read Facebook’s IPO filing prospectus if and when it is available.

P.S. Let me be clear that I don’t have a solution to our echo chamber yet but I don’t know if this reporting of news “according to …” is helping anyone.


interesting articles this week

Saturday, 29 October, 2011

* Huffington Post, “YouTube Snags Amy Poehler, Madonna, Shaquille O’Neal To Launch Original Content Channels

“YouTube is shelling out $100 million to producers, according to people familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity. The money is an advance on advertising money the videos will bring in, and Google will recoup its portion first before splitting the proceeds. Advances are as high as $5 million per channel, said another person familiar with the arrangement, also speaking on condition of anonymity.”

* “Why is Facebook building a server farm near the Arctic Circle?” – It is cold and it has cheap power. AP via TorStar

“Facebook says its new server farm on the edge of the Arctic Circle — its first outside the U.S. — will improve performance for European users of the social networking site.

After reviewing potential sites across Europe, Facebook confirmed Thursday it had picked the northern Swedish city of Lulea for the data center partly because of the cold climate — crucial for keeping the servers cool — and access to renewable energy from nearby hydropower facilities.”

* “Errol Morris: creating reality“, The Guardian

“Talk to any film-maker and they’ll say the same thing: Morris, who was born in 1948, is a revolutionary. His documentaries create reality as much as they capture it. He sees them as art, as essays, as anything but anthropology. Railing against cinéma vérité and its philosophy of “shaky camera equals truth”, he opts instead for dramatic reconstructions, obtrusive soundtracks, striking angles. He also invented and employs a machine called the Interrotron (its name a synthesis of “interview” and “terror”) that makes interviewees appear to be talking directly to the film viewer.

Tabloid, his new film, is as strange as any Morris has ever made. It’s the story of Joyce McKinney, a beauty queen and former Miss Wyoming who in 1977 hired a private aeroplane and with accomplices travelled to England to track down her boyfriend Kirk whom she believed had been abducted by the Mormon church. After kidnapping him, she whisked him off to a cottage in Devon where, depending on whose story you believe, she spent the next three days either raping him as he lay spread-eagled in bed or having a merry feast of “fun, food and sex”.”

* “YouTube Set to Announce TV Initiative With 100 Niche Channels“, THR

“In a low-budget early effort to compete with satellite and cable TV providers, YouTube is set to announce Friday that it has partnered with several entities to roll out television-style channels with professionally produced shows that will strike a sharp contrast to the short videos of crazy cats, skateboard wipeouts and other amateur content that made the site famous. Read the rest of this entry »


Luboh helps users share their buying experiences

Sunday, 16 October, 2011

Luboh - logo

My insightful friend & former co-worker Sarb recently launched Luboh (in beta) with his partners. Here is my text interview with Sarb to tell you more about the cool Luboh.

Kempton: For people who haven’t heard about Luboh yet, can you talk about how they can use Luboh? How will Luboh help people?

Sarb: The idea behind Luboh is to help users share their buying experiences. While there are many online reviews and customer feedback and opinions on many consumer products, the authors are typically strangers. Instead, we as humans place far higher importance on opinions of people we know. Our friends and family. Let me give you an example. Say you’re looking for a new TV and it just so happens that when you mention it to your friend while at the pub. He tells he just got a fantastic deal on a Sony model XYZ TV from a shop down the road. No doubt you’re interested. More so than perhaps reading an online review from an effectively anonymous individual. Luboh.com lets you easily find a product that you’re interested in and then to either ask your Facebook friends what they think of it or if you’ve already bought it, to tell your friends what a great deal you got! You can try Luboh at www.luboh.com

Kempton: Can you share a few screen captures to explain some of the Luboh features or functions?

Sarb: Here is a screen sample showing what search results look like. If you login with your facebook account, we’ll also show you what your friends have recently bought. (Click to zoom in to large image)

And here’s another one that shows how you share information with friends. (Click to zoom in to large image)

Kempton: Does the name Luboh have any special meaning?

Sarb: Well, other than “lu-boh” being a really cool name for a website, the word “lub-oh” in Punjabi (pronounced slightly differently to the website) actually means search-for.

Kempton: Future plans?

Sarb: The site is still in a beta mode and there is still some work left to iron out the wrinkles. In the future we hope to keep on increasing the number of products and services that we have access to, to make it more and more useful to our users.

******

P.S. You can follow Luboh on their Facebook page.


Interview with Mohamed Mansour – Creator of “Facebook Friend Exporter” & “My Hangouts for Google Plus”, and Google Chromium committer

Tuesday, 23 August, 2011

Mohamed Mansour Technical Software interview

Mohamed Mansour is a Canadian Software Engineer and the creator of the cool Google+ extensions “Facebook Friend Exporter“, “My Hangouts for Google Plus“, “Hangout Auto Retry Try Again” and “Extended Share for Google Plus“. Mohamed is also a contributor (actually a committer) of Google Chrome‘s open source project Chromium.

Few days ago, I had the pleasure of conducting a technical interview with Mohamed to talk about his various software work and a little bit about himself. Have a watch of the following video clips. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I was in conducting the interview.

Mohamed Mansour Technical Interview (Chromium, Chrome vs. Firefox …) 01/03

– How did Mohamed get start working on Chromium (Google Chrome’s open source project)?

– Why did Mohamed choose to work on Chrome instead of Firefox?

– Mohamed talked about his experiences of putting in his first patch on the Chromium.

– At university, how did Mohamed switch from chemical engineering to electrical engineering, and finally settling on software engineering?

– Why did Mohamed decide to take the path of putting in so much time in open-source software work, instead of like other talented software engineers spending time to make the next new new product and make a ton of money?

– And other discussions.

Mohamed Mansour Technical Interview (Facebook Friend Exporter…) 02/03

– “Facebook Friend Exporter“, Mohamed talks about the development history and the road blocks Facebook put up.

– “Extended Share for Google Plus” (a tool that share things to Facebook, Twitter, etc)

– “Hangout Auto Retry Try Again

– And other discussions.

Mohamed Mansour Technical Interview (Google+ Hangout, My Hangouts for G+…) 03/03

– Technical discussion about Google+ Hangout. Video data usage, etc.

– Talk about the useful extension, “My Hangouts for Google Plus

– Mohamed’s path to become a committer of Chromium (Google Chrome‘s open source project).

– Lines of code Mohamed authored for project Chromium. Here are some stats of Mohamed’s Chromium (Google Chrome) contribution and Chromium Tools (Google Chrome) contribution.

– And other discussions.


As I tag myself in a Google Plus photo …

Monday, 15 August, 2011

As a journalist, documentarian, … I live my online life pretty openly. At the same time, I am very conscious that we now live in unchartered territories in terms of privacy, and many other online perils. Any powerful enough tools (G+, Facebook, etc) can be used for good and bad (“evil”). It is totally up to us to monitor these tools and to ensure they are used correctly by its property rights owner.

This may sound strange to my economist friends but I believe the traditional economic definition of “property rights” is currently being massaged/redefined.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Property_rights_(economics)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ronald_Coase


Dwayne Peace, Dare To Care, interview at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011

Saturday, 25 June, 2011

Dwayne Peace, Dare to Care

About 1,000 people attended Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011, and the cause this year is Dare To Care. I think what Dare To Care does is important work (especially in our SMS, Facebook age). Have a read of Dare To Care‘s intro (emphasis added),

The Dare To Care program is a fully comprehensive approach to dealing with bullying and challenges within school communities. This comprehensive approach involves students, teachers, parents and the community in an effort to eliminate bullying and other dangerous behaviours from their schools and, in turn, create an atmosphere of tolerance and respect.

The Dare to Care program helps school communities, from Kindergarten to Grade 12, create a common language which then allows for more consistent intervention and follow through when dealing with challenging issues.

The attendees of Garden Party 2011 (along with a $100K matching fund from Government of Alberta) raised over $300K for Dare To Care!

The following is my video interview with Dwayne Peace, one of Dare To Care‘s facilitator, at Brett Wilson’s Garden Party 2011.

The following are a few highlights of my video interview with Dwayne,

0:00 Dwayne introduces himself and tells us what Dare To Care does.

0:40 Dwayne talks about a typical half day or full day programs that Dare To Care gives in a school.

1:57 With the avent of social media tools like texting, Facebook, Twitter, I ask Dwayne to talk about what kind of things the program tries to teach the kids. Read the rest of this entry »


Australian Scott Jones & Canadian Alexandra Thomas – Kissing Couple in Vancouver Riot identified

Friday, 17 June, 2011

June 19th update: In our somewhat twisted world, this is absolutely amazing: “Canadian riot kiss couple turn down offer of millions by celebrity agents“.

To me, Alex and Scott are so level-headed that their actions are worth thinking about and possibly learning from. Would you or should you let “money” (even if it is millions) change your life out of the blue? Or will you strive to live the best life you can after working hard and applying the skills/talent/knowledge you have?

June 20th update: Oh well, it was nice to think Scott and Alex won’t try to cash in for a day. “Vancouver riot couple hire PR agency Markson Sparks in Australia“. I remember watching Ricky Gervais at Banff reminding us/warning us, the danger of making money off just “being famous” (having talent or skills are different, I am talking about simply “being famous” or “being a celebrity”).

***

"Kissing Couple" at Vancouver Stanley Cup Riot identified as Australian man Scott Jones and Canadian woman Alex Thomas

If all the facts check out, which I expect they will, then Scott Jones & Alexandra Thomas‘ “kissing photo” in the Vancouver Stanley Cup riot (shot by Rich Lam/Getty Images) will totally have my “vote” for photo of the year.

What a wonderful job Rich Lam has done in giving us all a tiny bit of hope out of this totally disgraceful mess. To me, Rich has definitely captured a perfect example of Henri Cartier-Bresson‘s “decisive moment“, good job Rich!

Have a watch of CBC News report (with video news report and Skype video interview of the father of Scott Jones) and CTV News report (with phone interview).

Have a read of TorStar for its excellent reporting and research, (emphasis added)

“How’s that for making love, not war,” astonished dad Brett Jones declared on his Facebook page, telling the world that the famous Romeo in a Vancouver riot picture is his son.

If you haven’t seen it, Scott Jones, 29, is lying on a street locked in an embrace with girlfriend Alexandra Thomas as they’re flanked by riot police Wednesday night.

“She had actually been injured,” Brett Jones told the Star Friday morning from his home in Perth, Australia. “She had been knocked down by a shield” from the riot police.

“He lay down next to her to comfort her. She was crying and he just kissed her to calm her down.” [Kempton’s note: What a lovely moment.]

Even as a young boy, said Brett Jones, Scott demonstrated his “gentle side for other people. I’m not surprised he would comfort Alex.”

An update from TorStar “‘I can’t believe that’s us,’ says woman in kissing photo“, (emphasis added)

“At first Alexandra Thomas couldn’t believe that was she and her boyfriend on the ground sandwiched in between riot police on a calamitous Vancouver street.

“When I first saw it, I thought, ‘No way, that’s not … I can’t believe that’s us,’ ” said Thomas in an interview with the Toronto Star this morning. “Then I looked some more and realized, that is us. That’s a very revealing picture of us.”

[…] Thomas said this morning that everything happened so fast that there was just massive confusion all around.

“I was trying to understand what was going on. The photo was definitely not something we expected to happen,” said Thomas.

The couple is leaving in three days on a trip to California, before Scott heads back to Australia. Thomas said the response from her friends and family has been overwhelming.

“When I saw that picture I couldn’t believe it and then I looked at it more and realize it’s quite artistic and really something beautiful.”

[…] Jones senior can see that the couple’s now-iconic photograph may follow them for the rest of their lives, for good or ill.

“Relationships do buckle under that pressure unless you have the ability to be very centred. Even if it wasn’t Scott, the guy who took the picture captured a moment in time that is iconic.”

Brett Jones has also counselled Scott not to buckle to the doubters, rampant on the skeptical, know-it-all Internet, who say the photograph was staged.

“Tell your story as it happened and there’s nothing you can do about them,” he told his son. “I think it’s amazing.” [Kempton: Wise counsel from a great dad!]

Jun 17, 8:40pm update: CBC has snapped up the Canadian exclusive video interview with Scott & Alex, “EXCLUSIVE: Vancouver riot’s ‘kissing couple’ tell their story“. Enjoy this 13+ minutes interview. What a lovely couple.

Jun 18, 12:02am update: CBC, “‘Kissing couple’ witness rushed to help – Canadian woman hit by rioter, then knocked down by riot police

Finally, I think we humans are an optimistic species. We gravitates towards hope and love even when (may be especially) the world around us seems to be falling apart and failing us. The photo reminds me of the dialogues and images in the opening of the movie “Love Actually”.

Scott Jones & Alexandra Thomas - Kissing Couple in Vancouver Riot identified

P.S. I am still waiting for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other national political leaders to come out (not just a press release) and deliver an address/speech to try to turn this mess into a teachable moment and share some lessons learned.


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