Warren Buffett Made money in USAir but not when he sold BRK entire stakes in American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines

Sunday, 3 May, 2020

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything by Carol J. Loomis - pix 1

 

Good written report of Warren Buffett selling Berkshire Hathaway’s entire stakes in American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines from Will Horton @Forbes,

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B has sold at a loss its entire portfolio of U.S. airline stocks comprising American Airlines AAL , Delta DAL Air Lines, Southwest LUV Airlines and United UAL Airlines.

“We put, whatever it was, seven or eight billion into it and we did not take out anything like seven or eight billion,” Buffett said during Berkshire’s annual meeting on May 2. “That was my mistake.”

“We have sold the entire positions,” he said. “When we change our mind we don’t take half measures or anything of the sort.” 

And as I reported in an 2012 post talking about Carol Loomis’ Tap Dancing to Work,

“… the afterword for articles like “Buffett Hits $200 million Downdraft” (Nov 17, 1994) reminds readers that Warren actually made money on the USAir investment (which many people may have an impression of it being a money losing investment).”

Warren Buffett: Why we sold our entire stakes in American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines

xxx


Warren Buffett PBS NewsHour interview

Tuesday, 27 June, 2017

June 26, 2017 America should stand for more than just wealth, says Warren Buffett

PBS, June 26, 2017, Here is Warren Buffett’s first tax return, filed at age 14

Warren Buffett says GOP health reform bills are relief for the rich


Was Warren Buffett’s $150,000 1971 beach house (on sale/listed now for $11 million) a good or bad investment for him?

Sunday, 28 May, 2017

For anyone who bought a $150,000 beach house that is on sale for $11 million now could be consider a good investment. (Have a look of this video of the inside of Buffett’s beach house.) But for fame investor Warren Buffett, well, thats different. To Buffett, the same $150,000 in 1971 could become quite a different beast in 2017 over 46 later. In “The Oracle of Omaha is selling. This time it’s real estate” CNBC news reported in March 2017 (emphasis added),

He [Warren Buffett] paid $150,000 for the property back in 1971, which is about $900,000 in today’s dollars.

What you may be surprised to find out is that Buffet, one of the world’s richest people, took out a 30-year mortgage when he bought the 6bedroom, 7 bathroom seaside spot.

 

“When I bought it for $150,000, I borrowed some money from Great Western Savings and Loans. So I probably only had $30,000 of equity in it or something like that – it’s the only mortgage I’ve had for fifty years,” Buffett said.

He added, “I thought I could probably do better with the money than have it be an all equity purchase of the house.”

And indeed he did.

“That $110 or $120 thousand I borrowed, I was buying Berkshire then,” says Buffett.

The businessman says he was constantly buying Berkshire in the early ’70s, when the stock was around $40 a share.

“I might have bought 3,000 shares of Berkshire or something like that from the proceeds of the loan — so that’s [worth] $750 million [today].”

Yes, the 750 million dollars is a mind boggling number as Buffett earned that with the $120,000 he borrowed. In a sense, the $30,000 that he didn’t borrow could have meant $187.5 million if he bought BRK shares instead which is way more than the house list price of $11 million.

At the end of the day, Buffett, his first wife and family plus friends got a lot of enjoyment from the house over the years and that is more than mere “investment” and monetary return.

I remember reading Buffett gifting his three children some BRK shares (not a ton) through grandpa Howard. Warren’s three children could have been “rich” if they had kept onto their shares. BUT that would have been the wrong way to live lives as they have to experience their lives in their own ways instead of holding to “mere money” as none of us can take money away from this earth when we pass on.


Guide to Michael Lewis’ top 6 “Flash Boys” videos – Is U.S. stock market rigged?

Monday, 14 April, 2014
Flash Boys cover and TOC

Flash Boys cover and TOC

Flash Boys” is a brand new (published March 31, 2014) book by famed writer Michael Lewis (author of The Big Short and Moneyball) about how the U.S. stock market is “rigged”! Yes a U.S. stock market that is “rigged” so much that big investors (managers of multi-billion dollars pension or mutual funds) to small investors (individuals that invest their own RRSP and 401(k) retirement money) are being electronically “scalped” and scammed. Without further delay, here is a guide to Lewis’ top 6 “Flash Boys” videos. Lewis has done a bunch of media appearances to promote this book. Seeing and hearing Lewis explain things in his words is a ton of fun. You will get to learn how Brad Katsuyama, a Toronto-born former Royal Bank of Canada trader, becomes the reluctant hero in this tale.

1) CBS 60 Minutes March 30, 2014 video segment: The first and most important “Flash Boys” video is the  must watch! All 14+ minutes are highly watchable, insightful, and may make you really angry once you understand some of the ways people rigged the market against investors! The last three out of four of the 60 Minutes Overtime clips add only a little bit of information and can be skipped. CBS has also provided a full transcript of the segment on the same page.

2) April 1st, 2014 live CNBC debate: The ‘epic’ debate on high-frequency trading between Michael Lewis, Brad Katsuyama and William O’Brien (BATS Global Markets exchange president) is another must watch. The debate was so heated and engaging that some traders on the NYSE exchange floor stopped to watch. (note: Some errors were made by both side and one critical factual error was important enough that BATS was forced to issue a correction on April 4th, 2014 “under pressure from the New York Attorney General’s office“.)

The reactions to the debate at the end of this Marketwatch article is worth a read too.

3) Charlie Rose (April 2nd, 2014 video): Charlie Rose did an wonderful job in this 25+ minutes chat giving viewers some great insights. Rose is seen by many as someone who sets the gold standard of conducting engaging and insightful one-on-one interview. Highly recommended. (April 22nd update: Watch full 50+ mins March 31st show on CharlieRose.com)

4) Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers” with Stephanie Ruhle and Erik Schatzker (April 2nd, 2014 video): The fun starts early when Lewis tried to explain how the U.S. stock market is rigged using a casino example and the poker players are cheated. The hosts didn’t seem to enjoy the example when they, themselves, were set to be the cheated players!

5) Bloomberg Television’s “Bloomberg Surveillance” (April 3rd, 2014 clips): You can watch different clips from the show here, here, here, here, and here. Just wish the hosts asked Lewis and Katsuyama better questions in the show.

6) Live Talks LA – Michael Lewis in conversation with Malcolm Gladwell – Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt (April 10th, 2014): This will likely be a very insightful conversation as one can reasonably expect from a chat between two best selling authors and wonderful story tellers. I just checked with Ted from Live Talks LA and was informed that this video will be posted hopefully tomorrow (April 15th) on Live Talks LA’s official YouTube channel first and later on video pages here and/or here. (April 18th, 2014 update: The video is now posted and it is great! Have a watch!)

7) Bloomberg – Book TV: Michael Lewis Takes Viewers’ Questions on His New Book “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.” Added on April 22nd.

8) Michael Lewis: the stock market is rigged – video interview (UK Guardian) Added on April 30th, 2014.

Note: As Lewis and Katsuyama said many times, “High-Frequency Trading (HFT)” is too wide a term and hard to define so it is better to use terms like “high speed computerized scalping” where unfairness is built into the structure of the market (which is bad, very bad) vs “high speed computerized trading” which has reduced trading costs and enhanced investors’ trading experience over the years!

Additional video and audio clips:

* CBC News in-depth interview with Katsuyama (April 4th, 2014). Worth a watch.

* April 9th, 2014 CBC radio audio clip of Lewis (2:10 – 28:09) and a ~50 seconds short clip explaining “how High-Frequency Trading makes stock markets more like rigged casinos“.

* Here is a brief video clip of Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger saying (in May 2013), “I think it is very stupid to allow a system to evolve where half of the trading is a bunch of short term people trying to get information one millionth of a nanosecond ahead of somebody else“.

Additional references that worth a read:

* “Digging Into The Cliffhanger That Ends the New Michael Lewis Book“, April 7th, 2014. Recommended interesting tidbit of information for readers of the book.

* “Lewis Calls Flash Boys Blowback ‘Thoughtless’” April 2, 2014 Bloomberg Businessweek

* March 10th, 2014 SEC S-1 filing of Virtu Financial where it talks/brags about “As a result of our successful real-time risk management strategy, we have had only one losing trading day since January 1, 2008.” [HT CNBC Bob Pisani’s “Michael Lewis’ ‘Flash Boys and high-speed trading“]

* “High-Frequency Traders Set for Curbs as EU Reins In Flash Boys“, April 13th, 2014 Bloomberg News

* “The need for speed is costing billions New York’s attorney general explains his investigation into high-frequency trading“, April 3rd, 2014, by ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN (New York’s attorney general)

C-Span – Q&A: Michael Lewis “The Big Short” – Added on April 22 (video uploaded on April 5, 2010)

NOTE: This article is cross-posted on examiner.com by me.

July 22nd, 2014 Update: An hour long video chat between Michael Lewis and Conan O’Brien

“Conan talks with Michael Lewis, the author of Flash Boys & Moneyball on Wall Street’s desperate need for oversight, why the financial market should look for a responsible, overpaid “son of bitch,” & how he gets pumped up by listening to the “Frozen” soundtrack.”


Is Encana trying to subvert freedom of press by using copyright law?

Thursday, 21 February, 2013

Encana

According to CTV News “Encana seeks to remove embarrassing audio clip from Internet“,

Now the company is asking Chirbit to remove the clip, according to The Globe and Mail.

Encana is the copyright owner of the Recording. It was expressly stated at the outset of the Conference Call that ‘this conference call may not be recorded or rebroadcast without the express consent of Encana Corporation,’” Encana told the web site in a letter.

The Recording has been posted without Encana’s consent. The unauthorized use of this Recording clearly constitutes copyright infringement. … Encana views this matter extremely seriously and requests that you respond to the undersigned on or before the close of business on Friday, February 22, 2013, failing which, Encana will have no other recourse but to take all actions as may be available to it to protect its proprietary rights.

Chirbit has declined the request, invoking fair use laws and saying that under its policy, anyone who wants audio removed from its site should ask the poster to do so.

To hear it for yourself in order to make an informed decision, have a listen to the audio clip in question – Warning: Offensive Language. Also have a read of Globe and Mail report, “Encana wants embarrassing audio file erased from Internet“.

To me, it seems a case could possibly be made that Encana is trying to subvert freedom of press by using copyright law, ultimately if it comes to a lawsuit it will be up to the judicial systems to decide. Now you have listened to the recording, and read the relevant materials, do you think Encana is trying to subvert freedom of press by using copyright law?

Please share your thoughts and comments. All comments are moderated but all fair comments will be approved and I will defend your rights to freedom of speech.

Stretching and bending Copyright Law

It should be noted that copyright law has been used in Canada in recent years to over-reach (in my opinion) into other unrelated areas. Take Euro-Excellence Inc. v. Kraft Canada Inc., 2007 SCC 37, [2007] 3 S.C.R. 20, a Supreme Court of Canada judgment on Canadian copyright law as an example, it ultimately is a case about the import of chocolate that somehow got twisted into a case about copyright.

Note: I have made a record of the audio clip in question as a backup in case the original recording was removed for any reason or by accident. Freedom of press is a principal worth protecting and fighting for by all working jouralists.


Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything – First Look

Wednesday, 21 November, 2012

Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything by Carol J. Loomis - pix 1

Forty-two months! Thats how long I’ve been eagerly awaiting for Carol Loomisnew book “Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2012: A Fortune Magazine Book” (368 pages, on sale Nov 26th and online amazon.com & indigo.ca). Carol is Fortune magazine senior editor-at-large and a long time (40+ years) close friend of Warren Buffett! I am thrilled to see Carol’s book published and in my hands as it feels like having an insightful person who knows Warren really well to guide me through some important and insightful articles. It will take me some time to read & review the book, please stay tune for my detailed review. Until then, my first impression of the book is it looks awesome!

Long time readers of Warren‘s news and insights will be familiar with some of key articles in this collection and also see many (for me) new articles that are important but less well known. Carol has added many insightful commentaries before the articles to give us context and share with us her views. For example, the article “The Inside Story of Warren Buffet” (April 11, 1988) is Fortune’s first profile of Warren and Carol’s preamble explains what lead her to finally wrote the first profile about Warren after knowing him for 20+ years at that point! And then the afterword for articles like “Buffett Hits $200 million Downdraft” (Nov 17, 1994) reminds readers that Warren actually made money on the USAir investment (which many people may have an impression of it being a money losing investment).

P.S. Now, let me explain my wait of almost forty-two months in this postscript. You see, in April 2009, shareholders of Warren Buffett‘s Berkshire Hathaway NOT physically presented at the annual shareholders’ meeting in Omaha were given opportunities to ask Warren & Charlie remotely in advance via email for the first time. And I jumped at the chance by emailing my question to Carol! Along with my question, I told Carol that,

I am a big fan of your Fortune articles about Warren and BRK. (I have taken the time to look up some of your older articles and really enjoy reading them.)”

In Carol’s email reply was where I first read of the mention of a possible book (the book that I am finally holding in my hands)! So, yes, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the book since Apr 2009, and that is about forty-two months! :)

P.P.S. Sharp-eyed readers may have noticed there is a stack of five books in the above picture. Can you guess the titles of the Warren related books in the stack? Find out how many you guess correctly by clicking here to see this picture.

P.P.P.S. If you have read this far, you might as well check out my review of Warren’s biography “Snowball” by Alice.

note: this article is cross-posted by me at examiner.com

May 16, 2016 Update: (with video) “Buffett’s editor Carol Loomis: Pen, paper, Fed-Ex & email but never the telephone“. Via Yahoo, click here to view a full replay of the 2016 Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting


Dr. Michael J. Burry at UCLA Economics Commencement 2012

Monday, 25 June, 2012

Dr. Michael J. Burry at UCLA Economics Commencement 2012 - pix

Some (including the US Federal Reserve) likes to claim nobody could have seen the 2008 financial collapse coming. Meet Dr. Michael Burry. I am watching him this morning. [HT Greg]

Dr. Michael J. Burry at UCLA Economics Commencement 2012


Corla Rokochy, Snappy Socks, interview at 2012 Brett Wilson’s Garden Party

Friday, 22 June, 2012

It was my pleasure to see Corla Rokochy, creator of Snappy Socks, again at 2012 Brett Wilson’s Garden Party. Here is my 2012 video interview with Corla. You can watch my 2011 interview with Corla and see how far she has come since Feb 2011.


Rod Charko (1961 – 2012)

Friday, 15 June, 2012

Rod Charko, $100 million man, CEO Alberta Enterprise

I am saddened to read the sudden passing of Rod Charko, CEO of Alberta Enterprise Corp. I met and video interviewed Rod in 2010 for my piece “Rod Charko, $100 million man, CEO Alberta Enterprise – Alberta’s opportunities & challenges“.

I am sorry to hear of his sudden passing. My thoughts are with his families and loved ones.


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.


Something funny in memoriam of Instagram (2010 – 2012) – $1 billion, $400m, $180m, $100m – The business of funny money

Monday, 9 April, 2012

Something funny in memoriam of Instagram and then five serious points about Facebook buying Instagram for $1 billion. [HT Melissa Carlson]

Austin Powers – 100 billion dollars

Five serious points,

  1. Lets be clear, Facebook didn’t buy Instagram for $1 billion in stock and shares even thats what the press release said. The software just worth a tiny amount in that $1 billion, Facebook bought the users. You and me. Simple as that.
  2. I don’t know what math Mark Zuckerberg and his team used to come up with the $1 billion figure. It will be interesting to see if and when Facebook reveal more details, possibly as amendments to its IPO document? How much was it in Facebook overvalued shares, and how much in cash? (update: Thanks to Mike Preston’s comment in my post, assuming 50m users @ 1b valuation, that is $20/user lifetime. Thats a lot of money and these users have fingers and they are more mobile than big companies want to admit (just ask Myspace). I kinda agree with Mike, FB must want those users NOW!
  3. During the last internet bubble, AOL used it overvalued stock to merge with Time Warner. May be it is a good time to revisit this NYT article, “In Retrospect: How the AOL-Time Warner Merger Went So Wrong“. Well, at least with Facebook buying Instagram, it is a very new company buying an even newer company with funny money. And it looks like a good deal for the Instagram team.
  4. If you had a team of six people with a neat product and millions of users, I bet you would sell your users out for $1 billion stock and cash too. Wired has an “exclusive” about how much the Instagram key players will get (figures like $400m, $100m, $180m are stated).
  5. Finally, my friend Jen puts it well, “I’ll miss you @instagram. I’m happy for your team but sad for our community. #igersunite #sadiger #sadpanda #fbkillscoolapps

See FB news release.


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


Warren Buffett and Debbie Bosanek: Full Interview

Monday, 30 January, 2012

ABC News (video), “Warren Buffett and Debbie Bosanek: Full Interview” [HT FT.com]


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.


Former HP Chairman Patricia Dunn dies at 58

Monday, 5 December, 2011

Market Watch, “Pattie Dunn gave ETF investors a better mousetrap – Financial services veteran was on the front lines of index-fund revolution

“Patricia Dunn will be remembered mostly for the infamous boardroom espionage scandal that ultimately cost her the chairmanship of Hewlett-Packard Co.

Yet Dunn, who died Sunday at 58 after a long battle with cancer, deserves credit from any investor who has ever owned an exchange-traded fund.

As the head of Barclays Global Investors in the late 1990s, Dunn supported efforts to put the global money manager’s considerable muscle behind a relatively unproven investment that tracked an index but traded like a stock. “


Do The Den’s Dragons actually invest in anything? Techvibes v. CBC – Asking Dragons, Den entrepreneurs for deal data

Wednesday, 2 November, 2011

cbc-dd.jpg

** Techvibes challenges CBC‘s & Dragons‘ credibility **

As a long time fan (since 2006) of CBC Dragons’ Den, it is painful to see CBC‘s & Dragons‘ investment credibility being questioned in the Techvibes article “The Den’s Dragons didn’t invest in Notewagon after all. But really, do they actually invest in anything?” (emphasis added) which was linked by CBC Facebook Fan Club. Here is an excerpt from the last part of the article (emphasis added),

The second issue is that Dragon’s Den deals aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Even in the U.K., critics insist that the show is pure entertainment […] Just because a Dragon or two agrees to give entrepreneurs X number of dollars for a Y stake in the company, it doesn’t mean anything will actually happen after the cameras stop rolling. There’s due diligence and the added fact that Dragon money isn’t always pure.

** Gathering CBC Dragons’ Den Canadian deals data **

In Knowlton’s articleNotewagon is discussed and two UK articles are referenced before Knowlton challenges CBC Dragons’ investment credibility. You see, these questions are not new in UK and Canada. Early this year in March 2011, I was researching for an in-depth article about Dragons’ Den, planning to write about, amongst many topics, the deals the Dragons made on TV vs deals they actually closed. I was able to find some deal data for one dragon Brett Wilson (more on this later). I thought if facts & figures like actual deals closed and by what Dragons vs. TV deals made were published, people’s questions and doubts would have been addressed.

To get my research going, I sent the following questions to CBC Head of Media Relations, Mr. Jeff Keay on March 17,

1) I would like to find out the number of deals the dragons made on air for each of the Dragons’ Den season (including the current).
2) The number of deals the dragons closed after due diligence in each of the season.

I got a prompt reply the next day on March 18 from Jeff saying,

Checking. Back to you soon.

Unfortunately, I got no further respond after followup emails & voice mails to Jeff on March 22 & 28. In fact, Jeff never got back to me. I eventually had to give up on the story.

** Actual Closed Deals data from one Dragon

(former Dragon Brett Wilson) **

As I mentioned before, as far I can find, the only comprehensive actual closed deals data I found were published by former Dragon Brett Wilson. Again, as far as I can tell, no other Dragons have publicly published any actual closed deals data! 

Brett made public the number of deals he has done on TV (60+ deals) in three years, actually closed after due diligence (30 deals) and also the amount of money invested (over $4.5 million) in a Prairie Merchant (Brett’s company) Feb 28th, 2011 press release “Dragon With A Heart Leaves the Den” (emphasis added),

“After three years on CBC’s Dragons’ Den, doing 60 plus deals in the Den and personally committing over $4.5 million in final deals with 30 Canadian entrepreneurs, W. Brett Wilson, the lead deal making Dragon, confirmed today that he will not return for the show’s next season.”

** Deals data from Dragons, CBC Dragons’ Den, or

Den entrepreneurs with TV & actually closed deals **

To me, one way to positively addresses people’s legitimate concerns about “but really, do they actually invest in anything?” is to have the Dragons, CBC, or Den entrepreneurs with TV & actually closed deals to provide deals data (the TV deals vs. what Dragon actually closed what deals, amounts invested & percentage, etc) so that Canadian fans of the show, and potential Den entrepreneurs can have some transparency & credibility back in the Dragons’ Den deals and process itself.

As a long time Dragons’ Den fan (since 2006) and champion of DD even before the show was launched in Canada, I hate to see people lose faith in Dragons’ Den‘s deals and its process. This is the 6th year of CBC Dragons’ Den and lots of Canadian entrepreneurs put their hopes on dreams into the show. Can you imagine if the deals are done on TV by Dragons for show only? And most deals fail to close? Imagine the Dragons ALWAYS can find reasons in due diligence phase to kill deals (small or big), will you still be interested in watching the show?

** Grounding Dragons’ Den popularity

with business facts & figures **

Looking back five years to 2006 when CBC just launched Dragons’ Den, I am still amazed how much Globe & Mail’s reporter John Doyle hated/trashed DD in its infancy even criticizing the set as “dark basement is, you know, dreary.” I will not forget my Oct 3rd and Oct 4th, 2006 articles jumping to DD’s defence when it was still an unproven show, long before DD is popular.

Now, over five years later and CBC Dragons’ Den is successful money making machine for CBC (with all the re-runs), I think fans of the show and potential Canadian Den entrepreneurs deserve to see their favourite show grounded with “actual closed deals” and actual business facts & figures and not just be satisfied by “TV deals”.


Discussing Euro problem in my 2001 economics class presentation (Benefits and a potential weakness of the Euro)

Wednesday, 26 October, 2011

For Nobel economist Robert Mundell, “Father of the Euro“, it must be heart breaking for him to read headlines like “EU Sets 50% Greek Writedown, $1.4 Trillion in Debt-Crisis Fight” and “Euro zone rescue fund will have firepower of 1 trillion euros“.

In 2001, my MBA economics professor asked us to give a class presentation on something economics related, and I decided to talk about what I knew about Euro (not from the course itself but from readings of my own). I titled my talk Benefits and a potential weakness of the Euro (slides on Google). Here are the few key slides (high res readable version).

2001 presentation re benefits and potential weakness of Euro

The crux of my ideas came from a heated & insightful debate (updated link from internet archive) I read in National Post in Dec 2000 between Nobel economists Robert Mundell and Milton Friedman. The following are quotes from Friedman (emphasis added to original text used in my presentation),

“Bob and my disagreement about the euro is identical with our disagreement about Bretton Woods. The euro encompasses 11 politically independent countries, differing in culture, resources and economic development, and subject to divergent influences. There are bound to develop among them differences about appropriate monetary, fiscal and other policies. Flexible exchange rates offered a way of adjusting to such differences through the market without political conflict. The euro closes that possibility. Bob is confident that other adjustment mechanisms will rapidly develop—greater internal flexibility in prices, regulations, and the like. I hope he is right, but I fear he may not be. If he turns out not to be, the euro will generate more political conflict, not political unity. […]

The members of the euro have accepted restrictions on their fiscal policy, but it remains to be seen whether they will be honored, and if they are not honored, whether the monetary community can enforce them. Those tests are yet to come.

I doubt any of my classmates remember this but it is cool for me to look back and think that I picked an interesting and important topic to discuss even for a simple class presentation. Feel like patting myself on the back a little.


Vancouver’s ties to ‘Occupy’ financial movement

Friday, 14 October, 2011

Two insightful articles,

* “Vancouver’s ties to ‘Occupy’ financial movement” Here is an excerpt,

“A Twitter hashtag was fired off on July 13 this summer from a house in Vancouver’s quiet, leafy Fairview Slopes neighbourhood — 17 characters that would ignite anti-corporate protests in New York and other North American cities: #OccupyWallStreet. Read the rest of this entry »


Quotes of Warren Buffett at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women – Buffett dares Rupert Murdoch to publish tax returns together re WSJ challenge

Wednesday, 5 October, 2011

Few interesting quotes from “Transcript of Warren Buffett at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Summit

* “As of today, our housing-related businesses are as bad as they’ve ever been during this period. Everything else you name is up. And our railroad carried 200,000 car loads last week, that’s the highest total in three years. That’s stuff moving around the country, supplying merchants and doing all kinds of things. If you take our five largest businesses, all of them will either set records for earnings or just about set records for earnings this year.”

* “If I can buy dollar bills for 90 cents, I’ll buy them. I want to warn the people that are selling to me that I believe I am buying their dollar bills for 90 cents because they’re our partner. So, I give them notice first. And then if they want to sell me dollar bills cheap — any of you want to do it, I’m here.”

* “And since 1992, the average income of the 400 highest incomes has gone from 40-odd million to 220-odd million, fivefold. During that time, their tax rate as a percentage of taxable income has fallen from 29 percent down to 21 percent. That counts payroll taxes and income taxes.”

* “I’m not supposed to mention it here, but the Forbes 400 just came out. (Laughter.) And the aggregate wealth of the Forbes 400 this year was over $1.5 trillion. That’s up sevenfold in the last 25 years from 200 million roughly 25 years ago. That is not what the American public has experienced. So, the disparity has grown wider and wider in this country.” Read the rest of this entry »


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