Does Facebook deserve a 100 billion Valuation

some  questions in my Mind as I struggle to bet my money and pension savings on Facebook IPO

1) Revenue Mix- What percentage of revenues for Facebook come from Banner ads versus gaming partners like Zynga. How dependent is Facebook on Gaming partners. (Zynga has Google as an investor). What mix of revenue is dependent on privacy regulation countries like Europe vs countries like USA.

2) Do 800 million users of Facebook mean 100 billion valuation ? Thats a valuation of $125 in customer life time in terms of NPV . Since ad revenue is itself a percentage of actual good and services sold- how much worth of goods and services do consumers have to buy per capita , to give $125 worth of ads to FB. Eg . companies spend 5% of product cost on Facebook ads, so does that mean each FB account will hope to buy 2500$ worth of Goods from the Internet and from Facebook (assuming they also buy from Amazon etc)

3) Corporate Governance- Unlike Google, Facebook has faced troubling questions of ethics from the day it has started. This includes charges of intellectual property theft, but also non transparent FB stock option pricing in secondary markets before IPO, private placement by Wall Street Bankers like GoldMan Saachs, major investments by Russian Internet media corporations. (read- http://money.cnn.com/2011/01/03/technology/facebook_goldman/index.htm)

4) Retention of key employees post IPO- Key Employees at Google are actually ex- Microsofties. Key FB staff are ex-Google people. Where will the key -FB people go when bored and rich after IPO.

5) Does the macro Economic Condition justify the premium and Private Equity multiple of Facebook?

Will FB be the next Google (in terms of investor retruns) or will it be like Groupon. I suspect the answer  is- it depends on market discounting these assumptions while factoring in sentiment (as well as unloading of stock from large number of FB stock holders on week1).

Baby You Are a Rich Man. but not 100 billion rich. yet. Maybe 80 billion isnt that bad.

Ethics and Writing

A particularly prominent technology blogger ( see http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/michael_arrington_the_kingmaker_who_would_be_king.php )has now formalized his status as an investor (which he did even before) while relinquishing his editorial duties (which were not much given the blog’s acquisition by AOL and its own formidable line of writers, each one of whom is quite influential). Without going into either sermon mode (thou shall not have conflict of interests) or adulatory mode (wow he sold the blog for 30 mill and now he gets another 20 mill for his funds)- I shall try and present the case for ethics and ethical lapses while as a writer.

Continue reading “Ethics and Writing”

The Ethics of a Spy

From http://hypernews.ngdc.noaa.gov
Image via Wikipedia

(dedicated to all the intelligence agencies in the world. All of them except those that kill their own countrymen)

The Ethics of a Spy

is never to question Why

Instead  pause and wait

Act now, before it is too late

We wait and watch

with the worst kind of homo sapiens

hoping our soul is not as corrupted

We are the watchers, the perpetual legal aliens

The ethics of a cop

May be to who dun it or stop

But the ethics of spy

Is to act now before people die

The Flotilla 13, The Alpha Team, The Seals, The Cobras

We are all brothers from the other mothers

We destroy our souls so we can save

Humanity from destroying itself.

Every man we killed

Haunts us in our dreams

Every woman we loved

was the one and truly love it seems

Those who live by the sword

Shall die by the sword too

But if that is any excuse for not doing

Then you must be a bigger foo

The ethics of a spy

is never to ask why

But to find and search

Protect the sheep from stumbling in the lurch

And when it is all over

The lucky ones are already dead

Old spies never die

We just wait for another op till the end.

Related-

  1. An Exotic Tool for Espionage: Moral Compass http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/28/politics/28ethics.html
  2. Ethics of Spying: A Reader for the Intelligence Professional [Paperback]
 
http://www.amazon.com/Ethics-Spying-Reader-Intelligence-Professional/dp/0810856409

Image: Spy vs. Spy is the property of Mad Magazine.

Clustering Business Analysts and Industry Analysts

In my interactions with the world at large (mostly online) in the ways of data, statistics and analytics- I come across people who like to call themselves analysts.

As per me, there are 4 kinds of analysts principally,

1) Corporate Analysts- They work for a particular software company. As per them their product is great and infallible, their code has no bugs, and last zillion customer case studies all got a big benefit by buying their software.

They are very good at writing software code themselves, unfortunately this expertise is restricted to Microsoft Outlook (emails) and MS Powerpoint ( presentations). No they are more like salesmen than analysts, but as Arthur Miller said ” All salesmen (person) are dreamers. When the dream dies, the salesman (person) dies (read transfers to bigger job at a rival company)

2) Third -Party Independent Analsyst- The main reason they are third party is they can not be tolerated in a normal corporate culture, their spouse can barely stand them for more than 2 hours a day, and their Intelligence is not matched by their emotional maturity. Alas, after turning independent analysts, they realize they are actually more dependent to people than before, and they quickly polish their behaviour to praise who ever is sponsoring their webinar,  white paper , newsletter, or flying them to junkets. They are more of boutique consultants, but they used to be quite nifty at writing code, when younger, so they call themselves independent and “Noted Industry Analyst”

3) Researcher Analysts- They mostly scrape info from press releases which are mostly written by a hapless overworked communications team thrown at a task at last moment. They get into one hour call with who ever is the press or industry/analyst  relations honcho is- turn the press release into bullet points, and publish on the blog. They call this as research Analysts and give it away for free (but actually couldnt get anyone to pay for it for last 4 years). Couldnt write code if their life depended on it, but usually will find transformation and expert somehwere in their resume/about me web page. May have co -authored a book, which would have gotten them a F for plagiarism had they submitted it as a thesis.

4) Analytical Analysts- They are mostly buried deep within organizational bureaucracies if corporate, or within partnerships if they are independent. Understand coding, innovation (or creativity). Not very aggressive at networking unless provoked by an absolute idiot belonging to first three classes of industry analyst. Prefer to read Atlas Shrugged than argue on business semantics.

Next time you see an industry expert- you know which cluster to classify them 😉

Image Citation-

http://gapingvoidgallery.com/

Business Analytics Analyst Relations /Ethics/White Papers

Curt Monash, whom I respect and have tried to interview (unsuccessfully) points out suitable ethical dilemmas and gray areas in Analyst Relations in Business Intelligence here at http://www.dbms2.com/2010/07/30/advice-for-some-non-clients/

If you dont know what Analyst Relations are, well it’s like credit rating agencies for BI software. Read Curt and his landscaping of the field here ( I am quoting a summary) at http://www.strategicmessaging.com/the-ethics-of-white-papers/2010/08/01/

Vendors typically pay for

  1. They want to connect with sales prospects.
  2. They want general endorsement from the analyst.
  3. They specifically want endorsement from the analyst for their marketing claims.
  4. They want the analyst to do a better job of explaining something than they think they could do themselves.
  5. They want to give the analyst some money to enhance the relationship,

Merv Adrian (I interviewed Merv here at http://www.dudeofdata.com/?p=2505) has responded well here at http://www.enterpriseirregulars.com/23040/white-paper-sponsorship-and-labeling/

None of the sites I checked clearly identify the work as having been sponsored in any way I found obvious in my (admittefly) quick scan. So this is an issue, but it’s not confined to Oracle.

My 2 cents (not being so well paid 😉 are-

I think Curt was calling out Oracle (which didnt respond) and not Merv ( whose subsequent blog post does much to clarify).

As a comparative new /younger blogger in this field,
I applaud both Curt to try and bell the cat ( or point out what everyone in AR winks at) and for Merv for standing by him.

In the long run, it would strengthen analyst relations as a channel if they separate financial payment of content from bias. An example is credit rating agencies who forgot to do so in BFSI and see what happened.

Customers invest millions of dollars in BI systems trusting marketing collateral/white papers/webinars/tests etc. Perhaps it’s time for an industry association for analysts so that individual analysts don’t knuckle down under vendor pressure.

It is easier for someone of Curt, Merv’s stature to declare editing policy and disclosures before they write a white paper.It is much harder for everyone else who is not so well established.

White papers can take as much as 25,000$ to produce- and I know people who in Business Analytics (as opposed to Business Intelligence) slog on cents per hour cranking books on R, SAS , webinars, trainings but there are almost no white papers in BA. Are there any analytics independent analysts who are not biased by R or SAS or SPSS or etc etc. I am not sure but this looks like a good line to  pursue 😉 – provided ethical checks and balances are established.

Personally I know of many so called analytics communities go all out to please their sponsors so bias in writing does exist (you cant praise SAS on a R Blogging Forum or R USers Meet and you cant write on WPS at SAS Community.org )

– at the same time someone once told me- It is tough to make a living as a writer, and that choice between easy money and credible writing needs to be respected.

Most sponsored white papers I read are pure advertisements, directed at CEOs rather than the techie community at large.

Almost every BI vendor claims to have the fastest database with 5X speed- and benchmarking in technical terms could be something they could do too.

Just like Gadget sites benchmark products, you can not benchmark BI or even BA products as it is written not to do so  in many licensing terms.

Probably that is the reason Billions are spent in BI and the positive claims are doubtful ( except by the sellers). Similarly in Analytics, many vendors would have difficulty justifying their claims or prices if they are subjected to a side by side comparison. Unfortunately the resulting confusion results in shoddy technology coming stronger due to more aggressive marketing.