The social media market used to be fun to watch. A palpable excitement pervaded it, as rapid growth turned the likes of Facebook, Twitter and many others into household names. Enormous venture capital deals were cut – not that the recipients need the money. It looks like many were taking periodic cash-outs instead of having to wait for the big day.
Private company valuations on SecondMarket (and other similar “exchanges”) make for great blog fodder, but I’m not sure I buy into the hype. The latest result for Facebook is a $25 billion valuation … for a company that celebrated being cash flow positive a year ago and has yet to turn a profit.
Queue the sock puppets and launch a black rocket. It’s 1999 all over again.
Let’s compare it to the actual values of public companies like AOL ($2.3 billion) and Yahoo! ($21 billion), as reported by TechCrunch today. Facebook at $25 billion without any real liquidity? I’m having trouble stomaching that one. Of course, I’m something of a skeptic, so take my opinions with a grain of salt.
My father and I have a running thing about Drake Software. I used to be the software review writer for CPA Magazine, which I did for more than three years (until I needed a break). When it came to vanilla tax prep, most of them were generally the same. But, my father’s a big Drake fan, and I always felt it differentiated itself by its poor user interface design.
So, a recent e-mail from my father was good for a laugh. The 2009 American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) just published its annual survey on tax software, and Drake came out on top.
You win, Dad.
Looking for more retail and social media action? Well, it seems MSNBC can’t give enough of it (link takes you to vide0). Toys “R” Us is pitching via both Facebook and Twitter as a way to communicate deals to the most loyal customers — i.e., those willing to become “friends with,” “fans of” or “followers of” the company. Sears is following suit. In general, this has been a tool for building hype in advance of Black Friday, the hypest day of the retail year.
In general, there’s a lot of action going on with retailers and tools like Facebook and Twitter. This is likely the “proof of concept” year for the technology. Next year, the stakes will be high, and the consequences of losing profound.
Retailers are looking to get a taste of social media love. With Black Friday around the corner, companies in the retail sector are planning major campaigns through social networking sites like Facebook to access wider markets and drive more sales. Some, such as Sears, JCPenney, Starbucks and Target, among others, are actually letting customers shop via Facebook itself, rather than use only it as a tool for routing traffic. The retailers know they need a new angle for winning more business, and social media appears to be the answer.
I wanted to pull the video from an MSNBC story into this post, but WordPress and MSNBC don’t seem to be willing to show me any combined love. So, click here to check it out. And, click here to read my BloggingStocks article on social media and retailers.
For its role in the global financial crisis, which had an impact of several trillion dollars, Goldman Sachs feels just awful. The incredibly prestigious bank, one of the few to come through the market mayhem looking pretty damned good, wants you to know that it’s sorry. CEO Lloyd Blankfein said at a conference in New York, “We participated in things that were clearly wrong and have reason to regret.” And then, he pulled the trigger on the big one: “We apologize.”
General Motors is going shopping. The recently bankrupt auto manufacturer got government permission to use $2.8 billion of its federal cash to buy a chunk of auto parts supplier Delphi. Once upon a time, Delphi was GM’s parts division. According to an SEC filing, the Treasury Department is letting GM use $1.7 billion to buy post-bankruptcy Delphi and another $1.1 billion to pick up Delphi’s global steering business and four parts manufacturing facilities.
[Via USA Today]
A report in the Wall Street Journal today found that American companies are hoarding cash, ostensibly while waiting for that proverbial rainy day. In an analysis of company filings, it learned that the 500 largest non-financial companies in the country held $994 billion at the end of the second quarter in cash and cash equivalents, amounting to 9.8 percent of their total assets. A year earlier, they had only $846 billion (7.9 percent) in this category.
And, it looks like this is continuing into Q3. Of the 248 companies that have reported so far, cash holdings are up to 11.1 percent of assets quarter over quarter.
Cloaks and daggers abound when you cross from New Jersey into its southern neighbor, according to a new study. The small state which is known for little other than its favorable incorporation laws – not unlike Monaco, but without the weirdo royalty – is also a land of secrets. The Tax Justice Network, which is billed as a tax justice rights group, has found that Delaware is the most secretive financial jurisdiction in the world.
So, if you think your cash is hidden in that Swiss bank account, maybe it’s time to bring that bread home.
According to the Tax Justice Network, Delaware pulled in $2.6 trillion in deposits from non-resident corporations and individuals in 2007. The survey by Tax Justice Network, which evaluated the laws, practices and size of inflows of 60 jurisdictions, put Delaware ahead of Luxembourg and Switzerland, which came in second and third. The Cayman Islands and United Kingdom came in fourth and fifth.
The U.S. economy is too reliant on consumers, according to White House economic advisor Paul Volcker. He told President Barack Obama on Monday that trimming our dependence on the consumer could come in the form of boosting exports, enhancing the national infrastructure and investing in green technology. Volcker, who used to be chairman of the Federal Reserve, believes that with consumer spending responsible for 70% of the U.S. economy, it requires “the magic of financial engineering” to keep it afloat. Simply, he said, “We cannot have so much consumption.”
If we try to rebuild the economy in its previous image, Volcker believes, “It will just break down again,” he told a global financial conference in Naples, Florida.