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.”
The Chinese government is committing $1.32 billion to launch venture capital funds jointly with several of its provinces, according to a Reuters report. Private investors will also be involved in the effort, the purpose of which is to bolster the growth of the high-tech sector across China. Specific sectors that will benefit include information technology, energy, pharma and environmental.
China isn’t spending all its money in one place. Rather, it’s spreading the cash across 20 venture capital funds. One billion yuan (slightly more than 10% of the capital) will come from the Chinese government, with 1.2 billion yuan coming from the local governments. The rest is being kicked in by the private sector.
I went to the Cleantech Venture Day conference yesterday in Stockholm, Sweden. In general, there was some interesting stuff, but the best conversation I had was with a venture capital/private equity investor. I asked the guy if he invests in art. A large grin formed on his face, as he nodded. Apparently, this was a subject close to his heart. So, I asked for a bit more detail, and the gump was more than willing to talk.
I read a crazy article in on nytimes.com this morning– part of the joy of not having a normal sleep pattern these days. Apparently, newspaper chains are having trouble selling off their properties. Big surprise, I know, given the imminent death of print, plummeting share prices and revenue bases that have been decimated. But, what I find interesting is the cluelessness that has led up to this.
I worked for the community news division of Dow Jones several years ago for about 10 minutes. Even in the brief time I was there, I learned how important acquisitions were to the company. Our fearless leader at the time, John Wilcox, indicated that part of the competitive landscape going forward would be the ability to win in the acquisition space. Newspaper chains would be competing to buy newspapers as much as they’d be competing for readers. He went on to discuss the different means available for acquiring newspapers.
What a difference three years makes …
Since then, Dow Jones sold several of its community newspapers in order to take advantage of a capital loss carryover. News Corp acquired the company and discussed selling off the Ottaway (i.e. community newspaper) properties, before taking them off the block due to lack of interest. Now, nobody is buying newspapers, including the once acqusition-hungry Gatehouse Media. In 2006, the question wasn’t “if?” but “how much?” Today, there is no question, just a statement: “not at any price.”
It’s not the death of print that’s surprising. Everybody saw that coming back in the go-go days of 1997. The sheer idiocy is in the fact that, as late as 2006, newspaper executives thought they’d be competing to buy print properties. Denial flowed strong, and they are now left with the consequences.
The term “recession” is often abused. Too often, it is used to describe any economic downturn. There is no shortage of problems with today’s economy. The recent decimation of top-ten investment bank Bear Stearns, which sold for less than A-Rod’s contract, sent another round of aftershocks through an economic system already shaken by the subprime mortgage crisis of last year. Despite the claims of headlines and commentators, though, recessions do not occur nearly as frequently as they seem.