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Wrong about GE. Taking some FANG profits off the table. State of venture capital. And bitcoin, again

I was wrong about GE. I think it’s going lower, much lower. They just reported. They are taking a huge writedown.

Everything I read says the GE mess with its popup losses is way beyond anything new management expected and really  hard to solve. I don’t hear a plan. I don’t think they have one. In short, they’re floundering. I’m out.

GE was a semi-expensive lesson. Pulling the trigger fast often works. Hope doesn’t. Hanging around through the agony is not good on the soul.

FANG is ebbing. FANG sentiment is waning. Take a little off the table. It’s been a nice run.

State of my Venture Capital

I search for venture opportunities constantly. My dream is less the riches and more the fun.
It’s fun starting new things. Maybe you can save the world with “a cure for cancer.”
Right now, I’m interested in two areas.
1. Medical appliances. There isn’t a doctor that hasn’t thought of a device that will let him do his job better.
2. The cloud. Feed it huge amounts of data. Crunch the data with awesome computing. Bingo, you have answers to vexing problems. Economic prediction. Medical diagnosis. Consumer preferences.
The brave new world is upon us. That I’m certain of.
Translating it into successful companies is … well, not easy.
There are “issues:”
1. Does the inventor have sufficient faith in his idea to quit his day job?
2. At what point do I step in with money and supreme arrogance, and do it my way.
3. Can we apply some spending discipline, also known as a budget? Infused with money, many startups spend like drunken sailors.
4. Can we convince the founder that marketing makes sense? Can we convince the inventor that he should listen, if
only occasionally.
5. Do we really understand how long the FDA takes and how much it costs? Can anyone?
6. Finally, can we inject urgency? Just a little bit. If you want the riches of a startup, then answer your emails at 10:00
There are three types of “startups.”
+ The family and friends get the good ones.
+ The professional venture capitalists get the ones with greatest promise.
+ You and I get the dregs.
It’s critical to understand where you and I stand in this food chain.
Remember when you’re in, you’re in. You can’t get out by simply pushing the button that says “Sell.”
Don’t do Stupid

+ Don’t get fat, old and check out of life. “Old” is a state of mind. I see “old” on the faces of many Coachella Valley (California) residents. They fulfill the local quip. The Valley is “God’s Waiting Room.”

+ Many have stopped moving. Please keep moving. Shuffling is not moving.

+ Don’t hurry and fall. One fall above age 65 and you’re done.

+ Watch for the final step, going down.

+ Don’t lift your bag into the overhead bin. That’s why God invented millennials.

+ Run from people who are coughing. If you catch pneumonia, it may take you eight hours to check into your local hospital, get attended to and be given some strong antibiotics. Hospitals today seem to be overwhelmed and lag in new beds and new doctors. (I have too many stories.)

+ Don’t get upset at the small things. Every day there are minor irritations. Blow them off quickly. Move onto the happinessesses — the many things that go right. Like you’re still alive.

 + Saying NO is hard, but has huge long-term benefits. There’ll always be another opportunity to say Yes. When God closes a door, He always opens a window.
Bitcoin is dropping.
You can feel it. Sentiment has evaporated. The Economist has this in its latest issue:

Beyond bitcoin
Bitcoin is no longer the only game in crypto-currency town
Which could be the next digital coin to rule them all?

IT STARTED as a joke. Dogecoin was launched in 2013 as a bitcoin parody, using as its mascot a Japanese shiba inu dog, a popular internet meme. The crypto-currency was never really used, except for tipping online, and one of its founders has called it quits. But recently its price has soared: on January 7th the dollar value of all Dogecoins in circulation reached $2bn, a sign of how crazy crypto-currency markets have become. It is also a reminder that, for all the focus on bitcoin, it is no longer the only game in town. Its market capitalisation now amounts to only about one-third of the crypto-market (see chart).

A new crypto-currency is born almost daily, often through an “initial coin offering” (ICO), a form of online crowdfunding. CoinMarketCap, a website, lists about 1,400 digital coins or tokens, including PutinCoin, Sexcoin and InsaneCoin (worth $7m). Most are no more than curiosities, but by January 10th, around 40 had a market capitalisation of more than $1bn.

First on the list, after bitcoin, was Ethereum, whose coin, called ether, reached a market capitalisation of $137bn. Ethereum’s claim to fame is that it is also a platform for “smart contracts”-business rules encapsulated in software. Most ICO tokens, for instance, are issued by such contracts. Its success has attracted crypto-copycats: Cardano ($20bn) and NEO ($8bn), a Chinese version.

 TalesfromThe Crypto
Ripple, too, is defying gravity. It is all the rage in crypto-crazy South Korea, which this week roiled crypto-markets with plans to ban trading on exchanges. Ripple sells software to move money between countries; more than 100 banks have signed up to its technology, based on a coin called XRP. Its market capitalisation jumped by more than 40,000% in 2017, reaching nearly $149bn on January 4th, before falling back to $78bn. That still makes Chris Larsen, a Ripple co-founder, one of the world’s richest people, at least on digital paper.Less well-known coins have also taken wing. Monero ($6bn) and Zcash ($2bn) focus on privacy. Stellar ($9.8bn) has developed a system to transfer funds cheaply that is used by charities, particularly in poor countries. IOTA ($10.1bn) allows connected machines to exchange information and payments securely. And then there is Bitcoin Cash ($46bn), whose founders split from bitcoin in August 2017 because they were unhappy with how it was run.

Might any of these one day replace bitcoin as crypto-land reserve currency, something insiders call the “flippening”? Given bitcoin’s governance problems (another “fork”, or split, may be in the offing) and limited capacity (a transaction now costs nearly $30, on average, in fees), this cannot be excluded. But the others have problems, too. Ethereum’s user fees have soared and the system has again hit technical snags. As for Ripple, some question the extent to which XRPs are actually used.

Come what may, the field will only get more crowded. Kodak, the archetypal victim of digital disruption, wants to jump on the crypto-wagon: on January 9th it announced that it will launch a coin to allow photographers to charge for their works. More ambitious will be the ICO of Telegram, a messaging service with 180m users: it aims to raise $1.2bn and issue a token called Gram that can be used to pay for a range of services from online storage to virtual private networks. Even Facebook has reportedly started looking into creating a token. Should the world’s biggest social network ever make that move, bitcoin’s days as the leading crypto-currency would almost certainly be numbered.

We’re in California
As we’re descending into Palm Springs, the 4-year old on the window in front of me shouts., “This is not California.”
Her father asks, “Why?”
She replies, “There are no pools.”
Three minutes later, she shouts, “This is not California.”
Patiently, he asks, “Why not now?”
She replies, “There are no hotels.”
The plane broke up. Cute kid.

Harry Newton, who’s going to play tennis shortly. Take it easy. Don’t overdo it. Put on lots of suntan cream — specially on your ears. This is meant to be a daily blog, but sometimes I have nothing to say. Can you believe that?