Month: January 2018

How AirBnB May Launch Itself Into A Regulatory Sh*t Show

When it comes to the true understandings of how to run a business, Silicon Valley built enterprises have never ceased to amaze.

However, with that said, what has left me slack-jawed, more often than not, is the increasing tone-deafness emanating from C-suites everywhere. And I mean just that: everywhere. Hint: Enter the term: “Wells Fargo, fraud” into your search engine of choice as just one example.

It was in this vein of “tone-deaf” leadership I recently made the argument about the current initiative coming forth via the NFL®.

As I iterated in that article, it doesn’t matter whether you agree with the message or not. It’s the venue of where it will be articulated that’s the issue. i.e., Football fans have been avoiding games and broadcasts, because they take umbrage with the open insertion of politics – all politics. And yet, the NFL has decided that’s just what the increasingly, dwindling and very upset fan base needs to get them to tune-in. i.e. Launch a political initiative (“Let’s Listen Together”) directly into the remaining two weeks and more than likely, directly into the “Big Game.” Talk about tone-deaf.

But wait, I believe there’s one that may actually outdo it: The “#weaccept” initiative, advertisement from AirBnB™ that will play on some networks during the State of the Union speech.

What is this for one may ask? Well, it’s to make known to all that they are not happy with the alleged “sh*thole” comment attributed to the president. Their catch phrase? (Because you have to have a catchy catchphrase because a hashtag alone is so 2017, right?) “Let’s open doors, not build walls.”

The reason for this reported “six-figure” ad campaign is out of some self-defined defense as to stand up for many of these alluded to countries which AirBnB has a stake in. e.g., Haiti, El Salvador and Africa.

As I’ve always stated when I was opining on such topics: It doesn’t matter if you agree with the stance or not. It’s about how it’s being implemented and where that is the key. Because, in business: Doing what at first appears to be the right thing, for the right reasons can boomerang around faster and harder if done at the wrong time, or at the wrong place.

And yes, sometimes even far worse, more often than not – than doing nothing at all.

That’s why, in business, one needs to avoid politics like the plague. Today? It would appear CEO’s, more often than not are out looking to infect themselves with the political virus. Hint: Tim Cook.

AirBnB has a very deep existential issue (my opinion) that overhangs its entire business model that grows more onerous, and larger with every passing day. That issue? Regulatory.

Much like its once Teflon® coated stalemate, Uber™. AirBnB is always under constant alert (or attack) for where the next regulatory charge, or want of reporting for tax purposes, for all is involved.

If one thinks this is just hyperbole, let me use my own area as of just a few weeks ago. Here’s the headline: “Columbus plans to regulate home-sharing services, worrying Airbnb hosts”

As I’ve iterated ad nauseam over the years: It’s all fun and games till the regulators show up and want to get paid, or the investors. Hint: See Uber at 30% off.

What makes this AirBnB initiative so seemingly tone-deaf are two very big issues. First: You are brazenly trolling the Chief Executive Officer in charge of all the regulatory agencies of the United States. (in theory anyway) Second: He’s a H-O-T-E-L business mogul.

AirBnB’s business model undercuts, and in many cases completely ignores (i.e., the regulatory: beg for forgiveness, rather than ask for permission model) the rules, regulations, and more that hotels and others have to contend with. The Hotel industry is not happy with, and have never been happy with AirBnB’s seemingly wanton disregard for the rules they must abide by. e.g., Think fire egress or handicap standards just to name two.

And it isn’t just the Hotel Lobby that seeks compliance. It’s also governments both state, local, and in some cases national that want to make sure they are collecting their piece of the regulatory “pie” via taxes and such.

This openly rebellious, in your face, type of ad campaign directed squarely at the administration may be just the impetus that gets the entire Hotel Lobby into gear, and in unison. I’ll garner they’ll be adding more stays in their own properties along “K Street” to protest how AirBnB is using their all but in-your-face non-compliance (at least in the spirit that is, all my opinion, of course) to be in-the-face of the current administration. And will gladly stay as long as it takes. After all, “the stay” may even be a write off. But I digress.

It is the most tone-deaf piece of media relations I’ve seen to date.

I believe this may backfire in ways AirBnB hasn’t even contemplated. As a matter of fact, I’ll go ahead, based solely on this initiative, they didn’t even contemplate it as being a possibility to begin with.

The reasoning here is this: that’s what happens when one allows politics to enter the business. And is the reason why you don’t do it to begin with. Mistakes that are easily seen in retrospect are always glossed over via the “political glasses” of the moment.

Another reason why this is entirely plausible is this other glaring issue that should have called for far more forethought. And it is this…

That “Hotel Lobby” will not be rooming at any AirBnB as they call for increased regulations, but rather, and more probably (wait for it…)

Trump International Hotel™, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

Two Minutes To Midnight – For The NFL

For those not attentively glued to a Bitcoin™ price chart, there was some other noteworthy news making headlines over the last week. One was made on Thursday when the official Doomsday Clock had its hands moved 30 seconds forward to now show “It Is 2 Minutes To Midnight.” i.e., Nuclear Armageddon is all but here.

As concerning as the above is for all of humanity. It pales in comparison for attention value, as well as immediate annihilation of something far more closer to home. e.g., The NFL®.

On Tuesday of last week the NFL rolled out a new initiative that began the same week (on Thursday) during its NFL Total Access venue. This is now an ongoing campaign that will play out across multiple outlets and has been named, “Let’s Listen Together.” Here are a few pull quotes directly from the NFL. To wit:

As part of its ongoing work to support its players, the NFL today announced a joint player and ownership commitment focused on social justice. The campaign, Let’s Listen Together, launches today and includes a multi-layered roll-out including digital content and brand spots highlighting the player-led work on social and racial equality. The platform will also include social media support, as well as individual letters from players and owners sharing their stories and personal reasons for making social justice a priority.

The above sound innocuous enough at first glance, and in many ways seems like an amenable solution to what has become an almost irreconcilable situation. At least on digit paper that is.

However, the problem here shows just how this is all going to play out over the foreseeable future in the following text. Again, to wit:

“We are pleased to have developed a new initiative that focuses on creating meaningful solutions to improve our communities,” said NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. “In developing this plan, we have taken the lead from our players and are honored to join them in this work. Their work has deepened our understanding of the unique platform we have to help advance progress in a profound and unifying way.”

Translation: We going to get the players to stop kneeling so they can now stand up and tell you all about their political stances as you tune in. Or said differently – As you try to take a momentary reprieve from the everyday political strife as to enjoy a few hours of pure sports entertainment played at the highest levels. We’re now going to directly insert that political into and across our entire brand and outlets for it. Hey, it’s better than kneeling, right? That’s what you’re upset about, right? So, pleeeeeease come back. Oh, and did we mention seating prices for game days are on-sale?!

The rollout for this initiative both in it’s timing, along with what it appears is going to be the viewing vehicle (i.e., across the entire NFL) is, in my opinion: One of the most tone-deaf, ill-advised, PR debacles that may do far more damage to both the NFL, along with its players and causes, than anything I’ve seen over my business career.

Many a game has been won or lost in the final two minutes. As a matter of fact, so important are those final minutes that entire game winning or saving strategies are built upon them. e.g., “The 2 minute drill.” Yet there’s a caveat that goes along with that strategy that’s paramount for the “saving” aspect which is this: You never play those minutes via a “not too lose” strategy and tactics. Once you do – you’re all but assured to do just that – and lose.

The NFL I’ll assert – is doing just that, and will.

I’ll also add the following: as their clock moved in unison with the nuclear, the outcome for the NFL might be far more predictable than the Ph.D inspired.

Ratings, ticket sales, ad sales and more might go into a complete meltdown after this season ends. And the moment for all of it is now in play, with the clock continuing to move till the “Big Game” hits next weekend. The moment these “messages” begin appearing either before or during, will be the moment fans across the globe hit their own button with the ratings equivalent of Armageddon. e.g., The OFF button on the remote.

I made the case prior on what I believed should be the path for the NFL , its players, as well as their concerns back in October of last year. One of them is the following. To wit:

  • There needs to be a short and concise message aired by the team owners and player representatives before each of remaining games. i.e., The owners of that games teams and their player representatives whether they be the team captains or such.

Both the owners, along with player representatives should make a televised public announcement before each game stating they are all in favor of removing politics from the field of play during game time. And are.

They both (owners and players) need to make the point, and make it forcefully, that “this stage” is for sports, not politics.

They can state that doesn’t mean that they don’t have views which they firmly believe in. But (and it’s a very big but) during the game is not the place for it. i.e., Say something to the effect: “We know why you’re here, and it’s to see our game, not our opinion of politics. And we respect that. And we will show our respect for you by not protesting the political during games. There are other venues for that outside, where we can make our voices heard, along with yours should the need arise. So let us start by saying, thank you for being a fan. And we want to give you what fans like you truly deserve – the best game, at the highest level of athleticism and sportsmanship we can deliver. Again, thank you, and enjoy the game.”

It can all be worded and shot in a 60 second venue. Less is more.

Again, that was back in the early part of the season where, if implemented, might have stunted the ever-increasing carnage of ticket sales, attendance, and more importantly: the now calcified reaction to even the remotest possibility of anything political happening within the game.

The increase of people not tuning in to begin with out of an outright abhorrent disgust to the insertion of the political into their once deemed reprieve or sanctuary as a sports fan for escapism is rising, and fast. Personally, I haven’t watched a game in I don’t know how long. And I was an avid fan. Not any more, and I know I’m not (and far from) alone.

This will be (not out of spite but out of the political in general) the second Super Bowl® in a row I not only won’t watch, but don’t care. Especially, since it’s now been announced I’m going to have some type of “Let’s listen together” political argument stuffed down my throat, whether I agree or not. All because this is what “The commissioner” believes is good for the sport, its players, and fans. Hint: It won’t.

This is a pure political remedy to a purely political problem via a venue which demand politics not be any part of it. The remedy could not be any clearer unless one is either “Out of their league” signaling incompetence. Or, “Out of their league” and want’s to bring that league (e.g., politics) into the business spectrum. Both are detrimental, if not existential to the sports business.

The only way this so-called “remedy” gets brought forth to begin with is if the current top management of the NFL thinks its in the business of political sports, rather than the sports business. Which was why I also made another assertion back in October where this unfolding fiasco had the chance to be, at the least – alleviated.

That assertion?

Fire: not re-sign, bonus, re-negotiate, contract extend, _________(fill in the blank) the current commissioner. Even if it could have cost the league $Millions for what ever the legal ramifications in contract law. It would have been money well spent and minuscule in comparison to what will be lost in future revenues going forward.

Now the league has all but guaranteed his salary for the next five years: As the entire franchise clock clicks off to what could be future TV ratings, ad sales, attendance, Armageddon.

What a complete and utter tone-deaf reaction and “solution” to a once laudable franchise.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

A “F.T.W….” Note Follow-up

A colleague sent me the following clip after reading one of my prior posts with the following note (paraphrasing): “When you first proposed the idea I thought, “What are you smoking?” Then, I heard none other than Scott Galloway deliver the following in Munich just last weekend at a conference and now I’m wondering, “Do you have any of what you’re smoking to spare?”

Below is the clip, it is from the DLD™ conference in Munich held back on the 20-22th of last week. The main point my colleague alluded to comes at about the 10:10 mark and is only about a minute in length. However, that “minute” tells you everything you need to know about the onerous storm clouds suddenly appearing on the horizon, coming into full view for everyone to see.

Again, it would now seem it’s suddenly on every-bodies radar, with an increasingly, growing reality that’s getting near hard to miss.

To reiterate, for those who may not know: When I first floated the idea of a, “Joe Camel® moment” it all sounded like off-the-radar crazy talk. Since then it, and a few other topics, have been an open running dialogue for example purposes over the last few months. (examples Here and Here)

This is just another note as to further demonstrate my original statements in my “over the horizon” discussions using real-time examples with major economic, political, and disrupting implications.

Here’s the link to the video: Scott Galloway at DLD 18 Munich

Again, the main point of this post is at the approximate 10:10 time stamp.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

F.T.W.S.I.J.D.G.I.G.T.

(For those who say I just don’t get it…get this!)

Over the course of the last few months I have been conveying, as to try to explain, that when I’m expressing my viewpoint on what I might see “over the horizon” I have to remember that where I’m standing may be to my audience, “over the horizon.”

I’ve used this metaphor over the years only to help demonstrate, or to help ensure, that I clarify, or try to portray my positions accurately. Because at the time I’m quite aware it may all sound like “crazy talk” or some other far-flung observation, again, at the time.

However, as I’ve also explained, this is where the position for “first mover advantage” is set. Which is why I use it to begin with. i.e., You need to already be fully engaged when the “horizon” that most are looking out at finally comes into view, for that’s when the bells and Us-too bandwagons begin to appear.

I’ll now offer as example this paradigm expression, in real-time, and in spades.

A few months back I gave an example of what I portended was maybe forthcoming towards smartphones to illustrate this “beyond horizon” idea. At the time assumptions like this were thought to be “crazy talk.” Then, the crazy idea that the iPhone® may not be as good for society as everyone thought, whether one agrees with the premise or assumptions are irrelevant. It’s the fact they are now making headlines across the mainstream media, not just the business/financial, is where the relevancy now stands.

And today we have another…

Back in mid December I wrote an article titled, “Is Facebook’s ‘Messenger Kids’ Social Media’s ‘Joe Camel’ Moment?”

In that article I posited the following. To wit:

“This was that defining moment when everything seemed to change when it came to smoking. I know, because I was an avid smoker myself at that time. The moment this product and habit was seen for what it was (e.g., a true physical and psychological dependent habit) where a link, whether intentional or perceived, could be argued that the intent was to link a brand or logo to children as to perpetuate or indoctrinate the idea that smoking was cool or hip – everything changed. And I mean just that – everything.”

At the time the above comparison, along with the very notion, that it could be forthcoming and possibly soon, was met (as usual) with cat-calls and derision by many a tech aficionado, or next-in-rotation fund manager. That was, until it just hit the clearly viewed horizon of the mainstream business/financial media. Again, to wit:

(Source)

For those who may not be familiar with the names, they are two of the main reporters or personalities of CNBC™, and the person calling for the regulation is none other than the CEO of Salesforce™ Marc Benioff. Not exactly someone who is tech-phobic, or anti-tech to say the least.

As a matter of fact, when CEO’s of tech are suddenly and publicly (hence lies a very important key) calling for draconian regulation within its own industry? (And what the regulations did and were to the tobacco industry stand as testament to the idea of draconian, whether one agrees with them or not.) You now have the equivalent of a super-storm, in full view, now rolling out from over the horizon for everyone to see.

And just like most storms that are over water, they’ll pick up with more intensity before they hit land fueled with increasing hot air as to strengthen it. And that hot air is as sure to come as night turns to day. Why?

That hot air will be coming from nothing less than the hallowed bellows of politicians with their calls of fines, fees, and regulations. In other words…

Mark Zuckerberg’s goal of selling 20% of his shares might be a bar set too low.

Or too late.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

Footnote: These “FTWSIJDGIGT” articles came into being when many of the topics I had opined on over the years were being openly criticized for “having no clue”. Yet, over the years these insights came back around showing maybe I knew a little bit more than some were giving me credit for. It was my way of tongue-in-cheek as to not use the old “I told you so” analogy. I’m saying this purely for the benefit of those who may be new or reading here for the first time (and there are a great many of you and thank you too all). I never wanted or want to seem like I’m doing the “Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah” type of response to my detractors. I’d rather let the chips fall – good or bad – and let readers decide the credibility of either side. Occasionally however, there are, and have been times they do need to be pointed out which is why these now have taken on a life of their own. (i.e., something of significance per se that may have a direct impact on one’s business etc., etc.) And readers, colleagues, and others have requested their continuance.

What’s Coming To High End Real Estate Wealth – Hint: Bargain Basement Prices

When it comes to anecdotal evidence I always strive, or at least prefer, to use as first examples, references that I have seen with my own eyes, or have directly encountered in one manner or another. Today is one of those days. What you infer from the following is up to you to decide, which is, as it always should be.

However, with that said, let me make clear that the examples I’ll post below may, or may not, be entirely accurate. Yet, with that said, what it may pertain going forward for a lot of areas in the coming months or years may be, let’s just say: jaw-dropping.

I have expressed many times over the years certain instances where I believed, or at least felt, that I had a better grasp of what was percolating within certain sectors than most of the so-called “analysts” or “fund managers” paraded across the media.

Far too many times I would hear one of these “experts” talk about how well, or how bad, such and such a place within the U.S. might be doing because of their recent flight into ______(fill in the blank) as to attend some convention, or “show” where they were speaking as to hawk their own wares, shares, or services. i.e., “I just got back from Silicon Valley and home prices there look to be continuing to rise, therefore real estate everywhere should also be a great investment for the ongoing future.” Blah, blah, blah.

This has pretty much been the gist of most “expert analysis” I’ve seen over the years. e.g., Absolute crap. So now with the above for context, let me add some of my own that I’ve been watching first hand as of late. So here we go…

Long time readers know I recently moved just outside of Columbus Ohio a few years back, To keep it, “general” as the say, let’s just say my neighborhood is in the northeast suburb known as New Albany. This area is a far different area than anyone’s first mental image when thinking about a suburb on the skirts of Columbus. i.e., This ain’t no cow town. As a matter of fact, the people who now live here probably have never seen anything resembling a cow except on the menu of our local Smith & Wollensky’s™.

Again, in this quadrant of what is generally known as the N.E. portion, high-end everything is here. Homes, shopping, cars, planes, you name it. Again – this ain’t your grandmother’s cow-town area any more. e.g., New Albany was voted “America’s Best Suburb” by Business Insider™ in 2015.

As I’ve opined previously, one can easily bounce into one’s Bentley®, travel about 5 miles to the exclusive shopping domain of the “need to be seen” known as Easton, order a Tesla™, grab a steak, and top the evening off at Tiffany’s for a memento to remember the evening. All while walking, in heels.

When I jog it’s very common, almost routine for me to see not one, but multiple high-end sports cars. e.g., Lamborghini®, Ferrari®, Rolls Royce®, et cetera. Actually, much like when I lived in KY., I would occasionally almost get hit while trying to cross some intersection and shout, “Hey! W -T – …Oh hey nice car”, for it was many times something along the lines of a super car, or other exotic. (For those wondering “Kentucky?” the answer is yes, I used to live within running distance of the Ruler of Dubai’s thoroughbred farm. And when it was “auction season” the amount of middle east wealth that flew into Lexington was extraordinary. It’s not called “The sport of King’s” for nothing. But I digress.

The above is for context, nothing more, but it’s important because of what I’ll now add to it. And that is this: the housing or homes in this area itself.

I personally keep tabs of the homes here, because it’s my neighborhood. And what happens here not only gives me some form of hands-on insights, but also, because I live here, and like it more than I had ever thought originally, it is via this guise that allows me to look at things through a lens that’s not distorted, and try to make sense of what may truly be going on, and the underlying reasons that go along with it. In other words: I have a true vested interest in it. So I’ll tend not to kid myself. At least, that’s the hope.

So here’s what I’m witnessing…

Right before the tax reform bill was passed, late last year there was a sudden rise in “for sale” signs and what I’ll deem as an all but momentous fall in asking prices of homes.

I began noticing during my run a plethora of signs that appeared seemingly overnight, if not literally. These aren’t your garden variety type “for sale” sign. They are all custom-made, standardized, and quite actually esthetically pleasing for what one deems as a “for sale” notice. Or said differently, they’re made to be seen, yet at the same time blend in as to be inconspicuous if not really looking. Yet, that’s exactly what they are, and so I began following the market carefully ever since.

What I’ve watched over the past months has been utterly jaw dropping. No hyperbole intended.

When I use the term “million dollar homes” depending on where one lives the term means little. Yet, what these homes represent are a “value” as compared to most like it. (Think: Palo Alto CA, where a $Million gets you a garage, literally.)

If you were to live in the N.E., say Boston proper, these homes would range somewhere around $10Million+. New York, probably $15+. Yet, what they do have very much in common, as far as pricing, is their local real estate taxes.

And that is where one can see, since the passage of the tax reform bill, and its reduction for allowing local taxes (aka SALT) to be capped at $10K, and new mortgages of only $750K that things are going to get real turbulent when it comes to high-end housing.

Whether one is buying, selling, or just trying to keep up their appearances of wealth, many today are going to find major adjustments to their entire net worth, because many are predicated on their house value.

And if what I’m seeing holds and is key to what’s coming? For many – it’s going to suddenly become a very different world.

Below are just three examples I’ve pulled from Realtor™ dot-com website. I use these for the following reason:

They’re emblematic of what I’ve been watching, not outliers.

I’ve taken a few screen shots of the main page that shows the house so you can get an idea of what the representative examples I’m talking to actually are, along with a snapshot of their rolling listing prices and taxes paid. (Again: All from the Realtor web site, and all publicly viewable pages)

So why are these of any relevance one might be asking? The reason is this: Some of these listings are at half, yes half of their original selling or listing prices. I have watched one property drop their price a half million dollars in one fell swoop the day after the tax bill was passed. That drop represented 1/3 of the entire listing price and was over $1,000,000.00 lower than its original paid price prior. Think about that, for that’s not “chickenfeed” no matter where one lives, or income status.

This is just the last 60 days. And then there were others that had done similar, and just pulled their listings off the market entirely when the tax billed passed. If they were still currently listed it is my estimation that there would be twice as many listings as there are currently. Again, no hyperbole intended. As I iterated prior -“It’s been jaw dropping” too say the least.

Below are just a few examples. All are non-working screen shots. To wit:

Next…

Next…

Next…

To give you an idea of the area and current pricing…

Just to make the point using the top image posted. That home was finally listed at the price of $799,000, but that’s because of the list it was thought to sell for at – auction. I am under the assumption that it went for even less, which would be less than 1/2 of the asking price just a year or so prior.

I personally watched a home in the same neighborhood that sold prior at near $2Million not that long ago listed at $800K with special instructions to “Bring Offers!” Owner is highly motivated! The listing has since been removed, I believe in hopes that “spring” might bring better market conditions. I’ll jst make the observation of – If what I’m observing currently holds? Spring may not spring eternal like most realtors or home owners pray for.

I can’t make this point strongly enough: If this is happening here? (whether it’s good or bad is not the point) I can only wonder what is currently going through the minds of people in similar areas. But what’s far more important is this…

What does this do to the brand new tax base and economy that grew up and out of it?

That’s the real question to be on the lookout for further clues.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

Bitcoin’s $20,000 Dilemma

Have you heard about Bitcoin™ today? My guess is, if you’re having any experience such as mine, that is now a 50-50 proposition, depending on what day of the week it is.

An example of this, I’ll assume, goes something like this, again, based on my own non scientific results:

  • If Bitcoin is rising in price by double-digit percentages? The phone, email, or face-to-face questioning from friends and family goes from casual, or almost disinterested conversation. To demanding inquiries – even from total strangers I may pass in the street.
  • On the other hand; if Bitcoin is falling (again) by double-digits? __________________(insert crickets here.)

So has been the basic story of Bitcoin. I’ll also add – the above covers more in-depth technical, or fundamental analysis into the entire crypto-currency phenom – than anything being regurgitated across the entire mainstream business/financial media. i.e., It’s currently nothing more than an over-exaggerated, over-rated, momo/momentum, pump-and-dump, game of who’s going to be the last bit-bag-holder. Period.

I can’t help but laugh every time I see some new ICO (initial Coin Offering) or sudden corporate name chance to include something “crypto” in its rebranding, then the subsequent tripling or more of its share price. I often wonder what Bernie Madoff must thinking, sitting in his cell, pulling any remaining hair out, wondering why he’s in jail for making stuff up.

It’s gone far beyond unhinged to anything one thought of as ethical business behavior. Hint: I’ll use Long Island Ice Tea™, as one, for your consideration.

However, with the above stated that doesn’t mean I see no use, or possible benefits related to the blockchain idea, and have always made that clear. (e.g., Kodak® may very well have merit to its seemingly us-too positioning, let alone the IMF and its ongoing discussions based on the distributed ledger principle.)

What it may or may not do, or be worth, in the future is very, very, very (did I say very?) much still up-for-grabs, for blockchain may not be the format of choice going forward to solve many of the issues it is said to. e.g., Hashgraph may be a better overall structure in the end.

To think this has all been decided and one “needs” to invest on the premise (much like those on TV inherently argue) has been beyond ludicrous. And that premise of “ludicrous” investing ideas is now showing up in some very real, very sizable, losses requiring payment (as in losing) actual, real $Dollars and cents.

(On an aside: If you have one-red-cent “invested” in any form of crypto-currency, and this is the first time you ever read, or even heard of the term “Hashgraph?” That proves prima facie that you too have been caught up, or followed the same investing premise known as “mania” that engulfed the “investing” public back in the 1600’s now known to all as the “tulip bulb craze.” If you’ve ever sat back and wondered “How could people have been so crazy?” You now know first-hand. It would appear de facto the only thing that never changes – is the human condition.)

So why did I use the argument that Bitcoin now has a $20,000 problem, you may be asking? Fair question, and it is for this reason…

Unlike the general stock market of the last nine years or so, Bitcoin is not backstopped, or propped-up via any central bank largess. In other words: There is no central bank “put” to ensure “investments” aren’t subject to the true laws of supply, demand, and more importantly – emotional swings of the investing public. And Bitcoin (and all its ancillary brethren) are at the epicenter of a purely emotional investing public. Period.

Why? It’s all been about get-rich-quick. At least, that’s my opinion, over the last 6 to 12 months. So much so Unicorns are tearing, if not out right bawling, with envy.

People didn’t, haven’t, and still don’t care what Bitcoin or anything else did, or does, as far as a product is concerned. All they’ve cared about is what the stock price is currently – can they get in on it – and will it keep rising? That is all the “fundamental” analysis that has mattered.

And many a so-called “experts” has been more than willing to wrap more specious styled analysis around that fundamental to sound as if they “know” something others don’t, when in effect, they are nothing more than speculating themselves with more makeup and better cameras.

The issue today is this: Fundamentally – the price has gone from around $20,000 per, to around $11,000 (and lower), depending on what day of the week it is.

The compounding and fundamental problem in all of this, is this: People who bought into all the hype from around the $10,000 mark, to watch it then go to around $20,000 – are now consistently sitting, day after day, not just in break-even territory if they’re lucky. But rather, some are now not only sitting on just double, or even triple digit losses. But quadruple digit losses.

Some may even be those who bought the extreme top, and sold the extreme (so far) dip. They would qualify for the investing term of: quintuple digit losses. Or said differently: Ouch! (e.g., Ten’s of thousands per “coin,” to just thousands.)

Yet you don’t (nor won’t) hear this type of analogy via most sources. And where you’re really not hearing it is on the so-called “informed” business/financial channels such as CNBC™ et al.

As a matter of fact, if you bring any of this type of questioning up, you’re met with nothing more than derision and insults. It would seem, once again, questioning of the “experts” is verboten. Unless, of course they’re questioning you, or your premise that may not align with theirs. Then it’s everyone pile-on and all fair-game. For clues, see Bill Fleckenstein clips, here, and here.

This type of behavior was (once again) prominently displayed on (once agin) none other than CNBC.

Yet, it seems to have taken on an even more harsh tone than ever before. I would assume it comes from the resulting issue that all those “investors” that were all but assured of even further riches – are now calling, wondering how in the world they could suddenly be so far underwater when all the so-called “experts” exuded assurances that this was all but “a sure thing.” i.e. BTFD’s (buy the F’n dips)

Last week this type of derogatory, no better ammo to counter a thesis than to throw out insults, was (once again) on full display on CNBC’s, Fast Money® program, where one of the panel members decided the best way to deal with any nay sayers was to lob a volley of nothing more than sophomoric insults.

The resulting “informative” information to bolster against anything that may claim Bitcoin may indeed be in for more trouble was met with panelist Dan Nathan berating the guest (Evercore™ ISI technician, Rick Ross) with such words of investing prowess as alluding to technical analysis as “his stick” I believe it was “schtick” but that just me.

Yet, it was his verbal coup de grâce of investing retorts that delivered all one needs to know about what’s currently taking place within the entire crypto arena. That retort? “…so go piss off, seriously.”

Ah yes, the fundamental sign (for those who want to see) that shows just how vacant the entire “get rich quick with Bitcoin” fallacy has fallen, and quickly.

Said differently: When the best argument for one’s position is nothing more than a vulgar insult, delivered meaningfully, and almost menacing in posture? On camera? Hint: That shows just how much that $20,000 high water mark is now a problem, and a very real problem at that. For the longer it doesn’t recoup back to its former highs? The more problems the entire crypto area is going to feel. Especially for those who were supposedly seen prior as “the experts.” i.e., I’d be on the lookout for the necessary bleeping of F-bombs for more clues into what’s currently taking place, than most or any the analysis I’ve heard. But that’s just me.

One can say till they’re blue-in-the-face that if one invested in Bitcoin 12 months ago they would be up 1000%. However, that does nothing for the myriad of people who piled in about a month ago at $10, $11, $12, or even (dare I type it?) near $20K to only watch in horror as its plummeted below $11K, rebound, then plummet again to where it sported a $9 handle. Those opinions matter more, and I’ll dare say: much, much more.

I’m going to go out-on-a-limb and just assume that the idea of losing 50% in value (and of one’s actual, real money) in and around a months time was not one of the selling points professed, or used, to entice those who “got in while the gettin’ was good” back in the good-ole-days of December. Call it: Just a gut feeling, that’s all.

What’s not a “feeling” by the way, and is very much fact, is that as I’m typing this Bitcoin has since risen, and (once again) sold off to have printed lower quotes than those quoted on the screen of CNBC as that “discussion” took place on the 17th. Hint: Not a good selling point for further investing. Maybe just a selling point of those already “invested.” But again, that’s just me.

Here’s my “investing” thought when it pertains to Bitcoin currently:

The longer it remains under $20K – the more calls of “piss off” will be heard across the entire crypto space. The only difference will be that it won’t be coming from the so-called “experts.” But from those being called to “invest” in the space – now that prices have been reduced and are most assuredly: “A screaming buy!” That is…

As long as you have cash in the bank to fulfill the transaction.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

A Bitcoin Anecdote

A few weeks ago I wrote an article titled, “About That Whole Bitcoin Thing” In it I made the following statements. To wit:

Over the last few months it’s been hard to have a conversation without someone asking me for my take on the entire BitCoin™ phenomena. My standard response has been, “I believe it all to be a mania, currently. But the underlying technology known as blockchain may have something to offer further down the road, because it works on the distributed ledger principle. After-all, the IMF itself has been issuing working or white papers on the subject for years. We’ll just have to wait and see how this all shakes out. But as far as the current ‘crypto-mania’ thing? Let’s just say – color me skeptical.

This was usually met with either disbelief that I could say such a thing, or the usual, something along the lines of, “You just don’t get it!” type of dismissal.

I was also reminded near infinitum, precisely and usually verbatim what James Altucher the now self promoting, wildly proclaimed Bitcoin guru retirement strategist had used as a response to any naysayers. So much so I usually would abruptly end the “conversation” midstream and ask, “Then why are you asking me anything if he’s the expert?”

The impetus for the above was, at that time, Bitcoin and its ancillary brethren across the entire crypto space had suddenly come under duress in a sudden out-of-the-blue free fall type event. Here’s the chart I used to depict it, again, to wit:

After the aforementioned published, the following took place, again. Here’s another chart showing the resulting price action via daily price intervals. I have marked it via two red arrows: one making that bottom range depicted in the above, and the resulting scream higher over the following days with another. To wit:

During this period, once again, anyone I seem to encounter their first question before any niceties such as, “How are you?” were much more along the lines of, “So now what do think about that whole Bitcoin thing, huh? Pretty impressive, right?” All I would basically say is “Nice to see you too.”

Then I would basically shrug and say the usual, “We’ll just have to wait I guess, right? But so far? Hey, it is what it is, but if you’re comfortable doing whatever within that space and it’s doing well for you? I’m not going to argue with you, have at it and best of luck. Personally, I still feel the same way – but then again, I guess that’s just me.” And I’d either move on, or at the least, move the conversation along to something else.

Then – this began happening…

(Chart Source)

The above chart represents the current value as of about 9:30am ET as I’m typing this. If this is the first time you’ve heard or seen anything about Bitcoin today? Hint: Yes, it’s now sporting a 9 handle, as in under 10, not the 900,000 variety everyone was presuming (and selling that presumption I’ll add) it would be in no-time flat.

As a matter of fact, so heavy does this current selloff seem to be weighing on it that when I was first trying to capture and post the above chart – I had to lower my original arrow of today by some $500.00 before I could take a screen shot. It was falling that fast.

Where it ends up, I have no idea. But there are going to be a lot of people waking up to this and what they’re going to be screaming, rather than thinking, is “WTF!”

But if there’s one thing I’ll issue in conjunction as some form of anecdotal evidence, which I’ve experienced as of late that may shed a little light on where it might all be going in the near term, I’ll just offer you this….

One: Over the last week – no one has asked me my opinion. As a matter of fact, I can tell you I know some have avoided me entirely.

Two: These, and ads like it, are suddenly absent from my news feeds.

(non working screen shot)

Funny how that happens, yes?

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

Dear Facebook: You’ve Got Mail

First, a bit of prologue…

It wasn’t all that long ago one of the most powerful digital ads-for-eyeballs platform ever created appeared as if it was the unstoppable juggernaut all the talking heads and analysts reigning on Wall Street declared it to be. Two of the most powerful reasons for why this mega-capped behemoth was not only here to stay, but was now the only company poised to outperform and capitalize on digital advertising in ways others could not was…

  • The new digital age of advertising allowed for precision ad placement, in front of the most qualified prospects for the advertisers product via data collection of attributes and viewing habits like never before.
  • They were so dominant a player, owning (and constantly buying) the very revolutionary assets that would propel it for years to come, that advertising anywhere else would be considered misplaced at best, and “not just getting it”, (“it” being advertising in this new age of digital) at worst. For this was the day and age of targeted data for ads.

Sound familiar?

It wouldn’t be surprising for most reading the above to think it’s about Facebook™ (FB). This issue is that the above is nothing more than my paraphrasing from a previous article of what the tenor and tone was from Wall Street analysts, fund managers, pundits and more paraded across the entire business/financial media landscape in reference to AOL™, right before it all fell apart.

As I’ve always contended when it comes to their similarities, invoking the old adage: History doesn’t repeat, yet it often rhymes. When it comes to these two? It seems to be in an uncanny, exacting rhythm and “rhyming” via an auto-tuner. The similarities are that striking. And today seems more in-tune with the past than ever before. Here’s why…

What is Facebook’s real business model? Hint: Ads for eyeballs.

What was AOL’s real business model? Hint: See above.

Now you’ll hear boiler-plate mumbo-jumbo from all ends of the spectrum that’s it’s all about: “building relationships,” “connections,” “user growth,” blah, blah, blah. Here’s the truth – if those “connections” can’t be served an ad that can be counted, tabulated and billed for? The relationship between user – platform – and advertiser is both meaningless and more than likely – worthless. Period, full stop.

In other words, nobody (as in advertiser) will pay FB for the privilege to connect the millions of 13-year-old, selfie-extraordinaires showing off their latest “Kardashian” imitation, or the other myriad of useless sharing pics from the “what’s currently on my plate” crowd unless they can be served, in tandem, with (and charged for) an accompanying ad of whatever the advertisers preferred choice of “bot” decides is relevant.

No ad? Better get used to sending email once again, because that, for at least the foreseeable future, will remain free.

FB without ads, or better yet, any discernible reduction of said ads? Hint: There is no FB. At least in the way it is currently known. Just – like – AOL.

Back in the late 90’s, into the early 2000’s, AOL was the, and I mean just that, the dominant ads-for-eyeballs business manifestation the world had ever seen. Never before was the idea of, “Digital,” with all its ancillary ways of calculating, distributing, collating, subjugating, and more such a dominant theme for investing consumption. This was, in many ways, told-and-sold in much the same fashion that FB and the everything “mobile” fairytale of advertiser rewards and riches of today is. Again, emphasis on told-and-sold.

For those of us old enough to have lived through and remember the dot-com era,  we remember all too well the rise and fall of the entire complex culminating with what appeared to be the last remaining superpower of all that was “digital”, known as AOL.

People, investors, pundits, and more were left aghast (and lighter, as in much lighter of their account balances) as they watched this seemingly, once unstoppable force go from Last-Act-Standing that was now going to reap all the rewards of such a title – to become the poster child for investor keel-hauling faster than one could blurt out “You’ve Got Mail®.”

Is FB in the same position? That’s for you to decide, however, what was the force that brought on the decline of AOL? Hint: Ad revenue misses. Why? Because ad revenue was its business. And AOL, much like FB’s stock price, at that time was considered “priced for perfection.”

In other words – any hiccups were going to be dealt with severely by investors. And if there is any question as to if the same overhang of how “hiccups” like those reminiscent of AOL prior may be dealt with for FB going forward. All one has to do is look as last weeks pricing action for clues. Hint: In an ever rising market – Nobody came in and BTFD of nearly 5% in FB. If that stands? Can you say “You’ve got problems?”

The reasoning: This current “market” rise is (once again) all about positioning, as in, buy everything regardless of price, for earnings exposure. Conjecture of course, but what is not is the fact to which it appeared in near relentless, unstoppable rising “market” backdrop – nobody seemed willing to BTFD of FB at nearly a 5% discount. The stock just seemed to sit there and vacillate.

This is an important distinction that is anathema to the buying frenzy currently on display within the “markets.” There’s a long time from here till when FB announces its earnings. But watching for further clues is paramount, in my opinion, for those looking.

Again, if the stock price just sits at current levels (or worse goes lower) in a “we’ll wait and see” posture till earnings are actually released? That is a change worth noting, for those actually interested and looking for signaling clues. For it’s not like we haven’t seen similar aberrations before. There have been others for this space, and not all that long ago.

Remember LinkedIn™? You remember don’t you? This was that other juggernaut of social media (which was stroked ad nauseam via the mainstream business/financial media) that was, for all intents and purposes. everything that FB was not, as in: enterprise subscription revenue. Where FB was ads-for-eyeballs.

That is – till its model missed projections and plummeted 43% and remained there till Microsoft™ came in and basically bailed it out.

So now the obvious question is this: How will the future projections for the ads-for-eyeballs model now be embraced? After all, Mark’s now professed goal of (paraphrasing) “Making FB great again” inherently conjures up the undeniable fact there will be less ad space available for those remaining eyeballs. Hint: Wall Street doesn’t take too kindly to “tepid” or “reduced” forecasts. Again, see LinkedIn for clues.

The everything social paradigm, as well as business model has been collapsing for years. (See Snapchat™) If it wasn’t for central banks largess still sloshing around the remaining few would probably have already been bought up at heftier discounts than where they currently stand. FB, much like AOL is basically the “last man” standing.

Growth of any remaining ad dollars in FB I have contended, ad nauseam, believe to have been the result of consolidation in a last-ditch effort to possibly get anything out of this last holiday shopping season via desperate retailers. But the season is now over, and with it I believe, so too, is any remaining ad revenue to just throw in a “hope and pray” manner.

If that is so? May I suggest looking back to AOL once again for any clues, because there too everything was supposedly “different” at that time.

On an aside note, just for some further contemplation: Is it not just a little bit coincidental that at about the same time, say oh, a few months back, when it’s been reported that FB had been running and testing different algorithms to its feed which showed publishers would invariably get reduced traffic – Mark just so happens to announced he’d like to unload up to 20% of his stake in FB? You know – for charity’s sake.

Or maybe, that’s just me.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

For Those Wondering…

It doesn’t take long for the calls to come in the moment there’s any out-of-the-blue news that seems to have upset-the-applecart of some of my colleagues predetermined storylines, whether it be of the business type, market type, or any other news worthy headline.

Today is no different with all the business/financial mainstream news media abuzz about Facebook™ (FB) with its sudden negative, knee-jerk reaction to Zuck’s stated “personal goal” of (paraphrasing) “making FB great again” by heavy handily censoring all the news its users seem fit to post, pun intended.

As I type this FB stock has gapped down some 5% from the high and is vacillating at around $180 mark. Whether or not this holds, falls further, or as this “market” has done time and time again – is just the dip everyone who believes there’s nothing but further upside to go, for this is just an aberration. All I can say too that is: We shall see.

However, with that said, that doesn’t mean I haven’t made mention of precisely this topic, as well as the ramifications before. To be precise – it was just a little over one year ago, December 2016. To wit:

The ‘Real’ Question: What’s Facebook’s True Valuation Without “Fake”?

There are two hot topics post the U.S. presidential election. One is “fake news”, the other is Facebook™ (FB), and its involvement in it.

The accusations and the defenses against have been all over the board. Both figuratively, as well as literally.

Management from Mark Zuckerberg on down have been professing when it came to anything “fake” it wasn’t of their doing. And gee-whiz-by-golly they’re going to do whatever it takes to make sure anything “fake” never sees the “like” of day again.

Sounds great, in theory. But there’s a very real fact that must now be considered…

If “fake” news was so wide-spread, and so devoured on FB that it had the ability to not only influence, but rather, to overturn political norms and ruin the election of what everyone in media on down believed; that this election was merely a formality on paper because, it was clear to all of them, Mrs. Clinton would win not just walking away, but running?

That would mean FB now has to alienate (i.e., by now not delivering “news” these people wanted to see) millions, upon millions, upon millions of now current users. What does that imply to their now “real” (ooopsy, again!) metrics going forward?
If the above hypothetical has the ability to be true (and from a business perspective it sure has) the very fact that FB will now openly censor, mark, tag, possibly defame (whether intentionally or not), and more articles of news, or anything else shared on its platform. Two questions have to be asked:

First: How many FB customers decide they don’t need or want a “mommy” deciding what they can, or can not, read or share? Second: How fast does that process begin, and by how many?

No matter what side of the political fence you’re on matters. The only thing that matters is what all this means from a business perspective to FB’s bottom line. For as much as everyone likes “free”, without Wall Street (or the Swiss Central Bank) buying? FB moves to AOL™ status quicker than you can say “You’ve got mail®.”

Again, where this all goes from here we’ll all just have to wait and see how it all plays out. However, with that said, I’ll just leave you with a few items to muse on in conjunction…

First: This shouldn’t be a shock, it was actually inevitable, for the writing-on-the-wall was quite clear back over a year ago for anyone that wanted to truly look.

Second: When Mark announced back in September of last year that he wanted to boost his selling of shares from $1Billion to selling nearly 20% of his stake with the addition of 75 million shares? One needed to ask themselves then: Does this look like a CEO who is committed to staying and “fixing” the place up? Or, a CEO who’s committed to “fixing” the place up – and getting the heck-out-of-Dodge while at the highs as fast as he can? Hint: Funny how the sudden commitment to sell came right before the sudden commitment of many to sue, call for regulation and more, does it not? All just coincidence, I’m sure.

Third: Just remember – it doesn’t matter what you, me, or Mark even thinks. The one you need to worry about is what The Swiss Central Bank thinks. Because if they decide it’s time to sell – then that’s the tell-tale sign that things might be far worse for FB itself than the many publishers and others that will now find the business they created on FB, or became dependent upon – is now worth less, as in – a lot less.

The only solace I can offer anyone if indeed things take a turn for the worse is this…

If you suddenly find the need to sell any shares you may have, don’t think you’re in it alone. Just take solace in the fact that Mark will be right in there – selling with you.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr

A Follow-Up On: Seeing Beyond The Horizon

There are times, whether it’s during a speech, discussion, or other venue where I’ve made the statement along the lines of “Sometimes I have to remember that when it comes to explaining what I may see over the horizon, that I myself may be over the horizon to my audience at any particular time or subject.”

I don’t say this to be coy. The reason for it is to both remind myself, as well as my audience, should the need fit, that what I’m deliberating is a construct or view, if you will, via pulling together different pieces that may not be prominently displayed, or at the time are completely disjointed, seemingly irrelevant to the business of the day to the casual observer.

This is how “first mover advantage” or “first to exit advantages” are made and decided upon. And the reasoning why this is so important is to make sure it’s remembered by myself, as well as understood by the audience, for these two very distinct reasons.

First: Standing that far over the “horizon” inherently denotes, more than likely, you’ll be putting both money and all other valuable resources at risk (sometimes significant at that) on what will be nothing more than an educated guess based solely upon your own acumen.

This statement sounds innocuous, but make no mistake, this is where the true business leaders, visionaries, et al. work, play, live and die. Here is where decisions get made, parameters outlined, courses set, and the venture begins with full sails. It’s not for the meek. And understanding this in-full is a paramount function of any businessperson. For this is also where fortunes can be won or lost. Think: J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, Georges Roberts of Teledyne™, Andy Grove of Intel™, Sam Walton, Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs just to name a few.

The second part is this: Once whatever the idea, vision, or aberration comes into view for others to see (i.e., the proverbial horizon becomes visible to the masses) the competition to be able to exploit it goes exponential. This is where the “Me too!” or “Us too!” of the business persuasion begin popping up in more ways than the current #Metoo accusers in Hollywood.

Again, once it comes into view for all to see – regardless of how small, inconspicuous, or fuzzy it appears at the extreme – the floodgates for competition are broke wide open. First mover advantage is only instilled – if – by the time it reaches that point, you’re already fully engaged.

The above is far too important of a distinction to just assume an audience inherently knows this when I’m discussing certain issues. I fully understand that it’s incumbent upon me to realize, that it’s up too me, to make sure I’m properly expressing what I’m noting so that we’re all on the same page. If not, it can all sound like “crazy talk” depending on the circumstances.

Now, with the above for context here’s the reason for it…

The other day I received a note from someone who attended one of my discussions last year, which I subsequently wrote about, who noted the following. (I’ll paraphrase for the sake of brevity) To wit:

“When I heard your discussion about horizons where one of the examples you used (e.g., the iPhone®) I thought to myself, Yeah, sure, right, ain’t gonna happen. But then this story appeared in my inbox and immediately I thought back to your discussion. Once I read it I began looking around and seemingly overnight they’re everywhere in different main stream media sources. I truly understand your point now. I’m taking this moment as the horizon that everyone now sees. I can now see what you meant about being over the horizon, because as you were speaking it was hard for me to see where you might be leading or coming from. Nobody I know of has even dared contemplate such a scenario and I’m in the tech business! Thanks again for sharing your insights. -J.T.”

Below is a portion of what he’s alluding to. It was made in early November of 2017, the subsequent post published on the 14th. It was also Nov. that the now infamous Sean Parker interview debuted about social media. Before this? ___________(insert crickets here)

“Currently we are celebrating the 10th anniversary of what we now see as the most revolutionary product of generations: The iPhone®. It’s now ubiquitous in daily life for many, and all ages. It’s seems we’re doing more, and, more, and more with it every day.

However, what if I said to you to contemplate the following: In 10 years from today the smart phone, and the way it’s used currently, may/will be looked upon, or frowned upon, if you will, the same way that smoking and drinking alcohol of the 1950’s is viewed via today’s prism?

Watch any old movie or television program of the ’50’s and so forth. Or, you can use the current Mad Men series on AMC™ as a benchmark. People smoked and drank at their desks. Television hosts and guests openly smoked both on camera, as well as off. For many drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes, regardless of where one was, was as normal as having a soda today, whatever the time of day.

The smart phone of today is the embodiment of both, in my view. Its usage for distraction and more is getting to the point of where laws are being either enacted or called for. Think texting while driving as just one.

I think this will accelerate from this point on in a very short time from here, because of the things we’re finding out about it as we go along. It’s probably the most habit-forming, time-wasting, attention distraction device we’ve come up with in a century. It’ll probably be said it also promotes tooth decay or some such idiocy to push the narrative for curbing its usage.

I can see ‘age restrictions’ of all types whether for the device itself or content available. Use in classrooms, boardrooms, meetings, and more I can see being socially outlawed in the very near future. Already it’s becoming common to see a sign stating ‘NO CELLPHONE USE ALLOWED’ in certain venues. I am of the opinion this is going to accelerate, not maintain current levels. Which begets the next questions, if this has any validity:

How would your business be impacted – if – that were to be true? What preemptive positioning could you take before hand? What resources would you put or commit into the initial stages? How much commitment would be legitimate? At what point, or what signaling, would warrant an escalation of resources? Or, at what point should the entire notion be jettisoned? And so on, and so on.

And, now since I just brought this notion forward: can you see the possibility of it?

And here is that article that caused his note yesterday. To wit:

Via the Wall Street Journal™ : “Silicon Valley Reconsiders the iPhone Era It Created”

“The smartphone has fueled much of Silicon Valley’s soaring profits over the past decade, enriching companies in sectors from social media to games to payments. But over the past year or so, a number of prominent industry figures have voiced concerns about the downsides of the technology’s ubiquity.

“Those are the kinds of concerns spotlighted in a letter to Apple on Saturday from Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or Calstrs, which control about $2 billion of Apple shares. The letter urged the tech giant to develop new software tools that would help parents control and limit phone use more easily, and to study the impact of overuse on mental health.”

Then there’s this I just randomly searched for on my own as I was typing this. It’s from CNN/Money™ just two days ago, again, to wit: “Investors to Apple: Fight iPhone addiction among kids”

“California State Teachers’ Retirement System and Jana Partners — two major funds that own about $2 billion in Apple (AAPL) stock between them — are pressuring the tech giant to take a stronger stance on the mental health effects of excessive smartphone use by children and teenagers.

The investors pointed to a number of studies highlighting the detrimental effects of smartphone addiction. They include being less attentive in class, insufficient sleep and a higher risk of depression and suicide.”

This doesn’t mean I’m always right, far from it. I don’t have a crystal ball or any other such contraption. And if someone says they do? Don’t just walk, but run and fast. I’m just using the above as a real-time example as to help clarify my world or business lens to those who are either new or don’t fully understand what I mean when I have used the analogy of “being over the horizon.” Nothing more.

And for those of you (because I know you’re out there) who think all the above is just bunk and I’m trying to either game a situation or insert myself as to appear as if “I knew” something no one else did. I might shock you with – agreeing with you. Because as I am typing this, in my own head, I can see or hear that being a fair question. So to that plausible assumption I offer up the following…

Back in October of last year I penned an article titled, “Are Tim Cook’s Days As CEO Numbered?”

This question made headlines across the media crystallizing by appearing on the front-page of the Drudge Report™. It was also met with guffaws and snickers across the business/financial main stream media for even contemplating such an idea. Then, two significant monumental announcements took place .

First: Out of nowhere, Eric Schmidt of Google™ suddenly resigned. Nobody thought such a thing was remotely possible, never-mind would take place out-of-the-blue. Mr. Schmidt is the executive equivalent of stature to Mr. Cook. So, if it’s now happened there? It’s surely a plausible contemplation in regards to Mr. Cook, is it not? The reason for the exit is immaterial. Just the idea that such was even a remote possibility was near absolute zero as one could possibly get.

Second: The holiday shopping season began and ended – and Apple’s “Mr. Supply Side Extraordinaire” Tim Cook, once again, missed an entire holiday shopping season with what many are deeming the most important new product of the last few years. e.g., The Home Speaker Assistant aka HomePod®. And now, it’s not just me in the wilderness pointing out the obvious, but suddenly there are ill-winds showing up on behalf of Mr. Cook’s obvious miss. To wit:

Again, from the WSJ™ January 6th: “Tim Cook Stumbles at His Specialty, Shipping Apple Products on Time”

“As Apple Inc.’s longtime chief operating officer, Tim Cook was known for ensuring that new products hit the market on schedule.

With Mr. Cook as CEO, though, Apple’s new gadgets are consistently late, prompting questions among analysts and other close observers about whether the technology giant is losing some of its competitive edge.

Of the three major new products since Mr. Cook became chief executive in 2011, both AirPods earbuds in 2016 and last year’s HomePod speaker missed Apple’s publicly projected shipping dates. The Apple Watch, promised for early 2015, arrived late that April with lengthy wait times for delivery. Apple also was delayed in supplying the Apple Pencil and Smart Keyboard, two critical accessories for its iPad Pro.”

The above styled questioning is usually the first signs as the brewing storm suddenly appears on the “horizon” for all too now gander at. For when the paper-of-record for Wall Street suddenly starts questing just what the heck is happening at one of its most beloved investment stories? Let’s just say – everyone is now going to be questioning – everything.

But before I brought it up? The possibility was met with either laughter, or crickets. Let’s just say, as far as Apple should be concerned, I don’t think it’s going to be anything resembling a laughing matter going forward from here.

© 2018 Mark St.Cyr