Author: Mark St.Cyr

Mark is a globally recognized expert in entrepreneurship, motivation, business, sales and financial markets. He writes from a first hand perspective. His insights can be both cutting edge, or just a cutting through the clutter. Either way they come from first hand knowledge, and experience that is classic Mark. Visit www.MarkStCyr.com "Pragmatic Insights For Today's Business World™"

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

Zuckerberg’s True 2018 Personal Challenge: Selling $12.8 Billion Worth of His Facebook Shares

When it comes to New Year resolutions there is one of late that is triumphed and lauded around the media, especially social. That resolution is Mark Zuckerberg’s yearly “personal challenge.”

I take no issue with anyone making both the time, as well as commitment to meet a new goal in the coming year that is challenging, invigorating and rewarding of the personal achievement kind. As a matter of fact I’ll argue far too few do.

It’s refreshing when it appears someone of stature is willing to put themselves on the line, in full view, and announce as a way to both possibly inspire others, as well as publicly put themselves on that proverbial line.

But appearances as in “it appears” is everything when it comes to these motivations, and of the people making them.

It is here, I’ll contend, when the CEO of one of the largest media and market capitalized corporations puts his annual “personal challenge” or goal out for public consumption, as to put himself on that line – is where anyone with a modicum of business sense should start trying to read precisely what may also be read into between those lines. For if a CEO wants to portray themselves as an open book – you had better be reading all the editions for a possible glimpse into where that tale maybe heading.

Do you remember some of Mark’s (I use the familiar only for ease) earlier goals?

Well, when Facebook™ (FB) was trying to break into China a few years back it was all about learning Mandarin. Then it was about reading books, you know, so you could also follow along with titles like “The End of Power”, or with authors like Henry Kissinger and more. All sounds quite innocuous when viewed in the moment, but it’s when you take as step back is when things begin to get a little clearer. Case in point:

Remember 2017’s challenge? Hint: To meet and listen to people in all 50 states.

Are you beginning to see a bit of a pattern here? Maybe you need a bit more to help clarify, if so let me add that another year it was to wear a tie, another was to eat only what he killed. Again, nothing wrong with these. However, if I add some further back story for a little more context maybe things become a bit clearer.

Remember way back when, circa 2016, when Mark wanted to reduce his stake in the company, yet still remain in control via the issuance of non-voting shares?

For those in need of a little reminder, this was when it was revealed that Mark was probably doing all of this for the assumed reasoning of getting into politics. It was revealed via messages between him and Marc Andreesen (which prompted a shareholder suit) where one of the messages reported, showed what may be the real intent. e.g., “how to define the gov’t service thing without freaking out shareholders that you are losing commitment.”

Ah, yes. That “losing commitment” thing. I mean, that’s just crazy talk, right? Well, I guess that all depends in how one might interpret the next personal goal for the future might be. And the only one that knows that is Mark himself. Yet, it’s not as if he’s not leaving (or left) enough breadcrumbs for those who want to look. Intentional, or not.

Anyone looking at the actions of Mr. Zuckerberg over the last few years seem to have come to the same consensus: He wants to be in politics, whether it’s running for president, or other high office.

When you look at his “personal challenges” over the last few years – the inferences are all spelled out and easy to read: Hunting -check, Wear a tie -check, Publicly read books of politics and big picture themes -check and check, Meet the people tour -again, check. And let’s not forget about funding a charity -check.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

But something happened on the way to becoming this millennia’s possible new “Emperor.” That something was “Fake News.” And it now seems that being the CEO of what many are touting as “the Evil Empire of Russian influenced fake news” ain’t what it used to be. After all, when it was only conservative outlets being maligned it was all “Gee golly whiz, we’re really sorry, blah, blah, blah” styled responses.

But when it comes to Russian influence and overthrowing the voting populace of “Mrs. Her Turn” for the tidy some of just $100 grand in political ads?” I’ll just invoke Ricky Ricardo and say “Lucy, you’ve got some splainin’ to do!” Because something sure doesn’t add up. Especially when outfits like P&G™ have spent $MILLIONS and can’t come close to that sort of impact on FB.

Think about it. The reasoning, excuses, mumbo-jumbo and more professed not only by Mark, but by anyone connected within FB has been met with either deaf-ears, or flat-out disdain. Nobody believes (nor wants to hear) anything coming out of FB currently. And I mean just that – anything.

Over the past year being the once “Boy-genius of everything social” has now morphed into being something along the lines of, “Evil Overlord of tech.”

Everyone’s talking crap about FB, even the people who helped create it, from founding president Sean Parker to early executives such as Chamath Palihapitiya.

No, I’ll wager it’s no longer fun just “making connections” at FB when the very people who were once its biggest supporters start using terms to describe the product now infiltrating almost all of society, globally with terms like this from Mr. Parker:

“… It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains.”

“The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, … was all about: ‘How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?'”

“It’s a social-validation feedback loop … exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you’re exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.”

Or these from Mr. Palihapitiya:

When asked how he feels about Facebook: “Tremendous guilt.” About the dopamine-driven feedback loops they created: “…destroying how society works.” Does he let his own children use it: “…aren’t allowed to use that shit.”

All of this while the new product rollout for FB is “Messenger Kids” gets ready for primetime. Can you say “Joe Camel® moment?”

If you think FB hasn’t suffered any real damage of late in the public eye, just take a look at this latest polls via CB Insights™. To wit:

(Image Source, Non-working screenshot)

Remember, the above poll is basically a snapshot of those closest to the product and company. i.e., Silicon Valley and its tech force. I’ll add along side my own non-scientific poll with nearly every conversation I’ve held with others about FB, users above the age of 25: They’re limiting their own exposure to it. The response is near universal.

So now we have Mark’s 2018 “personal challenge”, which is, in a nut shell: “To do his job.” To wit:

“The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do–whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states, or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent,” he writes. “My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues.”

In essence, Zuckerberg is vowing to help fix the problems that plague Facebook, which is his job, something he admits: “This may not seem like a personal challenge on its face,” Zuckerberg writes, “but I think I’ll learn more by focusing intensely on these issues than I would by doing something completely separate.”

That’s a pretty good commitment to a challenge. Funny though, this takes place precisely and in conjunction of another, I guess one can say “goal” Mark announced back in September. That goal?

“Mark Zuckerberg will sell as many as 75 million Facebook shares, currently worth $12.8 billion, over the next 18 months”

Funny how fast “philanthropic” reasons gets moved forward from an original $1Billion that was supposed to take place over the course of three years (e.g., The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative) and gets bumped up to near $14BILLION only two years in, when the proverbial brown stuff keeps being thrown against the fan daily, is it not?

But not too worry shareholders, for you’re told, it’s all just for “philanthropic” reasons. Feel better?

My, is it not funny how much charity work demanding Mark’s money is suddenly needed. You know, in conjunction with countries and others beginning to demand their own pound-of-flesh via FB coffers. If I were Mark, I’d want to get as much as I can out as soon as possible also I guess. After all…

It’s all for charity’s sake, right?

And don’t read into anything of what is the usual modus operandi of any CEO looking to make some form of exit with “putting full attention to making his company great again.” All while announcing he’s selling a major stake of said company. That’s all just a funny coincidence. Remember…

It’s all for challenge and charity – just ask Mark.

© 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 holiday weekend I penned my thoughts on the current status revolving around IPO’s. i.e., I all but declared them and the unicorn’s back they rode in on D.O.A.

It seems, once again, before the digital ink is allowed to dry, that something will occur, that immediately causes people I know to suddenly call, or fill my email box with, “Did you see this?! What do you think about what you said now?!!”

So it is in that vein, I offer the following. As always, doesn’t matter what I think, let it be about what you do. Ready?

Did you know, or hear, that Spotify™(the streaming service) filed for an IPO earlier this week? Well, maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. But what’s striking is the difference between yesterday (i.e. during QE) and today, is this:

Today’s IPO sensations now seem to want to file “confidentially.”

Remember when any “disruptor” couldn’t wait to proclaim ad nauseam across any media channel that would cover them (along with any-and-all next-in-rotation fund managers) that they were filing for an IPO at near any moment, even if it was God-knows-when in the future? There were pre-celebrations to celebrate the possibility of a real celebration. Tongue-in-cheek yes, but not by much.

Today? Shhhhhh… It’s a secret. (Hint: Snapchat™ was one of the latest examples)

So why would one want to file under the guise of hush-hush? Well maybe there are two very important considerations. The first…

How did it solve what has been reported as “a sticky debt deal” overhang of $1Billion that was clogging up the works of an IPO? Hint: Once again it seems a Chinese based tech company is to thank for rescue. e.g. Tencent™

If the name “Tencent” sounds familiar, see the aforementioned Snapchat for further clues or insights.

Or maybe it wanted to keep things on the quiet because if things became noisy – creepy crawly things might suddenly come out of the woodwork, or from behind other closed doors in search of their own payday. You know – like a lawsuit. To wit:

“Spotify files to go public as it faces a $1.6Billion copyright infringement suit.”

That just came out over the last 24 hours or so. Funny how that happens, right?

Or maybe the other motivation for keeping everything quiet is because of what has happened to that other streaming service that was supposed to be the true “disruptor.” e.g., Pandora™.

You remember them don’t you? Here, let me show you a picture to help you remember. And for some of you still trying to forget getting in early on their IPO? You have my condolences. Again, to wit:

(Chart Source)

Maybe this is the real reason. Again, it’s all conjecture on my part, but as Rod Stewart famously sang, “Every picture tell’s a story, don’t it?”

What ever story that is – is – for you to decide. Or as I myself have said, many times from the stage…

Just like you heard mothers say for years, “It’s all fun and games till someone loses an eye” Well, much goes the same in business as in “It’s all fun and games till the bank demands to see the account balances.”

Then, just like before – everything goes silent, right before the real bawling begins.

© 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.

2017: The Year The Unicorn Died

Remember back in days of yore (pre-2015) when a new year celebration, or any celebration or extravaganza for that matter, would pale in comparison to a “it’s different this time” funding round after-party?

You remember don’t you? This was where being on the “guest list” or “invite” was the equivalent throughout Silicon Valley as a red carpet event was in Hollywood. Of course, all the free-flowing bubbly and more would be paid for via those “funding rounds.” But hey, who needs to watch the bottom line when there isn’t one to begin with, right?  Remember the mantra: “It’s different this time.” So party on and party hard, business can wait and is so – old school.

So how will this years new year celebration be rung in for the Unicorn set? Hint: Bring out the crying towels, because, it is indeed – different this time.

This year is culminating with an event which for all intents and purposes proves that the faithful have lost their faith. That event is none other than the most over-valued, over-rated, over-hyped, over-_______(fill in the blank) unicorn known as Uber™  penning its deal with SoftBank™, which purportedly cuts it valuation by some 30%. Or said differently – by about 1/3rd. And that’s if you believe the metrics and math used to begin with.

Supposedly there is some form of accounting alchemy that will allow a portion of the “investment” to be applied in such a way that the original near $70 BILLION valuation metric can stay intact. i.e., It’s probably not lying in a legal sense. But everyone knows its pure bull. From my purview this same reasoning would allow me to openly cite that land in Kentucky I’ll sell you is truly oceanfront – you’ll just need to wait for the full effects of climate change to evolve as to see it. But it’s not like I’m lying, right?

Now some will argue (especially any next-in-rotation fund manager, or Silicon Valley aficionado paraded across the main stream financial media) that this latest investment proves that there is a worthy, worthwhile business in Uber. Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t, but here’s what we do know, which is far more telling and far more prophetic in my view:

Softbank was looking to purchase somewhere around a 14% stake. So to entice current shareholders that were supposedly “holding out for the big IPO pay-day of riches” they offered a price of $33 per share, in the hopes that this would be enough to possibly bring on board some of those holdouts. It would appear they could have offered less. Why?

As being reported by the Wall Street Journal™ “people familiar with the mater” said the tendered shares offered (you know, at almost a 1/3 discount) totaled around 20%. That implies not only was there no need to possibly further incentivized, or pry any shares from true believers cold clinched hands, but rather, there were more willing sellers (e.g., more offered) than what was required for the deal. i.e., SoftBank only needed 14%, but had 20% available (at nearly 1/3rd off!) or offered for sale. SoftBank implied it’s going to leave that remaining 5% on the table.

If you’re still a “it’s different this time” true believer: Can you say, “Uh, oh?” Because if we use math as it is intended, that means, or one can infer, that SoftBank is leaving 25% of the available shares that it could have purchased – on the table.

Remember, it (SoftBank) thought it was going to have a hard time getting that 14%, this was why (all conjecture) the $33 per share was offered to begin with, as to hopefully tempt any possible on-the-fencers.

But temp it did! So much so that it was oversubscribed to the sell-side by some 25%. Talk about it’s different this time. So much for any remaining faith remaining in the faithful of an IPO to riches for this once most valuable private startup, is it not? After-all, this latest “investment” slashes Uber’s valuation to less than it was said to be worth in 2015. (i.e., $51B, 2015 – $48B today.)

I made the statement back in May of 2016, “If everything is so great. where are the Unicorn IPOs?” This was met via “The Valley” and nearly every so-called “tech aficionado” or next-in-rotation fund manager with derision and more across the mainstream business/finance media channels. I was of the “doesn’t get tech” crowd and was to be laughed off, or maligned for ever daring to question the unicorn or “it’s different this time” religion which had pervaded any remaining business sense or ethics.

But everyone seemed to forget then at the end of 2014, Quantitative Easing ended. And when 2015 began it was being touted as the year for both the rebirth of Unicorn’s and their IPO’s. And then it was 2016. And then 2017. And now we begin 2018.

The difference this time for unicorns is this: Not with hope. But rather, to face what I said was inevitable in 2015: “Crying Towels”

The reasoning is simple, and for those in “the Valley” who like it said best in pictures, here you go. To wit:

In 2015 depictions of Venture Capitalists went cartoonish – literally.

Photo credit CB Insights™

In 2016 the IPO to save the IPO world, Twilio™ debuted – then subsequently died – literally.

(Chart Source)

Then for 2017 it was the ultimate mascot for any-and-all remaining “it’s different this time” devotees to prove to the world that in fact, it still was, with Snapchat’s™ IPO – then – it all snapped – literally.

(Cover source, Chart Source)

Yet, what is far more troubling which should be carefully, thoughtfully contemplated by all continuing to belive in the charade that is “The Valley.” I offer you the following to ruminate…

Over the course of the last 12 months the “markets” have never – in all its history – seen levels of such low volatility, for so long. In fact, the markets have also: Never had one full year of 12 consistent, back-to-back winning months. Again: 2017 did not have one, repeat, not one losing month. And, closed the year at heights never before seen in the history of markets.

And the most lauded, valuable, watched unicorn – in the history of unicorns – not only didn’t IPO – insiders sold their shares at a 30% discount  – and the offering was oversubscribed to what was need. Or said differently…

It’s over, just like 2017.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

Apple’s Glass: Half Empty – Half Full – Or ?

As always let me preface with the following: I am both an Apple™ fan, as well as near exclusive product user. However, with that said, I’m also a businessman. And it is to these points which I base my commentary.

For the last few years I’ve noticed a troubling undercurrent when it comes to all things Apple. That undercurrent revolves around a distinct feature which can be summed up using one word, for all intents and purposes seems to be used far more frequently than at any time I can remember. That word? “Delayed,” or its paternal twin which shares the same DNA, i.e., “Backordered.”

It now seems you can’t talk about a new or improved product when it comes from Apple without also including the near inevitable “delayed” or “backorder” issue which seems to follow every new product or feature. Although the actual word “backorder” seems never used. What else does something along the lines of “expected delivery time in 6 weeks” or more indicate other than that?

The actual term “delay” we all have come to know means the entire product launch is currently unavailable. No further backorder phraseology required.

New products and features for Apple were, at one time, highly anticipated rollouts with large-scale events and demonstrations that were supposed leave one near breathless in anticipation. Today, a lot of that breathlessness is attributable to one holding their breath in anticipation of what will arrive first: A complete launch delay announcement, or some revolving backorder status.

So common have these now become I wouldn’t be surprised at any subsequent event one might hear something along the lines of…

“Oh, just one more thing. It will be so popular, so wickedly awesome, so supercalifragilisticexpialidocious – we don’t know if we’ll have enough, or even when we’ll be ready to ship at all. So try to order early and often. We’ll let you know as soon as we see fit, as we delay any rollout status back ever further, because we only use nebulous terms for availability allowing us the cover to roll back your anticipated expectations again and again. Even if that means years. Ain’t that great?!”

Yes all tongue-in-cheek. But am I that far off? (Hint: Mac Pro®)

I used the aforementioned “glass” analogy for a very specific reason, but not in the way of most.

Far too many look at the proverbial glass and only see two variables. i.e., The optimistic/pessimistic viewpoint. Yet, there is another, which is by far more important, for it answers the original age-old question in absolute terms, forcing one to now plan or assess accordingly.

That other question is this: Why is the glass half empty, or full, to begin with?

In other words it’s the “why” which should be asked, as in: Is it filling up from empty and is now at half? Or, was it full and has since leaked or evaporated down to half?

I’ll contend that’s the correct set of questions when viewing the glass. Not the other two. Answer the latter, and the prior two become situational for the requisite action if required.

“So how does this pertain to Apple?” one might be asking. Good question, and it’s for this reason:

Is Apple’s once product admiration, wonderment and astonishment continuing to rise? Or, has it reached its heights and is slowly leaking or evaporating?

If it’s the latter – that’s a very big problem. And there are far more troubling indications that it is may be just that. And this latest holiday “delay” shows that in spades via my perceptions.

Once again Apple delayed the rollout of what can only be described as a revolutionary new product till after the holiday season. However, this time – not only was this product an important next step in the evolution for Apple’s ecosystem. But more importantly – it could also be argued as possibly the most important consumer product to be developed since the smart phone.

That gadget? The Home Smart Speaker.

Apple’s HomePod® was supposed to be the quintessential “800-pound gorilla” to Amazon’s Echo® and Google’s Home® and was slated to enter the holiday shopping window in December. But then, right before Thanksgiving, Apple announced that HomePod won’t be home or even ready for the holidays, because “sometime in December” is now “early 2018.”

It’s not that Apple did not have enough for any anticipated sales volume. No, what I consider absolutely, inexplicably unacceptable is that they didn’t even have the product itself available. As in, if you wanted one? You got zip, zero, nada, for the rollout and the entirety of any availability completely missed the entire holiday shopping season.

Was this some sort of afterthought gift idea or product that people just happened to pick up as a stocking stuffer that was nestled between the candy bars at the checkout lines? The answer to that is an emphatic, no!

It has been purported via many shopping reports to be one of (if not the) best-selling consumer gadget this shopping season.

And Apple missed it entirely.

The issue here is two-fold. First: Not only did they seemingly anticipate or know of its importance to be for the holiday rush, but also, they announced early as to make sure customers knew there would be an Apple product “sometime in December” for this category.

So the underlying sales pitch is: Don’t buy theirs just yet. We’re coming out with ours, “sometime in December” and you’ll be amazed with what it does.

Maybe it’s just me, but “early 2018” is light-years away from “sometime in December” and the consequential, all important  holiday shopping frenzy.

Adding insult to this self-inflicted injury is the following: Not only did an ever important launch window get missed. Rather, what many contend is far worse – a complete launch whiff of a product now clearly demonstrating just how important it is as a segment of a company’s ecosystem. The proof?

The apps required to use these products subsequently moved in unison of their holiday sales to vault theirs to the top-notch for both IOS® and Android®, proving its holiday sales appeal.

And Apple didn’t even have the product ready. This point can not be made too lightly from a business perspective via my acumen.

To make the point in another way: It would appear there are going to be a lot of requests made to purchase and play music, movies and more during the interlude to the new year. Just not via a HomePod. Can you say, “Alexa®” or “Hello Google®?”

If I were Siri®, I’d be pissed.

As I iterated earlier this is far from the first time Apple has had holiday availability issues. Remember, AirPods®? You can now finally get some, but you’re still going to have to wait, for they are still having supply side issues. But if you wanted this “breakthrough technology” last year under your tree? Much like the recent hyped, in much the similar fashion HomePod – sometime next year was about as good, as it got.

Are you seeing a pattern here?

Then we had what can only be described as the disastrous rollout for the iPhone 8®. The only thing that gave that rollout any cover was the, once again, disastrous live rollout demonstration for facial recognition on the iPhone X®.

The only thing comparable to this obviously embarrassing mistake? (It was said, because someone used it prior in set up.) Was when, seemingly oblivious to the obvious, about 2 years ago Apple asked Microsoft™ employees to appear onstage to demonstrate a few new features and products for the iPad Pro®.

Again, maybe it’s me, but this seemed just a little bit “tone-deaf” for a company that is supposed to be so “in-tune” with its customers.

The only thing more ridiculous for comparison would be something along the lines of creating a stylus (something Jobs originally denounced) then calling it a Pencil®. Wait, scratch that. I forgot.

Speaking of “forgot.” What about wearables like the iWatch®, or other such item? You know, like taking the top spot for number one on the holiday check list of must-haves sale items. After all I would imagine with all the hype manufacturers (and next-in-rotation fund managers) were giving them, that these must have been the go-to gadget of the holiday season, right?

Nope, need I remind you, see home speaker category once again, for that. You know – where Apple didn’t even have a product available.

But if you want a watch? I’ll bet dollars-to-doughnuts there’s no waiting and you can have as many as your little beating heart-to-monitor desires. (Hermès® option extra, but I’m sure, quite available) After all, wasn’t that Mr. Cook’s baby?

How about a MacPro®? Did you get a new Mac Pro? That’s OK, neither has anyone else, that too is still a product in waiting. Apple said in 2017 it was “completely rethinking the Mac Pro.” Well, there hasn’t been anything new since it relaunched in 2013 so that’s quite a long time for “thinking” in my humble opinion. But there’s still so much to think about, I guess, a date for 2018 is still abject speculation on the sooner side, with some rationalizing maybe 2019 is the year.

The message?

No rush, what’s a few years when it comes to computer product cycles anyway. After all it’s not like we didn’t give you a “touch bar” for your laptop. Be happy with that for now will ya – we’ve got some political fundraising we’re working on here, between that and the new building with all its furniture decisions for the new corporate offices – we’re barely keeping it together! You may think product priorities come first, but have you tried to find office furniture that’s made for a circular building?

Then of course there was the latest software snafu that landed Apple in serious, “WTF is going on there?”, conversations across the spectrum of both computers, as well as general product awareness. For those who don’t remember…

Apple, the company, which sells itself on making sure all of its products, as well as any third-party suppliers don’t have any holes for security, or any other issues as to make sure (paraphrasing Jobs) “The shit just works as expected.” And will boot any and all out of their collaboration efforts or stores for even the slightest infractions. Had a embarrassing, amazingly giant security flaw that remained undetected, for far too long, in its latest operating system just last month, causing Apple to issue an apology, for the first time in years as to push, or force-load an update.

I’ll ask again – are you beginning to see a pattern here?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Since Mr. Cook has taken over the reins he now seems to be worried about everything, and anything other than what truly matters. i.e., Selling product hype to Wall Street, rather than focusing first on selling great products that ship.

It would seem that once explicable Jobs mantra is not only no longer present, but may have been jettisoned entirely since the “operations guy extraordinaire” left to be the “Corner office guy of Wall Street.”

The problem right now for Apple, again, is two-fold. The First…

Developing great products that work and ship needs to be the true focus once again. For it’s becoming blatantly obvious – it is not.

And second: Before one decides to reap in all that rarefied air and vistas in the new “corner office?” Maybe one should be worried – very worried. Why? Because with every blessing usually there also comes a hidden curse. And there is one that’s almost as reliable as an Egyptian mummy’s. To wit:

 

(Source)

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr

What May Matter Most About The Tax Bill Is Attitude Reform Over Substance Reform

With the completion, signed into law “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” officially entered into the books, removing the question of whether or not the republican congress could/would pass any of their original campaign promised legislation before year-end. (i.e., Obamacare reform, regulation reform, tax reform.) The next question, possibly with as much impending importance as that first, is two-fold.

First: “What does it all truly mean?” And second: “Where do we go from here?”

Let me be right up front and make my opinion known when it comes to this current legislation: I am not a big-fan primarily for these points:

One: I’m sick-to-death of any legislation that requires “re-authorization” or some other mechanism as to avoid taxpayers from incurring a sudden massive increase if they don’t vote a certain way or for a certain party in the future. i.e. Tax rules that expire (think: AMT as just one) which just so happen to fall during major election cycles. That’s not tax cutting under the umbrella of reform, or what was once known as such – that’s just can-kicking and re-holstering a loaded weapon. Knock that crap out of politics and now you’re talking true reform, or at least a start of it.

Two: This whole “pay for” argument. It’s bogus, disingenuous, as well as insidious. Paying for this tax bill, as argued, means the government does not go without one cent less. That’s not true tax cutting – that’s only tax shifting. Although I agree with many of the provisions of that so-called “shift.” What it does not do is reduce the overall burden of taxation for the entire populous.

To “pay” for this tax bill, what I believe would have been far more effective: is a 1% reduction across the board from the previous budget going forward for the next 7 years. This concurrent with an inability as to increase for any static growth imbedded as is done every year (i.e., inflation styled adjustments which can be endlessly gamed) would be true reformation, as well as truly “bigly.”

With that said, I’ll take it as a first start. Yet, not for what is actually contained within, but rather, for what it possibly signals in a psychological sense. For as flawed as I perceive this bill to be, what I believe to have also perceived is an underlying shift in the tenor, tone, and quite possible attitudinal resolve to actually work together on future legislative endeavors. i.e., There’s a chance, as ever so slight as it may be (for we are talking politicians here) that a return to the prior debacles of healthcare and regulatory reforms, with an intent of actually pushing through meaningful reform/legislation, might actually be plausible over the next few years. (I’ll pause here for a moment so we can both stop laughing. OK, let’s continue…)

There were two seminal moments in the final stages that truly caught my eye. The first was the combination of events involving Sen. Bob. Corker, then senator Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Ryan at the celebration rally. These alone were quite informative to those trying to pay attention, for there was a clear shift in direct proportion to the president.

Sen. Corker had made no bones about his opposition to not only the President, but nearly any and all of his ideas on legislation, as well as the process since the election. Then – this latest CNN™ interview happened. And all that seemed to change with it.

The now outgoing (important point) senator publicly revealed (another important point) he had spoken with the president and issued a subtle form of mea culpa stating he now understood what the president was going through in regards to the media. To wit:

During the call, Corker said he told Trump, “‘I have some empathy, if you will, with what you’re dealing with,'” concerning the media.

Then there was this…

Corker, who decided not to seek re-election next year, said he was surprised and troubled that a “social media phenomenon can turn real live people that you respect in reporting to start writing things that have been totally debunked, but writing things as if the opposite is true.”

The issue that’s revealing, from my perspective, is the senator did not need to publicly state anything. Usually, something like this is all well and dandy behind closed doors, or with a nod of tacit acknowledgment should it ever be revealed or known in public. But to publicly state it on one’s own, for no other reason then just making one’s opinion known? In political terms: that’s an epiphany type moment that affects not just one – but quite possibly – an entire party. Which brings me to the celebration rally with the two majority leaders McConnell and Ryan.

In what seemed was going to be just another form of “We did it!” big celebratory hoopla, when in actuality the raising of a beer-glass at the local pub would have more than sufficed as to represent what was passed. This one was quite revealing, in a way I believe needs to be pointed out for those whom may have not seen, or noticed.

Both Sen. McConnell and House Speaker Ryan seemed to actually be heaping genuine, as well as meaningful praise on the president for the passage of this bill. Yes, politicians of all stripes know how and when as to make sure there’s inclusion for all within the party. However, if you actually listen to their wording, along with delivery and postures? It’s hard not to see that something has changed. And that change could be profound in its meaning for actually governing and putting forth meaningful legislation going forward.

For suddenly – there seems to be cohesion.

Personally, I think the “Corker moment” was an epiphany understood by many. And if there’s even the remotest chance that there might be a willingness (because they’re no longer scared of their own shadows in the media, because they know it no longer matters) to put forth meaningful reforms and a president that will sign them? I’ll take it. Whether it’s true or not remains to be seen. Nonetheless, again, I’ll take it.

Here’s something else I’ll take when it comes to this legislation: The pass through provisions regarding businesses.

There are a lot of people far smarter and informed on what the mechanics of this legislation will actually do in the forms of what one will owe, or not owe in taxes than I do. But here again is where I feel the numbers for whom it can affect may be more important than the actual formulation of numbers contained within.

There’s a lot of hand-wringing about high wage earners possibly leaving the employ of some company as to take advantage of these new provisions and become self-employed and hire themselves back to their once current employers. My take?

Fantastic! Do it! Anyone and everyone that has the means and wherewithal to become an independent business owner should do it. I believe this regardless of the tax law. But if this current legislation is only a small move in the fulcrum that persuades one to do it, then as Nike™ famously said: “Just Do It!”

This nation was built by small, independent businesses. From the sole-practitioner (think from your local Dr. to your local plumber as a sample) to the small business that used to fill every downtown center or local industrial park. These were (and in some places still are) the businesses that used to employ the majority of jobs that were local, well-paying, and had a sense of purpose and connection to their surrounding communities. And they have gotten the shaft year, after year, after year for decades. If this helps them in the slightest? I’m all for it, and will look at it as a good first start. Again – first start.

In my opinion: The more it puts or enables people to move into the “independent contractor” side of the ledger – the better. Why? Easy: The more people who truly understand business (i.e., why there’s a need to make a net profit) along with the dealing with first hand the onerous taxes, regulations and more that are thrust upon it with every election cycle, by actually having to pay and follow those terms via being a business owner, rather than just an employee who doesn’t fully understand, comprehend, or worse even pay attention to any part of their deductions (think, FICA as one) on their pay stubs –  the better we all are.

We are facing a multitude of issues still staring us down in a way as if looking down the barrel of a fully loaded Howitzer. And the stakes, one could reasonably argue, (of which I am in that camp) have never been greater.

There is the possibility, again, as slight as it may be, that the aforementioned “tax bill” may prove to be more important in its substantive attitudinal adjusting, rather than its proclaimed tax substance. Or said differently using a sports analogy…

You could feel the momentum change – and with it – so the game.

It’s quite possible we may have just seen it as a nation. But then again, we are only in the first quarter. And if the mixing of football and politics has shown us anything over the last year. Maybe the players (e.g., the pols) should celebrate these little victories quietly, while continuing to push ever-the-more until the final tick has run off, before any larger celebratory actions take place.

Continuing with the football analogy – there are still 3 more “quarters” to go, as in political election years. And after all, for any clues as to what could go wrong?

Ask a Atlanta Falcon® fan.

© 2017 Mark St.Cyr