Sips from the Firehose

Oct 16

…the FailWhale Spouts for Thee…

Posted: under new media.
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It’s still kind of a guessing game as to the motivations behind it, but Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey is out, and Evan Williams, the co-founder of the addictive microblogging service, has moved back to CEO from chairman.

Suspects in the shakeup include:

  1. The generally shitty economy, where companies are making moves the same way investors are with the stock market – because they’re scared and figure they had best “do something”;
  2. FriendFeed has been slowly peeling away Twitter users;
  3. The persistent appearance of the FailWhale;
  4. The persistent NON-appearance of a business model.

On the Twitter blog, Williams says:

We’re entering a new phase now and there are new kinds of challenges ahead. Healthy companies acknowledge the need for change even during the best of times. As Twitter grows both internally and externally, we took a good look at our path forward and saw the need for a focused approach from a single leader.

Single leader, eh? Focused approach. Even during the best of times (which means that these have clearly not been those). Hmm.

…and then, as if from afar, we hear the echoes of shouting matches in the executive suites and the sounds of many Oreos being hurled at high velocities, shattering on the smeared whiteboards…

I like Twitter. I’m using it more & more to keep track of all the cool stuff my friends & contacts are dabbling in on the web.  Hope they can figure out a way to extract the $$ from the traffic stream.

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Jul 07

OK, this is just uncalled-for

Posted: under Digital Migration, journalism, Lemmings, Newspaper Deathwatch, Newspapers.
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Buried at the end of this Reuters piece about how there aren’t many analysts bothering to report on the newspaper industry, comes this jewel of a quote:

As for the sell-side, the analysts who remain — such as Goldman Sachs analyst Peter Appert — often cover other sectors that command more investor attention.

“If I covered only the newspaper industry, first of all I would have been fired a long time ago; secondly, I would have had to kill myself,” Appert said.

Part of me wonders if this is sound strategery – if there is no demand for a product, why continue to produce it? But the other part keeps whispering that some of the smartest investors always take the contrarian view. When they see the mass of groupthinking lemmings all hurtling in one direction (say, away from newspapers), they bide their time and step in and snarf up the companies for rock-bottom prices. When things start to turn around, they are there on the ground floor, and see great returns (see: the real estate investors who bought in the early 90s, when the market was moribund, oil speculators who bought when the prices were around $20 a barrel, etc.)

Then again, the whole newspaper industry could be utterly and completely doomed, and anyone sinking money into it is just “catching a falling knife” in the investor parlance.

So yeah, lemmings – heed the words of the know-it-alls at Merrill Lynch, who think newspapers have no future whatsoever. (Hey, weren’t these the guys who said Enron and subprime mortgages were rock-solid?) Panic and dump your properties. You shouldn’t be trying to run them anyway.

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