: Recapping 2006, last year was mostly rants, but here are some notable updates.
- Cycling: I bet that Ivan Basso would win the Tour of Italy (Giro de Italia) but not the Tour de France. And that Jan Ulrich would win the TDF with Alexander Vinokourav winning multiple stages. Basso won the Giro but all three were tossed out for a doping scandal. Floyd Landis won the TDF though is also accused of doping and will likely loose his title.
- Satellite Radio.Sirius (SIRI) and XM (XMSR), as predicted, fell ~50% YOY. I don't think there is enough content to justify a thriving existence, let alone two of them. They are no more than the MUZAK of this decade. And Muzak has been unprofitable for years.
. Either I am just getting older, or it's getting worse. The media preoccupation with Brad & Angelina, Paris Hilton, and Britney Spears is so TIRED; that they continue to recycle them over and over is painful. Who the hell cares about any of them?
On a different note, we lost a lot of people this year. Most recently, Saddam Hussein, Gerald Ford, James Brown--what a strange combination. However, the saddest death has to be Steve Irwin, aka The Crocodile Hunter. He probably did more than any naturalist/personality to get young people involved and tuned in to animals and nature than any one since Marlin Perkins (and Jim Fowler) from Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.
YouTube. YouTube is a great service; try uploading a video; it's pretty darn easy. This being said, not sure if the BILLIONS spent by Google justify the costs. Plus, the founders are a bunch of incredibly lucky dorks. Check out their video here. I think web-based video is a great convenience and allows longer shelf-life of news and entertainment. Kudos to Google for taking the gamble. But I am not convinced that it is the killer advertising solution that it's hyped to be.
Apple iPod. Though obvious, this has to be the device of the decade. It's incredible how ubiquitous it has become; amazing how new options in cars are "iPod compatible".
2007 ThoughtsWhew, after a few years of sort of having a feeling of what would come next, looking in to 2007, I am pretty baffled. Nothing seems that obvious—more, just subtle. It feels like America is productive yet our foreign policy is alienating other countries. There also seems to be a certain laziness and internal distraction; other countries are working harder and growing faster. As a world power, America is losing it's edge by being a poor leader and lackluster competitor. This makes America suddenly vulnerable in unfamiliar ways.
Here are a few things that seem evident:
Malaise of America. There seems to be a huge disconnect between US Citizens and the Agenda of the Government, especially “War in Iraq” and Global Warming. American citizens are focused on their own realities—paying the bills, getting lattes at Starbucks, and getting their perfectly packaged goods at Trader Joes, Whole Foods, Walmart, and Costco. Iraq is detached and foreign sounding words like "shiite" and "sunni" help to marginalize the conflict as background noise. Global Warming is like a warning from the Surgeon’s General to “not drink while pregnant” or “cigarette smoking can cause cancer”. In other words, there is a vast disconnect between the agenda of the Nation and the pursuit of actualization by individuals. There is a dangerous inconsistency between American Policy and the people of the Nation; they are not in agreement. This is a new and
overwhelming sentiment that rests in the subconscious of most Americans. They don't agree with the Nation's policies but feel powerless to make change. Further, they justify they are busy with their own pursuits so simply don't try to reconnect or make a difference. It is too overwhelming yet non-specific at the same time. As a result, in 2007, there will be a growing sentiment for change, ripe for the '08 elections. Americans want to feel empowered and cohesive. This will lead to growing nationalism. Expect this to manifest in pop culture: Country/Country Rock music; there will be new hits from John Cougar, Brian Adams, Jewell, Melissa Etheridge, and/or Bruce Springsteen. There will be new TV shows dedicated to political debate that attempt to simplify issues for the masses and even allow interactive "voting" on issues.
If you haven't seen An Inconvenient Truth, you must. It is a riveting documentary by Al Gore, and the statistics seem irrefutable. Bottom line: the atmosphere of the Earth is getting polluted too rapidly; heat from the sun cannot reflect back because it is trapped by carbon dioxide in our atmosphere, sending heat back to earth which elevates temperatures. Back to the cancer analogy, it seems that the WORLD has been given a terrible and terminal diagnosis. And time is running out. Unfortunately, there isn't universal recognition of the problem -- we live in denial -- and there is no cohesive plan of action to combat the effects of pollution-caused global warming. It's chilling to think that the movie was produced ~a year ago--and predicted the extinction of Polar Bears due to the rapid melting of the North Pole. Just this week, news reports surfaced confirming the Polar Bear's plight. Ironic that the canary in the coal mine is now one thousand+pounds, 10 feet long, and one of the world's apex predators. Interestingly, during the gas crisis of 2006, most Americans were motivated to rethink their car choices because of high gas prices, NOT emissions related to global warming, though both are deeply linked. It shows how people react to acute pain versus vaguer sentiments. To that end, if one is concerned about global warming, it might be beneficial to first think of a car that emits fewer emissions versus one that gets better gas mileage.
Morality and Business
It strikes me that morality and ethics seem to be less taught in the home. Rather, companies, seem to be reminders of environmental concerns, social liberalism, and cultural awareness. How strange to have an employer lead the way. Speaking of, what might be hopeful (or, unfortunately, just hype) is Social Entrepreneurship. This seems to be a growing fad--dot-com-derived companies that aim to do good for humanity. Of course, most are not true non-profits, and you can bet the founders are bent on making their own fortunes on the way to saving the world, or their view of it. Regardless, the attempts are noble.
What stocks to pick?
There is something fundamentally wrong with the stock market; stock prices fluctuate based on revenue growth. This implies that if a company is not growing, it is "bad". But would you say that companies like Microsoft and Walmart are "bad"? No, they are incredibly well run--but they are so big it is difficult for them to grow any more.
In any case, this year's stock market showed how difficult it was to pick individual US stocks. There simply isn't growth that we've come to expect. The opportunity lies in International growth--and International is much harder to understand. This pursuit of money will lead to a more broadly educated investment community; this is cool. However, the barrier to entry is becoming steeper. It is difficult to understand, get information, and invest in International companies. Luckily, there are
ETF's that enable the average investor get International exposure. The big winners will understand the details of supply/demand by country.
Video Games: Nintendo WiiI was never a big video game fan, though my buddy Larry Boyle and I used to spend $3 worth of quarters at the arcades back in High School. But video games are here to stay -- this year, Sony announced it's Playstation 3 and Nintendo the Wii, to play catch up to Microsoft's Xbox 360. These are big companies putting big bets. And video games, as Brian Fitzgerald says, will likely become instrumental in the childhood education process in the near future.
Unfortunately, most consoles and games are "first person shooter" based where the goal is to kill other people or things. Pretty bad material for kids. But the Nintendo Wii is different. It uses an interactive controller that lets you physically simulate the game. Plus, a lot of their game titles are more kid/family-friendly. I think this device may be a real game changer; hopefully Nintendo will open up it's developer community, something they have been slow to do historically.
Google and Yahoo! Google acts fast; that's impressive. For instance, less than 2 months after their purchase of YouTube, I got an email from their AdSense program (syndicated web site ads). They were announcing new ad creatives that included Video. On the flip side, Yahoo and Ebay announced a partnership where Yahoo would serve media ads on eBay. More than six months later, I'm not sure if they are on the site. However, I'm not convinced that Google will retain it's growth for much longer. They seem to be placing a lot of wide bets, but not many new initiatives are taking hold. Their investment in radio advertising is compelling, though. Meanwhile, Yahoo has many more assets than Google, the key is to figure out how to monetize them better. Too bad the company has been going through such a public pounding.
This is the collaborative web done right. Search for almost any athlete or actor and you'll likely find a wikipedia result. And the content is excellent; there is an implied trust that what gets posted is bona fide. Really neat to see this utopian idea get executed so well. Meanwhile, keep an eye on the parent company, Wikia, Inc. They are rumored to be creating a search engine that leverages user feedback to improve relevancy. This could be huge.
I think this year, the giant awakes. While their new release of Vista will be a whimper, not a bang, they have the capital and ingenuity to make big strides.
I'm sick of all the steroid/drug use. It really takes the enjoyment out when
everything seems to have a catch. Regardless, of the sports I care about:
-Super Bowl. Eagles vs. San Diego Chargers.
-Tour De France. Ivan Basso, unless Vinokourav's team makes it to the TDF,
then he will win.
-Barry Bonds: will play next year but have tragic injury broadcast live.
-Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons, the highest paid player in history,
will go the way of
-Brett Favre will play one more year.
The next PresidentWho do you think will be the next President?
Obama, Edwards, Clinton, McClain, Condi Rice, some one else? I think it will be someone else.
Companies to watch:
Labels: prognostications, stock picks