Monthly Archives: May 2008

Obama and Jews

The New York Times has a great article on the brick walls Obama faces when courting Jewish voters.

“The people here, liberal people, will not vote for Obama because of his attitude towards Israel,” Ms. Weitz, 83, said, lingering over brunch.

“They’re going to vote for McCain,” she said.

Ms. Grossman, 80, agreed with her friend’s conclusion, but not her reasoning.

“They’ll pick on the minister thing, they’ll pick on the wife, but the major issue is color,” she said, quietly fingering a coffee cup. Ms. Grossman said she was thinking of voting for Mr. Obama, who is leading in the delegate count for the nomination, as was Ms. Weitz.

Thomas Friedman did a good job of setting the record straight in his column last week.

There is no doubting the current influence of Facebook. Myspace has stagnated since Rupert Murdoch purchased the site nearly three years ago. According to Google Trends, Facebook overtook Myspace in terms of search volume.

facebook google trends

Facebook, as currently positioned, will never become a long term tech powerhouse like Google. There is simply no way for a social networking company to make a healthy consistent profit as a standalone entity. The only viable endgame for a social networking company is to get bought out. Considering the fact that Facebook is now the undisputed social networking king, theres never been a better time to sell.

Today, Google announced a product called “Friend connect,” which allows any website to add social networking features. Friend connect is a lot like Ning, a Mark Andreessen backed startup allowing anyone to create their own social networking site.

As social networking gets more distributed, highly centralized sites like Facebook will become less relevant in the future. It reminds me a lot of the mid-90’s when centralized online services like AOL, Compuserve, and Prodigy were the big players. The ISP model shifted from centralized to distributed, and all the big providers faded away.

Considering Facebook’s current status as the clear market leader, Facebook investors would be well served by selling the company soon. Given the failed Yahoo bid, Microsoft could use a bit of good news. I’m sure Steve Ballmer would be willing to overpay for Facebook in order to appear relevant in the Internet space. Given the Google Friend Connect announcement, it would be great timing for Microsoft.

Is a quick sale of Facebook a smart move? Probably.. Will it happen? Not if you believe Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. He has consistently fought off the notion of selling the company. While there is certainly room for Facebook to grow further, many entrepreneurs have been stung by their own delusions of grandeur. Friendster, the pioneer of social networking, is not longer relevant.

The Yahoo-Microsoft merger talks are officially dead. The bigger Yahoo shareholders are rightfully pissed, the $33 per share offering price was more than fair. (YHOO was $19 before the merger rumors hit) Jerry Yang bluffed, and now he has nothing to show for it.

On some level, I can understand why the founder of Yahoo would not want to sell out to Microsoft. Typically, companies swallowed by Microsoft do not fair well. Microsoft didn’t see the Internet coming in the early 90’s, and MS has been playing catch up ever since. Its hard to see how MS could run Yahoo right.

What are Yahoo’s options now? The Newscorp talks fell through, and a Google merger would never make it through FTC scrutiny. Whatever happens, history will not treat the failed merger kindly.

John McCain first pushed a federal suspension of gas taxes for the summer. After a few days, Hillary Clinton jumped on the bandwagon, showing once again that she will do anything to get elected.

By supporting the gas tax suspension, both candidates show a complete lack of basic economic knowledge. Any college freshman who was semi-awake through ECON 101, would know that a suspension of the gas tax would just increase demand, and sustain or raise gas prices.

Not surprisingly, there is a chorus of economists criticizing the gas tax suspension plan.

Where is Barack Obama on this? He was smart enough to know that a gas tax suspension was completely stupid, and he was heavily criticized for it. Bravo to Obama for not following the herd of stupidity.

John McCain is an honerable guy, but I find his lack of economic knowledge frightening. Hillary Clinton? She would support anything if she thought it would lead to more votes.