Jeff Bezos is a genius.I can give you a thousand examples: Two are notable: Amazon Prime and AWS (Amazon Web Services). Here’s this week’s Economist:
The article begins:
AMAZON is an extraordinary company. The former bookseller accounts for more than half of every new dollar spent online in America. It is the world’s leading provider of cloud computing. This year Amazon will probably spend twice as much on television as HBO, a cable channel. Its own-brand physical products include batteries, almonds, suits and speakers linked to a virtual voice-activated assistant that can control, among other things, your lamps and sprinkler.
Yet Amazon’s shareholders are working on the premise that it is just getting started. Since the beginning of 2015 its share price has jumped by 173%, seven times quicker than in the two previous years (and 12 times faster than the S&P 500 index). With a market capitalisation of some $400bn, it is the fifth-most-valuable firm in the world. Never before has a company been worth so much for so long while making so little money: 92% of its value is due to profits expected after 2020.
That is because investors anticipate both an extraordinary rise in revenue, from sales of $136bn last year to half a trillion over the next decade, and a jump in profits. The hopes invested in it imply that it will probably become more profitable than any other firm in America. Ground for scepticism does not come much more fertile than this: Amazon will have to grow faster than almost any big company in modern history to justify its valuation. Can it possibly do so?
You can read the rest here. Two things about Amazon’s I love: It’s my “go-to” place to buy anything and everything. You’ll notice that when I recommend a product (see below) it’s almost always linked to Amazon as the place to buy. Second. AWS is the place all my startups use for their data services. They all rave about how fantastic AWS is to deal with.
Microsoft’s stock has done super well under its new boss, Satya Nadella:
The Economist did a piece on “the remaking of Microsoft.” It begins:
A DECADE ago, visiting Microsoft’s headquarters near Seattle was like a trip into enemy territory. Executives would not so much talk with visitors as fire words at them (one of this newspaper’s correspondents has yet to recover from two harrowing days spent in the company of a Microsoft “brand evangelist”). If challenged on the corporate message, their body language would betray what they were thinking and what Bill Gates, the firm’s founder, used often to say: “That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.”
Today the mood at Microsoft’s campus, a sprawling collection of more than 100 buildings, is strikingly different. The word-count per minute is much lower. Questions, however ignorant or critical, are answered patiently. The firm’s boss, Satya Nadella (pictured), strikes a different and gentler tone from Mr Gates and Steve Ballmer, his immediate predecessor (although he, too, has a highly competitive side).
Both these descriptions are caricatures. But they point to an underlying truth: how radically the world’s biggest software firm has changed in the short time since Mr Nadella took charge in early 2014. Back then everything at Microsoft revolved around Windows, the operating system that powered most computers. It was a franchise the company believed needed to be extended and defended at almost any price.
Windows has since retreated into a supporting role; sometimes it is little more than a loss-leader to push other products. At the heart of the new Microsoft is Azure, a global computing cloud. It is formed of more than 100 data centres around the world, dishing up web-based applications, bringing mobile devices to life and crunching data for artificial-intelligence (AI) services. Along with this shift in strategy has come a less abrasive, more open culture.
Microsoft’s transformation is far from complete. Windows, Office-the once equally dominant package of applications for personal computers-and other PC-related products together still generate about two-fifths of its revenues and three-quarters of its profits. But even those who have watched Mr Nadella’s actions with a high degree of scepticism reckon the firm is moving on from its cash-cows.
I’m personally happy to own a sizeable position in both Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT).
Harvard’s miserable money management — down 2% in fiscal 2016
Look what I found in the latest annual report (just out) from Harvard Business School.
With access to the best money managers in the entire world, Harvard managed to lose money in the year to June 30, 2016. Don’t blame it on the Business School, however. They outsource their money management to Harvard University. Why? Who knows?
Their performance makes you pea-green with envy? You would have done better in a triple-tax-free muni bond!
Playing with stocks based on what Trump may or may not do is dangerous.
Business Insider put a chart together.
You can read the full story here.
Going on a trip? Clip this list. It’s useful.
+ Backup your working laptop files to two flash drives. Leave one at home. Take one with you, just in case. This 128 GB one costs $28.
+ Sign for TSA PreCheck. Click here.
+ Take along a Roku. Easiest to watch Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, etc. on the road. This is the Roku Streaming.
One feature I like: You can plug headphones into the remote and listen to your show privately. Click here.
+ Want to watch on the road what you record at home? Install Slingbox. It lets you watch your home TV and what you’ve recorded on it over the Internet from anywhere. Only $59.49. Click here.
+ Scan your credit cards, your ID papers and your passport. Makes figuring out what you lost much easier.
+ Have several printed scans of your passport. Give the scans to the hotel, not your actual passport.
+ Be careful of web sites that will sell you visas and get you a passport. They usually charge a lot more than the real government sites.
Useful selling gadget. This is the GoPro Karma — a drone, flying a GoPro camera.
I don’t own one, but I am impressed with the videos I’ve seen taken with it. Karma folds into a neat backback, letting you take it anywhere.
This thing is fantastic for selling and leasing real estate. Cost $799.99 for Karma, plus $399.99 for the Hero 5 GoPro camera. Could pay itself off with one sale of one house, building or apartment. Click here.
Health care solutions:
Paul Ryan just went on BubbleVision and said “We don’t want government-run health care.”
Maybe I’m naive? But aren’t you meant to focus on what your customer wants? Not what you want.
Mr. Ryan doesn’t get it. He doesn’t need to. People in Congress have the world’s greatest health care — nowhere close to what you and I have — but they’re organized to have you and I pay for their ultra-luxurious and perfect health care.
To my thinking, there are two “simple” solutions to health care:
+ Extend Medicare to everyone. Right now it begins at an arbitrary 65, or
+ Give catastrophic health care insurance to everyone. Medical bills are the nation’s number one cause of bankruptcy. Be nice to know you’re covered if the worst happens. Like falling down stairs and suffering a trauma to your brain.
Neither of my solutions will happen. They’re nice thoughts.
Favorite recent New Yorker cartoons
The perfect sleeping pill
A doctor that had been seeing an 80-year-old woman for most of her life finally retired. At her next checkup, the new doctor told her to bring a list of all the medicines that had been prescribed for her. As the doctor was looking through these his eyes grew wide as he realized Grandma had a prescription for birth control pills.
“Mrs. Smith, do you realize these are birth control pills?”
“Yes, they help me sleep at night.”
“Mrs. Smith, I assure you there is absolutely nothing in these that could possibly help you sleep!”
She reached out and patted the young doctor’s knee and said, “Yes, dear, I know that. But every morning, I grind one up and mix it in the glass of orange juice that my 16-year-old granddaughter drinks. And believe me, it definitely helps me sleep at night.”
Harry Newton, who finds it’s not entirely fun to be back to hometown New York City. This place is downright scary. Stairs. Traffic. Bicycles. Messengers. Horses. Hazards everywhere. There’s still snow on the ground. And, a pigeon just did do-do on my backpack. Am I getting old?