Value of MBAs: $-250,000

Guy Kawasaki has found that the following quote (which he gives regularly) is a guaranteed applause-getter:

What is the value of an M.B.A. these days for young college graduates who want to start their own company?

Probably about a negative $250,000. (I have an M.B.A., and I was once a young college graduate.) I don’t think an M.B.A. matters very much for starting a company. A much better educational background is an engineering degree. You can always hire M.B.A.s, but if you don’t have the ability to conceptualize and deliver a product, you’ve got nothing.

Will Martha Win Big?

Oh, the icongruity of it all. Home-decorating doyenne Martha Stewart could be the first person to go to jail having just won both an Emmy and a National Magazine Award for Excellence.

Me and Mamma.com

I have  a piece over on RealMoney on the recent boom-style spectacle of Mamma.com.

The Crisis in Crisis Management

There is a crisis in crisis management at public companies. From Nortel Networks to Martha Stewart, CEOs are making bad situations worse by breaking the three rules of managing a crisis:



  1. Tell it all

  2. Tell it early

  3. Tell it yourself 

The U.K. Has No Word for Profit

This piece on different financial terms across the U.K. and the U.S. is interesting. In general the U.S. term implies something more positive than the U.K. one does, and the U.K. term is also clearer on who pays. For example:

    • Net Income (U.S.) / Profit Attributable to Shareholders (U.K.)
    • Back-end Load (U.S.) / Exit Charge (U.K.)
    • Income Statement (U.S.) / Profit and Loss Account (U.K.)


New Equity Analyst Guidelines from AIMR

The Association for Investment Management and Research has issued new proposed guidelines for equity analysts. Some highlights:

    • Information in analyst reports must be clear and complete; facts should be distinguished from opinion.

    • Analysts must not threaten to use their research reports or recommendations to affect their relationship with corporate issuers.

    • Corporate issuers must provide access to corporate management to analysts and investors,

      Corporations must not discriminate among analysts based on prior research opinions or recommendations,

    • Companies must not attempt to influence research or recommendations by threatening to deny analysts access to company representatives or by exerting pressure on analysts or their firms through other business relationships.

    • Only those portions of an analyst report that do not contain conclusions or recommendations should be reviewed by corporate issuers

    • Issuer paid research reports must be identified as such and certify that the analysis or recommendations in the report are the true opinion of the analyst.

These are not final, and they’re all fair enough, but they’re also so vanilla that it’s hard to imagine what difference they will make. They are basically a cry to play fair, plus a protest against companies paying small “research outfits” for equity research on their own firm.

Nasdaq Has Left the Building

12/31/2003: 2003.37

3/10/2004: 1964.15

Canada as Evil Offshoring Country

Kleiner Perkins partner Ray Lane waxes fin-du-siecle on the software industry in this interview with News.com. Along the way, he has the following comment about India’s unheralded evil twin at offshoring — Canada:

“If you look at our portfolio companies, out of about 60 that could be doing something offshore, 60 percent are already doing it–mostly in India but also in China and Canada. We’re talking about it primarily as a cost move, where quality assurance and testing is moved offshore. You can’t compete if you have all your resources in California.”

Parsing Warren Buffett

The following is from my weekend reading column at TheStreet.com. I did some low-rent textual analysis of Warren Buffett’s 2003 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders:

It is interesting to see what happened to last year’s topics. Last year Mr. Buffett was incensed about derivatives, with the word popping up 38 times, but this year derivates rate a mere six mentions. In 2003 we have much more talk about value, whatever that is.

Topics related to value and valuation appeared 13 times in 2002, but 28 times in 2003. For those of you wondering, “growth” appeared a mere seven times in 2002, and only 5 times in 2003 — it should be obvious where Mr. Buffett sees himself in the growth/value scheme of things.

Let the Dollar Drop — Or Not

Fund manager Paul Macrae Montgomery makes an entertaining connection in this weekend’s Barron’s. He points out that the dollar hit a bottom against the Euro right when the Economist magazine’s February 7-13 issue had a dollar-bearish cover article titled “Let the Dollar Drop”. Don’t you hate when that happens?

Interestingly, Montgomery is rightly famed for having come up with another famous (in financial circles) magazine-based contrarian indicator. He is fond of pointing out that a reversal of fortune is due any time a weekly magazine devotes a cover story to a financial matter.