Friday, July 30, 2010

See the Future!

The other day I was aimlessly wondering the internet, reading about Mr Linus Torvalds, when I came across a very strange article. It was written in June 2006 for CNN's 'Money' website and was a list of people who had no power, or that they thought were on the way out. It was called the 10 People who Don't Matter. Linus Torvalds was on the list, because, as he gave away his greatest creation, he isn't someone business people have any interest in.

It's all pretty dull and uninteresting to someone who has no interest in business, with the exception of this marvellous bit of punditry from the list.

Mark Zuckerberg
Founder, Facebook
In entrepreneurship, timing is everything. So we'll give Zuckerberg credit for launching his online social directory for college students just as the social-networking craze was getting underway. He also built it right, quickly making Facebook one of the most popular social-networking sites on the Net. But there's also something to be said for knowing when to take the money and run. Last spring, Facebook reportedly turned down a $750 million buyout offer, holding out instead for as much as $2 billion. Bad move. After selling itself to Rupert Murdoch's Fox for $580 million last year, MySpace is now the Web's second most popular website. Facebook is growing too - but given that MySpace has quickly grown into the industry's 80-million-user gorilla, it's hard to imagine who would pay billions for an also-ran.


I just looked it up, and as of July 2010, Mark Zuckerberg's personal fortune is around 4 billion dollars, while Facebook itself has been conservatively valued at 12 billion dollars.


A few weeks ago I read about the interesting history of the Wall Street Post's Dartboard Column. A venue where experienced investment managers make two stock picks, and then the paper's office intern makes two stock picks (by throwing darts at a copy of the nasdaq index). At the end of the week their values are compared. It was started in the early 1990s as a joke, but it has become a closely scrutinized experiment among those economists who believe the market is ultimately unpredictable. A few years back someone actually examined the data gathered from this column and found that while the investment managers did do better than the dartboard, it was only slightly better, not much more than the level of success you'd expect from chance.