Russell Who?

Who’s that short little guy playing for the crappy sea chickens? Oh and their uniforms? Seriously? Was it the day after Thai night for Nike’s designers as they were working on Seattle’s new uni’s? They must have ordered the drunken noodles, extra spicy, and requested the spice rack because let me tell you those uniforms are total crap. But back to Wilson, who is this guy?

I’m here to tell you that I believe in this kid. Just listening to him talk and compose himself on Gruden’s quarterback camp made me think of him in a new light. He wasn’t just this frumpy, short, can’t pass for crap QB. He was a cool headed, smart, I’m going to stop at nothing to win QB. I know this is just preseason, and let me be clear by saying I don’t think he’ll be the next Tom Brady. He’s going to have bad games. But I think Seattle has a good fit in Russell Wilson. Time will tell. What do you think?

Also, the uniforms are awesome. They always were. Anyone that thins otherwise is jealous. Done.

Also also, check out Bill Simmons article. It’s good and has some stuff on Russell Wilson.

 

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Best Albums Ever

I know what you’re thinking, what could some poor blogger think the best album is in the world and how can I start ripping his argument to shreds. The best part is I don’t really care that you may not agree, the next best part is that I can do whatever I want. All that being said this is solely an opinion. So let’s go.

I have a couple of albums on my best ever list and before I tell you what they are I’ll fill you in on my crazy criteria. Crazy because maybe it’s not like you, not that it’s complicated.

First.I go by how long I’ve been listening to the entire album. If I can pick up a CD, listen to the entire album without hitting the skip button often, then I’ll consider it a candidate for a great album.

Second. Great albums don’t always have “great” songs. This may be a surprise to a few of you so let me explain what I mean. There are the songs that get listed on Billboard’s Hot 100, and then there’s everything else. I’m not interested in all the crap on Billboard. I’m sorry, when you hear a song 5 times in an hour on the radio do you think that it has standalone value? Do you think some kid really would discover that song and fall in love with it? No, Ryan Seacrest has to slam it down our throats. I’m not saying Katy Perry’s “Wide Awake” song isn’t good. I’m just saying that it’s not worth the .99 cents on iTunes to pay for it. It’s more like that old acquaintance from high school or college that you talked to once or twice. It’s nice to hear from them time to time, but you don’t want to spend every day with them. These great songs that comprise a great album make you want to jam, it’s the kind of album you can play twice in a single car ride, the kind of album that you know almost all the lyrics to multiple songs, the kind of album that brings out great memories. Get it?

Third. Since the last two criteria are subjective this point will try to be more analytical, (there still is quite some subjectivity however). From each album in the best album ever contender list I’ll tally up the best songs. I’ll then tally up the total number of minutes that those good songs produce on the entire album and divide that by the total album minutes. I’m not sure really if that entirely determines the albums strength but we’ll go with it. I’ll call it Trevor’s rating.

First Album Contender

Everclear: So Much for the Afterglow

This album is chock full of good music. Art Alexakis is a prolific musician with lyrics that stem from the heart. I’m not saying that he’s John Lennon, or the Barry Gibb, but that’s like comparing Apples to White Man Tattoos. The lyrics aren’t complicated but they’re very real and you can tell there are stories behind every single song. Art doesn’t try and confuse you with garbage rhymes, he simply states what he’s trying to say to old school rock riffs.

Total Trevor Rating: 66%.

I know. It’s low. My own rating system doesn’t like this album. I will say that the 8 minute long last track screwed it up. I don’t really care for the last song so without that one song the rating goes up to 82%. Huge increase. So here’s the shtick, it’s easier for me to tell you which songs I skip and see if you like the album so here they are:

I skip the following songs: Ataraxia, El Distorto de Melodica, Amphetamine, Like A California King.

I listen to every other song and absolutely love them. I’m curious to see if you guys like this album as much as I do, so listen to this album on Spotify. This one is definitely a candidate for best album ever, clearly.

What I Was Listening To – Silversun Pickups

Senior year was full of Silversun Pickups. I liked them so much it inspired me to pick up the guitar and learn a few things. I took guitar class at my high school, and it was no joke. Was I good? No. Did I get good? Yes. Do I play now? I wish. Someday I’ll pick up the guitar again. The teacher of the class was Tim Ellis and he is incredibly good, I mean almost perfect. Either way this song was awesome and I really enjoyed listening to Silversun Pickup’s stuff. If you want to check out more of their stuff give Three Seed a try, or anything off their albums.

If you want more information on Tim Ellis and his studio Kung Fu Bakery, even the clients he serves (Decemberists, Chris Walla from Death Cab for Cutie, The Shins, etc) check his website out: http://kungfubakery.net

Zombie Virus is Hitting Private Equity

It turns out that the zombie virus from AMC’s The Walking Dead is infecting the capital markets. Yeah that’s right, I’m going to get even nerdier in this article. So sit back, strap yourself in as I prepare you for the equivalent of a nerd’s wet dream.

I love hearing about fringe businesses or fringe investments. I call them fringe, not that they actually are by Webster’s definition, but because I hardly ever hear about them. An example of a fringe business is Shelf Corporations or Shelf Companies, not Shell, Shelf. Never heard of it? Good. If you had then this article would be even more boring than it already may be. I’ll write about Shelf Corporations a little later, I know you can’t wait!

Another fringe capital investment I just heard about was Zombie Funds!

Sounds interesting, and they actually are as interesting as they sound, if your a nerd. According to a Wall Street Journal article by Susan Pulliam, Zombie Fund’s are a group of investments that a private equity fund makes. Usually these “investments” means the private equity fund buys a group of businesses, restructures it (this may mean a multitude of things), and then the group of business get sold after a number of years, maybe 10 or so says Ms. Pulliam. Some funds however get stuck with their businesses as they are sometimes hard to sell. The question then becomes, after 10 years of not being able to sell the businesses, when will they sell them? Often times the answer is: never. Hence the term Zombie. They are alive but dead at the same time.

You may be wondering why this matters, especially if you’re not one of the multi-million dollar investors into these private equity firms. Well it does matter to you, especially if you’re ever a teacher, firefighter, or any number of public service employee that has their pensions tied up in private equity firms with these dark market Zombie funds. Even the name sounds devious and makes me want to run for my life. AHHH!

On a serious note, it does matter. Here’s why:

According to Ms. Pulliam these zombie funds charge management fees on the investor. These fees over time add up and can cost the pension fund managers who invest in these private equity funds a LOT of MONEY! The shtick is this, the pension fund managers pay these management fees to the private equity firm without reaping any profit so essentially they’re losing money hand over fist. Why does either business stick with this you might ask? It’s essentially a wild west shootout that has resulted into a stalemate.

I know what you’re thinking now, Clint Eastwood sits behind a tipped over wagon reloading his revolver. John Wayne sits on the opposite side of town behind a candy shop reloading his shotgun. Neither one wants to step out and the only commotion going on is a dust weed rolling through the central part of town. Clint Eastwood is the pension fund manager, John Wayne is the private equity fund.

If you didn’t catch the whole meaning of that, they’re both not wanting to move. According to Ms. Pulliam, the pension fund manager doesn’t want to recognize the value of these businesses at the rate they can actually sell them at, this would require them to record a loss. The private equity firm doesn’t want to sell these businesses off because it would require them to record a loss. Nobody wants to lose. Clint Eastwood doesn’t want to kill John Wayne, what if he dies? Then there would have been no Dirty Harry’s and who wants that?

I don’t.

Anyways, check out the article on Wall Street Journal and theirs a 3 minute video (posted below) if you don’t want to read the article. I’ll try and post some more of these fringe business ideas if you enjoyed the nerd mobile ride. Post your comments and send me your questions. Enjoy!

http://s.wsj.net/media/swf/VideoPlayerMain.swf

Hazard For Zombie Funds – WSJ Article

The Hoody Hack

I know what you’re thinking, “Not opinion on Facebook”. Or maybe I caught you with the title. Either way, I promise this will be the last Facebook article I write for a while. What I’m trying to figure out is, what is the hoody doing?

With Facebook’s stock price falling in the past week, and stories coming out about underwriter’s misleading investors, one has to wonder what was Mark Zuckerberg thinking? What is their overall strategy for the IPO? I believe that Facebook missed an opportunity to form an even better relationship with their users. To see if this is true, and to shed some light on Mark Zuckerberg’s management style let’s look at some details.

First, Facebok had to go public. It’s an SEC rule that any private company with more than 500 shareholders of record must adhere to the same financial statement disclosures as public companies. So Facebook must have figured that it was better to reap the financial benefits of going public rather than remain “private” and release all of their financial information. In other words, Zuck had to do it. What else can we learn?

The IPO price was initially set to a range of $28-$35. Why then did it move up to $38? From news sources like Wall Street Journal, it seems to be that the underwriter’s felt there was a lot of demand. This makes sense,  try and make your client a little more money. But then again Mark Zuckerberg never cared about getting money, right?

I’m not sure if this is the case, but it makes me wonder why Zuck would want more money if he never wanted an IPO in the first place? Instead of pricing it high, Facebook could have priced on the lower end, $25 or $28 and maybe attracted more of their actual users to invest, rather than get investors to invest. In an article written by Marketwatch’s Bill Hambrecht, he thinks of Facebook as a Co-op. In the article Mr. Hambrecht talks about the strategy behind Google’s IPO and how it wasn’t to get the highest price, it was about leveling the IPO playing field for it’s users. (See article below).

I’m not sure what Zuck is doing, but either way he’s failing. He didn’t level the IPO playing field for his users, there’s one front failed. Another front failed was the IPO, it was a complete flop. By the end of the first day the lead investment bankers had to set up a price floor  to prevent the price from falling below $38 by purchasing an extra allotment of shares (For more information see WSJ article below). This is completely legal, but shows that maybe they should have never priced it that high in the first place.

So after all this the only thing I can conclude is that Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t know what he’s doing as a manager. We’ll see a year from now where Facebook is and how well managed it is. But for now I’m not convinced Mark Zuckerberg knows how to manage a company. We’ve seen this in many great companies, the visionary founders start it and then seek help from experienced business managers (i.e. Google and Eric Schmidt). Mrs. Sandberg has done well, but COO might not be enough, or maybe it’s her decisions that are lagging Facebook.

Again, I could be wrong. In a years time Facebook could have doubled revenue, turned Instagram into a profit making machine, and the shares could skyrocket. I don’t know. What I think now is that Mark Zuckerberg can’t manage. Let’s see if the hoody can hack his way out of this one.

Marketwatch Article – Facebook IPO Missed Opportunity

Bloomberg Article – Why Facebook Needs Sandberg

Marketwatch Article on Why It Should Be Priced at $13.80

WSJ Article on Lead Underwriters Setting Price Floor

Facebook IPO Controversy in Legal Gray Area – Marketwatch

What I Was Listening To – Caustic Resin

I went from Junior Boys and Kanye West, where during senior year I would listen to get myself out of bed and go to the last place I wanted to be. Now I’ll transition a little and play a song that I would listen to at the end of a day. When I’ve pretty much had enough, I’d say goodbye to my friends, blast my high school doors open, get into my car and crank up the crappy stereo with the right speaker blown out. I then jammed for the 30 minute drive home. Caustic Resin has some awesome riffs in their music and is one of the main reasons I like this song. It’s not complicated, it’s simple yet moving. If you haven’t heard of Caustic Resin before give this song a try. If you like this one then check out “Kill You If You Want Me To”. It’s a morbid title, yes I’ll admit. But check it out and let me know what you think.

A note on the web link. I couldn’t find a YouTube song of theirs, at least this one. So I went to a website that I think you’ll like. It’s called  GrooveShark and it’s completely free. It’s a great way to find songs you want to listen to, add them to a playlist, and listen as many times as you want for completely free. It’s like a less laggy (since there’s no video), and completely free version of YouTube. Check it out. Link is below.

Caustic Resin – Twilight In Toronto