Posts for Tag: layoffs

The fate of the newspaper industry and the rise of the micro "newspaper"

Faced with aging presses and strapped for cash to replace them, the move will significantly cut costs at a paper that lost $50 million in 2008, and allow it to focus on news gathering, Publisher Frank Vega said.

I was listening to KCBS this morning and heard about this story. It's definitely a sad sign of the times that an old institution like The Chronicle is slowly shrinking. However, empires are not meant to last forever and everything must adapt or wither away. Outsourcing the printing of its newspapers sounds like a good start but the final move will have to be to abandon print altogether. It's a slow, inflexible, and very expensive way to get your content out to your users. Eventually, devices like the iPhone and the Kindle should suffice (in a lot of ways, they already do) and the rise of yet to be invented handheld devices should move us to a completely newspaperless society.

But less you think that all good journalism is going out the door with the fall of the old newspaper empires, there is good news to report. The TalkingPointsMemo blog just got a nice investment from Marc Andreessen. The small and nimble "newspaper" has received rave reviews (and a George Polk Award) for their journalistic excellence. I think you're seeing the future of journalism in small outfits like TPM. Small, nimble teams of journalists focused on a single industry/genre/beat. Without the cost of pressmen, delivery personnel, and ad sales teams, you don't need to generate a ton of ads in order to be profitable - which TPM is.

The dot com douche bags

Just read this story over at TechCrunch. Though the gist of it is technically more about file sharing and the music industry, it reminded me of the old days of 1999-2001 when all the dot-com douche bags (myself included) would cram into SOMA bars and think they were the kings/queens of the world. I distinctly remember a confrontation when one group of folks from Start Up A was monopolizing bar space and a group from Start Up B were trying to order drinks. As expected a little pushing and shoving match ensued with the requisite "Do you know where we work?" and "We're gonna buy this place!" was thrown around. Basically, young knuckle heads with too much money and too few failures in their young careers to know any better. A scant year or two later and most of them probably were unemployed. Another conversation I overheard was where a guy was talking about jumping to another start up only 3 months after joining his current one. His friend was saying "Do it man! That place is gonna take off! Take less money and get more equity. It's all about the equity man!" It was definitely a sign of the times.
As we have gone through one dot com implosion and are currently in the midst of a major recession, the number of young start ups has definitely diminished. Plus the fact that most start ups aren't getting monster investments and hiring just for the sake of hiring. The people who work at start ups today do it because they prefer to work in that environment versus trying to make a quick buck (believe me, there are far easier ways to make money than working at a web start up). This culling of the herd has definitely reduced the number of douche bags I see in the industry. But as the old adage goes, a douche bag never thinks he/she is a douche bag. Maybe someone is reading this and thinking, "This guy is such a douche bag." Wouldn't be my first time.

California unemployment rate creeps higher to 10.1%

Last month, I wrote a post about California's absurdly high unemployment rate (9.3%). Today, news is released that the unemployment rate is now up to 10.1%. I guess my hope that last month was the bottom was wrong. Another thing wrong was my calculation of how many people were actually unemployed. I originally said 3.5 million Californians were out of work (9.3% multiplied by the population of California or 35M). However, it seems the EDD calculated the number for January as 1.7M and the number for February as 1.8M. What I should have done was multiplied the unemployment rate not by the total population but by the labor force. Still, 1.7M and 1.8M people not working is a huge number.

Maybe I was wrong about Facebook's valuation

I've posted before about Facebook and its valuation ... not always in the most optimistic light. I'm reading a post today about rumors that Bebo is being actively shopped by AOL. Now I'm doing some very very rough calculations based on some very very vague assumptions, but I think I might have undervalued Facebook.
My take has always been that Facebook should be valued at about 5 times revenue. I still hold to that value and have said I would revise my numbers should I get more detail into Facebook's real revenues. Well based on the TechCrunch post, Bebo is rumored to be valued at about $200 million which supposedly is two times its current annual revenues (or $100 million). I pulled some traffic numbers from QuantCast for both these guys:

Making a very simple assumption of traffic = revenue, I'll assume that Facebook has 11.47 times the revenue of Bebo or $1.147 billion. Based on that, my new valuation for them is about $5.735 billion. Still a far cry from the $15 billion valuation they raised their last round with but not too shabby. Again, this is a very rough estimate and who knows whether I'm still above or below their true revenue number. My hope is that Facebook is doing well and that they can still grow. We all know the Bay Area could use a big employer nowadays.

Wow ... 9.3% of Californians are unemployed

This is a pretty scary statistic - I guess that translates to almost 3.5 million people. It's always been the case that California leads in boom times but I guess the same can be true during the bust. Not only is unemployment at the highest point in about 15 years but home prices have been sliding, as well. On top of all of this, there are reports that the state only has about a month of cash left while the politicians argue about a budget. Let's hope this is the low point.