Saturday, March 29, 2014

Principal-Agent Problem

FLG has written before about what he sees as a principal-agent problem in the last decade or so of Microsoft's history:
Microsoft, to take one example, wastes so much money getting into new businesses looking for growth that FLG thinks shareholders would be better off just milking Windows and Office and call it a day.
A recent piece on Marketplace about how Facebook is transforming into a venture capital/holding company makes FLG think this might be a uniquely and especially problematic issue with regard to tech companies:
Victor Hwang, CEO of T2VentureCreations, a Silicon Valley Venture firm puts it this way:  “On Wall Street, the biggest fear is missing the numbers, not making earnings.  In Silicon Valley, in the startup world, the biggest fear is obsolescence.  Because obsolence is the equivalent of death.” 

Unlike Mark Zuckerberg, FLG as an investor doesn't particularly care if Facebook as a company remains relevant.  He just wants that stream of revenue maximized.  The crux of the matter turns on a simple issue for FLG -- Does he think that Zuckerberg is going to be better at picking the next set of winning companies than he is?  If so, then maybe investing in Facebook makes sense, but FLG is not at all convinced that is the case.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gender and Social Versus Peer Pressure

Two recent pieces of media rattled something in FLG's brain.  Today there was this piece by Catherine Rampell:

It’s not clear from the data why women might be more sensitive to grades than men are.
“Maybe women just don’t want to get things wrong,” Goldin hypothesized. “They don’t want to walk around being a B-minus student in something. They want to find something they can be an A student in. They want something where the professor will pat them on the back and say ‘You’re doing so well!’ ”
“Guys,” she added, “don’t seem to give two damns.”

 And last week FLG was listening to a this episode of a podcast that he listens to frequently.   It was the first time listening to that podcast when FLG just couldn't relate to the guest.  Sure, he could relate intellectually, but the sort of emotional empathy wasn't there.  Now, this doesn't mean the guest was wrong or anything, just that her experience seems fundamentally different from FLG's experience, which makes perfect sense given that she is a woman and we are talking about body issues, sexuality, etc.

Both of these reminded FLG of his conclusion that women are more sensitive to societal pressures and influence.  The thing he is pondering now is the difference between peer pressure and social pressure. Just to be clear of the distinction -- social pressure is broad, societal expectations; peer pressure is more of an acute pressure within a given context from specific individual or individuals.

FLG's current working hypothesis is that women/girls are more susceptible to societal pressure than men/boys, but with peer pressure the reverse is true.  A small group of women/girls may generate acute peer pressure that magnifies societal expectations, but a group of men/boys together can go completely off the fucking rails.  A sorority might torment pledges about their weight, but a small group of fraternity pledges might just burn a fucking building down when none of them individually would have even considered it.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Period of History

Apparently, FLG belongs in Ancient Rome.
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