Monthly Archives: January 2009

Inauguration Day!

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What an amazing event we experienced this afternoon.  According to the Associated Press, more than 1 million people attended the inauguration in the National Mall – one of the largest-ever gatherings in the nation’s capital (there’s satellite images to prove it).  Once again, we have accomplished a peaceful transfer of power. 

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More than ever, we had access to an abundant amount of information.  For instance, Michelle Obama looked stunning in an Isabel Toledo dress and coat, in “lemongrass”.  The dress alone sparked enough twitters, blog postings and even a Wall Street Journal article.  But, the information frenzy didn’t end there – Kodak was quick to mention that Malia Obama used a Kodak Easy Share M893 to click the pics of her dad during his inaugural address.  The twitterverse was also the first to point out that the fumble in the presidential oath was actually because Chief Justice Roberts, who was reciting from memory, cited the oath incorrectly.  

We also found out in real-time that Senators Kennedy and Byrd were both removed from the first lunch with the new President.  Senator Byrd was taken from the room because he was visibly upset after witnessing Kennedy, who was sitting next to him, have a seizure.  Senator Kennedy, who left on a stretcher, is reportedly doing well in the hospital.  The embarrassing part is that someone actually updated both Senators’ Wikipedia pages saying they had passed – it was quickly corrected.

We were given a blow-by-blow of the presidential parade, including when the Obamas decided to get out of the “Beast” and walk.  We quickly spread the word that – although the Secret Service reported no arrests from the crowd at the Mall – approximately 30 kids were waiting at D.C. police stations because they were separated from their parents in the mayhem.  We also watched as the Dow sunk below 8,000 on Obama’s first official day in office.

There was also a flood of statistical data, according to Mashable:

  • There were 600,000 status updates posted through the CNN.com Live Facebook feed
  • Facebook averaged 4,000 status updates per minute during the broadcast
  • 8,500 status updates were posted during the first minute of Obama’s speech
  • “Millions” of people logged into Facebook during the broadcast

And, Twitter saw 5x normal tweets-per-second and about 4x tweets-per minute, per the Twitter blog.  Overall, I must admit that Twitter did extremely well given this surge of traffic – they are definitely learning and improving with each major event.  CNN, which linked up with Facebook, set Web traffic records this morning with 18.8 million total online viewers.  They also served more than 1.3 million concurrent live streams before Obama began his address.  Overall, CNN broke its all-time total daily streaming record of 5.3 million live streams.

CNN also posted its full view of the inauguration using Microsoft Photosynth.  From here, you can view “the moment” from every angle, as if you were there live (actually, better…).

We also learned some new terms, new sites, and new IDs:

Looks like Obama is planning to continue its social media communication plan.

Overall, extremely exciting!  Tell me, how did you participate in the inauguration?

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The Satyam Soap Opera

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Last Wednesday, Satyam, the fourth-largest Indian IT outsourcing service provider, announced that their profits have been inflated for years.  The firm’s founder and CEO, Ramalinga Raju, made the shocking announcement and added that no other board member was aware of the financial situation, which is being compared to the Enron fiasco.

Here is a brief run-down of the situation:

  • Raju claims that about $1 billion or 94% of the cash on the company’s books was fictitious.
  • Shares dropped approximately 80% until the NYSE stopped trading on Satyam “indefinitely.”
  • In 2007, the World Bank barred Satyam from contracts for 4 years for providing “improper benefits to bank staff.”
  • By Friday, Raju and his brother, co-founder and managing director, were arrested
  • The Indian government disbanded the Satyam board and were set to appoint 10 new members who would meet this week (three were appointed by Sunday).
  • Satyam’s CFO, Srinivas Vadlamani, who was on vacation during the announcement, had sold 92,358 shares in September to “build a house”
  • The CFO had apparently taken “the books” (who has paper books?) with him to his house while on vacation, and had reportedly tried to commit suicide last week.  He is now also in custody.
  • It is rumored that Satyam auditors, Price WaterHouse Cooper, may be banned from doing business in India.  It’s still unclear how PWC missed this large of a discrepancy.  However, two members of the Central Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICIA), the regulatory body of the accounting profession, are senior partners of PWC.
  • A dozen lawsuits have been filed in the US against Satyam.
  • As of today, the new board announced one of their tactics to save the company would be to ask clients for advance payments for services.
  • Local Indian banks have lowered or revoked personal lines of credit for Satyam employees since there is speculation on whether the company can make payroll past January.
  • New audit firm to be appointed in 48 hours
  • India’s government announces that they are ready to bail out Satyam, if required.
  • CFO claims that bank deposits were handled directly by the Chairman and Managing Director (Raju brothers)
  • Some discussion about PWC managing the audit based on documents they were given, however they never had actual bank statements to back it up. (unconfirmed)
  • Wipro Technologies, another India-based IT firm, has now also been banned from doing business with the World Bank (like Satyam)
  • Indian police search the offices of Satyam auditors, PriceWaterHouse Cooper.
  • Satyam interim CEO, Ram Mynampati, is rumored to be in custody of the Indian police, however Satyam released statements saying he is touring the US visiting clients.  The CID told CNN that Mynampati is very much in Hyderabad, India and was seen in his office yesterday.
  • Central Government of India plans a “salary bailout” for the approximately 53,000 employees of Satyam.

The worst part is that the employees will shoulder much of the Satyam fraud.  With salaries in jeopardy and banks revoking credit, there is concern whether employees will continue to show up to work.  However, like with many parts of the world right now, jobs are difficult to find in India.

Bailout Blow-up

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flyntCNN is reporting that Larry Flynt, publisher of Hustler magazine, and Joe Francis, CEO of Girls Gone Wild, will approach Congress for a $5 billion bailout of the adult entertainment industry.  I wish I could say that I was making this up.  The two claim that sales in the porn industry have suffered due to the economic crisis.

“People are too depressed to be sexually active,” says Flynt.

OK, so let’s recap.  In October, Congress approved a $700 billion bailout for the financial industry.  In return we saw several firms, such as AIG, squander away millions on lavish retreats and executive bonuses.  Congress seemed to have learned *some* lessons and applied more terms on the automaker bailout that totaled $17.4 billion.  Limits on executive pay, ban on corporate jets, as well as the requirement to reduce debt by two-thirds and restore profitability (most likely at the cost of the workers, themselves), are part of the automaker bailout plan.

Stephen Gandel, from Time magazine, says, “In the past 16 weeks, the government has pledged, loaned or invested some $10 trillion to fix ailing banks, jump-start financial markets and keep automakers from bankruptcy.”

Rumors are that the airline industry isn’t far behind.  Why wouldn’t the adult entertainment industry come running with hands out? 

Are these bailout programs actually solving anything?  They are probably buying us more time, but there has been no change to the system.  No change to the leadership.  No indictments.  And, now the American people are asking for their bailout through stimulus packages and tax cuts.

And I agree – give the money to the American people rather than to the businesses.  The economy is cyclical – businesses start-up, businesses close.  The American people will invest in the businesses that they feel are valuable.  Once you take that fundamental piece of a capitalist society out of the control of the people, aren’t you diminishing the value of the American brand?  And, not just products that are made in America, but you’re hurting America itself.  We seem to be turning ourselves into a commodity – marketing on price rather than value.  And, any business person worth their weight will tell you that is an almost impossible position to recover from.

The Infamous Six-Figure Salary

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In mid-December, Yahoo! Finance posted an article titled “$100,000 income: No big deal anymore.”  The article states how the magical six-figure salary isn’t the benchmark for success like it was once viewed.  With inflation and the rising cost of lifestyle expenses, such as iPods, digital cameras, high-speed Internet access, and cell phones, $100,000 doesn’t go as far as it once did.

I posed this issue on Twitter, and @gerryvz said “the 84.3% of Americans who earn $100K or less would likely beg to differ that [a six-figure salary isn’t what it used to be].”  True, I think it’s still an important milestone in the American psyche.

The drive to obtain one of these jobs has not diminished.  Job boards focused on six-figure jobs, such as 6-Figure Jobs, The Ladders, and ExecuNet, market specifically to senior executives or leaders looking for $100,000 or more.

However, once you get there, did you find the red carpet treatment that you expected?  Once upon a time, $100,000 was associated with a nice home, two nice cars and nice family vacations.  Nice. 

The article poses some interesting statistics:

  • $100,000 salary in 1990 would be $162,760, with standard inflation
  • $100,000 salary in 2000, would be worth only $82,609 today
  • And, a family earning $100,000 per year today would need to earn $244K in Manhattan and $203K in San Francisco just to maintain that same lifestyle

Yahoo! Finance claims that “many now consider $250,000 the new $100,00 income.” 

But, is a lot of that just our need to “keep up with the Jones’?”  You can still own a nice house and a nice car – but your definition of “nice” needs to reflect the reality that money doesn’t go as far as it once did.  Don’t fall into the trap of the $30,000-millionaires, as they are called.  A six-figure salary can afford you a nice life, if you’re smart about it.

The Facebook Phenomenon

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Wow!  In less than 5 years, Facebook has reached 150 million users!  From the post:

Today, we reached another milestone: 150 million people around the world are now actively using Facebook and almost half of them are using Facebook every day. This includes people in every continent—even Antarctica. If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.

When we first started Facebook almost five years ago, most of the people using it were college students in the United States. Today, people of all ages—grandparents, parents and children—use Facebook in more than 35 different languages and 170 countries and territories.

The full potential of the web is to make the world more open, so everyone has a voice and can share what is important to them. With 150 million voices and counting, we can’t wait for the rest of 2009, and we look forward to offering even more ways for you to connect with the people who matter most.

Congratulations, Mark Zuckerberg!  What an amazing accomplishment!

My New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year, everyone!  What I did over my holiday break, while NOT blogging:

  • I finished the Twilight Saga.  Excellent, although I have to say there were several times I wanted to smack that selfish 18-year old, Bella, upside the head. 
  • Watched too much Food Network, which resulted in baking 25 dozen cookies, 3 coffee cakes, and learning some new dinner recipes (dijon and peppercorn crusted roast beef…yuuummm).
  • Hung out with my amazing friends and family!
  • Ventured up to my craft room and started painting again.  I didn’t finish it, but at least I started!
  • Went to the King Tut exhibit in Dallas.  You funky, funky mummy!

So, now that I ended 2008 on a high note, here’s my new year’s resolutions to begin 2009 on the right foot:

  1. Get back to the gym!  I know…I know…
  2. Read some non-fiction / business books to better myself.  High on the list A New Earth (E. Tolle); Tribes (S. Godin); Personality Not Included (R. Bhargava);  and Citizen Marketers (B. McConnell).
  3. Take a GOOD Facebook picture! 
  4. Get MobileMe to successfully sync my work PC and my home Mac.
  5. Do some personal travel.  I bought my 2009 Greek Islands calendar as inspiration.
  6. Help local brands discover and harness the power of social marketing, like Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and Where.
  7. Blog more.  Yea!!!

Here’s to a wonderful 2009  – may all your dreams come true!  Let me know what you hope to accomplish this year.

nye