Monthly Archives: April 2004

The impending anti-trust disaster

There are hundreds of Mario Monti wanna-bes. And most do not even live in Europe.

Monti is the European Competition Minister who was the thorn in General Electric’s side and is now reeking havoc on Microsoft. He represents the EU’s will and no major companies can merge without his blessing.

After Monti there are American regulatory bodies (DOJ, FTC, FCC, etc) that often have to sign off on a merger. But basically, that’s it. Any company really has to only worry about the EU and the US.

But that’s changing.

As we increase the number of actors on the world stage that approve the merger process or that can investigate/enforce anti-trust issues, we are going to create a regulatory log-jam.

China, Japan, Latin America, India, Russia, might soon get in the game — especially if one of the merged companies has some significant interest in their country.

There are some solutions on the horizon. The ICN (International Competition Network) has a world membership that looks to resolve these disputes. But it is a nascent organization that has yet to be tested.

To overcome these jurisdictional issues, we will have to create some sort of world arbitration system that regulates anti-trust concerns. And no country will be happy with the ultimate compromise and encroachment on sovereignty.

My guess is in the mid-term, this will significantly reduce the market cap of global companies that were once thought to be acquisition targets — because acquiring them will be very difficult.

Rating my publications

Last night my mailbox was stuffed with publications. I get lots of magazines, journals, etc. I am constantly getting input from people on what they read and like (usually it is other terrific blogs) and am getting asked what I read.

My blog list is a great source of news and ideas — but I still live on paper.

The following are a list of publications that I subscribe to (meaning they arrive periodically in paper form via snail mail) and I have ranked ordered them from most-important (the Wall Street Journal) to least-important (note: even the least important ones still have value to me — otherwise I would not subscribe to them at all):

Wall Street Journal
Economist
Atlantic Monthly
The Week
Forbes
Business 2.0
Fast Company
Foreign Affairs
Newsweek
CIO
Fortune
US News and World Report
Time
Foreign Policy
Weekly Standard
The New Yorker

Note that I pay for every one of these publications except for CIO and Foreign Policy (I get those for free).

Treo / Sprint PCS email down – complaint

My Treo email has been down for almost a week now.

This is really disappointing.

On April 14, my Sprint PCS Business Connection email went down. I spent a long time trying to fix it before finally calling Sprint PCS. And guess what? It was down on their end — and it is down for everyone apparently.

So my question is — why didn’t they notify me?

I understand things go down — but they could have notified me. They know I am a registered Business Connection user. They know I use the service constantly. They know my cell phone number (they could text message me). They know my email address (they could easily notify me via email).

Another example of really poor customer service.

So I asked them when the service will be back up. Tomorrow they say. Of course, it is now a week later and the service is still down. Did they notify me of that? Of course not. Bad Sprint PCS customer care.

You’d think that with number portability, firms like Sprint PCS would have a greater focus on customer care — especially when things like notifications are so easy to do.

You’d think … wouldn’t you? The Sprint PCS web site does not even have a way of registering my complaint.

Why can’t every company be like JetBlue?

The Blessed Class – is it immoral to be unhappy?

We are the blessed class.

Blessed because we are educated. Blessed because we don’t have to worry about our safety. Blessed because some of us actually want to pay higher taxes. We give to charity. We have disposable income.

We spend lots of free time perusing the Internet. We read blogs. We love Friendster. We forward web sites of dancing chickens to friends. We have time (even though we think we don’t).

Sometimes I don’t understand why so many blessed people are so stressed.
Why are the blessed stressed?
Why does Prozac rule?
Yeah.

Frankly, I am well aware how blessed I am. I can’t really muster up any reason why I should be sad, unhappy, or generally stressed.

actually, the biggest stress in my life is slaving over a witty response to write on Evite replies.
I’m getting better on Evites … I’m still not an Evite bard yet … not by any means. But some people are so witty on Evite — I get so jealous — it stresses me out …. should I pop a Prozac?

Unhappiness is, of course, a state of mind. But do we in the blessed class actually have a “right” to be unhappy? I guess we do. I imagine the Supreme Court would deem it unconstitutional to legislate that one cannot be unhappy. So you certainly have a “right” to be unhappy. Of course, you also have the right to commit an adulterous affair, lie to your parents, and be a jerk to your neighbor.

So a better question for the blessed class might be … not do you have the “right” to be unhappy … but are you morally obligated to be happy?

Yes.

Is it immoral and selfish to be unhappy if one is part of the Blessed Class?

Yes.

My guess: people in the blessed class are just as unhappy as people who have to scratch for every bit food … who have to fight just to have a roof on their head … who have no proper healthcare … who have gotten beaten or raped by crack-addicted neighbors …

Imagine an unblessed person. Imagine what they think when they see someone who is blessed, who has everything … yet is still unhappy. They’ll think you are crazy … insane … because you have it all …

If you are blessed (and you are probably blessed if you are reading this blog), you should be happy. Almost always. Bad days should be extraordinarily rare. Great days should be the norm.

It is good manners to be happy. Just like knowing how to use a fork properly and knowing not to curse widely in public … yeah … it’s good manners to be happy … and it is bad manners to complain about … about nothing of consequence …

Don’t take things so seriously …

Really …

Be happy.

And work on your Evite replies

Market differentiation in news weeklies?

I subscribe to four American news weekly magazines: Time, Newsweek, US News & World Report, and The Week. This week, two of the four — Time and US News — both had the exact same picture on the cover (an American soldier in Fallujah). The Week featured the same picture on page 4 — its most prominent news page. Only Newsweek had the foresight not to publish the same photo.

The photo is an AP photo — so it is shareable by all outlets — but it shows the lack of market differentiation in the magazine news business.