The P/L Of Starbucks Calorie Count

37 views

How does one define health obsessed? Does it refer to one counting calories? Does it refer to avoiding red meat? One can define health conscious individuals in a myriad of ways. Can one define Starbucks core customer base as “health conscious?” The mindset those are using to portray that Starbucks will gain from voicing their calorie count suggest they can easily define their customer base. This ideology is flawed.

starbucks cup

Today’s customer base for any national or multinational corporation is broad. Not everyone that is an organic connoisseur shops at Whole Foods and not everyone that shops at Starbucks is a health nut. Every individual that enters into the Walmart’s across the world does not make below the mean national salary. In a nutshell if you are defining your customer base in one word you are not appropriately defining your customer base. Those analysts that use a few words to define the customer base in lack the introspective approach to make any analysis. Refer to this article about how Starbucks will profit from calorie counts.

Do not get it twisted. The Starbucks gravy train has been a play I have supported for years. Starbucks has been part of our lifestyle for quite some time. In the recession they came out resiliently and will continue to do so as they go international. The global movement will likely be more challenging, but they have revolutionized beverages in the U.S. and there is no reason why they cannot do it abroad. Yes international has its challenges, but the ROI could be legendary.

At the end of the day Starbucks customers are proponents of the company for 50% brand and 50% taste buds. Starbucks is considered a treat, a splurge. That is why the company made it through the tough times. Instead of going out for lunch the business class of America went and grabbed that 2 dollar cup of Joe or that 4 dollar frappuccino. So as much as these so called analyst want to make the case for Starbucks hitting its stride due to a calorie count, its hitting its stride due to the overall company. Do not make a stock decisions on one element and do not forget  the overall challenges of the company faces.

For those that like comparisons, just take a look at the trend-line for McDonald’s. It has been far from a straight run up since the implementation of calorie counts. Yes perhaps the Starbucks customer base varies a bit, but stating that a calorie count can change the business is more than foolish. A calorie count before the mandated time will likely boost Starbucks image, Though it will not outweigh the challenges internationally. Starbucks is a strong company that has mastered their model in the U.S. To have that continued success and return to investors, they need to be able to adjust and succeed with that model worldwide. The challenges globally are what needs to be focused on, not some idiotic calorie count.

Photo by MyLifeStory

Not so Amazon-ing Groceries

36 views

So Amazon wants to play in the grocery market.

Amazon has successfully revolutionized many industries. We now take the retail sectors that Amazon has changed to be the new norms. So perhaps we should thank them and move on. While moving on one should be sure to observe the endeavors of Amazon as an investment portfolio. Some of the moves Amazon makes will be winner, large winners, while other will be horrific losers. You get where I am going.

Now that we are all on the same page, AmazonFresh screams AmazonMess.

Amazon Fresh

Don’t get me wrong, the grocery business is a large industry. As the entrepreneurs say the sector is ripe for disruption. Though if you take a look around you will see that often times disruption is better left as an idea. The main items in a grocery store have a margin of somewhere around 1 percent. Yes Whole Food does well and deserving so, its Whole Foods. For those of you who do not understand basic business: Whole Foods operates in a niche (organic) and can charge a premium for their products.

By far the strongest argument against this move is the scale is just nonexistent. By focusing on a few items like Amazon has done in Seattle they just do not have the scale. If you can only deliver my egg rolls but not my General Tso’s chicken, I am not ordering. For any real scale to occur Amazon will have to offer everything and with everything comes horrible margins that barely support the fleet of vehicles to deliver their goods.

Many people have made the argument that the populous will fail to move away from the brick and mortar due to the sensations of shopping. The American obsession of touching what you buy is no more prevalent than in the grocery industry. Mom wants to pick the fruit she puts in her children’s mouth. Just like the kiddies want to go to the store to pick out goodies for the week. In the fast paced 21st century that Amazon has built its empire on last minute decision making(one-click shopping), not planning out the weeks grocery list to be delivered by a courier.

By simply stating that Amazon will outperform competitors because they always have many have rationalized the tech giants movement into the space.

Amazon has been known the yield an iron fist in the realm of eCommerce. They are now going up against the big and the baddest at their own game. They are literally going after the bread and butter of Walmart, Target, and the like. This billion dollar bet will be sure to be a tech tale for the books. Last time Amazon tried to step outside their realm and challenge a big player, Apple, they had good reason. They were promoting their entire brand and position in the cloud space. Their move was merely a means to an end. This was to promote the amazon music, movies, and ensure everyone was registered for one-click shopping.

Harris Teeter here on the East Coast is already geared up and ready to giver them a run for their money. I have personal experience with this service and by far am not impressed, nor am I impressed by the cars lining up to pick up groceries at their many location. Essentially HT lets you pay a fee and pick up your groceries without leaving your car. For those who are into channel checks, the number of motor vehicles in line is always zero. Harris Teeter has essentially used this as a way to compete with Whole Foods who is stealing their market share quickly. By offering an additional premium service Harris Teeter can ensure they keep repeat customers.

Amazon has a great business model not based on groceries. They do not need to enter the grocery business to ensure the success of their eCommerce business. So in layman’s terms I am not seeing the risk reward of entering this super competitive market when their are other ventures ripe for disrupting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usBperxx4lg

Apple of My Eye

21 views

Everyone remembers hearing “with Apple goes the market.”

Well any savy investor knows that correlations change. The game changes, no matter what business you are in. The smart investor, the good businessman knows what the next play is. The game has officially changed and Apple will make new correlations. It will likely have an inverse relationship to the market (refer to fly’s post a la noche: How Does the $SPY Perform in June?)

In a few days Apple will be launching its rebooted line of Macs and an updated interface.

Will it set itself up to change the game?

My anticipation is that Tim Cook is done “cooking” himself over the roaring flame. It is time he wowed us. This moment is the make or break for Apple and contrary to my normal beliefs, they shall impress. Tim’s job is on the line so for his sake he must impress.

The market and the consumer have been disappointed time again with the recent line of Apple products. Read any tech blog about the most recent iPhone or the retina display. Yeah they were cool but they did not make you say whoaaaaa. We are entering that phase. We are going to be wowed again.

If not Apple’s heyday is done. Tech is exponential. Apple will continue to push the limits or they will  be pushed aside.

There is no need to run out tomorrow and buy the stock. Let us see how the announcement goes. If we are in awe then we will likely continued to be amazed as we come to the iPhone and iPad updates. If WWDC goes as planned by Mr. Cook and his staff, we will be impressed. If we are impressed the stock will continue to climb into the summer as we near the next update cycle.

You want verification? You want a footing to stand on? Look at Apple historically:

Apple Overview

When Apple gets the hype momentum behind it, it runs. Apple will get its hype back or it will spend billions trying.

Vine That

24 views

The weekends are full of thoughts and ideas.

For example: whats next, whats big, and where should I put my money.

A while ago I mentioned this new and exciting thing called Vine. I went on to stress that this would flop, because the challenges of recording and making videos would overwhelm the user.

I completely underestimated the potential.

Vine has been the new thing. Who would have thought that those guys at Twitter could create a hot product again? Does this mean that Facebook is no longer hot? Does this mean that Google+ is barely in existence?

Facebook remains a constant. It is that court house in your local community, it has been and it will remain. They are the umbrella which all the new and hot social media companies will be kept dry under. People are still fearful of an exodus from Facebook — it won’t happen. It has become a staple of the technology life. Though they no longer have those crisp and refreshing attributes that make it the “thing” the kiddies discuss at recess, replacing it remains impossible. Facebook remains the icon of social interaction on the internet. Which means profiting from it remains the only logical solution.

Death is near the opponents suggest. They are wrong like those that suggests the sun will not keep shining. Think about Facebook as an investment for the user. Not an investment as putting your money here or there to garner a return, rather as building a business. You invest time and money to build a business; you build products, acquire customers, update your product and then acquire more customers. The time you invest in your business is similar to the time invested into your online profile, ask the bloggers, keeping up that persona year after year is a full time job, a rather large investment. Those that build businesses, personas, or any analogous example you brilliant mind can think of are unlikely to vanish due to the work required to bring about its existence. Facebook shall remain.

Snapchat is hot, vine is hotter. This will change in a few months. Remember when everyone was on Farmville and you had to have that cow? What about when grandma was on Words With Friends? Yes the hot items will come and go, more importantly the constants will remain constant. Apple will continue to be the BMW of cell phones and Facebook will continue to be the platform that everyone builds upon. To solidify that statement just ask any developer if signing in with Facebook is a required aspect in their app or webpage, they will answer with an unequivocal yes. Ask anyone who likes technology if they aren’t looking forward to the WWDC to see what Apple has up its sleeve.

I can admit I was wrong about Vine. More importantly we can all take this as a learning experience, whats hot can be a nice ride for a while. You can make some pennies to feed the meter. The better investment for long term rewards is the titan of the industry, the one that will leave a lasting impression long after everything else has come and gone. The giant of industry will put a Bentley in front of that meter.

Time To Get Serious About Gambling

141 views

This morning as one of many Google Adsense publishers I received a email suggesting the future of online gambling has revolutionized. The image below is what that email contained.

Gambling

The above snippet suggests that there are many more winners to the gambling game than many initially thought. Without a doubt gambling has been and will continue to be a multi-billion dollar industry. After the newsletter from Google this morning, this shows that not only a few small companies are jumping on board the gambling train, but even some of the bigger tech giants are interested in boosting revenues through the gambling market.

With AdSense already an established business model for Google, expanding it to categories once thought questionable is a great move. In the countries where online gambling is completely legal, Google does not have any moral dilemmas about making money off of the current (and legal) online gambling infrastructure. Six months ago I wrote a piece about Facebook and its potential as a online gambling super star. Though in regards to Facebook the overwhelming issue remains that it may be against the values of the online giant and  values its reputation more than revenues. Though as we see with all these large tech companies, if one enters the market others are sure to follow.

In regards to those small gaming companies that have been the talk of the news lately due to gambling, specifically Glu Mobile and Zynga, their stories have just been validated by the above email from Google. When a big player like Google gets serious about online gambling, even going as far to completely revamp their policy on the matter, it lends a large amount of validity to other companies in the space (or in this case companies looking to enter the space). Glu Mobile and Zynga have many other issues and challenges above and beyond online gambling, so let us see how they “play their hand” and perhaps they can make big inroads in this market.

Without a doubt Google has validated the potential of those in the online gambling arena or attempting to enter. Not only that, perhaps Google can boost revenues with future gambling partnerships. The hype around Glu Mobile and Zynga may have not been the joke we all initially thought.

Marissa Meyer Signals a Bigger Issue at Yahoo!

265 views

Since I was too busy working from home, I was unable to comment on the recent shenanigans at Yahoo. Whatever Marissa Meyers is smoking, I want some, perhaps a few crates. Where does one get the idea that forcing people to get out of their creative home environment into a hellish brick and mortar they call Yahoo’s office will fix any of hoo’s problems?

Yahoo wants to be a global technology company; they even wrote it (a big step for a company that can barely develop anything). Now I do not know how much research they did on their competition, obviously none. That space is not only crowded but cut throat. The gimmicks and schemes Yahoo has used in years past will not suffice.

To understand where Marissa Meyer is coming from you have to understand the environment. Marissa has workers producing about $350,000 in revenue. Compare this to their new choose of competition (since they are moving to be a technology company), Google, with almost $1,000,000 per worker in revenue.

What is my dear Marissa trying to accomplish here? Well obviously she thinks that her workers lack productivity. She also believes that drawing all the employees under one roof will boast creativity. Ever heard of Google Campus? Neither of these are bad ideas. The issues stem from what this move implies about the overall culture at Yahoo.

Yahoo can try all they want to emulate Google, they will fail miserably at it. Companies, particularly in the tech space have to make their own lane. In other words, they have to be individuals. Technology moves so fast that copying a competitors approach, products, atmosphere correlates to being years behind.

More importantly, Yahoo employees lack productivity and creativity. That is essentially what Marissa is telling us. She is suggesting that her employees do not make her enough money and need to be under a watchful eye. This says everything you ever wanted to know about Yahoo. These facts blatantly state that the wrong people work at Yahoo. When the wrong people work for you, fissures in the company run deep.

Have you ever heard of employees of Yahoos newfound rival Google needing a slap on the wrist for not being productive or creative enough? No you have not. Have you ever watched a fight between a trained combatant with the latest technological weaponry and an elderly woman? It is quite entertaining, so grab the popcorn and join me for this entertaining programming.

Essentially Yahoo and Marissa Meyer have put a band aid on a wound that needs immediate medical attention. By attempting to solve the problem without having a deep understanding of the actual issues at hand Marissa has just prolonged the unavoidable, Yahoos death (or Marissa’s termination).

Twitter Vs. Facebook For Dummies

86 views

Lacking a in-depth understanding of a companies, their product and their standing among competitors will only serve to lose you money. Let us take a extensive look at the social giants Twitter and Facebook.

For those of you who do not understand Twitters social function. In a basic form it shares what is happening in your world in right now… and right now. More importantly it connects people in real-time. Time stamping every action or emotion. One can think of Twitter like a news webpage, constantly updated and quickly forgotten. You read a Twitter stream once and forget about what happened in the next moment, no one spends long hours going back over what you said. Quite the contrary to the ideals of Facebook which I will go into momentarily, which focuses on a spectrum of time.  You may have tweeted thousands of times, but unless you are a potential employer hunting for some naughty info on a perspective employee, the tweets of yesteryear are lost to the abyss of the internet.

Twitter also has this lovely feature where you can take a picture and share it with the world. For example :”I am currently partaking in the gluttony of America,” followed by a picture of a plate in which you will throw away half the portion promptly. Now for those of you who are lost when it comes to the internet, first off I do not know how you got here, secondly yes another company profiteers from the picture craze. Let me hint at it for you, Facebook owns them, they lost a majority of users by attempting to monetize their users pictures. Welcome to the world of Instagram! To be honest I cannot remember who made posting a picture of your dinner important first, Twitter or Instagram, it is much like the chicken or the egg. Who came first, no one really cares. What really matters is finding out which farmer makes more money, the chicken or the egg farmer, so you can invest in them netting a hefty profit.

Now why do you care about little ole Instagram?

Well being that Instagram is owned by big brother Facebook, Instagram plays a huge role in the Twitter Facebook rivalry. Now the most significant event that has happened lately in regards to this rivalry was the exclusion of Instagram pictures from the twitter feed (yes, Instagram had a little problem with their Terms and Conditions, but that kink will work itself out). At one time you could easily scroll through twitter and see lovely Instagram photos, those days are gone, resulting in links having to be clicked and time wasted to access Instagram photos. Essentially Twitter has attempted to muscle out Instagram from its space. Those fools over there failed to realize that they had inadvertently given their users an ultimatum. Telling users to choose us or them. Have you ever given an ultimatum to someone? A wife? A son or daughter? A significant other? Yeah you know how that ends, an ultimatum, for you psychologically declined, often results in a negative response. In simple terms, give someone an ultimatum  and it never benefits you. Due to the lovely interface and lack of spam on users will choose Instagram time and time again.

Instagram is better?

Yeah I said it, for sharing those time stamped moments Instagram trumps Twitter(no real estate). Not just because a picture says a thousand words and Instagram lets you take better pictures. No, Instagram wins because not only is a picture time stamped, but a profile exists for the user. I can visit any user and scroll through all their photos effortlessly. This hugely contrasts the Twitter interface where one has to spend copious amounts of time and effort going back through a users tweets to get a decent grasp of a twitter profile.  Instagram allows for the interface of a Facebook profile without the clutter. By having a unique interface that can be expanded on Instagram also opens itself up for giant improvements and easy monetization. In basic terms, Instagram offers a better format to interact socially. As we have learned from experience from the death of Myspace and the domination of Facebook, user experience intertwined with interface is everything.

Once you have happy users on the platform you can make money off of them, lots of money.

Instagram, which I consider Facebook’s bread and butter for the future, will play a vital role in crushing Twitter. Now you are wondering, well what about vine, what about twitter pictures? Those are all well and good. Yeah, that is the extent of it. Vine is mediocre. Do you know how many video sharing apps there are and how long they have been around? Countless apps and for quite some time. The issue being that the mass market does not find recording video as desirable or as easy as pictures. Facebook for example has countless photo albums, but go take a look and see how many videos your friends have videos. Even if they are amateur producers, they put their works on YouTube or Vimeo, not Facebook. They link to their works on Facebook, do not get me wrong, one must share their cinematic works, but a format already exists (linking them on Facebook and Twitter).

Pictures are appealing because they are quick and easy. You can pick and choose in seconds if a picture looks appealing or not. Getting the right shot in a video situation takes time and effort, which many are not willing to give. No one wants to catch up with a long-lost friend and say lets Vine this, they say lets capture this image so it can last a lifetime. A picture takes a moment, a video takes about 6 seconds. Twitter has attempted to eclipse Instagram, though when it comes to this arena, there is no outmaneuvering  Do you think for a second the Instagram/Facebook team would not have utilized this if it had tested well or potentially been a traffic driver. Do not for a second think Zuck and his crew were surprised by this move. Though now they were forced to respond as depicted below. So the game continues…

It all comes back to time.  Compare the time commitment of a photo verse video, and then try to convince me who in this fast pace tech world has the time to record a movie. Do you know why SnapChat has gripped the smart phone world? The masses, they love pictures. For those of you uninformed on the matter Google search SnapChat.

On the subject of time, my last and strongest argument for Facebook revolves around time. The time one has contributed to the world of Facebook, first off will never be reimbursed (sucker), and secondly makes the benefit of deleting ones Facebook profile is dramatically outweighed by the cost of losing ones profile. Facebook has become an online staple, so do not think it is going anywhere.

Now do not get me wrong, both Twitter and Facebook (yes Instagram too) have a place in the lives of many. Focusing on the picture war may see novel, but as the battleground of 2013 the sharing of pictures will define social media. Both Twitter and Facebook will continue to serve a purpose and make money off of our consumer driven society. Though Facebook (and Instagram) offer the user a better experience which will retain more users and allow for more profiteering in the future.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2BnM2vWq-A

Photo 1 by Nouhailler

Photo 2 by clasesdeperiodismo

Afternoon Firearms Education

53 views

Though this video is a bit outdated, I thought it was worth a share. So many people are completely uneducated about firearms. Educate yourself.

An Investors Take On Windows 8

40 views

I am neither an Apple addict or a Microsoft connoisseur. All the computers in my household have a specific purpose, be it my Apple iPhone, my iMac, my Chromebook (that is in the mail), or my various windows computers. In my eyes both Windows and Apple (soon Google) play a particular role and serve consumers specific needs. Though from an investing standpoint my personal opinion and favoritism does not matter. Most American consumers have a bit over one computer (just like they have half a child statistically speaking). This means that from a standpoint of putting your money to work, only one platform really prevails and remains the driver of future growth. That being said let me tell you a bit about Windows 8.

Microsoft has effectively attempted to redesign their platform. Making the home screen the start screen (as shown above). The concept is catchy. Though the functionality is nonexistent. The result of the new approach is a platform caught between ancient Microsoft and a futuristic version based on Apple. Microsoft has attempted to take the world of the Apps to their computer, but failed in doing so. Most of the software is installed the same way it has been for 15 years. For example I searched Google Chrome on the app store and then was taken to their website, rather than being able to download it in the “App Store.” Basically the platform got lost somewhere between vision and implementation.

The biggest and most obvious misstep of the Microsoft team was failure to differentiate. Differentiate between a tablet and a desktop (or laptop) computer. Resulting  in the Windows 8 on desktops (and laptops) having an interface that would be more productive on a tablet. This lack of vision cost Microsoft the potential edge they had during this product cycle. I think that is still what separates Apple from Microsoft in this context. Apple has a similar interface for all their devices, but also the ability for each to be tiered towards that device. Microsoft has attempted to have the same approach but failed on execution. Though a Microsoft aficionado could argue that the interface on both desktops and tablets presents itself as clean and functional (though from my standpoint the two basic home screens remains odd).

Overall Windows 8 remains functional  It is a big step in the future and even took a tech guy like me a bit of getting used to. From a money standpoint the reality of the situation is hard to bear for Microsoft lovers. In an environment where other companies like Apple and Google are eating Microsoft’s lunch and using it to feed their dogs, the Windows team really needed to blow us all away. They failed to do so and once again launched an inconsistent product (that seemed rushed). Windows 8 will serve a purpose and will sell, but will fil to stop the exodus of Microsoft users to other brands.

Note: Sometime ago I mention I was excited about the launch of Windows 8 and the potential it had for Microsoft. I now disagree completely with those statements. Windows 8 was just lackluster.

My Promise

43 views

For those who have not seen the film above, hopefully this snippet serves the purpose of conveying my message. Rum Diary was a complete flop that starred Mr. Depp and focuses on an aspiring journalist. The plot centers on a moral dilemma of the main character. A dilemma choreographed as good verse evil. The evil in our current setting are those fools on the idiot box, on uneducated blogs, and those that have their best interest at heart instead of you, the reader.

IBC will open polls tonight at 12:00 A.M. I hope to see you there with my name on the ballot.

Over the past few days I have attempted to give a glimpse of the thoughts inside my head — which at times are  abstract. For those of you needing a deeper look inside my psyche, head over to my website Capital Overlook. Through my unique life experiences I see the world through a lens all of my own. Previously this lens has served to bring me across some great investing opportunities (inside and outside the market) and will do so in the future as well. Though third tier presentations are frowned upon in this establishment — and for good reason — one must hone their skills prior to playing in the big leagues. I believe my time has come to be drafted up from the minors.

For those of you who are still unfamiliar with me please take a look at what I have to offer.

The P/L Of Starbucks Calorie Count

37 views

How does one define health obsessed? Does it refer to one counting calories? Does it refer to avoiding red meat? One can define health conscious individuals in a myriad of ways. Can one define Starbucks core customer base as “health conscious?” The mindset those are using to portray that Starbucks will gain from voicing their calorie count suggest they can easily define their customer base. This ideology is flawed.

starbucks cup

Today’s customer base for any national or multinational corporation is broad. Not everyone that is an organic connoisseur shops at Whole Foods and not everyone that shops at Starbucks is a health nut. Every individual that enters into the Walmart’s across the world does not make below the mean national salary. In a nutshell if you are defining your customer base in one word you are not appropriately defining your customer base. Those analysts that use a few words to define the customer base in lack the introspective approach to make any analysis. Refer to this article about how Starbucks will profit from calorie counts.

Do not get it twisted. The Starbucks gravy train has been a play I have supported for years. Starbucks has been part of our lifestyle for quite some time. In the recession they came out resiliently and will continue to do so as they go international. The global movement will likely be more challenging, but they have revolutionized beverages in the U.S. and there is no reason why they cannot do it abroad. Yes international has its challenges, but the ROI could be legendary.

At the end of the day Starbucks customers are proponents of the company for 50% brand and 50% taste buds. Starbucks is considered a treat, a splurge. That is why the company made it through the tough times. Instead of going out for lunch the business class of America went and grabbed that 2 dollar cup of Joe or that 4 dollar frappuccino. So as much as these so called analyst want to make the case for Starbucks hitting its stride due to a calorie count, its hitting its stride due to the overall company. Do not make a stock decisions on one element and do not forget  the overall challenges of the company faces.

For those that like comparisons, just take a look at the trend-line for McDonald’s. It has been far from a straight run up since the implementation of calorie counts. Yes perhaps the Starbucks customer base varies a bit, but stating that a calorie count can change the business is more than foolish. A calorie count before the mandated time will likely boost Starbucks image, Though it will not outweigh the challenges internationally. Starbucks is a strong company that has mastered their model in the U.S. To have that continued success and return to investors, they need to be able to adjust and succeed with that model worldwide. The challenges globally are what needs to be focused on, not some idiotic calorie count.

Photo by MyLifeStory

Not so Amazon-ing Groceries

36 views

So Amazon wants to play in the grocery market.

Amazon has successfully revolutionized many industries. We now take the retail sectors that Amazon has changed to be the new norms. So perhaps we should thank them and move on. While moving on one should be sure to observe the endeavors of Amazon as an investment portfolio. Some of the moves Amazon makes will be winner, large winners, while other will be horrific losers. You get where I am going.

Now that we are all on the same page, AmazonFresh screams AmazonMess.

Amazon Fresh

Don’t get me wrong, the grocery business is a large industry. As the entrepreneurs say the sector is ripe for disruption. Though if you take a look around you will see that often times disruption is better left as an idea. The main items in a grocery store have a margin of somewhere around 1 percent. Yes Whole Food does well and deserving so, its Whole Foods. For those of you who do not understand basic business: Whole Foods operates in a niche (organic) and can charge a premium for their products.

By far the strongest argument against this move is the scale is just nonexistent. By focusing on a few items like Amazon has done in Seattle they just do not have the scale. If you can only deliver my egg rolls but not my General Tso’s chicken, I am not ordering. For any real scale to occur Amazon will have to offer everything and with everything comes horrible margins that barely support the fleet of vehicles to deliver their goods.

Many people have made the argument that the populous will fail to move away from the brick and mortar due to the sensations of shopping. The American obsession of touching what you buy is no more prevalent than in the grocery industry. Mom wants to pick the fruit she puts in her children’s mouth. Just like the kiddies want to go to the store to pick out goodies for the week. In the fast paced 21st century that Amazon has built its empire on last minute decision making(one-click shopping), not planning out the weeks grocery list to be delivered by a courier.

By simply stating that Amazon will outperform competitors because they always have many have rationalized the tech giants movement into the space.

Amazon has been known the yield an iron fist in the realm of eCommerce. They are now going up against the big and the baddest at their own game. They are literally going after the bread and butter of Walmart, Target, and the like. This billion dollar bet will be sure to be a tech tale for the books. Last time Amazon tried to step outside their realm and challenge a big player, Apple, they had good reason. They were promoting their entire brand and position in the cloud space. Their move was merely a means to an end. This was to promote the amazon music, movies, and ensure everyone was registered for one-click shopping.

Harris Teeter here on the East Coast is already geared up and ready to giver them a run for their money. I have personal experience with this service and by far am not impressed, nor am I impressed by the cars lining up to pick up groceries at their many location. Essentially HT lets you pay a fee and pick up your groceries without leaving your car. For those who are into channel checks, the number of motor vehicles in line is always zero. Harris Teeter has essentially used this as a way to compete with Whole Foods who is stealing their market share quickly. By offering an additional premium service Harris Teeter can ensure they keep repeat customers.

Amazon has a great business model not based on groceries. They do not need to enter the grocery business to ensure the success of their eCommerce business. So in layman’s terms I am not seeing the risk reward of entering this super competitive market when their are other ventures ripe for disrupting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usBperxx4lg

Apple of My Eye

21 views

Everyone remembers hearing “with Apple goes the market.”

Well any savy investor knows that correlations change. The game changes, no matter what business you are in. The smart investor, the good businessman knows what the next play is. The game has officially changed and Apple will make new correlations. It will likely have an inverse relationship to the market (refer to fly’s post a la noche: How Does the $SPY Perform in June?)

In a few days Apple will be launching its rebooted line of Macs and an updated interface.

Will it set itself up to change the game?

My anticipation is that Tim Cook is done “cooking” himself over the roaring flame. It is time he wowed us. This moment is the make or break for Apple and contrary to my normal beliefs, they shall impress. Tim’s job is on the line so for his sake he must impress.

The market and the consumer have been disappointed time again with the recent line of Apple products. Read any tech blog about the most recent iPhone or the retina display. Yeah they were cool but they did not make you say whoaaaaa. We are entering that phase. We are going to be wowed again.

If not Apple’s heyday is done. Tech is exponential. Apple will continue to push the limits or they will  be pushed aside.

There is no need to run out tomorrow and buy the stock. Let us see how the announcement goes. If we are in awe then we will likely continued to be amazed as we come to the iPhone and iPad updates. If WWDC goes as planned by Mr. Cook and his staff, we will be impressed. If we are impressed the stock will continue to climb into the summer as we near the next update cycle.

You want verification? You want a footing to stand on? Look at Apple historically:

Apple Overview

When Apple gets the hype momentum behind it, it runs. Apple will get its hype back or it will spend billions trying.

Vine That

24 views

The weekends are full of thoughts and ideas.

For example: whats next, whats big, and where should I put my money.

A while ago I mentioned this new and exciting thing called Vine. I went on to stress that this would flop, because the challenges of recording and making videos would overwhelm the user.

I completely underestimated the potential.

Vine has been the new thing. Who would have thought that those guys at Twitter could create a hot product again? Does this mean that Facebook is no longer hot? Does this mean that Google+ is barely in existence?

Facebook remains a constant. It is that court house in your local community, it has been and it will remain. They are the umbrella which all the new and hot social media companies will be kept dry under. People are still fearful of an exodus from Facebook — it won’t happen. It has become a staple of the technology life. Though they no longer have those crisp and refreshing attributes that make it the “thing” the kiddies discuss at recess, replacing it remains impossible. Facebook remains the icon of social interaction on the internet. Which means profiting from it remains the only logical solution.

Death is near the opponents suggest. They are wrong like those that suggests the sun will not keep shining. Think about Facebook as an investment for the user. Not an investment as putting your money here or there to garner a return, rather as building a business. You invest time and money to build a business; you build products, acquire customers, update your product and then acquire more customers. The time you invest in your business is similar to the time invested into your online profile, ask the bloggers, keeping up that persona year after year is a full time job, a rather large investment. Those that build businesses, personas, or any analogous example you brilliant mind can think of are unlikely to vanish due to the work required to bring about its existence. Facebook shall remain.

Snapchat is hot, vine is hotter. This will change in a few months. Remember when everyone was on Farmville and you had to have that cow? What about when grandma was on Words With Friends? Yes the hot items will come and go, more importantly the constants will remain constant. Apple will continue to be the BMW of cell phones and Facebook will continue to be the platform that everyone builds upon. To solidify that statement just ask any developer if signing in with Facebook is a required aspect in their app or webpage, they will answer with an unequivocal yes. Ask anyone who likes technology if they aren’t looking forward to the WWDC to see what Apple has up its sleeve.

I can admit I was wrong about Vine. More importantly we can all take this as a learning experience, whats hot can be a nice ride for a while. You can make some pennies to feed the meter. The better investment for long term rewards is the titan of the industry, the one that will leave a lasting impression long after everything else has come and gone. The giant of industry will put a Bentley in front of that meter.

Time To Get Serious About Gambling

141 views

This morning as one of many Google Adsense publishers I received a email suggesting the future of online gambling has revolutionized. The image below is what that email contained.

Gambling

The above snippet suggests that there are many more winners to the gambling game than many initially thought. Without a doubt gambling has been and will continue to be a multi-billion dollar industry. After the newsletter from Google this morning, this shows that not only a few small companies are jumping on board the gambling train, but even some of the bigger tech giants are interested in boosting revenues through the gambling market.

With AdSense already an established business model for Google, expanding it to categories once thought questionable is a great move. In the countries where online gambling is completely legal, Google does not have any moral dilemmas about making money off of the current (and legal) online gambling infrastructure. Six months ago I wrote a piece about Facebook and its potential as a online gambling super star. Though in regards to Facebook the overwhelming issue remains that it may be against the values of the online giant and  values its reputation more than revenues. Though as we see with all these large tech companies, if one enters the market others are sure to follow.

In regards to those small gaming companies that have been the talk of the news lately due to gambling, specifically Glu Mobile and Zynga, their stories have just been validated by the above email from Google. When a big player like Google gets serious about online gambling, even going as far to completely revamp their policy on the matter, it lends a large amount of validity to other companies in the space (or in this case companies looking to enter the space). Glu Mobile and Zynga have many other issues and challenges above and beyond online gambling, so let us see how they “play their hand” and perhaps they can make big inroads in this market.

Without a doubt Google has validated the potential of those in the online gambling arena or attempting to enter. Not only that, perhaps Google can boost revenues with future gambling partnerships. The hype around Glu Mobile and Zynga may have not been the joke we all initially thought.

Marissa Meyer Signals a Bigger Issue at Yahoo!

265 views

Since I was too busy working from home, I was unable to comment on the recent shenanigans at Yahoo. Whatever Marissa Meyers is smoking, I want some, perhaps a few crates. Where does one get the idea that forcing people to get out of their creative home environment into a hellish brick and mortar they call Yahoo’s office will fix any of hoo’s problems?

Yahoo wants to be a global technology company; they even wrote it (a big step for a company that can barely develop anything). Now I do not know how much research they did on their competition, obviously none. That space is not only crowded but cut throat. The gimmicks and schemes Yahoo has used in years past will not suffice.

To understand where Marissa Meyer is coming from you have to understand the environment. Marissa has workers producing about $350,000 in revenue. Compare this to their new choose of competition (since they are moving to be a technology company), Google, with almost $1,000,000 per worker in revenue.

What is my dear Marissa trying to accomplish here? Well obviously she thinks that her workers lack productivity. She also believes that drawing all the employees under one roof will boast creativity. Ever heard of Google Campus? Neither of these are bad ideas. The issues stem from what this move implies about the overall culture at Yahoo.

Yahoo can try all they want to emulate Google, they will fail miserably at it. Companies, particularly in the tech space have to make their own lane. In other words, they have to be individuals. Technology moves so fast that copying a competitors approach, products, atmosphere correlates to being years behind.

More importantly, Yahoo employees lack productivity and creativity. That is essentially what Marissa is telling us. She is suggesting that her employees do not make her enough money and need to be under a watchful eye. This says everything you ever wanted to know about Yahoo. These facts blatantly state that the wrong people work at Yahoo. When the wrong people work for you, fissures in the company run deep.

Have you ever heard of employees of Yahoos newfound rival Google needing a slap on the wrist for not being productive or creative enough? No you have not. Have you ever watched a fight between a trained combatant with the latest technological weaponry and an elderly woman? It is quite entertaining, so grab the popcorn and join me for this entertaining programming.

Essentially Yahoo and Marissa Meyer have put a band aid on a wound that needs immediate medical attention. By attempting to solve the problem without having a deep understanding of the actual issues at hand Marissa has just prolonged the unavoidable, Yahoos death (or Marissa’s termination).

Twitter Vs. Facebook For Dummies

86 views

Lacking a in-depth understanding of a companies, their product and their standing among competitors will only serve to lose you money. Let us take a extensive look at the social giants Twitter and Facebook.

For those of you who do not understand Twitters social function. In a basic form it shares what is happening in your world in right now… and right now. More importantly it connects people in real-time. Time stamping every action or emotion. One can think of Twitter like a news webpage, constantly updated and quickly forgotten. You read a Twitter stream once and forget about what happened in the next moment, no one spends long hours going back over what you said. Quite the contrary to the ideals of Facebook which I will go into momentarily, which focuses on a spectrum of time.  You may have tweeted thousands of times, but unless you are a potential employer hunting for some naughty info on a perspective employee, the tweets of yesteryear are lost to the abyss of the internet.

Twitter also has this lovely feature where you can take a picture and share it with the world. For example :”I am currently partaking in the gluttony of America,” followed by a picture of a plate in which you will throw away half the portion promptly. Now for those of you who are lost when it comes to the internet, first off I do not know how you got here, secondly yes another company profiteers from the picture craze. Let me hint at it for you, Facebook owns them, they lost a majority of users by attempting to monetize their users pictures. Welcome to the world of Instagram! To be honest I cannot remember who made posting a picture of your dinner important first, Twitter or Instagram, it is much like the chicken or the egg. Who came first, no one really cares. What really matters is finding out which farmer makes more money, the chicken or the egg farmer, so you can invest in them netting a hefty profit.

Now why do you care about little ole Instagram?

Well being that Instagram is owned by big brother Facebook, Instagram plays a huge role in the Twitter Facebook rivalry. Now the most significant event that has happened lately in regards to this rivalry was the exclusion of Instagram pictures from the twitter feed (yes, Instagram had a little problem with their Terms and Conditions, but that kink will work itself out). At one time you could easily scroll through twitter and see lovely Instagram photos, those days are gone, resulting in links having to be clicked and time wasted to access Instagram photos. Essentially Twitter has attempted to muscle out Instagram from its space. Those fools over there failed to realize that they had inadvertently given their users an ultimatum. Telling users to choose us or them. Have you ever given an ultimatum to someone? A wife? A son or daughter? A significant other? Yeah you know how that ends, an ultimatum, for you psychologically declined, often results in a negative response. In simple terms, give someone an ultimatum  and it never benefits you. Due to the lovely interface and lack of spam on users will choose Instagram time and time again.

Instagram is better?

Yeah I said it, for sharing those time stamped moments Instagram trumps Twitter(no real estate). Not just because a picture says a thousand words and Instagram lets you take better pictures. No, Instagram wins because not only is a picture time stamped, but a profile exists for the user. I can visit any user and scroll through all their photos effortlessly. This hugely contrasts the Twitter interface where one has to spend copious amounts of time and effort going back through a users tweets to get a decent grasp of a twitter profile.  Instagram allows for the interface of a Facebook profile without the clutter. By having a unique interface that can be expanded on Instagram also opens itself up for giant improvements and easy monetization. In basic terms, Instagram offers a better format to interact socially. As we have learned from experience from the death of Myspace and the domination of Facebook, user experience intertwined with interface is everything.

Once you have happy users on the platform you can make money off of them, lots of money.

Instagram, which I consider Facebook’s bread and butter for the future, will play a vital role in crushing Twitter. Now you are wondering, well what about vine, what about twitter pictures? Those are all well and good. Yeah, that is the extent of it. Vine is mediocre. Do you know how many video sharing apps there are and how long they have been around? Countless apps and for quite some time. The issue being that the mass market does not find recording video as desirable or as easy as pictures. Facebook for example has countless photo albums, but go take a look and see how many videos your friends have videos. Even if they are amateur producers, they put their works on YouTube or Vimeo, not Facebook. They link to their works on Facebook, do not get me wrong, one must share their cinematic works, but a format already exists (linking them on Facebook and Twitter).

Pictures are appealing because they are quick and easy. You can pick and choose in seconds if a picture looks appealing or not. Getting the right shot in a video situation takes time and effort, which many are not willing to give. No one wants to catch up with a long-lost friend and say lets Vine this, they say lets capture this image so it can last a lifetime. A picture takes a moment, a video takes about 6 seconds. Twitter has attempted to eclipse Instagram, though when it comes to this arena, there is no outmaneuvering  Do you think for a second the Instagram/Facebook team would not have utilized this if it had tested well or potentially been a traffic driver. Do not for a second think Zuck and his crew were surprised by this move. Though now they were forced to respond as depicted below. So the game continues…

It all comes back to time.  Compare the time commitment of a photo verse video, and then try to convince me who in this fast pace tech world has the time to record a movie. Do you know why SnapChat has gripped the smart phone world? The masses, they love pictures. For those of you uninformed on the matter Google search SnapChat.

On the subject of time, my last and strongest argument for Facebook revolves around time. The time one has contributed to the world of Facebook, first off will never be reimbursed (sucker), and secondly makes the benefit of deleting ones Facebook profile is dramatically outweighed by the cost of losing ones profile. Facebook has become an online staple, so do not think it is going anywhere.

Now do not get me wrong, both Twitter and Facebook (yes Instagram too) have a place in the lives of many. Focusing on the picture war may see novel, but as the battleground of 2013 the sharing of pictures will define social media. Both Twitter and Facebook will continue to serve a purpose and make money off of our consumer driven society. Though Facebook (and Instagram) offer the user a better experience which will retain more users and allow for more profiteering in the future.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2BnM2vWq-A

Photo 1 by Nouhailler

Photo 2 by clasesdeperiodismo

Afternoon Firearms Education

53 views

Though this video is a bit outdated, I thought it was worth a share. So many people are completely uneducated about firearms. Educate yourself.

An Investors Take On Windows 8

40 views

I am neither an Apple addict or a Microsoft connoisseur. All the computers in my household have a specific purpose, be it my Apple iPhone, my iMac, my Chromebook (that is in the mail), or my various windows computers. In my eyes both Windows and Apple (soon Google) play a particular role and serve consumers specific needs. Though from an investing standpoint my personal opinion and favoritism does not matter. Most American consumers have a bit over one computer (just like they have half a child statistically speaking). This means that from a standpoint of putting your money to work, only one platform really prevails and remains the driver of future growth. That being said let me tell you a bit about Windows 8.

Microsoft has effectively attempted to redesign their platform. Making the home screen the start screen (as shown above). The concept is catchy. Though the functionality is nonexistent. The result of the new approach is a platform caught between ancient Microsoft and a futuristic version based on Apple. Microsoft has attempted to take the world of the Apps to their computer, but failed in doing so. Most of the software is installed the same way it has been for 15 years. For example I searched Google Chrome on the app store and then was taken to their website, rather than being able to download it in the “App Store.” Basically the platform got lost somewhere between vision and implementation.

The biggest and most obvious misstep of the Microsoft team was failure to differentiate. Differentiate between a tablet and a desktop (or laptop) computer. Resulting  in the Windows 8 on desktops (and laptops) having an interface that would be more productive on a tablet. This lack of vision cost Microsoft the potential edge they had during this product cycle. I think that is still what separates Apple from Microsoft in this context. Apple has a similar interface for all their devices, but also the ability for each to be tiered towards that device. Microsoft has attempted to have the same approach but failed on execution. Though a Microsoft aficionado could argue that the interface on both desktops and tablets presents itself as clean and functional (though from my standpoint the two basic home screens remains odd).

Overall Windows 8 remains functional  It is a big step in the future and even took a tech guy like me a bit of getting used to. From a money standpoint the reality of the situation is hard to bear for Microsoft lovers. In an environment where other companies like Apple and Google are eating Microsoft’s lunch and using it to feed their dogs, the Windows team really needed to blow us all away. They failed to do so and once again launched an inconsistent product (that seemed rushed). Windows 8 will serve a purpose and will sell, but will fil to stop the exodus of Microsoft users to other brands.

Note: Sometime ago I mention I was excited about the launch of Windows 8 and the potential it had for Microsoft. I now disagree completely with those statements. Windows 8 was just lackluster.

My Promise

43 views

For those who have not seen the film above, hopefully this snippet serves the purpose of conveying my message. Rum Diary was a complete flop that starred Mr. Depp and focuses on an aspiring journalist. The plot centers on a moral dilemma of the main character. A dilemma choreographed as good verse evil. The evil in our current setting are those fools on the idiot box, on uneducated blogs, and those that have their best interest at heart instead of you, the reader.

IBC will open polls tonight at 12:00 A.M. I hope to see you there with my name on the ballot.

Over the past few days I have attempted to give a glimpse of the thoughts inside my head — which at times are  abstract. For those of you needing a deeper look inside my psyche, head over to my website Capital Overlook. Through my unique life experiences I see the world through a lens all of my own. Previously this lens has served to bring me across some great investing opportunities (inside and outside the market) and will do so in the future as well. Though third tier presentations are frowned upon in this establishment — and for good reason — one must hone their skills prior to playing in the big leagues. I believe my time has come to be drafted up from the minors.

For those of you who are still unfamiliar with me please take a look at what I have to offer.