Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Verizon Writes Down Oath | Lefsetz Letter

You’d like to believe the people, mostly men, running America’s companies know more than you do.

Now I’m not so sure.

Did anybody think that Yahoo had value? Or AOL? If you haven’t switched to Gmail, the joke is on you. There’s been no investment in AOL’s e-mail product in seemingly a decade. Change your address now, because chances are you’re not getting all your e-mail.

But I am getting all my phone calls, texts and e-mail on Verizon. Unlike many Americans, I’m willing to pay for the best. And if you believe Verizon is not, you’ve been convinced by advertising, i.e. fake news, or you subscribe to a competing service and don’t want to admit you’re wrong. It’s kinda like driving a Hyundai and being convinced you’re driving a Mercedes-Benz. Then again, those Genesis models are pretty good. America is the land of delusion, where bedrock is unfindable, our whole country is shaking, possibly from fracking. Hierarchy is abhorred, everybody believes they can be a star, and the winners don’t want to sacrifice, nobody in the U.S. wants to sacrifice anymore, you can’t take away their jobs, you can’t make them drive fuel-efficient automobiles, they’ve got to be free to leave the lights on and pollute the air. America is full of adolescents, parading under the banner of FREEDOM! No one gets to be that free, no one gets to do whatever they want all the time, unless they run a Fortune 500 company.

These overpaid nincompoops make one mistake after another, and the Street is too stupid to know what’s going on. Look at the valuations of Uber and Tesla, meanwhile, Warren Buffett is investing in railroads. And somehow, the titans of wireless believe they can become entertainment companies.

We saw this movie once already, when Andy Lack was imported to run Sony Music, because there needed to be order and the music business is run by unprofessional know-nothings who need to be taught a lesson. No, Andy Lack needed to be taught a lesson, and after the rootkit fiasco, he was booted.

The CEO who built Verizon Wireless is long gone, and those who’ve followed in his seat have been so inured to Wall Street that they’ve lost their senses. Does ANYBODY think AOL has value? How about Yahoo?

But Verizon overpaid for those properties. The last bungle this stupid is when HP bought Palm.

AOL was training wheels for the internet, and after you could ride on two wheels, you gave it up. As for Tim Armstrong and his advertising strategy, he was proven a snake oil salesman long before the acquisition, why did Verizon take the bait? Oh, it needed an advertising system, one which never quite worked, to go along with the backward one acquired via Yahoo.

Some products deserve to die, some are superseded. But there always seems to be a mark willing to invest, to grow that which no amount of water and sunshine, and dollars, will ever make live again.

Like the BlackBerry believers. When I see one of those devices in the wild, I laugh. And it’s always carried along with an iPhone. As if the owner cannot type on glass. Hell, I can type faster on glass than I ever could with smartphone keys.

But you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, and youngsters keep eating the world.

That’s the story of Facebook and Google. How they took the ill-formed executions of concepts, social media and search, and refined and built upon them. Facebook switches from desktop to mobile nearly overnight, and Verizon buys dead properties. Hell, give me some of that $4.5 billion, you’re playing with my money, my rates only go up!

But no, the titans of industry believe they’re entitled to their salaries.

But the truth is they’re so locked in their silos they don’t know what is going on. Why didn’t they ask their children about AOL and Yahoo, after all children are our future, the customers coming. But NO, they know better, like the MBAs and Excel experts who never built anything. Isn’t it funny that the biggest corporations were built by college dropouts, maybe they got out before the educational system depleted their creativity. It’s conformity all the time. Meanwhile, we’re led by those thinking outside the box. When you hear about coal and the rest of the retro crap dismiss the speaker, because the future is coming down the pike and what’s successful today may be forgotten tomorrow. Does anybody want a Debbie Gibson CD?

My parents kept on telling me someone else knew better, that I wasn’t up to the game. But the longer I live it seems like we live in a nation of Ozzes, and they’re anything but wizards. They’ve been taught how to read a financial statement, yet they know nothing about the real world.

Verizon, the next time you want to buy something, call me first, I can save you a boatload of cash!


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