Monday, December 15, 2014

Financial Sarcasm Roundup for 12/15/14

This particular batch of sarcasm uses the Commonwealth Club "Week to Week Political Roundtable" event for inspiration.  I attended that panel tonight and listened to local journalists hold forth on some newsworthy events.  I will address a few of those events below, laden with sarcasm that no one else in the financial sector can deliver.

The Salesforce Foundation is pushing its Pledge 1% program to startups.  I first heard about this philosophy at Dreamforce 2013.  It's hard for me to be sarcastic about something so generous, but I'm pretty sure only later stage startups or early-stage VC-funded startups have a chance of fulfilling the pledge. Any startups who can afford such a commitment are welcome to check out the official Pledge 1% site.  The startups that make it work will somehow leverage their donations and employee contacts into new revenue streams.  It's really a wake-up call for sharp CMOs to tie non-profit relationships into their marketing channels.  If some employee's volunteer hours with the local soup kitchen merits a business development follow-up that closes some ERP software sales, then it's bonus time all around.

Uber has earned itself two more black eyes, first for charging surge pricing during the Sydney hostage crisis and then for one of its executives disputing something trivial with a landlord.  Their PR head must be fuming.  I recently blogged about Silicon Valley's jerk culture but no one with serious money seems to care.  Facebook and Microsoft both had significant growing pains as they achieved monopolistic control of their sectors.  They got over those episodes by bringing in experienced senior executives who grew up in other corporate cultures.  Uber desperately needs an outsider to make a cultural hairpin turn before this taxi hits a guardrail.

The "cromnibus" federal spending bill is through Congress and headed to the President's desk.  In case you missed it, the name is a hybrid of an "omnibus" normal appropriations bill and a "continuing resolution" for stopgap funding.  It contained a special gift for Wall Street by weakening Dodd-Frank rules.  The important lesson for the financial sector is that Washington still isn't serious about restoring fiscal sanity, regulating Wall Street, or enacting the entitlement reforms pushed by the Bowles-Simpson commission.  The Alfidi Capital investment thesis of a severe US financial crisis triggering a hyperinflationary policy response remains unchanged.

I can't close this roundup without shaking my head at the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA's interrogation practices.  A lot of this has been in the public domain for years.  Collecting it into an accusatory summary after much of what it describes has already been reformed will needlessly embarrass the intelligence professionals charged with implementing further reforms.  Social justice warriors who relish the chance to humiliate security professionals have no understanding of international relations.  The US intelligence community has a long memory.  I am not being sarcastic at all.