May 31, 2010

Yahoo-Nokia marriage

A week or so ago Yahoo and Nokia announced that they had struck a global deal pursuant to which Yahoo will power email, search and chat on Nokia's mobile devices, while Nokia will provide mapping services for all Yahoo's navigation products.

A see this agreement more like a defensive move. Why? Simply put because both Yahoo and Nokia lost their momentum in their respective core markets long ago. Google has definitely beat Yahoo in the search/advertising battle, while Nokia is seeing how Blackberry, iPhone and Android keep eroding market share from it in smartphones every single year ( I still remember the days when I wanted nothing but a Nokia it clearly trails the other three OS).

Though both Yahoo and Nokia still serve millions of customers around the world, this seems to me like an emergency solution.

May 30, 2010

The essence of basketball

Yesterday the Lakers beat the Suns in the 6th game of the NBA's Western Conference Finals. Since the Celtics smashed the Magic in their series, that means that the "final of the finals" is back for the second time in three years.

I have not been very tuned to the NBA this season, mainly because the time difference does not play in my favor (the best way to follow it is by watching games rather than by reading articles and watching the highlights). But now is the time to get back to business.

From a business perspective I am sure that Mr. Stern and the rest of the NBA's management will have a spark in their eyes. No better scenario than a Lakers-Celtics final to gain momentum and to keep on milking the NBA brand around the world (in particular following Lebron's defeat).

I've always been a Laker fan, as far as I can remember. I did love Magic Johnson and that turned me into a Laker fan forever. Needless to say, when Pau Gasol signed for the Lakers such a feeling was re-boosted. On the contrary - and maybe precisely because I am a Laker - I do not like the Celtics at all. Never have and characters such as KG and Paul Pierce are not the kind of guys who will make me think differently.

Let's see how all this plays out. A couple of years ago the Celtics were way stronger and deserved to win. Let's see if Kobe, Pau, Lamar, Ron and the rest of the crew kick ass out there in the coming weeks.

May 28, 2010

Privacy is in fashion

Internet users' privacy has always been a concern. That is obvious and reasonable. It must not be allowed that companies do whatever they want with the data they might gather. Over the past couple of weeks, significant outcry has raised against two giants such as Google and Facebook.

Google has faced trouble in countries such as Ireland and Germany. Apparently, Google gathered data from unencrypted wifi  networks while getting info for location-based products from its Street View cars. The Irish authorities have forced Google to delete all the collected data and Google has met that demands quickly and has confirmed through a public statement .

On the other hand, Facebook has experienced the last of its many incidents concerning the use of its users' private information. I am quite an avid Facebook user and I must admit that I have never paid super detailed attention to my Facebook privacy controls beyond the people I share pics and information with. The other day, after reading about Mark Zuckerberg explanations (how many so far!!) on the Washington Post I went to my Facebook's settings and they are a mess and hard to understand. Zuckerberg acknowledges that, though people are willing to share information (but with the people they want to, not necessarily with third parties, I'd say!!!!!), they want simpler privacy controls and claims that Facebook has heard such feedback from users and that some changes will be introduced shortly. Well, this sounds to me like the same old story. It is the "n-time" that Zuckerberg goes out there to apologize/explain their treatment of users' data. C'mon guys, enough, just do what you have to do (i.e. all settings should be "private" and "opt-in" by default) at once. I understand that Facebook might need such information to monetize its audience through third parties but this is not the right way to do it.

These have been to of latest stories about privacy. Rest assured it they won't be the last.

May 26, 2010


I need to catch up with my writing. I have been most busy over the past two or three weeks but I hope I am gonna have some more time in the coming weeks. Wait and see.

Today is a remarkable and quite meaningful day in the tech era. It signals the change in trends that many have predicted long ago. Apple has become larger than Microsoft.  By today's closing bell Microsoft's market cap was $219bn vs that of Apple's of $222bn

The chart below shows the evolution of both stocks and the Nasdaq over the last 10 years. Apple's stock has skyrocketed and the return over 10 years has been 1000%. On the other hand, if I had put my money on Microsoft, today I'd have less money in absolute terms (and let's leave the time value of money aside).

But what I find most shocking is how similar the Nasdaq's and Microsoft 's trendlines look. It's pretty much the same since 2004!! Microsoft has had a very profitable business over this period of time but, still, it has not been able to beat the index.

This situation confirms Apple's health: the iPhone, the iPod, the increasing clout of macbooks. Apple is a company that is in fashion and so many people love it. Microsoft, despite being very profitable yet, has lost its mojo and there are many doubts about some of its businesses (operating system/explorer, search/bing, mobile, etc.).

Simply put, if you were given the chance to work at Apple or at Microsoft, what would you do?

May 3, 2010

Keeping an eye on my money

A couple of days ago I signed up for Moneystrands. Moneystrands is an application that allows you to oversee your personal finances from one single location. The application retrieves information from your bank and centralizes all that input on your application's "desktop", allowing you to see both how much and in what you spend your money and where your income is coming from.  The application also allows you to get recommendations and set alerts.

Before coming back to Spain from the U.S. I remember reading a lot about Mint, a similar service that won a number of awards and that was widely acclaimed by the start-up community. I had tried to use Mint at some point but I noticed that it only works with US banks for the time being.

Moneystrands is one of the diverse initiatives of Strands, a venture built around social recommendations and of Spaniard origins - the founder and CEO is Francisco Martin, a Barcelona-born scientist - with a significant footprint in the US already.  Strands has raised around $55m so far and VC firm Debaque as well BBVA and Spaniard businessman Antonio Asensio, are the investors of reference.

I have only been using Moneystrands for a few days. It is entertaining to play around with it and see in a simple and efficient way how you manage your personal finances. Nonetheless, I am missing some stuff here so far.

- I'd like the system to be able to access my credit card information. Right now that is not possible and one can only track such monthly payments as a single item, which leads to somewhat misleading information

- it would be useful to keep track of your stock, investment funds, ETFs, etc

But all in all, Moneystrands works fine and it is really easy yo use.