Explaining Southern California's economy

California's fading 'Facebook Effect'

Facebook Sets IPO Price At 38 Dollars A Share

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A poster is seen below a message board that is announcing Facebook's IPO price in Times Square on May 17 in New York City. The stock is now trading well below its $38 open.

I'm getting to this a bit later than planned, but that's okay, because Facebook's share price hasn't done much but go down, down, down for the past few weeks. Observers are even beginning to ask a once un-askable question: Should CEO Mark Zuckerberg be replaced?

Facebook has rallied a bit this morning, recovering from an all-time post-IPO low of $18.75. The company is currently in the throes of the slow-motion end of it's "lockup" period — through next year, early investors and Facebook employees will be able to sell shares in the firm. 

The state of California is facing a gigantic budget deficit and has been counting on revenue from the sale of those shares — which are taxed as capital gains — to ease some of the pain. Prior to the Facebook IPO, the Legislative Analyst's Office (LOA) said that California could anticipate a revenue windfall related to investors and employees cashing out. 

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Mars Curiosity v. SpaceX: Running the numbers

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Grant Slater/KPCC

Members of the project leadership team pass out high fives to engineers from mission control before a press conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Sunday night. At $2.5 billion, the Curiosity mission equals what NASA has given to SpaceX in funding.

KPCC reporters had been talking to Southland scientists and engineers and counting down the days until NASA's most ambitious rover yet — Curiosity — prepares to land on the Martian surface. Follow the series online.


The spectacular success of JPL in landing the Mars Curiosity rover on Mars last night followed hot of the heels of SpaceX's stunning demonstration that a commercial spaceflight company — and a startup, no less — could do what only governments had been able to do: send a capsule to the International Space Station and bring it back home.

The JPL rocket scientists in their now iconic powder-blue polo shirts (not to mention mohawks) and SpaceX's engineers in their L.A. casual-cool mission control room threads formed a vivid contrast with the buttoned-up (and tobacco-friendly) NASA vibe of old. Something new is definitely in the air, er...airless void of space, and much of it is being designed and built in Southern California. SpaceX is headquartered in Hawthorne, just south of L.A, and JPL calls Pasadena home.

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Facebook Effect, we hardly knew ye!

Facebook Debuts As Public Company With Initial Public Offering On NASDAQ Exchange

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The share price of newly debuted Facebook stock is seen at the Nasdaq stock market moments after it went public on May 18, 2012. The company still hasn't seen the share price climb back to IPO levels.

Remember the so-called "Facebook Effect?" That was the tax windfall that California was expected to get as a result of the Facebook IPO creating a legion of overnight millionaires. It was identified back in January.

According the Mercury News, "Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers in June approved a $91 billion budget that included $1.9 billion in expected tax revenue from Facebook employees striking it rich — a rare projection that helped stave off cuts to schools and programs for the sick, poor and disabled."

Now the LAO says that "a big chunk of the extra state revenue" — hundreds of millions — "resulting from the IPO won't materialize" if Facebook's share price doesn't reverse its current downward diving trend (it made a decent start today, ascending more than 8 percent in midday trading, but it's still way below its IPO opening price of $38).

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DeBord Report on 'America Now with Andy Dean,' July 27 edition

Andy Dean Banner

Listen in to the DeBord Report, from last Friday's segment.

Listen in to my weekly business and economy segment with the exceptionally well-prepared Andy Dean (we actually discuss how well-prepared he is during the segment). We spend some time at the top discussing the lousy growth numbers that the government put out last week, then we segue into a conversation about the worsening drought in the U.S. The second topic really disturbs me because the agricultural sector has been doing well in the sluggish recovery we're experiencing. The other heroic player has been the auto industry. But if farmers struggle, we'll lose that positive story (in a sea of negative stories), and that's not good.

We also get into Facebook and its increasing troubles. And Andy raises a good point about CEO Mark Zuckerberg not quite bringing it in the new world of Facebook as a public company.

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Facebook earnings: The postgame analysis

Facebook Sets IPO Price At 38 Dollars A Share

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Facebook got crushed in trading after its first earnings report since its IPO.

Facebook's IPO was a disaster and its first-ever earnings report didn't really make the situation much better. The company basically met Wall Street's modest expectations, but nonetheless the core executive team — CEO Mark Zuckerberg, COO Sheryl Sandberg, and COO David Ebersman — didn't clam investors fears about the company's future. And so it was crushed in after hours trading and was knocked down more than 10 percent in trading today.

When the dust cleared, Facebook, which IPO'd at more than a $100-billion market cap, was a company with just north of a $50-billion market cap.

Ouch!

I went on "AirTalk" with guest host David Lazarus to talk about Facebook's recent misfortunes. Listen up and tell me what you think. Is Facebook with us for long haul? Or has the slide toward irrelevance begun? If the latter, then this company could be the biggest Internet economy bust of all time. 

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