Explaining Southern California's economy

Hewlett-Packard tablet reload still won't move the needle

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Former California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman was chosen to take over at Hewlett-Packard.

As you may recall, Hewlett-Packard distinguished itself in the tablet market by bringing out the TouchPad at $500 and then having to slash the price to $99 (well, BestBuy slashed the price) a little over the month later. Debacle! And this was with a reasonably nice device that ran WebOS, the superb operating system that HP picked up when it took over Palm.

Now Meg Whitman — she of the ill-fated bid for governor of California, now HP's CEO — has said that HP will introduce another tablet "before the end of this year" (Bloomberg) and that it will run Microsoft's Windows 8 OS...eventually.

Oh, also, there will be Intel chips.

It will be an HP Wintel tablet.

Hooray! What a wonderful plan! But... 

As I've written before, there is no tablet market — there's an iPad market. And the only company that's been able to take a bite out of Apple's dominance is Amazon, which with its Kindle Fire isn't selling a tablet but a tricked-out Kindle (a Kindroid) to use as leverage to get more people to purchase Amazon content.

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Facebook IPO: Three important things from the SEC filing

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a news conference at Facebook headquarters on October 6, 2010 in Palo Alto, California.

Facebook filed for an IPO with the SEC late today. I've had a chance to review the S1 document, although I didn't really dig deeply into it. That can come later. The CliffNotes version is that there aren't any huge surprises here, as far as Facebook's financials go. There are over 800 million users. The business is all about advertising, the source of almost all of Facebook's revenue. 

So what are the little surprises?

1. Facebook's future hinges on mobile. As plenty of folks have pointed out, pretty much everybody who is going to use Facebook already does — on a computer. This is where the money comes from: advertisers want to reach those people. On mobile devices, by contrast, Facebook doesn't do ads yet. There could be growth here. But mobile could also steal from Facebook's computer-bound business. From the S1:

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R.I.P, RIM?

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The infamous Blackberry.

You'd think that Research in Motion's decision to make a big change at the top, moving out co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie and replacing them with a single leader, Thorsten Heins, would mean that the Canadian maker of the BlackBerry could finally see an end to its long nightmare. The sliding share price will reverse! People will buy BlackBerrys again and maybe even...PlayBooks, the company's largely unsuccessful tablet.

And if you thought that, you'd be...wrong, at least according to PC World:

RIM has gone from dominant market leader to virtually irrelevant in a matter of a couple of years. From the outside, it doesn’t seem like RIM actually has a strategy. But, whatever strategy it has is clearly not working. Suggesting that the current plan is sound is like taking over the Titanic knowing it’s about to hit an iceberg, and consciously deciding to stay the course and see what happens.

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The state of venture capital and tech investment

TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 - Day 3

Araya Diaz/Getty Images for TechCrunch

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: (L-R) TechCrunch Founder and Co-Editor Michael Arrington,500 Startups Venture Capitalist & Founding General Partner David Mclure, Tasty Labs Co-Founder and CEO Aydin Senkut, Freestyle Capital Founding Partner Josh Felser, SoftTech VC Managing Partner Jeff Clavier, and SV Angel angel investor Ron Conway speak onstage at Day 3 of TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2011 held at the San Francisco Design Center Concourse on September 14, 2011 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Araya Diaz/Getty Images for TechCrunch)

If you aren't reading Fred Wilson, you should. He's a venture capitalist who runs Union Square Ventures in New York and regularly writes about being a VC at his aptly named blog, AVC. Many people who are pondering the woeful state of the U.S. economy are looking to tech as something that may lead us out of the woods. Problem is, tech costs money. And tech is extremely competitive. And there's been some discussion of late that VCs are having trouble raising money to fund new companies.

Wilson breaks it down. Here's what I think is his most interesting point:

5) The internet investing market is transitioning. Social was the driving force for the past three or four years. In the wake of Facebook and Twitter, how could it not be? Mobile has also been a hot theme. Both sectors have consolidated a few winners and a number of additional interesting emerging companies. But how many social platforms of scale will there be? Five, ten, twenty? And mobile is hard because distribution continues to be limited to the app store model where you get on the leaderboard and win or you don't and you don't. Investors are moving into new areas like cloud, peer to peer marketplaces, and trying to take what worked in consumer into the enterprise. There is no lack of interest in internet investing, but investors are having to learn new markets and new sectors. And that kind of transition takes the heat out of an overheated market.

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