Explaining Southern California's economy

Raspberry Pi and the advent of the $100 tablet

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Apple's new iBooks 2 app is demonstrated for the media on an iPad at an event in the Guggenheim Museum January 19, 2012 in New York City.

Over at Fred Wilson's AVC blog, he writes about the gangbusters success of the Raspberry Pi, a very rudimentary Linux-based $35 computer that has no display or keyboard but can be plugged into a TV. And he comes to two striking conclusions, in as few words as possible:

When the cost of tablet displays comes down, which they will, I think we'll see sub $100 tablets. And I suspect that will happen in the next 3-5 years.

For markets that can be end to end digital, like education, this is a game changer.

Let's tackle his first point: a sub-$100 tablet. This is a disaster for Apple (keep an eye out for my post later today about how Apple can and can't get to $1,000 a share). Cupertino needs to defend its pricing model at all costs. As I've written before, price is the most important thing for Apple — not innovation or design. In fact, I'd argue that pricing, specifically pricing for a 30-percent profit margin, is Apple biggest innovation. At least of the Steve Jobs Second Act Apple.


Andrew Breitbart: Death of a Los Angeles media mogul

Occupy Los Angeles

Grant Slater/ KPCC

Conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart argues with Occupy Los Angeles protesters in this on November 27, 2011.

Love him or hate him — and there never seemed to any middle ground — the news that Andrew Breitbart had died suddenly at the age of 43 sent the Los Angeles media world into shock. Los Angeles, unlike New York, doesn't really do media (it does, of course, but not at the same frenzied level). And although Breitbart's legion of detractors pointed to his despicable opportunism and seeming lack of an ethical compass that would enable him to take a moderate approach toward...well, anything, they nevertheless had to concede that he had built a minor media empire in the West, after stints with Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington, two other Left Coast media moguls. 

He built up a group of sites that all bluntly targeted what he considered leftist institutions: Breitbart.com, Breitbart.tv, Big Government, Big Hollywood, and Big Peace. Detect a theme there? The ironic thing of course was that Breitbart himself was pretty big, in the sense of being outsized and outspoken (he also didn't lack for physical presence). Tucker Carlson, who knew Breitbart pretty well, had some very nice things to say about the man (see below) — including a bemused yet melancholy recollection of how challenging it could be to get a word in edgewise when talking, or attempting, to talk to him.


Ron Paul v. Ben Bernanke: Is that a silver dollar in your pocket?

The most entertaining episode from Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee this morning came — Surprise! — when Texas Republican and GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul launched into one of his patented long-winded spiels about the evils of the Fed, the senselessness of fiat currencies, and the value of "real" money: silver and gold.

Bernanke took it all in stride. The video above doesn't have reaction shots that are quite as good as this shorter broadcast from ABC, so check them both out. You have to hand it to Bernanke, he seems to enjoy the roastings he gets from Paul, in strange sort of way. And he fires back, ever so gently, at Paul's allegations that we're experiencing 9 percent inflation (according to older pricing measures) when the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says it's only around 4. (They've been here before.)


Yammer: Nah, let's not do the IPO


The enterprise social network that will do anything to avoid an IPO.

With the frenzy surrounding Facebook's impending initial public offering later this year, you'd think that every startup ultimately wants to do that IPO voodoo. Not so. In fact, it's not clear that Facebook even wants to go public. It's just that it has to many private shareholders now that the SEC is kind of forcing it to. San Francisco-based Yammer is a similar if not exactly quite as lucrative story. Yammer is a sort of Twitter for business — an "enterprise social network." And it just secured a new $85 million venture round. Which it's thinking of as a virtual IPO. The best kind, as it means you don't have to do the actual IPO.

Even better, the business is starting to boom. This is from Forbes:

A few years ago many companies were skeptical of enterprise social networking, now it’s become much more common. Now the industry is in a land grab phase, Sacks says. “Five to ten years from now every company will have an internal social network and maybe an external one as well,” he says. “Five years from now not having a social network in a company will be like not having email or phones.”


My favorite quote from the big New Yorker Davos piece

Remy Steinegger/Flickr

DAVOS-KLOSTERS/SWITZERLAND, 31JAN09 - Peter Gleick, President, Pacific Institute, USA, speaks during the session 'The Politics of Water' at the Annual Meeting 2009 of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, January 31, 2009...Copyright by World Economic Forum.swiss-image.ch/Photo by Remy Steinegger

It's already been widely blogged about, but I'll throw my two cents in. Nick Paumgarten has a lengthy article in the March 5 New Yorker about his first trip to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. It's something of a picaresque, in the sense that Paumgarten seems to take it all about half seriously and hangs out with a fair number of Davos attendees who might not fit Samuel Huntington's classic definition of Davos Man. But that's the social-whirl-party-down-oh-look-it's-Chelsea-Clinton aspect. 

It's fine, but there are some more interesting parts. Here's my personal favorite:

I walked into a panel one morning in time to hear Kumi Naidoo, the South African human-rights activist who now serves as the executive director of Greenpeace, intone, melodiously, “Those in power ignore the growing frustration and desperation at their own peril.”

Naidoo had been to Davos eleven times, the first eight as the secretary-general of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. “When I came in that capacity, I never could get a C.E.O. to talk to me,” he told me later. “I used to follow them into the toilet. I met Bill Clinton in 2003, when we were standing next to each other at the urinals. When I came as Greenpeace, two years ago, I was amazed how keen they were to meet me. A C.E.O. told me, ‘Some of my peers are eager to have you at their table so they won’t be on your menu.’ ”

He went on, “The problem here is the preference for incremental thinking—baby steps. They talk more about system recovery than about system design.” [my emphasis]