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Comment: Re:Comparable? Not really. (Score 1) 108

by tlambert (#47961799) Attached to: Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?

Yeah, there's long term downside risk to the stock as a straight financial instrument (along with significant historical upside), but you know what? I don't really feel the need to destroy things just because that's they path to my highest ROI over time.

Which leads the question, how do we force management to stop aiming at short-term decisions that destroy companies/greater profits over the longer period?

My personal suggestion? Keep investors away from decisions impacting the day to day operations of the company. One good way of accomplishing this is having two classes of stock, voting and non-voting, and keeping the voting stock in the hands of people who care about the long term interests of the company. :)

Comment: Limits of included browser (Score 0) 407

by tepples (#47960939) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?
Apple includes such an app with iOS and calls it Safari. But Safari has what appear to be deliberate limits in the subset of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript APIs that are supported. Apple refuses to support WebGL in web pages, and last time I checked, it was impossible to upload any data type other than photos or videos to a web form.

Comment: Re: Alright smart guy (Score 2) 407

by tepples (#47960519) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?
Free software doesn't solve everything if the software isn't free in the first place. Mobile SoC drivers are rarely entirely free software, often for regulatory reasons (to comply with national RF emission requirements on the cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth radios) or because GPUs are still a patent and trade secret minefield.

Comment: The problem is the Windows 98 SP2 effect. (Score 2) 407

by tlambert (#47960487) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Is iOS 8 a Pig?

Apple devices "degrade" with OS updates in the same way that Windows updates do on PCs, gradually. But even after an Apple starts no being upgradeable to the latest OS release, it stays useful for years to come. My mother is still using my hand-me-down 2002 desk-lamp iMac, which has the old PowerPC processor.

The problem is the Windows 98 SP2 effect.

The last service pack supporting Windows 98 turned it from a usable system into utter buggy crashing heap of crap, at coincidentally the same time they started trying to sell you Windows XP.

Note that generally I don't think this is an intention destruction of usability on the part of Microsoft (or Apple), I just think that all their testing takes place on newer hardware, better than what the user is actually using, and so the usability test engineers just never see how terrible it's going to be on (nominally) supported older devices.

Comment: Re:Comparable? Not really. (Score 1) 108

by tlambert (#47958755) Attached to: Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?

When someone buys a share in Apple, they actually get an ownership share in Apple.

Apple, yes. Google or Facebook, no. Google and Facebook have two classes of stock. The class with all the voting rights is in both cases controlled by the founders. The publicly traded shares cannot outvote them, even if someone bought all of them.

Until recently, multiple classes of stock were prohibited for NYSE-listed companies, which tended to discourage doing this. (The classic exception was Ford, which has two classes of stock, the voting shares controlled by the Ford family. This predates that NYSE rule.)

This matters when the insiders make a big mistake and the stock starts going down. There's no way to kick them out.

It also matters when someone has built something of value, and then becomes publicly traded, since it keeps the financial vampires from descending on the company and sucking the blood out of it, leaving a husk which dies in 6 months. That's what's currently going on with the OliveGarden proxy fight, where a funds group has acquired a large position in the company, and now wants to spin off the real estate holdings to a separate company (taking about $1B in the $2.5B value portfolio as a one time dividend, and putting in their own sock puppets on the board to short-term pump the stock by changing employee mix, etc.).

The problem with Google and Facebook maintaining one class of stock is ISOs/RSUs. Stock given as incentives to employees, after the vesting period, can be sold on the open market, and if that stock position becomes larger than the founders, then the people who made the decisions that created the large value in the first place are no longer in control, and Gordon Gecko (or Carl Icahn) can come in and do what's best short term for the shareholders, rather than what's best long term for the shareholders, company, employees, and customers.

Who do I trust more to make the best decisions not totally motivated by short term profit, Carl Icahn, or Larry, Sergey, and Eric?

Yeah, there's long term downside risk to the stock as a straight financial instrument (along with significant historical upside), but you know what? I don't really feel the need to destroy things just because that's they path to my highest ROI over time.

For better or worse, I'd rather have the founders, not Wall Street, making the decisions that guide the future of the thing they built.

Comment: Re:Place of Business. (Score 4, Insightful) 108

by tlambert (#47957359) Attached to: Is Alibaba Comparable To a US Company?

If a US company listed in the US decided to screw its shareholders, it and the board can be held accountable in US courts.

LOL, when has that ever happened

It's happened many times; it's called "malfeasance" or "misconduct", and it's punishable as criminal fraud.

This is why corporate board members these days are all about "fiduciary responsibility", even if they have to club baby seals to death in the shallow waters where they are coated in oil from the Exxon Valdez.

Comment: This is why you outsource manufacturing. (Score 1) 375

by tlambert (#47955059) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

This is why you outsource manufacturing.

Outsource to a big company like Foxconn or Solectron that has already invested in all the expensive equipment and processes (in both cases, some of it actually paid for by Apple), and have them do your manufacturing for you.

The incremental cost ends up pretty tiny, relative to COGS, and you get a better finished product at only a fractionally higher cost than if you were stupid enough to do your own manufacturing. The argument in the article only holds up if you are stupidly building the widgets yourself.

Comment: "How do you explain..." (Score 1) 375

by tlambert (#47955035) Attached to: Why You Can't Manufacture Like Apple

"How do you explain..."

I don't really follow Microsoft acquisitions enough to speculate on their reasoning, but the Facebook reasoning was pretty obviously that the WhatsApp company cost (predominantly non-US) telephone companies $19B in per-SMS charged revenue over a period of 2 years, and it therefore gave Facebook some incredible leverage with those phone companies to make the purchase in such a way that a small group of phone companies couldn't drive WhatsApp out of business by increasing data costs to compensate (which would hurt Facebook.

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