I am loving the Whole Foods debacle. The CEO kept a yahoo finance message board alias for seven years, and used it to promote himself, Whole Foods, and occasionally attack his competitor, Wild Oats Markets. Message Board posters are constantly accusing each other of being “paid pumpers” or “paid bashers” or secretly working for a competitor. 99.99% of the time, these conspiracy theories are completely ridiculous. But now, thanks to Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, we can expect message board conspiracy theories to live on for quite a while.
I own Apple both in my personal portfolio, and the portfolio I manage. But I definitely had my doubts as to how many people would actually want to spend $499 to buy a phone. And I’ve wondered if Apple stock will take a break now that we’ve finally reached the release date.
Well, a friend of mine went to the Apple store today to get her computer fixed, and said it was mobbed like a rock concert. Four hour lines to sign up for iPhone service. Will be interesting to follow Apple stock this quarter.
Finding buried treasure in stocks that find, well, buried treasure
In March a friend humorously pointed me to Admiralty Holding Company (ADMH), a sad little penny stock for a company that searches for buried treasure on sunken ships. It sounded like a ridiculous investment. So I was surprised last week when a similar company, Odyssey Marine Exploration (OMR), rocketed up 80% to $7.38 when it discovered buried treasure.
Odyssey Marine Exploration claims to have discovered a Colonial period shipwreck with over 500,000 silver coins weighing more than 17 tons, hundreds of gold coins, worked gold, and other artifacts located in an undisclosed location somewhere in the Atlantic. The claims appear to have some legitimacy, as the Spanish Government is already suing Odyssey, claiming the treasure must belong to the Spanish crown. Presumably, the Spanish will allow Odyssey to keep some of the booty in exchange for their troubles. OMR shares closed down 20 cents, or 3% on news of the Spanish lawsuit today.
WallStrip has a nice interview with Jimmy Wales today, and Howard Lindzon promises to release a longer version of the interview this weekend (note: those of you reading this blog in certain aggregators/feeds may not be able to see the video below).
I had no idea Wales used to be a derivatives trader:
On Monday ValueWiki blogged that Wallstrip was being acquired by CBS for $5 million. I asked Howard for comfirmation and he did briefly respond to say “no comment.”
Thousands of Apple employees received a phony email today announcing the iPhone would be delayed through October, and Leopard would be delayed through January. Engadget scooped the story at 11:49am, and by noon, Apple stock crashed $4.
Original Apple email
From: Bullet News
Date: May 16, 2007 9:09 AM CDT
Subject: Mac OS X Leopard and iPhone Delayed
Mac OS X Leopard Delayed Until January
iPhone Delayed Until October
REGIONS: Asia-Pacific, Canada, Europe, Japan, Latin America, United States
GROUPS: AppleCare, Retail
Apple issued a press release today announcing that iPhone which was scheduled to ship in June, has been moved to October and the release date for Mac OS X Leopard has been moved to January next year. A beta version of Mac OS X Leopard will be given to developers at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).
Apple email retraction
Date: May 16, 2007 10:47 AM CDT
Subject: NEWS: Disregard Bullet*News Sent May 16 at Approximately 9 a.m. Central–AP/CA/EU/JP/LA/US
You may have received what appeared to be a Bullet*News from Apple. This communication is fake and did not come from Apple.
The Power of Blogs
Message Boards are in a frenzy, calling for Engadget’s head. But it seems quite clear Engadget did nothing wrong, and retracted the story as soon as Apple issued a correction to its employees. The real story here is in the power of blogs. A single post from Engadget can rock Apple stock, and prompt a sell-off of millions of shares within minutes. This is a power the MSM, with its traditional news cycle, simply does not have.
Jossip.com is reporting this story, which was soon echoed by TechCrunch. The trouble is, Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures claims he didn’t broker the deal, and didn’t invest $500,000 in the company either.
Despite Fred Wilson’s public denials and corrections, James Altrucher, who recently sold StockPickr to TheStreet.com, seems to think the story is genuine. Jossip claims the story will be broken early this week, possibly Monday. I’ll put in an email to Howard Lindzon.
In the meantime, you can watch Fred Wilson on WallStrip to read his body language for subliminal clues. He does call WallStrip the “next big thing!”
Update 8:30am Monday: Howard says…”No comment.”
Here is ShoeMoney’s post from December, 2006 10 Reasons Why Microsoft Will Acquire Yahoo in 2007. Reading through his reasons, this deal does seem like a no brainer. Microsoft has missed the boat on internet advertising so many times, in so many ways. Whereas the Yahoo Publisher Network gets top praise for the industry.
I’m Going to Miss Yahoo
It weird to think I’ve had my Yahoo email account for a decade. It’s also weird to realize how assiduously I have avoided ever using a Microsoft product. Perhaps this is terribly immature or anachronistic, but I still harbor resentment for the Microsoft brand for all the shady business ethics of the 80’s and 90’s. If Yahoo becomes a branch of the Evil Empire, I wonder if I will feel compelled to finally make Netvibes or iGoogle my homepage, transfer all my email over to Gmail, and move my Flickr account. Seems like a lot of work.
On a seperate note, Google seems to be taking the place of Microsoft in aggressively competing with every small startup on the web. Whether it’s YourMinis or Zoho, it seems Google’s army of engineers will find a way to outfund and outdevelop independent entrepreneurs. My friends at Google tell me their policy is to hire any and all talented developers regardless of job openings, simply to take them off the marketplace and bring them in house.
Google is no longer the perceived underdog to Microsoft, or to anyone really. Will be interesting to see how they maintain their positive public image while building internet hegemony. Will Google remember to “Don’t be Evil?”