Jim Gaffigan with a Manatee at the Ohio State Fair.
h/t to B. Metz for sharing the photo.
Jim Gaffigan with a Manatee at the Ohio State Fair.
h/t to B. Metz for sharing the photo.
Of all the ballyhoo over the Initial Public Offering of Facebook, one thing has largely escaped the media’s coverage of supposedly the “biggest tech IPO of our lifetime.” Shareholder proposals.
It was a bad day for NASDAQ, as there were major delays in everyone (including the author) wanting to get in on the action. After a day of trading, Facebook closed the day up a whopping $.23 per share. For me, I just wanted to buy one share. Then I worried (irrationally) that the stock price would go up by a jazillion percent, leaving me penniless at margin call. I think I have watched Trading Places one too many times in recent years.
So, I cancelled my order. Or so I thought. Around 5:30, Sharebuilder confirmed I got my share at $39.05. I mean, I wanted one share for the novelty of voting. I don’t have the liquid assets to by 2,345 shares like my friend Richard did. I don’t know if I’ll get to keep my one share or not, and I really don’t care.
But what strange future does the IPO of Facebook bring? Potentially a series of highly controversial shareholder initiatives. There are bad ways to respond to stupid proposals by, say, liberal Catholic nuns, and then there are awesome ways to respond. Insert T.J. Rodgers, who concluded his amazing smackdown to a snooty letter from a nun with:
Cypress stands for personal and economic freedom, for free minds and free markets, a position irrevocably in opposition to the immoral attempt by coercive utopians to mandate even more government control over America’s economy. With regard to our shareholders who exercise their right to vote according to a social agenda, we suggest that they reconsider whether or not their strategy will do net good — after all of the real costs are considered.
Google, while not a direct competitor of Facebook, has already faced some of the same problems — and come out, often times, on the losing end (China, anyone?). It is instructive to look at some of the shareholder proposals (which rarely succeed) Google has had to deal with. In 2007, shareholders of Google, including me, voted down an anti-censorship proposal that, as PCWorld describes, would “have stopped Google from engaging in self-censorship.”
Earlier this month, Bristol-Myers Squibb had a shareholder proposal from PETA supporters, that according to AP would require the company to “publicly report on its handling of laboratory animals and to seek other ways to test experimental drugs.” That proposal also failed.
A 1995 paper by April Klein and John Klose, Shareholder Proposals and Corporate Governance, concluded that:
“We find the likelihood of a firm being the target of one or more corporate governance shareholders to be significantly related to firm performance, the size of the firm, and the likelihood that the firm’s board will be sympathetic to changes in shareholders’ rights…. We hypothesize that the votes are determined by the costs and benefits to shareholders associated with voting for or against these proposals.”
Can you imagine Mark Zuckerberg, who has reportedly ruled Facebook with an iron fist, being receptive to conservative, liberal, and crazy groups using his company to make a point? Or absent a point, seriously trying to change the company he created?
For all intents and purposes, Mark Zuckerberg may not be like how he was portrayed in the 2010 film The Social Network. In fact, somebody I know who went to college with him once told me he’s not a terrible person. And she is actually friends with Zuckerburg on Facebook, so I believe her.
However, the potential for zany shareholder proposals, like the internet, is pretty broad. Bullied kid commits suicide? Let’s make Facebook do something. Hateful comments that make you oppose free speech? Let’s make Facebook do something. Trouble with free speech in <insert country in the news>? Let’s make Facebook do something.
You can see where I am going. These things will be dicey. A friend of mine in college set up a off color political group when Facebook was still exclusive to the Princeton Review’s top 300 colleges, and found himself (and his group) banned from Facebook. Close friends of mine can guess which friend it is, but here’s a hint: his name rhymes with Knobby Pet Singer.
Infuriated that, while definitely off color, the group didn’t actually do any real harm — he wrote Mark Zuckerberg to complain. Mark Zuckerberg responded, and defended his actions. That friend is back on Facebook today, and since SLU didn’t use gmail then, the evidence — even though I saw it with my own eyes — is gone for good. That was many years ago, now.
Facebook has grown, just as the internet has, and with that growth so, too, has the list of complications also grown. For those who may/may not own a share of Facebook (or 2,345 shares) get ready for a dizzying array of shareholder proposals in the coming years. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and if you read all of them, you’ll kiss many hours goodbye.
Unlike First Lady Michelle Obama, who shops at Target, I shop at Wal-Mart. For a very simple reason, Wal-Mart is superior to Target. If you think otherwise, well, you’re wrong. I have shopped at both and I am obsessed with prices and compare them all the time. Wal-Mart is routinely superior on both price and quality. If you want to pay more because Target makes their stores prettier that’s fine — more savings for me.
Now that Penn-Daw has its own Wal-Mart, I shop there constantly, and I have stories. You see, Wal-Mart has a diverse clientele while Target’s is less so. Heck, that’s probably why they started the People of Wal-Mart blog. Little known fact: that blog was started by Target shoppers, because the majority of Target shoppers are snobs.
Don’t believe me? Tell somebody you shopped at Wal-Mart. If they say nothing, then they are normal. If they have a negative reaction, ask them where they shop and they will tell you Target. This is because they are snobs. (Known exception: you can still shop at Target and not be a snob, but this is rare. My girlfriend is such a case. I think she’s slowly realizing Wal-Mart is better.)
Now that we got that out of the way, I’ll start sharing my stories. The idea for this series of ongoing posts dates back to my early days in Washington, D.C. when I would blog about my experiences at the Braddock Road 7/11. Sadly, those posts are gone forever, but new stories must emerge.
Most recently, I went to Wal-Mart because I am a man on a budget and needed to get some stuff for lunch this week. I got a 12 pack of cola for 88 cents. Like a Seinfeld episode, I could save my cans and drive to Michigan and turn them in for a profit. The off-brand cola was made by RC Cola, and it wasn’t half bad.
I also needed some whisks, as my sister Betsy took the only whisk we had — I got three of them for under a dollar. Made in China, sure. But as long-time readers of the blog know, I do not subscribe to “buy American” or “buy local” as they are disastrous and stupid economic policies.
As I was stopping in the aisle to get some paper towels, a little boy walked up to me and said “Sir, do you know if turtles can eat fish food?” I responded that turtles can indeed eat algae-based fish food, and also the ones with dead flies, but I’d look it up online before feeding to the turtle. They probably should have done that before going to the store, but it was nice to see this little kid caring about his pets. At Target, a child’s parent would probably tell them to “hush” or have them on one of those little leashes that liberals love so much, which is ironic because they love an unbridled government.
While my Wal-Mart doesn’t sell real guns (yet, I hear they’re making a comeback) they do sell bb guns, which every growing boy should have and Target lacks because they’re soft on awesomeness, my Wal-Mart does sell bullets and other hunting stuff. This is convenient for me if the zombie apocalypse happens. People who shop at Target exclusively are screwed if a zombie apocalypse ever happens. They will not survive.
Another reason to love Wal-Mart is their beer and wine selection, which as you can guess, is superior to Target in both scope and price. Beer is cheaper at Wal-Mart, and you can get decent bottles of wine for $2.50. The beer I routinely buy is 2 dollars cheaper at Wal-Mart than 7/11, and about a dollar cheaper than Target.
Waiting in line to check out, there was a lady with soap and milk behind me in the express line. She was speaking very very loudly and it was beginning to annoy me. Another thing, Wal-Mart has a line that opens up to multiple registers, which is superior to Target’s check out structure, just saying. I bit my tongue, and checked out. Now, before she was called, she decided to just walk to the next clerk who was checking out a lady who was for some reason taking her dear sweet time checking out. The person two slots behind me got to go after me and check out quicker. Poetic justice.
More stories later, and hopefully funnier ones.
Until then, save money and live better. Wal-Mart.
You ever see contrails of a plane headed into the sunset? Looks like it’s on fire doesn’t it? Some mystery.
Anyone who’s driven with me in my car in the past 6 years knows Condi.
Over the past few months, Condi has had some issues. First when I left Greendale after volunteering one Sunday, her exhaust system had problems and sounded like a hot-rod. So I took her to a local repair shop, which was officially closed for the day. The guy said he could patch it, and he did so, or so I thought.
A month or so later, same thing, but I didn’t want to risk it, so I had Condi towed to the same place after our softball game. There’s a good story to go along with that, but I won’t post it here — softball team knows it though. They “fixed” it again.
Today, on the way into work. Same problem! But this time I was in bumper to bumper traffic at the I-295/I-395 merge. No way I was going to be late for work because of this. (Kind of similar to the washing machine story.) So, instead of paying to have it towed back to Alexandria (which would have cost about $55) I put my blinkers on and coasted into the Capitol Hill Exxon station, which has a good reputation for fixing the cars of our political leaders, according to my friend Clark, who was happy with their service on his 1979 Trans-Am.
We’ll see how much it costs to get Condi fixed this time, but I am going to ask for a refund from the place near my house. If I don’t get a refund, I will post their name here for all to see. Just like Maani’s company, which has 9 days to respond to me before I express my dissatisfaction with their company publicly.
Condi’s muffler on the ground.
I am thinking of setting up a “Preserve Condi” fund at Burke and Herbert Bank. Donations welcome (kidding, unless you really just want to give me money to save Condi.)
UPDATE: $576 later, Condi is fixed.