Monday, September 23, 2013

Filtered Reality

Both of these stories tackle the problem of perspective as it relates to news flow on the internet.

1) The biggest financial news of the day was the late day breaking news that Blackberry had agreed to be acquired.  Well, at least that's the way all of the headlines read.  Blackberry to be acquired for $9 per share....

As the infomercials always say "but wait there's more".  Here's the thing, the acquiring company already owns 10% of Blackberry.  They heard a lot of the chatter on Wall Street today that included comments like "Blackberry has effectively entered corporate hospice" and "Blackberry's value is about $2/share" and decided that 10% of a $9 stock is better than 10% of $0.

However, as the details slowly emerged it became clear that the "buyer" isn't fronting any money, is not obligated to actually buy the company, can back out after due diligence and there is no deal if Blackberry can't get financing for the $4.7 billion deal.  Yeah, do you want to be the banker that's going to finance that deal? Blackberry remains an immense source of national pride for Canadians and they struggled for a long-time with the collapse of Nortel.  I believe this was an attempt at a "stick save" by an investor.  They may be hoping to prop the company up long enough to convince Steve Ballmer (outgoing Microsoft CEO) or Marissa Mayer (maybe soon the outgoing Yahoo CEO) to buy the remains of Blackberry.  Good luck with that....

2) There were two stories today on opposite sides of the country re: the problem with online reviews.  I have always operated under the assumption that everyone knew that a wide number of online reviews from yelp to Amazon to foursquare were fake.  Fake reviews of products tend to be pretty easy to spot because they are exceedingly elaborate with tons of specifics that normal people would never note.  It gets a little harder to spot fake reviews on sites like yelp because the reviews tend to be shorter.

However, in NY our attorney general has taken the position that these false reviews are the equivalent of false advertising.  At the same time in California Angie's list appears be allowed advertisers to jump to the head of their listings.  That's a troubling trend.

Just remember that when you read something online to question the source, question it's validity and read beyond the headlines :)


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