- the Starbucks-Facebook drama and
- Obama falling on his own sword
You Can't Always Get What You Want Posted at 8:29 a.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 31 Perhaps people are just asking for too much. That concept was pretty stark last night on the two most important conference calls: Starbucks ( SBUX) and Facebook ( FB). Facebook delivered a monster quarter, but it seemed that all anyone could focus on was a comment about how younger teens have decreased usage and how the company does not expect to significantly increase ads as a percentage of news feeds. The result? We got a real dead-horse beating about the peaking of Facebook and, even though ad revenue grew 60% and mobile ads are now 49% of the business and the company generated $1.8 billion in ad sales, you left the call with a sense that Facebook's best times are behind it. Of course that's fatuous logic in that revenues for video and Instagram haven't even hit yet and the company is just scratching the surface of the ad market. Given that digital media now represents a much bigger part of viewing than television, specifically 5.25 hours a day for Internet vs. 4.5 hours for TV and the fact that Facebook has 1 in 8 minutes of that time of desktop and 1 in 5 minutes on mobile, that's a lot of time to monetize. But the analysts saw it differently, contending, at least from the questions, that the company has a self-imposed limit of how much advertising it can offer without spoiling the user experience, with an undertone that younger teenagers must already be turned off by the ads. The Q&A turned the biggest upside surprise of the season into a downer and it shouldn't have been. There's no slowing here that I can find, but I felt very lonely with that viewpoint after listening to the interplay.
A Botched Opportunity for Obamacare Posted at 1:39 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Oct. 30 Look, I don't know who is at fault for this disaster of a Web site that's meant to be the portal to the crowning achievement of President Obama's administration, the Affordable Care Act. I don't know if Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services, is totally at fault, even as she told Congress today, "Hold me accountable." Nevertheless, if that's the case, than how can you not fall on your sword and quit this very red-hot minute? To hold Sibelius accountable for this travesty is to fire her immediately. Even Michael Brown knew to resign from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, after he botched the federal government's handling of the Hurricane Katrina tragedy. We don't know if Brownie really resigned on his own accord or if he was pushed out by President Bush, but at least he vanished, and that's not a bad idea for Sebelius to at least mull over or perhaps act on. GIB), the gigantic Canadian concern that powered the Web site, knew what it was doing when it set up this ridiculous excuse for an interface between the government and its people. Nor do I want to blame Verizon ( VZ) for a big portion of the failure here, as Sebelius did today, implying that Verizon's hosting abilities were less than stellar. Verizon ... thrown right under the bus. Well done. However, I can tell you how I would have done this, and made the president proud, given that this is his signature program, instead of giving the Republicans all the ammunition they need to wipe the program out in 2014. It's ironic, isn't it? The Republicans could have just said, "Look, this whole thing is going to fall on its own darned weight -- we don't need to protest now that it's passed." Had they done that, I think they would have been heroes to the American people.