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Too big NOT to fail…

Posted by bryan on September 18, 2008 in E-Business with No Comments

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English: Diagram of venture capital fund struc...

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Well keeping with the tradition of only writing about the trendiest issues, there’s nothing more “trendy” and “hip” than the most recent demise of Wall Street. To that end the NY Times’ Big Chart of Failure went live this week (gee whiz, its interactive too).

One can’t help but scratch their head and wonder… how does this keep happening? Corporations get massive tax breaks from the government as is with the “legal person” doctrine (which is a load of something sticky, icky and smelly something if you ask me… and I don’t mean the ganj). One also can’t help but wonder what brand they’re smoking, when CEOs come out and say everything’s going to be fine while days later the company comes clean with billion or trillions of negative balances on their balance sheets, files for bankruptcy, or pleads for another tax-payer-backed bail-out.

The unfortunate fact is that everything’s related in this “Free Market” society, so tech companies will be hit hard in the coming quarter as well… and this is evident as VC spending seems to have slowed to a crawl, if not a total lack of existence.

Companies that have relied on repeated rounds of financing from major Venture Capital firms and Private Equity will now have to stand the test of time and go it on their own to prove their value in the marketplace. That means creating their own *sustainable* bottom-line and working towards clear profitability. The jury’s out on how many (or if in fact ANY) of the supposed “success-stories” from the Web 2.0 era of super-fun hype, shameless marketing and maverick investment will survive the tough financial times.

Those waiting for the mega-influx of advertising dollars to support their business models may get a portion of TV advertisers coming over to the more targetable and measurable online and mobile ad markets, however what’s more important to note is that worldwide Marketing budgets will be tightening up significantly. It’s not the beginning of the end, but certainly we’ll see alot of businesses go under and (hopefully) alot of new ones emerge from the wreckage. One recent example is UpTake, a self-proclaimed “Semantic Search mashup” (formerly known as Kango). While the company looks promisign and has secured over $10 million in funding, they will certainly face tough times as peak oil seems like a (currently temporarily delayed) inevitability, meaning people will be doing a whole lot more working and whole lot less traveling.

As Ashkan Karbasfrooshan wrote for WatchMojo in End of Days? Nope, Just End of Capitalism

He selected a great quote from CNBC that I will highlight here (video):
The financial system is ceasing to function effectively. The government needs to step in to support the financial system, or else capitalism is over, says Paul Donovan, senior international economist at UBS. He speaks to CNBC’s Stephen Sedgwick & Maura Fogarty.

To add to Ashkan’s question, at what point does the US government’s own balance sheet become unrealistic and MOST IMPORTANTLY…. WHO…. will bail Americans out when the time comes?

Because of this crisis we may all be working until we’re on our death beds. Hey, as Clarke and Dawe say, its good to keep active… With the amount of money people are losing it could be true, but a better question is not how long we’ll have to work, but why is it that the fate of many people’s retirement pensions and livelihood rest in the hands of a select few on Wall Street. It’s quite simply because a select few companies got TOO big, which resulted in a major concentration of power and control. As a result of the reach of these companies, the lives of so many hinge on their success or failure, leading many to say that these companies are simply “too big to fail”.

On the other hand, I can’t help but look at the failures we’re witnessing now, and feel like the exact opposite of that argument is true. Maybe the shake-up is ultimately a good thing, maybe we need to get the power out of the hands of the select few power brokers and into the hands of smaller investment houses and even newer, younger start-ups. Here’s an even crazier thought, people start taking the time and care to educate themselves and manage their own money!?! Either way, these companies are simply TOO big NOT to fail.




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