Archive for November 2011
I still remember the reception committee from the due diligence on Tideway I did for Apax Partners some seven years ago. The folks were awesome. I am fairly certain they could convince birds to fly off the tree if they chose to apply their very many talents toward this end. I really don’t know whether Apax (who invested in Tideway) and BMC (who acquired Tideway at a later time) consider their investments in Tideway successful. But, take it from me: even the Royal Shakespeare Company would have been hard pressed to stage such a terrific act as the one played by Tideway for my benefit in 2004.
Click here for additional thoughts on the subject and its implications.
I was on some business trip to the lovely city of Boulder, CO. My gracious host took me to dinner at the Q’s Restaurant in the classic Hotel Boulderado. We talked about our kids, software, soccer and classical music. And we talked about the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, CO.
According to my host, as part of their orientation, students in Boulder, CO get lectured on the need to abide by the law. He mentioned a student in his class (or maybe it was his son’s class) who got a citation for driving his bicycles on the wrong pavement, or wrong direction or something like that. We laughed heartily about this episode – it seemed so trivial. And, even such triviality seemed very remote from the bliss of downtown Boulder.
This long-forgotten dinner came back to me this weekend, triggered by the videos from UC Davis. I simply could not believe that in something like ten years from the lovely dinner I had in Boulder we mutated from giving citations to students on bicycles in one gorgeous campus to pepper-spraying students in another. The dissonance between the beauty/tranquility and the brutality overwhelmed me.
As a young man I served in the paratroop corps of the Israeli army and fought in both the ’67 and ’73 wars. I experienced violence and brutality. They are not new to me.
Yet, this weekend I could not help recalling this classic photo of the demonstrations against the Vietnam war – the Kent State shooting:
What are we waiting for – a similar photo from a demonstration against Wall Street?!
Full disclosure part I: a month ago, while on my way to a business meeting, I saw a few OWS folks “camping” in front of the Federal Reserve Bank on Market street in San Francisco. I did not even have the time to take a picture with my iPhone, let alone chat with someone. This is the closest I ever got to touching, or being touched, by anyone in the movement.
So, I do not even know whether folks in the movement will agree or disagree with my simple interpretation of their overarching message:
- Our financial system is badly broken.
- Rather than letting it continue with business as usual, the Federal Reserve Bank should take over the banking system.
- Many of the services provided today by banks can be provided (once the Fed takes over) through devices such as iPhone just as they do in rural India.
- Substitutes could and should be developed for the services that can’t be carried out through iPhones or similar devices.
- Developing such services is no different from developing alternative sources of energy or health care services.
- Once the government puts in the appropriate policies (to encourage development of such services), a ton of entrepreneurs will jump at the opportunity.
I have no doubt that there are zillion details that I am not aware of that need to be figured out. I am a software engineer, not a banker.
But, I believe that at a very high level bullets 1-6 above capture some aspects of the message folks in the Occupy Wall Street movement are trying to get across. Hence, I am really surprised at the question I see cited so often “But what do they really want?!” IMHO they simply want a major reform of the financial system. The details for so doing are better left to experts.
Full disclosure part II: I have to admit my blood boiled today when I saw the videos from UC Davis. As I said in a tweet an hour or so ago, it starts feeling like the brutality inflicted on the Bonus Army in 1932. Tim O’Reilly goes one step further in his post in which he brings up the loaded topic of Banality of Evil.
So, I might be writing this post with some strong emotions. But, I think the thesis I pose is directionally correct.
This Executive Update represents my current understanding of the deeper reasons behind the success of the BMC rollout. It reviews past decisions in light of knowledge, experience, and insights that evolved a long time after the decisions, for better or worse, had been executed. In general, it’s about my making sense of things and sharing my insights with Cutter clients.
To download the Executive Update, click here and use the promotion code BMCAGILE.