Goldman Sachs is the new Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Posted: April 21st, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »
Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
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Talk about being “surreal”, to quote the Goldman banker at the heart of the SEC’s current investigation, this has all happened before and will likely happen again. It appears that Goldman Sachs really is the new Drexel Burnham Lambert.

Here is how I see this Lincoln/Kennedy-esque relationship unfolding: Employees from both firms clearly considered themselves the smartest guys in the room. Both firms developed innovative financial products that were eventually abused by select customers at the expense of other customers and ultimately the American taxpayer.  Both firms and their employees were the envy of Wall Street because of the huge amounts of money they were making. Both firms became synonymous with greed, lying and all that is bad in finance. Civil investigations paved the way for criminal investigations. Right or wrong, certain high profile individuals are singled out and publicly made an example. Others will fade away and still others will rise from the ashes.

What is even more ironic is that back in the 1980’s when Drexel was at its height of power and influence, I had friends who were bankers at Goldman and they hated Drexel. They thought they were immoral. They said they were doing horrible things. They said they acted arrogantly and brashly. And they relished it when the sharks began to circle and Drexel was toppled. I always interpreted the intensity of emotion with regard to Drexel as jealousy or schadenfreude. I think most of the reaction to Goldman now comes from the same place as opposed to being truly outraged due to moral lapses.

People who take jobs, who make careers on Wall Street, are not doing it for altruistic reasons. They are doing it for the money. I have no problem with that and frankly neither should anyone who derives any benefit from our economic system, which is virtually every person on the planet. I do have a problem with cheating, lying and stealing. I have an even bigger problem with the powerful abusing their positions of power and forcing the little guy not only clean up their garbage but take it to the street and eat it. And I have an even bigger problem when these powerful individuals are convinced that the garbage is no longer there solely because of their brilliance and that makes them both completely indispensable to society as well justified in taking ever larger salaries and bonuses, even as the real world is crumbling all around them.

So in the end, maybe Goldman will get what it deserves. Or more likely, even more than it deserves.

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iPad: A love story. Part 1

Posted: April 20th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »
Image representing iPad as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I was out of the country when the iPad went on sale. I was traveling with my iPod Touch, which has done a completely adequate job of keeping me connected and semi-organized when away from my desk. But the iPad really intrigued me. Here was a device that could not just extend my iPod Touch with a larger screen but potentially replace a laptop. A device that I could actually use to record ideas, do some writing and maybe even maintain an up to date schedule.

So upon returning from my trip about a week after they were introduced, I went to the Apple Store and checked them out. Yes they were very cool but I was not totally sold. I wanted to check around the web and see what real users were saying. The associate told me they were on back order and the best thing to do was to reserve one as the backlog was about 5 days. As the reservation was non-binding, I agreed. Five days would certainly give me enough time to decide. He stepped me through the process on-line, using a 27″ iMac and then congratulated me when it was complete.

The next morning I got an email “congratulating” me as my iPad was waiting for me at the Apple Store. So 5 days became 24 hours. I waited for my kids to get home from school and asked them if they wanted to go with me to the Apple Store. Number One, who wanted his own iPad, said no. He was going to wait for me to buy one and use mine first (like that was really going to happen). Number Two said sure and he would even get me his “friends and family” discount -which I don’t understand as he has no family working at the Apple Store but he said he was friends with Jordan, the manager. Number Two is 13.

So we go to the store and find Jordan. She is about thirty, attractive, tastefully tattooed and yes friends with my 13 year-old son. I give her a copy of my congratulatory email, she checks it out and then she proceeds to congratulate me too. My son asks her about the discount. She smiles and apologizes. No one is getting the F&F discount. I think to myself, he is obviously not that friendly with her. She leaves us to retrieve the iPad from the back of the crowded store.

Jordan comes back with my iPad and John. John congratulates me too. They begin to double team me about the benefits of Apple Care. Normally I blow these things off but 2 years ago when I bought my first generation Kindle, it stopped working after a week. Fine, include the Apple Care. Satisfied, Jordan handed me completely off to John to process the sale.

i told John that I wanted a keyboard. As we were walking across the store, he tried to sign me up for mobile me. I told him that between google docs and dropbox I was covered. He pressed me again, telling me that I could have access to all my files from any computer. I told him that I already had access to files from any computer. He shrugged and led on.

I was going to buy the bluetooth version but John steered me toward the docking keyboard as it had special iPad keys. Fine. Ring me up. The whole deal was just short of a grand. John took my Amex card and swiped his iPhone terminal. The card was good. I wanted to yell “approved” like Kristen Wig on SNL but this was the Apple Store, not Target. And besides my son would be mortified.

Despite my protests, John went to the back of the store to get us a bag -it was part of the Apple Store experience. He returned and packed us up. He congratulated me one more time, this time he raised his hand in the air, trying to give me a hi-five. I complied as it would have been awkward to leave the guy hanging.

As we walked out of the store, I mentioned to my son that it was a bit cult-like being congratulated over and over again for dropping a grand on something that I was not sure I actually needed. “Dad, you have an iPad”.

…… be continued.

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