Archive for April, 2009

eBay to Unload Skype

I was never clear on why eBay bought Skype back in 2005. An on line auction site buys a global, essentially consumer, VOiP provider. Where were the synergies? Well apparently E-bay has concluded that there really aren’t any great ones. Wall Street Journal Deal Alert just published an article that included a comment by eBay:

“Skype is a great stand-alone business with strong fundamentals and accelerating momentum,” said eBay Chief Executive John Donahoe. “But it’s clear that Skype has limited synergies with eBay and PayPal. We believe operating Skype as a stand-alone publicly traded company is the best path for maximizing its potential.”

“Ebay bought Skype for $2.6 billion in 2005.”

eBay turned down a pretty significant buyout offer put to them by Skype’s founders and a few Private Equity firms saying that the offer didn’t reflect the true value of the company. eBay’s solution? Seems that they plan on testing the IPO market in the first half of 2010. That just might be the biggest bet eBay makes in the entire relationship. Maybe Donahoe knows something the rest of us don’t or he has a clearer crystal ball!


Earned Media – Fred Wilson Post

I just read through a post that Fred Wilson put up on the topic of “Earned Media“. I won’t go into here since he does a great job explaining it. One thing I do want to point out, a lot of people are hearing about Twitter. It is everywhere. Many TV news people give out their Twitter address for us to follow, the President has a couple of Twitter accounts to follow, and the list goes on.

A lot of business people are scratching their heads and wondering just how to use this in business. Well there is a great example in Fred’s post about kogibbq which is the twitter account of a Korean BBQ Taco truck that goes throughout LA and uses twitter to update people on their location. Now this is just pure genius. What a fabulous solution for someone with a wheels based business that allows them to keep their customers up to date and their whereabouts. And let’s consider the cost of the real time solution, oh yeah, that would probably be $0’s, free, nada,…

Thanks Fred for finding this and blogging about it. It was a nice way to end the evening.

Visit with Chris Cramer CEO of Karl Strauss

OK, OK, so I guess you are wondering how could a visit to a brewery be anything but great? Well, it is not just about the beer. You also have to look at who is making it, and what is the overall feeling you get about being there.

One of the first things you notice is that Chris Cramer, the CEO, is a man who enjoys what he is doing and Karl Strauss isn’t something that he fell into or ended up in by accident.

Chris is a self-described San Diego native who has grown up in the retail industry and Karl Strauss is an actual relative who came from a line of brew masters in Germany. Chris is also a graduate of Stanford’s MBA program, who back in 2000 when he graduated was thought to be an idiot for focusing on retail, especially micro brewing and food, and not some dot com business. After what followed in 2001-2002, I would guess these same pundits would claim he is a genius today.

I really like visiting a company where you can feel the positive energy. Everyone  at Strauss is smiling and looking like they genuinely enjoy their jobs. The only way this occurs is when the management team instills this type of feeling. Now the pessimists might conclude that of course they are smiling, they work at a beer company and are probably drinking all day! However, that is just not the case. Besides you might get away with that tactic for a little while, but not the 20 years they have been in business.

So, what is the take away? Well, investors always say we look at management teams and when you find one that is clearly passionate about what they are doing and just clicks, they are worth more than the technology or product they are pitching. And when they can energize the entire team to be just as passionate as they are and enjoy coming to work everyday, well you just know that success will follow.

If you are an entrepreneur just starting out, ask yourself if you express your passion every day and in every conversation. Do you have the ability to get everyone else who is involved in your venture as energized about the business as you are? If not, you have something you need to work on; sooner not later.

As for Chris and the team at Karl Strauss, there is no reason why they won’t be brewing a special lager in 2028 for their 40th Anniversary! Keep up the great work and let us all know when you finish your customer space for tours so that we can all come down and see where and how the magic happens.

Kudos to you and your team.

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April 2009
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