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Observations From The Heart Of Silicon Valley

The calm before the storm?
Thursday, May 19, 2016, 8:11 PM

Yesterday I made the 2-hour drive back to Silicon Valley, where I lived for 15 years before moving out to the country.

I rarely go back, as I miss very little about the hyper-elite scene there. When I do, though, I feel I have a useful 'insider-now-outsider' perspective that allows me to see things there more accurately than those who live in that fishbowl 24/7.

What hit me most strongly upon arriving back in the Menlo Park/Palo Alto area, is how little of the craziness has changed since I left 4 years ago. I don't mean 'unchanged' though; rather that the same craziness is there, just more extreme than ever. » Read more

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mentalfloss.com

The Death Of Hopium

Tech Bubble 3.0 is in the process of bursting
Tuesday, October 13, 2015, 4:48 PM

I got my MBA at Stanford in 1999 when the dot-com bubble was at its zenith, worked for a VC-funded start-up as well as one of the biggest Internet juggernauts (Yahoo!). I lived in Palo Alto, the central core of the tech scene.

As a result, I have a pretty good read on how Silicon Valley works. Many of the folks I worked and went to school with are now in leadership positions at the big operating companies, VC firms and hedge funds in that ecosystem now -- so I have personal knowledge of who's making the decisions.

And it's no secret that I think it's degenerated into a steaming pile of hucksterism. » Read more

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Oleksii Sergieiev, Dreamstime

For Heaven's Sake: Hedge!

If you're not positioned defensively by now, you're nuts
Thursday, April 30, 2015, 10:58 PM

Last fall, I wrote an article titled Defying Gravity that warned of the absurd price levels that stocks and bonds had risen to. Less than a month later, the stock market abruptly dropped by 7%. Those who didn't seek safety in advance were left licking their wounds, panicked not knowing if the painful down-draft was over.

So here we are roughly six months later, and the same warning bells are ringing -- just louder this time. » Read more

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2014 Year in Review

The year we piled up risks like a global game of Tetris
Friday, December 19, 2014, 12:27 PM

I have not seen a year in which so many risks—some truly existential—piled up so quickly. Each risk has its own, often unknown, probability of morphing into a destructive force. Groping for a metaphor—I love metaphors and similes—I feel like we’re in the final throes of a geopolitical Game of Tetris as financial and political authorities race to place the pieces correctly. But the acceleration is palpable. The proximate trigger for pain and ultimately a collapse can be small, as anyone who’s ever stepped barefoot on a Lego knows. » Read more

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The Disenchantment of American Politics

And the coming uproar
Wednesday, January 8, 2014, 12:34 PM

Considering the problems we face as a nation, the torpor and lassitude of current politics in America seems like a kind of offense against history. What other people have allowed circumstances to run over them like so many ‘possums sleeping on the highway?

And, since human affairs don’t remain static indefinitely, in what direction might things go when the political mood finally heaves and shifts? The possibilities are unsettling. » Read more

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Kheng Ho Toh | Dreamstime.com

Off the Cuff: The Anxiety Gap

If things are so great, why are we so unhappy?
Thursday, November 7, 2013, 1:42 PM

In this week's Off the Cuff podcast, Chris and Charles discuss: » Read more