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Everything posted by oddballstocks

  1. Just received a tender offer in the mail. Looks like they're trying to acquire 3.5-4% of the company again, so another big float reduction if this goes through. Reading through the offer, they've purchased slightly over 200k shares this past year and this will be another nice chunk. This has been an extremely boring holding, but the company keeps doing the right things.
  2. A topic near and dear... I have WFH for 10+ years in various roles. As a consultant to a health care company, doing investment research, and starting a software company. During this time I've had access to an office when I needed. For maybe 2-ish years (not continuous) I've worked out of an office. I'm an extrovert, very extroverted, but I love working from home. What I find in an office is I can talk all day and accomplish nothing. But I feel great because I was just talking. At home I can be focused, get work done, then get on the phone and talk. I'm on the phone all the time and it scratches the same itch as talking in person. I also have small kids (from 10 to 3), but since I've done this their entire life they know the drill. I have a home office and if the office door is closed it means "do not bother and please be quiet." If the door is open they can come in and share things with me. When the kids are in school it's extremely quiet, but even now it's not bad. This is really no different than summer when they're home all the time. I love that there's no commute. It's also nice to be able to take a bike ride or go swimming at lunch. There are days when I'm just in a funk and I'll go do something menial to think about my problems. In an office the only option for this was to take a walk, which I did often, but sometimes you can't due to weather. As for meetings in-person. There are dozens of co-working spaces near me and they all have the ability to rent conference rooms by the hour. That's not an issue. I think it's heavily job type, heavy personality (self-motivated). Here's something anecdotal. Some companies already run like this but they don't know it. When I consulted in health care it was a 15k person company. They had multiple locations and teams were split geographically. Every meeting was at your desk, you called in and used screen sharing. Over the years I was there the office emptied out because people realized there is no functional difference of being in a cube or being at home. Management realized this too and kept hiring without expanding their office space. When I left years ago I remember something like 55% of the company was at home, I'm sure it's more now.
  3. Local print shop can usually make something like that cheap and quick. Some slightly larger local print shops will do design work too. I'd just call around and see what the turnaround time is. They're usually relatively cheap, even a giant plastic sign is only about $500.
  4. Guess we know Tilson's alt on here... gambling away the Agora advance.. What if we already beat Tilson's numbers? Can I get $1m for doing more than 8.5% a year over the same period? Whitney er...jeffsreng..shoot me a DM and I can give you my address on where to send the check. Thanks!!
  5. My guess is more due to the recent financials floating around.
  6. Interesting dilemma! My suggestion would be to pull the stock out of the IRA into a certificate, or just a normal brokerage. Replace it with cash to satisfy the US Gov. From there you have some room to work. Next step is to sell directly to the French broker. Brokers do negotiated transactions all the time. You might take a bit of a haircut, but so what. They will be buying the shares from you, then just tendering directly on their own account. For them it's an easy way to make a spread. You can try to work with them directly, or work with a desk in the US who has relationships. I have talked to Fidelity traders in the past who phoned up brokers in Switzerland while I was on the phone to make trades. I know you don't want to go with Fidelity, but you need a more full service broker who can a) speak french and b) has those connections. I don't think you can have an IB trader make trades over the phone. They aren't built for that. If you're able to get certificates (which is highly unlikely) then you can negotiate directly with the company. Although I think you'll have more success working with the clearing broker. I'd go all out nuclear on this one. Look up employees who work in the back office at Gilbert Dupont and start to contact them directly. Say you have this problem and you need help, who do you talk to? People will help you out and get you directed to someone who can get this done. You just have to be persistent and ask everyone. I think the full service broker in the US is probably your best bet, but there is a price. Might be a few hundred euro to transact and tender, but that's a lot cheaper than spending months trying to get someone deep in a cube farm to handle the situation as a one-off.
  7. I hate to say it, but my gut is that the SEC just rolls with this proposed rule. Reason being... I had a long conversation with a former regulator a few years ago, he worked in the pink/otc area. He said 90% was fraud and scammy companies (which we all know), and in the 10% there could be value. His boss held the view that ALL pink sheet companies were junk, and if a company was respectable they should just uplist. If they didn't uplist it just proved they were a scam. He was on a mission to eliminate the pink sheet stocks, that was the source of most of their regulatory problems, in their view. Fast forward, changes keep rolling forward. It's hard to trade most of these as-is, and now the SEC wants to make it harder. They will be successful. The irony of this is while they make public companies with some information hard to trade they are encouraging people to invest in private companies in venture rounds. In many ways it makes no sense to be public anymore. What's the point? You can raise capital easily as a private company, and being public brings no additional benefit.
  8. I worked with someone to do this years ago. Mined the archives from 2003 forward. Looked at it very differently. Looked at the number of responses and subsequent return over trailing periods. Looked at people who posted specific investment threads. Result was more responses the worse the returns. There were some stellar ideas with zero to one comment. And the people posting those would post multiple ideas. Some solid gold from a few people. The problem was they never received any feedback, and thus their incentive to post disappeared. Nice work!
  9. Sometimes you need to buy a share and call the CFO. Seems like a pain doesn't it? It is, but where information is hard to get it's extremely valuable. It's very hard to have an informational edge on Pfizer, but to have one on Thermwood Corporation you just need to spend a few cents for a share and call the CFO. Bump. Can it be argued that the people buying these type of stocks all go through the trouble of getting their financials that there isn't as much edge as you think there is? I find it hard to believe people just buy companies being completely in the dark about their numbers. I think there is this notion, especially on here that "everyone is doing it, the edge is gone." I've looked at shareholder lists for micro caps. Out of the thousands of shareholders for a given company maybe 100-150 are micro cap value investors. So the "smart money" is maybe 15% of the shareholder base. I don't know the odds, but if you were playing a game where you knew more than 85% of the participants wouldn't that seem like some sort of an edge? I'll also be the first to admit. In today's market you want to avoid microcaps. Purchase the tech stars of the world, the Tesla's, then sit back and count your cash. Work isn't rewarded in the market anymore and value doesn't work either.
  10. I used to hang out on harmony central a LOT back in the late 90s early 2000s. Same as everyone else, reviewing albums, talking about dream band setups. In 99-2000 I was on a really active Pink Floyd and Rush newsgroup. They orchestrated meetups and live events. My brother took it to the next level, learned bass, became a professional, toured the world, played on the Tonight Show etc. Now he has a nice side business buying and selling vintage gear. He'll do normal stuff (vintage guitar/bass) here and there, but makes coin on vintage synths and really weird vintage recording gear. He's still active on a ton of gear and music sites. He has some awesome stories. I remember one, he sold some vintage amp or bass to a forum member. The buyer was relatively close so my brother said he'd deliver it. He ends up at some law firm, a partner purchased the amp. The guy was so excited he plugged the thing in in his office, hooked up a bass on the wall and they started jamming out in the middle of the work day. What I love about that story is the buyer and my brother would not be a natural connection, but they had a shared interest and a great time. Another story about gear. My brother left music and went into sales, he had a boss who had a sizable guitar flipping business on the side. He purchased Mexican Strats on craigslist, cleaned them and flipped them on craigslist at a 30-50% markup. He cleared $2-3k a weekend doing this in LA. I believe he purchased during the week and sold on the weekends.
  11. Thanks! Online communities are pretty fragile, so I'd just encourage caution in the changes made to the format. I've seen it over and over again in my time on the internet over these past 25 years. There's a big change, almost everything is different, maybe it looks better but for some unforeseen reasons doesn't work as well or is too slow or there's some new UX annoyance, and there's a massive exodus or usage drops significantly and it's a spiral (fewer people contribute, so fewer people come to read, so fewer new people join, and so on). Happened to Digg, once one of the most popular sites on the internet, after a redesign that users didn't like. Not saying anything is going to happen, but your mention of the total redesign has brought back these memories, so I thought I'd mention it so it's on the radar. 100% this Used to visit a site AnalystForum.com religiously. There was some great stock picking banter on there, CFA banter etc. It was easy to search, easy to use. They "modernized it", which meant less information dense, more ads, more disconnected. I haven't visited in years. The site used to have thousands of posters, last visit it appeared to be mostly dead. There are other sites that I used to use that have been similar, a shame really.
  12. While I agree with this, I think it's dangerous to mistake aunts and uncles arguing about politics and headlines is the same as being informed about what's going on. I equate the politics forum here to the aunts and uncles. My relatives can get quite heated about things, some factual, most emotional, and maybe it's good as a thermometer on an issue. Or maybe it just shows how much TV they watch.
  13. The problem if you don't ignore it is the politics posts gum up the headings of the most recent posts. I'll make an admission, I visit the site every few days, skim the most recent posts and from there decide whether I want to click through. If it's an interesting title, or a name I know I'll read, otherwise I bounce. When politics is enabled it was hard to know that anything else was being talked about.
  14. When have conference calls ever been clear? It isn't like everyone is calling in on their own (the analysts), they're all in a room with terrible acoustics sitting around with a microphone in the middle of the table talking. Obviously solution is for them to invest in very high end audio equipment with a mic for each person and some audio person to mix things. I guess I'm struggling as to why this is a revelation. This is 100% of conference calls daily in corporate America. Quality has VASTLY improved in the last 15 years.
  15. I don't think Canada will have any issue letting you in. Only issue could be getting back into the US. Only issues I've ever had at the border are US agents being pricks about things. It's a 90/10 thing, 90% of the time I'm waved through, but 10% of the time it's sort of a pain. I haven't flown to Canada, but at land border crossings I've received the most scrutiny if I've crossed dressed up. If I cross in casual clothes it's seamless. One time crossing back into the US with the family had an agent trying to interrogate our kids asking questions including the 18mo old at the time. Kept trying to ask the 18mo their name, he couldn't talk, so yeah.. We'd tell him "he's 18mo old and can't talk" and the agent would say "I'm talking to the child, not you." Idiocy on display. Crossing into Canada if you're casual, don't have guns, alcohol, or tobacco you sail through. Coming into the US it depends. Another time we had some issues when I was traveling with a friend. I belong in the "only answer the exact question asked in as few words as possible" school of thought. He would ramble, and rambling led to more questions to more rambling to more questions.
  16. This is everywhere east, it's crazy. I've been to a few rust belt cities recently (Buffalo, Cleveland) and I don't see the cranes everywhere. In Pittsburgh developers are taking the WORST land, I mean crazy sloped hillsides and paying to flatten them to build in undeveloped corners. It seems entirely uneconomical, but when land is at a premium even the junk lots are being sold. Likewise in the city back in 2004 I looked at buying a row house for $30k. In 2012 the same houses were going for $100k. It hit the news, one just sold for $1m. Exact same properties. That's a 26% appreciation rate over the past 15 years.
  17. One of my hobbies is skiing and as most know ski areas are flooded with real estate. There are usually threads that pop up on buying vacation property at a resort. If I had to classify the responses I'd say 90% are in the "it's a waste of money, we never went, it cost too much, I regret it." and the other 10% "We didn't overpay, weekend rentals covered our cost, and we enjoyed the space." The common thread on #2 is they had an investor mentality when they went in. They waited for a deal to make the numbers work, and had correct expectations. One a ski site I'm on there's a local guy who has been accumulating condos at a local resort. At this place 99% of home owners are in group one, but he's silently picking these things up dirt cheap and said he has a 20% NOI on the units. He's also an accountant, so figure conservative, patient, exhibiting a lot of value investing tenants. I love the idea of investing in places like this. Rkbabang, this is a beautiful cabin, looks really relaxing. I wonder if you'll be booked solid in the fall with the leaf peepers. Also might be close enough to ski resorts that you get a few winter dates too. Now that I'm thinking about it you really have a year round place. As a side note have some good friends who moved from PA up to Bedford, NH. They love it up there.
  18. Ugh, really tough spot. I found out some family members were swindled by something similar about 12-13 years ago. Retirement in high fee annuity and homes refinanced to interest only pre-crash. I built out the case, showed some trust worthy family members who understood and tried to figure out the right plan of action. One had asked me for financial advice, I showed her the broker check stuff, how bad her deal was etc. She let us work with her to unravel things and get out. Her brother was in much deeper. We had an "intervention". It didn't turn out the way I expected. This relative didn't believe any of the allegations were true. Some were things like "Impersonating the IRS" and using trademarks that weren't his. The relative just totally disregarded any facts and evidence we had because "the advisor said it wasn't true, and there are mistakes online." This is what you're battling. The advisor knows this is out there and they have answers for it. Your client trusts that advisor, so they're going to trust the answers as well that they're given. No one likes to know they've been taken. You need to figure out what you're going to do, and how can you present a win-win solution without anyone losing face. Also consider that for whatever reason they felt like this product had some place in their portfolio. From our perspective (and yours) this was a really stupid move on their part. But if you want to help them you need to be sympathetic and be on their side. That this is something anyone could have been tripped up in, etc.
  19. Completely agree with Jurgis. These guys travel in circles, move from one company to the next, everyone knows everyone. The best jobs are networked, the best developers are networked. I'm part of the local tech scene here in Pittsburgh. I'm on a private mailing list. I get emails from CEO's of cutting edge companies probably once a week saying "Someone I know, vouch for and highly recommend is looking for a job, here is their info." No one knows they're on the market, their employer probably doesn't and it isn't public. Heck most of the jobs these people fall into probably didn't exist before someone said "hire x they're awesome." The same is true when a company disbands, I'll see "let's try to find them jobs" and a bunch of people are placed quickly. This isn't rocket science, this is how 99% of the business world works for quality talent. For average talent there are job postings. Jurgis is also right about the vision and job. You could offer a lot of people, myself included $500k a year to sit in a drab office, and constantly change Excel cells from blue to red, and back to blue and I wouldn't take the job. Maybe I'd suck it up for a month or something, but I just couldn't. When you say "we'll pay $500k for top talent" you attract a different type of talent. What I've found is this. For top talent pay is secondary, if the pay is good enough they don't care about it. If they are looking for $150k and you offer $155k or $160k the difference just doesn't matter. It's the projects, the vision, the team that matters. Some will work for almost nothing to work on a high performing team. The fact that you haven't stumbled into this sort of tells me you haven't brushed up against this world at all. You're in a tough position too because you have money. When you have no money but an awesome idea you have to sell like crazy to get people on board. In your case you have money so you're trying to substitute that for passion. The lack of resources at startups fuels innovation because people need to be creative. I'd recommend coming to Pittsburgh and interviewing people from CMU, some excellent talent that will work for less than half a million. I mean Uber hired away all of CMU's top of the industry robotics researchers for less than $500k apiece, I'd guess they're mid $100ks. You can also buy a really nice house here for $400k or so. Here's an example. This is a local company building self flying helicopters. Top team, if you're looking for earth shattering AI this is it, you're moving in three dimensions, will be used in military theater. The firm has received significant investment from the military and Boeing. This is their glassdoor: https://www.glassdoor.com/Salary/Near-Earth-Autonomy-Salaries-E1481640.htm They're hiring senior engineers for $111k. A robotics software engineer is making $79k. I met a former CEO from a military contractor, her company built missile guidance systems, satellites, stuff she said was much cooler that she couldn't talk about. She spoke glowingly about them, said from what she knew it was a top team and they are going to solve this and should expect a flood of money at some point in the future. That's a big problem, high profile, awesome backing, and look at the salaries. I don't know what you're building, but it probably isn't as cool as self flying helicopters. Maybe it is, but likely not. If they're able to get a top shelf team for what everyone says on glass door as "average or below average salaries" then my guess is your problem isn't talent, it's the sales pitch.
  20. I know engineers at Google/Amazon. I know a few at Google, they're smart, but not earth shattering smart, I'm sure they're making over $200k. I know plenty of people who are technically much better who earn less. I worked with a guy who went to Amazon. He was terrible, absolutely terrible, couldn't code his way out of a wet box. Studied like crazy, went to a top MBA school, was hired at Amazon. He played the political game well and is now in charge of a massive division that most probably interact with. A friend kept in loose touch, said nothing had changed about him, he didn't get smarter, just found an environment where politics was valued over output and he keeps moving up. This was the type of guy who's show up at 5am if the boss arrive at 5:30am and stay to 11pm mindlessly doing nothing, but sitting there to show he was "committed". Also know engineers at Uber doing the self driving stuff. Same thing, smart, better than average, but not mind numbing smart. Mind numbing smart.... I have met a few working at startups for almost nothing. People who are inventing new types of materials, or doing wild things with AI. I have a feeling if you told them they'd be provided food and have a place to sleep they'd work on this stuff for free.
  21. Startup School is a good idea. Reality is this, get involved in your local community. Most cities have a startup scene. Retired execs flock to these meetups because they're looking for new and exciting things to do, plus companies to invest in. There is a LOT of free advice floating around from people who have built multi-billion dollar companies. But it's not on message boards. The upside is most of these connections also love to get together for lunch or coffee and help you. Again, not online, but 1000x more valuable than online. You guys have funding, but do you have revenue? Have you proven you can commercialize the product? Sales and a strong pipeline solves a lot of problems. If there's one thing I've learned from running a company it's this: product doesn't matter much, being able to connect with people and meet their needs is what matters. You could have a very inferior solution, but if you can network and sell you'll do a lot better than smart people with a better solution.
  22. I have a similar sentiment. Graduated at the bust, studied computer science, was deep in the euphoria because getting a high flying job sitting on a giant bouncy ball coding depending on it.. This round is much different though. Back then you had to purchase things to grow, purchase computers, purchase servers, lease office space. Now we live in a rental economy. Most of these idea IPO's have zero tangible assets, or the tangible assets are coffee makers and ikea desks. Once the doors are locked that capital vanishes. Whereas in the past that capital continued. Some of the crazy expansion of the 90s, data centers, fiber networks, uneconomic satellite networks led to bankruptcies and viable companies purchasing said assets and putting them to use. A lot of the fiber we use today is a result of VC funded expansion in the 90s. Today we aren't investing in any of those things. On the flip side the companies that took it on the chin last time were the service providers for the euphoria, Sun Microsystems, EDS etc. It would be interesting to know how much of AWS' revenue is from money losing venture backed companies. I have no idea whether we're near an inflection point or not. These things go on much longer than anyone ever things, so might still have another 3-5 years before the truly dumb money gets involved. Unfortunately if this does get dragged out before a crash it will be an enormous death blow to most boomer retirements. They are heavy in stocks, and if you have a 50% drawdown at 75 it's really hard to recover from that, there just isn't enough time. I wonder if something like that could precipitate an ever worse crisis at the government level.
  23. It's on GitHub, possibly the safest source out there. You can read the source code and see exactly what it does. I went through it. It makes your browser appear to these sites as a Googlebot, the indexing bot. Sites allow indexers to index the content. Chrome intercepts the headers, rewrites them as a bot and then sends them back. The sites allow you in. The problem for me is there are too many sites that want me to pay. I might read 3-4 articles from a variety of sources each month. But I'm not going to pay $15 or $20/mo for each potential paper. In the end I just stopped reading newspapers. I haven't noticed any change in my life yet, but maybe something terrible and unimaginable will happen. I guess that's what the reporters expect to happen.
  24. Here is the other side of the argument. In the last few months I've talked to a LOT of VC investors, talked to a lot of startups. All non-public (obviously). I think the VC world looks confusing to all of the Debbie downer value investors, but it actually makes a ton of sense, it has a significant value component imbedded in it. First off, for anyone not in the arm-chair investing world and working in operations you know and understand there is a LOT of digitization that can occur in the business world. There is so much low hanging fruit that people are practically getting knocked over by it. By this I mean companies are filled with people doing things inefficiently and repetitively. Yes, there are some stupid ideas out there, but also there are a lot of stupid ways of operating that everyone caulks up to "this is how we've always done it." I've really enjoyed getting involved in the entrepreneur community, it's a huge breath of fresh air. People are smart, creative, and optimistic. As the market has continued up value investors seem to have become cynical and tired. I'd rather hang out with someone who has new ideas vs someone who keeps repeating "that will never work.." You get my point. When you talk to VC's almost all of them will say "grow with revenue, you don't need VC money." And by in large this is true. The VC money is appropriate when you have a large startup cost that you need scale to achieve unit efficiency, or there is a land grab aspect to the business. If you don't have those then you can just grow via sales. There are two other corner cases, biotech and materials. In biotech it's obvious. You have FDA costs and trials that you need to get through before ever selling a thing. My experience is VC firms are either "we do biotech and medical devices" or "we don't touch it" it's very specialized for obvious reasons. Materials are the same. You need to hire a bunch of PhD's to develop the thing, work out the manufacturing and then sell. You can't bootstrap something where you need a $5m lab. This is why universities usually fund these ventures. A professor and students invent some thing, the school funds it then invests in the company. Venture Funds are typically small compared to the hedge fund world, maybe $40-80m at the most. There are a few whales, but it's rare. They create a new fund, it has a ten year life and they work to fill it. The idea is within a decade the company will work out or fail. I know the stereotype is these funds are just throwing money into the wind, but it's difficult to get money. The primary thing they're focused on is personalities and avoiding losses. Just like value investing, if you lose money your gains have to be that much greater. VC investing is like job interviewing. They are talking to the Founders, and all of the clients. They're talking to friends and looking out for personality flaws. If the business is excellent but the people aren't then it's possible the people won't be in charge too long if they take money. That's how the game works. If you look at the growth path, or how some of these companies plan on taking over a market then paying some crazy high multiple can work at the start if they can execute. I don't mind seeing crazy IPO's. That's what the market was for originally. It was the original venture market. New ventures would IPO, they'd take public money and try to execute. Now we have this weird system where the only companies that are public are stodgy old companies, or massive things. It should be easy and cheap to IPO. But as we all know being public is expensive, so that door is closed. The disadvantage that a public investor has is they can't do the DD that a VC firm can. I have this maxim in life that if something doesn't seem to make sense then I probably don't understand it well enough. There are reasons people and industries do a lot of things, and once I understand it always makes sense. It doesn't mean it's right, but it makes sense as to why things happen the way they do. I like buying cheap things, but I also like optimism. Instead of just saying "all this dot-com stuff is crap and it's a fad" I'd prefer to have a bit more of an open mind about things. It's possible some of these companies are legitimately cheap, or the second possibility remains that in a downturn some of these companies will become cheap. If you've closed off your mind then you'll never have the opportunity to buy. And for the record I don't think we have a bubble. Access to cash for speculative companies is down hard over the past few years. Three to five years ago you could do series A round with $0-$10k in monthly recurring revenue, now it's $50k or more with a lot of VC funds wanting $100k+ MRR. This means the people raising now have figured out how to grow and scale to a million in revenue before they're able to raise a significant round.
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