Tag Archives: Seattle

I’m peeved.

I like eating at Hilltop Ale House. It’s in a great location, has a fun atmosphere, and provides very good -to- excellent food for the money. Their soups can be to die for. It’s a good meeting place for start-ups, and they don’t hassle you if you linger a bit. Last but not least, I like Tim and Beau, bartenders/waiters extraordinaire.

Hilltop recently made two changes to their menu. Both of these changes suck.

Suckage #1

They silently reduced the size of their Goat Cheese Salad, I guess as a cost-saving measure. It used to be a kickin’ salad, but now it’s just OK.

Suckage #2, the Greater Offense

They committed a far larger offense in another dish. They removed the tabouleh from their Artichoke Hummus Pita Plate.

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Cleaning the mental loft of some odds and ends…

An ex-colleague torpedoed my reputation with a start-up. I uncovered this from the timing of the company’s backing out, a LinkedIn update, and a third party’s casual comment. It gets better: I had been neutral about them, due to doubts about the company’s technical direction and market opportunity. OOTB they said TBNT, and a few days later I discovered the torpedo in the water. The epilogue: I’ve since learned things that confirmed my earlier qualms about the company, so it’s just as well (good for me, actually) that our talks are off. So to my anonymous known admirer: Thanks for helping me dodge a bullet! And, Bitter, party of 1: Your table is ready.

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I’m grumpy about the local Seattle media’s self-serving Web 2.0 / blogosphere circular hand-tugs.

I’m grumpy about obvious toot-your-own-horn tweets on Twitter. (Hint: If I’m interested in your blog, it’ll be in my RSS reader. Tweeting that you just wrote a blog post is inane.)

I’m grumpy about how the main stream media writes about the stock market. It’s up, it’s down, investors are bullish or bearish. Here are two news flashes: Investors are clueless. And an index of 30 stocks doesn’t represent the economy, or even the rest of the stock market.

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Clearing the mental attic of some odds and ends…

A little bird told me that Fisher Communications is up for sale. I have no idea if this is true. But interestingly, Fisher filed an 8-K on August 24, notifying the SEC of changes in its top executives’ Change of Control agreements. From its preamble:

The Board believes it is imperative to diminish the inevitable distraction of the Executive arising from the personal uncertainties and risks created by a pending or threatened Change of Control, to encourage the Executive’s full attention and dedication to the Company currently and in the event of any threatened or pending Change of Control, and to provide the Executive with reasonable compensation and benefit arrangements upon a Change of Control.

IANAL, but the document indicates that in the event of a change in control, Colleen Brown will receive 2x her annual salary plus any optional bonuses then in effect, and other execs will get 1x their annual salaries plus their optional bonuses. These terms are generous, in my experience.

If you know anything about this, drop me a line at john at seeknuance dot com. Or if you prefer, tack on a comment to this post.

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BlatherWatch questions Susan Hutchison’s temperament for public office. It’s a must-read for King County residents. Money quote:

Hutchison, 55, looks good on paper and great in front of a mirror or a teevee camera, but substantively, and temperamentally, we found her, er, wanting. She couldn’t answer policy questions, and wouldn’t answer fundamental political questions, like “where do you stand on a woman’s right to choose,” or “who did you vote for president in 2008?”

She got visibly angry with some of our questions during the interview (the aforementioned on abortion being one) and called us at home later to clarify and reframe answers. She could be bat-her-big-eyes charming but also bristly, brittle, and defensive.

Because it was for a magazine, not a newspaper, she scolded us like an ex-girlfriend. “I thought you were going to be different!” she cried.

If she wins the election, she’ll be as good for King County as George W. Bush was for America.

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When talking about revenue or profits, “plummet” isn’t a word you want to see in the same paragraph.

Two weeks ago, I predicted another Microsoft layoff this year. Today, TechFlash’s Todd Bishop reports that Microsoft reported fourth quarter revenue down 17%, and profits down to 34 cents/share. Every division had a revenue decline. Windows Clients had a 29% revenue decline.

This news only reinforces my expectation of another layoff. They’re not going to cut just window dressing this time; they’ll have to hack off some flabby meat chunks.

See the TechFlash post for more info.

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I predict Microsoft will have another layoff this year.

This is either a bold or stupid thing to say, much less write in a blog. Probably both. I’m no economist, financial guru (to which my last set of brokerage statements will attest), or business seer. Nonetheless, I have two eyes, and a brain that occasionally produces a worthwhile thought.

Microsoft faces serious challenges ahead, which I think will result in another round of layoffs.

The most significant will be that the economy simply won’t recover as quickly as the company expects it to. (For that matter, this is also true of many other companies, and our Federal Government.) I say we’ll surpass 10% unemployment. And the “recovery” will be shaped like an “L,” and not a “U” or “V”. The result will be a very challenging environment for revenue and profit targets, even if all their products were on otherwise firm footing.

Another challenge will be specific to the Windows product line. Windows 7 won’t bring in the hoped-for revenue, even without this economic clime, for three separate but connected reasons.
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I should have a preamble here, but my mind’s blank. I’ll jump right in.

Comparing Portland and Seattle

I’ve been ruminating over this since returning from Open Source Bridge. I felt odd the day after returning, and I quickly realized that my mood was… depressed! For the first time ever, I was in a funk about Seattle.

OSB was a rush of camaraderie, intelligence, and cutting-edge developers. Portland (in the tech realm) struck me as approachable, celebratory of cooperation, and tuned for geek individualism. My vexation, and the cause of my blues, was that Seattle isn’t as solid in those characteristics. I’m not claiming they don’t exist here, but that they are stronger and more evident in Portland. I’ve been thinking about why this is, and what if anything to do about it.

Admittedly, I have asymmetrical data points. I’m drawing on knowledge gained about the Portland locale over time, but at a distance. I’ve tried to compensate for my familiarity with Seattle, so that I can infer (or perhaps rediscover, or finally acknowledge) some fair conclusions.

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