Vele discusses investing in Macedonia, technology, digital photography, business and international affairs

Month: April 2005

Wharton MBA is done!

Yes, I’m chilling today after wrapping up my last paper yesterday on NetJets. Do you know that for a mere $140k or so you can get a Marquis Card that entitles you to a 25-hours of flying time in your own personal plane? Wow, such affordability. You get a cool black card that says you are a true playa! Sign up and take 5 of your friends and family all over the country. Just wait about 10 hours for your plane to be ready. Awesome…wish I could afford it…

That’s it, man, Wharton MBA is a done deal…
Next move: visit Macedonia for a month, haven’t been there in ages (since 99).
Come back and drive cross country to Seattle the long way

Couldn’t imagine it’d take about 2 years for me to feel truly at home in Philly. It’s a nice city, not quite New York or Chicago, but very friendly. I’ll have fond memories coming back here…Ultimately, coming back to speak to an audience of Wharton students in the future would be a monumental honor.

U2 and Seattle Housing, the good, the bad and the ugly!

Saw U2 last Sunday at the Key Arena in Seattle: awesome! These guys put on a kick-ass show worth all $50MM that went into it. The good: great show, great sound, stage in oval shape made the band visible from all angles. Bono walked quite a bit around to see the entire audience, they played some Vertigo songs, but a lot of old and new ones. Beautiful! I actually knew almost all songs. I was surprised to see that many in the audience around me didn’t know many of their songs, not just older ones but the ones which didn’t always get great MTV airplay. In anycase, except for the seating, the show rocked and I’d see U2 again if possible, next time splurging on closer seats. Kings of Leon opened for them and they sounded great, cool band with southern-rock/jazz influence.

The bad: My wife and I had seats in the bleechers, separated by the mercy of, and facing the side of the stage at precisely the same location on each end. Weird, but not bad. Since my wife had seat #2, I tried switching my seat in the middle with the guy in #1. The dude flew all the way from Brazil, bought the ticket on ebay for $400 (what a shame) switched with me during the opening act. Ah, great guy, right? Wrong. Right before U2 starts, he wants his seat back, cuz he wants to take pictures and my seat sucked for him. Whatever! I went back and actually enjoyed a great show which could have been better with my wife next to me as she knows even more u2 lyrics than I do.

On the bad subject, we spent the weekend looking at houses in Seattle and the East side to buy as I start my next gig at Microsoft. A nice Coldwell agent drove us all over to see interesting 3bd places. If you’re single and don’t mind commute, there are interesting finds (no better way to describe) in Seattle, Queen Anne, Green Lake, Fremont areas. But if you have a kid, like my almost 5-yr old, then forget Seattle. The schools suck big time!

That lives us with the East side where there are no ranch houses but ramblers. I’m thinking of a marketing idea, yes, rename ramblers into ranch-style. That ought to make them a bit more palatable. Rambler sounds so, how do I put it, rambly?! like an RV sound or something, like you can lift it and move it. 99% of what we saw just wasn’t even close to our liking. The one place we actually liked, was priced to eat up our consumer surplus, ie, 20% more than the most recent equivalent sale of only last November. Either they didn’t want to sell or they really hope to cash in. In anycase, inventory is opening up and we’ll take the wait and see approach. An interest rate increase could be made up on better price easily.

The ugly: oh, yeah, the dude paying $400 for a bleecher seat on ebay (we got the $49 deal from ticketmaster). U2 allowing all sorts of cameras in the concert and not telling anyone. I was seriously bummed by this because we didn’t even bring a small camera, much less an SLR, and folks were snapping all over the place. So much for security, that’s cool that u2 allows it. I’ll keep that in mind for next time.

Why Webvan failed?

Transportation costs and a 30-minute window promise. That’s all. These guys were running a 12% of revenue transportation costs that completely replaced the equivalent costs of a supermarket store. Thus, all other costs that Webvan had: IT and warehousing were higher than for a supermarket. THere’s no way these guys could ever make a buck, much less beat the supermarket’s paltry 4% operating margins.

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