Criminal Probe of Fannie, Freddie

Hell yes, but only if the probe also looks at how Fannie and Freddie were used by politicians for plum political appointments (WTF does Jamie Gorelick deliver for the fat paycheck she receives?), how Fannie and Freddie lobbyists successfully used their deep pockets to line the campaigns of politicians from both parties while lobbying for little regulation over the mortgage giants, and how various regulatory agencies were walked over by these 2 companies.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, citing a 2006 finding that Fannie Mae intentionally overstated earnings, called for a criminal probe of the mortgage giant and Freddie Mac in the wake of a government bailout to prevent their collapse.

[From Cornyn calls for criminal probe of Fannie, Freddie | Business | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle]

Yeah, let’s have a real deep look at how Fannie and Freddie got themselves and taxpayers into trouble.

Google M&A

David Lawee was asked yesterday while on a panel at TC50 about exit strategies what the most successful acquisitions that Google has done to date. His answer was insightful and I think quite candid, he pointed out Keyhole, Urchin, and WrightleyWritely and in each case referenced how the company was able to retain the people and then transform a part of their business with the acquisition. BTW, if you ever get a chance to meet Lawee you will find him to be one of the nicest people at Google, an attribute which no doubt helps the company tremendously when doing M&A deals.

Google has done a pretty extensive laundry list of deals over the years, I found this list on Wikipedia (found using Google, what else?). Interesting to note that Android could well prove to be a defining acquisition when the history book is written, but we’ll have to wait and see on that one.

Keyhole and Urchin are dramatic examples, WrightleyWritely to a lesser degree because Google Apps hasn’t changed the market landscape and Google Docs, being just one part of Apps, is rather poorly integrated into other services (although that is changing). However, it would be hard to argue that Google Maps and Google Analytics don’t represent seminal events in our industry, they are standard bearers and in each case they upended the existing market by going to free for what were previously expensive products, and by dramatically expanding the distribution at competitor’s expense.

Interestingly, Youtube was not talked about much and I believe this is indicative of the challenges that Google has had making this work. Youtube is fantastically successful from a traffic standpoint, not so much so from a monetization perspective nor from the perspective of impacting other Google products. Given the amount of money that Google paid for Youtube and it’s then very small team, it would be hard to argue that they didn’t set themselves up for a few very high hurdles to clear before generating a return on this investment. The fact that there are so many streaming video services available only further reinforces the view that this was not a transformative event in Google’s history, at least not so far.

Lastly, I was shocked that David didn’t bring up Applied Semantics, which could be argued is the goose that laid the golden egg at Google. But then again, I don’t think Google likes for anyone to point out that core search and contextual advertising was anything but developed by Google brains.

David Lawee image
Birthplace: Canada
Companies: Google

David Lawee was named vice president of corporate development at Google in February 2008.

Previously Lawee was vice president, Marketing, at Google. He had global responsibility for all Google marketing activities. His worldwide mandate… Learn More

Wachovia @ Office 2.0

Wachovia Bank presented a case study featuring their use of a Microsoft Office Sharepoint Server (MOSS) at the recently held Office 2.0 event. Based on my anecdotal feedback, this was one of the more talked about presentations at the conference.

It’s worth watching all 50 minutes of the video to see how real customers are looking at collaborative solutions and how they measure the success of such initiatives.

Paying Taxes is Hard, Apparently

It goes beyond irony to read reports about Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and his recent tax problems. But first, let’s note that Rangel is a lawyer and a senior member of Congress who has spent 30 years on the Ways and Means Committee, the current Chairman of that committee, which is responsible for the U.S. tax code. Of all people in the known universe, aside from maybe IRS Commissioner Shulman, this is a guy who should have no excuse for evading taxes.

Rangel claims that the he didn’t know he was supposed to report rental income as, you know, income. Furthermore, he wasn’t aware that interest payments on a mortgage were being waived, so in other words, he didn’t know he wasn’t paying any interest on a mortgage (lot of that going around).

Rather than indict Rangel as just another example of “the most ethical Congress in history” I will take this post to call once again for public debate on serious reform of the tax code. When the Chairman of the committee responsible for tax law can’t even figure out what to report and how much taxes he owes (and I am assuming that Rangel didn’t willfully evade taxes) it speaks volumes about the complexity of our system of taxes.

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