Landmark Links February 23rd – Don’t Look Down


Lead Story….. Venture capital funding is waning in Silicon Valley forcing companies to make absurd promises (like issuing more shares to investors if a company  at IPO if an investment doesn’t achieve a minimum return threshold) or taking on debt to cover high burn rates in a last ditch effort to preserve stratospheric valuations.  All the while, layoffs are mounting and companies are looking to sublease unneeded office space.  In addition, shares of private “unicorns” are now flooding the secondary market.  Investors aren’t yet looking to fire-sale their shares but they are eyeing the best path to the exit while startup execs do their best to maintain a positive tone that somewhat resembles a famous Kevin Bacon scene from Animal House.   What’s going on in Tech Land has some shades of housing in 2006 when the market had already peaked in terms of transactions but prices continued upwards for a few more months as lenders pushed ever-sketchier loan products to keep the party going a bit longer – even as inventory began to swell.  VC funding may indeed recover or many of these companies may begin to make money.  Only time will tell.  However, this is something that needs to be monitored in the coming quarters.  Keep a close eye on Bay Area housing prices and Class B office space. This could get interesting.


Law of Unintended Consequences: It’s a very, very good time to be building and/or selling safes in Japan these days thanks to the onset of negative interest rates.

Thinking Small: In spite of market turbulence over the last few months, small business hiring data is still showing a steady upward trajectory.

No Quick Fix: The oil industry is increasingly finding itself in a existential crisis of it’s own making and answers on how to fix it are hard to come by.  See Also: Why the oil glut will extend into 2017.


Rolling the Dice: House flipping is back in a big way in Las Vegas, making up over 10% of recent home sales.

Drag on Growth: Talking heads in financial and political circles are slowly coming to the realization that restrictive zoning and land use restrictions that hobble property rights and drive up rents and land prices are a large net drag on the economy as a whole and lead to greater inequality.  Now if we could just figure how to do something about it……


Kooks: How hipsters are wrecking surfing – “….the more surfers there are vying for waves and acclaim and rankings, the more the very spirit of surfing changes. Lineups (the spots where waves break and surfers converge) become less hospitable for peace-seekers and more the territory of contenders jockeying for wave ownership. One sign that this sort of degradation may already be happening is the uptick in documented incidents of “surf rage,”when beefs between surfers lead to fistfights.”

Zombies: We’ve noted the inherent (and potentially deadly) danger of texting while walking here and here.  It’s become a serious addiction for some as well as a major public safety concern.  There isn’t a known cure for stupid but the same technology that caused this problem could play a role in it’s solution.

Hostile Ground: AirBnb has been booming in Japan.  In fact, the island nation is the room-sharing company’s quickest growing market due to restricted hotels supply and the need for more rooms to accommodate tourist demand.  It could all be coming to an end though as the powerful Japanese hotel lobby has persuaded the government to issue home sharing guidelines that could make most short term rentals illegal.

Chart of the Day

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot 

Must Have Been Awkward: A Chinese airline was grounded over Valentines Day due to inclement weather and unable to leave until the next day.  Their customer service department booked rooms in a local hotel for passengers so that they didn’t have to spend the night in the airport.  The problem?  They mistakenly booked the rooms at an hourly rate S&M themed love hotel.  To make matters worse, there was a shortage of rooms so strangers had to bunk up together. And you thought that Delta sucked….

Food Fight: A dispute over cheesy garlic knots led to a brawl that literally destroyed a pizzeria because, Florida.

Strange Brew: An Italian coffee mogul died at the age of 93 last week.  His last wish was to have his ashes buried in a giant coffee pot.

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