Revisiting 2017 Predictions
The day I wrote these, President-Elect Trump nominated Omarosa Manigault, former contestant on The Apprentice, as an assistant to the president and director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison. Kinda says it all. Anyways, let’s reflect on my (in-)ability to predict the future. My comments are below each prediction.
Prediction: Twitter will increase in relevance and decrease in value — sub $10/share. Jack Dorsey has become the accidental star of Home Alone 3 as everyone bolts. Twitter’s board is reaching Yahoo-like levels of negligence as it continues to tolerate a part-time CEO in the face of a crashing stock and layoffs. In 2017 I will purchase $5–10M in Twitter stock for $6–10/share, approach other shareholders, file a 13D, and re-nominate the existing board sans the part-time guy (@jack). The stock will pop 10%. Tweet? Fuck that, BOOM.
Sorta right / wrong. Twitter has gained relevance; its stock is also up. Jack’s afternoon job, Square, has performed much better, and the part-time Twitter CEO now has the vast majority of his net worth wrapped up in the afternoon part of his day, Square. But I’m sure he’s almost 50% focused on Twitter. What could go wrong?
Prediction: Verizon will walk from, or shave $1B+ from the purchase price of Yahoo as they begin to recognize they may be inviting Mr. Death (mother of all liabilities) into their house. Yahoo’s hacks are bad, but not knowing about them for years is worse, as criminal entities had access to these accounts and could plot, carefully, their nefarious activities. Someone will correlate an increased likelihood of being hacked with Yahoo email account possession, and we’ll be subject to late-night commercials from law firms asking, “If you have a vaginal mesh, or a Yahoo email account, you may be entitled to compensation.”
Honorable Mention. Verizon shaved $350M from the purchase price of Yahoo, citing liability from the hack.
Prediction: Hacking, phishing schemes, and ransomware will reach crisis proportions and take center stage in Congress, which will hold hearings that cement its reputation as having no fucking clue about technology.
Nailed this. Equifax, Uber, the SEC, and Chipotle, among others, were hacked. This is the threat we’re under-reporting. There are some organizations (like Google) that if hacked would cause social chaos — when your searches for divorce attorneys and much, much worse, become visible to everyone.
Prediction: We will see enormous writedowns from Unilever and Walmart’s acquisitions of Dollar Shave Club and Jet.com, respectively. The acquisitions are the most expensive hair plugs ever stapled on midlife-crisis firms.
Wrong (mostly). Walmart’s acquisition of Jet.com was not only not written down, but is turning out to be one of the better retail acquisitions of the last decade. To be clear, Jet.com was not worth $3B, but it was worth more than $3B to Walmart. Each quarter for the last year, Walmart has been able to report YOY e-commerce growth of 60%+. This alone is worth more than $3B to a $300B dollar firm. Missed the big picture here. Unilever’s acquisition of Dollar Shave Club was, and is, stupid. P&G is the winner, as they had a (albeit overestimated) competitor taken out of the game on Unilever’s balance sheet. Unilever gets props for taking risks and leaning in, despite the outcome.
Prediction: Amazon, having bested Apple and Google in voice and machine learning, will run a successful test for zero-click retail (auto ordering and fulfillment) and will become the most valuable company in the world.
A little early, but looking good. Amazon Prime Wardrobe sends clothes you can try on and decide if you want to buy. The firm is now the fourth most valuable company in the world, with its stock up 50% YTD.
Prediction: President Trump’s first year will combust into unending scandal and calls for impeachment, as the complexities of geopolitics collide with poor self-control, weak intellect, lack of empathy for the public, and disrespect for government officials.
Yep. Wrote this weeks before he was inaugurated. Any person who lives in a city or within a drive of a university was attempting to counter the shock of Trump’s victory with the hallucination that the office would change the man. Hoping for an EpiPen of empathy and IQ. It hasn’t happened. We are frogs in near-boiling water, not wanting to register just how fucked up this country is right now. A president accused of assault endorsing a Senate candidate accused of molesting children. Allies alienated, a cabinet that plays like scenes from the last season of Survivor, where unlikable people come and go, constant chaos overwhelms anything resembling responsible governance, and people openly question his emotional and mental well-being.
The good news, it’s the beginning of the end. Our military leaders, in conjunction with Republican senators, are in the fifth inning of a slow-moving coup to remove this man’s fingers from the button. I will write more predictions in a couple weeks. However, the one I’m certain of? Time‘s Person of the Year for 2018: Robert Mueller, 3rd Marine Division, Vietnam. Recipient of the Bronze Star with Valor, two Navy Commendation Medals, the Purple Heart, and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. No bone spurs.
Prediction: Netflix is the operating system for the other screen in our life (TV) and becomes the fifth horseman (share price doubles) or is acquired by one of the horsemen or Disney.
Mostly right. Netflix is becoming the OS for TV, and stock is up 50% YTD.
Prediction: Snapchat will not go public as it becomes evident they are losing traction at the hands of Instagram. The IPO market, in general, will remain weak as entrepreneurs and VCs find liquidity and capital in the private markets. The M&A market will remain robust as public firms face a grow-or-die market and (most) possess inflated currency.
Meh. Snap did get out, but has been halved from the high … and is fucked. The Zuck owns four of the top five top non-gaming apps globally and has pointed all these weapons at Snap, which is now playing defense.
Prediction: Hedge funds will continue to shudder and hemorrhage funds as investors realize they have underperformed the market by (near or) exactly the amount of their fees.
Yep. ETFs exploding their assets under management … a terrible year for hedge funds.
Prediction: Pinterest’s value will fall 50%+ as weak management and turnover begin to metastasize.
Nope. Don’t know what their value is, but unlikely it’s decreased 50%.
Prediction: Innovation in solar will result in the first viable alternative to fossil fuels and will begin a decades-long reversion in power from autocrats, countries that won’t let women drive, Texas, and Norway.
Sort of but not really. Solar (i.e., Musk) getting more traction. Gulf states had a terrible year.
Prediction: Airbnb becomes the most disruptive private company, other than Amazon, in business and has the IPO everyone is expecting from Snapchat. By end of year, the firm is worth more than Uber.
Sort of. At the beginning of 2017, Uber was valued 4x Airbnb. Airbnb’s next round may approach, even pass the most recent valuation on Uber. A great year for Airbnb, a shitty one for Uber.
Prediction: WeWork loses 75%+ of its value from peak ($16B) and becomes poster child of unicorn mania.
Wrong. Firm is doing a bunch of innovative things that have extended the halcyon.
Prediction: The St. Louis Blues win the Stanley Cup. I don’t watch sports — my dad told me this.
No, I think. I don’t know who won the Stanley Cup, and I’m too lazy to search for it, as I think spectator sports are stupid, and young, smart people are beginning to figure this out.
Prediction: La La Land wins best picture at the 89th Academy Awards.
Right, for three minutes until it was discovered they made a mistake, and Moonlight won. Chaos on stage as we realize a ridiculously stupid, and avoidable, mistake had been made. Another decent summary of 2017.
Life is so rich,