Felix Salmon

Getting enthused about Aspen

June 28, 2011

On the strength of one opening afternoon at the Aspen Ideas Festival, I think I like it a lot. And that’s a surprise to me: I was expecting that Alpine gabfests would tend to have more similarities than differences. But this is a world away from Davos, and not just in terms of longitude or season. At Davos, everybody is self-importantly “committed to improving the state of the world”; in Aspen, the stakes are much lower, and the emphasis is on what you’re saying rather than who you are.

Why Silver Lake isn’t harmed by being evil

June 27, 2011

How much harm is being done to Silver Lake by the relentless bad press about the way it’s treating its Skype employees? TED reckons that there will be ” real long-term effects on its viability as an investor in Silicon Valley” — but I’m not so sure. Look at what happened to Goldman Sachs after details of the Abacus deal came out — its reputation was damaged, but somehow its business, which is largely a function of its reputation, continued mostly unscathed.

Why insider dealing is so attractive to hedge funds

June 27, 2011

Danny Black, in a series of comments on my post about Raj Rajaratnam and insider trading, points out how small Raj’s insider profits were, compared to his net worth and the size of his fund:

Basel: the Sifi surcharge arrives

June 27, 2011

Basel has spoken, and the Sifi surcharge — the amount of extra capital that will have to be held by systemically important financial institutions — will range from 1% to 3.5%, with no bank in the first instance being subject to a surcharge of more than 2.5%.


June 27, 2011

Central bankers agree on bank capital surcharge plan — Reuters

The president’s trademark approach to leadership: “the fierce urgency of sometime later” — HuffPo

Skype’s evil ways, cont.

June 27, 2011

The Skype/Silver Lake story is refusing to die, with Yee Lee’s revelations bringing out the same anonymous investor-group sources defending Skype’s actions. But if the defenders are comfortable in their anonymity, it seems only fair for me to share an anonymous email I got this morning from “Skype Insider”.

How Philanthrocapitalism coddles CEOs

June 24, 2011

A quick reply to Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, which with luck will bring this exchange to an end: I’m not saying that they make the case for the status quo. But when Davos Young Global Leaders, like Bishop, intone importantly about how “there is an urgent need to tackle fundamental flaws in the economic system” and how CEOs need to concentrate on long-term enlightened self-interest rather than “short-termist behavior”, the very corporate chieftains they’re trying to reach are going to nod in serious agreement and claim in all sincerity to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

Greece’s messy muddle-through continues

June 24, 2011

The one thing you can be sure of, when it comes to the latest episode in the ongoing saga of the Greek bailout, is that it’s a mess. The WSJ is reporting that the bailout is secure, while Reuters is a bit more cautious, just saying that a deal is “closer”. Everybody knows what needs to happen — but a crucial vote in the Greek parliament still hasn’t happened, and the role of private-sector banks going forwards is also extremely vague:

Upgrading Skype and Silver Lake to Evil

June 24, 2011

Last week, Bloomberg’s Joseph Galante published a story claiming that Skype investors in general, and Silver Lake in particular, were firing senior executives just before the company is sold to Microsoft, so that they don’t get their full share of the proceeds from the sale. This seemed pretty evil to me, but it wasn’t long before anonymous Skype investors started showing up on various blogs (SAI, TechCrunch, GigaOm) pouring cold water on the allegations, saying that the firings were all the doing of Skype’s CEO, Tony Bates, and had nothing to do with Silver Lake at all.