Felix Salmon

Gawker Media jettisons its porn blog

February 17, 2012

Back in November, Nick Denton put Gawker Media’s Fleshbot up for sale. The official announcement, here, is NSFW due to the ads surrounding it — which pretty much explains why Fleshbot was being sold: its customers — porn sites — are very, very different from the brand advertisers who supply the money to all the other Gawker Media properties.

The Greece game turns chaotic

February 17, 2012

Back in 2010 the ECB started buying Greek bonds to try to prop up Greece’s debt markets. It did so in the open market, which meant that it was the highest bidder at the time; reportedly it paid somewhere in the region of 75 cents on the euro for each bond. They’re currently trading at about half that level, so when the bonds get their 50% haircut, it’s going to lose billions of euros, right?

A private stock market for small banks

February 16, 2012

SecondMarket is moving into regional and community banks — something which can’t possibly be bad and might well be very good for the industry.

Target, Google, and privacy

February 16, 2012

The most interesting part of Charles Duhigg’s story about corporate “predictive analytics” is the reaction of Target’s PR department when they found out he was writing it.

Why BofA can’t tell Merrill brokers what to do

February 16, 2012

Joe Giannone has scored a fascinating interview with Lyle LaMothe, the former head of Merrill Lynch’s Thundering Herd. As John Carney says, the interview makes it very clear, as was suspected at the time, that he left because he was very uncomfortable with edicts surrounding synergies and cross-selling and the like after Merrill Lynch was bought by Bank of America.

Greece is broken, and can’t be fixed

February 15, 2012

As Mohamed El-Erian says, the broken dynamics surrounding Greece right now are extremely reminiscent of what was happening in Argentina in 2001. New money is necessary, but it’s also insufficient; it all feels like some kind of Samuel Beckett-style existential paradox. You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.

Journalism’s welcome longevity

February 14, 2012

This week, Significance magazine (“statistics making sense”) reprinted a three-year-old article of mine about the Gaussian copula function. That story has had an impressive shelf life, and I’m incredibly happy that it will continue to be read for years to come. Sometimes it will be read in print publications, like Significance or book anthologies. But many, many more people will read it online. That’s great for Wired, both in terms of ongoing ad revenues (which are pretty small at this point) and in terms of its reputation for printing high-quality journalism with lasting value. (That value isn’t just journalistic, either: Wired’s parent, Conde Nast, is being very inventive in terms of monetizing old content.)

What’s bad for JP Morgan isn’t bad for America

February 14, 2012

I’d recommend that you at least glance at the Occupy the SEC letter about the Volcker Rule before attempting to digest Andrew Ross Sorkin’s column on the same subject today:

Chart of the day, Facebook IPO edition

February 14, 2012

There are two ways of looking at the $5 billion or so that Facebook is going to raise in its IPO. One is to ask what on earth the company is going to do with all that money: it’s already making substantially more in the way of profits than it is likely to want to spend, and the chances are that the $5 billion is just going to go straight into the bank, where it will earn roughly 0.77% per year. This is not the best use of shareholder funds, and it’s hard to see why Facebook’s CFO would want the cash pile to be any bigger.