Saturday, February 22, 2014

Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp

Click on image to enlarge

WhatsApp is an excellent facility, which took advantage of the surging market for smartphones -- basically adding mobility to the desktop instant messenger systems that had been available for years.

Facebook is more likely to boost usage of WhatsApp rather than vice-versa.

Facebook to acquire 55-employee WhatsApp for $19bn in cash and stock

In 2011, Microsoft paid $8.5bn for Skype - - 32 times operating profit  --  and last year with a claimed 300m users, it was estimated that it accounted for one-third of world telephone traffic. Impressive? In 2010, it was reported that 6% of users pay.

What value is Skye to Microsoft now or Google Voice to Google?

The focus on user growth is reminiscent of the 'land grab' hype of the dot-com bubble but why should Twitter be expected to have the same usage growth rate as Facebook - - apart from ridiculous market valuations -- as they mainly operate in different online market segments?

The critical issue for the big name online services is ARPU (average revenue per user) per annum. 

Facebook's average revenue per user (ARPU) worldwide accelerated to +39% at $2.14 in the fourth quarter of 2013, and ARPU in the U.S. was up 48% at $6.03.

The key challenge for Facebook is that Google with a similar user base of over a billion, can get $30 per user per annum from search advertising.

In Asia, Facebook's ARPU was $0.95 in Q4.

I was in China last week, where the online sector is doing very well.

Twitter and Facebook are blocked while Google's search is available from Hong Kong but it's a hassle to use as it's not clear what sites are blocked before clicking.

Nomura of Japan estimates that China's WeChat’s average revenue per user is $7, compared to WhatsApp’s average revenue of $1.

Late last week Japanese online retailer Rakuten announced a deal to buy Viber for $900m for 105m users.

Chinese online services are the only ones that can rival the American online leaders - - while the latter try to avoid paying corporate taxes in most of their overseas markets.

So in Asia, the most populous region, there are not easy pickings for the US giants.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Electricity fraud in Malta

Euro Topics reports that it emerged last week that employees of a power company had manipulated around ten percent of all electricity meters in Malta to the benefit of consumers.

The extent of the fraud puts the entire country in a bad light, the liberal-conservative daily The Malta Independent believes:

The one thing that beggars belief in the smart meter tampering scandal is that more people are suspected of rigging the system in Malta, than in the whole of the United States in one year. ... But what is it? Is it the shady side of our Mediterranean character, or what? Is corruption so institutionalised that it is in our blood? Maybe it is something that has gone back years and years, to times when the only way to actually get anything done was to grease someone's palm."

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Iona Institute / Lolek Ltd Ireland and its funding

SEE Finfacts article: Irish journalists get cash payouts over 'homophobic' defamation claim

Lolek Ltd t/a Iona Institute had a cash balance of €186,000 at end of 2007 rising to €231,000 at end 2010, €278,000 in 2011 and €325,000 at end 2012.

It's a significant balance for a tiny 'charity' but no information is available on the sources of the annual revenue of over €200,000.

Would some of the cash be sourced from the US? Should we know?

This is relevant as in the US, not only would lobby groups against gay rights not be able to sue over being termed 'homophobic' because of saner defamation laws, it would be a badge of honour to some of them.  

The Family Research Council, which gets a lot of attention from Republican Party presidential aspirants, published a pamphlet on gay marriage, citing a case where a Missouri man wanted to marry a horse.

Then there's Legatus, an organisation for wealthy Catholic businessmen, which is suing the US government over Obama's Affordable Care Act, as it's apparently an attack on Catholics.   

This is a 2011 article on the Legatus site from the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center ( ), that in modern times uses archaic terminology, which in the past was used to stigmatise gay people.

There are many reasons why people suffer from SSA (same sex attraction) disorder. Some “discover” this tendency within them. Others grow into it through pursuits of pleasure or experimentation. Some use it to punish themselves or others. Whether the disorder has some deep, unknown roots over which one has virtually no control, or whether it’s a developed disorder resulting from bad choices, it leaves an individual disposed toward activities and a lifestyle that are dangerous — physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Fortunately there is hope for those who suffer from the disorder. The National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality reports that significant numbers of homosexual persons have undergone treatment and had their sexual drives properly ordered. These findings are a beacon of hope to those suffering from SSA, as well as for their family and friends who desire their happiness and good health."

In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder.

Since 1975, the American Psychological Association "has called on psychologists to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with lesbian, gay and bisexual orientations."

Given the post-independence system of censorship and British-inspired defamation laws that protected political, religious and business leaders from scrutiny and accountability over past decades, it's an odd modern society where journalists would consider legal action over this issue.

Let us applaud dissenters as societies have only progressed when the smug and often intolerant status quo was challenged.

In 1863, the year of emancipation, the Irish rioted in New York against an unfair Union Army draft lottery. Democratic Party officials had warned of an influx of freed black slaves from the South and on July 13 an Irish mob attacked a black orphanage in the city that housed more than 200 children. The mob burned the building after looting it and then began attacking and lynching blacks.

A century later, Martin Luther King could say that "the Negro...finds himself an exile in his own land."

Wonder what it was like to be both black and gay in the US a half century ago?

Thomas Jefferson, a cruel slave master, had penned the line in the 1776 Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..."

At his second inaugural, Barack Obama linked equality and fights for civil rights for women, blacks and gays together, spanning 121 years.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created equal – is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall..."

American writer James Baldwin (1924-1987) left racist White America for France in the late 1940's and returned in 1957 as the civil rights movement was gaining strength. He took an active part in it but he was a victim of another prejudice that did not have colour boundaries.

Baldwin was both black and gay and he was rejected as a speaker at the renowned civil rights march in Washington D.C. in 1963 when Martin Luther King delivered his 'I have a dream' speech.