Promoting innovation through employee stock ownership

Some people think we can protect shareowners, prevent corporate malfeasance and rein in lavish compensation of corporate CEOs by requiring companies to expense the value of employee stock options. Of course, the issue is a surrogate for many of the more fundamental problems of corporate governance. Burton Malkiel, professor of economics at Princeton, and William Baumol, professor of economics at New York University, wrote in the Wall Street Journal in April 2002 that “there is no way to measure the ‘cost’ – the value of the options at the time they are granted – with reasonable precision.” But bad policy is not a compliance problem for public companies, who can easily assign a value to the options they issue because Read More ›

EU Threatens Innovation in Action Against Microsoft

Microsoft’s work group server competitors claim they can’t keep up with the complexity of Microsoft’s product upgrades.

“We are, in many fields, ten years behind Microsoft. And the lag is growing with every new step Microsoft takes”

according to Volker Lendecke of the Samba Users Group, an organization dedicated to free software that anyone can copy.

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Government does not exist to protect investment expectations

Last week George Gilder, Bret Swanson and I met with a powerful Senator who told us he is being urged to “go slow” on deregulation because it would be unfair to change the market conditions that existed when investments were made. Of course, this is a Luddite argument against any progress at all. Telephone companies invested billions before VoIP. Cable companies invested billions before IPTV. And rural telephone companies invested billions before wireless offered a cheaper way to connect remote consumers. Should government slow the deployment of alternative technologies that cost less and offer greater functionality? Not if it cares about consumers and taxpayers. Investment is motivated by a desire for inordinate profit. Successful investment achieves a temporary monopoly, and Read More ›

Go Gottlieb

See a former colleague of mine Scott Gottlieb getting slimed by the Seattle Times for — gasp — knowing something about financial markets. Scott used to write the Gilder Biotech Report and the Forbes Medical Technology Report, and he recently went back to the FDA as one of three deputy commissioners. The reporter seems to think that only people who don’t like the pharmaceutical/medical technology industry should work at the FDA. Most people in government have little experience with business and financial markets, and so a Scott Gottlieb here or there is not only not going to hurt anyone but in fact provides a much needed new perspective in an institution that has trailed its foreign counterparts in approving new Read More ›

Competition and customer service

The companies delivering voice, video and data services rank low in customer satisfaction, reports the Washington Post. Customer service appears to be the primary culprit. The newspaper quotes the following expert opinion: when there is competition and consumer choice, it does get better. Would the cable industry alone have spent almost $100 billion in network upgrades since it was deregulated in 1996 if not to compete against the satellite and phone companies? Competition is here. Customer service may not be as important as it once was, but that’s because customers today can also shop for innovative products and competitive pricing. Gold-plated customer service existed under regulation, when government controlled price and market entry. AT&T emphasized customer service because it was Read More ›

New Life for Narad?

Back in 2001 I wrote about a technology company with a funny name that in a round-about way helped make the case for telecom deregulation. Narad Networks had developed sophisticated analog signal processing techniques that dramatically expanded the usable spectrum of the coaxial cables used in cable TV networks. With current analog and digital programming running from 5 to 860 MHz, Narad’s network updates would open the spectrum up to 1.2 GHz, boosting by 50 percent the already considerable capacity of the cable companies’ hybrid fiber coax (HFC) networks. Over this newly available spectrum, Narad could run Gigabit or even 10 Gigabit switched Ethernet trunks, enabling dedicated switched Internet services of 10, 50, 100 Mbps — whatever — to homes….Or Read More ›