Thoughts on LinkedIn IPO, future IPOs for Facebook, Twitter

I won a bet today with a friend. I said that we would get at least one social media company that went public this year.linkedin 2 It was an easy bet to win. Many of these social media companies, Facebook, Twitter, being the two big ones had been in the news for over a year with plans on going public. But today, LinkedIn, was the 1st to pull the trigger. I’m on all 3 sites (as a PR student it is quite necessary) and use them almost everyday, so I I’ll tell you what I think of all 3 of them as focus on Facebook and Twitter my views on them having an IPO (initial public offering or simply being listed on the stock market) in the future.

LinkedIn is an interesting case. Of the 3, it is the most professional and I appreciate that aspect. Apparently so do a lot of my peers. The past couple months it seemed every week,  I have been adding old colleagues at a feverish pace, to keep in touch with them all on LinkedIn. Besides this though, I haven’t used or rather dived into LinkedIn as much as I’ve liked to…yet. But it’s use is evident. It is a networking tool, with a global network, a key point in this new reality of economies being so closely tied together with each other more than ever.

I have heard that their groups, which I am a part of about 10 related to PR/communication, really makes LinkedIn a valuable source in organizing people for business development discussion. This is definitely something I want to explore more. When I put my investor hat on and seeing how LinkedIn quickly doubled from its IPO price of $45 to an intraday high of over $122/share, to a close of a healthy $94.25 with over 30 million volume, this is positive news for their company. Obviously it won’t do 30 million everyday but impressive nonetheless and good on them for this amount of initial support  for their target valuation.

Facebook is a different story. Their IPO will no doubt be a top news item, but  I’ve grown rather tired of Facebook, as a company, to be honest. Two big reasons are one being the growth of spam on that site, and  two the messaging system or Facebook chat.

Spam has gotten so bad I find myself filtering so many people, this filtered list is becoming the same size of my hundreds of friends. The messaging system, Facebook chat is a mess. It is that simple. Throw in the recent bad press of Facebook using world renowned PR firm Burston-Mueller to smear Google’s reputation, and you really see that maybe the movie “The Social Network” really wasn’t that far off in portraying the company. Not helping my career or other PR professionals when we have to deal with being labelled “spin doctors”, as the profession is so commonly wrongly described.  All of these types of "soft feelings” I’ll call them, because they pull on my emotional attachment  in regards to Facebook. Throw in their just insane valuation (roughly 70 billion market value) and I would have a hard time, going for this in an IPO situation.

Twitter I like a lot more. It has half as many people on its site (300 million) as of today that Facebook has. (Yes it was big day for social media if you’re following). It has become the most efficient way to break news, as evidenced by the story of a journalist Pakistan directly or indirectly breaking the news of the U.S. Navy Seals Team Six killing of Osama Bin Laden. It’s fun as well. Some of the people I follow strictly use it to ply their comedic antics and this is accepted and adds to Twitter’s fun factor.

Personal views are encouraged, which makes for great back in forth between celebrities, media personalities, and just regular people like you and I. Twitter has a broad appeal,  in both professional and personal use, making it a great blend, more so than LinkedIn which is more purely professional and Facebook which is more purely personal. This makes it a more attractive target for me if I were to pursue it in an IPO.

Being in the field of PR, it  is exciting to see how social media is growing and impacting everyone. In terms of these companies. whether they become sustained profitable entities, without the fear of  them imploding is anyone’s guess. I would rather invest, as I have done so, in hard assets (gold), dividend funds, and equities. Of course, those that made a quick double and then some on LinkedIn today would argue to the contrary. However, herein lies an obvious, although key point. Regardless of whether my predictions are right or wrong, for both my stocks I’m invested in or those that invested in LinkedIn today, you only make as much money in investing as the amount you of money you put on the line. As was proven today, with the 30 million shares traded, this has occurred in such an impressive manner, which LinkedIn hopes is just the start of great things to come for them as a company.

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Financial Fun

A couple of clicks and I was done. I had just finish filling my dad’s TFSA account up with a diversified portfolio of stocks. That’s all it took. A couple clicks here and a couple clicks there. Now, I’m no financial planner either. Just a PR student who is pretty interested in investing. I hope for my dad’s sake that “pretty interested” means “knows what I’m doing” though. I guess we will find out in a couple of years.

I’m addicted to the stock market. Everyday I read the business section. Everyday I check my stocks. Everyday I think about my stocks. But its ok.  It’s great to have passion. As long as it doesn’t consume you. I still go to work, go to school, and volunteer, so I think I’m doing ok. But how did I get here? Let me tell you how finance became so much fun for me.

It started back during high school. I got involved in one of those pyramid scheme financial companies. I thought I was on my way to riches but it was definitely a scam. However, I learned a lot from it, the basics of personal finance and financial planning, which sparked an interest in me and made me do more research on these topics. After leaving the company, I started looking at finance more seriously, or so I thought. I ended getting into trouble with it first.

I got into a lot of debt. Credit card debt. The worst kind.Through my late teen years, I spent a lot and bought pretty much anything I wanted at the moment, until I completely maxed out my credit card with two grand on it. Paying 20% interest on a two grand card hurt for a while. After getting help from my parents, in the from of securing a LOC (line of credit), I had learned my lesson. Hmm this story was supposed to be fun. Sort of depressing right now. Anyways two important lessons were learned. No pyramid schemes. No bad purchases on credit cards. Now onto the fun.

The fun started with research. I looked at some financial blogs, like Canadian Capitalist, the Dividend Guy, and a few others. I learned new things from these sites and continued to do my own research. The financial world, is a vast one with so much information out there, so I stuck to areas I was interested in (technology stocks, dividend stocks, balanced funds, etc.) and learned a lot. Until I got into the area of precious resources, mining companies, specifically companies that mined gold. Now this is where things go really fun.

Gold has been the best investment of the last decade. Bar none. From 2000 – 2010, if you left your money in gold you would have made over a couple hundred percent profits. Yep, hundred. I’m not going to get into why that’s the case. There is enough information on the Internet why this happened and why precious metals are doing so well right now in this current economic climate. I just want to tell you about how was able to strike gold personally and realize some of these massive gains.

Primarily because of research done by a friend and then my own research, aka due diligence, pointed me to a specific Canadian gold mining  company, I invested into last summer. All in. So far it’s been a fun ride. I was able to take some profits off the table and buy my Sony Vaio laptop because of my investment.  Things are looking good and I hope to invest more. Obviously, I should probably diversify, as well as consult a financial advisor, with more knowledge on how to grow my money, but being young I am afforded a lot more risk at my age. As well, if your convicted of something, diversification for diversification’s sake is silly. Throwing money in an investment that doesn’t have legs just so your money is spread around, doesn’t make sense to me. Go with your gut, your goals, and do your due diligence and hopefully with all those combined you will end up being able to enjoy some financial fun.

Night of Networking – Part 2

It bears repeating that in networking, like so much in life, you get out of it how much you put in. Mind you, it also helps to have a gameplan. I came into last month’s networking event with a gameplan. I wanted to gather information on my interests, specially in writing, starting my own business, grad school, and French. I know. Very ambitious. And yes, I am a dreamer. Nonetheless, I received great infromation that night pertaining to my interests which I thought it would be worthwilde to share.

Writing

My first stop at the networking event led me to a technical writer at Oracle, one of the largest computer software companies in the world. At the table I sat down and starting talking to our friend at Oracle, we’ll call him Jeff, pestering him with a bunch of questions. However, there were 2 problems. First, the networking session hadn’t started yet. Second, I did not have a notebook and pen. So I retreated back to gather both of those things and begin to write things down.

One of the first things I wrote down and learned from Jeff was that small words really do matter. This really hit me. Especially when looking at this blog. The ideas on what to write as content come out fairly quickly (as evidenced by the number of categories on the home page). But to make everything flow and come out the way I have it in my head to the screen requries editing, which to be honest, I hate.

A big part of editing is about finding the right words, usually the small ones, that make things flow perfectly. Jeff’s job as a technical writer, is all about having the small words in place and being having a good deal of consitency to what you write, the same lay out and look all the time, as key requirements for his job.  Thsese two things, paying attention to the small words and being consitent in my writing, are things I definitely want to transfer here at my blog and in other creative writing endeavours…

Business

I have been reading a lot of business books lately. Just finished The Knack, will have a review on it in some point on the blog. I am convinced of 3 major things regarding business, specifically owning your own business. One, it gives you the opportunity to define your career more in your own terms. Instead of your career focssing soley on your day job, you can put time into a business which may be more suited to your true passion and what you want to do. Two, having a business provides a tax benefit. The ability to write things off as business expenses is beneficial to growing your business. Three, and probably most important is having a successful business, gives you control over your freedom. I like to think of myself as a creative person. Being able to use my creativity and talent to provide a service to others for money is awesome. Think Facebook. Zuckerberg is a billionaire because of an idea, being a computer wizard, and being a bit sneaky (if you believe how things played out in The Social Network). Who wouldn’t want to be like that? Those gears for having my own business, that already had been moving, are cranking up a little faster now…

Grad school

Some people can really sell things well. They are the types of people who are able to make you leave with the product even if you thought it was too expensive in the first place. On my networking evening, this person was  one of my communication professors, who did a great sell job on me in regards to grad school. I always had the idea of contiuning my education to further expand my learning as well as to delay “real life”  as much as possible. I find school fun, even though this last semester sucked, and the things you can get in school (building new relationships with diverse people, the academic challegenge/grind, and campus life) really make it a unique and well worth life experience to go through.

So with all that in mind, my professor talked a good game. She asked me a question that I would explore in a master’s environment. I answered with the effect that Facebook is having on people in terms of them wanting to do what they saw their friends doing. For example, your friend posts pics on Facebook of a trip to Cuba. Now you think you should go to Cuba since it looked so amazing. She said that is the sort of research question that you could explore and possibly people are exploring, social media and its effects on people. Cool. Grad school. Another avenue to keep open…

French

Living in Ottawa and working in the government are two things that just seemingly go hand in hand. A third thing that completes this picture is being able to speak French. As a bilingual city, it is a necessity that for many government jobs you can speak French or your going to get screeened out. So at one of the tables I got some really good tips on taking steps on how to learn French.

First, I learned that I should try and emerse myself in the French environment. What that means is to not be shy, ask a lot of questions and try and conversate with French people. Taking it a step further, I do know of people who would go to a French universtiy in the summer to study French or to go to a small town in Quebec and live with a family to learn French. Probably a bit too much for me at this point but perhaps something to consider as a last resort if this tip and these other two don’t work.

Secondly, she said to teach English to a French person. This was interesting. I had to repeat what she said to make sure she actually meant this. I’m figuring that what she meant is by me teaching them a language that they are not familiar with they could in turn teach me a language I’m not familar with, that being French. That would be interesting. Have to test it out.

Thirdly, she told me to watch a movie in which you know the plot well and have seen many times in English, but with French subtitles. By following the conversations of the characters in the movie that you know well in English with theFrench subtitles, your ability to undertand what conversational French is like will improve.

Conclusion

Hopefully you were able to learn a bit from my night of networking. It was a great time and these are the types of events that really complement traditional classroom learning. I’m equipped with useful information that I can actually put into action in hopes of improving myself. I’d call that a successful night of networking, wouldn’t you?