5555

Ottawa-20111205-000645555. My work office is on the 5th floor of the building, and elevator number 5 was not working today on December 5. 555. But there is one more important five to consider: the five people, including myself, who were using BlackBerrys on my bus ride home. 5555.The fourth five of my day and the one which I want to talk about for a bit. (Picture at the right is one of my paintings I bought last summer)

I’ve wanted to write about BlackBerry and its parent company RIM for a while now but wasn’t really sure what to say. RIM has had a horrible year. If you pay any attention to what I call the big 3 in tech (Apple, Google and Microsoft) you would know that RIM this year has fallen far behind. Its share price is at its lowest levels in years and the buzz around the company is almost nil. It’s tough to say where the company will end up, especially while the other 3 are continually pushing new products which have consumer bases that are fanatical/evangelical about them.

But today on the bus showed me that people still care about BlackBerry. To see 3 people on the left of the bus with their BlackBerrys out and 2 others, myself included, with ours out on the right side, it was a telling reminder that the company might still have life. To be honest, the tech space is one of the most emotional spaces, arguably the most emotional place on earth to invest in. People wear their iPhones or BlackBerrys on their sleeves, display their MacBook Pro as the piece that differentiates them in a sea of PC users and their crappy Gateways (I had one which died on me badly).

When looking at my personal investing experience in junior mining small caps, much risker investing, where losses of 20% in a month are not uncommon should the slightest production hiccup occur, investing in the tech space is comparably safer. Also, by investing in companies worth millions rather than billions, you expose yourself to more risk.

So when looking at RIMs dramatic decline, it’s hard to say they have been that bad to dive over 60% this year, from a high of almost $70, to under $18 currently. Because if you go into what the company has been doing, rather than not doing you see a company making a recent $100 million dollar acquisition, having cash on hand, and trying to transition to what everyone believes is their last hope with QNX or BBX or whatever name the operating system for their new phones next year will be, is hardly a resume of a company on its way into oblivion.

With everything considered, whether BlackBerry and RIM get back to being number one in the smartphone game when it debuted or back into a favourable light with consumers and analysts as it was earlier this year, I’m just hoping that the iconic Canadian company gets back on solid footing. It’s hard to fight against the trend and popularity, where Apple and Google are so dominant in the tech space. However, to borrow from what Jim Prentice, a former Federal ministry leader in the Canadian government wrote so well in this piece for the the Globe and Mail said, I’m keeping my BlackBerry and cheering for RIM. And waiting patiently for my ordered PlayBook to arrive as well.

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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.