Monday, August 20, 2018

Just my imagination running away with me.

For a few years I've been making a somewhat monthly pilgrimage to the Santa Row car show. It used to be one of the more premier spots to find supercars. I got a Pagani there once. But now it seems this thing has totally fallen apart and it's freaking me out man.

First of all... the people who put their cars in there were the super wealthy. Chances are they owned multiple McLarens and that type of thing. They also seemed to be the types of people who enjoyed showing off their wealth. And now they don't seem to be wanting to come out and play which strikes me as unusual. And they aren't really showing up in other places.

Now it's true that Pebble Beach is this weekend, but this oddness has sort of been going on all year.  The Santana Row car show really brought a ton of people into the mall. It was always held right in front of the Tesla dealership. But this week we rolled up and Tesla wasn't even open. Which sorta really struck me as strange. Mr S. said he thought maybe the mall had changed their hours for all the stores. Which could be. But like I've said. I think we've been hitting the show for like three years now, and this is the first time the Tesla doors were not open when we got there.

Luckily if the cars suck you can grab a good burger at the mall which Mr S. and I did. And I was in full "what the hell"mode.

Mr S. turns to me and says. Doesn't it seem like all these Lambo guys would be into bitcoin?

I just look at him and say... yeah I guess. Probably.

All I know is I don't like it when the extravagantly rich seem to disappear and I can't figure out why. I hope bitcoin didn't take all their Lambos' away.


  1. Geo-politics is a thing, you know, even on a national scale ...

    FinTech's HQ isn't the Bay Area, it's Atlanta.

    They even have a new name now: "Transaction Alley".

    That same article has a nifty little map from 2016, BTW.

    Roughly 70% of all card transactions in the US process through these companies.

    So the FinTech Bros aren't going to be showing up in the Bay Area.

    Now about Bitcoin -- if you're a Transaction Alley FinTech Bro, where are you going to live?

    One hack that's popular among the better paid FinTech Bros is that they buy places in Florida to hang their residence shingle so they don't have to pay state income tax on that income. Georgia is something like 6%, Florida is 0%, and the drive time is nowhere near like trying to cross California. (It's also a lot closer than doing the same thing with Texas since driving from Atlanta to anywhere in East Texas pretty much is like trying to cross California.)

    So they're going to earn their seed money in Atlanta, put it into Bitcoin, and use that money to buy their way into somewhere in Florida ... such as Miami, but also Jacksonville, the "Redneck Riviera" around Fort Walton Beach, and so forth. (Of course, if these Bitcoin Bros want college chicks, I suggest Tallahassee and Gainesville. *sinister grin*)

    California's state income tax is what now, something like 11% or 12%?

    The only dumber move than staying in California if you're a Bitcoin Bro would be to move to Chicago where you get hit with taxes that don't actually buy you much in the way of services.

    Also, did I mention that Florida's concealed carry permit for firearms also has reciprocity in Georgia? So your Bitcoin Bro who's worried about getting jacked can tool around Atlanta with the same guns he's able to have at his place down in Florida.

    Oh, yeah, where doesn't that permit work? California, New Jersey ... all wonderful places for companies to move out of right now.

    Now about the Sah-oodies you're so fond of ...

    The Sah-oodies have a problem, which is that they're bleeding cash on domestic benefits transfer payments, basically pay-for-play domestic political grift. They know they can't move the price of oil much because the US with shale oil is actually a considerable player now, and so their sovereign fund people have decided that it's better to emulate Norway than Venezuela.

    There's still time before political chickens come to roost for the Sah-oodies to come up with a better sovereign wealth management solution that allows them to shift out of needing oil as a primary source of income.

    However, there's a risk with this, and it's one in which the Sah-oodies become heavy-handed investors who mess about with their investments too much in order to try to pump cash out of them (rather than out of their own oil rigs).

    Tesla can't afford the risk of having an outside party messing around with what is already a pretty ballsy gamble, even if it does play out right.

    So the "Hail Mary" move is one for the Sah-oodies -- they're screwed by numbers if they can't make these moves stick by the mid-2020s.

    Also, Sah-oodie is how you properly pronounce Saudi, which most Americans pronounce as SOW-dee. The French happen to get this right with "Arabie Saoudite", and so I mockingly spell their name phonetically. :-)

  2. Wow. That's a lot to unpack. First of all - I just love opinions that are not my own. It makes me have to think about things in different ways. And I actually like that.

    Sad-lanta can keep their fintech. Their airport made me start calling it that. I'm still pretty skeptical. It sounds good on paper, but there are a lot of "if's" in there. I mean, they might be the transaction capital of the world but my experience with companies is they move a lot slower on adopting payment technology than the article represents. Stupidly so. I'm happy to be convinced though. Also - I almost fully disregard articles that are two years old. It's not you. It's me.

    Secondly - I'm also unconvinced about the Saudi's. Not a lot of bright minds come out of that area. They have been living large on oil money and are basically really rich cows. Money doesn't buy experience. I'm also happy to be convinced. ;)

  3. Capital of Texas RefugeeThursday, August 23, 2018 3:39:00 AM

    Investment on the scale of a sovereign wealth fund involves an entirely different skill set than what the companies they're buying into tend to produce ...

    Norway actually has a state philosopher who deals with the moral and ethical issues involving Norway's sovereign fund investments. If he doesn't like the way their investments are going from those perspectives, Norway pulls out of those deals.

    Although that particular thing Norway has been doing is exceptional, this shows the general point in even more detail: if you're thinking about investments from multiple macro perspectives, then a lot of domain-specific experience probably isn't going to be as big a help as many people might think.

    So it actually doesn't matter if the Saudis are in fact really rich cows and are lacking in certain kinds of domain-specific experience. They're rich enough to hire subject matter experts in those kinds of investments, and so they can rent experience by the hour, the day, the week, on a retainer, and so forth.

    This is the tech nerd trap showing itself, in fact: tech nerds are so proud about being able to have certain kinds of domain-specific experience that they generally don't understand how to cope with being selectively stupid about a great number of things.

    In fact, the smarter position to take is that you are always selectively stupid about a great number of things, and that your being "convinced" about anything is simply a reflection of your own personal resistance to actual conditions.

    Sometimes if you're lucky, the things you're selectively stupid about don't actually cause any serious impact in your life.

    Everyone else gets to take tours in the classrooms of The Schools of Really Bastardly Hard Knocks.

    Remember Rumsfeld's "unknown unknowns"?

    He got so much shit for that, but it turns out that he was completely right.

    As for the article, I got you one with a map that happened to be from 2016, just so you could have a map, so deal with it. You can Google "Transaction Alley" all you'd like for a lot more articles. :-)

    But here's the thing: if you don't actually have significant stakes in any of these things, this is all a form of vicarious tourism.

    People who have a need to know actual conditions because of significant stakes, who can't be fooled by seemingly normal things that turn out to be chimeras, also can't afford the luxury of being entirely convinced.

    They have to know how to bet on people, how to get enough of the truth out of a room full of deliberate and inadvertent liars, how to put aside certain kinds of doubt because they know it's just a form of their "resistance" to actual conditions.

    Being good at that kind of people-and-numbers thing is a very different kind of skill set, and it doesn't really matter if you happen to be a cow, just as long as you're very good at this despite being a cow. :-)

    As for whether I have any significant stakes, I suppose you should guess, and in fact given that the room full of deliberate and inadvertent liars is going to make you guess anyway, I also suppose you had better become good at it.

    So go ahead, have some Sympathy for the Devil: �� ... but what's puzzlin' you is the nature of my game ... �� :-)

  4. This is the tech nerd trap showing itself, in fact: tech nerds are so proud about being able to have certain kinds of domain-specific experience that they generally don't understand how to cope with being selectively stupid about a great number of things.

    That made me laugh. I will grant you that tech nerds do have a lot of blinders on. I'm not going to try to defend them. I am the school of hard knocks. Which is why I take the positions I do. I think that you mistake where I am coming from.

    The one thing about people I don't understand is - why do you care so much that Silicon Valley doesn't pay attention to certain things? If you want to become the fintech capital of the world. Great. Do it. Why does it matter that we don't care? If New York wants to be the finance capitol of the world. Great. If another place wants to be the car capitol of the world. Great. Do it. Why does it matter is we pay attention?

    Some of us in Silicon Valley don't feel like we are the centers of the universe. It's healthy and good to have different hubs of activity. Why does it matter that we care about certain things? You do you.

    As for my particular attitude - all of Silicon Valley is a room of bullshitters. So it's served me well to be skeptical. I'm not inflexible. But in my lifetime I've observed that certain behaviors are stickier than others. It's doesn't mean that things can't and don't change, but I will take a wait and see attitude.

  5. Capital of Texas RefugeeThursday, August 23, 2018 3:59:00 PM

    What I've noticed is that Florida doesn't play well with Silicon Valley precisely because everything coming out of there is started out on a shifty foundation of 100% pure pharmaceutical grade bullshit.

    That's probably a regional thing and it also probably applies in Atlanta.

    It's not a surprise then that the FinTech people might set up shop in a place that has less of a reputation for pharmaceutical grade bullshit. :-)

    And yes, Atlanta has a horrible airport, but the whole concrete brutalist thing used to have a sound track: the sound of Cylons. Back when speech synthesis was being done by very bad synthesis instead of sampling, as in the 1980s and 1990s, the Atlanta airport's "people mover" system had the same voice as was used in the TV show "Battlestar Galactica", by which I mean the one with Lorne Greene in it.

    Enjoy the sound of Cylons moving you around the ATL "people mover" of the 1980s and 1990s. :-)

    And so the horrible airport sorta made perfect sense back then: you're in a Cylon ziggurat being ferried around by Cylons. It was the only amusing thing about the airport because the rest of the experience sucked.

    "BY YOUR COMMAND!" :-)

    I don't know why they haven't made ATL much better after all these years -- MIA is a much better airport. I still have to fly through there occasionally because MIA doesn't always get you to where you're going.

    Otherwise, you were wondering where your Bitcoin Bro Lambos had gone, and so I told you. :-)

    They're probably not coming back though ...

    But there's a reason about Silicon Valley caring, and it's not coming from the cheap seats: if you look at the over-sizedness of Google and the other major players in the Bay Area when it comes to personnel, especially this trend of having subject matter experts working outside their field as some sort of organizational "humbling exercise", then it makes a lot of sense.

    If the Bay Area's tech projects can find enough people in sufficiently large numbers, but nobody else can because of a "great attractor" phenomenon, then the balance of tech power stays in the Bay Area.

    "Management" is afraid that if one slave gets off the Bay Area plantation, they'll all want off, and then there goes the whole damned plantation. :-)

    Oh, yeah, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. :-)

    Otherwise, come to think of it, you might not be at home in Austin -- there'd be too much Local Freak Circus for you to enjoy it.

    So when the time comes up for you to consider Raleigh-Durham, take it.

    Besides, the airport there is one of the best in North America -- it's usually up there with Victoria BC's airport which is Singaporean levels of nice ...

    And there are no Cylons to boss you around. :-)

  6. If the Bay Area's tech projects can find enough people in sufficiently large numbers, but nobody else can because of a "great attractor" phenomenon, then the balance of tech power stays in the Bay Area.

    Yeah. I see what you are saying. But I think the problem is sort of deeper than you think. The power stays here because almost all of those guys working at these big companies are PHD's. I could never work my way up the way I did now. The complex math you need for most of these jobs these days is what is in short supply. That's why the cluster stays here. It pops up in other places from time to time like Raleigh. They have a fantastic school. Early in my career I knew a guy working on speech recognition. That area was once a major standout. Now - not as much. That's why I say that some behaviors are stickier than others.