Success Occurs When
Passwords, Auctions, Salesforce and Quick Notes
The age of the password is over but we haven’t realized it yet.
Passwords were created as an ad-hoc, “oh yeah, we should probably do something about security” type of fix that was never a well designed or elegant solution to a real problem. Instead, we’ve ended up with a classic Ram Dass-style problem. What you fight against is what you wanted to avoid in the first place. Passwords attract hackers … because they are hackable and there is a very tangible benefit for those that can accomplish the hack.
When the Web was born, there was some international collaboration on all of the big problems of what a decentralized infrastructure needed. Rules around domain names were promulgated with respect to countries and naming conventions; the dot-com was born; committees for research and collaboration were formed; and passwords were entirely ignored. Even as Web3 continues to emerge as the next iteration of our digital future, passwords remain unstudied, untouched.
And the solutions we come up with for the problems associated with password hacking are simply intellectually embarrassing: “Add a + and everything will be fine!,” or “You must use 11 characters that you’ll never remember again!" That’s before we even get to the proscriptions: “You can’t use this password because you have before,” or “You can’t use consecutive numbers,” or “You can’t use proper names.” Basically, anything that makes a password memorable and accessible isn’t allowed, so the human brain is forced to act counter to its best abilities.
I swear I spend 1/3 of my waking life trying to remember what password I was forced to assign on the fly days, weeks, or months ago. Yes, I could’ve written it down (very secure), or used a password manager (for which I have to login with a password, genius!), or text it to myself like my friend does. It is all so very stupid.
It isn’t even like we don’t have a solution for these kind of problems. Apple issued a credit card 2019 with no numbers on the card because it auto-generates a new number for each transaction, and reconciles that number to its member account. Apple also pioneered the easy bio-metrics of fingerprint scans and face-recognition on consumer devices that could easily be used for passwords across websites and other uses.
Nothing changes until something changes so this past week I purchased an Everykey. Everykey launched in 2015, founded by John Mcafee (who is 100% not dead), the Internet’s first security guru. Everykey works similar to the Apple Card, it saves your passwords in a vault and uses a special algorithm to grant access to sites seeking to authenticate me. So far I love it, and I just found out I can use it for numeric keypads, and maybe even for certain cars. Check it out if you have the same problems with passwords I have. $200 if I remember correctly.
“Allocate resources to improve quality of life.”
I love auctions. I have for years. When I first moved home to Valdosta, I would attend the local Rotary’s Club auction and buy it out. So many good and novel items, such a good way to do well and do good, too.
Now I use two online sites to get most of my one of a kind stuff, Charitybuzz and Heritage Auctions. My son and I are going on Safari for his Spring Break this year. We bought it on Charitybuzz for 22% of comparable trips through agencies. The sale benefits a charity in Southern California teaching underprivileged kids money management skills. Win, Win, Win, Win, Win. I buy Urban Art for my collection at Heritage and got my first Shepherd Fairey print there.
Now I see where two amazing items are for sale at auction and I wouldn’t want my loyal readers to miss out. The world famous Flatiron Building in New York goes for auction this week, so if you have a spare $1.1 billion laying around, you should check it out. Also, a Russian oligarch’s super yacht, the Alpha Nero will soon be auctioned by Antigua and Barbuda because its owner is on the bad boy list for his complicity with the Ukraine War. That will only set you back about $200m.
When you close on these purchases, please remember your good friend who brought it to your attention!
“You’re imperfect, wired for survival and worthy of love and respect.”
Salesforce is the original golden child of public SaaS companies. A completely overgrown code base with a product that is damn near unusable (in my opinion), expensive compared to leaner competitors, and a woke culture prizing the redevelopment of San Francisco for drug addicts over the safety of workers in the city all lead me to conclude that this isn’t a stock I want in my portfolio. Other activist investors agree and think there is a great underlying business in the company if it would just focus on doing what it’s supposed to do: sell software. Elliot Management is positioning for a Boardroom fight on these issues now.
In fact, they are combining through the books and exposing the really stupid ways the company has been spending money. For example, The Wall Street Journal reported that Salesforce was reportedly paying Matthew McConaughey $10 million a year to serve as a "creative advisor and TV pitchman.” Meanwhile, the company is in the process of laying off about 10% of its workforce, with strong rumors of even more layoffs ahead. What does McConaughey do to earn his fat stacks? He recently hosted a high level “strategy session” with the has-been musician Will.I.Am from the Black Eyed Peas. It lasted 45 minutes, included two C-Suite members and culminated in the group walking from Salesforce Headquarters to a vegan sushi joint down the block. Sounds like a deal to me. Of course, McConaughey does bring other high-profile celebrities like Obama, Tim Cook and Natalie Portman around from time to time, too, and last year’s forgettable Super Bowl ad where he was in hot air balloon was such a success that you forgot it instantly.
Why care? Let companies spend money however they want, right? Wrong. This is a public company and they are diverting earnings from their rightful owners (shareholders if you need a refresher) into vanity projects that make the CEO look cool to the shallow-minded. Stop it, figure out a better way to make a return on that money, or return it to shareholders in the form of dividends.
“If you don’t stop the buck, it stops you.”
—W. Steven Brown
Foreign buyers of US Real Estate disappeared during COVID, but are returning in droves this year. Brazil, South Africa, China and Europe lead the crowd of wealthy investors seeking to purchase US real estate. WSJ article here.
The Air Force approves neck and hand tattoos. Beards are still a no-no, though. Stars and Stripes article here.
A Chinese celebrity is being shamed for responding with an English “No” to a question someone asked her on Instagram. Internet commenters are mad she used English instead of Chinese.