Jim Harrer

STARTUPS, TURNAROUNDS, APPDEV, AGILE & LIFE...

Facebook Q2 2012 Results Analysis From The Cigar Club

facebook buy sell holdSo last night the peanut gallery, uh sorry, my cigar club, wanted to talk about Facebook's Q2 2012 results.  Here is a recap for those who don't know:

Facebook, Inc ($FB) reported pretty flat year-over-year earnings growth. They earned 12 cents per share in the quarter that exceeded the consensus estimate by three cents. However, including stock-based compensation, payroll taxes and income tax adjustment, Facebook lost $.08 cents per share compared with earnings of $.011 cents per share in the year-ago quarter.

Revenue jumped 32.3% year over year to $1.18 billion, slightly better than Wall Street's estimate of $1.15 billion. The year-over-year growth was driven by strong advertising revenue (84% of the total revenue) that climbed 28% year over year to $992.0 million. The rest of the revenue from payments & other fees in the quarter. The strong upside in advertising revenues was primarily driven by an 18% increase in the number of ads delivered based on growth in the user base and an increase in average number of ads per page from the prior-year period.  Cash flow from operations increased by $242 million.

How are investors taking the news this morning?  Facebook is down 14.14% to $23.05 (7/27/2012 @ 11:32 EST) check it now

My weekly cigar group went into last night's smoke pretty depressed.  A couple of them got in on the IPO of $38.00 and thought they had purchased extra special rare gold on May 18, 2012 when it appeared on NASDAQ's wall.  Half of the group of six passed on buying Facebook after hoodie-gate, they're words not mine.  I was on the other side of the fence, I purchased a small block, in the after market when it first dipped.  So the group is pretty equally divided three and three, stockholders of Facebook vs really old money who love Wells Fargo and AT&T.  Yes, that is a dig and I will pay for it next week.

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Old Dogs and New Tricks – Thinking like a Startup

You could say I’m an old dog in terms of technology. I started my first business in 1986, back when a Hayes 2400 baud modem was the hot ticket. Fast forward 25 years later, president of two public companies (Mustang and Starbase), a couple corporate turnarounds (Web Associates, Starbase and Alchemy) and two startups (Mustang and EventMingle), you could say I’ve earned my battle scars.

For those of you who have been following my blog know, I have recently been working with 7 startups though our VentureBox business accelerator here in Bend, Oregon. Startups live in the constant state of thinking of ways to disrupt competitors and pivot business plans to grow rapidly in order to increase cash or traction. This week, I had a lot of time to think a lot about the differences between startups and well established businesses. One of the questions that came to mind was: “When is it ok for an older company to stop focusing on cash and traction?" I tried to pick my words carefully. Note, I didn’t say stop altogether, I said stop focusing.

Information TechnologyBusinesses, as they mature, develop large customer bases they have to support. They have infrastructure in place. They have made decisions about their back office systems such as accounting, CRM, work flow, servers, operating systems, technology partners, etc. Next thing you know, years have gone by, you have tens of thousands of customers and 1,000 employees. Cash and traction may no longer be a focus. Every decision needs to take into account, how will it affect my customers? How does the change impact my back office? Next thing you know, your company is not as agile as before and you ask yourself, "How did we get here?"

Each of the turnarounds I led had major back-office issues. Web Associates built web content for HP, Apple and other companies, yet didn’t build the internal controls to track the cost of producing those pages. They assumed we made money because it was a six-figure sale. You can't improve margins if you don't know - to the dollar - what the margin is. Just like in a startup, find metrics you can easily track in a graph.

Starbase’s accounting system didn’t talk with the customer support ticket system, which resulted in customers getting support even if they never actually paid for the software, which resulted in longer DSOs then we had to have.  We couldn't easily inform customers when the defect was fixed by engineering because the CRM app didn't talk to the defect tracking system and version control. These disconnects cost us margin and didn't help us build raving fan customers.

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