This Sunday the NYT previewed Tom Friedman’s new book “The World is Flat,” about globalization, technology and how the global playing field flattened while many were watching other things. I had a deja vu moment.
I had the same feeling I had when I was working at the Antitrust Division at Justice during the late 90s, dealing with competition issues and the new economy, the merger wave, and globalization and “The Lexus and the Olive Tree” came out, and talked about how global economic forces where fundamentally changing the world, and that competition mattered — I thought — hey, we’ve been working on that, this is exactly right…..
We all try to connect the dots. It strikes me that Tom Friedman is extraordinary at this, and expressing it in terms we all can understand. I've only read the excerpt in the Times, and I can’t say I would agree with everything he says (and who ever agrees with all of anything…), but there are lots of elements which we have understood, and are brought together in an elegant way. He talks about how the fact that all knowledge and innovation is now robustly connected. That this fact has changed the on the ground dynamics and opportunities for the billions of people in the developing world (hundreds of thousands -- millions?- of whom are incredibly smart and driven), and how each country, the US included, needs to fundamentally think about where it fits-in and what it will be doing in the next 20 years. The upside — dynamic global innovation. The downside, the challenge to us all, and our institutions-- not the least of which is the US education system -- is how to compete and drive direction in this very new world…. All worth a read no doubt….
Check out one of our top executives (SVP Jayshree Ullal) talking about our Self-Defending Network and Adaptive Threat Defense…and another talking about IT’s importance to healthcare (SVP Sue Bostrom -- my boss’ boss). They are about 10 minute videos that give a good overview of Cisco’s view on these issues.
You can see these videos and more here: http://newsroom.cisco.com/dlls/tln/execnet/or by clicking HERE
If nothing else you should check out some of the innovative things our communications team is doing to deliver messages via as many ways as possible…
http://www.sec.gov/interps/account/sab107.pdf (Adobe Document) or by clicking here.
The stock options coalition offered a statement today on the guidance which you can read here: http://www.savestockoptions.org/release032905.html or by clicking here.
Cisco did not issue a statement widely, but did offer a statement reactively to media. You can read it here:”We hope that the SEC guidance offered today will allow those who hold stock options to continue to participate in the ownership society and enable U.S. companies to remain globally competitive. This issue is importantto all shareholders and Cisco appreciates the SECs efforts to find a more realistic valuation that will address small, medium and large business concerns. We look forward to continue working with the SEC to further define the specific guidance they have outlined on these very complex issues.”
This issue has been going on for a long time and it appears that this guidance will not be the end of the discussion.
Speaking from my personal soapbox, I’m still a bit confused as to why many of those in government have not championed this issue as a way to make mom, dad, brother and sis as a part of the ownership society. Stock options have helped build some of the great American companies, from Microsoft to Intel to Cisco, etc. Why would regulators and lawmakers take away such a great tool? Perhaps I’ve had too much Kool-Aid (R) here at Cisco, but even looking at it pragmatically, I’m still not sure what is being gained by making stock options an expense when they are already accounted for in EPS. Sigh.
Some people love Thomas Friedman of The New York Times…others hate him. I’m not going to make a judgment either way, but I thought that a recent column of his is worth pointing out. Especially a key paragraph about competition and the treatment of stock options.
The pertinent paragraph:”… at a time when China is encouraging its new companies to offer employees stock options to get Chinese innovators to stay at home and start new firms, the Bush team has been mutely going along with a change in accounting standards that will force U.S. companies to expense stock options by June 2005. This is likely to dampen the growth of our own high-tech companies and encourage U.S.-educated Indian and Chinese techies to go back home.”
Full Op-Ed can be read here. http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/17/opinion/17friedman.html (Free registration required)
For me to offer commentary on this would be pointless, but I thought this particular paragraph was worth pointing out.
My parents live in the mountains of North Carolina. My mom is an avid e-mailer, but does not really utilize the Internet. This is because until today she was on dial-up. That’s right. My 71-year-old mom got broadband today for the first time (DSL from BellSouth). She doesn’t do too much more other than send e-mail because it takes way too long to download anything. She was a victim of the world wide wait. I’ve been insisting that she get broadband for awhile and that her life would change because of this. I think that she will appreciate having it on all the time as much as the speed. “Don’t use the phone, I’m going to send some e-mails” was a common phrase during my visits. No more.
She doesn’t have a choice of who she can get broadband FROM, however. There is no cable service and satellite broadband is not really an option. I hope that her DSL provider stays true to its pricing, but one of the main reason she is moving to broadband is because her dial-up costs were running $30 a month above her ISP cost because she is out of the service area for the AOL number she can call-in to.
I hope that my dad learns that he can check his stocks rather than waiting for the next day’s Wall Street Journal, among many other things he can do online. He is a bargain hound and with broadband perhaps he will be unleashed on the worldwide bargain market. He’s always trying to push off old books or vintage magazines or furniture or, or, or, etc. on my brothers and me -- perhaps he will discover e-Bay and find a market outside of the Earnhardt boys.
I also hope that their DSL speeds are such that they can truly see a difference -- let’s hope that they are in the 1Mbps range. The FCC’s definition of broadband of 256k is not much more than fast dial-up and might not make a demonstrable difference to them other than a steady price to point to each month.
So, let’s all pause as we chalk up one more household to the broadband universe.