Opening Bell: 02.20.14

Zuckerberg Bonded With WhatsApp’s Koum Over Coffee and Chocolate (Bloomberg)
The relationship between Facebook Inc. and WhatsApp Inc. started in spring 2012 over coffee at a German bakery. It was consummated on Valentine’s Day with chocolate-covered strawberries, after just five days of talks…Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, first reached out to WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum in early 2012, inviting him for coffee at the bakery in Los Altos, California. They ended up talking for more than two hours, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. The two became friends, meeting frequently for dinners and hiking together. On Feb. 9 Koum went to Zuckerberg’s Palo Alto, California house for dinner. That’s when the conversation for a possible deal became serious, the person said. The two first talked about how they could work together more closely on Zuckerberg’s Internet.org initiative for connecting the world on mobile devices. Zuckerberg, 29, then proposed that their companies join together, and that Koum join Facebook’s board. Koum took a few days to think it over. Five days later, on Feb. 14, Zuckerberg was having dinner with his wife at home when Koum showed up, strawberries in hand. They then negotiated a price.

Fed Puts Rate Increase On The Radar (WSJ)
Conversation at the Federal Reserve’s most recent policy meeting turned to something that hasn’t been a serious topic for years: the possibility of interest-rate increases in the near future. The Fed has held short-term interest rates near zero since December 2008, near the height of the financial crisis, and Chairwoman Janet Yellen shows no appetite for raising them soon. Investors, seeing that, generally don’t see Fed rate increases until well into 2015, a view also held by many officials. Still, a “few” Fed officials argued at a Jan. 28-29 policy meeting that increases might be needed soon to prevent the economy from overheating, according to minutes of the meeting released Wednesday. These officials were most likely from the Fed’s band of policy “hawks” who have largely failed in resisting the central bank’s easy-money policies.

I Took the GMAT With No Preparation. Here’s What Happened (BusinessWeek)
My official score report arrived a week later and included an analytical writing assessment. My score was 4.5 out of 6, placing me in the 43rd percentile. Tracey Briggs at GMAC [the owner of the GMAT exam] was right: brushing up on high school algebra and geometry would have probably inched me higher than the 35th percentile on quantitative, and some preparation might have meant I’d have to read each question only once. My 640 puts me on the very low end of the range for ultra-elite business schools. Harvard Business School’s class of 2015 range was 550-789, with a median score of 730. The Wharton School’s class of 2015 range was 630-790, with a mean score of 725. Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, No. 15 on Bloomberg Businessweek‘s 2012 ranking, might accept me more easily: The median score for the class of 2015 was 664. All told, my score was respectable: The overall median is 546…The GMAT may test your mettle and your memory, but it doesn’t measure innovation or determination. If you don’t test well, persuade schools in your essays and interviews that they need to see beyond your first year—to your future. Tell them Amy, a 640, said so.

Wall Street Girds for China Bribery Probe as IPOs Beckon (Bloomberg)
The Securities and Exchange Commission has asked several global investment banks for information about their hiring practices, according to four people familiar with the letters. The inquiry includes the leaders in international share sales by Chinese companies over the last five years: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Morgan Stanley, according to two of those people, who asked not to be identified because the review is confidential.

Enraged Surfer Allegedly Stabs Man In The Eye With A Surfboard (HP)
Mark Morlock, 41, was surfing the popular Australian surf break Snapper Rocks last Tuesday when he was approached by a man who he had accidentally cut off while surfing about five months earlier. According to Morlock, the attacker approached him from behind and asked if he remembered who he was. “I said, ‘Yeah I remember you, what do you want?’” Morlock recalled. “Then he let his board go from between his legs, straight into my face. He said, ‘You’re not laughing now, are you mate?’” The surfboard struck Morlock in his eye, leaving it severely damaged. Morlock was able to make his way back to shore, where he received first-aid from a lifeguard…But the altercation didn’t end there. Morlock said that while he waited to be taken to a hospital, the aggressive surfer approached him again, egging him on to continue the fight. “He was hiding in some bushes and came bolting down the stairs wanting to carry it on with my eye almost hanging out of my head,” Morlock said.

Ex-Madoff aide testifies at own trial, denies he knew of fraud (Reuters)
Only minutes into the prosecution’s questioning of former Bernard Madoff aide Daniel Bonventre at trial on Wednesday, it was clear he was in for a long day. Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson asked Bonventre repeatedly whether he was “close friends” with one of four co-defendants accused of helping to conceal Madoff’s decades-long, multibillion-dollar fraud, former portfolio manager Annette Bongiorno. Bonventre repeatedly said he did not know what Jackson meant. “You went to college, correct?” Jackson asked with a note of frustration in his voice. “Do you have any difficulty with the definition of the word ‘close’?” A flustered Bonventre eventually said, “Yes, I struggle with the meaning of ‘close.’” Bonventre did, however, acknowledge that he and Bongiorno were friendly colleagues.

Founder of Citadel Pledges $150 Million to Harvard, Its Largest Gift Ever (Dealbook)
When the billionaire hedge fund manager Kenneth C. Griffin was a sophomore at Harvard, he was betting on convertible bonds in his dorm room — thanks to a satellite dish he had hooked up on the roof — while his fellow students were going to classes. Twenty-eight years later, that formative experience will be paying dividends for his alma mater. Mr. Griffin said on Wednesday that he was donating $150 million to Harvard, the biggest single gift to the college ever. The money will largely go the college’s financial aid program as Harvard seeks to blunt criticism that higher education has become the province of the 1 percent.

BMW Tosses Salesmen For ‘Geniuses’ (WSJ)
BMW AG wants to bring its dealerships into the digital age, recommending they rip out showroom cubicles, install flat screen displays and hire “product geniuses” to explain the complex technology in its cars without the pressure to close a sale. BMW’s new program could mean, among other things, fewer sales people and fewer cars on showroom floors, and more information delivered through video displays and by employees who are “definitely, definitely not salesmen,” said sales and marketing chief Ian Robertson.

Start-Up Site Hires Critic Of Wall Street (NYT)
Matt Taibbi, who made a name as a fierce critic of Wall Street at Rolling Stone magazine, has joined First Look Media, the latest big-name journalist to leave an established brand to enter the thriving and well-financed world of news start-ups. Mr. Taibbi will start his own publication focusing on financial and political corruption, he said in an interview on Wednesday. First Look is financed by the eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, who is worth $8.5 billion, according to Forbes. Mr. Omidyar has pledged $250 million to the project.

Google to Glass users: Don’t be creepy (NYP)
“Don’t be creepy or rude … Respect others and if they have questions about Glass, don’t get snappy,” Google notes in the list of advice, which was posted to the company Web page. It also tells folks use common sense — by peeling off the robot-wear before jumping into a lake or onto a bull. “Glass is a piece of technology, so use common sense. Water skiing , cage fighting or bull riding with Glass are probably not good ideas.” Google glasses were made for short bursts of information, so also beware of getting busted “glassing out,” or staring into space, because it can make you look like a weirdo, the company notes. “If you find yourself staring off into the prism for long periods of time you’re probably looking pretty weird to the people around you. So don’t read “War and Peace” on Glass.” Do’s on the list include asking other humans for permission before snapping photos or taking videos of them.

Comments (45)

  1. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    Keep it elitist, Kenny. 1% of the fundraising universities received 17.4% of the charitable contributions to universities.

  2. Posted by Matt M | February 20, 2014 at 7:48 AM

    I took my GMATs with no preparation and with the help of my computer buddy, it got me into Stanford.

  3. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 7:53 AM

    So according to Glass policy, if you are watching someone doing something inhuman, you don't need to ask permission to film?

  4. Posted by Sgt. Webb | February 20, 2014 at 7:59 AM

    I can't tell which one is the john and which is the hooker in this story. Hookers generally don't show up at your door with chocolate covered strawberries, and johns usually don't negotiate the price with their wife in the house.

  5. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 8:05 AM

    The wife is the pimp. And at reputable bathhouses in SF, the walls are always plastered with chocolate.

  6. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 8:07 AM

    I wonder what Zuckenberg would pay for me if I showed up at his door with a bag of M&Ms

  7. Posted by psyc1_gunner | February 20, 2014 at 8:53 AM

    guys that earn their way into harvard/yale/princeton being mandarin learning, gunning nerds who jerk to anime from age 5-17 in-between negotiating the release of african toddlers for bushels of bananas, are likely to be closet homosexuals because they don't touch girls in adolescence. like at all. maybe they were born gay or maybe they just convince themselves they are because they have a lot of time to think about how and why they're not getting cakes. once at college their inexperience makes them awkward around girls, especially type A loudmouth hos, which turns into an elevated level of anxiety and they misattribute those feelings for that of the south beach ocean drive variety. even if they could manage to talk to a girl, the anime videos don't show you how to kiss a girl or remove a bra. it's just too much to deal. boom, convinced they're gay and next thing you know they're blowing their TA and sending their resume to non profits and teach for america.

    guys that are legacies are likely to be douchebags who dabble in jerking off their drunk friends.

    girls at both, no matter how they got in, are going to generally lack any and all self-awareness.

    i am not jealous. it's science.

  8. Posted by guest | February 20, 2014 at 9:08 AM

    when was the last time zuck banged his asian m.d. wife? i bet at least a year.

  9. Posted by guest | February 20, 2014 at 9:17 AM

    "I took SAT night after getting shitfaced off xanax and ciroc" is to high school . . . as "I took the GMAT without prep" is to lonely 20-something frustrated with the momentum of their career

  10. Posted by truth | February 20, 2014 at 9:37 AM

    getting your high-g friend to take the test for you with fake ID was so damn easy in the 90s and 00s.

  11. Posted by truth | February 20, 2014 at 9:39 AM

    getting your high-g friend to take the test for you with fake ID was so damn easy in the 90s and early 00s.

  12. Posted by m draghi | February 20, 2014 at 9:44 AM

    poor grammar and ivy envy…hmm…jealous esl who had to go to non-target public school?

  13. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 9:48 AM

    Asian girl with higher verbal than quantitative section. There's something you don't see every day

  14. Posted by mrp | February 20, 2014 at 9:49 AM

    Great idea, I'll bring the twizzlers.

    -Nails

  15. Posted by Im_a_Dude | February 20, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    that was profound

  16. Posted by Gibblet | February 20, 2014 at 10:01 AM

    I am the Lone Dinosaur

  17. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 10:26 AM

    Question: can anyone remember any instances of a major corporation making an acquisition widely criticized for being overpriced, but which turns out in retrospect to have been a very good deal?

  18. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Google buying YouTube for $1B?

  19. Posted by quant me maybe... | February 20, 2014 at 10:28 AM

    If Levine still worked at Dealbreaker, it would have been interesting to have him take the test and see what he scored.

    >Drunk

  20. Posted by e e cummings | February 20, 2014 at 10:38 AM

    hey!

  21. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 10:51 AM

    There are new posts at LSO. And the old comments have risen from the ashes.

    – Public Service Announcement

  22. Posted by esl_study_group | February 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

    was? as in used to be? ha! news to us.

    -communist Ivy applicants

  23. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 11:10 AM

    Good point. I recall there being a few critics, but the issue was more the viability of the model (YouTube wasn't yet profitable) rather than the dollar value. Google's had a history of making effective acquisitions, but they have a strong preference for much smaller companies that haven't yet been discovered by the market – YouTube and DoubleClick have been outliers in that respect.

  24. Posted by UBS M&A Quant | February 20, 2014 at 11:12 AM

    $19 billion for a bromance? I hope a reacharound was involved.

  25. Posted by KingCo | February 20, 2014 at 11:14 AM

    Matt Taibbi is the lovechild of Gretchen Morgenson and Hunter S. Thompson

  26. Posted by toe police | February 20, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    mark, wear some socks, this is disgusting

  27. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 11:32 AM

    Zuck paid $19B for whatsapp just to show the Winklevii what happens if you're nice to him.

  28. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    Girls on airplanes that remove shoes to reveal bare feet. Sometimes placing their bare feet on the seat. Acceptable?

    In my opinion, only pretty girls aged 15-26 can do it.

  29. Posted by MFIN Grad | February 20, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    Ever since I saw my dad OD on heroin in our section 8 house, I knew I wanted to go to business school and make the world better. I also have no legs and am a URM.

    -550 GMAT Harvard Admit

  30. Posted by Diamond Dave | February 20, 2014 at 12:05 PM

    Si'down, Waldo

  31. Posted by Wire | February 20, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    FB is only down -1.5% in a market that's up 0.5% as I type. People might be spouting off, but the market isn't saying this deal was way overpriced.

  32. Posted by kwest | February 20, 2014 at 12:14 PM

    Fuck u mean, u a genius?!

  33. Posted by Laxbro | February 20, 2014 at 12:15 PM

    Please discuss how you spearheaded that neighborhood initiative to get adolescent Crips and Bloods to agree to a ceasefire, while getting that school voucher bill to the state legislature, and then conclude with coming out of the closet.

    -Office of Recruitment and Multicultural Affairs

  34. Posted by Laxbro | February 20, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    You're just too old to understand. Whatsapp is crushing it oversees my nigga.

  35. Posted by MFIN Grad | February 20, 2014 at 12:21 PM

    Community organizing aka pizza lockout at the school gym got it done. The idea was simple and came to me while visiting a bath house in chicago

  36. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 12:33 PM

    Or watching a tv show, who knows?

  37. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    Yes, because the market is completely infallible and efficient in its prognosis.

    - CBS

  38. Posted by 233 GMAT Scorer | February 20, 2014 at 12:41 PM

    wave rage can only be an antipodean phenomena

  39. Posted by guesst | February 20, 2014 at 12:47 PM

    Whatsapp is good at overseeing things, got it.

    - Old guy's bro

  40. Posted by Guessing Guy | February 20, 2014 at 1:06 PM

    Guessing you're hoping it involves someone throwing you some ESL classes, amirite?

  41. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 1:18 PM

    Think about how much not-banging he's done in that sweet beanbag chair

  42. Posted by Winkleveezy | February 20, 2014 at 1:50 PM

    6'5 with a 3 inch cock…and there are 2 of me.

    -Winklevii

  43. Posted by Guest | February 20, 2014 at 4:03 PM

    That joke never… oh wait, it just did.

  44. Posted by Wire | February 20, 2014 at 4:58 PM

    Noooooo, but that's the genuine consensus opinion — which is that FB didn't overpay, and in fact, given that it outperformed the market today, may have paid a reasonable price. Not at all a question of infallibility and efficiency, but a much more accurate view on what the aggregate thinks *right now* about the price of the deal than a couple of people quoted on CNBC or in a newspaper. Given the market's reaction, I wouldn't say this deal is being "widely criticized for being overpriced."

  45. Posted by biglawinsecure | February 20, 2014 at 6:25 PM

    i bet the autistic dork thing is a front and Zuck and Berlusconi hold sexy parties in Europe