Whitney Tilson’s email to investors discussing the ‘Silicon Six’ spread propaganda. It’s time to regulate social media sites; Chasing Amazon, retailers are in a never-ending arms race; her Amazon purchases are real. The reviews are fake; climbing in the Alps.
1) Though I am bullish on the stocks of tech giants Alphabet (GOOGL) and Facebook (FB), I agree wholeheartedly with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen that The ‘Silicon Six’ spread propaganda. It’s time to regulate social media sites, The Washington Post. Excerpt:
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Facebook, Google, and Twitter are unthinkably rich, and they have the best engineers in the world. They could fix these problems if they wanted to. Twitter could deploy an algorithm to remove more white-supremacist hate speech, but it reportedly hasn't because it would eject some very prominent politicians. Facebook could hire enough monitors to actually monitor, work closely with groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the NAACP, and purge deliberate lies from their platforms.
You can watch Baron Cohen's entire 25-minute speech here.
2) My bullishness on online-retail juggernaut Amazon (AMZN) was reinforced by this article about how most brick-and-mortar retailers are struggling to keep up... Chasing Amazon, Retailers Are in a Never-Ending Arms Race, The New York Times. Excerpt:
Retailers are trying everything they can to keep up with Amazon. Macy's offers same-day delivery and in-store returns for online purchases. Black Friday deals are already starting at Kohl's. And craft cocktails are served in the women's shoe department at Nordstrom.
3) Unfortunately, Amazon's success means it's the target of more and more scammers. I don't see how the company can police this particular type of fraud... Her Amazon Purchases Are Real. The Reviews Are Fake, BuzFeed News. Excerpt:
Third-party sellers know what it takes to make it on Amazon: Get good reviews and a high search ranking. But attracting genuine customers is tough, so some sellers use a reliable cheat – bribes. Because of Amazon's vast scale, inscrutable algorithms, and capricious enforcement of its own rules, unscrupulous sellers and paid shills largely get away with it.
And this is no surprise whatsoever...
Jessica said the majority of sellers she messages with are Chinese. They respond to messages only between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Eastern time, which are working hours – 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. – on Beijing time.
4) One of the ways I keep life fun and interesting is by adding excursions onto existing trips.
One of my favorite tricks is booking long layovers in new cities. For example, a few years ago when I was flying home from my annual Value Investing Seminar in Italy, Alitalia wanted $1,200 for a one-way flight back to New York City. Yeah, right! I did a little digging and found a $100 flight to Budapest on Wizz Air, where I spent a marvelous 24 hours. I then took a $650 flight home on LOT Polish Airlines, which had a six-hour layover in Warsaw – just enough time to hop a taxi into the old city and take a private Segway tour I'd arranged (Segways are a fun and fast way to cover a lot of ground)...
I wasn't quite so clever the past few days, but had an even more epic adventure. I flew to Zurich on Friday for Guy Spier's daughter's bat mitzvah (I included a photo of us in that day's e-mail), and rather than just flying home on Sunday, I instead realized that I could squeeze in an extra three days in Switzerland and still get home for Thanksgiving.
So I called my climbing guide, who guided me up the Jungfrau and Mönch mountains in summer 2017 (click here for a description and pics), and he said we could find great climbs. So on Sunday, I took the train to Grindelwald, and thanks to getting very lucky with the weather, we did two days of amazing climbing. Here are some pictures:
P.S. The Empire Financial Research offices are closed tomorrow and Friday for the Thanksgiving holiday. Look for the next Empire Financial Daily e-mail on Monday. Have a great holiday!