Daily Archives: February 11, 2015

Somewhere in Riverside, Tim Armstrong is on his knees every morning, saying,”Thank you, God”.

You drop that subscription, I'll come to your house and kill you

You drop that subscription, I’ll come to your house and kill you

Business Insider: AOL still has 2 million dial-up subscribers.

AOL’s dial-up subscription business was responsible for making it one of the most successful global internet companies of the 1990s. And yet, 20 years later — after joining Time Warner for eight years, buying several prominent websites, and undergoing countless other transitions as a digital media company — AOL’s dial-up service endures: In its fiscal fourth quarter of 2014, AOL still had more than 2.2 million subscribers.

To be clear, most subscribers get more than just internet service — some of its subscribers also pay for support and other services. AOL offers several plans, and its average revenue per user actually increased in the fourth quarter to $21.18, up from $20.01.

Based on company data charted for us by BI Intelligence, AOL’s 2.2 million subscribers generated 85% of the company’s total revenue last year ($606.5 million of the $710 million total), and the number of people leaving the service each month has been in decline, which is pretty impressive considering the subscriber base isn’t that large these days. The 2.2 million dial-up subscribers are just a fraction of the ~27 million users AOL had in its heyday, but those dial-up subscribers are still providing most of the company’s revenue.

Have you ever encountered an AOL email address in the past five years? Was your response, like mine, been, really?

That can’t be good for a business model.

23 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Riverside contract

145 Riverside Avenue

145 Riverside Avenue

145 Riverside Avenue, $1.495 million, nine days. From the too much information department, back in 1968 when we were both 14, I dated a girl who lived on Lincoln Avenue, in Old Greenwich. Her father hated me, with good reason, but that summer he moved the family, including his daughter, here, just one block from my house on Gilliam Lane. I couldn’t believe my good luck.

There’s a great apartment above the garage with a separate entrance, if you appreciate that sort of thing.

22 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Hermit quarters

1034 Lake Avenue

1034 Lake Avenue

1034 Lake Avenue, way up north in Indian county,  2,000 sq. ft.cottage on 2 acres in the 4-acre zone, sold for $750,00. Works for me: judging from the satellite photos, you could set up a deer stand and an (illegal) salt block, and draw in the unsuspecting dears from your neighbors’ woods, five months a year. Ogilvy listing.

Hunting camp

Hunting camp

12 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Cos Cob price cut

12 Horseshoe Road

12 Horseshoe Road

12 Horseshoe Road, a contemporary originally priced at $1.8 million this past September, has been dropped to $1.695 today. It’s odd how these things work. Back in 2005, the house came on for $1.749 million, and had a buyer willing to pay $1.745 just three weeks later. In 2009, that buyer tried to resell it for $1.995 but finally moved it, 400 days later, for $1.275, to the current owner. I think this time, the seller has tried to find a buyer with the enthusiasm of that 2005 owner and priced it at $1.8, but despite painting the rooms in dramatic colors, there’s nothing that’s been essentially changed since she bought it herself for $1.275. The “right” buyer may come along, eventually, but if I were advising her, and she wanted to move on (and out) of this house, I’d suggest dropping the price closer to her break-even point.

I  personally like this house. It’s in a great setting, and, as a single guy, it has far more space than I need and no yard to maintain – perfect. I am not the typical Greenwich buyer, however, and if it’s to appeal to a larger market spectrum than sophisticated New York couples looking for a weekend spot, the only thing that’s possible to change is the price, so I’d do it.

7 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Sales and a contract

34 Hearthstone Drive

34 Hearthstone Drive

34 Hearthstone Drive, one of two homes on land split off a rear lot back in 2000 (? or so) sold for $2.3 million. It sold new in 2003 for $1.650, and $2.050 in 2009. This owner apparently put in a new kitchen, redid baths, and so forth, so this price vs 2009’s doesn’t seem out of line. In fact, I’m not sure the owner broke even on those improvements, after commissions and taxes are figured in.

If I recall, the original lot split was fiercely resisted by the neighbors, with all the claims of water run-off, increased traffic etc. I have no opinion on the validity of those objections, but the sales of these two lots helped ignite the subsequent land rush on Hearthstone, greatly benefiting the wallets, if not the peace-of-mind of those neighbors.

11 Meadowcroft Lane

11 Meadowcroft Lane

11 Meadowcroft Lane,  the smaller (3 acres, no extra lot) sold for $6.750 million. Back in 2012, Ogilvy had it at $8.8 million and it didn’t sell. This time, Bill Andruss of Sotheby’s got it right.

51 Lockwood Avenue

51 Lockwood Avenue

And 51 Lockwood Avenue, Old Greenwich, reports a contract. It was asking $1.395 million, and had a contract in less than a week. That might mean it went above ask – I don’t know.

16 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Hedge funds are now equating themselves to low risk, low return municipal bond funds

From BSDs, to this

From BSDs, to this

WSJ: How can hedge funds produce such mediocre returns yet still keep attracting clients?

Hedge funds are in a six-year slump. Financial markets have been rising but these highly paid investors can’t seem to keep up. It’s getting so bad, hedge funds are starting to draw comparisons to mutual funds, long criticized for poor performance relative to their fees. It’s a bit like saying Ferraris are starting to resemble Fords.

Those groans you hear are likely coming from Greenwich, Conn., hometown of many hedge funds. These managers correctly note that they’re paid to hedge, or protect, their clients’ portfolios, not make all-out market bets, so it’s unfair to compare them with broad stock indexes. Hedge funds tend to hold cash, short positions and other defensive holdings to cushion performance in a downturn.

Here’s the problem: Hedge funds aren’t just underperforming against the S&P 500 and other stock indexes.

They’re also losing out to low-cost “balanced” mutual funds that hold a mix of stocks and more-conservative investments, just like many hedge funds, suggesting their poor performance can’t be blamed on a hedged approach. Vanguard Balanced Index Fund(VBINX), for example, has an expense ratio of a bare 0.24% and has just 60% of its portfolio in stocks, with 40% in bonds. This fund returned 9.8% in 2014 and has scored annual gains of 12.6% since the beginning of 2009 and 7% over the past decade. Another low-cost, balanced fund with a global focus, DFA Global Allocation 60/40 Portfolio(DGSIX), rose 3.7% in 2014, 11.3% annually since 2009 and more than 6% annually over the past 10 years.

By contrast, the average hedge fund rose 3% last year, an annualized 6.97% a year since 2009 and 5.1% a year annualized over the past decade, according to HFR, a hedge-fund data tracker.

It’s not my industry and I don’t pretend to know anything about trading, but if these funds are so safe, why do I keep reading articles about funds going belly-up, overnight, because of some “unexpected” development or another? Seems to me they aren’t hedging their bets, they’re putting everything on red.

41 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Bob Horton looks at (some of) the town budget and has some questions

And they’re good ones.

The Board of Education wants to solve overcrowding at New Lebanon Elementary School in Byram by constructing a building so large it will accommodate 100 students more than the projected future student population.

No doubt New Lebanon needs a bigger facility; kindergarten has already moved off campus, and grades one-five are packed tight. Common sense would dictate that the existing building be altered or enlarged. Instead a subcommittee came back with plans for a monumentally bigger school, one with at least nine more classrooms than needed. Whence came this idea?

[W]ith three of the nine new classrooms designated for Pre-K (when did the school board decide to expand the Pre-K program?), and let’s say three more needed for the existing population, that leaves three potentially empty classrooms. Seems very wasteful; but maybe the school board can convert them to dormitories and rent them to tourists via airbnb.

….  In the early 2000s, a few then members of the Board of Estimate and Taxation concluded the town had too many firehouses. There are eight, but the 62,000 people and 48 square miles that comprise our town can be covered quite well by four, maybe five fire stations.

In a dramatic give and take between First Selectmen Peter Tesei and his fellow party members on the BET last Thursday afternoon, Tesei argued that the town needed to hire 17 more fire fighters over the next two years and build a new firehouse to cover Northwest Greenwich. He said BET members’ reluctance to make this decision showed “cowardice.”

… One of those allegedly cowardly financiers was BET Chairman Michael Mason, who said the BET was still looking for more comprehensive planning from the Fire Department.

“What’s the overall, long-term plan? How are we going to get there,” Mason asked.

…[T] he town’s record of building firehouses, or any significant building for that matter, is very poor. The new Hamilton Avenue School came in late and millions of dollars over budget. The Police Palace, otherwise known as the Public Safety Complex, was built to be the first half of one building that would jointly house the Police Department, Fire Department administration, and a renovated Central Firehouse.

Those plans were scrapped, and in 2011 Tesei supported, and the BET approved, the building of an entirely new Central Firehouse. Defending his decision to proceed immediately with the new construction, Tesei said the project was “shovel ready,” which were the key buzzwords in the “fiscal stimulus” conversation that dominated national, state, and local economic news during the height of the fiscal crisis.

Now, in 2015, all that stands of the new Central Firehouse is an impressive north wall that physically and symbolically turns the Fire Department’s back on the Safety Complex that was to be part of its new home. ….

24 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized