Tiny Company Called Microsoft Your Best ’11 Tech Play

In Growth and Business Strategy, Microsoft on February 19, 2011 at 4:42 pm

By James Altucher

My top pick for 2011 is a tech stock. That may not surprise you considering the big run by technology companies in the second half of 2010. But what may surprise you is what tech stock I’m throwing my weight behind: A tiny company called Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT).

Admittedly, Microsoft hasn’t given investors a lot to be happy about lately. MSFT stock has been kicked to the curb, down about -8% this year while the broader market has gained about +12%. If you’re a momentum investors this may turn you off, but I believe that the time is right for the rotation of capital back into this old standard.

Why? Here are some of the biggest reasons:

Stock Buyback Plan: Microsoft is currently working on a $40 billion stock repurchase, with $10 billion of that happening this year. That’s a lot of shareholder value.

Microsoft Flush With Cash: Though MSFT is often only mentioned derisively in the same sentence with Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG), one thing it shares with the two tech powerhouses is a war chest brimming with cash. Microsoft has $30 billion in the bank – and that’s even after paying a decent dividend of 2.3%, something neither Google or Apple offer right now.

Bargain Valuation: Microsoft trades for less than 8 times next year’s earnings (when you back out cash). Compare that to the S&P 500 which trades for about 13 times next year’s earnings. That would be impressive enough, but the icing on the cake is that MSFT earnings will grow twice as fast as the S&P earnings over the next five years.

Predictable Revenue: Much of MSFT’s revenues have shifted to subscription revenues making their earnings very predictable. The company is no longer as reliant on flashy software launches and one-shot sales.

Kinect for Xbox: The Kinect video game controller is is bigger than people think. And that’s saying something, considering the new gadget topped 2.5 million units sold at the end of November after less than a month on the market! Sales of the motion controller will top $500 million next year and $5 billion over the next five years. What’s more, applications will be created for it with very high margins.

Emerging Market IT Sales: The developing world is opening up its wallet when it comes to corporate IT. Though it may not be flashy, Windows remains the gold standard for computer OS software in the workplace so MSFT stock will be the prime beneficiary of this emerging market boom. Followed closely by fellow corporate IT powerhouses Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) and Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), of course.


Twitter Restricts Use Of Its API, Could It Charge Next?

In Social Media, Social Viewing, Twitter on February 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm

Twitter will stop whitelisting applications to its API. What does that mean in English?

Developers can build applications on top of Twitter, like TweetDeck or Klout, by using its API to pull in its data. Some apps take in a lot of data, and up until now Twitter would allow them to be “whitelisted” to use the API more intensively. Now they’ve announced to developers that they will “no longer grant whitelisting requests.” Apps that are already whitelisted will keep their privileges, but if you were waiting until today to apply, tough luck. (Via Regular Geek)

Twitter says if you’re unhappy about it you should try to work harder to make do with the new limitations.

Why could that be? (Bear in mind we’re just speculating here.)

They’re having problems scaling so they want to cool down the API for a while. Most of the activity on Twitter is via the API, since most people use Twitter through apps, whether it’s Twitter’s own apps or third-party apps. Twitter hasn’t said that’s the reason, but Twitter’s scaling difficulties are legendary and this might be the reason. In which case, the move could be temporary.

Twitter has a big enough developer ecosystem now, thank you very much, so it’s going to stop supporting the rest. That’s what Regular Geek thinks, writing they’ve “essentially … decided that they have had enough support from the small developer.” We’re doubtful that’s the explanation — platforms like Twitter are always in competition with other platforms for developer support. And with oodles of cash in its coffers, Twitter can afford to keep supporting developers.

Maybe Twitter plans to charge for its API? That’s always been rumored to be a future business model for Twitter. Right now they’re focused on advertising, but the first time they made money was by charging Google and Microsoft for access to its “firehose”, meaning all of the tweets in real time, and they still do that. As companies like TweetDeck are starting to build a real business, maybe Twitter wants to charge for heavier access to its API.

Read more:

How To: Build a private collaboration site on WP in 5 minutes

In Facebook, Real-Time, Social Media, Social Networking on January 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm

As you have probably gathered by now, I’m a huge fan of WordPress and use it in lots of different kinds of projects. There is one use for WordPress, and especially, and that’s as a collaboration tool. Believe it or not, in about 5 minutes or less you can have a slick, private, WordPress-based collaboration website. I think once you see this, you won’t think of WP in the same way.

I’m going to use as the example for this because making a site private and hidden on is just a couple clicks. I’ll talk about how to do this with a self-installed WP setup at the end of the post.

If you don’t already have a account….

1a. Create your account

Just in case you’re one of the few people who don’t have an account at, head over there and click the big, orange “Sign up now” button to get started:

1b. Pick your blog address, username, and finish the form.

One thing about that people don’t realize that while often you might want your blog address (e.g. to be the same as your username (e.g. tnwteam), it doesn’t have to be. So you might set the blog address as something for your team, but change the username to something more to your liking.

Create a good password, put in your email address and continue.

You can edit the profile information if you wish, the important thing is looking for the email from confirming your sign up.

When you get the email, click the link (which will send you to your browser). On the page you arrive at, chose the “Login” option, not “View your site”

1c. Make the blog private.

Unlike the folks who already have a WordPress account, if you are creating an account and setting up an blog you aren’t asked if you want to make your private or not when you first set up your site. You’ll have to change the setting once you’re logged in and on your site’s Dashboard.

From the Dashboard, scroll down to Settings, click the triangle to open the menu and click “Privacy”. Choose the third option for making your blog private and click Save Changes.

Jump down to step 3 to continue…

If you already have a account….

2a. If you have a account already, create a new blog

Log into, and from the My Blogs menu, select “Register a new blog.”

Pick a name/address for the blog and give it a title (if you want). Just above the big orange button are three radio buttons, click the one marked “Private” and then “Create Blog”

From there head to the Dashboard of your new blog:

3. Setting P2 as the site’s theme

P2 is the successor to Prologue which is an AJAX-powered WP theme that is like blogging-meets Twitter-meets collaboration tool. Automattic uses P2 internally for the exact purpose I’m telling you about here.

Scroll down until you see the “Appearance” button on the left. Click it and you’ll come to the screen to pick/change your blog’s theme.

In the search box enter “p2″ and click “Search”. You should get only one result. Below the thumbnail for the theme, click “Activate”:

4. Add Users

Right now you’re the only person who has access to the blog. That’s not terribly collaborative, is it?

If you know the email address your team members use on, just click “Users” on the right and enter the email address. In the Role pull-down menu Select Editor or Author (Editors can edit and delete all content, Authors only their own) for most team members, Administrator if someone is going to help you manage the site:

If you have to invite people, click the “Invites” link and check the box to make them a contributor on the site (you can upgrade them to Author or Editor later):

5. Collaborate!

That’s it for the set up. Just click the name of your site in the header and you should see something like this:

Post updates, attach files and images, whatever is needed. The “Tag it” space it supposed to act as an organizational tool. Use project names, phases, project segments, whatever works for you here. When you’re ready just click “Post it.” You don’t need to create posts through the regular “New Post” method through the Dashboard (though you still can if you wish). You team can update and reply as needed all right here. Best of all, items someone hasn’t seen will be highlighted in yellow when someone comes back to the site!

Team members can focus on the areas of the project (that you’ve set up by using tags) that they are interested in or look at the whole area at once.

Best of all not only is the site secure, but you can export the data back out when you’re done in a variety of formats.

Not to shabby for something that took five minutes to set up and is completely free!

For self-hosted WordPress users:

If you have your own hosting space and domain and want to do this yourself, it won’t take much longer, but you will have to do some downloading and installing yourself.

After you have a nice, fresh WordPress install ready, go to Appearance and click the “Install Themes” tab, search for P2, install it, and activate it:

Click “Plugins” then “Add New”. Search for “registered users only” and install the plugin from Viper007Bond:

When the plugin is installed, activate it.

Now you’re essentially where folks are. Just add users to your WordPress site and they will be able to get in and no one else. You can, if you wish, to block search engine spiders under “Privacy”, but they can’t get in anyway. It’s a nice extra step though.

Here’s how the folks at Automattic talked about P2 over a year ago…old, but still the best descriptor/example I’ve found:


Get Collaborating!

Source: Tris Hussey