Friday, June 3, 2011

Internet Boom 2.0

Nowadays, you hear about the IPO plans of online social sites like Linkedin, Groupon, Facebook, Twitter ... and Chinese copycat versions like RenRen, Tudou..

Now do you remember names like Ariba, CommerceOne, Broadvision, Vignette ... during the dotcom era in the late nineties ?

I am of the opinion that most of the social networking sites are ultimately not going to be able to make any significant amount of money to justify their lofty valuations. The story to tell in dotcom v1 is that as long as you get the eyeballs, you are ok, never mind about profits. The story for dotcom v2 seems to be about membership, as long as you can get a large number of active users, you are ok, never mind about how to generate income from these members.

My advice, the game is currently being played by the private bankers who try to get slice of the lucrative iPO business. By the time it get to the retail investors, holding those shares are the equivalent of holding live grenades on your hands. They are going to blow up in your faces.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Board Director Quality

I read with interest online comments about Yeo Guat Kwang, a ex-Chinese language teacher who is currently an MP in AMK GRC. Whilst I am not so much into politics and have no wish to comment on his exhaustive list of affiliations, I do notice that he is currently an independent director in 6 companies of which 5 of them are listed. One of them is United Enviro Tech, I company which I previously was scrutinizing for possible investment value (I did not invest ultimately as I tend to avoid companies that derives its revenue mostly in China with some exceptions).

Recently, because of the YGK saga, I take a closer look at the composition of the board. Besides YGK, there is a medical doctor Chong Weng Chiew who is a one-term MP in Tanjong Pagar who was left out rather abruptly in the 2006 elections.

Now I have nothing against these two men but I do have serious reservations in their ability to discharge their responsibilities and duties effectively to protect minority shareholders. Both unfortunately do not possess the requisite corporate background in the commercial arena to be independent directors, in my view.

I think they are just being hauled into the board to give some local texture to a largely PRC board. As such, I will avoid investing in these type of companies as I strongly believe credible independent directors are the minority shareholders first-line of defence against a corrupt management.