Trying to decode Facebooks future vision – and failing so far

Sergey Orlovsky wearing an Oculus Rift

This threw me. Facebook last week paid $2 Billion (mainly in Facebook stock) to buy Oculus VR, the designers of the Virtual Reality “Oculus Rift” headset.

A few weeks ago, Facebook paid $19 Billion for mobile SMS app producer “WhatsApp“, produced by a 50 head company of the same name and who have accumulated 400 million users worldwide, 70% of whom use their service daily. Traditionally, Facebook have derived their income from posting advertising in and around your personalised news feed. WhatsApp instead ask for an annual $1 subscription to use their service – which friends (or I guess brands) can afford to contribute to in the future. They also have a future aim to facilitate mobile payments using this messaging platform – a big asset to Facebook if they pull it off.

The big departure for Facebook is that the CEO of WhatsApp – Jan Koum – is legendary for being anti-advertising. I have sympathy with his view given mobile phone use experiences when you’re trying to do a specific simple task, and smack in the middle of the process flow, up jumps an advert. Complete pain in the butt, much like a kiddy at home jumping up and down in front of the telly when you’re trying to watch something.

For me, the impressive thing was that Mark Zuckerberg (CEO of Facebook) put Jan Koum straight onto his Board of Directors. Someone willing to disrupt the very business model on which the company has so far been based, and to avoid the malaise of many other organisations who otherwise cling onto a way of working doggedly, long after a decline of fortunes sets in. I thought it was such an impressive thing to do, I went and bought a stack of Facebook shares at $69 each for my “long term buy and hold” self invested pension fund, joining the likes of Google, Amazon, Apple and Tableau Software there. At least alongside the other 70% of the fund sitting in index tracker funds.

Then, the $2Bn bolt out of the blue. Suddenly, the “person to person” comms path (which I thought they had mapped toward their future self) headed straight into heavy fog. The current chief demographic of users of these headsets is to gamers, in my mind teen to 25 year olds who spend many hours every week in play; it is not the sort of hardware I can imagine someone older playing Candy Crush Saga or conventional board games on. Maybe Minecraft – but oops, Notch (the original author of Minecraft and an earlier contributor to the Kickstarter fund that bought Oculus to life) downed tools the second he heard Facebook had bought the company. With that, I started looking to what Mark Zuckerberg’s articulated thought process was, and to what the various industry commentators (who I respect) thought.

I think it would be fair to say that they are as confused as I am. The more outlandish claims related to his thirst to be the destination of eyeballs everywhere, and hence the ultimate future media mogul; helping deliver immersive experiences that finally send the already dismembering newspaper industry into it’s ultimate oblivion. Since the dawn of the Internet, the readership of newspapers has been heading towards OAP land relentlessly, and ads/classified revenue depleting, for many years now.

Journalistic endeavour is also already showing signs of radical all-or-nothing network effects. My own media consumption is a based on a collection of famous subject experts or specific writers, aided and abetted by a weekly diet of specific newsletters, podcasts and feeds from five social media streams. And the latter are getting progressively worse at communicating “signal” effectively, while throwing up increasing volumes of useless “noise”.

Of the five social feeds I get, it no longer surprises me that Twitter only has 1/8 of the number of registrants once recruited still using it’s service. Or that I miss updates from people I know who change employers on LinkedIn, lost in a deluge of an amateur attempt to become a business persons Huffington Post. Facebook selects it’s own subset of what it thinks I want to hear, and Google Plus has no way to restrict viewing to what i’ve not seen before. Even VAX Notes got that right with it’s SINCE key (you could skip between forum posts – onto replies on the next post you hadn’t seen yet – with a single button press). Likewise on Reddit.

So, while the Newspaper industry meanders, promoting the interests in the UK of six owners above all else – and doing little else than keeping printing presses employed with high volumes of useless twaddle, Political Party PR ruses and manufactured scare propaganda, plus visual “click bait” – I don’t see Oculus Virtual Reality headsets as the thing that will finally put them out of their own misery.

It’s a different contrast to Google with Google Now. If I move around in the real world, I can walk past a bus stop and it will flash up the matching bus timetable, plus next due bus eta. If it knows I need to get to a meeting elsewhere and the traffic conditions worsen, it’ll advise me to leave earlier, or to plan to take me via a different route. It tells me if a package is on it’s way to my work or home. The experiences are to supplement my travel and locations as I move around in the real world.

With this acquisition, Facebook, in contrast, send me in this case into a closed, virtual world. While the screen hardware is very impressive and a gaming experience very immersive, i’ve still not worked out how it translates to an effective new use case of Facebook – or a component of it – for a future me. More a return to the world of Linden Labs, and that of Second Life.

All that said, Mark Zuckerberg has so far pulled rabbits out of the hat to keep proving doubters wrong. This latest move is quite a challenge to join the dots on, and to convince everyone that it’s instead a prescient and visionary move. Or have I missed something fundamental? Comments most welcome.

Mobile Phone JFDI – and the forgotten art of Removing Buttons

Keep Calm and Just Do It PosterIn my relative youth, I was always bemused about how the Computing Industry had a habit of making things over complicated. I’d be listening close by as a phone call came in to one of my colleagues, where a salesman wanted to know how much a specific piece of software would cost his customer to buy. Out came a wide range of licensing and update options that made my brain hurt, and i’m sure sent the salesman into a state of gloom and despondency. Came in with one question and left with at least three.

There was an article in one of the early editions of “Practical Computing” magazine that really hit home, so much so that it’s one of a select seminal few bits of paper I still have copies of from my early programming career . A two page article – stored alongside a completely unrelated one page flow chart of how to draw a circle on a bit mapped screen using only increment and decrement instructions, with no trigonomic functions in sight. The two page article was entitled “Removing the Buttons” by Nick Laurie. It’s premise stands correct to this day, an observing it has resulted in some multi million pound profit spectaculars my teams have pulled off down by career.

The 0-$100m at 89% Gross Margin – in 18 months – example

One was being given a Software business to run that featured 48,000 different part numbers. Some of my American colleagues built this into a kind of telephone directory that was 2″ (50mm) thick, and duly sent this to all the sales folks in the USA in the belief that it was doing them all a favour. I took a different tack, listened in to quite a few customer phone calls, and managed to boil things down to 6 double page spreads, each spread dedicated to a specific type of product. The chief stated objective was to ensure that a salesperson could lookup the part number and price for any software product we sold within their normal attention span (which we thought was around 10 seconds!).

So, the split was Operating Systems and System Software, Development Tools, Networking/Comms, Database Management, Industrial Applications and Office software (aka “End User Computing). Product names down the left with most of the part number present, different computers in order of price/power across the top (with the code to insert into the part number for that tier), and the associated price at the intersection of product and machine. The media cost on tape cartridge or magtape on the right of each product.

Visit from Royalty

We had a Corporate senior management entourage over from the USA who were told about the DECdirect Software Business and it’s impressive growth. I found myself called out of the blue into a conference room, carrying one of the price books, to find at least 2 company Vice Presidents and a lot of their senior staff present talking to my bosses boss. One of them got the USA Software price book out, and asked what I thought of it.

I related the challenge it gave salespeople, and on request, passed a copy of our 12 page work to one of the entourage. His VP said to him, well, say I wanted to buy VAX ELN to run on my VAX-11/785 – what’s the part number and price? His direct report, who’d been in possession of the guide for 2 minutes and had flicked through it once, from cold, said “oh, here it is” and rolled off the correct part number and the local price. I think they understood pretty quickly why that software operation was growing like topsy, and why even customers would throw orders into us, correct part numbers and pricing on board, for over 90% of our order volume. Simplicity Sells.

Meanwhile, back to today

Sometimes termed “Opinionated” interfaces, the central theme is that rather than adding extra buttons to any hardware, or one-plussing the number of software User Interface options you confront a user with, or giving people a thick book containing every imaginable option available, that the antithesis is usually much better design. To boil things down to the core tasks the user wants to implement, and to do that one thing really well, without unnecessary distractions. And despite knowing this for a long time now, the Mobile Phone Software Industry is very much stuck in the “let’s give them the kitchen sink” mind set, or to let functionality of their app get one-plussed to death in a mission creep into adjacent “wouldn’t it be nice if” task types. Two recent personal real life scenarios:

Scenario 1

First is that i’m in a Coffee Shop while my wife is shopping. I get a text from her saying she’s in the last one, and will be ready to leave soon. Message comes up on my iPad, so I pull my Nexus 5 phone out of my pocket to tell her i’m on my way. Sequence goes something like this:

Google Hangouts Initial Screen

Google Hangouts Second Screen

Google Hangouts Tell Jane i'm on my way

Having selected the Google Hangout app (the default way of sending SMS’s in stock Android), I flick it’s startup screen to the left, select her picture (there as I talk to her regularly), tap in “on way” and hit the button to send it. Done.

I get to the last shop and she says “Did you get my text?”. I said yes, and that i’d replied to tell her that I was on her way. She said she’d not received it. So, I replay the sequence, look how I sent it, click on her name and see this:

Google Hangouts - Who did I send the message to?

WTF! The Hangout app decided that my default action was to have a face to face video call with her, and it appears to have sent a notification to the Hangout app on her iPhone inviting her to this meeting. One which she didn’t get a notification for. Note to self – remember to select her name, choose the SMS number, before sending a text next time.

Scenario 2

We’ve had a day out with my sons kids, whose school has had an inset (teacher training) day, walking (according to my Fitbit) around 5 miles around Legoland Windsor. Get in the car at the end of the day, get to the road outside, and think – hmmm – I think we turned left somewhere further up this road to aim home, but not sure where. Let’s play safe. Pick up my Nexus phone, and say “Ok Google”. Up pops the speech input on the launcher. “Navigate me home”. Beep – up comes a display showing that it plans to send me from my current location, and lists the ultimate destination as my home postcode. Then sits there like a lemon with a display that looks like this (i’ve just done this one from my home, asking it to navigate me to a local supermarket, but the screen layout is identical in structure):

Google Maps Navigation Screen


Given the phone is sitting there like a lemon and the car is moving in traffic, I hand the Nexus 5 to Jane, and ask if she can see what I need to press to make it start giving directions. The first thing she says is “it appears to be having difficulty loading from the Internet” – given in a browser, there is a blue line that gradually moves left to right as the page loads. The Maps UI appears to be stuck at around 25%. It’s only later I realise that Google have just underlined the mode of transport (by car) with a blue bar, and this isn’t a progress bar at all.

Next, she can select route options. Then we are given some alternative ways of getting to the destination, just like the two listed above (shortest and fastest route). Though I can swear that the words “Start Navigation” were not visible at all when we were in motion and the map around Windsor was displayed. So, Jane says she can’t see where to press, the phone is sitting there like a lemon and roads passing me by with the car in motion. So I make a guess. And get it wrong, and have no idea which way we’re headed. A couple of miles on, a plane outbound from Heathrow flies over us, and I suddenly have a clue that if that is going East to West, I need to turn right to approximately head north back to the M4. This I do, travel another mile and then we get signage to M4 junction 6. And the phone is still sitting there like a lemon.

When I tried it today at home, it did an automatic hop, skip and jump into telling me how to start my journey – something I wished it did yesterday when I needed it to. But didn’t.

I’m far from alone

I’ve heard similar rants from one friend about how Apple iTunes has now turned into an ungodly and complex mess. Also quite a nice rant by Marco Arment about unnecessary bundling of unwanted components to his Amazon Prime Membership supporting a price increase (to support their online video business, that he has no interest in subscribing to). Marco then goes further with the one-plussing of Facebook and Twitter apps to start treading into each others core business, and losing their value to him along the way by doing so. See his blog post entitled “Wrong“.

So, quite a widely used and unfortunate trend. I guess the good news is that where vendors start doing this, it opens up an opportunity for other vendors to more closely align to the basic brass tacks most customers value. If the network effects are strong enough to enact this sort of revolution, we’ll all be the better for it, so – out with the coding pencil!

Footnote: The Seminal “Removing the Buttons” is here: Page 1 and Page 2.



Shareholder Positions and Profits YTD

Pie Chart of Ian Waring Stock Profits YTD

At the start of last year, I started to run my pension funds personally. In line with normal advice, I put circa 70% of the available funds in Vantage LifeStrategy 100% Equity Accumulating Index Trackers, and the balance i’ve used to bet on a few companies I believe have a rosy long term future – while being fully aware of likely swings of the US Dollar vs GB pounds. I’ve lived long enough to see that cycle between $1.40 and $2.20 to the pound – currently nicely in the middle and with holdings I can leave in situ waiting for the right position to enact an exit – albeit that’s not for many years into the future.

At the moment, my total fund is up 9.05% in the year i’ve been running it. The shares portion of this has come in +17.68% year to date (touch wood – profit of £21,871.99). The sources that contributed to the increase in the fund are as above.

In the early days, I did bet on a few others but kept the shareholding small until I had visibility of what they were doing. When they weren’t giving meaningful return, or where I felt I didn’t understand the company direction (strategically) well enough – or learnt their susceptibility to unfounded competitor rumours – I unloaded them. That applied (for various reasons) to ARM, Baidu, Red Hat,, Splunk and Netflix.

At this stage, i’ve retained positions in Google, Amazon, Tableau Software, Apple and… Facebook. I did buy some Facebook shares in the early days after it’s IPO, but unloaded them at a slight loss while they were in the $20’s. I’ve now bought back in at $69 – largely because Mark Zuckerberg’s purchase of WhatsApp, and the fact he’s put the WhatsApp CEO – who is vehemently against advertising – onto the Facebook Board. I thought this was brilliant, as advertising is the major current source of Facebook’s income, and there was a willingness to put someone up there that will push an alternative, subscription based model. A good sign that Facebook are willing to be radical with their business models, and not follow the normal high technology malaise of clinging to a failing business model into oblivion.

I always think that the Advertising Industry is naive to think their next frontier is the screen of people’s mobile phones; it’s a bit like having a kiddie jumping up and down in front of the TV when you’re trying to watch something. WhatsApp currently charge $1/year for the instant messaging service, and at that level, there is even scope for friends (or vendors) to offer to pay the subscriptions of large numbers of users.

Liquid Metal and GT Advanced Technologies were a small punt based on hearing about various Apple licensing agreements two years ago, and then seeing Apple employees start filing patents on the associated materials just ahead of contract renewal due dates. Liquid Metal is likely to be used for the carcass of new iPhones (without the need to mill aluminium as at present) and GT Advanced Technology supply very resilient Sapphire screens large enough for the display surface of same. Those shares turned out to be quite volatile, so I did an exit stage left on profits of 30.9% and 24.2% respectively – within 3 weeks of their original purchase.

Google shares will split in April, improving their liquidity. Amazon have had a recent fall, but i’m confident that they’ll recover 20-25% in the next 2-3 months. Tableau Software are just about to dilute things a bit with a new share offering, but my returns are still very good (not too far away from 100% returns for the 218 shares I still have). Apple are a blog post all by themselves, cursed by Analyst expectations of slowing growth (despite ratcheting up their market share relentlessly, plus earning 70% of the mobile industry profits) and discounting the likelihood of laying another category of Golden Egg, as they’ve done for iPod, iPhone and iPad already. Quite funny when Amazon trade at huge multiples on the suspicion that their conveyor belt will magic Golden Egg league profits as soon as Jeff Bezos decides that’s what he wants. And Facebook is a wait and see.

There are three potential IPOs i’m looking out for, but that apart, the strategy is “Long Term Buy and Hold”. Working well so far, touch wood.

Ask not what your mobile phone can do for you, …

John F Kennedy Photograph (JFK)

Last nights Gillmor Gang felt like it arrived at a conclusion that the next big frontier for mobile platforms was the message bus that is notifications. From a consumer perspective, Google are good at this, albeit Google Now and Google Plus tread over each other occasionally, and Google Plus’s Circles quickly fall into disrepute. Apple’s notification system is mostly empty and unused. It was perceived that Microsoft didn’t have a strategy at all. Meanwhile, the messaging vendors running across multiple platforms are lined up for a battle royal to keep their respective user bases growing, and applicable in their niche use contexts (WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, Hangouts, Skype, Linc, Secret, Snapchat, Chatter, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

For me, interesting and pertinent comment tends to come from Feedly (mainly RSS feeds), my DoggCatcher Podcast consumption, a couple of mailing lists and the occasional post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and very rarely, in LinkedIn. For the most part, all of these social apps shift ungodly amounts of pollution in my stream, and are systematically getting worse. It really doesn’t surprise me that Twitter have had over 1 billion registrations, of whom only 1/4 are regular users now; the daily requests to add more suggested users does nothing for my feed quality – and in fact precisely the opposite.

My Nexus 5 with Google Now already flashes up a bus timetable and next bus eta when I walk past a bus stop. It has all the performance of the stocks I own already tabulated. It tells me the result of Aston Villa’s last match (1-0 against Chelsea – must be a bug there somewhere) and soon will tell me the next match due, along with the relevant league stats of both teams. And at the moment, it will throw in the name of someone from Google+ whose Birthday is today, although i’ve never heard of any of the folks listed in the 5 months since i’ve switched to Android. And if I have worked out how to integrate my calendar, it will tell me if I need to leave early for my next meeting in light of the current traffic conditions.

With that, most of my future use cases that help *me* are largely covered. Improving the efficiency of me recording my food intake and exercise routines may help; i’ve logged all my food intake and have it summarised as carbs, protein, fat, calories and exercise calories expended by day, every day since June 3rd 2002. My weekly weight readings go back that far too. My fitbit does a reasonable job counting my steps and I get a £5 book voucher to spend every 4 months or so for the privilege of admitting my exercise stats. So, an Apple iWatch with heart rate/pressure monitoring may add a bit more data meat for me to have graphed. So, what’s next to help… me?

The industry is now off the starting blocks and into the calls of “Big Data”, “Internet of Things”, “Sensors everywhere”. My phone already knows the time, my location, who i’m calling, who’s calling me, how fast i’m travelling, where i’m headed (be it in my calendar or set as my navigation destination) and where I have notification of tracking data for an inbound package from Amazon. Some data based on data clues i’ve shared with Google (location, searches, Chromecast media consumption) and Amazon (purchases). I wonder if any Visa/Mastercard data makes it back. And now that the role of “information hub” has escaped from living room Games Consoles and into that Smartphone into my pocket, what value to I get back from it now?

A lot of the benefits are going to accrue higher up the food chain – in which case Steve Gillmor’s words may (as usual) be prescient.

One of my previous employers had over 10,000 staff, thousands of suppliers and a large number of B2B customers. One system there collected the metadata from email on who was conversing with who; anyone could go onto the system and see (in priority order) who was engaged with a specific supplier, or all the touch points into large enterprises they serviced. That speeded up the engagements (as it would do in any knowledge based business). That may also work for phone calls made or received on the company mobile in the future.

The same company also have high water marks in various business processes, so if an iceberg is heading your way that will break the customers SLAs, the management chain get the needed urgency and corrective actions instilled – before the customers notice. However, it is silo’d on specific tracking systems that managers have to dip into regularly.

For an Enterprise, one of the keys is to be able to link business processes and the exception handling flows so that the relevant people know whatever is important to them, when it is important to them. Some of my previous work was to graph important things simply to show, for example, what the flow of incoming cash was, it’s sources and any queries that may impale the chances of a customer paying their invoice(s) on time. Very much like the sort of card dished out by Google Now, but with some limited interactivity to dig down deeper into a prioritised list – to enable fast spotting of the root cause to address. It worked spectacularly well to help eradicate potential problems and to markedly improve DSO.

(For what it’s worth, once I could reach the database tables I needed, I prototyped the reporting needed to address the business issues very quickly in Tableau Desktop Professional. Then in line with corporate reporting platform decisions, self learnt then reimplemented the whole lot in Microsoft SQL Services Reporting Services (aka SSRS) – a very bitty, detailed and long process – where the reports still run to this day).

Some time ago, Facebook provided an alternative UI that made your friends the centre of your mobile experience. This largely fell into disrepute as many of the apps on a phone are gateways into simple process tasks, and the entry point wasn’t specific to a designated “friend”. John Borthwick wrote a piece on Medium about which Mobile apps appeared on a wide variety of home screens. Yahoo bought startup Aviate who provide a launcher that moves icons to the home screen – for immediate availability – based on the context of where you are and what you do regularly. I’m yet to see any analysis that segments which apps are used, when and how often; that would be a useful base to ask further questions.

In the meantime, linking apps into appropriate notifications from Enterprise systems may well be a useful thing for mobile applications. That historically has been the domain of Microsoft applications with custom extensions written in VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). It’s probably a sign of genius that you can do likewise with Google Apps now (Chrome Extensions were announced last week) – with add-on code written JavaScript – the most popular programming language in the world.

The main downside is that, for a business process, JavaScript (as indeed is true of VBA) is akin to writing stuff in very basic assembler. Mind bogglingly long winded and subject to excruciating minute detail. I think there’s probably a lot of mileage in being able to provide Google Now type cards with graphs and data you can drill into out of the box – all thrown into the notifications stream with an interface not unlike IFTTT (If This then That – one of John Borthwicks companies) to deliver the information to the correct people, at the right time, only.

I’m just waiting for the first signs that the Enterprise Software vendors will start putting the hooks in to enable Google to undertake the assault on this hitherto Microsoft stronghold using Chrome Extensions.

In the meantime, I also ask myself how folks like SAP and Oracle survive with their very clunky ERP software, all of which looks ripe for disruption with modern open source based software – but that’s another story about money, customisation and organisational inertia all by itself.


Google Shares: Stick or Twist?

Danger - Will Robinson

A fairly quiet Sunday. Trip down to the gym for the last of my three weekly visits, finding that they were finishing their 24 hour Charity Spinathon, £20 duly donated. En route, listening to the last of a two hour John Gruber Podcast talking at length about Crypto currencies, which was fascinating. Then back home for a walk to the local shops with Jane to pick up some milk, then back to catching up on my various high technology news feeds.

I reflect on Robots getting more and more impressive. Saw a video of a guy in Germany debugging a table tennis playing robot, which is already showing promise (3 minute video here). Then saw that on Tuesday, there is a match planned between Timo Boll, the #1 German Professional Table Tennis Player (currently #8 in the world), playing against a KUKA industrial robot (preview here). Robots are one feature that keeps hitting news headlines concerning Google, who are making many related investments recently.

On a related thought, one thing that has started to bug me a bit is the so far excellent performance of my Self Invested Pension, which over the last 10 months has grown 10.68%. Given 64% of it is in an index tracker, the performance of various stocks i’ve traded (normally on a long term buy and hold basis) has been over 24% to date. The nagging feeling is always asking if i’m carrying too much of too few companies, albeit I tend to focus on ones that I feel have high market shares and future growth potential.

I’ve made good returns trading in then later out on Netflix, Splunk and I got slight losses from the early days in Red Hat, ARM, Baidu and Facebook, so reversed out with minimal damage. I made a returns of over 20% on GT Advanced Technologies (GTAT) and 49% on Liquid Metal (LQMT) in 3 weeks by joining the dots on some future Apple investments from patent filings. Those apart, I wound up investments in Google, Amazon, Apple and (having IPO’d) Tableau. I have more recently taken a position in Facebook (it was in the $20’s when I left it, and bought back in recently at $69).

One personal irritation about the Advertising Industry is its relentless pursuit to derive advertising revenue on mobile phones. This is a practice I hold akin to having a kiddie jumping up and down in front of the telly when you’re trying to watch something; something to be actively discouraged. The one concern I have is that Google are my biggest shareholding (at the time of writing, they represent just under 50% of my (non Index Tracker) stock investments), and derive almost all its revenue today from monetising purchase intentions – read: targeted advertising. Likewise Facebook.

Something that impressed me greatly with Facebook was CEO Mark Zuckerberg buying SMS app “WhatsApp”, which has over 400 million users (70% using the service daily) for a jaw dropping $19 billion. The ethos of WhatsApp is to never let advertising interfere with the user experience, instead relying on a nominal $1/year subscription to use their service. Despite that being the antithesis of Facebook’s current business model, they put the WhatsApp CEO straight onto the Facebook Board. While it may sound a very basic simplification, their willingness to do this sort of “eat our children” move gives me confidence that they are aiming for the long term – and not clamouring to keep hold of a business model that may go stale.

With that, I turn to Google. I put £40,834 in them and have so far seen that go up to £54,508 – an approx return of 35%. Around 98% of their current income is tied to advertising revenues. I have quite a wide view of the various initiatives they are undertaking, which while mind-blowing, don’t translate into a likely future revenue/profit stream for the next two years or so. Maybe Chrome Tablets will arrive. Maybe they’ll cotton on that it may be a good idea to sell their excellent ChromeCast outside the USA. One thing I don’t yet understand well is their fixation – and many investments – in both Deep Thinking technologies and in Robotics.

The fact they may pull a rabbit out of their hat on one of a wide range of initiatives means i’ll leave my shareholding in them where it is. Likewise the shareholdings held by my three grandchildren (Ellie age 12, Charlie age 9 and Ruby age 2 all have shares in Google, Amazon and Tableau alongside their index trackers). Google shares will split in April, so I think a likely increase as their Google shares get more liquid. After that, we’ll see if the value of those shares continue their relentless march northward.

I’m also confident Amazon will bounce back – I reckon up another 20% in the next quarter to recover from their recent downturn. Apple and Facebook will soldier on. Tableau Software will continue to impress (they are my highest returns to date – over 67% at the time of writing). Those apart, i’m keeping my eye out for signs of three potential IPOs that I think will become very valuable – when they’re ready. But that’s a story for another day.