Tag Archives: Dunnhumby

Gangsters of tomorrow?

I was alerted to an article regarding ‘Facebook labelled ‘digital gangsters’ by report on fake news‘ on LinkedIn. The article (at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/18/facebook-fake-news-investigation-report-regulation-privacy-law-dcms) is an interesting read, but there are issues (they always are). First of all Facebook is not innocent, Facebook has bungled a few items and they have done so several times, we have all seen that. Yet the report (at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmcumeds/1791/1791.pdf) has a few issues too and it starts in the summary. It starts with “We have always experienced propaganda and politically-aligned bias, which purports to be news, but this activity has taken on new forms and has been hugely magnified by information technology and the ubiquity of social media. In this environment, people are able to accept and give credence to information that reinforces their views, no matter how distorted or inaccurate, while dismissing content with which they do not agree as ‘fake news’. This has a polarising effect and reduces the common ground on which reasoned debate, based on objective facts, can take place“, the issues here are:

  1. Magnified by information technology and the ubiquity of social media.
  2. People are able to accept and give credence to information that reinforces their views.
  3. Dismissing content with which they do not agree as ‘fake news’.
  4. Reduces the common ground on which reasoned debate, based on objective facts, can take place.

First of all, these are not lies, they are correct as elements. Yet we need to take another look at these issues. In the first the common side of social media is the part that makes all people talk to one another, even as we agree that when it comes to the display of news people do not really tend to talk, they often merely voice an opinion or a thought. Having an actual conversation in mobile distance based events is as rare of finding a £10 in the jeans you just took out of the washing machine. The second is obvious, it always has been so even before the age of social media, and the difference is that they now voice it to thousands of people at the same time, exposing millions of people to millions of voiced views. When it comes to item three, try to find an accepted labour idea in a conservative house of commons and vice versa, debunking each other’s views is a state of active mind and the non-elected get to have a lot more attention than the elected one (a weird logical truth), it has been the clear path of exposure since even before WW2, the fact that the loudest voice gets the room is not new, it is merely the fact that we get to hear twenty thousand loud mouthing opinions. It is number 4 that is the one issue that gives additional rise to the first three. When I search ‘News’ in Facebook I get the BBC, Nine News, ABC News, News.com.au, and several more. Yet the issue is not that they are there, it is what they state is very much the issue and the report is seemingly interestingly ignoring that part.

For News.com.au I get ‘Kate Ritchie smokin’ undies shoot‘ linking to: ‘Nova radio host Kate Ritchie stars in sexy underwear campaign‘, ‘Woolworths to axe $1-a-litre fresh milk but Coles refusing to follow’, and ‘Sailor from World War II kissing photo dies at age 95’, so as ‘news value’ goes, the value of news is very much a discussion a well, these organisation use social media to the max as to increase exposure to self, which is what it is supposed to do, the committee seems to have forgotten that part. The BBC is all about news, even as ’50 Cent: Claims police told to ‘shoot’ rapper investigated’ stands out a bit (it is still news). 9 News gets the attention with: “Human remains have been found during the search for a woman who went missing more than 300km away, with two people in custody over her suspicious disappearance“, it is all about the clicks as the article (on their site) gives us from the beginning “Human remains have been found in Victoria’s east“, the news themselves are exploiting social media to improve circulation (clicks are everything), yet that part is missing in all this. When it comes to ‘fake news’ the media is equally to blame, yet that part was clearly missed by the committee.

And as we see the news “There’s nothing new about personalised number plates, but soon drivers will be able to go a step further and add emojis!“, all this 2 hours ago whilst,

  • Hamas enlists female participation in border riots
  • London social housing block residents warn of ‘death trap’ conditions
  • Terror expert warns Sweden against repatriating Syria jihadists

They are merely three out of a whole range of news items that do not make it to social media. The issue of ‘the common ground on which reasoned debate‘ requires a much wider base and the media is not using social media for that, it makes the media equally to blame, a part that has not been put under the spotlight either. The media uses social media as it is supposed to be used and it seems that the committee is a little too much in the dark there.

On page 10 we get: “In our Interim Report, we disregarded the term ‘fake news’ as it had “taken on a variety of meanings, including a description of any statement that is not liked or agreed with by the reader” and instead recommended the terms ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’. With those terms come “clear guidelines for companies, organisations and the Government to follow” linked with “a shared consistency of meaning across the platforms, which can be used as the basis of regulation and enforcement”.” You see ‘fake news’ is at the heart of the matter and when we see ‘disregarded’, as well as ‘a variety of meanings’ we get the first part that this is about slamming Facebook (always entertaining mind you), yet the media is at the heart of the matter and they too need to be held to account in all this. It is enhanced by statement 16 on the next page: “proliferation of online harms is made more dangerous by focussing specific messages on individuals as a result of ‘micro-targeted messaging’“, it sounds nice until you realise that the media themselves are doing this too, so the overall view gets to be skewed by the media from the start. So consider ‘Start-up founder says employees should only work six-hour days’, whilst in the text we see (amongst more) “Next, we should cut down or get rid of tasks that “don’t add value” such as slashing wasteful meetings in half and switching off distracting notifications. For process-oriented jobs, Mr Glaveski said it was a good idea to automate where possible, and where it wasn’t, the option of outsourcing should be explored“, which largely impedes the existence of places like IBM, Microsoft, and a few other large players. Yet the idea is concept based and the optional loss of 25% income is not expressed as to the stage of who can afford to continue on that premise.

In all this, the media has its own need for micro-targeted messaging, where that ends is not a given and that part does not matter,  it does matter that the message micro and macro is enhanced by the media themselves, yet where is their part mentioned in all that?

When the reports finally makes it to Data use and Data targeting we get: “We have instigated criminal proceedings and referred issues to other regulators and law enforcement agencies as appropriate. And, where we have found no evidence of illegality, we have shared those findings openly. Our investigation uncovered significant issues, negligence and contraventions of the law“, which we wold expect, yet in light of the larger issue where we see: “the use of data analytics for political purposes, which started in May 2017. It states that it “had little idea of what was to come. Eighteen months later, multiple jurisdictions are struggling to retain fundamental democratic principles in the fact of opaque digital technologies”“, I taught it 20 years ago, although not in a political setting, yet the use of data analysis was used in political fields as early as the mid 80’s, so the confusion is a little weird, especially when the footnote linked to the report (at https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/2260271/investigation-into-the-use-of-data-analytics-in-political-campaigns-final-20181105.pdf) gives us on page 8: “Particular concerns include the purchasing of marketing lists and lifestyle information from data brokers without sufficient due diligence, a lack of fair processing and the use of third party data analytics companies, with insufficient checks around consent“, the issue not given is that marketing lists have been available for 20 years, laws had the option of being adjusted for well over 15 years, yet the players only realised too late (some never did) how affordable Facebook and other social media players made this route towards creating awareness, as well as using media to adjust a person’s view became a cheap solution for political players that had little or no budget. The paths were there for well over a decade and nothing was done, now Facebook is lashed at whilst the lists of Dunnhumby and like-minded owners (Dutch Airmiles) and several others are ignored to a larger degree, a path that has been open to adjustment for decades. The law could have been adjusted, but no one bothered, now we see the impact and the lashing out at Facebook, whilst the players were clueless to the largest extent, the 2015 evidence seen as we see: ‘dunnhumby: how Tesco destroyed £1.3bn of value in 9 months‘, the initial moment already showed the failing of insight (as I saw the entire Tesco disaster unfold when it happened in 2015), and with:

In haste to ready Dunnhumby for sale, Tesco made two critical errors that left the company unsellable:

First, Tesco terminated its 50/50 joint venture with Kroger, instead restructuring in such a way that Kroger bought out Tesco and formed a new wholly-owned data company called 84.51°. In this new arrangement, Dunnhumby USA retained its other clients and was now free to pursue new business with Kroger competitors, but no lost its access to Kroger’s customer data.

Second, Tesco capped the length of time that Dunnhumby would have exclusive rights to use the data from the 16 million Tesco Clubcard users. As outlined above, Dunnhumby relies on this data not only to derive profits from its partnership with Tesco but also from reselling this data to the manufacturers.

(source: https://digit.hbs.org/submission/dunnhumby-how-tesco-destroyed-1-3bn-of-value-in-9-months/) we see just how clueless the larger players have been and there are additional questions that this committee should be able to answer, yet they cannot and as you can read they decided not to address any of it.

Its members:

  • Damian Collins MP (Conservative, Folkestone and Hythe) (Chair)
  • Clive Efford MP (Labour, Eltham)
  • Julie Elliott MP (Labour, Sunderland Central)
  • Paul Farrelly MP (Labour, Newcastle-under-Lyme)
  • Simon Hart MP (Conservative, Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire)
  • Julian Knight MP (Conservative, Solihull)
  • Ian C. Lucas MP (Labour, Wrexham)
  • Brendan O’Hara MP (Scottish National Party, Argyll and Bute)
  • Rebecca Pow MP (Conservative, Taunton Deane)
  • Jo Stevens MP (Labour, Cardiff Central)
  • Giles Watling MP (Conservative, Clacton)

They should also be held to a much higher account, as I personally see this situation. Not that they have done anything wrong officially. Yet the consideration that we see on page 87 where we are treated to: “As we wrote in our Interim Report, digital literacy should be a fourth pillar of education, alongside reading, writing and maths. In its response, the Government did not comment on our recommendation of a social media company levy, to be used, in part, to finance a comprehensive educational framework“, the fact that digital literacy is missing on a global scale is a much larger concern, one that political players on both sides of the isle in the House of Commons seem to have been ignoring to the largest extent. It should be part of primary school education nowadays, yet it is not.

We see supporting evidence in the ‘Impact of social media and screen-use on young people’s health‘ publication. When we read: “In 2017, however, the Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, reported that children were “not being equipped with adequate skills to negotiate their lives online” and that they needed help from adults to “develop resilience and the ability to interact critically with the world”“, we see one part, it comes from oral evidence Q566, which gives us the question by Stephen Metcalfe ‘There is a lot of emphasis on preparing children and young people for a digital life—on making them digitally literate. What do you think digital literacy actually means? What are the boundaries? What should we be teaching them, and at what age should we start?‘, the response is “A report I put out earlier this year, “Life in Likes,” which dealt with eight to 12-year-olds, focused heavily on emotional literacy. Schools seem to have done a decent job in looking at safety online. Children will now tell you that you should not put out a photograph of you wearing your uniform. People go to great lengths to trace you. Safety within school has really progressed, but the emotional resilience to be able to deal with it is not there yet. The key age for me is about year six and year seven. Beyond that, it is to do with the mechanics: how it works and algorithms. You do get targeted with stuff. It is not just everyone getting this. There are things coming your way because the machine is set up to work out what interests you. There are things around terms and conditions and knowing what you are signing up to. We did a big piece of work last year with lawyers that reduced and simplified terms and conditions from 17 pages to one. Of course, when people read it and it says, “We own all your stuff and we’ll do what we like with it,” it gets a different response. That is probably not the thing that will make us all turn off, but it might make us think twice about what we are doing.” Longfield gives us a good, yet in this case incorrect (read; incomplete) answer.

From my point of view through the abilities within Facebook we forget that ‘There are things coming your way because the machine is set up to work out what interests you‘, yet the numbers do not add up, you see the bigger issue behind it is that people can buy likes and some do, so the person clicks on something that has 50,000 likes, yet if they knew that 45,000 likes were bought they might not have clicked on it. It becomes the consideration of likes versus engagement. That elementary lack is important. Engagement is everything and in the consideration of item 4 earlier where we saw ‘reasoned debate, based on objective facts‘, we might seem to think that clicks are an objective fact, yet they are not. The amount of people engaged in the conversation is a subjective fact, yet an actual fact, bought clicks are not and that is an important failure in all this. So when we are confronted with upcoming 2% digital services tax, which is merely a cost of doing business, whilst the lack of digital literacy that is spawned from a lack of education is a difference that most are not made aware of.

When we finally get to the Conclusions and recommendations we might focus on: “Social media companies cannot hide behind the claim of being merely a ‘platform’ and maintain that they have no responsibility themselves in regulating the content of their sites. We repeat the recommendation from our Interim Report that a new category of tech company is formulated, which tightens tech companies’ liabilities, and which is not necessarily either a ‘platform’ or a ‘publisher’. This approach would see the tech companies assume legal liability for content identified as harmful after it has been posted by users. We ask the Government to consider this new category of tech company in its forthcoming White Paper” we do see a truth, yet again an incomplete one. The media is equally to blame and not holding them to account, letting them focus on populist views and pressures (apart from the authentic news bringers like the BBC, Washington Post and the Guardian), we are pushed into a skewed view from the very beginning, that part was equally important and avoided throughout the report. For example the Daily Mail gives us ‘amazing footage‘ of ‘Heartwarming moment Syria’s White Helmets rescue two puppies from being crushed to death by rubble after a building was torn apart by heavy shelling‘, yet the news given several hours ago ‘Saudi Arabia has provided more than $13 billion in support to Yemen since 2014‘ never made it did it? The Daily mail was all about on how to not open a beer keg (by making a hole in the side using a spigot and a piece of wood) and ignoring ‘UK-based man charged with inciting attack in Germany‘ (source: Washington Post). So when it comes to the entire matter of social media and their ability of being merely a ‘platform’ (which they are) the accountability of the media as a whole is a much larger failure and the fact that the committee decided to leave that on the side invalidates the report to a much larger degree (not completely though) as I personally see it.

Facebook might not be innocent, yet the media as a whole is just as guilty. They have made the consideration of what is ‘fake news’ a much larger issue. The few that do a good job are filtered into silence by the hundreds of media outlets that do what social media is supposed to do, create awareness of self through promotion of ‘self’ on a granular population, as granular as possible.

The fact that the word ‘engagement‘ is only seen three times in the report, ‘click‘ is only seen twice, ‘filter‘ (like: filtering, filtered) is seen once and so is ‘selected‘, yet the last word is not see in regards to what the user of a social media account chose to observe.

All elements at the very foundation of: ‘Disinformation and ‘fake news’‘, in that light, just how valid is that report and what else are the people not made aware of? So in light of the members of that committee and the amount of money they made (and the costs that they gave the taxpayers) through lunches, travel expenses and all other forms of remunerations: Can we get that back please?

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics, Science

The Sound of silence

Hello accountant, my dark fate
your books are bloated as of late
the need for bonus loudly creeping
to be deposited so fleeting
and the greedy that are filling
their domain, they always gain
it is the need for money

The P W C accounting firm
will gain support, another turn
you see the press is staying quiet
we wonder now who got them hired
see the news is remaining just the same, it’s such a shame
and they should all be fired

You might think why this rewritten song of Simon and Garfunkel? You see, it has been almost 50 years exactly that Simon and Garfunkel took this to paper, 50 years later we would see quite the different ballad, one that would see repercussions in ways never seen before, yet both instances unique. That part was made clear today when we see ‘Tesco posts record loss: what the experts say‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/apr/22/tesco-posts-record-loss-what-the-experts-say). So when we see “Tesco reports record £6.4bn loss” and when we see ‘these experts’, you and me alike should ask a series of questions the press is not asking. It has not been asking them for 2 quarters now (well an absolute minimum).

Consider the following quote: “Soon after his arrival, Lewis unveiled a £263m accounting scandal caused by overoptimistic recording of payments made to Tesco by suppliers. Tesco is under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office and the supermarket regulator over the affair“, this is what got it all started, what the publishing pussies refer to as ‘overoptimistic recording of payments‘ turned out to be nothing less than a systematic issue as we saw some of the news from DeLoitte. It is shown in my ‘adjusted lyrics’:

Will gain support, another turn
you see the press is staying quiet
we wonder now who got them hired

You see, there is the Sound of Silence, an actual silence. Try finding anything regarding Tesco in 2015 regarding PricewaterhouseCoopers. You will find very very little, pretty much the absolute minimum. Perhaps you remember the wild allegations on the ‘MH370 suicide flight‘, in addition, all those claims regarding the World Cup soccer in Qatar 2022. Yet, in regards to PwC the Murdoch machine stays very quiet. I regard that this makes Rupert Murdoch the biggest pussy in newspaper publication since the newspaper concept started in the 17th century.

It took just less than two hours to realise that PwC needed investigation, the papers made close to zero mention on it, there were some casual mentions regarding ‘asking questions’, but it was as low key as technologically possible. In December 2014 it pretty much stops, feel free to try and Google it for yourself. You will find articles on how Sainsbury switches from PwC to Ernst and Young (January 16th 2015), but for the rest there is too much nothing. Not just the Murdoch groups, but in equal measure, you will find little to nothing regarding PricewaterhouseCoopers. Is that not strange? Especially as we now see how £263m inflation, caused a £6.4bn deflation. A result 24:1, it became such an interesting long term bet to make, especially by those involved. Yet many of those players are shrouded in silence.

You see another matter suddenly dawned on me. I reckon you all remember Julian Assange, from all those cables regarding the Afghan war. 5 days ago, they decided to also go public on all those Sony hacked cables. We see the quote: “This archive shows the inner workings of an influential multinational corporation. It is newsworthy and at the centre of a geopolitical conflict. It belongs in the public domain“. No Mr Assange! You decided to play god with stolen data and you decided the fate of this corporation by hanging out the laundry, in addition, you handed the power they wielded and threw it up in the air to be taken over by any competitor who can grow in directions they never bothered to look, because they could not be bothered taking the effort.

And as we are talking into the public domain Julian, what happened to your ‘bravery’ when you made the quote “In November, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Forbes the site has a ‘mega leak’ on an unnamed major US bank exposing an ‘ecosystem of corruption’ that will be released early this year?” I am pretty sure that this never went public. I searched high and low and your WikiLeaks page shows nothing there either. It seems to me that many parties are too scared when it comes to banks and financial institutions.

The question should be Did Julian Assange have anything ever regarding his claims on an ‘ecosystem of corruption’ in regards to a US bank. Should I not ask that question? You see, when the press at large ignores the PwC issue, many should ask questions, especially as both Tesco and Greece fill pages of text in the Guardian and several other newspapers, yet the hunt for information regarding PwC is not moving forward.

In the first article mentioned, where we see the dubious term ‘what the experts say’, NO MENTION AT ALL on PricewaterhouseCoopers (or PwC), is that not strange? The question how 10 million in costs (which I converted to 199 full time accountants working on Tesco for a full year alone) did not reveal anything in time, so how could such a managed event stay hidden? In several articles we see a similar quote as I am adding here, a quote that in many cases was the very first paragraph of articles late October 2013. “DELOITTE has completed its review of Tesco’s overstated half-yearly results and confirmed that its black hole is even bigger than the £250m previously declared and goes back even further than the supermarket group had originally stated“, which means that these auditors ‘missed’ it for a longer period of time. A thought I had in the first few hours, was confirmed a month later (which is fair enough, they hard to check many numbers before stating anything), yet I saw and reported on this (as well as my thoughts), having no economic degree, just me as an analyst saw what the press has been ignoring ever since.

One of the more revealing articles was in the Financial Times named ‘UK accountancy watchdog hits PwC with two separate probes‘ (at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/98e02452-89c8-11e4-9dbf-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3Y3cymr54), which was in late December 2014, after that the news and the hunt for the Priced and watered Coopers stops on nearly all media fronts. I wonder how they pulled that one of. The fact that there is almost no visibility on the two probes is only more cause for concern, but those experts all have ‘something’ to say in this matter. Isn’t it nice that they did not have anything to say, or did not say it out loud before the calamity was seen. All those Tesco projects, ready to roll, not one came with the considerations ‘Tesco is spreading itself too thin‘, which is nice before the fact, but pointless, bordering on clueless after the fact. I especially liked the quote from Mike Dennis from Cantor Fitzgerald, you know, one of those after the facts proclaimers. “We believe Tesco should consider closing 200 underperforming supermarkets/superstores and focus on growing the more profitable remaining 700 stores (excluding Express); in addition, this should also allow for £40m of cost-savings from the closure of a distribution centre“, you see, my issue is twofold.

The first is where the ‘under’ performing line lies. Is underperforming, working at a loss, or at a minimal profit? The reality remains that people need groceries, so if an ‘underperforming’ shop is closed another will open with a different label and now that lost revenue will go somewhere else. My second issue is that 40 million in savings. You see, if those 200 shops are spread all over, that distribution centre will still be needed, even if the amount of stores decreases, someone will need to open a grocery store and this distribution centre could service independent supermarkets to some degree, meaning a small additional revenue. Then we get the second set of debatable solutions “Matt Davies, Tesco’s UK CEO as of 1 June, should consider a further reduction in staff and a significant simplification of central functions and category management. Aldi UK today generates twice the sales per full-time employee compared to Tesco UK and is expected to report higher trading profits“, reduction on staff? Where? You see, it is nice to ‘opt’ for simplification, but in my experience in 100% of the cases, simplification was not a bad thing, but it came at some expense, what is that expense and will it hurt down the line? The biggest fun can be seen when you read the part of Philip Benton. It all reads nice, but the issue I have is at the end in this case. “The retailer is in the midst of a huge restructuring after selling off much of its portfolio including Blinkbox and Tesco Broadband as well as the forthcoming sale of market research unit Dunnhumby and undergoing a complete overhaul of its leadership“, my issue is the possible ‘inflated’ that Dunnhumby represents. You see, it could be regarded as inflated as its value is determined by what the buyers will offer. In the end Dunnhumby represents well over 140 million a year and it also represents undocumented savings. You see, if a lot of the marketing and visibility research is done at market value, Tesco will face that they either deal with additional costs (not small ones) or not do the research. Both are bad ideas. None of these ‘experts’ are looking into the amalgamation of services that Dunnhumby could offer via Tesco and/or for Tesco. Dunnhumby is a massive data warehouse and it should have loads of options. Moreover offering these additional services (in the trend that Google has done with ‘Gmail for work’ could open up new capital gaining opportunities. Now, as the economy is slowly starting over the next 3 years, those who grow could need data insight that is currently available via Dunnhumby. This means financial and revenue growth that shows a healthy future, giving that away in some sale to recoup 2 billion, from a 6 billion loss that was all based upon degraded value seems like a very bad idea to me. Even if most of that 2 billion is recovered, the invoices that follow will put pressure for a larger part on Tesco.

Consider that the interest on 2 billion is 70,000,000, now consider that not only are them making 100 million plus, they are also the centre of data, a place Tesco will desperately need in the coming 2-5 years. Not having it could imply more costings for Tesco. No one seemed to be considering that part of the equation at all.

So, reality now, will stores be closed? That seems unavoidable, yet closing stores also means no more revenue, dumping the location at a loss and a few other items linked to this. Tesco needs to grow again, but the method remains debatable. I would have thought that moving more towards an Aldi/Lidl margin might make a difference, will it be enough? Whatever move it will make, it will need data to support and test the foundations with, so I personally feel that this requires the non-sale of Dunnhumby (for now). You see, I still see the centre with Dunnhumby for another reason. When you look at their site, you see a list of the large corporations, that is all good (and it brings home the bacon), but they are also sitting on loads of Tesco data as well. What if aggregated parts could be linked to small firms, smaller firms who end up with a dashboard solution, where their limited data is linked to that massive Tesco Data Warehouse, where these smaller companies, for a small fee get a dashboard uniting their data with Tesco demographics. Now we have a whole new clientele in a business setting, so before those supermarkets get closed, they should see if a small corner of it could be an added business venture. Likely those prospective clients will be in larger area’s where Tesco remains operational, but we now have an added service and Dunnhumby has an optional new suite (based on for example SAP dashboard) that opens up new ventures and even added consultancy and training. In these times the innovators will cause growth to evolve, selling off things only makes for lost market share (even though some non-profit ventures should always be considered for scrapping).

Are my ideas so outlandish? You must always consider that part, for the simple reason that the sceptical approach causes no harm and the proof that follows will only create futures. The following quote is as old as the hills, so it should not be a surprise to anyone in this field: “Sales will blame Marketing for the lack of quality leads with repetitive precision, whilst Marketing will blame Sales for not acting on the leads on time, or at all. When nobody has any reliable stats to back up their ‘verdict’, the arguments go on forever and nothing gets done”. Now, consider all these new firms, those new start-ups, or just one man companies like for example Electricians, Plumbers and Painters. They have no Sales or Marketing at all in most cases, would it not be nice if they had a simple dashboard based option that can help them focus on where possible opportunities lie? Not to mention usual retail like family bookshops and leagues of small pharmacy places that could do better. The solution I suggested could help them focus on where to look next. The great thing is that for the most, the same basic solution will work for all, they would only need a set of very specific filters in addition to the demographical ones. A solution that could be automated to the larger extent. One simple market, there for the taking. Did anyone consider that?

And as we look into these possibilities, we get back to the beginning, how could all the financial data be so opaque that it escaped the view of PwC, when we look at all these claims by experts, how did none of the warning lights light up, especially when we consider the words of Deloitte “these auditors ‘missed’ it for a longer period of time“, now I have brought you from the premise, past the innuendo to the basic view on how data can be new business too. Finally, when we consider the following quote that was in the Guardian “Further positives include that Tesco did in fact make a bigger trading profit than the market believed was possible (£1.4bn v. £760.86m consensus)“, this reads, they did twice as good, this means that Tesco is getting back on its feet. Yes, I did read that it is less than it was, but still, they got one dot four billion in, which is a lot better than Greece and most traders want them to get 7 billion regardless, so I think we should consider that many are willing to dump 7 billion on a location of non-cooperation, whilst they will drown a corporation fight to achieve and collect ACTUAL revenue. What a double standard we live by!

If we go by the simplest stats (not an accurate one), then we see that Tesco exceeded by £700M, which is 23% of the £3 billion loss, Greece cannot even raise 10% of what is due shortly, so it is time to look at what is real and look at why the press seems to be ‘avoiding’ (read not actively digging) into Pricewaterhouse Cooper either. But I will leave that to what I would currently regard to be the ‘Pussy’ family (Witherow, Rusbridger, Murdoch et al). Should you consider the path I walked here to be ‘inappropriate’ then Google ‘Tesco+scandal+2015‘ (837.000) and Google ‘PwC+scandal+2015‘ (271.000), now look at the amount of Newspaper links we find in the second one (almost none and many of these links are 2014). I think I made my case here, I just wonder what scared the press to this extent away from a story.

So as we see the quotes “Over the full year, the profit margin in the UK was 1.1%, a far cry from the impossible 5.2% that Lewis’s predecessor, Philip Clarke, ridiculously attempted to defend” and “Lewis must show that the ‘early encouraging signs from what we have done so far’ will produce a discernible improvement in profits“, yet no mention on the previous directors, regarding ‘cooking’ the books and still no mention of the Auditor either. It seems that everyone knows that the dice are loaded but no one is willing to say it out loud.

What else is not reported on regarding the 24:1 loss?

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Law, Media, Politics

One small sentence

So, we are still on the Tesco horse, but not completely. You see, I have made my case (a few times over), there are parts out in the open that I agree with, thoughts I had and one thought that is now casually stated in 19 words and they are getting slipped under the carpet of 1700 words: ‘but others point to less drastic solutions such as the sale of Dunnhumby, the data mining firm behind Clubcard‘. As we have seen an escalating wave of data issues all over the place, this one is suddenly for sale?

If we can believe some of the info that is out in the open, then we need to consider that Dunnhumby is holding onto 40-terabyte of data, considering the spread of Tesco and likely data collected form several other places, one could state that this is worth a few dollars. Yet, a complete sale seems almost ridiculous as the value (which some state is at 2 billion) cannot be matched by all but a few and there is every chance that they might not want this data. There is a second part to this, why sell the company, when, what I consider to be the wise decision, which was made in July 2014, to hold on to data and to sell data instead of buying it. There is a lot more to Dunnhumby (at http://adage.com/article/news/dunnhumby-time-ditch-demographic/239689/), There are however a few questions. I was unable to find an exact annual revenue list, but several sources place it over 300 million, Tesco gets a nice slice of that, so as we see that the total profit will slump even further without Dunnhumby, why sell it? Yet, Dunnhumby is also a risk to Tesco. Not unlike the growing spree of Tesco, Dunnhumby must simmer down and not drastically overextend itself. It is nice to be in so many places, yet consider the heavy beating market research has taken for well over 3 years now. Even though Dunnhumby is starting to chomp on the pie slice that Nielsen has had for a long time, yet Nielsen as its own share of innovators, it only takes one new idea from Nielsen to change the direction of interest. Dunnhumby still has the advantage with data and the way it is collected, but that will not last, then what will they do? Yet, that is for the future, which is not for the now, but must not be ignored. These simple facts give ample reasoning to the question why to sell this part?

Consider the consequences of Tesco no longer getting a slice and having to purchase data and research at premium, not at internal cost. I feel certain that this picture has not been fully investigated. I will add to this that the idea of handing over 40 terabyte seems to the worst possible decision in a long line of dubious actions. This of course gets me back to the original ‘hidden’ sentence and the use of ‘less drastic solutions’, so who are these ‘others’? People hoping to get in under the radar?

Are those suggesting it serving anyone else but ‘self’? Not asking that question seems to be wrought with questions too, which makes me wonder why that one sentence was added as some ‘inbetweenie’. In addition, some might remember that article less than a month ago on the Tesco Air Fleet, yet, we have seen very little in regards to Kansas Transportation. The total of bills should be decently staggering as the last number I saw in one of the papers placed the cost at almost 10 million a year add to this the value of 60 million and we are now at 25% of the inflated amount. An additional issue is that there is almost ZERO visibility for Kansas transportation, when we consider the need for profit, why was this fleet not used to get additional revenue, instead of just leaving the planes all covered up. Would such an operation not need serious web presence?

So, as we see that several sides of Tesco operations that are not part of the Core, we see that visibility is not really a real act, which makes me wonder about the reason for getting these planes in the first place, what do these cost cover, or perhaps a better implied question is: ‘what else are these costs covering up?’

I do not pretend or imply to have the answers, but I am surprised that the article did not ask these parts either. It is nice to see the list of people who might be on the list of Chairman wanted. I definitely know a good one, but I will refrain from stating this here in the open.

One little bit of advice I do leave here for Dave Lewis. If you truly want to get this ball rolling into the profit direction, then forget about the quick solution, that one will not happen. The track is wrought with both angers and risks, but the safest road is also the risky one. On your next flight, I suggest you watch the 1953 classic ‘Wages of Fear’; it is the road you are likely about to head on. Not by bringing the nitro-glycerine (if so, kudos to you) or going for the term ‘boom goes the dynamite’, but for the road that requires you to nip at the heels of Aldi and going to low profit road for some time to come, to beat them in that game, you will require both the Teradata sized files of Dunnhumby as well as their hopefully available creative view. You need to return to the core business and take that into a different approach to the customers your predecessors seemed to have forgotten about. From there Tesco will return to strength and stability, one small step at a time. It just requires a few good investors to stick by you and they will see that with faith this journey will end up being a reward for them too.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, IT, Media

How the press became redundant

I wonder whether the press corps, or the press corpse we might call them, are aware of what they are working on. Did they consider the events? It is such an interesting wave when we see the consequences, yet those who write about them don’t seem to be too fussed about the reality of the facts. So shall we take a look?

Fact: ‘He abandoned this post to become CEO of Tesco effective of 1 September, 2014‘ (at http://online.wsj.com/articles/lewis-to-become-tesco-chief-executive-a-month-early-1409312947)

Fact: ‘Tesco reveals it overstated first-half results by £250m‘ (at http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/67fb8db4-421e-11e4-9818-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3FvJ9DhJP)

There was a fallout, as we would expect, yet to what extent are we confronted with facts and to what extent are we introduced to the real events.

From October 3rd onwards, we have seen news in regards to the gulfstream that was apparently ordered in 2013 (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29488777), now let’s take a look at the quotes “Tesco has confirmed it has taken delivery of a new private jet worth £30m, a week after major errors were discovered in the company’s accounts” and “Tesco paid for the jet 20 months ago and is required to take delivery”. How interesting this news (not really), in addition we see the news from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/03/tesco-corporate-jet-gulfstream-supermarket), with the quote “Tesco’s new chief executive, Dave Lewis, moved quickly to defuse a situation likely to anger investors who have seen the value of their shareholdings halve this year. No Tesco executives will ever board the jet, as he has put it up for sale – along with the rest of the Tesco fleet, which includes a Hawker 800 and two Cessna Citations” and “To charter a G550 for a 12-hour flight would cost nearly £67,000 – more than twice the average UK salary of £26,000” and finally “In a further irony Tesco has only retrenched from overseas markets in recent years. It has shut down its US chain Fresh & Easy, pulled out of Japan and scaled back its ambitions in China”.

So how about the following questions:

  1. Why was the board not grilled initially?
  2. Why do we not see the press going after the ‘departed’ managers?
  3. So, why are the shareholders up in arms? Were they not informed of these purchases?

That entire issue becomes odd when we consider the fact that there was retrenching moving away from the international scene and no one asked questions? Was the purchase not approved 20 months ago? Was it not reported? No one seems to ask or investigate those questions, it was ordered 20 months ago, was there no down payment?

Personal note: Can I offer a deal on one citation? I can raise $20.00 (pretty much all I have left)

Tesco Workers Want The New CEO To Know About The Unpaid Overtime They’re Working‘ (at http://www.businessinsider.com.au/tesco-unpaid-overtime-2014-9)

Let’s take a look at the quotes “Six of them mentioned, without being prompted on the issue, that they or their staffers were required to work unpaid overtime“, so when we consider gov.uk “Employers don’t have to pay workers for overtime. However, employees’ average pay for the total hours worked mustn’t fall below the National Minimum Wage“, was that taken into consideration? What is stated in the contracts on working overtime? Those are issues that are a given and have been a known quantity, so why does this pop up now? Let’s not forget the quote “Lewis, who started his new job earlier this month“, from an article on September 8th, the man has had the function for only one week. So is this article by Jim Edwards at the Business Insider anything but a hack job? It is even more interesting that the name Philip Clarke does not come up once in the entire article, who was in charge whilst this mess was growing, were the overtime issues properly investigated? 6 out of 500.000, I think that the business insider has other issues to explain. This article did not just pop up, a mere week after Dave Lewis got to be in charge, questions should be asked! (especially at the desk of Business Insider)

This takes us to the Guardian article (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/nils-pratley-on-finance/2014/jun/27/mark-carney-interest-rates-tesco-barclays), the quote “Half the City is playing the game of fantasy chief executive, and some former Tesco directors have been muttering darkly about Clarke’s supposed strategic errors and how the company’s woes shouldn’t be dumped on former boss Sir Terry Leahy” gives us the issue that there are several problems in the works, when we consider “This boils down to a simple question: do investors believe Tesco should cut its prices deeply, take the fight to Aldi and Lidl, and accept that profit margins of 5% are no longer viable?” gives us the question that this is all a year after the gulfstream was ordered, why was the order not cancelled at this point? The article has an interesting paragraph: “Do Tesco shareholders really want to sanction a price war, which would mean accepting a lower share price, at least in the short-term? Most, one suspects, are not convinced by Clarke’s strategy but still hope he might be proved correct. Another profits warning would force them to get off the fence. If it doesn’t happen, Clarke ought to be safe. But a warning after three years of heavy capital investment would surely force a strategic rethink“, what was decided by the shareholders? This article came on June 28th 2014, 8 weeks before Dave Lewis took the reins, so what happened in these 8 weeks? More important, it seems that no criminal investigation into Philip Clarke has been reported up to now. Before we even consider whether there are criminal charges yes or no, we see overstatements by a quarter of a billion, we see a 50 million dollar plane delivery and there are questions of the process of reporting, towards the shareholders, within the corporate structure, an oversight of transparencies and a stronger indications that the board of directors is either inapt or uninformed, which seems to point towards strong levels of negligence, possibly criminal ones. The press seems uninformed and unable to inform, so why the half-baked (as I see it) levels of the active press?

If we consider the Tesco PLC Annual General Meeting 2014 (at http://www.tescoplc.com/assets/files/cms/Notice_of_Tesco_PLC_Annual_General_Meeting_2014.pdf), we see at the first part: “1. To receive the audited accounts for the financial year ended 22 February 2014, together with the strategic report, directors’ report and auditors’ report on those accounts. The directors are required to present the annual accounts, strategic report, directors’ report and the auditors’ report on the accounts to the meeting“, that sounds nice, but in a 12 page document, which I admit is just a notice of the meeting, we see several references and an overall ‘dividend’ of as stated “To declare the final dividend of 10.13 pence per Ordinary Share recommended by the directors“, was that including or excluding the 250 million balloon act? If including, what is the dividend after that? So what was in play to begin with?

In addition in another Guardian article (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jun/27/uk-growth-figures-awaited-as-tesco-faces-agm-business-live) on June 28th we see “Shareholders may also quiz CEO Philip Clarke about the 310 separate, undeveloped sites across the UK which Tesco owns, but hasn’t developed. Enough to build 15,000 new homes, as a Guardian investigation has found“, really? So what about that gulfstream prices at 20% of the inflated amount, where is that one in the books? So this opens another door for Dave Lewis. What if these sites get converted to houses and as such people can get a Tesco mortgage? It is long term, it offers a stable future and it gives you a consumer base as you open a small Tesco on one of the plots. Tesco must change, yet to what extent?

Yet one other article from June 30th showed “Clarke repeatedly refused to bow to shareholder pressure to set a target date for when its US business Fresh & Easy – which has been in the red since it launched in 2007 – would finally begin to turn a profit“, so after 7 years there is a profit? Why was there no stronger investigation in regards to these parts? Why was there no real tally of the Tesco corporation in the Guardian and pretty much every other paper?

Now we see the following (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/oct/10/tesco-sell-financial-footing-blinkbox-dobbies-dunnhumby), written last Saturday by Zoe Wood. The title is kind of catchy ‘Passed their use-by date? The businesses Tesco could sell‘, oui oui Zoe!

Analysts think Lewis needs to find £2bn-£3bn, either from the pockets of big City investors or selling some of the family silver – or both – if it is to have a sure financial footing from which to recover from this year’s collapse in profits and the accounting scandal that has exposed a £250m black hole in expected first half profits“. First of all, these analysts are not really worth the paper they write on. This all went by them as there suddenly was a whistle blower, as such, before that none of them wondered on how there was too much (like a quarter of a Billion) in the report and until the blower of the whistle, they kept pretty quiet. I feel at times that the Monday morning quarterback is a better judge then these analytical experts. Then there is “But some retail experts think it strayed too far when it started investing in trendy restaurant chains, tablet computers and video streaming services“, is that so? It seems that the tablet sold like hot cakes and was a good alternative to the iPad and its competitors. As for selling its assets the first being ‘Dunnhumby’ “The accounts for that year show a pre-tax profit of £67.6m on sales of £165m – a year when it paid Tesco a £140m dividend. There’s no doubt Dunnhumby’s services are valuable but getting someone to part with £2bn might be a stretch“, this might be true on several counts, yet are these dividends part of the 1.1 billion profits? If not, then we are not told the whole thing, if yes, then losing 10% of the profit is not a good thing, more imp0ortant, who owns the data, who owns the parks and who is in charge? Data of this magnitude has multiple applications and additional value. Yes Lewis might want to focus on retail, but getting a shave on road to the guillotine is also questionable. Some say, if that is all that is left, then the shave is extremely important. I state, data is treasure, you only need to combine it with the right databases and you open up an entirely new branch from the initial base, which would all be Tesco’s if it is currently all Tesco’s. The important part is shown in the part of Tesco Air, the quote “Kansas Transportation’s accounts show Tesco spent £29m flying executives around the world in private planes between 2005 and 2012, but with fewer countries to visit the company’s airfare bill will probably come down anyway“, so we see on average four million a year. How many did fly? Can anyone explain how negligent acts are not investigated? Is there a case for criminal investigations? How many executives and where to? If we consider London – Tokyo business class and it costs Business Class at £1,290, it means they either flew 3100 executive, or one executive for 8 years EVERY DAY. Is anyone seeing the writing on the airplane yet? You see, in my old job we has a VC, a Sandhurst graduate. He had one massive rule (actually he had 12 of them), the rule was in place since 1992 at least. ‘Rule 4, Don’t give our profits to the airlines‘, that rule made perfect sense 12 years before the financial collapse; it should have been a biblical rule from 2004 onwards with every big corporation.

You might think that getting rid of several executives would solve it, but consider the amounts and the level of actions from long before Dave Lewis stepped in, why was this not sanitised on a massive scale al lot earlier, which gets me back to the actual AGM’s, what was discussed, what was presented and where are these documents? It feels so right to quote baby Herman from ‘Who framed Roger Rabbit‘, “this whole case smells like yesterday’s diapers!

I can understand that the press was to some extent unaware, yet no one dug into this, why is all this managed by Kansas Transportation, were they in the AGM documents, with every small fact I get loads of additional questions, questions that I did not see anywhere in the press, so what else did they miss? Seeing it mentioned now by Zoe Wood does not count in my books, this should have been on the front page a lot longer before this.

Yet, most of the issues here we see that they ask questions of the CEO Dave Lewis, which makes sense as he is Mr Big Boss, yet the other members are not chased for answers. Why not? It seems that these people were there when massive issues were bungled. The article only has one issue that bothers me, it is not with the writer, or how she wrote it, it is an excellent piece, yet this part “Tesco is thought to be soliciting offers for Blinkbox, which was set up by former Channel 4 and Vodafone executives to create a competitor to Amazon’s LoveFilm and Netflix. If a buyer cannot be found the heavily loss making streaming service could just be closed down. “The inherent value of Blinkbox is its relationships with content providers,” says Ken Olisa, chairman of technology merchant bank Restoration Partners. “It’s an example where content is king.”” troubles me. ‘If a buyer cannot be found the heavily loss making streaming service could just be closed down‘, so why not let it close down? Why pay for the bungling of others? When we consider the part ‘The inherent value of Blinkbox is its relationships with content providers‘, so if there is enough content, there should not be heavily losses. Yes, it all depends on customers, yet content draws in customers. Is the content of good value? There is more when I look at the website. If it is so clued in, why are Nextgen consoles not there, why is the Tesco tablet not mentioned there? Seems to me that either this is not updated, especially as the Nextgen consoles were here in 2013, it seems to me that if you want a growing interest, being the first in Nextgen seems to be a high priority.

There is more, yet when we consider the issues in play, like Tesco Mobile, I see opportunities ignored, the fact that the chips are down seems to be a massive push for the siblings of Tesco to put them into high gear. Perhaps this is done, which would be fair, but the press is not noticing any of that, which makes me wonder whether things are not happening, or whether the press seems to be looking at issues wearing very specific glasses. I honestly cannot tell which, yet considering the Sony Mobile debacle, we see options for Tesco to swoop in and grab some revenue (as Sony lost 2.4 billion), there are more avenues, yet I wonder whether I should state them now, or should I wait and see what else the press at large is missing over the coming week.

Should be more fun to wait, I reckon!

P.s. Consider the AGM PDF, how come PwC is nowhere to be found in press mentions (if they are there then only in the most shallow of mentions).

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Finance, Law, Media