Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, June 17, 2021

You may recall that the Italians have developed Let’s Pizza, a piping-hot pie-producing vending machine.

So the Germans have countered with their own coin-operated dispenser: GOLD To Go!, an automated drop-downer for buying that most precious of metals.

I admit, it’s difficult to see a clear line of progression from fast-food to currency-hedge, both delivered in mechanical form at airports. Must be a Euro thing.

Nevertheless, here’s TG-Gold-Super-Markt’s golden business strategy:

The company, based in Reutlingen, near Stuttgart, is showing off a prototype in Frankfurt, but it has more to do before 500 machines can grace the world’s tougher neighborhoods. The machines will be tested with explosives to make sure they are resistant to theft, [chief executive Thomas] Geissler said.

“They’ll be outfitted like an armored vehicle,” he said. “We’re going to put them in places like Russia, and the boys are not exactly demure over there.”

Customers will be able to buy 1-, 5- and 10-gram pieces of gold, and Canadian Maple Leafs and South African Krugerrands, each a tenth of an ounce. A one-gram piece, the size of a child’s fingernail, now costs about 30 euros, or $42.

The concept of gold dispensers came to Mr. Geissler as he pondered how to advertise the online marketplace for precious metals that Infos, his Internet fund trading platform, introduced in May.

“Over a good glass of Bordeaux we came up with the idea of doing a promotion using the machines, and it flowed from that,” Mr. Geissler said.

Mr. Geissler estimates the market in Germany alone at 150 tons of physical gold each year, the demand for various paper forms of it being even greater. He also pointed to the great demand for gold as the financial crisis intensified after Lehman Brothers collapsed last September.

So, as major central banking institutions collapse, Franklin Mint-like vending machines will prop up the global currency system. Sounds like a plan!

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/17/2009 11:09:42 PM
Category: Business, Tech
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

It’s widely assumed that YouTube is still losing money, nearly three years after parent company Google bought it for $1.76 billion.

But the online video site may not be bleeding as much red ink as standard analysis estimates:

A new report on how much YouTube costs to run concludes that Google is at most losing $174 million — no chicken feed but neither is it a figure that makes you doubt the sanity of Google CEO Eric Schmidt. The report, from RampRate, which advises companies on sourcing Internet bandwidth, content delivery, and other infotech services, makes the case that Google pays far less for bandwidth to receive and play all those videos than Credit Suisse assumed: only $49 million, not $360 million. RampRate also thinks Google’s hardware and data center costs are considerably less than Credit Suisse estimated.

So why doesn’t Google send out a PR swarm to correct the misperceptions? The interesting conspiracy theory:

But Google has little incentive to set the record straight about YouTube’s actual losses… San Francisco-based RampRate reasons the perception of large losses at YouTube helps Google negotiate more favorable contracts with movie, TV and music studios licensing their video. What’s more, copyright owners also are less likely to go to court in pursuit of unpaid royalties and damages if they believe YouTube is a big money loser, according to RampRate’s thesis.

So Mountain View would be crying poor in exchange for discount rates for authorized content, along with lawsuit protection. Doesn’t really hold up as a theory: Media rightsholders with a mind to sue (like Viacom, which is still lobbing a $1-billion suit against Google), or even deal, can dig deep enough themselves to discern the true loss levels. Mass public perception helps keep smaller fry away, but they can be dealt with more easily.

The upshot is that YouTube is nowhere near the albatross that it’s commonly assumed to be. Points out the weakness of financial analysts who apply fairly thin and out-of-context research techniques onto industries in which they don’t hold expertise.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/17/2009 12:43:23 PM
Category: Business, Internet, Media
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Observed this morning on the subway:

An older gentleman, probably in his 60s, thin white hair, wrinkles. But he had bright blue eyes and was his face was lively and animated while he talked to his riding companion.

Here’s the thing: From my vantage point, at the other end of the car, all I could see of him was his head — everything from his neck on down was blocked off by other passengers. I couldn’t see what he was wearing. Watching him for those few minutes, I got the impression that he would make a good priest, and that perhaps he had missed his calling in life.

What do you know: When his stop dinged up, he moved toward the exit, and revealed to me the white collar and black frock. Sure enough, he was a priest! (Or minister, or reverend — I never really could keep those distinctions straight.) Yeah, it’s possible I got a subliminal glance at him beforehand that left me with the mental impression. But I really doubt it — the car was jam-packed, so there was little chance of me seeing him through that crowd until I was standing in my unique spot. I really think his facial features alone give away his vocation.

And yet, this holy man didn’t look particularly pious to me. Not that he looked markedly irreligious, like he couldn’t possibly be a clergyman. At best, his facial profile reminded me of a hard-charging, Irish Catholic preacher man, observant of Christian decorum but more than willing to push the envelope as far as priestly behavior.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/17/2009 11:53:33 AM
Category: New Yorkin', Society
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback

Since this is my personal blog, ego compels me to announce my… (wait, lemme do the math…) …that would be my 38th birthday today.

A birthday falling on hump-day Wednesday isn’t conducive to wanton celebration. So today will be fairly run-of-the-mill: Working, keeping my eye out for b-day freebies around Manhattan (aside from today’s rather nice weather), and concluding with a nice dinner. Further action is deferred until the weekend.

Unfortunately, today also marks the first day that the dreaded increased Metropolitan Transportation Authority fares take effect, applying to the Long Island and Metro North rail roads. (The rest of the MTA — subways, buses and ferries — get the jack by end of June.)

Nothing to do with me, folks, so I’m not apologizing for the more expensive train ticket. But in a show of sympathy on my part, all my commuter friends and acquaintances are allowed to accordingly downsize the dollar value of their birthday gifts to me ;)

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 06/17/2009 10:49:45 AM
Category: General, New Yorkin'
| Permalink | Trackback | Feedback (2)