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Why Words with Friends should restore your faith in humanity

Over 20 million people are addicted.

The maker of some of the most popular video games on the planet, Zynga, has just made a fortune.  Yesterday, the company — which makes Words with Friends, Farmville, and other games played mostly on Facebook and mobile phones — priced its initial public offering at $10 a share, raising about $1 billion for the company. 

Not a bad day’s work.

But what makes this a big deal, literally, is more than the staggering amount of dough.  When you reflect on just how fragile an economy we have in the U.S.– a system plagued over the last few years by mortgage-backed investment scandals, Bernie Madoff, auto industry bailouts, TARP, and so much more — you realize how many things can go wrong.  It’s more than enough to discourage you.

When so many things can be corrupted, politicized, and made to fail, it’s nice to remind ourselves that the basics of our free market economy still work — despite a global economic downturn.  Zynga created (and acquired, in some cases) products that have such a huge demand, people were willing to part with $1 billion to grab a piece.  Their products are so good they’re addictive: 20 million people have installed Words, and 31 million play Farmville daily.  I’ve seen folks unable to remove themselves from picking crops for hours.  And recently, Alec Baldwin was so engrossed in his Words game, he couldn’t put down his phone during takeoff — an act which got him kicked off the plane in the process.

So my message is simply: have hope.  Even if the economy is rough in your neck of the woods, and corruption and fraud are seemingly everywhere, you can still succeed through basic supply and demand fundamentals.  Make a widget that everybody wants, and you can still profit richly.

That’s the American Dream after all, isn’t it?

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Random, Thoughts, Work

 

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Could the economy be picking up steam?

(originally posted on USAA’s Inside the Mission blog)

Tomorrow is Black Friday, followed next week by Cyber Monday, and judging from the overflowing shopping carts and massive checkout lines I’m seeing around San Antonio, consumers are doing some big-time buying. While some areas of the country remain mired in an economic slump, it certainly appears around these parts that consumer spending is picking up and that can only be good news for the economy.

But don’t take my word for it — look at the research. According to the third annual holiday spending survey commissioned by USAA, more people plan to buy gifts this year compared to last year (96 percent vs. 90 percent). The survey also shows that the number of respondents who plan to create a holiday gift budget has declined over the past three years — from 64 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in 2011.

My colleague, June Walbert, a USAA financial planner, says the survey findings indicate that people may be suffering from “budget fatigue.” But, of course, USAA encourages all shoppers to commit to a budget before hitting the mall this holiday season, so they don’t overspend into debt.

According to the survey, nearly half of this year’s respondents will pay for gifts using a credit card, which is slightly up from 45 percent in 2009. Of the consumers who plan to use a credit card to make holiday purchases, the majority (73 percent) plan to pay off their balance immediately, but the rest will wait a few months, or make only the minimum payment required.

 
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Posted by on November 24, 2011 in Thoughts, Work

 

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