Big Tech, the New Big Tobacco

If you don’t believe in the addictive aspects of these platforms, ask yourself why American teenagers are spending an average of five hours a day glued to their Internet- connected screens.
— Scott Galloway Silicon Valley's Tax-Avoiding, Job-Killing, Soul-Sucking Machine - Esquire
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Promo poster for USA’s hit series Mr Robot (2015)

 

Last August, in a newsletter (Reduce Risk—Trump vs Bezos) I warned that a backlash against Amazon and Big Tech was building. On December 20th, I stated that the backlash was upon us. With the latest news regarding the data breach at Facebook and how that data was exploited during the 2016 presidential campaign, I fear we could be approaching atipping point. Big Tech is becoming the new Big Tobacco. An Uber driverless vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona last week. New York Times calls Google’s YouTube, the GreatRadicalizer.  Amazon put the nail in the coffin of Toys R Us, eliminating 30,000 jobs. Early Facebook investor Roger McNamee pleaded last month: How to Fix Facebook Before It Fixes Us. And as I suspected, there was simply too much hype regarding Apple's latest iPhone. Salesforce CEO Mark Benioff warns that social media is like tobacco: addictive, harmful, and should be regulated like cigarettes

 

The global shakedown may be upon on us:

Beware the investment activity that produces applause; the great moves are usually greeted by yawns.
— Warren Buffett

We’ve been reducing technology exposure this year and continue to do so. Our moves are not based solely on negative headlines but on analysis and valuation. The extraordinary run in the tech sector has caused it to represent too much of our portfolios. Hence the need to rebalance. The financial markets in the short run are driven by human emotion. The sentiment on Big Tech has been borderline euphoric but it is now turning decidedly negative. The spectacular profits these companies generate will not protect their stocks when the tide turns in earnest against them. The federal government’s antitrust case against Microsoft put its stock on ice for nearly a decade. Apple and Google fell 57% and 55% in the2008 recession (the S&P 500 fell 38%). When the next recession finally arrives, the biggest gainers may become the biggest losers. We believe that the technology sector is overheated and overcrowded. We’re reallocating proceeds to value investments: senior housing, telecom, beaten down healthcare, overseas. Boring, unloved and cheap, in our estimation. More importantly, trimming tech exposure is part of our disciplined, rebalancing strategy.  We do this with any sector that has run up excessively. 

The chief mistake of the small investor is they buy when the market goes up, on the assumption that it’s going to go up further, and they sell when the market goes down, on the assumption that the market is going to go down further. But a professional investor will rebalance. There are these poor individuals who are buying at the top and selling at the bottom...
— Harry Markowitz, Nobel Laureate My Advice to Investors Today 12/22/2017

Three years ago, I spoke of Big Tech’s dark side. Please scroll down below my signature to view ‘Big Data, Big Brother (3/24/2015)

Silicon Valley will certainly survive the backlash, but the cost of doing business is going higher, much higher due to fines, new regulations, taxes, and lobbying efforts. This will result in smaller profits. I’m not concerned about the long-term well-being of Big Tech, but the stocks are at risk in my humble opinion. 

Off topic:

Inspired by the Florida teens that spear headed the March for Our Lives, my family participated in our neighborhood’s peaceful protest. Hamilton Wealth made a $1,000 donation to the March for Our Lives.

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Please let me know if you have any questions.  

Thank you,

randy 

see also:

Watch: How Big Is Big Tech - Meet The Press

Google's Record $2.8 Billion European Fine - Bloomberg

Blood in the Water in Silicon Valley - Buzzfeed

Amazon Robots Eliminating Human Jobs - MIT Technology Review

President Obama isn’t Happy with Facebook and Google - Recode

Peter Thiel is a Flawed Messenger with a Crucial Message for Tech - WIRED

Is Amazon Too Big to Tax? - The New Republic

Google Helping Pentagon Analyze Drone Footage - The Verge

This commentary on this website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints, and analyses of the Hamilton Wealth, LLC employees providing such comments and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by Hamilton Wealth, LLC or performance returns of any Hamilton Wealth, LLC investment client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data, or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Hamilton Wealth, LLC manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

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