Clearwire 2009

DFN: $300M operating loss in Q3 2009, Cash from Ops + Capex = <$1B>, cash on balance sheet @ 9/30/2009 = $1.9B, $3B NEGATIVE equity. Sure there’s tremendous growth / potential, but how much longer can the company afford to grow the market. I just wish it would come to the Bay Area.

Clearwire stayed ahead in big year for WiMax

It rolled out mobile WiMax to nearly 30 markets in ’09

By Stephen Lawson
December 31, 2009 08:40 AM ET

IDG News Service – 2009 was a very big year for Clearwire, as the wireless Internet provider took its ambitious rollout of mobile WiMax from just two cities to nearly 30 markets.

After years of planning and false starts, a national 4G (fourth-generation) mobile data network began to take shape in the U.S., and in terms of launching commercial services, the rollout is on schedule. Clearwire, formed last year through the merger of a pre-WiMax service provider of the same name and Sprint Nextel’s Xohm WiMax business, is in 27 markets now and has the capital it needs to reach 120 million people by the end of next year, according to Chief Commercial Officer Mike Sievert.

Clearwire offers wireless Internet access designed to work in homes and offices and go with users as they travel around within its coverage area. The WiMax service, called Clear, is advertised with speeds of 3M bps (bits per second) to 6M bps, though slower plans are available at lower prices. Regular rates start at $25 per month for 1M bps in a home and $45 per month for unlimited mobile access at 3-6Mbps, both with two-year commitments. Clear is available in major cities including Chicago, Atlanta, Las Vegas, Baltimore and Portland, Oregon.

Though majority-owned by Sprint and backed by Intel, Google and three large cable operators, Clearwire is, effectively, the cutting-edge startup of the U.S. 4G industry. Using a technology that came out of the data networking world rather than the telecommunications realm, Clearwire and its partners are taking on AT&T and Verizon for video, voice, data and mobile services. However, this year the company did bring in a new CEO from the mobile operator establishment. William Morrow, who replaced Benjamin Wolff in March, is a former CEO of Vodafone Europe and Vodafone U.K. (Wolff remains vice chairman.)

As it wrapped up the third quarter, Clearwire had about 173,000 subscribers to its WiMax service, with a total of 555,000 customers including users of its older, pre-WiMax offering. The company said it expected to sign up that many again in the fourth quarter alone, as commercial service launched in several more markets.

Those are still tiny numbers in the U.S. broadband industry, and Clearwire has had its share of stumbles this year. Many subscribers took to Web forums such as to complain that their WiMax service had been slow and inconsistent, with frequent outages. Some complained to state consumer protection agencies that the service didn’t perform as advertised and was difficult to cancel.

"The Clear salesman told me the service would work at my address. It did not. But when I attempted to cancel, they said I owed more money — for a service they could not provide. I have asked for a full refund, but they refuse to provide that," Portland resident Paul Koberstein wrote in September to the Oregon Department of Justice. The department said every time it contacted Clearwire about a consumer complaint, the problem was solved promptly.

Clearwire’s Sievert said the company provides a great service and is continuing to make it better. For example, the company is investing in new technology to help it more accurately predict how good service will be at a prospective subscriber’s home, Sievert said.

"As we’ve built new cities, we’ve learned from our experiences in the prior cities, and that allows us to build a better network," as well as create good buying experiences, Sievert said. All Clearwire tech support is performed by the company’s own employees, while sales and customer support are handled by mix of Clearwire and third parties, he said.

Working through the challenges of rolling out 4G has given Clearwire an edge over rivals that haven’t done so yet, he said.

"I think it’s one of the real advantages that we’ve got," Sievert said. "We’re 27 cities into this, 30 million of the population into this, and we keep getting better and better."

Sievert said the company’s biggest challenge has been carrying out the physical construction of its network, which is now live in locations ranging from Maui to Amarillo to Philadelphia and involves extensive use of microwave, a technology that hasn’t been widely used in the U.S. before now.

"In addition to being a wireless service company, it turns out that we are a sizable construction company," Sievert said.

But Clearwire’s hardest test may come next year. Verizon Wireless announced plans in February to launch commercial 4G service next year using LTE (Long-Term Evolution), a technology that a majority of the world’s mobile operators have committed to rolling out over the next few years. AT&T plans to deploy its own LTE network in 2011, and this quarter it began to install a new 3G system called HSPA 7.2 (High-Speed Packet Access) with a theoretical throughput of 7.2M bps.

WiMax backers have long emphasized the technology’s head start over LTE. The IEEE 802.16e standard on which WiMax is based was approved in 2005, whereas LTE is just now nearing completion. In fact, Sprint and Clearwire at one time said they would reach 100 million U.S. residents with WiMax by the end of 2008. They missed that date by far, partly because of management changes at Sprint, but the new Clearwire does have a meaningful head start over prospective LTE providers, analysts said.

In addition to having a commercial network online, there are numerous client devices already available for Clearwire’s service, analyst Daryl Schoolar of Current Analysis pointed out. The company offers tabletop and USB modems, plus the Clear Spot, a device that lets users share the connection of a single WiMax USB modem via Wi-Fi. There are also more than 20 PCs from Dell, Lenovo, Samsung, Toshiba and Fujitsu that can be ordered with built-in WiMax modems. Only one of those is a netbook, but Clearwire expects more of these highly portable devices to work on its network next year.

However, Clearwire still needs to beef up its client lineup, Schoolar said. There is only one handheld device to use on the network: the Samsung Mondi, an MID (mobile Internet device) that runs Microsoft Windows 6.1. Clearwire’s Sievert wouldn’t comment on any other handheld products coming up but said WiMax handsets should be on the market in the second half of 2010.

At a minimum, Clearwire should integrate a WiMax modem in the Clear Spot, Schoolar said. Currently, users have to have a USB WiMax modem and plug it into the Clear Spot, which is a portable, battery-powered Wi-Fi router. Meanwhile, the company will need to keep the mobile hardware industry focused enough on WiMax to keep a stream of products coming after major carriers around the world adopt LTE, he said.

As for Clearwire’s coverage issues, it’s common for wireless performance to fall short when networks are first built, analysts said. Clearwire has so much radio spectrum — 100MHz or more in most markets across the U.S., according to the company — that it should be able to solve its performance issues over time, said Philip Solis of ABI Research.

Those spectrum holdings, along with the marketing and business plans of Clearwire and its service partners, will do more to determine the company’s ultimate success than will the technical distinctions between WiMax and LTE, according to IDC analyst Godfrey Chua and others. The two technologies deliver essentially the same thing to consumers, who ultimately will make a choice among service packages from Verizon, AT&T, Clearwire and other operators for the usual reasons of price, reputation and convenience, they said.

"Those Betamax vs. VHS analogies do not apply," Solis said, referring to the way Sony’s videotape technology for consumers was made obsolete by the incompatible standard used by other vendors. Consumers get online either way. For them, it’s simply a matter of choosing between two different Internet services.


Tavern on the green bites the dust

NY’s Tavern on the Green restaurant bites the dust

NY’s Tavern on the Green, once highest-grossing US restaurant, bites the dust amid recession
By Verena Dobnik, Associated Press Writer , On Wednesday December 30, 2009, 6:12 am EST

NEW YORK (AP) — Tavern on the Green, once America’s highest-grossing restaurant, is singing its culinary swan song.

The former sheepfold at the edge of Central Park, now ringed by twinkling lights and fake topiary animals, is preparing for New Year’s Eve, when it will serve its last meal. Just three years ago, it was plating more than 700,000 meals annually, bringing in more than $38 million.

But that astronomical sum wasn’t enough to keep the landmark restaurant out of bankruptcy court. Its $8 million debt is to be covered at an auction of Baccarat and Waterford chandeliers, Tiffany stained glass, a mural depicting Central Park and other over-the-top decor that has bewitched visitors for decades.

Even the restaurant’s name is up for grabs. At stake is whether another restaurateur taking over the 27,000 square feet of space, owned by the city, can reopen as Tavern on the Green.

For 75 years, since it first opened amid the Great Depression, the Tavern has attracted clients from around the world.

"This reminds me so much of Poland!" exclaimed Vermont resident Meg Kearton as she entered for her first time in late December. "It reminds me of a restaurant in Warsaw — the grandeur and the colors."

She came for lunch a few days after Christmas, whose green and white colors fill the Tavern’s year-round wonderland of lights, flowers and ornamental curved bull’s-eye mirrors.

Hanging over the main Crystal Room, an all-glass dining area, is a century-old chandelier made of green glass, said to have been owned by an Indian maharajah. A reindeer whose antlers are decked with red and green ornaments stands at the entrance, and outside is a huge King Kong topiary.

Former owner Warner LeRoy, befitting his heritage as son of a producer of "The Wizard of Oz," searched the globe for the whimsical goods after he took over the Tavern’s lease in 1973. He died in 2001, and his wife, Kay LeRoy, and daughter Jennifer LeRoy are now the owners.

As the end of the family’s operating license approached, the city sought competing bids.

The LeRoys lost to Dean Poll, who operates the stylish Loeb Boathouse restaurant overlooking the Central Park lake and offered to invest $25 million on Tavern renovations. The city awarded him a 20-year license in August, citing his vision and significant capital investment.

The LeRoys, employing more than 400 unionized employees with full benefits, couldn’t match that. As the recession hit, they accrued more than 450 debtors.

A spokeswoman for the company running the Tavern on the Green auction said the LeRoys couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

The decisive moment in the intellectual-property dispute comes in January. That’s when a Manhattan federal judge will either side with the city and rule that the moneymaking name Tavern on the Green, valued at about $19 million, belongs to whomever operates the space or say the LeRoys own it.

If the city loses, Poll will use the name Tavern in the Park, creating a new menu of American cuisine with fresh seasonal ingredients and reopening by March, said his attorney, Barry LePatner.

"We’re going to bring the park into the restaurant," said LePatner, by eliminating the thick shrubbery around the premises to reveal Sheep Meadow, where the animals grazed until 1934, housed in the Victorian Gothic shed that is part of the restaurant.

Everything that fills the current restaurant will be for sale starting Jan. 13, at a Guernsey’s auction.

Some of the items were once a backdrop for private milestone events as well as public celebrations from film productions and political gatherings to the special carb-loading dinner on the eve of the New York Marathon.

Recently, as many as 1,500 meals could be served a day, with dinner entrees costing $26 to $42 on a menu heavy with meat and potato dishes, plus standard seafood and a few forays into foreign fare such as risotto.

Not everyone drips with praise for this "tourist trap," as one blogger on the Web site Yelp called it.

A fellow Yelp blogger didn’t mince words: "Besides my risotto being just eh, and besides finding a small bug on my plate, I had a fiasco getting my jacket from the coat check."

That didn’t deter a smiling Diane Allen-Smith from coming for a lunch with her husband in December, three years after their Tavern wedding, on a visit from Boca Raton, Fla.

"Our wedding food was wonderful," she said. "And we didn’t have to do anything for the rest."

A New York magazine reviewer once asked, "So what if the Eisenhower-era menu is strictly an afterthought?"

But the things that annoy some about Tavern on the Green are exactly what made it irresistible to fans, including three generations of a family from New York’s northern suburbs.

"My parents brought us here," said Lisa Holz, who brought along her daughters, 4-year-old Kayla and 7-year-old Lisa, and her husband and parents.

It would be her last time at the old Tavern on the Green, and she got sentimental.

"When I was little," she said. "I remember getting tears in my eyes when I looked at all the lights and colors."

Do you have any questions for me?

DFN: This is a question that will make / or break your interview. If you have NO questions, its unlikely you’ll proceed further in the interview. This Glass Door article tees the question up nicely an offers generic, effective ways of think about how to deal with the question.

The Scariest Job interview Question Of All…
Posted: 29 Dec 2009 09:33 AM PST

Last week in his weekly post, Hank Stringer addressed the question of how to answer what is many times the last question of an interview; “What questions do you have for me?” At the same time that Hank was posting his thoughts, I was coaching a senior executive on how to answer the same question. I won’t say that it is any more an important question at one job level versus another, but I will say that how you answer this question can be either the icing on the cake to a good interview, or the answer that ices what might have other been a successful interview.

I want to offer you three suggested ways to answer the question:Turn the table with a question that keeps the interviewer talking but shows that you are intently listening. One that has worked on me is, “I’m not sure I have any one great question for you, but I will ask is there anything that you think you want from me, or anyone in this job, to knock it out of the park? This question gives the interviewer a chance to state what he/she wants to see in the job/person and for them to see these attributes in you as you listen, acknowledge and reinforce where appropriate that you carry all of these traits and more.

Tilt up and ask a very strategic question if you have it.…but it’s risky because it could end up being too esoteric. However, if you have listened carefully and you have done your homework, you could really pick up IQ points if you are able to match both what you have heard about the job/role and a strategic direction or issue for the company. For example; “A question I might pose back to you is how do you see this role being central to solving what I have researched and heard your CEO say is (fill in the blank), and what appears the number one issue the company faces?” Like I said, this could be a little risky, but if you are interviewing with a very senior person or he/she has been reinforcing a bigger picture, strategic challenges, etc., I would go for it. Unless your homework is flawed or you pick a less than important challenge to address, then you should come across as thinking bigger and being someone who sees and appreciates the strategic landscape.

Set up your first day…by getting an opinion of what priorities you should set for yourself for the first 100 days. The question can be this; “What do you see as the priorities and must get done objectives for me within the 100 days on the job?” What makes this a great question is that it shows you are a goal-setter and also someone who sets milestones and knows the importance of time-bounding an objective. This question also gives the interviewer the opportunity to give you a task list, which can to him/her feel like they have unloaded and already have you working for them.

Most importantly, the best way to answer the last question is for you to have listened well throughout the entire interview so that when the question comes to you, you are prepared. Also, don’t fret if you don’t get asked the question. If things are going really well, you likely have run out of time because the conversation flowed so easily. On the other hand if this is the third or fourth question you are asked and there is still plenty of time to go, then you are going to have to reengage the interviewer because they have either written you off early or their mind is somewhere else. As I said, you have to have listened well and be reading the situation at all times to make an interview work for you. At least when you get to this final question I hope you can be a little bit better prepared than before.

The Scariest Job interview Question Of All… is a post from: Blog

Oddball Interview Questions

DFN: Pretty interesting to correlate the question with the company, some don’t seem that odd,

Top Oddball Interview Questions Of 2009
Posted: 30 Dec 2009 10:20 AM PST

For anyone who has gone through a job interview lately – or perhaps in the past 40 years – you can expect certain questions like: ‘What are your greatest strengths?… and weaknesses?’ or ‘What are your career goals in the next five years?’. While any interviewee should be prepared to answer staple interview questions, in this market you had better be prepared to stand out and tackle the more thoughtful – and sometimes odd – questions. career expert and HR veteran Rusty Rueff reminds us that interviews can be unpredictable and it’s important to be quick on your feet, express what’s important for the employer to know and beyond everything else, stay on your message.(Rusty provides some tips on Glassdoor blog on how to control the interview whether you receive a direct or curveball question.As we wrap up 2009 and its job-related ups and downs that look like a Richter scale report, we have identified our Top 25 oddball interview questions from the more than 14,000 interview questions submitted by job candidates through Interview Reviews:

What was your best McGuyver moment? – Schlumberger Junior Field Engineer

How many tennis balls are in this room and why? – Yahoo Customer Service Rep

If you were a brick in a wall which brick would you be and why? – Nestle USA Procurement Intern

How would you move Mount Fuji? – Microsoft Software Development Engineer in Test

If two cars are traveling in a two lap race on a track of any length, one going 60 mph and the other going 30mph, how fast will the slower car have to go to finish at the same car to finish at the same time? – Morgan Stanley Trader

Are your parents disappointed with your career aspirations? – Fisher Investments Client Service Associate

Tell me how you would determine how many house painters there are in the United States? –Acquity Group Business Analyst

What should it cost to rent Central Park for commercial purposes? – Bain & Co Business Analyst

If I put you in a sealed room with a phone that had no dial tone, how would you fix it? – Apple Software Engineer

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? – Pacific Sunwear Sales Associate

How many hair salons are there in Japan? – Boston Consulting Associate

If both a taxi and a limo were priced the exact same, which one would you choose? – Best Buy Customer Service

How to measure 9 minutes using only a 4 minute and 7 minute hourglass? – Bank of America Quantitative Developer

What are 5 uncommon uses of a brick, not including building, layering, or a paper-weight? – Kaplan Higher Education Data Analyst

What is the probability of throwing 11 and over with 2 dices – American Airlines Financial Analyst

What is your favorite food? – Apple Store Manager

Say you are dead- what do you think your eulogy would say about you. – Nationwide Product Manager

Given a dictionary of words, how do you calculate the anagrams for a new word? – Amazon Software Development Engineer

How many lightbulbs are in this building? – Monitor Group Entry Interview

Given a square grid of numbers, considering all the numbers at the boundary as one layer and numbers just inside as another layer and so on how would you rotate each of the

layers of the numbers by a given amount. – Microsoft Engineer

How would you sell me eggnog in Florida in the summer? – Expedia Market Manager

Develop an algorithm for finding the shortest distance between two words in a document. After the phone interview is over, take a few hours to develop a working example in
C++ and send it to the manager. – Google Software Engineer

Given a fleet of 50 trucks, each with a full fuel tank and a range of 100 miles, how far can you deliver a payload? You can transfer the payload from truck to truck, and you can transfer fuel from truck to truck. Extend your answer for n trucks. – Palantir Technologies Business Development Engineer

You are in a room with 3 switches which correspond to 3 bulbs in another room and you don’t know which switch corresponds to which bulb. You can only enter the room with the bulbs once. You can NOT use any external equipment (power supplies, resistors, etc.). How do you find out which bulb corresponds to which switch? – Goldman Sachs X-Div/Back Office

If you saw someone steal a quarter. Would you report it? – Amazon Shipping Manifest Clerk

Would you be prepared or ready to answer some of these questions?

You can see how others answer these and other interview questions on job interview reviews, because keep in mind that according to Glassdoor users, 45% of those who made it to the interview process did not receive an offer. In addition you may need to speak with a number of different interviewers before you reach the person who has the authority to decide who gets hired. In fact we found that in order to get an interview, 42% had to detail their past job experience through online applications, 14% discussed their background with a recruiter and 3% percent went over past professional highlights with a staffing agency.

Top Oddball Interview Questions Of 2009 is a post from: Blog

Unintended Consequences

Networking Protocol: Unintended Consequences (sometime we just don’t see the impact of our actions).

On Saturday, December 26th, the CEO of a NYC based company sent me an email wondering if I knew of anyone that would be interested in a CFO position at his company. Not, me, My second thought, maybe I know people through the FENG (Financial Executives Networking Group) or UCLA Anderson (Business School) that could benefit from knowing about this position. I sent the CEO an email asking his permission to distribute the opportunity to a wider audience. The CEO responded, he would prefer that I not distribute the opportunity, as the current controller, whom he is trying to replace, is a member of the FENG. I responded that I understood, and wouldn’t distribute the opportunity.

Tuesday morning, December 29th, I got an ‘angry’ email, the CEO was upset, the position had appeared in the 12/28 FENG Newsletter. Had I gone ahead and distributed it? I assured the CEO, I hadn’t. I looked at the Newsletter, another UCLA Anderson Alumni / FENG member had distributed the opportunity w/o clearing the distribution through the CEO. I got another email 30 minutes later from the CEO, his Controller read the FENG posting and has resigned.

The CEO now has an even more urgent to fill need. Down the road, how likely is it that this CEO will distribute opportunities through FENG / UCLA Anderson? Networking is all about developing relationships with people, we miss an opportunity to develop these relationship by not asking first before distributing job opportunities. Asking first, would also have avoided creating a situation shutting down future opportunities.


Cliff Notes – Larry Dodd – 12/26/2009

DFN: Larry spoke today at Job Connections, lightly attended, very inspirational and informative on how to do better in our job search and in life. Larry will definitely be invited back to Job Connections, and I would encourage you to attend his next presentation. Larry THANK YOU for taking
the morning to attend and talk with the Job Connections group.

As an aside, Dean Tracy lead the group discuss, talked about Dirt, Pine Cones and Carrot Cake. The commonality? Taking something ‘bad’ and making it into something good out of something bad. Good, unintentional, setup to Larry’s talk. Funny how things work out.

The unique you – gaining a competitive advantage
Larry Dodd 12/26/2009

Larry’s background:
Finance / accounting, Controller, CFO
Arthur Anderson, KB Homes, SF Giants, Mertitage Homes, Signature Properties
Now a strategy consultant, key learning, business = people

1. Do your homework
How well do you know your background?
How well do you know yourself?

Success = knowking yourself and what you’ve done, like to do, are good at.

Are you happy with what you’re doing
Myers Briggs – test, amongst other
If your not happy with what you’re doing, you will not be successful
Look for jobs that can use what you have to offer.

What gifts do you have, are you investing in developing those gifts.

Creates a competitive advantage.

Connections get you in the door.

Larry was interviewing for two different jobs, one with Incline Village, one with the SF Giants.
Giants are still the best?
On verge of offer he felt from Incline, got request to interview with the Giants.
Why me? Because your there.
Business v sports of business.
Interviewed with Larry Behr – asked who Ron Hunt was, Larry knew (bonafides).

If you listen to the devil on your shoulder (self doubt), you’ll give off a bad vibe.

2. If your there, in the moment, bring your A game. What happens, happens.
A game = pray, not for success, but to be put on the right path.
Do homework, research company, industry, position, who you’re going to interview, questions you’re going to answer / ask

Read his book (Larry has compiled a book that over 20 years gives him a strong sense of who he is / what he’s done)
Trust if it’s supposed to be, it will happen
Patient, passionate and being there

3. Opportunities came at times of great stress. We near people who change our lives. "Uncle Arty". People knew he was there. Befriended Larry. Arty could touch people, recovering AA, diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease; still spoke; saw familiar face, hadn’t shared story, went up to him, can’t speak, would you speak? Young man, blue jeans, long hair (Larry?). Why did Arty choose to help the you man? Because he could.

Who can I help? Regardless of our circumstances, if we help people, good things happen!

Believe good things can happen.

Develop a mindset, if your there you belong there.

Business: Macros for Excel (FREE)

DFN: Macabacus has created a set of macros that allows you to expedite the construction of a financial model (FYI, Financial Modeling is my LIFE). I got this lead from the UCLA Anderson Alumni Association, Geoffrey Doempke.

Macabacus Macros for Excel

Macabacus Macros for Excel is a collection of useful keyboard shortcuts and other tools that expedites the construction of financial models by trimming the time required to complete common tasks by up to 75%. If you have ever used DealMaven, like many on Wall Street do, many of these shortcuts will already be familiar.