In honour of Spreadsheet Day and the 35th Anniversary of Visicalc, Steven Levy republishes a piece from 1984, where he described how the spreadsheet was changing the business world. The piece foreshadows the rise of modern Silicon Valley: “Entrepreneurs and their venture-capitalist backers are emerging as new culture heroes, settlers of another American frontier.”
The article also shows us how costly spreadsheet errors have been practically part of the business since the spreadsheet’s inception.
In August 1984, the Wall Street Journal reported that a Texas-based oil and gas company had fired several executives after the firm lost millions of dollars in an acquisition deal because of “errors traced to a faulty financial analysis spread sheet model.”
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Medium: A Spreadsheet Way of Knowledge
As the IMF decreases its growth forecast for sub-Saharan Africa to 5.0% from 5.5%, Bloomberg drills down on the details, covering everything from tourism impact to companies with direct exposure in the region. Companies mentioned include: Resolute Mining (RSG), Dangote Group, Intercontinental (IHG), Marriott (MAR), Nestle (NESN), Diageo (DGE), SABMiller (SAB), and MTN Group (MTN).
Bloomberg: Ebola’s Economic Fallout Can’t Be Quarantined in Africa
Sam Altman, the newly appointed President of Y-Combinator, describes the contrarian nature of his black swan seed rounds. He writes, “The most striking observation is that, in my experience, the ‘hot seed rounds’ that everyone is fighting to get in are anti-correlated with very successful investments. […] The hotly-competed seed investments I’ve made have underperformed. For all of the really good seed investments I’ve made, other investors I respected thought they were bad ideas.”
Sam Altman: Black Swan Seed Rounds
An article from The Wall Street Journal in 1978 describes how investors are using computers to manage their portfolios. One of the brands available? Apple Computer.
WSJ: April 17, 1978: Apple Computer?