Warren Buffett's annual letter to shareholders is out. It's a must-read for anyone who is invested, is thinking about investing, or thinks they know something about investing.
As we approach the annual report and annual meeting season, I am sure that a survey of most CEOs (with the possible exception of Warren Buffett) would reveal that they would choose their annual colonoscopy over this little ritual.
Technology CEOs, in my opinion, find the process especially irksome, given that they are busy dealing with the fast-paced world in which they compete.
In the plain-spoken spirit of Warren Buffett, I have taken the liberty of drafting a letter that CEOs of tech companies are free to use in their annual report this year. (You're welcome.)
Dear Shareholder:Once upon a time, CEOs like John Jacob Astor, J.P. Morgan and Andrew Carnegie sat down once a year, put on their eye-shades, put quill to parchment and scratched out a letter to their buddies who also happened to be shareholders in their trusts and monopolies. It was their once a year obligation to blow smoke up the ass of the "owners" of their companies.
Then, they would go back to exploiting the American consumer and creating capitalism as we once knew it.
Somehow, this anachronistic practice became frozen in amber and continues to this day, in spite of the fact that I am under no legal obligation to write such a letter.
Yes, it's true. There is no requirement for me to write an annual letter to shareholders, which may come as a surprise to you given the fact that just about everything else I do has to be immediately reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission. If I so much as think about buying or selling shares in MY OWN F-ING COMPANY, I have to get a permission slip from the Pope. Hey! Did I tell you I'm thinking about getting hair plugs? Of course I did! You can read all about it in an 8-K filing along with what I had for dinner last night, what brand of golf clubs I use and the regularity of my bowel movements.
I had a sense that things would change when we went public, but it never occurred to me that it would require me to build an in-law apartment over my garage for legal counsel. If I spent one-tenth the time on my business as I do talking to lawyers and signing my name, we'd all be enjoying robot housekeepers like Rosie on "The Jetsons" by now.
But not these days. Despite the fact that you can get, via the Internet, a real-time accounting of which sales person picked their nose during a cold-call, I still have to file an annual report and worse, spend actual time in person with you people.
Yep, Mary and Phil Gormley of Fresno get to come to a meeting and question me about whatever the f*ck they want, in spite of the fact that they own a total of 87 shares in their idiot son's 529 college savings plan.
Here - let me save you a trip: No, the board of directors will NOT consider your motion from the floor to ensure that our products are not contributing to the clubbing of baby seals in the Nunavut Territories. And yes, I realize that you think that in this post-AIG world, anyone who makes more than $18,000/year is overpaid, but I have already cashed the bonus check mentioned in the proxy statement and bought his and hers Tesla Roadsters. And as God is my witness, if you so much as raise your hand at the annual meeting, I will drive both of them straight up your ass.
FWIW - I am happy to report that we had a great year. We make software for chrissake. It's zeros and ones that we deliver over the Internet. That means about a bazillion percent margins.
Furthermore, our customers love our products. And why wouldn't they? Most people these days would rather sit huddled in front of their computer than risk exposure to sunshine and actual human contact. I mean - why grow an ACTUAL garden or do ACTUAL work when you can play "Farmville" 18 hours a day?
This is all very good for us. We have become so efficient in delivering our digital equivalent of heroin that we laid off 99 percent of our workforce in the past 12 months. This has vastly improved our margins even more.
So who is left at the company? Me, our CFO and a couple of interns who water the plants and tweet sh*t about our products a couple of times a day.Seriously. I'm smarter than you. I'm the one writing this letter. Just take my word that your investment is safe and let's not go through this dumb-ass kabuki theater ever again.