Things could always be worse...
1 July 2022 | 12:00 pm

No connection to any to any of our ongoing threads, but if you're interested in sketch comedy, you really need to see this series from That Mitchell and Webb Look. I'm at a loss for something else like it.

You can find find darker sketches (though "mummy won't wake up" does set the bar rather high), but few where the characters in the increasingly horrifying situations are so sympathetic. In that way, they remind me a bit of the Carol Burnett Show's Eunice sketches, which grew remarkably cruel toward the end, but those were long form pieces that could alternate between comedy and drama (and eventually go purely with the latter). The Quiz Broadcast is an exercise in world-building in 3-minute bites, and one that's become a bit more relevant recently.

The fact that people think a commute might justify building high-speed rail suggests you're probably talking about an exurb
30 June 2022 | 12:30 pm


At the risk of self-promotion, if you're not a Californian and you're trying to follow the housing crisis, I'd highly recommend you take a couple of minutes to read A primer for New Yorkers who want to explain California housing to Californians. Particularly...


3. San Francisco is not adjacent to or even particularly near Silicon Valley. Instead it's around fifty miles away. There are people who live in SF and commute to SV but it's a wasteful and completely unnecessary practice. San Jose is nearer and cheaper.


Which came to mind when I saw this story:

$5.3 billion: San Jose to San Francisco high-speed rail costs balloon by over 200%

Eliyahu Kamisher

Plagued by years of funding shortages and spiraling costs, California’s beleaguered high-speed rail project suffered another unexpected blow this month in a new report that more than tripled the cost estimate for the San Francisco-to-San Jose segment to a staggering $5.3 billion.

The new price tag is part of a report that completes a years-long environmental clearance process for the 48-mile corridor that would carry bullet trains down the Peninsula on electrified Caltrain tracks at 110 miles per hour and eventually on to Southern California. It outlines three stops, a controversial rail yard in Brisbane and money allocated to everything from protecting Monarch butterflies to restoring Bent-flowered fiddleneck habitat.

But the environmental document released last week also includes the new price tag for the recommended route through the Peninsula, which is more than three times the figure penciled into the High-Speed Rail Authority’s 2022 business plan.

As for the project itself, I have mixed feelings. California could certainly use more passenger rail, but there are places that need it more and are not as well served by public transit, some of which would probably be cheaper.
But whatever the merits of this line may be as infrastructure, it is an absolutely first rate reminder that most of the California housing debate consists of people (mainly from New York) demanding that we build housing 50 miles from where the Bay Area housing crisis is most severe.

$835 million may not sound like a lot of money, but look at it in context
29 June 2022 | 12:00 pm

This remarkably nonchalant New York Times piece on executive compensation deserves a deep dive (and not in a good way), but for now, I want to zoom in on one number in particular.

Jeff Green, chief executive of The Trade Desk, a digital advertising company, reported compensation of $835 million last year, making him the top-paid executive in the Equilar survey, which encompasses 200 companies, all of which have revenue over $1 billion. Mr. Green’s pay in 2021 was the third-highest amount that Equilar found in its past five annual surveys, which are based on companies’ pay disclosures; Mr. Musk’s deal in 2018, which Tesla valued at $2.3 billion, is still the biggest in those years.


 For Mr. Green of The Trade Desk to qualify for the options in his package, valued in the proxy statement at $828 million, the company’s stock price must climb well above current levels, but there are no business goals for The Trade Desk to achieve.

Melinda Zurich, a spokeswoman for The Trade Desk, said the stock price targets in the company’s award were ambitious and noted that its stock was up several thousand percent since its initial public offering in 2016.

“Jeff has played an integral role in driving that growth, and is key to the company’s future growth agenda,” she added.

These deals are complicated and it's possible that Mr. Green will walk away with less than $835 million, but given the numbers, it's almost impossible to come up with a scenario where the man won't wildly overcompensated if the stock lucks (or is manipulated) into a good run. If so, all of the profits for the next six plus years will go to installment payments for the CEO's 2021 compensation package.

From Wikipedia:

It is true that TTD had revenue greater than $1 billion which big money, but $835 million takes up an obscenely large chunk of that $1.2 billion. The number is even more striking when you look at income. Whether you use operating or net, Green's compensation package for 2021 is, at least in theory, more than six times the company's income for that year.

TTD appears to be a healthy company with a history of solid growth (though its 2021 income was sharply off from the previous year), but there is no reason to expect this thirteen year old operation will suddenly experience explosive growth in the near future, and if it doesn't, (assuming the stock still has a good run) this pay package would fall under the category of, for lack of a better word, looting.  

Green came into this a billionaire going into this. He can afford to take an all or nothing bet, particularly when the expected value is this high.

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