Brown Bearish

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This post is the first in a new column that will track Brunonian-influenced stocks.

Investing in today’s recession-battered, tech-saturated market can be difficult. New wealth management tools targeted at millennials have become ubiquitous on the Internet, while the old debate between the skeptical academics and the Wall Street elite over the value of financial advisors continues. But what if there were an alternative way to construct a portfolio of equities? A middle ground between the broad, diversified index fund approach recommended by academics like 2013’s Nobel Prize winner Eugene Fama and the expert-picked stock selection of Wall Street’s traditional financial advisors and hedge funds?

There are precedents, mainly in the world of mutual funds and ETFs. Some recent companies have encouraged everyday investors to purchase equities grouped into ‘concepts’ – asset classes they predict will take off in the market, i.e ‘solar energy’ – that have made investing easier while leading to predictions that the system will eventually render exchange-traded funds obsolete. But this approach still requires a substantial amount of luck and economic know-how – if investors cannot reliably predict the future directions of individual stocks, will they really be more capable at predicting the directions of asset classes?

What if there were a broader, more intangible set of criteria for equity selection? Criteria based not around a predicted trend in the market but around the inherent value of companies rooted in innovative intellectual practices and reliable leadership? Hey, those values are deliberately cultivated at Brown! Brunonians, after being selected for their curiosity, creativity, and diversity – all traits of rapidly increasing value in today’s knowledge economy – are then educated in a tradition of  via the New Curriculum. Unsurprisingly, Brown alumni also have a long history of success in the business world, creating and helming components of some of the most widely traded companies in the world.

Brown Bearish, a new weekly column on Blog, will follow a portfolio of equities purchased from several of these companies and examine their performance in light of both in-firm developments and broader market trends.


The Criteria

Specific criteria for a publicly-traded company’s eligibility for the portfolio include:

  • founded or co-founded by an alumnus of Brown
  • currently run by one or more alumni of Brown in the roles of CEO, CFO, COO or CTO
  • previously run by a Brown alumnus who was particularly instrumental to the company’s success and/or integral to its vision
  • founder and/or current CEO of a major subsidiary of a firm is a Brown alumnus
  • possesses one or more Brown alumni as shareholding board members
  • has had an unusually large number of Brown alumni instrumental in major company projects and/or operating at relatively high levels within the organization

All these qualifications ensure that a firm included in the portfolio is at least partially influenced by the leadership of one or more Brown alumni, and those values of creativity and specialization cultivated at the University. Brown Bearish will examine whether companies guided by these principles can achieve reliable long-term growth across a variety of industries, consistent with the buy-and-hold strategy of a diversified portfolio.

 

The List:

Apple (AAPL) – Andy Hertzfeld ’75, John Sculley ‘61 – member of development team behind original Mac and Mac OS, president from 1983 to 1993 (respectively)  – technology, media, and telecommunications

Interesting fact? Carl Icahn recently claimed that much of the company’s growth potential has yet to be priced in.

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group (DPS) – Tom Scott ’90 and Tom First ’89 – founders of Nantucket Nectars, subsidiary of Dr. Pepper Snapple – retail (food and beverage)

Interesting fact? Take ENGN 9.

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Alums who do cool things: Clipford “Clippy” Robinson ’94, Microsoft Office Assistant

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Remember that paper clip that always popped up in Microsoft Word? Well, he has a name–Clipford (Clippy) Robinson–and is a Brown alum–Class of ’94. Though Clippy is not boastful about his college degree, a look at his resume (which one could access on Word as a template for one’s own) proves that he did, in fact attend Brown from 1990-1994:

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Clippy agreed to sit down with Blog to discuss his time here at Brown, as well as his life since graduation.

BlogDH: How did you know that Brown was the school for you?

Clippy: I know a lot of people come to Brown to explore different options and take advantage of the open curriculum, but I always had a clear vision of what I wanted to do. Harvard and Penn have programs that primarily focus on hole punching and stapling, but I wanted to hold paper together without puncturing it, and Brown had a variety of opportunities for that. I held papers together all over campus. I also knew that I had a passion for technology, and the computer science program at Brown was–and is–second to none. When I told the alumni interviewer from Tufts that I wanted to work as a digital assistant inside of people’s computers, he laughed at me. But at Brown everyone was really supportive of my dreams.

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A Cool Thing You Shouldn’t Miss: Coco Fusco ’82 to deliver talk

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Coco Fusco’s Observations of Predation in Humans (2013), Norte Sur (1990), and A Room of One’s Own (2006-08)

Coco Fusco is a Cuban-American multimedia artist and writer, whose work incorporates digital media and performance ranging in format from large-scale projections to interactive live performances streamed online. Fusco’s work often comments on systems of gender, race, politics, war, and identity.

Fusco will visit campus this Thursday to give a talk at 4 p.m. in the List Art Center auditorium, room 120. The event is free, but tickets are required.

Fusco received her AB in Semiotics from Brown in 1982, going on to get her MA in Modern Thought and Literature from Stanford (1985) and her PhD in Art and Visual Culture from Middlesex University (2007). Fusco, currently MIT’s 2014-15 MLK Visiting Scholar, has taught at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, Columbia, and Parsons The New School for Design. Her work has been exhibited at two Whitney Biennials (1993 and 2008), the Tate Liverpool, the MoMA, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Barcelona. She is the author of several books, including English is Broken Here: Notes on Cultural Fusion in the Americas (1995), which examines the tension between cultural identity and visual politics, and A Field Guide for Female Interrogators (2008), which addresses the exploitation of sex and sexuality in the military for interrogation techniques.

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Alums who do cool things: Orly Genger ’01 returns to Brown for installation, You

Orly Genger '01, with her 2013 piece Red, Yellow and Blue in Madison Square Park, NYC

Orly Genger ’01, with her 2013 piece Red, Yellow and Blue in Madison Square Park, NYC

Orly Genger ’01 has returned to campus for her newest site-specific installation, You. This 250-foot-long recycled lobster rope sculpture will transform the Quiet Green between University Hall and the Van Winkle Gates. The installation will be completed this Thursday, and the piece will remain on view through Summer 2015.

Orly, based in New York, is known for her large-scale hand-knotted rope installations. After receiving her BA from Brown in 2001, Orly went on to receive her post-baccalaureate degree from the Art Institute of Chicago in 2002. Orly’s large-scale work has been displayed in the Indianapolis Museum of Art, MASS MoCA, and The Contemporary Austin. Orly’s largest installation to date, Red, Yellow and Blue, was installed at NYC’s Madison Square Park in May 2013, made out of 1.4 million feet of hand-crocheted rope.

Blog chatted with Genger as she worked on the project’s installation earlier this week:

BlogDH: What was the creative process like for this project? How did the collaboration with Brown start?

Genger: Brown approached me to come and do a piece here, so I came back, which has been a pleasure. I walked around and picked a location, and then drew out some ideas. This rope was originally from Red, Yellow and Blue, which was then made into a piece on the Chicago lakefront, and is now in its third life here.

BlogDH: What drew you to this location, out of the ones you surveyed?

Genger: There were a few options. This one seemed the best because I liked the amount of foot traffic in this spot, as well as the significance of being by the Gates. The proximity to the art department was also nice, because I spent so much of my time there and walked through this green so often as a student.

BlogDH: What was your experience at Brown like?

Genger: Brown for me was completely crucial to where I am today. If I didn’t have the experiences that I had at Brown, I don’t know if I’d be doing what I’m doing now. It created a real comfort zone to experiment and to try things that maybe otherwise I wouldn’t have tried. It gave me the space I needed to become an artist.

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Sock and Buskin Presents: Hype Hero

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Despite the old school rap blaring as you enter Stuart Theatre and the traditional set with which you are greeted onstage, a drab government building overladen with mahogany and filing cabinets, Sock and Buskin’s new play Hype Hero is, above all, about modernity. It is simultaneously futuristic, current and archaic. It is a hyper-real representation of America, circa 2014.

Hype Hero, written by Dominic Taylor MFA ’95 (in typical open curriculum fashion, he also received a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Brown) and directed by Kym Moore, is described by the playwright as “an afro-futurist Comedy of the Absurd.”

And absurd it definitely is. Everything is slightly off–the phone ringing sound effect is eerily hollow, soldiers burst on and off the stage, and the entirety of the first act takes place outside the Mayor’s (Crystal Kim ’16) office. The Mayor is a bumbling bureaucrat, a dictatorial, paranoid and ineffective leader in a dress wrought with sequins and ruffles. Kim’s portrayal is spot-on, channeling Elizabeth Banks in The Hunger Games and every political leader since Abraham Lincoln. 

But the show is not Kim’s. It’s Sarah’s, Kim’s “administrative assistant,” played with equal reserve and ferocity by Jordan DeLoach ’15. Her role as Sarah is complex, requiring her to navigate both cultural and personal allegiances while remaining in her office chair almost the entire show. DeLoach is both the most active and inactive member of the cast, symbolically as much as literally. Her facial expressions, physicality and vocal shifts (at times performing “propriety,” especially when talking to The Mayor, at others employing use of vernacular, depending on her audience) are integral to her construction of Sarah.

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Alums Who Do Cool Things: Remy Fernandez-O’Brien ’12

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Bonnaroo is on a mission to find Bonnaroo’s Funkiest Dancer. The winner of this competition will have the opportunity to perform their funky moves live at the music festival. Brown alum Remy Fernandez-O’Brien ’12 has made his way to the top ten contestants. Remy F’s entry shows him rocking out to Robert DeLong’s “Global Concepts.”

According to his contestant description on the contest website, “Remy started dancing when he saw the gecko do the robot in a GEICO commercial. In his life as a performer, he’s been a life-sized puppeteer, a stilt dancer, a clown in a haunted house, and a Michael Jackson impersonator.” Check out Remy’s submission and the all of the top ten contestants’ submissions. Voting closes in two days so be sure to watch Remy, and some other funky dancers, break it down while you get the chance!

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