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Infrastructure-as-a-Service Giants Own the Cloud with Lavish CapEx

Another day — another glitzy article about infrastructure-as-a-service from the Wall Street Journal. You may recall my skepticism about the sustainability of this business model last summer. Still, as 2016 numbers show, the capital expenditures of the top three cloud computing companies show no indication that they’re worried about going all in: Combined, Amazon, Microsoft […]

PwC Ups Its Disruption; Gets on Gmail

Rejoice, PwCers, you all are joining the late 20th century!

Apple CFO’s Seemingly Banal Statement Interpreted Quite Differently by The Wall St. Journal

Apple Insider reported yesterday that when Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer was asked about Google’s acquisition of Motorola he reportedly said, “$12.5 billion is a lot of money.” Now, I don’t know anyone that would say, “$12.5 billion is pocket change,” or “I piss on $12.5 billion.” Not even the most ostentatious Russian oligarch would be so bold to laugh in the face of that sum of money.

Having said that, it appears the Wall St. Journal seems to think that Oppenheimer’s statement are akin to fighting words, as illustrated by the headline: “Apple CFO Snipes at Google’s Motorola Bid” which included the following:

Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO, took a shot at Google when asked about the company’s $12.5 billion bid for Motorola Mobility Holdings during a conference call with investors hosted by Gleacher & Company. Oppenheimer said that companies should invent their own technology rather than buy it from the outside, adding that “$12.5 billion is a lot of money,” according to a report from Apple Insider.

First of all, to look at Peter Oppenheimer you wouldn’t think he’s capable of “sniping.” Secondly, “snipe” is defined as “To make malicious, underhand remarks or attacks” according to Wiktionary. For example, if Oppenheimer had said something like, “Larry Page couldn’t get laid in a monkey whorehouse with a bag of bananas” or “Androids are the Yugos of the smartphone world,” those would qualify as snipes. They are malicious, underhanded and are attacks.

Conversely, “$12.5 billion is a lot of money” is not a snipe. It is a statement of a fact-ish. It is a lot of money. You could argue that it is Oppenheimer’s opinion but as posited above, very few would argue that it isn’t a lot of money. Is Google overpaying for Motorola? That’s the question Michael Hickins ultimately asks in his article but somehow the hook for this was that Apple’s CFO brings the same level of snark as the CEO.

Apple CFO Snipes at Google’s Motorola Bid [WSJ]

Google CFO Addresses Company’s ‘Evil’ Tax Savvy

When asked whether it is “evil” to pay a 6% federal tax rate, he laughed it off. “I don’t make the laws,” he said. “I’m just like every other corporation.” [Fortune]

KPMG Takes Subtle Approach Wooing Anyone Interested in a Job at Ernst & Young

Recruiting for the talent amongst the Big 4 is competitive. This is known. What isn’t widely known are all the tactics in this competitive game of catch the accountant. In the past, we have seen direct solicitation by an E&Y recruiter which may be an effective method but it may be too abrasive for many within in the business who value propriety over the win-at-all-costs attitude.

Now comes news of a more subtle approach from KPMG, courtesy of an E&Y tipster who was searching for the firm’s career website:

While searching for the link to my firm’s career website I stumbled upon a pretty awesome ad (in a “ohhhh no you didn’t!” sort of way).


Since we’re fairly unfamiliar (read: completely unfamiliar) with Google’s method to the madness, we can only speculate how this little link found its way to the very top of Google search of “ey careers” but it does say “Ad,” so make of it what you will. Anyhoo, just for fun, we did our own quick Google Search of “ey careers” and got this:

So, it’s in the margin for us as opposed at the very top. But it’s still prominently placed on the search page and it’s also pretty hilarious that the hyperlink, “Ernst & Young Opportunities” goes directly to a KPMG URL (yes, it’s clearly disclosed by the Jobs.KPMGCareers.com at the bottom but who pays attention to that?). Perhaps our tendency to make mountains out of molehills is getting the best of us here but at the very least, this is an exciting twist on Sneaky Pete Piet.

Google CFO: We Can’t Quit You, China

Patrick Pichette admits that, despite some less than ideal position on censorship, the GOOG still has a mad crush on those 1.2 billion searchers and their right to know who won the Nobel Peace Prize:

Pichette told The (London) Times that it was not the end. “China has 1.2 billion people. For Google to say, ‘We’re going to live on our mission, but not serve 1.2 billion people’ — it just doesn’t work. China wants Google.”

He spoke of the “great firewall of China,” where censors filter the information that China’s internet users can view.

He said: “[If] you were in China last week, two weeks ago, and you typed in Nobel Peace Prize — there were no results. Think of Google’s brand now. You’re Chinese, you know that’s not true, that the Nobel Peace Prize has not disappeared from the face of the earth. There lies the issue of brand. There lies the issue of our mission.”

Google CFO: We Win, Facebook Wins, Everybody Wins!

Chief Financial Officer Patrick Pichette on Thursday downplayed the competitive threat from social-networking giant Facebook Inc., arguing that the digital economy will create a “ton of winners.” “Everybody will benefit if the Web is more social,” he said. “It’s not a zero sum game.” [Dow Jones]

IRS Commish: There’s a Big Difference Between Hiding Money Offshore and Sophisticated International Tax Planning

In a speech before the 23rd Annual Institute on Current Issues in International Taxation, Washington, DC, Doug Shulman (link not yet available on the website) explained how rich dudes schlepping money to Switzerland (but not any more!) or Hong Kong is not even close to the same thing as “Google’s Irrationally Exuberant Tax Strategy.”

As I have said before, I draw a sharp distinction between rooting out individuals hiding their money in foreign tax havens and the IRS and Treasury creating ground rules for multinational corporations operating in a global environment.

It’s no secret that multinational corporations engage in sophisticated international tax planning. We recognize that much of this is perfectly legal and many businesses are trying to get it right. Of course, some are pushing the envelope too far and it’s here that we have issues. Our goal is to differentiate between the two; to be on top of our game in this analysis; and to ensure corporations are compliant with the tax law and stay compliant.

Accounting News Roundup: Tax Cut Political Football Goes Flat; Google’s Remarkable Tax Planning; Yes, IRS Agents Are Strapped | 10.21.10

Tax Cuts Slide To Back Burner On Campaign Trail [WSJ]
It’s a sign that a decision by Democratic leaders, to put off a vote on extending the tax cuts until after the Nov. 2 elections, may be paying off politically.

“It’s harder to write an ad portraying a vote that hasn’t happened yet,” said Brian Gaston, a former senior aide to House GOP leaders and now a lobbyist at the Glover Park Group.

Google 2.4% Rate Shows How $60 Billion Lost to Tax Loopholes [Bloomberg]
Google y $3.1 billion in the last three years using a technique that moves most of its foreign profits through Ireland and the Netherlands to Bermuda.

Google’s income shifting — involving strategies known to lawyers as the “Double Irish” and the “Dutch Sandwich” — helped reduce its overseas tax rate to 2.4 percent, the lowest of the top five U.S. technology companies by market capitalization, according to regulatory filings in six countries.

TUI Travel CFO Quits After Accounting Error [Dow Jones]
In an embarrassing admission, the company said an ongoing audit for the fiscal year ended September 2010 had highlighted the accounting error in the integration of IT systems in its U.K. mainstream business that had accrued over a period of four to five years and which increased its total write-off for 2009 from GBP29 million to GBP117 million.

Chief Executive Peter Long told Dow Jones Newswires that the issue had been identified when it reported its third-quarter results but continued to investigate the matter and “only last night were we able to determine the scale of the problem.”

Banks Clueless on Foreclosure Mess Severity [Jonathan Weil/Bloomberg]
The biggest U.S. mortgage lenders and servicers say they’re putting the foreclosure mess behind them, and that it never was a major problem. The reality is these companies are so big and unmanageable, the people in charge of running them have no way to know if that is true.

One thing that remains unknowable is how many flawed home- mortgage records and foreclosure proceedings are out there waiting to be unearthed. Dozens of federal and state agencies are investigating. It’s anyone’s guess what they might turn up.


NJ man cashes $158G check IRS mistakenly sent him [Asbury Park Press]
He figured no one would notice.

For ‘B-to-B’ Companies, Finding Facebook ‘Friends’ Can Be a Struggle [WSJ]
These days, even small “business-to-business” concerns like Bill.com are experimenting with social media, perceiving the popular online hangouts as low-cost, easy-to-use venues for attracting new customers and retaining existing ones. But unlike their consumer-focused counterparts—retailers that sell smartphones, jeans, games and other personal products—so-called B-to-B businesses seem to be having a harder time connecting with their target audience.

Some IRS agents carry guns, too, agents tell UAB accounting student group [Birmingham News]
“My first day on the job, I thought, ‘Why are they carrying guns?'” said Donald Smith, a UAB graduate and special agent with the IRS-Criminal Investigation unit.

Korea wants G20 to delay accounting standard consolidation [Korea Times]
Apparently they have a say in the matter

Accounting News Roundup: Senate Will Get to Financial Overhaul Post-July 4; Google to Cover Extra Health Benefit Costs for Gay Couples; Barry Wins a Stevie | 07.01.10

House Vote Sends Finance Overhaul to Senate [WSJ]
“The House agreed Wednesday to a sweeping rewrite of the nation’s financial regulations, moving the initiative one step closer to becoming law.

Focus now shifts to the Senate, where questions linger about whether Democrats have nailed down enough support from the handful of Republicans needed to overcome a likely filibuster. The Senate won’t take up the bill until after the July 4 recess, creating an awkward pause in which the bill’s opponents will have one last chance to derail it.”

Google to Add Pay to Cover a Tax for Same-Sex Benefits [NYT]
“On Thursday, Google is going to begin covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year.

‘It’s a fairly cutting edge thing to do,’ said Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery, a law firm in Chicago, and author of ‘Domestic Partner Benefits: An Employer’s Guide.’

Google is not the first company to make up for the extra tax. At least a few large employers already do. But benefits experts say Google’s move could inspire its Silicon Valley competitors to follow suit, because they compete for the same talent.”


Senate chairman starts probe of Transocean’s taxes [AP]
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) would like to know whether Transocean’s move offshore was an exploitation of U.S. tax law, “The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee is launching an investigation into the tax practices of Transocean Ltd., owner of the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, leading to the massive oil spill.”

Sadly, this will lead nowhere since exploitation ≠ illegal in this case. Deplorable? Yes. Tax malfeasance? No. Political pandering? Absolutely.

Deloitte CEO Barry Salzberg Wins Executive of the Year – Services at the 8th Annual American Business Awards [PR Newswire]
It’s a Stevie award! BS beat out Jeffrey Bezos, chairman, president and CEO, Amazon.com; Dominic Barton, managing director of McKinsey & Company; and Joseph Neubauer, chairman and CEO of ARAMARK for the Stevie.

In his own words, “I am very honored by this recognition, which truly is a testament to Deloitte’s progress and the industry-leading work of our more than 40,000 people in the United States. Although we have faced challenging economic times in the past few years, Deloitte’s diverse portfolio of quality services and investment in talent continue to drive our business and differentiate us in the marketplace. We are eager to approach the opportunities that await us and our clients in the economic upturn.”

GAAP and IFRS: Six Degrees of Separation [CFO]
That is, six major differences between the two sets of rules that will have to be ironed out. Namely: error correction, LIFO, reversal of impairments, PP&E valuation, component depreciation and development costs. After that, this convergence thing will be a breeze.

How Much Can Switching to Cloud Computing Save Your Business? Ask Google’s Cloud Calculator

Still blindly dismissing the benefits of cloud solutions for your small business? Fine. But at least crunch the numbers.

Using the Go Google cloud calculator, any sized business, at any stage in its life can calculate the savings by switching to, in this case, Google Apps:


As you noticed, you can change the assumptions for your own company including the number of employees, your IT Manager’s salary, the size of your employees’ inboxes are and more to calculate not only money saved but time saved. At the end of the little Q&A, you can present your findings to your business partners and employees to evangelize your great idea.

Take a test drive into the cloud [Google Blog]

Accounting News Roundup: Tax Freedom Day Is Nigh; Does the U.S. Government Need a Going Concern Opinion?; Google CFO Does Okay for Himself | 03.31.10

Tax Freedom Day 2010 Is April 9; Historically Massive Deficits Promise Later Tax Freedom in the Future [Tax Policy Blog]
This year April 9th marks, Tax Freedom Day. That’s 99 days of work for you to pay all your federal, state and local taxes for 2010. This is only one day later than last year but two weeks earlier than 2007, according to the Tax Policy Blog. However, TPB notes that the earlier tax freedom isn’t really much to get excited about.

Tax Freedom Day does not count the deficit even though deficits must eventually be financed. Since 1948, when Tax Freedom Day was first calculated, the difference between what governments are spending and what they’re collecting has never been as great as during 2009 and 2010. If Americans were required to pay for all government spending this year, including the $1.3 trillion federal budget deficit, they would be working until May 17 before they had earned enough to pay their taxes—an additional 38 days of work.

Expressing a Going Concern Doubt on the United States Government, Not According to GAAP [JDA]
Speaking of deficits, what does the U.S. Government’s deficit look like on a GAAP basis? Somewhere in the nabe of $4 trillion. But before you get all huffy about spendy Democrats, this is true bipartisanship at work. The deficit that includes social security and medicare was $11 trillion in 2004 and was all over the map throughout the aughts. Anyone thought of giving the U.S. a GCO?? AG notes that it’s a bit of problem when the government can’t even make things look rosy, “[W]hen even the government accounting makes things look bad (see: pensions), you really know you’ve got a problem on your hands.”

Google’s Schmidt Got $245,322; CFO Paid $24.7 Million [Bloomberg BusinessWeek]
The $24.7 million in total comp that Patrick Pichette received for ’09 was up from $7.63 million in ’08, the year he joined the company. Most of this year’s haul was from $10.9 mil in stock awards and $10.8 in stock options. His salary was only a measly $450k.

Quote of the Day: Did Someone Suggest That Google Wasn’t Big? | 03.01.10

“We shouldn’t pretend we’re not a big company.”

~ Patrick Pichette, Google CFO.