It is true, as Ben Elgin points out, that our company has been through an extremely challenging period ("Critical errors at Critical Path," e.biz, Aug. 6). However, I was surprised by unattributed editorialization that cast unfounded doubt upon our long-term viability. This speculation is improper, and the picture it paints is erroneous.
The issues Elgin focused on in his piece represented isolated events. Critical Path Inc. generates more than $100 million in annualized revenues, with market-leading technology and a growing customer list of carriers, service providers, and Global 2000 corporations. We provided Elgin with references and contacts--including satisfied customers who run their businesses with our products and services and will continue to do so--and an impressive list of new customer wins. Elgin ignored this information surrounding our core business.
The company is well on its way to full recovery. As a well-organized, -managed, and -positioned business, we are arguably stronger now than at any time in our history. Our employees see this. Our customers see this. Numerous industry analysts see this. The rest of your readers will soon see this as well.
Critical Path Inc.
San Francisco Developing some image of the future is an absolute necessity if people want more than a bare subsistence dependent on the government and charity ("How to retire," BusinessWeek Investor, July 30). I often feel financial analysts don't understand that even [asset-allocation sites] such as Financial Engines don't claim to make accurate projections. Their methods offer some appreciation of forecasting uncertainty, providing the future will be much like the past. Projections are a crap game, and even firms using Monte Carlo analysis must use contrived statistics. For example, mutual funds have short histories, analyses ignore failed funds, investments are forced to fit standard statistical distributions, and security indexes ignore fees and costs as well as correlation with inflation, taxes, trade policies, wars, monetary controls, etc.
Henry K. Hebeler
We have been retired for 20 years, and it has been a huge relief to have our house paid for. I suggest you recommend considering this investment for people planning their retirement.
James C. Ritchey
Mission Viejo, Calif.
Although two years into retirement, I found "How to retire" informative, and its warnings and advice sound. I would add one more item to seek professional tax advice about: the alternative minimum tax as it relates to incentive or qualified stock options. Choosing when and the amount to exercise is key, both before retirement and within 90 days following retirement, after which such options become nonqualified.
Peoria "Buzz marketing" is one of the oldest advertising methods in the book (Special Report, July 30). Centuries ago, opera singers hired people to cheer "Bravo!" post-aria, sparking applause. Generating buzz for the sake of buzz is only halfway right. It lacks the content to carry consumer interest through to continued brand loyalty. Other techniques that allow marketers to empower, delight, or respond to consumers can generate an equally effective buzz. A bank's responsiveness to customer problems engenders trust. Attentive touches such as presale postcards announcing rebates on customers' favorite brands elicit delight. These and other techniques are more substantive and enduring than a fleeting moment of hype.
President and CEO
Editor's note: The writer's company is a leading direct-marketing agency. Regarding "Wall Street: The cleanup is overdue," Editorials, July 23): Banning equity analysts from owning stock in the companies they cover is not the way to improve research. Brokerage firms should require analysts to make a major purchase of a stock every time they issue a buy recommendation. Two things should be banned, however. Analysts should not be permitted to own a stock they cover until after they issue a buy recommendation. And they should not be permitted to sell any of their positions until after they issue a sell recommendation.
Gerald L. Swider
Sherman Oaks, Calif. "The problem of Global Cooling" (Editorials, July 30) referred to "Brazil's falling cruzeiro." Please note that Brazil's President, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, enacted the new Brazilian currency, the real, more than six years ago.
Oscar Bosque Jr.