A Twitter Hack to Crash the Stock Market…
May 13, 2022

The title of this blog sounds like the plot of a “Jason Bourne” espionage thriller. But it’s not the plot of a movie. This actually happened on April 23 when the Associated Press’ Twitter handle was compromised and a tweet was posted saying that there had been two explosions at the White House and President Obama had been injured.

In two minutes, the New York Stock Exchange fell 140 points based on 140 characters.

As a CEO, I struggle with the fact that in just two minutes – and based on a single false tweet – our economic market was so significantly shaken. That’s the type of power and control that terrorists pursue – whether they employ a bomb or a computer to achieve it.

While I’m not a cyber security expert, I appreciate its critical importance to ParenteBeard as well as the larger business world, our economy and our national security.  In the wake of this incident, I’ve had discussions with some very smart and dialed-in members of our team who focus on our corporate cyber security.  Suffice to say, I find myself both scared and fascinated by the wide-ranging challenges we face.

But what I have found most enlightening is the near uniform response to the question, “Are we doing all that we can to prevent this from happening again?”  Consistently, the answer has been no.  And more consistently, the need for the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) has been mentioned.

This bill, which would establish protocols and standards for online protection and encourages businesses to work together to prevent crippling cyber attacks, reflects a real national strategy.  And while it’s been vetoed before, I’m hopeful it might be revisited by our legislators, especially in the wake of this incident.  I think we can all agree that the safety of private industry, infrastructure, banking and consumer commerce is too important to leave open to such risk.

I would love to hear your thoughts on cyber security and CISPA.  Are we doing enough?  Too little?   Is enough action being taken by Congress to thwart a cyber attack aimed at devastating our economy or breaching our national security?  Let’s keep this conversation going.

Thanks for stopping by.

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Passing ‘GO’ Into the Social Media Age
January 30, 2022

I have fond memories of playing Monopoly as a child with my family. My favorite piece was always the battleship. As it turns out, even one of the most popular board games ever needs some updates.

Although there have been countless versions of Monopoly released over the years, with the game tracing its roots back to the turn of the 20th century, the tokens that come with the traditional deluxe set have remained remarkably consistent. The board game has impressively maintained its popularity over decades, striking a chord with generation after generation. However, some of these newer players have never seen or used the once common household objects offered as tokens.

In an effort to bring Monopoly into the 21st century, powerhouse toy company Hasbro recently announced a campaign where Monopoly fans will determine which classic game token will be retired and which new, contemporary piece will replace it. According to Hasbro, “in an unlucky roll of the dice, every Monopoly token has landed in jail. One will be locked up forever and replaced with a new piece.”  Avid fans can vote once a day every day to save their favorite token and usher in a new one at apps.facebook.com/saveyourtoken.  The new tokens include a robot, ring, cat, helicopter and guitar.

This campaign is another example of Hasbro adapting to the changing times and preferences of consumers. Clearly we’ve entered an age where family game nights have been replaced by apps on our phones and tablets. Rather than throw in the towel, Hasbro is adapting by continuing its strategic partnership with Electronic Arts (EA), allowing EA to create digital games based on Hasbro’s IP, including Monopoly.

I doubt the executives at Hasbro imagined 10 years ago that they would be partnering with a video game company to transform their iconic board game into a digital, handheld experience. But Hasbro’s willingness and ability to evolve its model, with a continuously open mind to different approaches and partnerships, has allowed it to remain successful and relevant. What’s more, the company is involving the consumer in the process. While the contest is hosted solely on Facebook, driving its page’s fan base to more than 10 million strong, it is leveraging it across all of their social media platforms to generate even more buzz.

Regardless of the campaign result, Hasbro has demonstrated how to continually evolve and adapt to the changing environments, trends and tastes of consumers. The campaign strengthened the Hasbro brand by evoking the strong emotional ties many of us have to a favorite childhood game.

Hasbro clearly isn’t the only company to rework its business strategy to adapt to a new generation. However, there are countless businesses that have simply created a presence on social media without gaining the benefits of truly engaging the consumer. The days of one-way conversations from a business to a customer have come and gone. Social media has created a two-way street of engagement and forced companies to rethink their business models and marketing strategies. Can you think of other companies like Hasbro that have been able to so seamlessly make the shift?

Thanks for stopping by.

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Playing Chicken With the American Economy
December 13, 2021

Some of you (likely the more seasoned readers or maybe the classic movie buffs out there) may remember the 1955 movie Rebel Without a Cause. The movie features a famous scene in which star James Dean’s character races another driver toward the cliff of an abyss. The first to jump out of his car to avoid going over the edge would be deemed a “chicken.” Sound familiar?

It probably should, as it is essentially what’s happening in Washington right now among politicians in their attempts to resolve the problem of the fiscal cliff. As we quickly approach the edge, politicians on both sides continue to reposition their stances and it’s clear that sizeable differences still remain. In essence, we’ve witnessed how the polarization of our political system has created a game of “chicken” with our economy.

What we’re faced with seems to be two sides speeding in separate cars towards the edge of the cliff, with the possibility of both driving off of it together. Instead of trying to outlast one another, the opposing sides need to realize that they aren’t driving different cars, but are rather sitting side by side in the same one. Despite all of the damaging economic ramifications of going over the fiscal cliff – a significant fiscal drag, markets diving, falling back into a recession, a global economic slowdown – there is an opportunity here for us as a nation.

As an accounting and business advisory firm, we’ve heard more than most about our clients’ fears. If a deal isn’t made in a timely manner, businesses will ultimately face the consequences. This is a chance for our political leaders to come together and show the country that compromise is still possible. Regardless of your politics, when it comes to driving towards the fiscal cliff, we’re all in that same black 1949 Mercury Club Coupe. No one will benefit from us kicking the can down the road and driving off the cliff.

Thanks for stopping by.

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