Odd Couple: Cablevision & Netflix Join S&P 500

Standard and Poor’s Christmas present to Netflix and Cablevision came early this year: Both companies have been added to the S&P 500. The reindexing may prove valuable for both companies, each of which is currently struggling for a stable foothold in their respective marketplaces.

Why the Smart Grid Needs Utility Regulators & Wall Street to Make Nice

Updated with clarification from Richard Sedano: Utilities are stuck between two sets of agencies that could make the road to a smarter grid much shorter — if they would only get together and talk. That’s according to the Regulatory Assistance Project’s Richard Sedano, who spoke at today’s 21st Century Utility panel during the Ceres conference in San Francisco. The way Sedano sees it, the Securities and Exchange Commission, which oversees Wall Street credit rating agencies, and state-level utility regulators have failed to communicate and, by extension, to establish consistent rules and incentives — leaving utilities “waiting for a sign that it’s safe to pull the trigger on an investment and hoping they don’t miss the opportunity to do the right thing.”
The communication gap has held back the proper financial incentives needed to nourish the smart grid, Sedano believes. In particular, he said, “local interests don’t fit snugly into financial models” used by credit rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s (whose director of utilities, power and project finance, Swami Venkataraman, also appeared on today’s panel). For example, at the local level, it might make sense to reduce energy demand through investments in efficiency, but with utilities’ revenue tied to energy consumption, that would seem to be a financial misstep. It would be a different story if the SEC set rules for the credit rating process such that smart long-term investments in efficiency would actually buoy utilities’ ratings. UPDATE: Sedano, however, thinks utility regulators and Wall Street credit rating agencies can work out their differences without having to involve the SEC. It’s the rating agencies themselves, he said in an email, that effectively regulate “the behavior and options of utilities.” Rating agencies are concerned about quality, he said, adding, “They can actually influence credit quality if they take a somewhat more active role in communicating what can affect credit quality and enterprise risk.”
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Christmas in July at GottaBeMobile: a gear giveaway that would fill Santa’s bag

GottabemobilelogoThe GBM team has a slew of gear, gradgets and generally good stuff that they’re giving away right now. It’s their Christmas in July contest and there’s no less than three or four dozen items up for grabs. You won’t know what’s being given away when, so you have to stay active in the comments and forums for a shot! There’s a UMPC in there, some Zunes, an iPod, software and more, so don’t be shy on their site. Speak up!

How to Index Your Cleantech Investments

With the launch of the FTSE ET50 Index, which is devoted to following 50 large cleantech stocks from around the globe, Wall Street has gone from spotting a trend to beating it to death with specialized financial products. There are now more than three dozen clean technology or sustainable energy funds, and many of them contain companies that overlap.

Last March, in a nod to the cleantech movement’s popularity among investors, Standard & Poor’s created several indexes related to clean technology. The goal, according to an S&P spokesperson, was to create transparency and a benchmark for investors interested in putting money into exchange-traded funds or individual clean energy stocks. (S&P licenses its indexes to fund companies, but does not manage any funds.)

Robert Wilder, creator of the WilderHill Clean Energy Index (which he says is called the “granddaddy of the clean tech indexes”), may be to blame. He and co-founder Josh Landess started investing clients’ money in clean technology stocks in the late 90s, only to see much of the value wiped out in the market crash of 2000. After realizing that not all of the cleantech companies lost value, he created his first index, and then convinced fund company PowerShares to create a fund around it.
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Free Collaboration and Online Meetings–for Windows or the Mac

Do you currently pay for an online meeting solution such as WebEx? If so, the number of free competitors is growing rapidly, and many of them have most of the features of the higher end online meeting products. My latest favorite is Yuuguu which is available in a free beta version for Windows users, and there is a beta for Mac users.

Yuuguu is ideal for a group of web workers who collaborate all day with each other and want to be able to share each other’s desktops or meet online. It’s also very easy to use if you want a free way to remotely control a PC or Mac when you’re traveling.

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Technorati Only Has Eyes for YouTube

Search engine Technorati, which has made its name on blogs, launched an overhaul of its site today. The biggest change is a simplified front page that now emphasizes popular videos, with blogs and music playing second and third fiddle, respectively.

Technorati

The new look and video-forward approach might help the site appeal to a broader audience, but it’s really just a facelift. Technorati hasn’t updated its video search to include more than YouTube; the “Videos” tab simply redirects to its old http://technorati.com/pop/youtube/ page, which has been up for quite a while now. Indexes from competing services such as AOL’s SearchVideo, blinkx, and Dabble have a lot more variety.

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