Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Ouija Alert: The Econalypse Still Flummoxing Tech and Media Execs

It’s hard to know what to think of the economy’s direction, even if you are trying to glean some knowledge from those whom you imagine might know a thing or two about it.

Indeed, if you listened to a variety of tech and media execs talk about what its status is of late, it’s a wonder we can get out of the woods, since no one knows exactly where we are in them.

According to CIsco (CSCO) CEO John Chambers, for example, in reporting estimate-beating-though-still-lackluster fourth-quarter earnings yesterday, we might be at a “tipping point.”

Said Chambers in a statement: “If we continue to see these positive order trends for the next one to two quarters, we believe there is a good chance we will look back and see that the tipping point occurred in our business in Q4.”

Would that be tipping or teetering?

In reporting dismal-ish fourth-quarter earnings also yesterday, News Corp. (NWS) CEO Rupert Murdoch seemed positive, except not.

“I think the worst may be behind us,” said Murdoch during a conference call with analysts. “But there are no clear signs yet of a fast economic recovery.”

Microsoft (MSFT) CFO Chris Liddell turned that on-one-hand-on-the-other-hand around when speaking at the software giant’s recent Financial Analyst Meeting.

“I can’t say this is good that we’re still down relative to where we were a year ago,” he said. “But, on a relative basis, it was a reasonable year from a shareholder value point of view, given the context of the environment that we had.”

So, essentially, Liddell was saying things were bad, except it was good, given how bad it was.

Well, at least it was not Google (GOOG) CEO Eric Schmidt, who repeatedly discounted the economic downturn as it developed in 2008, with quotes like “What recession?”

While he did reluctantly go negative, after it became clear things were really bad, Schmidt was back to being positive about the economy soon enough.

While at an advertising event in Europe in June, using U.S. jobless claims as a reference, Schmidt noted that the business cycle was at the “beginning of the bottom.”

Which, I guess, means what goes down must come up. Mustn’t it?

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle