I am in the bay area California this week doing training for SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) and an Executive coaching session for EA (Electronic Arts). It was a good trip. I had my father, Larry Knight, join me on the trip. He is a retired Physics professor at Brigham Young University (BYU) and received his PhD from Stanford. So he joined me to visit his stomping grounds of the past. We had a good time. We went to my favorite restaurants in the area. First, Café Cruz in Soquel, CA (near Santa Cruz but worth the drive) and second Zachary’s Pizza Berkeley…the best Chicago style pizza anywhere including Chicago!
So on to the training. SVB went great. Banks and insurance businesses are always interesting because they are a different type of business — different ratios, different P & L, and Balance Sheet. SVB is interesting because they are a bank that focuses on technology companies and therefore are different than any other banks I have seen. They have low cost funds – lots of checking account deposits that do not pay interest but higher labor expenses – high customer service for their clients. So their ratios don’t match other banks well. SVB is a solid business and it’s always great to be in their headquarters in Santa Clara California kind of the epicenter of Silicon Valley. Yahoo is around the corner with Apple, HP, and Google nearby.
The EA session was great. I spent two hours with a sales and marketing executive going over numbers for EA. I like one-on-one meetings like that where we can really get into topics of interest. Our discussion led us to EA’s stock price – it’s at historic lows. EA just reported its first profit and positive earnings per share in 4 years. The stock is still down but as I said to the Marketing Executive that I think better days are ahead for EA. She liked to hear that but of course I also said that is my opinion and I could be wrong. 🙂 My next trip is to three cities in Europe with EA (London, Stockholm, and Madrid) so I am sure there will be more EA stories coming soon.
It was a good trip…good company, good food, and three great days of finance. It was perfect finance weather too. 🙂