Business and Tech Links and Notes #8

January 17, 2010

1-17-10

1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aTwgQtfwYUe0&pos=1

“Kraft Must Raise Cadbury Offer by 10%, Survey Shows (Update1)”

Kraft really seems to think it is in a position of strength here, when in reality, Cadbury’s investors seem to be incredibly loyal to their company. I think Kraft will have to increase its offer to at least 850p per share to make the company even budge, because Cadbury clearly seems to show indifference toward Kraft’s efforts. I think Kraft would be better off just making a good offer right off the bat, because Cadbury’s stockholders will just gain resolve as time goes on. Moreover, Hershey seems to be right on Kraft’s tail.

2. http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2010/01/17/business-broadcasting-amp-entertainment-ml-saudi-alwaleed-news-corp_7280910.html?boxes=Homepagetopnews

“Saudi billionaire eyes new links with News Corp.”

I wonder how many other big investors are telling Citicorp, or the other major investment banks for that matter, are having similar conversations with their respective boards. The banks really need to start giving out credit again and actually make money if they do not want to irritate their investors. That being said, I agree with Alwaleed that it is just a bit early to start taxing banks. I could maybe see it being more acceptable a year or so from now, but forcing taxes from them before that seems like an open invitation to the banks to say they cannot keep afloat and ask for even more money.

3. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/venezuelas-chavez-says-better-relations-possible/

“Venezuela’s Chavez Says Better Relations With US Possible”

When will Chavez realize that he is not really a communist as much as he is simply a despot? He would be as happy as a clam if he was the one with the wealth and power that the U.S. has, and he would not care at all if he got it through capitalist means. The Chinese realized that capitalism was the way to go and grew as a country by embracing it, making themselves communists in name only. Venezuela could do the same, especially considering they make so much money on oil exports to the U.S.

4. http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/12/smallbusiness/plainview_marijuana_marketplace/index.htm

“Medical marijuana, meet e-commerce”

Like most social movements, this one must crawl before it walks. The author talks about an entrepreneur who is trying to cash in on California’s incredibly gradual legalization of pot by creating an online commerce center for it. This entrepreneur sees profit in helping with documentation and other bureaucratic steps that are involved with California’s pushing the envelope on marijuana sales policy. I have to give props to this guy for coming up with such a sensational idea, but I also cringe at just how much legalese he has to wade through to not get in trouble with the law. I have to give it to him; he has gumption.

5. http://www.entrepreneur.com/growyourbusiness/businessstrategies/article204618.html

“Do You Know When to Take Chances?”

Although the article could have provided more insight from a business point of view, I really like the message the article sends. Playing things safe should be kept to a minimum when trying to grow and expand a business. When things are going poorly, it may help to cut one’s losses, but a business cannot thrive by just sitting around and waiting for sure wins. Entrepreneurial endeavors are the epitome of risk, and people who lack the stomach to handle it need not get into business for themselves to begin with.

6. http://news.cnet.com/8301-19882_3-10435478-250.html?tag=newsLeadStoriesArea.1

“TV industry turns blind eye to non-3D viewers”

There is absolutely no reason to invest in 3D television at this point. It is nothing more than a gimmick, and most 3D technology requires 3D glasses to see a depth illusion. 3D technology is alright in a massive entertainment setting, such as a movie theater, but unless people create entertainment spaces the size of many people’s entire houses, any 3D effects would be lackluster. Moreover, people would need to invest heavily in surround sound systems, or the effect would be lost.

7. http://www.informationweek.com/news/government/leadership/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222301203

“Government IT Scrambles To Help Haiti”

When a disaster of the magnitude of what happened in Haiti happens, everyone has to pull out all the stops to make sure things get back up and running. In this case, the U.S. State Department even resorted to Twitter and Facebook to coordinate efforts. There is not much else to say here other than the fact that everyone must continue to give their all to get Haiti back on its feet. If you can and you have not done so already, donate to the Red Cross, UNICEF, or another charity coordinating relief for Haiti. Every little bit counts.


Business and Tech Links and Notes #6

January 11, 2010

1-10-10

1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ah8p5De56NvE&pos=5

“Rice Export Prices to Remain Around $600 a Ton, Economist Says”

I guess it is safe to assume this is good news for anyone with rice futures, and it is bad news for anyone who actually needs to consume said rice. It is good that India is stockpiling significantly more rice than is required, considering anything can happen. Hopefully, weather conditions will improve, so there will be a bumper crop next year. I wish I had something more profound to say, but I know virtually nothing about the Asian grain market.

2. http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/06/rfd-cable-gottsch-business-media-farm-tv.html

“The Ted Turner Of Rural TV”

Although RFD-TV is not a new venture, it is still one that innovates in a society that otherwise has overwhelming focus on urban life. I think it is good that such a network exists that allows many people who live in rural areas to have programming that is more meaningful to them than what other networks provide. Of course, some people would say that it would be a generalization that people in rural areas would necessarily enjoy this network, and that is true. Obviously, not everyone watches this network, but many do.

1-11-10

3. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/personal-finance/financial-planning/money-tree-mistake-avoid-saving-retirement/

“Money Tree: Could You Be Saving TOO MUCH for Retirement?”

I generally agree with the idea behind the article, although there are some semantics I do not quite agree with. In my opinion, it seems contradictory that people could retire too early and be saving too much in their retirement funds. Does it not make sense that someone can retire earlier if he or she has saved the money to do so? Beyond that, I think the ideas are generally sound investment tips that could be used in other forms of investing. Obviously, for instance, having a diversified portfolio is never a bad thing, and one should always consider inflation whenever one invests long-term.

4. http://www.cnbc.com/id/34754063/

“Going Gaga For Lady Gaga At CES”

I hope Polaroid uses the current popularity of Lady Gaga as a steppingstone to a bigger plan, perhaps with more endorsements from other celebrities or other signature lines. Polaroid has really lost its relevance in the past decade, and it desperately needs to find a way to catch up with other similar companies. Although the idea of bringing back a camera similar to the vintage instant photo camera is a nice novelty, it is merely a trinket that will bring in a few quick pennies, without so much as even putting a bandage on the company’s problems, let alone solve them. Polaroid needs to find a way to innovate with consumer electronics and become a reputable brand again.

5. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a4TwfiSIfjdM

“Dubai’s First Foreclosure May Open Floodgates in Worst Market”

I did not know that property was never foreclosed upon in Dubai, but it makes sense, considering investors do not take on the banks’ loan risk like investors do in many other countries. For a while, Dubai was supposed to be this financial promised land, but like the rest of the world, it has taken its share of the beating. Moreover, the overwhelming majority of Dubai’s populations come from places outside of the UAE on work visas, so Dubai’s problems become everyone else’s.

6. http://blogs.zdnet.com/Burnette/?p=1614&tag=wrapper;col1

“Are SSDs too fast?”

I have to agree with all the people who say that developers need to create programs on the best machines the company can provide, and then the software needs to be tested on many different machines of various capabilities. Moreover, I believe that more software needs to be made like computer games, particularly when it comes to system use. The end user can decide how much performance he or she wants from the game, ultimately deciding the level of resources the program uses. All programs need to be like this. If the end user could decide just how much functionality he or she wants from a particular program, he or she can dictate exactly how well the program performs.

7. http://www.informationweek.com/news/global-cio/security/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222300303

“Global CIO: 5 Points To Make When Your CEO Cries Cloud”

I think it is safe to assume that most people who are not heavily into IT or computer science have a relatively limited understanding of cloud computer. This includes many CEOs. This article is fantastic in that it explains how to not put the cart ahead of the horse. Cloud computing is still in its novelty phase, and it will take a few more years before it becomes the general norm for all software. I think one of the most important issues, like the author said, is mobility. Just because cloud computing is the big thing now does not mean that everyone will buy into it full force. Companies may need to go back to putting their programs and information on their own servers for any reason at any time. Once the information is in the cloud, how easy will it be to take it off, if it comes to that?


Business and Tech Links and Notes #4

January 7, 2010

1-7-10

1. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/industries/retail/update–cadbury-shares-dip-kraft-bid-time/

“Cadbury Shares Dip Below Kraft Bid for First Time”

It appears that Kraft bought off its competition for Cadbury, giving Kraft the position to take Cadbury at a more favorable price. Considering Cadbury shares are taking a hit as a result, and there appear to be few outs for the company to start competitive bidding again, Cadbury would be well-advised to snap on any offer of over 800p per share. The last thing they need to do is hold out for a worse offer. Kraft is just way too big, and generosity will deteriorate with lengthy negotiations.

2. http://www.cnbc.com/id/34731317

“Will Moving to Another City Help You Finally Land a Job?”

The information in this article is grossly obvious. If ones has basic personal bonds to his or her current geographic location, of course he or she should try to find employment there before going elsewhere. Obviously, one should not go on some wild goose chase looking for jobs that may or may not exist. And, it is a no brainer that one has to tell bosses that he or she will be available in the geographic area of the position being offered, as opposed to being wishy-washy about it. There are a few decent tips that are not completely common sense, such as looking at local sites for jobs not posted on big jobs sites, but there is not a whole lot here that most people should not already consider evident.

3. http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/07/markets/thebuzz/index.htm

“Pain at the pump returns with gas prices on the rise”

Why does the United States continue to rely so heavily on oil when the countries who export oil to us hate our guts, and states and localities inside our own borders fight to not put refineries within their jurisdictions? Furthermore, why do the American people put up with our own government letting big petroleum companies price fuel using shady business practices? I would vote for any congressional, senatorial, or presidential candidate who could be trusted to better regulate the oil industry in the United States and would stand up to OPEC. That being said, I would also vote for any candidate who had a reasonable, intelligent plan for coming up with alternative sources of energy. A lot of people give lip service to it, but I have yet to hear anyone actually provide something meaningful, logical, and showing competence.

4. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aO_AfZ7nSWwo&pos=1

“Geithner’s Fed Told AIG to Limit Swaps Disclosure (Update2)”

I do not claim to know everything about credit-default swaps, but from what I understand, various major banks entered into these agreements with AIG, and when things started going sour, AIG wanted to negotiate discounts with banks. The New York Fed ordered AIG to not negotiate discounts and to pay the banks in full, while the Fed would secretly give a bailout to AIG. Apparently, this cost taxpayers many billions of dollars that they would not have had to have paid had AIG been allowed to negotiate discounts with the banks, like they wanted to in the first place. All the while, the Fed told AIG to keep everything under the radar, while AIG wanted be ethical and tell the public about everything that was going on. There is only one word for this: disturbing.

5. http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/06/brain-neurons-control-technology-breakthroughs-light.html

“A Light Switch For The Brain”

This discovery really seems like a double-edged sword to me. On the one hand, I like the idea that depression and other mental illnesses that are caused in part or in whole by overactive brain activity can possibly be treated or cured by turning the neurons off and on at will. But I worry that such technology could be used for less scrupulous purposes as well. I certainly hope the day does not come when someone can be medically induced into forgetting things that are inconvenient for someone else.

6. http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/17/nonprofits-biggest-salaries-personal-finance-millionaires.html

“Nonprofit Millionaires”

I disliked this article greatly. As a whole, nonprofit organizations have to make do with what they have, which is usually less than what they could use to be comfortable on the job. That being said, people of talent are necessary to make an organization thrive. Regardless of whether an organization is nonprofit or for-profit, that organization needs to hire good leaders, and those leaders cost money. In my opinion, an executive is worth whatever he or she needs to be compensated to keep reaching the company’s bottom line. If an organization wants to continue making money or advancing its mission goals, that comes at a price; people need to be paid what they are worth, regardless of who they work for.

7. http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/truth-about-small-business-blogs-438

“The truth about small-business blogs”

It makes sense that any sort of stale or poorly maintained entity within a business looks worse on that business than if said entity was not there at all. Blogs and social networking pages are no exception. I find it annoying when I look at a rarely updated blog or Facebook page for something I enjoy, just in general. In regard to a business, having a blog or other online presence is a means of getting feedback from customers. If a means of reaching out to customers is poorly maintained, it is logical to believe customers would think that the business really does not care about them.