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 #5

January 9, 2010

1-9-10

1. http://www.entrepreneur.com/money/financing/article204410.html

“Launch Your Startup With Microloans”

This is some very sound advice that not everyone knows about. Most people think a bank is the first place to go for financing for any and all things, and that is simply not the best way. Microlenders are considerably more lenient on their approval and payback policies than banks, especially in this economic crisis. Microlenders are often nonprofits who get a large portion of money from philanthropists and the government. One day, I would like to start up my own business, and this is probably the very first place I will go for financing, assuming I am not independently wealthy by then.

2. http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/10_03/b4163030932030.htm

“IMAX, the Box-Office Supercharger”

Although IMAX as a sustainable business model is still yet to be totally proven, there is definitely promise in the concept. I think IMAX is doing the right thing right now, just putting the biggest box office hits on IMAX. The company would go into the hole very quickly if it tried to put the majority of movies in IMAX format. What I think would be an interesting idea, at least on paper, would be to have partnerships with theme parks to have IMAX theaters in them and have tickets to whatever the newest movie is part of admission or as a heavily discounted add-on. Obviously, I have not done the math to see if that is actually a sound idea or not, but I think it is something worth considering.

3. http://www.foxsmallbusinesscenter.com/strategy/2010/01/08/whats-wrong-jewelry-business/

“U.S. Jewelry Business Under a Microscope”

To be quite blunt, any business that refuses to embrace the Internet these days is doomed to fail. That does not mean that jewelry stores need to flock to Twitter and start Tweeting about their merchandise. What that does mean is that the old days of strict brick and mortar selling are over, and owners need to use the Internet in a way that can meaningfully capture the new market. Like the article said, older customers may still have strong preferences to just going to the jewelry store in the mall or shopping center and shopping around, but younger, more tech savvy customers already know exactly what they want. Jewelers will have to understand that overhead needs to go down quite a lot, and their businesses will have to be creative. If one person’s jewelry store looks very similar another one a few hundred feet away, at least one, if not both, of those stores will fail.

4. http://money.cnn.com/2010/01/08/news/economy/jobs_december/index.htm?postversion=2010010811

“Jobs report: A gain in November but 85,000 lost in December”

First, I guess we are going to pretend this little thing called “the holiday season” never happened? But even if we ignore such a blatant oversight, it is undeniable that the huge stimulus package has done little to help the average American. That money needs to go into the hands of the privately owned businesses, especially small business. Large corporations will likely create layoffs as a first line of defense if (or when) things go sour again, while small businesses will try to retain their employees, because they are often needed to keep the businesses from totally collapsing.

5. http://www.cnbc.com/id/34775185

“Venezuela devalues currency for the 1st time since ’05”

This is a strange concept to me. I had never heard of a country having done a “two-tiered” exchange rate until just now, but Venezuela has apparently done it before, as well as Jordan. I do not know if other countries do this or not. It seems like a tricky little concept that can help a peripheral nation get back on its feet if foreign trade is unfavorable, but it does not sound like a sustainable long-term policy. It sounds like a policy that could easily annoy other nations, and make them not want to do business with said country. Then again, since this is so bizarre to me, there may be intricacies of this that may make this a better option that I just do not understand.

6. http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/app-security/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222002602

“Review: Google Wave An Experimental Ride”

I dislike Google Wave, and I am not sorry. I have tried it, and it appears to be what happens when developers go too far with consolidating technologies. Then again, it may be that the concept is not bad, but simply the interface is. I had trouble figuring out who could read my conversations, who could see me online, and many other things I took for granted in the various separate technologies I had used in the past, such as instant messengers, message boards, email, and so forth. I prefer these things to be separate, to be honest. I understand what is going on when I am using one of these functions, while everything becomes confusing when they are all mashed together. Then again, the idea may be sound, and the problem is just that the preview release interface is horrible (which I can say was very true for the Google Chrome beta, too). Perhaps things will be a lot more user-friendly when it comes out of preview.

7. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2010/01/batteries-costs-report/

“Study: Batteries — and EVs — Won’t Get Cheaper Anytime Soon”

One thing the article didn’t mention, and only one commenter indirectly alluded to, was the fact that cars sometimes still burn petroleum, even if they do not do it with an engine inside the vehicle. Many power plants still use fossil fuels, including petroleum, to create electricity. So, even if the car does not burn fossil fuels in the engine, something is probably getting burned somewhere to create the energy. I would be more sold on electric cars if we created more power from nuclear, solar, and hydroelectric sources. Until then, electric cars are just another marketing scheme.


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.


Business and Tech Links and Notes #3

January 6, 2010

1-6-10

1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aRLrsdwRkcB4&pos=1

“ADP Says U.S. Companies Cut Estimated 84,000 Jobs (Update2)”

This is not encouraging news. I know some news agencies may try to spin this as positive news, considering fewer jobs were lost lately than in previous months of the recession. But this shows economic upturn only to corporations, if anyone at all. Consumer spending will still fall, because more people are going to be out of work and be unable to afford as many goods. 10.1% is a horrible unemployment rate for the United States; until it drops to about 7-8%, enough that noticeable change is happening to the average person, I do not think people on Main Street will have increasing confidence in our economy.

2. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aWj75b2VIbn8&pos=5

“Intel Vulnerable as Consumers Shift to Phones to Browse the Web”

I really do not think Intel has a lot to worry about here. It is true that handheld devices are skyrocketing in popularity, but these devices have not the same, exact capabilities of PCs yet. For example, I have yet to see a handheld device where you could reliably use MS Office or something similar. If such a handheld device exists that has any functionality with such programs at all, one certainly cannot efficiently type papers and spreadsheets with it. Moreover, I have yet to see handheld devices that can play high-end video games (e.g. World of Warcraft) or use high-end applications (e.g. Photoshop). Even if handheld devices get browsing dominance and even if there are major advances in cloud computing, I still think handheld devices have a long way to go to be able to have dominance over all computing tasks.

3. http://www.forbes.com/2010/01/04/china-consumer-marketing-leadership-managing-rein.html

“How To Sell To The Chinese in 2010”

I kind of agree with the idea that the Chinese will pay for safe, quality products, but only to an extent. Like someone in the comments section of the article said, it all depends on if the consumers can afford higher quality goods. There is a high percentage of impoverished Chinese who can barely afford the basic necessities of life, and when they buy anything at all, they have to buy whatever they can afford. I do believe the more Americanized, affluent Chinese buy premium foreign goods when they can, but that does not help those who cannot afford those goods.

4. http://www.entrepreneur.com/franchises/franchisingyourbusinesscolumnistmarksiebert/article204188.html

“The Dangers of Do-It-Yourself Franchising”

This article just seemed like common sense to me. The moral of the story is simply that an entrepreneur should not attempt tasks that he or she is not qualified to undertake. Furthermore, failing these tasks could have grave circumstances. Are many entrepreneurs really that short-sighted? It just seems obvious to me that someone should leave some parts of expanding a business to professionals who have experience in averting financial and legal disasters. There are some tasks that cannot be done on a “learn as you go” basis, because a single mistake can be way too costly.

5. http://www.entrepreneur.com/money/financing/venturecapital/article204198.html

“4 Common Venture Capital Myths”

I do not know much at all about the ins and outs of raising venture capital, so this was a good article for me to read. I know that it is very difficult to get venture capital and that companies will try many other ways to raise capital before resorting to that, simply due to how difficult it is to get. It makes sense to me that venture capitalists will want significant control over the company, since their money is just as much on the line as that of the founders and investors. It also just makes sense that any venture capital is good venture capital, regardless of how much and from whom, since money is the most important thing to a business.

6. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-10426368-17.html?tag=newsLatestHeadlinesArea.0

“Nielsen: You sure have a lot of TVs”

I was not surprised in the least to hear that so many people have four or more TVs in their households. We live in a society where people nearly worship television. What I found to be a far more interesting part of the article was the mention of how the newest technology is infiltrating the mainstream, while people still watch the overwhelming majority of their video media on television. My belief is that video media technology will further consolidate to the point that one day, not in the too distant future, the average person will tune into their integrated media set, and be able to watch online videos as well as television media in a smooth, seamless fashion. Obviously, one who is technologically savvy can already watch YouTube with the help of a PlayStation3, but I am thinking about something much simpler.

7. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13506_3-10425553-17.html?tag=newsEditorsPicksArea.0

“First dedicated 3D networks coming to TV”

This is the worst idea I have heard in a long time. Seriously, why would anyone actually pay money for this? There may be a few people who think this is an interesting idea and would like to maybe watch a few shows with 3D glasses, but I cannot see people willing to shell out significant amounts of money to pay for such a gimmick. Once 3D technology gets to the hologram stage, people may be more inclined to spend money on that, but even then, I have my doubts.