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 #7

January 13, 2010

1-13-10

1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=a4tjrm_Hz8xI&pos=1

“Google’s China Exit Would Put Baidu in Charge of Biggest Market”

Google really has little to lose by leaving China, and Baidu has plenty to gain. Although China is a large country, Google never really made that much money from the Chinese. I think a (if not the) major reason why Google is leaving China is because the cyber attacks prove how little incentive Google has to stay in China. Why market to an audience that gives little in the way of income and plenty in the way of headaches? Google has tried over the years to appease the Chinese government, but China’s censorship policies really put a damper on Google’s business model. I think Google’s desire to leave has little to do with principles and everything to do with money.

2. http://www.walletpop.com/blog/2010/01/13/jackpot-how-much-contestants-really-take-home-in-game-show-winn/

“Jackpot? How much contestants really take home in game show winnings”

The only thing that really annoyed me about this article was the mention about annuities and how they are worth less if contestants take lump sums instead. The author never mentioned anything about the net present value of money or inflation. In reality, the lump sum may very well be worth more than the annuity, depending on the strength of the currency of the annuity. Moreover, lump sums can be invested earlier than annuities, creating more opportunities to make even more money.

3. http://www.infoworld.com/d/mobilize/lg-bets-android-despite-windows-mobile-deal-829

“LG bets on Android despite Windows Mobile deal”

LG excels in selling basic, inexpensive phones to people who have little need for advanced mobile features. Although mobile computing is gaining popularity, there are still many people who simply desire to have a mobile phone without too many bells and whistles. Although LG should build up its smartphone division, I think LG should milk the low-end market for all that it can. I think LG would be best served to hold up on getting too aggressive with smartphones and wait for a clear winner in the mobile software competition before committing too many resources.

4. http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10434237-36.html?tag=newsLeadStoriesArea.1

“In urgent times, avoiding online charity scams”

I think the big thing to take out of this article is to give to someone reputable and not let emotions get in the way of good common sense. In the social networking age, anyone and everyone is suddenly a charity, and it is sometimes very difficult to tell who is for real and who is not. Like the article says, giving a basic donation to the Red Cross, UNICEF, and so forth is the best way to make sure the money is actually going to help disaster victims.

5. http://www.informationweek.com/news/security/antivirus/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=222300863

“Facebook Partners With McAfee For Security”

This is a wonderful idea. Although I have a personal preference toward other antivirus companies, I think in an age where every John and Jane has a Facebook, malware protection needs to be a top priority. In particular, a number of people on social networking sites have limited knowledge or interest in computers beyond the use of those sites. For those people, Facebook’s blatant show on Internet security may prompt them to be more careful about viruses and such. Malware is not only a danger to one person’s computer, but it can endanger the computers of anyone that person associates with.

6. http://www.technewsworld.com/story/Wii-Completes-Netflixs-Video-Game-Trifecta-69097.html

“Wii Completes Netflix’s Video Game Trifecta”

This is another example of integrated entertainment. The video game console becomes a means of getting movies on demand. Personally, I am just waiting for all of entertainment to become part of the cloud, and then a person’s media console (TV + computing device) will allow users to watch all live and recorded audio and video media, as well as play video games. Like all consolidation concepts though, the biggest flaw is when something goes wrong with the unit. If the unit can do more things, if that unit breaks, a person is left without being able to do more things that were left for that unit to do. Regardless, this comment had only secondary specific relevance to the article, but it is the first thing that comes to mind whenever I read about these kinds of things.

7. http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=29392&tag=content;col1

“IT spending in U.S. to jump 6.6 percent in 2010; Will the optimism stick?”

I think IT spending will go up this year, due to the fact that the U.S. has to innovate to keep ahead of the world market in tech. We have outsourced so many of our less glamorous IT jobs that the only way we can remain competitive is to continue building new technologies. In particular, not only cloud computing and Windows 7, like the article mentions, but mobile technology as well, will be at the forefront of software developers’ minds in the coming year. In other words, I believe the optimism will stick, kind of like a forced march.


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 #1

January 4, 2010

1-2-10

1. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=arp0XyPoRxW0&pos=10

“China Property Bubble May Lead to U.S.-Style Real Estate Slump”

Although the Chinese government still tries to hold onto its communist ideals in name, China is really just as heavy into capitalism as America is. The practice of “flipping” property is a good short-term means of making money, but investing too heavily into it can have major pitfalls, as was shown in the American property market during this current recession. If China wants to continue moving forward, it needs to stick to an economy based on manufacturing.

2. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601109&sid=aeuJT_pSE68c&pos=11

“Ethiopian Farms Lure Investor Funds as Workers Live in Poverty”

African agriculture is a sound investment right now, particularly considering few people are actually invested in it. Land values, to buy and to maintain, are incredibly cheap right now, even in comparison to other poor, largely agriculture-based areas of the world. Unfortunately, workers who previously tended to their own land have become employees to these investors, and the workers’ pay is barely enough to sustain life for themselves and their families.

3. http://www.forbes.com/2009/12/23/evolution-resources-biowillie-business-energy-ethanol.html

“‘BioWillie’ Chief’s Questionable Comeback”

Dennis McLaughlin, head of Evolution Resources, is trying to break into the biofuel industry, but he failed to tell his investors about his colorful past, where he ran another company into the ground with a similar project. Also, there are allegations that he impropriety occurred regarding the sudden jump in value of the empty property where the old biofuel project was to take place. It seems to be this person emphasizes raising capital at any cost, as opposed to actually creating a sound business, especially considering a large chunk of his money was raised by celebrity endorsements of a concept.

1-3-10

1. http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/2010-tech-career-outlook-460?page=0,0

“2010 Tech Career Outlook”

The fact so many IT jobs are being sent overseas is not surprising. It is equally not surprising that the IT jobs that will be available are going to be increasing in sectors that are still trying to get off the ground, such as fully blown cloud computing. But, as the article says, countries such as India and China have no desire to continue to be sources of cheap labor for lower-end IT positions; these countries will want to compete against the U.S. and Europe. Although this is an obvious claim, the key for the United States to maintain technological superiority is through continuing innovation.

2. http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/need-job-in-it-cloud-needs-you-689

“Need a job in IT? The cloud needs you”

Cloud computing is not entirely brand new technology, but innovation is in progress to make cloud computing the way of the future, as opposed to specialty or novelty technology as it is now. Regardless, creating such a transition requires qualified people who have an updated skill set. Although the author of the article is confident cloud computing will go forward, he also believes salaries for qualified people will skyrocket, due to a lack of competent people in the sector.

3. http://www.foxbusiness.com/story/markets/industries/finance/mixed-bag-stimulus-unemployment-keys/

“Keys to Next Year: Stimulus, Employment”

The current recession has caused general investment volatility. The author mentions a bond bubble near the end of the article, and although that sounds worrying, it just seems to be an effect of investors having run away from stocks when the stock market had its freefall in late-2008. Furthermore, the article mentions how there may be a major selloff of stock in late-2010 as a result of lessening stimulus packages. To me, the economy sounds like the tide that goes in an out like it always does, but the waters are just a little choppier than usual right now. Obviously, real estate also took a hit, and appears to only be stabilizing a marginal amount, but I wonder how other investments are holding up, such as commodities.

4. http://www.cnbc.com/id/34643627/

“Amazon May Pay for Touting Kindle Without Details”

What is interesting is the level of controversy over such as small percentage of Amazon’s profits. I wonder if the worry is over Amazon’s possibly making less money on the Kindle as it should right now or if there is a greater worry over the e-reader market as a whole, which Amazon currently leads. Amazon touts high numbers and percentages of e-book sales, but is the craze really latching on as much as they want us to believe? Why would Amazon be more worried about creating “media buzz” about the Kindle than being more honest with investors?