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.

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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 #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?