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Meg Whitman joins Katzenberg’s ‘bite-sized’ video start-up
February 24, 2018 | FT | Tim Bradshaw in Los Angeles and Shannon Bond in New York.

Ms Whitman, the outgoing boss of Hewlett Packard Enterprise and former head of eBay, will become chief executive of a new media venture started by DreamWorks Animation co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg. 

The company — provisionally named “NewTV” — has not yet created any content or developed an app. 

“Right now I am the only employee,” Ms Whitman told the Financial Times, “but there is a lot of work [already] done on the business plan and the strategy”.

NewTV’s central idea of creating “premium” short-form video with Hollywood production values was developed at WndrCo, the tech-meets-media holding company co-founded by Mr Katzenberg alongside Ann Daly, former president of DreamWorks Animation, and Sujay Jaswa, Dropbox’s former chief financial officer.

Videos will be up to 10 minutes long and distributed directly to consumers, in a style similar to Netflix.......NewTV plans to ride a wave of change in consumer viewing habits, as eyeballs shift from the big screen to the smartphone. 

Mobile viewing is growing explosively in total minutes and viewing time. And I don’t think the industry is comprehensively serving that up right now....Despite the huge investment in professionally produced online video from the likes of Netflix, Apple, Facebook, Alphabet’s YouTube and Snapchat, Mr Katzenberg and Ms Whitman are betting that none is focusing on “snackable” content for watching on the go. 

“One has to envision this short-form content as a completely new format,” she said. “You can’t take existing content and chop it up, you have to create for this format. That is going to inspire a lot of creativity and a chance to tell stories in a different way.” 

NewTV will develop its content and its technology in concert, to ensure fast loading times and personalised recommendations. “In some ways this will be a data company,”
Meg_Whitman  CEOs  HP  Jeffrey_Katzenberg  NewTV  content  short-form  start_ups  entertainment_industry  digital_media  storytelling  platforms  SaaS  video  bite-sized  snackable  Quibi 
january 2018
3 Ways to Improve Your Decision Making
Walter Frick
JANUARY 22, 2018

Rule #1: Be less certain.
Nobel-prize-winning psychologist Daniel Kahneman has said that overconfidence is the bias he’d eliminate first if he had a magic wand. It’s ubiquitous, particularly among men, the wealthy, and even experts. Overconfidence is not a universal phenomenon — it depends on factors including culture and personality — but the chances are good that you’re more confident about each step of the decision-making process than you ought to be.

So, the first rule of decision making is to just be less certain — about everything. Think choice A will lead to outcome B? It’s probably a bit less likely than you believe. Think outcome B is preferable to outcome C? You’re probably too confident about that as well.

Once you accept that you’re overconfident, you can revisit the logic of your decision. What else would you think about if you were less sure that A would cause B, or that B is preferable to C? Have you prepared for a dramatically different outcome than your expected one?

Rule #2: Ask “How often does that typically happen?”
....think about how long similar projects typically take....In general, research suggests, the best starting point for predictions ­— a key input into decision making — is to ask “How often does that typically happen?”
This rule, known as the base rate, comes up a lot in the research on prediction, but it might be helpful for the judgment side of decision making, too. If you think outcome B is preferable to outcome C, you might ask: How often has that historically been the case? ...The idea with both prediction and judgment is to get away from the “inside view,” where the specifics of the decision overwhelm your analysis. Instead, you want to take the “outside view,” where you start with similar cases before considering the specifics of your individual case.

Rule #3: Think probabilistically — and learn some basic probability.
The first two rules can be implemented right away; this one takes a bit of time. But it’s worth it. Research has shown that even relatively basic training in probability makes people better forecasters and helps them avoid certain cognitive biases....Improving your ability to think probabilistically will help you with the first two rules. You’ll be able to better express your uncertainty and to numerically think about “How often does this usually happen?” The three rules together are more powerful than any of them alone.

Even though these rules are all things you can start using relatively quickly, mastering them takes practice. In fact, after you use them for a little while, you may become overconfident about your ability to make decisions. Great decision makers don’t follow these rules only when facing a particularly difficult choice; they return to them all the time. They recognize that even seemingly easy decisions can be hard — and that they probably know less than they think
decision_making  pretense_of_knowledge  base_rates  probabilities  Daniel_Kahneman  overconfidence  biases  certainty 
january 2018
Despite Amazon effect, not all mom and pops in trouble on Main St.
Chris Morris, special to CNBC.com Published 8:53 AM ET Fri, 11 Aug 2017

With so many major retailers struggling to stay afloat, it'd be easy to think smaller, mom-and-pop stores are doing even worse, or might be largely fading away. The recent demise of retail giants, however, has left a brick-and-mortar vacuum for local stores to fill.

And many experts say it might be best to stay small. Being a micro-sized business certainly isn't protection against big-box retailers or online competitors, but being a small business that's an integral part of a local community can help build a loyal customer base.

"The vast majority of mom-and-pop businesses are either neighborhood retail businesses or small service businesses," says Leonard Schlesinger, Baker Foundation professor at the Harvard Business School. "As neighborhood businesses, they play a significant role in neighborhood stabilization, [providing convenience for people living close by]."
Amazon  big-box  mom-and-pop  retailers  e-commerce  ethnic_communities  convenience_stores  local  customer_loyalty  small_business  department_stores  neighbourhoods 
january 2018
Singapore experiments with smart government
January 22, 2018 | FT | by John Thornhill.

Singapore has a reputation as a free-trading entrepôt, beloved of buccaneering Brexiters. ....But stiff new challenges confront Singapore, just as they do all other countries, in the face of the latest technological upheavals. Is the smart nation, as it likes to style itself, smart enough to engineer another reboot?.....Singapore is becoming a prime test bed for how developed nations can best manage the potentially disruptive forces unleashed by powerful new technologies, such as advanced robotics and artificial intelligence...Naturally, Singapore’s technocratic government is well aware of those challenges and is already rethinking policy and practice. True to its heritage, it is pursuing a hybrid approach, mixing free market principles and state activism.

Rather than passively reacting to the technological challenges, the island state is actively embracing them....“The real skill of Singapore has been to reverse engineer the needs of industry and to supply them in a much more cost-effective way than simply writing a cheque,” says Rob Bier, managing partner of Trellis Asia, which advises high-growth start-ups...To take one example, the country has become an enthusiastic promoter of autonomous vehicles. The government has created one of the most permissive regulatory regimes in the world to test driverless cars.....GovTech’s aim is to help offer seamless, convenient public services for all users, creating a truly digital society, economy and government. To that end, the government is acting as a public sector platform, creating a secure and accessible open-data infrastructure for its citizens and companies. For example, with users’ permission, Singapore’s national identity database can be accessed by eight commercial banks to verify customers with minimal fuss. A public health service app now allows parents to keep check of their children’s vaccinations.

By running with the technological wolves, Singapore is clearly hoping to tame the pack.
Singapore  autonomous_vehicles  dislocations  traffic_congestion  aging  smart_government  disruption  robotics  automation  artificial_intelligence  test_beds  reboot  city_states  experimentation  forward-thinking  open-data  privacy  reverse_engineering 
january 2018
BlackRock’s Message: Contribute to Society, or Risk Losing Our Support - The New York Times
Andrew Ross Sorkin

DEALBOOK JAN. 15, 2018

Larry Fink, founder and CEO of the investment firm BlackRock, is going to inform business leaders that their companies need to do more than make profits — they need to contribute to society as well if they want to receive the support of BlackRock.

Mr. Fink has the clout to make this kind of demand: His firm manages more than $6 trillion in investments through 401(k) plans, ETFs and mutual funds, making it the largest investor in the world, and he has an outsize influence on whether directors are voted on and off boards.

“Society is demanding that companies, both public and private, serve a social purpose,” he wrote in a draft of the letter that was shared with me. “To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

It may be a watershed moment on Wall Street, one that raises all sorts of questions about the very nature of capitalism. ...“It is huge for an institutional investor to take this position across its portfolio.‘‘

In a candid assessment of what’s happening in the business world — and perhaps taking a veiled shot at Washington at the same time — Mr. Fink wrote that he is seeing “many governments failing to prepare for the future, on issues ranging from retirement and infrastructure to automation and worker retraining.” He added, “As a result, society increasingly is turning to the private sector and asking that companies respond to broader societal challenges.” Mr. Fink’s declaration is different because his constituency in this case is the business community itself. It pits him, to some degree, against many of the companies that he’s invested in, which hold the view that their only duty is to produce profits for their shareholders, an argument long espoused by economists like Milton Friedman.
Laurence_Fink  BlackRock  corporate_social_responsibility  Milton_Friedman  shareholder_activism  institutional_investors 
january 2018
Inside Amazon Go, a Store of the Future - The New York Times
Jan. 21, 2018 | NYT | By Nick Wingfield

....Amazon’s store of the future hits you right at the front door. It feels as if you are entering a subway station. A row of gates guard the entrance to the store, known as Amazon Go, allowing in only people with the store’s smartphone app......Every time customers grab an item off a shelf, Amazon says the product is automatically put into the shopping cart of their online account. If customers put the item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from their virtual basket. The only sign of the technology that makes this possible floats above the store shelves — arrays of small cameras, hundreds of them throughout the store. Amazon won’t say much about how the system works, other than to say it involves sophisticated computer vision and machine learning software. Translation: Amazon’s technology can see and identify every item in the store, without attaching a special chip to every can of soup and bag of trail mix. ........Amazon Go, checking out feels like — there’s no other way to put it — shoplifting. ......A big unanswered question is where Amazon plans to take the technology. It won’t say whether it plans to open more Amazon Go stores, or leave this as a one-of-a-kind novelty. A more intriguing possibility is that it could use the technology inside Whole Foods stores, though Ms. Puerini said Amazon has “no plans” to do so.

There’s even speculation that Amazon could sell the system to other retailers, much as it sells its cloud computing services to other companies.
Amazon_Go  Amazon  cashierless  computer_vision  convenience_stores  customer_experience  grocery  machine_learning  one-of-a-kind  supermarkets  retailers  Whole_Foods 
january 2018
The case for ending Amazon’s dominance
January 18, 2018 FT | Tim Harford.

Amazon offers:
* consumers, choice and convenience and a shopping search engine that is Google’s only serious rival,
* start-ups cheap, flexible cloud computing services to start and scale up.
competitors, e.g. Walmart tough competition,
* television networks, a tough competitor,
* Apple loyalists, a competing tablet computers at a price to make stop and think.

economists argue that corporate America is underinvesting.....rather than take a long-term view.......Amazon should be the shining counterexample....The online retailer’s strategy is driven not by short-term profit but by investment, innovation and growth. If only there were a few more companies like Amazon, capitalism would be in a happier spot. But there’s the rub: there aren’t more companies like it. It’s unique, and an increasingly terrifying force in online commerce. Should regulators act? If so, how?....

Begin by disposing of a poor argument: that Amazon must be challenged because it makes life miserable for its competitors, some of which are plucky mom-and-pop operations. However emotionally appealing this might seem, it should not be the business of regulators to prop up such businesses......Antitrust authorities should not be in the business of making life easy for incumbents. What, then, should they do? There are two schools of thought. One is to focus on consumers’ interest in quality, variety and price. This has been the standard approach in US antitrust policy for several decades. Since Amazon makes slim profits and charges low prices, it raises few antitrust questions.

The alternative view — which harks back to an earlier era of antitrust during which Standard Oil and later AT&T were broken up — argues that competition is inherently good even if it is hard to quantify a benefit to consumers and that society should be wary of large or dominant companies even if their behaviour seems benign. ....The narrowing in antitrust thinking is described by Lina Khan in a much-read article, “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox”. Ms Khan berates modern antitrust thinking for its “hostility to false positives”.....Tim Harford disagrees, he shares modern antitrust’s hostility to false positives; there is a real cost to cumbersome and unnecessary meddling in a dynamic and rapidly evolving marketplace. US president Donald Trump’s history of publicly attacking Mr Bezos is worth pondering too: Harford asks, "do we really want the US government to have more discretion as to who is targeted, and why?"....Yet for all this,Tim Harford remains deeply uneasy about Amazon’s apparently unassailable position in online retail. Yes, customers are being well served at the moment. Yet the company has acquired formidable entrenched advantages, from the information about customers and the suppliers who sell through it, to the bargaining power it has over delivery companies, to the vast network of warehouses. Those advantages were earned, but they can also be abused.

Antitrust authorities face a difficult balancing act. Regulate Amazon and you may snuff out the innovation that we all say we want more of. Punish it for success and you send a strange message to entrepreneurs and investors. Ignore it and you risk leaving vital services in the hands of an invincible monopolist.

There are no easy options, but it is time to look for a way to split Amazon into two independent companies, each with the strength to grow and invest. If Amazon is such a wonderful company, wouldn’t two Amazons be even better?
Amazon  antitrust  AWS  contra-Amazon  competition  regulators  informational_advantages  Lina_Khan  mom-and-pop  platforms  predatory_practices  Tim_Harford 
january 2018
Silicon Valley would be wise to follow China’s lead
January 17, 2018 | FT | Michael Moritz.

*The work ethic in Chinese tech companies far outpaces their US rivals
*it is quite usual for managers to have working dinners followed by two or three meetings
*Fewer complaints about the scheduling of tasks for the weekend, missing a child's game or skipping a basketball outing with friends.
*There is a deep-rooted sense of frugality.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
In a recent Financial Times op-ed, Mr. Moritz argued that Silicon Valley had become slow and spoiled by its success, and that “soul-sapping discussions” about politics and social injustice had distracted tech companies from the work of innovation.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
As an investor and now the CRO in a recently failed startup, I think this article has many merits so long as these tireless first employees are rewarded with equity and a great compensation plan once the enterprise is profitable.  I, along with my other investors are working tirelessly to put this project back on track. Unfortunately for many small businesses to survive this type of effort is essential at least until the enterprise is profitable.
workplaces  work_life_balance  vc  Michael_Moritz  China  soul-sapping  Chinese  start_ups  hard_work  Silicon_Valley  frugality  organizational_culture  work_ethic 
january 2018
When biased data holds a potentially deadly flaw
SEPTEMBER 27, 2017 | FT | Madhumita Murgia.

Researchers at scientific journal Nature said findings from its own investigation on the diversity of these data sets “prompted warnings that a much broader range of populations should be investigated to avoid genomic medicine being of benefit merely to ‘a privileged few’ ”.

This insidious data prejudice made me curious about other unintended biases in the tech world. Several new consumer technologies — often conceived by, built by and tested overwhelmingly on Caucasian males — are flawed due to biases in their design.
massive_data_sets  biases  data  data_driven  unintended_consequences  racial_disparities  algorithms  value_judgements 
january 2018
Should You Buy Bitcoin? Ask a Different Question First
JAN. 5, 2018 | The New York Times | By CARL RICHARDS.

Goals >> Process >> Investments

asking if we should all buy Bitcoin is the wrong question, and that we should ask a different one instead. The question we should be asking ourselves is this: Does buying Bitcoin fit into my investment plan?

That is a much more important question and one that we can all answer much more easily. It places the attention on the process of investing correctly and not on the outcome of events that we have no control over.
Bitcoin  investing  personal_finance  questions  Philip_Mudd  problem_framing 
january 2018
John Stuart Mill Showed Democracy as a Way of Life - The New York Times
David Brooks JAN. 15, 2018

John Stuart Mill demonstrated that democratic citizenship is a way of life, a moral stance and a humanistic adventure.....Mill is famous for his celebration of individual liberty. But he was not an “anything goes” nihilist. He was not a mellow “You do you and I’ll be me” relativist.

In the first place, he demanded constant arduous self-improvement. In his outstanding biography, Richard Reeves points out that in “On Liberty,” Mill used the words “energy,” “active” and “vital” nearly as many times as he used the word “freedom.” Freedom for him was a means, not an end. The end is moral excellence. Mill believed that all of us “are under a moral obligation to seek the improvement of our moral character.”

“At the heart of his liberalism,” Reeves writes, “was a clearly and repeatedly articulated vision of a flourishing human life — self-improving, passionate, truth-seeking, engaged and colorful.”.... staged a lifelong gentle revolt against his father’s shallow intellectual utilitarianism.

Having been raised in this way and, as an adult, living in Victorian England, what he hated most was narrowness, conformity, the crushing of individuals under the weight of peer pressure, government power or public opinion.....Mill cures us from the weakness of our age — the belief that we can achieve democracy on the cheap; the belief that all we have to do to fulfill our democratic duties is be nice, vote occasionally and have opinions. Mill showed that real citizenship is a life-transforming vocation. It involves, at base, cultivating the ability to discern good from evil, developing the intellectual virtues required to separate the rigorous from the sloppy, living an adventurous life so that you are rooting yourself among and serving those who are completely unlike yourself.

The demands of democracy are clear — the elevation and transformation of your very self. If you are not transformed, you’re just skating by.
David_Brooks  democracy  Victorian  values  arduous  critical_thinking  tough-mindedness  rigour  discomforts  struggles  history  op-ed  profile  philosophy  utilitarianism  liberal  political_theory  John_Stuart_Mill  self-improvement  19th_century  liberalism  indivualized  self-actualization  individual_choice  autonomy  engaged_citizenry  intellectually_rigorous  moral_codes  way_of_life 
january 2018
Aziz Ansari Is Guilty. Of Not Being a Mind Reader.
JAN. 15, 2018 | The New York Times | By BARI WEISS.

All of this put me in mind of another article published this weekend, this one by the novelist and feminist icon Margaret Atwood. “My fundamental position is that women are human beings,” she writes. “Nor do I believe that women are children, incapable of agency or of making moral decisions. If they were, we’re back to the 19th century, and women should not own property, have credit cards, have access to higher education, control their own reproduction or vote.
consent  feminism  dating  relationships  funnies  autonomy  beyond_one's_control 
january 2018
This is the age of the Microsoft and Amazon economy
Tim Harford

the big digital players: Google dominates search; Facebook is the Goliath of social media; Amazon rules online retail. But, as documented in a new working paper by five economists, American business is in general becoming more concentrated.

David Autor and his colleagues looked at 676 industries in the US — from cigarettes to greeting cards, musical instruments to payday lenders. They found that for the typical industry in each of six sectors — manufacturing, retail, finance, services, wholesale and utilities/transportation — the biggest companies are producing a larger share of output..... “superstar firms” tend to be more efficient. They sell more at a lower cost, so they enjoy a larger profit margin. ....Superstar firms are highly productive and achieve more with less. Because of this profitability, more of the value added by the company flows to shareholders and less to workers. And what happens in these groups will tend to be reflected in the economy as a whole, because superstar firms have an increasingly important role.
Amazon  Big_Tech  corporate_concentration  David_Autor  economics  economies_of_scale  Facebook  Microsoft  monopolies  monopsony  network_effects  platforms  retailers  superstars  Tim_Harford 
january 2018
BlackRock bets on Aladdin as genie of growth
MAY 18, 2017 | FT | Attracta Mooney.

Aladdin, a technology system developed by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, is also clever. It analyses the risks of investing in particular stocks, figures out where to sell bonds to get the best prices, and tracks those trades. And it is wily too, combing through huge data sets to find vital pieces of information for investors.....Launched in in 1988, when it was developed as an internal risk tool for BlackRock employees, Aladdin has become bigger, better and far more influential. It is now one of the best-known pieces of technology in the fund industry and is widely used by BlackRock’s rivals, including Deutsche Asset Management, the $733bn investment house, and Schroders, the UK’s largest listed fund manager.

But as Aladdin — which stands for Asset Liability and Debt and Derivatives Investment Network — has grown, concerns have mounted about its influence on markets. There are also questions about whether Aladdin can maintain or increase its hold on the asset management industry as rival technologies emerge.....with more and more investors using Aladdin, there are concerns about its impact on markets. The argument is that if trillions of dollars are being managed by people using the same risk system, those individuals may be more likely to make the same mistakes. i.e. Aladdin may increase systemic risk!!...Aladdin has a 9 per cent share of the 250 largest asset managers and a 15 per cent share of the insurance market, according to Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank. .......Many asset managers have recently begun the slow process of overhauling their technology systems after years of neglect. Previously, fund houses often had hundreds of different systems, but Aladdin and similar enterprise platforms allow businesses to cut out huge chunks of IT, reducing costs and jobs in the process.

At the same time, running money has become more complex and there is more regulatory scrutiny of investment decisions. This has meant that fund houses have been forced to assess how technology can help their investment processes.

“Money management is very tricky these days. Any tool that can help you with decisions is going to be highly in demand,”
........Under plans by Larry Fink, BlackRock’s chief executive, Aladdin will become an even more important source of cash for the fund giant. Mr Fink recently said that his goal is for Aladdin and the wider BlackRock solutions business to account for about 30 per cent of revenues in five years, compared with 7 per cent currently.......Even if there is a stumble in demand, BlackRock is already eyeing up other avenues for Aladdin.

In the past two years, it began promoting Aladdin, which comprises 25m lines of code, in the retail investment space, targeting wealth managers and brokers.

Last week, UBS Wealth Management Americas became the first wealth manager to say it will use Aladdin for risk management and portfolio construction......“Technology has always been a key differentiator for BlackRock. It is more essential to our business than ever before. We believe technology can transform our industry,” he said.

.......
Aladdin  asset_management  BlackRock  institutional_investors  Laurence_Fink  wealth_management  systemic_risks  order_management_system  algorithms  platforms 
january 2018
The perilous path up Congo’s Mt Stanley
OCTOBER 13, 2017 | FT | Martin Fletcher.

the southern section of Virunga, Africa’s oldest national park, reopened after two decades of near-constant conflict in 2014. Happily that section contained two of Virunga’s great glories — its 300-odd mountain gorillas, nearly a third of all those left in the world, and the Nyiragongo volcano, in whose crater the world’s largest lava lake bubbles and spurts like some malign, sinister being.

But I heard stories while there of Virunga’s third glory — the mysterious, snow-capped Rwenzori Mountains at its northern end, the original “Mountains of the Moon” Ptolemy identified as the source of the Nile some 1,800 years ago.
************************************************************
In a 1964 children's book by Willard Price called Elephant Adventure, the story takes place in the Mountains of the Moon, where the wildlife, including the elephants, the trees and other vegetation are supposed to be of sizes at least one third larger than in the rest of Africa. Price cites a March 1962 article in National Geographic Magazine as the basis for his premise.
Uganda  Africa  travel  nostalgia  Congo  mountaineering 
january 2018
Why Hotel California marked a watershed for rock
Peter Aspden

APRIL 3, 2017

It started, as things did in the heyday of rock music’s golden era, with a few strums of a guitar on a beach sofa in Malibu. Don Felder, guitarist of The Eagles, improvised a chord progression that he recorded on to a cassette, and handed to the rest of the band.
Don Henley started to write a lyric, set in a West Coast hostelry, and addressing the issue of America’s slow implosion into decadence. “Hotel California” was born.

The song was the title track of an album of the same name, released in December 1976, which represented The Eagles’ finest hour. They started as a wannabe country rock band with great hair and sumptuous harmonies. After Hotel California, they lost their touch. The release of “Hotel California” as a single marked a watershed for the band, but also for the course of popular music.
music  California  '70s  songwriters  country_rock  the_Eagles  rock-'n'-roll  songs  golden_age  turning_points 
january 2018
James Quincey, Coca-Cola CEO, on why brands have to take a stand
MAY 21, 2017 | FT | Lindsay Whipp in Atlanta.

Coca-Cola will be going back to its roots, developing and marketing drinks, not distributing them. But even without the bottling operations, the 51-year-old has a complex assignment on his hands.....While its fizzy drinks still account for nearly three-quarters of its sales by volume, according to Beverage Digest, its shares have underperformed those of rivals PepsiCo, which has a snacks division, and Dr Pepper Snapple over the past five years.

Mr Quincey is only too aware of the need for diversification and plans to accelerate investments in start-ups with promise. “The company must be capable of being bigger than the brand,” he says.

That distinction is important. The significant shift in consumer preferences is evident in the brand value of Coca-Cola (as opposed to Coca-Cola the company), which has tumbled from the top position globally, as ranked by BrandFinance, to 27th over the past decade. That represents a decline of more than $10bn to $31.8bn this year.

But what does this difference between company and product mean for the brand? “It’s very difficult to have the name on the door of the company and brand, and not have some overlap in what they stand for,” Mr Quincey says. “You’d have to change the name of the company. It’s not what we’re doing, just to be clear.”....Mr Quincey believes brands have to take a stand in this volatile environment — even at the risk of alienating some consumers. Coca-Cola did this earlier this year, by denouncing publicly Mr Trump’s controversial executive order banning citizens of certain majority Muslim countries from travelling to the US.

“A brand has to stand for something and you have to make the choices of what you want it to stand for, and then stand behind those choices,”
beverages  brands  brand_identity  brand_purpose  CEOs  Coca-Cola  Pepsi  shifting_tastes 
january 2018
The future is quantum: solution to the world’s critical problems
Jeremy O’Brien

MARCH 24, 2017

Being able to perform accurate simulation of how molecules behave can help to solve critical problems confronting society in energy, climate change, healthcare, etc.....conventional computers are not only currently inadequate but will forever remain so. In the past, we could rely on regular increases in computing power. The number of transistors within computer chips has impressively doubled every two years, a trend known as Moore’s Law. But just when we’d like to rely on it most, Moore’s Law has come to an end. In 2015, Tom Conte, president of the IEEE's Computer Society, stated prophetically that “Moore’s Law is reaching its limits: the doubling of transistors per unit area is slowing down . . . and is projected to end at seven nanometres circa 2020.”....Using conventional computers, exact simulation of molecules with just a few hundred atoms could take longer than the age of the universe....quantum computing offers a drastically different approach to computing that is profound both in terms of the fundamental laws of physics it exploits, and the transformations it will bring about in our lives, society and economy.....conventional computers represent each “bit” of information — the logical zero or one — in the on-off state of a transistor. But by exercising careful control over some of the smallest constituents of our universe, quantum computers instead work with “qubits”. A standard bit can only exist in the zero or the one state, whereas a qubit can adopt a uniquely quantum superposition of the two logical states....Any carefully controlled system obeying the laws of quantum mechanics can be used to form a qubit; popular choices are trapped ions, superconducting circuits and single particles of light, known as photons.....

The quantum advantage

Many problems evading conventional computers are well suited to a quantum computer — molecular simulation being a prime example. A large fraction of today’s supercomputing power is used to perform molecular and materials simulations. But these simulations are limited to small systems and imperfect approximations. Although precisely simulating the quantum mechanical behaviour of molecules is insurmountable for a conventional computer, a quantum computer is perfectly suited to represent these kinds of intrinsically “quantum” problems.... is one of the most compelling features of quantum computing: it’s a technology that expands the way we can think, and the extent of the possible solutions we can investigate.

But the benefit of quantum computers is not limited to molecular applications. So-called quantum algorithms allow us to come up with powerful approaches to seemingly “unquantum” problems. For example, quantum algorithms can search databases faster, perform pattern matching (important in genomics and genetic engineering, for example), and even perform computer graphics operations more efficiently.

These algorithms are hard to come up with, because they require us to think in a quantum way, but as quantum technologies become more ubiquitous and we become more proficient at thinking like this, we can expect more and more to emerge. There are even quantum algorithms that can perform key elements of machine-learning tasks, which are vital for big data business analytics, and in growing areas of artificial intelligence such as self-driving cars.
quantum_computing  Moore's_Law  semiconductors  physics  problem_solving 
january 2018
Stanley Hartt, 80, was ‘an articulate advocate for Canada’ - The Globe and Mail
DAVE GORDON
SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED 1 HOUR AGO

What prompted Mr. Mulroney to choose Mr. Hartt over other candidates for the chief-of-staff job was that he "was the most brilliant young man of our generation. He had a remarkable mind, with a great capacity to look at complex issues and crunch them into coherent options for anyone with whom he was associated."

As deputy minister of finance, Mr. Hartt was so respected by Mr. Mulroney that he was the only public servant to sit with cabinet at all times, Mr. Mulroney said.

Mr. Hartt played a major role in some vital areas of economic policy, Mr. Mulroney said, including the privatizations of Petro Canada and Air Canada, "along with 29 other Crown corporations," according to the former prime minister....Air Canada CEO Calin Rovinescu became acquainted with Mr. Hartt in 1979, when Mr. Rovinescu was articling at Stikeman Elliott in Montreal.

"[Mr. Hartt] encouraged us to think on our feet, in front of the most difficult situations," he said. "Typically, you were expected to deliver your work with excellence, and your bonus would be the hope of getting a more interesting and complicated assignment afterward."

As senior counsel, Mr. Hartt would engage with junior colleagues as though they were family, regularly inviting them for meals at his home and allowing them to babysit his children, Mr. Rovinescu said.

Mr. Hartt, as a mentor, taught Mr. Rovinescu such life lessons as "Embrace curiosity. Think big. Think on your feet," as well as "Don't be afraid of crazy ideas; the crazier the better. Throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks."
chief_of_staff  Brian_Mulroney  obituaries  '90s  lawyers  radical_ideas  curiosity  thinking_big  Calin_Rovinescu  life_lessons 
january 2018
Time to Say It: Trump Is a Racist - The New York Times
David Leonhardt JAN. 12, 2018

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op-ed  Donald_Trump  racism 
january 2018
Guardiola: what Britain can learn from football’s philosopher king
Janan Ganesh

JANUARY 5, 2018

Guardiola’s mastery of the English Premier League is a chastening moment in national life. His foreignness is beside the point. The most cosmopolitan league in the world’s most global game is used to coaches, owners and players of exotic provenance. The sore point is his footballing style, or “philosophy”, as the sport grandiloquently puts it. He cherishes skill over physicality, baroque passing patterns over aerial punts, detailed tactics over raw volume of sweat. In short, he rejects what used to be known as the British way.
soccer  strategic_thinking  Janan_Ganesh  cosmopolitan  English_Premier_League 
january 2018
Globish just doesn’t cut it any more
January 10th| FT | by Simon Kuper.

12 HOURS AGO

Globish: a simple, dull, idiom-free, cripplingly accented version of English with a small vocabulary. .....“What is well articulated in English on the internet becomes ‘truth,’” says Japanese writer Minae Mizumura in The Fall of Language in the Age of English.
millennials  English-speaking  machine_translation  English  Simon_Kuper 
january 2018
The temptation of Oprah Winfrey
January 10, 2018 | FT | by Edward Luce.

[Oprah Winfrey & Donald Trump] share a disqualifying trait: they are celebrities with no experience in politics. If Ms Winfrey is the answer to Mr Trump, what was the question?

I mean no disrespect to famous people. America invented the celebrity and nobody does it as well. But America also came up with modern democracy. The problem is that celebrity culture is taking over politics, which is a dead loss for governing.....But there is nothing in Ms Winfrey’s background that would equip her to tackle the future of work, or the rise of China. All a Winfrey administration would bring is personal brand destruction. What is at stake is America’s ability to govern itself sensibly. The US constitution was designed to exclude mob rule. The people should have their say — but with safeguards. It was set up precisely to stop someone like Mr Trump from taking over. The fact that many Americans do not know this underlines the point. The popular view is that the US was founded as a democracy. In fact, it was born as a constitutional republic. There is a big difference. America’s founding fathers feared the demagogue. Their system worked until 2016. Now it is in jeopardy.
speeches  Edward_Luce  Oprah_Winfrey  African-Americans  demagoguery  founding_fathers  women  celebrities  Donald_Trump  politics 
january 2018
In the fashion industry, McShopping has gone global - The Globe and Mail
KONRAD YAKABUSKI
PUBLISHED AUGUST 7, 2017

invaded by the same global chains that have made the shopping streets of the world's great cities all start to look the same. In the main shopping districts of Paris, Madrid, London or Toronto, the invasion of the same global chains (e.g. Zara, H&M, Primark & Uniqlo) that have made the shopping streets of the world's great cities all start to look the same. It's destroying the visual identities of cities once visited for their unique charm.

The cheap-chic revolution has brought affordable fashion to the masses and, thanks to better monitoring of offshore factories, provided millions of decent jobs in developing countries. It also has its downsides. Massive amounts of "disposable" clothing end up in landfills each year. When clothes are this cheap, we don't think twice about chucking what we bought last month for something even trendier. Instead of four fashion seasons, we now have at least 12...... department stores are a dying breed. Those that survive will likely only do so by going global.
Konrad_Yakabuski  fast-fashion  fashion  apparel  retailers  department_stores  brands  globalization  concentration  identity  Uniqlo  H&M  HBC  Zara  Paris  Madrid  London  Toronto  disposability  Primark  uniqueness  J.Crew 
january 2018
Do less this year but do it better
January 7, 2018 | FT| Andrew Hill.

Accumulating multiple commitments poses other risks, too. If you try to do more than one thing, you will not be as efficient as if you concentrated on a single task. A 2001 paper found that people toggling between tasks took longer to solve complex maths problems than those who concentrated on one job.....Doing less “comes with this harsh requirement that . . . you have to obsess [about what you choose to do],”.........people who pursued a strategy of “do less, then obsess” ranked 25 percentage points higher than those who did not embrace the practice. ....Beware the danger of collaborating too little — or too much.....Sometimes achieving more requires more than individual effort. Managers can play a role in helping thier employees exercise self-discipline. Too often, organizations measure success by volume of work done — the law firm’s billable hours, say — or try to match the size of a team to the perceived importance of the project. Sometimes, though, the best approach may be to simplify a process, cut the size of a team, or impose a new strategic focus. How can you and your team achieve more this year? Try taking something away: impose constraints.
Antartica  busyness  commitments  constraints  monotasking  obsessions  overcommitted  overwhelmed  productivity  resolutions  Roald_Amundsen  self-discipline  South_Pole  teams 
january 2018
With Sale, Essence Is Once Again a Fully Black-Owned Magazine
JAN. 3, 2018 | The New York Times | By SANDRA E. GARCIA.

Essence magazine is once again a fully black-owned publication.

The magazine, a mainstay of black culture for almost half a century, was bought by Richelieu Dennis, the founder of Sundial Brands, a large personal-care products company, from Time Inc.,
black-owned  magazines  digital_media  African-Americans  Essence  owners  publishing 
january 2018
The Limits of Amazon
Jan. 1, 2018 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims.

Amazon’s core mission as a data-driven instant-gratification company. Its fanaticism for customer experience is enabled by every technology the company can get its hands on, from data centers to drones. Imagine the data-collecting power of Facebook wedded to the supply-chain empire of Wal-Mart—that’s Amazon.

There is one major problem with the idea that Amazon-will-eat-the-entire-universe, however. Amazon is good at identifying commodity products and making those as cheap and available as possible. “Your margin is my opportunity” is one of Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’s best-known bon mots. But this system isn’t very compatible with big-ticket, higher-margin items.....

How Amazon Does It
Amazon now increasingly makes its money by extracting a percentage from the sales of other sellers on its site. It has become a platform company like Facebook Inc. or Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which serve as marketplaces for businesses with less reach of their own.....Eventually, Amazon could become the ultimate platform for retail, the “retail cloud” upon which countless other online retail businesses are built....Think of Amazon as an umbrella company composed of disconnected and sometimes competing businesses, though critically they can access common infrastructure, including the retail platform and cloud services.

Ultimately, these smaller businesses must feed the core mission. Amazon’s video business isn’t just its own potential profit center; it’s also a way to keep people in Amazon’s world longer, where they spend more money,

What Amazon Can’t Do
Ultimately, the strategies that allow Amazon to continue growing will also be its limitation. “If the platform needs to be one-size-fits-all across many, many different product categories, it becomes difficult to create specific experiences for different kinds of products,”
contra-Amazon  Amazon  strengths  data_driven  instant_gratification  customer_experience  platforms  one-size-fits-all  limitations  Jeff_Bezos  weaknesses  commoditization  third-party  Christopher_Mims 
january 2018
Start Spreading the News: Digital Fuels Superstar Cities - CIO Journal. WSJ
Dec 29, 2017 | WSJ | By Irving Wladawsky-Berger.

Superstar companies are primarily driven by economies of scale, generally achieved through platforms and network effects. Whenever a product, service or process is captured in software and digitized, it becomes digital capital and the economics of abundance take over. The more products or services a platform offers, the more users it will attract, helping it then attract more offerings from ecosystem partners, which in turn brings in more users.....The result is that a small number of companies become category kings dominating the rest of their competitors in their particular market – the Facebooks, Googles, Twitters, Ubers and AirBnbs. Category kings generally take over 70 percent of the total market value in their category, leaving everyone else to split the remaining 30 percent.

“Cities have been caught up in this winner-take-all phenomenon, too,” noted Mr. Florida. “Just as the economy confers disproportionate rewards to superstar talent, superstar cities… similarly tower above the rest. They generate the greatest levels of innovation, control and attract the largest shares of global capital and investment.”

Network dynamics apply to cities just as they do for companies and talent. “They have unique kinds of economies that are based around the most innovative and highest value-added industries, particularly finance, media, entertainment and tech; businesses in superstar cities are formed and scaled up more quickly. All of this attracts still more industries and more talent. It’s a powerful, ongoing feedback loop that compounds the advantages of these cities over time.”

But, such a concentration of talent, wealth and economic activity in fewer and fewer places has led to what a recent Economist issue called the changing economies of geography, the rising inequalities between a relatively small number of superstar cities and the many towns and regions that have been left behind by technology and globalization.
Irving_Wladawsky-Berger  cities  winner-take-all  platforms  superstars  network_effects  disproportionality  geographic_concentration  geographic_inequality  feedback_loops  compounded  increasing_returns_to_scale  digitalization 
january 2018
How Retailers Can Thrive in the Age of Amazon - WSJ
By Stephen Moore
Dec. 15, 2017

How can a retailer flourish in such a daunting environment? By providing “emotional fulfillment,” = the joy customers take in seeing, touching, sniffing and testing the product before they pull out the credit card. A computer can’t match that experience...“We are social animals. We aren’t robots who are going to make all our purchases from robots.”

Somewhat counterintuitively....e-commerce is “not our enemy” but is becoming complementary to retail. Here’s his challenge to anyone who thinks digital sales are set to crush the old analog kind: ...If that isn’t enough, he adds: “Guess what’s one of our most successful stores we just opened up three months ago? Amazon. They already mastered online book sales. Why are they creating a physical presence? Because they know they need to connect and fuse with you as a consumer.” That’s what he means by emotional fulfillment.

He sketches out a strategy for retail in the digital age. It starts with making the mall an appealing place to visit. Parking is free, he says, and the stores are full of helpful employees. “We tell our retailers that one of the primary value added of retail shopping is the expertise that the salesclerks can offer customers,” he says, “They better be knowledgeable about what they are selling, or people will go online or to a discount store.” He urges his tenants to pay well more than the minimum wage to attract better employees, and he says most of them do
retailers  Amazon  contra-Amazon  shopping_malls  e-commerce  bricks-and-mortar  emotional_connections 
january 2018
The Right Way to Pack for Travel - The New York Times
By MICHELLE HIGGINSJUNE 28, 2017

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travel  tips  packing 
december 2017
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