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jerryking : high-risk   24

Why moonshots elude the timid of heart
February 14, 2020 | Financial Times | by Tim Harford.

* Loonshots — by Safi Bahcall.
* Major innovations tend to result from investment that is high-risk, high-pay-off.
* Executives at the Cambridge, UK outpost of an admired Japanese company fret that success rate of their research and development, at 70%, was far too high. It signals that research teams had been risk-averse, pursuing easy wins at the expense of more radical and risky long-shots.
* Disney, the belief is that Disney if you weren't failing at half of your endeavours, you weren’t being brave or creative enough.
* The problem is a societal/systematic preference for marginal gains over long shots---It is much more pleasant to experience a steady trickle of small successes than a long drought while waiting for a flood that may never come.
* marginal gains do add up, but need to be bolstered by the occasional long-shot breakthrough.....Major innovations such as the electric motor, the photo­voltaic cell or the mobile phone open up new territories that the marginal-gains innovators & tinkerers can further exploit.[JCK: from Simon Johnson, "public investments in research and development contribute to what the authors call the “spillover effect.” When the product of the research is not a private firm’s intellectual property, its impact flows across the economy."]
* the UK Conservative party’s promise to establish “a new agency for high-risk, high-pay-off research, at arm’s length from government” — a British version of the much-admired US Defense Advanced Projects Research Agency.
* DARPA's failure rate is often said to be around 85%.
* a low failure rate may indeed signal a lack of originality and ambition.
* Arpa hires high-quality scientists for short stints — often two or three years — and giving them control over a programme budget to commission research from any source they wish.
* the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a foundation, deliberately looks for projects with an unusual or untried approach, but a large potential pay-off.....HHMI gets what it pays for — more failures, but larger successes, compared with other grant-makers funding researchers of a similar calibre.
* how long will UK politicians tolerate failure as a sign of boldness and originality? Eventually, they will simply call it failure.
* the trilemma: Be cautious, or fund lots of risky but tiny projects, or fund a few big, risky projects from a modest budget and accept that every single one may flop.
audacity  big_bets  boldness  books  breakthroughs  Cambridge  DARPA  failure  game_changers  high-reward  high-risk  incrementalism  industrial_policies  innovation  jump-start  marginal_improvements  moonshots  originality  politicians  public_investments  publicly_funded  quick_wins  R&D  risk-aversion  science  small_wins  spillover  success_rates  thinking_big  Tim_Harford  timidity  United_Kingdom 
13 days ago by jerryking
Where Computing Is Headed—Beyond Quantum
Feb. 4, 2020 | WSJ | By Sara Castellanos.

Startups are coming up with new ways to make computer chips and store huge amounts of data in DNA........dozens of companies gaining interest from investors and corporations because of their novel approaches to computing. They are using light, quantum physics, molecular biology and new design methods to build chips and create data-storage techniques for future computing demands.
data  DNA  engineering  fundamental_discoveries  good_enough  high-risk  innovation  light  molecular_biology  Moore's_Law  novel  quantum_computing  semiconductors  software  start_ups  technology  up-and-comers  vc  venture_capital 
23 days ago by jerryking
Venture capital investors should harpoon more whales
February 3, 2020 | Financial Times | by John Thornhill.

*VC: An American History by Tom Nicholas.
* The worry for Silicon Valley is that the impulse for creative destruction is now fading
* It is easy to be rude about the venture capital industry. So here goes. The criticism runs that the VC sector is full of too many over-funded, ill-disciplined chancers who pass off hype for reality, groupthink for insight and luck for good judgment.....What’s more, a staggering 95 per cent of VC firms fail to make a decent enough return to justify the risks their investors run......the current mindset of the VC industry is responsible for the slowdown in new business formation and lack of economic dynamism in the US. All too often, addicted to capital-light, metric-heavy software businesses, VCs are failing to bet big enough on the breakthrough technologies that tackle our biggest challenges, such as climate change or cancer.........Katie Rae, chief executive and managing partner of The Engine, a Boston-based “tough tech” venture fund, says that many VCs have lost sight of their original purpose......VCs were all about funding tech breakthroughs but that has got lost,” ...... “A lot of VCs look more like private equity companies that do not want to lose any money so they end up backing dog-walking apps rather than quantum computing.”......Historically, the best venture capitalists have performed a vital capitalistic function: turning seemingly outlandish ideas and transformative technologies into everyday realities. Semiconductors, recombinant insulin and internet search engines have all come to market largely thanks to VC backing........“The VC industry is cut-throat. .....It provides the capital and expertise for start-ups to succeed.”.......In VC: An American History, Tom Nicholas traces VC’s high-risk, high-reward mentality back to the 19th-century whaling industry, which developed a novel form of venture financing. The idea was to back an expert captain who could fit out a robust ship, hire the best crew and endure an average of 3.6 years at sea. On landing a whale, the captain would return investors’ money several times over. But many ships returned empty-handed or sunk.........the pattern of financial returns made by Gideon Allen & Sons, the smartest backers of whaling ventures, were almost identical to those achieved by Sequoia Capital, one of the best VC firms operating today..........one of the striking features of the subsequent evolution of the VC industry.......was how contingent it was on time, circumstance and people. The west coast model of VC investing, owed an enormous amount to massive government investments in technology during the cold war, the expansion of world-beating universities in California and the emergence of some remarkable entrepreneurs and visionary investors, such as Arthur Rock, Tom Perkins and Don Valentine.......The worry for Silicon Valley is that some of that Schumpeterian impulse for creative destruction is now fading. One argument has it that Silicon Valley is becoming increasingly “corporatised” with Big Tech firms, such as Google, Facebook and Apple, championing the mantra that “big is beautiful” in the face of emerging competition from China.

The benign view is that Big Tech may be internalising much of the innovation once carried out by start-ups; the malign interpretation is that Cupertino, California [JCK: that is, "Big Tech"] is snuffing out smaller rivals.......

“Silicon Valley is overdue a disruption. It is not a hotbed of start-ups any more,” ..........Metaphorically, at least, the VC industry needs to get back in the business of funding wildly ambitious entrepreneurs intent on harpooning some more whales.
19th_century  Arthur_Rock  big_bets  Big_Tech  books  breakthroughs  broad-based_scientific_enquiry  cancers  climate_change  creative_destruction  disruption  Don_Valentine  entrepreneur  finance  financing  fundamental_discoveries  funding  HBS  high-risk  high-reward  innovation  investors  Joseph_Schumpeter  moonshots  public_investments  semiconductors  Sequoia  Silicon_Valley  thinking_big  Tom_Perkins  tough_tech  unimaginative  vc  venture_capital  visionaries  whaling 
24 days ago by jerryking
Opinion | America’s Risky Approach to Artificial Intelligence
October 7, 2019 | The New York Times | By Tim Wu
Mr. Wu is the author of “The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires.”

The brilliant 2014 science fiction novel “The Three-Body Problem,” by the Chinese writer Liu Cixin, depicts the fate of civilizations as almost entirely dependent on winning grand races to scientific milestones. Someone in China’s leadership must have read that book, for Beijing has made winning the race to artificial intelligence a national obsession, devoting billions of dollars to the cause and setting 2030 as the target year for world dominance. Not to be outdone, President Vladimir Putin of Russia recently declared that whoever masters A.I. “will become the ruler of the world.”..... if there is even a slim chance that the race to build stronger A.I. will determine the future of the world — and that does appear to be at least a possibility — the United States and the rest of the West are taking a surprisingly lackadaisical and alarmingly risky approach to the technology........The plan seems to be for the American tech industry, which makes most of its money in advertising and selling personal gadgets, to serve as champions of the West. Those businesses, it is hoped, will research, develop and disseminate the most important basic technologies of the future. Companies like Google, Apple and Microsoft are formidable entities, with great talent and resources that approximate those of small countries. But they don’t have the resources of large countries, nor do they have incentives that fully align with the public interest (JCK: that is, "business interests" vs. "public interest"]..... The history of computing research is a story not just of big corporate laboratories but also of collaboration and competition among civilian government, the military, academia and private players both big (IBM, AT&T) and small (Apple, Sun)......Some advocates of more A.I. research have called for a “Manhattan project” for A.I. — but that’s not the right model. The atomic bomb and the moon rocket were giant but discrete projects. In contrast, A.I. is a broad and vague set of scientific technologies that encompass not just recent trends in machine learning but also anything else designed to replicate or augment human cognition.....the United States government should broadly fund basic research and insist on broad dissemination..... the United States needs to support immigration laws that attract the world’s top A.I. talent. The history of breakthroughs made by start-ups also suggests the need for policies, like the enforcement of antitrust laws and the defense of net neutrality, that give small players a chance.... the computer scientist and entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee, in his book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order,” describes a race between China and Silicon Valley, as if the latter were the sum total of Western science in this area. In the future, when we look back at this period, we may come to regret the loss of a healthy balance between privately and publicly funded A.I. research in the West, and the drift of too much scientific and engineering talent into the private sector.
antitrust  ARPA  artificial_intelligence  Beijing  Bell_Labs  Big_Tech  business_interests  China  China_Rising  FAANG  high-risk  immigration  industrial_policies  Kai-Fu_Lee  Manhattan_project  publicly_funded  R&D  risks  science_fiction  Silicon_Valley  talent  Tim_Wu  Vladimir_Putin  Xerox 
october 2019 by jerryking
5 Ways to Value Your Collection, Whether It’s Fine Wine or Shrunken Heads
March 1, 2019 | The New York Times | By Paul Sullivan.

Collectible assets include wine, spirits, coins, trading cards as well as more unusual items, like lighters, belt buckles and even shrunken heads. These collections cost money and time to assemble and certainly have a value to their owners, but can they be considered legitimate investments? That depends on the market.

For many collectors, the only option to buy, sell or even value these assets is through online auction platforms like eBay or enthusiast sites, but for others, their possessions are treated as fine art.......the market for collectibles, which are often valued in the millions of dollars, may not always be so easy to weather. It can experience sudden surges that put desired items out of the reach of true collectors or it can collapse, wiping out the gains speculators thought they had made.

In an economic slowdown, how these investments are treated depends on supply and demand as well as unpredictable forces like fashion and popularity.....Collectibles can be broken into categories determined by provenance, rarity and even a moment in time. Here are five issues to consider when weighing the investment potential of your collection.....
(1) The standouts in the crowd - Leading the pack are high-quality items that have broad name recognition.
(2) High risk, high reward -
(3) Not all collectibles are investments- jewelry is not an investment....because the market is driven too much by changing fashion.
(4) Obscure and difficult to sell - establish the value of esoteric collections by using third-party appraisers. But insurance companies like A.I.G. value these collections by their replacement value, not by the price someone would pay for them.
(5) A market downturn - =hether it’s shrunken heads, 1,000 bottles of wine or sheets of trading cards, a ready buyer may not be available — or may want to pay much less (i.e. a step change in the valuation).
collectibles  collectors  high-risk  howto  obscure  valuations  AIG  auctions  assets  brands  eBay  economic_downturn  esoteric  fine_arts  high-end  high-quality  investing  investments  passions  step_change  unpredictability  wine  whisky  online_auctions 
march 2019 by jerryking
The opportunities left behind when innovation shakes up old industries
November 28, 2018 | The Globe and Mail | GUY NICHOLSON.

early meetings and phone calls were casual conversations with a couple of landscape photographers who specialize in golf.

The very nature of their business had changed fundamentally...After the Internet disrupted print magazines and media, they recast themselves as digital marketers, selling online rights to images created with high-tech arrays of digital cameras, drones and processing software. But even while embracing technology to take their work to new artistic heights, there were dramatically fewer places left for golfers to come across this art in print......Had their little corner of publishing been so thoroughly disrupted and abandoned that it now had more demand than supply? .....Technological innovation can be extremely disruptive and painful – and in the digital era, capable of changing entire industries seemingly overnight. But when creative destruction puts good things in peril, slivers of opportunity can emerge. After the masses and the smart money have flocked to newer technologies, formerly ultra-competitive spaces can be left wide open for innovation – abandoned fields for small businesses, start-ups and niche players to occupy.

It helps to offer a level of quality or service the bigger players consider uneconomical. Look at the travel industry, which has been thoroughly remade under waves of innovation: cellphones, digital cameras, GPS, Google Maps. Between internet comparison shopping and Airbnb, travel agents could have gone the way of the traveller’s cheque. But in the wake of all that disruption, tiny bespoke agencies specializing in advice, unique experiences, complicated itineraries and group travel have re-emerged to offer services too niche for the big digital players.....Similar things are happening in industries such as gaming, where video games have cleared the way for board-game cafes, and vinyl music, which survived the onslaught of MP3s and streaming music on the strength of nostalgia, millennial fascination and sound quality. As the rest of the industry moved into digital, neighbourhood record stores and small manufacturers picked up the pieces, catering to an enthusiastic subset of music buyers.

“We were growing very rapidly, not because vinyl was growing, but because a lot of pressing plants were going out of business,” Ton Vermeulen, a Dutch DJ and artist manager who bought a former Sony record plant in 1998, told Toronto journalist David Sax in his 2016 book The Revenge of Analog. Vinyl is back in the mainstream, but its disruption cleared the field for smaller players.

Abandoned fields aren’t for everyone. Building a business around an off-trend service or product can be a tough slog (jck: hard work)for fledgling businesses and entrepreneurs, and risky. In the case of the golf photographers, two dozen artists signed up to create a high-end subscription magazine. It’s beautiful, but with two years of work riding on a four-week Kickstarter campaign, there’s no guarantee this particular field will prove to have been worth reclaiming.

Of course, risk has always been part of small business. But a market waiting to be served – that’s a precious thing. As long as there is disruption, it will create opportunities for small businesses to reoccupy abandoned fields
abandoned_fields  analog  bespoke  books  counterintuitive  creating_opportunities  creative_destruction  David_Sax  digital_artifacts  digital_cameras  disruption  hard_work  high-risk  high-touch  innovation  Kickstarter  new_businesses  niches  off-trends  opportunities  photography  print_journalism  small_business  start_ups  structural_decline  travel_agents 
december 2018 by jerryking
Millennials shouldn’t treat their careers like lottery tickets - The Globe and Mail
MARCH 20, 2018 | THE GLOBE AND MAIL | by BRAM BELZBERG.

If you're in your early 20s and just starting your career, you probably shouldn't take a job with a start-up.....joining a startup is attractive. They can be exciting, and the pay can be pretty good. A small percentage of people will pick the right opportunity, collect stock options, and become millionaires before they're 30. It's like winning the lottery.

But, like the real lottery, most people don't win, and they end up worse off than they were before....The majority of startups are going to go bust.....Large companies – such as banks and consulting firms and established tech outfits – understand how to bring along new graduates. They've been developing the best way to do so for decades. They have full-time employees who only think about developing young staff into future managers. Their programs work. They teach you important skills, they teach you how the professional world operates, and they teach you how to network. It takes a lot of time, energy, and focus to create these programs.....Generally, successful startups need three things: a great idea, a reliable funding network, and strong leadership. Most startups don't have a full management team, and the managers they do have probably won't have time to mentor you. You also won't be building a network of peers who can help finance your startup one day. If you have a great idea, it will still be there when you've learned how to develop it into a business. If you really want to get the experience of working at a startup, do it when you've developed your career and built a safety net in case it fails....Work hard, put in your time, and achieve your goals. But there aren't any shortcuts in building a career. When you're ready to move on from your first job, you should have a clear idea of what you want to do next, with a foundation of skills and experience in place. You don't want to be left holding only a losing lottery ticket.
millennials  Managing_Your_Career  Jason_Isaacs  career_paths  start_ups  large_companies  advice  new_graduates  high-risk 
march 2018 by jerryking
Tornado-Ravaged Hospital Took Storm-Smart Approach During Rebuild - Risk & Compliance Journal.
Aug 30, 2017 | WSJ | By Ben DiPietro.

...................“Preparation for what these events can be–and belief they can actually happen–is important so you make sure you are preparing for them,” ....trying to undertake whatever is your organizational mission in the midst of a tornado or other devastating event is much harder, given the high emotions and stress that manifests itself at such moments.

“Understand the possibilities and pre-planning will make that go a lot better,”

===============================
As Hurricane Harvey has shown, extreme weather events can devastate a region’s infrastructure. Hospital operator Mercy had its own experience of this in 2011 when a tornado ripped through Joplin, Mo., killing 161 people and destroying its hospital.

Hospital operator Mercy took the lessons it learned from that tornado experience and incorporated them into the design of the new hospital–and also changed the way it plans and prepares for disasters. The new facility reflects a careful risk assessment, as Mercy took into account not only the physical risk of tornadoes but the risks to power supplies and medical supplies.

“We always prepare, always have drills for emergencies, but you never quite can prepare for losing an entire campus,” ....“Now we are preparing for that…it definitely changed the way we look at emergency management.”

** Protecting What Matters Most **
Mercy took the lessons it learned from that devastating weather event and applied them when it was time to build its latest hospital, which was constructed in a way to better withstand tornadoes while providing more secure systems infrastructure and adding backup systems to ensure operations continued unimpeded, ......Even the way medical supplies were stored was changed; instead of storing supplies in the basement, where they were inaccessible in the immediate aftermath of the tornado, they now are kept on each floor so staff don’t need to go hunting around for things they need during an emergency.....“The first priority is to save lives, the second is to minimize damage to the facility,”

** Focus on the Worst **
many companies worry about low-severity, high-frequency events–those things that happen a lot. They instead need to focus more on high-severity events that can cause a company to impair its resilience. “....identify and work on a worst-case scenario and make sure it is understood and the company is financially prepared for it,”

work with its key vendors and suppliers to know what each will do in the face of a disaster or unexpected disruption. “...large companies [should] know their key vendors prior to any major incidents,” ...“Vendors become partners at that time and you need to know people will do what you need them to do.”

A company needs to assess what is most important to its operations, map who their vendors are in those areas and engage them in various loss scenarios .... It should review its insurance policy language against possible weather events, identify any gaps and either revise policies to fill those holes or to at least make sure executives understand what the risks are of leaving those gaps unattended.
==================================
See also :
What to Do Before Disaster Strikes - WSJ.com ☑
September 27, 2005 | WSJ | By GEORGE ANDERS.
start by cataloging what could go wrong. GM, for example, has created "vulnerability maps" that identify more than 100 hazards, ranging from wind damage to embezzlement. Such maps make it easier for managers to focus on areas of greatest risk or gravest peril.
low_probability  disasters  Hurricane_Harvey  extreme_weather_events  hospitals  tornadoes  design  rebuilding  preparation  emergencies  lessons_learned  worst-case  natural_calamities  anticipating  insurance  vulnerabilities  large_companies  redundancies  business-continuity  thinking_tragically  high-risk  risk-management  isolation  compounded  network_risk  black_swan  beforemath  frequency_and_severity  resilience  improbables  George_Anders  hazards  disaster_preparedness  what_really_matters 
september 2017 by jerryking
Unnatural calm sparks visions of a 'Minsky Moment'
31 December/1 January 2017 | Financial Times | John Authers.

Argues that it is bad news that volatility on financial markets has dropped to an all-time low as measured on the CBOE's Vix index. Economist Hyman Minsky postulated that capitalist financial systems were inherently unstable, and that stability begat instability. As markets grow calmer and bankers more confident, lending steadily rises until it is out of control. The "Minsky Moment" occurs when investors realize that they have paid far too much for the credits that have bought, no buyers can be found, and the system collapses. Aka Wile E. Coyote running-off-a-cliff....The greatest dangers to us are not from things we perceive to be high-risk, because we generally treat them carefully. Trouble arises from that which we perceive to be low-risk.
instability  Vix  indices  volatility  economists  financial_system  risk-assessment  warning_signs  complacency  dangers  high-risk  low-risk  fear  bad_news 
january 2017 by jerryking
Some Life Lessons From Silicon Valley - WSJ.com
December 7, 1999 | WSJ | By HAL LANCASTER

Inspirational story about an African-American Air Force office, Joe Booker, whose career hasn't been a slam dunk. He was often the youngest and most inexperienced guy on the job -- or the only . He took jobs for which he hadn't been trained. Also, he asked for the toughest jobs, the ones nobody wanted. If he could do those well, he reasoned, he would be recognized. "Some of them were risky jobs," he acknowledges, "but if you succeeded, the payoff was high."And he was rarely handed any of the high-profile, career-making assignments.

This strategy has led to a highly successful high-tech career in Silicon Valley for the 58-year-old Mr. Booker, who is currently vice president of operations for Alteon Systems , a computer-networking company.

Here are some life lessons he has learned:

Lesson 1 : "Understand what you're up against and put in place a strategy to win."

Mr. Booker was the only African-American at an Air Force school in Mississippi, studying electronics, about which he knew nothing, with a teacher who talked derisively about "Yankees" and ignored him when he raised his hand. Rather than quitting, he worked harder and aced the final exam. "When the teacher had to read my name off first as tops in the class, the class cheered," he recalls.

He says he also wasn't welcomed warmly at his first Air Force assignment at Keeler Air Force Base. Since a cushy assignment wasn't likely, he asked for the base's most difficult job. Nobody liked to work on Doppler radar, he was told. He became a Doppler radar expert and a star at the base. "It really opened doors," he says.

Lesson 2 : "Don't sacrifice understanding for speed."

In 1966, Mr. Booker started his post-Air Force career in manufacturing at International Business Machines Corp. because there was less competition in that unglamorous field and results were measurable -- and irrefutable.

When he transferred to engineering, he initially lagged behind others. "Management was saying, 'We had high hopes for you, but you seem a little slow,' " he says. "I said, 'I'm spending more time understanding what I'm doing rather than going at breakneck speed.' " Mr. Booker eventually leaped over many of his peers. "I had to bail people out because I was the only one who understood the technology," he says.

Lesson 3 : "You have to think of where you want to go and does this take you there."

As he drove to work one day, he decided he wanted to be in management. "I wanted to work with people and not look into oscilloscopes all day," he says. But IBM had a surplus of managers at the time, so he waited. He even turned down two technical promotions that "didn't take me where I wanted to go."

In 1969, he jumped at the chance to follow his boss to Memorex, which wanted to get into the computer business. "The boss said, 'Come with me and I'll make you a manager,' " he says. He eventually made it to the director level, even though he lacked the needed educational credentials.

Lesson 4 : "If you set the bar high, even if you don't reach it, you end up in a pretty good place."

At weekly production meetings, Mr. Booker volunteered for jobs that were behind schedule or involved introducing a new product in a tough market. "If people were saying this is something we can't do, I'd say, 'I'll do it.' "

Once, he bet his boss he could meet a seemingly impossible deadline for introducing a new disk drive. He forged an alliance with the engineering project manager to minimize the interdepartmental political hassles that had been plaguing the project and won the bet (his boss had to bake him a cake).

Lesson 5 : "You have to be brutally honest with yourself about what you know or don't know, what you can or can't do."

"When you do a job well, ask yourself, 'How do I expand?' " Mr. Booker says. " 'What skills do I need to take this next step?' " Example: He started taking finance classes to help him run a factory better.

Every year, Mr. Booker delivers his own performance appraisal. His 1981 self-review concluded that he hadn't accomplished much because he spent too much time debating the company's direction in meetings with managers from Xerox, which had acquired the company in 1978. So he left to start his own company, Vertex Peripherals.

Mr. Booker eventually sold Vertex to Priam Corp. and served as president and COO of the merged entity until 1988. He left after a disagreement with the board on restructuring strategy.

Lesson 6 : "The work is more important than titles."

He is often asked why he isn't a CEO. "When I left Priam, my ego was shot," he explains. He made a list of job requirements: a job where he could be successful ("I didn't want to be one of those guys whose career spirals down"); people he enjoyed working with; a company that would make money; a growing experience so he wouldn't be bored; and an executive position.

After agreeing to be CEO of Network Computing Devices , Mr. Booker stepped aside when a potential CEO with a life-giving capital infusion came along. The company still wanted him on the team, but he feared he would be seen as a falling star. So he went back to his list. "It didn't say I had to be CEO," he says. He stayed with NCD for six years.

He was faced with a similar situation in 1997. The company he had joined after leaving NCD was acquired by a larger company, Bay Networks, and he was offered an executive vice presidency. But he turned it down for a chance to join another start-up, Alteon. "Over the years, I felt I was a better builder than fixer," he says.
African-Americans  Hal_Lancaster  high-risk  lessons_learned  life_lessons  Managing_Your_Career  personal_payoffs  Silicon_Valley 
december 2012 by jerryking
The return of high-risk optimism - FT.com
May 1, 2008 3:00 am
The return of high-risk optimism

By John Gapper
Michael_Milken  high-risk  optimism 
june 2012 by jerryking
What to Do Before Disaster Strikes - WSJ.com
September 27, 2005 | WSJ | By GEORGE ANDERS.

What's missing is a systematic way of approaching corporate self-defense. Each potential calamity is treated in isolation....Sheffi believes that companies need to start by cataloging what could go wrong. General Motors Corp., for example, has created "vulnerability maps" that identify more than 100 hazards, ranging from wind damage to embezzlement. Such maps make it easier for managers to focus on areas of greatest risk or gravest peril. He implies that normal budgeting -- which matches the cost of doing something against the risk-adjusted cost of doing nothing -- can determine which battles against vulnerability are worth fighting....Mr. Sheffi nods approvingly at some ingenious ways to mobilize for trouble before it arrives. Federal Express Corp., he says, puts two empty planes in the air each night, just so they can swoop into any airport with a grounded plane and take over delivery services as fast as possible. Wall Street firms have recently added similar redundancy with multiple data centers, so that a New York City crisis won't imperil their record-keeping.

Intel Corp. (post-Heathrow) gets a thumbs-up, too, for finding a sly way of outwitting airport thieves. It couldn't control every aspect of security in transit -- but it could change its box design. Rather than boast about "Intel inside," the company switched to drab, unmarked packaging that gave no hint of $6 million cargoes. The name for this approach: "Security through obscurity." (jk: security consciousness)
disaster_preparedness  risk-management  book_reviews  mapping  security_&_intelligence  redundancies  vulnerabilities  rate-limiting_steps  business-continuity  thinking_tragically  obscurity  cost_of_inaction  base_rates  isolated  GM  Fedex  Intel  risk-adjusted  self-defense  Wall_Street  high-risk  budgeting  disasters  beforemath  risks  George_Anders  catastrophes  natural_calamities  systematic_approaches  security_consciousness  record-keeping  hazards 
may 2012 by jerryking
Electronic Dance Genre Tempts Investors - NYTimes.com
By BEN SISARIO
Published: April 4, 2012

The concert industry’s new favorite genre is electronic dance music....Having developed on the margins, electronic dance music — high-energy waves of mechanized sound that, at its best, creates a communal experience for a sea of strangers — is dominated by a network of independent promoters.

They include Insomniac, which presents Electric Daisy Carnival; Hard Events, another nationwide promoter; Ultra, whose namesake festival in Miami has expanded to Brazil, Argentina and Poland; and Made Event, behind the Electric Zoo festival in New York.

Their success has attracted a clutch of potential investors from inside and outside the music world. The insiders include Live Nation and A.E.G. Live, the two biggest corporate promoters.

The outsiders include Ron Burkle, the supermarket magnate who made an unsuccessful bid last year for the Warner Music Group, and the media mogul Robert F. X. Sillerman, according to people involved in investment talks who declined to be identified discussing private agreements....a marriage between D.J.’s and billionaire investors may be difficult. Live music is a risky and low-margin business for promoters. Pricing tickets too high or too low, for example, can sink an otherwise successful venture. Dance music also faces the perennial fad question: will its popularity stick this time or blow over as it did in the 1990s, when it was called electronica?
music  music_industry  investors  Live_Nation  EDM  live_music  high-risk  low-margin  music_festivals 
april 2012 by jerryking
New urban design plays a heady game of risk
Mar 12, 2005 | The Globe and Mail pg. F.3|
Doug Saunders.

The slogan of the new movement that is overtaking Europe's cities: "To make it safe, you need to make it dangerous." Iain Borden, director of the Bartlett School of Architecture in London and a leader of this new movement. Its members recently published an intriguing report titled "What Are We Scared of: The Value of Risk in Designing Public Space."

In recent months, a school of architects and urban planners has picked up disparate cues from the urban experiments taking place in northern Europe and given them a name -- risk. Our cities, they believe, are now designed predominantly to minimize risk, and this has made them dull, homogeneous, repetitious and, paradoxically, often quite dangerous.

(Risk is more than an intellectual puzzle — it invokes a profoundly physical experience. A small amount of danger surrounding the use of public spaces might act much like a vaccine immunizing the population against complacency).
Doug_Saunders  urban  design  risks  safety  public_spaces  counterintuitive  urban_planning  uncertainty  complacency  biology  psychology  dangers  life_skills  coming-of-age  risk-assessment  high-risk  low-risk  soul-enriching  physical_experiences 
october 2011 by jerryking
Wealth Matters - The Rules That Madoff’s Investors Ignored - NYTimes.com
January 6, 2009 | | By PAUL SULLIVAN.

THE 10 PERCENT RULE The saddest Madoff stories are the ones about life savings lost. These were people who had, say, $5 million in one of his funds and now have nothing. Honestly, the people themselves need to bear some responsibility for this. The most basic book on investing will tell you never to put more than 5 or 10 percent into any one investment, particularly one meant to preserve wealth…Having a concentrated stock position when you’re working for a company is sometimes unavoidable. If you were a senior executive at Lehman or Bear Stearns, a part of your bonus was paid in shares, and such restricted stock needs to be held for a period of time, generally two to seven years. Having a concentrated position in other circumstances, however, is foolish. Any responsible wealth manager works to reduce or hedge a person’s concentrated stock position. With Mr. Madoff, investors went the other way and added money year after year. Discipline is key: stick to 10 percent or less and remember that any investment can go bust.
CONSISTENCY IS BAD - Consistency at the highest level isn’t bad; it’s impossible. There are too many variables that inhibit being great on a regular basis.
THE GRAND FALLOON Kurt Vonnegut coined this phrase in “Cat’s Cradle,” and never did it have a more devastating application than in the Madoff scheme. In Vonnegut’s world, a grand falloon was a false association mistaken for friendship — two people from the same town, same university, same company meet somewhere and believe that coincidental connection has significant meaning. It doesn’t, no more so than belonging to the Palm Beach Country Club or the Fifth Avenue Synagogue did for those who used their proximity to Mr. Madoff to coax him into taking their money.
This is a crucial point particularly in opaque investments, from hedge funds to private equity partnerships: just because someone is a good golfer does not mean he should be trusted to invest your money. Private bankers are forever telling their clients not to try to get into someone’s hedge fund just because you enjoyed their conversation on the course — or, worse, want to play with them again. Like taking care of your health, picking an investment adviser should be done with the utmost rigor.
‘DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL’ - Ask questions and don’t assume the person who brings an investment to you has vetted it. Nothing in which you are putting millions of dollars is so wonderful that it cannot withstand scrutiny.
PUT MONEY IN BUCKETS - follow the popular wisdom of private bank investment strategists: divide your money into buckets to insure the money you need to live on will always be safe. Most strategists advise putting your riskiest assets into your philanthropy bucket.
Bernard_Madoff  high_net_worth  fraud  mistakes  opacity  friendships  trustworthiness  diversification  biases  personal_finance  financial_planning  grand_falloon  wealth_management  concentrated_stock_positions  high-risk  philanthropy  due_diligence  passions  passion_investing  impact_investing 
october 2011 by jerryking
Death by cellphone? Put the fear industry on hold - The Globe and Mail
Jun. 04, 2011
Trevor Butterworth is a NYC-based journalist who specializes in risk
analysis & phony health scares. “I’ll tell you what we should be
really worried about,” he said, “Lawn mowers.” “Scientists and
researchers aren’t very good at communicating risk,” says Butterworth.
And people aren’t very good at understanding it. We are far more fearful
of the extraordinary, low-risk things that hardly ever kill us
(terrorists, airplane crashes, shark attacks) than the ordinary
high-risk things that kill us all the time (driving to Grandma’s for
Sunday dinner)..

Our estimate of risk is anything but rational....Geoffrey Kabat is the
author of Hyping Health Risks: Environmental Hazards in Daily Life and
the Science of Epidemiology. He says that many different actors – not
just the media – contribute to the hyping of health risks. They include
scientists promoting their results, health & regulatory agencies
that need issues to promote, as well as activists, politicians &
lawyers.
mobile_phones  cancers  Margaret_Wente  Communicating_&_Connecting  communicating_risks  risks  books  frequency_and_severity  low-risk  high-risk  risk-assessment  health_risks 
june 2011 by jerryking
Foreign scholarships and the risky business of innovating - The Globe and Mail
Nov. 16, 2010 / Globe and Mail / Editorial. Neil Turok,
director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo,
Ont., which sets out to attract some of the world’s top scientific
minds, told The Globe and Mail’s editorial board yesterday, “Because the
rest of the world is in relative difficulty financially, now is the
time to attract global talent. Canada has an amazing opportunity.” A
good case, a difficult sell. Innovation means trying something that
can’t be proven in advance, as Roger Martin, dean of the University of
Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, says. The foreign scholarships
are a investment with a strong upside, and a high risk that is mostly
political.
Colleges_&_Universities  innovation  Ontario  scholarships  risks  talent_management  Rotman  editorials  Perimeter_Institute  political_risk  poaching  Kitchener-Waterloo  upside  high-risk  Roger_Martin  foreign_scholarships  war_for_talent 
november 2010 by jerryking
Googling Growth - WSJ.com
APRIL 9, 2007 | Wall Street Journal | by CHRIS ZOOK. Rapid
shifts in markets and technologies are forcing companies of all sorts to
change direction faster than ever. Many management teams are tempted
by "big bang" solutions: dramatic, transformative mergers or aggressive
leaps into sexy new markets. The success rate for major, life-changing
mergers is only about one in 10. For most companies, reinvention of a
core business doesn't have to involve such high levels of risk. The
solution lies in mining hidden assets -- assets already possessed but
not being tapped for maximum growth potential.
One way to open management's eyes to hidden assets is to identify the
richest hunting grounds, usually camouflaged as hidden business
platforms, untapped customer insights, and underused capabilities.
accelerated_lifecycles  Apple  assets  Bain  big_bang  business_models  Chris_Zook  core_businesses  customer_insights  GE  growth  hidden  high-risk  iPODs  latent  life-changing  M&A  mergers_&_acquisitions  moonshots  Nestlé  Novozymes  rapid_change  reinvention  resource_management  Samsung  success_rates  transformational  underutilization 
february 2010 by jerryking
Recession Strategies: Companies Need to Focus on Future as Well as Present - WSJ.com
JUNE 22, 2009 | Wall Street Journal | Executive Briefing:

In Dr. Govindarajan’s three-box framework, Box One involves managing the present—for example, improving the efficiency of today’s businesses. Box Two involves selectively forgetting the past. And Box Three? That’s about creating the future. Often, Dr. Govindarajan maintains, companies spend too much of their time managing Box One—the present—and think that’s strategy. Instead, he argues, companies need to spend more time and energy on thinking about Box Two and Box Three.

Preparing for the Recovery
Despite the recession, companies must do more than just play defense.
When thinking about innovation, companies need to go beyond cost cutting
and spend more time thinking about what (Vijay Govindarajan) terms as
"Box Two and Box Three—selectively forgetting the past and creating the
future".

----
BUSINESS INSIGHT:Can companies really plan today for the year 2025?

DR. GOVINDARAJAN: You cannot plan for the year 2025, but you can prepare for it. There’s a big difference in my mind between planning for the future and preparing for it. Preparing for the future simply involves asking what the broad trends are. If people in your organization can at least have a shared perspective on some of the big, nonlinear shifts that may happen, you can begin to think about actions that may be relevant if such shifts occur—if say, technology in your business changes in certain ways. You want to do your current plan in a way that prepares your organization for the future.

The future is full of surprises; you know that. What you want is to be able to prepare to respond and adapt and benefit from surprises. And that’s what happens when you explicitly think about 2025 in 2009.
breakthroughs  contingency_planning  cost-cutting  economic_downturn  far-sightedness  foresight  forward_looking  high-risk  innovation  large_payoffs  nonlinear  offensive_tactics  recessions  scenario-planning  strategy  surprises  Vijay_Govindarajan 
june 2009 by jerryking
InfoViewer: A venture born of ignorance
20-Dec-2005 Financial Times articel by Andrew Ward describing the path of entrepreneur Roger Andresen.
* Be prepared for hard work and high risk:
* Turn to friends and contacts for help:
* Control spending:
* Test your product before entering full-scale production:
entrepreneur  tips  perseverance  prototyping  networks  high-risk  Communicating_&_Connecting  cost-controls  hard_work  cost-consciousness 
february 2009 by jerryking
Diaspora Networks as High Risk or High Potential: The Transnational Turn in National Policy Discourses on Migrants
Policy actors in various fields have discovered the bright side
of diaspora networks, their high potential for their host country's
engagement in international development on the one hand and
international trade relations on the other. This paper argues that both
aspects of policy discourse show a paradigm shift in the construction of
diaspora networks - even in non-classical immigration countries: They
are taken for granted, treated as collectivities and seen as
side-effects of blurred national boundaries.
Diaspora  high-risk  host_country  international_development  paradigm_shifts  networks 
february 2009 by jerryking
High Risks Help 'Super-Rich' To Widen Wealth Gap
June 28, 2007 FT article by Peter Thal Larsen detailing how ultra high net worth individuals are taking on greater risks.

The world's 100,000 "super-rich" last year extended their lead over the merely affluent, an authoritative study of the world's wealthy has found.

Last year, the assets of those with more than Dollars 30m (Pounds 15m) to invest - the so-called ultra-high net worth individuals - expanded by 16.8 per cent. By comparison, people with assets of Dollars 1m-Dollars 5m saw their wealth grow by 6.4 per cent.

The number of ultra-high net worth individuals also swelled by more than 10 per cent - more than the growth in the total pool of wealthy individuals.

The number of people with Dollars 1m or more to invest grew by 8 per cent to 9.5m last year, and the wealth they control expanded to Dollars 37,200bn. About 35 per cent is in the hands of just 95,000 people with assets of more than Dollars 30m.

The study, prepared by Merrill Lynch and Capgemini, highlights a growing gap between the super-rich and those who would normally consider themselves wealthy. The gap has been exacerbated by rising markets and the forces of globalisation, which have allowed a relatively small number of people to accumulate vast fortunes.

Nick Tucker, head of Merrill Lynch's global private client group in the United Kingdom and Ireland, said the difference reflected a willingness by the very rich to take greater risks.

"Ultra-high net worth individuals are very aggressive investors," he said. "If things are good, they will do better than the high net worth individuals, who are more cautious."

The study found wealthy investors reduced their investments in hedge funds and private equity last year, increasing their exposure to real estate and equities.

The developed world continues to dominate the ranks of the world's rich: 64 per cent of high net worth individuals live in the United States, Japan, Germany, France or the UK. But in Singapore, India, Indonesia and Russia the number of high net worth individuals grew by more than15 per cent last year.

By PETER THAL LARSEN
wealth_management  high_net_worth  risk-taking  risk-appetite  moguls  high-risk  hedge_funds  private_equity  real_estate  equities 
january 2009 by jerryking

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