When the Christmas sales on the UK high streets are tallied up, it’s no surprise that for the last five years at least, the outlook and prognosis has been gloomy. Time after time, brands are losing money or disappearing altogether due to the online shopping proclivities of the public, and the overall dire economic situation in Europe. The only exception, it seems, have been co-ops and mutual businesses – businesses shared and owned by the employees or customers themselves. The John Lewis department stores are a good example of a worker-owned egalitarian business model that continues to buck the recession trend, and make large profits every year. The paradigm seems logical – construct a business model without a constrictive hierarchy; an inclusive organization that makes people want to come to work. And this is increasingly reaping benefits. Read the rest of this entry →
Marissa Mayer is steering Yahoo in bold new directions. A veteran of the internet, Yahoo was being left behind and struggling to find an identity at the same time. So hiring Mayer with her experience at ultra-hip Google was smart. She made an immediate impact with her policy of banning telecommuting. But that move was largely to show she means business and wants to run a leaner and more accountable company.
The game-changer, however, is Yahoo’s purchase of Tumblr. The price tag of $1 billion is no joke, and it might even be the first in a series of acquisitions. Could Yahoo also end up buying Hulu? Seeing a company reinvent itself with such startling speed is nothing short of incredible. Read the rest of this entry →
America’s second oldest philanthropic organization (after the Carnegie Corporation), the Rockefeller Foundation, is celebrating 100 years of global contributions. The Foundation has been instrumental in contributing to educational reforms, agricultural development across the world, and countless breakthroughs in medicine (like developing the vaccine for yellow fever). And they’re not alone; now seems to be a very fertile time for charities and organizations such as the Gates Foundation and Rockefeller. Speaking to the BBC, president Judith Rodin, described the atmosphere today, as opposed to when the foundation began in 1913, “What we’ve seen in the last 10 or 15 years, and now occurring at an accelerated pace, is that we can’t predict everything or prevent it, whether it’s the next earthquake or massive flood… or the next financial ripple… or the next rebellion that’s going to shake some region of the world.” Read the rest of this entry →
Elon Musk is a talented entrepreneur and technologist. He’s known for wanting to have a positive impact on three areas that he believes will determine the future course of humanity: the internet, renewable energy, and space. He is sort of like a modern version of Howard Hughes in his obsession with innovative transportation solutions. Musk was in the news when he railed against the New York Times for what he claimed was stilted coverage of his Tesla flagship electric car, the Model S.
Musk fought back against the Grey Lady, but it was not a battle that truly benefitted either party. In a recent interview, Musk claimed that the publicity storm cost the company more than $100 million in lost market value. Read the rest of this entry →
The rise of ecotourism in Asia might be one of the more under-reported major stories of the year. Ecotourism is generally understood as smaller scale tourism that places a premium on environmental conservation. The transfer of wealth to Asia and the many spectacular Asian destinations for the Western budget-conscious traveler translates into an industry with incredible growth potential. The special appeal of ecotourism is that it combines altruism and adventure in one package. It also helps that many of the emerging Asian economies can lay down sustainable practices at the foundation level of their young industry.
Ecotourism is elastic enough so it can be scaled up for the luxury market. For instance, when Prince Albert II of Monaco visited Malaysia, he stayed at the Royal Mulu Resort in Sarawak, Borneo, an ecotourism venture that draws on the management talents of an Australian ex pat, Robert Geneid. Under Geneid, the Mulu was recently added to the Marriott Hotel Group. So, in other words, the major players are perking up and taking notice. Robert Geneid’s success will likely be replicated again in Malaysia, a country with new economic clout, natural beauty, and budding tourism. Read the rest of this entry →
We need to learn more from children, especially what makes them passionate about learning. Arden Hayes is a little boy with a passion for US presidential history. At age 5, he knows more about the holders of America’s chief office than, I would wager, many graduate students slogging through advanced degrees in political science. It’s so clear from Hayes’ profile in the L.A. Times that he is deeply engaged in his chosen subject. He obviously possess considerable rote learning and memorized information. But you can practically see his smile beaming as he explains that the 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes was the first to use the telephone. And, by the way, a distant relative.
Children like Arden are remarkable. They show us that kids are powerful learners and that learning doesn’t always have to be packaged into a videogame. Read the rest of this entry →
The pharmaceutical industry has been weathering public controversies for decades, not only in dealing with damage control on countless patents that are either proven to be ineffective or dangerous, but also with the crushing cost of their drugs in developing countries. This last point has been painfully obvious with anti-malarial agents and HIV treatment; both are usually priced far beyond the means of those that most desperately need them.
Now things are beginning to look better. The BBC recently reported that Britain’s drug giant, GlaxoSmithKline, is radically changing tack and joining the much-needed philanthropic drive to save the lives of millions in Africa by joining forces with prominent charities like Save the Children. Read the rest of this entry →
Talk about a cool job – managing your city’s data! It would be even better if the city was a metropolitan hub like Chicago. The Economist recently sneaked a peek at how its chief information officer stays busy. The really interesting aspect of the job is what happens when it’s done. The CIO can dump huge caches of open data. Then the eager computing public can aggregate and sort the information in whatever way they want. The creativity is only limited by the citizenry. This is part of the rise of Big Data that perhaps not many pundits forecasted. They were too preoccupied with dark visions of a mass surveillance society. But here we have the rise of the analytics honcho, a well-paying and hip-sounding job.
Chicago is apparently sharing restaurant inspector grades so as to merge them into restaurant directories. This is a valuable service, no doubt. The future is going to be exponentially more ambitious. Read the rest of this entry →