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 →
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 →
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 →
The BBC’s online site has been running a very optimistic and revelatory series entitled ‘Running a Business.’ Besides being an in-depth look at innovative new ideas, it is also a showcase for underdogs persevering in this current economic malaise. Never fear, small business owners might just be the answer to the stagnant economies of Europe, and better still, might help humanity as a whole. Case in point was a recent article about the new trend in startups that not only have profits in their sights, but also helping those in need.
Unsurprisingly, much of the current activity is happening in the rapidly changing countries of Africa. Whether new, affordable medical diagnostic tools are coming to the rescue, or investments in mobile phone technology, Africa is fertile ground for fresh ideas. Read the rest of this entry →
To be an Apple shareholder these days is to live in interesting times. For the Chinese, such times are to be avoided or at least so goes the ancient proverb. Apple has recently relied on two very interesting strategies to persevere through the Steve Jobs post-partition. The first exists in endless supply, but is rather underused. The second is more finite and Apple has done an impressive job in stockpiling it. Had enough with the Zen riddles?
Tim Cook, Apple’s new CEO, has been on an apology tour of late. The maps fiasco now has the status of an internet meme. More interesting is Apple’s apology to Chinese consumers over iPhone warranty problems. The issue wasn’t exactly manufactured, but the media pressure on Apple was certainly given a not too gentle state-sponsored push. Read the rest of this entry →
I just saw the trailer for the movie adaptation of Llyod Jones’ 2006 novel, Mr. Pip. The film starring Hugh Laurie of House fame will be released in October. Yes, trailers are supposed to whet the moviegoer’s appetite. You never know what the final product will look like. But I was very moved by what I saw. First, there’s the premise: The story of a young girl in the autonomous region of Bougainville, Papua New Guinea who encounters violence and literature all at once. Violence comes in the form of civil war and harrowing loss. Literature and hope for the future come together in her teacher, the lone Westerner on the island, Mr. Watts, who introduces her to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. The girl ends up deeply identifying with the orphan Pip, one of Dickens’ finest creations. Read the rest of this entry →
Kevin Kelly is one of Wired Magazine’s great scribes. Recently, he went on a photo journalistic walkabout in San Francisco’s booming SoMa (South of Market) start up quarter. The neighborhood is a honeycomb of now trendy warehouses and lofts, the perfect work and design space for young paradigm shifters.
Kelly visited 30 new area tech companies in a two block radius. The plan was to gauge the spirit of the age blowing through the cubicles. It turns out that there aren’t many actual cubicles. The typical office set up is open and uncluttered with practically no trace of paper. Apple products outnumber non-Apple products by an obscene ratio. Read the rest of this entry →