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Sunday, July 24, 2005

Plan Maestro

After testing several platforms, I decided to move my site to WordPress. I find it to be more powerful and faster, and its interface is suficiently simple.

I am also testing some free hosting and it looks like Blogsome is the best. During this week I will try to figure out how to do the migration from Blogger, and design an aproppiate template. Hope to to see you at my new home:

Plan Maestro

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Four explosions on London transport

The initial reporting is hopeful.

FT.com / In depth / Terror - Four explosions on London transport: "Metropolitan police chief Sir Ian Blair said the explsions were “not as serious” as those on July 7. “We know we’ve had four explosions or attempts at explosions,” he said."

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Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Jobs: No Video for the iPod

AlwaysOn: "Jobs: No Video for the iPod"

Mmmm... Looks like another Steve Job's bluff, even though his arguments are very coherent. I do not want to trash my other post though

Update: Om Malik's has the scoop. It seems that Apple is going for the music video industry.

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MSN Search increasing market share

MSN Search gaining market share! Already with a 15.7% and slowly climbing, seems as if search is no a winner-takes-all industry. The two big questions are:
  • What does Longhorn know about search?
  • When are we going to see it?

Google still has tremendous share of pay-per-click advertising, but a lot depends on how much time it has to build a beachhead for other sources of revenue.

Search engine market shares in June 2005: Google - 36.9%, Yahoo! - 30.4%, MSN - 15.7% Your Daily Research Synopsis ZDNet.com:

Google's market share of US searches for June 2005 was at 36.9% compared with 37.5% in May 2005. Yahoo! had a 30.4% share, and MSN had a share of 15.7%. Bear Stearns noted that Google's query volume rose 36% YTY versus a 28% increase for the industry, outpacing Yahoo!'s 32% increase but trailing MSN's 42% increase. Month-to-month, Google's query volume declined 6%, which compares with a 4% decline for Yahoo!, a 1% decline for MSN, a 4% decline for AOL, and a 7% decline for Ask Jeeves. In Q2 2005 unique searchers versus Q2 2004 increased 31% for Google, 21% for Yahoo, and 14% for the industry, while the number of searches in Q2 2005 increased 38% for Google, 42% for Yahoo, and 31% for the industry. "

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B***!

John Kay you have been oficially promoted to head of the anti-b*** police. Keep up the good work.

After government, business is the next frontier of burocratic b*** We should do our best in avoiding this cancer that threatens with directness and humor .

FT.com / Comment & analysis / Columnists - John Kay: An empty language for empty heads: "Lies and spin communicate, but what they communicate is false. The defining characteristic of bullshit is that it does not attempt to communicate at all. Bullshit has the vocabulary and syntax of ordinary language, but not the meaning. And, in fact, the metaphor is not apt. What we describe as bullshit is more like candy floss: when you bite into it, there is nothing there. "


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Localization versus globalization

Great quote from Robert J. Samuelson.

"Localization usually trumps globalization, though countries seem to succeed more when they encourage globalization. ":

Localization usually wins, time and time again you see local players beating multinationals. Usually when MNCs win, is when they bought the local firm, kept most of its local operations and transfered their best practices.

However, the benefits of increasing productivity because of globalization are still solid:

1. Shaking sleepy incumbents
2. Transfering international best practices
3. Checking local monopolies abuses
4. Specializing in sector with comparative and competitive advantages

For example, Mexico still suffers from companies protected from international competition. Monopolies like Cemex and Telmex, and state-owned electric companies stop critical infraestracture industries.

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The auto industry in a crash course

American OEMs and suppliers struggles are such that every possible buyer is a good buyer. Now Visteon and Delphi are courting private equity firms. However the union issue is not easy to solve even for private equity's hardball tactics. As an investor i would not touch (equity or debt) this losing American players.

TheDeal.com - PE firms in the driver's seat: "Meanwhile, struggling auto parts giants Visteon Corp. and Delphi Corp., spun off from Ford and General Motors Corp., respectively, have each hired J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. to advise on the restructuring of their businesses, and private equity firms have held informal talks about investing in both companies.
While buyout firms have invested heavily in parts suppliers in recent years, carmakers historically have been suspicious of buyout firms, sometimes even shunning suppliers owned by them. But the Hertz auction and the feelers by Visteon and Delphi, coming on the heels of three other buyouts of Ford and GM units over the past six months, mark a turnaround in Detroit's attitude to private equity.
In January, GM sold its locomotive subsidiary, Electro-Motive, to Greenbriar Equity Group LLC and Berkshire Partners LLC for less than $500 million. In March, GM confirmed that it was exploring a sale of a stake in GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp. In April, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., Goldman Sachs Capital Partners and Five Mile Capital Partners placed a $1.3 billion bid for 60% of the lending unit and have been conducting due diligence.
In May GTCR Golder Rauner LLC and Goldman Sachs Capital Partners bought Ford's subprime lender, Triad Financial Corp., for $2.4 billion.
'A year ago, they would not even meet with us; now the door is open any day of the week,' a sponsor at a major private equity firm said. "

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Archeology: dot.com bubble

A wonderful resource with dot.com business plans. If you are nostalgic, hungry for ideas, or in need of tutoring on how to write a business plan, this is a great place to go.

On an initial search I did not find blockbuster successes. No Google, eBay, Amazon or Yahoo, so big guns what are you waiting for.

Business Plan Archive

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Music and Video: Business Model Change


With disappointing DVD sales, Hollywood could be tempted to trumpet the pirates card. However, they should look in its past and see have adapted to similar dangers.

Apple's is just one way on taking advantage of the increasing use of the internet as a media distribution. What stops Hollywood firms from reaching an agreement with Apple to run short films on its new gadget?

Do not whine, be different

WSJ.com - Apple Looks to Sell Videos -- and Maybe iPods to Play Them:

"Music videos, too, make sense because of the iPod's ready-made audience of music lovers. Apple in recent months has started bundling a limited number of music videos when iTunes customers purchase an entire album on the site. Users who pay $9.99 for the latest album by the White Stripes, for example, get a video for a song by the rock duo called Blue Orchid that can be downloaded to a computer.

Building on that effort, Apple has approached the four major music companies, Warner Music Group Corp., EMI Group PLC, Vivendi Universal SA's Universal Music Group and Sony BMG, a joint venture between Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG, to license music videos for sale through iTunes, according to people in the media industry. The videos, which could go on sale as early as September, would likely be sold for $1.99 each, with the possibility of a discount if consumers buy a music video and a song at the same time, these people say.

For music companies, a deal with Apple would represent another attempt to generate income for the music videos they sometimes spend hundreds of thousands of dollars creating. Music companies are still smarting from their two-decade-old strategic blunder of letting cable network MTV air video content for next to nothing, a decision that gave them little participation in the creation of what has become a hugely successful business for Viacom Inc."


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Human Resources in Retail: Asset or Expense (Part I)


Trader Joe's, Aldi, Costco a couple of retailers that believe that less people but better people and well paid is a much better model than Wal-Mart's. I will post some of their numbers in future posts, since could be a momentous change in the overworked and badly paid retailing industry.

Fostering a Loyal Workforce at Trader Joe's workforce.com:

" In some ways, the employee philosophy at Trader Joe's is similar to the one espoused by Aldi, its German parent company. In an effort to control labor costs, which are among the biggest expenses on any retailer's profit and loss statement, Aldi and Trader Joe's take a somewhat bare-bones approach to the amount of labor needed in stores at any given time. However, they don't scrimp on pay.

For its management-training program, Aldi makes extensive use of executive recruiters and woos applicants with a generous financial package that includes a starting salary of about $47,000 annually plus pension benefits. To get the most motivated people into its 12-month training program, the company offers new hires a fully expensed company car-- an Audi A4. This is an attractive perk for recent college graduates, one of the key targets of the chain's recruiting efforts."


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Google Earth: The adventure continues (Part II)

First tries in developing the potential of Google Earth. Check some great views of the Atacama Desert and the stages of the Tour de France

Google Earth Hacks


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Google Earth: The adventure continues

How do I stop posting! I was thinking about taking this week for reassessment but there is so much interesting stuff.

People are beggining to test some initial business models based on Google Earth:

Marrying Maps to Data for a New Web Service - New York Times:

"This spring, even before the Google programming interfaces were published, a Silicon Valley programmer, Paul Rademacher, wrote software making it possible to display real estate listings from the bulletin-board site Craigslist overlaid on Google Maps.

The resulting mash-ups, as the hybrid Web services are called, can be viewed at housingmaps.com. The site has already attracted more than a half-million viewers and now receives more than 10,000 visits a day. Virtually all the traffic has come from Internet word-of-mouth publicity; Mr. Rademacher said he had posted only a single brief notice on Craigslist asking for testers when he started the service.

The idea came to Mr. Rademacher while he was driving around Silicon Valley looking for a home to rent. Before starting on his reconnaissance mission, he said he had painstakingly printed out the location of each rental listing on a different map.
'I was driving around with a huge stack of paper,' he recalled. 'That was the 'Ah-ha' moment; it was obvious they should all be on a single map.' Because the new hybrid services raise potentially thorny questions about how revenue might be shared as well as potential disputes over the ownership of digital information, Mr. Rademacher said he had decided to avoid accepting advertisements on his site and had done it purely as a proof of concept."


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Sunday, July 17, 2005

Diagnosis

I am reassessing the tools and materials of this endevour after two weeks of blogging. It will take a week before coming back on July 25 with new material and posibly a new site. Things I have learned:

  • Blogger: I have not been comfortable with its posting tools. It is slow and complicated when you have several links (Like this post!). It is great that is free, but I was expecting something easier to use since it is owned by Google.
  • Other Tools: I will test Ecto for editing and WordPress for publishing, and also look for some hosting. MIT seems to great tools for alumnis and I will test them too
  • Bloglines: Great tool but I have to reduce the number of links and prioritize . They are more than 100 at this moment, and they are taking more than 2 hours just to read them.
  • Language: You have probably noticed than I have been mixing posts in english and spanish (and even some in spanglish). However, it looks like material in spanish will have to wait. The angle on business issues that affect latin America stays though.
  • Material: I will try to leave less but more insightful posts. At least one every two days, mixed with references to other sites interesting notes
  • Del.i.cious: I am waisting to much time saving material on the web that is of interest. It looks that del.i.cious is a fast tool to the same.
  • Comments: I have to leave some time to leave comments in other sites. Too much time reading has been a drag, specially when you have a full-time job ... uf. However, what is the use of this if you do not become part of a community.
Any comments and advised will be REALLY, REALLY apreciated. I am new at this and without any tutoring. Cheers!

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Wednesday, July 13, 2005

FT.com: Ebbers sentenced to 25 years for fraud


Auch! What is going on with this cases. Why some of this guys are getting the full weight of the law and others a free ticket?
FT.com / By industry / Telecoms - Ebbers sentenced to 25 years for fraud:
"Executives accused of white-collar crime have had mixed fortunes in US courts in recent months. John Rigas, 80, founder of Adelphia Communications, was last month sentenced to 15 years in prison for looting the cable television company and lying to investors. Richard Scrushy, however, the former chairman of HealthSouth, who was accused of orchestrating a $2.7bn accounting fraud at the company he started, was found not-guilty after a controversial trial in his Alabama hometown."

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Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Hollywood's business model threatened ... once again



It looks as if every 15 years Hollywood faces an inminent threat: MP4, video, foreign films, TV. However it has managed to reinvent itself. ¿What is the treatment doctor for a pacient hooked on DVD sales and facing substitution? ¿Maybe to leave blockbuster medicine and embrace low-budget films innovation?

FT.com: DVD sales slump proves more is less
"DreamWorks added to the gloom on Monday when it disclosed that retailers
were continuing to return copies of its DVDs, and predicted a loss for the
quarter.

This spate of bad news for DVDs is a blow not just to the individual studios that have warned but also to Hollywood: DVDs have been the industry's lifeblood in recent years even overtaking box office receipts. PwC says Hollywood generated a record $15.2bn in DVD sales in 2004 an increase of more than 30 per cent. That compared with just $9.4bn in box office revenues last year.

One of the main attractions of DVDs has been their low manufacturing costs providing bigger margins to the studios than the VHS tapes they replaced. Their contributions are all the more important at a time when the box office has been mired in a record slump that has stoked fears that consumers are turning to the internet, video games and other sources of entertainment.

The studios are suffering in part from a long-anticipated slowdown in DVD sales as the market matures. Tom Wolzien, a media analyst at Sanford Bernstein, has predicted that sales will drop from double-digits to 9 per cent this year, and 4 per cent in 2006."


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Innovation: MP3 players disruption (Part II)

Or if you have an iPod, 199 USD to spare and can wait till august you can go for the Harman Kardon's Drive+Play.

ALT1040 has the goods...

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MP3 Players low end disruption










Thanks Fernando for the tip:

4 GB FM transmitter imported directly from China connected to your car lighter. Costs 4o USD pesos. Its main buyers are taxi and truck drivers, and comes with a large selection of rancheras and tropical music.

¡How can iPod compete with them!
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