December 16, 2006

Entrepreneur Shifted Business from Crisco to Computers

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/16/2006 07:23:00 PM

Azim Premji, the founder of Wipro Limited(ADR) (NYSE WIT), a giant in Indian IT outsourcing, gave a great speech at Stanford on how he transformed his company from a company making vetegable oil to one of the largest outsourcing companies in the world. For you entrepreneurs out there, Azim has a really inspiring message: "Failure is essential to generating new ideas."

Premji, who over the course of a 40-year career helped transform Wipro from a family-owned vegetable oil business (Western India Vegetable Products Ltd.) into one of the largest outsourcing companies in the world, said failure is a critical ingredient in innovation. He added that innovation is what enables young startups to upset the existing balance of power.

Some key lessons Azim Premji learned:

Failure is an option. Azim Premji, chairman of the Indian outsourcing giant Wipro Technologies, told a Graduate School of Business audience, "It is impossible to generate a few good ideas without a lot of bad ideas. Failure should be forgiven and forgotten quickly." Premji appeared as part of the GSB's "View from the Top" speaker series.

Small is an advantage. "In every market, at every juncture, there are significant scale advantages that make the largest companies appear invincible. Yet time and time again, upstart technologies create disruptions and they change the rules of the game," Premji said. He used the example of Skype, which became the first company to offer voice-over-Internet phone services on a broad scale years after all the established phone companies had started talking about the process.

Seek new market opportunities. Premji is widely recognized as the innovative business leader who shifted his company "from Crisco to computers." That gradual evolution started during the 1970s, when IBM exited the Indian market, leaving more room for local computer manufacturers. Wipro began assembling its own machines and later set itself up as a provider of computer and information technology services to global firms operating in India. Years later, as computers became more commoditized, Wipro again shifted to a stronger focus on servers and offered global research-and-development labs for hire, where a range of Western high-tech and consumer-products companies could conduct critical research at a lower price.

Fired by a Capitalist - McScrooge Cans Judith Regan

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/16/2006 06:58:00 PM
Mr. McScrooge, Rupert Murdoch, has canned Judith Regan just in time for the holidays. Judith Regan was the 'ol lady behind the O.J. Simpson tell-all, confession, "If I Did It". It was a much awaited stocking stuffer until Daddy Murdoch decided to pull the book. I had placed an order for 100 of these books online in anticipation of the release, but alas received none. I even scoured the airport bookstores too! The book was pulled due to reader protest on Amazon.com. News Corporation (NYSE NWS) got a lot of flack for the hot OJ Simpson confession.

New Corp.'s HarperCollins Worldwide publishing unit has severed its relationship with high-profile publisher Judith Regan, who had spearheaded the would-be publication of O.J. Simpson's book, "If I Did It," several news outlets reported late Friday.
News Corp. on Nov. 20 canceled publication of a book by the former football star on the June 1994 murders of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman, and canceled a planned television interview with Simpson.
At the time, News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch took the unusual step of issuing a public apology amid the onslaught of negative publicity over the project. See earlier story.
There were no reasons given for Regan's firing, the news reports indicated, which cited a brief statement issued late Friday by HarperCollins. HarperCollins, a subsidiary of News Corporation, plans to continue to operate the Regan book-publishing unit, the news reports added.


That's a holiday gift I'm sure Judy will remember. Maybe she can land a gig with Mel Karmazin at Sirius Satellite Radio, Inc. (Nasdaq SIRI) like Howard Stern.

China's Ultra Rich Splurge on Rollys-Royce and Maybach Cars

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/16/2006 05:25:00 PM
In the United Arab Emirates, the king's palace is a museum for slick and fancy cars like the BMW 745iL, the Rolls Royce Phantom, and the Maybach 62.

In China, the ultra-wealthy are splurging and spending on new cars. Rolls Royce, owned by German carmaker BMW, said it expects to sell 70 Phantom vehicles this year in China including Hong Kong which will enable the world's most populous country to unseat Japan as the firm's No 3 single market after the United States and the United Kingdom.

On Thursday in Hong Kong, Rolls Royce delivered its largest order yet 14 Phantoms to Sir Michael Kadoorie's Peninsula Hotel.

The Rolls-Royce Phantom is an ultra-luxury sedan automobile made by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Great Britain, a BMW subsidiary. It was launched in 2003 and is the first Rolls-Royce branded car made under the ownership of BMW. The base price is 250,000 lbs or $340,000 in the US.

To further boost China sales, the brand plans to add three dealerships in Hangzhou, Shenzhen and Chengdu. It now has one each in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.

Year Sales
2003 300
2004 792
2005 796
Through November 2006 642
Total 2530
In a telephone interview on Friday, Jenny Zheng, general manager of Rolls Royce Motor Cars Greater China, said: "China's thriving economy is creating very successful people in all business areas at a staggering pace. This is a big opportunity for us and other luxury car manufacturers."

"The more important thing is that our customers here are much younger than those in other markets," Zheng said.

Rolls Royce owners in China are on average more than 10 years younger than elsewhere, she added.

The Maybach Exelero
Maybach, another ultra-luxury car brand, which is controlled by Mercedes Car Group, is also enjoying fast sales growth in China.

Maybach 62S

Anthea Wang, a spokeswoman of Mercedes China, said: "Maybach's sales here will more than double this year from 2005," but she declined to reveal a specific figure.

China is very close to one of Maybach's top five markets in the world, she said.

To lure Chinese buyers, Maybach's 62 Special Edition made its global debut at last month's Beijing international auto show. The model retails in China for a cool US$1 million.

Maybach now has two exhibition and sales centres in Beijing and Shanghai. Wang said it is considering building a third centre in Guangzhou "in the near future."

Many of the ultra-luxury cars displayed at the 10-day Beijing auto show were sold, raising more than 100 million yuan (US$12.8 million), a fact that demonstrates the immense purchasing power of rich Chinese people.

However, Yale Zhang, the Shanghai-based director of emerging markets vehicle forecasts for auto consultancy CSM Asia in Shanghai, said ultra luxury cars will account for a tiny ratio of China's entire vehicle market as only those super rich people will buy them.

Scalpers Sell Registration Numbers in China

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/16/2006 05:14:00 PM
In China, if you want to get medical scare ... ( :-) care, you have to stand in line and get a registration number. Scalpers have made it a big business. They stand in line for you and sell you the numbers. The game came to an end recently. Scalpers selling registration numbers at major hospitals, escorted by police officers undergo a public trial in front of a hospital and a jeering crowd in Beijing December 13, 2006. Nine members of a scalping gang, headed by Lan Huimin and Yuan Hongwei were found guilty of racketeering and affray and given chastisements ranging from four-year to ten-year sentence in prison.

Taking advantage of weak and sick people is just plain old sick. It's good to hear that these culprits have finally been brought to justice.

Subway , Eat Fresh, Get Diarrhea

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/16/2006 02:35:00 PM
Not a day goes by without a case of food poisoning at Taco Bell or Olive Garden. Recently, I've had my own case of the bug. I think I caught it from Subway. If you've been to Subway, you know that Subway serves these giant foot long sandwiches that are made fresh. You can call them giant salads stuffed between a giant folded piece of baked break. I'm a big health buff. I eat organic foods, no pesticide fruits, and organic beef. Sometimes, though, it's hard to avoid fast food. So, when I have a hankering for fast food, I skip MacDonald's Corporation (NYSE MCD), Jack In the Box Inc. (Nasdaq JBX) and Burger King, and go with Subway.

Last week, when I got hungry, I ordered a footlong Chipotle Steak and Cheese with Honey Wheat bread. It was made fresh, but I doubt the ingredients were fresh. I had the works on this monster - cucumbers, lettuce, olives, tomatoes, pickles, and olives. No salt and pepper - got to keep it healthy. It was nicely toasted in a TurboChef Oven (Nasdaq OVEN) and as I downed this huge sandwich, this sandwich just tasted delicious. If they do one thing right at Subway, it's the bread. God I love these sandwiches. It was gone in 10 minutes flat!

But it came back! These last couple of days, I've been having a nasty case of the big D - diarrhea. And I kept wondering what's been causing me these stomach problems. As I went through a list of what I had eaten recently, it became clear to me it was the footlong steak and cheese from Subway. That bug infested sandwich must have been made with lettuce and tomatoes that have been sitting out in the open for days before I ordered it.

I often wonder when I stride into these Subways, how long they keep their lettuce, tomatoes, and other condiments in their little deli containers before restocking them. I've been to Subways where there was basically no business with the order taker/sandwich maker lounging around waiting for people to come in. How silly of me to eat at Subway! They could be serving the same lettuce from two or three days ago with some of the nastiest little buggers growing in them. After all, they are franchisee run (read "ultra profit driven"). Imagine the weapons grade e.coli that could be growing in these little vats of lettuce at Subway. Forget Taco Bell or Olive Garden. They might serve a little e.coli infested lettuce as a condiment, but at Subway, the main ingredient is lettuce. If I were a clever and entrepreneurial third world dictator bent on launching a biological scare with America, I would forget about anthrax, ricin, or whatever 10 syllable bacteria I can't pronounce. I would just start a chain of Subways and start fermenting my own homegrown weapons of mass infection in my local deli.

Better yet, I would put these Subways on wheels and drive them around. These weapons of mass infection, growing at mobile Subway food centers, would propogate quite some damage. I would have these little Subways on wheels make quick drives thru low income neighborhood and start tossing out free steak and cheese sandwiches. In a few days, I'd bet you - odds of better than 10-to-1 - that you'd be hearing of massive outbreaks of diarrhea and food poisoning that would knock out half of America's workforce. The executives at Subway would make any enemy of America proud!

In all honesty, I have lost my appetite for Subway and I am not sure I want to "eat fresh" ever again at Subway. The thought of e.coli infested lettue dancing in my dreams is enough to cause me enough nightmares for the next ten years. Bye bye Subway! You can keep your lettuce and shove it up your *** 0: I mean Christmas stocking.

Barron's Weekend Headline Summary - December 16, 2006

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/16/2006 02:35:00 PM
ConocoPhillips, Anchorage, Alaska: The third largest integrated energy company in the US and the fifth largest refiner in the world.

Too Cheap to Ignore.

No big company anywhere looks more alluring than U.S. energy giant ConocoPhillips. It's the cheapest of the world's fifty largest publicly-traded companies, and should be a gusher?provided energy prices don't drop sharply. Barron's explains.

Companies Mentioned: ConocoPhillips (NYSE COP), Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE XOM), Chevron Corporation (NYSE CVX), Marathon Oil Corporation (NYSE MRO), Royal Dutch Shell plc (ADR) (NYSE RDS.A), General Electric Company (NYSE GE), Microsoft Corporation (Nasdaq MSFT), Citigroup Inc. (NYSE C), Bank of America Corporation (NYSE BAC), Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE TM), BP plc (ADR) (NYSE BP), HSBC Holdings Holdings plc (ADR) (NYSE HBC), The Procter & Gamble Company (NYSE PG), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE WMT), Johnson & Johnson (NYSE JNJ), Pfizer Inc. (NYSE PFE), Altria Group, Inc. (NYSE MO), American International Group, Inc. (NYSE AIG), Total S.A. (ADR) (NYSE TOT), Cisco Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq CSCO), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE JPM), Novartis AG (NYSE NVS), Roche Holding Ltd. (ADR) (RHHBY), GlaxoSmithKline plc (ADR) (NYSE GSK), Vodafone Group plc (ADR) (NYSE VOD), Nestle SA (NSRGY), International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE IBM), Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (ADR) (NYSE MTU), AT&T Inc. (NYSE T), Enersis S.A. (ADR) (NYSE ENI), UBS AG (NYSE UBS), Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc (RBSPY), Intel Corporation (Nasdaq INTC), The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE KO), Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE HPQ), Telefonica S.A. (ADR) (NYSE TEF) , Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE VZ), Pepsico, Inc. (NYSE PEP), ING Group N.V. (ADR) (NYSE ING), Samsung Electronics, Merck & Co., Inc. (NYSE MRK), Barclays PLC (ADR) (NYSE BCS), Time Warner Inc. (NYSE TWX), Astrazeneca Plc (ADR) (NYSE AZN), Siemens AG (ADR) (NYSE SI), Morgan Stanley (NYSE MS), Nokia Corporation (ADR) (NYSE NOK), Heritage Financial Group (NYSE HBOS), Abbott Laboratories (NYSE ABT), Wyeth (NYSE WYE), Dell Inc. (Nasdaq DELL), Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (NYSE BRKA), PetroChina Company Limited (ADR) (NYSE PTR), The Home Depot, Inc. (NYSE HD), Lukoil NK OAO (LKOH), Dupont (NYSE DD), Gazprom OAO (EDS) (GAZP), Encana Corporation (USA) (NYSE ECA)
____________________________________________________________________

Feature:

Warming Up to TurboChef.

Many think TurboChef stock is overheated. But as Starbucks and other chains upgrade to the company's quick-cook ovens, it could get tastier still. Barron's offers predictions for the company's shares.

Companies Mentioned: TurboChef Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq OVEN), Starbucks Corporation (Nasdaq SBUX), The Middleby Corporation (Nasdaq MIDD), General Electric Company (NYSE GE), Whirlpool Corporation (NYSE WHR), Miele, Electrolux AB (ADR) (ELUXY)

_______________________________________________________________________

Feature:

Better Prospects

Newfield Exploration's onshore diversification promises to help the energy company's overall oil and gas production grow by more than 20% in 2007. Barron's explains what that may mean for the company's stock.

Companies Mentioned: Newfield Exploration Co. (NYSE NFX), EOG Resources Inc. (NYSE EOG), XTO Energy, Inc. (NYSE XTO), Chevron Corporation (NYSE CVX), Devon Energy Corporation (NYSE DVN), Exxon Mobil Corporation (NYSE XOM)
_______________________________________________________________________

Feature:

Losing Interest

Speculators could win if New York Community Bancorp attracts a buyout bid in the mid-to-high 20s. But for income investors, holding onto the stock could be dangerous. Barron's reveals why.

Companies Mentioned: New York Community Bancorp, Inc. (NYSE NYB)

_______________________________________________________________________
Feature:

Keep Your Balance.

Heelys detachable wheel-in-the-heel sneakers are as popular among kids as its stock is among investors. But both will go the way of other fads eventually, Barron's says.

Companies Mentioned: Heelys, Inc. (Nasdaq HLYS), Crocs, Inc. (Nasdaq CROX)
_______________________________________________________________________


Electronic Investor:

Getting Your Timing Right

Barron's looks at Web tools which helps investors size up the performance of 600 market timers. Also, a look at expanded services from OptionsXpress.

Companies Mentioned: OptionsXpress Holdings, Inc. (Nasdaq OXPS)

_______________________________________________________________________

Interview:

The Templeton Touch

This week, Barron's interviews Jeff Everett, chief investment officer of Templeton Global Equity Group. Fearlessly treading where expectations are lowest, he currently leaning toward stable, large companies. He names some of his current picks.

December 15, 2006

November Rally Conspiracy Theory

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/15/2006 04:13:00 PM
Jeffrey Saut from Raymond James has an interesting conspiracy theory on why the US market rallied into the US election in November. The tools:

1) Reindexing of the GSCI Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (NYSE GS) by Goldman Sachs Group Inc
2) Department of Energy's decision not to add to the Strategic Petroleum Reserves
3) Relaxation of margin requirements by the SEC

This, ladies and gentlemen, has not been the case recently as the averages have "unnaturally" vaulted higher without so much as ANY correction. We have suggested this phenomena was triggered by Goldman Sachs' re-weighting of its much institutionally indexed commodity index last July. Why Goldman would mysteriously reduce the weighting of gasoline from 7.3% to 2.5%, in a gasoline-centric economy, and stage those reductions incrementally right into the November elections is a mystery to us, but there you have it.

Following that, the Department of Energy mysteriously said it would not add to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) until after the winter months, even though the SPR was below prudent norms. This is also a mystery to us, but once again there you have it. Then, when it looked like the equity markets were set-up to correct (read: decline) in mid-October, the NYSE petitioned the SEC, and was granted, a mysterious reduction in margin requirements for an already over-margined hedge fund community. And that "mysterious surprise" gave the major market indices another leg-up (read: re-rally). Again, why in the world one would introduce more leverage into an already over-leveraged hedge fund community is a mystery to us! Also mystical is why every time the equity markets look like they are set up for a downside correction, do "buyers from Mars" appear in the futures markets to prevent a decline? We have documented such occurrences in past missives where those "mysterious buyers" have shown up at 6:30 at night and "bid" the S&P 500 futures from 1375 to 1397 (or +22 points)in a mere two minutes, but that is a discussion for another time.
Amusing!

Cheap Domains Registrations : Google for $10 or Godaddy for $8.95?

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/15/2006 03:18:00 PM
Google Inc. (Nasdaq GOOG) has entered the domain name registration business in partnership with GoDaddy and Enom. Based on my usage of the site, Google is basically shipping domain name orders to enom or GoDaddy using a some predetermined algorithm - may random number generator? Here are the highlights of the deal.

1) Google charges much more for their domains and you are better off just registering them directly with GoDaddy or eNom.
While GoDaddy sells domains for $8.95 and as low as $6.75 per month for power users, Google is charging $10 which is a premium price point. I don't think this will do, because registering a domain is as easy as typing in a word and pressing buy. They are selling a commodity product at a much higher than market price which makes no sense.

GoDaddy charges $8.95/year for a .com domain registration and it comes with Webmail, DNS, a basic home page. If you register with GoDaddy, then you can just point your DNS to Google and then it will work with Google Apps for your domain.

Enom charges $6.95 for volume buyers and $8.95 for high volume buyers. Same shtick here.

2) How much would Google earn per domain name registration with GoDaddy or eNom?
Enom's premier rate is $6.95 per year. Google probably gets a better rate, but let's assume it's $6.95, then Google makes $3.05 per registration. That's a great margin!

GoDaddy's bulk registration rate is $6.65 for those who register more than 101 domains at a time. That means Google makes $3.35 per registration. Also a nice margin.

My guess is that the preferred rate that Google receives is closer to $6 per domain name registration.

3) Google has no lock in on why consumers should buy domains from them.
Google Apps for Your Domain works with domains from any registrar. If Google Apps for your Domain only worked if you purchased your domain from Google, that would be a different story. However, that's not the case. So, why pay $1-3 more to Google?

4) Google announcement is bad news for Verisign, Inc. (Nasdaq VRSN).
Verisign is already under attack from every single direction. Verisign owns Network Solutions and they still charge an exorbitant $34.99 per domain name registration. I find no reason why this business doesn't get crushed by Google. We love you Network Solutions, but you really need to change with the times.

Waveless Rumor - Baidu Wants to Buy Video Sharing Sites 56.com and Tudou

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/15/2006 03:04:00 PM
Tudou founder Gary Wang

Baidu.com, Inc. (ADR) (Nasdaq BIDU) (via) has approached a number of Chinese video-sharing sites including 56.com and Tudou.com for informal talks, local media reported this week, however, a senior executive at Tudou.com downplayed the possibility of any potential take-over.

Baidu.com, Inc. (ADR) is currently in talks with domestic online video sites Tudou.com and 56.com about an acquisition, according to a rumor reported by Shanghai Securities News. Google, meanwhile, plans to acquire a Chinese online video site or find a local partner to release a Chinese version of its video site Youtube next year, China Business News reports quoting unnamed insiders. Baidu has partnered with content providers, including MTV, to launch its own paid video and MP3 download platform called "Xia Ba" at v.baidu.com.

Top New Magazines for the Ultra Rich

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/15/2006 03:06:00 AM
Are you ultra-rich or a ultra-rich wannabe? High net worth investor? Private equity guru? Hedge fund honcho? Venture capitalist vulture? Some of the top publishers in America are launching magazines, print magazines - yes, those things you never read anymore - targeting the ultra high net worth individual.

For the aspiring statesman:

The American. The American is being launched by the American Enterprise Institute, the magazine is called the American. "The American is a magazine for leaders, those C-level executives — the CEOs, CFOs, and COOs — who are interested in the intersection of business and ideas." The mag will focus on business reporting but also public policy, foreign policy, economics, and the influence business has on our culture. To focus on that limited but special audience, the American has printed just over 50,000 copies. Half of the circulation is paid, half controlled, with some copies available at airports and at newsstands.

The lead story in its premiere issue asks, "Why do we underpay our best CEOs?" It's a rarely asked question these days, while another separates the facts and myths about global warming in a way that would not please Al Gore. A third, written by Dr. Sally Satel, an AEI Fellow and a kidney transplant recipient, argues for a market in organ donations. There is also a look at Mitt Romney's background as a businessman and venture capitalist and an examination of how Congressman Charles Rangel, the new chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, thinks about business. Another article gives three cheers for higher tuition - definitely a conservative mag. No free trial here, you have to pay.

For the aspiring deal maker:

Dealmaker. A publication that is for and about the "acquiring minds" of investment bankers, private equity executives, and venture capitalists. The audience is also a special, elite group. The circulation is larger: 100,000. "Traders are impulsive. Dealmakers, the guys who buy and sell, not stocks and bonds but whole companies, are more analytical. They are always looking for long-term value." "They are just incredibly smart guys."

The first issue of Dealmaker includes a feature on "The 30 Top Rainmakers," an interview with Wall Street icon Sandy Weil, and a description of "The Deal From Hell." It also doesn't stint on giving tips for achieving the good life. There is a one-pager highlighting a $10,000 Valextra Avietta briefcase and a fashion spread that includes a $6,730 Brioni suit. In its way, it is Fortune for the most fortunate. Get your free subscription - for VCs, private equity investors, hedge fund managers.

For the high networth investor:

Portfolio. Portfolio is being kept under wraps, but the magazine's promotion makes the fulsome claim: "It will change the way you look at business."Portfolio will launch with a 350,000 rate base. Portfolio, like the American, is also sometimes described as "a magazine of business and ideas," while others believe it will be closer to Dealmaker's mix of news, personality profiles, as well as a salute to all the luxury things that big money can buy. "I'd never underestimate Condé Nast, but that's a big circulation number," the publisher of Trader and Dealmaker, Wilkie Bushby, said. "Personally, I am contented with being in a very small, very defined, very elite niche." Get your free trial.

Long live the magazine.

Busting Illegals = Higher Steak Prices?

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/15/2006 12:26:00 AM

Agricultural industry experts are speculating that busting illegals could lead to higher steak prices. This is a case of pure and simple economics.

"The meatpacking industry has become dependent on an unauthorized labor force, and it is not good government to destroy an entire industry. In some way, there is going to be a meeting of the minds," said Mark Reed, a former immigration regional director who now runs his own consulting business, Border Management Strategies, in Tucson, Ariz.

The article points out that some of these companies were really asking for it.

Swift & Co. said its meatpacking plants were running at reduced levels a day after nearly 1,300 employees were arrested in a massive immigration sweep that temporarily halted operations.

For heaven's sake, did this company have any employees who were LEGAL?

I'm a big fan of cheap steak, so call me biased. Uncle - please don't ruin the holidays for me! In defense of illegals, they do work very hard. Illegals ask not how many hours they have to work, but how many hours they can work as pointed out by Jim Rogers.
Potato crusted Chilean Sea Bass with asparagus tips and tomato. A pound costs $24.99!
Our country is in desperate need of cheaper food. In case you think I'm joking, check out your local supermarket aisles. I was shopping at Whole Foods Market, Inc. (Nasdaq WFMI) and couldn't believe some of the prices I saw. Do you want to know an industry that could really use some illegals? Fishing.

Wild Salmon at Le Bernardin. A pound of wild Alaskan salmon: $18.99!
I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a pound of chilean sea bass go for $24.99 and a pound of wild Alaskan salmon going for $18.99 a pound!

December 14, 2006

Guess Who Has the Most Honest Job?

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/14/2006 07:27:00 PM

If you answered congressmen, insurance salesmen, or car salesmen, then you are morally bankrupt. According to Gallup, the most honest professions, nurses topped the list ranking 84 on a 100 point scale, followed by pharmacists, veterinarians, doctors and dentists in that particular order. Engineers, college teachers, clergy, policeman, and psychiatrists rounded out the top 10. It is interesting to see that 5 of the top 10 jobs belonged to the health care profession.

What is not surprising is that car salesman ranked last with just 7 points.

Here are some interesting facts:

Bankers trounced stockbrokers for honesty with 37 vs 17 points.

Business executives were on par with lawyers in terms of honesty, with 17 points even.

Senators fared better than congressmen, edging them by 1 point (15 points vs 14 points). State governors fared best with 22 points.

Journalists? 26 points - slightly more honest than your governor!

The moral of the story: If you want an honest spouse, marry someone in the medical profession. If you're looking for a business partner, avoid former car salesmen. Finally, most importantly, don't trust your stock broker.

Goldman Bankers: Please Stop Hitting on the Bartender at Nebraska Beef

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/14/2006 06:53:00 PM
The Daily news ran a story on how all the bankers at Goldman Sachs Group (NYSE GS) plan to spend their fat check and bonus money by interviewing purveyors of luxury products in Manhattan including a golf dealer, a BMW dealer, and last but not least, a bartender. It's not unusual to ask for the name, age, and occupation of interviewees, but for the bartender, the Daily News also included additional facts for its dear readers - like her marital status and that she comes with luggage.

Mona Vijolan, 27, of Glendale, Queens, tends bar at Nebraska Beef, a Stone St. steakhouse in the shadow of the Goldman Sachs building. Lately, brokers haven't blinked at the $63 price when ordering "The Stockbroker," a hunk of aged prime rib served with a half-pound lobster tail.

"This is the month for bonuses and when the market's been good, our customers are even more generous than usual," said Vijolan, who's married and has a 4-year-old daughter. "This year has been great," she said, adding that $100 tips are commonplace. (via)


Nice to know. But for those multimillionaire bankers, that's probably not a dealbreaker.

Another Flogger Exposed - Sony in Hot Water for Fake Blog

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/14/2006 06:14:00 PM
This one--the latest in a string of stealth marketing efforts--involves a "flog," or fake blog, created by viral marketing firm Zipatoni to promote the Sony PSP. The blog, alliwantforxmasisapsp.com, was supposedly authored by an amateur hip-hop artist "Charlie"--whose cousin, "Pete," craved a PSP under the tree.

Written in faux hip-hop and Internet lingo, the phony blog, which went live at the end of last month, quickly raised suspicions. Last week, some readers conducted a WHOIS search, which unmasked the site's registrars as Zipatoni.

Previously, Edelman, the PR firm for Walmart Stores Inc. (NYSE WMT), was taken to the shed for their fake flog called Walmarting Across America Flog.

I tried to access the flog, alliwantforxmasisapsp.com and I couldn't get it to load. If I were Zipatoni, I would have left the site up now that the flog is actually viral and every crazy blogger is blogging about it. After all, all publicity is good publicity!

Asia, Europle, and America's Top Young Entrepreneurs

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/14/2006 06:09:00 PM
In case you have a hankering for something entrepreneurial, BusinessWeek did a great spread on the top young entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and America. Why the rush? One VC said, "Companies like Skype have inspired a whole generation."

In Asia, some of the interesting ones:

Ario Pratomo in Jakarta runs his own logistics company that sells cargo space for a unit of Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi airline. Fellow Indonesian Hendy Setiono runs a fast-growing chain of kebab sandwich shops with 65-odd outlets.

Divyank Turakhia, co-founder and director of Bombay-based Directi Group, was doing Internet consulting at age 14 before launching his domain-name registration and site-building company two years later with $600 he borrowed from his parents. At 24, he runs a profitable company with more than 250 employees and clients around the world.

In Europe,

For many young entrepreneurs, starting their own companies is a way to unite different threads in their lives. That was what moved 25-year-old Karm Singh, a British-born computer science graduate of Indian heritage, to launch a Web site called Desitouch.com that features music and video from South Asia. Something like a cross between iTunes, MySpace, and YouTube, but for Bollywood productions and Bhangra music, and it has already attracted a strong following from the South Asian community at home and abroad.

Of course, today's young entrepreneurs grew up with the Internet, so many of their businesses revolve around the Web. Dutchman Ben Woldring, 21, launched his first Web site at 13 and now offers his compatriots four online comparison sites that let them shop for the best rates on fixed and mobile phone service, Internet access, and utilities. Austria's Fathi Said, 24, started a Web hosting business at 18 and lost it at 20, then started another that's even more successful.

The Web is also home to Julien Genestoux's Jobetudiant.net, a job site aimed at French students that has already attracted 200,000 registrations. London's Wayne Berko is running a similar site—but aimed solely at getting students and professional actors jobs as film and TV extras. And Britain's Neil Waller has turned the notion of an online travel site on its ear. He launched Marbellainfo.com to give British travelers better information about the Spanish coastal resort city, only to discover that the locals liked using it just as much. Now he aims to launch travel-and-community sites for other popular destinations.

You Don't Need to Show Up at Work if You Work at Best Buy

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/14/2006 05:56:00 PM
You don't need to show up at work if you work at Best Buy.
Employees at Best Buy Co., Inc. (NYSE BBY) has something to cheer for the holidays: There will be henceforth no more meetings and no more schedules at Best Buy. As a matter of fact, some no longer even have an office - no they haven't been laid off. They've been given more freedom over their schedules and their work.

At most companies, going AWOL during daylight hours would be grounds for a pink slip. Not at Best Buy. The nation's leading electronics retailer has embarked on a radical--if risky--experiment to transform a culture once known for killer hours and herd-riding bosses. The endeavor, called ROWE, for "results-only work environment," seeks to demolish decades-old business dogma that equates physical presence with productivity. The goal at Best Buy is to judge performance on output instead of hours.

Hence workers pulling into the company's amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren't considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. It's O.K. to take conference calls while you hunt, collaborate from your lakeside cabin, or log on after dinner so you can spend the afternoon with your kid.

The strategy sounds like it was picked right out of a startup manual. Give your employees freedom to do their work, get it done - anyway.

By the end of 2007, all corporate employees at Best Buy will be on the program. Best Buy notes that productivity is up an average 35% in departments that have switched to ROWE.

Hate being teathered to your desk during business hours? Go get a job at Best Buy.

Google Is Your Frenemy

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/14/2006 05:23:00 PM
Google Cookies: Very tasty, very addictive, possibly hazardous to your long term health.
Frenemy : (Fre - ne - mee) A friend who is also your enemy.
- Mr Wave Theory

Ask 10 ad agencies who Google is, and 9 out of 10 of them will tell you that Google Inc. (Nasdaq GOOG) is their frenemy. In a world of synergies and friendly competition and co-optition, Google best exemplifies the new dot-com businesses: both friend and foe. Eric Schmidt finally came clean with his big hairy audacious today in the WSJ:

The ultimate goal, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt told reporters in October, is to let advertisers buy a broad menu of ad types and distribution through Google's single Web-based interface. "The long-term fantasy is we walk up to you and you give us, say, $10 million and we'll completely allocate it for you" across different media and ad types, he said in an interview last month. All types of ads can be made more effective, for instance by targeting them to consumers more likely to be interested in them, Mr. Schmidt said. By tackling that problem, Google expects to expand its share of global advertising sales.

SnickerGoogles: The Googly treat for the holidays
Google wants to serve not just web ads, but tv ads, radio ads, print ads. You name it. If you are the CEO of OMD or Carat Interactive or Ogilvy or WPP Group PLC (ADR) (Nasdaq WPPGY), you should be shaking in your boots, because your customers love Google and would leave you in a flash if they offered all the capabilities that Eric promised. One Google lover gushed:

Google's efforts generally have "added a whole level of science to the marketing decisions you make as a CMO," says Gemstar-TV Guide's Mr. Cohen. But he views Google's new offerings in radio as a way to fill out a brand's overall radio-ad buying rather than a venue for the core ad purchase. One advertiser admitted.

"I'm going to be able to buy in smaller increments based on various niches and hopefully be able to know if it's working for me much more quickly and be able to adjust my marketing media mix based on these results," says another attendee, Alexandra Aleskovsky, general manager of Weight Watchers International Inc.'s WeightWatchers.com division. WeightWatchers.com already buys Google search ads, and would use the service to advertise on radio, Ms. Aleskovsky says.

To attract advertisers, Google invited several top advertisers to their Googleplex for lunch with Eric, Larry, and Sergei. Word was that the big G cooked a delicious meal and even baked custom cookies especially in the shape of each advertiser's logo. Word was that they were way cooler than the Google cookies, snickergoogles, and Google giveaway cookies of holidays past.

New Minimum Net Worth for Hedge Fund Investors : $2.5 Million

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/14/2006 05:18:00 PM
The SEC raised the minimum net worth for a hedge fund investor from $1 million to $2.5 million Wednesday.

The proposals include the following:

* Antifraud Provision under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The proposal would make it a fraudulent, deceptive, or manipulative act, practice, or course of business for an investment adviser to a pooled investment vehicle to make false or misleading statements or to otherwise defraud investors or prospective investors in that pool. The rule would apply to all investment advisers to pooled investment vehicles, regardless of whether the adviser is registered under the Advisers Act. Under the proposed rule, a pooled investment vehicle would include any investment company and any company that would be an investment company but for the exclusions in sections 3(c)(1) or 3(c)(7) of the Investment Company Act.

* Amendments to Private Offering Rules under the Securities Act of 1933. The proposals would define a new category of accredited investor that would apply to offers and sales of securities issued by hedge funds and other private investment pools to natural persons. The proposed definition would include any natural person who (a) meets either the net worth test or income test specified in rule 501(a) or rule 215, as applicable, and (b) owns at least $2.5 million in investments, as defined in the proposed rules.

The five-person agency approved the new increase unanimously. The SEC is next expected to put the proposal out for public comment before making a final decision later. The vote marked the first change since 1982, when the minimum net worth requirement-known as the accredited investor standard-was set at $1 million.

The proposal also made it fraudulent for a hedge fund to make false or misleading information to its clientele.

The hedge fund industry has grown to its current size via expanding from its original investor base of rich people and institutional clientele to include the more mainstream investor. According to the HFN Asset Flow Report, the asset class is at $1.786 trillion worldwide. Although the new requirement will not impact those already invested, the new minimum will shut the door to a lot of less affluent people who would have otherwise sought entry into the asset class.

China Culture Ministry Releases Rules for Web 2.0 Music and Online Games

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/14/2006 05:07:00 PM
China is increasingly looking anti-Web 2.0, which bodes poorly for the likes of MySpace, with its hopes of opening in China sometime next year. On Tuesday, the government said it's tightening controls over the online music and game industries, demanding that distributors report imported products directly to censors for approval.

The move, officially meant to encourage a "civilized and healthy" Internet, comes amid greater efforts to control media in general. The Culture Ministry, which posted the note on its Web site, says it's partly trying to protect Chinese companies from losing market share to foreign rivals. Sure.

The new rules apply to Web sites and mobile-phone companies that distribute foreign music. Chinese music doesn't have to be reported. Foreign-backed distributors have also been completely banned--so no iTunes and presumably, no MySpace Music, either. As for online games, distributors must also receive approval before releasing imported titles, filing monthly reports with censors to make sure they haven't added forbidden content. Politically sensitive, violent and sexually suggestive material are banned. Forget "Grand Theft Auto," but what about Second Life, the anything-goes-online world created by users? China has 23 million online game players, and revenue is supposed to be $850 million this year.

December 13, 2006

Bill Clinton Launches Search Engine Accoona

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/13/2006 10:28:00 PM
Bill Clinton and Accoona Chairman Eckhard Pfeiffer announced the company's launching of its "One-click for ALLSearch" technology, at the United Nations Friday evening, in the presence of Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Accoona has launched both a search engine and a toolbar. Accoona offers several features that look like a meta search engine to SuperTarget Your Search. You can target your search several different ways.

GeoTarget Your Search. You can pick the country where your search results come from.
Companies Mentioned. Accoona can pick out results with certain companies mentioned.
People Search. Accoona can pick out results with certain people mentioned.
Language. Accoona can pick out results with certain languages.
Publisher. Accoona can pick out results with certain publishes and from certain websites.

The ads are served by Google.

December 12, 2006

Watch Jim Rogers Video On Hot Commodities

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/12/2006 08:10:00 PM
Jim Rogers, one of the cofounders of the Quantum Fund with George Soros, gave a talk on 11/6/06 to a group of investors that I found interesting. He talks about commodities and the bull market. You can watch the video here. You may recall that Jim Rogers wrote Hot Commodities : How Anyone Can Invest Profitably in the World's Best Market . Below are my notes from the talk. I'm making them available in unedited form.




Notes from Jim Rogers 11/6/06 Talk

The Chinese are called Communists, but they are some of the best capitalists in the world.

When Chinese come to work, they ask not How many hours do I have to work. They want to know how many hours can I work.

I expect many real estate speculators in China to go bust, but when they go bust, pick up the phone and buy.

The single most important piece of advice for you: Teach them Chinese. My baby girl is perfectly fluent in Chinese. I got a nany who only speaks Chinese to her. People think she is native, until they see her.

US Dollar is and has been the medium of exchange.
1987 - creditor nation. Now, the US is the largest debtor. We owe the world $13 trillion dollars.

Foreign debts rising $1 trillion every 15 months.

America's enemies are trying to figure this out. Our friends are saying maybe these guys are out of control.

Figure out a way to prepare yourselves. When the pound sterling lost its status as the reserve currency of the world, especially for people with hard assets.

My little girl is an American. She has a bank account. It is not an American bank account. It is a Swiss bank account.

The bond market was in a big bull market 1981-2003. Sell all your bonds. Interest rates will be going up around the world for a very long time.

Stocks were in a big bull in the 80s and 90s. Stocks too have peaked. At best, in a big trading range. Stocks are expensive with any classic valuation method - P/E, P/B value. Stocks are expensive. Very leery of most stocks.

If you want to make lots of money, we have one now, commodities. Most people still can't spell commodities.

25 years ago, if you were to go to Madrid, Rome, and asked take me to the stock market, then they would ask you what is a stock market.

In the UK, in the world, commodities are the same. Nobody knows what is a commodity.

How long will it last? The shortest was 13 years. The longest. 18 years. 2013 and 2022. Always last a long time.

It's about supply and demand. 1980s, 1990s everyone was calling you to invest in hedge funds, nobody invested in lead mines, and productive capacity. One lead mine opened in the last 25 years. No gigantic oil field discovered since 35 years. UK exporting oil for 35 years. With decades, UK/Malaysia importing. China exported 10 years ago. Now importing. Oil fields deplete. Mines deplete.

1998 - opened commodities fund. Up 223% since then. When commodities do well, stocks do badly. When stocks do well, commodities do poorly. Big setback in commodities during 9/11.

World has plenty of stocks. Bankers are cranking them out everyday. You can't crank out a mine.

1979 - Saudi Oil was nationalized by Aramco
Westerner's last audit said they had 245 billion barrels of oil.
Today, they say they have 260 billion barrels of oil. Every year, the Saudis say they have 260 billion. It doesn't go up or go down. How can this be? 18 years in a row. Either you believe us or you don't. Something is wrong.

Baby girl doesn't own single stocks or bonds. Happy only owning commodities. Learn some Chinese. Get out of dollars. Buy all the commodities you can.

I own BHP Billiton. If you are really good at stocks, you will make much more money in stocks. If you know a natural gas company in Berlin will discover alot of gas, then you should buy it. Oil went up 10 times in Russia, some stocks did nothing. In eastern Europe, commodities outperformed stocks. Not everyone is good at stock picking.

Stocks +300% in 70s. Went down 40% in 87. Went up 700%.
Gold up 600%. 70s. After corrected, up 850%.
Won't all correct at the same time.

Uranium. Timber. Water.
Uranium = +600, 700, 800% in last few years. Chinese 25 nuclear plants in next 25 years.
Timber = Lumber for reasons.
Water = Solve water problems, will be world's richest person. Wars east of red sea over oil. Wars west of red sea over water. Northern China. Northern India. Disappeared because water disappeared. No futures market in water. Huge fortunes to be made in water.

My daughter owns silver and platinum. Her mother owns diamonds.

Unadjusted for inflation.
Prices of commodities below all time high.
Sugar 85% below all time high
Cotton 65
Coffee 60-70%

Google Inc. Creates Private Market for Incentive Stock Options

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/12/2006 08:04:00 PM
Google Inc. (Nasdaq GOOG) is allowing employees to sell their vested options via a private auction market created by Morgan Stanley. It makes alot of sense since the implied volatility of Google options tends to be very high, meaning the options are often worth more than the underlying stock. It's called the Transferrable Stock Option (TSO) program. Google explains:

As with most employee stock option programs, Google's program to date has allowed employees to do two things with their options. Upon vesting they can (1) hold them or (2) exercise them and then hold or sell the stock. With the new TSO program, employees will have an additional alternative: they can transfer (sell) their options to a financial institution through a competitive bidding process. The ability to sell options is not a novel concept -- today people can buy and sell options to purchase GOOG stock and the stock of many other companies on the public markets. What is novel is that we are extending this ability to trade options to employee stock options.


Because of the high premium and implied volatility of Google stock, Allan Brown explains that employees may be able to make more by selling the option rather than exercising it.

With the TSO program, employees will also be able to sell vested options to the highest-bidding financial institution, which may be willing to pay a premium above the difference between the exercise price and the market price for Google stock (even when the exercise price is higher than the market price). The premium paid is for the time value of the options. More on that and how institutions would do this, and why, is here.


More details, read the press release.

GE Home Page Wins Crappy Web Search Award

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/12/2006 07:01:00 PM
I was looking for corporate blogs written by executives at General Electric Company (NYSE GE), one of the largest companies in America when I stumbled upon some crappy web search. I typed in "blogs" into the search box at General Electric's home page.

Then I clicked Search. The result: A big blank page!

Blank! Imagine the horror.

A Second College Try Since it didn't like "blogs", I tried something different: "blog". Maybe this search engine doesn't understand plurals?!

I clicked Search. The results.

GE is no Google and Google is no GE, but my experience raises alot of questions about the basic web capabilities of GE. I can't believe that no one caught this bug. I can't possibly be the first person to search for "blogs." If I were a GE shareholder, I would have several questions for management:

1) Does anyone at GE search their own website? I just can't imagine that a casual user of the GE website would be the first one to encounter this bug. If no one is using the search, then this is a very serious problem, because it means the search is either crappy or the website has no useful information: both of which I don't imagine can possibly be true.

2) Who runs the GE website? This person ought to be held responsible for launching such a crappy product. GE invented quality improvement and quality control and Six Sigma and it's a disgrace to shareholders that the site doesn't work - or selectively works based on your search term.

3) How much does GE spend on its website? Many websites are contracted out. If this site has been outsourced, then the outsourced vendor better have a good explanation for what's going on.

Search is a very important tool that I use to find information. I can't imagine living without good search. Maybe Jeff Immelt should take his site for a spin and start using his own home page.

Update: I tested this using FireFox.

I Called It! Mamma.com Inc. Up 80%

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/12/2006 04:47:00 PM
A few months ago, I wrote that Mamma.com Inc. (Nasdaq MAMA) is potentially worth $5.25 when it was trading at $1.59 and and today Mamma.com delivered. Mamma Inc. gained 80% to close at 4.28 (+1.91) on the announcement of its video search engine. That's a sweet gain of 130% for those who bought the stock at $1.59 back in October.

The CEO was effusive in the press release about the video search engine, "Mamma users are now able to find, explore, and view millions of broadband videos from a wide range of topics including TV shows, movies, music, and news events." In a rare case of reaching out to the masses, he even left his contact information in the press release.
Mamma.com Inc.
Guy Faure, President and Chief Executive Officer
Telephone Toll Free: 877-289-4682 #146
Telephone Local: 514-908-4346
guy@mamma.com
www.mammainc.com
My original analysis was very simple:
Note my analysis is very top down. I think these are the scenarios.

25% @ $8 Buyout from Microsoft
50% @ $5 Improvement in earnings and revenues from AOL
25% @ $3 Stand alone company

I think this Mamma.com stock is worth $5.25.

I still think it holds true that this could be potentially an $8 stock. Hard to believe but Mamma used to be a $15 stock.

One note of caution for buyers is that this particular stock is tightly controlled by day traders and market makers. You can see from the chart how choppy it has been.

Judging from the action, it easily moves 20-30% per week - up and down!

How I Discovered that Google ToolBar Spied on My Surfing

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/12/2006 02:48:00 PM
Recently, I downloaded a program called Live HTTP Headers a FireFox extension that shows which URLs are being downloaded by my browser. I learned that every time I loaded a web page, FireFox was loading a url that was http://toolbarqueries.google.com . Since I never typed that url into to my browser, I wondered what program was making the call. It turned out that it was Google Toolbar.

For instance, when I loaded the FireFox homepage, Google made the following call:

http://toolbarqueries.google.com/search?sourceid=navclient-ff&features=Rank&
client=navclient-auto-ff&googleip=O;xx.xxx.x.xxx;xxx&ch=xxxxxxxxx&q=info:http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Ffirefox%3Fclient%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial

I surfed around to figure out what was going on and learned that if you have PageRank Display enabled, Google Toolbar will contact Google every time you access a webpage. To query PageRank, the Google Toolbar makes a standard HTTP request to toolbarqueries.google.com, with the page to query in a parameter along with a hash (presumably to discourage scraping). pagerank.js includes the hash algorithm, with some amusing implementation details: #
var GPR_HASH_SEED = "Mining PageRank is AGAINST GOOGLE'S TERMS OF SERVICE. Yes, I'm talking to you, scammer."; #


function GPR_awesomeHash(value) {
var kindOfThingAnIdiotWouldHaveOnHisLuggage = 16909125;
...
}


Google's privacy policy does not tell users what it does with the data for these PageRank queries. However, presumably, it could be used for a variety of things. For instance, for each PageRank request, Google could be keeping track a list of all the websites you have visited and tracking your surfing habit. Of course, the big G doesn't tell anyone what it is doing, so this is kind of freaky. Some people might call it spyware.

To disable this spyware feature. you can click on Options on the Google Toolbar and un-check the box that says PageRank display. Doing so will stop the queries from happening and hopefully stop the unwanted spying.

December 10, 2006

Shopping Capitalist - An Ounce of Bare Escentuals Worth More Than An Ounce of Gold

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/10/2006 11:04:00 PM
I was shopping today with the family and happened upon a new cosmetics store at the mall called Bare Escentuals, Inc. (Nasdaq BARE). It was started in 1976, 30 years ago in Los Gatos California by a woman entrepreneur, Wendy Zomnir, because she wanted to make make-up available to women with crushed minerals from the earth. Bare Escentuals creates all its make up from 100% pure "bareMinerals" which are free of preservatives, talc, oil, fragrance and other potential skin irritants. Today it's run by another woman, CEO Leslie Blodgett.

The BareMinerals SPF 15 Foundation at Bare Escentuals costs $25 for 9 grams.

The store was packed with women who wanted to try the BareMinerals, because the staff mixes custom colors for women and provides a free makeup session. It was hot and the foot traffic was amazing. I got pretty excited and checked the place out, and I couldn't believe the prices they were charging for these custom blends.

BareMinerals (9 grams) costs $25! The picture is crummy. I know. My phone sucks.
It costs about $25 for 9 grams of this bareMinerals. Now, the quick thinking me started trying to figure out what that really means. I did a quick calculation and converted that to troy ounces (1 troy ounce = 480 grams).

$25 / 9 * 480 = $1333.33.

You get to a price of $1333.33 per troy ounce of BareMinerals. BareMinerals is more expensive than an ounce of gold. In fact, more than twice the price of a troy ounce gold - the December gold futures closed at $626 per ounce on December 8, 2006! With prices like these, who needs to deal in commodities or deal in drugs? Foggetaboutit! Let's start doing cosmetics!

By the way, in case you were wondering, Bare Escentuals is a public company. They went public on September 29, 2006 at $22 per share and closed the day at $27.15 gaining 22%. The deal was led by Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. (NYSE GS) and CIBC. It recently traded at $34.45 which means it has gained 56% since its IPO. It did $364 million in revenues in the trailing twelve months and earned $38 million while growing 44%. Not bad for a $3 billion company!

TopCoder Proves That Chinese Women Have More Equality in Engineering Education

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 12/10/2006 07:21:00 AM

A Chinese undergraduate has been named the VP of of Asian operations for TopCoder. Wu Yingying, 21, holding patents for three of her 100 inventions, has become Asia operations vice president with TopCoder, a Connecticut-based multinational company before her graduation, reported the Beijing News Friday. By the way, she hasn't even graduated!

Wu was admitted to the Beijing Normal University in 2003. She led the university team in winning the runner-up title of the ACM International Collegiate Programming contest in 2005. The same year, she went to Stanford University as a visiting student.

Wu Yingying, 21, a psychology major, is now the Asia operations vice president.

TopCoder Inc. is a worldwide leader in online programming and software development. According to TopCoder's Oct. 25 announcement, Wu will oversee and manage TopCoder business relationships and will build TopCoder's market presence and membership enrollment throughout the China and Asia region.

Wu's inventions, ranging from the OPEN Indexing Technology to the Dynamic Counter Cachet Technology, won her the 2006 Innovation and Technology Prize of China, an award sponsored by the Ministry of Education.

I think this particular anecdote goes to show that one of the benefits of socialism is equality in education between men and women. Gender roles are not explicitly delineated in socialist countries and women have a more equal shot at engineering careers. It is not unusual to see gender balance in engineering classrooms in China. On the contrary, you rarely see 50/50 split in engineering enrollment in America - schools are lucky to see 70/30 or 60/40.