March 3, 2014







Sbarro goes bankrupt

The filing would represent the company’s second trip to bankruptcy court in the past three years. Sbarro first sought protection from creditors in April 2011, citing slower sales and higher costs for ingredients such as cheese. As part of its latest efforts to streamline the company, Sbarro announced plans last month to close 155 locations in North America.

Exponent Private Equity purchases Scotch Distillery

The deal sees Exponent Private Equity take control of assets including the Loch Lomond distillery in West Dumbartonshire, the Glen Catrine packaging plant in Ayrshire and the Glen Scotia malt distillery in Campbeltown. Alongside these, Exponent has also taken ownership of the Loch Lomond and Glen Scotia single malt brands, the High Commissioner blended Scotch whisky and Glen’s Vodka.

Apple enters the car

The company confirmed that Ferrari,Mercedes-Benz and Volvo will demonstrate the new technology at this week’s Geneva Auto Show and it expects more than a dozen other major car manufacturers to bring the system to its automobiles in the future.

Berkshire Hathaway’s 2013 Annual Letter

Most of you have never heard of Energy Future Holdings. Consider yourselves lucky; I certainly wish I hadn’t. The company was formed in 2007 to effect a giant leveraged buyout of electric utility assets in Texas. The equity owners put up $8 billion and borrowed a massive amount in addition. About $2 billion of the debt was purchased by Berkshire, pursuant to a decision I made without consulting with Charlie. That was a big mistake.


What to Read

February 6, 2013

Segway inventor’s next endeavor (Forbes)

Called the Slingshot… this 300 pound, dorm fridge-sized box can take any kind of sewage or even salt water and create 200 to 250 gallons a day of clean water. Kamen once demonstrated the Slingshot by turning his urine into clean water and drinking a glass of it.


How Panda Express brings Chinese food to the mall (CNN Money)

Andrew and Peggy Cherng, now 65 and 62, respectively, opened their first Chinese restaurant in 1973 with $60,000 from savings and a Small Business Administration loan, plus relatives who worked for free. Today Panda Restaurant Group is the nation’s leader in Asian fast-casual eateries, exceeding $1.7 billion in revenue in 2012.


Citysearch’s Mobile Comeback Strategy (Business Insider)

Citysearch, once synonymous with local reviews in the ’90s, is battling back against the upstarts with its refreshed iPhone app. The app is chock full of quality recommendations for restaurants, shopping, spas, and what’s hot in big cities. Citysearch, now part of CityGrid Media, started out as an online city guide written by professional editorial staff. Its modern, mobile incarnation still emphasizes tips from its expert “scouts” rather than crowdsourced recommendations from customers, like you’d find on Yelp or Foursquare, though those are also present.

The New York Times invites media startups to work from its headquarters

The New York Times is opening up its office space and expertise to media startups through timeSpace. The scheme is opening up office space at the newspaper’s headquarters at 620 8th Avenue, New York City, to provide fledgling businesses with a four-month program. The company is looking for entrepreneurs or startups within the journalism or digital media industry and with these fledgling enterprises it hopes to work on refining their ideas and to open up opportunities to meet with relevant staff members. timeSpace will be home to three to five companies during the four-month period, who will be able to collaborate with, learn and teach each other. The New York Times will also benefit from gaining access to the innovative minds of new businesses entering the media sphere today.

Pensions bet big with private equity (WSJ)

With so much riding on returns, Harris has created an investment operation that looks and feels more like a hedge fund than a government agency. The office lobby buzzes with a flat-screen television that hangs next to photos of school children. Two of the fund’s traders work into the night from a windowless room, following the markets in Asia and Europe. Staff—including secretaries—can score annual bonuses provided the pension beats its peers by just a small fraction.


Ray Dalio: Cash Will Move Into ‘Stuff’ in 2013 (Market Folly)

The bets are zero sum.  In order for you to beat me in the game, it’s like poker, it’s a zero sum game.  We have 1,500 people that work at Bridgewater, we spend hundreds of millions of dollars on research, and so on.  We’ve been doing this for 37 years and we don’t know that we’re going to win.  We have to have diversified bets.  So it’s very important for most people to know when not to make a bet.  Because if you’re going to come to the poker table, you’re going to have to beat me, and you’re going to have to beat those who take money.  So the nature of investing is that a very small percentage of the people take money essentially in that poker game away from other people who don’t know when prices go up whether that means it’s a good investment or if it’s a more expensive investment.


 Bank of Italy Governor Ignazio Visco, Deutsche Bank’s Anshu Jain, French Minister of Finance Pierre Moscovici, Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan, China Investment Corp.’s Jin Liqun and Bridgewater Associates Founder Ray Dalio debate the future of the global economy.


Mike Maples on Investing in ‘Thunder Lizards’ (The Dish Daily)

According to Maples, thunder lizards reflect how the success of startups generally follows a power law distribution. Maples discussed how in a YCombinator cohort, the best company is worth more than all of the others combined. Similarly for most VC portfolios, the best company’s returns will exceed all of the other companies invested. The second best company’s value will also surpass the value of all other companies in the portfolio, excluding of course the most valuable one. Maples mentioned that the power law also applies to the movie industry (box office revenues) and web sites (page views).

The World’s Most Depressing Tech Infographic Says You’re Dead In 9 Years



October 13, 2012

“You’ve been sort of trained by circumstances, by school and work, that there is going to be someone who will nag you if you do badly,” he says. “If you’re not delivering, your boss will say, ‘Hey, you’re not delivering,’ and eventually he’ll fire you if you’re not delivering. Here, we don’t fire you. The market fires you. If you’re sucking, I’m not going to run along behind you, saying, ‘You’re sucking, you’re sucking, come on, stop sucking.’ ”

Inside Y Combinator (Vanity Fair)

“Why should a pair of glasses cost more than an iPad? Well one answer is because one company controls a big chunk of the business… a little known but very big Italian company called Luxottica. If you own a nice pair of specs or shades, they’re probably theirs. “

Sticker Shock, Why do Glasses Cost so Much? (CBS Interview)


The #1 company-killer is lack of market.

Andy puts it this way:

  • When a great team meets a lousy market, market wins.
  • When a lousy team meets a great market, market wins.
  • When a great team meets a great market, something special happens.

You can obviously screw up a great market — and that has been done, and not infrequently — but assuming the team is baseline competent and the product is fundamentally acceptable, a great market will tend to equal success and a poor market will tend to equal failure. Market matters most.

And neither a stellar team nor a fantastic product will redeem a bad market…

The Only Thing that Matters (Mark Andreessen)

UX Design for Non Designers (Jason Shen)

Windows 7 Whopper

October 28, 2009

Burger King in Japan has released the Windows 7 Whopper.  It looks amazing. I just want to know why the heck this was not a worldwide launch. This is my kind of meat to vegetable ratio.

I have confirmed via my classmate in Tokyo who sent these pictures as proof. windows7_2windows7

The three wolves moon T-shirt phenomenon is not only Hilarious, but it really demonstrates the facinating power of the internet + social networks + viral word of mouth marketing. In case you haven’t heard, this is the story of how one funny reviewer (who didn’t even buy the shirt) propelled a random wolf print t-shirt into an overnight screaming success.

Two particular things stand out about the spread of this seemingly absurd phenomenon: One, the actual sellers did nothing to initiate or spread this at all. I believe this only amplified the contagion, as consumers seem to prefer certain products when there is no self-promotion involved- that way they can share it to their friends and feel special for finding it.  Two, the craze spread through an unusual medium: not facebook, myspace, twitter, or any of the “traditional” means (not to mention any old-school print or television advertising), but via an Amazon.com customer review. This shines light on the fact that social contagions can spread through any number of unconventional channels.

Who would’ve thought a random review on Amazon could make a simple shirt with three wolves howling at the moon so popular that it gets featured on ABC NewsBBCNYT and has its own youtube music video.  Where was the tipping point for all this? I think the situation actually makes for a perfect marketing case study that would be extremely relevant in today’s dynamic, tribe-led, web 2.0 economy.

Here is the review that started it all:

By (New Jersey, USA)

“This item has wolves on it which makes it intrinsically sweet and worth 5 stars by itself, but once I tried it on, that’s when the magic happened. After checking to ensure that the shirt would properly cover my girth, I walked from my trailer to Wal-mart with the shirt on and was immediately approached by women. The women knew from the wolves on my shirt that I, like a wolf, am a mysterious loner who knows how to ‘howl at the moon’ from time to time (if you catch my drift!). The women that approached me wanted to know if I would be their boyfriend and/or give them money for something they called mehth. I told them no, because they didn’t have enough teeth, and frankly a man with a wolf-shirt shouldn’t settle for the first thing that comes to him.

I arrived at Wal-mart, mounted my courtesy-scooter (walking is such a drag!) sitting side saddle so that my wolves would show. While I was browsing tube socks, I could hear aroused asthmatic breathing behind me. I turned around to see a slightly sweaty dream in sweatpants and flip-flops standing there. She told me she liked the wolves on my shirt, I told her I wanted to howl at her moon. She offered me a swig from her mountain dew, and I drove my scooter, with her shuffling along side out the door and into the rest of our lives. Thank you wolf shirt.

Pros: Fits my girthy frame, has wolves on it, attracts women
Cons: Only 3 wolves (could probably use a few more on the ‘guns’), cannot see wolves when sitting with arms crossed, wolves would have been better if they glowed in the dark.”

Rep pts. to Rooths for sharing with me the glorious three wolf moon t-shirt.