How to Best Protect Your Brand From a Coup d’Etat; Soon, a Singapore court will decide a lawsuit involving one of Indonesia’s most well-known brands, with not only millions of dollars at stake but also ownership of the brand itself

How to Best Protect Your Brand From a Coup d’Etat
Commentary | Prudence Jahja & Andrew Diamond | February 25, 2013

Soon, a Singapore court will decide a lawsuit involving one of Indonesia’s most well-known brands, with not only millions of dollars at stake but also ownership of the brand itself.

How Ku De Ta, the long-standing Bali beach club and an establishment known for its chic and laid-back demeanor, became embroiled in a hotly contentious, multiparty lawsuit 1,600 kilometers away from its sublime beachfront location in Seminyak is a story that every Indonesian brand owner should learn by heart.

It is a story that has important implications for doing business in this increasingly globalized world. And while this decision is eagerly anticipated by the parties and intellectual property lawyers who focus on trademarks and brand protection, for everyone else the decision itself does not matter, as the lessons to be learned from this case have been clear for quite some time, however the court rules.  Read more of this post

China Has Its Own Debt Bomb; Not unlike the U.S. in 2008, China is at the end of a credit binge that won’t end well

February 25, 2013, 7:04 p.m. ET

China Has Its Own Debt Bomb

Not unlike the U.S. in 2008, China is at the end of a credit binge that won’t end well.


Six years ago, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao cautioned that China’s economy is “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable.” China has since doubled down on the economic model that prompted his concern.

Mr. Wen spoke out in an attempt to change the course of an economy dangerously dependent on one lever to generate growth: heavy investment in the roads, factories and other infrastructure that have helped make China a manufacturing superpower. Then along came the 2008 global financial crisis. To keep China’s economy growing, panicked officials launched a half-trillion-dollar stimulus and ordered banks to fund a new wave of investment. Investment has risen as a share of gross domestic product to 48%—a record for any large country—from 43%.

Even more staggering is the amount of credit that China unleashed to finance this investment boom. Since 2007, the amount of new credit generated annually has more than quadrupled to $2.75 trillion in the 12 months through January this year. Last year, roughly half of the new loans came from the “shadow banking system,” private lenders and credit suppliers outside formal lending channels. These outfits lend to borrowers—often local governments pushing increasingly low-quality infrastructure projects—who have run into trouble paying their bank loans. Read more of this post

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Snapping Up Existing Web Firms to Try to Catch Up to eBay, Amazon; Home Depot is buying a startup that uses algorithms to set Web prices

February 25, 2013, 7:56 p.m. ET

Targeting Tech-Savvy Startups

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Snapping Up Existing Web Firms to Try to Catch Up to eBay, Amazon


Three months ago, Rodrigo Carvalho and Lukas Bouvrie were working 20-hour days to raise money and attract clients for Black Locus Inc., a 20-person Austin, Texas, startup that uses algorithms to help retailers sell their wares on the Web.

Now, the recent graduates of Carnegie Mellon University’s business school work for the world’s largest home-improvement retailer, Home Depot Inc. HD -2.53%

The company, which is expected to publicly address the acquisition of Black Locus Tuesday, is the latest traditional brick-and-mortar retailer to buy a startup and launch a “technology lab” to try to catch up to online retailers like Inc.AMZN -2.09% and eBay Inc. EBAY -2.56%

Home Depot says the startup, renamed the Home Depot Innovation Lab, will help it compete in an online environment where prices change by the second and are determined by algorithms rather than merchants. The company declined to disclose terms of the purchase. Read more of this post

Innovation is the fuel of economic growth, and the Holy Grail for companies and countries around the globe; Israel’s Innovation Formula

February 25, 2013, 4:49 p.m. ET

In Search of the Spark…and the Next Big Thing

Innovation is the fuel of economic growth, and the Holy Grail for companies and countries around the globe


What makes a company innovative? An individual? A country? Why is Silicon Valley still such an exceptional—and singular—example of self-propelled creativity? And what will happen when India and China finally learn to mix the magic sauce of innovation in bulk?

Innovation isn’t just at the center of human creativity and corporate profit. It’s fuel for economic growth and one reason hundreds of millions of people in developing countries have leapt up the income curve over the past two decades. Governments, especially authoritarian ones, understand that without it, growth may slow, jobs may get scarce and instability may rise.

“There are already areas of entrepreneurial ferment across Asia,” Tarun Khanna of the Harvard Business School told a group of entrepreneurs, CEOs and industry executives at The Wall Street Journal’s conference on Unleashing Innovation in Singapore last week. The key question, Mr. Khanna counseled the delegates from 25 countries, “is how do we take these little sparks and scale them up in some way that’s meaningful.”

That’s the same question corporate chiefs—from General Electric GE -2.48% toNokia NOK1V.HE +0.98% to Sony 6758.TO -2.31% —are asking every day. How can they generate the spark that ignites the next big thing? Executives at the conference heard some familiar advice: cultivate creativity, a dynamic workplace, irreverence, risk-taking and cross-discipline networking. Read more of this post

Priceline Founder Jay Walker: Imagination Drives Innovation

February 25, 2013, 4:59 p.m. ET

The Power of Imagination

Jay Walker on the fuel that drives innovation

Jay S. Walker founded and is curator of TEDMED, a group dedicated to improving the future of health and medicine. Here are edited excerpts from his remarks at the Unleashing Innovation conference. 

Tedmed curator Jay Walker talks about the history of great ideas and shows off an illustrated book woven entirely in silk–a breakthrough marketing tool pitching an 18th-century revolution in loom technology.

On why imagination has been undervalued for so long: For most of human history, there was a ruling class and then there was everybody else. If you were part of everybody else, it wasn’t your job to imagine a different future, different ways of doing things. So, imagination is a fairly modern phenomenon. It really only takes force in the 1800s in the way we think of it today, where you can make a living and not get killed for being imaginative.

On encouraging imagination: People talk about wanting more innovation. But innovation is a process result. Imagination is the fuel. You’re not going to get innovation if you don’t have imagination. Most organizations do not value imagination, do not encourage it, do not reward it. In many cases, they don’t even think about it. But if you’re not thinking about imagination, I guarantee you’re not going to have meaningful innovation.

On why imagination is crucial for business: Imagination drives good problem formation because imagination thinks about customers. What might my customers want tomorrow? What might my customers want in six months, a year, two years that they don’t want today? That’s imagination. And that’s hard work. There’s no right or wrong answer, there’s nobody there to say, “You did it perfectly. Here’s your bonus for that.”

The issue is not to ask your customers what they want today, but to try to imagine what the customer is going to want in a world where, for instance, their cellphone is in their glasses. What is my customer going to want in a world with transparency, where they are able to talk to every one of my other customers? If you ask your customers what they want, you will not get disruptive innovation. Read more of this post

The Entrepreneur’s DNA: Hal Gregersen on what makes a successful entrepreneur

Updated February 25, 2013, 5:00 p.m. ET

The Entrepreneur’s DNA

Hal Gregersen on what makes a successful entrepreneur

Hal Gregersen is an author and professor of innovation and leadership at graduate business school Insead. What follows are edited excerpts from his discussion at the Unleashing Innovation conference.

IV-AA310_GREGER_G_20130225132405 Read more of this post

China Is No Silicon Valley

February 25, 2013, 4:49 p.m. ET

China Is No Silicon Valley

Duncan Clark is the chairman of BDA China, an investment-advisory firm specializing in China’s technology, Internet and e-commerce sectors.


ON WHETHER CHINA CAN BECOME THE NEXT SILICON VALLEY:Innovation is born, not made. It isn’t something that you can fast-forward. When you do try to fast-forward it, you get copying.

This is China’s challenge. There’s a clear desire to move up the value chain from the “Made in China, Designed in California,” to flipping that around. Read more of this post

China Austerity Drive Becomes a Joke

February 25, 2013, 8:38 PM

China Austerity Drive Becomes a Joke

China’s leaders have been talking tough about graft, greed and gross extravagance again. One sign they’re serious this time: Their willingness to have a little fun with it.

Up until recently, the austerity campaign was suitably severe. There was tough talk from Communist Party chief Xi Jinping, who told a gathering of party heavyweights in November that corruption threatened their grip on power. He called for less pomp and ceremony for officials touring the countryside and urged comrades to make do with a little less banqueting. They should stick to four dishes and a soup and finish their food or else, he said.

Similar refrains have regularly appeared in the party mouthpiece, the People’s Daily. A recent commentary (in Chinese) said cadres need to avoid waste, hold only meetings that have a real purpose and observe the New Year holiday in a simple and modest fashion. “The people are looking forward to this – and they will be watching critically,” it warned.

But to help spread the party gospel even further, Beijing recently decided to take a more populist approach — making these themes part of the entertainment on CCTV’s widely watched Lunar New Year’s Eve gala – or the “Chun Wan Hui.”

In one of the CCTV New Year skits, comic Guo Degang took a swipe at the ex-Shaanxi work safety official Yang Dacai, dubbed the “Brother Watch” after photos of him appeared on the Internet sporting an array of expensive watches that normally would exceed a government salary. Mr Guo, who didn’t mention the sacked official by name, bragged he wore a hefty gold watch on his right wrist and a dozen more all the way up his left arm. Asked if it wasn’t risky wearing them he said: “I’m not afraid of wearing them and I’m not afraid of letting people see them,” he said, adding he had shortened his left suit sleeve so he could show them all off (in Chinese).

Still in character, he bragged of splashing out on a wedding banquet, inviting enough guests to fill 100 tables. He feigned outrage at apparently being upstaged by a banquet next door with 200 tables. On closer inspection, that banquet was paid for with public money, so it wasn’t a fair contest, he insisted. Read more of this post

China’s riskiest property market just collapsed. Is this how it starts?

China’s riskiest property market just collapsed. Is this how it starts?

By Max Fisher , Updated: February 25, 2013

The real estate market in Phoenix Island, a development project in the Chinese island province of Hainan, was so inflated, so outrageously expensive and unsustainable, that it became known as the Dubai of China. With its palm tree-lined streets, glimmering high-rises and ostentatious sports cars, it even looked a little like Dubai. And now, also like Dubai but maybe more in the vein of south Florida, the Phoenix Island real estate market that drove so much local economic growth has imploded.

Phoenix Island is an extreme case, but it’s in many ways symptomatic of China’s skyrocketing real estate market, which is both a blessing and a curse for China. A blessing because it helps to drive economic growth and domestic consumption, which the country’s economy needs more of to be healthy. It’s a curse because, as Americans are well aware, it can burst, pulling down much of the national economy with it.

If the national real estate market collapses in China, it would be disastrous not just for China but for the entire world economy, risking a third wave of the global crisis that began with the U.S. financial collapse and worsened with the Euro crisis. Is Phoenix Island an outlier, a crazy market so extreme that it tells us little about China? Is it the start of a major but recoverable setback? Or, in the worst-case scenario, is it the beginning of the end for China’s astounding 20 years of miraculous economic growth? Read more of this post

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