Sci-Fi’s Underground Hit; Authors are snubbing publishers and insisting on keeping e-book rights. How one novelist made more than $1 million before his book hit stores

March 7, 2013, 6:45 p.m. ET

Sci-Fi’s Underground Hit

Authors are snubbing publishers and insisting on keeping e-book rights. How one novelist made more than $1 million before his book hit stores.

By ALEXANDRA ALTER

Hugh Howey’s postapocalyptic thriller “Wool” has sold more than half a million copies and generated more than 5,260 Amazon reviews. Mr. Howey has raked in more than a million dollars in royalties and sold the film rights to “Alien” producer Ridley Scott.

And Simon & Schuster hasn’t even released the book yet.

INSTALLMENT PLAN: Writing ‘Wool’ was ‘almost a compulsion for him,’ Mr. Howey’s wife says.

In a highly unusual deal, Simon & Schuster acquired print publication rights to “Wool” while allowing Mr. Howey to keep the e-book rights himself. Mr. Howey self-published “Wool” as a serial novel in 2011, and took a rare stand by refusing to sell the digital rights. Last year, he turned down multiple seven-figure offers from publishers before reaching a mid-six-figure, print-only deal with Simon & Schuster.

Simon & Schuster has put down six figures for print rights to a post-apocalyptic thriller called “Wool” that it believes could draw the same readers that made “The Hunger Games” trilogy a success. WSJ’s Alexandra Alter reports on Lunch Break. Getty Images.

“I had made seven figures on my own, so it was easy to walk away,” says Mr. Howey, 37, a college dropout who worked as a yacht captain, a roofer and a bookseller before he started self-publishing. “I thought, ‘How are you guys going to sell six times what I’m selling now?’ ”

It’s a sign of how far the balance of power has shifted toward authors in the new digital publishing landscape. Self-published titles made up 25% of the top-selling books on Amazon last year. Four independent authors have sold more than a million Kindle copies of their books, and 23 have sold more than 250,000, according to Amazon.

Publishing houses that once ignored independent authors are now furiously courting them. In the past year, more than 60 independent authors have landed contracts with traditional publishers. Several won seven-figure advances. A handful have negotiated deals that allow them to continue selling e-books on their own, including romance writers Bella Andre and Colleen Hoover, who have each sold more than a million copies of their books. Read more of this post

How much is a piece of content worth?

How much is a piece of content worth?

BY BRYAN GOLDBERG 
ON MARCH 7, 2013

The publishing industry has changed immeasurably in the last decade, and its massive transformation can be summed up in one question… “How much is a piece of content worth?”

This complex question was brought into the national dialogue very recently when noted journalist Nate Thayer wrote a scathing condemnation of an editor for The Atlantic who dared ask him to contribute for free.

Thayer’s frustration has become a rallying cry for many freelance journalists who feel that their work is undervalued. He claims he was once offered $125,000 to write six articles a year. So, when a new editor offered him zero dollars to write, he was quite upset. [Note: an earlier version of this story cited his rate at $500/article, though he has no official market rate].

In fairness, Nate Thayer is an exceptional journalist — he has risked his life to cover Cambodia, and not a lot of people can say that they have risked their lives for anything. If we live in a world where people like Nate can’t exist to cover wars, corruption, etc, then the world will be worse.

But, at the end of the day, publishing is a business. As I’ve said many times, it needs to be treated like one, and so Nate Thayer has a right to understand how digital publishing interacts with revenue. Read more of this post

Why Sogou’s Input Method Search Could Change the Chinese Internet (and More)

Why Sogou’s Input Method Search Could Change the Chinese Internet (and More)

Mar 8, 2013 at 14:00 PM by C. Custer, in Opinion

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Earlier this week, I wrote about Sogou’s new method of integrating search results into its Chinese-language input method. I also gave the system a test run on my own computer, and came away pretty impressed. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think this move has the potential to change the way Chinese users search, and maybe even the way they interact with their computers on a more fundamental level. Read more of this post

Currency swings are rising in Malaysia at the world’s fastest pace as concern mounts that the ruling coalition will lose its 55-year grip on power after attracting more foreign capital than any other emerging market except Mexico

Volatility Rises Most in Malaysia as Flows Imperiled: Currencies

Currency swings are rising in Malaysia at the world’s fastest pace as concern mounts that the ruling coalition will lose its 55-year grip on power after attracting more foreign capital than any other emerging market except Mexico.

Three-month implied volatility for the ringgit, a measure of expected exchange-rate moves used to price options, jumped 2.2 percentage points to 7.4 percent in 2013, more than any of the 47 currencies tracked by Bloomberg. The ringgit has lost 1.6 percent this year and reached a five-month low in February as Credit Suisse Group AG and ING Groep NV cut their forecasts.

Polls show support for Prime Minister Najib Razak, who embarked on a $444 billion development plan to build railways and power plants, is the lowest since 2011 ahead of elections due before the end of June. Investors may pull from the local bond market as much as $10 billion, or 24 percent of their total holdings, as opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim pledged to review highway-toll contracts and the granting of tax permits to large companies, according to Credit Suisse. Read more of this post

Even in Canada, wealth influences treatment: study

Even in Canada, wealth influences treatment: study

Thu, Mar 7 2013

By Genevra Pittman

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Poorer people have a harder time getting a doctor’s appointment in Canada, a new study suggests – even though the country’s universal health insurance pays doctors the same amount regardless of the type of patient they see.

Researchers who called primary care practices pretending to be a bank employee or on welfare were 80 percent more likely to be offered an appointment when taking on the wealthier persona.

“We expected that we would find the result that we did, which was that there would be preferential treatment,” said Dr. Stephen Hwang, who worked on the study at St. Michael’s Hospital and the University of Toronto.

“As a physician who provides care for people who are marginalized or disadvantaged, they not infrequently tell me that they feel like they’ve been treated poorly by healthcare providers in the past simply because they’re poor,” he told Reuters Health. Read more of this post

Hong Kong Prison Homes Spur Virus Risk Decade After SARS; “Life is hard. I hope that more can be done to level the playing field in this city.”

Hong Kong Prison Homes Spur Virus Risk Decade After SARS

Chan Sung-ming says the coughs and sneezes echoing through the plywood walls of his windowless, 60- square foot Hong Kong apartment get him thinking: is there a bug going around and could it be deadly?

A decade after SARS began a lethal odyssey via Hong Kong, which has the world’s most-densely populated urban areas, Chan says his apartment — one of eight in a space about the size of a squash court — makes him feel more prone to airborne germs.

Even as the city spends HK$1.6 billion ($206 million) a year on a disease-tracking center to prepare for future contagions, a tripling in the price of homes in the past decade have forced its 7.2 million residents closer together. That’s stoking the potential for a rapid rise of bugs like the severe acute respiratory virus that exploded there in early 2003.

“In Hong Kong, we live vertically, not horizontally,” said Sian Griffiths, director of the Chinese University of Hong Kong’s school of public health. “It’s as if we’ve turned a village street on its end. People are so close together here, the risk of transmission is greater.”

Chan’s apartment is smaller than some of the city’s prison cells. The 36-year-old electrician says the cramped living arrangements mean he hears his neighbors’ every cough and bowel movement, and sometimes shares their pathogens too. Read more of this post

PBOC’s Rise to Top a Story of Deft Politics Amid Turmoil; “It’s hard to believe that just three decades ago the PBOC was only a minor institution in the labyrinthine Chinese bureaucracy.”

PBOC’s Rise to Top a Story of Deft Politics Amid Turmoil

As of November 2012, the People’s Bank of China had total assets of $4.8 trillion, more than the European Central Bank or the Federal Reserve. The PBOC now supplies more than half the world’s total liquidity and manages foreign reserves worth almost $3.3 trillion.

Increasingly, the PBOC has become an international lender of last resort, particularly as European politicians try to persuade the Chinese to buy their bonds. No wonder that Zhou Xiaochuan, the bank’s governor, has been dubbed “the world’s central banker,” a man whose statements can move global markets.

It’s hard to believe that just three decades ago the PBOC was only a minor institution in the labyrinthine Chinese bureaucracy. Its ascension is a story of turbulent economic transition, skillful leadership and, above all, deft political strategy. And its most significant challenges may still lie ahead. Read more of this post

10 Worst Corporate Accounting Scandals

accounting-scandals

How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for ‘Star Wars’

How Disney Bought Lucasfilm—and Its Plans for ‘Star Wars’

By Devin Leonard on March 07, 2013

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One weekend last October, Robert Iger, chief executive officer of Walt Disney (DIS), sat through all six Star Wars films. He’d seen them before, of course. This time, he took notes. Disney was in secret negotiations to acquire Lucasfilm, the company founded by Star Wars creator George Lucas, and Iger needed to do some due diligence.

The movies reacquainted Iger with Luke Skywalker, the questing Jedi Knight, and his nemesis Darth Vader, the Sith Lord who turns out to be (three-decade-old spoiler alert) his father. Beyond the movies, Iger needed to know Lucasfilm had a stockpile of similarly rich material—aka intellectual property—for more Star Wars installments. As any serious aficionado knows, there were always supposed to be nine. But how would Disney assess the value of an imaginary galaxy? What, for example, was its population? Read more of this post

Everyone wants to talk about the start-up boom in Berlin. But for every success, there are numerous failures, including the award-winning Aka-Aki

03/07/2013 06:03 PM

Aka-Aki

Left Behind by the Berlin Start-Up Boom

By Max Biederbeck

Everyone wants to talk about the start-up boom in Berlin, particularly with Chancellor Angela Merkel visiting promising new firms on Thursday. But for every success, there are numerous failures, including the award-winning Aka-Aki.

Gabriel Yoran had a brilliant idea, but failed nonetheless. Because the entrepreneur wanted to make money, his product could not survive on the market. Today, he is certain of one thing: “Only one in 10 business ideas makes it. Three plod along. The rest immediately disappear forever.”

For a long time it looked like his tech start-up, Aka-Aki, was going to be one of those to make it. It was based on a great idea, was lauded by the media, received the Lead and Webby awards, and was loved by 700,000 users.

“But you can’t trust the hype,” Yoran says today. Everyone wants to talk about projects they find exciting, he says, but that doesn’t mean the business model will bear fruit. That proved to be the bitter truth for Aka-Aki; it no longer has any users at all. In 2012, Yoran and his co-founders dissolved the business.

Young creative minds market their ideas, invent new Apps, or develop the online market in a new way. It is a process that can be fascinating to watch, and it can also be worth a mint to investors. Private equity and venture capital firms are eager to find those projects with promise, and are buying in at earlier stages than ever before. For the start-ups themselves, the cash infusions that result are vital to having a chance at success. Read more of this post

Ansys Aids Innovation With Its Simulation Software; The company that dominates simulation software expects to earn $900 million this year

Ansys Aids Innovation With Its Simulation Software

By Ashlee Vance on March 07, 2013

Jim Shaikh’s first son, Danial, arrived six weeks early, weighing all of 3 pounds and in need of milk every two hours. In the middle of the night, Shaikh would wake up, retrieve breast milk from the fridge, and begin warming the bottle in a pan of hot water on the stove. “Sometimes I would fall back asleep, and everyone upstairs would be screaming at me,” Shaikh says. “Other times I would overheat the milk. I just wasn’t very good at it.”

Shaikh, an engineer who previously helped design cars for BMW (BMW), decided to invent his way out of any paternal inadequacies. He conceived of a bottle to heat milk instantly to a specified temperature and was able to test it without building prototype after prototype. Instead, Shaikh largely brought his product to life digitally, using software from Ansys (ANSS), a Canonsburg (Pa.)-based company that has quietly cornered the market on manufacturing simulation. Ansys’s models showed Shaikh how different plastics would behave when heated up and how varying nipple designs would affect milk flow. “Everything is simulated these days,” says Shaikh.

Since its founding more than 40 years ago, Ansys has become the largest producer of simulation software, which costs thousands to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on the simulation. The company’s staff of more than 2,400, including 600 Ph.D.s, has created algorithms that mirror the laws of physics, allowing Ansys programs to model virtually anything. Ninety-six of the 100 biggest industrial companies, and 40,000 customers in all, use Ansys technology to evaluate product mater-ials and durability. Experienced engineers who once had to produce dozens of mock-ups to arrive at a final product now need a handful at most, saving time and money. Work from computer-aided design (CAD) applications can be fed into the simulation software. Read more of this post

Why Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia Haven’t Killed Off Real Estate Brokers

Why Redfin, Zillow, and Trulia Haven’t Killed Off Real Estate Brokers

By Brad Stone on March 07, 2013

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Over the last decade, the Internet has seeped into that bedrock of the U.S. economy: the housing market. A group of growing and mostly profitable websites have sprung up to help guide consumers through what in many cases will be the largest and most nerve-wracking transaction of their lives. Four sites—Redfin and Zillow (Z), based in Seattle, and Trulia (TRLA) and Realtor.com, based in the San Francisco Bay Area—attract 61 million of the 67 million visitors to real estate websites each month in the U.S., according to ComScore (SCOR). They also generate hundreds of millions in revenue and have helped turn buying a house into entertainment—a spectator sport that can be enjoyed without darting surreptitiously into random open houses. Ninety percent of consumers now start their real estate journeys on the Web, according to the National Association of Realtors.

It all looks at first glance like the same kind of electronic marketplace that has eliminated travel agents, decimated classified ads, depressed stock brokers, and taken the swagger out of car dealers, but it hasn’t dented the fortunes of real estate brokers. A majority of buyers and sellers still wind up working with traditional brokers, one on each side of the deal.

Not only have brokers resisted the attack by the Internet’s real estate sites but their fees remain stable. Real Trends, a research firm, reports the average commission paid to the buying and selling brokers was 5.4 percent of the price of a home in 2011, up from 5 percent in 2008. (The seller’s agent collects the commission from the seller and then splits it evenly with the buyer’s agent.) That’s considerably higher than the median rate in markets abroad, where there may only be one agent involved in the transaction, such as the U.K. (a 1 percent to 2 percent fee), Germany (3 percent to 6 percent), Israel (4 percent), and the Netherlands (1.5 percent to 2 percent), according to a 2007 report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “Ten years ago almost no one started their home search online. And yet none of that value has come back to the consumer,” says Glenn Kelman, Redfin’s chief executive officer. Read more of this post

The Japanese art of monetization; An aging games studio called Gungho, which had a hit with Puzzles and Dragons for iOS and Android, and is creeping up on GREE in terms of revenue and market cap, and is actually above Zynga, at $2.3 billion based on only 8 million monthly active users. Gungho did not use social for distribution, the game succeeded just the on power of the app stores and TV ads.

The Japanese art of monetization

BY TOM LIMONGELLO 

ON MARCH 7, 2013

You can learn a lot about your company from usage behavior in Japan. Just like the Japanese language has a system for incorporating foreign words, when Japan latches onto particular Internet services like it did with Yahoo and Twitter, they become so important and widspread that they take on a trajectory all of their own.

In the case of Twitter, for instance, Japan found mass adoption faster than the US did. In fact, it still holds the highest Tweets per second record for New Year’s day. Within a short time of setting up shop at Joi Ito’s Digital Garage, Twitter made Japan its testing ground for new features and monetization strategies.

Japan is not nearly the largest market in Asia, but with 128 million people, 40 million of which live in Tokyo’s metro area, where strong 3G & LTE networks, tons of carrier WiFi & WiMax access and high incomes are pervasive, you can’t find a better place to test the logic of an internet business. Japan, unlike China, does not block the most successful companies from abroad. Rather, Japan’s internet border is porous. As long as the service’s simplicity prevails over the language barrier, usually the best service wins. Read more of this post

India’s Kumbh Mela festival, which attracts the likes of Unilever and Vodafone, generates about $2.8 billion in revenue for businesses

Coke, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive Seize India’s Biggest Marketing Opportunity

By Adi Narayan on March 07, 2013

news_comp11_kumbhmela_405inline

About 8 percent of India’s population—everyone from billionaire Anil Ambani, brother of India’s richest man, to hardscrabble peasants—has trekked to the Ganges in the past eight weeks, seeking salvation at a religious festival called the Maha Kumbh Mela. Companies including Coca-Cola (KO), Hindustan Unilever (HUVR), and Colgate-Palmolive (CL) have made the same journey in a quest for profits.

Billed as the world’s largest gathering, the Kumbh is expected to draw about 100 million people before its conclusion on March 10. For advertisers, that’s roughly a once-a-decade chance to reach millions of new consumers. “The Kumbh is like an advertising bliss,” says Vipul Salvi, national creative director for OgilvyAction, a unit of Ogilvy & Mather (WPPGY). “It’s some 100 million people in one place, and that never happens anywhere else on the globe.”

The Hindu gathering offers a way to reach shoppers from rural India, where the World Bank estimates about 70 percent of the country’s 1.2 billion people live. Explains Espirito Santo Securities analyst Nitin Mathur: “Here you are reaching the mass end of the consumers directly.” That’s important because for the past two years, per-capita spending by India’s villagers grew faster than that of urban dwellers for the first time in two and a half decades, according to ratings agency Crisil. Rural spending was 12.9 trillion rupees ($235.7 billion) in the two years ended last March 31, compared with 10.4 trillion in urban areas, the Mumbai-based unit of McGraw-Hill Companies (MHP) reported in August. Read more of this post

Thai Bulls Beat Bears Selling Most in Asia as SET Hits 1994 High; Never before have Thai stocks rallied so much at a time when foreign investors were heading for the exit.

Thai Bulls Beat Bears Selling Most in Asia as SET Hits 1994 High

Never before have Thai stocks rallied so much at a time when foreign investors were heading for the exit.

The benchmark SET Index (SET) rose 4.6 percent last month even as international money managers sold a net $583 million of the nation’s shares, the biggest outflow among 10 Asian markets tracked by Bloomberg. The advance, propelled by $611 million of purchases by domestic investors, is the largest for any month when net overseas withdrawals exceeded $500 million. The index fell an average 5.5 percent during such periods since Bloomberg began compiling the data in 1999.

“Local investors are prepared to step in and hunt for bargains,” Petcharat Powattanasatien, who helps oversee about $30 billion as the head of equity investment at Bangkok-based Kasikorn Asset Management Co., said by phone on March 4. Her firm is the nation’s biggest money manager.

Thai citizens are driving equity gains as the nation’s $377 billion economy grows at the fastest pace since at least 1993 and local incomes climb. While Morgan Stanley is advising clients to cut stock holdings after valuations rose to record highs, Aberdeen Asset Management and ING Investment Management are still bullish. The SET index has recovered every time when foreign selling coincided with monthly losses since September 2008, rallying an average 22 percent in the next 12 months, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Read more of this post

BofAML: Leverage Approaches 2007 Levels

BofAML: Leverage Approaches 2007 Levels

Mar 5 2013 | 3:07pm ET

Leverage, as measured by NYSE Margin Debt data, was up 31.6% on the year in January and 10.2% on the month to $364 billion, approaching the July 2007 peak of $381 billion.

Excessive cash draw-down has led to a contrarian sell signal, according to the latest Hedge Fund Monitor from Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Read more of this post

Korea: Is era of ‘Mofia’ gone under Park administration? The compound word of an acronym of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and mafia referred to the financial bureaucrats who dominated key positions and wielded great influence in the local financial sector

Is era of ‘Mofia’ gone under Park administration?

By Yi Whan-woo

Is the era of “mofia” gone?

The compound word of an acronym of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and mafia referred to the financial bureaucrats who dominated key positions and wielded great influence in the local financial sector.

Seemingly, the mofia don’t have the same level of power under the Park Geun-hye administration as in the past.

Park’s recent selection of her top financial nominees has raised speculation that she may not rely on the officials who built their careers at the finance ministry. Read more of this post

It’s About the Work, Not the Office; Corralling workers in one place doesn’t necessarily lead to productivity or innovation

March 7, 2013

It’s About the Work, Not the Office

By JENNIFER GLASS

THE recent decision by Marissa Mayer, the chief executive of Yahoo, to eliminate telecommuting for all workers brings her company back in line with most of corporate America, where working from home is more illusion than reality. Although many — some estimate most — American jobs could successfully be performed at home, only roughly 16 percent of American employees actually telecommute in any given year. And that figure is reached only by using a very generous definition of telecommuting — working from home at least one hour per week.

The idea behind the Yahoo announcement, as well as a more limited announcement from Best Buy this week that will add restrictions to its telecommuting policy, was that bringing workers back to the office would lead to greater collaboration and innovation. This is despite numerous studies showing that telecommuting workers are more productive than those working on-site.

Yet a work force culture based on long hours at the office with little regard for family or community does not inevitably lead to strong productivity or innovation. Two outdated ideas seem to underlie the Yahoo decision: first, that tech companies can still operate like the small groups of 20-something engineers that founded them; and second, the most old-fashioned of all, that companies get the most out of their employees by limiting their autonomy. Read more of this post

Imagining a Swap Meet for E-Books and Music; The prospect of online stores that sell used e-books and digital music has heartened consumer advocates, but publishers and artists are worried

March 7, 2013

Imagining a Swap Meet for E-Books and Music

By DAVID STREITFELD

The paperback of “Fifty Shades of Grey” is exactly like the digital version except for this: If you hate the paperback, you can give it away or resell it. If you hate the e-book, you’re stuck with it.

The retailer’s button might say “buy now,” but you are in effect only renting an e-book — or an iTunes song — and your rights are severely limited. That has been the bedrock distinction between physical and electronic works since digital goods became widely available a decade ago.

That distinction is now under attack, both in the courts and the marketplace, and it could shake up the already beleaguered book and music industries. Amazon and Apple, the two biggest forces in electronic goods, are once again at the center of the turmoil.

In late January, Amazon received a patent to set up an exchange for all sorts of digital material. The retailer would presumably earn a commission on each transaction, and consumers would surely see lower prices.

But a shudder went through publishers and media companies. Those who produce content might see their work devalued, just as they did when Amazon began selling secondhand books 13 years ago. The price on the Internet for many used books these days is a penny. Read more of this post

Crisis caution over urban push; The urbanization drive could fuel social unrest over land disputes and pose financial risks if money is thrown around recklessly

Crisis caution over urban push

Friday, March 08, 2013

The urbanization drive could fuel social unrest over land disputes and pose financial risks if money is thrown around recklessly, a senior Communist Party official and a leading economist warned.

Shifting people from the countryside to cities is a policy priority for new leaders as they seek to sustain economic growth that last year slowed to a 13-year low of 7.8 percent.

Beijing hopes 60 percent of the nation’s almost 1.4 billion population will be urban residents by 2020.

The urban population jumped to above 700 million from less than 200 million in the previous 30 years but the explosion triggered sometimes violent clashes over seizures of farmland for development, as well as water shortages, pollution and other problems.

“These are severe challenges as we try to sustain the urbanization process,” said Chen Xiwen, head of the Office of Central Rural Work Leading Group, the top body guiding farm policy.

“Many people have worries and such worries are understandable,” he told a news conference on the sidelines of the annual parliament session. Read more of this post

Price slash sparks peak buzz; A surprise cut in unit prices at the latest project of Cheung Kong Holdings (0001) has prompted speculation that the home market has peaked.

Price slash sparks peak buzz

Karen Chiu

Friday, March 08, 2013

A surprise cut in unit prices at the latest project of Cheung Kong Holdings (0001) has prompted speculation that the home market has peaked.

Prices at One West Kowloon in Cheung Sha Wan were reduced by an average of 11 percent.

Cheung Kong became the first developer to trim prices following the latest round of government curbs imposed on the property sector from February 22.

The first batch of around 50 flats – now all sold – was put in the market in November at an average price of HK$9,750 per square foot in terms of gross floor area.

Yesterday Cheung Kong offered another 20 apartments for sale at an average price of HK$9,147 psf. One Kowloon West consists of 286 units.

A three-bedroom 1,160 sq ft flat saw the sharpest cut. It is now priced at HK$10.17 million – 17.5 percent lower than the original HK$12.31 million. Read more of this post

Once-proud Time Inc seen struggling as independent firm; “You don’t have revenue that is stable,”

Published: Friday March 8, 2013 MYT 11:35:00 AM

Once-proud Time Inc seen struggling as independent firm

NEW YORK: In giving up on its magazine business, Time Warner Inc is set to hand its shareholders an operation that has shrinking sales and profits – and will be looking for a new chief executive.

While the details of the spinoff of Time Inc are still to be announced, the media conglomerate has indicated that it will be structured as a tax-free transaction for its shareholders. It has already previously spun off other businesses to investors, including AOL and Time Warner Cable.

Time Inc faces the same challenges as print publishers everywhere, mainly that people are choosing to read on smartphones and tablets and advertisers are spending the bulk of their budgets elsewhere. As a separate public company, it won’t be able to hide behind its media conglomerate parent, and will face scrutiny from investors expecting it to generate free cash flow and stem revenue declines.

“This once proud and profitable division is being punted as its business prospects look structurally challenged,” wrote Nomura Equity Research analyst Michael Nathanson in a note about the spin-off on Thursday. Time Inc publishes more than 100 magazines worldwide, including the eponymous newsweekly Time, Sports Illustrated, and People.

Over the past decade, Time Inc’s revenue dropped almost 40 percent to $3.4 billion while its operating profit fell in half to $420 million.

Advertising revenue for the entire U.S. magazine industry fell 3 percent in 2012 to $21.07 billion while ad pages declined 8 percent compared to 2011, according to the Publishers Information Bureau.

“You don’t have revenue that is stable,” said Nathanson in an interview. Read more of this post

China Mobile says it now has 50 million users of a system called Internet of Things (IOT), in which objects can be identified and linked to the Net

03.06.2013 18:23

New Net Technology Has 50 Mln Users, China Mobile Says

Telecoms firm’s service connects objects to the Net and is being used in auto industry, health care and surveillance

By staff reporter Qin Min

(Beijing) – China Mobile says it now has 50 million users of a system called Internet of Things (IOT), in which objects can be identified and linked to the Net.

IOT refers to the identification of ordinary objects through means such as radio-frequency identification, bar codes or other methods. This allows for information about the objects to be exchanged, shared and managed on the Web. Read more of this post

The Dirty Secret of Apps: Many Go Bust; “There are so many startups that die with a whimper. That’s the worst type of death….You walk into the office one day, you look at each other, and kind of realize it has to come to an end.”

Updated March 7, 2013, 7:45 p.m. ET

The Dirty Secret of Apps: Many Go Bust

While many independent developers have made money creating mobile apps, many more have struggled or failed along the way, Ben Fox Rubin explains.

By BEN FOX RUBIN

Pocket Gems Inc. is the classic Silicon Valley success story, a startup whose mobile games have been downloaded more than 100 million times since it was founded in 2009 in a Stanford University dorm room.

More commonplace is the tale of Spork, a little-used food-rating app that lived for just a year before giving up the ghost in a small San Francisco office.

Plenty of independent developers have made fortunes off the boom in mobile apps. But many more have failed after learning the hard way that computer skills, a little money and a good idea often aren’t enough in the competitive market.

With hundreds of thousands of games, productivity tools and other apps already on the market, and thousands more launched every week, many startups are finding that their ideas aren’t so unique after all. In this environment, well-heeled companies with big marketing budgets hold sway.

“There are so many startups that die with a whimper,” said Dan Cheung, the 37-year-old software engineer who quit his job to build Spork. “That’s the worst type of death….You walk into the office one day, you look at each other, and kind of realize it has to come to an end.” Read more of this post

An Unhappy Middle in the Middle Kingdom; In between China’s billionaires and peasants is a surprisingly thin and unhappy middle class, which poses a big social and economic challenge

March 7, 2013, 10:15 a.m. ET

An Unhappy Middle in the Middle Kingdom

By WEI GU

China has the world’s largest number of billionaires and 700 million peasants. In between is a surprisingly thin and unhappy middle class, which poses a big social and economic challenge.

Among the 3,000 delegates of the 2013 National People’s Congress, the percentage of blue-collar workers and peasants has risen to 13% from 8% in 2012. The number of migrant workers has jumped to 30 from just three last year. Wealthy Chinese continue to be well represented. China’s richest man, Zong Qinhou, is attending the annual powwow for the 11th time.

The squeezed middle class deserves more love. As many as 51% of Chinese working professionals suffered from some level of depression, the Ministry of Health said in 2011. They blame pressure from a rapidly changing society, increased competition, long work hours and high property prices.

“The biggest risk in the world is China’s middle class not being happy,” said Shaun Rein, the managing director of China Market Research, a consulting firm. “They are the most pessimistic group in the world.” Read more of this post

Thailand leads the world with its number of female CEOs; In Thailand, 49% of CEOs are women, which is the highest proportion in the world

Thai female CEOs on top of the world

Published: 8 Mar 2013 at 00.00

  • Thailand leads the world with its number of female CEOs, according to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR).

The new research is being announced globally today on International Women’s Day.

In Thailand, 49% of CEOs are women, which is the highest proportion in the world, the research showed.

Globally, 24% of senior management roles are now filled by women, which is up from 21% last year and 20% in 2011.

China is the only country where women occupy more than half (51%) of senior management roles, while Japan remains at the bottom with 7%. Read more of this post

Nestle pushes into Indochina; Nestle: “Thailand is the centre of Asean countries”

Nestle pushes into Indochina

Positions itself to take advantage of AEC

Nestle Group (Thailand), the Swiss conglomerate’s Bangkok-based arm that also oversees operations in neighbouring countries, plans to double its business size in Indochina within 2016.

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Mr England (right) and Nopadol Sivabutr, the corporate affairs director, at yesterday’s briefing. PAWAT LAOPAISARNTAKSIN

The move is aimed at capturing a huge market opportunity when Asean becomes a single market in 2016, its top executive said yesterday.

“Thailand is one of the strategic countries for Nestle. We see a big opportunity to grow business and double our size by 2016, as Thailand is the centre of Asean countries,” said Wayne England, who was recently appointed chairman and chief executive of Nestle Group (Thailand). Read more of this post

Jim Chanos on the Importance of Doing Your Own Work: Latest Interview; we should be looking at fundamentals, and not the personalities involved because it’s easy to stop doing fundamental work when you say ‘oh, Mr. XYZ is in it so if he sees something in it, who am I to argue?’

Jim Chanos on Dell, Herbalife & Importance of Doing Your Own Work: Latest Interview

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 11:10 AM PST

Kynikos Associates founder and notorious short-seller Jim Chanos appeared on CNBC this morning to share his latest thoughts on the market:

On China: He says to avoid the Chinese property bubble.  While he’s been short various plays on this in China, he says he’s “broadening out” to plays like construction equipment, etc. Read more of this post

Lessons From Stanley Druckenmiller: Hedge Fund Market Wizards; “George Soros has a philosophy that I have also adopted: The way to build long-term returns is through preservation of capital and home runs …

Lessons From Stanley Druckenmiller: Hedge Fund Market Wizards

Posted: 07 Mar 2013 11:20 AM PST

Legendary investor Stanley Druckenmiller recently came out of the shadows and gave a rare interview on a myriad of topics.  Given the popularity of that post, we thought it’d be interesting to see what lessons we could learn from this great investor so we looked at Druckenmiller’s interview in Jack Schwager’s book The New Market Wizards to see what we could learn. Druckenmiller formerly ran hedge fund Duquesne Capital as well as George Soros’ Quantum Fund, and he saw annual average returns of 30% since 1986.  He managed around $12 billion before shutting down Duquesne. A few years ago, he returned Duquesne outside capital and now runs a family office.  Many of his former employees founded PointState Capital with money from Druckenmiller and former Duquesne investors.

Lessons From Stanley Druckenmiller

In Jack Schwager’s book The New Market Wizards, Stanley Druckenmiller provides the following bits of wisdom:

On achieving a superior track record:  “George Soros has a philosophy that I have also adopted: The way to build long-term returns is through preservation of capital and home runs … Read more of this post

Oaktree Billionaire Founder Howard Marks’ Full Presentation On “Investing In Uncertain Times”

Howard Marks’ Full Presentation On “Investing In Uncertain Times”

Tyler Durden on 03/07/2013 12:58 -0500

In the following presentation, given by Howard Marks – the world’s largest distressed debt investor – he warns of the perils of “investing in uncertain times.” As Reuters notes, he fears the “unsound practices” from before the financial crisis are creeping back into credit markets, with private equity firms bidding increasingly high prices for companies. Marks points out the ease with which lowly rated companies were issuing debt this year, how companies were paying out record dividends to their shareholders and the increasingly high debt-to-equity multiples private equity firms were paying for companies amid a resurgence in deals. “We have a world in which nobody is thinking bullish. Everybody’s worried and yet people are acting bullish,” and predicts a looming “shake-out” in the hedge fund industry as he asks rhetorically, “today there are 8,000 hedge funds. Are there really 40,000 exceptional people (working for hedge funds)?” In conclusion, Oaktree Capital’s founder warns that investors, in their search for returns, were becoming overly confident while the economic background was still gloomy.

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