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Learning without borders; “If you spend your life working on something, it has to be worthwhile and scale beyond Singapore”

Learning without borders

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SINGAPORE — Sitting on a sofa in the middle of an office, Ms Sun Ho surveys a large computer screen with a map of Singapore, which tells her in real time exactly how many of the 35,000 children attending the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) chain of kindergartens turned up for school that day.

BY FRANCIS KAN –

6 HOURS 38 MIN AGO

SINGAPORE — Sitting on a sofa in the middle of an office, Ms Sun Ho surveys a large computer screen with a map of Singapore, which tells her in real time exactly how many of the 35,000 children attending the PAP Community Foundation (PCF) chain of kindergartens turned up for school that day.

This application is part of a suite of tools produced by Ms Ho’s company, LittleLives, that aims to help pre-school teachers spend more time doing what they do best — teach.

“Teachers have to do a lot of paperwork because of reporting requirements, so by automating some of these tasks, such as taking attendance, it frees them up to focus on teaching,” said Ms Ho, 34, who started LittleLives in 2008 as a technology start-up focused on education. Read more of this post

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Six Ways to Separate Lies From Statistics

Six Ways to Separate Lies From Statistics

The discovery of a spreadsheet error in an influential study by Harvard University economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff inevitably raises a troubling question: To what extent can we trust what any researcher claims to be true?

The unfortunate reality is that mistakes much more serious than the one committed by Reinhart and Rogoff are far too common. Superfast computers and fancy statistical models can’t save us from human frailty. But that doesn’t mean empirical research has nothing to offer.

The Reinhart-Rogoff incident — in which they accidentally excluded five countries from a calculation of the average relationship between government debt and economic growth — is in some sense the wrong launching point for a discussion about modern empirical economics. It’s the perfect made-for-TV mistake: It involved a simple error in a commonly used spreadsheet program that can be explained with screen shots and laughed about with friends. Moreover, it barely affected their findings, and it isn’t representative of the challenges empirical research presents.

Today’s empirical analyses are more likely to be based on a mash-up of huge data sets containing millions of observations, which are processed using specialized statistical software. As a result, errors can be a lot more insidious. Often they can be found only through sophisticated forensics. Read more of this post

Professors are now brands; As professors themselves become bigger brands, firms are reaching out to the instructors directly instead of going through the schools

May 1, 2013, 6:45 p.m. ET

Professors Avoid the Middleman in Hawking Expertise to Companies

By MELISSA KORN and CAROLINE PORTER

For years, when big companies needed to train their leaders to manage large teams, change their thinking on product development or soak up the latest findings about globalization, they called on business schools. Schools’ executive-education offices would suggest a professor or two to lead a brief course on campus or at company offices, for which companies would pay thousands of dollars. Professors usually got a small cut of the earnings. But as professors themselves become bigger brands—aided by TED talks, Twitter and networks on sites like LinkedIn—firms are reaching out to the instructors directly instead of going through the schools. Faculty, meanwhile, are doing more to court outside teaching opportunities. It is a subtle change—executives in those workshops see little difference—but the shift saves companies money and endangers a revenue stream for the educational institutions. Read more of this post

What’s It Like to Interview at Amazon; Retailer Says a Job Candidate’s Projects Trump School’s Name

May 1, 2013, 6:16 p.m. ET

What’s It Like to Interview at Amazon

Retailer Says a Job Candidate’s Projects Trump School’s Name

By MELISSA KORN

As Amazon.com Inc.’s AMZN -2.20% share price has soared in recent years, so has its stock with M.B.A. students. The company now ranks among the most-coveted destinations for aspiring business leaders. Last year, the Seattle-based online marketplace hit No. 6 in a Fortune survey of where M.B.A.s wanted to work. In 2007, it didn’t even crack the top 25. Amazon’s growing popularity among business-school students keeps Jennifer Boden, director of global university programs, busy. The company hires “hundreds” of M.B.A.s each year, she says, as well as hundreds of recent college graduates and others with technical backgrounds. Amazon focuses its campus recruitment on schools with analytics and entrepreneurship programs, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. Read more of this post

Korean rapper Psy’s story immortalized in comic book

Korean rapper Psy’s story immortalized in comic book

5:03am EDT

(Reuters) – The story of South Korean rap sensation Psy’s ascent to global stardom with his megahit “Gangnam Style” has now been immortalized in full color and with appropriate dramatic flourishes in a comic book.

“Fame:Psy”, which went on sale in the United States and South Korea on Wednesday, focuses mainly on what went into making “Gangnam Style,” which catapulted the sunglassed singer with the garish jackets to global fame and became YouTube’s most popular song ever with more than 1.5 billion hits. Read more of this post

Billionaire investor Sam Zell’s tip for real estate newbies? “Go to medical school”; Equity Residential chief shares wisdom at NYU REIT conference

Sam Zell’s tip for real estate newbies? “Go to medical school”

Equity Residential chief shares wisdom at NYU REIT conference

April 12, 2013 06:00PM
By Hiten Samtani

Had Equity Residential’s Samuel Zell known that Lehman Brothers would accept a fixed price for Archstone’s sprawling apartment building portfolio, he would have bought the whole company outright, he told participants yesterday at a real estate investment trust symposium hosted by New York University’s Schack Institute of Real Estate. “The fixed price removes a lot of uncertainty from the deal,” said Zell, looking rakish in a grey blazer and jeans, amidst a suit-clad crowd at the Pierre, a swank Central Park-facing hotel at 2 East 61st Street.  In November of last year, Zell and AvalonBay Communities, a Washington, D.C.-based REIT, agreed to pay roughly $6.5 billion in cash and stock for the portfolio, which contained just under 58,000 apartment units scattered around the Northeast. Zell said he wasn’t aware that Lehman would agree to a fixed price — rather than a fair market value deal — and if he had known that up front, he would have gone solo. Still, AvalonBay was a stellar partner on the deal, Zell said. “To do a deal of that size with such limited friction is pretty extraordinary,” he said. In New York City, Equity Residential is building 400 Park Avenue South, a 40-story condominium and rental apartment tower in partnership with Toll Brothers. But ground-up development — given its inherent risk — is only a small part of the publicly traded company’s arsenal, Zell said, noting that the firm built only “5 percent” of its portfolio, valued at $35 billion.

“We’re going to find out in the next three or four years what happens when you’re in the middle of construction and inflation starts to go up,” he said. When asked about the housing market, Zell said that elevated home ownership rates had historically preceded turmoil. “Every time we’ve got into a crisis in this country, the housing rate has hovered over 62 percent,” he said. “It was 69 percent recently, now it’s at 65.5 percent.” Read more of this post

Billionaire Investor Leon Black’s Apollo Global Management ‘Selling Everything’ as Prices Have Risen

Black’s Apollo ‘Selling Everything’ as Prices Have Risen

Leon Black, chief executive officer of buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC (APO), said prices for traditional buyouts have risen so much that it’s a good time to sell. “We think it’s a fabulous environment to be selling,” Black said today during a panel discussion at the Milken Institute conference in Los Angeles, adding that Apollo has sold about $13 billion in assets in the last 15 months. “We’re selling everything that’s not nailed down, and if we’re not selling, we’re refinancing.” U.S. equity markets have more than doubled from their 2009 lows, helping push up average prices for leveraged buyouts to nine times earnings, Black said. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose to a record today as consumer confidence offset an unexpected drop in business activity and investors weighed earnings reports. Black’s comments were echoed by buyout executives including Scott Sperling, co-president of Thomas H. Lee Partners LP, and Jonathan Sokoloff, managing partner at Leonard Green & Partners LP. “It has become more difficult to find transactions priced at levels we’d like,” Sperling said on the same panel. “We’re having trouble deploying capital at these price levels,” Sokoloff said. It’s “time to take a pause.”

To contact the reporter on this story: David Carey in New York at dcarey13@bloomberg.net

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