Starbucks regularly launches products before they’re perfect. Why does such a risky approach to innovation work so well?

RISKY INNOVATION: WILL STARBUCK’S LEAP OF FAITH PAY OFF?

THE WORLD’S LARGEST COFFEEHOUSE CHAIN REGULARLY LAUNCHES PRODUCTS BEFORE THEY’RE PERFECT. WHY DOES SUCH A RISKY APPROACH TO INNOVATION WORK SO WELL?

BY: AUSTIN CARR

In late March, as Starbucks was preparing to introduce its first offer on Groupon, the daily-deal service, the coffee chain’s chief digital officer, Adam Brotman, realized he had no clue whether the gambit would pay off. The discount wasn’t for anything crazy like bungee jumps or skydiving lessons–it was for 50% off a $10 Starbucks Card eGift–but to Brotman, the deal was just as risky because of how the company would be offering it. His team had to integrate Starbucks’s eGift platform with Groupon’s system for the one-off promotion, and it was about to go live to the world. “They’d never done deals at the scale we were offering, and we had never put our [eGift] platform through that type of pressure test,” Brotman says. “But we didn’t have the luxury to say anything other than, ‘We think we got this right, so let’s see what happens.’ There are times when we just completely don’t know how things are going to work.” Read more of this post

Strategies for playing at war: World of Tanks revenues have soared from €18m in 2011 to €218m last year

June 4, 2013 4:42 pm

Strategies for playing at war

By Jan Cienski

World-of-Tanks-11

Tanks for the memories: Victor Kislyi turned to the history on his Minsk doorstep for inspiration

To the dismay of wives and mothers the world over, huge numbers of men and boys adore powerful vehicles and big guns. If you put the two together, you have tanks. This insight has help­ed Victor Kislyi build one of the world’s fastest-growing computer game developers.

Mr Kislyi’s Belarus-based Wargaming.net is the creator of World of Tanks , the online game in which players get to drive a second world war-era tank and engage in team battles on an accurately depicted terrain or in city streets, using detailed and realistic maps. Read more of this post

Truly global vocabulary needs ‘untranslatable’ Chinese terms; Most people believe that the secret to promote Chinese culture is to have as many foreigners as possible studying the Chinese language. There is a better way.

Truly global vocabulary needs ‘untranslatable’ Chinese terms

Created: 2013-6-3 0:34:04

Author:Thorsten Pattberg

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MOST people believe that the secret to promote Chinese culture is to have as many foreigners as possible studying the Chinese language. There is a better way.
The difference between promoting and inhibiting one’s culture often lies in “translation.” All writers should be aware of the unwritten law of “cultural property rights”: WHEN to translate, WHAT translation does, and WHERE to avoid it.
The English language is often hailed as the “international language,” but it is not the global language. In fact, the global language will have to adopt tens of thousands of non-European concepts from China, India, and Japan. The list goes on.
As I write this, great efforts are made by Chinese scholars to promote East Asian terms into the global lexicon – Chinese words like tianxia, shengren and junzi, and even the mythical long.  The reason is simple: Scientists so far may have indexed the animal and plant kingdoms, and the material world. But the taxonomization of culture has only just begun. Read more of this post

Directors’ duty is not just to investors: There is too much focus on noise in markets and not enough to operational performance

June 4, 2013 6:10 pm

Directors have a duty beyond just enriching shareholders

By John Kay

There is too much focus on noise in markets and not enough to operational performance

Do companies have a duty to their shareholders to minimise the amount of tax they pay? Even if this involves engaging in complex and artificial schemes that shift profits to jurisdictions in which little or no tax is payable?

Under the 2006 Companies Act, directors of British companies are required to promote the success of the business for the benefit of its members (the shareholders). In doing so, they must have regard to six specific factors: the long-term consequences of their decisions, the interests of employees, relationships with suppliers and customers, the impact of corporate activities on the community and the environment, the company’s reputation for high standards of business conduct and the need for fairness between different members of the company. Read more of this post

Maverick Internet tycoon Takafumi Horie, who was jailed for accounting fraud, back in business; Horie said he had got involved in around 30 start-ups since being released from prison three months ago

Japan dotcom jailbird back in business

Horie said he had got involved in around 30 start-ups since being released from prison three months ago. -AFP
Wed, Jun 05, 2013
AFP

JAPAN-CRIME-IT-COMPANY

TOKYO – Maverick Internet tycoon Takafumi Horie, who was jailed for accounting fraud, said Wednesday Japan’s online landscape was prime territory for his aggressive style of business. Horie said he had got involved in around 30 start-ups since being released from prison three months ago, having served nearly two years for hiding losses on the balance sheets of his Internet service provider Livedoor.

Read more of this post

Chipping Away at Success: Litigation as strategy isn’t unfamiliar in the competitive high-tech world, where trampled companies turn to courts to slay the enemy

June 4, 2013, 4:47 p.m. ET

Chipping Away at Success

Litigation as strategy isn’t unfamiliar in the competitive high-tech world, where trampled companies turn to courts to slay the enemy.

By DAVID KANSAS

Hector Ruiz opens his memoir with a prologue that is intended to read like the first pages of a thriller. Mr. Ruiz, the chief executive officer of Advanced Micro Devices until 2008, brings us into a 2005 board meeting. Curt exchanges, dire threats, doubt and debate fill the air. Given that Mr. Ruiz is a sharp engineer, one would expect the argument to be about some vital aspect of technology. Instead, it’s all about suingIntelINTC +0.48% AMD’s giant market foe.

Seeing AMD as David to Intel’s Goliath, Mr. Ruiz code-named the suit “Slingshot,” the title of his book. He knew a thing or two about slingshots, having used them in his hardscrabble youth in a Mexican town on the U.S. border. Read more of this post

Taoist abbot Yuan Zhihong has a complicated attitude toward money: He knows his temple needs funds to make ends meet, but the commercialization of religious venues is affecting their sacred status

Taoist leaders focus on preserving values

Updated: 2013-06-05 02:02

By An Baijie (China Daily)

Taoist abbot Yuan Zhihong has a complicated attitude toward money: He knows his temple needs funds to make ends meet, but the commercialization of religious venues is affecting their sacred status.

“At some public memorial ceremonies, people have paid more than 1 million yuan ($163,000) to light the first incense stick,” he said. “The religion has become too secular in many places.” Read more of this post

Waiting for Indonesian Leadership; Fifteen years after Suharto, corruption has undercut political and economic progress at every turn

June 4, 2013, 9:38 a.m. ET

Waiting for Indonesian Leadership

Fifteen years after Suharto, corruption has undercut political and economic progress at every turn.

By JOHN KURTZ AND JAMES VAN ZORGE

A little more than 15 years ago, on May 21, 1998, Suharto stepped down from the Indonesian presidency and ended three decades of autocratic rule. Student demonstrators, white collar professionals, laborers and housewives alike poured into the streets to celebrate. Suharto’s successor, B.J. Habibie, quickly promised reform.

Today in the streets of Jakarta, the din of protest and change that defined 1998 is a distant memory. While Indonesians appreciate the voting rights and civil freedoms gained that year, many also wax eloquent about the “good old days” under Suharto.

They do so because democracy has not brought Indonesia far-sighted leadership. The good news in Indonesia has been widely recognized and recently celebrated—increases in foreign direct investment, continued press freedom, a stable banking sector, solid growth rates—but underneath lies a restlessness for real change that would affect the common person. Elections next year offer the country’s politicians a chance to restore voters’ faith in democracy and reform-–but they also create a dangerous opening for illiberal candidates to lead the country astray by playing on ill-founded nostalgia. Read more of this post

Korean government to inject $36 billion to spur ‘creative economy’

2013-06-05 18:09

Gov’t to inject $36 billion to spur ‘creative economy’

By Yi Whan-woo

The government will invest 40 trillion won ($35.8 billion) over the next five years to turn Korea into a creative economy centered on science and information technologies as well as small and mid-sized enterprises.

Unveiling the master plan to spur the transition, Choi Mun-kee, minister of Science, ICT and Future Planning, said the government’s goal is to foster an environment where creative ideas and innovative technologies lead to new jobs and markets. Read more of this post

To revive Infosys, Murthy must revamp sales, culture

To revive Infosys, Murthy must revamp sales, culture

9:06am EDT

By Harichandan Arakali

BANGALORE (Reuters) – Narayana Murthy’s success in turning around Indian IT services firm Infosys hinges on his ability to revive its sales efforts and shake up the conservative culture he helped create.

Eleven years after Murthy stepped down as chief executive at India’s second largest computer services exporter, Infosys unexpectedly brought back the 66-year-old as executive chairman to reverse falling market share and end two years of disappointing results. Read more of this post

Cancer No Longer Death Sentence Brings Care Gap: Health

Cancer No Longer Death Sentence Brings Care Gap: Health

After Teresa Levitch underwent successful chemotherapy and radiation for the cancer attacking her immune system, she believed her health problems were over.

Now she knows better. For more than 10 years after her treatment, she felt pain and muscle fatigue in her upper body, and her range of motion was limited. She went to several doctors, but none helped her. Then she found the cancer survivor program at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York, which identified her illness as radiation fibrosis syndrome and began treatments that have made her feel better.

The Sloan-Kettering program is one of seven in the U.S. exclusively focused on long-term cancer survivors, a growing group that is facing a treatment gap between the successful end of cancer care by their oncologist and adequate follow-up by other doctors, according to reports this weekend at the American Society for Clinical Oncology annual meeting. Read more of this post

Diabetes Is the Price Vietnam Pays for Progress

June 4, 2013

Diabetes Is the Price Vietnam Pays for Progress

By THOMAS FULLER

HO CHI MINH CITY — He survived the deprivation of the Vietnamese countryside and decades of war, but Pham Van Dang, 70, lay dazed in his hospital bed, the stump of his freshly amputated leg sewn up like the seams of a leather bag. Mr. Dang and many younger patients in the diabetes ward here at Nguyen Tri Phuong Hospital are casualties of rising affluence, his doctor says. “I see more and more patients with diabetes,” said Dr. Tran Quang Khanh, who is chief of the endocrinology department, whose ward receives 20 new patients a day. The precise reasons for a spike in diabetes cases are hard to pin down — people are living longer, for one — but doctors in Vietnam say the prime culprits are “Westernization and urbanization.” “Now we have KFC and many fast-food restaurants,” Dr. Khanh said.

Read more of this post

China’s debt servicing cost and that Minsky moment; with shockingly high debt service ratio of 29.9% of GDP, no wonder that credit growth is accelerating without contributing much to real growth

China’s debt servicing cost and dat Minsky moment

Kate Mackenzie

| Jun 04 12:48 | 32 comments | Share

Part of the CHINA’S CREDIT CONUNDRUM SERIES

ChinaDSR-estimate-SocGen

A little update on China’s growing debt-to-GDP ratio, which has caused much alarm and puzzlement this year. We’ve mentioned before a very interesting 2012 BIS paper on national debt servicing ratios, which found the following: …the DSRs’ peak levels are surprisingly similar across countries and time despite different levels of financial development. As a broad rule of thumb, the graph panels suggest that a DSR above 20–25% reliably signals the risk of a banking crisis. There are certainly exceptions to this — the authors of the BIS paper, Mathias Drehman and Mikael Juselius, point out that South Korea well exceeded this range before experiencing a financial crisis; while German and Greek crises occurred before 20 per cent was reached. What about China? Read more of this post

More than 40% of managers that are sent abroad fail

More than 40% of managers that are sent abroad fail

By Vickie Elmer June 4, 2013

Getting a job placement overseas sounds like a dream until it’s not.

The failure rate of expatriates is amazingly high, and experts blame a lack of corporate support and an abundance of family issues.

Some 42% of overseas assignments are judged to be failures by senior executives in a new Right Management survey. That ratio is consistent whether the manager is leaving a company based in Asia, Europe or North America. Executives used their internal targets or perspectives in judging the ex-pat assignment a success or failure. These include whether the worker hit her sales targets or returned early.

“You would think in the globalization of business, of workforce of talent mobility that clearly is at its peak today that companies would smartly invest and think and plan on how to do this,” said Bram Lowsky, group executive vice president for Right Management in Toronto. Read more of this post

This shell that is buying Smithfield has no legal or operational connection to Henan Shuanghui whose Chinese assets are reportedly being used as collateral for the shell company to finance a very highly-leveraged acquisition

Smithfield Foods – Shuanghui International: The Biggest Chinese Acquisition That Isn’t

June 2nd, 20131 comment

Peter Fuhrman is Chairman, Founder & CEO at China First Capital, (中国首创)a leading China-focused specialist international investment bank and advisory firm for private capital markets and M&A transactions.

It is, if voluminous press reports are to be believed, the biggest story, the biggest deal, ever in China-US business history. I’m talking about the announced takeover of America’s largest pork company, Smithfield Foods, by a company called Shuanghui International. The deal, it is said in dozens of media reports, opens the China market to US pork and will transform China’s largest pork producer into a global giant selling Smithfield’s products alongside its own in China, while utilizing the American company’s more advanced methods for pork rearing and slaughtering.

One problem. A Chinese company isn’t buying Smithfield. A shell company based in Cayman Islands is. Instead of a story about “China buying up the world”, this turns out to be a story of a precarious leveraged buyout deal (“LBO”) cooked up by some large global private equity firms looking to borrow their way to a fortune. Read more of this post

Wang Huning, head of a secretive Communist Party office and a key architect of President Xi Jinping’s ‘China Dream’ campaign, is one of the most influential but least known figures in China today; Wang occupies a unique place in the party as the only person to have served as a top policy adviser and speechwriter to three successive presidents: Jiang Zemin, his successor Hu Jintao, and now Mr. Xi

June 4, 2013, 10:37 p.m. ET

The Wonk With the Ear of Chinese President Xi Jinping

By JEREMY PAGE

BEIJING—When Xi Jinping sat down with Russian and African leaders in March during his first overseas visit as China’s new leader, at his shoulder in every meeting was a bookish, bespectacled figure, listening intently and occasionally taking notes. Look for him to be there too in Rancho Mirage, Calif., on Friday when Mr. Xi and President Barack Obama meet for a summit.

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Wang Huning has advised three presidents. Mr. Wang, center, with President Xi Jinping left, in March. Mr. Wang sits behind former President Jiang Zemin in 2007

Even in China, few people would recognize Wang Huning, head of the Communist Party’s secretive Central Policy Research Office. And small wonder: The former university professor almost never talks in public, barely speaks to old acquaintances and makes a point of not associating with foreigners.

Yet party insiders and experts on Chinese politics consider him one of the most influential figures in China today, a key architect of its domestic and foreign policy over the past decade, and now of Mr. Xi’s signature “China Dream” campaign that evokes a militarily and economically strong nation reclaiming its place of prominence in the world.

Mr. Wang, who briefly studied in the U.S. and has headed the Research Office since 2002, occupies a unique place in the party as the only person to have served as a top policy adviser and speechwriter to three successive presidents: Jiang Zemin, his successor Hu Jintao, and now Mr. Xi. Read more of this post

If Chinese IPO Booms, This Is a Bubble

If Chinese IPO Booms, This Is a Bubble

There’s something familiar about the Beijing-based online retailer LightInTheBox Holding Co., which plans to price its initial public offering this week on the New York Stock Exchange. Looking at the company’s website reminds me of an old spoof in the Onion about a Chinese factory worker who can’t believe the sheer amount of cheap junk Americans will buy. “Why the demand for so many kitchen gadgets?” the fictional worker was quoted as saying in a 2005 article for the satirical newspaper. “Where do the Americans put them? How many times will you use a taco-shell holder? ‘Oh, I really need this silverware-drawer sorter or I will have fits.’ Shut up, stupid American.” Many of the items break after a few uses, he noted. On the list of “best deals” on LightInTheBox: a “capless short bob high quality synthetic dark brown straight hair wig” for $27.99, and a “cast iron revolver design tattoo gun kit” for $109.99. Kitchen items include a “cool steamship and iceberg shaped ice tray mold” for $3.79. There’s also free shipping on many items of the 220,000 products offered (even the ice tray), but no recognizable brand names — just a lot of knockoffs.

Read more of this post

Poultry Plant in Deadly Fire Won Plaudits From Chinese

June 4, 2013

Poultry Plant in Deadly Fire Won Plaudits From Chinese

By EDWARD WONG

BEIJING — A local Communist Party official called it an “inspiring” factory three years ago. Local officials later gave it the “leading enterprise” label for its innovation in processing chickens. But the official homages to the Jilin Baoyuanfeng Poultry Plant, where at least 120 people died this week in a fast-moving fire, now serve as little more than stark reminders of the blind eyes turned to the dangerous conditions facing many workers in China.

The tragedy, which some state media reports attributed to an ammonia leak, was China’s worst workplace fire in many years. That, coupled with the earlier glowing assessments of the factory, underscored how government regulation in China is weakened by an evaluation system that bases the promotion of officials on economic growth above virtually all else. How well companies expand the local economy trumps workplace conditions, product safety and pollution — top concerns for many ordinary Chinese and growing sources of unrest. Read more of this post

Confronting China’s Cadmium-Laced Rice Crisis: Doing nothing about toxic cadmium in rice paddies appears to be no longer an option in Hunan Province

06.05.2013 18:31

Confronting China’s Cadmium-Laced Rice Crisis

Doing nothing about toxic cadmium in rice paddies appears to be no longer an option in Hunan Province

By staff reporters Pang Jiaoming, Gong Jing and Liu Hongqiao

Seller’s stalls are empty and aisles have fallen silent at one of China’s largest wholesale markets for rice, the Lianxi Rice Market in the city of Yiyang, north-central Hunan Province. Business at the market – traditionally a trading center for about 20 percent of all rice grown in Hunan – has come to a standstill in the face of a heavy-metal contamination scare. The scare lay dormant for years before exploding onto the public stage in February with frightening media stories about high levels of the heavy metal cadmium in Hunan-grown rice. Follow-up reports were continuing in June as consumers, wholesalers, retailers and farmers digested results of government lab tests and mulled over reports of entire villages being poisoned over the past decade. Read more of this post

A nationwide boom in campus construction in China has provided ample opportunity for graft

Corruption on College Campuses

By Shen Nianzu (沈念祖)
Issue 622, June 2, 2013

In May, Nanchang University President Zhou Wenbin (周文斌) was detained and removed from the 12th National People’s Congress. A source close to the Jiangxi provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection revealed that the case is related to construction of the school’s new campus.

In the past five years, 14 university officials in Jiangxi have been involved in corruption related to campus construction – three of whom were university presidents.

Du Zhizhou (杜治洲), vice-director of the Clean Politics Institution in Beijing University of Aeronautics & Astronautics, found that from 1988 to 2009, out of 200 corruption cases in public universities nationwide, 34 percent were related to construction. Read more of this post

Top100, music website founded by retired NBA star Yao Ming, shuts down

Music website founded by Yao Ming shuts down

Staff Reporter

2013-06-05

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From late April, internet users have been unable to access www.top100.cn — a Chinese music website co-founded by retired NBA star Yao Ming — as it has reportedly been shut down, reports Shanghai’s First Financial Daily. Gary Chen, the co-founder and CEO of the website, said on his microblog that the site had faced difficult choices and necessary shifts, since Google had suspended music search services in China in October. The site was officially launched in Beijing in March 2006 and provided free trial and download services, based on a catalog of millions of copyrighted music files through a collaboration with global music publishers. The website gained a good deal of attention because Google and Yao Ming, one of the biggest names in sports ever to come from China, were two of its founders. Yao and Zhang Mingji, another co-founder, had invested US$3 million as start-up capital in the site in 2005, when Yao was at the peak of his basketball career. Yao mentioned the website on many occasions and this naturally helped draw public attention to the venture. Read more of this post

Chinese Financial Social Media Snowball Announces $10 million Series B Funding

Chinese Financial Social Media Snowball Announces $10 million Series B Funding

By Tracey Xiang on June 5, 2013

Snowball Finance, a Chinese online financial service, today announced $10 million Series B round of funding from Sequoia China and Morningside Ventures. Simon Fang, founder and CEO of Snowball, said the funding will be used for product development and talent. The company owns a financial news site, iMeigu, and a financial social network, Xueqiu. iMeigu, launched in May 2010, has been focusing on U.S. stock market, while Xueqiu also covers Hong Kong stock market and China’s A-share market. Xueqiu doesn’t only has a Facebook’s Newsfeed-like platform, but also offers stock quotes, business news and analysis reports for each stock on those markets. Now being one of the most popular social networks for Chinese investors, it has attracted a large number of professionals in financial sector to contribute financial analysis reports. Xueqiu apps are available for iOS and Android. Established in 2010 by Simon Fang, former deputy editor-in-chief at NetEase’s online media, Snowball received RMB 20 million ($3.2 million) Series A funding from Sequoia China in 2011 and angel investment from Xue Manzi earlier.

Xueqiuapps

Berlin’s Network Effect Will Make It A Global Startup Center

Berlin’s Network Effect Will Make It A Global Startup Center

MATT COHLER

posted yesterday

Editor’s note: Matt Cohler is a General Partner at Benchmark and was the lead investor in Asana, Instagram and Quora among others. You can follow him on Twitter @mattcohler
Throw a dart at a map. There’s a pretty good chance it’ll hit near someplace hoping to become the “next Silicon Valley.” I’d bet on Berlin. I believe Berlin has the best shot in the Western world outside of Silicon Valley at becoming a place with a true tech startup ecosystem. I don’t just mean a place where one or two great companies are born — that can happen pretty much anywhere. I mean a place with an enduring ecosystem powered by a network effect that gets stronger over time. Like what Hollywood is for entertainment, London and New York are for big finance, Milan and Paris are for fashion, and Silicon Valley is for technology.

Recipe For A New Ecosystem

Creating an ecosystem from scratch is hard — building a network effect always is. But it can be done. I believe every enduring creative ecosystem has five key ingredients: creators, builders, the right kind of capital, the rule of law and, last but not least, the opportunity to take the starring role on the local center stage. And whether in finance, fashion, technology or the arts, you need all five: Read more of this post

Zynga Shuts Down OMGPOP One Year After Acquiring It For $200M

Zynga Shuts Down OMGPOP One Year After Acquiring It For $200M

GREG KUMPARAK

posted yesterday

As the dust begins to settle following yesterday’s massive, sweeping layoffs at Zynga, the extent of the damage is becoming more clear.

Remember when Zynga acquired OMGPOP last year for roughly $200M dollars? Yeah, OMGPOP essentially no longer exists.

According to tweets from company employees and the company’s Twitter account itself, most of the OMGPOP staff was let go, with their New York City office shuttered.

Zynga acquired OMGPOP at the height of its success, just as Draw Something — OMGPOP’s first real smash hit — was exploding onto handsets everywhere. By the time Zynga pushed an update to add their logo to the game, its popularity had already tapered. Read more of this post

Former Zynga employee takes to Reddit: ‘They rely too much on reacting to what is making money now’; micromanagement enforced by high-level executives was stifling creativity throughout the firm’s development cycle

Former Zynga employee takes to Reddit: ‘They rely too much on reacting to what is making money now’

Nick Summers

2 hours ago Updated at 12:55 CEST

A Reddit user claiming to be one of the 520 employees laid off by Zyngaearlier this week has described the company’s “terrible” business strategyand ongoing efforts to raise staff morale. The former member of staff said the video game publisher has “major issues” and an “inability to adjust to the changing market”. “They did great when Facebook gaming was on the rise, but now it’s declining and Mobile is on the rise,” the Reddit user, who is answering questions as part of an ‘Ask Me Anything’ discussion thread said. “They’re trying to change over, but employ too many of the same game development ‘best practices’ that were developed for Facebook games. These just don’t translate to the mobile market, which is why they’re suffering in that market.”

A lack of innovation

The user has kept their identity anonymous, so it’s unclear exactly which projects they worked on or their position within the company. They expressed concerns, however, with the amount of micromanagement that was being enforced by high-level executives and argued that this was stifling creativity throughout the firm’s development cycle. Read more of this post

How not to scale: Zynga edition

How not to scale: Zynga edition

BY ERIN GRIFFITH 
ON JUNE 4, 2013

The story of how Zynga grew from zero to 2,800 employees, and then back down to its current headcount of around 2,300, is not pretty. That the company laid off 18 percent of its work force yesterday was a drastic move; the realization that 18 percent of its work force is 520 freaking people is almost more shocking.

After Zynga went public in December 2011 at a valuation of $7 billion, the company had plenty of cash to throw around, even as question marks arose over whether the games could stay hot and new hits would emerge. Cracks were showing. Zynga’s symbiotic arrangement with Facebook was disintegrating, and changes to the Facebook algorithm hurt engagement. A particularly brutal quarter last summer sent shares as low as $2. Read more of this post

Amazon plans big expansion of online grocery business

Amazon plans big expansion of online grocery business – sources

2:54am IST By Alistair Barr

logo-amazonfresh-splashlanding

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc(AMZN.O: QuoteProfileResearch) is planning a major roll-out of an online grocery business that it has been quietly developing for years, targeting one of the largest retail sectors yet to be upended by e-commerce, according to two people familiar with the situation. While food is a low-margin business, Amazon could outperform similar online grocery services by delivering orders for higher-margin items like electronics at the same time. One of the people familiar with AmazonFresh’s expansion plans said new warehouses will have refrigerated areas for food, but also space nearby to store up to one million general merchandise products, in some cases. Read more of this post

Intel to Invest $100 Million in Voice, Gesture Technologies

June 4, 2013, 7:05 a.m. ET

Intel to Invest $100 Million in Voice, Gesture Technologies

By EVA DOU

TAIPEI—Intel INTC +0.48% Capital, the global investment arm of chipmaker Intel Corp., is setting up a $100 million fund to invest in “perceptual” computing technologies like voice and gesture control, company executives said. The fund will invest over the next two to three years in firms making software and applications with functions like imaging, gesture and voice control, emotion sensing and biometrics, the company said. Read more of this post

For the first time in a decade, Wall Street is shrinking their footprint in the natural-gas storage business, as booming output damps price volatility and potential profits

June 4, 2013, 6:52 p.m. ET

Wall Street Takes Foot Off the Gas

By DAN STRUMPF

For the first time in a decade, Wall Street banks and trading firms are shrinking their footprint in the natural-gas storage business, as booming output damps price volatility and potential profits. Banks stampeded into commodities in the past two decades in search of big bets. Natural gas held a particular allure because for years the heating fuel was scarce and vulnerable to output disruptions that allowed traders to capitalize on big price swings. But that allure is fading for some. At the end of the first quarter, the amount of storage space leased by financial firms declined 0.8%, the first such drop since 2003, according to an analysis of Federal Energy Regulatory Commission data conducted by BNP Paribas BNP.FR -0.14% . “It’s really difficult for commodities traders to make the kind of money they used to make,” said Brad Hintz, an analyst who tracks investment banks for Sanford C. Bernstein. “The dynamic is changing, and it’s pretty tough for the traders to generate the profitability they’re used to.” Read more of this post

SEC Ready to Curb Money Funds; ‘Prime’ Investment Vehicles Would Have to Relinquish Fixed $1 Share Price Under Proposed Rule

Updated June 4, 2013, 9:33 p.m. ET

SEC Ready to Curb Money Funds

‘Prime’ Investment Vehicles Would Have to Relinquish Fixed $1 Share Price Under Proposed Rule

By ANDREW ACKERMAN And JESSICA HOLZER

MI-BW376_MONEYF_NS_20130604184803

WASHINGTON—U.S. securities regulators are expected to take a significant step toward reining in money-market-mutual funds on Wednesday, resurrecting an effort that appeared to be on life support late last year.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is set to propose a rule aimed at fixing structural problems that make money funds susceptible to investor runs, as was the case during the 2008 financial crisis. The proposal, fleshed out over several months, would require “prime” funds whose shares are held by corporations and other institutional investors to abandon their fixed $1 share price and allow their values to float like other mutual funds. Prime funds invest in short-term corporate debt. Read more of this post

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