Profiting from adversity: Maria Xynias’s brilliant start-up idea Ladies Running Errands, the “extra helping hand for people who need an extra pair of hands”

Profiting from adversity: Maria Xynias’s brilliant start-up idea



Entrepreneur Maria Xynias’s clients range from the elderly and people living alone to young parents: “I get a lot of baby-boomer clients who are working or time-poor and need someone to take their elderly parent to the doctor”.


When Maria Xynias suffered a serious illness which left her unable to work for two years, she relied on her network of family for support, transport and sustenance. Time in convalescence gave her pause for thought: “I have a big Greek family network and lots of support but I wonder what happens to ­people who aren’t as lucky as me.” Therein lies the genesis of her start-up business, Ladies Running Errands , which is what Xynias calls the “extra helping hand for people who need an extra pair of hands”. – rather like a trusted family member without being a member of the family. She is one of the growing number of Australian women who take a break from long-term employment for a range of reasons, then work for themselves as sole traders. Xynias had worked her way up through store manager ranks at Target for 15 years, followed by a stint in a duty-free store at ­Sydney Airport. She launched Ladies Running Errands in January 2011. “It’s a very personal service and covers anything to make people’s daily lives easier. I take my responsibility very seriously.” Read more of this post

The biggest decision most of us leave to chance

The biggest decision most of us leave to chance

ON JULY 18, 2013


Recently, a friend of mine told me his goal was to make some “fuck you money.” This was a new development for him, as he had never before prioritized a big score. As we talked about his options, he described several promising opportunities that he decided not to pursue, because they weren’t interesting to him. Despite his proclamation that making money was his new priority, he couldn’t change the fact that he wasn’t strictly wired to be financially motivated. I’ve seen many people try to convince themselves that making money was their primary goal even when it wasn’t. I’ve been guilty of doing it myself. Truthfully, I think life would be much simpler if I were coin operated, but I’m not. And despite what others like my friend might claim, the vast majority of people aren’t either. Most people don’t realize it, but the pull of non-financial motivations creates one of the biggest decisions many of us face in life. Unless you’re one of the lucky ones whose interests are naturally lucrative, here is the choice you face. Do you do something you care about which might be more difficult, or even impossible, to make financially lucrative? Or do you set aside your personal motivations and pursue whatever provides the best opportunity for making the most money with the fewest obstacles? I’m sure you’ve thought about this question before, but you probably did so only as a philosophical exercise. Did you really think about it when you accepted your last job? For the entrepreneurs reading this, do you really love your startup? Or did a random opportunity present itself, and you just went along with it while you convinced yourself that mailing stuff in a box is your dream company?

The decision often seems one-sided because there’s no external measure of our internal motivations. Only you know how much they matter to you. In contrast, we’re bombarded with messages that correlate financial success with absolute success. We end up losing sight of the decision because one side of the equation is screaming at us with big houses, fancy cars, and the respect of our peers, while the other side offers nothing that the rest of the world can even measure. Considered this way, there hardly seems to be a decision at all. But just because one side speaks more quietly than the other doesn’t mean it carries any less weight. Despite the fact that this decision determines the course of our lives, very few of us really take it seriously. We hypocritically quote Confucius and tell people to, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life,” while we spend our own days at jobs we honestly don’t care for that much. Somehow, when it came time to make this decision for ourselves, we probably didn’t really think about it. Most likely, we let circumstance or convenience make the choice for us and ended up with whatever was put in front of us instead of choosing our own path.

Unless my friend gets lucky with a really fast score, I don’t think he’ll be able to follow through on his goal of making, “fuck you money.” He just isn’t built that way and I don’t think he can force himself to pursue the cash if his heart isn’t in it. For me, it took a string of choices that left me wondering, “Why the hell am I doing this?” before I decided all of my work decisions would be guided solely by my personal interests and nothing more. It’s a decision that has made me happy, but without question I’ve left a lot of financial opportunities on the table. How about you? Have you made the choice for yourself? Or have you let the decision fall to chance?

Head of another Taobao online retail outlet dies due to overwork at age 36

Head of another Taobao outlet dies due to overwork

Staff Reporter 2013-07-19


Wu Lijun was 36. (Internet photo)

Wu Lijun, who was president of Yunifang, an online retailer that sells mud masks and skincare products on Taobao, one of China’s largest e-commerce platforms, died on July 15. The cause of death is suspected to be overwork, a situation that is becoming worringly common among people who earn their living by selling goods online, reports the Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League committee in Beijing. Yunifang had become the leading seller of cosmetic mask products on Taobao after only six months on the platform. The retailer was later listed on Taobao’s top 50 outlets. Wu died due to a brain condition in Changsha in south-central China at the age of only 36. There have been several cases of death due to overwork in the online retail sector. Taobao reportedly conducted a survey into the health of 74 of their retails and are said to have found the results worrying. The earlier death of a 24-year-old Taobao retailer in Hangzhou was the first to prompt discussion about how hard people in the industry were working to sell tehir goods and promote their outlet. Taobao posted an official expression of condolences on that occasion and reminded its retailers to take care of their health. It has been taken for granted that to succeed in the emerging e-commerce business, it is necessary to work hard and for long hours to process and shipp orders and ensure customers are satisfied. Overwork has become an acknowledged feature of the industry.

How Europe’s Bank Crisis Swamped Pescanova Seafood Empire; The downfall of Spanish fishing company Pescanova is a cautionary tale of the still-rippling European banking crisis

Updated July 18, 2013, 11:04 p.m. ET

How Europe’s Bank Crisis Swamped Pescanova Seafood Empire

Ripples of Region’s Credit Crunch Led to Downfall of Spain’s Fishing Giant


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REDONDELA, Spain—The downfall of Manuel Fernández de Sousa, who builtPescanova SA PVA.MC -19.26% from a provincial Spanish fishing company into a multinational giant, is a cautionary tale of the still-rippling European banking crisis. His troubles began at a Feb. 27 board meeting where Pescanova’s two newest directors grilled him about the company’s proposed financial results. Read more of this post

The Rise of the Intangible Economy: U.S. GDP Counts R&D, Artistic Creation

The Rise of the Intangible Economy: U.S. GDP Counts R&D, Artistic Creation

By Peter Coy on July 18, 2013


On July 31, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis will rewrite history on a grand scale by restating the size and composition of the gross domestic product, all the way back to the first year it was recorded, 1929. The biggest change will be the reclassification—nay, the elevation—of research and development. R&D will no longer be treated as a mere expense, like the electricity bill or food for the company cafeteria. It will be categorized on the government’s books as an investment, akin to constructing a factory or digging a mine. In another victory for intellectual property, original works of art such as films, music, and books will be treated for the first time as long-lived assets. Read more of this post

China’s test; controlled slowdown or unemployment nightmare

China’s test; controlled slowdown or unemployment nightmare

Thu, Jul 18 2013

By Kevin Yao

BEIJING (Reuters) – The success or failure of China’s efforts to revamp its giant economy may rest with workers like Hu Zhao and Deng Jindong.

They were both at a job fair in Beijing this week. Hu, a 30-year-old former factory worker, was looking for a higher paid office job. Deng, a sales manager with Ping An Insurance Co, was trying to hire sales people to sell financial products. They represent two ends of a massive shift in the world’s second-biggest economy being engineered by President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, who are trying to manage a slowdown in growth to reduce a reliance on the investment that has made the country the factory to the world. China’s leaders hope to orchestrate the shift without creating a surge in unemployment by building up the services sector to take up the economic slack as factories close down. Read more of this post

What the ‘Unofficial’ Data Say About China’s Slowdown

July 18, 2013, 5:19 PM

What the ‘Unofficial’ Data Say About China’s Slowdown

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With doubts about China’s official data as numerous as government censors at a Weibo convention, China Real Time is committed to uncovering the truth about the world’s second-largest economy. The latest plan: Hire an intern to mine data from statistics officials’ Renren accounts. On the off chance the National Bureau of Statistics aren’t big users of social media, here’s our illustrated guide to what the best private indicators say. Read more of this post

Picasso’s Determined Granddaughter has been writing a new inventory of her grandfather’s sculptures that could ignite prices and add tens of millions of dollars to the Picasso market

July 18, 2013, 6:51 p.m. ET

Picasso’s Determined Granddaughter Catalogs His Sculptures

Diana Widmaier-Picasso has been writing a new inventory of her grandfather’s sculptures that could ignite prices and add tens of millions of dollars to the Picasso market


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Diana in the sculpture garden of New York’s Museum of Modern Art with her grandfather’s ‘She-Goat’ earlier this month.

The heirs of Pablo Picasso keep a family office in an unassuming Parisian building near Place Vendôme, behind a tall wooden door wedged between a bistro and a travel agency. Inside, up a creaky gated elevator, the artist’s descendants gather in a row of book-lined rooms to take stock of their empire—including a trove of Picassos and several million dollars a year in related resale and licensing fees. Read more of this post

Nivea chief nourishes brand’s roots; Heidenreich bent on keeping identity of skincare brand; Herz family now own 50.5 per cent of Beiersdorf; it is hard to imagine that political and business interests in Hamburg would ever let them hand Nivea to foreigners

July 18, 2013 4:10 pm

Nivea chief nourishes brand’s roots

By Tony Barber

Heidenreich bent on keeping identity of skincare brand

Beiersdorf, the German cosmetics and adhesive tapes company, is more than just Nivea. But not much more. For almost 90 years, Nivea has been one of the world’s strongest skincare brands, recognisable in its comforting blue tins and tubes to almost everyone who has visited a shop selling skin cream. Without Nivea, it is inconceivable that Beiersdorf would be a member of Germany’s blue-chip Dax 30 index, boast a market capitalisation of more than €17bn and employ more than 16,000 people worldwide. This is the essential context for understanding why Stefan Heidenreich, Beiersdorf’s chief executive, decided last August to get rid of Rihanna as the face of Nivea. The sizzling Barbadian pop star was, Mr Heidenreich observed austerely, “a no-go . . . Nivea stands for trust, family and reliability”. Read more of this post

17 Ways Successful People Keep Work From Destroying Their Lives

17 Ways Successful People Keep Work From Destroying Their Lives


Working incessantly to achieve career success is  frequently prioritized above mental health and personal obligations.  While balancing work and life might not be easy early in one’s career, figuring it out is necessary to lifelong satisfaction. We’ve rounded up ways CEOs and other leaders find balance, stay sharp, stay happy, and don’t burn out.

LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner: Make sure there’s empty time in your schedule

Via LinkedIn:

“If you were to see my calendar, you’d probably notice a host of time slots greyed out but with no indication of what’s going on. There is no problem with my Outlook or printer. The grey sections reflect ‘buffers,’ or time periods I’ve purposely kept clear of meetings. “In aggregate, I schedule between 90 minutes and two hours of these buffers every day (broken down into 30- to 90-minute blocks). It’s a system I developed over the last several years in response to a schedule that was becoming so jammed with back-to-back meetings that I had little time left to process what was going on around me or just think. “… Above all else, the most important reason to schedule buffers is to just catch your breath. There is no faster way to feel as though your day is not your own, and that you are no longer in control, than scheduling meetings back to back from the minute you arrive at the office until the moment you leave. I’ve felt the effects of this and seen it with colleagues. Not only is it not fun to feel this way, it’s not sustainable.” Read more of this post

Review: The Perfect Swarm, from Victor Niederhoffer

Review: The Perfect Swarm, from Victor Niederhoffer

July 18, 2013 | 1 Comment

The Perfect Swarm by Len Fisher is a model of a what a good quasi scientific book simplifying recent findings in the theory of complexity, chaos, crowd behavior, decision making, swarm intelligence, group think and social behavior in humans and insects should be. The author is a physical scientist and inventor with uncommon insight into many subjects that are relevant to our everyday and market life. Typical is his perfect one sentence summary of the Madoff fraud: “Investors collectively deluded themselves into thinking that he must be cheating on their behalf rather than his own.” Exactly. There was always the hope that he would front run the limit orders of the over the counter market making operation he ran on their behalf and this led many to gloss over the complexities and fuzzy explanations of how he purportedly made profits for the investors, marks, and stooges. What’s surprising is that someone not close to the markets could see this so clearly. It’s typical of the Fisher insights and laser ray reporting of many of the studies and anecdotes in the complexity field. Read more of this post

The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life

The Perfect Swarm: The Science of Complexity in Everyday Life [Bargain Price] [Hardcover]

Len Fisher (Author)


Publication Date: December 8, 2009

One of the greatest discoveries of recent times is that the complex patterns we find in life are often produced when all of the individuals in a group follow the same simple rule. This process of “self-organization” reveals itself in the inanimate worlds of crystals and seashells, but as Len Fisher shows, it is also evident in living organisms, from fish to ants to human beings. The coordinated movements of fish in shoals, for example, arise from the simple rule: “Follow the fish in front.” Traffic flow arises from simple rules: “Keep your distance” and “Keep to the right.” Now, in his new book, Fisher shows how we can manage our complex social lives in an ever more chaotic world. His investigation encompasses topics ranging from “swarm intelligence” to the science of parties and the best ways to start a fad. Finally, Fisher sheds light on the beauty and utility of complexity theory. An entertaining journey into the science of everyday life, The Perfect Swarm will delight anyone who wants to understand the complex situations in which we so often find ourselves.

Read more of this post

Wirapol Sukphol, jet-setting fugitive Buddhist monk, stuns Thailand; “We have never seen a case this widespread, where a monk has caused so much damage to so many people and to Thai society.”

Wirapol Sukphol, jet-setting fugitive Buddhist monk, stuns Thailand

July 19, 2013 – 7:24AM

Jocelyn Gecker


Fugitive ex-monk Wirapol Sukpho is at the centre of the biggest religious scandal Thailand has seen in years.Photo: AP

Bangkok: He’s known as Thailand’s jet-setting fugitive monk, and his story has riveted the country with daily headlines of lavish excess, promiscuity and alleged crimes ranging from statutory rape to manslaughter.

Until a month ago, 33-year old Wirapol Sukphol was relatively unknown in Thailand. Now he is at the centre of the biggest religious scandal the predominantly Buddhist country has seen in years. Despite the vows he took to lead a life of celibacy and simplicity, Wirapol had a taste for luxury, police say. His excesses first came to light in June with a YouTube video that went viral. It showed the orange-robed monk in aviator sunglasses taking a private jet ride with a Louis Vuitton carry-on. Read more of this post

Combined market cap of Wells Fargo and JP Morgan ($440bn) exceeds that of every Energy and Materials company in BRIC; Less than three years ago, those two banks were valued at less than half the market cap of the BRIC commodity sectors, indicating how quickly market leadership has rotated away from China to the US real estate story

How the mighty have fallen: EM edition

David Keohane

| Jul 18 11:03 | 2 comments | Share

Today, the combined market capitalization of Wells Fargo and JP Morgan ($440bn) exceeds that of every Energy and Materials company in Brazil, Russia, India and China ($420bn). Less than three years ago, those two banks were valued at less than half the market cap of the BRIC commodity sectors, indicating how quickly market leadership has rotated away from China to the US real estate story. Read more of this post

Investment firm raided in Qatar now being set up in Singapore

Investment firm raided in Qatar now being set up in Singapore

July 18th, 2013 |  Author: Online Press

The QFCRA warned investors against dealing with investment firm Portable Fund. (16 July) – Qatar has warned Singaporean authorities of an investment firm which has moved its headquarters to the Asian country days after Qatari authorities raided its Doha offices and arrested the CEO over false claims the firm was licensed to offer investment advice. Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA) last week warned investors against dealing with investment firm Portable Fund, stating the company had falsely claiming it was licensed by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority (QFCA). “The QFCRA took swift action after becoming aware that Portable was falsely claiming to be regulated by the QFCRA and licensed by the QFCA. In order to protect consumers and investors the QFCRA issued an alert and directed the company to remove these false claims from its website, as well as the false claim that it operated from Tornado Tower in Doha,” a QFCRA spokesperson said in a statement. Christina Miller, a Portable Fund customer service official, told Arabian Business the fund was in the process of renewing its licence when its offices were raided and its CEO arrested by police: “We were providing service to the investors from all over the world from our Qatar office. “Our license was expired recently and we were having issues with QFC to renew the license… But suddenly police came and asked to shut down the office and arrested the CEO Alex Russman.” Miller confirmed Russman had been released from custody and was now in Singapore setting up the company’s new office. A QFCRA spokesperson confirmed it “has taken steps to alert Singaporean regulatory authorities to the claims of Portable Fund.” “In relation to any allegation of fraud or criminal enquiry in Qatar, that is a matter for the law enforcement authorities… The QFCRA repeats its warning to investors and consumers to avoid any dealings with Portable,” the statement added. According to its website, Portable Fund was established in Qatar in April 2007, has paid up capital of $50m and, as of May 2013, managed more than $200m worth of funds. It claimed it had investors from all over the world and was pursuing opportunities in the Middle East, Africa, Turkey, South Asia and South-East Asia. It states it’s new office is located at 21 Maxwell Road, 069113 Singapore.

Singapore Has The Biggest Pay Gap Among Developed Countries

Singapore Has The Biggest Pay Gap Among Developed Countries

July 18th, 2013 |  Author: Contributions

Roy * The author blogs at

inequity-rate slide110 slide210 gap-between-top-and-bottom-earners-grew-from-2000-page-001 wage-gap-u-turned-in-2000-page-001 Read more of this post

Asia Has World’s Biggest Pay Gap

Jul 15, 2013

Asia Has World’s Biggest Pay Gap

By Riva Gold

In Asia, middle managers such as department heads make more than 14 times as much as operational employees such as clerical workers–the biggest such pay disparity in the world, according to a report by global management consulting firm Hay Group. The difference in pay in Asia is far greater, for example, than in North America (3.5 times) and Europe (2.9 times), and somewhat bigger than in the Middle East (11.9 times) and Central and South America (10.2), other regions comprised mostly of emerging markets, the report said. Read more of this post

Indonesia faces daunting obstacles in value chain; Country needs to do more than export raw natural resources it has in abundance

July 18, 2013 3:15 pm

Indonesia faces daunting obstacles in value chain

By Henny Sender

Country needs to do more than export raw natural resources it has in abundance

Asia desperately wants to believe it is relatively immune to the darker clouds over the world today and nowhere is that hope more passionate than inIndonesia, one of the principal victims of the Asian financial crisis 15 years ago. That hope is grounded partly in the fact that since Indonesia did go through a crisis, today its banks are independently run, better managed and have fewer vulnerabilities than at that time. It is also based on the fact that unlike its neighbours to the north, Indonesia’s demographics are favourable. Analysts love to trumpet a young population whose demand will propel the Indonesian economy. Read more of this post

True pragmatic patriotic innovator: Check Point CEO recommends US IPOs

Check Point CEO recommends US IPOs

Gil Shwed: Israeli technology companies considering an offering should go to the US and not to Israel.

18 July 13 16:11, Ron Steinblatt

“I would recommend to Israeli technology companies considering an offering to go to the US and not to Israel, because that’s where the competitors and investors relevant to their market are found,” said Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) chairman and CEO Gil Shwed at the press conference, following the publication of the company’s financial report for the second quarter of 2013. Shwed added, “We’re a small country with a tiny capital market. What percentage can be invested here in technology companies? That does not mean that the Israeli market is bad or that there are no smart and talented people here. The problem is global, and regrettably, the Israeli market is not attractive for technology companies.” Shwed remarks about the Israeli capital market come against the backdrop of the decision by Mellanox Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq:MLNX; TASE:MLNX) to delist from the TASE, which will come into effect at the end of August. Read more of this post

With 5 million registered accounts, no more than 500 thousand monthly active users, Jiepang managed to break even in two months last year by doing location-based campaigns or branded photo filters for brands such as Startbucks

Jiepang Isn’t China’s Foursquare Wannabe Anymore

By Tracey Xiang on July 19, 2013


Two years ago we started asking, Are Chinese still checking-in? (I can’t believe it’s been two years.)  Those hyped check-in apps, unsurprisingly, disappeared one by one. It was believed then that location check-in would be a must-have feature with almost all social services and the standalone couldn’t work out. Jiepang, to my surprise, has been holding on. With 5 million registered accounts,  no more than 500 thousand monthly active users, Jiepang managed to break even in two months last year by doing location-based campaigns or branded photo filters for brands such as Startbucks. Read more of this post

3 Korean retail giants put in hot water; Lotte, Shinsegae, CJ under scrutiny for unfair practices in abusing their dominant market position, a business practice against President Park Geun-hye’s drive for “economic democratization

2013-07-18 17:14

3 retail giants put in hot water

Lotte, Shinsegae, CJ under scrutiny for unfair practices
By Kim Tae-jong
Tensions are high in the retail industry because the nation’s leading retail companies have become the target of intensive probes by multiple government agencies in recent months. Market insiders believe that the government is investigating retail giants because they have often been criticized for abusing their dominant market position, a business practice against President Park Geun-hye’s drive for “economic democratization.”Tensions are high in the retail industry because the nation’s leading retail companies have become the target of intensive probes by multiple government agencies in recent months. Read more of this post

Muddy Waters’ Carson Block Shreds American Tower, Warns Of Misstatements, And Explains Why Its Stock Will Collapse

Carson Block Shreds American Tower, Warns Of Misstatements, And Explains Why Its Stock Will Collapse

STEVEN PERLBERG JUL. 18, 2013, 11:49 AM 7,548

Muddy Waters founder Carson Block took communications powerhouse American Tower Corp to task on Bloomberg Market Makers yesterday. Block’s research firm is out with a new report that casts doubt over AMT’s work in emerging markets, hinting that the company has been misleading, if not outright fraudulent. “We rate AMT a Strong Sell and value it at $44.57 per share, representing downside of 40%,” Muddy Waters writes in the report. “It has engaged in a value destroying investment binge overseas, and we have identified a significant material misstatement in the Company’s accounts that could amount to fraud.” Muddy Waters flagged one transaction in particular, a $585 million purchase of towers in Brazil. “There is an approximately US$250 million discrepancy between what AMT claims to have paid for the acquisition of towers in Brazil, and the actual selling price,” according to the report. Muddy Waters provided the research to the SEC.jpg (25) jpg (26) jpg (27) jpg (28) jpg (29)

How Two First-Time Founders Went From $28,000 Salaries To Owning A $100 Million Media Brand in Refinery29

How Two First-Time Founders Went From $28,000 Salaries To Owning A $100 Million Media Brand

ALYSON SHONTELL APR. 22, 2013, 12:48 PM 37,594 8


Philippe von Borries and Justin Stefano are first-time entrepreneurs and the founders of Refinery29.

Justin Stefano and Philippe von Borries had never started a company before. Neither had worked in fashion before either. But in 2005, they left their jobs in law and politics respectively to start Refinery29Refinery29 is a New York-based fashion content and commerce company. For a long time, no one took Stefano or von Borries seriously. Now Refinery29 is one of the few new media companies that is expected to exit north of $100 million. In February, Refinery29 raised a modest $4.2 million Series B round from First Round Capital, Floodgate, Lerer Ventures, and Hearst led by president David Carey. In 2009 it generated $400,000 annually. This year it’s expected to pull in $24 million. We spoke with Stefano and von Borries about how they grew from from a largely bootstrapped business to a major fashion brand. Read more of this post

Pepsi chief pursues snack innovation

July 18, 2013 6:08 pm

Pepsi chief pursues snack innovation

By Shannon Bond in New York

While Nelson Peltz and other investors arepushing PepsiCo to split its portfolio of snacks and drinks brands, chief executive Indra Nooyi has something else on her mind – drinkable oatmeal. The company’s Quaker unit sells an oat-based drink in Latin America, and Ms Nooyi has pointed to the product as the possible future of “drinkified” snacks. “The lines between snacks and beverages are blurring,” she told an investor conference in May. “We keep talking artificially about snacks and beverages only because some people used to track this industry differently. I think that’s over. This is convenience.” Read more of this post

Flagship UK pension scheme hit by £1.4m fraud

July 17, 2013 11:45 am

Flagship UK pension scheme hit by £1.4m fraud

By Josephine Cumbo

The body behind the government-run pension scheme, the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest), has been forced to tighten its security controls after falling victim to a £1.4m fraud. The Nest Corporation, a trustee body that operates at arm’s length to the UK government and runs the Nest pension scheme, disclosed the loss in its annual accounts, presented to parliament on Tuesday. Read more of this post

The Social Media Bubble Is Quietly Deflating

The Social Media Bubble Is Quietly Deflating

By Joshua Brustein on July 16, 2013


Two years ago, when the craze for social media startups was in full swing, a former Facebook (FB) engineer summed up the situation with a memorable lament: “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” the engineer, Jeff Hammerbacher, told Bloomberg Businessweek at the time. “That sucks,” he added. It might be over. Read more of this post

Internet IPOs: First, RetailMeNot. Next, Twitter?

Internet IPOs: First, RetailMeNot. Next, Twitter?

By Ari Levy on July 18, 2013


After Facebook’s (FB) initial public offering 14 months ago—featuring a computer malfunction, misplaced trades, and lawsuits galore—a nuclear winter descended on consumer Internet equity listings. Investors interested in new technology deals ran from ill-defined metrics like consumer engagement and monthly active users. Instead, they sought solid revenue models powered by subscription and licensing fees at business software outfits such as data-visualization company Tableau Software (DATA) and human resources software maker Workday (WDAY). Read more of this post

Why Everybody Loves Tesla

Why Everybody Loves Tesla

By Ashlee Vance on July 18, 2013

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The Tesla Motors (TSLA) design studio in Los Angeles is a huge open space that usually has a couple of prototype cars on the floor and parts scattered along the walls. Tonight, it’s a lounge, with red lighting, white leather couches dotting tiered plateaus of AstroTurf, Daft Punk on the sound system, and women in little black dresses serving cocktails. A few hundred guests mingle and snap photos. Most are local owners of the Model S, the luxury sedan Tesla introduced last year to near-universal acclaim.

The crowd parts for the star of the evening, Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive officer, and closes behind him as he works the room. After about an hour, Musk, wearing a black velvet jacket, hops onto a stage outfitted with the kind of wheel guides and drive-over repair pit you’d see at a Jiffy Lube. He tells them they’re about to witness history: a refueling contest between gasoline and electricity. “You’re here for the title fight!” he says. Read more of this post

PepsiCo, Others Bet Hummus Can Be the Next Salsa

PepsiCo, Others Bet Hummus Can Be the Next Salsa

By Duane Stanford on July 18, 2013


For most guys looking for a quick bite, salted snacks reign supreme. But Ronen Zohar wants man caves everywhere to give hummus a place of honor, right up there with salsa and beer. The chief executive officer of PepsiCo’s (PEP) Sabra Dipping venture recently launched its first national television commercials. One instructs consumers to “dip life to the fullest” by dunking all-American staples—think chicken wings and potato chips—into the mashed chickpea paste. And Sabra soon will kick off as the National Football League’s official dips sponsor, putting the brand squarely in the sights of male fans for whom snacking is also a national pastime.

While the goal is to make the Middle Eastern dip accessible to Middle America, Zohar faces a lot of work to make it a fixture at Super Bowl parties. Annual U.S. salsa sales are about $1.1 billion, more than twice those of flavored spreads like hummus. Still, the spreads are growing at a 14 percent pace as Sabra and its main rivals, Nestlè’s (NSRGY) part-owned Tribe and Kraft Foods Group’s (KRFT) Athenos, appeal to Americans’ desire to eat healthier. “Most of the people in the U.S. never tasted hummus,” the Israeli-born Zohar says. “You have to change their mind-set that even if the name is strange and the brown color of the hummus is not as appetizing, it tastes wonderful.” Read more of this post

Kremlin Intrigue Threatens Russia’s Silicon Valley; A $4.6 billion effort to jump-start Russia’s technology industry is running into trouble even before it’s finished

Kremlin Intrigue Threatens Russia’s Silicon Valley

By Henry Meyer on July 18, 2013

When agents stormed the offices of the Skolkovo technology hub in Moscow on April 18 to seize documents, a top Intel (INTC) executive unexpectedly got caught up in the raid. Dusty Robbins, head of global programs for the chipmaker, had to surrender his mobile phone. He was only allowed to leave the building escorted by officers after Skolkovo managers appealed to investigators to let him go. Robbins flew back to the U.S., skipping a planned meeting with the tech complex’s billionaire president, Viktor Vekselberg. Read more of this post

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