Famed piano maker Steinway sold for $512 million to Paulson

Famed piano maker Steinway sold for $512 million

Kevin McCoy, USA TODAY10:22 a.m. EDT August 14, 2013

enerable piano maker Steinway is being sold in a $512 million deal after hedge fund manager John Paulson made sweeter music for investors by topping a tentative July agreement with from Kohlberg & Co. The Waltham, Mass.-based company announced Wednesday it had terminated the $35-per-share deal with Kohlberg and reached a definitive merger agreement with entities of Paulson & Co. at $40 per share. Steinway shares were up more than 5% to $40.30 in premarket trading Wednesday. Under terms of the cash transaction, a Paulson affiliate will commence a tender offer within five business days to acquire all outstanding shares of Steinway’s common stock in preparation for taking the instrument company private. The company’s board of directors unanimously recommended that stockholders tender their shares. Steinway said it would pay Kohlberg a termination fee totaling approximately $6.7 million. “The company’s proven business model and highly skilled employees provide a strong foundation on which to expand,” Paulson said in a formal statement. “We fully intend to maintain the superb quality of Steinway’s musical instruments, which are the finest in the world.” Read more of this post

Diageo to Qatar Pouncing on India as Debt Woes Weigh on Sellers

Diageo to Qatar Pouncing on India as Debt Woes Weigh on Sellers

India’s economy is growing at the slowest pace in a decade, companies are burdened by record debt and governance is so bad that even local cement billionaire Kumar Mangalam Birla is reluctant to invest in the country. Yet some foreign entities, from Diageo Plc (DGE) to Qatar’s government, are undaunted, finding buying opportunities as Indian firms look to shed assets to free up cash. Inbound acquisitions of Indian assets reached $9.9 billion in the first half, the most for a six-month period in two years, data compiled by Bloomberg show. A tumbling Indian currency and falling valuations have made deals cheaper for overseas companies, who are drawn by the long-term promise of rising consumption by a swelling middle class. More transactions may come as Indian companies from Reliance Communications Ltd. to DLF Ltd. (DLFU) prepare to sell assets. “This is a good time for international companies to look at India,” said Ajay Saraf, head of investment banking at ICICI Securities Ltd. in Mumbai. “Indian corporate owners are more open to dialogue than before.” That was the case with liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who sold a stake in United Spirits Ltd. (UNSP), the maker of Bagpiper whiskey, to London-based Diageo. Mallya had been under financial pressure after his Kingfisher Airlines Ltd. (KAIR) had racked up more debt than it could repay. The transaction gave Diageo, the world’s biggest distiller, effective control of United Spirits. Read more of this post

India Restricts Foreign-Exchange Outflows

India Restricts Foreign-Exchange Outflows

India announced restrictions on foreign-currency outflows by local companies and individuals after measures to contain a record current-account deficit and attract overseas investors failed to steady the rupee.

The Reserve Bank of India reduced the amount that companies can invest overseas without seeking approval to 100 percent of their net worth from 400 percent, according to an e-mailed statement today. Residents can remit $75,000 in each financial year, from a previous limit of $200,000. The rupee erased losses in the offshore market after the announcement. Read more of this post

“Worthless, Impossible, And Stupid” Investing in Media Companies in Asia and Europe. Bamboo Innovator is featured in BeyondProxy.com, where value investing lives

Bamboo Innovator is featured in BeyondProxy.com, where value investing lives:

  • “Worthless, Impossible, And Stupid” Investing in Media Companies in Asia and Europe, Aug 14, 2013 (BeyondProxy)


Buffett drew a top offer of $118,000 for an all-you-can-eat tour of a See’s Candies factory; “It’s an opportunity to see the iconic Oracle of Omaha in an unconventional setting,”

Buffett Tops Reese Witherspoon as Charity Auction Draw


Warren Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (BRK/A), drew a top offer of $118,000 for an all-you-can-eat tour of a See’s Candies factory, with less than 3 hours left in the charity auction. Bidding has climbed from less than $50,000 earlier today and $17,000 when it began on July 25. Buffett is among celebrities who are supporting auctions to benefit Communities in Schools of Los Angeles, a high school dropout-prevention program. The top offer for lunch with actress Reese Witherspoon was $6,000. Bidding is scheduled to end today at 4:20 p.m. in New York for the lunch and two minutes later for the candy tour. Buffett, 82, has committed most of his wealth to charity and encouraged others to increase giving. He helped raise more than $15 million over 14 years for San Francisco’s Glide Foundation through an annual auction in which he joins the winner for lunch. Bidders for the See’s auction are vying for a half-day tour for four people at the Los Angeles factory. “It’s an opportunity to see the iconic Oracle of Omaha in an unconventional setting,” Coppy Holzman, chief executive officer of Charitybuzz.com, which hosts the auction, said today in an interview. “Anytime Warren Buffett agrees to lend his name, and his time to a charity, it’s a really great thing.” Buffett, the world’s third-richest man, will sign an autograph for the winner, who can take a photo, according to the website. The billionaire won’t be guiding the tour. “Before or after your tour, Mr. Buffett will demonstrate the only acceptable way to eat a bonbon,” Charitybuzz.com said on its website. Buffett bought See’s in 1972 at the urging of Berkshire (BRK/B) Vice Chairman Charles Munger. Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire announced plans in May to expand operations of the 92-year-old candy maker to new markets in the Midwest, South and East in the coming years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Megan Hickey in New York at mhickey18@bloomberg.net

Beating the Market for 20 Years: David Herro of Oakmark International scours the globe for undervalued, unloved stocks


Beating the Market for 20 Years


David Herro of Oakmark International scours the globe for undervalued, unloved stocks.. Here are his best investment ideas in Japan, Australia, and, of all places, Europe.

A few money managers manage to beat their benchmark in any given year, and a select group string together longer periods of outperformance, but not many have taken the index out into the woods and thrashed it as severely – over two decades – as David Herro. A $10,000 investment in his fund, Oakmark International (ticker: OAKIX), in 1992 is now worth about $88,000, versus $34,000 for the MSCI EAFE index. Over the past year, his 43% return has doubled that of the index. His performance has not gone unnoticed: In 2010, Morningstar named him manager of the decade, and Barron’s has written about Herro’s market-beating returns (see Interview, “Driven by a Vision of Global Growth,” Feb. 19, 2007). Despite running an international fund, Herro eschews a geography-specific approach and focuses instead on company’s valuation and quality. His favored measures are free cash flow yield, business structure, and how efficiently management allocates capital. Sometimes Herro’s bottom-up approach looks a lot like a great macro call. Late last year he started loading up on Japanese stocks right before they began a furious rally that took the Nikkei 80% higher in six months. In keeping with his value orientation, he was already dialing back his exposure before the rally faded in late spring. Read more of this post

Buffett-Style Dinner Auctions Lure Chinese Seeking Just Society

Buffett-Style Dinner Auctions Lure Chinese Seeking Just Society

Wei Qian perked up at work on a Monday in May when she stumbled across an ad for an online auction offering dinner in Beijing with her favorite political-science author. She decided to dump her long-planned beach holiday in Thailand with her three best friends and use the money to make a bid instead. The 29-year-old bank employee was determined to finally meet her idol, Liu Yu, a Columbia University PhD graduate she calls the Goddess of Democracy. That afternoon Wei logged into the site, called the Meat Shop, and waited until 26 minutes were left before placing her first bid. The price jumped rapidly as 17 people sparred for the dinner. With 58 seconds to go, Wei put up 11,300 yuan ($1,846) – – more than two months’ salary and her whole summer travel budget. Her heart raced until the clock ticked down and she won. With that last click, Wei joined a novel online cause in China, known as the “meal delivery” program. Proceeds from the Meat Shop go to support human rights activists and the families of jailed political dissidents, a gesture that could be considered an affront to the ruling Communist Party. Wei says she wasn’t deterred when she noticed the shop’s goals, especially given Liu Yu’s participation. “It’s a very expensive dinner, even if it was with Warren Buffett,” the pony-tailed Wei says in an interview at a cafe in Ningbo, eastern China, referring to the billionaire investor’s annual charity lunch auction. “But for Liu Yu, it’s worth it.” Read more of this post

Damn the cynics and embrace the positive

August 13, 2013 3:52 pm

Damn the cynics and embrace the positive

By Luke Johnson

Optimism is a crucial characteristic for entrepreneurs and confidence is easy to justify

Acouple of weeks ago three young entrepreneurs visited me and asked: “What was your biggest challenge?” In replying, I realised that after 30 years in business the greatest risk was not that I would fail. Instead, my most frequent worry has always been that I would become mired in complacency, boredom and cynicism. So how does one ward off these creeping evils? One of the best solutions was epitomised by my meeting: engaging with younger people, who have a natural enthusiasm, inquisitiveness and optimism. They are a wonderful antidote to the constant threat of ending up a jaded old man who’s seen it all before, thinks everything is getting worse and spends his time breeding pessimism – I know a few of that type. So, I speak at lots of events for enterprising students and start-ups partly because I find their energy and zest both infectious and exhilarating. Read more of this post

Money-Hungry Religious Celebrities Spark Anger

Money-Hungry Religious Celebrities Spark Anger

By Dessy Aswim on 8:37 am August 13, 2013.
A backlash is building against Muslim TV clerics who aren’t afraid to use their religion to garner business investors or demand hefty speaking fees. An example cited by critics is Yusuf Mansur, a popular ustadz (Islamic teacher) who frequently appears in religious TV broadcasts. Yusuf has recently attracted unfavorable attention because of claims he has been soliciting investors in a luxury hotel, without holding the required licences. The ustadz’s joint business venture aims to establish a condo-hotel in Jakarta focused on serving hajj and umrah pilgrims. The celebrity cleric claims to have more than 2,000 investors in the business, and says he has managed to accumulate funds worth Rp 24 billion ($2.3 million) from his followers in less than a year, since a call for investments began in July 2012. Read more of this post

Penny-Stock Fraud Operators Mastered The Art Of Cross-Selling

13 Aug 2013 at 1:37 PM

Penny-Stock Fraud Operators Mastered The Art Of Cross-Selling

By Matt Levine

Today the Justice Department indicted nine people for operating “one of the largest international penny stock frauds and advance fee schemes in history” and as you’d expect from that description it was a very professional multinational operation.1 I mean, y’know, it was a penny-stock pump-and-dump scheme, one involving “distributing false press releases, announcing non-existent business ventures and fake mergers, posting false information on social media sites and bribing stock promoters and brokers,” but it was a penny stock pump-and-dump scheme that made $120 million, so that’s impressive.2

So, fine. Here you are having successfully executed a pump-and-dump scheme. You pumped, then you dumped. You have $120 million, other people have worthless stock. You could stop there and call yourself a pretty successful criminal. But then you get to thinking: the people you defrauded have something else, in addition to their worthless stock. They have something that is actually extremely valuable. They have: an abnormal willingness to piss away money on terrible ideas! They have a complete lack of common sense! And you know who they are! Read more of this post

True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business

True Story: How to Combine Story and Action to Transform Your Business Hardcover

by Ty Montague  (Author)


Is your company a storyteller—or a storydoer?
The old way to market a business was storytelling. But in today’s world, simply communicating your brand’s story in the hope that customers will listen is no longer enough. Instead, your authentic brand must be evident in every action the organization undertakes.
Today’s most successful businesses are storydoers.
These companies create products and services that, from the very beginning, are manifestations of an authentic and meaningful story—one told primarily through action, not advertising. In True Story, creative executive Ty Montague argues that any business, regardless of size or industry, can embrace the principles of storydoing. Indeed, our best-run companies—from small start-ups to global conglomerates—organize around a coherent narrative that is then broadcast through every action they take (from product design to customer service to marketing). Montague shows why storydoing firms are nimble, more adaptive to change, and more efficiently run businesses.
Montague is a founder of the growth consultancy co:collective and the former president and CCO of J. Walter Thompson, the largest advertising agency in North America. He brings his depth of creative business experience to the book and provides a clear framework and proven process for bringing you and your customers together in the creation of your brand story.
Montague introduces five critical elements—what he calls the “the four truths and the action map”—that are the foundation of storydoing:
• the participants (your customers, partners, and employees)
• the protagonist (your company today)
• the stage (the world around your business)
• the quest (your driving ambition and contribution to the world)
• your action map (the actions that will make your story real for participants)
The book is filled with examples of how forward-thinking organizations—including Red Bull, Shaklee, Grind, TOMS Shoes, and News Corporation—are effectively using storydoing to transform their organizations and drive extraordinary results. Read more of this post

Primal Leadership, With a New Preface by the Authors: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence

Primal Leadership, With a New Preface by the Authors: Unleashing the Power of Emotional Intelligence Paperback

by Daniel Goleman (Author) , Richard Boyatzis (Author) , Annie McKee (Author)


This is the book that established “emotional intelligence” in the business lexicon—and made it a necessary skill for leaders.
Managers and professionals across the globe have embraced Primal Leadership, affirming the importance of emotionally intelligent leadership. Its influence has also reached well beyond the business world: the book and its ideas are now used routinely in universities, business and medical schools, and professional training programs, and by a growing legion of professional coaches.
This refreshed edition, with a new preface by the authors, vividly illustrates the power—and the necessity—of leadership that is self-aware, empathic, motivating, and collaborative in a world that is ever more economically volatile and technologically complex. It is even timelier now than when it was originally published.
From bestselling authors Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee, this groundbreaking book remains a must-read for anyone who leads or aspires to lead. Read more of this post

The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business

The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business Hardcover

by Rita Gunther McGrath  (Author) , Alex Gourlay (Foreword)


Are you at risk of being trapped in an uncompetitive business?
Chances are the strategies that worked well for you even a few years ago no longer deliver the results you need. Dramatic changes in business have unearthed a major gap between traditional approaches to strategy and the way the real world works now.
In short, strategy is stuck. Most leaders are using frameworks that were designed for a different era of business and based on a single dominant idea—that the purpose of strategy is to achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. Once the premise on which all strategies were built, this idea is increasingly irrelevant.
Now, Columbia Business School professor and globally recognized strategy expert Rita Gunther McGrath argues that it’s time to go beyond the very concept of sustainable competitive advantage. Instead, organizations need to forge a new path to winning: capturing opportunities fast, exploiting them decisively, and moving on even before they are exhausted. She shows how to do this with a new set of practices based on the notion of transient competitive advantage.
This book serves as a new playbook for strategy, one based on updated assumptions about how the world works, and shows how some of the world’s most successful companies use this method to compete and win today.
Filled with compelling examples from “growth outlier” firms such as Fujifilm, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Infosys, Yahoo! Japan, and Atmos Energy, The End of Competitive Advantage is your guide to renewed success and profitable growth in an economy increasingly defined by transient advantage Read more of this post

SPAC: A Thriving Financial Product, Despite a Record of Failure; Promoters of SPAC often make bad choices, earning almost no returns for investors

AUGUST 13, 2013, 4:38 PM

A Thriving Financial Product, Despite a Record of Failure


On Wall Street, strange financial products sometimes exist not because they are good for investors or companies, but because they offer their promoters a way to profit. One of those products may be the Silver Eagle Acquisition Company, which just completed a $325 million initial public offering. Silver Eagle is a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, which raises money through an I.P.O. and then casts a wide net in search of a private company to buy. Silver Eagle’s I.P.O. is the largest in the past seven years for a SPAC and sure to earn its promoters millions, but the outcome is not so clear for its investors or even the company itself. Read more of this post

How does a purveyor of comfortable shoes to middle-aged Britons bec¬ome one of the fastest-growing retailers in India? By listening to the shop staff, says Stuart Paver, managing director of Paver Shoes.

August 13, 2013 4:27 pm

The shoe seller who stepped up

By Andrew Bounds

India ShoesPaver

A good fit:  says being a middle child gave him the skills to lead the company

How does a purveyor of comfortable shoes to middle-aged Britons bec­ome one of the fastest-growing retailers in India? By listening to the shop staff, says Stuart Paver, managing director of Paver Shoes. The business, which began with his mother selling footwear door-to-door and in village halls and spread across the north of England to reach annual sales of more than £60m, has continued to keep it simple while listening to what customers want. The UK stores are crammed with long racks of shoes and boxes displaying all the stock in order to keep staff costs down. But in India, which accounts for a quarter of group sales, spacious Paver shops are plastered with Union Jacks and ooze glamour and bling (see box). Mr Paver, whose appearance puts him in the smart, comfortable-clothes-wearing-Brit category, credits his Indian staff with helping to get the product right. Read more of this post

Keeping the mighty honest: A new wave of press barons should not allow newspapers to become niche products

Keeping the mighty honest: A new wave of press barons should not allow newspapers to become niche products

Aug 10th 2013 |From the print edition


THIS summer Lexington visited William Randolph Hearst’s castle at San Simeon. For a reporter it was a bittersweet moment: a reminder of an age when newspapers threw off profits so vast that an American press magnate could scavenge the globe for endangered treasures, prising heirlooms from Old World nobles before shipping them by the ton to his Californian lair. Today, all is stood on its head. Once-profitable journals are bleeding money and readers. America’s grandest media dynasties seem as embattled as inter-war European aristocrats, and the endangered relics being snapped up are newspapers, as 21st-century tycoons dream of playing the press baron. Read more of this post

Extra, Extra! Newspaper Crisis Hits Germany; It came to Germany almost a decade later than America, but the newspaper crisis is sweeping the country, with plummeting circulations and revenues. The German news media must reinvent itself in order to retain readers.

08/13/2013 05:00 PM

Extra, Extra! Newspaper Crisis Hits Germany

By Cordt Schnibben

It came to Germany almost a decade later than America, but the newspaper crisis is sweeping the country, with plummeting circulations and revenues. The German news media must reinvent itself in order to retain readers.


Three decades ago, the editors of the Munich daily Abendzeitung produced a newspaper each day for 300,000 buyers. Fast forward 30 years and its circulation has declined to 107,634. One of of three desks in the large newsroom next to his office is now unoccupied, so when Editor in Chief Arno Makowsky uses a ballpoint pen to add a sharp upward curve into the next year on the chart in front of him, all he can do is laugh. Read more of this post

Why startup culture is such a fragile and precious thing

Why startup culture is such a fragile and precious thing

ON AUGUST 13, 2013


Have you ever wondered what creates startup culture? Most people associate it with words like “scrappy” and “passion” but never explain what drives people to be scrappy or passionate in the first place. It has become one of those terms that everyone tosses around and pretends to understand while nobody comes clean because they don’t want to be the first to admit they don’t know what they’re talking about. People assume all startups are naturally endowed with some kind of pixie dust that makes everyone love what they’re doing so much that they’re willing to work 80-hour weeks, yet it’s never explained where this magical culture comes from. Read more of this post

Why we love to crunch; With the texture of food almost as important as the taste, companies are scrutinizing the way we eat

August 13, 2013, 6:51 p.m. ET

Why Food Companies Are Fascinated by the Way We Eat

Texture Is Almost as Important as Taste in New Products


Texture is an area of increasing focus among food companies aiming to zero in on that perfectly crispy crunch or silky smoothness. Christine Kalvenes, vice president of innovation for Frito-Lay, and WSJ’s Anne-Marie Chaker, join Lunch Break. 


Are you a cruncher? Or a “smoosher”? Some people crave the perfectly crispy crunch of a cracker or a salty chip. Others yearn for the silky smoothness of a chocolate mousse. Food companies are paying closer attention to consumer’s texture preferences as they drill down on attributes that make new products stand out on store shelves. Food developers are putting specific textures at the top of the list of traits they want to achieve, and they are emphasizing “mouth feel” in descriptions on packaging. Texture “is just as important as taste or flavor, in many cases,” says Jack Fortnum, president of the North American business at Ingredion Inc.,INGR -1.37% a Westchester, Ill., food-ingredient processor that holds hundreds of consumer taste tests a year. It says the tests can, for example, help clients calibrate the precise amount of crunch in a new product. There were 20,790 new food packages world-wide making a texture claim in 2012, roughly double the number in 2008, according to Netherlands-based Innova Market Insights. Read more of this post

Trading losses by Singapore teenager spark negligence suit against private bank


Trading losses by teenager spark negligence suit


Negligence suits taken out by private banking clients are hardly unusual these days; but a case being heard before the High Court today comes with a couple of twists – PHOTO: SPH

The Ows are claiming $2.6 million, the losses which they claim they suffered as a result of the defendants’ actions.

[SINGAPORE] Negligence suits taken out by private banking clients are hardly unusual these days; but a case being heard before the High Court today comes with a couple of twists. At the heart of the matter are losses of $2.6 million suffered by a father and son on account of trades entered into by the son – who had not turned 21 then. Credit Suisse, one of the two defendants, is claiming that Swiss law rather than Singapore law governs its relationship with its clients, the plaintiffs. And that, as such, the younger plaintiff, who was 19 years old at the time, is considered an adult under Swiss law and that the trades he entered into – which resulted in the losses – are valid and binding. Read more of this post

Why O’Reilly Is the Best Auto-Parts Stock; behind O’Reilly’s success is the right blend of distribution, parts, and availability, anchored by a strong culture


Why O’Reilly Is the Best Auto-Parts Stock

Credit Suisse says AutoZone and Advance Auto also screen well.

Credit Suisse

Last week, we toured an O’Reilly Automotive store, met with AutoZone management, conducted do-it-yourself channel checks and spoke with Advance Auto Parts post-second-quarter results. Our key takeaway is that the Big 3’s diverging top-line results may be better explained by differences in strategy than differences in geography and/or weather. The implication is that top-line performance gaps may continue to widen in the near-term. Flowing through previous second-quarter results we are updating our 2013, 2014, and 2015 earnings-per-share estimates for Advance Auto (ticker: AAP). We are also updating our target price for Advance Auto to $82 [from $75]. From a stock perspective, O’Reilly (ORLY) is our preferred name. Superior top-line momentum, CSK Auto store maturation, still easy compares and a strong margin profile point to ongoing upside and justify O’Reilly’s premium multiple, in our view. Read more of this post

How Dumplings Turned Into Tortellini Along the Silk Road

How Dumplings Turned Into Tortellini Along the Silk Road

Rhubarb originated in China, and Marco Polo prized the plant enough to list it in his will. Uzbeks wash their infants’ hair with basil to make it thicker. Italians in Modena like to drizzle 25-year-old balsamic vinegar on their gelato.

Readers will find plenty more intriguing details in Jen Lin-Liu’s delightful “On the Noodle Road,” which is part travelogue, part culinary history and part cookbook.

She got the idea during a noodle-making class in Rome where she was struck by the similarities between Italian and Chinese pastas; she decides to retrace the ancient Silk Road in hope of finding out how noodles first made their way to Italy. Read more of this post

Student-Loan Load Kills Startup Dreams

August 13, 2013, 8:08 p.m. ET

Student-Loan Load Kills Startup Dreams



The rising mountain of student debt, recently closing in on $1.2 trillion, is forcing some entrepreneurs to abandon startup dreams and others, including Christine Carney of Orono, Maine, to radically reshape their business plans. Ms. Carney, 29 years old, and her husband, John, 31, started Thick & Thin Designs, making and selling food picks in the shapes of zombies, bikes and deer antlers after a brainstorming session while she was cooking dinner. The couple, both students at the University of Maine, where he is earning a master’s degree in fine arts and she is earning her second undergraduate degree, in zoology, sell the picks for about $12 a dozen as decorative cupcake toppers. But they chose not to purchase a laser cutter, because doing so would require them to take out a business loan—and together they have $140,000 in leftover student debt. Instead, they use a university-owned laser cutter, which limits the size of the acrylic sheets they can work with. Having the student-loan debt “is preventing me from being able to take a lot of chances or risks that are usually necessary when starting a business,” Ms. Carney says. The average student who borrows has piled up about $40,000 in debt by graduation, including parents’ loans, nearly double the levels of a decade ago, according to Edvisors.com, which runs college-planning and financial-aid websites. Recipients of graduate and professional degrees who borrow average more than $55,000 in debt at graduation, including undergraduate loans, but not parent loans. That is up from $40,800 some 10 years ago. Read more of this post

How to make your side projects wildly successful? Treat them like experiments

How to make your side projects wildly successful? Treat them like experiments

By Paul Jarvis, 12 hours ago, 07:43pm

Editors note: this is a splendid guest post by Paul Jarvis,  a web designer, authorand gentleman of adventure.

I used to let fear of a failed side project keep me from trying new things outside of my normal workload. Or worse, I constantly had ideas for side projects but never actually started any. My day-job was comfortable, so I didn’t want to fail at something new. But, the truth is, I wasn’t pushing myself and I certainly wasn’t growing. My skills stagnated.

Meanwhile, I noticed exampled of other creatives tackling side projects and wildly succeeding at them (and sometimes the “side” projects would take over their day jobs). Tina Roth Eisenberg’s (Swiss Miss) side projects (Tattly,Creative Mornings and Studiomates) helped her put client work on hold indefinitely. Jessica Hische’s side project of drawing drop caps and posting them online led to several jobs/clients (including The New York Times, Penguin Books and Google). Seeing others succeed on the side, I wondered if I had the chops to do the same. Read more of this post

Merrythought is Britain’s last-remaining teddy bear manufacturer. CampdenFB speaks to its fourth-gen owner about its industrial heritage and hand-crafted soft toys. A workforce of just 25 makes about 25,000 bears a year, and each takes an hour and a half



During the Industrial Revolution, Ironbridge in Shropshire was a hotbed of metal-bashing. Now it’s a sleepy little place on the tourist trail and the manufacturing that takes place there is often of a far cuddlier variety. For Ironbridge is the home of Merrythought, the last teddy bear-maker in Britain. 

Gordon Holmes (pictured, right) founded the business in 1930 and since 2011 it has been run by his great-granddaughter Hannah Holmes, 29, and her 32-year-old sister, Sarah. The sisters took over after their father’s sudden death – there was no succession plan in place and no management who could step up and run the business. “We had to come in on the Monday morning and take the [management] position,” says Holmes. She took a sabbatical from her job as a chartered surveyor in London, and now “can’t imagine” going back. Read more of this post

What Is the Biggest Mistake Investors Make When Evaluating a Fund?

August 13, 2013, 9:36 a.m. ET

What Is the Biggest Mistake Investors Make When Evaluating a Fund?

Avoiding errors when selecting a fund is no simple task, especially when there’s more than meets the performance data.

So we asked The Experts: What is the biggest mistake investors make when evaluating a fund?

This discussion relates to a recent Journal Report article on mutual-fund performance figures that don’t tell the whole story and formed the basis of a discussion on The Experts blog on Aug. 8.

Mike Piper: Don’t Judge a Fund By Its Cover

Two mistakes I see frequently when it comes to mutual-fund selection are picking funds based on their past performance and ignoring funds’ expense ratios. But I think an even bigger mistake (one that I’m seeing more and more often as target-date funds grow in popularity) is to invest in a mutual fund without having the slightest idea what’s inside it. It’s all too common these days for people to invest in a target-date fund based solely on the fact that the date in the fund’s name is close to the date at which they plan to retire. For some investors, this will lead to a nasty surprise during the next bear market when they find out that their target-date fund’s asset allocation is far too aggressive for their personal risk tolerance. (Of course, the opposite can happen, too. Upon taking the time to check, some investors might find that the target-date funds generally intended for people their age are too conservative for their tastes.) Read more of this post

Hailed as a Clausewitz for our times, former soldier Emile Simpson talks about military strategy, the Afghanistan conflict and ‘armed politics’

August 9, 2013 1:54 pm

Lunch with the FT: Emile Simpson

By John Thornhill

Hailed as a Clausewitz for our times, the former soldier talks to John Thornhill about military strategy, the Afghanistan conflict and ‘armed politics’

When the veteran military historian Professor Michael Howard raves about a book by a little-known, 30-year-old ex-Gurkha officer and declares it to be comparable to Clausewitz, it is surely worth snapping to attention. And after reading War From the Ground Up, I am all the more intrigued to meet its author, Emile Simpson. Drawing on his experience of fighting in Afghanistan, Simpson has written an engrossing account of the 12-year conflict that challenges the way we think about war and suggests how we might better fight the next one. “War From the Ground Up is a work of such importance that it should be compulsory reading at every level in the military,” Howard concluded in his Times Literary Supplement review. Read more of this post

Bee Sting Therapy Causing a Buzz in China

Bee Sting Therapy Causing a Buzz in China

By Neil Connor on 2:15 pm August 13, 2013.

In a photo taken on August 2, 2013, a patient receives a bee sting administered by a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine at a clinic on the outskirts of Beijing. Patients in China are swarming to acupuncture clinics to be given bee stings to treat or ward off life-threatening illness, arthritis, and cancer, practitioners say. More than 27,000 people have undergone the painful technique — each session can involve dozens of punctures — at Wang Menglin’s clinic in Beijing, says the bee acupuncturist who makes his living from believers in the concept. (AFP Photo/Ed Jones)

Beijing. Patients in China are swarming to acupuncture clinics to be given bee stings to treat or ward off life-threatening illness, practitioners say. More than 27,000 people have undergone the painful technique — each session can involve dozens of punctures — at Wang Menglin’s clinic in Beijing, says the bee acupuncturist who makes his living from believers in the concept. But except for trying to prevent allergic reactions to the stings themselves, there is no orthodox medical evidence that bee venom is effective against illness, and rationalist websites in the West describe so-called “apitherapy” as “quackery.” Read more of this post

Technology: Vanity or visionary? Internet tycoons are backing futuristic ventures that may herald an era of scientific innovation

August 13, 2013 7:26 pm

Technology: Vanity or visionary?

By Richard Waters

Internet tycoons are backing futuristic ventures that may herald an era of scientific innovation, writes Richard Waters

Growing hamburgers in test tubes. Mining for precious metals on asteroids. Taking a supersonic, ground-level trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco in less than 30 minutes. The futuristic ideas that have been pouring lately from the fertile imaginations of some of the wealthiest US technology entrepreneurs – and which, in a few cases, are being funded out of their own billions – have started to sound almost outlandish. But that may be exactly the point. Testing their wits – and their fortunes – against the frontiers of technology has come to be seen as a mark of pride for the tech industry’s new super-wealthy, most of whom earned their money in the relatively low-tech environs of the consumer internet. Entrepreneurs such as Jeff Bezos ofAmazon; Elon Musk, who made his first fortune at PayPal; and Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google, have come to embody a new and ambitious era of technological ambition. Read more of this post

This Little Sticker Works Like an Anti-Mosquito Force Field; The Kite Patch is a little square sticker that emits a cloak of chemical compounds that block a mosquito’s ability to sense humans

This Little Sticker Works Like an Anti-Mosquito Force Field




The Kite Patch is a little square sticker that emits a cloak of chemical compounds that block a mosquito’s ability to sense humans. Image: ieCrowd

Mosquitos were born to bite us, and aside from lighting worthless tiki candles, haplessly swatting them away, or resorting to spraying toxic DEET all over ourselves, there’s really not a whole lot we can do about it. Imagine then, if you could be encapsulated in an anti-mosquito bubble simply by wearing a small square sticker. Not only would it save mosquito-magnets like myself some really uncomfortable moments, it could be a major game changer in the way we prevent mosquito-borne illnesses like Malaria, Dengue Fever, and West Nile Virus. The good news is that a sticker like this is not some far away concept dreamed up by scientists in a lab–it’s actually a real thing that you’ll likely be able to find on the shelves of your local Walgreens sometime in the not-so-distant future. Read more of this post

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