Demis Hassabis: the secretive computer genius with the $750 million brain

Demis Hassabis: the secretive computer genius with the $750 million brain

January 30, 2014 – 12:43PM

Tom Rowley

What made Google dig so deep to buy out a shy and secretive computer mastermind from north London?

Tony Corfe still remembers the time he first saw Demis Hassabis play chess. He was in charge of the primary schools team in Barnet, north London, and looking for new recruits when one week a slight six-year-old boy turned up. Read more of this post

A Simple Test Can Determine If You’re A Good Liar

A Simple Test Can Determine If You’re A Good Liar

DINA SPECTOR
JAN. 29, 2014, 4:20 PM 22,076 14

Psychologist Richard Wiseman, the author of “59 Seconds: Change Your Life in Under a Minute,” has a simple test to determine whether you are a good liar or not.

It’s called the “Q” test and it takes about five seconds to complete.  Read more of this post

How to read a 10-K like Warren Buffett

How to read a 10-K like Warren Buffett

By: Elizabeth MacBride, Special to CNBC.com

CNBC.com | Monday, 27 Jan 2014 | 10:31 AM ET

If you think you can be a great investor, you’d better enjoy working with one of the principal tools of the trade: the 10-K. Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffett has said he loves to curl up with companies’ annual reports. When asked how to get smarter, Buffett once held up stacks of paper and said he “read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge builds up, like compound interest.” Read more of this post

Asia enters an age of increasing uncertainty

Kurt Campbell

January 30, 2014

Asia enters an age of increasing uncertainty

Long regarded as a region of unbounded promise and rising prosperity, Asia has been sometimes the lone bright spot on a global balance sheet that featured turmoil in the Middle East, torpor in Europe and tilting at windmills in the US. There have been Asian uncertainties and occasional tensions, historic and regional rivalries, but these have been largely muted, generally, for well over a generation as investment, innovation and manufacturing on the continent shifted into overdrive. Read more of this post

he safari lover poached for China’s credit rating charge; Mauro Alfonso hopes Dagong will rival S&P, Fitch and Moody’s

January 29, 2014 5:02 pm

The safari lover poached for China’s credit rating charge

By Christopher Thompson

Mauro Alfonso is a curious choice to help lead China’s transition from low-cost manufacturing to global high finance. The Italian safari enthusiast, who did not speak Mandarin, left a comfortable directorship at one of the world’s big credit rating agencies for a then unknown Chinese start-up in 2012. Read more of this post

Shadow banking: China’s wobbly house of cards

Shadow banking: China’s wobbly house of cards

January 29, 2014: 11:47 AM ET

The prospect of the first major default connected with the Chinese shadow banking system sent shock waves through the financial markets of emerging economies. Expect more close calls to come.

By Minxin Pei

FORTUNE — Investors around the world have been wondering for a long time when China’s shadow banking sector will collapse. This week, they almost got their answer. Read more of this post

Distrust of China’s Trusts; Growth of a shadow banking system creates moral hazard

Distrust of China’s Trusts

Growth of a shadow banking system creates moral hazard.

Updated Jan. 29, 2014 3:54 p.m. ET

The lunar new year holiday on Friday will usher in the year of the wood horse in the Chinese zodiac. And yes, Chinese are well aware of what they call the “wooden horse strategem.” But if there’s a nasty surprise in 2014, it’s likely to come from within China’s own financial system. Read more of this post

Jamba Juice tries something new: Serious juicing; Whether consumers will kale up to the bar is another matter. Will enough consumers choose to spend $5 to $7 for a feel-good jolt?

Jamba Juice tries something new: Serious juicing

January 29, 2014: 11:38 AM ET

Whether consumers will kale up to the bar is another matter.

By Beth Kowitt, writer

FORTUNE — There’s one major juice-related trend that Jamba Juice (JMBA) has missed over the past half-decade or so — and that’s serious juicing. Now, the $230 million-a-year purveyor of fruit smoothies says it’s pushing hard into the pulverization business. Read more of this post

Chinese internet groups see taxi apps as driver for growth

January 29, 2014 6:27 pm

Chinese internet groups see taxi apps as driver for growth

By Sarah Mishkin in San Francisco

Two of China’s biggest internet companies –Alibaba and Tencent – are fighting a proxy war over the lucrative mobile payments market by backing rival taxi-hailing apps.

Alibaba has invested in Kuaidi Dache (“Fast Taxi”), while Hong Kong-listed Tencent, the company behind chat app WeChat, backs Didi Dache, whose name translates to “Beep Beep Call a Cab”. Taxi apps have become massively popular in China, where traffic congestion on some routes in its sprawling megacities can be so bad that taxi drivers refuse fares to those areas. Tencent and Alibaba executives see an opportunity to use apps that ease rush-hour pain to expand their respective payment networks. Read more of this post

Xi Jinping’s security commission to also tackle financial industry; Fears speculative foreign capital could threaten domestic stability one reason for top-level division within new National Security Commission

Xi Jinping’s security commission to also tackle financial industry

Tuesday, 28 January, 2014, 4:30am

George Chen and Teddy Ng

Fears speculative foreign capital could threaten domestic stability one reason for top-level division within new National Security Commission

Beijing will create a ministerial-level division dedicated to financial industry security within the new National Security Commission to be chaired by President Xi Jinping [1]. Read more of this post

A Bit of Stress Yields Stem-Cell Surprise; New Way of Forming Stem Cells From Specialized Cells Could Be Safer, More Ethical

A Bit of Stress Yields Stem-Cell Surprise

New Way of Forming Stem Cells From Specialized Cells Could Be Safer, More Ethical

GAUTAM NAIK 

Updated Jan. 29, 2014 5:55 p.m. ET

Researchers have transformed specialized cells into an embryonic-like state simply by stressing them out a bit—an unexpected finding that may one day offer an easier route for treating diseases with patient-specific stem cells. Read more of this post

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz will expand his role in product innovation and digital retailing as part of a shuffling of senior executives aimed largely at adjusting to technology-driven shifts in its industry

Starbucks CEO to Expand Role as Part of a Shuffling of Senior Executives

Troy Alstead Becomes Chief Operating Officer and Scott Maw Named as CFO

JULIE JARGON

Updated Jan. 29, 2014 6:04 p.m. ET

Starbucks Corp. SBUX -3.15% said Chief Executive Howard Schultz will expand his role in product innovation and digital retailing as part of a shuffling of senior executives aimed largely at adjusting to technology-driven shifts in its industry. Read more of this post

Investors put too much faith in a Modi turnround; It is not clear that the politician could do for India’s economy what he did for Gujarat

January 29, 2014 5:43 pm

Investors put too much faith in a Modi turnround

By David Pilling

It is not clear that the politician could do for India’s economy what he did for Gujarat

Narendra Modi, the most talked-about politician in a country where talking is a national sport, is a polarising figure. Lauded and vilified in equal measure, he is an authoritarian thug to some and India’s saviour-in-waiting to others. To his supporters, he is a man of integrity who can get things done. To his detractors, he will forever be tainted by association with the 2002 massacre of Muslims in Gujarat, where, as the state’s chief minister, he was accused – though he was later formally cleared – of standing by while hundreds of revenge killings took place. Read more of this post

Finding a Place for Market Research in a Big Data, Tech-enabled World

Finding a Place for Market Research in a Big Data, Tech-enabled World

Jan 29, 2014

In the annals of product launches, the advent of 3-D TV won’t go down as a high point in consumer love at first sight. The product first drew hype, then modest sales. But after five years on the market, the format has stalled. One mass-market manufacturer, Vizio, announced with the new year that it has pressed the pause button on 3-D. Major content providers ESPN and the BBC have discontinued 3-D TV program development. Read more of this post

Lenovo to buy Google’s Motorola in China’s largest tech deal

Lenovo to buy Google’s Motorola in China’s largest tech deal

6:27am IST

By Nadia Damouni, Nicola Leske and Gerry Shih

NEW YORK/SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 29 (Reuters) – Lenovo Group said on Wednesday it agreed to buy Google Inc’s Motorola handset division for $2.91 billion, in what is China’s largest-ever tech deal as Lenovo buys its way into a heavily competitive U.S. handset market dominated by Apple Inc . Read more of this post

Amazon’s Growth Story Keeps Selling

Amazon’s Growth Story Keeps Selling

SPENCER JAKAB

Jan. 29, 2014 4:03 p.m. ET

“The bottom line” has earned a place of distinction, if you can call it that, on lists of hackneyed clichés. So it seems appropriate investors in one of today’s evolving media and retail powerhouses pay it little heed. Read more of this post

Apple Pushes Deeper Into Mobile Payments Tech Giant Lays Groundwork to Expand Service for Physical Goods

Apple Pushes Deeper Into Mobile Payments

Tech Giant Lays Groundwork to Expand Service for Physical Goods

DOUGLAS MACMILLAN And DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI

Jan. 24, 2014 7:43 p.m. ET

Apple Inc. AAPL -1.14% is laying the groundwork for an expanded mobile-payments service, leveraging its growing base of iPhone and iPad users and the hundreds of millions of credit cards on file through its iTunes stores. Read more of this post

Ringfencing will make it harder to wind up failing banks; Reform proposal undercuts direction of global regulation

January 29, 2014 4:03 pm

Ringfencing will make it harder to wind up failing banks

By Patrick Jenkins in London

Reform proposal undercuts direction of global regulation

The world has come along way since the G20 summit of September 2009, when political leaders sealed an unprecedented collaborative effort to make the global banking system safer. Capital levels today are much higher. Leverage is a bit lower. And liquid funding cushions are reassuringly plump. Read more of this post

Investors Shed Dividend-Paying Stock Funds

Investors Shed Dividend-Paying Stock Funds

URRAY COLEMAN

Jan. 29, 2014 3:44 p.m. ET

As the U.S. Federal Reserve trims its purchases of bonds and expectations of higher interest rates grow, investors are pulling billions of dollars from funds focused on dividend-paying stocks. Read more of this post

Banks have failed to exorcise their technical gremlins

January 29, 2014 5:05 pm

Banks have failed to exorcise their technical gremlins

By Martin Taylor

The systems architecture of the typical lender is like a gothic house of horror, says Martin Taylor

Ido not know why Lloyds Bank’s computer systems crashed at the weekend. I do not know why Royal Bank of Scotland’s systems crashed last year. I do not know much – anything – about computers, frankly. So why am I writing this piece? Because I do not entirely believe the simple story that it is all about under-investment, and that the banks are useless at IT. Read more of this post

“A Funny Old World” – The EM Carry Trade Collapse ‘Deja Vu, All Over Again’ From Citigroup

“A Funny Old World” – The EM Carry Trade Collapse ‘Deja Vu, All Over Again’ From Citigroup

Tyler Durden on 01/29/2014 12:11 -0500

Spot the similarities.

From CitiFX Technicals: It’s a funny old World

1989-1991: Housing and savings and loan crisis: Fed eases aggressively as economy enters deep recession Read more of this post

Debt-laden Canadians becoming more ‘fragile’ to economic shocks, warns TD CEO Ed Clark

Debt-laden Canadians becoming more ‘fragile’ to economic shocks, warns TD CEO Ed Clark

Doug Alexander, Bloomberg News | January 28, 2014 | Last Updated: Jan 28 12:16 PM ET
Toronto-Dominion Bank Chief Executive Officer Ed Clark said Canada’s economy is in danger of underperforming the U.S. as consumers become increasingly “fragile” amid rising household debt and home prices. Read more of this post

Pioneering Swiss watchmaker Raymond Weil, who founded the family business that bears his name, has died in Geneva, aged 87

PIONEERING WATCHMAKER RAYMOND WEIL DIES

ARTICLE | 29 JANUARY, 2014 11:36 AM | BY JESSICA TASMAN-JONES

image001-14

Swiss watchmaker Raymond Weil, who founded the family business that bears his name, has died in Geneva, aged 87.

Weil founded the luxury brand in 1976, when the Swiss watchmaking industry was in disarray due to the so-called “Quartz crisis” – during which electronic watchmaking methods resulted in a decline in traditional mechanical time pieces, which had been the speciality of Swiss craftsmen.

His aim had been to create luxurious but affordable timepieces.

In a statement the company said Weil died “peacefully” on 26 January.

Outside watchmaking, Weil was passionate about music, and named some of his first collections after famous operas and composers – such as the Amadeus collection, named after Mozart, and the Traviata collection.

Weil retired from the company’s board only last September, but was the honourary president of the brand at his death.

The company is one of the few Swiss watchmakers to remain in family hands. Weil’s son-in-law Olivier Bernheim, who joined the company in 1982, is the chair of the board, while his grandsons Elie and Pierre Bernheim are both directors.

Bernheim described Weil as his mentor. He said in a statement: ““His legacy and enthusiasm will live on through our family, his brand, its team over the world and all of those who wear the watch that bears his name.”

 

Cotton On: How rich lister Nigel Austin’s fashion chain is taking on the world

Cotton On: How rich lister Nigel Austin’s fashion chain is taking on the world

Published 28 January 2014 09:41, Updated 29 January 2014 09:29

Sue Mitchell

As a second wave of global retailers prepares to invade Australia, Nigel Austin’s Cotton On Group is vying for the title of the world’s fastest-growing retailer with a “coals to Newcastle” strategy that will see it expand into another half a dozen countries this year. Read more of this post

WeChat overtakes Facebook in Indonesian market

WeChat overtakes Facebook in Indonesian market

Staff Reporter

2014-01-29

Chinese smartphone messaging app WeChat has become one of the four major instant messaging tools widely used in Indonesia, reports Shanghai’s China Business News, citing Andi Ardiansyah, an Indonesian representative based in Guangzhou. Read more of this post

Tech giants scramble to tap internet solutions for cars

Tech giants scramble to tap internet solutions for cars

Staff Reporter 

2014-01-29

In line with a global trend among international auto multinationals, Chinese enterprises are scrambling to invest in car-related internet technology, attracted by the emerging market’s huge potential. Read more of this post

The second-gen managing director of Singapore property developer City Developments Limited has announced he will step down next month to take up the role of deputy chairman

SINGAPORE PROPERTY DEVELOPER SECOND-GEN STEPS DOWN

ARTICLE | 23 JANUARY, 2014 02:12 PM | BY JESSICA TASMAN-JONES

The second-gen managing director of Singapore property developer City Developments Limited has announced he will step down next month to take up the role of deputy chairman.

Kwek Leng Joo, 60, has held the post since 1995, but now Grant L Kelley, the first non-family member to head the executive management team, will become the company’s first chief executive. Read more of this post

The sounds of our lives: It took a competition to make this writer realise how nature’s symphonies have lost out to city noises

Updated: Wednesday January 29, 2014 MYT 10:22:55 AM

The sounds of our lives

BY JUNE H.L.WONG

It took a competition to make this writer realise how nature’s symphonies have lost out to city noises.

WE have become such a visual world that we often overlook our other senses. So when I heard there was a World’s Most Beautiful Sound competition, I was intrigued. When I found out the winning entry came from Malaysia, I was amazed. Read more of this post

When Rising Revenue Spells Trouble

When Rising Revenue Spells Trouble

by Scott Anthony  |   11:00 AM January 28, 2014

Readers in industries where the pace of change has slowed and ambiguity has decreased, please stop reading. This post isn’t for you.

Everyone still here? Thought so. An interconnected world where technology advances at a dizzying pace and new companies emerge, scale, and decline in the blink of an eye means never a dull moment for corporate leaders. Read more of this post

The benefits of planning really, really far ahead: Vision writing is like setting a series of very detailed 10- or 12-year goals for your career or business. It’s worked wonders for Michigan-based Zingerman’s

The benefits of planning really, really far ahead

January 28, 2014: 10:52 AM ET

Vision writing is like setting a series of very detailed 10- or 12-year goals for your career or business. It’s worked wonders for Michigan-based Zingerman’s.

By Vickie Elmer

FORTUNE — After a decade in business, Paul Saginaw could feel complacency creeping in at Zingerman’s Delicatessen, the successful gourmet eatery and market he had co-founded.

It wasn’t clear where new ideas would come from or how the Ann Arbor, Mich.-company would grow from its historic orange brick home.

So Saginaw decided he and his partner needed to stare into the future, think creatively about what they wanted to happen, and develop a vision for their business and for themselves that went far beyond serving corned beef sandwiches or imported cheese. He wanted to consider their future contributions to the world as well as to Zingerman’s advancement. His partner Ari Weinzweig’s response: “Why are you bothering me? I’ve got work to do.”

Saginaw eventually convinced him, saying, “This is the work of leaders.” In 1994, they spent weeks creating a 15-year vision that opened the door to creating related food enterprises led by Zingerman’s crew. By the end of 2013, they were overseeing a group of eight companies, doing everything from roasting coffee, training business people, shipping shortbreads and gift baskets, and making bread, candy, and cheeses, among other things. All are run using Zingerman’s brand of long-range vision plans to grow and improve. Last year, Zingerman’s expanded its original deli with a “sandwich line of our dreams” and three new dining rooms. Its sales are expected to top $50 million this year, up from $30 million in 2007.

The company’s success is Exhibit A for using vision writing as a means to grow a business. Zingerman’s training company, known as ZingTrain, will introduce the concept to mom-and-pop businesses, some mid-sized companies, as well as some university types (including those at neighboring University of Michigan).

In one sense, vision writing is like setting a series of very detailed 10- or 12-year goals for your career or business. Researchers have shown that setting moderately difficult goals can be useful in determining a company’s direction, improving productivity, and creating commitment to working toward critical outcomes. And the way goals are framed may improve results.

“Almost during the seminar itself, we started writing what our vision would be,” says James Clark, co-founder of Room 214, a digital marketing and social media company whose clients include Adobe, Forever 21, Vail Resorts, and Mr. Coffee.

Within two days of returning to Room 214’s offices in Boulder, Colo., the vision was “probably about 70% done,” with partners and directors contributing. They took it to the entire 28-employee company, read the vision out loud, and within two weeks had completed their vision, which called for a culture of employee development and training, small satellite offices aligned with new opportunities, and eventually a venue to unplug (a resort they plan to buy in Costa Rica).

Vision writing could be “a competitive advantage to firms that are bold enough to give it a try,” says Dorie Clark, an adjunct professor at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University. Yet it’s used rarely in the corporate world, in part because of its New Age ties.

“There’s a fear that vision writing may connote a sort of self help ethos, not what serious business people do,” says Clark, who is the author of Reinventing You: Define Your Brand, Imagine Your Future. “If it could be rebranded as an innovation technique, which is what every company is looking for right now, that could … gain currency.”

Vision writing as a business tool has been around for decades, used by both Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill, author of Think and Grow Rich. It’s part of the 7 Habits developed by Stephen Covey — his “start with the end in mind” edict is crucial to good vision writing.

“It’s a written definition of success,” says Saginaw. “We didn’t know we would accomplish it, but we knew what we wanted … We talk about starting with the end in mind,” whether the end involves expanding the original deli at a cost of $10 million, improving deliveries at the coffee company, or planning a charity dinner.

Saginaw’s partner now teaches vision writing at ZingTrain and has written about it in some books — published by Zingerman’s Press. Weinzweig hopes that his adopted hometown will be a center for visioning and sees thousands of companies using it.

Vision writing is useful when you want to plan for something exciting and worthwhile, but it can’t be a fantasy. It must have some business underpinnings and measurable elements. The writing process gives the goal more power and clarity, as does sharing it with your entire organization.

“Write for something really inspiring and significant,” said Weinzweig in a webinar on the practice. Pick a date in the future — “get further out than you feel comfortable with,” Weizweig suggested, perhaps 10 to 13 years.

Zingerman’s vision writing documents are written in present tense — as if the company is already enjoying all that it has accomplished. Zingerman’s completed its first vision and added a half-dozen companies that create or sell high-quality food and drinks; its second vision document goes through 2020 and calls for “radically better food,” a focus on education and a fun environment, and growth to about 18 businesses, all of them in or near Ann Arbor, Mich.

So why does it work? Saginaw has an answer for that: The document, written in the future perfect tense, serves as a filter for opportunities, to help determine whether they will lead Zingerman’s in the right direction or distract it from its ideal future.

“Start with your wildest dreams,” said Saginaw. “When you share it, it will be honed in more rational thought.”

Sometimes the vision needs to be pulled out to remind senior managers of what they wanted in the first place. When Zingerman’s opened the Roadhouse, a bigger restaurant, many early customers had “a bad experience … We really sucked,” Saginaw recalled. So they returned to their vision of a place that makes and sells classic American food, like potato-bacon soup and many varieties of macaroni and cheese, and it has turned its act around. In fact, its executive chef won a James Beard award in 2011.

Yet some say a vision may make you blind to great opportunities. “One potential risk of … using vision writing is you’ll hit it. Maybe what you should be doing instead is exceeding it, or innovating in ways that sitting here in 2013 we can’t even possibly imagine,” Dorie Clark said.

Saginaw isn’t worried about that; he said most visions leave room for strategies to change and innovations to show up. “The vision is the what. The strategy is how we’re going to get there … We wanted to be pushed” to achieve something ambitious, something that leaves a legacy.

 

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