The Physics of Music and the Asian Innovators

“Bamboo Innovators bend, not break, even in the most terrifying storm that would snap the mighty resisting oak tree. It survives, therefore it conquers.”
BAMBOO LETTER UPDATE | March 23, 2015
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Dear Friends,The Physics of Music and the Asian Innovators

At the admission interview of the high school applicants into the Accountancy program at the Singapore Management University last week, one of the  candidates “C” cried during the interview – and I gave her the highest score 19/20 amongst all the candidates and wrote down “strongly recommend”.

We like to share some of the conversations in this story which inspired the discussion about why for instance Singapore’s Creative Technology (CREAF SP, MV $74m) did not scale up to become the Apple of Singapore/Asia, collapsing from over a billion dollar in market value at its peak to $74 million today, as well as the deeper thought-provoking insights to understand and identify the hidden Asian innovators that include Loen Entertainment (016170 KS, MV $1.09bn) which had more than tripled since we last highlighted them in Aug 2013 in “Berkshire Hathaway Embracing Media? An Asian Perspective”.

“C” did not have the straight-As profile (H2: AABD, H1: AC) and even had a “poor” General Paper score, which was strange given her vivid and heart-stirring writing in the application form describing herself and the various activities she does that contributed to helping others during her time at Hwa Chong Junior College. The first impression she would definitely give to others would be that of a stereotypical shy, self-conscious and introverted person. A checklist approach and mindset will definitely strike “C” out.

I sense that there is brilliance beneath her shyness as some of my probing questions and observations revealed that she is an introspective, self-reflective and intellectually curious thinker and tinkerer capable of something rare that eludes the straight-As and well-rounded-CV students – to produce original thoughts and ideas. “C” is the only candidate that I have come across in these years to have applied for both the Accountancy and Information Systems degree programs. With her interests in the Science Students’ Research Council where she was in the International Science Youth Forum Nobel Forum Committee, it seems that she has a yearning to do and make something with her hands and brains, that she is a tinkerer, and a tinkerer who is keen to explore further her interest and confidence in “numbers” – and to peer into the “framework” behind the “numbers”.

“C, I see that you are capable of deep thoughts. I think your General Paper score was because you are too self-conscious in your thoughts about how you come across to others, that you are afraid of being misunderstood in the eyes of others and that affected your writing in that time constraint and pressure in the exam setting. Are you able to share what is the proudest piece of work that you have done up, beyond all these society-imposed resume criteria to fill the CCAs/Community Service silos?” This is akin to asking what does a person do if he or she is not measured by the KPIs or observed by others – to understand their true character and authenticity as a leader and innovator.

And “C” shared about her “The Physics and Science of Music” piece of project work and prototype that I find very interesting and aligned to her deep-thinker personality and untapped hidden potential as an innovator, a Maker who has the capacity and capability to engage in creative work and systems design, work which requires deep thoughts, tenacity and sacrifices to bear through the uncertainty, anguish and passions. The usual self-entitled Taker with straight-As will hardly bother with such meaningless pursuits that do not have deterministic and measurable outcomes. Under all those society-imposed boxes, “C” could not mention or write about this at all in the form.

Instead, “C” said wistfully, “But this is probably not worth mentioning. There is no value to this. It probably cannot be commercialized.”

Inspired by her sharing, I said, “Why not? Imagine if Creative Technology had focused on your idea and organizing vision in the science of music, the science of audio and sound, they probably would not have languished.”

I explained very briefly to “C” that Creative Technology had brought to the world in 1989 the Sound Blaster, a stereo soundboard inserted into the computers to give the computer a voice to play music. And this technology was made widely available to the general consumer, bringing what was previously accessible only to the privileged and wealthy to the masses to enjoy. Creative became the first Singapore firm to be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange and Sim Wong Hoo, the harmonica-playing founder of Creative, became the youngest self-made billionaire in Singapore at the age of 45.

********

When Creative’s founder Sim Wong Hoo was said to seek some government financial assistance at the NCB (National Computer Board, now known as IDA) to market the product at Comdex trade show in US, they ridiculed him, saying that no one would ever want to hear a sound from the PC. They rubbed salt in by mentioning that he was just a poly diploma holder and that he needs to develop something for the local market for which NCB would give him assistance. Later, funded by a venture capitalist, Sim showcased Sound Blaster in the exhibition in America and, according to some photos, even Michael Jackson visited his booth. Sim later said about his vision, “I looked at the PC and said it was dumb. I said computers should talk. Computers should play music. I believe in sound. I believe in music.”

Creative dominated the PC audio market as the de facto standard for a decade and had sold 100 million units by 2000. The all-time high was in March 2000 at $64 per share; now Creative is $. By the 2000s, OEM PCs began to be built with sound boards integrated directly onto the motherboard and the Sound Blaster found itself reduced to a niche product. Creative went on to launch other less successful businesses and products that include the CD-ROM business in which they were forced to write off $100 million in inventory when the market collapsed due to a flood of cheaper alternative, Nomad Jukebox and ZEN series of portable media players (before Apple launched iPods), Prodikeys (a keyboard with piano keys), reportedly burning a billion dollar in R&D in developing both the Zii stem-cell-like processor with supercomputing power launched in 2009 and the HanZpad computer tablet launched in late 2011.

After sharing the Creative story to “C”, I was thinking that Creative could well have been the innovator in Guitar Hero, the billion-dollar gaming franchise that rekindle music education in children and has found use in health and treatment of recovering patients. Creative could also possibly ride the rising popularity and profitability of podcast network and audio storytelling phenomenon (podcast subscriptions have passed over one billion in 2013 and monthly podcast listeners have more than tripled to over 75 million per month from 25 million before the onset of the 2007 crisis). Creative could possibly beat Pandora Media (P US, MV $3.4bn)/Spotify/Deezer/Beats Music (acquired by Apple); the Pandora music-streaming app are embedded by GM into the dashboards of most Chevrolets, Buicks and Cadillacs.

Taiwan’s KKBox, started in late 2005 as a PC application, now has over 2 million paying subscribers paying a monthly fee of around $5 for unlimited access to its catalogue of more than 10 million Asian songs and value-added content and services and is valued at over a billion dollar, attracting a $105m investment from Singapore’s GIC in 2014. KKBox has a dominant position in Taiwan in knowing where the music listeners are and what songs and artists they like and now offers a mixture of music, entertainment news, and even organizes its own concerts that are broadcast across the countries they are operating in.

Loen Entertainment (016170 KS, market cap $1.09bn) operates Korea’s largest online music retail platform MelOn with a 60% market share. Loen was founded in 1961 by former English-language-daily journalist Min Young-bin as YBM Sisa English, a language-learning tape creator. In the 1960s when Korea was an impoverished nation just out of war, the medium of studying English was limited to printed publications including magazines, books and dictionaries. YB Min launched the country’s first magazine for English learners in 1961 and “A Handbook of Business English” in 1967 in response to policies designed to drive exports. The next decade marked the use of audio and sound in language education. In 1970, supported by the U.S. government, YBM brought out English 900, a set of six books with 60 cassette tapes on 900 English sentence structures. YBM later expanded into a major K-Pop music record label which debuted hallyu celebrity Rain. SK Telecom bought a 60% stake in the music record firm in 2005, renaming it Loen to be put in charge of operating SK’s online music distribution service MelOn in 2009. With the cataloguing know-how developed over the years, MelOn grew to become the most used online music sales in Korea. SK later sold its 52.6% stake in Loen to a foreign PE firm for $239m in Jul 2013.

Organized by the science of music, an idea larger than oneself, the possibilities from business model innovation are more scalable and sustainable, instead of jumping around in chasing trends and themes like Creative did in repeating familiar hardware-based business models that had worked successfully for a while in the past but failed subsequently to remain sustainable.

********

Because I sense that her community service work is based on a genuine heart, which is rare, I asked “C” gently whether that was shaped by some personal or family experience and she said something moving and aspirational, which was not discernible at all in her opening introduction and write-up.

People like “C” will always be misunderstood, and misunderstood badly, because the harsh and pretentious world look solely at the superficial skin, the poise, the posturing and never the inner worth and potential. “C” is the potential innovator and authentic caring leader who can contribute to improving the world and the people around her and she has far bigger potential that she realizes and that hidden potential needs to be unlocked with an opportunity.

In our years of interacting and observing entrepreneurs and managers in Asia, we find that there seemed to be two kinds: some who would look for flaws in ideas and people, and then pounce to kill them; and others who started from a place of seeking and promoting good, new and original ideas and people. When the “idea and people promoter” saw flaws, they pointed them out gently, in the spirit of improving them – not eviscerating them. The “idea and people killer” were not aware that they were serving some other agenda, which was often to show others how high their standards are. The innovators understand the difficult, ephemeral process of developing the new. The innovators understand that looking beyond the pretty and rigorous checklist for something original, authentic, something surprising and unproven, are necessary for genuine value creation – and must be a conscious effort.

We also want to observe that the corporate culture are NOT infested with the kind of people that populated Disney in the late 1970s as remarked by Pixar’s founder Ed Catmull in his inspiring and thought-provoking book Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration:

“Unbeknownst to me, soon after our meeting at Lucasfilm, John Lasseter would lose his job at Disney. Apparently, his supervisors felt that The Brave Little Toaster was – like him – a little too avant-garde. They listened to his pitch and, immediately afterward, fired him. What John hadn’t realized when he joined Disney Animation, however, was that the studio was going through a rough, fallow period. The animation there had plateaued much earlier – no significant technical advances had been made since 1961’s 101 Dalmatians, and many of its young, talented animators had left the studio, reacting in part to an increasingly hierarchical culture that didn’t value their ideas. When John arrived in 1979, Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnston, and the rest of the Nine Old Men were getting up in years – the youngest was 65 – and had stepped away from day-to-day business of moviemaking, leaving the studio in the hands of a group of lesser artists who had been waiting in the wings for decades. These men felt in was their turn to be in charge but were so insecure about their standing within the company that they clung to their newfound status by stifling – not encouraging – younger talents. Not only were they not interested in the ideas of their fledgling animators, they exercised a sort of punitive power. They were seemingly determined that those beneath them not rise in the ranks any faster than they already had.”

We think this lesson from Disney is poignant for Asia which is at a critical transition phase in succession risk (and opportunity) with the patriarchs and matriarchs handing over the reins of their business empires to the right capital allocators, whether to their heirs or professional managers. Many of the Asian successors are like Disney’s highly experienced and well-qualified men-in-charge in the late 1970s.

Above all, we think a corporate culture focused on KPIs is downright unhealthy as it results in gaming of the performance measurement system and distances people from creating an idea larger than oneself that can involve co-creators in the value creation process. What is this “idea larger than oneself” which we emphasized in many of our writings? Take the case of Hemant Amin, founder, chairman and CEO of Asiamin Capital, a low-profile, successful multi-million single family office, and our guest speaker for the Singapore Management University students in the course ACCT004 Accounting Fraud in Asia with the presentation topic “A Family Office Investment Journey and Understanding the DNA of Fraudulent Promoters”. We mentioned in a thank you note to Hemant that this idea larger than oneself is also about practicing and living out the values of Buffett-Munger:

Hi Hemant,

Thanks much – a recurring theme in the Compounders is that they are obsessed with creating an idea larger than themselves, whether it is Buffett-Munger with their philosophy manifested in their creation of Berkshire Hathaway or yourself in practicing and living out the values of a true value investor to educate and inspire the next generation of leaders! 🙂

Take the case of Lee Bakunin, a very early Berkshire Hathaway value investor whom we respect and admire greatly. A lawyer by training, Lee is the author of the upcoming book “How to Negotiate Like Warren Buffett”. The book’s vision is an idea larger than oneself. With the book, Lee has transcended beyond material wealth. He can remove himself from the equation and the ideas in the book will profoundly influence and impact positively the readers. Those who practice the philosophy in the book will become the idea itself. We hope to be able to have the opportunity in the future to invite Lee to address the SMU students taking the course Accounting Fraud in Asia and to inspire them with his wisdom and values.

Hence, value investors should simply ask, can the Asian entrepreneur-emperor remove himself or herself from the business equation and the business can still compound in value? Only if he or she has created an idea larger than oneself. This is the true and only KPI that should matter in identifying the wide-moat compounder and Bamboo Innovator in Asia.

And “C”s question to me at the end of the interview was also simple and brilliant, again reflecting her deep-introspective character. Having done admission interviews before, this was the first time I was asked such a question.

“C, you are very good, don’t let anyone tell you anything otherwise,” I told her at the end. I think she cried softly two times during the interview because she felt she was understood, that her inner self was understood, that what she was trying to achieve at an emotional level was understood.

“C” would still need to go through the admissions office’s elimination process based on the number of available places and we hope that she can get into SMU and the program(s) of her choice. We wish her all the best in creating the music of accounting for the business community and society in the years ahead.

Warm regards,

KB

The Moat Report Asia

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http://accountancy.smu.edu.sg/faculty/profile/108141/KEE-Koon-Boon

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Bamboo Innovator Daily Insight: 23 Mar (Mon) – Mr Lee Kuan Yew was committed to a cause greater than himself: President Tony Tan; 穿越旷野的风 您慢些走 新加坡的夜 那么静那么静 连风都听不到听不到

Notice: The website AsianExtractor: Unearthing Accounting Fraud in Asia (www.AsianExtractor.com) is down on technical issues and we are trying to resolve the problem asap.

Remembering Lee Kuan Yew

  • Mr Lee Kuan Yew was committed to a cause greater than himself: President Tony Tan: TODAY
  • LKY: The economic pragmatist; He was a man unafraid to challenge the popular ideologies of the day; he had no truck with dogma. Right up to the end of his life, LKY believed in constantly adapting to the hard realities of a changing world: TODAY
  • Singapore After Lee Kuan Yew: Future Is Uncertain For The Utilitarian Paradise He Created: Forbes
  • Lee Kuan Yew: China watcher who offered Beijing a model: FT
  • The great persuader: He did not crave to be popular; rather, Mr Lee Kuan Yew sought to persuade people to see his point of view. TODAY
  • After Lee, Singapore Needs a Rethink: Bloomberg
  • An Expat Ponders Lee Kuan Yew’s Legacy & Asks: Is the Singapore Model Scalable?: WSJ

Life

  • Dyson invests £12m to create new engineering school; The Dyson School of Design Engineering, based in South Kensington, has been set up to address the ‘dearth’ of UK engineers: Telegraph
  • Stop waiting for the muse to arrive and make something new; Creativity tips from tech entrepreneur Kevin Ashton: FT
  • Goethe’s Aphorisms: Farnam
  • Speeches – Ten Rules to Utilize: Farnam

Read more of this post

Bamboo Innovator Daily Insight: 22 Mar (Sun) – Why Steve Jobs’s legendary Stanford commencement ceremony almost never happened

Notice: The website AsianExtractor: Unearthing Accounting Fraud in Asia (www.AsianExtractor.com) is down on technical issues and we are trying to resolve the problem asap.

Life

  • Why Steve Jobs’s legendary Stanford commencement ceremony almost never happened: FastCo
  • Walter Benjamin on Information vs. Wisdom and How the Novel and the News Killed Storytelling: BP
  • World’s Best CEOs: Barron’s 11th annual list adds eight bosses, but includes only two from our first list, after a turbulent decade that’s been tough on CEOs. Barron’s1, Barron’s2
  • Goodbye, math and history: Finland wants to abandon teaching subjects at school: Quartz
  • Few Companies Actually Succeed at Going Global: HBR
  • In Defense of Boredom: 200 Years of Ideas on the Virtues of Not-Doing from Some of Humanity’s Greatest Minds: BP
  • ‘Disruptive innovation key to become world beaters’: Forbes
  • In Italy, They’re Now Taxing Shadows: Zerohedge

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谭维维《乌兰巴托的夜》: 乌兰巴托的夜 那么静那么静 连风都听不到听不到 连云都不知道不知道 我们的世界改变了什么 我们的世界期待着什么 我们的世界剩下些什么 我们的世界只剩下荒漠

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Bamboo Innovator Daily Insight: 21 Mar (Sat) – Dear Teacher, A Video Game Developer Is A Real Job And Should Be Celebrated; Simply knowing that there is a framework of code behind Minecraft or Crossy Road is nearly as important as knowing how to code it. This knowledge removes the mysticism of computers

Notice: The website AsianExtractor: Unearthing Accounting Fraud in Asia (www.AsianExtractor.com) is down on technical issues and we are trying to resolve the problem asap.

Life

  • Dear Teacher, A Video Game Developer Is A Real Job And Should Be Celebrated; Simply knowing that there is a framework of code behind Minecraft or Crossy Road is nearly as important as knowing how to code it. This knowledge removes the mysticism of computers: Techcrunch
  • Why engineers loved working for Steve Jobs; Steve challenged them in ways they had never imagined. No one else in the computer business had such radical goals and expectations; no one else seemed to care so much about their work. BI
  • Jony Ive describes the moment he stopped fearing Steve Jobs; “But to hear his introduction of me to the whole of Pixar, I realized that he really understood what I was try to achieve at an emotional level. At some level, he know what I was trying to articulate”: BI
  • Students learn on own initiatives: KT
  • Finding Success, Well Past the Age of Wunderkind; Through the arts, education and other pursuits, more people are experiencing late-life rebirths that are rewarding creatively, emotionally and spiritually. NYT
  • Jokowi Jets to Yogya to Reflect on Meaning of Life: JG
  • 10 Steps to Access Your Goodness and Change Your Life: TinyBuddha
  • Why You Shouldn’t Wait For Others to Validate Your Decisions; “Do not let another day go by where your dedication to other people’s opinions is greater than your dedication to your own emotions!”: TinyBuddha
  • Why We Get Attached to Our Struggles and Who We Could Be Without Them: TinyBuddha
  • Freeing Yourself from Fear: 4 Lessons from Anxiety;  “The only journey is the one within.” ~Rainer Maria Rilke: TinyBuddha
  • Gilding the Sheepskin: It is possible to have a good life-even a great one-without attending the college of your choice. Who knew?: WSJ
  • Music Education Needs to Be a Click Away: WSJ
  • Cannibalisation the only way to beat cheaper competitors, says professor: SCMP
  • Why Islam Needs a Reformation: To defeat the extremists for good, Muslims must reject those aspects of their tradition that prompt some believers to resort to oppression and holy war: WSJ
  • How We Learn to Be Afraid of the Right Things: Alison Gopnik on research that shows how humans (and rats) set up protected spaces for children to deal with the dangerous adult world: WSJ
  • The Slippery Slope to Extinction: Neanderthals had bigger brains, sharper vision and were better adapted to the environment than homo sapiens. How did we replace them as Eurasia’s apex predator? WSJ
  • Young Financier’s Insurance Empire Collapses: Investments of insurance companies owned by Southport Lane Management were swapped for unusual and sometimes worthless assets: WSJ
  • Rise of the machines: is there anything to fear? What happens when ultra-intelligent computers begin to improve themselves? We should not assume they’ll have our best interests at heart: FT
  • Rifat’s prison sentence indicates front running’s time is up: FT
  • A degree of creativity; ‘Vocational degrees provide skills that can become outdated or be replaced by robots”: FT
  • The 3 most important things to know if you’re managing half a million employees: BI
  • How one man went from collecting unemployment to owning a burger chain with hundreds of locations: BI
  • What’s Wrong with Finance: MH
  • Overnight viral sensations: good lessons and great opportunities for marketers: NM

Investing Process

  • Open Letter to SGX/MAS: Reply to CFO of SGX-Listed China Environment (CENV SP) on report “Potential Accounting Tunneling Fraud at China Environment?” – Address the accounting and governance concerns in an SGX/MAS announcement: AsianExtractor
  • Audits alone can’t solve all: TheStar
  • Cash flow, and not cash, is king; 1MDB has cash and bank balances of RM3.85bil and another RM12.89bil of investments that are deemed as “available-for-sale” but had to rely on a RM950mil standby credit facility from the Government: TheStar

Greater China

  • Open Letter to SGX/MAS: Reply to CFO of SGX-Listed China Environment (CENV SP) on report “Potential Accounting Tunneling Fraud at China Environment?” – Address the accounting and governance concerns in an SGX/MAS announcement: AsianExtractor
  • Goldin Financial’s meteoric gains raise questions over what is fueling the rally: WSJ
  • China Regulator Urges Caution as Stocks Jump to Seven-Year Highs: Bloomberg
  • China’s Trial-and-Error Economy: PS

Japan & Korea

  • Inside Korea’s DIY home decor craze; “Shoppers these days are disappointed when I only show them classic designs that they can find elsewhere. They’re all looking for something that’s one-of-a-kind.” : KH
  • Home furnishing market flourishes: Challenged by Ikea, Korean furniture makers transform into ‘lifestyle brands’: KH
  • Prosecution to seek warrant for POSCO E&C’s ex-Vietnam head: KH
  • Hyundai marks anniversary of founders’ death: JA

ASEAN

  • Open Letter to SGX/MAS: Reply to CFO of SGX-Listed China Environment (CENV SP) on report “Potential Accounting Tunneling Fraud at China Environment?” – Address the accounting and governance concerns in an SGX/MAS announcement: AsianExtractor
  • Malaysia has seen only small-scale forensic accounting cases, mostly in the form of investigation audits done on Practice Note 17 companies, which has surged since 2000. TheStar
  • Auditing the Auditor-General: Is the Public Accounts Committee equipped to assess the work of Ambrin who has been tasked with verifying the books of 1MDB from 2009?: TheStar
  • More moves to curb housing loans seen in Malaysia: TheStar
  • AEC effects unlikely to be seen for years, meet told: NM

Macro

  • Investors Embrace ETFs That Hedge Against a Strong Dollar; As the dollar has risen, investors have pumped billions into foreign-stock funds that shelter their returns from currency swings: WSJ
  • The Global VAT Craze: A new study shows how the value-added tax is rising world-wide. WSJ
  • While Regulators Fiddle, Avoid Getting Burned: WSJ
  • How to Pick a Stock Picker: It’s tough to predict which active manager will beat the market. Here’s one way to improve the odds: Look for low fees. WSJ
  • Newcomers jump into activist investing, eying returns and capital: Reuters
  • Why Washington drives innovators and entrepreneurs nuts: WaPo
  • How Scary Is the Bond Market?: PS
  • We’re Frighteningly in the Dark About Student Debt: NYT

TMT

  • Technical Hurdles Delay Drone Deliveries; Battery life and weather at least as daunting as pending regulation, say developers: WSJ
  • YouTube Wasn’t Created As A Music Service, We Turned It Into One: Forbes
  • Meet the man whose utopian vision for the Internet conquered, and then warped, Silicon Valley: WaPo
  • Here’s some interesting gossip about how Microsoft could make more money from Windows: BI
  • The tech formula: Nasdaq = small caps + Apple: FT

Healthcare

  • Japan’s outsized demand for fertility treatment helps explain why shares of OvaScience, a fertility company based near Harvard University in the U.S., have more than tripled this year : Barron’s1, 2

Consumer & Others

  • From Warren Buffett to Bill Gates: How auto dealerships are attracting a whole new class of investor: FP
  • Starbucks aims to brew the right thing; A model for those seeking to create brand ‘narrative’ in this brave new media world: FT
  • The fairytale success of Swarovski; The brand’s association with films and fashion has put sparkle into sales: FT

Bamboo Innovator Daily Insight: 20 Mar (Fri) – Speak Honestly, Lead Honorably; Tim Cook on Apple’s future: everything can change except values

Notice: The website AsianExtractor: Unearthing Accounting Fraud in Asia (www.AsianExtractor.com) is down on technical issues and we are trying to resolve the problem asap.

Life

  • Speak Honestly, Lead Honorably: Strategy&
  • The Intangible Corporation: Bloomberg
  • The difference between commitment and technique; Great teachers teach commitment. SethGodin
  • Five Ways Your Financial Adviser Can Screw Up Your Retirement, Legally: Bloomberg
  • Why positivity is the worst response to a problem: FastCo
  • College for a New Age: NYT
  • Today’s Anxious Freshmen Declare Majors Far Faster Than Their Elders; Weak job market and high debt loads prompt broad shift away from intellectual exploration; “People don’t go to college anymore to be fulfilled or to gain life perspective”: WSJ
  • The business of business: An old debate about what companies are for has been revived: Economist
  • The revolution that could change the way your child is taught: Guardian
  • Leighton to change name to CIMIC in wake of corruption allegations, shedding an Australian brand that has existed for more than 60 years: TheAge
  • The grim reality of start-ups: 95 per cent fail: TheAge
  • There is widespread “mischief” and even “abuse” in how financial services firms treat a key system for detecting misconduct, ASIC says. TheAge
  • Productivity guru David Allen shares his 3 best tricks for saving time: BI
  • A poster boy for dogged resilience: Gyr King rebuilt his art prints business after a fire but advances in technology require constant vigilance: FT
  • 12 Habits of Exceptional Leaders: Forbes
  • The World’s Most Ethical Companies 2015: Forbes

Greater China

  • Open Letter to SGX/MAS: Reply to CFO of SGX-Listed China Environment (CENV SP) on report “Potential Accounting Tunneling Fraud at China Environment?” – Address the accounting and governance concerns in an SGX/MAS announcement: AsianExtractor
  • China Tells Internet Firm Ex-Boss, under investigation for alleged securities rules violations, to come back to the country as it seeks to avert a second corporate default in the onshore bond market. Bloomberg
  • CVC Capital has secured a court order freezing the assets of a flamboyant Chinese restaurant owner who sold a majority stake in her company to the European private equity group last year for $300m. FT
  • Chinese Firms Shift Investment From Mines to Trophy Assets; head of China’s mining association estimated that 80% of all overseas mining deals had failed: WSJ
  • The Great Chinese Car Casino: Bloomberg
  • Aberdeen Sees Bubble Valuation in China Stock-Market Leaders: Bloomberg
  • Xiaomi Widens Smart-Home Push to India With Air Purifier: Bloomberg
  • Will that be all, sir? Butler business booms in China: AsiaOne
  • SFC outlines conditions for dual-share listings: SCMP
  • China’s Anti-Corruption Agents Knock Again on PetroChina’s Door: Bloomberg
  • China Needs More Creativity As it shifts from being the world’s factory to a source of innovation: Bloomberg
  • HK SFC chairman Carlson Tong Ka-shing said a “sunset clause” could be considered should there be any change to the “one share, one vote” principle the first time the watchdog has expressed any willingness to alter the mechanism: Standard
  • In Wake Of Kuaidi-Didi Merger, Uber Faces An Even Tougher Battle In China: Forbes
  • Salvatore Ferragamo, the Italian fashion house, said it had blocked, seized or destroyed more than 100,000 fake products in a “fierce global battle against counterfeiting” focused on China and the internet. FT
  • No Gain Without Pain for China’s Flabby SOEs; The urge to reform state-owned enterprises is at risk of waning as Beijing focuses on bolstering growth.: Barron’s
  • Bacardi Launches Tea-Distilled Liquor in China; Spirits maker to sell ‘Tang,’ a light-green alcohol made from green tea leaves, in upscale restaurants: WSJ
  • What’s Wrong With China’s Army?: Bloomberg
  • For Hong Kong, a chill sets in as rich China tourists shop elsewhere: Reuters

India

  • Indian Companies Look to Wives to Fill Female Board-Member Requirement: WSJ
  • Modi Sees Shiny Cities in India’s Future: NYT
  • India’s troubled opposition: The son also disappears; Congress, the party that long defined Indian politics, is in free fall: Economist
  • Paper planes, parents help Indian pupils outsmart state exams: AsiaOne
  • 5 Indian Bottom of Pyramid-focussed tech startups you should meet: e27
  • The stalled Alibaba-Snapdeal deal is proof India’s e-commerce valuations are insane: Quartz
  • Corruption might hinder ‘Make in India’: Deloitte’s James Cottrell: Forbes
  • India Tackles Messy Web of Sales Taxes; Single levy would replace wildly varying regimes that snarl shipments in red tape: WSJ
  • Modi Sees Shiny Cities in India’s Future: NYT

Japan & Korea

  • LG CEO vows to step up innovation; Tech giant aims to be No. 1 in global home appliance market: KH
  • Expensive Korean stocks come under pressure to split: KH

ASEAN

  • Open Letter to SGX/MAS: Reply to CFO of SGX-Listed China Environment (CENV SP) on report “Potential Accounting Tunneling Fraud at China Environment?” – Address the accounting and governance concerns in an SGX/MAS announcement: AsianExtractor
  • Bursa Securities raps, fines remisier RM312,000 for manipulation in numerous counters/securities. theStar
  • Asia ’98 Recalled as Currency Losses Engulf Top-Ranked Singapore: Bloomberg
  • Myanmar military to maintain political role, president says: Reuters
  • Chang Beer maker debuts 30 cent tea: Nikkei

Macro

  • SEC Joins Battle on Broker Bias That Could Remake Industry: Bloomberg
  • Sri Lanka PM seeks probe into stock market’s insider trading: AsiaOne
  • SEC Whistleblower Retaliation Push Could Face Challenge: WSJ
  • How an Ex-Moore Trader Got Caught in the Most Complicated Insider Trading Investigation in British History: bloomberg
  • Bitcoin Scammers Run Off With $12 Million: “Going to The Caribbean. Hope You Guys Understand”: Zerohedge
  • America’s Hispanics: From minor to major; One American in six is now Hispanic, up from a small minority two generations ago. By mid-century it will be more than one in four. Have faith in the melting-pot: Hispanic-America’s rise is a tremendous opportunity: Economist1, Economist2
  • Attack of the bean-counters: Lawyers beware: the accountants are coming after your business: Economist
  • The Algosaibi affair: A Saudi saga; Six years on, the claims arising from a huge corporate scandal in the Gulf are still being fought over: Economist
  • The war against Islamic State: The caliphate cracks; Though Islamic State is still spreading terror, its weaknesses are becoming apparent: Economist
  • Mismatch point: The rise of the dollar will punish borrowers in emerging markets: Economist
  • Notaries: The princes of paperwork; A highly regulated profession fights to preserve its privileges: Economist
  • A leap in the dark: How will investors react to America’s first rate increase in nine years?: Economist
  • The role of government bonds as an asset class is changing: Economist
  • Debt-ridden emerging markets are heading for a nasty dollar hangover: Economist
  • Quicksilver markets can catch out the unwary; Charts imply that equities are in bubble territory comparable to patterns in 1929, 2000 and 2007: FT
  • How Foreigners Became America’s Financial Regulators: WSJ

Energy & Commodities

  • In a World Awash With Crude Oil, Storage Companies Are Kings: Bloomberg
  • Why Shale Producers Still ‘Pump and Pray’: Bloomberg
  • No Relief Seen for Malaysia’s Energy Stock Drop on Earnings: Bloomberg
  • Non-U.S. Shales Prove Difficult to Crack; Exxon, Shell and others are pulling back from once-promising shale finds in Europe, Asia: WSJ

Healthcare

  • New Hope for Stroke Boosts Demand for Device to Nab Clots: Bloomberg
  • Scientists Seek Ban on Method of Editing the Human Genome: NYT
  • Big Pharma Needs to Get Busy in the Lab; Blanket generalizations about biotech firms being more efficient are unfounded. WSJ
  • U.S. Recovers $3.3 Billion in Federal Health-Care Fraud; Obama administration steps up efforts to prevent Medicare fraud, not just uncover it: WSJ

TMT

  • Tim Cook on Apple’s future: everything can change except values: FastCo
  • The rise of the ecommerce enablers; With the ecommerce market booming, ancillary firms that provide logistical support from payments to delivery are becoming an investor destination: Forbes
  • How The Netflix Model Can Screw Filmmakers: Forbes
  • Tag Heuer, Intel challenge Apple with Android smartwatch: Reuters
  • Fifty-seven million Latinos are a mighty market for the media: Economist
  • “VIACOM is me. I’m Viacom. That marriage is eternal, for ever,” Sumner Redstone, a media mogul, once said about his firm. “For ever” is a relative concept. In May Mr Redstone will turn 92: Economist
  • The log-on degree: College in America is ruinously expensive. Some digital cures are emerging: Economist
  • Mobile payments: Unfriending cash; Facebook enters the booming market for mobile payments: Economist
  • Founder Wang takes over as CEO as Taiwan’s HTC seeks turnaround: Reuters
  • Tim Cook explains how Apple decides which new products to work on next: BI
  • How Tim Cook implants Apple’s culture into new employees: BI
  • Internet TV: the cord cutters bringing some sanity to US viewing: FT
  • This company dominates the virtual reality business, and it’s not named Oculus: Fortune

Consumer & Others

  • Under Armour Is the NCAA Tournament’s Real Cinderella Story: Bloomberg
  • Spicy Chicken Billionaire Springs From South Africa With Nando’s: Bloomberg

Bamboo Innovator Daily Insight: 19 Mar (Thurs) – An Ancient Civics Lesson: How Athens and Rome empowered the poor; China’s debt situation is genuinely scary-and getting worse

Notice: The website AsianExtractor: Unearthing Accounting Fraud in Asia (www.AsianExtractor.com) is down on technical issues and we are trying to resolve the problem asap.

Life

  • How to Build a Strategy for ‘the Long Game’: K@W
  • An Ancient Civics Lesson: How Athens and Rome empowered the poor. NYT
  • A Dozen Things I’ve Learned from David Tepper about Investing: 25iq
  • Interview with Marc Cohodes: Famous short-seller shares his favorite ideas/managers and life lessons: FirstAdopter
  • When you’re building a new company, getting the word out is critical. WSJ
  • PowerPoint Karaoke Brings Stress Relief to Silicon Valley’s Embattled Office Workers: WSJ

Greater China

  • Open Letter to SGX/MAS: Reply to CFO of SGX-Listed China Environment (CENV SP) on report “Potential Accounting Tunneling Fraud at China Environment?” – Address the accounting and governance concerns in an SGX/MAS announcement: AsianExtractor
  • China’s debt situation is genuinely scary-and getting worse: Quartz
  • Tribunal begins hearing case of short-seller who alleged developer Evergrande was insolvent; Evergrande gets $16 billion credit line bailout on March 17 to shore up one of the country’s largest and most heavily indebted home builders: SCMP
  • Li Ning reports loss of 781 million yuan as founder takes reins: SCMP
  • Hong Kong-linked company appears on Thai SEC alert list for conducting securities and derivative business without a licence from the commission. SCMP
  • Yahoo Pulls the Plug on China Operations; Internet giant lays off 200-300 employees and closes Beijing research center: WSJ
  • CKH Holdings shares rise as reorganisation begins: SCMP
  • Starbucks partners drinks maker Tingyi to expand in China: Reuters

India

  • Metropolis’ Chain of Diagnostics Labs Pushes for Growth Across India and Africa: Forbes
  • Inside India: India’s Fight Against Big Pharma Patents Is a Just War: WSJ

Japan & Korea

  • Former Posco Group Chairman Chung Joon-yang allegedly invested some trillions of won in questionable mergers and acquisitions during his term; Posco probe shifts to its subcontractors: JA1, JA2
  • Lotte Group’s shopping subsidiary is being investigated for allegedly creating a slush fund, prosecutors said: KT
  • Japan’s Accounting Problem: PS
  • These Japanese Engineers Invented $7,900 Bike Wheels: Bloomberg
  • Father Fights to Oust CEO Daughter From Japan Furniture Chain: WSJ

ASEAN

  • Open Letter to SGX/MAS: Reply to CFO of SGX-Listed China Environment (CENV SP) on report “Potential Accounting Tunneling Fraud at China Environment?” – Address the accounting and governance concerns in an SGX/MAS announcement: AsianExtractor
  • Share manipulation scheme unveiled? Ex-staffer behind selling of Civmec shares? BT
  • When 28% shareholding is a majority at an AGM… When only 55 per cent of issued shares are voting, which is the average at general meetings by Singapore-listed companies in 2014: BT
  • How Singapore’s Lifebrandz lost its shine: AsiaOne
  • Singapore tries to imagine a future without its founder, Lee Kuan Yew: WaPo
  • Thai former PM Yingluck to face trial over rice scheme: court: AsiaOne
  • Thailand’s outdated tech sector casts cloud over economy: Reuters

Macro

  • Review Of SEC Enforcement Developments In 2014, And A Look Forward: WilmerHale
  • In Praise of Short Sellers: Newyorker
  • The Nonprofit Behind Billions in Mortgage Aid Is a Mess: Bloomberg
  • Paris Ghetto With Views But No Jobs Shows Decades of Failures: Bloomberg
  • Life After Loopholes Forces Luxembourg to Rethink Its Future: Bloomberg
  • Hedge fund guru Crispin Odey says following China could lead to recession: SMH
  • Federal Reserve decision: Fed signals that higher interest rates are coming: WaPo
  • Asia can grow by learning from itself: ChinaPost
  • Germany’s Mittelstand bond market is being overhauled in an effort to improve transparency for investors following a reputation-damaging wave of defaults and insolvencies. FT
  • Negative gearing: a legal tax rort for rich investors that reduces housing affordability: Guardian
  • Stanford Endowment Pauses Plan for Asia Office: WSJ
  • Investors Raise Alarm Over Liquidity Shortage; Regulators also worried falling trading volumes could disrupt markets: WSJ
  • Are emerging markets about to suffer another ‘taper tantrum’?: SCMP
  • Here Is Why The Fed Can’t Hike Rates By Even 0.25%: Zerohedge

Energy & Commodities

  • Mining companies shedding jobs by the thousands: TheAge
  • The New Equation for Oil Prices: WSJ
  • Banks Struggle to Unload Oil Loans; Citigroup, Goldman, UBS and others face losses as investors balk at riskiness of energy sector: WSJ

TMT

  • Could Apple become the next Comcast? WaPo
  • The rise of the ecommerce enablers; With the ecommerce market booming, ancillary firms that provide logistical support from payments to delivery are becoming an investor destination: Forbes
  • Robots rub shoulders with human buddies: FT
  • Internet of Things means never having to search again: Fortune
  • What StoryCorps should do next; Text would be the logical next move for the audio storytelling phenomenon. Google and Microsoft could help. Fortune
  • Tim Cook: It’s critical that Apple do everything it can to stay informal. Fortune
  • LVMH’s Tag Heuer surfs wave of smartwatch partnerships: Reuters

Healthcare

  • Bill Gates on a global epidemic: ‘Time is not on our side’: Fortune

Consumer & Others

  • Cotton On tells staff to keep it real or face the sack; Since being created in 1991, Cotton On has grown rapidly with more than 1300 stores and offices around the world. TheAge
  • From Paris, the Anti-Tesla That Costs 20 Cents a Minute: Bloomberg
  • Starbucks will test delivery services in New York, Seattle this year: Fortune
  • What Is Coke CEO’s Solution for Lost Fizz? More Soda; Despite changing consumer tastes, Muhtar Kent pushes strategy to sell more cola: WSJ
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