Gustavo Ballvé on June 30th, 2011

MySpace killed Friendster only to be gobbled up by Facebook. Six years after NewsCorp bought MySpace for US$ 580 million it’s now sold for US$ 35 million. Google just launched its own “Facebook-killer” yesterday. There is absolutely no evidence yet whether Google Plus or any other competitor or substitute will bother Facebook. There is even less evidence about what’s “in the prices” – what prices? what metrics? what predictability of future cash flows? – so Social Media buyer beware.

Read more about MySpace sold for $35… million

Gustavo Ballvé on June 29th, 2011

Interesting preliminary finding by researchers looking at 18,000 professional basketball games: ending the first half losing by one point actually increases a team’s chance of winning the game. If a team was winning by 4 points at halftime, the chance of winning the full game was 70%. If the advantage was 6 points, the chance of winning jumped to 80%. However, when the margin was 1 point then the team had a better chance of losing… The study seems well done, but take it with a grain of salt before applying it to motivational “tools” inside your company.

Read more about Winning by losing

Gustavo Ballvé on June 28th, 2011

The Farnam Street blog has a great post today on “great books” – what this used to mean to the author, what it does now, and how to deal with the unread – the things you realize you don’t know yet and probably should. We were immediately reminded of Umberto Eco’s Anti-Library, as described by Nassim Taleb in his book The Black Swan. Finally and while very different from the anti-library concept, we were also reminded of a post we wrote about anti-portfolios a while ago.

Read more about Great books and anti-libraries

Gustavo Ballvé on June 24th, 2011

From the “better late than never series”, a July 2010 special series by the Washington Post is way too enlightening to ignore even now. It’s about the huge inefficiencies brought by uncontrolled – and unaccountable – spending in the Intelligence/Military complex after the 9/11 attacks. Some will point out that, since then, a certain high-profile terrorist has been found and dealt with, but it doesn’t change the main arguments of the articles. In fact, there’s still a world of lessons to be learned and mental models to be taken from these pieces.

Read more about Top-Secret America

Gustavo Ballvé on June 22nd, 2011

Singapore could become the world’s largest wealth management center by 2013, says a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report (and this FT/LEX article). More than a lesson in macroeconomics and compound interest (in this case the growth differential between Asia and the rest of the world), in the case of UBS it’s also a powerful reminder of the ages-old saying that “it takes twenty years to build a reputation but only two seconds to lose it”.

Read more about Wealth management in Asia

Gustavo Ballvé on June 21st, 2011

Groupon’s IPO filing has given it a “financial high profile” that it’s probably regretting. So many people have been poring over its numbers and criticizing the business model quite vocally that it may even cool off some of the excitement. Why should we care? Because once you ignore the IPO-hype noise, the underlying criticism is, for once, based on analysis of the business model via its reported numbers. It’s still imperfect, but it’s better than the guesswork of a few months ago.

Read more about Grouponomics revisited

Gustavo Ballvé on June 17th, 2011

Nassim Taleb (with Mark Blyth) has written a very interesting piece for Foreign Affairs called “The Black Swan of Cairo: How Suppressing Volatility Makes the World Less Predictable and More Dangerous” (PDF link here). The strangely radical notion that “to make systems robust, all risks must be visible and out in the open” is almost counter-intuitive and seemingly impractical for today’s leaders, again raising the issue of governance. The “seduction of stability” is real, permeates all aspects of our lives and has to be one of the mental/ behavioral “traps” one has to keep in mind.

Read more about Taleb at Foreign Affairs magazine

Gustavo Ballvé on June 16th, 2011

We’re proud to announce the four finalists to PIPA 2011! Congratulations to all Nominated Artists. PIPA 2011, Brazil’s largest independent art prize, is surprising even us with this new edition.

Read more about PIPA 2011 – The four finalists

Gustavo Ballvé on June 16th, 2011

Quick note: interesting video by the Wall Street Journal highlighting executives’ personal use of corporate jets. That said, if it’s part of the compensation package and duly disclosed in Proxy Statements, so be it.

Read more about Corporate jets, personal use

Gustavo Ballvé on June 14th, 2011

The Financial Times has published several columns over the last week written by their own staff and by big-name guests such as Mohamed El-Erian, Larry Summers and Nouriel Roubini. When we say “big names” there’s no endorsement involved – we’re merely acknowledging the fact that these writers have high profiles. The danger in “big names”, “experts” etc. is pre-judging their opinions, always a bad idea – especially so when the subjects involved are economics, fiscal policy, governance structures, financial crises and so on.

Read more about Opinions on global economies

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