Thursday, February 09, 2006

Renewable Energy and Entertainers

Now that alternative and renewable energy has passed the Tipping Point, entertainers and actors are endorsing solar energy as an affordable source of power in the future. Now that high profile venture capital players and actors are pushing for more renewable energy initiatives, this brings the issues more public. Let's hope the Earth's dependency on oil will decrease in the near future.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2006

First Beta software, now Beta books

O'Reilly, the technical book publisher has a feature called Roughcuts online. They publish books on new web programming, technology, and hardware. Roughcuts are like “beta” versions of books, similar to Google Labs which are their list of beta products. With Roughcuts, people who want to preview the book pay a fee for the pre-production PDF file, and then receive the hard copy when it is shipped.

Newspapers often post their printed articles a day or so before the printing, but now with books being released 'beta', it looks like the publishing world is changing in the near future to get feedback before releasing the book to the general public.

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Online communities are new media

Websites that create a community around user generated content has fully gained acceptance at media sites:
  • News Corp's purchase of
  • Yahoo's purchase of, a popular Web site that helps users share links to their favorite Web sites
  • Internet TV sites such as CurrentTV, and other vblogs.
  •, where you can record audio and then share it with your Odeo contacts, by email, or by placing it in a Channel for all the world to hear.
  • Mike Davidson's Newsvine, a news media site which allows anyone to comment on it like you would on a blog entry
Isn't this what being online and blogging is about? Creating an online community around people with like-interests. Message boards, instant communication, and blogs and comments are what bring people together and keep them there. What started out as continuous, immediate feedback, from product companies via email, then via user comments on sites like, online communities are attracting the attention of old-school corporations that provide products or services to the general public. It's no wonder the next generation of online users are using less email and on blogs.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Why Cisco is smart buying a cable box maker Scientific Atlanta

On 11/18/05, Cisco announced that it is buying the cable box maker Scientific-Atlanta for $6.9billion. Cisco is the leader in routers and switches, which connects networks together on the Internet. So why has Cisco bought consumer router maker Linksys and now a cable box maker? They're moving to the consumer side of business, and by buying up Scientific-Atlanta, it gets Cisco into the cable provider market. They know IP-based infrastructure, and positioning themselves to move into the consumer side of the business gets them closer to being the network infrastructure provider in businesses as well as in the home. This deal allows Cisco to push the IPTV (internet protocol television) gear to cable companies, phone companies, and media. More and more people are getting their media entertainment online and IPTV has the potential to be a global major market, so with Cisco boxes that serve as access points for businesses and home entertainment, they're looking toward the future.

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The Portable and Personal Videos

Portable video for the masses essentially started with the release of Sony's PSP. When the PSP was released, there was wide skepticism about whether people would actually use the PsP for videos. A portable gaming system wasn't and shouldn't be everything to everyone, was the argument. And it had merit because PSP only played movies that were on its proprietary UMD discs. I know I won't buy $30 UMD discs just to watch a movie on my PSP that I can't play on my regular TV. Sony seemed to be a bit too early for the portable video market.

Now, it seems like all the television networks are offering shows for download onto portable video devices. Once Apple released a video version of their iPod, the flood gates opened up.

CBS, NBC, ESPN, ABC, Pixar, are all eager to repackage their programming to your iPod. Even Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo are getting into the game with their video search and download capabilities. Consumers weren't sure how useful cell phones with cameras were, and now that they're pretty much accepted that your new cell phone will have a camera, video on-demand for your cell is not far from the future.

Some links in the past week about video on your ipod or cell phone:

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Tuesday, November 01, 2005

AOL founder Steve Case's Revolution

Steve Case, the AOL founder has started a new company called Revolution LLC to focus on the benefits in health care, living and resorts and the opportunity to invest in businesses that have a bright future. Revolution is a private holding company that Case is funding with $500 million of his estimated $825 million fortune and that will invest in health care, wellness, and resorts.
Initially, Revolution will focus on three domains: resorts, living and health. However, the Revolution approach lends itself to many other sectors, and over time Revolution will expand its focus. Indeed, we have already acquired the rights to the Revolution name for more than 50 other domains, to maximize our flexibility, and to leverage the Revolution brand name across many sectors. But for now, we'll focus on resorts, living and health, as we believe each represents a multi-billion dollar opportunity.
Case believes in the next two decades as aging baby boomers seek their comforts, they will move wellness and living into the mainstream; health care because when his older brother, Daniel Case III, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal brain cancer, he saw for himself just how difficult it is for even the privileged to make well-informed decisions about their care. He is interested in those that provide online data about the price and quality of doctors and those that make available electronic medical records; he's considering everything from high-end personalized health coaching services to clinics at retail stores like Target. As he says: "Health care is monumentally complex, confusing, inefficient, and inconvenient. Meanwhile it's the biggest industry in the country, and everybody hates it." The "wellness" business, a $400 billion industry that is expected to grow to $1 trillion by 2020, would be a natural complement to his interest in health care. He's clearly looking ahead and glad to see him going back to his entrepreneurial roots.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Is this how the consumer boom ends?

Marketwatch's Marshall Loeb had an interesting article from the perspective of the future:

Anybody with a bit of imagination, with a feel for the future, can construct a plausible scenario. Like this: We should have seen it coming.

We were living beyond our means, saving absolutely nothing, spending more than we were earning -- like there was no tomorrow.

Most Americans were doing that. Worse, the government was doing it -- piling deficit upon deficit. And at the end of 2005, the total federal debt per U.S. household was more than $450,000.

But, as it always does, profligacy caught up with us. And the economy, which had been growing at a comfortable 3 to 4% rate for many years, came crashing down last year, in 2006.

If we think ahead and see how we are living beyond our means as a country, it's easy to see that at some point in the future, it will catch up with us.

Because it imported far more than it exported, the U.S. switched from being the world's largest creditor nation in 1981 to its largest debtor in 2005.

In that year, China held almost $200 billion of the U.S. debt, Japan held almost $700 billion, and even the OPEC countries held almost $50 billion.

That gave all of them tremendous power over the U.S. If they ever decided to dump some of their mountains of dollars -- either for pure economic reasons or out of political pique -- they could totally destabilize the U.S. economy.

Fears of just that kind of move caused foreign investors to pull part of their funds out of the U.S. investments, weakening markets here.

With all the media attention about consumer credit overextended, it may come as no surprise that 2006/7 will be the year for cautious spending and more saving. Let's hope this scenario above won't play out as bad as it can be.

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Monday, October 03, 2005

Net Worth, Real Estate, and Extended Credit

From all the recent press about the real estate prices cooling off, you would think that the sky is falling. There's so much analysis out there about how sales are slowing down whether its the relationship between the number of sales listings in the market versus the average number of days on the market or how people are coming to their senses and becoming more cautious about their spending. There also seems to be a glut of condos and condo conversions that will come to market in the next year or two. According a Fitch Ratings report, nationally, the rate of condo conversions has more than tripled in the past two years. What might happen is that when all these new condos come up, all these buyers who have overextended their credit will not come flocking to the sales office as it has been since 2001.

Although net worth might be up among the emerging affluent, since they've been house rich but cash flow poor, it's going to be tight times ahead.

Slowing Is Seen in Housing Prices in Hot Markets - NY Times
Home Builders' Stock Sales: Diversifying or Bailing Out? - NY Times
Real Estate in Bubble Trouble - NY Post
Supply Hits High In Condo Craze - Washington Post

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Are you a millionaire, but still feel insecure?

CNN/Money released an article today about the number of households that are millionaires. Households with a net worth of at least $1 million excluding primary residences rose 8 percent to a record high 8.9 million. What I find interesting in this article is the mention of total income reported among millionaire households. They averaged $119,000. Among those households that drew some of their income from jobs, they earned an average of $82,000 in salaries or professional fees. The average age among the heads of these households was 56, and about 75 percent of them said they felt confident they will be financially prepared for retirement.

$119,000 isn't that much relative to their net worth. If that's the case, this group (at least the median earners in this millionaire club), is living the Millionaire Next Door life. They're using good offence (income) and great defense (saving).

Of course there are others, who make $600,000 a year and are "struggling" to make ends meet. A Financial Times commentary on Aug 30, 05 has an article about a hedge fund manager who can barely make ends meet with his $600k income. Interesting views on a secure future: one group making $119k who are millionaires, and another making $600k and feel poor.

Looking ahead, there will be a huge focus on the 'emerging affluent' (households with a net worth between $100,000 and $500,000, excluding primary residences) and financial services geared to the younger Generation Y. Look for financial services companies to focus on them in the near future.

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