Posts Tagged ‘News’


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Liveable v lovable

The FT asks a very good question, Why is it no one really wants to live in the most liveable cities? 

…The polls underlines the fundamental fault that lies at the heart of the idea of measuring cities by their “liveability.The most recent surveys, from Monocle magazine, Forbes, Mercer and The Economist, concur: Vancouver, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen and Munich dominate the top. What, you might ask, no New York? No London? No LA or HK? None of the cities that people seem to actually want to emigrate to, to set up businesses in? To be in? None of the wealthiest, flashiest, fastest or most beautiful cities

“These surveys always come up with a list where no one would want to live. One wants to live in places which are large and complex, where you don’t know everyone and you don’t always know what’s going to happen next. Cities are places of opportunity but also of conflict, but where you can find safety in a crowd.
“We also have to acknowledge that these cities that come top of the polls also don’t have any poor people…” 

Liveable usually does not mean the most dynamic…

… can someone coming from somewhere else improve themselves, reinvent themselves? Is there upward mobility? The top cities score badly again. London and New York are magnets for immigrants precisely because they allow those kinds of new beginnings

The common criteria of What makes a city great for all these surveys are:

Blend of beauty and ugliness – beauty to lift the soul, ugliness to ensure there are parts of the fabric of the city that can accommodate change.

Diversity – if lots of people are wanting to come to a city, there must be something there. 

Tolerance – the only way diversity works but also an accommodating attitude to sexuality (gay communities are famously successful inner-city regenerators) and religion (there are signs of increasing intolerance towards religious minorities all over the world). 

Density – density of habitation is crucial in ensuring density of activity, a vibrancy of commerce, residential and cultural activity. 

Social mix – the close proximity of social and economic classes keeps a city lively. 

Civility – impossible to measure and slightly against my stated notions about the benefits of friction but critical nevertheless. I once criticised the ingratiating politeness in the US and was told by an American who used to live in Paris that “it’s better to be told to have a nice day by someone who doesn’t mean it than to be told to go f*** yourself by someone who does”. Discounts any Israeli or Russian city from ever getting on the listEH

Read the whole article here 

Liveable v lovable 

By Edwin Heathcote FT.com

Published: May 6 2011 17:52 | Last updated: May 6 2011 17:52
A collage of city monuments and landmarks
Vancouver is Hollywood’s urban body double. It is famously the stand-in for New York, LA, Seattle and Chicago, employed when those cities just get too tough, too traffic-clogged, too murderous or too bureaucratic to film in. It is almost never filmed as itself. That is because, lovely as it is, it is also, well … a little dull. Who would want to watch a film set in Vancouver? To see its skyscrapers destroyed by aliens or tidal waves, its streets populated by cops and junkies, its public buildings hosting romantic reunions? Yet Vancouver (original name, Gastown) has also spent more than a decade at the very top of the charts of the best city to live in the world. Can that really be right?
The big cities it seems, the established megacities of the US, Europe and Asia are just too big, too dangerous, too inefficient. So what do these top cities have in common? How exactly do you measure “liveability”?No. Not at all. In fact, Vancouver’s boringly consistent topping of the polls underlines the fundamental fault that lies at the heart of the idea of measuring cities by their “liveability”. The most recent surveys, from Monocle magazine, Forbes, Mercer and The Economist, concur: Vancouver, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Copenhagen and Munich dominate the top. What, you might ask, no New York? No London? No LA or HK? None of the cities that people seem to actually want to emigrate to, to set up businesses in? To be in? None of the wealthiest, flashiest, fastest or most beautiful cities? Nope. Americans in particular seem to get wound up by the lack of US cities in the top tier. The one that does make it is Pittsburgh. Which winds them up even more.
So that’s the mountains, lakes and huge cups of generic coffee accounted for. Then there’s efficient public transport (that faint whoosh is the sound of London, NY and LA disappearing). There are also cultural institutions, global connectivity, green urban policies, well-designed housing within an easy commute, and so on. Each determinant on its own seems an indisputably good thing. But what do they mean together? Can Munich (Monocle’s Number 1) really be one of the best places in the world to live? On a Sunday afternoon?All the surveys use an index. But what is on it? “There’s always proximity to nature,” says Tyler Brûlé (editor of Monocle and patron saint of liveable cities and airport lounges, whose column appears weekly in the FT’s Life & Arts section). “Global connectivity is important, education and we’ve recently added chain store metrics – is there a Starbucks or a Zara?” he says.
To even begin to understand how these slightly unsettling results are arrived at, we need to understand who compiles them and who they are for. The lists are made by well-travelled academics, researchers and journalists for corporate, media and creative executives on generous expense accounts as well as other academics enjoying grants and stipends. And, of course, by Tyler Brûlé.
Most of these people are profoundly concerned with things like well-designed street furniture, a proliferation of eye-wateringly expensive artisanal retail, boutique hotels with good (English-speaking) service and environmentally friendly mayoral policies. Certainly these are all things which help but they skew the polls to a particular type of European or marginal Pacific city. What they also do is to strip out all the complexity, all the friction and buzz that make big cities what they are.
I spoke to Joel Kotkin, a professor of urban development, and asked him about these surveys. “I’ve been to Copenhagen,” (Monocle’s Number 2) he tells me “and it’s cute. But frankly, on the second day, I was wondering what to do.” So, if the results aren’t to his liking, what does he suggest? “We need to ask, what makes a city great? If your idea of a great city is restful, orderly, clean, then that’s fine. You can go live in a gated community. These kinds of cities are what is called ‘productive resorts’. Descartes, writing about 17th-century Amsterdam, said that a great city should be ‘an inventory of the possible’. I like that description.”
Joel Garreau, the US urban academic and author, agrees. “These lists are journalistic catnip. Fun to read and look at the pictures but I find the liveable cities lists intellectually on a par with People magazine’s ‘sexiest people’ lists.”
Ricky Burdett, who founded the London School of Economics’ Cities Programme, says: “These surveys always come up with a list where no one would want to live. One wants to live in places which are large and complex, where you don’t know everyone and you don’t always know what’s going to happen next. Cities are places of opportunity but also of conflict, but where you can find safety in a crowd.
“We also have to acknowledge that these cities that come top of the polls also don’t have any poor people,” he adds. And that, it seems to me, touches on the big issue. Richard G Wilkinson and Kate Pickett’s hugely influential book The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better (2009) seems to present an obvious truth – that places where the differential in income between the wealthiest and the poorest is smallest tend to engender a sense of satisfaction and well-being. But while it may be socially desirable, that kind of comfort doesn’t necessarily make for vibrancy or dynamism. If everybody is where they want to be, no one is going anywhere.
“Sure, Vancouver is beautiful,” says Kotkin, “but it’s also unaffordable unless you’re on an expense account and your company is paying your rent.” Burdett agrees: “Economically all these cities at the top of the polls are also in the top league.” In fact, it can often be exactly the juxtaposition of wealth and relative poverty that makes a city vibrant, the collision between the two worlds. Where parts of big cities have declined, through the collapse of industries or the fears about immigration that led to what urbanists have termed the “donut effect” (in which white populations flee to the suburbs, leaving minorities in the centres), there is space to be filled by artists and architects, by poorer immigrants arriving with a drive to make money and by the proliferation of food outlets, studios and galleries. These, in turn, attract the wealthy back to the centre, at first to consume, and then to gentrify. Whether in New York’s SoHo, Chelsea or Brooklyn, in Berlin’s Mitte or London’s Shoreditch, Hoxton and now Peckham, it is at these moments of radical change that cities begin to show potential for real transformation of lives, or for the creation of new ideas, culture, cuisine and wealth. Once gentrification has occurred, bohemians may whinge about being priced out, as they always have done but, in a big enough city they are able to move on and find the next spot.
In a strange way the everyday conflict with the (unliveable) city can also become part of the attraction. Professor Tony Travers of the LSE says, “At one level the kind of urban sophisticates who live in these areas, in Hoxton or Brooklyn, want to fight the city. The urban struggle is part of the self-image of living on the edge.”
If the relative poverty of newcomers to the city distorts income equality in one direction, then the arrival of the super-wealthy does the same from the other end. The recent turmoil in the Middle East has led to a huge wave of investment in London property, one of the traditional safe havens for foreign money. London, unlike many cities that appear high on liveability lists, has few controls on property ownership. “If cities are any good,” says Travers, “they’ll attract a footloose international crowd who bring wealth.” And so the gap gets bigger.
He adds: “But they also come because of stability. If they buy something, they’ll be able to get their money back.” Which explains why New York and London remain popular, desirable and hugely expensive, despite never appearing on the lists.
The big cities also suffer from size. It’s true that Tokyo (Monocle’s Number 4) occasionally makes it on to these lists but metropolises like London, New York, Paris and Istanbul struggle with aged infrastructure and vast, sprawling transport systems. They are penalised in surveys for their inefficiency compared to, say, a small Scandinavian city. But it’s easy to be efficient when you’re small and when you have a highly taxed, wealthy population. It is also easy to initiate green measures, from recycling to cycling, which prove far more challenging in a proper metropolis with its problems of crumbling infrastructure and mobile population.
Yet it is proven again and again that the biggest cities are in fact the greenest. Their density, the close proximity in which people live and the minimal amount of land they occupy – compared with largely suburban Vancouver, for example, makes for a far smaller carbon footprint. Mumbai is probably the greenest big city there is – slums like the million-strong Dharavi use minimal land, energy and water. And, of course, without wishing to patronise, it is undeniable that there are happy people living surrounded by their families in Brazil’s favelas and millions living lives of drudgery and lonely despair beneath northern Europe’s leaden skies. The world’s most liveable informal cities lists have yet to be pioneered.
There is one criterion which throws up shockingly counter-intuitive results – beauty. On this criterion alone, almost any Tuscan hill town, perhaps Venice, perhaps Paris, would come out on top, yet none of these are there. Most of the beauty in the cities which occupy the tops of the leagues seem to ghettoise their beauty outside the city. They have convenient escapes, though the most beautiful and enjoyable – Rio, San Francisco and others – are curiously absent from the lists. The problem is that beauty doesn’t do you any good at all. It’s not a factor for the efficient, mid-sized chart toppers – though places such as Zurich certainly have their lovely bits. But it also damages your chances of making it into the disaffected megacities mentioned at the start of this article. The most beautiful cities become monuments to their own elegance, immobile and unchangeable. They cannot accommodate the kind of dynamic change and churn that keeps cities alive. In London, New York and Berlin, it is their very ugliness which keeps them flexible.
“The other big question,” says Kotkin, “is can someone coming from somewhere else improve themselves, reinvent themselves? Is there upward mobility?” The top cities score badly again. London and New York are magnets for immigrants precisely because they allow those kinds of new beginnings. They do have class structures but they are increasingly malleable.
There is one problem, though, that remains hard to ignore – violence. Johannesburg may be beautiful but its per capita homicide rates are astronomical; Los Angeles and New York are held back for the same reason. Washington DC’s per capita homicide rate, for example, is more than 30 times that of London and this continues to hold US cities down in the rankings. Urban guru Richard Florida remarks that the key to liveability is to “ensure that a city can guarantee the safety of all its residents”.
Of course, the ultimate difficulty with these surveys is that tastes are individual. I find London infuriating but –with the possible exception of New York – couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather live. “The city is a unique and private reality,” wrote Jonathan Raban, author of Soft City. He proposed that his London was a “soft city”, a place that everyone remakes in their own manner, in which every place evokes a personal memory or connection and which we navigate through our own unique mental maps. Our cities are our own – we make them inside us. No city means the same to two people so how on earth can we measure them?
Edwin Heathcote is the FT’s architecture critic
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Rankings: the best and the worst
New York
The only city that gives me a thrill every single time I walk through it. Fast, furious, brash, cosmopolitan yet completely self-absorbed, it is the perfect big city.
Rio de Janeiro
An extraordinary cocktail of pleasure and pain, beaches and favelas, condos and shacks, Rio is one of the most beautiful, most tolerant and most varied cities on earth. Unfortunately, its high murder rate discounts it from traditional best cities lists. But what a cityscape.
Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul

The fulcrum of the delicate balance between Europe and Asia, Christianity, secularism and Islam, Istanbul manages to be both one of the most beautiful cities on earth and yet accommodating to huge and constant change. It is a young, international, wildly commercial city with an extraordinarily vibrant street scene, open 24 hours and genuinely alive.

London
London seems to have the ability to reinvent itself. It has been a magnet for immigrants for centuries and remains a place where the poor can make something of themselves and the wealthy can enjoy their money. Its infrastructure is crumbling, its property overpriced and its weather dull but London’s cultural life is astonishing and most of its museums are free.
Rome
It might be more than 1,500 years since Rome was a proper world city but its allure lies in a blend of history, chaos, beauty and infinite layers of culture.
A few that don’t make the grade
Moscow
Impossible to traverse on foot, infinitely rude, corrupt, understandably alcoholic and seriously traffic-clogged, Moscow needs work. It does have some beautiful bits, from the Kremlin through to the masterworks of revolutionary modernism but the legacy of the communist police state hangs heavy.
Dubai
Everything that could go wrong with a city does here. It is, in fact, a place with no “here”. A succession of malls, highways, hotels and hideous towers, it has spent its history announcing its arrival but hasn’t a clue what to do when it gets there.
Birmingham
Once it was the workshop of the world, an astonishing morass of industry that somehow threw up a powerful, elegant Victorian city, which has been completely destroyed. Its decline has been less complete than that of, say, Detroit or Flint but it manages to be uglier nevertheless.
Jerusalem
I know, I know – beautiful, holy, history lingers in its every shady corner. Yet the treatment of Arabs as second-class citizens, the ghastly security wall smashing through its edges and the omnipresent guns have spoilt it. Jerusalem is the perfect example of why tolerance is so critical to a city.

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Widowmaker’ Oil Trade Lives Up to Its Name

OIL COMMODITIES MARKETS ECONOMY INTEREST RATES INFLATION FUEL PRICES GASOLINE FUTURES NYSE FTSE
CNBC.com
| 12 May 2011 | 03:10 AM ET
Big oil traders who bet on a rise in gasoline prices relative to heating oil ahead of the summer driving season may have thought they broke the curse of a “widowmaker” trade even as oil prices crashed.
They were dead wrong. Some of the traders who shun the big, directional bets that hedge funds love have crowded into a common springtime trade: betting gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) will hold at a premium to heating oil futures as consumption accelerates into the summer.
They have been counting their winnings since March, when the spread staged its biggest seasonal rise since 2007.
The surge accelerated earlier this week as the Mississippi River swelled, threatening refinery operations in Louisiana and Tennesse.
But then came Wednesday, when gasoline futures collapsed in the biggest absolute drop in more than two years.
The spread dropped by over 17 cents, the biggest one-day move since September 2009.
“There will be widows. Some people got pretty whipsawed. But that trade is not for the faint of heart,” said Stephen Schork, editor of the Schork Report.
Indeed, lately it’s been a stomach-churning ride. The spread has moved by more than 6 cents in either direction in four of the past eight trading sessions; prior to last week it moved by such a margin only nine times in two years.
First, the U.S. Energy Information Administration came out with data showing an unexpected build in gasoline stocks as the threat level for refineries from the Mississippi river abated.
This, coupled with mounting concerns that gasoline pump prices near the critical $4 a gallon level will cause U.S. consumers to balk, pushed many bulls to the exit.
RBOB gasoline at one point slumped by over 30 cents or 8.95 percent.
The price drop was so big it triggered a five-minute trading halt in all three oil major contracts for the first time since Sept. 22, 2008.
Victims
The “widowmaker” trade tends to be popular among trading houses and hedge funds which house some of the biggest speculative traders in the market.
One victim is said to have lost $500 million on a single bet in the summer of 2008 when gasoline failed to reach a premium to heating oil, contrary to the usual pattern.
On Wednesday, traders said a big Europe-based oil trading company was forced to stop out, or reverse its long position on gasoline to prevent further losses.
Volumes spiked to the highest level in hitory as dealers rushed to place orders.
“If you were long you were happy this time yesterday and you’re probably not so happy now,” said an oil trader with a European bank. “The flood story freaked everyone out. The market attracted tourists and then we overshot.”
U.S. refineries, which ramped up their gasoline production by 111,000 barrels-per-day last week, according to the EIA, are also set to take a hit if the slump in the futures market is carried to spot markets over the coming few days.
The price crash in theory wiped off more than $5 in profits for every barrel of crude processed into gasoline.
Traders who sensed that the price may have been reaching a peak were relieved on Wednesday to have sold near the top.
The signs were already there. Gasoline demand has been on a continuous slump since the second week of April according to EIA’s 4-week average gasoline supply data.
“Luckily, I sold this morning. I’m too scared to watch it,” said a gasoline trader with a bank.
Before Wednesday’s crash, gasoline was trading at a record premium to heating oil, according to Reuters data going back to 2008.
Others saw the plunge as symptomatic of a new oil trading environment, characterized by huge price swings following last week’s record drop in oil prices, for no obvious reason.
In percentage terms gasoline price fell by less than crude in last week’s price crash, but on Wednesday they led the whole complex lower, analysts said.
“Last week’s steep slide has increased volatility in the market, and we are still responding skittishly to that.
Often in the period after a crash like that things become a little more volatile,” said Gene McGillian, analyst at Tradition Energy.
Flagship commodity fund Astenbeck II run by top Phibro trader Andrew Hall was one name that suffered a double-digit loss last week as oil prices tumbled.

commodities – ‘Widowmaker’ Oil Trade Lives Up to Its Name – CNBC

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>Facebook Loses Much Face In Secret Smear On Google
Facebook secretly hired a PR firm to plant negative stories about Google, says Dan Lyons in a jaw dropping story at the Daily Beast.

For the past few days, a mystery has been unfolding in Silicon Valley. Somebody, it seems, hired Burson-Marsteller, a top public-relations firm, to pitch anti-Google stories to newspapers, urging them to investigate claims that Google was invading people’s privacy. Burson even offered to help an influential blogger write a Google-bashing op-ed, which it promised it could place in outlets like The Washington Post, Politico, and The Huffington Post.
The plot backfired when the blogger turned down Burson’s offer and posted the emails that Burson had sent him. It got worse when USA Today broke a story accusing Burson of spreading a “whisper campaign” about Google “on behalf of an unnamed client.”

Not good.
The source emails are here.
I’ve been patient with Facebook over the years as they’ve had their privacy stumbles. They’re forging new ground, and it’s not an exaggeration to say they’re changing the world’s notions on what privacy is. Give them time. They’ll figure it out eventually.
But secretly paying a PR firm to pitch bloggers on stories going after Google, even offering to help write those stories and then get them published elsewhere, is not just offensive, dishonest and cowardly. It’s also really, really dumb. I have no idea how the Facebook PR team thought that they’d avoid being caught doing this.
First, it lets the tech world know that Facebook is scared enough of what Google’s up to to pull a stunt like this. Facebook isn’t supposed to be scared, ever, about anything. Supreme confidence in their destiny is the the way they should be acting.
Second, it shows a willingness by Facebook to engage in cowardly behavior in battle. It’s hard to trust them on other things when we know they’ll engage in these types of campaigns.
And third, some of these criticisms of Google are probably valid, but it doesn’t matter any more. The story from now on will only be about how Facebook went about trying to secretly smear Google, and got caught.
The truth is Google is probably engaging in some somewhat borderline behavior by scraping Facebook content, and are almost certainly violating Facebook’s terms and conditions. But many people argue, me included, that the key data, the social graph, really should belong to the users, not Facebook. And regardless, users probably don’t mind that this is happening at all. It’s just Facebook trying to protect something that it considers to be its property.
Next time Facebook should take a page from Google’s playbook when they want to trash a competitor. Catch them in the act and then go toe to toe with them, slugging it out in person. Right or wrong, no one called Google a coward when they duped Bing earlier this year.
You’ve lost much face today, Facebook.
Update: Sleazy PR Firm Throws Scummy Facebook Under The Sordid Bus


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Hello all readers of the MasterBlogs!

Excuse us for the breakdown in our blog service, but Blogger is to blame!!! – not us!!

The MasterBlog: Blogger is (Finally) back

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Check it out on The MasterTech Blog

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Clive Capital On the Commodity Slam…sorry,we mean, Outlook

Until we learn which hedge funds REALLY got clobbered, Chris Levett’s $5 billion Clive Capital, which lost $400 million, will be known as the hedge fund that just got clobbered by the commodities dump.

Clive was “at a loss to explain what had caused crude oil markets to be “annihilated,” Clive’s management said, according to the FT.
We assume Levitt’s will bounce back. But for some smaller funds, what happened last week was game over.
Until then, check out what Clive Capital was saying about commodities in October.
Below is a summary from their October letter to investors. We published Clive’s macro view in November.
From Clive Capital’s October letter to investors:
Energy
— Bullish on gas, power, and emissions
  • Estimates for U.S. onshore oil production growth are continually revised up
  • In Asia, Chinese oil demand continues to beat expectations
  • With floating inventories of crude and products continuing to whittle away, oil fundamentals appear to be tightening. Onshore commercial inventories would be the next to draw, which should be supportive to oil spreads in general.
  • Ethanol shortages in 2011 look increasingly possible, which would be supportive for gasoline, particularly in Brazil and the U.S.
  • Gas is expected to remain in a competitive position versus Coal all winter long and throughout 2011.
  • Germany will reach 2008 level power consumption by the end of 2011 if current growth trend is sustained.
Precious Metals
— Bullish on Precious Metals Growing fears over the value of the major paper currencies as well as the persistence of ultra low real rates across the world should be bullish for Precious Metals as a group going forward. We made no major changes to our Gold positioning and should continue to benefit from a move higher in prices… PGM’s also rallied in October; with Palladium outperforming Platinum and seeing Palladium prices reach 9-year highs. The longer-term bullish supply story is not only a function of constrained supply but also of increased cost pressures (particularly in the face of a strong South African Rand and power tariff increases), which are reducing producer profit margins despite these higher prices. On the demand side, tighter emissions legislation around the world has been a positive driver for many years. The implementation of regulations for off-road vehicles (e.g. those used in agriculture, construction) in Europe and North America in 2011 as well as demand from stationary fuel cells should add two further demand components to markets that are already struggling/unable to supply enough metal for all the other uses.
Base Metals
Bullish on Copper and Tin Market balances for 2011 are pointing towards market deficits in Copper, Tin and Lead while Nickel and Zinc should see small surpluses… Copper mine supply is expected to expand by less than 500kt in 2011 (compared to annual refined production of around 19mt)… To put this into perspective, global demand is expected to expand by around 700kt (with the bulk of that growth coming from China and using very conservative assumptions for the G3). As such, there is a strong likelihood that the market will record an even bigger deficit in 2011 than the estimated 300-400kt deficit in 2010. Add in the growing likelihood of physically backed Base Metal ETFs and one could easily envisage a scenario where several metals, particularly Copper and Tin, trade well into record territory in 2011 while others, such as lead, Zinc and Nickel (which are still well below their respective 2007/08 peaks) will see prices rising closer to those prior highs.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/check-out-what-clive-capital-was-saying-about-commodities-before-the-annilhilation-2011-5#ixzz1LrXHGfGX

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Clive Capital On Commodity Outlook


Also read:

Clive Capital Investor Letter on the Commodity Slam 

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A new ball game for Brazil’s Ronaldo

FT.com / Management
By Vincent Bevins
Published: May 5 2011 23:12 | Last updated: May 5 2011 23:12
Ronaldo
Off the bench: Ronaldo tackles business

On his way to a game between Brazil and Scotland at the Emirates Stadium in north London, Brazilian football legend Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima is not wearing the national jersey that made him famous. Nor is he on the team bus. He is wearing a dark suit, seated in the private car of his new business partner, Sir Martin Sorrell of WPP Group.
Since retiring from the sport at the age of 34 this year, Ronaldo has been hoping his experiences and connections as an athlete will help him succeed with his new São Paulo-based sports marketing company, 9ine, which manages athletes’ images and develops sports advertising strategies for brands.
“I wasn’t just going to stop working, and I never wanted to be a coach or a manager,” he says. “But I wanted to take advantage of my connection with football . . . After all these years I have very good relationships with many of the biggest companies and lots of athletes.”
With Brazil’s plans to host the football World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, while experiencing a boom in consumption, it is a good time for Ronaldo to use those connections. The market for advertising in the country is growing faster than gross domestic product.
It is this timing and Ronaldo’s unique position that earned 9ine, named after his jersey number, the vote of confidence from Sir Martin’s WPP Group, which holds a 45 per cent stake in the company – Ronaldo also owns 45 per cent. “Economic growth [in Brazil] has been colossal, and there is a young population, strong new media and good internet penetration. Brazil is under-advertised and under-branded,” Sir Martin says. “We’re looking for new ways to connect with consumers in a tangible and emotional way, and working with Ronaldo is a really interesting opportunity for us.”
Brazilian sports stars have a mixed history entering the world of business. Carlos Arthur Nuzman, a former Olympic volleyball player, became a successful lawyer before heading the Brazilian Olympic Committee and bringing the games to Rio. Football legend Pelé headed a campaign for Viagra and now for the BM&FBovespa, the country’s multi-asset exchange, to convince Brazilians to invest.
It is difficult to overestimate Ronaldo’s status in his own country – boosted by the fact that he has a reputation for managing his fame with good humour, despite some famous personal scandals. But his touch will not necessarily turn 9ine into gold. “I generally think if a celebrity has a decent idea, they tend to believe that idea or business can become a great idea just because their name is behind it,” says Matt Delzell, account director at The Marketing Arm, an agency with significant sports operations based in the US. “Having celebrity stature helps in many cases, but the product or service ultimately has to be good for the business to flourish.”
In its first months, 9ine signed contracts to manage the images of up and coming Brazilian footballer Neymar, indoor-football celebrity Falcão, and world mixed martial arts champion Anderson Silva. On the corporate side, its first contract is with GlaxoSmithKline, for which 9ine will develop sports marketing strategies for consumer products.
Ronaldo’s own brand power is at work in establishing such connections, but he is also assisted by his friend, the São Paulo entertainment entrepreneur Marcus Buaiz, 9ine’s executive director, who holds the remaining 10 per cent of the company.

Ronaldo says he recognises that there is no easy transition for him between the two worlds, no matter how well he may be placed to connect with the right people. “My biggest difficulty so far is with strategic planning, which is what marketing and advertising really consist of. It’s for that reason that I’ve been studying so much – not so much in classes, but with my team here,” he says. “I suppose I will have the day-to-day life of a normal executive,” he adds, before pausing and smiling: “But maybe I won’t start so early in the morning. I’ll want to do some exercise first.”


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The Class That Built Apps, and Fortunes

May 7, 2011

NYTimes.com

STANFORD, Calif.
ALL right, class, here’s your homework assignment: Devise an app. Get people to use it. Repeat.
That was the task for some Stanford students in the fall of 2007, in what became known here as the “Facebook Class.”
No one expected what happened next.
The students ended up getting millions of users for free apps that they designed to run on Facebook. And, as advertising rolled in, some of those students started making far more money than their professors.
Almost overnight, the Facebook Class fired up the careers and fortunes of more than two dozen students and teachers here. It also helped to pioneer a new model of entrepreneurship that has upturned the tech establishment: the lean start-up.
“Everything was happening so fast,” recalls Joachim De Lombaert, now 23. His team’s app netted $3,000 a day and morphed into a company that later sold for a six-figure sum.
“I almost didn’t realize what it all meant,” he says.
Neither did many of his classmates. Back then, Facebook apps were a novelty. The iPhone had just arrived, and the first Android phone was a year off.
But by teaching students to build no-frills apps, distribute them quickly and worry about perfecting them later, the Facebook Class stumbled upon what has become standard operating procedure for a new generation of entrepreneurs and investors in Silicon Valley and beyond. For many, the long trek from idea to product to company has turned into a sprint.
Start-ups once required a lot of money, time and people. But over the past decade, free, open-source software and “cloud” services have brought costs down, while ad networks help bring in revenue quickly.
The app phenomenon has accentuated the trend and helped unleash what some call a new wave of technology innovation — and what others call a bubble.
Early on, the Facebook Class became a microcosm of Silicon Valley. Working in teams of three, the 75 students created apps that collectively had 16 million users in just 10 weeks. Many of those apps were sort of silly: Mr. De Lombaert’s, for example, allowed users to send “hotness” points to Facebook friends. Yet during the term, the apps, free for users, generated roughly $1 million in advertising revenue.
Such successes helped inspire entrepreneurs to ditch business plans and work on apps. Not all succeeded, but those that did helped to fuel the expansion of Facebook, which now has nearly 700 million users.
Venture capitalists also began rethinking their approach. Some created investment funds tailored to the new, bare-bones start-ups.
“A lot of the concepts and ideas that came out of the class influenced the structure of the fund that I am working on now,” says Dave McClure, one of the class instructors and founder of 500 Startups, which invests in lean start-ups. “The class was the realization that this stuff really works.”
Nearly four years later, many of the students have learned that building a business is a lot harder than creating an app — even an app worthy of an A+.
“Starting a company is definitely more work,” says Edward Baker, who was Mr. De Lombaert’s partner in the class and later in business. The two have founded Friend.ly, a social networking start-up.
Still, many students were richly rewarded. Some turned their homework into companies. A few have since sold those businesses to the likes of Zynga. Others joined hot start-ups like RockYou, a gaming site that at the time was among the most successful Facebook apps.
The Facebook Class changed Mr. De Lombaert’s life. His team’s app, Send Hotness, brought in more users and more money faster than any other in the class. And its success attracted the attention of venture capitalists.
“The class, more than anything, set the tone for us to try to start something big,” says Mr. Baker, 32, Friend.ly’s C.E.O.
When the Send Hotness app began to take off, Mr. Baker encouraged Mr. De Lombaert to treat himself to a new car. Mr. De Lombaert settled for a laptop. (He also put some money aside to help to pay his Stanford tuition.) They eventually sold the app to a dating Web site.
Facebook did not actively participate in the Stanford class. But some of its engineers attended sessions, and it benefited from the success of the students’ apps. “It really felt like an incubator,” says David Fetterman, a Facebook engineer who helped develop the applications platform.
The startling success of some of the class’s projects got Silicon Valley buzzing. The final session, held in an auditorium in December 2007, was attended by more than 500 people, including many investors.
“The Facebook platform was taking off, and there was this feeling of a gold rush,” said Mike Maples Jr., an investor who attended some of the classes and ended up backing one of the start-ups.
THE Facebook Class was the brainchild of B. J. Fogg, who runs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford. An energetic academic and an innovation guru, he focuses on how to harness technology and human psychology to influence people’s behavior.
Mr. Fogg thought that the Facebook platform would be a good way to test some of his theories. Creating a new model of entrepreneurship was far from his mind.
At first, university administrators pushed back. “Facebook was not taken so seriously in academic circles back then,” Mr. Fogg recalls.
But there was no hesitation among students — from undergraduates in computer science to M.B.A. candidates — who were spending much of their lives immersed in Facebook.
From the start, many approached the class from a business angle. Mr. Baker, for instance, was a graduate business student but lacked technical skills, so he spent his first week interviewing engineers. “I wanted a technical co-founder,” he says.
He settled on Mr. De Lombaert, and the two, along with a third student, Alex Onsager, created Send Hotness. It let users send points to friends they considered “hot” and to compare “hotness” rankings.
Soon they found themselves in a proverbial “the dog ate my homework” situation. Three days before a presentation was due, Mr. De Lombaert accidentally deleted the computer code he was tinkering with. “We kind of freaked out,” he recalls.
Rebuilding the app would take too long. So, working around the clock over a weekend, they built another version, with a more rudimentary algorithm.
The stripped-down app took off. In five weeks, five million people signed up. When the team began placing ads on the app, the money poured in.
They had stumbled upon one of the themes of the class: make things simple, and perfect them later.
“The students did an amazing job of getting stuff into the market very quickly,” says Michael Dearing, a consulting associate professor at theInstitute of Design at Stanford, who now teaches a class based on similar, rapid prototyping ideas. “It was a huge success.”
DAN GREENBERG was sitting at the kitchen table one night when he and another teaching assistant decided to get into the app game. Mr. Greenberg, a graduate student who had done research for Mr. Fogg, hadn’t planned to get app-happy. But the students’ success whetted his appetite.
Four weeks into the quarter, he and his colleague, Rob Fan, set out to create an app that would let Facebook users send “hugs” to one another.
It took them all of five hours.
The app took off. So they moved on to apps for “kisses,” “pillow fights” and other digital interactions — 70 in all.
Their apps caught on with millions of people and were soon bringing in nearly $100,000 a month in ads. After the class ended, the two started a company, 750 Industries, named after the 750 Pub at Stanford where Mr. Greenberg and Mr. Fan where drinking when they decided to become business partners.
But juggling the business and schoolwork was too much for Mr. Greenberg, then 22. So he called his father.
“I said, ‘Dad, it is 10 p.m., and I’ve got so much stuff to do,’ ” Mr. Greenberg recalls. “ ‘We’re running this business, and I’ve got customers, and we are earning money, and we got financing and we have people to hire. But I have to write a paper tonight, and I just don’t have time for it.’ ”
His father advised him to pull a Mark Zuckerberg and drop out. The next day, Mr. Greenberg did just that.
Now 25, he works out of a glass-walled corner office in San Francisco. He is C.E.O. of his company, now called Sharethrough, which uses social media to distribute videos across the Web for companies. It employs 30 people and has raised about $6 million in venture capital. “It feels like a fairy tale when you look back on it,” he says of the class.
He has upgraded his lifestyle somewhat, but still doesn’t own a car. “I have a Vespa and skateboard,” he says.
“LOVE CHILD.” It sounds like an unlikely name for an app. But Johnny Hwin and his Stanford class team set out to build an app of that name, one that would let two users create and raise a virtual child. It never took off.
“We were overly ambitious,” Mr. Hwin says.
Seeing his classmates strike gold with simpler ideas proved to be a valuable lesson. In 2009, he began working on Damntheradio.com, a Facebook marketing tool that helped bands and musicians connect with fans online.
It opened last June and was acquired in January by FanBridge, where Mr. Hwin is now a vice president, for a few million dollars, he says.
Mr. Hwin, who is 26 and also a musician, now lives in a loft space in the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco. He uses his place as a kind of salon for late-night art shows and concerts.
“With Love Child, we wanted it to be perfect,” he says. With Damntheradio, he found his first clients by showing mockups of the product. “We were able to launch within weeks,” he says.
Another class member, Robert Cezar Matei, says he had only modest success with his projects. One, he said, allowed users to send “cheesy pickup lines” to friends; another encouraged people to reveal something about themselves. After graduating from Stanford, he wanted to earn some money to go traveling, but instead of getting a job, he decided to write Facebook apps. “I’d seen my peers being so successful with apps,” he says. “If they could do it, I could do it.”
After a few false starts, he created an app that let people send points and “kisses” to friends. It struggled until Mr. Matei, who speaks several languages, translated the app. The next day, traffic jumped fivefold. He added games, and employees, and the app became one of the most popular Facebook programs in Europe. In late 2009, he sold to Zynga for an undisclosed sum.
Also in the class was Joshua Reeves, who built an app that created animations that Facebook members would send to one another as birthday greetings or other messages. It made enough money for him to quit his job in 2008 to start Buzzeo, a content management system for Facebook. A year ago, Buzzeo was acquired by Context Optional, where Mr. Reeves, 28, is now a vice president. Last week, Efficient Frontier, a digital marketing company, acquired Context Optional for an undisclosed sum.
ONE recent afternoon at the headquarters of Friend.ly in Mountain View, Calif., 10 engineers worked away as two employees turned their attention to a companywide project: a 24,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.
For much of the past year, Friend.ly has worked on developing its service, a social network for meeting new people, without much success. A few weeks ago, the work appeared to pay off: traffic took off, growing to nearly five million monthly users.
Mr. Baker says the Facebook platform is a magnet for young developers, even though the kind of simple apps that were the focus of his Stanford class now face bigger hurdles. Facebook has made it harder to develop big-hit apps by controlling how apps spread virally.

But Mr. Fogg, says that for those who were at the right place at the right time — in late 2007 — things were different. “There was a period of time when you could walk in and collect gold,” he says. “It was landscape that was ready to be harvested.”





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