Where’s the Value? An Inside Look at Walmart’s Flipkart Deal


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Now, that the storm has settled a bit, a deeper analysis of the mega deal.

The big takeaway from the present deal is that deep pockets win. This is a maxim that has been demonstrated over and over again, especially in B2C technology plays. A certain disdain for capital efficiency, a focus on gaining share and a relentless focus on killing competition define today’s leading companies. Flipkart would have been in the news for very different reasons had it not been for the timely fund infusion by SoftBank in 2017. Growth had stalled, the annual burn was high and unit economics were unsustainable. And yet, as part of the strategy of Lee Fixel of Tiger Global and Kalyan Krishnamurthy, Flipkart doubled down on not ceding market share to Amazon, whatever the capital burn. This in turn caught Softbank’s eye (whose earlier investment in Snapdeal was not working to its expectations).

The complete article

Rajat Kumar — Knowledge@Wharton

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Equity markets are thriving but are they relevant?


The largest companies of 1956 were large by all measures — sales, market capitalisation, employment, and operating assets. No longer. Walmart and Hon Hai (better known as Foxconn) are today’s largest private sector employers, along with businesses like Compass, which might be regarded as global gangmasters.

Apple’s market capitalisation today exceeds $800bn, and Alphabet is not far behind. For both these companies, operating assets account for about $30bn of that value. Modern businesses like these employ very little capital, and such assets as they do use mostly need not be owned by the company that operates from them.

As a source of capital for business, equity markets no longer register on the radar screen.

The complete article

John Kay

Best Investment Books for Beginners recommended by John Kay


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John Kay is a person with very clear views. His recommendations definitely carry weight.

Let’s get into the books you’ve chosen. As it’s the one you’ve traditionally recommended, let’s start with Burton Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street (1973).

Yes, that’s the book I recommend when asked by people who are highly intelligent, have a little bit of money, but feel at sea. I’m not very impressed by financial advisers—for pretty good reasons. But there is very little you can read on investment that’s not insulting to the intelligence. As you know, there are lots of ‘how to become rich by day trading’ books around, but intelligent people know what to do with those kinds of books: namely not to open them.

The complete interview

John Kay — Five Books

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Factory Made


Workers put the finishing touches to new

As per Wikipedia, “Wage slavery is usually used to refer to a situation where a person’s livelihood depends on wages or a salary, especially when the dependence is total and immediate.”

Moreover, the word “factory” itself was connected in its etymology to the slave trade. In the early modern era, distant commercial outposts were known as “factories,” after the “factor,” the presiding merchant. The most notorious “factories” were the castles and prisons operated by Europeans on the coast of West Africa, where the African slave trade met the transatlantic slave trade, and whence many millions of enslaved people began the Middle Passage to the Americas. In Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World, Joshua B. Freeman doesn’t dwell on the bleak fantasies of slaveholders or the connections between early-modern colonial slavery and the rise of industry.

The complete article

Padraic X. Scanlan — The New Inquiry

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I Downloaded the Information That Facebook Has on Me. Yikes.


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Everyone is now really looking into how much data these big companies have about you. You will be surprised, to say the least.

With a few clicks, I learned that about 500 advertisers — many that I had never heard of, like Bad Dad, a motorcycle parts store, and Space Jesus, an electronica band — had my contact information, which could include my email address, phone number and full name. Facebook also had my entire phone book, including the number to ring my apartment buzzer. The social network had even kept a permanent record of the roughly 100 people I had deleted from my friends list over the last 14 years, including my exes.

The complete article

Brian X. Chen — The New York Times

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WHAT MAKES A BOOK A BEST SELLER?


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A dream of all writers and wannabe writers.

In any genre, it’s rare for a book to see delayed success. “Almost all books, regardless of category, peak in the first 15 weeks after publication,” the researchers report. In terms of sales, “Most fiction books have their peaks strictly in the first two to six weeks. For nonfiction, even though peaks at weeks two to five are common, the peak can happen any time in the first 15 weeks”—after which sales “drop dramatically.”

The complete article

Tom Jacobs — Pacific Standard

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THE DARK SIDE OF IVORY PROHIBITION


Fire burns part of an estimated 105 tonnes of ivory and a tonne of rhino horn confiscated from smugglers and poachers at the Nairobi National Park near Nairobi

It is difficult to imagine what could be the dark side of bank on ivory.

Some might shrug off the loss of ivory artifacts as acceptable collateral damage in the war on poaching. But the existence of a vast amount of impeccably legal ivory in the form of bona fide historic carvings means that total prohibition of absolutely all commerce, even trade in culturally important antiquities, will never be completely accepted everywhere. Enacting such a sweeping no-exceptions ban could backfire badly. Many would view it as bureaucratic over-reach, encouraging disdain for regulation and stimulating the criminal ivory market — and the elephant poaching that makes it possible.

The complete article

John Frederick Walker — The Smart Set

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