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Posts Tagged ‘value’

Boston start-up school

August 28, 2012 Leave a comment

I often say students are not ready to meet the proffessional market when finishing university due to different reasons: the lack of practical contents, out of date proffesors, non-vocational degrees… The Boston Start-up School came up with the same conclusion, even though American education tends to be considered as a better aproach to the marketplace than the European.

As the article reads, this school offers an intensive 6-weeks course for young people seeking jobs in the city, focusing on marketing, software development, product design, and sales and business development. Moreover, classes are free since different start-ups are providing funds to have an early access to these students.

It’s likely that similar schools arise in other hi-tech cities as San Francisco, New York or Chicago, and might be a nice initiative to be held here in Europe too.

Read the original article on nyt.com: A Start-Up Tries to Prepare Students to Work in Start-Ups

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New laws to enforce purchasing renewable energy in Japan

Since the nuclear disaster happened last year in Fukushima almost devastated part of the country, Japan government and population are dealing with new ways to meet their energy necessities. Last Sunday July 1st a new regulation enforces companies to purchase renewable energy at a fixed price.

Initiatives like this might lead Japan to a notable position among the countries which invest most in renewables technologies. While Chinese manufacturers’ are capturing the worldwide market, Japanese policies might arise as a salvation to those American and German companies struggling to survive. The catastrophe has left a sense of insecurity in the population that may let these manufacturers to compete the Chinese by offering high quality products and a wide range of services at higher prices than current utilities assume.

It is an opportunity they can’t overlook, and surely Barack Obama and Angela Merkel have already included this issue in their agendas.

More info about Japan opens solar energy parks on Yahoo News

Brief overview for German approximation to the solar power

Germany has probably become the world’s leader in solar technologies. How have they outperformed the concurrency?

First, they pledged for developing a whole value chain in order to maximize the benefit to the German population, instead of just promoting an electrical production. This chain initiates with raw material (most used is Silicon) treatment and transformation into wafers, cells and eventually modules, which will be later sold internally or overseas and installed by partners or third parties. Thus the revenues generated by incentives can be partially retained in the country while new jobs and investments are sustained even by non-German investors, which additionally bring capital, R&D and some other benefits. PV Silicon AG, Wacker-Chemie AG or QCells are some examples of German companies which can cope with not only the commercialization of PV modules but also the primary activities where investments and technical knowledge is essential.

In order to achieve the previous goals, by 2000 Germany deployed a feed-in tariff which provides a 20-year-guaranteed 0.457-0.624 euro/kWh incentive with an annual reduction of 5% per new arrivals, to compensate the constant drop in costs. Besides tax credits and VAT exemptions to commercial PV providers, training support, wage subsidies and R&D incentives, and state-of-the-art infrastructures as roads and IT, Germany has become a leading country in Solars even though his environmental conditions are worse than other Mediterranean countries such as Spain, Italy or Greece. Universities and institutes of research do also play an important role in the system.

Huge investments are done every year in the Eastern regions as part of a larger plan to improve development and reduce the differences with respect to the Western. This process is supported by the many semiconductor’s companies present in this area which would likely provide key synergies at silicon manufacturing.

2011 shareholder letter from Warren Buffet

February 29, 2012 Leave a comment

Warren Buffet has publicized his annual letter for the Berkshire Hathaway Inc. shareholders discussing its performance in the S&P500 during the year 2011. It is always worth it reading such a great businessman as Buffet, moreover since goes through some burning topics I’d like to comment below. The complete letter is available on the corporate website: http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/letters/letters.html

Even though Berkshire’s outperformed the S&P500 average results, Buffet do not hesitate to admit a few mistakes for miscalculating win/loss ratio in some investments he has done. It’s not common to see such a big fish stating a “major unforced error” and this behavior is maybe a cause for his long term great success.

 

He is fully convinced that housing business will come back, not as soon as he predicted – which has led Berkshire into some losses this year – but in a near future, involving thousands of new jobs due to the importance this sector’s got in America. Is this expected to happen in Spain too? I hope not. Housing meant (and still does) a huge business in the EEUU, boosted by the financial firms, but they have an industrial background we do not. Coming back to housing here in Spain would culminate in a situation even worse than we are facing nowadays. “As is well-known, the U.S. went off the rails in its home-ownership and mortgage-lending policies, and for these mistakes our economy is now paying a huge price. All of us participated in the destructive behavior – government, lenders, borrowers, the media, rating agencies, you name it” he says. Just watching Inside Job to making an idea of what happened – although any film is fully objective some irrefutable figures arise.

When refers to insurance subsidiaries, Buffet describes which four disciplines any insurer should ensure before signing a premium. The last one is do not make the deal if numbers do not work out just because “the other guy is doing it so we must do it as well”. Not every customer does worth and it is something to bear in mind to ensure long-term profitability. We cannot do everything for everyone, trade-offs are as important as our own product’s features.

“Buy commodities, sell brands”. This KISS statement summarizes what marketing means. Buying commodities reduces your suppliers’ control while strong brands let higher margins. You will have to spend a lot of time in focusing on your customer afterwards.

I find Berkshire’s investing philosophy very interesting. While the standard approach is laying out money expecting to receiving more in the future, they focus on purchasing power. An investment can be influenced by many diverse factors such as inflation, currency exchange rates and taxes. Current world’s gold stock is $9.6 trillion, the same than all US cropland plus 16 Exxon Mobils. Obviously since the first produces nothing, the second would have delivered corn, wheat, cotton and dividends. In Buffet’s opinion, a new bubble is forming due to “well-publicized rising prices”, as happened also with Internet stocks and houses last decade.

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