G100 Network Notebook | September 2012

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What Can Large Companies Learn from Start-Ups?

Paul Graham is the founder of Silicon Valley’s most influential and successful new company incubator, Y Combinator. Y Combinator has helped launch so many successful companies that angel investors Ron Conway and Yuri Milner have set up a special fund that automatically grants $150,000 to every company selected from Graham’s start-up academy, sight unseen.

Now a new book details how Y Combinator works. This review in The Wall Street Journal helps capture Graham’s attitude toward investing:

Graham frequently say[s] that he put money into this company or that not because he was sold on the idea but because it was audacious—so big that if it succeeded and he missed out he would be kicking himself forever. “I was scared not to invest.”

Will There Be Term Limits for Board Directors?

Anne Mulcahy thinks so. The former Xerox Chairman and CEO told a recent conference that term limits for directors may be the most efficient way for companies to bring more women into the board room.

With term limits, “your pool would inevitably be more diverse,” Mulcahy said. “That’s a very obvious reason this isn’t working,” she said, referring to slow progress in U.S. corporate efforts to narrow the gender gap.

What makes an effective board? How is the work of the board is changing?

How Does China Understand The Rest of the World?

For much of the past decade, American CEOs have asked themselves how to become a global leader for their business. In the newest issue of Foreign Affairs, two China experts turn the tables on that question, offering a detailed perspective of how China views the world’s economic players:

What has changed in the past two decades is that China is now so deeply integrated into the world economic system that its internal and regional priorities have become part of a larger quest: to define a global role that serves Chinese interests but also wins acceptance from other powers. Chief among those powers, of course, is the United States, and managing the fraught U.S.-Chinese relationship is Beijing’s foremost foreign policy challenge. And just as Americans wonder whether China’s rise is good for U.S. interests or represents a looming threat, Chinese policymakers puzzle over whether the United States intends to use its power to help or hurt China.

Tyler Cowen: Should We Be Optimistic About U.S. Competiveness?

New York Times columnist David Brooks, has said that his favorite economist is Tyler Cowen of George Mason University. Cowen has written frequently about what will drive the global economy in the future. His recent interview in The Globe and Mail shows the range of his interests – and his optimism about the U.S. economy:

Artificial intelligence [AI] will be a significant breakthrough. There are new developments almost every day. Cheaper fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, will spur short-run growth. And an increasing share of national income will go to capital and high productivity. It may not feel like an end to stagnation for many workers, but in terms of aggregate output, the U.S., Canada and Mexico are poised to do extremely well.

The Startling Dominance of the iPad

Lost in the hype over the iPhone 5 announcement was this small statistic that Apple CEO Tim Cook included in his launch presentation regarding the iPad’s apparent invulnerability to competition:

If you look at a year ago, the iPad had a 62 percent market share. So what happened over the last year with hundreds of tablets coming to market? Well, the latest data for iPad is 68 percent share. It actually went up. And the gap is even more staggering when you look at usage statistics. The iPad accounts for 91 percent of the web traffic of all the tablets. Now, I don’t know what these other tablets are doing. They must be in warehouses or store shelves or maybe in somebody’s bottom drawer!

How long can this last?

Why the Map App Means So Much

Mapping apps account for close to one-fourth of mobile ad revenue. That’s why the alleged defects in Apple’s new map application for the iPhone 5 have received so much attention. To understand the larger battle underway here, don’t miss Alex Madrigal’s article in The Atlantic that explains why so much is being invested in mapping technology:

If Google’s mission is to organize all the world’s information, the most important challenge – far larger than indexing the web – is to take the world’s physical information and make it accessible and useful.

What Your Team Needs to Hear

In a conversation with Forbes, Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn, offered this piece of advice of for growing companies:

The faster a company grows, the more opportunity there is to experience both successes and failures. While it’s important to celebrate the successes, and reflect on a failure, you ultimately have to move on and focus on the “Next Play.”

Is Your Company Under-Utilizing Analytics?

SAS founder and CEO Jim Goodnight, recently spoke at Computer World’s Hong Kong CIO conference. Goodnight suggested that most companies have put CIOs in an impossible role of keeping data centers secure and reliable but also analyzing the data they have to drive business:

CIOs are still burdened with trying to manage and maintain the infrastructure and have little time to support the information needs of business leaders. “Unfortunately when systems go down or when data is lost, it’s the CIO that gets screamed at.”

Goodnight has been arguing that dozens of industries are not taking advantage of how to use data analytics for pricing, customer relationships, and industry trends. For a more detailed (and somewhat promotional) look at how SAS thinks about analytics, its white paper on the subject is worth reading.

Private Schools in Emerging Countries

Are emerging countries developing the right pipeline of next generation talent to support their growing economies? This academic paper offers a contrarian view of the issue, arguing that private schools are actually much better and less costly than government run schools for developing nations. Yet many of the world’s leading organizations purportedly helping these countries are trying to cover up the evidence. From the abstract:

Over the past decade, low-cost private schools have burgeoned in developing countries. In some areas, the majority of children are attending the low-cost private unaided schools. Children seem to do better in low-cost private schools compared to government ones, and at a fraction of the teacher cost. Figures show that many children currently purported to be out of school are in fact attending private schools that are unregistered/unrecognised, which are often missing from official data and statistics. But many writers, including some at UNESCO and Oxfam, are in denial over the reality and potentiality of private schooling or, despite the evidence, still assume that in order to provide greater access for the poor the government sector needs to be “fixed.”



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