Showing posts from 2013

How do App Developers Make Money? Seems Completely Unsustainable

Something that has always puzzled me is how software app developers on mobile platforms (phones, tablets) make money. Some mass market products, such as games, make money off large volume and/or advertising but how about all the others? Writing for Stratechery , Ben Thompson illustrates the difficulty faced by app developers, particularly those developing productivity software (bolds by me): Paper is a transformative, device-defining app, and has been awarded accordingly by both Apple and the design industry . According to App Annie , as of June 21, Paper ranked 7th in the Productivity category according to downloads (119th overall after a recent jump), and 4th in revenue (108th overall). By every visible measure, FiftyThree, the makers of Paper, are the definition of an app store success story... But underneath the surface, things aren't so rosy: The problem for Paper is the same for all productivity apps in the App Store: there is no way to monetize your existing

The Power of Compounding; or How Good is Warren Buffett's Record Anyway?

Newbie investors often don't realize how much return an outperformance of 4% or 5% produces in the long run. Compounding is so powerful that, over a long period of time, the outperformance will be massive. To illustrate, consider the returns of, arguably, the best investor of all time, Warren Buffett, versus the market (say, S&P 500). Warren Buffett has produced around 20% annual return whereas the market has returned around 10% per year (rough numbers, off the top-of-my-head). This is only a 10% outperformance but given how Buffett has outperformed for more than 40 years, the results are staggering. Let me quote Jeff Matthews, from his well-written overview of the 2013 Berkshire Hathaway Shareholder Meeting. If you want a perceptive recap of the annual meeting, I recommend reading the entire blog post ("“ We Want to Win”: The Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting, 2013 Edition "). ...Berkshire’s stock is at a new all-time high—$162,904 per share for the A shares on

Sunday Spectacle CXCVI

Submarine Cable Map 2013   If you are interested in seeing how Internet traffic flows, check it out. Click on image for larger picture; very high resolution of map available from source here . You can also purchase a map from the source.     (source: Submarine Cable Map 2013 by TeleGeography. Original mention by Fast Company FastCo Design )

Higher Education Losing its Value? Or Too Many Scientists?

Writing for The Atlantic , Jordan Weissmann touches on a sad—kind of scary—situation facing PhD graduates:   First, the big picture. Here is the entire market for Ph.D.'s, including those graduating from humanities, science, education, and other programs. The blue line tracks students who have a job waiting for them after graduation. The green line tracks those signed up for a post-doctorate study program. The red line stands for the jobless (though a sliver of them are heading to another academic program).   The pattern reaching back to 2001 is clear -- fewer jobs, more unemployment, and more post-doc work -- especially in the sciences. A post doc essentially translates into toiling as a low-paid lab hand (emphasis on low-paid). Once it was just a one or two year rite of passage where budding scientists honed their research skills. Now it can stretch on for half a decade .     As the article makes clear, the charts aren't perfect and there are a lot of ass

The Disastrous Outsourcing of the 787

source: Boeing The Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a technological marvel. It’s built largely of carbon-fibre composites rather than aluminum, which makes it significantly lighter than other planes. Its braking, pressurization, and air-conditioning systems are run not by hydraulics but by electricity from lithium-ion batteries. It uses twenty per cent less fuel than its peers, and so is cheaper to run, yet it also manages to have higher ceilings and larger windows. It is, in other words, one of the coolest planes in the air. Or, rather, on the ground: regulators around the world have grounded all fifty Dreamliners... The Dreamliner was supposed to become famous for its revolutionary design. Instead, it’s become an object lesson in how not to build an airplane. — James Surowiecki, " Requiem for a Dreamliner? " Don't have much time to comment on this but it appears that the outsourcing trend is probably near its end. Like all management concepts, outsourcing tactics ove

Warren Buffett's Heinz Acquisition

Sorry about the lack of posts but have been busy the last few months—in fact, more like the last 2 years—but hope to be more involved in the future. Another reason I have been sort of out of the market is because I find it expensive and don't really see any great opportunities. Anyway, just saw that Warren Buffett participated with private equity group, 3G, in the acquisition of Heinz (HNZ) , and thought I would post my quick thought. As most of you may know, Heinz is famous for ketchup and various food products. Similar to the railroad, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, that Warren Buffett acquired a few years ago, this deal to participate in the Heinz buyout looks expensive (the verdict is still out on the Burlington Northern Santa Fe investment). This Fortune opinion piece sort of has similar feelings . My opinion is that Buffett is running out of good opportunities and is willing to seek out slightly-above-average opportunities given the super-low interest-rate environment.