Popular font designers Frere-Jones and Hoefler split, with one claiming the other was his "employee". "For 15 years, Frere-Jones and Hoefler seemed charmed. They made typefaces that rendered the stock charts in the Wall Street Journal readable and helped Martha Stewart sell cookbooks. They created an alphabet for the New York Jets, based on the team’s logo. And they saw their lettering chiseled into stone as part of the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. Last year, the duo won the AIGA Medal, the profession’s highest award. It seemed to be one of those rare situations whereby two successful soloists had combined to make an even better supergroup. Hoefler was asked if there were any troubles in their working relationship for a video produced for the AIGA in 2013. “We do have a longstanding disagreement over the height of the lower case t,” he said. “That is the only point of contention.” Not quite. An interesting story about a business partnership of supposed equals - or were they? - going very, very sour.
How did Pathfinder become the only table-top role-playing game ever to outsell Dungeons & Dragons, outpacing it 2:1? What were the economics of the Open Gaming License, whereby Wizards of the Coast effectively gave away the rules to its flagship D&D product? Why did the table-top market collapse? This and more on Episode 73 of the Game Design Roundtable podcast, with guest Ryan Dancey, architect of the Open Gaming License strategy at Wizards of the Coast, and former marketing exec at CCP Games (makers of EVE Online). Dancey is now the business lead on Pathfinder Online, an upcoming sandbox fantasy RPG broadly in the mold of EVE and Ultima Online. TGDRT is usually about game design, but this episode is a fascinating look into the business side of the RPG world, both online and off -- from someone who has been at the heart of the most interesting business cases in the space. The first 30 minutes are all about business history and economics. [more inside]
Hiring, rewarding, and empowering top performers Compared to most fast-food chains, Chipotle favors human skill over rules, robots, and timers. So how did the Mexican-style food chain come to be like this while expanding massively since the 2000s? In part due to promoting from within instead of hiring culinary graduates.Today nearly 96% of hourly managers are the result of internal promotions.
Western firms have piled into emerging markets in the past 20 years. Now comes the reckoning
Although the average company has prospered, there have been disasters; plenty of firms and some whole industries need a rethink. The emerging-market rush may end up like a giant version of the first internet boom 15 years ago. The broad thrust was right but some big mistakes were made.
“It isn’t just the crazy cat ladies, although they’re there in droves. It’s the six year-olds chanting the name of their favourite cats. It’s the hipsters there smoking cigarettes, hip-hop dudes, country dudes… It is the kind of thing where you have to learn to make everybody happy,”
In 2014, Bitcoin (BTC) has become established as increasingly "real" money with government regulatory interest, law enforcement, and growing acceptance in commerce, but also as the reserve cryptocurrency for hundreds of "altcoins," making them also convertible to legacy money. Foremost among these is Litecoin (LTC), which introduced the scrypt hashing algorithm to cryptocurrency, democratizing coin mining by being best suited to common GPUs rather than Bitcoin's dedicated mining equipment. Recently donated LTC paid for a forest in Madagascar. Peercoin (PPC), next in prominence, introduces "proof of stake" where less energy is spent mining and existing coins pay interest. Dogecoin (DOGE), a fork of Litecoin (previously covered on Metafilter), continues heading to the moon, with more transactions than all other coins combined, thriving markets in digital goods, tipbots, an upcoming party in NYC's Bitcoin Center on Wall Street, much charity, and the recent announcement that new Dogecoins will be generated indefinitely. A selection of other foremost and interesting cryptocurrencies is within. [more inside]
Want to get away with not paying taxes but don't have the money to make your own offshore company in the Cayman Islands? Fret not - you can hijack an existing offshore company starting from the low low price of 99 cents! [more inside]
ConferenceCall.biz: a slice of ambient corporate hell.
"After two decades online, I'm perplexed. It's not that I haven't had a gas of a good time on the Internet. I've met great people and even caught a hacker or two. But today, I'm uneasy about this most trendy and oversold community. Visionaries see a future of telecommuting workers, interactive libraries and multimedia classrooms. They speak of electronic town meetings and virtual communities. Commerce and business will shift from offices and malls to networks and modems. And the freedom of digital networks will make government more democratic. Baloney. Do our computer pundits lack all common sense? The truth [is] no online database will replace your daily newspaper, no CD-ROM can take the place of a competent teacher and no computer network will change the way government works." A view of the Internet's future from February 26, 1995 at 7:00 PM
Demand Media, once valued higher than the New York Times, is seeing a rapid decrease in profits because of Google changing its search algorithms. Does this mean the beginning of the end for "content farms"?
You might now be running in your head to a well worn path of justified resistance, phoning up the ol’ gang, circling the hippocampian wagons of amygdalian resistance. Hold on a sec, pilgrim. Yahoo urges its employees to switch from using outlook to Yahoo Mail in a bizare internal email. Meanwhile, as Microsoft abandons the hated practice of stack ranking Yahoo adopts it as its own. But hey, they have Katie Couric now!
The Prophet: Meet Dave Ramsey, the most important personal finance guru in America. There's probably no better way to learn about the financial lives of individual Americans than to spend a few hours listening to The Dave Ramsey Show, which airs in every major media market in the United States...Listen long enough and you realize you are hearing the raw, unfiltered tragedy of the economic plagues facing 21st-century America. [via]
Ex-Amazon employee Eugene Wei on Amazon's "profitless business model" fallacy, and why the claims that Amazon is not profitable are fundamentally wrong. "If Amazon has so many businesses that do make a profit, then why is it still showing quarterly losses, and why has even free cash flow decreased in recent years? Because Amazon has boundless ambition. It wants to eat global retail. This is one area where the press and pundits accept Amazon's statements at face value. Given that giant mission, Amazon has decided to continue to invest to arm itself for a much larger scale of business. If it were purely a software business, its fixed cost investments for this journey would be lower, but the amount of capital required to grow a business that has to ship millions of packages to customers all over the world quickly is something only a handful of companies in the world could even afford." Wei also previously touched on this in Amazon, Apple, and the beauty of low margins.
When the announcement had been made that Wimbledon FC would be moved to Milton Keynes, to later be rebranded MK Dons, a meeting was called by Wimbledon fans. Toward the end of a charged meeting in the Wimbledon Community Centre, Kris Stewart, then chair of the Wimbledon Independent Supporters Club, realized that the fans had no chance of hanging on to their club and that no amount of protests would stop the franchise moving to Milton Keynes. In that moment Stewart made his walk through the crowd toward the microphone. “I’m tired of fighting,” he said before issuing a spontaneous rallying cry that has become legendary among fans of AFC Wimbledon. “I just want to watch football.” (SLTheMorningNews)
Few industries would routinely pay millions per unit of an item, sight unseen, with minimal (and sometimes no) market research. So how can the TV business afford to operate this way? To understand the economics of scripted television, we need to examine the idiosyncratic journey of a show from concept, to pitch, to script, to screen. And we’ll see why, in a business where only a few hits stand out any given year, lavish spending is the cost of staying relevant. -- The Economics of a Hit TV Show
As the 2013-14 NBA season approaches, the last year of the reign of Commissioner David Stern, Sports Business Journal takes an in-depth look at his successor, New Media enthusiast, marathon runner, and fan of competitive balance, Adam Silver. [more inside]
"... and so I took an economics course and I loved it," during a phone interview in the early morning today. Likewise, conversations with Robert Shiller and Lars Peter Hansen, shortly after the 2013 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded jointly to them for their academic contributions to the field of asset pricing. UChicago News, Yale News, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Bloomberg report. [more inside]
Blackberry will be harvested by a private equity firm for US $4.7 billion. Generally blamed for their own decline by disdaining the massive rush of popularity of competing smartphones and becoming increasingly well-known for the bizarre behavior of their leadership, Blackberry hoped to turn things around by ejecting their co-CEOs, rebranding from Research In Motion to the name of their sole product, and launching a new spate of products: OS 10, new generation of touchscreen phones, and planning a second attempt at tablets. In spite of some misguided punditry predicting a new era, they won no love from either the reviewers or the public. [more inside]
Quit. Quit early and quit often, not when something is hard, but when something isn't for you. That's the way you find your genius, (YT) says Prof. Deepak Malhotra, who gave this among other tips to graduating students at Harvard Business School in a speech on how to avoid the tragedy of living an unhappy life. [more inside]
Before retiring in May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson spent 26 seasons as the manager of Manchester United, the English football (soccer) club that ranks among the most successful and valuable franchises in sports. During that time the club won 13 English league titles along with 25 other domestic and international trophies—giving him an overall haul nearly double that of the next-most-successful English club manager. In 2012 Harvard Business School professor Anita Elberse had a unique opportunity to examine Ferguson’s management approach and developed an HBS case study around it. Now she and Ferguson have collaborated on an analysis of his enormously successful methods.
In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women. -- The Harvard Business Review asks why are less than competent men getting leadership positions when much more qualified women aren't?
Launching my first product :
Brand, Make, Sell Sell, Make, Brand
A corporation is not a living creature. It has no soul. It has no heart. It has no feelings. It can neither experience towards you nor enjoy from you even the concept of loyalty. It is a legal fiction, and it exists for one purpose only: to make profit. If you assist in this goal in the long term, your ongoing association with the organization is facilitated. If you detract from it consistently, you will be cut. Family is “where they have to take you in no matter what you’ve done.” A corporation is… well, it’s sort of the exact opposite of this.Be loyal to yourself.
In 2003, the New York Times published a lengthy article by Lisa Belkin about women who were choosing to leave the workforce to be stay-at-home moms: The Opt-Out Generation. In the the last ten years, the article's conclusions regarding upper-middle-class women's choices about work and motherhood have been debated, studied, rediscovered, denied, lamented, and defended. It's been noted by many that "most mothers have to work to make ends meet but the press writes mostly about the elite few who don’t." Ms. Belkin's piece also never mentioned what what a disaster divorce or the death of a spouse can create for dependent women in such situations. After a decade, the Times is revisiting the topic: The Opt-Out Generation Wants Back In.
Of all the occupational golden ages to come and go in the twentieth century—for doctors, journalists, ad-men, autoworkers—none lasted longer, felt cushier, and was all in all more golden than the reign of the law partner. Noam Schreiber on The Last Days of Big Law: You can't imagine the terror when the money dries up. Former law partner Steven J. Harper, author of The Lawyer Bubble, believes the profession to be in existential crisis. Another former partner weighs in. Libertarian law professor Richard Epstein presents a more sanguine view.
Plagued by the realities threatening many retail stores, Sears also faces a unique problem (alternate link): [CEO Eddie] Lampert. Lampert runs Sears like a hedge fund portfolio, with dozens of autonomous businesses competing for his attention and money. An outspoken advocate of free-market economics and fan of the novelist Ayn Rand, he created the model because he expected the invisible hand of the market to drive better results. If the company’s leaders were told to act selfishly, he argued, they would run their divisions in a rational manner, boosting overall performance.
This was not the act of a fringe contingent. The letter—which, until now, has never been published in its entirety—is signed by 154 staffers, including J.D. Salinger, Calvin Trillin, John McPhee, Jamaica Kincaid, Saul Steinberg and Janet Malcolm. There are a few notable abstentions, including John Updike and Charles McGrath, who would soon be named Gottlieb's deputy. At the bottom, it reads "cc: S. I. Newhouse."The Letter: Robert Gottlieb's Tenure as the New Yorker's Managing Editor, Elon Green, The Awl (SLTheAwl)
Steve Lovelace created a map that shows the corporation that best represents each state of the US.
What does the crowdfunding landscape look like for game developers one year after Kickstarter exploded onto the scene?
Josh Way's MST3k/Rifftracks-esque series FUN WITH SHORTS (previously) returns after a long haitus with the businessman filmstrip PROMOTION BY-PASS and the utterly bizarre stop-motion cartoon MUNCHERS
The problem is that cinema, as I define it and as something that inspired me, is under assault by the studios and, from what I can tell, with the full support of the audience. The reasons for this, in my opinion, are more economic than philosophical, but when you add an ample amount of fear and lack of vision and a lack of leadership you’ve got a trajectory that is pretty difficult to reverse. - "Retired" director Steven Soderbergh speaks to the San Francisco International Film Festival about the state of cinema - (summary, full audio at bottom of page 2)
Phish has consistently been one of the most popular and lucrative touring acts in America, generating well over a quarter billion dollars in ticket sales. Yet, by other measures, the band isn’t popular at all... Phish doesn’t make money by selling music. They make money by selling live music, and that, it turns out, is a more durable business model. (via) [more inside]
"“It just felt really good, when this all started, to have the sexy sports celebrity from Boston who seemed to like Rhode Island and showed up in Rhode Island, and who built this exotic new business, even though no one knew what it was,” says the historian Ted Widmer, who grew up in Providence and works at Brown. “It seemed like the digital economy, or biotech, or whatever. But then it turned out that it wasn’t the new digital economy. It was some 13-year-old’s medieval fantasy.” "Curt Schilling, Rhode Island, and the Fall of 38 Studios.
Aereo is a web service that allows subscribers to watch broadcast TV on their computers or mobile devices. The broadcast networks are furious. Aereo is ready for a PR fight, and is currently winning the legal battle. Variety wonders: Is Aereo Actually a Good Thing? [more inside]
Justin Timberlake likely made his new album to fulfill a contract he signed with Live Nation in 2009.
Is Giving the Secret to Getting Ahead? [Adam] Grant, 31, is the youngest-tenured and highest-rated professor at Wharton.... Grant might not seem so different from any number of accessible and devoted professors on any number of campuses, and yet when you witness over time the sheer volume of Grant’s commitments, and the way in which he is able to follow through on all of them, you start to sense that something profoundly different is at work. Helpfulness is Grant’s credo.... For Grant, helping is not the enemy of productivity, a time-sapping diversion from the actual work at hand; it is the mother lode, the motivator that spurs increased productivity and creativity. In some sense, he has built a career in professional motivation by trying to unpack the puzzle of his own success. He has always helped; he has always been productive. How, he has wondered for most of his professional life, does the interplay of those two factors work for everyone else? [more inside]
Mike Merrill decided to sell shares in his life. He now has 160 shareholders who can tell him what to do.
The AR-15 is more than a gun. It's a gadget. It's an addiction and the future of firearms manufactures. It's the most wanted gun in America and more than anything it is a symbol of the cycle of fear that drives assault weapon sales.
The fascinating story of the origins of those high priced headphones all the kids are wearing these days.
Ann Patchett opened a new independent bookstore in Nashville, despite being told that books are dead.
Last One Falling - photographer Amy Connolly documented the last days of a Liverpool branch of HMV whilst working there in 2011, a stark contrast to the images of the flagship store in the sixties and seventies (previously). The chain yesterday announced it was entering administration after 91 years on the high street. [more inside]
The 1992 BBC investigative documentary series The Look, aiming to examine the 'serious side of fashion', is available to watch online. The episodes cover the power of licensing luxury names, who benefits from catwalk shows, how the industry commodifies identity, the story of Yves Saint Laurent, the power of the press, and how fabric itself makes a difference. [more inside]
Network scanning do cost. Recent patent lawsuits have been praised or condemned as fair or absurd. BlueWave Computing fights back against a lawsuit that initially attempted to charge the company $1,000 per employee for a license to some “distributed computer architecture” patent, or basically, if your employees use a scan to email feature in the office, you have to pay a lot of money. Others have been targeted. Stop Project Paperless results.
“During the 1920s, the British firm Parker-Holladay created a fictional character named Bill Jones. Mr. Jones’ dispensed his friendly advice to British clerical workers through colorful lithographic posters emblazoned with his get-right-to-the-point maxims." Why not enjoy this collection of can-do, yes-sir business motivational posters before you head back to work?
Alan Cooper and the Goal Directed Design Process The heart of the problem, he concludes, is that the people responsible for developing software products don’t know precisely what constitutes a good product. It follows that they also do not know what processes lead to a good product. In short, they are operating by trial and error, with outcomes like customer satisfaction achieved by little more than blind luck. By Hugh Dubberly, first published AIGA GAIN Journal, 2001