May 12th, 2011
By Nathan E Williams, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Although many well-known foreign companies, from cosmetics giants L’oreal to car maker Fiat, Spanish telecommunications giant Telefonica and global energy groups such as Shell have been increasing investments in Brazil, there is a less recognized, but growing, foreign investor presence emerging – private equity groups.
Private equity has a long history of buying and selling companies in developed markets but its impact in emerging economies, particularly Latin America, has been negligible.
In 2010 private equity groups investing in Latin America raised a record US$8.1 billion, more than twice the previous year. Of this capital, 76 percent was invested in Brazil, according to data provider Preqin.
Consistent growth, which the IMF estimates will range between 4.5 to 5 percent through 2011-2014, alongside the increased purchasing power of a burgeoning middle class have done much to tempt foreign private equity investors to Brazilian shores.
In January last year U.S. private equity giant the Carlyle Group bought Latin America’s largest tour operator, the Brazil-based CVC, and in August invested in Scalina, Brazil’s largest manufacturer and retailer of women’s lingerie.
Another U.S. private equity group, Advent International, raised US$1.65 billion to invest in Latin America and owns Frango Assado, the highway restaurant chain. Most recently, the British private equity group 3i announced it was opening an office in Brazil.
Despite this activity, there are clouds on the horizon. The Brazilian Reais (Real) has soared against the dollar and inflation has reached 6.3 percent, some distance ahead of the Brazilian central bank’s 4.5 percent target. In a bid to cool rising inflation, the central bank last month raised interest rates to 11.75 percent. These developments threaten to dampen private equity investment.
“The way the government deals with the inflation and the currency problems could impact private equity deals,” said Carlos Asciutti, an adviser in the São Paulo office of accountant firm Ernst & Young. “Everyone wants to see interest rates falling toward global levels in the long term.”
If inflation and interest rates keep rising and consumer spending slows, investment decisions may become increasingly difficult.
May 12th, 2011
By Jacques Le Meur, Le Marin Dossier Spécial Cahier au numéro 3329.
Sailor and engineer, Damien Grimont manages the Blue Ring engineering firm based in Nantes. This “blue ring” is a concept that aims to offer an alternative to the current overcrowding of marinas. The solution comes in the form of a vertical cylindrical silo, which at sea level, could host boats afloat, and, below and on several levels, accommodate boats or land vehicles. The general principle could be modulated according to local needs.
“We chose the circular shape because it is the cheapest” says Damien Grimont. It is also more stable and needs only light scrap iron and merely 80cm of concrete. This shape enables to create self-cleaning surface flows, which would reduce siltation. “The ports have been funded in 20 or 30 years and often operating in a proper manner, managers have no incentive to do better. Our concept is the port of the future. It is a characteristic that can enhance its appeal and lend themselves to animation, “adds the manager.
Blue Ring has been retained in the program of research and development Mareva which aims to create a 3D model to refine the draft port facilities. “We are conducting a feasibility study for the Port of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, in the Alpes Maritimes. We’re also interested in one of La Trinité-sur-Mer, which lack of space. The idea would be to create a silo of 75 meters in diameter on the party the most silted which is nowadays undervalued. ”
Further studies are underway to Martinique, Reunion and the ports of southern France.
May 11th, 2011
Yes, smartphone apps are still in vogue, and most mobile app stores continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Yet consumers spend more time engaging with the mobile Web on their smartphones than through ad-supported apps, mobile advertising startup Jumptap says in its STAT (Simple Targeting & Audience Trends) report. The company claims more than 58 percent of mobile internet users in the U.S. are getting content through their browser(s), compared to 42 percent via mobile apps.
An explanation for the discrepancy was not given, but I suspect this has something to do with there simply existing more websites than there are apps, and that jumping from one app to the next to consume content isn’t as good a user experience as simply opening a new page or tab within your mobile browser of choice.
Additionally, a lot of major Internet services (Gmail, Bing, Google search etc.) tend to function as good or even better through the mobile browser than via native apps.
To put together the report, freshly funded Jumptap analyzed 10 billion ad requests on its mobile advertising network, made by 83 million unique users. The company not only looked at content consumption from mobile handsets, but also at how well users respond to mobile advertising, finding that ad engagement trends upwards with age and income.
The company claims consumers aged 40 and over were almost five times more likely to engage with an ad when compared to younger mobile consumers. Similarly, users with annual income above $50K were found twice as likely to engage with ads as those earning less.
As for the favored mobile platform, the report found that Android drives the largest share of ad requests on the Jumptap network (39.1 percent), with iOS and RIM not far behind with 29.8 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively.
However, Apple’s iOS maintains the lead for user engagement for mobile ads.
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
JumpTap, Inc. provides mobile search and mobile advertising solutions for the Apple tablet in North America and Europe. It offers search engine, ad network, advertisers, operators, content publishers, paid search, and display ads solutions.
May 11th, 2011
Hybrid cars have been around for a while, but one German grad student is taking the concept to the water. A new hybrid propulsion motorboat designed by Stefanie Behringer, would reduce drag thanks to its three-hull, or trimaran, form.
A jet ski attaches to either side of the main hull, helping stabilize the boat. While the jet skis are electric-powered, the 49-foot long watercraft is also powered by two diesel engines that use Audi’s turbo-charged injection technology. Audi’s Concept Design team in Munich worked with Behringer on the project.
The motoryacht is designed to reach speeds of close to 30 knots. The boat can be operated using only the 100-horsepower jet skis for a mellow, emission-free cruise around the bay. At faster speeds, the diesel engines recharge the jet skis’ batteries.
Twelve people can fit on the deck, with room for a few more below. The main deck is designed to feel like a lounge, and a glass roof shields passengers from wind and sun exposure.
This is a neat concept, but it might be a while before this boat is spotted in the harbor. Audi has not announced plans to move the motoryacht yacht beyond the concept phase.
Photos by AUDI
May 5th, 2011
Thursday, May 5, 2011
ANKARA – Anatolia News Agency
Haluk Tatver, a retired construction engineer living in Ankara, has produced a remote controlled sickbed after being inspired by the hardships of his own bedridden elder sister.
Tatver took a year to produce a lifting crane that can be used by both people with disabilities or patients in need.
Tatver’s bed can facilitate moving a patient to another bed or onto a stretcher, and it can help move certain parts of patients to facilitate blood circulation.
“The bed also prevents the nurses or the caretakers to have to move the patient manually, which may give the patients pain sometimes. Besides, if the patient can move his hand, he can move himself by simply pressing on the remote without the aid of a nurse.”
According to Tatver, the remote control sickbed can lift up to 125 kilograms and works on electricity. The steel frame of the sickbed also functions as a protective arch over the bed in case of an earthquake.
The manufacturer plans to launch the bed onto the market at a sales price between 5,000 and 6,000 Turkish Liras (between $3200 and $3900).
May 3rd, 2011
By Lan Lan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-04-28 09:06
Survey: Sharp rise in firms planning more spending in foreign markets
BEIJING – Almost 90 percent of domestic companies involved in international trade plan to increase overseas investment, a survey reveals.
Of the 1,024 companies surveyed, about 88 percent said they want to boost investment overseas over the next two to five years, a sharp rise from a year earlier when 61 percent of the firms surveyed said they planned to expand investment.
China’s foreign exchange reserves, the world’s largest, hit $3.04 trillion at the end of March.
Asia, Europe and North America will be prime destinations for investment and Africa is gaining increasing importance as 22 percent of the companies surveyed had already invested there.
In the next two to five years, about 30 percent of the companies surveyed expect to invest more than $5 million.
In addition to traditional investment models, such as building plants or upgrading existing facilities, a growing number of companies are looking at mergers and acquisitions.
Chinese investment overseas through mergers and acquisitions in 2010 was worth $23.8 billion, accounting for 40 percent of total investment.
“High-tech and clean energy technology companies are becoming hot targets for overseas mergers and acquisitions,” said Xu Weiqing, an analyst with Zero2IPO Group, a capital market research company.
China has become the world’s second-largest acquirer of foreign companies, only next to the United States, according to a recent research by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
But a lack of diversified fundraising channels also restricts investment overseas, the survey showed.
“Fundraising difficulties and lack of international operation experience are major limitations for Chinese companies hoping to expand overseas, especially for small- and medium-sized enterprises,” said survey project director Jia Huai
Using the companies’ own capital and borrowing from banks are the two main channels for overseas investment. Other financing channels such as stocks, securities and other market instruments are not widely used, Jia said.
May 3rd, 2011
(Xinhua) China Daily
Updated: 2011-03-15 14:46
BEIJING – Foreign direct investment (FDI) into China accelerated by 32.2 percent year-on-year to $7.8 billion in February, the Ministry of Commerce (MOC) said Tuesday.
The February FDI inflow was less than January’s $10.03 billion and the number of newly-approved foreign-funded companies also fell in the month due to a week-long Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, MOC said in a brief statement on its website.
Compared with 2,243 new foreign-funded enterprises in January, only 1,156 new foreign-invested enterprises were approved in February, down 10.9 percent from the same period of last year.
The FDI into China increased 17.4 percent year-on-year to $105.74 billion last year.
April 29th, 2011
By Ernst Gemassmer
Most of us have travelled abroad and experienced the challenges and frustrations of getting what we want without being laughed at or insulting our hosts. Similar issues prevail when doing business in other countries, cultures and languages. Even if you think your business is all local, multi-ethnic sensitivities are more relevant than you may think, including the US.
Although the Internet gives you pervasive reach, it hasn’t reduced the world to one locale for your business. The international opportunity is large, as I related in an earlier article, but there are some major challenges as well. Here are a few examples from my personal experience:
1. You need to translate/localize your products. I was once asked by a top executive of a major software company why we were not selling more products in Finland. I informed him that we needed to translate the software into Finnish at a cost of $50,000. He did not seem to understand that Finland was not part of Scandinavia and that English is not too well understood by most people there (with the exception of the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland). He could not be persuaded to commit the funds required for localization. Thus, we did not translate the product and sales remained at an insignificant level. Translation not only increases sales, but in many countries it is required by law.
2. Local laws prevail. Some years ago Brazil had a major balance of payments deficit. Therefore Brazil made it difficult to import products from abroad. Corporations were encouraged to export from Brazil to generate foreign currency and they were allowed to keep a portion of the foreign currency. Companies became creative by selling and trading foreign exchange licenses. Our own subsidiary, of a major technology company, started to repair and service competitive products in order to maintain our own technical staff and service capabilities. Thus, when the government creates restrictions, think out of the box. Managing foreign exchange reserves is every bit as challenging as managing a family budget. Brazil is now a powerful country, but similar examples still prevail in many developing nations.
3. Respect local customs and practices. A successful sales person wanted to become more familiar with the international market and requested a transfer to the Latin American sales group, based in the US. I counseled the department manager against hiring since she would be subject to personal challenges in selling to our partners in Latin countries. Eventually I relented and she joined the group.
Unfortunately my prediction turned out to be true, she felt harassed by one or more of our business partners and left the group shortly thereafter. Even though we had agreed to provide her an equal opportunity to pursue her goals, we could not protect her from the different perspective on comments and advances in Latin America. Thus, hiring decisions should be made carefully, after fully understanding local practices. Although most Latin American countries have significantly improved working environments for women, few companies would yet dare send a women employee to work in Saudi Arabia.
4. HR rules are local. I had organized European operations into regions and the country manager for Italy reported to the central European manager based in Germany. This organizational structure worked well until the two senior managers got into a shouting match and the Italian manager indicated that he was resigning.
His manager accepted his resignation and documented the case in the personnel files. Shortly after leaving the company we were notified that the Italian ex-employee was suing us for creating an unacceptable working environment, which led to his resignation. We retained legal council in Milan and were advised that we would loose if the case went to trial. After some painful negotiations we settled the case out of court for a twelve-months severance payment. When hiring staff internationally, always be well informed about local laws and prevailing practices. Not following this advice can be very costly. Although labor laws are increasingly unified in the European Common Market, major differences are still encountered in many countries. Proceed with caution.
5. Watch your product naming. Product naming is always a major effort and mistakes can result in costly failures. You may recall the Chevy Nova, a compact car from GM. Pundits in Latino countries quickly picked up on the name, ‘no va’ means ‘does not go’ in Spanish. Thorough name searches as well as professional advice in this area is highly advised. Cultural and religious implications must be very carefully considered.
Thus, I would recommend that you proceed with extreme caution and sensitivity. Great care must be taken in dealing with different religions, customs, dress codes, foods and alcohol issues. This can be frustrating, but the business world is getting smaller, and cultural issues can make or break your business. Have you properly factored international into your product or service?
December 23rd, 2010
Do you target France? Or maybe you have a local San Diego business? And your company has a nice and professional looking website adapted to your audience? Well done. The bad news is: it’s not enough!
Your site has to be « search engine friendly » if you want your prospects to find you when they need you. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a set of strategies and techniques to make sure that you appear in search engines like Google when a certain set of keywords are entered in the search box.
Why precisely should you spend some time and money on SEO?
Well, the facts speak for themselves:
• In USA, 90% of local shoppers look online first and the most common tool used is search
• 70% – 85% of search engine users click on the organic search results (aka natural or non-sponsored results), while only 25% will click on a sponsored or Pay Per Click ad. As you can understand, getting good search engine positioning will help you grow your business.
But there are many other good reasons to optimize your website:
• Reach your target audience
• Build your reputation online
• Increase your presence on a local or global market: how your company’s site is found can be difficult with so many regional, national, and even international options. That’s why using SEO techniques can be the difference between high traffic and being lost in an ocean of information.
• Low investment for high growth: optimization has more predictable long-term costs and ROI metrics as compared to other components of marketing strategies.
What is Search Engine Optimization by the way?
While SEO may sound simple and easy to do, it takes considerable planning and knowledge, and may take several months to deliver results. SEO is relying on marketing strategies, website code programming, architecture and persuasive copywriting techniques. Many factors have to be considered when optimizing a website. Some of them are on-page factors (on your website) and some are off-page (on other websites linking to yours). Today, Google ranks websites using more than 200 criteria as part of their algorithm. This algorithm, one of the best kept secrets in the world, changes very often of course!
And with the rapid growth of social media tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs, an entire new layer of techniques are being deployed to strengthen SEO : Social Media Optimization (SMO) techniques.
How do you rank ? This has to be your next question actually. Before doing any changes, make sure you evaluate your website with an SEO audit. It should at least include your search engine reputation, a technical audit, your website content analysis, your current keywords rankings, links analysis and your competition analysis. Once you know what can be improved, you will have to spend a few months working on SEO before you can really see any change. And yes, this is a never-ending process so you want to have a monthly SEO plan.
As you can guess, SEO is a very trendy topic and scams are around you at each and every step of the project. In my next post I will cover SEO myths and warning signs of bad SEO companies. Stay tuned and let me know if you have questions!
Source : Julie Mazziotta
August 23rd, 2010
What is happening in the innovation community right now? In this post, I give a quick overview of the top trends and issues based on the interactions I have had over the last month or so.
At the recent Open Innovation Summit, communication in a more holistic perspective was a key topic.
Jeff Boehm of InventionMachine gave a great presentation titled Marketing Innovation in which he argued that innovation success requires internal communication. He’s right and I will share more from this presentation in a later blog post. At a Think Tank session during the summit, we also identified communication as a key characteristic for open innovation leaders. Some keywords on this were internal & external communication, consistent behavior & messages, deliberate strategy, top-down modeling, confidence to share what you know.
2. Smartfailing – learning through failure
We usually learn from our successes, but we often miss out on learning through our failures.
Thus, I am glad to notice how the idea of getting better at learning through our failures is picking up interest. This became quite clear to me as I got responses to this blog post: Smartfailing – a concept for learning through failure. We have a great discussion going on – please join us… I talk with several innovation units on their smartfailing and failsourcing capabilities. It will be interesting to see how this develops in the near future.
3. The soft skills of innovation
Soft skills a.k.a. people skills are becoming the hard skills of innovation. It was great to see how Gail Martino, Unilever – and others – got into this important topic at the Open Innovation Summit. Martino revealed 7 key soft skills that Unilever feel are necessary for open innovation team members to have in order to succeed. They are intrapreneurial skills, talent relationship building, strategic influencing, quick study, tolerance of uncertainty, balanced optimism and passion.
These or similar skills pop up more often when companies explain the key elements behind their open innovation strategies. Matthew Heim, president of NineSigma, also highlights this as one of the key take aways from my latest book as you can read in this blog post, The Soft Side of the Open Innovation Revolution.
Let me know what you think of this and please feel free to share your own innovation trends and issues.