Numbers — B4

Unique email users in August (thousand):

Facebook: 69,256, 348% change from a year earlier

Gmail: 82,921, 64%

MySpace: 105,716, 33%

Hotmail: 255,342, 9%

Yahoo Mail: 254,942, -1%

AOL email: 49,561, -9%

US game console sales in August:

Nintendo Wii: 404,000

Microsoft XBox 360: 277,000

Sony PlayStation 3: 131,000


China’s Stellar Aviation-Safety Record

“No Chinese jetliner has crashed since the 2004 Batou tragedy, even though China’s aviation is growing so fast that its airlines have flown more than 8.5 million hours since then. Statistically, that amounts to the best safety performance in the world in the past three years.”

China has its bad time in 90’s and earlier this decade. But with top-down mandates, aggressive enforcement, and expert advice from airplane manufactures like Boeing changed that.

Revenue and PROFITS from China

Western companies have long viewed China as a strategically important market. But “strategically important” often implies big things in the future, but profitless for now. They all believed the scale and depth of China’s market, but had no idea how and when they can generate profits from it. That was the popular view in late 90’s. In a 1998 survey, one third of multinationals were losing money in China, and another quarter of them were barely making even.

Now it’s a totally different story. The latest survey says 83% of the surveyed companies’ China operations were profitable in 2006. At the mean time, 58% of the companies enjoyed an increased profit from China.

Here’s an extreme example. The Yum Brands, which owns KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants would report an operating loss if not counting the $65 millions operating profits from China. People at KFC certainly know better how strategically important a market China is now.

The First Parking Meter –B1

The first parking meter was installed in 1935 in Oklahoma City. Before that, parking on the street is free in cities. However, as more cars pouring in, it’s becoming chaotic. Finding a parking space on the street is often impossible. Some merchants deliberately parked their cars in front of competitors’ stores to stop costumers dropping by. Large cities began banning street parking at downtown areas. But the regulation brought severe damage to the business district. Shoppers wouldn’t even walk a few blocks from their cars to a store. In 1932, the Oklahoma City tried to figure a way out this chaos. A local newspaper editor, Carl Magee invented the park-o-meter. First meter was installed in July, 1935. People found it hard to believe that they had to pay to park on the street, after they had paid all kinds of taxes to the government. Probably for fun and to protest, two couples set up a folding table and four chairs in a parking space, deposited a nickel in the meter and played a rubber of bridge.

ORGANIC … Lawns –P1

Drink the organic milk, have the organic salad, and now wear your organic T-shirt and mow your organic lawn…

For lawns, “going organic” means getting grass and soil healthy enough to crowd out weeds and pests without pesticides (A herbicide is a pesticide targeting plants; an insecticide kills insects). Organic movement advocates believe pesticides are brought into houses and left in carpets via shoe soles and pet feet. Last year, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found that individuals reporting exposure to pesticides had a 70% higher incidence of Parkinson’s disease than those not reporting exposure. Similar conclusion can be found in a Mayo Clinic report last year.

Can’t wait for dumping the pesticides? Make sure you want to pay for the higher price. The organic solutions are typically twice as expensive as the traditional lawn cares. And what’s even worse, you have to live with a few weeds on your lawn. Chemical pesticide is still the best to get rid of weeds. Natural corn-gluten herbicide are not as effective.

Bridge Loans — C1

How the deal get done in private equity buyouts?

  1. Private equity firms make an offer to buy a company, taking it private
  2. The company shareholders approve the deal and it closes.
  3. Private equity firms use short-term bridge loans from banks to pay off shareholders.
  4. Together private equity firms and their bankers make a plan to sell the bonds to investors to pay back the bridge loan.
  5. Now, investors who buy these bonds are pushing back, refusing to buy bonds with features that make them riskier and benefit the private equity firm.