Saturday, January 29, 2005


Comments about video piracy

Every now and then I like to check out the Wharton Tech Blog. Recently, there was an interesting post about BitTorrent and video piracy and I had a few opinions of my own. I think it's an interesting issue for the studios (and record labels). A big component of the value that studios and labels add is distribution and marketing. For those that don't watch ads and can "distribute" the movies themselves, who should that value be allocated to? Should the labels and studios still receive the same cut? They'd like to think so. But value has started shifting to the consumers, and this is the way technology works. Our family bought the first Macintosh (128K memory, 400K disk drive) for $2500 + $500 for a dot matrix printer. Think about the kind of setup you can get for $3000 these days. This is the effect of technology. The consumer wins. And most companies don't make money along the way. The ones who are really, really good do make money. And now that the record labels and movie studios are in the technology industry, they have to figure out how to innovate to make money. Suing customers isn't enough.

posted by Ryan : 1:51 PM | permalink

Friday, January 28, 2005


Japan rocks

Sometimes I wish I lived in Japan. They get all the cool gadgets that us American sluggards are too technologically unsophisticated to adopt. Case in point: the MP3 playing toilet.

posted by Ryan : 9:05 AM | permalink

Thursday, January 27, 2005


"No Fear" Part 2

Well, apparently the folks at Anheuser-Busch read my post yesterday and quickly prepared a "King Cobra meets No Fear" drink. They just announced it this morning. Eerie!

posted by Ryan : 6:33 AM | permalink

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


"No Fear"

Every now and then I get a surge of spontaneity. Generally, this spontaneity is confined to dietary decisions and does not extend to other areas of my life. But occasionally I step outside the familiar selection of sodas and juices to try a "novelty" drink.

In fact, it was about 2 hours ago that I stumbled upon a drink called "No Fear" and decided to see what it was all about. This was the Coca-Cola company's latest invention. I had pity on Coke which has been looking for the next big thing for so long and probably needed my support during this tough time. It's packaging promised energy -- which I sorely needed 2 hours ago -- and promised said energy through "ginseng, guarana, creatine, and other power components." Now, I wasn't born in a barn, so I know that the guarana, ginseng, and creatine are placebos and that the chief energy ingredient is going to be caffeine. But they don't list caffeine levels on the labels of beverages, so I just assumed it would be on the order of a Mountain Dew type of pick-me-up. More on this caffeine thing later.

Now, apart from the caffeine, there were some warning signs which should have deterred me from the get-go. First of all, a 16oz can would cost $2.49 which is more than any beverage should cost unless it has ice cream in it. Second, I was embarrassed to carry around a can that said "No Fear" which reminded me of the t-shirts I used to wear when I was 14 to prove to the world that I was not in fact a geek (remember, this was at a time when MTV's Dan Cortese was at the top of the coolness food chain). Now that I've accepted that I'm a geek and have moved onto other insecurities, like whether or not my comments in class make people wonder how I got into Wharton, the "No Fear" thing feels a bit outdated at best.

The second issue with carrying this can around is that it looks a lot like a can of beer. The cheap malt kind, no less. I don't drink, but I know a King Cobra can when I see it, and that's just what it looks like. Look here if you don't believe me:

Separated at birth?

So there is a point to all of this (although nothing heretofore has led up to this point), and that is about the caffeine content. I had no idea how much caffeine the thing had, so I drank this thing and got more energy than I bargained for. Unfortunately most of that energy gathered in the back of my skull where a pressure headache promptly ensued. That's when I immediately went to Google and looked up the caffeine content. 158mg. 158mg! That's equivalent to 3 cans of Mountain Dew, which for you coffee and espresso drinkers doesn't sound like a whole lot, but I'm not used to being that hopped up.

So my question is, if beverages are required to list things like calories, sugar, vitamins, and selenium (!), why don't they also list caffeine content? Seems like information a consumer ought to have access to. Of course, it's the USDA that is dropping the ball on this one. In fact, some people much smarter than I wrote a letter to the USDA to that effect some years ago.

To all of you who have actually made it this far into the monologue (Mom, you changed my diapers, I hope at least you are still with me), let this experience be a lesson to you: think twice next time you want to be spontaneous.

posted by Ryan : 1:51 PM | permalink

Sunday, January 23, 2005


A few pictures of New Caledonia

Here's a taste of New Caledonia (Christmas break). This is Isle de Pines, a 2 hour boat ride from Noumea. I got sick and felt like dying on the boat ride over, but it was worth it.

Another shot on Iles de Pines.

This is what you eat when you go to the beach in New Caledonia. It's called "pate" which is the French word for "cat food".

posted by Ryan : 5:14 PM | permalink

Corporate aspirations withering

Slate ran an article analyzing the findings of a research paper that shows declining Ivy League presence among Fortune 100 execs. The paper, written by a Wharton faculty professor and a PhD candidate, finds that only 10% of Fortune 100 execs got their undergrad degrees at Ivy League Schools, down from 14% in 1980. They also found that representation from public school graduates rose from 32% to 48%.

As the article rightly points out, the conclusion should not be that "Ivy League degrees aren't worth it." First of all, public universities have grown significantly in their size compared with Ivy League and other private institutions.

The second factor -- and the one I find most interesting -- is that being CEO or VP of a Fortune 100 organization just isn't the aspiration it once was. I can't think of any of my classmates whose primary career goal it is to be CXO in a large company. Most envision their ideal as working for themselves, running a small company, entering a real estate partnership, or getting into private equity.

Why is this? As I see it, working for a big corporation is a tradeoff: you give up a certain degree of job satisfaction for a more stable or secure path. But people no longer trust large companies to deliver job security or a well-defined career path. In terms of job satisfaction, large organizations have always had "friction" -- the nature of large organizations is that more coordination and communication are required. Most bright folks would rather be producing and creating than sitting in meetings.

Perhaps the biggest factor against a corporate path (at least amongst Wharton students) is the upside factor. Most fortunes are not made by climbing the corporate ladder, they're made by taking risks (or working with people who are taking risks). That means operating or financing early-stage or distressed ventures.

Despite all of this, many of us in will take positions working with or servicing large corporations (i.e., consulting and banking). But I think most of us are ultimately looking for something "small". If we find that perfect opportunity, great. If not, we bide our time and keep our eyes and ears open.

posted by Ryan : 11:19 AM | permalink

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


What a nice break

Here's a quick update since I haven't written in ages. We took off for Sydney on December 10, stayed there for a few days with a friend, then flew to New Caledonia for a little over a week. Most people haven't heard of New Caledonia, a French speaking island in the South Pacific, a little over 1000 miles east of Sydney (map). I hadn't heard of it either until I met my wife, who spent 18 months there as a missionary. It's beautiful and has few tourists -- its economy relies on its (world's largest) nickel mine rather than the tourism industry -- so few outside of France, Australia, or New Zealand have even heard of it. I may post pictures and more details later.

We spent the rest of the break with my folks in Salt Lake City, and did nothing but eat, shop, and visit with family. Christian had a ball getting to know his cousins, uncles, aunts, grandparents, and various cats (which amuse him to no end). He is still saying only a few words, but his gibberish has evolved into a unique and entertaining dialect... it may be a product of the French his mother is teaching him (less gutteral than the gibberish you usually hear from American toddlers).

In any case, it has been great to spend so much time with family with absolutely no deadlines, no pressures, and no significant responsibilities other than consuming pie. From my current vantage point, I view this last semester at Wharton as an opportunity to wind down and enjoy some freedom before the shackles of indentured servitude (i.e., working for a living) are fastened upon me for the next 35 years.

posted by Ryan : 8:13 PM | permalink

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