Wednesday, March 11, 2015

THE STATE OF THE FUTURE  -  March 12, 2015 UPDATES  - via @AndresAgostini


Google Secretly Working On Big Virtual Reality

Google GOOGL -2.36% is secretly working on a major virtual reality project, much bigger than previously thought, as part of efforts to take on Facebook, Microsoft MSFT -1.84% and mobile handset makers in that technology.

The search giant is employing a number of engineers to focus exclusively on developing a specific version of the Android mobile OS to support VR applications, according to reports.

In VR, Google could be seen as a little off the pace, having only released a relatively basic viewing device called Cardboard. Facebook, which last year bought virtual reality firm Oculus for $2 billion, is many months into its work to develop VR-backed communications. Samsung has also teamed up with Oculus for a mobile version of the tech, and Sony has developed its own Morpheus headset. Elsewhere, Microsoft is well into developing a VR device linking the real world and simulated data.

Google is reportedly expected to put some significant resources behind VR as the revenue opportunities begin to clarify. It has invested heavily in other areas where it sees revenue potential, including smart contact lenses, technology to support people with Parkinson’s, balloon powered Internet for remote areas, and of course self driving cars.

For the VR-supporting version of Android, Google has so far employed dozens of engineers dedicated to initial work, according to the Wall Street Journal, which quotes unnamed staff working on the project. Crucially, in order to gain quick adoption, the system would be made freely available as with existing versions of Android, the report notes. Google has not officially commented on its plans.

The potential for selling to consumers and businesses is evident. For consumers, virtual reality could offer the ability to communicate much more immersively (one of Facebook’s initial aims in this area), as well as powering impressive video game, retail, cinematic and sports viewing experiences.

In business, there are clear opportunities for different industries. Surgeons could perform operations remotely and engineers could make repairs offsite. Manufacturing staff could produce goods outside of their own factory, controlling machines remotely while seeing the objects in front of them. The training applications are endless, too, especially for military and civil aviation flight simluations. In education, colleges and schools can provide a remote immersive experience, while media businesses could further increase the impact of news reports and entertainment.

Miya Knights, senior research analyst at IDC Retail Insights, tells Forbes that Google’s reported efforts could “add competition and drive speed of development” in the virtual reality market. Google could also have a development advantage given its search, mobile OS, mapping technology, geolocation-based navigation, and shopping services.

However, the benefits could still be some time off, and VR remains “an answer desperately looking for a question” as industries seek use cases, according to Spencer Izard, European head at the retail analyst house.

“VR would provide an ability for consumers at home or in stores where certain stock items are not available to see a product represented in a 3D form that allows the customer to better understand it,” he says. “However, that is a very specific use case and I would question whether it would see  mainstream adoption by consumers.”

One area that could change adoption is the blending of two types of technology, a kind of augmented virtual reality, in which people wearing a VR headset see information and images overlaid on what is in front of them. Last year Google invested more than $500 million in Magic Leap, a company that is developing such a device.

With such technology, VR could be used to deliver Google-powered navigation, Knights explains, as well as “personalized and timely offers, physically showing nearby restaurants or stores a person might like, in their view as they shop.”



Nuclear weapons. The unkicked addiction. Despite optimistic attempts to rid the world of nuclear weapons, the threat they pose to peace is growing

IN JANUARY 2007 Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, William Perry and Sam Nunn—two Republican secretaries of state, a Democratic defence secretary and a Democratic head of the Senate Armed Services Committee—called for a global effort to reduce reliance on nuclear weapons. The ultimate goal, they wrote in the Wall Street Journal, should be to remove the threat such weapons pose completely. The article generated an astonishing response. Long seen as drippily Utopian, the idea of getting rid of nuclear weapons was suddenly taken on by think-tankers, academics and all sorts of very serious people in the nuclear-policy business. The next year a pressure group, Global Zero, was set up to campaign for complete nuclear disarmament. Its aims were endorsed by scores of government leaders, present and past, and hundreds of thousands of citizens.

In April 2009 Barack Obama, speaking in Prague, promised to put weapons reduction back on the table and, by dealing peacefully but firmly with Iran’s nuclear ambitions, to give new momentum to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Processes could now be set in train, he said, that would lead to the worldwide renunciation of nuclear weapons within a generation. This speech, along with his ability not to be George W. Bush, was a key factor in landing Mr Obama the Nobel peace prize a few months later.

The following year he returned to Prague to sign an arms agreement with Russia, New START, which capped the number of deployed strategic warheads allowed to each side at 1,550. His co-signatory, Russia’s then president, Dmitry Medvedev, had endorsed Global Zero’s aims. A month later the NPT’s quinquennial review conference agreed a 64-point plan intended to reinforce the treaty’s three mutually supportive legs: the promise that all countries can share in the non-military benefits of nuclear technology; the agreement by non-weapons states not to become weapons states; and the commitment of the weapons states to pursue nuclear disarmament. There were hopes that, when the parties to the NPT met again in May 2015, there would be substantial progress to report.

Alas, no. Mr Obama’s agreement with Iran remains possible, even likely—but it will hardly be one that energises the cause of a nuclear-free world (see article). Iran will continue to sit close to the nuclear threshold, retaining an ability to enrich uranium which, if it were to withdraw from the agreement, would allow it to create a bomb’s worth of weapons-grade material in about a year. That is more than the current estimated breakout period of three months, and long enough, it is felt, for America and its allies to mount a response, should it come to that. But it is hardly a huge step back from the threshold, or forward for peace.

And the Iran deal is pretty much the only item on 2010’s list of high hopes that has got anywhere at all. The chilling of relations between America and Russia over Ukraine has resulted in cooperation on nuclear security measures being suspended, while promised follow-on measures relating to New START have been quietly abandoned. Vladimir Putin, Mr Medvedev’s predecessor and successor, takes every opportunity to laud his country’s nuclear prowess, and is committing a third of Russia’s booming military budget to bolstering it.

It is not the only power investing in its nukes (see table). America is embarking on a $348-billion decade-long modernisation programme. Britain is about to commit to modernising its forces, as well, while France is halfway through the process. China is investing heavily in a second-strike capability. In short, there has been no attempt to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in the military and security doctrines of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, despite their commitments under the NPT. An initiative aimed at making nuclear weapons illegal under international humanitarian law, backed by over 150 NPT signatory countries, has attracted little to no support from the weapons states and only lip service from countries which welcome America’s nuclear protection.



Big Data's Dark Side

 don’t mean to pick on big data. All technology has a dark side, if you let it loose. Mobile devices can be leashes or liberators (speaking as someone who once took his laptop to spring training, I count them as the latter). Sometimes I think security devices trip up the people they’re trying to protect more than they stymie the hackers they’re trying to target.

Arguably, most of my time here is spent promoting the value that big data provides. So when I start highlighting its limitations, it’s not that I want you think of a haunting, mellifluous voice cajoling, “Come to the dark side, Luuuuuuuke.” It’s that I want to point out things to think about so that we can be aware of those limitations, and thereby sidestep or overcome them.

Forbes columnist Steve Andriole concurs with this philosophy, I suspect. In his recent piece, Unstructured Data: The Other Side of Analytics, he writes, “‘Big data analytics’ is already a cult (like so many cults we’ve seen before). The data Gods are angry, my friends, and they’re pouring data onto us so fast that it’s impossible to avoid being buried alive – or so the pundits and consultants would have us believe.”



The little engine that could. Downsizing to a car with a smaller engine is being made easier by the latest turbochargers. They can transform a standard four-cylinder engine into a much more powerful motor

FRUGAL four-cylinder engines used to be found only in the cheapest cars. But today they are being fitted to even luxury models. What has made them more acceptable—indeed, desirable—is the development of advanced turbochargers that cram more air than normal into the fixed volume of their cylinders, allowing the engines to burn proportionally more fuel. The result is a compact unit that punches way above its weight in terms of power and torque, a turning force which makes that power available at lower revs. These engines also provide better fuel economy and emit less pollution.

A turbocharger works by tapping the hot exhaust gas from the engine to spin a small turbine which, in turn, drives an equally small air compressor. For higher performance, an intercooler is sometimes placed between the compressor and the engine’s inlet manifold. This lowers the temperature of the compressed air and raises its density still further. In general, a turbocharged 1.8-litre four-cylinder petrol engine can deliver the power and torque of a naturally aspirated 3-litre six-cylinder unit. By the same token, a turbocharged V6 can be more than a match for a conventional V8.

Turbochargers are not to be confused with superchargers, made famous by the 4.5-litre Blower Bentleys of the 1920s. While they serve broadly the same purpose—to squeeze more air into an engine—they function differently. A supercharger does not rely on an exhaust-driven turbine but is driven directly by the engine. Superchargers are better in one respect: they do not suffer from “turbo lag” (the time taken for a turbocharger to spool up to speed). The disadvantage is that a supercharger robs the engine of power and, thermodynamically, it is nowhere near as efficient.



Global banks. A world of pain. The giants of global finance are in trouble

ONLY pop music and pornography embraced globalisation more keenly than banks did. Since the 1990s three kinds of international firm have emerged. Investment banks such as Goldman Sachs deal in securities and cater to the rich from a handful of financial hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore. A few banks, such as Spain’s Santander, have “gone native”, establishing a deep retail-banking presence in multiple countries. But the most popular approach is the “global network bank”: a jack of all trades, lending to and shifting money for multinationals in scores of countries, and in some places acting like a universal bank doing everything from bond-trading to car loans. The names of the biggest half-dozen such firms adorn skyscrapers all over the world.

This model of the global bank had a reasonable crisis in 2008-09: only Citigroup required a full-scale bail out. Yet it is now in deep trouble. In recent weeks Jamie Dimon, the boss of JPMorgan Chase, has been forced to field questions about breaking up his bank. Stuart Gulliver, the head of HSBC, has abandoned the financial targets that he set upon taking the job in 2011. Citigroup is awaiting the results of its annual exam from the Federal Reserve. If it fails, calls for a mercy killing will be deafening (see next story). Deutsche Bank is likely to shrink further. Standard Chartered, which operates in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, is parting company with its longstanding boss, Peter Sands.

The panic about global banks reflects their weak recent results: in aggregate the five firms mentioned above reported a return on equity of just 6% last year. Only JPMorgan Chase did passably well (see chart). Investors worry these figures betray a deeper strategic problem. There is a growing fear that the costs of global reach—in terms of regulation and complexity—exceed the potential benefits.

It all seemed far rosier 20 years ago. Back then banks saw that globalisation would lead to an explosion in trade and capital flows. A handful of firms sought to capture that growth. Most had inherited skeleton global networks of some kind. European lenders such as BNP Paribas and Deutsche Bank had been active abroad for over a century. HSBC and Standard Chartered were bankers to the British empire. Citigroup embarked on a big international expansion a century ago; Chase, now part of JPMorgan Chase, opened many foreign branches in the 1960s and 1970s.

As they expanded in the 1990s and 2000s all of these firms concentrated on multinationals, which required things like trade finance, currency trading and cash management. But all expanded beyond these activities to varying degrees and in different directions; today they typically account for only a quarter of sales. Deutsche and StanChart bulked up in investment banking. BNP built up retail operations in America. At the most extreme end of the spectrum Citi and HSBC tried to do everything for everyone everywhere, through lots of acquisitions. They sold derivatives in Delhi and originated subprime debt in Detroit.

This model is in trouble for three reasons. First, these giant firms proved hard to manage. Their subsidiaries struggled to build common IT systems, let alone establish a common culture. Synergies have been elusive and global banks’ cost-to-income ratios, bloated by the costs of being in lots of countries, have rarely been better than those of local banks. As a result these firms have all too often been tempted to make a fast buck. Citi made a kamikaze excursion into mortgage-backed bonds in 2005-08. StanChart made loans to indebted Asian tycoons.

Second, competition proved to be fiercer than expected. The banking bubble in the 2000s led second-rate firms such as Barclays, Société Générale, ABN Amro and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) to expand globally, eroding margins. In 2007 RBS bought ABN in a bid to rival the big network banks. It promptly went bust, proving that two dogs do not make a tiger. The global giants also lost market share in Asia to so-called “super-regional” banks, such as ANZ of Australia and DBS of Singapore. Big local banks in emerging markets, such as ICBC in China, Itaú in Brazil and ICICI in India, also began to build out cross-border operations.

If mismanagement and fierce competition were problems before the crisis, the regulatory backlash after it has been brutal. American officials have begun to enforce strict rules on money-laundering, tax evasion and sanctions, meaning that global banks must know their customers, and their customers’ customers, if they want to maintain access to America’s financial system—which is essential given that the dollar is the world’s reserve currency. Huge fines have been imposed on StanChart, BNP and HSBC, among others, for breaking these rules.

Bank supervisors, meanwhile, have imposed higher capital standards on global banks. Most face both the international “Basel 3” regime and a hotch-potch of local and regional regimes. A rule of thumb is that big global banks will need buffers of equity (or “core tier one capital”) equivalent to 12-13% of their risk-adjusted assets, compared to about 10% for domestic firms. National regulators increasingly demand that global banks ring-fence their local operations, limiting their ability to shift capital around the world. The cost of operating the systems that keep regulators happy is huge. HSBC’s compliance costs rose to $2.4 billion in 2014, 50% higher than the year before. JPMorgan is spending $3 billion more on controls than it did in 2011.

One measure of these firms’ viability is their “best case” return on equity (ie, assuming that the huge, supposedly, one-off legal fines and restructuring costs incurred over the past half-decade suddenly stop, but the new capital standards are fully implemented). On this basis most global banks barely achieve 10% (see prior chart). The overall figures hide lots of rot. After three decades of trying to diversify from its base in Asia, HSBC still makes the bulk of its money there; the other two-thirds of its business underperforms badly for the most part. JPMorgan Chase’s profits are more evenly spread, but about two-thirds of its businesses fail to cross the 10% hurdle. The same is true of StanChart. From the outside—and perhaps from the inside, too—Citi’s reporting system is too crude to make any sensible judgment. Deutsche looks better than most, but many of its rivals question its capital calculations.

Another test of viability is to compare the benefits of being global with the costs. In February JPMorgan Chase said that the revenue uplift and cost savings it gets from its scale boost profits by $6 billion-7 billion a year. There is a plausible case that the extra capital it must carry, and the regulatory costs its complexity incurs, offset a big chunk of that benefit. (If they dared to reveal them, the figures for other banks would probably look far worse.) Scale does not seem to mean cheaper funding. It is no cheaper to buy a credit-default swap, which pays out if a borrower goes bust and so is a reasonable proxy for borrowing costs, on the debt of JPMorgan Chase or Citi than it is on that of mid-sized American banks. All are regarded by debt investors as government-backed.

The financial arguments for global banks no longer appear convincing. Yet unscrambling these firms would be hellish. And in any case both managers and investors see two possible rays of light. One is gradually rising interest rates in America: JPMorgan Chase reckons these might add a fifth to its profits by 2017. The other is declining competition, which would allow them to raise their prices. The withdrawal of second-tier banks should help—on February 26th RBS said it would shrink its commercial and investment-banking operations down to 13 countries from over 50 at the peak of its pomp in 2008.

Yet there are always new competitors to push down margins. Japanese banks are on a cross-border lending bender for the first time since the 1980s. China’s banks are steadily expanding. The Western network banks were right to assume that globalisation would lead to a big increase in the amounts of money sloshing around the world. They have yet to work out how to prosper from it.



Why You Will Always End Up Doing Your Marketing Yourself

Talking to startups and clients I sometimes get the impression, they believe for their marketing it would be sufficient to get some influencers to give a shout out or to get a handful of bloggers to write some coverage.

The hard truth is: It is part of your job as an entrepreneur to market your business, and if you do not get this job done, you are likely to fail. And the influencers and bloggers have their own interests in mind, it is not their job to do your marketing.

Don’t get me wrong: Of course there is help to be had and you should go for every help that you can get (or afford): Talk to people who have done it. Get someone to advise you on how to get started and how to optimize your marketing processes. But it is not the job of influencers, bloggers or friends and family to give you persistent exposure. And that is what you are looking for if you really want to make your venture a success.

The hard truth is:

One article on TechCrunch, Mashable or GigaOM will give you traffic for a day or two, if you are lucky a few hundred of signups – most of which are going to forget about you tomorrow. (How I know? Been there, done that.)

A shout out from an influencer (hopefully from your area of interest) on Facebook or Twitter might give you some attention – or it might not even do that. Those visitors are very unlikely to turn into instant customers.

And why do you think a blogger should do your marketing by covering your new service? You might be lucky and convince a blogger to write about your cool service – congratulations. Your chances are higher, if you target the influencers well. Just blasting out to everyone with a large Twitter following will not get you anywhere. However, this can be great for bringing your products before an already attentive audience – but keep in mind that this is not your audience. Tomorrow these people will again listen to the same blogger writing about other products and services. And you will still have to figure out how to market your product.

Marketing is about building brand recognition and trust

You need persistence and constant exposure for this. To manage this with bloggers or influencers when your startup is still small and yet has to proof it is going to grow and last, is more than hard. One shout out or one big blog writing about you is not going to make your marketing. You would need an ongoing stream of TechCrunch articles, influencer shout outs and blog articles – the only way to achieve that is with marketing.


This Sticker Automatically Injects Meds When a Chemo Patient Can't

Chemotherapy is a brutal but often life-saving treatment for an even worse disease. It can also reduce a patient's white blood cell count, which hinders the body's ability to fight off infections. Injections of Neulasta (pegfilgrastim) can help boost white blood cells, if given exactly a day later. That's where this sticker comes in handy.

To ensure those injections are given a full 27 hours after chemotherapy, this sticker, applied after treatment, automatically injects the necessary dosage exactly when needed.

The side effects of chemotherapy are notoriously unpleasant, and having to immediately return to a doctor's office for a shot while a patient is trying to recover isn't easy. So Amgen, the company who manufactures Neulasta, created this stick-on injector that allows chemotherapy patients to automatically receive the necessary injection while they're comfortably recovering at home. It also means there are less patients filling a clinic's waiting room who are just there for a simple shot.

The Neulasta injector does need to be applied to a patient by a medical professional. It uses a small needle inserted under the skin for the medication to be properly delivered—it's not just a sticker. But it can be applied and prepped while a patient is still at the clinic receiving their chemotherapy. After the injection it can presumably be easily removed by the patient, or their caregiver, without the need for further medical intervention. So it saves them from having to make the trip to a doctor while they're feeling awful, which helps make the treatment slightly more bearable.



Great Satire and Marketing Take Care of "Unfinished Business"

Satire is best when everyone can laugh. Such is the case with a marketing campaign for the movie Unfinished Business, which opens today.

Vince Vaughn, Tom Wilkinson and Dave Franco strike the poses we know so well from stock photos — those generic images adorning white papers, clickbait and yes, even blog posts on this venue. To promote their movie, the actors recreate many of your favorite stock photo stereotypes, such as business people pointing at a screen; business people inexplicably standing in wedge formation; and business people clapping about … something.

“Successful brands are becoming platforms and need to do more than just drive consumers to a purchase,” a Forbes story about digital marketing stated. “They have to inspire them to participate.”

You can participate by using these images in your next PowerPoint presentation or corporate newsletter. And you can download the images here for free; so you don’t have to see the movie or buy a stock photo subscription to play along.

This is the intersection of brilliant parody and culturally savvy marketing. And everyone is in on the joke, from the movie studio, 20th Century Fox, to a stock image company, iStock by Getty Images.

“We hope these images bring a smile to people’s faces as they recognize classic business stock concepts with a twist,” Craig Peters, general manager of iStock by Getty Images in a statement on Getty’s Web page.

iStock is even creating the illusion of scarcity by offering only four of 12 downloads at a time. You’d have to visit the Web site every week for three weeks to collect all of the photos.

Unfinished Business is a comedy about “a hard-working small business owner and his two associates who travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives,” according to the movie’s IMDB page. “But what began as a routine business trip goes off the rails in every way imaginable — and unimaginable.”

Speaking of IMDB, these stock images already appear as photos on the actors’ pages. We can’t be surprised by Vaughn and Franco participating in these shenanigans, given their roles in comedies such as Old School and 21 Jump Street.



Big & Fast Data: The Rise of Insight-Driven Business

We live in a fast-moving, complex world of increasingly connected people and connected things that are creating vast new digital footprints. To thrive, organizations need to make sense of this big and fast-moving data, to gain real-time access to powerful insights and deliver them at the point of action. But how are data-driven insights changing businesses? Where are organizations today and where are they going?

We surveyed 1,000 C-level executives and senior decision makers in nine regions and nine industries to help us assess where the market is heading.

Big data has brought the market to an inflection point, causing massive disruption:
64% of companies believe that big data is changing traditional business boundaries
58% expect to face increased competition from start-ups enabled by data
24% of companies report disruption from new competitors moving into their industry
In our report, we explore how far companies have got with their initiatives to gain and use insights from big data. Although everybody has realized it is time to move, there are still barriers to big data adoption. We look at the steps that organizations are taking to address them and explain how these steps can evolve into a set of guiding principles that can shape an effective transformation into an insights-led organization.

Today, big data is about business disruption. Organizations are embarking on a battle not just for success but for survival. If you want to survive it’s time to act.

The real battle is for the data that delivers the most relevant and pertinent insights – the combination of data sets that enable effective and more rapid monetization of data. Your data could ultimately become more valuable than your traditional product or services. Big data technologies are the enabler for developing new business models to make that happen.

Profiting from big data is at least as much about organizational integration, change and evolution as it is about the underlying technology. Organizations in our study are already implementing the technology. Now they need to drive the organizational changes needed to make it effective.



Your New Mantra: Done Is Better Than Perfect. Keep the momentum going, and don't take a zero. That's how the truly exceptional do it. One foot in front of the other.

At the elite level, mental performance--and mental toughness--is what separates the vast pool of "really goods" from the truly exceptional.

And, just like any other world class skill, elite mental toughness isn't something you pick up in a few hours, or over the weekend. Building and keeping it is "abnormal."

I don't say that to discourage you, or to make it seem like it's impossible to improve your own mental performance. In fact, it's the opposite. It's hard to do, but the only barrier between doing it and not doing it is deciding that you'll be determined and consistent.

Unlike throwing a 97-mph fastball, hitting a 320-yard tee shot or shooting a three-pointer, it doesn't take superhuman skill to be mentally tough.

Anybody can do it. It's a matter of going to the "mental gym" I talked about in a previous column, and applying yourself every day.

The every-day part is where most people struggle.

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You decide that you want to get in better shape, so you join a gym. You do all the "right" things. You hire a trainer for an introductory session, to get an idea of what kinds of exercises to do. You start going every day, and pound the weights and treadmill hard.

For two weeks, it's great. You're feeling better, and the lifting and running is becoming easier.

But then, you have to travel for work for a few days. When you come back, you want to spend some time with your kids, so you blow off the gym for the weekend and resolve that you'll pick it up again on Monday.

You don't get to the gym until Tuesday, and when you weigh yourself in the locker room, you're back to where you where at the beginning of the process. You get frustrated, and you drop out of the workout routine like you have before.

That's "normal."

To be "abnormal," you don't need superhuman willpower, or to spend thousands of dollars on a trainer to guilt yourself into a commitment.

You need to start with a small step.

Instead of striving to be perfect, commit to getting something done.

Take the mental workouts I described in the other column. They take two minutes to complete. Even at that short interval, there will be days when you don't feel like doing it, or you get too busy.

Instead of putting it off until the next day or some other time, do something. Even if it's just 30 seconds. Whether your working out your mind or your body in the gym, every workout doesn't have to be perfect.

Keep the momentum going, and don't take a zero. That's how the truly exceptional do it. One foot in front of the other.

Done is better than perfect.



IMF Expected To Approve Fresh Ukraine Bailout

The board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is widely expected to approve a fresh $17.5 billion loan program for Ukraine when it meets on March 11.

The Ukrainian economy -- forecast to contract by 5.5 percent in 2015 -- has suffered in the past year as government forces fight pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine and trade with Russia has almost ceased.

Last week, Ukrainian lawmakers passed austerity measures, including pension cuts and tax increases, intended to help secure the fresh IMF bailout package.

Kyiv hopes to receive up to $11 billion this year to boost its international reserves, which are at their lowest level in more than a decade.

President Petro Poroshenko this week called on the country to "look truth in the eye" and stay united.

"As long as there is war there will be no investment in Ukraine, and people must be told the truth," he said in an interview on March 9.



Google in initial talks to buy Indian startup InMobi: source

Google Inc (GOOGL.O) is in early talks to buy Bangalore-based start-up InMobi, in a move that would strengthen its offering in the increasingly competitive mobile advertising space, a source with direct knowledge of the matter said.

InMobi, which helps companies target phones and mobile devices in their advertising, was launched in 2007 and claims to have over 1 billion users across 200 countries. It counts Japan's SoftBank (9984.T), an early backer of China's Alibaba, and early stage venture capital firm Sherpalo among investors.

The source, who asked not to be named because the companies have not made the negotiations public, said talks were at an early stage. The source said Google had not yet detailed its terms and conditions for the deal.

InMobi would likely be valued at around $1 billion, the source said.

The Economic Times newspaper first reported news of these ongoing talks on Wednesday.

Both InMobi and Google declined to comment.



12 Easy Steps to Massive Business Success With Pinterest. 70 million people can't be wrong. Use the power of Pinterest to grow your business now.

Pinterest is an image-filled catalogue of possibilities. Users create boards such as "my dream home," wedding or party ideas, favorite clothes or shoes, awesome DIY projects--and much, much more. A user then searches for vivid images through Pinterest, Internet searches, or off their favorite websites and pins them to their board.

Simply put, people use Pinterest to create boards that represent the things that interest them most. They pin images to their boards that they would love to own, experience, share with others--their boards are their place to go back to that fully resonates with who they are.

As of January 2015, more than 70 million people were using Pinterest. 80 percent of these users are women. Women account for more than 85 percent of consumer purchases. And, the number of pins (or pictures) sent every day through Pinterest is over 2 million. Pinterest is growing so rapidly that it is now creating more internet traffic than Twitter and Reddit combined.

There are more than 30 billion pins and growing--rapidly--on Pinterest.

In just one example of the power of Pinterest--a Denver-based company pinned one of their products onto Pinterest, and the very next week their virtually unknown website was visited 48,000 times. They went from a small-time company to a multi-million dollar company within 18 months.

Think that marketing your business through Pinterest just might be the way to go? If the answer is yes, here are 12 easy steps to knock your business out of the park (in a very good way) with Pinterest.

1. Set up a Business Page on Pinterest (not a personal page).

2. Your business page should have your business name, website, and a very clear description of what you are offering or what your company is about.

3. If your company is connected, link your Pinterest account to your company's Twitter, Facebook, and Google accounts. Have a successful Facebook business page? Check out Pinvolve and increase repins by more than 150%.

4. Explore Pinterest. Search similar products or services and take note of boards, popular pins, and commentary--it's always enlightening to see what pinners are saying and asking.

5. If you don't have images of your products or services (or don't think the ones you do have will work), brainstorm ideas and come up with beautiful, imaginative, and persuasive images. You may need to hire a professional photographer--beautiful images fly on Pinterest.

6. Each image representing your company should be linked to your website and contain rich, clear descriptions.

7. Create some boards--each board should represent your business in a different way. Title boards with keywords--make it easy for pinners to find your images.

8. So that Pinterest users can easily pin images from your website, add a Pin It Button to your website or add an On Hover Pin It Button. The On Hover Pin It Button is not mobile friendly

9. Pin images from your website and from other related pins throughout Pinterest onto your boards.

10. Once established on Pinterest, you will be able to use Pinterest Analytics, which tracks your success and provides invaluable information to help you navigate and grow your business.

11. Communication is important too--follow those businesses on Pinterest that you normally follow on other platforms and if someone leaves a comment or question on one of your pinned images, always follow up.

12. The above steps will get your company on the map within the huge, wonderful world of Pinterest. Keep searching, pinning, interacting, and learning all that Pinterest has to offer. If you Need Help, Pinterest is there to support you and your company.



Y Combinator-Backed SIRUM Matches Unused Medicine With Low-Income Patients

An estimated $5 billion worth of prescription medication gets burned up, flushed down the drain or thrown in the garbage each year. About $2 billion worth of it just sits on the shelf at long-term care facilities in the United States until it expires, according to University of Chicago researchers.

That’s a terrible waste, considering prescription medication is one of the highest costs in our healthcare system and that one in four families in the United States can’t afford to pay for those prescribed medications.

SIRUM (Supporting Initiatives to Redistribute Unused Medicine) is a Y Combinator-backed nonprofit that operates out of the Haas Center at Stanford University. It’s a patent-pending software platform that acts as a sort of on-demand inventory for pharmacies and care facilities to make it easier to redistribute the otherwise unused medications to patients who can’t afford to pay for their prescriptions each year.

The law varies from state to state but 42 states and Guam currently have some sort of “Good Samaritan” program for donated, unused, unexpired medications to low-income patients with a valid prescription. There are state-run drug-donation facilities and other third-party programs, such as Dispose My Meds to locate places to donate this unused medicine in each area, as well.

SIRUM works with these drug donation facilities, pharmacies, nursing homes and clinics as a peer-to-peer redistribution platform that cuts out third-party networks. Instead it lets each organization upload their medical surpluses and needs on the platform in order to find a match for patients in need at that moment.

SIRUM co-founders Kiah Williams, George Wang and Adam Kircher estimate the service has helped redistribute about $3 million worth of unopened, unexpired pills to 20,000 low-income patients since its start in 2011.

With funding from Y Combinator, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, and, SIRUM is currently operating within California, Oregon and Colorado at the moment. It plans to eventually open in all 50 states.



Minister sees 'out-dated attitudes' towards apprentices

The skills minister says parents and teachers often have "outdated attitudes" towards apprenticeships.

Nick Boles said apprenticeships should be regarded as a clear alternative to a full-time university place.

Marking national apprentice week, he said he wanted to promote the idea that apprentices could "go as far as they want to go".

Labour has also been highlighting the issue, saying it would introduce a "gold standard" for apprenticeships.

Mr Boles believes apprenticeships have an image problem with older generations - teachers and parents - because they were brought up at a time when university was the clear choice for able pupils.

'Attitude problem'

But he said young people were increasingly seeing them as a viable career path, partly as an "unintended consequence" of university tuition fees.

"People are making quite hard-headed pragmatic judgements," he said.

"I certainly think that when I was growing up, even though many fewer people went to university, there was this sense that if you could go to university, then of course you would - it was automatic, the government basically paid for it and it was the thing you would do if you could.

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I would like to get to a place where there's a choice between two routes, both of which could take you as far as you want to go - one of which is a full-time university degree, the other is an apprenticeship”

He said there was still a perception that apprenticeships were for "mechanics and brickies".

And while he was quick to stress these were important, he said they were by no means the whole picture.

"You can now become an apprentice lawyer, an apprentice accountant, or an apprentice journalist, and I think that perception is taking some time to change," he said.

Mr Boles acknowledged the UK lagged behind other countries - notably Germany - where apprenticeships are regarded far more positively as routes into trades and technical professions.

He said we could learn much from Germany, but it would not fit "our economic model" in its entirety.

"I would like to get to a place where there's a choice between two routes, both of which could take you as far as you want to go - one of which is a full-time university degree, the other is an apprenticeship," he said.

The minister was speaking during a visit to Holition, a London-based creative technology company, which specialises in supplying retailers.

He was shown a "virtual mirror" the company has developed that allows shoppers to see what they would look like in selected clothes without having to change into them, or how make-up might look without having to actually put any on.

To my uneducated eye, it appeared to work by magic.

Thomas Monkman, who is 20 years old, could be described as a poster boy of the government's apprenticeship campaign.

He joined the company as an 18-year-old, and three weeks into his 13-month apprenticeship was handling an important project for Hugo Boss.

"I wanted to get straight into programming and this apprenticeship was a great way to do that.

"I wanted to see how programming is actually used in the real world, rather than in theory," he told me.

"Everyone is just told to go down the university route, apprenticeships are not even seen as a viable alternative.

"But it was a fairly easy choice for me - I wanted learn practically, rather than academically.

"Of course there should be a balance - university is the best option for some people.

"But I think apprenticeships should be more widely known about and used."

"We can find talented people, but they can't necessarily do what we need them to do - apprenticeships give us the chance to mould people into what we need," he said.

"We had quite high minded - almost philanthropic - reasons why we wanted to take on an apprentice.

"But we very quickly realised it was a sound investment.

"We ended up with someone specifically trained to fit into our business."

But Mr Chippindale also recognises that the apprentices also need to benefit.

"We had to prove to him that we were a better career choice for him than going to university."

"Thomas joined at a busy time, and we threw him in at the deep end.

"Three weeks into his apprenticeship he was doing a project for Hugo Boss by himself."

Labour have also been marking national apprentice week, with the shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna outlining his party's plans.

He said he wanted to see more "high-quality apprenticeships, and routes on to technical degrees".

He said he wanted to see the same number of school leavers going into apprenticeships as go to university by 2025.

But he said in order to "ensure genuine parity of esteem between academic and vocational pathways", quality should not be sacrificed for quantity, and that expansion should be "based on a relentless commitment to excellence".



EEFIG report: Energy Efficiency is the first fuel for the EU Economy
Deutsche Bank contributes to land-mark energy efficiency finance report for the European Union. The conclusion: Energy efficiency investment is the most cost effective way to reduce the European Union’s reliance, and expenditure, on energy imports which today cost the EU over EUR 400 billion a year.
In 2050, 75-90% of today’s buildings will still be in use but 75% of current buildings were built with no or minimal focus on energy efficiency. As buildings account for 40% of Europe’s energy consumption, increasing the renovation rate of buildings is critical. As well, only half of the estimated EUR 60 -100 billion of annual investment required to achieve Europe's 2020 energy efficiency targets in buildings is being met. The dramatic fall in the oil price, and its likely impact in lower European gas prices, highlights the need for Europe to have buildings, industry and SMEs whose competitiveness and running costs are better insulated from the uncertainties and volatility created by commodity price shocks. Combined with the need for Europe to transition to a competitive low carbon economy, these factors make increasing the level of energy efficiency investment of strategic importance to Europe.
International landmark study on how to scale-up investment levels

The European Commission and UNEP Finance Initiative (UNEP FI) co-convened a group of finance and other experts to recommend ways to scale-up investment levels. Deutsche Bank was a core member of the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG), which recently published its final report “Energy Efficiency – the first fuel for the EU Economy: How to drive new finance for energy efficiency investments”. The EEFIG report identifies the critical success factors, policies, market instruments and financing solutions to increase energy efficiency investments in Europe in the buildings, industry and SME sectors. The international landmark study is the result of 16 months of work of more than 120 active participants representing finance, policy makers, the buildings sector, industry, SMEs and energy efficiency market participants.
A five-fold increase in private energy efficiency investments in European buildings is required

The EEFIG report estimates that a five-fold increase in private energy efficiency investments in European buildings is required by 2030. Whilst there is no single solution, EEFIG identifies a framework of cross-cutting measures and requirements for different building and industry sub-segments. EEFIG identifies the need to engage multiple stakeholder groups, scale-up the use of several financial instruments within a clear and enforced “carrot and stick” legislative framework and identifies 19 recommended market and policy actions in four strategic areas of market, economic, financial and institutional.
Investing into energy efficiency measures is fundamentally important for Europe

European Commission Vice President, Maroš Šefcovic, welcomed the launch of the report with the following words: "Investing into energy efficiency measures in buildings, industry and in SMEs is fundamentally important for Europe. I will strive to ensure that energy efficiency investment financing is looked at in our forthcoming policies and that this Report will be used as inspiration for our further work.” The EEFIG report had a direct influence on the new European Energy Union strategy.

Caio Koch-Weser, Vice Chairman of Deutsche Bank, said in reference to EEFIG’s work: “Our experience and research shows that energy efficiency finance and investment opportunities can be profitable and contribute to improving energy security, economic growth and reduce our footprint. Scaling up investment into Europe’s buildings and industry requires much greater cooperation between policy makers, companies and the financial sector. There is also great potential to help deepen the real estate investment industry’s already strong focus on energy efficiency by using robust information, incentives and targets to drive investment.”

Felipe Calderón, Former President of Mexico and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate commented: “This report’s conclusion that scaling up energy efficiency is strategically and economically important for the European Union matches both my experience in government and the conclusion of the New Climate Economy initiative. Energy efficiency is already the biggest source of “new” energy supply, but large untapped potential remains in Europe. Implementing the report’s recommendations can support economic growth and help tackle climate change at the same time.”

Deutsche Bank’s financial expertise to assist clients in reducing energy use

There are many ways in which Deutsche Bank is active in energy efficiency and deploys our financial expertise to assist clients in reducing energy use:

The Bank has made significant efforts to reduce our own energy use, such as the green refurbishment of the Frankfurt Towers and installing energy efficient services, lighting and heating systems in many of our buildings and using green leases in more of the buildings we occupy. These efforts contribute to the Bank’s carbon neutrality and cost reduction goals.

This expertise was used to help win the fund mandate for the European Energy Efficiency Fund, which invests in projects to improve the energy efficiency of public sector buildings.

Deutsche AWM real estate has an increasing focus on energy efficiency and will publish an annual report on progress in March, alongside Deutsche Bank’s Annual Report and Corporate Responsibility report
Deutsche AWM real estate has an energy efficient property investment team focused on retrofits of physical buildings.

The Sal Oppenheim managed Green For Growth Fund focuses on investments in Southeast Europe and other neighboring countries such as Turkey and Ukraine.

The Corporate Banking & Securities (CB&S) division has structured an energy efficiency bond in California and is a leading player in the growing green bond market.
The Private and Business Clients (PBC) division provides loans to businesses and individuals to support energy efficiency and renewable energy investment.