Weekend Digest: The Hay Isn’t In The Barn

by Talk Business & Politics staff (staff2@talkbusiness.net) 5 views 

For our weekend business readers:

Fourth quarter 2012 earnings for major retailers are due out in mid-February and although analysts are predicting good results for some, Sears’ and JCP’s are expected to be “disappointing” again.  Forbes reports that JCP even started slashing prices unannounced.

Sears Holding has indicated that the fourth quarter sales were disappointing with sales dropping and earnings are also likely to be below last year. This happened despite the fact that Sears stores are picking up some apparel sales from J.C.Penney stores. Let’s face it, retailers started to take markdowns as early as December 10, when JCPenney started slashing prices. This was not planned.

Forbes points out that the fourth quarter is when retailers earn the most significant part of their annual profits and its projections for JCP are frightening.

I continue to worry that some retailers – like Sears and JC Penney — have not grasped the need for reporting profitable growth in the fourth quarter.  Only through intelligent and innovative management can a store thrive; Q4 earnings will show some retailers are missing the boat.

To learn more about why JCP and Sears are missing the boat and to get their projected Q4 numbers, click here for the full analysis.

Say that again?  Well it’s fairly simple in formula if you think about it.  Most big companies, and in this case we’re talking a huge company, have their own intranet to communicate within house.  What if you designed a social network for the same purpose?  Fast Company reports that by “setting up a secret C-suite skunkworks to launch a custom social network from scratch,” the CEO of Possible Worldwide pulled off a remarkable feat to unify his company that has 32 global offices and four fresh acquisitions.

When Shane Atchison took the job of CEO at Possible Worldwide in April, he needed a way to get in sync with 1,100 people across 32 offices. Possible, a division of the advertising giant WPP, then acquired three small companies in four months, making the issue even more pressing. How do you build a sense of community when you’ve got people from Poland and Budapest and Moscow connecting with people in Cincinnati or Seattle? “You can’t fly everyone around and say, let’s be friends,” says Atchison.

The corporate intranet was okay for sharing templates and forms but terrible for sharing knowledge.  Atchison figured he could kill both problems with a social network.  Not Facebook, not Linkedin, not Tumblr or National Field, but a brand new one built specifically for them. It was named CoLab.

Go inside the story for an in-depth look at how Atchison’s team achieved this monumental task and the mindsets and formulas they used to shape their own social network.  And why did they keep it so secret from employees?  Click here to find out.

Let’s face it.  When it comes to Silicon Valley-type technology, most Americans think that technology probably flows around the world from west to east.  But that’s not what one American-educated entrepreneur thought, and his decision to start his mobile technology business in his home country of India has paid off.

After testing the waters, my co-founders and I pivoted around mobile advertising to launch InMobi, the global company we’re proud of today. From the outset, we wanted to break the mould of the mobile technology market and rather than base ourselves in the U.S., which was the biggest market for mobile advertising at the time, we decided to build out the technology platform from India’s Silicon Valley, Bangalore. We raised early venture funding from blue-chip valley firms Kleiner Perkins and Sherpalo and set out to grow the business.

Venture Beat reports that Naveen Tewari’s company now has become a global player with revenues from 150 countries on three continents, including the U.S., all with an east to west strategy.

For the VB post, Tewari outlines five key approaches that made his east to west strategy work, including “Think globally.”

Having a global presence means acting like a global company. From the very beginning, we thought like a global company and didn’t compromise on hiring the best talent. No matter where you’re starting your company, East or West, you can’t afford to think small.

For more on this remarkable east to west venture and its strategies click on this link.

Besides fighting the severe drought, floods, and higher prices on everything from diesel to feed prices, now the New York Times reports farmers are being faced with another crisis.  Theft of a precious commodity, hay.

Months of punishing drought and grass fires have pushed the price of hay, grain and other animal feed to near records, making the golden bales an increasingly irresistible target for thieves. Some steal them for profit. Others are fellow farmers acting out of desperation, their fields too brown to graze animals and their finances too wrecked to afford enough feed for their cattle.

Hay rustling has reached epic proportions in some areas of the country, and even a load of hay is suspected stolen, it’s not the sort of thing that can be easily identified as the former owners’.

Because one bundle of hay tends to look like every other one, once a bale is stolen, reclaiming it is harder than finding a needle in a — well, never mind.

Go inside the Times post for the full story on what farmers are doing to ward off hay thieves including some high tech options.

France-based photographer David Keochkerian’s photographs are beautiful but bizarre.  The reason?  He takes them, mostly landscapes, in infrared.

Seasons seem reversed, with white trees appearing in spring and bushes are transformed into something that looks like fragile blades of bubblegum.

You can see a selection of his surreal photography at this link from Slate.

According to Mashable, a company has developed a compact solar charger that if placed in the sun for 8 hours will fully charge a smart phone or tablet and provide eight hours of reading light (we could have used that with the recent power outages).

That’s the claim of the makers of the Wakawaka Power Compact Solar Charger, a Kickstarter project that’s far surpassed its original expectations. It’s received more than $232,000 worth of pledges, blasting through its $50,000 goal.

“The device has been so successful, when the Wakawaka Power passed the $100,000 mark, the company decided to offer 25% extra battery capacity to everyone who invested in it.”

Find out more about the company and when investors might actually receive the first solar chargers by navigating to this link.