Author Jim Zellmer

British Government Picks Illumina to Sequence 100,000 Genomes

Antonio Regaldo:

The British government says that it plans to hire the U.S. gene-sequencing company Illumina to sequence 100,000 human genomes in what is the largest national project to decode the DNA of a populace.
 
 In a regulatory filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Illumina said it had been picked as the “preferred partner” for the £100 million project.
 
 Genomics England confirmed that it had chosen the California company to carry out the sequencing project. “We’ve been through the ‘bake-off’ process to find the right company to do the sequencing, and will now be entering detailed negotiations,” says Vivienne Parry, a spokesperson for Genomics England.

How has Restaurant Behavior Changed in 10 years?

A New York Restraunt:

Like most restaurants in NYC we have a surveillance system, and unlike today where it’s a digital system, 10 years ago we still used special high capacity tapes to record all activity. At any given time we had 4 special Sony systems recording multiple cameras. We would store the footage for 90 days just in case we need it for something.
 
 The firm we hired suggested we locate some of the older tapes and analyze how the staff behaved 10 years ago versus how they behave now. We went down to our storage room but we couldn’t find any tapes at all.
 
 We did find the recording devices, and luckily for us, each device has 1 tape in it that we simply never removed when we upgraded to the new digital system.
 
 The date stamp on the old footage was Thursday July 1 2004, the restaurant was real busy that day. We loaded up the footage on a large size monitor, and next to it on a separate monitor loaded up the footage of Thursday July 3 2014, the amount of customers where only a bit more than 10 years prior.

The future photograph

Sam Gerstanzang:

When an expensive thing becomes free, new behaviors emerge. When a private thing becomes public, new behaviors emerge. Below, some thoughts on the swirling cloud of photographs that we are creating together.
 
 We are in the middle of a redefinition of what constituents value in a photograph. On one hand, photographs are cheaper, which should lower the received value necessary to justify the taking of the photograph. On the other hand, abundance creates scarcity of attention and we now have always-on instant access to the best photographs, which devalues the amateur. Going forward, personal photographs will have two purposes: 1) memory of personal circumstance and 2) personal expression. What kinds of photographs will be taken when we have perfect information? The future photographer will ask themselves, what are the odds that this picture, but better, doesn’t exist already?

Federal Reserve & Financial Bubbles

Jeffrey Snider:

The only way any of this makes sense is if you buy the primordial orthodox premise that monetary policy is neutral in the long run (or even intermediately). Taking that line will lead you to believe asset bubbles are just markets gone insane of their own accord. Then again, Yellen has largely been hostile to “markets” since her academic career brought some notice, so this is really no surprise. But to experience, right now, the repo market collateral shortage and QE’s direct impact and to still blame markets for lack of resilience is either inordinate impudence or targeted public relations.
 
 I cannot overstate this enough, the selloff last year was a desperate warning about the lack of resilience in credit and funding. That repo markets persist in that is, again, the opposite of the picture Janet Yellen is trying to clumsily fashion. Central banks cannot create that because their intrusion axiomatically alters the state of financial affairs, and they know this. It has always been the idea (“extend and pretend” among others) to do so with the expectation that economic growth would allow enough margin for error to go back and clean up these central bank alterations. That has never happened, and the modifications persist.

a Critique of Advertising Analytics

Ken Segall:

Ace Metrix sells marketing analytics software and competitive comparisons. Their findings generate stories, which at the same time generate PR for Ace. An excellent way to build “the new standard” in analytics.
 
 But what exactly is the “Ace Score” of which they speak? If you have the stomach, read on.
 Exposing each ad to 500 people, Ace calibrates creative effectiveness by two key measures — Persuasion and Watchability. In their own words:
 
 “The Persuasion rating is based on the interactivity of six data elements – Desire, Relevance, Likeability, Attention, Information and Change – automatically captured and analyzed for each ad. Watchability measures the engagement that a person has with the ad. Watchability and Persuasion interact to create the Ace Score.”
 
 This is the kind of language that gives talented people nightmares, because it often gives ammunition to people who aren’t particularly good at judging creative work.
 I get that a lot of companies feel compelled to subject their ads to deep analysis. But — would you like to know how Steve Jobs analyzed an ad? He looked at it and said “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” After it ran, he gauged the reactions to it.
 
 Ace’s type of analysis is the reason why so many companies, usually the bigger ones, begin to churn out drivel. They get more concerned with ratcheting up their “six data elements” than creating great ads.
 Steve didn’t tolerate that kind of thinking. Apple’s history of great advertising is the validation of his approach.

Moaning Moguls

James Surowiecki:

The past few years have been very good to Stephen Schwarzman, the chairman and C.E.O. of the Blackstone Group, the giant private-equity firm. His industry, which relies on borrowed money, has benefitted from low interest rates, and the stock-market boom has given his firm great opportunities to cash out investments. Schwarzman is now worth more than ten billion dollars. You wouldn’t think he’d have much to complain about. But, to hear him tell it, he’s beset by a meddlesome, tax-happy government and a whiny, envious populace. He recently grumbled that the U.S. middle class has taken to “blaming wealthy people” for its problems. Previously, he has said that it might be good to raise income taxes on the poor so they had “skin in the game,” and that proposals to repeal the carried-interest tax loophole—from which he personally benefits—were akin to the German invasion of Poland.

The IPO is dying. Marc Andreessen explains why

Timothy Lee:

This is so powerful in the conventional wisdom right now. I love the Daily Show like everyone else does. But literally [Jon Stewart's] answer to every issue is Congress should pass a law. [People think you can] solve any problem by passing enough laws.
 
 I don’t see the world getting less dramatic. I don’t see the world calming down.
 
 The loop we’re in now is that people are getting upset and disappointed by the stock market. There are no growth stocks, which means there’s no growth. Stock market returns have been weak for 15 years, which is exactly what you’d expect if you took all the growth out. Everyone is upset the stock market isn’t performing. The worse the results get, the more regulation you get. It’s in its own kind of doom loop. Unless something happens to shock the system a lot, our assumption is it gets worse, not better.

Understanding Disruption: Insights From The History Of Business

Steve Denning:

“Before I read this book,” writes W. Brian Arthur of the Santa Fe Institute “I thought that the history of technology was – to borrow Churchill’s phrase – merely ‘one damned thing after another’. Not so. Carlota Perez shows us that historically technological revolutions arrive with remarkable regularity, and that economies react to them in predictable phases.”
 
 Pérez takes a long-term horizon: several hundred years—much longer than either Christensen or Lepore. She draws on many disciplines: history, economics, finance, technology, sociology and management. Ironically, the breadth and depth of the book is one reason why it has been neglected by academics. It’s too bold and wide-ranging for any of them to accept it as “one of theirs”.
 
 The book is guilty of other academic sins. It is clearly written and succinct—a mere 171 pages. And the succinctness is accompanied by precise details on the vast territory covered—the story of capitalism over the last 250 years.

Rise of the American Professional Sports Cartel

Everyday Systems:

There’s one thing strange about “competitive” sports teams. Although teams compete with one another for championships, they act in unison to protect one another’s business; they are a cartel. Therefore, a league should actually be considered a single, uniform entity. They vote together and present a single face towards outsiders in all business matters.
 
 We see this behavior strongly enforced when a team’s owners experience financial turmoil. In a competitive environment, the fittest survive and the weak perish; in the professional sports world, the league supports the struggling team through financial distress. For example, the MLB league office gave an emergency $25 million loan to the New York Mets owners after they struggled to pay their expenses. It also happened in 2010 when the owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets, George Shinn, was struggling financially. The league purchased the Hornets from Shinn and the Hornets were jointly owned by the 29 other teams’ owners until an official purchaser could be found.
 
 Another mark of a cartel is exclusivity, No single owner can join the league or do what he wants without the approval of the rest of the league. During the Hornets sale process, many potential owners emerged who wanted to move the Hornets out of New Orleans. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had offered $350 million – far above market value – but was widely thought to want to move the team to his native Bay Area. The NBA refused to let Shinn sell his own private property at the best price. He could only sell to a person who would keep the team in New Orleans.

What Drives the Revolving Door Between the Government and Wall Street?

Ryan Tracy:

“High gross inflows into regulation during times of regulatory intensity may reflect workers moving into [the] regulatory sector to get schooled in the new complexity,” the researchers write.
 
 So, rather than joining the government to go easy on banks, the paper suggests workers may be coming to Washington to gain a better understanding of how regulation works — and then using that knowledge to land higher-paying private sector jobs.
 
 The paper also found regulators are having trouble retaining workers. About 64% of people that started working in regulation in 2008 stayed in those jobs for three years or more, the paper found. That compared to 88% for workers that began in 1988. And workers with higher education seem particularly inclined to leave, the paper said. (It also noted that “job flows” in and out of the regulatory sector were still smaller than in other parts of the labor market.)