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Archive for the ‘Economy’ Category

Arne Sorenson, Marriott’s chief financial officer, guest-blogs for Bill Marriott, Chairman & CEO of Marriott International, reflecting on the Economy and Marriott’s Prospects for 2009.

Audio Podcast:

“With the slowdown, our stock value has eroded meaningfully in the past year. Just because we have plenty of company doesn’t make the decline any easier. Before things get better, we’re going to have to navigate through a tough 2009… Despite this, and even though the U.S. has been in a recession since December 2007, we have much to be thankful for. First and foremost, we have a terrific management team, beginning with Bill Marriott, who has been through significant downturns before and has noted that each time we’ve come back stronger…Our business strategy of managing and franchising hotels protects us in slowdowns and primes us for better days. Marriott is a remarkably resilient cash flow generator, even when business slows. Our balance sheet is in good shape and we have access to cash through our revolving line of credit, which has over a billion dollars remaining available. Because of our excellent financial shape, the revolver, as it is called, is free of many of the complex restrictions companies can often experience. In fact, with our solid cash flow and more modest investment spending in 2009, we expect our debt levels will decline next year…”

Marriott People, Places and Purpose:

Continue reading at http://www.blogs.marriott.com/default.asp?item=2298372

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Architect Mark Allan recently suffered the loss of his job due to the economic downturn in the housing construction market. Sending out hundreds of resumes did not help his situation, so along with his job search he also spent the last of his savings to develop a construction toy for children. His wife and kids encouraged him to use his advanced 3D computer training and architectural software to develop the prototype models and metal molds. From that point forward, it was just a short step to full plastic production.

As a father and an architect, the inventor, Mr. Allan, realizes that math and science can be intimidating mentally, “But if you can put something in the hands of a child, they will be able to comprehend things better and have more fun,” he says. “Toys influence children; hopefully Qubits(R) will inspire today’s children to expand their horizons to include engineering, chemistry or nanotechnology.”

The economy might be bad, but toys are just as popular as ever. 🙂

The Qubits Construction Toy can also be purchased on the website, www.Qubits.com

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Whether they’re being groomed for acquisition or poised for long-term profit as standalone entities, Web 2.0 startups continue gorging on investors’ millions, according to a new report today from Internet Evolution. Despite the confusion of the current economic climate, “Web 2.0’s Biggest $inkholes” highlights key areas where VCs and angel investors think big Web 2.0 payoffs await:

  • Targeted advertising: JellyCloud couldn’t hack it and $11.5 million later went belly up; Lotame is staying afloat with its $28 million purse.
  • Social networking: All-purpose inbox company Xoopit is working on a $6 million round, while Orgoo is on indefinite hiatus; AOL’s $850 million for Bebo ended up being largely a write-off for the company.
  • Video: Lots of money’s chasing the desire to be the next YouTube – too bad most of the hosted content is porn; Trooker and others are betting there’s a market for video search.
  • Search: Cuil ($33 million) and SearchMe ($43.6 million) might imagine themselves Google killers, or at least viable alternatives. For investors, imagination makes for a crummy investment strategy.
  • Self-publishing/social-publishing: Uber.com and Bricabox litter this landscape, having shuttered themselves as things got rocky. It’s unclear whether ShareNow.com can thrive here.

“These startups are gambling that they’ll be acquired by the dominant players in each of these Web 2.0 sectors – Google, Facebook, YouTube, MSN, and Yahoo,” says Terry Sweeney, Editor in Chief of Internet Evolution. “As if today’s market wasn’t enough of a hindrance, many of these startups also suffer from fuzzy business plans, poor execution, and even crummy company names. Incredibly, that’s not stopping the flow of investment in some below-average companies.”

About Internet Evolution: Internet Evolution hosts more than 100 world-famous Internet experts – such as Kevin Mitnick, once the most-wanted computer hacker in the world; Dr. Lawrence Roberts, inventor of packet switching, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on telecom network architectures; Vint Cerf, Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google; Craig Newmark, the founder of Craigslist.com; Paul Mockapetris, inventor of the Domain Name System (DNS); Howard Schmidt, former White House cybersecurity adviser; and Andrew Keen, author of Cult of the Amateur: How the Internet is killing our culture — all of whom are addressing today’s critical socio-economic issues within its ThinkerNet blogosphere. Internet Evolution also offers broadcast-quality broadband video documentaries and interviews; investigative reports; and user-generated content facilitated via the latest Web 2.0 technology.

About TechWeb: TechWeb, the global leader in business technology media, is an innovative business focused on serving the needs of technology decision-makers and marketers worldwide. TechWeb produces the most respected and consumed media brands in the business technology market. Today, more than 13.3 million* business technology professionals actively engage in our communities created around our global face-to-face events, Interop, Web 2.0, Black Hat, and VoiceCon; online resources such as the TechWeb Network, Light Reading, Intelligent Enterprise, InformationWeek.com, bMighty.com, and The Financial Technology Network; and the market leading, award-winning InformationWeek, TechNet Magazine, MSDN Magazine, and Wall Street & Technology magazines. TechWeb also provides end-to-end services including next-generation performance marketing, integrated media, research, and analyst services. TechWeb is a division of United Business Media, a global provider of news distribution and specialist information services with a market capitalization of more than $2.5 billion.

About United Business Media Limited: United Business Media Limited (UBM) is a global media and marketing services company that informs markets and brings the world’s buyers and sellers together at events, online, in print, and with the information they need to do business successfully. UBM serves professional and commercial communities, from IT professionals to doctors, from journalists to jewelry dealers, from farmers to pharmacists around the world. UBM employs more than 6,500 people in more than 30 countries. UBM’s businesses operating in the US include CMPMedica, Commonwealth Business Media, Everything Channel, PR Newswire, RISI, TechInsights, TechWeb and Think Services. UBM is listed on the London Stock Exchange (UBM.L) and has a market capitalization of $2.5 billion.

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The United States’ infrastructure problems could reach crisis proportions in the next 10 years if steps are not taken to attract more private capital to the sector or overhaul the nation’s antiquated regional infrastructure planning process. This is one of the key findings in Infrastructure 2008: A Global Perspective, a report published jointly today by Ernst & Young LLP and the Urban Land Institute (ULI).

The report estimates that the US currently has a US$170 billion annual funding gap for infrastructure projects. However, the gap is widening every year and there are fears that the gap could balloon over the next few years as local and state governments experience “revenue shrink,” particularly from lower property tax collections.

“Frankly, the US has been coasting when it comes to infrastructure spending, especially when compared to growing economies such as China which spends about nine percent of GDP on vital infrastructure,” said Dale Anne Reiss, global leader of real estate, Ernst & Young, LLP. “The economic uncertainty facing us means that public infrastructure is in even greater jeopardy,” said Ms. Reiss.

“It is clear from the experience of other countries that public private partnerships (PPPs) are an essential tool in planning, building and maintaining vital infrastructure,” said Mike Lucki, head of Ernst & Young’s global infrastructure services group. “Failure to fully embrace this model in the US could lead to our economy falling behind more of our global competitors,” Mr. Lucki added.

The report concludes that infrastructure funds – private vehicles set up to invest in infrastructure assets – currently hold an estimated US$400 billion in capital for investment. This, combined with broader adoption of the PPP model, could alleviate much of the current strain on public coffers caused by the need for radical improvement in local, state and regional infrastructure, says the report. However, the report also questions whether the US has the political will and determination to take a long term approach to the infrastructure issue.

“Unfortunately, the infrastructure debate in this country only moves forward when catastrophic examples occur of the state of our bridges, roads, airports and water systems,” said Mr. Lucki. “If we are going to address this issue and be in a position to challenge rampant economies such as China over the next few decades, we have to take a much more considered and holistic approach and not wait for another structure to collapse. We need to create a mindset to have the will to build,” he added.

The EY/ULI report provides a snapshot of current and planned infrastructure investment in a variety of categories across the globe, with an in-depth look at the United States, China, Japan, India and Europe.

About Ernst & Young’s Global Real Estate Center

Today’s real estate industry must adopt new approaches to address regulatory requirements and financial risks, whilst meeting the challenges of expanding globally and achieving sustainable growth. Ernst & Young’s Global Real Estate Center brings together a worldwide team of professionals to help you achieve your potential – a team with deep technical experience in providing assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The Center works to anticipate market trends, identify the implications and develop points of view on relevant industry issues. Ultimately it enables us to help you meet your goals and compete more effectively. It’s how Ernst & Young makes a difference.

About Ernst & Young

Ernst & Young is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. Worldwide, our 130,000 people are united by our shared values and an unwavering commitment to quality. We make a difference by helping our people, our clients and our wider communities achieve potential. For more information, please visit http://www.ey.com.

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Speakers include: Steve Wadsworth, President, Walt Disney Internet Group; Jeff Weiner, EVP, Yahoo; Ron Grant, President and COO, AOL; Erik Flannigan, Executive Vice President of Digital Media for the Entertainment Group (COMEDY CENTRAL, AtomFilms, Gametrailers, Spike); and Joanna Shields, President, Bebo (via live video feed from London)

ContentNext’s, parent company of paidContent.org, Second Annual EconSM Conference: The Economics of Social Media, will be held in Los Angeles on April 29th to promote dialogue and answer key questions about established and nascent social networks such as what makes some flourish and others falter? The conference’s full schedule of topics and speakers list can be viewed at http://www.econsm.com.

ContentNext Founder and Editor-in-Chief Rafat Ali remarks, “paidContent.org has been providing comprehensive coverage of the deals, personalities and companies leading the space and our unparalleled wealth of data on this subject form a dynamic foundation for the Second Annual EconSM Conference. EconSM is exactly where forward-looking and future-shaping digital media executives are going to share high-level insider intelligence about the social media network arena. We expect a high number of decision makers and impact players in their respective industries along with the founders, technologists and others who are inventing – and investing in – social media and we’re advancing the conversation in step with the evolution of social media, from niche to network: where is the money to be found, made, and re-invested?”

ContentNext Co-Editor Staci D. Kramer says, “The data warrants serious dialogue: more than $1 billion in acquisitions this year and we’re not through April yet. Large investments, such as AOL’S $850 million for Bebo; $60 million for Ning are the exception rather than the rule. Twenty-nine social media companies were acquired in the last 12 months for nearly $2.5 billion dollars and 91 new social media networks have received nearly half-a-billion dollars in funding since January 2008. Aided by the opening of social networks to third-party developers, the expansion of niche social networks and the ad network trend, investment in social media and adjacent areas continues, as do the conversations about this space.”

In mid-May, ContentNext Media will publish its second Social Media Deals Report. Covering 2007 and the first quarter of 2008, the report will break down the important categories, including mobile; track investments by private equity, VC, angles and media companies; report on M&A activity, and highlight international investment.

ContentNext is an online media hub focusing on the most current and relevant information for executives in the digital media, entertainment & technology sectors. By covering crucial breaking business news in a reputable manner the site established itself as an “executive must read” by providing thoughtful, impartial and credible analysis of innovative and sustainable digital media business models.

About ContentNext

ContentNext is an independent media and information company based in Santa Monica, California, covering the business of digital media. The company operates four award winning sites: paidContent.org; paidContent.co.uk, mocoNews.net; and contentSutra.com. Founded by journalist Rafat Ali in 2002, the company’s news sites chronicle the economic evolution of digital content that is shaping the future of the media, information and entertainment industries. Our belief is that in the near future, all media will be digital media, and we are helping define sustainable business models and innovation within this sector.

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