- You Can Explain eBay’s $50 Billion Turnaround With Just This One Crazy Story
A not-really-that-crazy story about how eBay’s homepage got revamped and what that means for the culture of eBay.
Partly, the issue was obvious: eBay had gotten fat and happy. For 10 years it had been a huge success, riding a wave of Internet adoption. During the mid-2000s, eBay was notorious for meetings that always ended in applause — even when the news was bad.
- Sochi or Bust
A look at the economy of Russia that was written before the Sochi Olympics.
Some analysts estimate that these state companies control about half of Russia’s economy. They are sheltered from competition, soak up resources and stoke inflation. State companies award contracts to nominally private companies owned by friends and relatives of their managers. The Sochi Olympics are a prime example: the biggest contracts were given to firms run by Mr Putin’s chums, including Arkady Rotenberg, his boyhood judo partner.
This sort of thing creates a system of perverse incentives, fosters cynicism and cronyism and discourages those who want to use their initiative and skills. One man has worked for two companies owned by Mr Putin’s friends. His latest employer is a firm owned by a close relative of a powerful government official. “My salary is higher than I would get in an independent firm, but my responsibility is much less. I add almost no value. Connections decide everything,” he says.
- Caltech: secrets of the world’s number one university
How is Caltech so good when it’s so small? The answer is not too surprising, but the ability to bottle this lightning and reproduce it across the world is not so easy.
“I have 77 faculty in engineering and applied science. MIT [the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] has 490. How can I compete with an excellent place like MIT? We have to have engineers interact with all of the sciences and vice versa – it is a matter of survival. We don’t have the breadth to do things in a big way unless they interact.”
- The Man Who Built Catan
A light article about the person who created Settlers of Catan and the popularity it is having across the US.
- Think You Could Be A Professional Gambler? Here’s What It’s Actually Like
A neat story about what it’s like to be a sports gambler (i.e., someone who bets on sporting events rather than just playing blackjack in the casinos). It’s pretty interesting, so much so that I would like a longer form of this (maybe even a book)
“I was betting Christina Aguilera ‘under’ on the national anthem in the Packers-Steelers Super Bowl three years ago. I did all the research on YouTube — from when she was a little kid, singing at 8 years old right up to the night before the Super Bowl, when she sang the national anthem at a hockey game — knowing we had a good edge on ‘under’ two minutes and 33 seconds, or whatever it was. And it was. She finished at something like 2:17, and we win. Except the books say, ‘Oh you know what? She missed one of the words. No action.’ I’ll never bet that again.”