August 2008 Archives

Rafat Ali:

As the print side keeps bleeding, the Los Angeles Times Media Group keeps trying to extend into other platforms, both offline and online: the parent of LAT newspaper has jointly launched ZetaBid, a business that will auction foreclosed homes and other properties...it also has a website where the properties could be viewed. The newspaper has nothing to do with the new business, reports the newspaper.

On the MLS

David Charron
Maybe the market really does like us! (I'm having a Sally Field moment). Getting out of our frame of reference, particularly as others have defined it, is a heck of a lot easier when we have hard facts to back it up. Some of us-including MRIS-have chosen to break free from convention and take positive steps to communicate a story of our own. A story of strength, innovation and commitment. So rather than be defensive or promise more of the same, I say, "Bring it on." Or I guess we could just turn the MLS power off for a few days and see what happens.

The Giant Pool of Money

This American Life:

A special program about the housing crisis produced in a special collaboration with NPR News. We explain it all to you. What does the housing crisis have to do with the turmoil on Wall Street? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money.

Crisis Management

The Economist:

The Institute for Crisis Management (ICM), an American consulting firm that specialises in developing communications strategies for crisis-struck businesses, defines a crisis as “a significant business disruption which stimulates extensive news media coverage. The resulting public scrutiny will affect the organisation’s normal operations and also could have a political, legal, financial and governmental impact on its business”.

The idea that businesses face moments of crisis that require special skills not called upon in the normal course of commercial events is widely accepted. Allied to this is the idea that there are people who are especially good at handling crises, and that there are crisis-management skills that can be learned. Special training courses on the subject can be found in many countries.

Crises are commonplace. The ICM puts their causes into four categories, with over 60% of them falling into the last category (management decisions):

10 Practical Uses For Psychological Research in Everyday Life

PsyBlog:

People love to give each other advice. The web is full to bursting with all types of pseudo-psychological advice about life. The problem is, how much of this is based on real scientific evidence? Well, here on PsyBlog we've got the scientific evidence. So here's my top 10 list of what you can learn practically from the psychological research discussed here recently.

1. How to detect lies
Lies are extremely difficult to detect. Research shows the average person barely does any better than chance. Part of the reason may be there's so much misinformation about how to detect lies floating around. Check out exactly how to detect lies.

Real Estate Boom Continues for US Farms

Mark Perry:

Maps are from the USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service. The average farm real estate value has increased by 85% in the last five years, from $1,270 per acre in 2003 to $2,350 in 2008 (see top chart above, click to enlarge). Many Midwest corn and grain states like the Dakotas, Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Nebrask have experience double-digit increases in farm values in just the last year (see bottom chart above, click to enlarge).

Great Article on Systems Scaling

Jean-Louis Gassee discusses the great challenges running large scale systems.

Simple is hard. Easy is harder. Invisible is hardest. So goes one of the many proverbs of our computer lore. As Apple found out last month with the MobileMe launch misfires, the lofty promise of “Exchange for the rest of us” translated into a user experience that was neither simple nor easy — in a highly visible way. Four weeks later, the service appears stable but doubts linger: Is Apple able to run a worldwide wireless data synchronization service for tens of millions of users.

What happened and what does it mean for MobileMe’s future?

Realogy Debt Downgraded by Moodys

Matthew Monks:

Citing expectations the housing downturn will extend into next year, Moody’s Investors Service downgraded real estate giant Realogy’s corporate credit and probability of default ratings on Friday.

The downgrade prompted a sell-off Realogy’s senior notes Friday. Realogy owns real estate brokers Century 21 and Coldwell Banker, as well as a number of housing relocation and title service providers.

Moody’s lowered the Parsippany, N.J., company’s corporate credit rating and probability of default ratings further into subprime status, from B3 to Caa1.

“The downgrade reflects the severe nature of the current residential real estate downturn, a highly leveraged capital structure and modest covenant cushions,” Moody’s said in its report. “The ratings anticipate further revenue declines over the next few quarters as the real estate downturn continues into 2009.”
The rating agency said Realogy may have to seek a waiver on its financial covenants in coming quarters, which could be expensive and difficult given the tough credit environment.

Following the downgrade, Realogy’s 12.375% subordinated notes due 2015 traded down one point Friday, to about 45 cents on the dollar, according to Standard & Poor’s Leveraged Commentary & Data News. The company’s 10.5% notes due 2014 also fell a point, to about 62 cents on the dollar, LCD News said

Southwest Airlines seeking a roving blog reporter

Southwest Blog:

America holds auditions for hot new models, undiscovered singers, and dancers who want to make it big. Now, Southwest Airlines is hosting its very own competition to find the next Blog-o-spondent for the Company’s blog Nuts About Southwest.

Over the past six months, Southwest Airlines Employee Christi Day has served as the Company’s primary Blog-o-spondent, traveling to Southwest cities across the country and filming short segments for the Company’s blog, including features on various Southwest Operations and Employees. Now Christi is ready to share the spotlight and allow one lucky Customer to become the next Nuts About Southwest Blog-o-spondent.

Zip Code, Zip Code, Zip Code

Felix Salmon:

BusinessWeek had a good idea this week: look at big metropolitan areas and see how the best-performing zip codes have compared to the worst-performing ones. Unfortunately, the final implementation is atrocious: it involves clicking laboriously through an interminable slide show, and it's impossible to see all the data at once. So here's an at-a-glance table:
Mark Perry has more.

Erick Schonfeld:
The results are in the chart above and, not surprisingly, Roost comes out looking great. For each city, it returns between 95 and 99 percent of the listings in the MLS. Trulia's accuracy in the study ranges between a pitiful 9 percent for San Diego to 61 percent for Miami. (Zillow generally does worse across the board, with its accuracy ranging between 12 percent and 36 percent across the three cities). Trulia disputes these results. Heather Fernandez, vice president of marketing, says:
Virtual Properties Main Street internet platform interfaces and replicates many MLS systems. The article includes an interesting look at the VC (Venture Capital) funding of several "national" real estate aggregators:
  • Roost: $5.5m
  • Trulia $32.8M
  • Zillow $87M
  • Redfin $20.8M

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