Thursday 31 October 2013

Facebook profit up but teens could be losing interest

Facebook shares spiked on Wednesday with stellar earnings results, but plummeted back down on word teenagers may be falling out of love with the social network.
The world’s leading online social network reported profit of $425 million in the quarter that ended on September 30, compared with a loss a year earlier, AFP reports.
The earnings figures showed soaring advertising revenue, nearly half of it from smartphones or tablet computers.
Facebook shares leapt about 15 percent and remained aloft until chief financial officer David Ebersman mentioned in an earnings call that internal analytics indicate decreased use of the social network by “younger teens.”
Shares dropped back near the trading day closing price of $49.01 after the earnings call.
“That would probably do it,” independent Silicon Valley analyst Rob Enderle said of share price suffering due to fears it is losing the devotion of teenagers.
“That market is incredibly fickle,” he continued. “You don’t want to see a trend that kids no longer think Facebook is no longer the place to be; that it is now their dads’ service.”
The notion that Facebook is falling out of favour with a budding generation prompts worry about the company’s future earnings potential no matter what fiscal guidance executives provide.
“The kids are Facebook’s seed corn, and you don’t want to lose that,” Enderle said.
Ebersman cautioned that Facebook engagement by young people is tricky to measure because users claims regarding ages are not validated. The social network used internal tools to get a sense of activity by teenagers.
“Our best analytics shows use by US teens overall stable, but a decrease in use by younger teens,” Ebersman said.
The third quarter results for the California-based firm were well ahead of most forecasts, with revenues rising sharply to $2.016 billion, prompting a leap in shares in after-hours trade.
“For nearly 10 years, Facebook has been on a mission to connect the world,” said co-founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.
“The strong results we achieved this quarter show that we’re prepared for the next phase of our company, as we work to bring the next five billion people online and into the knowledge economy.”
The number of people who use the social network daily in the quarter was 728 million in a 25 percent increase from the same quarter a year earlier, according to Facebook.
About 1.19 billion people used Facebook monthly in a rise of 18 percent from the same period in 2012, the company reported.
Meanwhile, the ranks of Facebook members connecting to the social network with mobile devices at least once a month soared 45 percent to 874 million people.
On average, more half a billion people daily accessed Facebook using smartphones or tablets, according to the earnings report.

- BusinessDay

Grow Your Business - The Dangers of Denial

Great leaders tell it like it is. In other words, they focus on reality, no matter how painful or unpleasant it might be, and then figure out what to do about it. In contrast, less effective leaders sometimes avoid hard truths, argue with the data, and delay tough decisions.
While it’s easy to be critical of leaders who can’t face the facts, the truth is that most of us engage in denial at one time or another, usually without even knowing it. As human beings, it’s one of the most common defense mechanisms that we use to cope with difficult situations. It’s the first of Swiss psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ now-famous five stages of grief, in which she observed that many people react to news of their terminal illness by denying anything is wrong with them. This is an extreme case, of course, but lots of business situations trigger denial as well. Here are two quick examples:
A large natural resources company acquired a smaller competitor and announced that it would be closing a number of low-producing mines within a year. Six months later the corporate HR manager visited these mines to help with the transition and was surprised to learn that the planning hadn’t even begun. When he questioned the mine leadership team he was told, “We’ve heard this story before but we produce too much ore for the company to really shut us down.”
The executive team of a pharmaceutical company knew well in advance that it was facing the loss of patent exclusivity for a particular drug, which would significantly reduce sales revenue in the coming year. Despite not having sufficient new products to replace these losses, the team delayed making commensurate cost reductions, with each manager saying that their people were indispensable.
There are many stories like these at all levels of organizations. Just the other day, I was talking with a twenty-five year old financial analyst who told me that she is looking for another job because the products in her division are becoming commoditized and will probably be sold off or eliminated. When I asked her how her colleagues were reacting to this she said, “They don’t believe it can happen to them so most of them aren’t doing anything.”
This brings up an important point about denial: It’s easier to see in others than in yourself. This means that coping with it usually needs to be a team effort. Even the most open and honest of managers sometimes engage in “wishful hearing” and interpret things the way they want them to be, instead of how they really are. That’s why really good managers value subordinates and colleagues who are not afraid to bring them bad news, tell them the truth, and help them peel away their own unconscious avoidance mechanisms.
Given these subtle psychological dynamics, here are two principles to keep in mind for dealing with denial in your own career and your work with colleagues:
Don’t assume that everyone sees the world through the same lens as you. Facts and data are usually open to interpretation, and people have different underlying criteria for how they analyze them. We all emphasize some things and discount others, based on past experiences, personality, and tolerance for discomfort. That’s why the financial analyst saw what she thought was the “writing on the wall” about her division’s future, while others in the group saw a different story.
Get tough subjects out in the open. Because of these different interpretations, find ways to facilitate and encourage dialogue, particularly when complex issues are on the table. While denial can still occur, it is less likely when teams are able to look at the situation from multiple angles, challenge underlying assumptions, and eventually get a better picture of what’s really going on. So while it’s true that great leaders usually don’t get trapped in the denial of hard realities, it’s often because they get a lot of help from their teams.
So yes, denial is alive and well in most organizations, which leads to delayed or inappropriate decisions, inaccurate or misleading communications, and a host of other dysfunctional outcomes. But it’s important to remember that it’s a natural human reaction to anxiety-provoking situations, which is why it’s important for teams to help each other see the truth.
by Ron Ashkenas HBR

Forbes names Dangote Africa’s most powerful man

" Money gives you power they say"

The President, Dangote Group, Alhaji Aliko Dangote, has been named the most powerful man in Africa and 64th in the world by the Forbes magazine.
Dangote, who Forbes says is by far Africa’s richest man with a net worth of $16.1bn as of March 2013, was ranked ahead of the likes of Fifa President, Sepp Blatter (69); Speaker, United States House of Representatives, John Boehner (66); and Founder, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Mohammed Ibrahim (71).

The 56-year-old, Dangote, whose company is considered one of the most diversified on the list, is currently ranked 43 on the Forbes list of the world’s billionaires with his net worth over time said to be on the rise.

In August, the industrialist had announced plans by the Dangote Group to build a $9bn refinery and petrochemical complex in Nigeria, a move which is expected to help the group further diversify its current business model and increase his net worth.

Away from his business interests, mention was also made of his philanthropic efforts in his profile on theForbes website.

It reads in part, “Inspired by fellow billionaires, Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, Dangote is making a name for himself on the philanthropic circuit and has given away millions to education, health and social causes in Africa.”

Apart from Dangote, Ibrahim is the only other African on the list, which contains 72 people.

Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, topped the list, displacing United States President, Barrack Obama, who dropped to the second spot for the first time in three years.

Chinese President, Xi Jinping, occupies the third spot, while the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, debuts on the list at number four.

Pope Francis, who was elected in March this year, leads 12 other new entrants.

Other notable new names on the list are Samsung Chairman, Lee Kun-Hee (41); Volkswagen’s Martin Winterkorn (49); South Korean President, Park Geun-hye (52); and Janet Yellen (72), who has been nominated by President Obama as the next leader of the US Federal Reserves.

The Executive Editor of the New York Times, Jill Abramson (68), makes a return appearance after dropping off the list in years past.

Facebook Founder, Mark Zuckerberg, aged 29, and North Korean leader, Kim Jung-un, aged 30, are the youngest people on the list. Zuckerberg occupies the 24th place, while Kim is ranked 46th.

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah, who occupies the eight spot, is the oldest person on the list. He is 89 years old.

The world’s richest man, Carlos Slim, is, however, not the most powerful man. The América Móvil honorary chairman occupies the 12th position.

According to Forbes, the Most Powerful People in the World list is an annual snapshot of the heads of state, financiers, philanthropists and entrepreneurs, who truly rule the world.

“It represents the collective wisdom of top Forbes editors, who consider hundreds of nominees before ranking the planet’s top 72 power-brokers – one for every 100 million people on earth – based on their scope of influence and their financial resources relative to their peers,” the magazine explained.

This year’s list features 17 heads of state, who run nations with a combined Gross Domestic Product of some $48tn.


Grow Your Business - Biggest decisions business owners make

While business owners are faced with making a multitude of business decisions on a daily basis, there are significant decisions that ultimately must be made during the life of the operation. Sole proprietor businesses have full authority to make major business decisions without consulting anyone else.
Other small business entities, such as partnerships, limited liability companies and corporations may have to consult others in accordance with the terms of business agreements and articles of incorporation. Below are the top five biggest decisions business owners make, according to experts:
Starting the business
To start a business is no simple decision to make. It is therefore important to look inward and think deep before coming up with any form of decision. According to experts, the single biggest decision a business owner makes is starting the business.
A significant amount of research goes into this decision-making process, as the owner identifies potential target demographics, researches the market and estimates operating costs and potential profit margins.
Associated with business start-up are related decisions regarding business and marketing plan creation, location selection, hiring of employees and selection of vendors or suppliers.
Applying for loans
Funding is critical in any business. Small businesses often require financing for start-up, expansion or operating costs. The decision to take on a commercial or business loan is a significant one in the business owner’s life. He must compare the lending options and finance companies, make in-depth assessments of financial needs and ultimately repay the loan. Micro-businesses run as sole proprietorships or partnerships link their personal finances with the business finances, which can be a major risk if the business fails.
Branding and marketing
Wisdom is required here, because determining the specific way a business is to be identified and sold to the public consumer is a very important decision for a business owner.
Unsuccessful branding efforts or marketing approaches that are not well devised can hurt, rather than help the business. A good deal of money is typically invested in serious marketing efforts, so the choices and approaches must be well-planned.
Expanding operations
If a small business owner wants to grow, he must make a decision to expand, add new products or services or partner with another small business.
Taking on such a move is a monumental business decision. A business owner must weigh the pros and cons of expansion efforts and consider the market and economic factors he originally fleshed out when deciding to launch the business.
Dissolving the business
The final important decision in a business owner’s life is that of closing, selling or dissolving the company. The decision to cease operations is often more difficult than the initial decision to inaugurate the business. This is especially true when considering the financial investment that has been made and the potential impact a closure will have on established employees.


Preventing debt problems

Many are dealing with various debt issues nowadays. This is usually because of loans and dependence on credit cards. Although many pay their dues by the end of the month, most just pay the minimum amount required which causes high amount paid on interest. This will remain manageable if you only have one credit card. However, this can be very tough to handle if you have multiple cards and several loans.
In order to prevent facing such ordeal, you have to learn to plan your expenses and see to it that you manage your finances and debts properly. If you worry about your credit records, you can look for an organisation to help you with bad credit debt consolidation loan. You have to be careful when choosing such entity though because they charge upfront. Ask what they can do for you. Expect them to give you a realistic piece of advice and not false promises of fixing your debt problems instantly.
There are many reasons why a person goes into serious debt problems. Among them are the following:
Mismanagement of finances
Many people spend more than what they earn. Their credit allowance makes them feel that they can afford anything. They only realise that they cannot afford their purchases when they are having a hard time paying their debts.
In order to avoid this, evaluate your earnings. How much do you receive each month? After that, start listing the things you need. Remember, these are essential items. These include food, shelter, medicine and sanitation. How much can you spend on each of these? Can you really afford that apartment? Assessing what you can spend for your necessities will prevent you from over spending.
Another way to prevent problems due to mismanagement of finances is to monitor your expenses. Often, you spend on things that you do not really need. You bring out your ever-reliable credit card and purchase that black purse, which you do not really need because you already have tons of black purses at home. If you monitor your expenses more closely, you will be able to refrain from making unnecessary purchases.
Medical emergency
Many people experience financial difficulty because of the unexpected medical bills they have to endure. This is beyond anyone’s control. Living a healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of experiencing such difficulty. However, it does not eliminate the risk.
Investing in a health maintenance organisation as well as health insurance will reduce the financial difficulty you will be facing if any of your family has to undergo expensive treatments. However, see to it that you understand the terms and conditions set by the organisation you choose. Some HMOs do not cover special cases, especially if they are pre-existing. It would also help if you have a contingency savings. Most importantly, take care of your health and the health of your family. Make it a habit to exercise and eat healthy food.
Job loss
Losing your job is one of the most difficult things to face these days. As you may have noticed, the financial crisis has caused people to lose their jobs. This is tough because it is not that easy to find a new job today.
In order to reduce the impact of losing your job, have a financial cushion. Your savings will help you to get through the rough times; it will also help if you have a part time job. This way, there is still an inflow of finances even if you lose your regular job. There are several freelance jobs online. You can also explore opportunities in industries in the education field, health and food. These industries are the least affected by the crisis.
This is another difficult circumstance. This includes fire and natural calamities. Insuring your property is a good way to prevent financial difficulty if you have to face such problems. In addition, it is important that you always take precautionary measures to prevent problems like fire and other similar tragedies.
There are other reasons like legal concerns and divorce that can cause such problems. You can turn to free online debt consolidation to help you manage your debts. However, it would be best if you do not have to face a very difficult debt problem. Start by managing your finances well. Always include your savings in your budget and most importantly, invest in things that matter like your health and insurance.


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