Where Did Qualcomm Go Wrong?

By Bolaji Ojo – It’s a justifiable question. The Qualcomm–NXP trip was an expensive sortie: Qualcomm has paid $2 billion in mandatory break-off fees to NXP, but the bill for the hidden costs may be much higher. For nearly two years, the communications IC and IP supplier and its target endured prolonged uncertainties. Even now, the spasms from customer disruptions remain strong while many employees, though heaving a sigh of relief, must figure out where they truly belong in the enterprise.

Qualcomm is moving on resolutely from the NXP debacle. It must. However, the implications and lessons — if any — are industry-wide. One of the largest acquisitions in the history of the semiconductor industry foundered because of oppositions from various fronts, including customers who might have benefited from it. Simply dumping the blame on nebulous factors and faceless regulators will result in the industry learning nothing from the experience. Perhaps the transaction was destined to fail. Perhaps it could have been better managed and successfully, too. A thorough assessment of why this deal collapsed would offer lessons that can be applied to future deals.

There are no signs that Qualcomm will conduct a detailed analysis of why and how the bid unraveled. It is easier — again — to simply toss more money at stakeholders and move on. NXP’s management and shareholders who had tendered their equity could slake their thirst with $2 billion in Qualcomm’s money. more>

The Progressives’ Plan to Win in 2018

By Elaine Godfrey – Democrats have been grappling with key questions about coalition building since the 2016 election: Should they prioritize winning back the voters they lost to Trump?

Should they attempt to woo the white voters gradually fleeing the party?

Progressives this weekend said, emphatically, no. It’s a genuine attempt to remake the Democratic Party at a time when racial and class tensions are the highest they’ve been since the 1960s—and it’s also put them on a collision course with party leaders and other Democrats.

That doesn’t mean ignoring whites and Trump voters, she says. Instead, “it’s rejecting the notion that our way to victory is having a centrist, moderate right-leaning strategy that feels like we could peel off Romney Republicans, versus investing in communities of color, marginalized groups, and progressive white people,” Anoa Changa said. “There is this notion that … we can’t address the issues of race, systemic oppression, because we don’t want to piss these voters off. We have to find a way to do both.” more>

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What did Max Weber mean by the ‘spirit’ of capitalism?

By Peter Ghosh – Max Weber’s famous text The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) is surely one of the most misunderstood of all the canonical works regularly taught, mangled and revered in universities across the globe.

We use the word ‘capitalism’ today as if its meaning were self-evident, or else as if it came from Marx, but this casualness must be set aside. ‘Capitalism’ was Weber’s own word and he defined it as he saw fit. Its most general meaning was quite simply modernity itself: capitalism was ‘the most fateful power in our modern life’.

More specifically, it controlled and generated ‘modern Kultur’, the code of values by which people lived in the 20th-century West, and now live, we may add, in much of the 21st-century globe. So the ‘spirit’ of capitalism is also an ‘ethic’, though no doubt the title would have sounded a bit flat if it had been called The Protestant Ethic and the Ethic of Capitalism.

Weber supposed that all previous ethics – that is, socially accepted codes of behavior rather than the more abstract propositions made by theologians and philosophers – were religious. Religions supplied clear messages about how to behave in society in straightforward human terms, messages that were taken to be moral absolutes binding on all people. In the West this meant Christianity, and its most important social and ethical prescription came out of the Bible: ‘Love thy neighbor.’

As a guide to social behavior in public places ‘love thy neighbor’ was obviously nonsense, and this was a principal reason why the claims of churches to speak to modern society in authentically religious terms were marginal.

The ethic or code that dominated public life in the modern world was very different. Above all it was impersonal rather than personal: by Weber’s day, agreement on what was right and wrong for the individual was breaking down. The truths of religion – the basis of ethics – were now contested, and other time-honored norms – such as those pertaining to sexuality, marriage and beauty – were also breaking down. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

By Michael Maiello – Yale University’s Bryan T. Kelly, Chicago Booth’s Dacheng Xiu, and Booth PhD candidate Shihao Gu investigated 30,000 individual stocks that traded between 1957 and 2016, examining hundreds of possibly predictive signals using several techniques of machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence.

They conclude that ML had significant advantages over conventional analysis in this challenging task.

ML uses statistical techniques to give computers abilities that mimic and sometimes exceed human learning. The idea is that computers will be able to build on solutions to previous problems to eventually tackle issues they weren’t explicitly programmed to take on.

“At the broadest level, we find that machine learning offers an improved description of asset price behavior relative to traditional methods,” the researchers write, suggesting that ML could become the engine of effective portfolio management, able to predict asset-price movements better than human managers.

Of almost 100 characteristics the researchers investigated, the most successful predictors were price trends, liquidity, and volatility. more>

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Supercomputers

By Laura Panjwani – High-performance computers (HPC), also known as supercomputers, give scientists the power to solve extremely complex or data intensive problems by concentrating the processing power of multiple, parallel computers.

Performance of a supercomputer is measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS), the measurement used in conventional computing.

The technology has a plethora of applications—including quantum mechanics, climate research, oil and gas exploration, chemistry, aerospace and automotive technologies, and much more.

In addition to environmental applications, supercomputers are also key to many up-and-coming technologies, including autonomous vehicles. In our article, “Using Deep Learning, AI Supercomputing, NVIDIA Works to Make Fully Self-Driving Cars a Reality” we highlighted Xavier, a complete system-on-chip (SoC) that integrates a new graphics processing unit (GPU) architecture called Volta, a custom 8 core CPU architecture, and a new computer vision accelerator. It features 9 billion transistors and a processor that will deliver 30 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of performance, while consuming only 30 watts of power.

This technology is the most complex SOC ever created and is a key part of the NVIDIA DRIVE Pegasus AI computing platform, the world’s first AI car supercomputer designed for fully autonomous Level 5 robotaxis. more>

What’s More Dangerous, Immigration Or Russian Meddling?

By Robert Reich – What’s the most worrisome foreign intrusion into the United States—unauthorized immigrants, Chinese imports, or interference in our democracy?

For Trump, it’s immigrants and imports. He doesn’t care much about the third.

Yet Trump continues to assert that talk of Russian meddling in American elections is “a big hoax.” And his White House still has no plan for dealing with it.

In fact, Trump has it backwards.

Illegal immigration isn’t the problem he makes it out to be. Illegal border crossings have been declining for years.

And if the Chinese want to continue to send us cheap imports that we pay for with U.S. dollars and our own IOUs, that’s as much of a potential problem for them as it is for us.

But Russian attacks on our democracy are a clear and present threat aimed at the heart of America. more>

Are Stock Buybacks Starving the Economy?

By Annie Lowrey – Stock buybacks are eating the world. The once illegal practice of companies purchasing their own shares is pulling money away from employee compensation, research and development, and other corporate priorities—with potentially sweeping effects on business dynamism, income and wealth inequality, working-class economic stagnation, and the country’s growth rate. Evidence for that conclusion comes from a new report by Irene Tung of the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and Katy Milani of the Roosevelt Institute, who looked at share buybacks in the restaurant, retail, and food industries from 2015 to 2017.

Buybacks occur when a company takes profits, cash reserves, or borrowed money to purchase its own shares on the public markets, a practice barred until the Ronald Reagan administration.

The regulatory argument against allowing the practice is that it is a way for companies to manipulate the markets; the regulatory argument for it is that companies should be able to spend money how they see fit.

In recent years, with corporate profits high, American firms have bought their own stocks with extraordinary zeal.

Federal Reserve data show that buybacks are now equivalent to 4 percent of annual economic output, up from zero percent in the 1990s. Companies spent roughly $7 trillion on their own shares from 2004 to 2014, and have spent hundreds of billions of dollars on buybacks in the past six months alone. more>

Updates from Datacenter.com

Cabinet airflow management done right
By Hans Vreeburg – Let’s start with some basic understanding of airflows within data centers. Nowadays almost all data centers apply hot and cold corridors to optimize the cooling capabilities. In the ideal situation cold air goes straight to the servers’ inlets. The hot air exiting the servers is returned directly to the cooling unit. This setup enables systems to run at the highest possible efficiency, using the least amount of power. The cooling setup has a big influence on the PUE (Power Usage Effectiveness): a lower PUE results in lower total energy consumption of the data center. This indirectly saves the environment and lowers OPEX costs. Could a small gap in your server rack really have that much influence?

As said above, the ideal setup is cold air entering the servers, while hot air exits. Gaps can lead to a higher demand of cold air than actually required by the servers. See it as a large water pipe: it normally needs a specific amount of water. When we make some holes in the pipe, you will need to pump in more water to get the same amount at the end of the pipe. more>

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Updates from Boeing

Commercial Market Outlook – 2018-2037

Boeing – By any measure, the commercial aviation sector is soaring. More people are taking to the air than ever before, as our industry has now recorded eight straight years of steady and above-trend growth.

A dedicated team here at Boeing pores over reams of economic, airline, travel, and fleet data annually to project new airplane demand during the next 20 years. After more than 55 years of publishing, The Boeing Commercial Market Outlook remains the industry standard as one of the longest-published and most accurate forecasts in commercial aviation. more> -> 2

The Western Illusion of Chinese Innovation

By Zhang Jun – In the West, many economists and observers now portray China as a fierce competitor for global technological supremacy. They believe that the Chinese state’s capacity is enabling the country, through top-down industrial policies, to stand virtually shoulder-to-shoulder with Europe and the US.

This is a serious misrepresentation.

While it is true that digital technologies are transforming China’s economy, this reflects the implementation of mobile-Internet-enabled business models more than the development of cutting-edge technologies, and it affects consumption patterns more than, say, manufacturing.

In fact, Western observers – not just the media, but also academics and government leaders, including US President Donald Trump – have fundamentally misunderstood the nature and exaggerated the role of China’s policies for developing strategic and high-tech industries. Contrary to popular belief, these policies do little more than help lower the entry cost for firms and enhance competition. In fact, such policies encourage excessive entry, and the resulting competition and lack of protection for existing firms have been constantly criticized in China. Therefore, if China relies on effective industrial policies, they would not create much unfairness in terms of global rules.

Clearly, there is a big difference between applying digital technologies to consumer-oriented business models and becoming a world leader in developing and producing hard technology. more>