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Friday, September 28, 2018

Visionary Leadership at Zynga

Faced with a stock price down 75 percent since its IPO and conflict with subordinates throughout 2012, Zynga’s chief executive Mark Pincus had plenty on his plate as he met with Bill Campbell of Apple in September of that year. Zynga investor and venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers had brought Campbell in to advise the CEO. While it is tempting to play around the edges and work on “communication processes” and hand out more employee stock-options, the bottom-line in such cases is typically the need to improve the products either simply to be better products or better tailored to changing consumer tastes and habits. Product development that can transform companies may result from the vision of a leader for whom strategy is simply a matter of reaching a destination already known.
Mark Pincus, CEO of Znyga. From this picture, it is hard not to like the guy.       Reuters

CEOs in 2012: Avoid the “Fiscal Cliff”!

Reporting in November 2012 in anticipation of the across-the-board budget cuts and end of the Bush tax cuts, together expected to amount to around $500 million for 2013 alone, the Wall Street Journal observed that some large American corporations were “making plans to slow investments, lay off workers and pay less-generous dividends if Congress and the Obama administration don’t find a way to avert the so-called fiscal cliff.” Such plans could represent a self-fulfilling prophesy wherein a hit of just over a half trillion dollars in an economy of over $16 trillion is nonetheless depicted by the media as a cliff. In actuality, it could be more like taking a step down the stairs rather than falling off a cliff. Even if the federal budget cuts and end of the Bush tax breaks in 2013 would not in themselves drive the U.S. economy off the cliff into an economic abyss, the assumption of economic Armageddon could build-up downward momentum to something even far worse than a return to recession. The culprits are those in business, government and the media who were engaging in a series of steadily loud exaggerations. It could justifiably be asked, what’s the difference?
 J.P. Morgan led banks in bailing out Wall Street in 1907.  Source: Upsidetrader.com

The full essay is at "CEOs Warn the U.S. Government: No Fiscal Cliff!"

Off-Shore Drilling off Virginia’s Coast: The Stakeholder Framework Applied

By the early 1990’s, the U.S. had banned drilling off the Atlantic coast. In the wake of BP’s deep-water-drilling disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010, President Obama cancelled his go-ahead of drilling leases off Virginia’s shore. A few years later, Doug Domenech, the Secretary of Natural Resources in Virginia, and that republic’s head of state, Bob McDonnell, teamed up with Virginia’s two delegates in the U.S. Senate to “put Virginia’s coast on the energy map through an act of Congress.” Domenech said, “I personally believe that the East Coast of the U.S. does have the ability to be the prolific economic basin.” The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management estimated based on two-dimensional seismic surveys that 3.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil exist under the Atlantic’s outer continental shelf and 31.1 trillion cubic feet, or 886.3 million cubic meters, of natural gas. However, the executive arm of the U.S. Government alone is more than that bureau. Moreover, lest this conflict over drilling be viewed as primarily between Virginia and the U.S. Government, it should be noted that the East Coast is not exclusive to Virginia.

Respecting the integrity (i.e., valid claims) of both frameworks requires integrity, or self-discipline.   Worden 

Constructing a Constitution: Egypt in the Arab Spring

Concerning a new constitution, which is more important: the process or the content? In Egypt in 2012, that most secularists and the Coptic Christian representatives walked out of the assembly working on a constitutional document suggests that the final product would not have legitimacy for all of Egypt. To be sure, it is possible for a partisan group to design a system of basic law that is not overtly self-serving at others’ expense. The document that emerged from the assembly weakens the presidency and strengthens the parliament. This shift was in line with the popular protest in “the Arab Spring.” However, the assembly left in place a “longstanding article” grounding Egyptian law in the principles of one religion. Furthermore, a provision on women’s equality was left out, and the military generals would keep their existing power. Moreover, anticipating dissolution from Mubarak-appointed judges, the assembly began its work from the last Egyptian constitution.
Do the members of the constitutional assembly look liberal or conservative?  Reuters
The full essay is at "How to Make a Constitution."

Sunday, September 23, 2018

De-Lovely: A Film Depicting the Sea-Change from Broadway to Hollywood

Cole Porter (1891-1964), an American composer and songwriter, is the centerpiece of the film, De-Lovely (2004). The film begins when he meets Linda, who would become his wife. Their relationship is at the center of the story, as well as Porter’s love songs sung throughout the film. Although the complicated nature of the relationship takes center stage, the film can be viewed as a moving snapshot of the first half of the twentieth century, when film made inroads that would dwarf the stage.

The full essay is at "De-Lovely."