Theatre, Performance and Society

Theatre, Performance and Society

In this exclusive series of interviews, we speak to four world experts on theatre and performance. Sir Howard Panter (Founder of the Ambassador Theatre Group Ltd, Chairman of Rambert Dance Company), Gilles Ste-Croix (co-founder of Cirque du Soleil), Joanna Read (Principal of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art – LAMDA) and James Houghton (Director of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School, and Director of New York’s Signature Theatre Company). We discuss the role of theatre and performance in culture, look at the secrets of the performing arts and discuss the future of theatre in the modern world.

http://thoughteconomics.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/theatre-performance-society.html

Can Prizes Change the World?

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An interview with Eileen Bartholemew, Vice President of Prize Development at the X Prize Foundation.

For most of history…” notes Rachael King, “the thrill of solving life’s thorny problems has provided ample incentive for inventors. Yet the promise of fortune and fame doesn’t hurt. Over the past few centuries, governments and private interests have sought to enlist innovators and entrepreneurs against specific challenges by offering prizes with financial bounties.” (Bloomberg Business Week, 2008).

The British Government’s ‘Longitude Prize’ (1714) was responsible for one of the most important navigation tools in history (the precursor to the modern chronometer).  The French Academy of Sciences ‘Alkali Prize’ (1775) created one of the most important industrial-chemical processes of the 19th century and Napoleon’s Food Preservation Prize (1795) created the fundamentals of a food preservation method that is still used today.  Even in more recent history we saw the Orteig Prize (1919) for the first transatlantic flight, which spurred the world travel industry and the multitude of innovation prizes we have today including the Ansari X-Prize which offered US$10 million to the first non-government team to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks (a feat which had taken governments decades and billions of dollars to otherwise achieve).

To learn more about the role of prizes in innovation, I spoke to Eileen Bartholemew – Vice President of Prize Development at the X Prize Foundation who (in their own words) are, “…an innovation engine. A facilitator of exponential change. A catalyst for the benefit of humanity….”  Since their founding in 1995, the X-Prize foundation has facilitated oil recovery cleanup at triple the standard rate. Enabled the creation of a 135 MPGe energy-efficient car. And helped launch a $1.5 billion private space industry.

 

Continue reading

Charity, Philanthropy and Society

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In these exclusive interviews, we speak to Jeff Raikes (CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation), Eli Broad (Founder of the Broad Foundations), Sir Ratan Tata (Chairman Emeritus, Tata Group) and Anousheh Ansari (Trustee of the X Prize foundation and title sponsor of the Ansari X Prize). We discuss the fundamental nature of charity and philanthropy- looking at why these phenomena exist together with their role and impact on society. We also talk about their individual journeys in philanthropy, and how their organisations are aiming to tackle some of society’s greatest problems.

http://thoughteconomics.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/charity-philanthropy-society.html

The Secrets of Business Planning

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An interview with Tim Berry, a world expert on business planning

Plans are the DNA of business, containing all the base information needed to form a strategic framework for the growth, direction and shape of an enterprise.

Whether you are launching a new business, growing an existing enterprise, or even creating a venture within an existing corporation- chances are the first step in your journey will be the business plan.  In fact, for those wishing to raise money (whether it be seed capital, or venture finance) the plan is certainly a pre-requisite.

Studies have shown that “except in a small number of cases, business planning appeared to be positively correlated with business success…” and that  “while analysis cannot say that completing a business plan will lead to success, it does indicate that the type of entrepreneur who completes a business pan is also more likely to run a successful business” (Ding & Hursey, 2010)

Much has been written on the business plan, and for many- it seems an almost insurmountable hurdle to write (what they anticipate will be) a thesis length piece on ever minutiae of their idea.  The reality however, is far simpler…

To learn more about the secrets of the business plan, I spoke to Tim Berry.  He is co-founder of Eugene Social,  founder and Chairman of Palo Alto Software, founder of bplans.com, and a co-founder of Borland International.  Tim has dedicated his life to business planning. Continue reading

A Look at the World Diamond Market

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Guest article written for AllAboutAlpha.com – the official publication of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association

Originally posted at: http://allaboutalpha.com/blog/2013/01/27/a-look-at-the-world-diamond-market/

Diamond’s are one of the world’s most precious natural resources.  These unique stones are almost as old as the Earth itself, and have become culturally, socially, economically, politically and even  scientifically significant.  Figures from the World Diamond Council state that each year, around US$13 billion of rough-diamonds are mined (65% of which come from Africa).  The diamond value chain (from exploration, to mining, processing and retail) employs over 10 million people around the world, and jewellery sales alone (having grown three-fold in 25 years) are now in excess of US$72 billion per annum.

The diamond industry has always existed in a state of pseudo globalisation.  Over a thousand years ago, diamonds were mined in India, before being cut and polished in Arabia and sold to European aristocracy.  These are stones which have been adored for their rarity and beauty, while being almost universally accepted as portable, untraceable and efficient stores of value.   The diamond ‘industry‘ (at least as we know it today) began 1800′s, when an accidental find of diamonds in South Africa kicked off a mining, exploration and trading boom that led to the existence of one of the most successful and long-lasting cartel’s in economic history- that being the small network of world diamond producers.

The relative opacity and complexity of the diamond market has contributed to a general lack of understanding of its dynamics when, in truth, the modern form of globalisation has introduced competition, transparency and free-market behaviours to this industry.

To learn more about the world diamond market, I spoke to David Prager, Global Head of Corporate Affairs at De Beers Group – a 120 year old firm with revenues of over US$7 billion, and a market share (by value) of over 35% of the world’s rough diamond market. Continue reading

Entrepreneurship

Sir Richard Branson

In this exclusive interview, we speak to Sir Richard Branson (Founder of Virgin Group). We discuss the fundamental nature of entrepreneurship, entrepreneurs themselves, and the role of entrepreneurs in society and the economy. We look at the key sources of entrepreneurial ideas, characteristics of successful enterprise and the role of wealth in the entrepreneurial journey. We also look at how entrepreneurship has changed, what the future holds and how entrepreneurs are addressing some of the world’s most pressing problems from poverty and economic crises to climate change and health.

http://thoughteconomics.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/entrepreneurship.html

Investing in Travel

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Guest article written for AllAboutAlpha.com – the official publication of the  Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association

Originally posted at: http://allaboutalpha.com/blog/2012/12/04/alpha-hunter-investing-in-travel/

The WTTC note that the travel industries (when taking into account their direct and indirect roles) contribute over 9.1% to world GDP, amounting to over U$6.3 trillion of economic output and sustaining 1 in 12 of all global jobs (around 255 million people).   Looking at the USA alone, travel and tourism amount to over 10% of the country’s GDP, supporting 14.4 million jobs and contributing over $120 billion in tax revenues.

This is a hugely segmented industry which (as Timothy O’Neil-Dunne states), “….inspires because it has a huge emotional component, everybody feels very attached to it.  At the same time, it’s incredibly complex- and full of mind-bogglingly stupid things that make it more complex than it needs to be….”   It is this factor of complexity which translates (to many investors) as being an indication of risk or even a lack of scale opportunities.  In the latter case, looking at just three members of one segment (the Online Travel Agency space) – Priceline (with a market cap of U$32 billion), Expedia (with a market cap of U$8.1 billion) and Tripadvisor (with a market cap of $5.4 billion) – show that this assumption, of a lack of scale, is clearly false.

The fact is, travel is one of the few industries that impacts practically everyone in the world economy.  It’s strange therefore that this is a sector lacking in investment momentum. To learn more about investing in the travel space, I spoke with Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, Managing Partner at T2Impact Ltd, co-Founder of VaultPAD Ventures and one of the original founders of Expedia.  He has published 3 books in Travel Distribution and Aviation. Mr. O’Neil-Dunne is a frequently quoted and a commentator in travel and technical journals and is a permanent advisor to the World Economic Forum.

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The Role of Fashion in Human Culture

In these exclusive interviews, we speak to Claudia Schiffer (a globally renowned model, icon and businesswoman), Robin Givhan (Pulitzer Prize winning fashion writer and special correspondent for Newsweek/Daily Beast) and Dov Charney (CEO & Founder of American Apparel). We discuss the very fundamental questions of ‘what’ fashion is, and how it has become such an important part of human culture and identity. Digging deeper, we also look at issues ranging from brand, to sexuality and even the business of fashion itself.

http://thoughteconomics.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/fashion.html

Taking Funds to Market

Guest article written for AllAboutAlpha.com – the official publication of the  Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association

Originally posted at: http://allaboutalpha.com/blog/2012/08/26/alpha-hunter-jeff-joseph-on-taking-funds-to-market/

The financial crisis has changed the landscape for any industry wishing to attract and retain investors.  By the end of 2009, most investment managers were- essentially- in survival mode, dealing with dramatic declines in asset prices (across the board) and a wave of redemptions from accounts.  Never ones to be defeated, and supported by positivity within the markets (and a lack of other investment options)- the first quarter of 2012 saw global assets under management by the hedge-fund industry reach US$2.13 trillion.

Even with this buoyancy of inflows, fund managers have been faced with challenges on a number of fronts.  Not only has the hedge-fund industry suffered a brand-crisis, but also investment managers are faced with rapid changes in regulations and routes to market.

To learn more about the changed face of fund distribution, we spoke to Jeff Joseph, Managing Partner of Prescient Capital Partners. Continue reading

Investing in Media & Entertainment

Guest article written for AllAboutAlpha.com – the official publication of the  Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA) Association

Originally posted at: http://allaboutalpha.com/blog/2012/08/20/alpha-hunter-james-clayton-on-investing-in-media-and-entertainment/

“…Over the next five years, global spending on entertainment and media is projected to rise from $1.6 trillion in 2011 to $2.1 trillion in 2016, a 5.7 percent compound annual advance….” (PwC’s Global Entertainment and Media Outlook 2012-2016).

This is an astonishing figure, but when you consider the breadth and depth of media, it’s easy to see why.  Alongside food, clothing and energy- media is one of the few industries that pervades into the lives of practically every consumer on the planet- delivering content ranging from news to gaming, films, TV programmes and more.  As technology has advanced, the number of channels (and types of content) has grown meaning that investors can now access everything from global hits (such as the film Avatar which grossed over $2.7billion in cinemas alone from an investment of around $300million) to niche events and productions targeting specific communities.

Entertainment and media are growing and globalising.  Media assets which once would have only been shown or experienced in their country of origin are now global instruments, which can be exploited in markets worldwide.  Previously developing economies such as India, Latin America and Asia have also become incredible consumers (and producers) of media.   These fundamentals represent a powerful case for investors.

To learn more, I spoke to James Clayton, CEO of Ingenious Investments who- since their debut in 1998- have raised and invested over $10bn in the media and entertainment sectors.  Their portfolio includes films such as Avatar, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, X-Men: First Class and TV productions such as Law and Order UK, Monroe and Foyle’s War. Continue reading

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