Around the Dot

31 August 2006

Schmoozing Day
The marketing department (of which I am at Amex ICSS Europe) had its FUN DAY today, which means we headed to the countryside for a winery/vineyard visit and wine tasting this afternoon.

Back in town, I changed into my super crazy marketer outfit in a phone boot (yes, marketing has its super-hero, ready to save fresh MBAs from selling their souls to Finance powerhouses). In a Paul Smith suit / Rolling Stones t-shirt, I then set sail for the London Business School aboard Bus 82 for the networking event with the MBA2008 class (orientation week).

This was a good occasion to meet the new guys (and girls - they now make 28% of the class I have been told) and catch up with some fellow MBA2006s. As if schmoozing was not fun enough (despite my abstinence tonight after the earlier wine tasting), I met one my readers! For the first time, someone asked me out of the blank if I was the guy who had that blog. That feels at least like being quoted in the FT :) And that’s a) a nice encouragement to carry on writing, b) a proof that blogs are getting some importance in the MBA candidates’ “due diligence” process :)



25 August 2006

Of Geeks and TV
Just saw the first episode of what is announced as the second US season of The Beauty and The Geek on E4. It’s so funny that I had to post a few words about it. The show is about matching prom queens with 160+ IQ lab rats for various activities and possibly flirting/kissing/fighting/crying, all with the best intentions in mind (i.e. keep us watching the show, well and perhaps inner-beauty / go-over-appearances bullshit).

In particular, I loved the adorable Beauties’ political acumen: “I think I am a Democrat (…) I voted Bush”, “Who is the Vice President?...of the show? Oh, of the US….don’t know”.

I’m sure our reality-TV lover KV is not missing any episode, right?



24 August 2006

Twickenham Honky Tonk
Raquel and I headed to Twickenham this Tuesday for the 2nd Rolling Stones date in London. I got half-price tickets through Amex which is the official partner of their Bigger Bang tour and we had a great time, especially as we had good seats midway between the main stage and the central stage (the one the Stoned use to perform a few old songs midway through the show). That’s been the third time we go to a Stones concert in fact, last time was the Bridges to Babylon tour (which I saw in Paris in 98).

We arrived just in time for the show which started with Jumping Jack Flash (my favourite song!) – instead of the classic Start me up which is less my cup of tea but came as a really nice nugget later in the show with all this people screaming the lyrics.

Of course, they are really starting to age and Mick Jagger is the only one able to cover the 50-meter wide stage – which he does relentlessly. The other “original” members can’t because they’re too old and the supporting musicians surely can’t by contract. :) I must say though that Keith Richards and Ron Wood did a better impression than during their performance during the last Superbowl (which I saw on TV in LA). Perhaps falling on the head from a coconut tree has been beneficial to bad boy Keith Richards. On that note, the palm tree is set to become an icon of the Stones like the infamous mouth with the tongue: I saw quite a lot of people brandishing inflatable palm trees in the floor crowd.

Anyway, they played some of their best classics, leaving the main stage on a mobile platform to perform some old goodies like Honky Tonk Women and returning on the main stage for Sympathy for the Devil, which are also two awesome songs.

I bought a nice t-shirt with a union-jack Rolling Stones tongue and I showed off the next day with it at work (it works nicely with my black Paul Smith suit and a pair of black converse).

After this great Rock in London kick-off, I am now looking forward to seeing JET (the band) in November.



Love my Thinkpad
One of the necessary perks of working with a multinational company – or any company in fact – is a nice laptop. Two hours after joining just one month ago, I was assigned the ultimate executive PC: a brand new IBM Thinkpad.

And funnily, while I found the Thinkpads ugly a few years back and would have put them at the bottom of my list (I am a VAIO guy), I proudly confess that I find my T43 is a stylish status-conferring beast. In fact, I feel like I have been made (Goodfellas or MTV Made style).

Interesting that the design-conscious sort-of-trendsetting guy that I am is feeling this way just a year after IBM sold their PC business to China Lenovo. While most marketers at that time and now (including Professor Mark Ritson whose acclaimed Brand Management class I took last Fall) are thinking that Lenovo is not going to be able to leverage this deal which also gave them the right to use the IBM brand for several years, I would argue that there is still hope. Thinkpad as a standalone brand has the potential to be successful if the core values of the brand are respected: powerful, non-nonsense, slim executive tool – and icon?

Honestly, I like it so much that I am even considering soon taking and posting pictures of me with the mean little thing that I spend my days with.

Note: Posted with my home VAIO (which I still love for different reasons – damn I’m such a geek)



23 August 2006

Spot On 2.0
Having a (great!) regular job is keeping me away of the web and blogosphere both as a reader and a blogger (which is maybe a good thing) but I still have time to read my fav blogs and I have to share this great post by Paul Kedrosky with you. Paul is spot-on on the Web2.0 bubble.

Building companies for a supposedly fast-growing market without significant numbers of people getting stupidly wealthy shows that capital is almost certainly misallocated here. To justify so much money going into early-stage companies doing web 2.0-ish stuff, we should be seeing more hand-wringing about the absurd amounts of money being made by a select few entrepreneurs. But we're not.

Remember my rule: The venture business is a bubble business. The industry owes its existence to its participants' ability to find and exploit liquidity bubbles in technology markets. In this case there is a bubble, but it's entirely at the company creation end of things, not the liquidity end (i.e., IPOs and M&A), which makes it the strangest and least economically rational technology bubble I've ever seen.

Why? Well, what's the financial point of a biztech bubble where oodles of money goes in, but next to no money comes out? At least in the dot-com days we'd had a few moonshot IPOs before people really began pouring money at MBAs who secretly craved to run online cat food stores.

On another note, I ask you: why has the B in the orange square logo of Blogger been replaced by a dog? I thought they were Google, not Lycos. I need to find more about it. And if there is no reason, here is the true question: why not a cat?

Now you know I'm a cat person, I have an MBA. Should I start an cat-owner online community to sell catfood. Plus, there are two things a marketer can't resist selling: catfood and shampoo.

I'll be back with more tonight (more posts that is, not catfood...ntntntnt).



13 August 2006

Passport to Pimlico
Passport to Pimlico Whoa. I finally take the time to blog. Not that so much has happened in the past two weeks but enough though to keep me away from my laptop at home. Or should I say, NEW home as we have now moved to our place for the next 6 months south of Victoria Station and a 10-min walk from the office. That makes us resident of the Pimlico area which is a quite French area a bit like in “Passport to Pimlico”. I can remember an afternoon watching this 1949 English flick in my shared flat during the first year of my MBA. Time really does fly.

Speaking of flying, the latest terrorist threats this week are really going to be a pain in the butt for the next weeks if not months or years. That made me think I should start “flynaked.com” but someone’s already taken the name and created a bad-taste website there.

Anyway, I really was lucky to fly to the French Riviera last week-end and not this one. Yep, I used my first Amex pay check to join Raquel in Le Lavandou (that’s near St Tropez) where she was spending the week with friends. The “excuse” for inviting me was that the week had been really windy and I could enjoy one or two days of windsurf but the wind was gone by the time I arrived (of course). So, I tried waterskiing instead – quite successfully as I managed to ski after a few trials.

And so I entered my third week of work completely shattered – I could barely carry my luggage on the journey back to London SW1. Workwise, I am getting up to speed. My job is much more internal consulting than anything else in fact. This is like a big second year project (without the painful academic summary) or a huge case study made of only data tables exhibits :) At home, I have tried to grab as many hours of sleep as I could, especially this Saturday and I now feel I have recovered from the last weeks and week-ends. I think it is time I start exercising again like I was doing in LA (I miss LA). First because in 6 months I’ll be on Sydney’s beaches and being in shape is a prerequisite to show-off. :) And then because I’ve planned an extended week-end to French Atlantic coasts in about two weeks and I hope to windsurf there like last year.

It’s too bad I have been so lazy with the blog, I always feel I have so much to write about. Perhaps I should buy a mic for my iPod and just record my thoughts “live” to publish them as a podcast… For the time being, I’ll just do like I did in June last year after my first year in London, i.e. write the lists of things I wish I had blogged and perhaps will:

Little LA – after coming back to Paris, several things made me feel like in LA which, as I said, I miss. Things like Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Guns n’ Roses concerts.

Rate that MBA – I know this is stupid but I really anticipated the time where I would fill the MBA questionnaires of Business Week and The Economist. I thought about it when I was reading the rankings in 2004. I filled both surveys in June/July and this made me feel happy, proud and a bit sad because this is one of the elements that “sealed” this 2-year period.

2006 MBA Entrepreneurs Vintage – I know of at least two of my fellow MBA2006 and good friends who have started their own ventures and I really want to comment on that. It’s funny that a lot of people have told me they thought I’d be one of this crazy guys to start a business – which I can’t do because I badly needed cash and wouldn’t want to miss the opportunity to work for a multinational corporation at least once in my life. So, kudos and good luck to Hazel and her online stationary shop as well as Eaton and its Afghanistan mobile operator startup!

And I have to kick myself hard in the a$$ to find that goddamn new marketing blog a name and start it. Maybe I’ll do that this afternoon with the rain outside getting in the way of our plans to go feed Hyde Park’s ducks, swans and geese some old bread. :]



01 August 2006

The French who misses his Cheese
I was interviewed by Clare Davidson from BBC News a few weeks ago about the reasons why so many among French youth come settle in London.

Well, Clare didn't end up quoting my most insightful remarks but that's life. While I don’t remember saying "The best brains in France end up working for the state", I say so many stupid things that I trust her, I must have said that. :) The meaning here is more like the best brains don’t end up starting a Google or the like but I don’t want to offend anyone.

As for the soon to be infamous catchphrase “The one thing I really miss is good cheese” (I have classmates writing to me about it), I clearly remember saying it. The funny thing is that I also said you could find good cheese (at the price of gold) in very good places like La Fromagerie around Marylebone high street. Dad, Mum, here are my 15 seconds of fame – don’t fed-ex me cheese however. At least I had the last word which is quite nice.

Anyway, go read the article – nothing new West of the Channel but an interesting update on the state of French exile in the UK.