Mark Cuban has decided to start a different type of hedge fund. He intends to invest not in stocks, bonds, forex, derivatives, commodities or any other traditional assets. He intends to build a team of expert gamblers, who will then use their money to gamble!
From his blog posting, I gather that he will dabble in casino-style games, sports bets, card games... He says that investing in the stock market is really gambling anyway. He believes he has far greater chances of success in casino-style gambling:
The rules (payoffs, risks, etc) are known. The stock market is educated guesswork at best.
There is far more information available in gambling than in the stock market. Betting on sports, he says, can be done based on information available in the newspaper. Public companies try to obfuscate information, he says, and the information is less up-to-date.
Regulation is strict in the gaming industry.
Many casual gamblers come to the casino fully prepared to lose their money. Cuban wants a share of that pot.
Gambling has a much shorter time horizon than investing in a mutual fund, for example. No ownership of any asset is implied. Any untoward and unexpected event has a much smaller probability of happening (as compared to an earnings downgrade at a public company or some sort of scandal). Hence, lower risk.
Here's an interview by Red Herring on a new search engine called Mooter. The two comments by the founder that I most interesting were :
[Google has] lots of challenges ahead, including the ‘popularity’ approach, which assumes what is most relevant for everyone is the most relevant for you, and the ability of webmasters to push up the ranking of their sites. Mooter lets users drive the choice of what is relevant to them.
We believe that there is no one-size-fits-all correct ‘answer’ to a search query. The answer could be different for two different people, or even for the same person the next day. We believe that search technology should be responsive to those differences.
Mooter customises its results based on each individual user's previous searches and its evaluation of each persons preferences. The CEO used her training in psychology to help design Mooter because she says "[other search engines] obviously had been designed by people who know a lot about data but don’t understand humans and how we are hardwired."
Mooter also uses a visualisation technique for search results that groups results into clusters. For example, I typed in "reliance ambani" and was shown results clustered under topics such as "india", "chairman", "dhirubhai", "mumbai", "infocomm" and "energy".
As far as I can see, the site is at a very early stage of development. Many things could be improved, simply by benchmarking the site against other existing sites. For example, I couldn't point you directly to the URL of the search results page I generated because it didn't contain the search terms. What I see is the (pretty much useless) URL http://www.mooter.com/moot. If you clicked on this, you wouldn't see the search query I typed in.
The site also seems to have performance-related problems. I clicked on the cluster labelled "energy", and my computer has now practically frozen up. Task Manager tells me that IE is using 100% of CPU time.
But still, the fundamental ideas seem to be interesting. Must keep an eye out for future developments.
We are poised for an extraordinary era of creativity and entrepreneurship, an era in which entrepreneurial energy and innovation will reach more broadly, more rapidly, and more deeply than in any other era in history. Some will hesitate, and many will fail. All will confront skeptics and naysayers. But the bold will seize this opportunity and create a new generation of successful companies.
He sounds almost statesman-like but I think he's right, based on the reasons he supplies in his article.
What is especially interesting is that he predicts this boom in entrepreneurship to happen not only in Silicon Valley and Boston but also in "Seattle, Salt Lake City, and Phoenix, and increasingly in Cambridge, Singapore, Shanghai, and elsewhere in the world." I must add Bangalore and Hyderabad to that list, as well as other cities in India.
This is interesting, particularly in the wake of conservative rhetoric in the US.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in Britain has approved the use of gene screening techniques to screen in-vitro fertilised embryos from couples that carry genes linked to certain forms of cancer. It seems that a previous rule allowed such tests for congenital or untreatable illnesses.
Developments like this could have a number of implications:
Designer traits Could this much-debated aspect of genetic engineering finally enter day-to-day life?
US losing out? Is this an inflexion point for the United States' leading position in global R&D? Will research in sophisticated but controversial areas be done and profited from in other countries?
Related research could get a fillip by the regulatory authority's approval of this research. The regulator here only permits screening of embryos for a certain gene and does not allow actual engineering of specific traits. However, could full-blown genetic engineering soon emerge?
Debates on God vs Man (GvM) and other weighty topics are bound to deepen.
From my (admittedly weak) understanding of biotech research in India and Singapore, I believe research in many controversial (in the West) areas is proceeding with few regulatory or social hurdles. Christian/Catholic views on GvM don't really influence thinking in these parts all that much.
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