Why the Tech Elite Love New Zealand

3 days ago

This year, Rocket Lab plans to explosion a 56 -foot vehicle into orbit on a mission to revolutionize access to space. The aerospace startup’s affordable launchers are among the first to be tailored to commercial satellite customers. But the rocket won’t taken away from from Cape Canaveral or Vandenberg Air Force Base–it was manufactured in Auckland and will launch from New Zealand’s Mahia Peninsula. “Tech entrepreneurs are doing all kinds of edgy stuff here that hasn’t been tried before, ” says Berkeley grad and software developer turned Wellington-based angel investor Dave Moskovitz. “Stuff that’s like, whoa , why would you go to New Zealand for that? ”

It’s a question that’s been whispered about Silicon Valley upper-class for the past few years, ever since Peter Thiel quietly became a Kiwi citizen; since LinkedIn’s Reid Hoffman informed The New Yorker that New Zealand is the tech crowd’s favored end-of-days refuge; since Ellen Pao mocked her former Kleiner Perkins colleagues for coveting “private-jet escape roads to New Zealand.” Indeed, as of October the number of run visas granted under American techies was up 78 percentage over the same period in 2012. What dedicates? Beyond Wellington’s obsessive coffee culture and Queenstown’s unspoiled scenery( a country approximately the size of the UK with just 7 percent of its population ), New Zealand has established itself as an unlikely bolt-hole for the impending apocalypse.

“Thirty years ago New Zealand’s biggest impediment was the totalitarianism of distance, ” says David Cooper of Malcolm Pacific Immigration, who advises high-net-worth someones looking to relocate there. But as our chairperson subtweets Kim Jong-un and we brace for the next hurri-quake, that 13 -hour direct flight from San Francisco to Auckland starts to look inviting. “If I’m someone with a lot of money who wants to survive the end of the world, New Zealand is far away from any place I could conceivably assure a atomic weapon hitting, ” says James McKeon, policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

It’s also surrounded by vast plains of ocean, which has a dampening consequence on extreme climate, says James Renwick, a climate scientist at Victoria University of Wellington. “New Zealand is affected more slowly by warming tendencies than other countries, so we have more lead time, ” he says. “It will be fairly pleasant here for quite a while.”

And New Zealand is eager to attract Valley upper-class: Recruitment endeavours are seducing tech employees to local startup scenes; LookSee Wellington, which last year flew in techies to attend career info conferences and interviews, received 48,000 applications. Of course, most moneyed Kiwi-wannabes opt for the surer thing, an Investor visa–nearly guaranteed if you meet basic immigration criteria and expend NZ$ 3 million( about US $2.1 million) for four years or NZ $10 million over three years. Cooper estimates that more than a one-quarter of his US Investor visa clients hail from California.

Once your abode( or bunker) is under way, integrating is easy, say American escapists. “You can start a business in 20 seconds, ” says Moskovitz, who has invested in over a dozen New Zealand startups and renounced his US citizenship in 2015. “You just go on the Companies Office website and plonk down NZ $105. ”

Texas native Shawn O’Keefe , now a program director for Wellington-based accelerator Creative HQ, concur: “Being small and nimble, we don’t have the same level of bureaucracy and bullshit as in the States.” New Zealand recently topped the World Bank’s annual Ease of Doing Business rankings as the nation most conducive to starting a business, registering property, and securing credit.

That same no-BS position were applied to invention, O’Keefe says: “New Zealand entrepreneurs aren’t working on an app to detect a better sandwich or whatever–they take real-world problems much more seriously.” While that may sound like some Silicon Kiwi spin, the country did introduce a Global Impact visa last year, targeting civic-minded founders tackling society’s biggest challenges. Meanwhile, US app peddlers and hedge funders are quietly burrowing into New Zealand’s epic mounds, plotting their real-world escape.

This article appears in the February issue. Subscribe now .

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10 companies that have successfully transformed something old to make it new again

2 months, 1 day ago

A thermostat from ‘Nest’ at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA, 08 January 2015. The trade show takes place from 06 to 09 January 2015.
Image: Britta Pedersen/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Some of the most striking business success stories of the last few years aren’t about a new product or idea so much as they are about revamping something well-loved (or at least, well-used) and making it feel exciting again. Pokemon Go might be the most obvious example, but there are many others worth noting.

How do the best brands take nostalgia and familiarity and fuse them with modern technology to create a winning product or service?To find out, I asked 10 entrepreneurs fromYoung Entrepreneur Council (YEC)what one brand they think has successfully turned something old into something new again, and why it worked so well. Their best answers are below.

1. Nest

Nest successfully revolutionized a stagnant thermostat industry because they took something we all use and asked, “How can we make this (much) better?” They listened to people’s complaints (ex: energy use, comfort levels) and went about applying answers to these problems. When you’re in tune with public demands and you can create the appropriate solutions, you’ll be successful. Nicolas Gremion,Free-eBooks.net

2. Nintendo

Pokemon Go is a world-class example of how Nintendo became relevant again by simply reinventing itself through a modern game that activated gamers of all ages and genders. Pokemon Go incorporates virtual reality elements, gamification, and commerce at scale in a way that has never been done with such precision. I believe the reason for the success was well-executed timing. Kristopher Jones,LSEO.com

3. Snapchat

Snapchat brought photo sharing forward into the modern age and brought back a real interest in photos and communicating through photos. They were successful because they incorporated the social element and added ways to edit the pictures and add things to them that made it even more fun for their audience. They also brought the photo-sharing concept into the digital online age and made it interactive. John Rampton,Due

4. Slack

Chat rooms on the internet have always been around, and in the old days,asking someone for their age/sex/location was just what you did on them. Slack brought chat roomsback and made them more productive by highlighting their usefulnessforteams. Today you would be hard-pressed tofind a company not using Slack, or at least someone from the company not activeinaSlack community. Robert De Los Santos,Sky High Party Rentals

5. Polaroid

Polaroid cameras used to be these ugly, old looking things that resembled View-Masters, and with everything going digital, Polaroid’s future didn’t seem very promising. But, they’ve found a way to make their cameras kitschy, cool and popular through unique branding and an engaging aesthetic. I doubt they’ll ever be seen as dated again. Kelsey Meyer,Influence & Co.

6. Unwelcome Greetings

The team behind Unwelcome Greetings knew that traditional Hallmark cards were boring. At least, among Millennials, they felt that there was a better way to congratulate a friend or share a funny meme. And so far their outrageous greeting cards have been a hit among consumers who prefer to communicate in memes,emojisand pranks. Firas Kittaneh,Amerisleep

7. Dollar Shave Club

Dollar Shave Club made it easier and cheaper to buy razors, and they did it with style. They were successful, in part, because of their innovative approach to advertising. But the real key was taking on an established industry that had been overcharging for generations, and making the product cheaper and more convenient. Companies like Casper are doing the same for mattresses. Vik Patel,Future Hosting

8. GoPro

GoPro effectively took an old product that everyone has, re-purposed it, and made a fortune. GoPro is nothing but a good-quality camera. However, they managed to make it attractive, target a large niche of passionate customers and create a new category for themselves. The beauty behind this brand istargeting a group of people who are tight-knit andlarge enough to build a sizable business. Diego Orjuela,Cables & Sensors, LLC

9. Netflix

As one of the cornerstones of the home entertainment industry, brick-and-mortar DVD rental stores seemed like theyd be around forever. Then along came Netflix. Not only did the brand reinvent the delivery of DVDs, they transformed movie rental altogether with streaming service. The brands success has come from not just embracing change, but seeing it as an opportunity for innovation. BrianLischer,Ignyte

10. Adidas

Adidasbenefited from people’s increased interest in sports gear that became athleisure wear. RapperKanye West, NHL Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby, and NFL Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers helped put Adidas back on top. As Adidas says,Americans like winners. We needed to not just have athletes but the best athletes. Daisy Jing,Beauty Social

Scott Gerber is CEO of CommunityCo, an organization that builds and manages membership communities for elite professionals. He is the founder of YEC, an invitation-only organization comprised of the worlds most successful young entrepreneurs, and Forbes Councils, a collective of invitation-only organizations for elite executives.

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The Key to the Perfect March Madness Bracket: Evolution

2 months, 5 days ago

Predicting the wins and losers of March Madness is such a daunting challenge that it attracts math nerds like Starfleet voyagers lining up at Comic-Con. Statisticians, economists, Silicon Valley coders, the PhD quants at hedge funds and gambling syndicates: They’ve all tried to “solve” the outcome of the annual college basketball tournament’s 63 matchups.

“Every kid who takes a mathematical modeling class and who’s a college basketball fan, the first thing they want to do is predict the NCAA tournament, ” says Ken Pomeroy, a former meteorologist who has become arguably the foremost college basketball numbers guru. His famous KenPom ratings measure the strength of all 351 NCAA Division 1 basketball teams utilizing an old-school regression technique known as “least squares, ” which analyzes statistical variances in teams’ past performances and helps predict the winners in two-team matchups.

But to generate entire brackets is to tangle not only with the randomness of video games itself, but with the randomness of your betting pool–the luck guess made by all the people you’re competing against to predict the greatest number of winners. Microsoft researchers have unleashed their machine-learning engine Bing Predicts on March Madness forecasts, and several independent researchers, such as the chief data scientist of a big defense consultant, have employed neural networks to entwine discrete predictive models into “ensembles” that spit up probabilities. But some of the most intense March Madness research is being done by David Hess. He’s a 36 -year-old with degrees in neuroscience from Johns Hopkins and NYU who’s also from Kansas, and is thus “a huge college basketball fan.” In 2011 he went to work at a sports prediction site called Team Rankings, where he set out to build a tool to produce optimized NCAA tournament brackets for paying customers.


The WIRED Guide to Artificial Intelligence

After experimenting with different statistical models, including a so-called upset algorithm that somehow augurs underdog victories, Hess settled on what’s known as an evolutionary algorithm that relies on machine learning. Hess begins by rating the relative strength of all the competitors. Once the NCAA on Sunday announces the seedings–a ranking of the teams in the tournament–the model uses that data, along with probabilistic information from betting markets, to spit out a batch of probable results. That, however, isn’t enough. A second model scrapings data from ESPN and Yahoo, where millions of people submit their pickings for public consumption, and makes a simulated pond of opponents’ brackets.

At this phase, the evolutionary algorithm takes over. It obtains a semirandom sample of brackets from the 9.2 quintillion( that’s 9 million trillion !) possible permutations, and pits them against a series of simulated tournament results and a series of simulated pools. It runs, in essence, a simulation based on two other simulations. The algorithm plucks out the brackets that achieve the highest winning percentages and then does what makes it evolutionary: It “mutates” or “mates” the brackets to produce “offspring” outcomes. The software recurs this process through 300 or so generations and halts the evolution when it sees no room for improvement.

Starting Sunday night, 18 Amazon servers used by Team Rankings will spin for more than 24 hours, and Hess’ crew will pull a few all-nighters. “I think we find the global optimum solution the majority of the time, ” he tells, and recent results bear that out: A Team Rankings analysis shows that people who paid $39 for its optimized bracket last year won a prize in their pools at 7 hours the rate of those without an algorithmic edge. However, he’s quick to caution that no machine will ever be able to predict upsets. “Even if only we omniscient and could know the true odds of a thing happening, ” Hess says , no bracket based on those true odds would win any dedicated March Madness pool. In betting and basketball, there are no sure things.

Correction, March 13, 2018: Such articles was updated to clarify the rate at which Team Rankings customers won a award in 2017.

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Sexist attitudes make it very hard to stop sexual harassment

2 months, 19 days ago

Image: Getty Images/ iStockphoto

This week, the most famous members of the Trump family took turns discussing sexual harassment. At the heart of the most outrageous remarks were assumptions about the victim’s role and responsibility in preventing and responding to such harassment sentiments that provoked considerable outrage.

Those statements reflect an important and fundamental misunderstanding of why sexual harassment occurs in the workplace. Though it might be a onetime showing of poor judgment or a misunderstanding between co-workers in some cases, sexual harassment is ultimately a symptom of much bigger problem: sexism.

Sexism can be subtle, personified for instance by a male supervisor who considers himself progressive but addresses merely men in meetings. It can be outright, like a Ceo who crudely comments on the physical appearance of women.( This might voice familiar to Donald J. Trump .)

“For my entire life, Ive heard men talk about girls … Ive listened to humen dissect women around body parts.”

Either way, the faith that females are lesser than humen, or should be viewed mainly as sex objects, generates the conditions for sexual harassment to thrive in any workplace even those with so-called zero-tolerance policies.

Last month in a New York Times op-ed, former hedge fund trader Sam Polk induced the bleak connection between the thoughtless dehumanization of women and workplace culture that curbs their potential and subjects them to humiliation.

Polk recalls male colleagues telling, “I’d like to get behind that, ” about their fellow female coworkers. One senior executive asked Polk if he’d “gotten laid” and then lamented when Polk responded that he hadn’t. Too bad. When I was your age, it was like shooting fish in a barrel, ” the executive said.

This might seem like harmless chatter to some, but Polk watches something better malicious afoot 😛 TAGEND

For my entire life, Ive heard men talking here girls. On baseball field, in wrestling locker rooms, at frat parties and in private conversations, Ive listened to men dissect women into body parts …[ M] ost of the sexism on Wall Street occurs when women arent in the room. ‘Bro talk’ renders a force field of disrespect and exclusion that constructs it incredibly difficult for women to ascend the Wall Street ladder. When you create a culture where women are casually torn apart in dialogue, how can you ever stomach promoting them, or working for them?

This dynamic is what attains sexual harassment so difficult to combat. Even if a victim reports her harasser’s behaviour, there’s no ensure an intervention by human resources will result in an investigation and punishment, much less address the root of the problem: insidious, deeply held belief about a woman’s worth.

Polk’s disturbing confession which many girls have long known to be true is a far cry from the manner in which the Trump family discussed sexual harassment this week. Instead of talking candidly about why sexual harassment happens, both Donald Trump and his son initially suggested that the main victims is both responsible for the behavior and its consequences.

I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the case.

First the Republican presidential nominee used to say if his daughter Ivanka experienced the kind of sexual harassment that Roger Ailes, former Fox News CEO, is accused of commit, he would expect her hanging in there( never mind how that’s impossible for the non-wealthy or that she might encounter similar or even worse behavior elsewhere ).

I would like to think she would find another career or find another company if that was the occurrence, he told Kirsten Powers, a paid political contributor to Fox News and contributor to USA Today . He soon rewrote his out-of-touch stance by telling the Washington Post that it’s up to the individual, and a victim might stay or leave depending on her alternatives.

The outrage, however, only intensified when Trump’s son Eric indicated in an interview with CBS that some females could avoid sexual harassment with the right personality traits.

“I think what he’s saying is, Ivanka is a strong, powerful female, she wouldn’t let herself to be objected to it, ” Eric Trump said of his father’s original comments, “and by the way, you should take it up with human resources, and I suppose she would as a strong person, at the same time, I don’t guess she would allow herself to be subjected to that.”( In fact, Ivanka Trump wrote about experiencing sexual harassment at work, including at her father’s construction sites .)

Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor who reportedly told researchers that she’d been harassed by Ailes, could muster only a “sigh” in a Twitter response. Former Fox News host Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment lawsuit against Ailes ultimately led to his resignation, tweeted, “Trust me I’m strong.”

Surveys indicate that many females experience sexual harassment; depending on the type of questionnaire and sample, the incidence rate may be between 40% and 75% of female workers, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

And yet few women report such abuse. The EEOC’s research found that the least common response to sexual harassment is filing a formal complaint because victims may fear retaliation, shame, skepticism, inactivity and ostracism. Reporting an allegation to human resources, as many women have painfully detected, is rarely a cure-all.

“Having a policy is good, but its not sufficient, ” says Maya Raghu, director of workplace equality at the National Womens Law Center. “Its simply a piece of paper living in a binder or on a companys website unless its devoted teeth.”

“[ A policy] is just a piece of paper living in a binder or on a companys website unless its devoted teeth.”

Raghu says that preventing sexual harassment means changing social norms and workplace culture. Top leadership, for example, must champion respectful policies and behaviours. Human resources departments must have the time and financial resources to not only develop educates relevant to their employees’ requires, but also to prioritize investigating accusations and delivering prompt results. If person transgresses the policy, there must be consequences.

Ivanka Trump was the only is part of their own families who acknowledged that organizational culture is paramount in preventing sexual harassment.

In an interview with Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, she described harassment as “inexcusable” and focused on a company’s role in addressing the problem. “We have a very strong HR team at the Trump Organization, who is equipped to deal with these issues if they originate … and you hope you have a culture in which they dont arise, ” she told. “But when they do, it needs to be dealt with swiftly.”

Ivanka Trump’s answer would be heartening if it didn’t reveal considerable differences in opinion between top executives at the Trump Organization. It’s worth asking why Ivanka’s brother and father constructed such tone-deaf remarks if her portrait of their company culture is accurate. Such differences are a prime example of the challenges that remain as workplaces try to eradicate sexual harassment.

Last year, the EEOC was so “deeply troubled” by the slow progress, and the number of sexual harassment grievances it continued to receive, that it assembled a task force to “reboot workplace harassment prevention efforts.”

In its recent report, which covers all types of harassment, the task force members laid out a comprehensive prevention strategy and argued that it’s not sufficient for companies to focus on legal liability. Instead, they must conduct trainings that describe unacceptable behaviour that could eventually rise to the level of illegal harassment. The report also proposed their own nationals workplace campaign similar to the It’s On Us initiative to prevent sexual assault on high school and college campuses.

Such measures are essential if we want to change the culture that permits sexual harassment. If this week’s debate can teach us anything, it’s that people still don’t understand why that behavior occurs in the workplace, and that well-intentioned policies aren’t enough.

We must expect and demand that females are implicitly and explicitly treated with dignity at work anything less sustains the sexism that dedicates way, with often tragic outcomes, to sexual harassment.

Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments .

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How Brazilian women avoid sexism at work: by working for themselves

3 months, 2 days ago

Saleswomen at companies such as Tupperware take out micro-loans and sell products immediately, becoming financially independent on their own time

Tupperware, the brand long associated in the US with 1950 s homemakers and a time of limited economic prospects for women, has find a successful market in another place with troubling gender dynamics: modern-day Brazil.

Even with the recent economic collapse and political instability in Brazil, sales are up 22% in US dollars in the second quarter, says Rick Goings, CEO of Tupperware. Brazil, which has the worlds fifth largest population, has become a major source of revenue growth for a company that generates 92% of its business outside the US. And the method Tupperware uses to make sure its success in Brazil stays on track? Keeping its marketers husbands happy.

Tupperwares sales strategy depends on direct selling. The company devotes women micro-loans to purchase their food storage and other kitchen-related products, which the women then demonstrate and sell to their social networks. If they are successful, they move up to become unit managers, supervising other saleswomen and eventually, if they continue to do well, they become distributors who oversee several unit managers. While turnover in the first rank of the salesforce is very high, Goings acknowledges, turnover for distributors is merely around 10%.

The direct sales model can be particularly attractive to Brazilian girls. Sexual harassment in the workplace and domestic abuse are rampant in Brazil, tells Brodwyn Fischer, prof of Latin American history and director of the Center for Latin American Examines at the University of Chicago. While there is an idealized image for the poor and lower middle class in Brazil that men run and take care of their wives, women who are in those class have always had to work in order to make ends meet, Fischer tells. Direct selling, especially at the initial levels, is seen as womens fund and not an official undertaking that would threaten a mans position, Fischer explains. It can allow women to become financially independent and help the household but in a way that does not require them to keep regular business hours or leave the house all the time.

Tupperware has worked to be sensitive to that gender dynamic, with the company stimulating sure to find a role for the spouses of women who have climbed the ladder to become major distributors. For a company whose pitch is the empowerment of women Goings himself is part of the UN Womens HeForShe initiative the CEO spends a lot of time focusing on the needs of men.

Agatha Kaneda demonstrating Tupperware in Brazil. Photo: Courtesy of Tupperware

Tupperware fosters the spouses of women who become successful distributors for the company to take on roles in the administration and operations of their spouses distributor networks. As the women become more financially successful and their confidence grows, Tupperware expends a lot of period trying to teach them how to carry it well, to be sensitive to the dynamic of the husband, Goings explains. When the top distributors go on a company-sponsored trip-up, the husbands come with them, the company will include photos of both the husband and wife on promotional materials, and when the women are invited on stage at company events, the spouses are on stage with them, Goings tells. Reversing an old saying, Goings says that behind these dynamic, successful women is a man. Most men adjust to their wifes success, tells Goings, as their own quality of life improves, and he credits the womens new financial independence with lowering instances of domestic violence.

Tupperware, and fellow American direct selling company Avon, are not the only ones determining success by tapping into the motivated female population of the country who are looking for other ways to earn money. Direct selling is actually not new in Brazil. In fact, a local company, Natura, that attains soaps, fragrances and other natural products, already counts an astounding 1.9 million Brazilians among its direct selling workforce. Entrepreneurship of any kind is attractive to women in Brazil, tells Fischer, in part because it entails females dont have to deal with workplace sexism, which is prevalent, and also entails girls can run their business the route they see fit and pay themselves, eliminating any wage gap. The informality of a direct selling task that does not depend on either the government or a company immediately for regular employment also fits into Brazilian history of stringing together work to set food on the table, Fischer says.

While Brazil is currently in the throes of an economic recession as well as political unrest, and just in August impeached President Dilma Rousseff, Tupperware continues to see sales growth. Goings credits Brazilians culture of optimism, their lack of confidence in their government, and their big population of young people is accessible to entrepreneurship as part of the reason for Tupperwares success. Brazilians, Goings tells, dont sit on their hands waiting for the government to come up with programs.

Goings is a huge believer in the entrepreneurial spirit of the young. He can cite statistics on millennial entrepreneurial behaviors and get excited talking about self-reliance. It all goes back to his theories of work and government. Goings believes that the lack of confidence in the government and faith in entrepreneurship as the way to economic freedom that he insures in Brazil is something you are going to see repeated over and over in the world. I believe that Brazil could be a vanguard of what a new template could look like for individuals taking responsibility for improvement for life in their hands, Goings explains.

When it comes to governments in Europe, you are dealing with governments that are going infringe, he says, and the current political climate in the US is an indicator of things gone wrong, he explains, adding: I hope what comes together is more people that get an attitude that we have to figure out these answers ourselves as individuals.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Weed legalization supporters wake and cook on Inauguration Day

3 months, 10 days ago

Members of DCMJ’s #Trump420 marching begin to gather in D.C .
Image: DCMJ/ Twitter

Things were seriously laid back at one protest in Washington D.C. ahead of Donald Trump’s inauguration, as hordes of pro-marijuana protesters turned out for a wake and bake courtesy of thousands of free joints.

Lines stretched for blocks as eager protesters churned out for a pro-cannabis smoking conference hosted by activist group DCMJ at Dupont Circle. The event features free weed, coffee, a message to the incoming administration on legalization, and, again, most importantly, free weed.

Joints were handed out by volunteers locked up in feign jail cells, part of DCMJ’s not-so-subtle message about their advocacy for legalization and criminal justice reform.

DCMJ co-founder and director of communications Nikolas Schiller told Mashable a few weeks ago the event isn’t a protest against Trump but, rather, “about raising awareness about cannabis reform and getting Trump to support the full legalization of cannabis throughout the United States.”

By the lookings of the lines early in the morning, many, many, many people supports these reform.

A particular target of the group has been Trump’s attorney general nominee, Jeff Sessions, who is a staunch foe to legalizing marijuana. The group is also raising awareness and fighting the extremely tight restrictions on legalized marijuana in D.C.

And there were plenty of anti-Sessions signs out in force at the event.

Image: Heather Dockray/ Twitter

The mascot!

Image: Heather Dockray/ Mashable

Once the group reaches the Mall, where Donald Trump will take the oath of office, protesters will be left to make their own decision as to whether or not to smoke starting at four minutes, 20 seconds into Trump’s address, of course.

Schiller said the gathering will be situated closer to the Washington Monument so as to avoid the crowds and security checkpoints for official inauguration guests. Still, the mall is federal land and smoking marijuanas is illegal there.

The group won’t be hard to spot, either. Sure, they may be a peaceful bunch, but they also wear their beliefs, quite literally. If the smell of weed wafting over the Mall doesn’t get your attention, perhaps their Obama-themed pro-weed shirts will.

Image: Heather Dockray/ Twitter

Oh, and this, guy, too. Seem out for him. The giant marijuana leaf mascot. He’ll be hard to miss.

Lest there be any concerns, ID’s are being checked at the event and anyone under 21 is being turned away.

Sorry, sad teens. But keep up the fight and come back in 2020.

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Danny Glover waits out a ticking time bomb in Samsung’s new commercial

3 months, 24 days ago

Danny Glover stars in Samsung’s new ad .
Image: screenshot

What fun is defusing a bomb without an element of nail-biting suspense?

In a showing of savvy showmanship, Danny Glover decides to wait 12 hours before shutting down a ticking time bomb in Samsung’s latest commercial.

As he waits, he does what anyone might do if stuck in an air vent with nothing but a phone he plays some games, watches some funny videos and orders a pizza.

Then, with about five seconds to spare, he casually unplugs the weapon.

“Oh my gosh. Bomb, ” he reminds himself, as if it had slipped his intellect. “That was close.”

The 30 -second spot, from Portland-based ad agency Wieden+ Kennedy, is clearly intended to show off the battery life of Samsung’s Galaxy S7.

The Lethal Weapon superstar appeared in another commercial promoting the smartphone’s battery earlier this year, which also involved a ticking time bomb.

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Tim Cook explains to Apple employees why he met with President-elect Trump

3 months, 25 days ago

In a series of answers to questions posted on Apples internal employee info service Apple Webtoday, CEO Tim Cook commented to employees on some hot-button topics. We procured some of the answers to interesting questions about a few topics, including the fate of the Mac but more on that later.

First up is probably the most topical: Why did he feel it was important to meet with President-elect Trump? The short answer: You have to show up to have a say.

Cook was part of a round table of tech leaders that met with Trump last week. The group included Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook, Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Larry Page of Google, Satya Nadella of Microsoft and others. There has been a lot of discussion about the event, but the most prominent difference of opinion among commentators was whether it was worth engaging Trump in this manner at all given that the publicly carried values of many of these leaders were at such odds with statements he has made during and after his campaign.

Cooks case in the internal communication, which we confirmed is legitimate, is that there was more value in engaging than there was in not doing so. Personally, Ive never received being on the sideline a successful place to be, writes Cook. The style that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. Sowhether its in this country, or the European union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think its very important to do that because you dont change things by justyelling. You change things by showing everyone why your way is the best. In many routes, its a debate of ideas.

So much for the take your tech and stay home camp. The answer was given, specifically, to the following question: Last week you joined other tech leaders to satisfy President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments?

In his response, Cook says that there are specific issues that Apple cares about deeply and that it would need to become an advocate for those things.

Its very important[ to engage ]. Governments can affect our ability to do what we do, he reacted. They can affect it in positive styles and they can affect in not so positive ways. What we do is focus on the policies. Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy andsecurity, education. Theyre on advocating for human rights for everyone, and expanding the definition of human rights. Theyre on the environment and really combating climate change, something we do by running our business on 100 percent renewable energy.

Though this is far from a statement of intent, and he doesnt mention them specifically, Cooks strong statement does touch on a variety of topics that abut controversial Trump stances.

We very much stand up for what we believes in. We think thats a key part of what Apple is about. And well continue to do so, he concludes.

During the close reading and the consequences of the session, Cooks dour expression( ensure above) at the table became a meme of the moment. His stoic mien somehow transmitting what most people hoped was the posture at the table: I cant believe I have to be here but “someones got” do it. Cooks statements to employees seem to back that up.

No one knows for sure whether President-elect Trump will in fact enact many of the sweeping changes to immigration policy, cybersecurity and environmental protection statutes that he promised during the campaign but his cabinet selections so far are not doing much to disabuse people of that notion. If there is going to be a healthy counter-balancing of those policies from the private sector, then CEOs like Cook must be willing to take a firm posture publicly.

I was able to get a hold of this internal postingand its out there now, but it would be encouraging( as argued well recently by Kara Swisher) to assure these kinds of statements induced on the record and for them to be made by more people at that table. I await yourcalls.

Cook also talked about the future of the Mac desktop and Apples distinguishing factor in a more and more mobbed tech sector, but Ill have more on that in a bit.

Heres the posting in full 😛 TAGEND

Last week you joined other tech leaders to fulfill President-elect Donald Trump. How important is it for Apple to engage with governments ?

Its very important. Governments can impact our ability to do what we do. They can affect it in positive routes and they can affect in not so positive routes. What we do is focus on the policies. Some of our key areas of focus are on privacy andsecurity, education. Theyre on advocating for human rights for everyone, and expanding the definition of human rights. Theyre on the environment and actually combating climate change, something we do by operating our business on 100 percentage renewable energy.

And of course, creating jobs is a key part of what we do by devoting people possibility not only with people that work directly for Apple, but the large number of people that are in our ecosystem. Were really proud that weve generated 2 millionjobs, simply in this country. A great percentage of those are app developers. This dedicates everyone the power to sell their work to the world, which is an unbelievable invention in and of itself.

We have other things that are more business-centric like taxation reform and something weve long advocated for: a simple system. And wed like intellectual property reform to try to stop the people suing when they dont do anything as acompany.

Theres a large number of those issues, and the way that you advance them is to engage. Personally, Ive never find being on the sideline a successful place to be. The route that you influence these issues is to be in the arena. Sowhether its in this country, or the European union, or in China or South America, we engage. And we engage when we agree and we engage when we disagree. I think its very important to do that because you dont change things by justyelling. You change things by showing everyone why your style is the best. In many ways, its a debate of ideas.

We very much stand up for what we believes in. We think thats a key part of what Apple is about. And well continue to do so.

Image credit: AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

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Coca-Cola apologizes for indigenous people ad intended as ‘message of unity’

3 months, 26 days ago

The ad, in which fair-skinned people bring soda to a local town, is not the first time countrys lax advertising regulations permitted offensive stereotyping

Coca-Cola issued a rare apology and was necessary to pull an online advert which was deemed offensive to Mexicos indigenous people by customers, media and advocacy groups in the country.

The ad demonstrates fair-skinned, attractive, young people turning up at an indigenous township bearing gifts of sugary fizzy drinks and a Christmas tree for the overawed locals. The company said its ad, set in the Mixe town of Totontepec in the state of Oaxaca, was meant to convey a message of unity and joy. Instead, it reproduction and reinforced stereotypes of indigenous people as culturally and racially subordinate, according to activists, who want the company sanctioned by the governments anti-discrimination committee.

But this was not the first time Mexicos relaxed attitude to advertising regulation and uncouth stereotypes have triggered an online backlash against a multinational company.

Aeromexico, the national airline, had to apologise in 2013 after a casting call invited only fair-skinned actors to apply for a new Tv commercial.

Mexicos population is largely dark-skinned, but few are ever casting in positive roles on television.

Amid widespread fury at the flagrantly racist ad, Aeromexico tried to deflect the blame by pointing the finger at the ag bureau.

Earlier this year, McDonalds made a huge culture faux pas when it decided to disparage a popular traditional breakfast dish in hope of boosting its own sales.

A Facebook campaign to promote McBurritos claimed tamales a popular steamed savoury maize dish stuffed with spiced meat or cheese which dates back to pre-Hispanic cultures were a thing of the past( Tamales son del pasado ).

The ad caused such a ruckus that it was withdrawn within hours.

Last year, carmaker Renault Mexico was shamed into submission after its YouTube ad for the SUV Koleos was detonation as racist, sexist and classist by Spanish-language media.

In the ad, a sophisticated driver listening to classical music while stuck at a traffic light is ambushed by some street musicians looking for a few pesos. Local media noted that while such scenes are common in Mexican adverts, they are considered belittling by countries which regulate ad content.

Amid an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, the coming week retreat by Coca-Cola was not the first time its ad tactics have prompted criticism in Mexico which is the biggest consumer of sugary fizzy beverages in the world.

The company ended its 149 calories of happiness campaign after customer groups announced threatened to lodge a formal complaint with regulators alleging deliberate deception. At the time, Coca-Cola told the Guardian that the timing was coincidental, as the campaign was due to end anyway.

Not even the government itself isimmune from advertising boo-boos. In October, a video campaign to publicize government reforms was withdrawn within 24 hours after its endeavor at humorous irony predictably backfired.

The video in which the government complained about the publics objections – triggered a wave of anti-government sentiments causing the hashtag #YaCholeConTusQuejas( enough of your objections) to swiftly trend on Twitter.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

Manchester City’s plan for global dominance

4 months, 5 days ago

The long read: Football has already been transformed by big money but the businessmen behind Man City are trying to build a global corporation that will change the game for ever

On 19 December 2009, Pep Guardiola stood and wept in the middle of Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. The 38-year-old Barcelona manager clasped a hand across his face as his body gave way to huge, shoulder-heaving sobs. Zlatan Ibrahimović, the club’s towering Swedish striker, wrapped a tattooed arm around Guardiola’s neck and then gave him a vigorous push in order to jolt him out of it. But Guardiola could not stop. It was a strange place for the world’s most celebrated football coach to break down: Barcelona had just won a game that few people watched on television to secure one of football’s most obscure titles, the Fifa Club World Cup. But the victory secured an unbreakable record: Barcelona had won all six titles available to any club in a single year. That is why Pep was sobbing.

Back at home in Barcelona, it was a bittersweet moment for Ferran Soriano. A hairdresser’s son from the city’s working-class district of Poblenou, Soriano had become one of FC Barcelona’s top executives – and had helped build what could now claim to be the greatest football team the world had ever seen. “I was happy, but it was also painful not to be there when the team reached its pinnacle,” he told me. Instead, he picked up the phone and called Guardiola.

Soriano had overseen Barcelona’s finances for five years until 2008, and the club’s record owed much to the ideas he had developed after running a US-style political campaign to bring a group of swashbuckling, sharp-suited young men to power at elections for a new board of directors in 2003. He had even written a book, La Pelota no entra por azar (“The ball doesn’t go in by chance”), in which he argued that Barcelona’s success – and, by inference, that record – was the result of good, creative business management. Vicious political infighting had driven him to resign from the club the previous year. But even before that, he had seen one of his more ambitious ideas – to set up franchise clubs in other countries – thwarted at Barcelona. This was a step too far for a club owned by 143,000 voting fans, firmly rooted in their city and Catalonia.

But Soriano’s big idea has now been brought to life by two men who were watching very closely on the night Guardiola wept in Abu Dhabi: one is a member of the United Arab Emirates’ ruling family, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and the other is Khaldoon al-Mubarak, a youthful executive and adviser to the royal family. With their backing, Soriano is now upending football’s established order by building its first true multinational corporation – a Coca-Cola of soccer.

That corporation is City Football Group (CFG). It already owns, or co-owns, six clubs on four continents, and the contracts of 240 male professional players and two dozen women. Hundreds more carefully picked teenagers and younger children who aspire to greatness play in CFG’s lower teams. The longterm ambition is huge. The company will trawl the world for players – shaping and polishing them in state-of-the-art academies and training facilities across several continents, selling them on or sending the best to the clubs it will own (and improve) in a dozen or so countries. Supplied and shielded by the vessels around it, the flagship of this new football flotilla – Manchester City FC – will continue its already startling rise to become the world’s greatest club.

That is the Soriano idea – or at least, a simplified version of a complex plan. The corporation is only four years old, but it is rapidly becoming one of the most powerful forces in the world’s favourite sport – watched with awe, envy and fear by those who wonder if it could become football’s own Google or Facebook.

In a game where top players cost £200m, televised matches attract audiences of hundreds of millions and club owners are among the wealthiest potentates on the planet, no expense is spared in seeking any competitive edge. Once upon a time, money alone was enough to make the difference (if it was spent wisely), but that is no longer the case, in part because there is so much of it sloshing around the game.

When Manchester City won the Premier League in 2012, Sheikh Mansour was widely accused of “buying the title for £1bn” – the amount of money he had poured into City since purchasing the club four years earlier. It was City’s first major trophy in 36 years, and grown men cried when Sergio Agüero’s goal in the penultimate minute of the season’s final game secured the title. Mansour watched it on television: he had only ever been to one match at City’s Etihad stadium, and did not enjoy the fuss his visit caused. In the hours that followed, his phone hummed, filling up with 2,500 messages.

Man City CEO Ferran Soriano. Photograph: Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

But this was also the end of an era. European football’s regulator, Uefa, had brought in new rules designed to stop clubs spending much more than they earned. Critics dismissed Mansour as a spoiled hobbyist, and even today some wonder to what extent his “private” ownership might become an instrument of Abu Dhabi’s soft power. But his few public statements made it clear that he had bought City – and ploughed money into it – as a genuine, long-term investment because “in cold business terms, Premiership football is one of the best entertainment products in the world”.

The ambition, then, was double – he intended to win at both football and business. But with the Uefa spending brake, that was about to become much tougher. He needed something new. Could City win without losing money?

In fact, when Soriano’s gang of smart young businessmen took over Barcelona in 2003, it was a loss-making club. As finance chief, Soriano helped deliver a spiralling “virtuous circle” of high investment, trophies and then even higher revenues. Forceful and analytical, he had built and sold a global consultancy business by the age of 33; at Barcelona, where he was nicknamed both “the Panzer” and “the Computer”, he made a strong-willed but sensible counterpoint to the club’s mercurial president, Joan Laporta. But Soriano also saw Barcelona as something far bigger than a city club, while realising that the global football business itself was poised to enter a new era. In 2006, at a talk Soriano delivered at Birkbeck College in London, he presented 28 slides that set out his early vision. Thanks to the phenomenal growth in their worldwide fan bases, he noted, big clubs were being transformed from promoters and organisers “of local events, like a circus” into “global entertainment companies like Walt Disney”. If big clubs seized the opportunity to “capture the growth and become global franchises”, they would soon stand apart from their rivals, creating a new, world-conquering elite.

“He thought, and thinks, in a different way to most other people in football,” says Simon Chadwick, now a professor at Salford University, who had invited Soriano to give the talk at Birkbeck. At the time, Soriano himself was disappointed to find English football so in thrall to a model in which managers such as Arsène Wenger and Alex Ferguson appeared to run their own clubs, while “the level of conceptualisation of the business model was zero”. Even the language was telling. “They called the coach ‘manager’, as if he managed everything,” Soriano recalled.

With his abrupt departure from Barcelona in 2008, Soriano’s dream of turning that club into a global franchise, with a first satellite team in the US, was definitively dashed. Instead, Soriano threw himself into running an airline, Spanair. But five years after his presentation in London, as Mansour sought a fresh competitive edge, both on and off the field, Soriano found himself, in October 2011, sitting down for a 7am meeting in a Mayfair hotel with the globetrotting New York lawyer Marty Edelman – who was tempting him back into football.

Edelman had been drafted on to City’s board by Mansour, working alongside his appointed chairman, the US-educated Khaldoon al-Mubarak, from the very beginning. Edelman, a real estate expert, was already a trusted adviser in Abu Dhabi, and the choice of an American was an early sign of the club’s new cosmopolitanism. Soriano initially brushed off City’s advances. He was used to associating Manchester with its glittering rival United, and he still distrusted what he called “the stereotype of the rich owner”. (In his book, he had even described City as a club that provoked “savage inflation” through “irrational investment”.) But the two sides were slowly discovering shared values. Chief among them was ambition – and with that came a willingness to challenge the status quo.

Even then, it was an off-and-on affair. Meetings followed in Paris and Abu Dhabi, before, in April 2012, Soriano was sneaked through Manchester airport (where the club says it “can get people in without anyone knowing they have arrived”) and taken to a room at the Lowry Hotel booked in someone else’s name. A former rugby second-row forward, Soriano is, at 6ft 3in, difficult to hide. By now it was a mutual seduction, with City wanting to persuade him that, with Mansour’s long-term commitment, the club could be as great as Barcelona. Soriano, in turn, pitched a mould-breaking plan that required deep pockets, imagination and a steady nerve. Both sides agreed that City should aspire to being the world’s top club – a position long held by either Real Madrid, Barcelona or Manchester United. “And I mean number one – not number two or three,” Soriano told me.

The idea of becoming the world’s biggest club was not just vanity or business machismo. Soriano had spotted long before that a tiny group of elite clubs would capture the new global market, but he also wanted to build something “far bigger”. Football clubs, he pointed out, were massive brands but absurdly small businesses: a team with a global following of 500 million fans might have an income of only €500m. “That’s one euro per fan,” he says, “which is utterly ridiculous.” In business terms, this was “a combination of a lot of love and, literally, no love” – because fans in, say, Indonesia spent nothing on their club. “So what can we do? The answer was pretty simple, maybe too simple, but very bold. You have to be global but local. You have to go to Indonesia and open a shop.” He outlined his idea for a corporation that would have both a global brand – in Manchester City – and lots of local brands, developing talent through a network of clubs that would also provide a pipeline of players for City. He knew this might sound far-fetched. “If I had pitched this idea to Real Madrid, the answer would be ‘you’re crazy’ – and that is actually what had happened in Barcelona,” he told me.

But City was already going through a revolution, and was ready for more. For Edelman, the plan put flesh on the skeleton built with Mansour’s millions. “Any great idea needs to have a host, right? And we were a great host,” Edelman told me at his Park Avenue offices. “You couldn’t take Ferran’s idea and just put it on a blank sheet.” Soriano’s idea (which he now terms his “artistic challenge”) was a way of taking Mansour’s original vision – summed up in his early pledge to build “a structure for the future, not just a team of all-stars” – and putting it “on steroids”, in Edelman’s words.

Soriano started work as CEO of Manchester City on Saturday 1 September 2012. Two days later, he arrived in New York to create a new football club. This meant paying $100m (£74m) for a spot in Major League Soccer (MLS), the professional league for the US and Canada, and building a team from nothing. Seeking a local partner, Edelman eventually took Soriano to see Hank and Hal Steinbrenner, the owners of the New York Yankees. The brothers had inherited their baseball team, but Hank is a soccer fan who played at college and coached his local high-school team. It was one of the quickest deals Edelman had ever seen struck, taking “about 15 seconds” to agree it. “It just worked,” he told me. The Yankees took 20% of the new team and offered their stadium as a temporary home. (It still is, though it takes 72 hours to transform it from a baseball field into a soccer pitch.) The team, baptised New York City Football Club, began playing in 2015. Forbes now values it at $275m (£205m). To fans it is “NYCFC”, or simply “New York City” – a marketer’s dream. “Our brand is perfect, because it is ‘City’ and we know we can add that word to any city,” observed Soriano, who began his working life marketing detergents.

Man City global reach map

When I first visited the Etihad campus in March, the wall behind the reception desk bore the shields of City, NYCFC and two other clubs: Melbourne City, and Yokohama F Marinos, a Japanese club in which CFG owns a minority stake. Melbourne Heart, as the Australian club was originally known, had only been founded in 2009. It won its first major trophy last season, just two years after City bought it and changed its name, and changed its colours to sky blue. “It’s like being a start-up tech firm, and Apple buying you,” Scott Munn, the club’s founding CEO, told me. East Manchester, in this analogy, will become the Silicon Valley of soccer. A modest cluster of other football businesses is even forming in the area – making the Californian analogy even more apt.

By the time I returned two months later, City had bought yet another club, this time in Uruguay – Atlético Torque, a second-division side that was founded in 2007 and became professional only in 2012. At the company’s annual staff meeting in May, a representative from the new outpost began his presentation with a map of South America and a large arrow pointing to Uruguay. “Nobody knows what is Torque. Nobody knows where is Torque,” he admitted, only half-jokingly. (It is in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo.) “In this room we have as many people as go to a Torque match.” The ambition, however, was for the club to rise to the first division, finish in the top four and qualify for continent-wide competitions – and this in a country that produces world-class players such as Barcelona’s Luis Suárez or Paris Saint-Germain’s Edinson Cavani. Rather more mysteriously, the club also aimed to “sign and register players from all across South America”. The latter was the result of a cold statistical analysis, which had revealed that Uruguay was the biggest per-capita exporter of professional footballers – an astounding £25m-a-year business. And this was despite the fact that many small clubs often sold talented players cheaply when they were still teenagers. “It’s astonishing,” Soriano said. “We are big, and will hold on to them longer” – making them even more valuable.

The next time I saw Soriano – at his holiday apartment in the small Catalan beach resort of Tamariu – it was July, and he had closed yet another deal just a day earlier. For €3.5m (£3.1m), City had purchased 44% of Girona, a club in Spain’s top division. This was a far bigger fish. As he sat on a balcony overlooking the bay in shorts and a T-shirt – pulling data on fan numbers and television rights out of a battered laptop – Soriano looked happy (and not just because, in Tamariu, he can make work calls from his balcony and then pop down to join his two “Mancunian” infant daughters on the beach).

“When we agreed the price last year, it was in the second division. Now it’s in the first,” he said. On 29 October this year, with help from players loaned by Manchester City, the newly promoted team convincingly beat Real Madrid in their first meeting. The injection of CFG cash and know-how at Torque has had an even more dramatic effect. Last month it finished top of Uruguay’s second division, meaning it has already been promoted – just six months after it was bought.

Soriano is convinced that football will eventually become the biggest sport in almost every country in the world, “including the United States and India,” he says. So how far will CFG go? “We’re open. In Africa we have a relationship with an academy in Ghana. And we’ve been looking at opportunities in South Africa,” he said. CFG already has a close relationship with Atlético Venezuela in Caracas; Soriano also mentioned Malaysia and Vietnam. The limit, he suggested, was two or three clubs per continent. But the next major purchase may well be in China, where the group is “actively looking” to buy a club.

In October 2015, China’s football-loving president, Xi Jinping, visited City’s Etihad stadium; two months later, Chinese investors bought 13% of CFG for $400m (£265m), valuing the whole at $3bn. This was probably well over 30% more than Mansour had pumped into it (no exact figures are available). Soriano has been watching the dramatic, chaotic evolution of Chinese soccer – a pet project for Xi – ever since he arrived in Manchester. At first, Soriano was put off by rumours of chaos and corruption, and then by a price bubble. “The market is now more rational and the league is more structured,” he says.

Xi wants China to create 50,000 special “soccer schools” within 10 years – partly to get deskbound schoolchildren fit – and to make ready 140,000 pitches. Soriano sees an opportunity to teach millions of children soccer, which “might be bigger than the business of Manchester City”. It is a reminder that CFG – which recently put $16m into a joint venture to own and operate five-a-side urban pitches in the US – is interested in the entire sector, not just clubs.

Chinese president Xi Jinping, Man City striker Sergio Aguero and then prime minister David Cameron at MCFC’s Etihad stadium in Manchester in 2015. Photograph: Sergio Aguero/AP

CFG is not the only owner of multiple clubs – and some other teams are experimenting with modest forms of integration – but the others are largely just investment portfolios. CFG is the only owner that has consciously established a single corporate culture around the world, which in some cases extends to wearing the same sky-blue shirts. Fernando Pons, a sports business partner at Deloitte in Spain, sees this as a prime example of what consultants have dubbed “glocalisation” – a concept that implies taking a global product, but adapting to local markets. “A Girona or New York City fan will almost certainly also become a City fan,” he said. It also means that the advertising for Nissan, SAP and Wix that is seen at the Etihad stadium in Manchester will be replicated in Melbourne or New York – and that players from the US or Australia will be able to travel off-season to the world’s most advanced training centre, built on 34 hectares of land beside the Etihad and equipped with sophisticated extras such as hyperbaric and hypoxic chambers that can simulate high altitude or boost blood oxygen levels.

What seems to excite Soriano most, however, is the vast pool of players and the range of clubs they can play in. CFG almost certainly already owns the contracts of more professional soccer players than anyone else in the world, and that number is only set to go higher. So while “entertainment” and running clubs is the group’s first business, he explained, “business number two is player development”. The inspiration is Barcelona’s famous and much-copied Masia youth academy, which, for about €2m each, produced legendary players such as Lionel Messi, Andrés Iniesta, Xavi, Carles Puyol and Guardiola. At today’s prices, the same group would cost closer to €1bn. “We are globalising the Barça model,” Soriano said.

The logic behind this was made even more clear – in the same week we met in July – by the widespread amazement over the £198m fee that the Qatari owners of Paris Saint-Germain had agreed to pay Barcelona for the Brazilian star Neymar. Transfer records are smashed almost yearly, and Soriano now sees this inflation as an inevitable part of the game, now driven not by wealthy owners but demanding fans.

“Why is that? It’s very simple: the industry is growing,” he explained. “Ultimately, it goes back to the clients – these are the fans, who want to watch good football and are ready to pay. So clubs have more money to spend, but the number of highly skilled or top players generated each year does not change.”

“This is a typical ‘make-or-buy’ challenge. You can’t buy in the market, so you have to make,” Soriano said. “This means spending a lot of money – on academies, coaches, but also in transfers for young players. It’s like venture capital in that if you invest 10 million each in 10 players, you just need one to get to the top who is going to be worth 100 million.”

For Manchester City, the expanding web of CFG clubs solves a particularly English problem, which occurs when promising footballers hit 17 or 18. Soriano calls this “the development gap”, and it may explain why England’s national team performs so badly. “If the player is top quality, he needs to play competitive football to develop. It’s not only for the technical aspect of the game, but also for the pressure. The under-21 or under-19 competitions in England don’t provide this, because games aren’t in front of a lot of fans and there isn’t enough competitive tension,” he said. If Spain and Germany are much better at developing players, he says, it is because clubs such as Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich all have reserve teams that play in their countries’ second or third division against other professional clubs – not in a separate league, as English youth teams do. “If you manage a boy who has talent and is promising, who is 18 or 19, you can have him training with the first team, but playing in the second, where games are difficult, competitive and you play before crowds of 30,000.”

MCFC players in training at the City Football Academy in Manchester. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty

Because Premier League clubs are not allowed to field second teams, the primary way to develop promising young players who are not quite ready is to loan them to another club, usually in a lower division; Manchester City, for example, currently has around 20 players out on loan. But once a player is loaned out, the parent club loses control over their development – as Chelsea can testify, having bought up so many young players that more than 30 are on loan at 24 different clubs. At worst, this leads to the warehousing of players and the ruining of promising careers. CFG’s integrated web of clubs, all (in theory) playing the same style of football, is meant to solve that. “In this system we control exactly what they do. The coaching is exactly the same. The playing style is exactly the same,” Soriano said.

If this vision works out, successful players will progress from, say, Torque to New York, and then to Girona, and then – eventually – to Manchester City. CFG will not “own” them, since they will belong to the individual clubs, who must compete against outside bidders and pay transfer fees where appropriate. But CFG clubs will have insider information on the players, who can, in turn, be confident of fitting in with the style at all the other CFG clubs – while transfer income will end up back in a single corporate pot. In May, club officials gave me the example of the Australian midfielder Aaron Mooy, who joined Melbourne City in 2014 and was the team’s player of the year in his first two seasons. CFG decided Mooy was good enough to play in England, and Melbourne sold him to Manchester City for £425,000 in June 2016. But Mooy did not play for the club – he was immediately loaned to Huddersfield Town, who were then a second-division team. After helping them win promotion to the Premier League, Mooy was then sold to Huddersfield – for £10m. The deal shows how CFG can leverage its insider knowledge of players to simply trade them, even if they never actually play in Manchester. The profit from this one transaction, incidentally, was some 40% more than it cost to buy the entire Melbourne club.

Hiring Pep Guardiola was always part of Soriano’s big plan – though enticing him to Manchester required time and patience. One of Soriano’s first City hires was Barcelona’s former director of football, the man responsible for buying new players and helping to choose coaches, Txiki Begiristain. “Immediately we went to talk to Pep, because Pep was the best coach in the world,” Soriano told me. Guardiola had just left Barcelona and was determined to enjoy a sabbatical year in New York. “So we said: ‘OK, come next year’,” Soriano recalled. “And [the next year] he said: ‘I’m sorry, I want to go to Bayern Munich’. So we said: ‘OK, come in three years.’ And he came.” This kind of patience is only available when your owner has no need to cash in and, in a fast-moving sport where fans demand instant results, knows how to play a waiting game.

Guardiola’s prime task is to meet Soriano’s definition of a “number one” club by winning at least one title per season. “That doesn’t mean you win every year, but that in five seasons you win five trophies. It means getting to April with possibilities of winning the Premier League and playing in the semi-finals of the Champions League,” he explained. City have only managed the latter once – in 2015/16, the season before Guardiola arrived – but the target implies winning the Champions League every four years.

Sheikh Mansour (front right) with chairman of Manchester City FC Khaldoon al-Mubarak (front left) and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (front centre) at a training camp in Abu Dhabi, 2017. Photograph: Victoria Haydn/Manchester City FC via Getty Images

But an implicit part of Guardiola’s job, away from the merry-go-round of matches and press conferences, is to help engineer something that may ultimately prove more valuable – a recognisable and entertaining playing style across all of CFG’s teams and players. Again, the model comes from Barcelona, where players moved seamlessly from junior teams to the Camp Nou because all had learned the same Cruyff-style soccer. In the CFG model, clubs and academies in a dozen countries should be doing the same – creating a frictionless supply line of players who automatically know how to play Pep-style and can slip in and out of the group’s teams. Soriano says that will allow “a more seamless movement of players”, with the best ending up at City.

This may prove more challenging than it sounds. On a warm August afternoon this year, as smoke rose from dozens of tailgate barbecues in gravel-covered parking lots, I joined fans wearing the sky-blue colour of NYCFC as they trooped into the New York Red Bulls stadium in Harrison, New Jersey. David Villa – the 35-year-old former Barcelona player – led them to a 1-1 draw in what has already become New York’s “classic” football derby. But this was relatively scrappy football – the kind played in the second or third divisions of England or Spain.

A few days earlier, I had watched coach Patrick Vieira – who moved here from managing City’s “elite development” under-23 team – train his squad on a pitch in leafy Westchester County, north of New York City. When I asked Vieira, a former Arsenal captain who finished his playing career in Manchester, if his team – whose salaries, under MLS rules, are capped well below Premier League level – always played “City football”, he admitted that it did not. “You can’t play the same football in New York as in Manchester, because of the players,” he said. “What we have in common is a philosophy to play what we call ‘beautiful football’ – the offensive game, to try to have possession, create chances, score goals and play attractive football. The level will be different, but the philosophy tries to be the same.”

As CFG grows and its impact is felt around the world, its rivals are beginning to fear its size, and hover, hawk-like, over its accounts. Javier Tebas, the outspoken lawyer who presides over Spain’s La Liga, clipped CFG’s wings when it appeared on his territory this summer, accusing Girona of misrepresenting the details of five players loaned by City. The club was forced to increase the accounting value of those players – a measure that, given Spain’s budget cap system, left Girona with 4% less money to spend on players’ wages. “We had to correct certain market values … so that loaning of players did not represent unfair competition,” explained Tebas. Girona are still trying to get that decision overturned.

At the Soccerex football business conference in September, Tebas took aim at Manchester again, accusing City of circumventing the rules by taking hidden state aid in the form of sponsorship contracts with public companies from Abu Dhabi. (He had similar complaints about Paris Saint-Germain’s Qatari owners, who he claimed were “pissing in the swimming pool” of European football.) In Tebas’s view, what is provoking inflation in transfer fees and player wages is not fan demand, but Gulf cash and so-called “state clubs” – including “Manchester City and its oil”. City not only denied this, but threatened to sue him – and Uefa has ignored Tebas’s demands that it investigate the club’s finances. But the vocal hostility from the head of a league dominated by Real Madrid and Barcelona is a sign that the latter two – whose not-for-profit, member-controlled structure prevents them taking the CFG route to global expansion – are starting to feel threatened.

Man City star Kevin De Bruyne (centre) during their recent victory over Swansea City. Photograph: Thomas/JMP/REX/Shutterstock

But Tebas’s suggestion that CFG uses its muscle to push the regulatory boundaries is not without merit. In 2014, Uefa punished City with a €20m fine for breaking the financial fair play rules in previous seasons. The Australian league, meanwhile, introduced new rules last year after CFG circumvented the league’s ban on transfer fees between clubs with a ruse that one critic dubbed “farcical”. Manchester City bought a local player called Anthony Cáceres – “outbidding” Australian clubs by paying a transfer fee – before loaning him straight to Melbourne. The league responded by banning the practice for the first year after signing.

The same ownership whose deep pockets have enabled these global ambitions may also be a source of further difficulties – in part because the desire to protect Abu Dhabi’s image looms large at CFG. This has become more challenging as the emirate’s ambitious mega-projects, such as the collection of museums on Saadiyat Island, attract the attention of human rights organisations, who accuse the UAE of violating the rights of migrant construction workers. When emails from the Emirati embassy in Washington were leaked earlier this year, among them was a memo revealing that CFG’s directors had fretted about a proposal to build an NYCFC stadium on parkland in Queens – where there was already public opposition to such a project – out of fear that stadium critics would attack Abu Dhabi’s involvement, targeting its attitude to “gay [rights], women, wealth, Israel”. The project was abandoned, and NYCFC still does not have its own stadium.

There is a central paradox to the economics of football. While the global business has long expanded at annual rates of 10% or more, few clubs have ever made much profit, let alone paid owners an annual dividend. Even the mighty Premier League clubs have, jointly, posted pre-tax losses in three of the last five seasons. And yet the price of clubs keeps rising. Mansour, for example, was estimated to have paid around twice as much for City as the previous owner, the exiled former prime minister of Thailand, Thaksin Shinawatra, had done just 15 months earlier.

Soriano says that sports franchises are exposed, week-in, week-out, to such relentless competition that they are driven to constantly reinvest profits – meaning that owners only really make money by selling. Others see football clubs as a “rarity” for ultra-rich collectors – with billionaires queueing to join the small, exclusive club of those who own famous clubs. These are also incredibly resilient assets: Manchester City, founded by vicar’s daughter Anna Connell to keep working men off booze and brawling in 1880, is one of many now in their second century. “How many companies that were on the New York stock exchange in 1917 still exist?” Soriano asks.

Ultimately, value comes from combining talent and emotion – meaning players and the fans who adore them. This is the “love” Soriano talks about, which CFG must turn into money if it is to become the successful multinational corporation that the owners want. If Guardiola ever sobs for City – something only likely if he wins another Champions League trophy, which Soriano hopes will happen this season – then fans of one of England’s most historic football clubs will happily give themselves up to adoration. Many more might follow them.

But CFG’s multinational corporate model somehow obliges us to take a more hard-nosed view of how much this “love” is really worth. Will CFG ever match a Coca-Cola, Disney or Google for size or value? Manchester City will have to win many more games, and many titles, before that happens – by which time, if the model works, other football multinationals might have appeared, all of them transforming love into money at a global scale. In the hard world of business, of course, there is only one way we will ever find out the “true” monetary value of CFG’s global juggernaut, on the day Mansour, or someone else, sells the company, and the market renders its own judgment – and puts a price on all that love.

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