Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Reader's digest files for bankruptcy

A sad news indeed.
I remember being a fan of RD as a kid. But it has succumbed, to the rise of internet, more than recession. Print media has been struck real bad by the free content on th enet.

And there is no looking back. I dont think there is anyway that people can be coaxed into reading, and paying for, something that they can read on the internet for free.

The younger generation, the ones who have seen computer from an early age, are often more comfortable reading off the screen than from a printed version. Add to that the ubiquitous nature of free content, you know that the print media is fighting a losing battle.
The only way print media can tide over to the profit side is by providing content on the net. Right now, most media houses have free content on the net.

But this is not sustainable - because it requires the same amount of effort to produce content for the net, as it does for printing. The first thing that media houses must realize s that popularity is not revenue. You might be the most popular news agency on the internet - but that does not give you anything. Sure, you can find some advertiser on the web - but arent there too many websites vying for the same set of advertisers? The law of diminishing returns sets in very soon in such a market.

The only way out for the media houses is to have a free and a premium section, where the free section drives the masses . And the premium section catering to specialized news requirements.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A just society

I have heard a lot of noises about people not getting enough opportunities, someone getting an edge due to his/her parentage, division of society based on caste and religion. I hereby proposed a different setting of a society where everyone eats what (s)he earns.

1) Every kid - no matter what so ever - is taken into a state-run residential school. This school is funded by the taxpayer, and has caretakers besides teachers and support staff as employees.

2) Every kid goes to a fully funded (by the taxpayer, again) college. The entrance to which is by a test. The discipline of study is chosen by the kid him/her self.

3) Everyone works for a living. and all the money accessible to him/her is that what the person and his/her spouse has earned.

4) Invalids, and too-old-to-work people are taken care of by the society.

5) All the money after the death of the couple goes to the society. The only inheritance of money is after the demise of a spouse, it goes to the other person.

I wonder why such a society has not been institutionalized yet.

Stumble Upon Toolbar

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Energy services companies and financing energy efficiency initiatives

Here is another one for the NERD magazine.

An Energy services company (ESCO) is “a company that provides energy-efficiency-related and other value-added services and for which performance contracting is a core part of its energy-efficiency services business”.

The revenues of these ESCOs are tied to the amount of energy they help their client to save. Most of the ESCO projects have a payback period of two years and typically they help reduce the energy costs by about 20 to 25%.

As an estimate, India's potential energy savings are in the tune of 180 Billion kWh annually. That is about 36% of our total consumption now.

ESCOs have a big role to play in the BRIC countries by increasing the economic viability of accelerated growth. In 2007-2008, Indian ESCOs had an annual revenue of US $ 18 million while during the same time, Brazil had an annual revenue of US $ 280 million - about 15 times larger.

ESCOs take up energy efficiency projects where they take up the charge of a plant, invest in the required infrastructure and charge the client according to the energy savings achieved. They act as a energy efficiency consultants as in they find ways to streamline the operations to reduce energy costs.

One problem that EE projects face is their financing. The fact that these projects are auxillary to the strategic plans of the institutions. In contrast Industrial restructuring projects are more planned and tend to have a higher thrust from the managers as they are directed towards the company's long term goals.

These energy efficiency projects are distinguished from industrial restructuring projects because most of the IR projects are aimed at improving the units' overall market competitiveness by process changes and product modifications. These often need larger investments and have longer payback periods. These projects need a strategic thinking by the managers about the the units' competitiveness in the changing market conditions. Improving energy efficiency is not the major reason for this activity and neither is it the most desired outcome.

EE projects on the other hand, don't change the process, neither do they change the product. It only concentrates on increasing the energy cash savings and not about the impact on future market growth of the product.

Of late, IFC has taken up some initiatives to fund purely EE projects. As banks have started understanding the short payback time that these projects tend to have, a lot of tailor-made funding options are coming up.

Stumble Upon Toolbar