Fall of Microsoft

Eichenwald’s conversations reveal that a management system known as “stack ranking”—a program that forces every unit to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, good performers, average, and poor—effectively crippled Microsoft’s ability to innovate. “Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees,” Eichenwald writes. “If you were on a team of 10 people, you walked in the first day knowing that, no matter how good everyone was, 2 people were going to get a great review, 7 were going to get mediocre reviews, and 1 was going to get a terrible review,” says a former software developer. “It leads to employees focusing on competing with each other rather than competing with other companies.”

Read the article: Microsoft’s Downfall: Inside the Executive E-mails and Cannibalistic Culture That Felled a Tech Giant | Blogs | Vanity Fair

Silicon Valley: How it works!

I believe that Silicon Valley is like Las Vegas, except they make you pass a number of tests before they let you gamble. This means that only a relatively select group gets to sit at the table. The purpose of this post is to analyze the folowing problem: Joe Founder comes to Silicon Valley with a laptop full of dreams, but no money. Joe wants to maximize his chances of making a few million dollars in five years. What should Joe do?

Read the article: Exploiting Silicon Valley For Profit (and Maybe Fun)

The 7 Greatest Ideas in History

Just a few stand out above all the rest. They change the course of history and affect the lives of millions who aren’t even aware of them. Amazingly, they are often the work of a single person. Those ideas are truly great and seven really stand out. To make my selection, I applied three criteria: Longevity (i.e. they survive a long time without being amended or surpassed in any significant way), impact (i.e. they greatly affected the lives and work of others) and authorship (i.e. they can be traced to one person).

Read the article: The 7 Greatest Ideas in History

No virtuous circle, or how India’s Silicon Valley is… different

I’ve lived in Bangalore since I was three – we moved here in 1987 after my father retired from the public sector that year. Bangalore, then, was known as a retirement city, famed for its pleasant weather and abundant greenery. The Indian economy was still closed, most of the jobs were in the public sector and salaries were low. Top executives in the public sector earned less than Rs. 60,000 a year – my father retired as the General Manager of United India Insurance, giving me a reference point. At an exchange rate of about fourteen rupees to the dollar, this amounted to around 4200 US dollars a year, give or take. Somewhere around this time was when Bangalore started to be called the “Silicon Valley of India” by the local media.

Read the article: Electric Sheep Blog: No virtuous circle, or how India’s Silicon Valley is… different

The entrepreneur visa

MOST governments say they want to encourage entrepreneurs. Yet when foreigners with ideas come knocking, they slam doors in their faces. America, surprisingly, is one of the worst offenders. It has no specific visa for foreigners who wish to create new companies. It does offer a visa for investors, but the requirements are so stiff—usually an initial investment of $1m, or half that if the firm is in a depressed neighbourhood—that the annual quota of 10,000 visas is seldom filled. Other countries are more open (see table). Singapore offers visas to people who invest $40,000; for some, the government provides additional investment. Britain gives visas to entrepreneurs who meet certain conditions and attract £50,000 ($77,000) of venture funding. New Zealand has no specific capital requirement but offers residency to entrepreneurs whose firms are deemed to benefit the country. Chile is wildly generous: its government gives selected start-ups $40,000 without taking any equity in return.

Read the article: Visas for entrepreneurs: Where creators are welcome

All of Earth’s Water in a Single Sphere

This picture shows the size of a sphere that would contain all of Earth’s water in comparison to the size of the Earth. The blue sphere sitting on the United States, reaching from about Salt Lake City, Utah to Topeka, Kansas, has a diameter of about 860 miles (about 1,385 kilometers) , with a volume of about 332,500,000 cubic miles (1,386,000,000 cubic kilometers). The sphere includes all the water in the oceans, seas, ice caps, lakes and rivers as well as groundwater, atmospheric water, and even the water in you, your dog, and your tomato plant.

Read the article: Photos: If All of Earth’s Water was put into Single Sphere

Why You Won’t Quit Your Job — Premature optimization

When I began writing Passion & Purpose in 2009, I met Susan, a young woman on the brink of quitting her investment banking job to pursue her lifelong passion of starting a nonprofit. A year later, when I asked how her new venture was going, I was surprised to hear that she “couldn’t bring herself to quit” in the first place. And when we bumped into each other last week, I found her toiling away in exactly the same role, still dreaming of her nonprofit venture, but now more depressed than ever.

Why can’t Susan just leave the job she despises? More generally, what powerful forces are pulling us back toward the “devil we know”?

Read the article: Why You Won’t Quit Your Job

Human survival depends on space exploration – Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking says the colonization of outer space is key to the survival of humankind, predicting it will be difficult for the world’s inhabitants “to avoid disaster in the next hundred years”… Our population and our use of the finite resources of planet Earth are growing exponentially, along with our technical ability to change the environment for good or ill. But our genetic code still carries the selfish and aggressive instincts that were of survival advantage in the past. It will be difficult enough to avoid disaster in the next hundred years, let alone the next thousand or million. Our only chance of long-term survival is not to remain lurking on planet Earth, but to spread out into space.

Read the article: Human survival depends on space exploration, says Stephen Hawking

Women are rejecting marriage in Asia. The social implications are serious.

A lot of Asians are not marrying later. They are not marrying at all. Almost a third of Japanese women in their early 30s are unmarried; probably half of those will always be. Over one-fifth of Taiwanese women in their late 30s are single; most will never marry. In some places, rates of non-marriage are especially striking: in Bangkok, 20% of 40-44-year old women are not married; in Tokyo, 21%; among university graduates of that age in Singapore, 27%. So far, the trend has not affected Asia’s two giants, China and India. But it is likely to, as the economic factors that have driven it elsewhere in Asia sweep through those two countries as well; and its consequences will be exacerbated by the sex-selective abortion practised for a generation there. By 2050, there will be 60m more men of marriageable age than women in China and India.

Read the article: The decline of Asian marriage: Asia’s lonely hearts