Wednesday, June 01, 2011

BusinessWeek Pieces: Robert Young Pelton on Somali Pirates / Khan Academy / Interesting Companies

Interesting content from the past few issues of Businessweek that stood out for different reasons. There's the interesting story by an interesting writer, the story on an interesting guy with a noble venture and finally some pieces on companies that are just plain... interesting.

Probably the best writing was by Robert Young Pelton in his story Somali Pirates' Rich Returns. One of the points of this blog is to highlight cases of excellent writing on a topic of note and this piece definitely qualifies. I was struck even more by the story after realizing it was written by the author of The World's Most Dangerous Places (which I read years ago). Big fan I am of what seems to be a Businessweek practice of having diverse and fairly well known (and presumably non-staff) writers doing feature stories.

Also standing out as a BW piece lately was Salman Khan: The Messiah of Math. While the writing from Bryant Urstadt was certainly solid enough, the mission of Khan is just plain remarkable. On his Khan Academy website he provides free access to a self-created 2,100+ video library tutorial which began with math education and is now expanded to many other subjects.


These were the metaphorical big rocks from Businessweek lately, but there were also a number of smaller pieces on companies doing interesting things...

- In the category of "writing on a big and innovative company continuing to do big and innovative things" was Apple's Deals May Transform Digital Music about a potential announcement of cloud storage for a user's music collection. As detailed in the piece, this type of offering has been chased by many... and would be yet another coup for Apple if they can introduce a user-friendly program bought into by the record labels.

- Similar to the aforementioned Pelton story in this regard, the piece Pacific Biosciences' $600 Million Decoder Ring was made more interesting in relation to another story. In this case, that other story wasn't by the same author, but rather on the same guy at Pacific Biosciences. As written about in this Esquire piece (which I posted on here), remarkable guy this Eric Schadt.

- Short, but interesting piece was Innovator: Carnegie Mellon's Richard McCullough on McCullough's efforts at the company Plextronics. His is fascinating work in the field of conductive ink for use in ultra-thin flexible displays (think: cell phones, televisions, magazines, etc). Definitely an area of business with huge potential.

- Finally of interest was SeatGeek Helps Online Ticket Buyers Beat the Scalpers on the ticket search site SeatGeek. Not the most profound offering in the world (digital music storage isn't either), but the company appears to be using technology well to fill a consumer need.