Sunday, January 15, 2012

60 Minutes on January 15, 2012

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, 31 years old, discusses his company; started three years ago. Mason reinvented the coupon, turning it into a digital tool for bargain-hunting at your neighborhood stores; company took off, almost overnight. It's global now, raking in hundreds of million of dollars a month. Fifty percent off. The next Amazon or another Myspace? This past November, Groupon had the biggest initial public stock offering, or IPO, of any Internet company since Google. The company's worth jumped to an unexpected $18 billion on the first day of trading. But will it last? Subject of fierce debate. Will it be a passing fad? Mason: "A Groupon is, essentially, a voucher that's worth money that you can take into a business and use like cash. When you subscribe and you get these emails every day, it's a great way to explore your city and find out about really cool, local things to do." The deals are at least 50 percent off. So, for example, a $40 meal for a $20 coupon, or a half-off hot air balloon ride. Groupon has 150 million subscribers who get a daily email with deal offers from local businesses. Began at height of recession in 2008. Success was intoxicating. Mason launched retail revolution; company hires up to 150 people per week; across all 46 countries that they're in, there are about 10,000 employees. Headquarters in Chicago is part-tech startup, part old-fashioned call center. Groupon relies on human beings, not algorihms. What these human beings, the salespeople, do is think up deal ideas, then convince local merchants to offer them at half-price. Groupon tailors its offers by age and gender. Merchants don't necessarily make money. Groupon takes 50% of offer. [Group coupon equals Groupon.] Sending people emails everyday. Four hundred writers and editors - more than most newsrooms - come up with hundreds of these pitches a day, with twists of phrases and logic. Mason is known as a little whacky himself -- as a gag, his executive washroom is a port-o-potty and is featured in a demo on YouTube in front of a Christmas tree doing yoga in his underwear. According to Forbes, Groupon is fastest growing company ever. "Is Andrew Mason ready to be a CEO?" Mason states that he is probably not as mature or smart as other CEO's of companies worth as much as Groupon, but there's an advantage to having a founder as the CEO. New York Times financial columnist and host at CNBC Andrew Ross Sorkin, financial columnist says the biggest downside is how easy the model is to replicate: there are 500 more companies getting into this business including Amazon and Google, spending a lot of money on advertising. Have yet to turn a profit. Horror stories: the baker who made 102,000 cupcakes for all the Groupon buyers, but with the steep markdowns, she lost $20,000. And businesses complain Groupon customers come once and never want to pay full price again.. A few months ago, when Mason decided to make Groupon a publicly-traded company, it had to open its books revealing accounting tricks that made their huge marketing costs disappearr, and it showed they double-counted the amount of money they were bringing in. Books showed they made $60 million in 2010, when in reality they lost $420 million. Analysts began calling Groupon "unviable," "a Ponzi scheme," and wondered if any grownups were minding the store. Didn't put the honest revenue figure down, seemed like a bush-league mistake. Mason: stated that smart people can get this stuff wrong. that they're inventing a new industry. At the time, Mason couldn't address the mounting criticism because companies are prohibited from giving interviews in the lead up to going public. He did, however, answer the criticism in an internal memo to his employees and it leaked to public. Thin-skinned, impetuous and childish. Mason stated he is not going to pretend like it's been fun to have something that they've poured their hearts into over the last three years and have seen it criticized while their mouths are taped shut; like they've been hazed, now they've had Adamantium fused onto their bones; as a result, the culture is stronger. Stahl bought a share. Opening day, Mason's personal worth jumped to $1.3 billion. Moving deals onto mobile devices. Will Mason have to tone it down, will it last? Mason owns over four ties, but when asked, he stated that 60 Minutes told him not to show up in suit and tie.


Qatar, small and prosperous Middle Eastern country; ritzier and wackier with a new hopsital, first-class orchestra, Qatari's are richest people in world. Wedged between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Qatar is a sliver of a country and has avoided the chaos, violence and killing of the Arab Spring. There have been no protests, no unrest. Ironically, many Arab leaders believe the engine behind the region's violent revolution is Al Jazeera, a 24-hour satellite television network based in Qatar.no social revolutions and no taxes. In 1995, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani became emir when he seized power from his father, Khalifa bin Hamad Al Thani, in a peaceful coup d'├ętat. Family has ruled Qatar for more than 150 years. Emir is admired and feared by all in Middle East. Electricity, health, education and more are free. Doha, Qatar's capital, is breath-taking and an architectural dream; development has occurred in last generation. The work is being done by a million man army of immigrants: 94 percent of Qatar's labor force is foreign; Filipinos, Indians, Nepalese mainly - creating a home for a mere 250,000 Qataris. Third largest oil reserve, largest and most sophisticated refinery in world called "The Pearl" turns those reserves into liquid fuels. It cost $18 billion and took five years to build. It is the largest, most sophisticated plant of its kind and the centerpiece of the emir's strategy to keep Qatar rich. Six American universities, including Carnegie Mellon Qatar. Museum of Islamic Art. All services free, including funerals -- free from cradle to grave. Al jazeera was founded there 15 years ago and broadcasts in Arabic and English. Television shows are talking about Arab governments and rebellions; Egyptians watched the Tunisian revolution live on Al Jazeera, discussed it on Facebook, and took to the streets. Libyans watched the Egyptians. Yeminis watched the Libyans and the Syrians watched them all. Al Jazeera has become the region's only real reality show. Critics charge that Al-Jezeera is influenced by Emir. It was the emir's support that made it possible for the French, the British and the Americans to form a NATO coalition to overthrow the Libyan tyrant Qaddafi. The allies said they wouldn't do it without an Arab partner. The emir deployed six war planes to help enforce the no-fly zone, gave the rebels millions of dollars of weapons and military hardware, and didn't conceal Qatar's involvement. When Qaddafi's compound finally fell, Qatar's flag could be seen flying over. First fruitful coalition between the Arabs and the NATO to help an Arab country. Emir hosted by the queen, and last April, President Obama thanked him for helping promote democracy in the Middle East. But the emir also has good relations with Hamas which the U.S. labels a terrorist organization. Emir appears to have no ideology and, critics say, no loyalties. When his close personal friend Syrian President Assad refused to stop killing his people, the emir abandoned him. Today, he talks tougher than any other world leader on what should be done in Syria, that troops should go to Syria to stop the killing. Qatari's exhibit contentment. There have been no protests, no calls for democracy. What could an opposition offer that Qataris don't already have? But the emir just bought himself some additional insurance by raising the salaries of all Qatari government workers by 60%; soldiers and policemen by 120%. Nothing to do with politics. Basis of foreign policy is to be friends with everybody, particularly their Arab neighbors.

Jake Barnett, a 13 year old math and science prodigy. Runs out of wall space, moves onto windows. Does that become a burden? Not at all. Began taking college courses at age eight. Summer physics research project on PT symmetric lattice systems. "This has implications in fiber optics, electromagnetic signals, anything that requires like a light going through a cable. Every number or math problem I ever hear, I have permanently remembered." Never forget anything in math and science. He memorized more than 200 of pi's numbers (3.14159265358979323846264338327950...) in an afternoon, forward and backward. Not just parroting a textbook, Jake understands and analyzes the logic of higher mathematics, visualizing and solving complex problems by using what he calls the fourth dimension. Jake states that It's hard to describe in terms of the typical three, because it's tangent to all the other ones; he'd be able to describe it if he had a whiteboard and 30 minutes; It takes a while; it's a fourth dimension. Numbers appear to him as shapes that build on one another. Oldest of four children born to Michael and Kristine. Used $3,200 he made from his summer research project to turn his bedroom into a science lab. Joint scholarship at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) advanced astrophysics classes. Parents shocked when Jake was answering questions in university, which led to his attending. As a young child, diagnosed with autism. Parents directed his focus to math and science by five years old to pull out of it. In just two weeks, he taught himself all of high school math at ten years old to get into college. Joanne Ruthsatz, a psychology professor at Ohio State studying child prodigies for the last 13 years. She believes there's a link between autism and prodigies. "We know that child prodigies are having autistic relatives at a very high clip and some of them have autism themselves." She believes that what sets a prodigy with autism apart from other children with the condition is the prodigy's genes have been modified so that the genius emerges without many of the severe disabilities associated with autism. "In the general population of autism, 10 percent will have an autistic savant skill where they're exceptional at something. And they've only got that piece displaying itself." Says for prodigies - be it in math, music or art - the key to the extraordinary talent is extraordinary memory. His vocabulary is so adult. Jake is one in ten million. Literally aces every intelligence and memory test, forward and backward. Great memory and drive to learn more. his Jake's physics professor, Yogesh N. Jogelcar, oversaw Jake's research project. Their work was published in "Physical Review A". Jake is the youngest person to be published in that prestigious physics journal; professor state Jake is much more than a human calculator: "great memory does help him, of course; once he reads something, he remembers it, but what is more important is that he has the drive to learn more. He definitely stands out as a powerhouse of raw talent. Big man on campus. Enjoys sharing his gift with others. Jake is writing a book to help us overcome our fear of math and is on track to graduate at age 14 when he hopes to begin his doctoral studies.

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