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YouTube Gaming Coming Your Way

Keep your eyes open for YouTube Gaming, as Google Inc. is launching a live streaming gaming service. The service will be available in the form of an app and a website and will focus exclusively to gamers and gaming. There will be over 25,000 games that will each have their own page on the site. Users will have the opportunity to subscribe to channels, add games to their collection and receive recommendations for new games based on the ones they already follow.

YouTube Gaming will become available on the web, on mobile platforms and on tablets for both Android and iOS operating systems. It will launch this summer in the UK and the US.



Crescent Petroleum with Majid Jafar at Dead Sea Summit

In late May, Majid Jafar, CEO of Crescent Petroleum and a member of the Global Agenda Council on the Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum spoke at the MENA Summit at the Dead Sea in Jordan. On a panel alongside former British Prime Minster Gordon Brown and the Vice Chairman of GE, Mr. John Rice, the panel was entitled “Infrastructure for Development” and Jafar spoke about Crescent Petroleum in the post Saddam Hussein era. The event was held from May 21-23 at the Dead Sea with the theme “Creating a Regional Framework for Prosperity and Peace through Public-Private Cooperation.” The summit brought together more than 1000 leaders from business fields, the government, civil society and more to look at solutions to regional issues.

As Jafar said,

“The key regional social and economic challenges – especially demand for jobs for young people – require new era of public-private partnership in infrastructure to support the over $100 billion needed for investment and maintenance each year in the MENA region.”

Youth unemployment is at a shocking rate of 29.8% in the area in 2015, and Majid Jafar explained that, for every $1bn invested in the area on infrastructure, over 110,000 jobs could then be created in oil-importing countries. This could also be 26,000 jobs in the GCC.

For Crescent Petroleum, Saddam Hussein long gone, and a promising future ahead, Jafar said, “On average across the MENA Region, about 5% of GDP is allocated to infrastructure, whereas the proportion in China is three times higher at 15%. Tackling energy subsidy reform in our region can free up hundreds of billions of dollars for productive investment that will lead to more jobs, higher standards of living, and stronger economic competitiveness for our region’s future.”



No Ownership Taking over the Retail Business

button-674375_640A new age of consumers is looking at their purchases in an entirely new way. Rather than purchasing items, from clothes and appliances to electronics and more, they are looking at the idea of “no ownership.” This is disrupting traditional retailing processes. Millennials, those born between 1980 and 2000, are more interested in bartering, sharing and trading. Their interest in such ideas has been the key to success of companies like Zipcar, Uber and Airbnb.

as Jamie Gutfreund, chief marketing officer for Deep Focus, said “Instead of paying for something and getting rid of it with no value when you are done – swap and resale gives Millennials the ability to extend the value. It’s efficient and it’s green.”

Crossroads Trading, where people can shop for gently used second hand items, and then resell them to the store when they don’t want them anymore, is having great success. Their sister store, Fillmore & 5th, has opened six boutiques since 2012. As their director of marketing, Erin Wallace, said, “A lot of people can’t afford the timeless brands new but they still appreciate the quality.”

Learn more about this trend and the influence it is having.


Ares Owner Dany Bahar Creates Custom Cars for the Ultra-Rich

Dany Bahar, owner of Ares, has taken the concept of customizable to a whole new level. Until Bahar came along, wealthy people wishing to express their uniqueness through their possessions had to be satisfied with bespoke suits, handmade shoes, made-to-order watches, or custom-made shirts. To the joy of his clients, Dany Bahar allows them to build custom-made cars made to their unique, individualized specifications.

Bahar, born in Turkey and raised in Switzerland, and former head of Lotus, has discovered a market for made-to-order cars which plays on the growing cultural desire for people to express their individuality. As this desire grows in the general population, the world’s wealthiest people can afford to take it to ever greater heights.

Ares takes high-end luxury cars, such as Bugatti, and gives them a “real makeover,” but only on the outside, as Bahar explains:

“We don’t touch what Bugatti is famous for: the engine, gearbox, fantastic aerodynamics. We give it a new look that is whatever the client wants so it’s a Bugatti but covered with a different skin.”

Lest you think it’s “the same wine in a new bottle,” Dany Bahar says that is not the whole story, either.

“The client is fully involved and that is something really exciting,” says Bahar. “These clients are wealthy people, important people but you touch them on an emotional level, where they become like children. They say, ‘I want the rear lamp, like this, not like this’.

“Even if a client is buying a £2 million car they are really not that interested in how it works… as long as it’s fun to drive and it works. His concern is sitting in the car and enjoying the environment he has created on his own. To sit in these four small walls and to enjoy it and call it his own, designed by himself.”

Bahar likes to use sports cars as examples to explain the work he does, but in truth it is SUVs like Mercedes’ G-Wagon, Rolls-Royces and Bentleys that he sees as his major market, and not traditional two-seater racers.

As long as the market for custom-made products continues to dominate, and there are people with money ready to spend it to have what is essentially a “handmade car,” Ares and Dany Bahar have found a fascinatingly unique niche.

Tesla Motors & Their New Move

In a brilliant move, Tesla Motors Inc. has unveiled Tesla energy to expand its business beyond electric vehicles and to tap into the energy industry. As Chief Executive Elon Musk explained, their goal is to “fundamentally change the way the world uses energy on an extreme scale.”

Their vision would include a world where people have solar panels on their roofs for electricity to power their homes and recharge their car batteries. The smallest of the products they unveiled was a $3500 10kWh model that can be used for backup power or to store solar energy.

As Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with auto industry research firm Kelley Blue Book, said “A cost effective home energy storage system it could prove far more valuable, and profitable, than anything the company is doing with automobiles.”

They plan to manufacture the batteries at their automobile factory in California but will then move production to the planned “gigafactory” in Nevada next year.

Though only valued at $200 million in 2012, the energy storage industry is expected to grow to as much as $19 billion by 2017.

Walgreens Closing 200 Stores

The nation’s largest drugstore chain, Walgreens, plans to shut down about 200 US stores as part of their cost reduction effort. They are combining with Alliance Boots in a $16 billion deal.

This store closing amounts to approximately 2% of the 8232 drugstores the company has in the US, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. A decade ago, Walgreens was opening almost 500 stores a year. Now, they are obviously making a strategy shift.  Rather than opening more stores these days, they are trying to get as much revenue out of each store as possible.

While they haven’t yet finalized which stores they will be closing, Walgreen Co. President Alex Gourlay has told analysts that he’s looking at locations where the population is shifting and moving away. Executive Vice Chairman and Acting CEO Stefano Pessina has been quick to point out that Walgreens is “as optimistic as ever” about the company and its future.





Recent Key Appointments

businessmenThere have been a few significant promotions recently within Fortune 500 companies. This article examines three of them.

First, Daniel Heard was named General Counsel of Communications Sales & Leasing Inc. He will take on this position on April 1, 2015. In addition, Rob Clancy has been appointed Assistant Treasurer and Vice President of Investor Relations at the firm. The company is a business in the commercial services industry.

Second, Mark Frissora will take on the position of Chief Executive Officer at Caesars Entertainment, effective June 30, 2015. His current position is CEO Designate. Prior to that, he held the position of CEO and Chairman at two other F500 companies, including Hertz Global Holdings Inc.

Third, Michael J. Massey became President and CEO of PetSmart, which has just been acquired by a BC Partners-led consortium. Massey has over two-and-a-half decades of executive experience in the retail industry, having held jobs such as CEO and President of Collective Brands Inc.

Thus Daniel Heard, Mark Frissora and Michael J. Massey are the names to look out for in the F500 executive world.

BlackBerry Launching New Tablet

If you’re a BlackBerry Ltd fan, you’ll be happy to hear that they have launched their high-security tablet, developed with International Business Machines Corp and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

Called the SecuTABLET, the tablet will be presented by BlackBerry at the tech fair CeBIT 2015 in Germany. It reflects the company’s emphasis on secure connections for the government and for businesses that want to preserve a niche market.

As Dr. Hans-Christoph Quelle, chief executive officer of Secusmart GmbH, said “Security is ingrained in every part of BlackBerry’s portfolio, which includes voice and data encryption solutions. Working alongside IBM and Samsung, we have added the last link in the chain of the Federal Security Network. Subject to certification of the SecuTABLET, German government agencies will have a new way to access BlackBerry’s most secure and complete communications network in the world.”


Primary Fundraising Efforts

fundraising-effortsThere are currently some quite significant fundraising events taking place for the upcoming primaries. So much so that it has almost become a competition between corporate organizations, rather than the Democrats and the Republicans. There is a lot of money being but out by corporations supporting one or the other of the parties.

What is interesting also is that in some cases – like that of Goldman Sachs – money is being given to BOTH parties. For example, Jim Donovan, Goldman Sachs senior executive has organized an incredibly upmarket affair for the Republicans, charging $50,000 per head to support Bush. He did something similar last year for Romney. Donovan is not the only Goldman Sachs executive involved in an advisory role for the Republicans. He is working with others including: John Thain (former president of the corporation), Scott Kapnick (former co-head of investment banking at Goldman Sachs), and Muneer Satter (former Goldman executive who worked on Romney’s 2012 finance committee 3 years ago).

The Republicans are the recipient of substantial fundraising efforts in other parts of the country too. For example, in Charleston West Virginia, there is a breakfast organized by Go West Virginia Inc. to support a group that boosts Republicans. For those who wish to attend, tickets are $100,000 a head, making it “one of the highest priced – if not the highest-priced – political fundraising events ever in West Virginia.”

Mondelez International Gets New Executive VP & President of North America

The Illinois-based snack maker Mondelez International has recently announced that Roberto Marques will join the company as their executive vice president and president of North America. He will be based in East Hanover and will report to Chairman and CEO Irene Rosenfeld. He is succeeding Mark Clouse.

Starting in mid-March, he will lead the company’s $7 billion business in the US and Canada. The business include large name brands such as Oreo, belVita, Wheat Thins and Trident gum.

As Rosenfeld said, “I’m delighted to welcome Roberto to the Mondelez International family. His knowledge of consumer brands, strong leadership capabilities and extensive global experience make him a terrific addition to our North America region and my leadership team. He will play a critical role in driving our growth and margin-expansion agendas.”


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