Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Still No Love for the Oompa Loompas this Valentine’s Day

It seems the days of the oompa loompas are long past … as they have been on hard times for over a decade now. Not much has changed in the last ten years. They got no love then, they get no love now.

Just look at some of the headlines from the past year:

  • Feb 9, 2019 Child Slave Labor Rampant in Chocolate Supply Chain
    Sixty percent or more of the world’s cocoa is produced in the Ivory Coast and Ghana in West Africa. These countries are notorious for the worst forms of child slavery. An estimated 1.9 million children are engaged in forced labor on the Ivory Coast alone.
  • Jan 21, 2019
    Do you want slavery with that chocolate?

    Most chocolate has been through two separate supply chains before you buy it. The second chain is where a confectioner … buys bulk finished chocolate or chocolate components from one of the huge global companies that make these.
    The first chain is where these huge global companies buy cacao from farmers and make it into finished chocolate and components (cocoa powder, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, etc.). It’s mainly the market in this first chain where the problem lies. Almost all of the sellers of cacao are little more than subsistence operations … the buyers can set the price. This extremely uneven market and other capitalist pressures have created a situation where the world has a huge demand for cacao, and yet the farmers who produce it cannot possibly pay
    (or earn) a fair wage at the prices …
  • Jan 9, 2019 Chocolates, caramels might be contaminated with hepatitis A, FDA warns
    Candy sold by a Kentucky company and QVC is being voluntarily recalled for fear that it might be contaminated with hepatitis A, according to a U.S. Food and Drug recall notice.
  • Nov 30, 2018 Global chocolate supply chain tainted by abuses in Brazil
    The global chocolate supply chain is tainted by the use of cocoa from Brazilian farms where human rights violations are common, a report released Friday said. Among the abuses detailed are farmers forced to work off debts to landowners or in degrading conditions, as well as thousands of instances of child labor.
  • Nov 06, 2018 Taiwan finds pesticide in organic chocolate from France
    Taiwan stopped a batch of organic chocolate from France at the border because it contained an excessive level of the pesticide Piperonyl butoxide. The substance was listed as a low-to-medium-level toxic material, likely to raise the possibility of liver cancer in animals.
  • Feb 15, 2018 Cadbury Caramilk chocolate comeback tainted by product recall
    A “limited number” of Cadbury Caramilk chocolate blocks have been recalled just two weeks after the retro treat made a popular comeback to Australian stores earlier this month. All Caramilk 190-gram blocks … have been recalled due to a number of products found to contain small pieces of plastic.

The continued plight of the oompa loompas is very unfortunate considering that many studies have found that (dark) chocolate is good for you. Now, ten years ago we said you should be rewarding the oompa loompas for their hard work, but considering that even if they are working hard and not using slave (child) labour or tainted chocolate, we can’t be sure that the producers they are buying the raw cocoa from are even remotely ethical.

They still deserve a a little love, but they also deserve some new job opportunities. They work hard, and it’s not their fault everyone else is less ethical than them.

The Content Art (Repost)


Upstart Blog
Upstart Blog
Blog Upstart
That Blog Upstart!
That Blog Upstart!
I do not like
that Blog Upstart!

Do you like
the content art?
I do not like it,
Blog Upstart.
I do not like
the content art.

Would you like it
here or there?
I would not like it
here or there.
I would not like it
anywhere.
I do not like
the content art.
I do not like it,
Blog Upstart.

Would you like it
on the page?
Would you like it
from a sage?
I do not like it
on the page.
I do not like it
from a sage.
I do not like it
here or there.
I do not like it
anywhere.I do not like the content art.
I do not like it, Blog Upstart.

Would you read it
in a box?
Would you read it
in your socks?
Not in a box.
Not in my socks.
Not on the page
Not from a sage.
I would not read it here or there.
I would not read it anywhere.
I do not like the content art.
I do not like it, Blog Upstart.

Would you? Could you?
In a car?
Read it! Read it!
Here they are.
I would not,
could not,
in a car.

You may like it.
You will see.
You may like it
in a tree!
I would not, could not, in a tree.
Not in a car! You let me be.I do not like it in a box.
I do not like it in my socks.
I do not like it on the page.
I do not like it from a sage.
I do not like it here or there.
I do not like it anywhere.
I do not like the content art.
I do not like it, Blog Upstart.

A train! A train!
Could you, would you,
on a train?
Not on a train! Not in a tree!
Not in a car! Blog, let me be!I would not, could not, in a box.
I would not, could not, in my socks.
I will not read it on the page.
I will not read it from a sage.
I will not read it here or there
I will not read it anywhere.
I do not like the content art.
I do not like it, Blog Upstart.

Say!
In the dark?
Here in the dark!
Would you, could you, in the dark?
I would not, could not,
in the dark.

Would you, could you, in the rain?
I would not, could not, in the rain.
Not in the dark. Not on a train.
Not in a car. Not in a tree.
I do not like it, Blog, you see.
Not on the page. Not in a box.
Not from a sage. Not in my socks.
I will not read it here or there.
I will not read it anywhere.

You do not like
the content art?
I do not like it,
Blog Upstart.

Could you, would you, in your coat?
I would not, could not, in my coat.

Would you, could you, on a boat?
I could not, would not, on a boat.
I will not, will not, in my coat.
I will not read it in the rain.
I will not read it on a train.
Not in the dark. Not in a tree.
Not in a car. You let me be.
I do not like it in a box.
I do not like it in my socks.
I will not read it on the page.
I will not read it from a sage.
I do not like it here or there.
I do not like it ANYWHERE.I do not like the content art.
I do not like it, Blog Upstart.

You do not like it.
So you say.
Try it! Try it!
And you may.
Try it and you may, I say.
Blog!
If you will let me be.
I will try it.
You will see.Say!
I like the content art.
I do! I like it, Blog Upstart.
And I would read it in a boat.
And I would read it in my coat.

And I will read it in the rain.
And in the dark. And on a train.
And in a car. And in a tree.
It is so good, so good, you see!

So I will read it in a box.
And I will read it in my socks.
And I will read it on the page.
And I will read it from a sage.
And I will read it here and there.
And I will read it anywhere.

I do so like
the content art.
Thank you!
Thank you!
Blog Upstart.

Thirty Five Years Ago Today …

Apple Computer’s Macintosh personal computer goes on sale in the United States, beginning an era. As the first mass-market PC with a GUI (graphical user interface), built-in screen, and mouse, it set a new standard for the modern computer age.

While it wasn’t adopted en-masse initially due to its high cost (compared to the Commodore 64 and the IBM clone market), it set a new standard when when Apple consolidate down to 4 models 5 years later — the Power Mac G3, the iMac, the PowerBook G3, and the iBook — with more competitive prices and aesthetic designs, Apple became profitable and started its trek to become the brand of choice for the discerning enthusiast.

Now every device, including our pocket phones, have built in screens, GUIs, and trackpads (mouse replacements). The Macintosh ushered in a computing revolution. It just took a few years longer than Apple expected.

What Should Drive PE Investment?

The M&A frenzy cycle that we have been discussing on and off for the past year hasn’t really died down, and this has spurred the PE cycle where PE (Private Equity) firms, wanting to capitalize on the frenzy around the Procurement space, are buying (majority investments in) vendors (that appear) ripe for a turn-around or market growth with just a little boost to their platform.

By investing in the right platforms, PE forms are looking to acquire vendors that they can flip (public or private to a bigger PE firm or bigger software vendor) before the M&A frenzy dies down. But just buying any old firm — regardless of how good the turn-around opportunity looks, how good the base technology platform is, or how much the vendor’s platform can be improved with additional investment or roll-up acquisitions — isn’t the answer.

Nor should the vendor follow the same rules that companies should follow when doing M&A. What should a P&E firm look for?

Operations

The firm should either have an efficient operational model or the P&E firm should be able to make the model efficient. If overheads are too high, there should be a way to bring them down quickly — either through new leasing arrangements, new (data center) hosting arrangements, cheaper back-office support operations (using PE personnel or outsourced providers for non-critical operations, etc.).

Talent

Whether the goal is a turn-around, an improved platform, or just taking the platform to a wider market, that’s going to take talent. The majority of the core talent that built the solution and the core talent that can take it to market, sell it, and implement it should still be at the company. Otherwise, it might be a better investment to build something from scratch.

Portfolio Synergy

Whether it’s turnaround or a growth strategy through an improved platform, there typically needs to be results within a few years. The best way to make this happen is if the solution has synergy with the customer base in the rest of the portfolio. For example, if the solution being considered is an indirect sourcing platform but most of the customers in the PE firms stable of companies are direct sourcing manufacturers, the PE firm will have zero advantage in trying to take the solution to market.

Just like M&A vendors should not pursue mergers or acquisitions that get synergy from redundancy, PE firms should not pursue acquisitions that just look cost effective. Only those investments in firms with solid platforms, good talent, efficient operations, and and an attractiveness to the markets they know are worthwhile, as those are the only companies with near-term growth potential — and the only companies the market will want to consider.

Hopefully PE firms will take this advice and save/grow those companies that will help the market as a whole. Only time will tell.

Fifty Years Ago Today …

Soviet spacecraft Soyuz 4 and Soyuz 5 perform the first-ever docking of manned spacecraft in orbit and the first-ever transfer of crew from one space vehicle to another (which was also the only time such a transfer was accomplished with a space walk).

This was a historic event in space exploration as it is one of the capabilities necessary to have a(n International) Space Station and we’re not going to reach the age of extra-planetary supply management (Part II and Part III) unless we can build space stations and efficiently dock spacecraft with them on inter-planetary supply runs.