Sunday, October 16, 2005

More reads

It has been a while since I listed my reads, and the list has been growing.

Here are a few that will directly or indirectly help in investing.
  • Deals of the Century : Wall Street, Mergers, and the Making of Modern America, by Charles R. Geisst: This one ofcourse is directly related to M&A. This book is not original in any sense, but has a well researched history of mergers. From the blatantly corrupt early part of the century, to neutron Jack, and the AOL-Time Warner marriage made in hell, all the stories are in here. For those who weren't there to read about it or who have just forgotten it, there are reminders of how US coporations did (and still do, including the net giants from liberal San Francisco area!) helped repressive regimes around the world.
    The book also goes into accounting clauses that make acquisitions more attractive to buyers.
  • Spice : The History of a Tempation, by Jack Turner: A page-turner! The book overwhelms you with incredible facts, facts that force you to think and rethink and question all you learnt in your history class. If you want to see how one culture/people go from being the most powerful to the most docile, or vice versa, you should read this. This book also confirms that in practically every country, including the "free" ones, text books are extremely biased - no text ever tries to respect the "other side".
  • Counterculture through the ages - from Abraham to Acid House, by Ken Goffman: A buzzword-laden collection of time capsules. Well written. Lifestyle change based investing will depend on one's ability to detect subtle early hints that a new approach to life/work/daily activities is taking place. The most important point to take away is that what starts as a faint counterculture eventually becomes adopted by /adapted to the mainstream culture. You can build a whole investing theme based on that. Take the current, still early, craze for Yoga and everything organic. There is money to be made here.
  • The Cathedral and the Bazaar, by Eric S. Raymond: This is about the success of Open Source and how it came about. Though it may not sound like one, this is an essential read for anyone investing in technology. The author's take is that software is not in the manufacturing sector, but in the service sector and that too much time and energy is spent in closing the deal, but nothing is done later to help customers deal with the day to day problems they have with whatever it is they have bought. As as insider, I definitely agree. Linux has shown the way. Enterprise Software will be the next one, and it is time that happened. Companies that deal with reducing the maintenance headache associated with bugs/missing features during the life of a product, will thrive. Red Hat, Novell and SupportSoft fall into this category. Companies that reduce the headache by offering a service-based solution where only a product existed before, will also be able to win over small and medium businesses. Salesforce and RightNow are examples.
    This book is as much a sociology/anthropology study as it is a software management study.
  • A Shortcut through Time, by George Johnson: A well-researched book on Quantum Computing, which has moved from theory-only to toy machines, but will within a decade be real. It is hard to think about such a drastic change in the current computing model, but we won't be able to hide from it.
  • AA Gill is away : An irreverent travel book by the Sunday Times tv/food critic. An extremely interesting way to look at places differently. Explosive laugh out loud material in here. But the humor shade is pitch black and you may be forced to skip a meal or two once you are exposed to gory details of tragedies in all the places that he visits.


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