Spanx + more news

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Spanx

Spanx commits to all-female board after Blackstone investment — QuartzMore than  a quarter of board seats in the Russell 3000 Index belonged to women during the last quarter, compared to 15.1% just five years ago, according the corporate leadership research firm Equilar. Still, just 84 of these boards had achieved gender parity, meaning that they were represented by 50% women. And companies still struggle to achieve adequate racial and LGBTQ representation on their boards as well. Justine Smyth, chair of the New Zealand telecommunications company Spark, has suggested that while the first “diverse” appointees on company boards may feel like tokenism, those members can help advocate for change once they are given decision-making power – Spanx is an American underwear company that does foundation garments to make the wearer appear thinner. Spanx innovated around testing with real people, having multiple sizes and packaging colours that increased brand salience. The back story of Spanx is similar to the ‘founder in a garage’ story that was the starting point of many Silicon Valley firms. Spanx is a private company. It is interesting that Spanx are taking private equity money from Blackstone rather than going public. Will we get to a situation in the future where all-women boards like Spanx come under the kind of pressure that all-men boards come under now? If we got to that stage, then we’d have equality. I think that will be a while.

Business

Effects of China’s regulatory onslaught felt in Hong Kong as large IPOs fall by the wayside | SCMP – the Hong Kong government is involuting towards the mainland so this is to be expected

With seaports jammed, cargoes are taking to the skies | Financial Times – the rise in air freight prices is fascinating

Oil refinery woes raise concern in Westminster over financial backers | The Guardian – sounds like a later era Le Carré novel

China

Piraeus port deal intensifies Greek unease over China links | Financial Times

Consumer behaviour

British leavers and remainers as polarised as ever, survey finds | Brexit | The Guardian

Economics

China’s central bank says spillover from Evergrande crisis ‘controllable’ | Financial Times

Chinese developer Sinic defaults as Evergrande deadline looms | Financial Times

‘We’ve woken up’: attitudes change as Saudi Arabia kick-starts job market | Financial Times

America’s political and business elites no longer agree on China | Financial Times – more like Jack Welch created shareholder value mindset has severed the link between Wall Street and the public good and this is the most obvious fissure

America, China, and the Tragedy of Great-Power Politics | Foreign Affairs

U.S., trading partners urge China to liberalise further | Reuters – interesting WTO developments

Ethics

Microsoft Executives Told Bill Gates to Stop Emailing a Female Staffer Years Ago – WSJ – interesting that we haven’t seen this kind of expose about Larry Ellison or Steve Jobs. Secondly, there is the timing with Mr Gates’ divorce. Finally, all of the money and hard work to reinvent Mr Gates as a philanthropist looks as if its becoming undone. While Mr Gates

The soft bigotry of America’s cultural left | Financial Timesimposing conformity through intimidation is not what is supposed to happen in democracies, still less on their most-prized campuses. Crushing free thought is McCarthyism. This new consensus is profoundly illiberal. It treats a person’s race as their primary fixed identity and assigns roles on that basis. This obliterates the individual moral autonomy on which liberalism rests. Since everything in society boils down to race, everything must change. California, for example, is trying to alter its mathematics curriculum to downplay the idea there are right and wrong answers in the science. The debate is fuelled by a proposal for new math standards called “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction”. The framework states that “objectivity”, “worship of the written word”, and “either/or thinking” are tools of white supremacy

EVs Are the Future, but Are They Really All That Eco-Friendly? – Robb Report

Finance

Goldman Sachs granted full ownership of China securities venture | Financial Times

Reforms in Hong Kong Encourage Homecoming of Offshore Funds | Winston & Strawn LLPIn July 2021, the Hong Kong government gazetted a fund re‑domiciliation mechanism to encourage offshore funds set up in corporate or limited-partnership form to register in Hong Kong as OFCs and LPFs, respectively. This mechanism does not create any new legal entity; therefore, it does not require the dissolution of the original funds or require investors to exchange their interests from the old fund to the new fund. Upon re‑domiciliation, these funds would be de‑registered in the original place of incorporation and would have the same rights and obligations as any other newly established OFCs and LPFs in Hong Kong. The Wealth Connect, which formally commenced trading on September 10, 2021, allows Hong Kong-domiciled funds to be offered to mainland Chinese investors in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area. This adds to the Mutual Recognition of Funds scheme, which started in 2015, allowing Hong Kong-domiciled funds to be distributed in mainland China. These connect schemes serve as another incentive to encourage fund managers to re‑domicile offshore funds to Hong Kong – I suspect that this is designed to do a few things over time.

  • Allows Chinese citizens on the mainland access to more ways to do investments, whilst still being in full view of the Chinese government.
  • It allows the Chinese government to expand ‘capture’ of western financial institutions
  • It will allow China to put pressure on VIEs ran out of the likes of the British Virgin Island and similar territories out of scrutiny

FMCG

Procter & Gamble increases marketing spend by 30% | Advertising | Campaign Asia

Unilever warns of even higher inflation next year | RTÉ News

Hong Kong

How Hong Kong’s Elite Turned on Democracy – The Atlanticthere is something performative about the face and patriotism on display that I suspect may be driven less by a drive to get on and more by the fear of what might happen to them or their loved ones if they didn’t

Sleepy Hong Kong residents get 5-hour “Sleeping Bus Tour” | The Standard

Innovation

EETimes – Samsung Foundry Promises Gate All-Around in ’22 – Interesting new transistor type

Synopsys, Dassault Systèmes team for lighting digital twin | EE News Europe – automotive focus

ARM launches virtual modelling toolchain to boost AIoT development | EE News Europe – AIoT – AI in the internet of things

Luxury

Prada’s back-to-back game-changing campaigns: What drives a luxury brand from cat-walk to wet market? – reminds me of a project that Motorola was thinking of doing back in early 2005 linking London and Chicago

Marketing

Purpose could be ‘the death of brands’, warns Byron Sharp

Media

Mediatel: Mediatel News: John Lewis goes woke and the paradox of ESG – fraught creative

Apple’s privacy changes create windfall for its own advertising business | Financial Times – “Apple was unable to validate for us that Apple’s solutions are compliant with Apple’s policy,” he said. “Despite multiple requests and trying to get them to confirm that their products are compliant with their own solutions, we were unable to get there.” Apple said its privacy features were designed to protect users. “The technologies are part of one comprehensive system designed to help developers implement safe advertising practices and protect users — not to advantage Apple.” – this has my spidey sense tingling right now

What blockbuster? China spurns Hollywood’s advances | Financial Times – “If I was an investor, I would be very concerned about a strategy at this point that depended on access to the Chinese market and the good graces of Chinese film regulators,” said Aynne Kokas, the author of Hollywood Made in China and a media studies professor at the University of Virginia. “To make very expensive films in anticipation of being able to deliver them to the Chinese market and then not being certain that’s possible is actually a much more financially irresponsible strategy from my perspective.”

Why your ad next to trendy pimple-popping, mukbang, and ASMR videos missed the target | Marketing | Campaign Asia – great research, context is everything

Online

China Said to Weigh Opening Tencent, ByteDance to Search – Bloomberg – this could be good for Baidu if it can show superior search

Facebook confronts growth problems as number of young users in US declines | Financial Times – this isn’t news at all

Retailing

Alibaba Faces New Threat: an Evolving Chinese Shopper – WSJ – consumers have started to embrace new ways of shopping that favor browsing and interaction over targeted product searches. That trend has left Alibaba playing catch-up in some areas, and competitors have used the shift to gain a foothold in the world’s largest online retail market. Alibaba remains the leading platform in online shopping, but its share of China’s retail e-commerce market has fallen to a projected 51% in 2021 from 78% in 2015, according to research firm eMarketer. Interesting that WeChat, BilliBilli, Pinduoduo and Douyin are claiming part of the e-commerce pie. What this article doesn’t cover is the relative importance by comparison of O2O (offline to online) (paywall)

Inside the John Lewis nightmare | Financial Times

Security

At least 13 phone firms hit by suspected Chinese hackers since 2019, say experts | Hacking | The Guardian

US intelligence officials warn companies in critical sectors on China | Financial Times – many businesses were not aware of the direct and hidden links between Chinese companies and universities and state security, or that Beijing was using a “whole of government approach” to obtain technology – more likely that they don’t care

Telecoms

Half of Americans Might Switch to Starlink Once Widespread Service Rolls Out / Digital Information World

Web of no web

Insight SiP announces funding for IoT security program | EE News – securing RF modules in IoT devices

Wireless

Apple is Still the Most Profitable Smartphone Company in the World / Digital Information World