The Economist: Business

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BP and other oil majors v utilities

INVESTOR WEBINARS are not generally mass entertainment. But some 25,000 people tuned in this month when BP outlined plans to transform its business. Top on the British oil-and-gas giant’s to-do list is raising its wind, solar and biopower capacity from 2.5 gigawatts (GW) last year to 20GW by 2025 and 50GW by 2030, when annual investment in low-carbon...

Can Weibo do better than Twitter?

THREE YEARS after Twitter launched in 2006, Chinese techies created a similar microblogging service in China. Weibo (literally “microblog” in Chinese) boasted an average of 241m daily active users in March, more than Twitter. Like its American cousin, Weibo allows users to follow other users, tweet, retweet and browse a real-time list of trending topics...

Why the TikTok deal is like Schrodinger’s cat

IF YOU WANT to understand the agreement between TikTok, a Chinese-owned video-sharing service, and Oracle, which sells corporate software (see article), it is useful to think of Schrödinger’s cat. Like the hypothetical feline of quantum mechanics, simultaneously alive and dead, the deal seems to be in two states at once—one hunky-dory to Beijing but...

The world’s toughest business school

IN 1996 CIVIL war erupted in what was then Zaire and is now the conflict-ravaged Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Karasira Mboniga managed to escape, eventually settling in the Kiziba refugee camp in Rwanda, and working as a secondary-school teacher. But he says that his life changed for ever when he started his own business in 2008, selling food...

Why Rocket Internet has come down to earth

“I AM NOT Scrooge McDuck,” said Oliver Samwer in 2017 when he denied the request of shareholders of Rocket Internet, the startup incubator he co-founded with his two brothers, to use the company’s cash to boost its ailing share price through share buy-backs. Now the way he has handled a planned delisting of Rocket from stock exchanges in Frankfurt...

What Warren Buffett sees in Japan Inc

TO UNDERSTAND WHY it was a shock last month when Berkshire Hathaway invested $6.5bn in five Japanese trading houses that have been around for far longer even than its 90-year-old chairman, go back to a talk Warren Buffett gave to business students in Florida in 1998. As a sprightly sexagenarian with his sleeves rolled up, the Sage of Omaha was at his...

How Donald Kendall, as PepsiCo’s boss, sparked the cola wars

“ROCK AND roller cola wars, I can’t take it any more!” cried Billy Joel in his chart-topping song from 1989, “We didn’t start the fire”. He had had enough of the intense marketing battle between America’s fizzy-drinks behemoths. As the underdog, PepsiCo had stunned its bigger rival, Coca-Cola, by signing Michael Jackson, the era’s biggest musical star,...

Can TikTok help Oracle stay relevant in the cloud-computing age?

LARRY WHO? A few weeks ago asking a young tech worker in Silicon Valley about Larry Ellison, co-founder, former boss and now chief technology officer of Oracle, might have elicited blank stares. More surprising, given that his company is still the world’s second-largest software-maker, a follow-up question might have been: “Remind me what Oracle sells?”...

How Nvidia’s purchase of Arm could open new markets

WHEN SOFTBANK, a Japanese technology group, paid $32bn for Arm in 2016, it was the biggest deal in chipmaking history. That record held until September 13th, when Nvidia, a big American chipmaker, announced its intention to buy the Britain-based chip-designer for $40bn. Although they share an industry, Arm and its prospective owner are very different....

How BP’s newish boss sees the future of fossil fuels

ALL EYES of the oil world were on BP this week for the British energy giant’s annual three-day investor jamboree. Bernard Looney, who became chief executive this year, wants BP at last to make good on its old slogan, "Beyond Petroleum". Annual capital spending on oil, gas and refining projects will fall from around $13bn in 2019 to an average of $9bn...

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