Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Holiday Book Recommendations!

I've spent some time putting together a list of business books and non-business books that I've read and would recommend. I'll be adding more from time to time, but if you are looking for some ideas this Christmas, you can go right into Amazon and order away from here (note that some pop-up blockers keep you from seeing the images for some reason, so if you can't see pictures of books below, you might want to disable your pop-up blocker via your personal firewall for a few minutes and re-load). You can also find some holiday discounts while shopping online via my entrepreneur shopping page.

First, the business books for entrepreneurs:

First of two required Jim Collins books. I like Good to Great better, but I think that you should read both of them.

The Tipping Point has been around for a few years, but is a good one.

This book, besides being a great baseball story, also got me thinking of how many other industries out there operate on hunches, and could be better if someone just focused on improving them with more objective measurements.

"Who is on the bus is more important that where the bus is going" - one of many great insights from this classic.

Great bit of recent history, and a well written overview of the Genetics industry. If, like me, you think this is going to be the "Biotech Century", this is a great place to get a baseline of information.

What do you mean you haven't read this one yet?! It's a classic, and required for high-tech startups especially.

A hopeful book about the potential marketplace and source of entrepreneurship that doesn't get enough attention.

Good analytical book based on a lot of research that offers a lot of insights on managing people.

Then, there are the non-business books I've enjoyed this year, just for fun:

The best and most insightful comedy on television these days. Great book as well.

I used to work on capital hill in D.C., and I've never read a better-written government document! Obviously an important topic, and the quality of writing makes it compelling.

This is the final chapter in Stephen King's Opus. 20 years in the making, and ties many of his books together. You'll have to read the first six books first though!

This is the first Dark Tower Book if you are looking to get started. It's also probably the worst of the group, so don't get discouraged if it's slow moving to you.

I usually don't like the "blockbuster" books, but I liked this one. Like most people, I couldn't stop for about a week or so until it was finished.

Chick book...but I liked it. Written by a guy who is actually my favorite sports authors, Mitch Albom, who I used to read religiously when I lived in Detroit, MI, for a few months.

I notice that a book called "The Plot Against America" is popular, and plan to read it. It's a story about an alternative outcome of history if Germany would have won WW2. Reminds me of this excellent book - "What If?". A few years old buy highly recommended for history buffs.

OK, full disclosure, I'm ABOUT to read this book. I've read Carl Hiaasen before and loved his comedic novels. I'd also recommend his book "Sick Puppy", though he's better known for "Striptease". He offers more proof that Florida is just hopeless.

This is basically "The Libertarian Bible" by any other name. If you want to know my political leanings, I'm part of the "radical middle" along with Stossel. Very compelling book - I'd challenge all believers of big government to read!
Those non-believers in government will nod your head a lot.

This almost belongs with the business books, but is a little more high level in terms of sociology.


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Computer News
China's Google rockets on debut
It was a remarkable debut. Chinese search engine Baidu.com's shares sold in the United States for US$27 ($39) - then surged on day one to close at US$122.54 ($177.46).

Friday's result was the biggest first-day gain for a new listing in the US for five years.

Investors had more than quadrupled their money.

An analyst in New York with IPOdesktop.com, a website devoted to initial public offerings, John Fitzgibbon, said: "This one is the return to the internet bubble. Last time we saw a deal skyrocket was during the frothy IPO markets of 1999 and 2000."

Then came the post-mortem.

Some analysts said the internet search engine could have had an even better payday for itself if underwriters had sold the deal at a higher price to begin with.

"It looks to me like the underwriters should have had a better indication of the appetite for this stock than they did," said Donald Straszheim, president of Straszheim Global Advisors.

Investors were eager to own a stake in a company that many say could grow as dramatically as Google and is based in a country itself undergoing explosive growth.

But other analysts are not so sure the underwriters made a mistake, given that the company's shares were priced at a relatively high multiple of revenues.

"It wasn't priced out of line with the rest of the market. In a situation like this, you're dealing with the unpredictability of the after market," said Tom Taulli, of Instream Partners in Newport Beach, California.

At issue is the underwriting process. Banks selling shares to the public - in this case Credit Suisse First Boston, Goldman Sachs, and Piper Jaffray - are paid to use quantitative models to determine a fair price for shares, but also to gauge investor demand.

Underwriting has both subjective and objective elements, making definitive evaluation of a bank's performance difficult. In this case, demand for the IPO was evidently outsized, but so were the unknowns for the company.

"We don't know the potential impact of censorship in China, or how quickly the internet will grow there," said David Menlow, president of IPOfinancial.com. Had the IPO been priced higher and then fallen in the first day of trading, investors could have sued.

Baidu.com chairman and chief executive Robin Li, speaking on CNBC, said he was not upset by the potential lost proceeds of the IPO because the company had only sold a small portion of itself, and had significantly more growth ahead.

But University of Florida Professor Jay Ritter, an IPO expert, said Baidu.com left money on the table by introducing the shares at a level well below where they ended hours later.

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