Morning Advantage: It’s Not Who You Know

You might think that the best place to locate a new venture would be in an industry hub – say, Silicon Valley for a tech startup, or New York City for a publishing venture. After all, that’s where you’ll make connections, find networking opportunities, and tap into industry expertise. But, it turns out you may be better off locating your venture elsewhere. New research from Evan Rawley at the University of California at Berkeley and Philipp Meyer-Doyle of INSEAD shows that “agglomeration effects” — the benefits you get from sharing industry expertise or infrastructure — are portable, especially if you work in a service industry. And while it may seem counterintuitive to move away from an industry hub, it turns out that the benefits of staying within the hub are offset by the effects of the greater competition. Rawley explains in this Columbia Ideas at Work piece: “If you’re coming from a New York bank and starting up a new hedge fund, even if you are well connected in New York, you’re competing with people who are also well connected. There are a lot of hedge funds chasing dollars in New York, but very few in Missouri.”

Moral of the story? You can strike out on your own. In fact, you probably should.


When Eating is an Economic Act (Bloomberg Businessweek)

While the world produces more food than ever before, 1 in 7 people go to bed hungry every night. Many of them are farmers. Danielle Nierenberg at Bloomberg describes how we got here: “In the 1990s, the regulation controlling agriculture futures was abolished, thanks to the lobbying efforts of Goldman Sachs and others. Those futures were turned into derivatives to be bought and sold among traders, and a market in food speculations emerged, which happened to coincide with some of the biggest spikes in food prices around the world.” According to Nierenberg, the price of the world’s food has effectively doubled in the last decade and shows no signs of returning to previous levels. And this is exactly what traders want. She cautions: “The Arab Spring will look like a pep rally if the price doubles again. This kind of unrest will come back to haunt us. But that’s what the smart money is betting on.”


Beyond Showrooming: 3 Quirky Ways Smartphones Are Changing How We Shop (TIME)

“Showrooming,” or checking out merchandise in stores while simultaneously using your phone to find a better deal, is common practice among smartphone owners. It’s one of the ways these devices have changed the retail landscape, for better or worse. But, it turns out that our phones are modifying the way we shop in more unexpected ways, too. Kit Yarrow at TIME details three: 1) We’re making fewer impulse purchases at checkout lines (turns out that our smartphones are more enticing than candy bars or Kim Kardashian’s diet secrets); 2) We’re colliding with other shoppers more often (we’re too busy texting to watch where we’re going); and 3) We’re snubbing salespeople. A study by Accenture found that 73% of shoppers with smartphones would rather consult their devices than a salesperson.


Just Another Day at the Office

The Best and Worst of the Internet’s April Fools’ Day Pranks (The Atlantic Wire)
Google’s Greatest April Fools’ Hoax Ever (Hint: It Wasn’t a Hoax) (Time)
April Fools’ Gadgets: You’ll Wish Some of These Were Real (CNET)

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