Sunday, January 20, 2008

Whistler beauty

It's amazing to see how pretty Whistler is. White mountains, snow trees, an amazing view connecting the sky with the snow. Oh, I feel relieved from the super busy study and business, and fell in love with this pretty place immediately.

It's also amazing to see how many people come to Whistler for skiing. A lot of them are from either U.S. or Vancouver. The canteen on the tops of the mountain is fully packed, which means the occupation rate may possible reach over 90 percent for the whole capacity. Hotels, lifts, private lessons, food, equipment sales and rentals.... seems this is a very health business. Maybe I should buy some of its stock. So I did a little research and found some interesting stuff. The whistler mountain is managed by Intrawest ULC, a Vancouver-based company. Intrawest used to be listed in NYSE and Toronto Exchange, but went private in Oct 2006. An alternative investment group named Fortress Investment bought the whole company for US$2.8 billion. Not sure how they are going to exit the investment, possible doing an IPO again or sell it to another big resort development firm. To me, it is a very good investment, at least from the fundamentals.

My only suggestion is that they should improve the quality of the instructors. Some of them are really bad.

Friday, January 18, 2008

What makes online shopping fun?

One good thing living in U.S. is the convenient online shopping. You could almost buy everything online. My favorite part is to buy clothes. There are a lot of websites selling designer clothes such as The wonderful interface design made the online shopping very enjoyable. Victorial secret also had a pretty cool online shopping site. I used to believe in going to the real shop to buy clothes, but now it seems not necessarily.

Several days ago, I started to shop ski clothes. My friend recommended the website It is founded by a GSB alumni as I overheard. The pricing is not bad, though the quality of those pictures are not perfect. I have to go to websites such as to find the high-quality pics to compare different clothes. But it's a great fun, and in fact very time consuming. Now, I got one Northface alpine jacket and a Salomon waterproof pants from them. The bad thing is they don't really update their stock often. So there is a big chance that you buy something online, but they don't have it in stock. It makes a really bad customer experience though they will give a 20 percent discount and free shipping fee.

Just read from Lightspeed blog that female is the major force in social networks. that's very true. I believe in the online shopping space, it's the same thing. Especially in China, when female has more money and more independence to spend the money. hmmm, good business opportunity.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Google Naps

I had my first tour in Google today, and of course, free Google dinner. (They do have a lot of chefs) but I would suggest better Chinese food. (I tried Italian though)

It is a very casual place, kinda of like a school with a lot of cool gadget, from the almost-real spaceship as well as the massage room. The most interesting thing to me is the Google Naps. It's a little bed(or chair) with a big white round "hat". You could sleep inside while nobody could see you from outside. (maybe they could only see your legs)

Walking in Google, I feel strongly the engineer culture. A lot of cool stuffs, and a lot of smart people. No wonder they are doing something great to change the world. However, the company grows so fast right now, and a lot of workers have to share rooms. For example, three people will share one little room. Personally, I do like a bigger space, because you couldn't have a free thinking in a very limited room. So Google should buy more real estate right now to expand the space, and it's also a good time to invest in real estate in U.S. right now.

Growing from a small company to the world's largest one must be a tough process, and I believe Google is on its way, not easy.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Online Fraud and social network

Hom important is online security? It is very important. Just read an interview with Max Levchin, the cofounder of Paypal. He said the biggest competitive advantage for Paypal is it knows how to deal with online fraud. Now I experienced it in the real life.

I have been doing researching on buying a used car. The site my friend recommended me is Craigslist, which is very popular in U.S. for the listing of various selling stuffs. I look for the cars I am interested and usually write to the email listed in those posts. One day, I found a Lexus car in a good shape but very cheap price. So I wrote to the guy, and got a very detailed email. This guy named Tom sounded very sincere. and the pictures of the car looked perfect. Here is some of the quotes:

"I am now located in London, UK and I feel very comfortable using a service like eBay. I need to know if you are interested to buy my Lexus because I want to use their service. I just moved here a couple of months ago and I can't use it here because it is a left side wheel car. The car is still registered in the States. It might look strange but my price for it is $4, 000.00 in US dollars. If you want it I can arrange a shipping process with Lufthansa (paid by me and my wife) for you to receive it in less than 3 days. Shipping will not cost me that much, as my wife used to work for Lufthansa here and now, although she is not working there anymore, she still has great discounts with the company. That is why i offered to pay for shipping. With all this being said and in order to get this started please let me know your delivery info (where to send the car to) and your full name. "

I almost fully trust him, before I started a little search on Ebay. Since this guy would like to use Ebay, then there must be some post from him already, and I would like to see the bidding price right now. Then something unexpected happened. I found a piece from a U.S. dealer in midwest of the country posted the exactly same pictures of this car. Totally the same pictures from the same angle and in the same places. It means at least someone, either Tom or this Ebay dealer, is cheating. So I wrote to Tom on this, and nobody replied me on this.

So now I got to the conclusion. Tom is cheating. Since there is no feedback on Craiglist, I would never who tells the truth and who is cheating. The only thing I could do is to try my good luck and do more research.

How to solve the problem of online fraud? Paypal uses technology to solve this problem. There is another way, through social network. People will give feedback or even rate the sellers who are honest, and discredit those cheating people. I have the experience in looking for a auto mechanic shop on, and people's recommendation does provide a lot of insightful information. (You could even learn who out of the dozens of repairers you should go to in a specific auto shop). There maybe cheating too, but the power of a wide social network is so strong that you are unable to hide your bad online behaviors. Someone will always point you out.

That's how the real society works, and the same to the "virtual society".