The technology world worships at the Church of the New—and for good reason. Disruption, invention, and paradigm redefinition are exciting stuff. Better still, capture the religious fervor behind the buzz words, and your company might fetch a higher valuation.
Yet it’s worth pausing to consider the value of the old, or at least the old-fashioned. Take, for example, an article in the current issue of Fortune Magazine—don’t even get me started on the still-powerful virtues of print media—about a California company called PCH International. Erin Griffith describes the unique career of CEO Liam Casey, who has built a business by being the go-to source for device makers needing to navigate the confusing waters of Chinese manufacturing. Nifty ideas and fancy marketing aside, if you can’t get your product made you can’t sell it. That’s why so many call Casey for some old-school door-opening assistance.
Another case in point is the rejuvenation of Electronic Arts, the first-generation video game company. Andrew Wilson, the youthful veteran in the CEO job, has turned around the company by doing something unusual, even archaic: he’s listening to customers. By focusing less on Wall Street and more on the people who buy EA’s games, Wilson has revived the company’s fortunes. (VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi wrote a thorough review of moves by Wilson, who spoke about his efforts at Fortune Brainstorm Tech last month in Aspen.)
Technology behemoth Samsung provides one more example of old thinking applied to new problems. The company plans to raise $1 billion in U.S. capital markets, its first U.S. listing, for a new company called Samsung Bioepis. The new entity makes so-called biosimilar versions of biotech drugs coming off patent. Samsung Bioepis, in turn, is controlled by Samsung Biologics, a contract manufacturer of patented “biopharmaceuticals.” (I visited the Incheon, South Korea-based Biologics unit in June while researching a profile of Samsung Group’s de facto leader, Jay Y. Lee, a proponent of the health IT push.) Samsung’s rationale for being in the business is that it can apply its world-class manufacturing prowess to a new industry.
This is all proof, perhaps, that an old dog can learn new tricks. It’s also a powerful statement that the old dog’s tricks are worth learning.
Your usual curator Heather Clancy is away on vacation. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here, subbing in. You can reach me on Twitter (@rhhackett) or email email@example.com. Feedback welcome.
Here are the next possible startup “unicorns.” Numbering more than 100, private companies valued at more than $1 billion are becoming less and less rare. This 50-startup list shows those companies nearest to breaking that boundary and landing spots on Fortune’s “unicorn list.” (New York Times, Fortune)
Google’s new CEO faces hurdles. Microsoft recently scooped Google with an in-app feature that provides search-related information at a tap. Sundar Pichai, Google’s recently appointed top exec, apparently didn’t prioritize Google Now, the company’s personal assistant tech, as much as his predecessor Larry Page. (Recode)
Apple stock got crushed. The most valuable company in the U.S. has been getting hammered in the stock market, its share price plunging 8.5% last week. Here’s what others think about the shakeup. (USA Today, Fortune)
Mirantis raises $100 million. Intel Capital and Goldman Sachs are among the investors in this round of funding for the open-source cloud computing software startup. The company, which offers its own version of OpenStack, claims Comcast, Huawei, and Getty Images as customers. (Fortune)
Texas is poised for a solar energy boom. As the price to produce sun-generated power falls, Texas appears ready to become a market leader—even without offering incentives. The state is already the U.S.’s largest wind power producer. (Wall Street Journal)
Google could decide the next election. The search giant has the power to rig the 2016 presidential election, according to new research. Search algorithm tweaks could lead people to have more positive opinions of certain candidates. (Fortune)
Apple iPhone 6 has camera bugs. Apple has admitted that its latest smartphone camera has some issues. The company has put in place a replacement program to correct the defect, which can cause images to come out blurry. (Ars Technica)
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Fortune contributor Chris Morris makes known Japanese video game-maker Nintendo’s return to Hollywood.
“After the big screen disaster that was Super Mario Bros. in 1993, Nintendo made the decision to guard its valuable collection of characters from the movie-making world—a move that proved prescient given the string of bad game-related films that would follow for the next 15 years. But as convergence has become the norm in the entertainment universe, the company has started to rethink that stance—and is now ready to once again entertain Hollywood’s advances.” Read more on Fortune.com.
BITS AND BYTES
Hypertext anniversary. Electronic documents, interactive screens. (Gigaom)
No hoverboarding. Or else. (Verge)
The toilet man. Responding to nature’s call. (Al Jazeera)
Poll Taxes are back. Thanks to cable-only presidential debates. (Medium)
Homemade pancakes. If by “home” you mean “robot.” (MIT Technology Review)
ALSO ON FORTUNE
Why creativity is absolutely crucial in the workplace by Barbara Dyer
Global markets hit the panic button after the “Great Fall of China” by Geoffrey Smith
ONE MORE THING
Robots: Humanity’s salvation or annihilation? At least for now they’re still kind of dumb. (Collectors Weekly)
“Dre has apologized for the mistakes he’s made in the past and he’s said that he’s not the same person that he was 25 years ago. We believe his sincerity and after working with him for a year and a half, we have every reason to believe that he has changed.”
Apple, issuing a statement about one of the company’s top consultants, rapper Dr. Dre. The hip-hop artist has also apologized for his history of misogyny and alleged physical abuse of women in a statement to the New York Times. His film Straight Outta Compton has topped the box office for the second weekend. (Fortune, Gawker, Entertainment Weekly)