Two Days in Seoul

It’s our last night in Seoul. Tonight for the first time we had a chance to go see a little bit on the “old Seoul”, on the north side of the river. It seems we’re staying in Gangnam, which is a more newly developed part of Seoul (although if you look it’s just jam packed with people and amazing). In the part of Seoul we went to today, we got a chance to have a meeting in SK Telecom’s T-Tower, their new office building that is phenomenally beautiful. It’s a glass, steel and concrete building that has an amazing LCD that runs across the interior lobby and the actually reception area is a floor below the lobby which makes the lobby this flowing space where people are constantly moving. Very interesting design elements in play.

On the eating side I’ve been having bi-bim-bop for lunch most days and noodles or rice/soup for dinner. The bi-bim-bop here is so much better than what I’ve had in the states. There are tons of vegetarian options, which makes it great to keep trying different ones.

Overall, I’ve loved Korea and Seoul. It’s right in the middle of a spectrum (if one did exist) between China and Japan in East Asia. I love how sophisticated technology here, but it feels like it has a great soul (no pun intended) and heart to it. It makes me want to thinking about living in Asia again. I’m heading to Tokyo (Gimpo to Haneda), where we’ll continue customer meetings and end the week. Kamsamida!

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Arrived in Korea

I landed in Seoul today after a 12-ish hour non-stop flight from San Francisco. I’m here in Korea and later this week in Japan to test a couple product concepts we’re working on with possible customers and partners before we begin to get way deep in the product development “cycle”. It’s a process called SyncDev, the premise of which is to test your product ideas before you build the product.

I’ve never been to Korea before so this it’s pretty exciting to be out here. After we checked in, we went out to eat at a hotpot-ish place down the road from the hotel. We though we ordered a hotpot with veggies and stuff to put in to the pot, but instead came out a pile of sizzling meat. Not good. The waitress, who shared a glass of beer with us asked us were we were from in very broken English and it turns out she was from China.

Obviously, I took advantage of this and was able to explain to her in Chinese that I needed some veggies and rice and other good stuff. Who knew knowing some Chinese would come in handy in Korea? Instead of starving, I managed to get a good tasty meal in.

We start our customer meetings at 10am tomorrow, so I’m of to bed but I’m looking forward to seeing Seoul in the day light.

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Federal Ownership

In the NYT piece today, David Leonhardt covers a bunch of Q&A on the latest round of government bail outs. This one seemed particularly interesting.

Fannie and Freddie are in a conservatorship; the government clearly controls them. A small part of the assets of Bear Stearns are owned outright by the Fed; it controls them.

The A.I.G. situation is a bit more complicated. It’s still a private company, not one technically controlled by the federal government. But the Fed does have the ability, clearly, to veto dividends, among other things.

And I think it’s safe to assume that the Fed also has a significant degree of power that hasn’t been fully spelled out. After all, the chief executive of A.I.G., Robert B. Willumstad, stepped down at the request of the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr. That may have been a request that Mr. Willumstad couldn’t refuse.


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