California’s Offshore Aquaculture Farm to Compete with Imported Seafood

Green Mussels Imported from New Zealand

Green Mussels Imported from New Zealand

Catalina Sea Ranch, a six-mile offshore shellfish farm near San Pedro, CA, is planning to feed Californians with local raised mussels which has been mostly imported from Canada and New Zealand.

As the aquaculture industry has thrived in the past decade, the seafood imports – including mussels – by the United States has grown dramatically. About 91 percent of the value of the seafood consumed annually originates abroad, which represents an $11.2 billion trade deficit, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). To narrow the deficit and compete with foreign seafood, Catalina Sea Ranch aims to cultivate in a 100-acre ocean and produce high-quality mussels in a sustainable and scientific manner.

[Read more…]

American Cable Network To Develope Web-TV Services and Expand Into International Markets

Tencent's Digital Media Marketing Department manager gives speech regarding the collaboration between HBO and Tencen Video (

Tencent’s Digital Media Marketing Department manager gives speech regarding the collaboration between HBO and Tencen Video (

Web-TV service, such as Netflix and Hulu Plus, is growing rapidly, which has forced pay-television network HBO to release its own online-streaming services and step further into Asian market: to distribute TV dramas and movies through the Chinese Internet giant’s online video.

Globally, different from Netflix that directly launches its service in foreign countries, HBO licenses its programming to Tencent, a famous investment holding company whose services include social network, mass media, e-commerce and online games.

Its new deal with Tencent hasn’t disclosed the financial details or broadcast schedules. According to Wall Street Journal, HBO’s international business accounts for about one-quarter of the company’s $4.9 billion in annual revenue. And last year, it added 10 million users overseas, which is twice as many as HBO and Cinemas added domestically in the past decade.

Nonetheless, customers outside of the U.S. pay much less money than Americans for HBO’s programs, which, in other words, the company doesn’t generate a lot of revenue from licensing its programming.

Besides, the Chinese government censorship and local competitors – Youku Tudou Inc. and some internet-pirate sites – still make people feel uncertain about HBO’s future in Chinese market. Bloomberg reporter Xin Zhou said that a pay-to-view channel run by China’s state broadcaster CCTV aired a cut version of “Game of Thrones.” To maintain the program quality and satisfy the viewers without provoking the government seem to require a longtime negotiation among different parties.

HBO Go: An online-streaming site that is only available in the U.S.

HBO Go: An online-streaming site that is only available for cable subscribers in the U.S.

Thus, as HBO is shifting its sights on international markets, it’s also ready to create a broadband-only service, which further disrupts the pay-television industry.

In the U.S., since it has to split the revenue with cable distributors, HBO finds it’s getting tougher to profit and dominate the market with current business model. Netflix charges subscribers $7.99 to $11.99 per month, while HBO charges $13 to $15 per month. Although Netflix’s total subscribers were not even half them of HBO, its subscriber revenue inched past that of HBO in the second quarter of 2014: $1.146 billion compared to $1.141 billion for HBO.

Also, HBO didn’t plan to offer its online services to non-pay-television subscribers until Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeffrey Bewkes announced on Oct 16, 2014 that HBO will offer its own online-streaming in 2015. This announcement immediately led TWX stock to soar 8.7 percent.

TWX stock soared 8.7% in just over 30 minutes

TWX stock soared 8.7% in just over 30 minutes

The online-streaming service will bypass the cable middleman and deliver the shows directly to the viewers. It aims to adding 10 million broadband-only users who consume video online.

HBO’s series of plans do provide an alternative for cable providers.

Los Angeles River Revitalization Benefits The Rich Or The Poor?

L.A. River Bike Path

A $1-billion restoration project, which aims to recreate the ecosystem and develop business spaces adjacent to Los Angeles River, is becoming a gentrification plan.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, on May 28, recommended approval of spending $1.08 billion on creating wetlands, restoring habitat, and building bike trails along 11 miles of the Los Angeles River. This project, also known as Alternative 20,  is a critical part of the L.A. River Revitalization Master Plan that is dedicated to transform the concrete river channel into a comfort, livable environment. Before the funding is pledged, however, real estate and land prices in some places have already risen steeply, which concerns many low-income residents.

According to, the median list price per square foot in Frogtown rose almost 85 percent from 2012 to 2013. And the median home value in Frogtown rose 10.2 percent over the past year to $469,300.

Listing & Sales Price Per Square Foot in Frogtown and Los Angeles in General

Frogtown, whose official name is Elysian Valley, is a tiny, isolated, lip-shaped neighborhood. Blogger Isaac Simpson described this town that “there are no retailers but the streets are packed with yard sales. There are no restaurants but tacos fry in front yard… It’s a community that supports itself in its own way.”

Now this town is about to lose its own serenity. Under the Master Plan, nonprofits, such as Friends of L.A. River is leading the river revitalization: building bike path, and cleaning up the river bed. Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a $3.2-million plan to transform Frogtown’s river-adjacent Marsh Park. And luxurious waterfront houses next to the park are midway through construction. The Frogtown Art Walk, an annual arts festival, where thousands of Angelenos show up every year, also helps promote this eco-friendly suburb to the rich.

A colorful 660-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom bungalow in Elysian Valley (Frogtown). The property’s asking $499,000.

The rising home prices in the Frogtown raises a question: is it possible for the poor and the rich to co-exist? The answer actually depends on how many jobs and how much wealth the revitalization plan can provide for the local community.

The $1-billion plan, according to a L.A. River Ecosystem Restoration Feasibility Study conducted by the Army Corps, is estimated to generate 16,833 opportunities in a variety of industries – construction, food services, real estate establishments, and wholesale trade business- and $4.68-billion labor income in total.

Also, city officials said that revamping the entire river could create recreational opportunities, such as kayaking, fishing and bicycling, and attract more than $5 billion in investment over the next 10 to 15 years, according to Los Angeles Times.

However, few officials can tell whether the river will be entirely restored in the next 10 or 15 years. Revamping the entire river, which means to un-pave the concrete banks, and preventing the floods at the same time require a whole transformation in L.A.’s urban form: building parking lots that could absorb rainfall during storm, narrowing streets to reduce runoff, or replacing neighborhoods away from floodplains.

Tujunga/Pacoima Watershed Pojects

Otherwise, the restoration of the entire river might end up like the one in the Tujunga Wash. The Tujunga Wash, according to Grist reporter Christian MiNeil, is one of Los Angeles’ first restoration site, which has a small parallel stream next to the larger paved river channel and surrounded by native vegetation and a cycling path. Melanie Winter, a watershed advocate, said the scope of the Tujunga Wash restoration project was too narrow.

Winter also said that until Los Angeles embraced those broader changes, restoration effort like the one at Tujunga Wash would end up spending more tax money to achieve less.

The billion-dollar proposal requires the federal government and local sources to share equally. According to Post-Periodical, 13 members of Congress representing districts in the Southland called on President Barack Obama on Nov. 24 to include this funding in his 2016 budget.

Japanese virtual singer gains popularity in western countries


Thousands and thousands of green glow sticks are waving, the crowd is cheering. Then a blue light gleams in the darkness when a sound of spaceship whooshes up. This reveals the opening of Hatsune Miku live concert in Nokia Theatre, Los Angeles, in October 11, 2014.

On stage, Miku is around 20 feet tall and looks like a young girl with long turquoise bigtails, dressed up in a black skirt and gray thigh-high tights. She is 16 years old according to the data sheet released by Crypton Future Media, Sapporo Japan, while the company launched this program.

The phenomenon may look the same to any concerts you have been to, except for the singer is not real. Hatsune Miku is a virtual character voiced by a singing synthesizer application. But she can move and dance like a real pop star on stage by using projected holograms. [Read more…]

Growth in short-term rentals shapes the broader real estate market

A former co-founder of a travel management company, Greg Mayben in 2013 co-founded SkyCorporate – a corporate short-term rental company based in Los Angeles Downtown – with his partner Temil Marmon who was an experienced realtor. And he called this company a product of “marriage” between traditional real estate industry and traditional hospitality services.

Six years before founding SkyCorporate, Marmon owned a 22-unit apartment building and signed 12-month leases to tenants in one business district of New Mexico, where few local people tended to live or extend leases. So he started looking for a change. Almost at the same time, Mayben, had spent 25 years in travel services, started looking for a challenge.

“I mean real estate is very fragmented. That reminds me of travel service was three decades ago,” Mayben said. “I saw it’s getting ready for change. I don’t really want to be a part of the old-school business model, which is typically brokerage, whether it’s commercial or residential.”

[Read more…]

Swells in cell phone business

With a growing number of cell phone repair stores in Los Angeles, how do they grasp their competencies, how do they survive, when new technology updates and brings new phones to the market every year?

In a 1500-square-foot store on South Figueroa Street in Los Angeles, Nathan Kim sat in front of his work station all alone, covering his eye with a head loupe magnifier and installing the last tiny round widget on the back of an IPhone screen. As soon as he finished up, he put the screen aside, away from the pile of different brass and gray widgets sprawled all over the desk.


Nathan Kim, owner of LA iPhone Repairs

Kim opened the iPhone repair store after he graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor’s degree in computer science. Seeing the fast updates and replacements in the cell phone market, many people like Kim were attracted by the potential profits and opened phone repair service stores.

In L.A., there are about 40 similar stores searchable on Google Maps. Some stores try to keep their locations concealed. Some of them run in apartment complexes; others provide door-to-door services by making appointments with repairers via phone or Craigslist (a classified advertisements website).

“They are doing home business without a proper license,” Kim said when he found an “iPhone screen repair” service on Craigslist. “This only costs $39 to fix a screen, while I charge $65.


Kim’s working station. Electronic Registration certificate hanged in front of this desk.

“If there is any problem, they won’t be responsible for that, and their customers will become the victims.” The license he referred to was an Electronic Registration certificate issued by DCA (Department of Consumer Affairs), which hung in front of his work station.

Cutting the cost and keeping the business small but efficient are the core strategies for most store owners. Running the store in an apartment would be less nerve-wracking and probably cost less money than subletting a commercial property. Having only one or three people running the store would also allow each person to take home a larger share of the pie. Also, finding good retailers to supply continuously with cheap phone parts would help a lot.

Regardless the labor cost during repairs, phone parts suppliers have the greatest power of controlling the prices. “When the iPhone 5 was first released, the part (screen) cost about 180 bucks. Now it’s 80 bucks,” Kim said.

Every time a new phone came out, large demand would promptly cause the suppliers to lower the prices of the old phones’ parts. Particularly, the value adjusted a lot when iPhone 5 was released.

“There was a mass production of them (iPhone 5 parts) – the screens, the back plates, the batteries. Everybody needed them. Everything was super cheap,” said Herbert Reyes, the owner of All Wireless World located at East Hollywood. “Repair, that’s the best thing (to earn profits).”


Screen replacement for phones of different brands @ Kim’s LA iPhone Repairs

China, the world’s factory floor, has become the biggest supplier behind these dispersed phone repair stores in L.A. “They (parts and accessories bought from Chinese retailers in L.A.) are pretty much the same quality you will get for $35 from somewhere else,” he said.

Purchasing large amounts of parts will give buyers cheaper prices than buying a single part. Thus, the cheaper prices the store owners could get from retailers, the cheaper prices they would sell to their customers. Kim offered the customers discounts depending how the prices vary. Reyes chose a new path by providing a customer discount once they did a check-in or a review on Yelp (an online service to provide consumers with information about local businesses). He would also evaluate the prices offered by the others on Yelp, and then lower his price $5 to $10 below than the average price.

The phone repair business is extremely competitive in L.A., which forces many business owners to compete with the lowest price that they can offer. Most business owners are confident and positive about their competencies.

Since cell phones have become an essential needs for most people, customers who come into the stores mostly need to get their phones fixed as quickly as possible. Having a background in Computer Science and engineering, Kim said he knew the basic structure of the phone, which made him an experienced, fast phone-fixer.

“My customers tried to fix their phone in other places but they didn’t know how to fix it; they didn’t know how to fix water damages,” he said. “I’m pretty sure they will have some problems whenever there is a new phone coming out.”

When the iPhone 5, 5C or 5S first came out, Apple did not only upgrade their iOS systems and cover them with better-looking cases, it also changed their interior design, which made the phones easier to fix.

“The first time I opened an iPhone (4), it took me 4 hours to open it and 2 hours to close it,” Reyes said. “Now I can do it within 20 minutes. (The screen of) iPhone 5 is actually much easier to fix, because you don’t have to take everything apart.”

As iPhone 6 and 6 Plus have been released on Sept. 9, most of the business owners are unsure about what will they do if someone bring a broken 6 or 6 Plus to their stores. Reyes said he would contact his suppliers to make sure they had the parts, so that he could get prepared for any upcoming damages to these new phones.


Harbert Reyes’ All Wireless World and his employee.

“I will get myself an iPhone 6. And I will open it to see which part goes with which,” Kim said.

Regardless of dealing with technological difficulties, Reyes values customer services more than anything else. “As long as you do really good customer service, people will come to you,” he said. “There is a well-established strong connection between me and people.”

To make extra profits, many owners like Kim and Reyes expand their businesses by selling accessories, such as phone cases. “People will get a phone, and they will need accessories,” Reyes said. “There is always something to sell.”

Japan shows 96.34% correlation between alcohol consumption and household income

Alcohol has never been seen as essential as the bread and milk for people’s life. But for a long time, alcohol consumption has played an important part in some country’s economy, and in some ways, helped indicate the economic growth, employment issue, and even social problems.


Alcohol has never been seen as essential as the bread and milk for people’s life. But for a long time, alcohol consumption has played an important part in some country’s economy, and in some ways, helped indicate the economic growth, employment issue, and even social problems.

Anton Reed, from Washington and Lee University, used Figure-1 demonstrating a strong correlation (79.5%) between household alcohol consumption and GDP. When GDP decreased and fluctuated afterward, in response, alcohol expenditure also decreases.

1st graph:  %change in Income and %change in Alcohol Expenditures 2nd graph: Japan's Alcohol Expenditure and Average Annual Household Income

1st graph: %change in Income and %change in Alcohol Expenditures
2nd graph: Japan’s Alcohol Expenditure and Average Annual Household Income

And the statistic implies more, when it touches on the drinkers, the consumers. Figure-2 reveals a correspondent increase/decrease between alcohol consumption and income. And the statistical correlation is as high as 96.34%.

1st graph: %change in Income and %change in Alcohol Expenditures 2nd graph: Japan's Alcohol expenditure and Average Annual Household Income

1st graph: %change in Income and %change in Alcohol Expenditures
2nd graph: Japan’s Alcohol expenditure and Average Annual Household Income

Similar results showed up in the study commissioned by the European Brewing Sector regarding beer consumption in European countries. An article named It’s a Beer Recession by Jack Ewing illustrated how unemployment rate and the European debt crisis influenced people’s drinking habit. Figure-3 shows that the EU brewing sector suffered from a severe economic downturn from 2008 to 2010, when Europe’s economy fell down under the strike from the U.S. Great Recession. People became pessimistic of European economy, and both government revenues as well as employment in brewing sector fell dramatically.

Developments in the Impact of the EU brewing sector 2008-2012

Figure-3 Developments in the Impact of the EU brewing sector 2008-2012

Along with that, in Figure-4, beer consumption decreased by nearly 9%, and the value of beer market and production also responded in the same way.

Developments in the EU brewing sector 2008-2012

Figure-4 Developments in the EU brewing sector 2008-2012

Ewing pointed out that “…the employment in the beer industry fell by 12 percent, or 260,000 jobs, the study said…Job losses can exacerbate the debt crisis because unemployed people typically collect benefits rather than pay taxes. When beer consumption declines, governments also collect less sales tax on beer sales.”

On top of Japan and European countries, China, considering its successful and tremendous alcohol market, also showed a trace of the relationship between alcohol consumption and economic growth. According to Consumer Trends: Wine, Beer and Spirits in China released by Manitoba government, off-trade* sales make up 80% of spirit sales in China, and the total expenditure increased by 7%. At the same time, the volume of on-trade spirits decreased from 2008 to 2009, because of reduced expenditure on entertainment during hard economic times.

Beer consumption in the world (billion liters), 1961-2007

Figure-5 Beer consumption in the world (billion liters), 1961-2007

Also, Felix Salmon from Reuters showed Figure-5 demonstrating a boost of beer consumption in China, as the broken line tilts up after 1977. Comparing beer consumption after 1995 with Figure-6, the statistic reveals a corespondent increase in both values. Salmon explained that, “what we’re seeing here is largely the China effect — and, more generally, a world where poor people, once they reach a certain minimum income, start hitting the hops.”

China's Minimum Wages in Shanghai and Beijing

Figure-6 China’s Minimum Wages in Shanghai and Beijing

Thus, from the above cases, we may see that once the country is in recession, the unemployment rate goes up, then people’s drinking money shrinks, then the alcohol consumption decreases. So if people want to know how a country’s economy looks like, they may take a look at its alcohol market, unless it doesn’t have a strong culture of drinking.

For an endnote, what’s interesting but opposite to the alcohol index is that, in the U.S., alcohol consumption goes up even when the economy goes down. Michael French from University of Miami found that binge drinking increased with a rise in the state-level unemployment rate. Driving while intoxicated and alcohol abuse and dependence also increased for both genders and across ethnic groups. This has been said that alcohol index is not enough for us to peep into one country’s economy.


*On-trade = alcoholic beverages sold in restaurants, bars etc.
 Off-trade = alcoholic beverages sold in retail stores