From the category archives:


Rumours of our death….

by Andrew Watson on 21 April 2014

Life is strange isn’t it? In fact I’d say that life is very strange.

I did something on Thursday that made me change my whole life perspective. Basically I walked past a homeless guy on the street and something, probably instinct, made me turn around. And, in a doorway was a guy who’d been living on the street for 3 months. The story is like the ones you hear about in somebody else’s newspaper: family fall out over a girl, parents won’t back down, he walks out and they totally remove his identity. And, without an identity, try getting a job!

Three days later he is safe, off the streets and piecing back together the inside of himself; the outside is quite easily fixable and was inside 24 hours and a few borrowed clothes and some CK One. I just don’t know how long the inside takes to fix or whether, indeed, it ever will.

It is totally renewing to do something like this. Crouch down to his level, look him in the eye and say “Hi, my name is Andrew, how can I help?”. Bright people will know all the steps of a project from there, sort out the immediate problem, gather resources and plan the first and immediate step. And expect to stumble a few times but learn from each one.

That is the high. A beautiful gift of an extraordinary and natural elevation of mood.

So then comes a little low as I get a call, on the same day, from one of our team at ipVA telling me that they have heard that I am moving to Madrid, that ipVA is closing down and that some people are going to resurrect it under a new name.

The first part is true. For many good reasons, mainly personal and related to having a large family, we have decided to swap rain for sunshine and are moving to Madrid. Does anyone else other than me need anything other than a laptop and an internet connection plus a great and loyal network and team to work nowadays? Oh, and integrity and trust, you’ll need those too! You don’t need the Vitamin D (is it D that you get from the sun?) but it’ll help me with my winter blues I guess.

From there though the story goes awry. ipVA, it turns out, has actually never been healthier. A bit of pruning and weeding has left a quite exquisite little garden, flowering and growing nicely. Projects are fun and the pipeline is strong, that’s not always the case in an early stage market. And a few new team members have really refreshed us and me. And, coming up to 10 years in I’m learning that delegation is not a bad word but perfection is.

Many rivers crossed and many lessons learned but an awful lot to look forward to. IP should be (1) intellectually challenging (2) fun (3) socially aware and focused (4) rewarding. We, now, are.

What is that phrase and who was it by? I’m going to say “Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated” and Mark Twain but that’s probably wrong.

What’s the other phrase, “What goes around comes around”. That one is true too.

My friend off the street is very well by the way. He’s safe, fed and clean. And, refreshed by that I bought lunch for three other guys on the street today. One of them grizzled at me when I asked his name. I asked him what he wanted for lunch and he said “A can of Tennants”.

He got Stella Artois. Even, or more specifically, especially the homeless deserve our respect. They’ve been reduced to animal status. And they still have dignity and class. Unlike the gossiping village fishwives.



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From Macs to iMacs

by Ruth Hennessy on 23 October 2013

From Macs to iMacs

ipVA’s holistic view of Intangible Assets, or IP, includes the creative thinking and knowledge of a business’ employees. What we term Human Capital forms a vital part of any company’s creative engine. A prominent recent example of this is Angela Ahrendts, who, on 15th of October, announced her plans to leave Burberry, a brand that she had steered from choppy waters right through to plain sailing. Ms Ahrendts had been with Burberry for almost a decade and is widely credited with transforming the company into a global fashion brand. Under her watch, the once footballer’s favourite was restored to its former glory, with Burberry’s share price quadrupling and pre-tax profits more than doubling during her tenure there.

However, Tuesday’s news that the 53-year-old American was jumping ship wiped six per cent off the value of Burberry shares. Within an hour of markets opening in London, Burberry’s shares were down. With the sell-off accelerating after US investors awoke to the news, the shares closed down off 121p at £14.64, off 7.6pc on the day.

Ms Ahrendts’ will move to Apple, where she will become senior vice president for retail and online store. This move has prompted widespread speculation throughout the fashion and technology industries – with many commentators asking, Why Apple? Why Now? Why Ahrendts?

Why Apple?

The technology giant has experienced considerable consumer fragmentation and diversification in the face of growing competition from Android. Recent developments at Apple – namely, the release of the 5S and 5C iPhone models – suggest that they are struggling to maintain their brand identity whilst competing in the rapidly evolving smartphone market. In order to recapture the cult – like following that Apple once had, the company needs a leader capable of not only telling stories with brands, but creating fervor like loyalty to iconic names, like Ahrendts did with Burberry, and like Paul Deneve (also recently recruited for “special projects” by Apple) did for Yves Saint Laurent.

Why Now?

This move has come at a time when the technology giant is experiencing an increasing demand for luxury products in Asia (hence the iPhone 5S) as well as the growing millennial segment with limited budgets (hence the iPhone 5C). The appointment of Ahrendts (and Deneve, for that matter), however, is believed to be linked to Apple’s development of the iWatch, a project in which “an understanding of fashion will be as important as the technology and engineering behind the product”.

Why Ahrendts?

Ahrendts is uniquely placed for this role as she has experience embracing technology and innovation and effectively fragmenting (and revitalizing) a brand that was once floundering. John Guy, an analyst at Berenberg bank in London, believes that Apple will be a good fit for Ahrendts – “She has always been incredibly focused on the digital side of the business,” said Guy. “If she was going to go anywhere from Burberry, it would be to that area.” ·

Ahrendts will have more control over Apple’s 400+ retail stores than her predecessor, former Dixons CEO John Browett. Browett was ousted – after just 9 short months at Apple – in October 2012. A leaked report claimed that Browett had tried to boost profit margins “at the expense of Apple Store employees and overall customer experience”, reports an Apple Insider.

Ahrendts will be the first female member of Apple’s ten-member executive team and is expected to report directly into Tim Cook, giving the company an executive female in a world increasingly obsessed with Sheryl Sandberg and Marissa Mayer, both of whom have been credited with breathing life into entities that seemed poised for decline. This positions Apple as much more gender-friendly and does wonders for the brand – something I am sure Ahrendts (whose £16.9m Burberry pay packet made her Britain’s highest paid CEO last year) is accutely aware of.

Ahrendts is considered unique within the fashion industry as she draws on her own strengths to put both customers and people (Human Capital) at the core of a business – something Browett failed to do. At Burberry, Ahrendts was able to create value on a global basis, using her intuition to focus the Burberry brand on the millennials and to create a connected culture that also joined employees together. Can she replicate this for the next phase of the Apple experience? With Ahrendts’ proven track record of utilizing corporate emotional intelligence to ensure sustainable competitive advantage, my guess is – Yes.


Apple “massively undervalued” or “on death row”-depends who you listen to…

August 14, 2013

Carl Icahn takes a substantial stake in Apple and claims that the company is massively undervalued. Larry Ellison appears to predict the death of Apple without Job’s guiding hand. Who’s right? or are neither? Icahn is an interesting chap. Above all he seems to spot value that others don’t. Even by taking his position, the […]

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Eric Schmidt answered my question!

August 9, 2013

In all the melee of the last 3 months I forgot to post about this quite (in the American sense of the word) significant bit of IP news and insight.  In May 2013, the London Business School invited Google Executive Chair Eric Schmidt to address an audience around the subject of a new book co-written […]

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Now the Nobel Prize winning community are pitching in-very poor Sledgehammer to crack a nut proposal

July 26, 2013

Is the expression “Sledgehammer to crack a Nut” used across the World? Or some variant of it? In Blighty (or the UK) it’s used to describe a solution to a problem that is somewhat excessive and out of context with the seriousness of the issue.  Like Nobel Prize winning but clearly Sledgehammer advocate Gary Becker. […]

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IPBC 2013-Monster Networking Event and the 90-10 split

June 12, 2013

Phew. 72 rumbunctious (love that word from Django) hours with the expanding IP community in Boston over. It went in a heartbeat but was a lot of fun. Boston (why do I keep on saying Bwosston in the style of Matt Damon from The Departed) is a special city.  Visiting Harvard on Sunday had to […]

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Barack Obama – IP Strategist

June 9, 2013

Regular readers of the Tangible IP blog will know that we do not look on NPEs, or “patent trolls,” favorably. They have the ability to significantly impede a company’s business, as they have nothing to lose and everything to gain from asserting patents. It seems that we are not alone in this view – “Stopping […]

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Smile, it’s Springtime

April 12, 2013

Been a while-time to come out of Winter hibernation I can get out of many good habits during the British winter, and this has been a particularly rotten one, so I’ve got out of the blogging habit. With temperatures hitting a heady 11° C in London today it seemed like a good time to get […]

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Hp and Autonomy appear to “ go to war” (or is Hp just laying down a smokescreen?)

November 27, 2012

 To follow up the post last week, I spent much of Sunday calmly and dispassionately looking through the facts and various commentaries surrounding the Hp and Autonomy dispute and thinking through two questions— What is really going on here? Are there any IP issues, where I can claim some insight and which are worthwhile commenting […]

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Hp and Autonomy–I feel a blog post coming on

November 22, 2012

It’s been a hectic few months and I’ve got out of the habit of blogging. There’s is much IP news around and some good informed debate (more of the former than the latter) but the Hp and Autonomy alleged accounting scandal caught my eye this week and seems worthy of debate. Noodling on the facts, here […]

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