Thursday, March 29, 2007


I just returned from Sofia, Bulgaria, and what was my first trip to Eastern Europe, so I was not quite sure what to expect.

First It goes without saying that our team of developers there is incredibly talented and dedicated. They are passionate about the work and were a pleasure to meet with. I'm grateful for the hospitality they showed me.

I was eager to taste the cuisine of Bulgaria -- though people struggled to name many dishes that are truly Bulgarian (and not, say, Turkish) other than various dishes and drinks featuring yoghurt , which I found was first discovered by the ancient Bulgars in the region. I especially enjoyed a dessert made with yoghurt, honey and walnuts.

From what I can tell the city is an interesting mix of Old World Communism attitudes and architecture and New World capitalism. It seems to be going through growing pains and trying to find its way, which it undoubtably will. There are a lot of abandonned Communist-style concrete factories and office building everywhere and new apartment buildings being built in between the ruins.

Western High-Tech is taking advantage of the skilled local workforce, with HP and Microsoft among others setting up shop recently. A gleaming new terminal at Sofia's small but substantial airport welcomes you. It's very new. Lots of stores aren't open yet.

The U.S. State Department has recently finished a new embassy in Sofia near our office - built in the new style -- set back from the road, surrounded by steel, very few windows and no doubt lots of technology. The hole dug for the foundation I'm was told was massive.

The Dow Jones office is in a small flat in an unmarked appartment building (no company name anywhere "for security reasons").

The Rule of Law is seems to an outsider somewhat arbitrary. People seem to drive and park however they wish. If you want to prevent people from parking on your sidewalk in Sofia you apparently put up steel pilons. Walking to the office was a bit of an obstacle course around parked and moving cars. And there is a bit of a laid back attitude. I was amused and scared by one of our cab drivers who was watching his TV mounted next to his steering wheel as he was driving.

Heads of companies are routinely killed in the street by precision rifle shots, I hear, because they run up debt and can't pay. This is backed up by the CIA World FactBook which states "corruption in the public administration, a weak judiciary, and the presence of organized crime remain" are the biggest economic chllenges for Bulgaria.

I'm sorry I couldn't stay longer to see the countryside. I'm told the mountains and the sea are beautiful. Ah, a reason to return.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Clare Hart describes how the Dow Jones brands fit together

Robert Scoble sat down with Clare Hart, former CEO of Factiva and current EVP of the Enterprise Media Group at Dow Jones (my employer). It's a basic "so what does Dow Jones do?" kind of interview (with a minimalist Podtech office setting), but Clare does her usual great job of summing up our essence.

Scoble seemed pleased with having a chance to interview a thought leader like Clare, but his starting the interview with his trademark "So, who are you?" is always a bit jarring.

Other posts on it from Jeremiah and Daniella.