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Inteliwise, Polish AI company, will go to NewConnect

Internet Standard published interview with CEO of Inteliwise, a Polish company which deals with AI technologies in search. On market since 2005.

The company plans to debut on NewConnect, a Polish stock exchange for high-tech companies.

I don’t have time to investigate it’s products at the moment, but the Company seems to understand what is most important for the AI:

Inteliwise avatar

A decent front-end.

Other thoughts: looks like an interesting company to watch (or even invest in).

Poland reduced unemployment rate faster than anyone

This according to Gazeta Prawna, which quotes Jan Rutkowski, economist at World Bank.

Unemployment fell from 20.7% in 2004 to 8.5% lately. Spain, apparently, took 20 years to lower their high jobless rate.

I made a nice chart about labor market once, maybe I should update it.

P2P lending on bootstrap – notes

Between burger and an ice cream in Hard Rock Cafe I jotted down notes from today’s bootstrap. I needed them in electronic form anyway. I wrote down stuff which seemed useful for me, so it’s not guaranteed to be complete.

This time it was in an unusual for boostrap form of a panel. Meeting took 3 hours, but I found it very interesting. Technical people might beg to differ, though, as tax/legal discussion was really exhaustive (exhausting).

I made some comments below in the notes, but here I can also share my “first impression” of the P2P lenders present. It is really first impression because I didn’t bother to check them myself, so some doubts below might be result of this.

  • Finansowo – approach to start as simple as possible, no collections or support in executing transactions between peers. The biggest risk is that some things that they ignore seem critical (collections).

  • Monetto (blog)- most advanced approach, ensured partners from the beginning, including bank (mBank) and collectors. The biggest risk is that they start with a very complicated machine that no-one will use.

  • Kokos – midway between the two, with the advantage that it is already up and running.

On a first glance I like Finansowo and Monetto, because they follow clear-cut concepts of simplicity and exhaustiveness, while Kokos was less clear, at least as much can be judged from the presentation, and also takes cautious approach regarding some legal challenges (e.g. possibility to grant anonymity and stick to electronic contract form).

(read more…)

Salaries quickly increasing, but for some quicker than for others

An article in Rzeczpospolita by Anna Cieślak. For some time I thought the income distribution would be getting more equal – it was an intuition based on the fact that many lower-paid jobs became understaffed, because people went to work abroad.

Construction workers, waiters, and others were in short supply and their salaries were raising fast. On the other hand, specialists are earning quite a lot already compared to the West, so there seems to be a smaller salary gap.

But the article suggests that the polar brackets of income are getting larger, meaning more people are earning both much less and much more than the average.

Share of people who earn 50% or less of an average salary increase to 19.9% in 2006, from 17.4% in 2002 and 13.4% in 1999.

On the other hand, share of people who earn 250% or more of an average salary increased to 3.8% in 2006 from 3.4% in 2002 and 3% in 1999.

However, the data is from 2006 and doesn’t reflect the latest revolution on the labor market due to emigration. The experts who are quoted say that the trend is actually against the low earners – these are specialists and middle-earners that are able to demand higher wages.

Also there is a note, though not elaborated, that taking into account non-labor income, the increase of discrepancies is now slower than before.

Wroclaw to Warsaw by PKP: over 7 hours

Wow, over 6.5h schedule, while already ridiculous, is still too little for PKP, so there was additional delay of 45 minutes.

This parody of railways is a shame to this country.

Warsaw Stock Exchange: record number of IPOs

63 IPOs this year, more than a record 1997. Importantly, it includes 8 foreign companies, and more are to debut till the end of this year. In Europe, WSE is second only to London market as far as number of IPOs are concerned.

And this not counting New Connect, a fast-track market for small but hot companies which opened in August and already lists 13 companies.

Poland edges towards stock-based development model (anglosaxon) instead of bank-centered (German), which I personally find very positive – more dynamism, openness and free market access to capital.

Education in Poland found better than in the UK

At least based on one small case study of a Polish boy, who after two years at British school, choose to return to Lodz. Average in Poland, he was considered a genius among UK peers and got tired of being “dumbed down”. Reported in Daily Mail.

I would have never expected that Polish education system would serve as a benchmark for any other country. But take one of the commenters in Daily Mail:

I’ve been teaching English in Poland for nearly 11 years now and can attest to the high standard of education here. My students know more about British history than I do and they’ve also read more of the British classics than I have. The system isn’t perfect – if cheating was an Olympic sport they’d take gold, silver and bronze – but it’s streaks ahead of the British system.

After school here kids don’t go home and veg out in front of the TV, they get extra lessons in English, French, or German, or in the run up to their “Matura” (high school leaving certificate) they can be found at the weekend getting private lessons in the sciences just so they can be sure of doing well and going on to the university of their choice.

Additionally, there are bilingual schools where pupils study the whole curriculum in French or English, or in some schools that aren’t completely bilingual, they offer certain classes, i.e. physics, in English. Can you imagine such a thing in the UK?

What’s best with it is that it’s totally true. Yet in Poland we’ve been complaining about education for ages.

The fall of the duck?

22:55. Initial results of the election are out.

Liberal Citizen Platform totally won. No word yet on split of seats.

Seems the great political strategist Mr. Kaczynski overengineered the strategy a bit and lost the elections.

Update: Nevetheless much better speech by J. Kaczynski. Except for conspirational beginning and bitter ending.

Poland votes

While two years ago there was a feeling of indifference to the elections, today there is a feeling of a quiet mobilization.

There were emails and then smses from friends, urging to go and vote.

And at the election office, when I at last found it today, there was a queue of people (voting today reminds me that I am officially citizen of Warsaw for two weeks already…)

It would be interesting how these feelings translate into the turnout number. At the moment it is known that at 10:30, 8.36% showed up, compared to 6.76% two years ago. Then, it’s almost 24% more. Since two years ago final turnout was 41%, if I remember correctly, I would bet today it should be something like 51%. Nevertheless I would hope for 55% or more.

Update: according to survey of 16:30, turnout is 28% higher than last time. Consequently final target would be 53%. Still not bad.

Update: 21:15. Gosh what a mess with the elections! But a smashing hit nevertheless! And I was correct about turnout in the morning, it is above 55%, a record result. Voting cards ran out. Some people abroad were not registered. Elections fail to close since 8pm and commission was delaying the closing every 20 minutes, but last time they said they cannot say when they will finally close. Till then, no surveys.

Update: 21:30. Delay till at least 23:00 because of screw-ups in Warsaw, where they ran out of cards and had to prolong voting. Guy from the election commission seemed already at the edge when he was trying to excuse this mess.

Update: 22:55. Results are out.

Empik vs Merlin

Note: this is about Polish online retailers.

I traditionally shop online at Merlin, but in this case, PJ Harvey’s “To bring you my love”, Merlin estimated delivery time for 20-40 days, so I decided to give Empik a try.

Empik.com said dispatch will take place in 3-5 days. I placed an order.

After 10 days, all I got was an email from Empik that they couldn’t complete the order for the lack of stock. But on the website they still advertise 3-5 days.

Ok, back to Merlin (I can wait after all). I placed an order.

After 6 days I got an email that delivery is ready for pickup.

Conclusion: hard to draw conclusion based on one case, but I expect no shopping in Empik for foreseeable future, or before they control their stock better.

Update: ok maybe it’s not one case after all, see for example here and here.

The Witcher

I didn’t expect to be inspired today, but I was, and the reason is a game called the Witcher. I’m inspired by things that happen in Poland that have the potential to break through and be successful not only domestically, but also globally. We need more of this kind of things (and I plan eventually to create one myself).

Witcher is considered to be the Polish most successful fantasy novel (a series of novels in fact). Also personally, I think it’s a world class writing. Not sure how it translates to English though. But for sure it is a killing in Eastern Europe, because even my Russian colleagues knew it.

Nevertheless, attempts to transfer the story into movie format have been embarrassing failures. Low budget crap you better avoid watching, not spoil the feeling of book.

But now, Atari is developing a game together with CD Projekt, and, to me at least, the preview feels spectacular. See here for trailer. And here for some gameplay.

Start of the preview summarizes key success factors of the Witcher:

  • Blood and gore
  • Partial nudity (this should in fact not be partial but maybe they had to tune down)
  • Strong language
  • Strong sexual content
  • Violence

Only for adults.

The premiere is on 26th of October.

Let’s hope for something like the Russian “Nightguard” kind of success.

Expo 2012 in Wroclaw: when we will know

After winning rights to host football championships in 2012, it would be just too perfect if we won also Expo 2012 in Wroclaw. The city would simply rocket. It’s quite hot already. If we won, even I would consider going back to work there.

Today I wanted to check when the decision is due.

According to Wroclaw?s expo site, delegates of the Bureau of International Expositions will vote in December. I?m counting on a nice Christmas gift.

Krakow wants to earn more than Warsaw

This according to the news from job market in Gazeta Wyborcza. Warsaw, on the other hand, came us unexpected second in salary expectations.

Another article provides some logic for optimism in Krakow. Thousand of jobs apparently wait for the unemployed, who are scarce, because unemployment in Krakow is the lowest in Poland, at merely 5.3%, compared 14.4% for the country.

DaimlerChrysler fiasco: Wroclaw to blame

At least according Washington Post article by Warren Brown:

Wroclaw, Poland This capital town of Poland’s southwestern province of Lower Silesia is one of the reasons the troubled nine-year relationship between America’s Chrysler Group and Germany’s Daimler-Benz , known as DaimlerChrysler during the years of merger, eventually fell apart.

It seems an improbable claim to make on a sunny spring weekend with crowds ambling through the picturesque Market Square in the old commercial district of Wroclaw.

My home city was chosen as an example of place with cheap labor, where all sensible car manufactures are migrating, causing demise of American companies like Chrysler. Article quotes unemployment figure of 18% in 2006. That might have changed a bit recently, though.

Euro 2012: now what

Poland together with Ukraine has won the right to host European football championships in 2012 (note to myself: apparently third largest sport event in the world. Must input in the supermemo to finally remember these sort of things). The victory is a rather unexpected, to say the least, as expressed in opening by beatroot:

But wait a minute…have UEFA been smoking too many Jamaican cigarettes, or something?

Who cares that there are no stadiums in Poland, it?s EUR 37b of investments, as press puts it. How successful the government will be in managing this and how impressive the final result will be is sort of a question, but now they have a sharp deadline, and they will have at least to be trying. And the press will have a stick to beat officials over any delays and screw-ups.

What optimistic part of me would want to see is for the event to be a tipping point for Ukraina?s orientation, making it look west rather than drift into Russia?s orbit. Maybe it?s naive but I would see the following reasons for it:

  • Providing words of support does not hurt, but now, finally, Ukraina is doing some very visible and economically significant project with Poland
  • The usage of EU funds in the process might hint Ukrainian politicians as to where to look for developing their country
  • Infrastructural investment will hopefully bridge the two countries more closely, in particular through new highways heading east, border passes, air connections, etc.
  • Together with easing the foreign labor regulations, it may increase the importance of economic links between Poland and the Ukraine

I didn?t have any chance to see exact investment plans, but I hope this will provide additional push for “right” direction across our Eastern border.

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