Saturday, February 19, 2011

Audi A8L Protection - Safest luxury car that a civilian can buy? We think so

It is called a BRV (Bullet Resistant Vehicles) and they are as luxurious inside as they are safe.  They can withstand bullets, fire, explosions to a certain agree and should you come under attack; they have their own "communication boxes" that can pitch into back-up frequencies to ensure that you are rescued before you know it. Mercedes has one, BMW has a safer one, but now Audi is giving them a serious run for their ... niche market share!

I was a big fan of the new Audi A8 when it came out two years ago and was amazed when they pinnacled their top of the line model when they introduced the "A8L" model.  Here was an Audi I would not mind being chauffeured in.  I must say, in the past the Audi A8 gave me the impression of a luxury vehicle that the executive could drive themselves, but it was just not a car that a dignitary would want to drive if they had equal opportunity to get the more chauffeur friendly Merc S-Class or Bentley Continental. This all has changed.  

Audi, probably realized that they have a winner and that the dignitaries that like sitting in the back seat might need a more secure cabin.  As I write this, Egypt's revolt has just come to conclusion, but there are anti-government uprisings in Libya, Iran and Yemen.  Something tells me Audi has chosen the perfect time to launch an amoured "president-carrier!!" 

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Lifestyles of the Rich in times of a financial crisis.

Call it a credit crunch or a recession or whatever you like: It is upon us and it is here to stay for a while. It is becoming clearer that the market commentators have had it wrong; this current market downturn might take a bit longer to recover from than originally thought. Some say that the upswing might happen only in three years’ time and that all will be back to former glory in about five years.

Cutbacks, lay-offs and tighter budget control is now on the cards and now more than ever, employees, the media and the public is putting the lifestyles of the rich under a magnifying glass. Given the public outcry over Executive’s numeration packages after the collapse of Big Banking in Wall Street back in September/ October, you can expect that the elaborate spending habits of the Executives leading multi-national, publicly traded companies would be frowned upon.

Please note that this is not another doom-and-gloom article about tough times that are awaiting us; no in fact this article is the exact opposite. I do not know about you, but I am tired of reading such articles. This article comes from my great believe that there is a beautiful rainbow awaiting us at the end of it all.

I am feeling quite optimistic in spite of all these headlines. The USA has got a new leader that tells us “YES WE CAN”. So let’s do it: Let us weather the storm and come out clean on the other side. If lifestyles change because of this, then so be it. It will only create new opportunities for new entrepreneurs that will create new ventures, new companies, new hope and a new economy with less risky debt. All you have to do is just to be smart or be smart about it.

Being ‘smart about it’ is what this blog is going to be about from now on: The Lifestyles of the Rich in times of a financial crisis. It is going to be about how you should go about weathering the storm, adapt and come out smiling on the other side. The next couple of entries will be about the times we find ourselves in right now and how to be smart about it.

Friday, December 28, 2007

James Packer: Not Australia’s Richest Man anymore.

I regret not having reporting on James Packer before. Of all the richest men of a specific country, Australia’s former Richest Man used to be one of my favourites. Just look at this guy: If you see him, you would think he’s the bodyguard to a billionaire, not one himself.

James Packer inherited his roughly $5 Billion fortune from his father, Kerry Packer who passed away in 2005. In Aussie Billionaire-style, the Packer empire comprises of a media and entertainment empire. James took over from his father and become one of the youngest billionaires in the world. He recently made headlines with allegations of acts fraud in his company, but direct links to him and his management was never proven.

Today James Packer has his sights squared on Las Vegas and Macau (China’s Las Vegas). He was reported to looking at buying a $1.8 Billion stake in one of the Vegas Strip’s most popular Casinos.

But… today the news came that Andrew Forrest (left), billionaire founder of Fortesque Metals Group Ltd have been reported to pass Packer as the Land Down-Under’s Richest Man. According to a West-Australian Newspaper, gains in Fortesque’s stock has yet again proved that Metals and Resource owning Billionaires are laughing harder to the bank than the Entertainment/ Internet/ Software Billionaires. Case in point: 2007 has been a great year for Lakshmi Mittal (Steel) and Carlos Slim (Mexican Resources and Telecommunication). Both Billionaires have made huge gains on traditional Richest men like Warren Buffett and Bill Gates.

Billionaire Heiress: Marta Ortega-Perez

This is still one of my fav two subjects: Billionaires and their beautiful daughters. My previous post on this subject was extremely popular, so I have decided to highlight a few more “daughters-of –Inheritance”.

Forbes brought out their The 20 Most Intriguing Billionaire Heiresses – list. From this list, here is one lady that really got my attention: Marta Ortega Perez.

Marta is the daughter of Amancio Ortega, the Spanish Billionaire worth $24 Billion. Marta is currently being groomed to take over her father’s fashion empire with it’s prized jewel; the Zara Retail chain.

As with so many of the Billionaire Heiresses, Marta too is a passionate equestrian, but that is where the privileges end for her. She has to work her way up in the company… just like any other employee. She reportedly started in the Zara stores by restocking the shelves. Today she is in the company’s Marketing department.

I like that about her

Shamed Big Brother star, Jane Goody gets a £3 million diamond ring from Prince Azim of Brunei

Shamed Big Brother star, Jane Goody got a £3 million diamond ring from Prince Azim of Brunei earlier this month.

Jane Goody and our fav playboy prince, Prince Azim, got to know each other during the notorious Big Brother UK scandal that rocked the headlines earlier this year where Goody was accused of making racist remarks to famed Bollywood star Shipa Shetty. Goody and the Prince both shared the same opinion of the Bollywood star and made public statements to that extent. They have since met and became friends.

Apparently she refused the £3 million diamond ring when Prince Azim offered to her, but we all know that deep inside, she was going “Oh Goody!”

Lame joke, I know...

Saturday, July 21, 2007

J.K. Rowling day – Today July 21, 2007

That’s what I am calling today. And deservingly so: Today her seventh a final book in the very popular Harry Potter-series was released. This, and that the fifth Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix has been in the cinemas for a week now.

As an educated guess, I will say that today, more books will be sold than in any previous day in history. Last night thousands to millions of fans would have camped out in front of stores like Barnes and Noble to get there eager Muggle hands on the last Harry Potter book ever to be published: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Never in history has any other author been so successful and none so deserving. I did a lot of reading about her for this article and realised she is THE BEST RAGS-TO-RICHES STORY in the history of mankind.

In 1993 J.K. (Joanne) Rowling was living on a welfare grant of £69 (About $100 at the time) a week while calling a mouse-invested loft flat in Edinburgh, Scotland her home. Divorcee and mother of one, she struggled financially, but still persevered with her idea of a book about the life a boy wizard.

Her first Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s (Philosopher’s) Stone was seen a big gamble by her American publisher, Scholastic. They took her in in 1997 and their gamble paid off royally!

Today J.K. Rowling is ranked 48th in Forbes Celebrity 100 list 2007 and has a net worth of a cool $1 Billion. Warner Brothers has cashed in on the more than $5 Billion in movie ticket sales the five movies has generated and Mattel has grossed over $300 million in movie paraphernalia.
J.K. Rowling will say goodbye to the successful franchise after “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows” has been made into a movie, but the money will never cease to pour in. She has created an intellectual capital empire that is comparable to those created by The Beatles, Queen, Abba, U2 and George Lucas. Paramount Studios has even announced that a Harry Potter theme park will be opened in 2009!

Throughout, those close to her say that her ego has not taken control of her. She remains down-to-earth as a now mother of three. (Kids can do that to you…). The humility mst have been a product of her time spent defending the victims of human right abuses while working at Amnesty International; the job she held before becoming a full-time author.

Let July 21 2007 go down in the history books as J.K. Rowling day and as a great moment in publishing!

Surface Computers - Microsoft designed the next evolutionary step in computing

I have close to 14 blog articles which I have done the research for, but never actually took the time to write and publish them. But every now and again a story comes along that fascinates me so much, that I have to publish it immediately. This is such a story.

Microsoft is once again changing the face of computing: The latest evolutionary leap in computing. Ever watched the movie The Island with Scarlet Johansson and Ewan McGregor? In the movie the character that plays the director of the facility uses a “surface” / table computer. His desk becomes the computer, with “files” (computer files) scattered across the table. Just by touching the table and moving his fingers on it, he manipulates the files, type and operates the commands.

Well, Microsoft is making this all a reality.
Click here to watch the video clip of a demonstration of the product.

This is really fascinating! I can see that these tabletop/ “surface” computers will soon replace our standard desktop PC’s. Pretty soon, your computer will be bought in a computer retailer and also available in furniture shops! Bill Gates will once again become the richest man in the world. Rumour has it that Carlos Slim Helu now holds this position. I will report on this shortly...


Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Futuristic features of Luxury cars – Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus

I’m back. I’ve just finished moving into my new place. Stepping up. I’ve forgotten what a big task it is to move. It’s just not simply picking up your stuff, loading it up and moving. No, it’s a whole three weeks of small, time consuming small labour: Move this, fix that, buy this, install that. Admin, measuring and fitting, looking at options, schedules and unexpected expenses. But in the end, it’s all worth it.

So I have the privilege of living in a better neighbourhood now. My favourite thing about it is the neighbours’ cars! Expensive cars. I love seeing what they are driving. Looking… that’s all I can do right now, since all my money is going into my business and my new, huge mortgage.

To protect the privacy of my one neighbour, let’s call him Andrew. Andrew drives a 2007 Lexus LS460. I’ve personally never been a big fan of Lexus, till I had a chat with Andrew. The features of this car are astounding!

And that is where I’m heading with this article: The astounding, mind-boggling technological marvels that the car manufacturers are building into their cars today. Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus are leading the feature race. Just have a look at these innovative features that are in cars already and those soon to be launched:


Audi have manufactured the world’s fastest, smoothest, commercially available gearbox: The S-Tronic. It consists of 2x 3 speed gearboxes and 2 clutches. When you take off, transmission one is in first gear and transmission two is in second. When it’s time to change gears, S-Tronic uses the clutches to swap transmissions and gear changes happen in an unprecedented eight milliseconds! There is just no way you’ll be able to feel the gear changing, never mind loosing power during gear shifts!


Car-to-car Comm: This feature baffles me a bit. It sounds like the first sign that cars will be driving themselves in the near future. The future generation of Mercs will all be connected through a multi-car network: Their own little Intranet. This apparently opens up several possibilities. For example: Your new E-Class will receive a message from a SLK further down the highway that the traffic is backed up and will warn you to consider an alternative route. Wow. The cars are talking to one another! The next thing you know, they will not be doing their job, because they are IM’ing love letters to one another! This feature is reported to be launched in 2009.


Lexus has gone out of their way to pack their flagship model, the LS460 with the coolest features on the market. They are well working towards taking human error out of driving.

Advanced Obstacle detection and Driver Monitoring: Note… “driver monitoring”. They do not only manage the car; they manage you. All the new luxury cars have sensors on the front and the back, detecting the distance between you and the car in front of you. Now Lexus’ and Mercedes-Benz’s will actually assist in braking the car if you don’t do so early enough. But the Lexus will actually detect where you are looking at! If you are distracted by the sexy billboard of Scarlett Johansson next to the road, the Lexus will detect that you are not focusing on the traffic and the car will raise an alarm and start braking for you to prevent a collision.

Advanced Parking Guidance System (APGS): This upcoming feature to the Lexus LS460 is for all the people, like me, who hate to parallel park. Never again will it be a problem in the LS460. With this feature, all you have to do is align your Lexus next to the open space, press a button on the dashboard and watch the car park itself! Wow. Amazing, right? The car will detect the space you want to park in and actually manoeuvre itself into that space!

If you are still not convinced that cars will start to drive itself in a short while, I just don’t know. Just look at the evidence: We’ve got cars parking itself, braking itself, cars talking to one another and changing gears without you feeling it. Pretty soon we will be spectators to cars driving themselves!

Not me however. This move will keep me financially unstable for a while, while I still drive my 2003 medium sedan. I won’t be buying a new car anytime soon. That’s unless Prince Azim actually reads my blog and decide to change my fate!

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Brands - The most expensive thing you can buy - Interbrand Rankings

So three of my colleagues and I were stranded in the waiting lounge at Heathrow airport on Sunday, waiting for our plane to board. And we were bored. So I showed them my blog and we started talking about the theme. We talked about what the mega rich can buy with all that money and the subject changed to the most expensive stuff in the world. I told them about Updown Court, Lakshmi Mittal’s house and what the prices are on Gulfstreams and Mega Yachts.

Then Charl, our South African colleague raised an interesting point. These tangible luxuries are NOT the most expensive stuff a billionaire can acquire. They are mere fractions in comparison to the most expensive item you can buy: A brand.

The top brands in the world are worth billions. They are merely a design with brand value connected to it: Totally intangible. This made me go and look at the Interbrand ranking list again. I used their rankings in my studies at university and almost forgot what an interesting read it actually is. For that reason, I’m posting the 2006 ranking for you guys. As far as I know, the 2007 rankings have yet to be announced.

Billionaires’ worth are actually in large part comprised of a brand’s worth. Donald Tump’s name is so valuable, that it could sell almost any piece of property. So when they measure his net worth, they factor in what his brand name is worth. This is NOT money in the bank though: He has to sell that brand before he can see it in his bank account.

Interesting, right? These brands can be worth as much as $67 billion. Take Microsoft: And you wonder why Bill Gates is so rich? Take Warren Buffett as an example. He has a stake in Coca-Cola and Budweiser, two of the brands in the top 100. Billionaires get richer, the more people value their brands. Look at Louis Vuitton. Their monogram designs have catapulted them into top 20.

So forget the $200 million mega yacht, the $130 million house and $100 private jet. Or even the $70 million private island. Go and buy a multi-BILLION dollar brand!

The Interband ranking list for 2006. Just see which brand made the top 100.

Rank, Brand $million
1 Coca-Cola 67,000
2 Microsoft 56,926
3 IBM 56,201
4 GE 48,907
5 Intel 32,319
6 Nokia 30,131
7 Toyota 27,941
8 Disney 27,848
9 McDonald’s 27,501
10 Mercedes 21,795
11 Citi 21,458
12 Marlboro 21,350
13 Hewlett-Packard 20,458
14 American Express 19,641
15 BMW 19,617
16 Gillette 19,579
17 Louis Vuitton 17,606
18 Cisco 17,532
19 Honda 17,049
20 Samsung 16,169
21 Merrill Lynch 13,001
22 Pepsi 12,690
23 Nescafé 12,507
24 Google 12,376
25 Dell 12,256
26 Sony 11,695
27 Budweiser 11,662
28 HSBC 11,622
29 Oracle 11,459
30 Ford 11,056
31 Nike 10,897
32 UPS 10,712
33 JPMorgan 10,205
34 SAP 10,007
35 Canon 9,968
36 Morgan Stanley 9,762
37 Goldman Sachs 9,640
38 Pfizer 9,591
39 Apple 9,130
40 Kellogg’s 8,776
41 Ikea 8,763
42 UBS 8,734
43 Novartis 7,880
44 Siemens 7,828
45 Harley-Davidson 7,739
46 Gucci 7,158
47 eBay 6,755
48 Philips 6,730
49 Accenture 6,728
50 MTV 6,627
51 Nintendo 6,559
52 Gap 6,416
53 L’Oreal 6,392
54 Heinz 6,223
55 Yahoo! 6,056
56 Volkswagen 6,032
57 Xerox 5,918
58 Colgate 5,633
59 Wrigley’s 5,449
60 KFC 5,350
61 Chanel 5,156
62 Avon 5,040
63 Nestlé 4,932
64 Kleenex 4,842
65 4,707
66 Pizza Hut 4,694
67 Danone 4,638
68 Caterpillar 4,580
69 Motorola 4,569
70 Kodak 4,406
71 adidas 4,290
72 Rolex 4,237
73 Zara 4,235
74 Audi 4,165
75 Hyundai 4,078
76 BP 4,010
77 Panasonic 3,977
78 Reuters 3,961
79 Kraft 3,943
80 Porsche 3,927
81 Hermés 3,854
82 Tiffany & Co. 3,819
83 Hennessy 3,576
84 Duracell 3,576
85 ING 3,474
86 Cartier 3,360
87 Moet & Chandon 3,257
88 Johnson & Johnson 3,193
89 Shell 3,173
90 Nissan 3,108
91 Starbucks 3,099
92 Lexus 3,070
93 Smirnoff 3,032
94 LG 3,010
95 Bulgari 2,875
96 Prada 2,874
97 Armani 2,783
98 Burberry 2,783
99 Nivea 2,692
100 Levi’s 2,689

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Turtle Island, Fiji - Heaven on Earth

Okay, so my girlfriend is putting a squeeze on me: She saw the following You Tube clip and now wants to experience “heaven on earth”. She showed me the clip and while I said, “It will be perfect for my blog”, she said “Yes, but its time you treat me to something like this”. Woman!

It does seem perfect: The perfect Holiday destination. Like I said in one of my previous posts, my ultimate fantasy is to own my own private island one day. But for now, I might just lok into visiting this beautiful island for a well deserved break.

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