Sturgeon Farming in South Korea

A blog about business and economics.
May 11 2012 4:00 PM

Sturgeon Farming in South Korea

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Beluga sturgeon

Wikimedia Commons

Really great New York Times article about a guy who bought some sturgeon from Russia and now a mere fifteen years later has a working caviar aquaculture business running in South Korea.

It strikes me any time you read a real account of a true business innovator the extent to which key decisions are not dictated by anything like an expected value calculation of return on investment. The prospects for this business were so utterly dominated by impossible-to-calculate uncertainty rather than quantifiable risk that clearly nobody ever would have done if business investment was really driven by risk/reward calculations. But that's not a special feature of the sturgeon farming industry, it's a general feature of any effort at long-term investment or even moderately imaginative new strategies. The guy obviously had some reason to believe it would be possible to make money doing this, but on some other level he just for whatever reason really wanted to bring caviar production to Korea. He felt a passion for it, so he did it.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.

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