Alibaba, often described as the Amazon.com of China, wants to sell stock to the public. This morning, there's news that the company's negotiations to file for an initial public offering on the Hong Kong exchange have broken down. Now Alibaba is gearing up to do its IPO in New York instead.
The BBC's Linda Yueh joins Marketplace Morning Report host David Branaccio to discuss.
Click the audio player above to hear more.
The erotic literary sensation Fifty Shades of Grey has now spawned… wine. Specifically wines with names and taglines that conjure up bedroom imagery. Just when you thought you had a break from the paraphernalia (cookbooks, lingerie, etc.) before the movie comes out next summer…
A statement from author EL James: “Wine plays an important role in Fifty Shades of Grey, adding to the sensuality that pervades a number of scenes. I’ve always had a penchant for good wine, so combining two of my passions to blend Red Satin and White Silk was a natural extension of the series.”
Indeed, James blended Red Satin (Petite Sirah and Syrah) and White Silk (Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc) herself, and teamed up with California winemakers for production. Bottles can already be purchased online and will come to other retailers in October.
The FDA currently regulates medical devices. But what happens if that medical device is your smartphone?
So far, the nearly 100,000 mobile healthcare apps on the market have sat in a regulatory gray zone. But this week, the FDA announced its final decision on which kinds of apps it will monitor.
The FDA is going to regulate programs that do things like EKG measurements, or monitoring your insulin levels. Lauren Fifield is a Senior Health Policy Advisor at Practice Fusion. And for her, the FDA's definition of which apps get regulated was refreshingly straightforward.
“If it acts like a duck, if it walks like a duck, if it quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck,” she says. "If it acts like a medical device, then it should probably be treated like a medical device.”
Producers of apps that do non-invasive things, like remind you to take your pills or count your calories, can now move forward without having to worry about FDA regulations. Fifield and others say this clarification is good for the industry.
“In terms of lightweight information management tools,” says healthcare and tech investor Esther Dyson, “I think it's going to be marvelous.”
Dyson imagines it won't be long until apps can do noninvasive blood sugar tests -- not for medical purposes, but just for the patient's own understanding.
“Just to see the impact of eating the doughnut versus eating cottage cheese with strawberries,” she says, “can be tremendously helpful to people trying to figure out how their bodies work and how to treat them better.”
Laurence Baker is an economist at Stanford. He says even the companies that face FDA regulations should be relieved. At least now the expectations are clear.
“A lot of folks,” he says, “who have been sitting there saying, 'Well, we're not sure so we'll wait a little longer,' they get some clarity and they can make their plans and move forward.”
Baker says the push for new medical apps is only going to grow in the coming years.
For the first time since the Great Depression, private U.S. companies and even hedge funds can advertise when they are trying to raise money. Advertise to millionaire investors, that is, thanks to new Securities and Exchange Commission rules for the 2012 JOBS Act.
How are they doing it?
“We’re gonna start working on our own website, and then spread naturally from there into social media,” says Rick Field, founder of artisanal pickle company Rick’s Picks in New York.
He chomps down on one of his new kosher organic pickles as he speaks. Boxes of smoked paprika pickled okra -- 'Smokra' -- are stacked behind him.
To do the actual fundraising, the company has a web page on a site called CircleUp, which both connects companies with investors and certifies those investors (SEC rules still require potential investors to be ‘accredited’, meaning they are worth $1 million or more or make more than $200,00o a year).
“This is indeed the wild west,” says Fields. He says he’s being deliberate about how to raise awareness of his CircleUp page and his plan to raise $1.4 million.
“You have one chance to make a first impression -- a glib 140-character posting on Twitter might be a little bit inappropriate whereas a thoughtful carefully worded posting on Facebook might be just right.”
Rory Eakin, CircleUp’s COO, says it’s important to remember that while private companies can advertise anywhere, only accredited investors can actually throw in money.
“So it’s not very cost effective for startups to have a large advertising campaign when they’re trying to reach a very small portion of the population,” he says.
Kevin Laws, COO of AngelList, a startup services company that focuses on tech firms, adds that at least in the case of more complex tech companies, “We have not seen yet startups shouting from the rooftops or taking out billboards or anything like that.”
In Silicon Valley, he says, companies are tweeting to their moneyed followers and putting out the word on social networks full of investors. But advertising too broadly can look bad.
“People don’t just say, ‘Hey, we’re fundraising,’ and put their plea everywhere. That’s kind of like begging for money. It’s not really fundraising,” he says. “That says, ‘I couldn’t raise money among those who actually know what I’m about so I have to go to people who don’t.’”
That’s not the case as much for non-tech companies. CircleUp’s Eakin says consumer-product companies may well use their product itself to fundraise.
“Putting a sticker on their product packaging or including offerings at a farmers’ market or other potentially engaged audience, there’s a whole host of new ways that companies can start that conversation,” he says.
And there may well be even more: True mass marketing could begin next year, when regulators are expected to let private companies ask any American for investment.
One of the most despised in-flight rules may be lifted this week. If all goes according to plan, the FAA will allow passengers to use offline electronic devices during take-off and landing -- that means watching a movie on your iPad or reading a book on your Kindle would be fair play.
Where did this rule even come from? Molly Wood, executive editor at CNET and host of CNET’s Always On, says it came from a legitimate place before morphing into something outdated. On older planes with unshielded wiring, it is possible for certain wireless devices to interfere with a pilot’s communication efforts, but that doesn’t apply to an iPhone on airplane mode.
“To be honest, flight attendants and pilots report that at least a third, if not more, of people on every plane just forget to turn off their phones,” she says.
CNET’s Molly Wood joins Marketplace Tech Host Ben Johnson to discuss. You can watch her latest episode of Always On here.
The settlement with former players who were suing the league for not bearing responsibility for the damage done by head injuries, included the provision that the NFL would not have to open its internal documents about traumatic brain injuries to the public. Frank Deford says the league owes kids that information.