National / International News

A look back at Steve Ballmer

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:25

When Steve Ballmer became the CEO of Microsoft in 2000, he became the closest thing tech had to a King and he had a big personality to prove it.

He was knon for his enthusiastic appearances at developers conferences and trade shows -- all 6-foot-5 of him -- running across the stage, jumping and screaming

Back then, the PC ruled in the consumer -- and office markets -- and Microsoft owned that screen with its Windows operating system and "Word." 

Kartik Hosanagar is a professor at the Wharton School of Business. He says, it's worth remembering that Microsoft was so powerful that the government launched an anti-trust investigation. At issue: whether Microsoft was creating a monopoly by bundling Internet Explorer into its windows operating system. And icing out competitors like Netscape.

"In fact the whole anti-trust investigation was around whether we should break up Microsoft because it had become so powerful that nobody could take on Microsoft," says Hosanagar.

Microsoft settled the case and of course, that turned out to be untrue. In large part, because Ballmer failed to see the radical changes that were to come.

"Steve Ballmer was not aggressive in trying to move Microsoft to other devices or non-windows operating systems," says Michael Cusamano, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

While Microsoft was focusing on the desktop, Google was taking over the web and Apple remade itself into a mobile powerhouse. In 2007, when Apple introduced the iPhone Ballmer couldn't have been cockier.

"Five hundred dollars? Fully subsidized with a plan, I said that is the most expensive phone in the world," said Balmer in an interview in 2007, "And it doesn't appeal to business customers because it doesn't have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine. "

Of course, the iPhone was a pretty good email machine. And more important, with its app store, it turned out to be a whole lot more.

"He's not the technology guru, he really is a manager," says Cusamano.

Cusamano says to be fair, if you look at Microsoft's balance sheet, Ballmer did a good job as a business manager. In the last decade, Microsoft's revenue has tripled and it rung up $18 billion dollars in sales last year.

But there's a growing recognition that being a good businessman doesn't make a good tech CEO. He says, in tech, things move so fast that you really need a visionary who can forsee -- and shape -- the future.

Doubt and reassurance

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:23
BP raises questions over Scotland referendum

Llandow industrial fire was accident

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:22
A huge blaze at a Vale of Glamorgan industrial estate that burned for more than two weeks started accidentally, investigators say.

Four sports lose Olympic funding

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:18
Basketball, synchronised swimming, water polo and weightlifting have their Olympic funding withdrawn by UK Sport.

VIDEO: Video emerges of Pacific 'castaway'

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:15
Video footage emerges of a fisherman who claims he spent 13 months adrift in the Pacific after setting sail from Mexico.

Microsoft names Satya Nadella as new CEO

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 07:04

The Microsoft Board of Directors made it official: A Microsoft insider will now run the company. As has been telegraphed in recent days, the new CEO is 46 year old Satya Nadella, who's been running Microsoft's so-called Cloud Services. Colin Gillis, senior technology analyst at BGC Partners, joined us to discuss the move.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the whole interview.

'Secret Contacts' Reported Between Afghan President, Taliban

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:50

President Hamid Karzai has balked at signing a security agreement with the U.S. According to The New York Times, representatives of the Taliban and Karzai have been in contact about a peace deal. It's thought Karzai may not want to sign the deal with the U.S. while he's talking to the Taliban.

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To-do list for Microsoft's new boss

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:41
A to-do list for Microsoft's new boss Satya Nadella

Will Microsoft's new CEO be able to satisfy investors?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:38

There's word this morning that a long-time Microsoft man will become the company's new chief executive, Satya Nadella. Founder Bill Gates is stepping down as chairman, but he'll still be around, as a resident technology expert. Significantly, the outgoing CEO, Steve Ballmer will stay on the board. In a statement, 46 year old Nadella said "The opportunity ahead for Microsoft is vast, but to seize it, we must focus clearly, move faster and continue to transform."

Robert Bontempo, a professor at the Columbia Business School, joined us to discuss the move. Click play above to hear more.

Microsoft Picks Insider Nadella As CEO; Gates Takes New Role

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:30

Satya Nadella has been with Microsoft since 1992. Most recently, he led the company's "cloud and enterprise" group. Bill Gates, Microsoft's co-founder, will no longer be the company's chairman. He's going to be a "technology adviser" to Nadella.

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How healthcare reform aims to control healthcare inflation

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:28

America's new health insurance system, while improving, is still not up to snuff. And the rate of people signing up for coverage in the new insurance marketplaces is still lower than forecast. But one thing that has gotten lost in the debate around healthcare are signs that the costs of care, healthcare inflation, might just be moderating. Marketplace's economics guy, Chris Farrell, joined us to discuss.

Click play on the audio player above to hear more.

8 Things Worth Knowing About Microsoft's New CEO, Satya Nadella

NPR News - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:25

He's hyper-educated and his background is in the cloud. Learn more about the Indian-American Microsoft veteran who became the third CEO in the company's 38-year history.

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Market recap: Corrections

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:14

After dropping two and a quarter percent yesterday, the S&P 500 will start the day down nearly six percent for the year so far. The Dow is down 7 percent since New Year's eve. We talked to Sam Stovall, Chief Equity Strategist at S&P Capital IQ for a consultation.

Click play on the audio player above to hear the interview.

Greenland glacier hits record speed

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:10
A river of ice in Greenland has become the fastest-flowing glacier currently known in the world, a study suggests.

Facebook asked to change Paper name

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:06
Facebook is challenged over the name of its new app Paper by a firm with an app of the same name.

Congress holds hearing on army recruiting fraud

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 06:03

Today on Capital Hill, the Financial and Contracting Oversight Subcommittee is holding a hearing on a massive criminal investigation related to an Army National Guard program called the Recruiting Assistance Program. After handing out more than $300 million in referral bonuses, there are allegations of widespread fraud within the Army.

The program was created back in 2005. There weren’t enough soldiers to meet the demands of Iraq war so the Army created the program boost recruitment by dolling out bonuses ranging from $2,000 to $7,500 for referrals.

Official army recruiters were not eligible for bonuses. But many are accused of using someone else’s name to sign up for the program.  Other officers allegedly used the names of people who were already enlisted to collect bonuses

In 2007 the company that the Army contracted to run the program, Docupak, alerted the Army to suspected cases of fraud but it appears that neither the Army nor the contractor had a system in place for preventing officers from claiming fraudulent bonuses.

The program was cancelled in 2012. There are at least 200 officers who remain under investigation. One guardsmen Xavier Aves was already convicted in June and sentenced to 57 months in prison after scamming the system for $244,000. This whole investigation is expected to drag on through 2016.

Cellar servant sentences increased

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 05:53
A couple who trafficked a 10-year-old girl to the UK and kept her as a servant for almost a decade have their sentences increased.

New tech calls for better batteries

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 05:45

This week, the wearable tech company Pebble launched it's app store, offering downloads like Yelp notifications that will appear on your smartwatch. But there's a problem: Battery life. As wearable technology grows, our battery power will need to grow too.

We talked to our friend at CNET Lindsey Turrentine for some perspective. Click play above to hear the interview.

VIDEO: 'Ungentlemanly behaviour' in Tory vote

BBC - Tue, 2014-02-04 05:44
A Conservative MP deselected by her constituency association says it was "the result of some ungentlemanly behaviour" ahead of Friday's ballot in her Thirsk and Malton seat.

Where have manufacturing jobs gone?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2014-02-04 05:42

Most economists say factories are hiring fewer people because workers are so much more productive now, so you don’t need as many.  And workers are now using very sophisticated tools.

“If you cut something perfectly to plan with a laser, you don’t have to smooth off the edges with a file in order to make it look nice," IHS economist Mike Montgomery says.

There are other reasons for the fall in factory work, too, says Scott Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a group formed by manufacturers and the United Steelworkers. He says U.S. exports are down, even though we’re officially out of the recession.

“The dollar gains some steam in the aftermath of recessions," Paul explains.   "And that makes our exports less competitive.  It makes imports a little cheaper.”

Plus, Paul says, the economy is still underperforming.  He’d like to see a dose of government stimulus spending, which he says would goose the economy and get factories humming.  

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