Marketplace - American Public Media

Science Inc. gives startups their big break

Mon, 2015-07-27 12:40

Since serving as CEO of the website Myspace, Mike Jones has spent his time as an angel investor. He says, “When I looked at my track record as an angel, I felt that there was this huge discrepancy between the number of investments and the number of successes I had had.”

So naturally, he raised $10 million and started the company Science Inc., which helps startups from the ground up.

We’ll work with you on strategy, product — if you need developers, we’ll provide technology. If you need designers, we’ll provide great design resources. And then when you’re ready, we’ll go bring you up to Silicon Valley. We’ll help you get funded, we’ll join your board and we’ll be with you for the entire length of your company.

What separates Science Inc. from similar companies is its location in L.A., on Silicon Beach: 

My primary network is here in L.A. For me, that means that I have great access to talent. I can find great people to come work at these businesses, and we also have strong ties to Silicon Valley, so when we have a break out company, we can pair them with the best investors in Silicon Valley. 

Though Science Inc. is located in L.A., the reliance on Silicon Valley is strong: 

The weight that Silicon Valley carries in technology, it’s second to none. There’s Silicon Valley and there’s everywhere else. And we might be in the top of the ‘everywhere else’ category, but we’re not even close to the infrastructure that Silicon Valley provides for the technology businesses.

Jones says it’s not about competing with Silicon Valley, but rather making Los Angeles a welcoming place for startups. He thinks that “we need bigger and bigger companies that will create more wealth in Los Angeles, that will provide more returns back to those investors and then create a larger ecosystem of early stage investment.”

 

What's Silicon Beach?

Mon, 2015-07-27 12:17

We've heard of Silicon Valley and its New York counterpart, Silicon Alley, but there's a growing group of startups based out of Venice — a.k.a. Silicon Beach. We traveled down there to talk with a few CEOs about the Los Angeles–area tech scene, and we'll be airing those conversations through the rest of the summer. Here's a preview. 

Journalist tries to take the polish off an NYT series

Mon, 2015-07-27 09:40

A New York Times series that unveiled harsh working conditions in New York City nail salons is eliciting criticism from a former Times writer about the report’s methodology.

Times reporter Sarah Maslin Nir spoke to more than 150 nail salon workers and owners for a two-part investigation called "Unvarnished," and described the grim conditions to Marketplace back in May when the stories were published. Richard Bernstein, in an article for the New York Review of Books, says that Nir drew a “Dickensian portrait” of the industry, one that doesn’t jibe with his experience as part owner of two Manhattan day spas. In the critique, Bernstein asks, “Is it true?” You’ve figured out his answer to that. Here is a summary of some of Bernstein’s criticisms:
  • According to Bernstein, the New York Times failed to provide sufficient proof about an ad from Chinese-language papers Sing Tao Daily and World Journal that advertised jobs at a rate of $10 a day.
  • In an independent investigation by Bernstein and his wife, the two combed through World Journal issues dating back to March and failed to find the ad the series described. The lowest salary Bernstein says they saw in an ad was $70 a day — prior to the series’ publication. Others salaries ranged from $110 to $130.
  • Bernstein draws from personal anecdotes to refute the low-salary claims found in The Times, saying that they would be unable to find employees willing to work for the wages cited in Nir’s series.  
  • Nir was selective in her presentation of nail salon ads, failing to account for the numerous ads that he and his wife came across that listed higher prices than presented in the article, according to Bernstein. Bernstein also questions why potential nail salon workers would neglect the ads for higher-paying jobs in favor of ones that offer lower wages.
  • Though Nir mentions the infrequency of nail salon inspections by the government, Bernstein says he finds fault with this claim, citing the regular, annual inspections at his own salons. He adds that according to the New York Department of State, between May of last year and this year, there were more than 5,000 “appearance enhancement” business inspections, which included nail salons.   
  • Bernstein says he thinks Nir inaccurately characterizes the working conditions of nail salons by making manicurist Jing Ren, a 20-year-old from China whom she interviews for the story, representative of employees in the industry. He says that there are many nail salon workers who are not “undocumented, untrained, or unlicensed like [Ren].”
  • Though the New York Times provides a searing critique of the industry, Nir says Ren has found a nail salon job that pays a higher wage— a trajectory which Bernstein suggests undermines the article’s claim about the industry’s “rampant exploitation.”
The New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has not released an official statement on the methods used in the series. However, Nir and several other New York Times reporters and editors have directly and indirectly addressed his claims on social media.

On Twitter, Nir denounced Bernstein's criticism of the series, calling him "biased."     

In #unvarnished I interviewed over 150 workers&owners whose careers encompassed minimum 700 salons. One biased man renders them voiceless?

— Sarah Nir (@SarahMaslinNir) July 27, 2015

His power:1) the demographic he comes from 2)his professional background 3)his access to a platform, drowns out the voices of the many&weak?

— Sarah Nir (@SarahMaslinNir) July 27, 2015
New York Times Deputy Metro Editor Michael Luo — the editor of Nir’s series — has published a Storify post of his tweets responding to criticism against the nail salon series and says the Times has plans to publish a more formal response.

A tweet showing the ad for the $10-a-day nail salon salary mentioned in Nir’s first article in the series:

Re:@R_Bernstein in @nybooks challenging NYT's Unvarnished. Here's ad: $10/day 4 apprentice. http://t.co/XeOfgZRDLE pic.twitter.com/uSiRXxiC2g

— Michael Luo (@michaelluo) July 25, 2015 Some have echoed Bernstein's concerns. Adam Ragusea, the host for Current.org's "The Pub" podcast, criticized the New York Times's presentation of the nail salon industry, using Bernstein’s argument that the $10-a-day ad may be unrepresentative of actual wages offered by nail salon owners.

Michael Powell — a New York Times "Sports of the Times" columnist — responded to Ragusea by suggesting that his criticism was rooted in “self-righteousness,” while Patrick LaForge, the New York Times' editor for news presentation, said his criticism was “off base.”

Ex-writer tries to take the polish off an NYT series

Mon, 2015-07-27 09:40

A New York Times series that unveiled harsh working conditions in New York City nail salons is eliciting criticism from a former Times writer about the report’s methodology.

Times reporter Sarah Maslin Nir spoke to more than 150 nail salon workers and owners, and described the grim conditions to Marketplace back in May when the piece was published. Richard Bernstein, in an article for the New York Review of Books, says that Nir drew a “Dickensian portrait” of the industry, one that doesn’t jibe with his experience as part owner of two Manhattan day spas.

In the critique, Bernstein asks, “Is it true?” You’ve figured out his answer to that. Here is a summary of some of Bernstein’s criticisms:

According to Bernstein, the New York Times failed to provide sufficient proof about an ad from Chinese-language papers Sing Tao Daily and World Journal that advertised jobs at a rate of $10 a day.

  • In an independent investigation by Bernstein and his wife, the two combed through World Journal issues dating back to March and failed to find the ads the article described. The lowest salary Bernstein says they saw in an ad was $70 a day — prior to the series’ publication. Others salaries ranged from $110 to $130.
  • Bernstein draws from personal anecdotes to refute the low-salary claims found in the article, saying that they would be unable to find employees unwilling to work for the wages cited in Nir’s series.  
  • Nir was selective in her presentation of nail salon ads, failing to account for the numerous ads that he and his wife came across that listed higher prices than presented in the article, according to Bernstein. Bernstein also questions why potential nail salon workers would neglect the ads for higher-paying jobs in favor of ones that offer lower wages.
  • Though Nir mentions the infrequency of nail salon inspections by the government, Bernstein says he finds fault with this claim, citing the regular, annual inspections at his own salon. He adds that according to the New York Department of State, between May of last year and this year, there were more than 5,000 “appearance enhancement” business inspections, which included nail salons.   
  • Bernstein says he thinks Nir inaccurately characterizes the working conditions of nail salons by making manicurist Jing Ren, a 20-year-old from China whom she interviews for the story, representative of the entire industry. He says that there are many nail salon workers who are not “undocumented, untrained, or unlicensed like [Ren].”
  • Though the New York Times provides a searing critique of the industry, the end of the article says Ren has found a nail salon job that pays a higher wage— a trajectory which Bernstein suggests undermines the article’s claim about the industry’s “rampant exploitation.”

The New York Times’ public editor, Margaret Sullivan, has not released an official statement on the methods used in the piece. However, Nir and several other New York Times reporters and editors have directly and indirectly addressed his claims on social media.

 

Nir calls out Bernstein on Twitter Monday, labeling him "biased": 

 

    

 

 

 

 

 

    

In #unvarnished I interviewed over 150 workers&owners whose careers encompassed minimum 700 salons. One biased man renders them voiceless?

— Sarah Nir (@SarahMaslinNir) July 27, 2015

 

 

 

 

    

His power:1) the demographic he comes from 2)his professional background 3)his access to a platform, drowns out the voices of the many&weak?

— Sarah Nir (@SarahMaslinNir) July 27, 2015 

New York Times Deputy Metro Editor Michael Luo — the editor of Nir’s series — publishes a Storify post of his tweets responding to criticism against the nail salon series and says that the Times has plans to publish a more formal response.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A tweet showing the ad for the $10-a-day nail salon salary mentioned in Nir’s first article in the series:

 

 

 

   

Re:@R_Bernstein in @nybooks challenging NYT's Unvarnished. Here's ad: $10/day 4 apprentice. http://t.co/XeOfgZRDLE pic.twitter.com/uSiRXxiC2g

— Michael Luo (@michaelluo) July 25, 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other New York Times reporters have also chimed in on Twitter. Adam Ragusea, the host for Current.org's "The Pub" podcast, criticized the New York Times's presentation of the nail salon industry, using Bernstein’s argument that the $10-a-day ad may be unrepresentative of actual wages offered by nail salon owners.

 

Michael Powell — a New York Times "Sports of the Times" columnist — responded to Ragusea by suggesting that his criticism was “self-righteous,” while Patrick LaForge, the New York Times' editor for news presentation, called his criticism “off base.”

Where you live will cost you

Mon, 2015-07-27 06:00

Conventional thinking might lead us to believe that people who reside in cities with higher living expenses probably also have the highest debt burdens. But residents of the City by the Bay have the least credit card burden of any major metropolitan city, according to a new study by CreditCards.com.

Using data from credit bureau Experian, CreditCards.com determined how long it would take for residents of 25 of the largest U.S. cities to pay off their current credit card debt. And the results were all over the map.

Metropolitan areas on the coasts tended to have lower credit card burden than elsewhere in the country, while areas of the South were on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Courtney Miller, an economics writer for NerdWallet, says a lot of it comes down to the culture surrounding credit card debt.

"I think there’s a ton of factors that go into it, and part of it is how much people need to rely on credit cards. So a city like San Francisco ... there [are] a lot of cash-only places in that kind of city."

San Antonio came in last place, where residents were projected to take the longest to pay off credit card debt — in fact, of the top 10 cities with the highest debt burden, seven were located in the South. Miller points to lower overall income in those areas, combined with a tendency towards higher credit card debt.

But there are a lot of moving parts to determining credit card debt. Take Alaska for example.

"They tend to have a higher credit card debt, but they actually have a pretty high credit score compared to the rest of the country ... (In Alaska), maybe you have to buy things online more, so you use a credit card more," Miller says.

Teva agrees to buy Allergan for $40 billion

Mon, 2015-07-27 03:00

The world’s largest manufacturer of generic drugs, Teva, has bagged some big game.

Monday morning, the company announced that it has agreed to buy Allergan’s generic business for a little more than $40 billion.

If approved, the deal places Teva amongst the largest drug companies on the planet.

With just one purchase, the company could bring in new revenue, fend off competition from China and India, and gain even more pull in this $70 billion a year business, says Elizabeth Krutoholow, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.

“It’s just a matter of being able to throw around your power in pricing," she says. "So you are trying to get your drugs into the pharmacy. If you have more things in your bag that you can play around with, you certainly have greater leverage there.”

Whether this deal would ratchet up prices depends on how many drugs in Teva’s bag are in direct competition with the one’s in Allegran’s bag, says Yale economist Fiona Scott Morton.

“We really care about the overlaps of these firms. If there is a lot, then there is potential for higher prices when they merge. So ... the regulator needs to go out and look at where these guys overlap,” she says.

While there are a lot of tie ups in healthcare these days, Morton says generics are a different game.

Unlike health insurance, for example, it’s easier to get into generics, making it more likely the small guys will be able to grow and keep competition more robust.

PODCAST: Biting the hand that feeds you burritos

Mon, 2015-07-27 03:00

More on news that Fiat Chrysler will offer to buyback hundreds of thousands of Ram Pickup trucks. Plus, what to expect to from the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee briefing on Wednesday. And thousands  of workers in lawsuits in several states allege Chipotle’s “moral high-ground” doesn’t extend to its cooks, cashiers and managers. The cases against Chipotle are part of a national trend of workers turning to federal courts to recoup wages.

Underwater homeowners look for mortgage relief

Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

JoAnn Henderson is the kind of person who greets strangers with a big hug. I met her in the kitchen of her home in New Carrollton, Maryland.   

Henderson bought her house in 2001. She refinanced a few years later, for a higher amount. Shortly before she retired from her teaching job, she started having trouble with the steep payments.

“You would miss a couple and then you’d pay and pay and pay," she says. "And then you’d miss a couple more. Yeah — I almost lost the house.”

Henderson got a loan modification, which dropped her interest rate to 3 percent. Now, she’s even got a rainy day fund.

“A tiny one," she says, laughing. "Not a big rain. A small rain.”

But what would really help Henderson is if the amount of her loan could be reduced in what’s called a principal reduction. Henderson owes more than $450,000 on her house, which is only worth $212,000, according to Zillow. She's underwater, owing more on her home than it's worth.

“It seems like principal reduction is a logical, no-brainer conclusion,” says Mitria Wilson, vice president of government affairs at the Center for Responsible Lending

Wilson says the improving housing market has cut the number of underwater homeowners from 15 million to 4 million.

“So, the number’s gone down significantly, but here’s the rub," she says. "The people who make up that 4 million disproportionately have lower-priced homes.”

That aren’t likely to appreciate. So those homeowners will stay underwater.

Mel Watt will be making the decision on principal reduction. He’s head of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They guarantee many U.S. mortgages.

Watt is caught between homeowner advocates like Wilson, and people like Tim Rood. He's chairman of the Collingwood Group of financial advisers. Rood wonders where the money for principal reduction would come from.

“This money doesn’t come out of thin air," he says. "So, it’s going to have to come from investors or from taxpayers.”

In congressional testimony, Mel Watt has said he’s looking at ways to help borrowers, without hurting Fannie and Freddie.  

   

A kinder, gentler Gawker?

Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

The digital news and gossip company Gawker Media is expected to relaunch Monday, after a backlash over its handling of a controversial blog post. Two editors resigned in protest last week, after CEO Nick Denton removed a report alleging that a married media executive had tried to hire a gay escort.

Denton has reportedly told his staff the new Gawker will be 10 to 20 percent “nicer.” Analysts say the change reflects a bigger shift underway in digital media, where snark for snark's sake has lost some of its appeal.

Click the media player above to hear more.

Colorado workers sue Chipotle, part of national trend

Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

Chipotle recently extended paid sick leave, vacation and tuition reimbursement to its hourly workers.

Still, tens of thousands of employees at Chipotle Mexican Grills around the country are not happy with the Denver-based fast casual poster child over how they are paid. Earlier this month, a court in Los Angeles approved a $2 million settlement with over 38,000 plaintiffs for allegations of unpaid overtime, rest breaks and minimum wage. These Chipotle employees and others in more lawsuits across the country have joined a national workplace trend: filing class-action lawsuits against their employer claiming unfair pay.

Brittany Swa 

Joe Mahoney/Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Brittany Swa started working at a Chipotle in Centennial, Colorado, in 2010 as a crew-member. Swa ran the cashier, grilled meat and served customers at $14.50 an hour plus overtime at time-and-a-half. When she was promoted to apprentice manager a few months later, she expected to get more managerial training, but she said the only difference was making the daily morning bank deposit.

“It takes you like 15 minutes,” she says.

On top of that, she was now averaging 55-60 hours a week, she says, and she was now an exempt employee and couldn’t claim overtime.

“If they needed coverage, you’d be the one to cover, or someone calls in sick or they can’t come in that day, you gotta cover.”

Swa is one of the tens of thousands of plaintiffs in settled and ongoing lawsuits from California to New York suing Chipotle for unpaid wages either because they allege they were misclassified as managers or because they worked off the clock, cleaning the store and attending mandatory meetings.

“Cases of this kind are happening with increasing frequency around the country and are not unique to Chipotle,” company spokesman Chris Arnold says.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal lawsuits like this one have more than doubled in the past decade.

“It’s very confusing to figure out how to follow this law,” says Lorrie Ray, an attorney at Mountain States Employers Council.

The federal law was written during the Great Depression. Rules on when to pay overtime, for example, are complicated, and there’s a lot of room for error, Ray says.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys, the employees’ attorneys, became aware that this was sort of lucrative ground for them to cover,” she says. “They started insisting that employers pay their clients for mistakes they’d made under the law.”

There’s another reason, according to Denver University law professor Nantiya Ruan, who is also helping with the apprentice overtime lawsuit against Chipotle. The modern-day workplace is different.

“We expect workers to be on call and working a tremendous amount of hours in a way that we hadn’t been in the '60s and '70s,” she says.

Chipotle has now settled lawsuits with workers in Maryland, California and Florida. In the coming months, wage lawsuits against the company in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas are pending class action certification.

Music-making and dysfunctional technology

Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

As part of a series about music technology called "Noise Makers," we're talking to musicians about their favorite noise-making device. For this week's installment we talked with experimental composer Sabisha Friedberg ahead of her performance for the Issue Project Room. 

Sabisha Friedberg's music is planned very carefully. As she puts it, "if something is very well placed and thought out a kind of magic can happen."

Magic and unexpected occurrences are the focal point of her recent double-LP entitled The Haunt Variance. About the record, Friedberg says, "much of it is about things that seem to manifest as apparitions that one doesn't intend. It's the idea of a haunted space and entities that end up coming through the mechanics in the electronic equipment like phantoms that you don't expect."

Click the media player above to hear Sabisha Friedberg talk about working with imperfect technology to make music.

She remembers how this electronic equipment, specifically tape machines and frequency generators, "were my early toys, in fact. So, I played with disused reel-to-reel tape machines and the frequency generators I've inherited from people."

In her performances, Friedberg continues to revive instruments, and even sources her equipment from a Russian mechanic in Coney Island. Through her dysfunctional equipment and rigorous planning, Friedberg creates music with a controlled chaos and haunting ambiance.

More information on Sabisha Friedberg and her recent double-LP can be found at the Issue Project Room website.

 

Price of orange juice squeezes consumers

Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

Orange growers in Florida are having a tough time of it. The “greening” disease that’s been lowering yields for years is making this year’s crop one of the smallest in decades.

That’s translating into higher prices for orange juice — averaging $6.63 per gallon.

Consumers are drinking less, but still guzzle $3.2 billion worth of juice per year, says Jonna Parker of Nielsen research.

“It’s still a really, really big industry,” she says, but there's been a steady decline in sales over the last five years.

The size of orange juice containers is shrinking as well.

“Some of the brands out there have put the orange juice into the smaller, one-serving size” says LeAnna Himrod, who heads the Peace River Valley Citrus Growers Association in Florida.

She says beverage companies are responding to busy consumers who not only want convenience, but also something that feels fresh and healthy.

Consumers like DC resident Rob Parker, who worries about the sugar in off-the-shelf orange juice.

“I used to go through probably half a gallon every few days," he says. "Now, I only get fresh-squeezed, and that’s maybe once or twice a month.”

Growers are trying to keep back the greening disease in order to lower prices, and hopefully, bring orange juice back to the breakfast table.

Colorado workers sue Chipotle following nation trend

Mon, 2015-07-27 02:00

Chipotle recently extended paid sick leave, vacation and tuition reimbursement to its hourly workers.

Still, tens of thousands of employees at Chipotle Mexican Grills around the country are not happy with the Denver-based fast casual poster child over how they are paid. Earlier this month, a court in Los Angeles approved a $2 million settlement with over 38,000 plaintiffs for allegations of unpaid overtime, rest breaks and minimum wage. These Chipotle employees and others in more lawsuits across the country have joined a national workplace trend: filing class-action lawsuits against their employer claiming unfair pay.

Brittany Swa 

Joe Mahoney/Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Britney Swa started working at a Chipotle in Centennial, Colorado in 2010 as a crew-member. Swa ran the cashier, grilled meat and served customers, at $14.50 an hour plus overtime at time-and-a-half. When she was promoted to apprentice manager a few months later she expected to get more managerial training, but she said the only difference was making the daily morning bank deposit.

“It takes you like 15 minutes,” she says.

On top of that, she was now averaging 55-60 hours a week, she says, and she was now an exempt employee and couldn’t claim overtime.

“If they needed coverage, you’d be the one to cover, or someone calls in sick or they can’t come in that day, you gotta cover.”

Swa is one of the tens of thousands of plaintiffs in settled and ongoing lawsuits from California to New York suing Chipotle for unpaid wages either because they allege they were misclassified as managers or because they worked off the clock, cleaning the store and attending mandatory meetings.

“Cases of this kind are happening with increasing frequency around the country and are not unique to Chipotle,” company spokesman Chris Arnold says.

Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, federal lawsuits like this one have more than doubled in the past decade.

“It’s very confusing to figure out how to follow this law,” Mountain States Employers Council attorney Lorrie Ray says.

The federal law was written during the Great Depression. Rules on when to pay overtime, for example, are complicated and there’s a lot of room for error, Ray says.

“Plaintiffs’ attorneys, the employees’ attorneys, became aware that this was sort of lucrative ground for them to cover,” she says. “They started insisting that employers pay their clients for mistakes they’d made under the law.”

There’s another reason, according to Denver University law professor Nantiya Ruan, who is also helping with the apprentice overtime lawsuit against Chipotle. The modern-day workplace is different.

“We expect workers to be on call and working a tremendous amount of hours in a way that we hadn’t been in the 60s and 70s,” she says.

Chipotle has now settled lawsuits with workers in Maryland, California and Florida. In the coming months, wage lawsuits against the company in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas are pending class action certification.

Twitter is the sincerest form of flattery

Mon, 2015-07-27 01:42
$105 million

That's the record-breaking fine that Fiat Chrysler has been ordered to pay for failing to correctly carry out safety recalls. Not to mention an agreement in which the company will offer to buy back vehicles with defective suspension. As Forbes reports, the fine far outdoes the previous record holder — Honda Motor's $70 million payout for defective airbags.

9 months

That's how long it would take the average San Francisco resident to pay off his or her credit card debt, according to a new study. And in spite of being infamous for its high cost of living, San Francisco actually came in at the lowest end of the credit burden spectrum when it comes to major metropolitan areas. Cities in the South tended to fare much worse, with San Antonio residents needing 16 months to pay off credit card debt.

25,000

That's how many Digital Millennium Copyright Act notices Twitter received last year — complaints that someone has tweeted copyrighted material. Usually complaints are about video or photos, but now Twitter is responding to users claiming others have stolen their jokes. Mashable has called attention to a couple of tweets that have been hidden, due to what the blue bird deems as stealing from the "copyright holder." It's a tough battle to pick though, as other users have taken to copying multiple jokes to test the limits of the site's policing capabilities. 

$6.63

That's the average price of a gallon of orange juice. The higher cost is being blamed on one of the smallest orange crops in years. But aside from a change in price, the orange juice industry is also experimenting with smaller packaging in response to consumers who want their dose of Vitamin C to go. 

Sports + Fans + Selfie Culture = Business Strategy

Fri, 2015-07-24 13:15

When the LA Galaxy’s newest star, former Liverpool player Steven Gerrard, scored his first goal for the team, the crowd exploded.

And up near the roof of the stadium, cameras were clicking away.

They were focused not on the goal or on Gerrard, but on the ecstatic, high-fiving, scarf-waving fans. Some 20,000 of them were having their picture taken in just seconds.

"We capture the moment, so you don't have to, so that you can enjoy the experience without being on your phone and trying to take a picture of yourself," says Mike Peterson, an intern at Fanpics, a San Diego tech startup that partners with sports teams to take photos of celebrating fans. Tonight, Mike's job is to trigger the cameras at the big-deal moments.

Courtesy:FanPics

Reporter Adriene Hill (center, in the black and white dress) demonstrates how Fanpics sometimes works— and sometimes doesn't.

Fanpics is a free app. You download it, plug in your seat number and you get a set of photos on your phone of game highlights, like that Gerrard goal, and your reaction to them.

"So now when something memorable happens, we have a picture that proves we where there," says Galaxy season ticket holder Andrew Rivera. He usually winds up with a photo or two from each game that he like enough to share on his Instagram account.

That’s free publicity for the stadium and the team, which is part of the reason the Galaxy — and next season the L.A. Clippers and L.A. Kings — will use Fanpics.

"At first, we were a little nervous about how people would react that we are taking your picture," says Katie Pandolfo, the general manager of the StubHub Center, where the Galaxy play.

All the stadium’s entrance gates have a Fanpics disclosure. So far, she says, there haven’t been any complaints. About 15 to 25 percent of fans at games check in to the service.

"It’s important to bring new technology, show our fans that we are keeping up with all the other stadiums, and give them an experience they don’t’ have at another facility," Pandolfo says.

Fanpics and teams get something else out of the arrangement: data.

"We’re saying, 'Here’s this awesome content of you that’s never before existed,'" says Marco Correia, one of Fanpics co-founders. "In exchange for that, we can find out who they are, where they sit, how many times they go to the games, who they are with."

Fanpics and stadiums are still figuring out the best way to make money off all this information, from the easy stuff, like selling prints and tchotchkes with your photo on them, to the not so obvious, Correia says. "We've got a mobile platform where there are a lot of fans using it, so how are we able to monetize that?"

How Amazon can be worth the same as Wal-Mart

Fri, 2015-07-24 13:00

Amazon.com stocks rocketed up 10 percent Friday after the company reported quarterly profits to the surprise of many analysts’ expectations. Amazon’s market value – the price if you wanted to buy the whole company – is nearly that of Wal-Mart, even though Wal-Mart makes 35 times the profit of Amazon today.

Investors, though, are betting on what happens tomorrow. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster figures Amazon added 20 million Prime members this year; those are the website shopping addicts who pay $99 for a year’s free shipping and other perks.

“When you make that $100 investment annually into Prime, it changes how you behave online,” Munster says. “And it makes you think ‘I’ll check Amazon first’ because you’ve invested that into Amazon.”

Prime members buy three times as many goods as non-members, Munster says.

Wal-Mart has a free online shipping club too. But the expectations there are far different.

“Both Wal-Mart and Amazon are making major changes in their companies,” Brian Reynolds, chief market strategist at New Albion Partners, says. “But equity investors aren’t buying it from Wal-Mart. That stock is on the verge of a breakdown, while Amazon just had a breakout.”

Amazon stock does reflect sky-high expectations, but they’re somewhat proven expectations. Last quarter, the company went from losing to making money. And at this rate of growth, Amazon’s profits could eventually match those of Wal-Mart’s.

“Do I think 20 years from now it’s conceivable that Amazon could have as much or more earnings than Wal-Mart? Sure,” says former investment banker Michael Goldstein, who now teaches finance at Babson College.  “Do I think that makes the two equally worth value now? Me personally? No. But it’s not nuts.”

He says Amazon is no pets.com, the firm that famously went bust in the 2000 bubble. Its business plan to sell dog food and other items online failed. Today, that same plan seems to be succeeding at Amazon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Weekly Wrap: Hillary Clinton, mergers and commodities

Fri, 2015-07-24 13:00

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are the Washington Post's Catherine Rampell and Cardiff Garcia of FT Alphaville. The big topics this week: Hillary Clinton's speech on the "tyranny" of quarterly earnings reports, healthcare mergers and a decline in commodities' prices. 

Converse unveils a revamp of the classic Chuck Taylors

Fri, 2015-07-24 13:00

Converse’s Chuck Taylor All Stars are iconic. They’ve been around for almost a hundred years and haven’t changed all that much. Now Converse is releasing a revamped version called Chuck Taylor IIs.

Converse didn’t want to overhaul the look of the shoe. The big change is that it's using Nike technology for the first time in the sole of the shoe. It’s a foam called Lunarlon which has been used in basketball shoes. Don’t worry, there won’t be a swoosh on the outside.

“The move to make them more comfortable seems like a no-brainer. If you’ve ever worn Chuck Taylors in your life, you’ve probably had the same feeling I did.…Yeah, I remember them not being the most comfortable shoe,” says Matthew Townsend of Bloomberg Business. He wrote a piece about the change called "After a Billion Sore Feet, Converse Wants Chucks to Feel Like Nikes."

Chuck Taylor IIs won’t replace the originals entirely, so if you’re a die-hard fan, you can still purchase the classic shoes.

Click on the media player above to hear the interview.

 

Gamers' new challenge: a urine sample

Fri, 2015-07-24 13:00

"Video games as sport" is finally entering the big time — and it's a little depressing.

The Electronic Sports League says it's going to start a performance-enhancing drug testing program. 

Before you pooh-pooh it, you should know e-sports (as its known) is a quarter-billion-dollar-a-year business, with an estimated a fan base of more than 100 million. 

The performance-enhancing drug, by the way?

Not steroids or anything like that. It's Adderall. 

Sports + Fans + Selfie Culture = Business Strategy

Fri, 2015-07-24 13:00

When the LA Galaxy’s newest star, former Liverpool player Steven Gerrard, scored his first goal for the team, the crowd exploded.

And up near the roof of the stadium, cameras were clicking away.

They were focused not on the goal or on Gerrard, but on the ecstatic, high-fiving, scarf-waving fans. Some 20,000 of them were having their picture taken in just seconds.

"We capture the moment, so you don't have to, so that you can enjoy the experience without being on your phone and trying to take a picture of yourself," says Mike Peterson, an intern at Fanpics, a San Diego tech startup that partners with sports teams to take photos of celebrating fans. Tonight, Mike's job is to trigger the cameras at the big-deal moments.

Courtesy:FanPics

Reporter Adriene Hill (center, in the black and white dress) demonstrates how Fanpics sometimes works— and sometimes doesn't.

Fanpics is a free app. You download it, plug in your seat number and you get a set of photos on your phone of game highlights, like that Gerrard goal, and your reaction to them.

"So now when something memorable happens, we have a picture that proves we where there," says Galaxy season ticket holder Andrew Rivera. He usually winds up with a photo or two from each game that he like enough to share on his Instagram account.

That’s free publicity for the stadium and the team, which is part of the reason the Galaxy — and next season the L.A. Clippers and L.A. Kings — will use Fanpics.

"At first, we were a little nervous about how people would react that we are taking your picture," says Katie Pandolfo, the general manager of the StubHub Center, where the Galaxy play.

All the stadium’s entrance gates have a Fanpics disclosure. So far, she says, there haven’t been any complaints. About 15 to 25 percent of fans at games check in to the service.

"It’s important to bring new technology, show our fans that we are keeping up with all the other stadiums, and give them an experience they don’t’ have at another facility," Pandolfo says.

Fanpics and teams get something else out of the arrangement: data.

"We’re saying, 'Here’s this awesome content of you that’s never before existed,'" says Marco Correia, one of Fanpics co-founders. "In exchange for that, we can find out who they are, where they sit, how many times they go to the games, who they are with."

Fanpics and stadiums are still figuring out the best way to make money off all this information, from the easy stuff, like selling prints and tchotchkes with your photo on them, to the not so obvious, Correia says. "We've got a mobile platform where there are a lot of fans using it, so how are we able to monetize that?"

Pages