National / International News

Sunni leaders propose Iraq deal

BBC - Fri, 2014-08-15 13:09
Some leaders of Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority propose working with the new PM, a move that could help break political deadlock.

US housing recovery still uneven

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-15 13:07

Anjli Raval is a London-based correspondent for the Financial Times, but she recently took a trip through the U.S. to analyze home prices.

Her first stop was South Sacramento in Northern California, where she noticed home prices still stagnated: 

These areas of California’s capital had some of the highest foreclosure rates in the US after the housing bust that wiped out $7tn of homeowner equity in the wake of the financial crisis. Since then, Sacramento has seen a rebound, at least on paper. But there are clear signs that it – and many other cities – are stuck in a multiyear housing hangover that has serious implications for economic recovery.

The standard playbook for an economic recovery often relies on a housing market rebound. But in the U.S., that rebound continues to stop and start depending on where you live.

Click play above to listen to Anjli Raval's interview, or read her story at FT

Ferguson Officer's Motives In Police Shooting Remain Murky

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:57

New information was released Friday about the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Mo., but the answers have prompted still more questions.

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Ukraine 'strikes column from Russia'

BBC - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:31
Ukraine says it has partially destroyed an armoured column from Russia, but Russia denies any such vehicles crossed the border.

Russian Military Vehicles Reportedly Move Into Ukraine

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:09

Heavy fighting continues in eastern Ukraine, as government and separatist forces still fight for control of the cities of Luhansk and Donetsk.

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Massive Rallies Descend On Islamabad, As Authorities Dig In Trenches

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:09

Thousands of people are converging on Pakistan's capital, Islamabad, for a protest rally against the government. The protesters began their 300-mile march in Lahore, led by Imran Khan, who believes he was robbed of last year's election by voting fraud. Meanwhile, a populist cleric is leading a separate march on the capital.

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With A Friendlier Face, LAPD Avoids The Worst Of Ferguson's Woes

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:09

In Los Angeles, police shot and killed an African-American man during a scuffle with officers Monday night. While many black members of the community were angered by the killing, it hasn't sparked the same outcry as in Ferguson, Mo. Frank Stoltze of KPCC says that's because the Los Angeles Police Department has sought to build relationships with the neighborhood.

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U.S. Policy On Syria Mired In Excess Caution, Official Says

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:09

Rick Barton, a top State Department official, says sometimes the U.S. has to take risks in diplomacy. Citing his own frustrations, he says that the Obama administration has yet to come up with a real strategy to resolve the war in Syria and isolate jihadi fighters.

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After Shooting, LAPD Uses Friendlier Face To Avoid Ferguson's Woes

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:09

In LA, police shot and killed an African-American man during a scuffle with officers Monday. While it angered many black members of the community, it hasn't sparked the same unrest as in Ferguson, Mo.

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Baseball Owners Call Up Commissioner Bud Selig's Relief

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:09

Major League Baseball owners have selected Rob Manfred to succeed Bud Selig as the league's commissioner. Manfred is the sport's 10th commissioner, selected after six rounds of voting by the 30 MLB owners. Sportswriter Stefan Fatsis joins Robert Siegel to speak about the news.

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Drawing On Pentagon Surplus, Police Now Wield Weapons Of War

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:09

Every year, police and sheriffs' departments receive hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of military-style equipment from the Pentagon. The equipment is passed on with the intent to fight drugs and terrorism, but it was on display in Ferguson, Mo., where it was used for crowd control during protests there.

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In Defense Of U.N. Aid In Iraq

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 12:09

For more on the challenges of supporting internally displaced persons in Iraq, Robert Siegel speaks with Kieran Dwyer, the spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Dwyer responds to criticisms of the U.N. agencies trying to help.

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Amelia and Oliver most popular names

BBC - Fri, 2014-08-15 11:56
Oliver overtakes Harry to become the most popular baby name for boys in England and Wales as Amelia tops the list for girls for the third year running.

Gemili & Rooney storm to Euro golds

BBC - Fri, 2014-08-15 11:51
Adam Gemili and Martyn Rooney both win gold on another successful night for Britain at the European Championships in Zurich.

Slain US teenager 'robbery suspect'

BBC - Fri, 2014-08-15 11:43
Michael Brown, the black teenager shot by police in Ferguson, Missouri, was a suspect in a robbery just moments earlier, police say.

Grace Mugabe enters Zanu-PF politics

BBC - Fri, 2014-08-15 11:29
The wife of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe enters politics, after being endorsed to become the head of the ruling party's women's league.

VIDEO: British Muslim who wants to join IS

BBC - Fri, 2014-08-15 11:24
The BBC's Ed Thomas speaks to a British Muslim who says he is willing to join Islamic State fighters, believing it is his religious duty.

Startups Pitch Cricket Flour As The Best Protein You Could Eat

NPR News - Fri, 2014-08-15 11:20

Cricket flour is a thing, and it's showing up in protein bars and baked goods. A few companies are testing the water to see if Americans can get on board with cricket as an alternative to meat or soy.

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VIDEO: Film Review - the week's new films

BBC - Fri, 2014-08-15 11:18
Film critic Jason Solomons reviews the week's film releases, including The Rover and Expendables 3.

When does a start-up stop being a start-up?

Marketplace - American Public Media - Fri, 2014-08-15 11:14

One way to tell a company if a company is a baby start-up? By its location. The farther an address is from the subway in New York – and therefore the cheaper the rent – the more likely the start-up will be a youthful one.

Which is the case with Kinisi. The company, which makes an environmental sensor to gauge problems like air pollution, was founded in June. You can measure its age like a baby's – in weeks.

Bryan Valentini, one of the company's five co-founders, says there are other quick ways to spot the youngest of young start-ups. “You can ask them, 'Do you have business cards?'  Something simple like that," he said. And the answer for me would be 'not right now.'"

Does Kinisi have a human resources department? “You’re looking at it," he said.

Valentini says, for him, one sign a start-up has stopped being a start-up "is when you come in, you’ve started something and it stops being fun.”

What would older start-ups have to say? To find out, we stopped by Columbia Business School’s Startub Lab, hosted at co-working space WeWork in SoHo, an open-plan office with high ceilings, long tables and lots of entrepreneurs with laptops. You can practically smell the IPOs.

“I’m not sure that a start-up ever stops being a start-up," said Benji Jack, a co-founder of start-up BoardRounds, which aims to improve follow-up for emergency room patients. His company has been around for a year, and Jack says start-up-ness is a frame of mind – being able to innovate and change quickly.

"I don’t think one can point to Google and say 'on this date, Google was no longer a start-up,'” he said. 

Just a few SoHo blocks – but many years of start-up experience – away, are the offices of ShopKeep. Founded in 2008, CFO and co-founder David Olk described the company as a "petulant teen." "It’s a little bit more mature," he said, "but it doesn’t mean it’s not going to have its problems, issues and stumble to grow up into a normal human adult."

Olk says he agrees with Jack – that plenty of public companies are run like start-ups. “We’re a start-up," he said. "Look, we have a pool table, we have a kegerator, we have a Foosball table, we have free food.”

Olk said Shopkeep is a mature company and a start-up. Now his focus is on day-to-day business. He doesn’t have to worry about capital like he used to, But he said the company retains its start-up qualities, like employees’ ability to make decisions and to take ownership of their jobs.

But then again, although ShopKeep has 130 employees, with offices in the UK, New York and Portland, it’s no Microsoft.

The problem with gargantuan companies, said Hayagreeva Rao, a Stanford professor and author of "Scaling Up Excellence: Getting to More Without Settling for Less", "is the larger you become as a company, the more likely are smart people inside the company to become dumb.”

Rao said he doesn’t mean smart people become stupid. Instead, he cited the work of anthropologist Robin Dunbar: “He studied a number of species to find out: What is the optimal size of a tribe or a social grouping?"

The magic number is around 150 people. Beyond that, Rao said, your tribe is going to break apart. The bigger a company is, the harder it is to know everyone’s name, let alone what they do.

Imagine you're the founder of a start-up that’s grown from two employees to 2,000: "You go to a meeting and you see a lot of people you don’t know – that’s like definitely a warning sign.  You go to a meeting and say, 'who are these people? What the hell are they doing here?'" he said.

In other words: Once a company becomes successful, it can become its own enemy.

Rao said large companies like Google and Facebook are not start-ups. As they grow, he said, it’s nearly impossible to hold on to their original start-up-y culture. That’s why companies like Google give venture capital money inside the company – to try to stay Google-y.

At Columbia’s Startup Lab, Liz Wilkes, a founder of Exubrancy, an office health and happiness company, is working on her laptop. She says a start-up stops being a start-up when it stops feeling like a family and becomes an organization with hierarchy and systems. But she also says start-up-ness is cultural, which can, if a company isn't careful, be bad for business. 

“You know when you meet that guy who’s like 40 and he’s wearing  a backwards cap and he’s at the bar with your friends who are in their 20s?" she said. "And you’re like, this guy might be a little too old to be here? I do feel like there’s some of that in the start-up scene. Where a company, potentially to its detriment, has not formalized and organized in a way that they should."

Start-ups can get stuck in their teenage years, but they don't have to, Wilkes says. 

Growing up, while retaining just the right youthful qualities, for people or for companies, or for both, is tricky.

Cyrus Massoumi, CEO and founder of the physician location service ZocDocs,  said there are three attributes that define startups: the first he says "is relative to speed, how quickly can you get decisions made, how quickly can you get new products and services." The second, creativity - "are you building new products and processes, are you growing?" And "of course, the last one is fun."

Even with over 600 employees, ZocDocs remains a start-up, Massoumi said. He pointed to the shag carpet skateboard near his desk. "Maybe that’s what makes it not a start-up, he joked. "When your team doesn’t let you ride your shag carpet skateboard around your office for fear that you're going to injure yourself."

"If you want to retain the attributes of a start-up as you get bigger, you absolutely need to focus on it. And it needs to be a top priority or you will lose it."

He nodded toward a stuffed monster, given out as inter-office award. Then, to a large bean bag chair, "we have the world's largest beanbag sitting here," and finally a ping-pong table in the cafeteria. "Ping-pong," he said, "is an important part of what we do."

 

[<a href="//storify.com/Marketplace/when-does-a-startup-stop-being-a-startup" target="_blank">View the story "When does a startup stop being a startup?" on Storify</a>]

 

 

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story misidentified David Olk's title. He is CFO and co-founder of ShopKeep. The text has been corrected.

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