Marketplace - American Public Media

Syndicate content
Updated: 36 min 16 sec ago

Golden Road bets big on craft beer

Wed, 2014-07-09 11:03

The craft beer industry keeps getting bigger. The Brewers Association reports that in 2013, the market share of craft beer in the United States had grown to 7.8 percent. Breweries are popping up all across the country including in Los Angeles, where Golden Road Brewing has enjoyed three years of tremendous growth.

Meg Gill and Tony Yanow launched Golden Road in 2011. Their facility now includes a large brewing space, canning line, and a pub. Their beers can be found in grocery stores and restaurants in the area. Their most recent deal puts Golden Road beer in airports across the country, rolling out this summer.

The brewery has been able to find the niche within craft beer with their Los Angeles-based business, Gil says.

“This market is enormous” she says. “We’re already too big for our boots in some accounts.”

Yanow says even with all their growth in the past three years, Golden Road is still far away from achieving the size of the Boston Beer Company, the brewers of Samuel Adams. Gill says craft brewers owe a lot of their success to Boston Beer.

“I think that Jim Cook and that company is one of the most talented businesses in America and they have brought craft beer back to America,” she says.

Yanow acknowledges the number of new breweries opening will slow. “At some point, the rate of growth, of expansion into new breweries has to stop because eventually," he says. "You have more breweries than people.”

But Yanow’s not too worried about a craft beer bubble. “The real question is, can you put the toothpaste back into the tube?... People who like our beer and people who like craft beer like our beer and they’re not going to stop liking our beer.”

How resorts ended up in those oval car decals

Wed, 2014-07-09 10:54

In 1994 Earle F. Williams was on Martha’s Vineyard when a sticker on the back of a car caught his eye. “I saw an oval decal with an MV on it,” remembers Williams.

At the time he sold sports-imprinted decals and memorabilia to colleges. His first thought when he saw the sticker was, I wonder if that thing is copyrighted. “I wanted to make sure we wouldn’t step on somebody’s toes.” Luckily for Williams, it wasn’t.

A few months later he started making his own stickers with the initials VT for Vermont. It being the Green Mountain State, he sold them in green. Since then he’s made countless versions of the white oval. This year he sold a little over a million decals, out of his house in Stowe, Vermont. That’s about half as many as he sold at the peak of his business, pre-recession. 

Though Williams markets his stickers as the Original Ovals, they were actually created by the United Nations in the 1940’s, as “Distinguishing Signs Used on Vehicles in International Traffic.” They were a way to identify the country of origin on automobiles traveling through Europe.

In the U.S., they became a status symbol. EH for East Hampton, or ACK for Nantucket, secret codes that said, the driver of this car lives or vacations in America’s most elite resorts.

“I think the temptation is to be a little disdainful when you see those,” said Cornell economics professor Robert Frank. “If people were really confident of their position in life, they wouldn’t feel a need to advertise it.”

Frank says these bumper stickers in and of themselves aren’t a big deal. But they are an indicator of larger economic trends. The wealthiest Americans are building larger and more ostentatious homes. “They’re not bad people because they do that," he says. "That’s what everyone does when they get more money. But the fact they build bigger houses shifts the frame of reference for the people just below the top, they build bigger too,” And that trickles down the income ladder. Meanwhile lower and middle class wages have stagnated. So everyone ends up spending more of their income to keep up.

There is a similar competition to get into the prestigious educational institutions, not just universities, but increasingly grade schools, even preschools. “When a parent’s child gets into a prestigious institution, the first thing that happens is a decal on the back window of the car, announcing that fact to the world,” Frank says.

As for the white oval decals, David Ewing isn’t a fan. He grew up in Swampscott, Massachusetts, just outside Boston. His father was a lawyer at a Boston law firm and his roots go way back in New England. “My dad’s ancestor was one of the founders of Northampton, Massachusetts, so it was the 1600’s,” Ewing says.

He spent his summer vacations in southern Maine and Nantucket. But he says his family would never have put a sticker on their car advertising that fact. “It was against their sensibility to show off, to the world at large anyway, he says. “There was a distaste for ostentation and a distaste for -- the term when we were growing up was status symbol.”

Today Ewing lives in California and he understands the impulse to put a sticker on your car that shows where you are from. “If you are a long way from home you’re sort of waving your hand going, 'anybody else out there?'” But he says if he saw a white oval with an MV for Martha’s Vineyard or an MH for Marblehead in his neighborhood, he wouldn’t go up to the owner of that car and strike up a conversation. “I’d avoid ‘em like the plague,” he said.

Federal prosecutors end 81 conviction win streak

Wed, 2014-07-09 06:00

A federal jury in New York found Rengan Rajaratnam not guilty of conspiracy Tuesday. While the money involved in the insider trading case was small by Wall Street standards, and Rajaratnam was not well known, the case is significant because it marks the end of an impressive win streak for federal prosecutors.

In recent years, they’ve racked up 81 straight convictions, including that of Raj Rajaratnam, the older brother of Rengan Rajaratnam. Tuesday’s verdict may signal the beginning of a period where insider trading convictions are tougher to get.

For more on the topic, click the audio player above to hear reporter Mark Garrison in conversation with Marketplace Morning Report host David Brancaccio.

Big rigs get environmental overhaul

Wed, 2014-07-09 05:03

Head on down to the Port of Long Beach on any given day, stand alongside the hundreds of big rigs meandering from harbors to Southern California's freeways and take a deep breath. Every truck that rolls by coughs out a little whiff of diesel exhaust.

"We still suffer from the worst air quality in the nation," says Dr. Matt Miyasato, Deputy Executive Officer for Science and Technology Advancement at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, "and that means that our residents are not breathing healthful air about a third of the year." 

Miyasato identifies diesel engines as a major contributor to toxic air -- not just in Long Beach, but across the country. And in addition to delivering asthma and lung cancer, old-fashioned dirty big-rigs eat up $150 billion in fuel every year.

The good news is manufacturers like Cummins and Peterbilt are working on new trucks that are 50% more energy-efficient.

Dr. Mark Duvall at the Electric Power Research Institute says companies like Staples are experimenting with electric delivery trucks. Staples can expect to pay $30,000 more for an electric truck, but recoup that expense in maintenance after about three years.

"You can actually take the combustion engine and it’s not even in the equation," says Duvall. "You get rid of the transmission, the fuel tank, all the emission systems. And so you you save quite a bit of cost and weight and you make a much simpler vehicle."

Researchers have identified various new technologies that would yield significant energy savings if implemented.

"We would be cutting the projected fuel use by 1.4 million barrels of oil per day," says Dr. Dave Cooke, a Vehicles Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "And that corresponds to about 270 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses.”

The Department of Energy is pushing truck manufacturers to bring these tech innovations to market as soon as possible, through an initiative called SuperTruck.

"I think you will see these technologies migrate to the market quite quickly," says Patrick Davis, Director of the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. "The cost of shipping is directly added to the cost of goods and services delivered. So as you lower the cost of shipping, you would expect the cost of those goods and services to go down."

Those savings aren’t due until 2017, when tighter emissions rules go into effect. But some truck manufacturers are already getting a jump on that deadline by rolling out small improvements one by one, three years ahead of schedule.

Big rigs get environmental overhaul

Wed, 2014-07-09 05:03

Head on down to the Port of Long Beach on any given day, stand alongside the hundreds of big rigs meandering from harbors to Southern California's freeways and take a deep breath. Every truck that rolls by coughs out a little whiff of diesel exhaust.

"We still suffer from the worst air quality in the nation," says Dr. Matt Miyasato, Deputy Executive Officer for Science and Technology Advancement at the South Coast Air Quality Management District, "and that means that our residents are not breathing healthful air about a third of the year." 

Miyasato identifies diesel engines as a major contributor to toxic air -- not just in Long Beach, but across the country. And in addition to delivering asthma and lung cancer, old-fashioned dirty big-rigs eat up $150 billion in fuel every year.

The good news is manufacturers like Cummins and Peterbilt are working on new trucks that are 50% more energy-efficient.

Dr. Mark Duvall at the Electric Power Research Institute says companies like Staples are experimenting with electric delivery trucks. Staples can expect to pay $30,000 more for an electric truck, but recoup that expense in maintenance after about three years.

"You can actually take the combustion engine and it’s not even in the equation," says Duvall. "You get rid of the transmission, the fuel tank, all the emission systems. And so you you save quite a bit of cost and weight and you make a much simpler vehicle."

Researchers have identified various new technologies that would yield significant energy savings if implemented.

"We would be cutting the projected fuel use by 1.4 million barrels of oil per day," says Dr. Dave Cooke, a Vehicles Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "And that corresponds to about 270 million metric tons of greenhouse gasses.”

The Department of Energy is pushing truck manufacturers to bring these tech innovations to market as soon as possible, through an initiative called SuperTruck.

"I think you will see these technologies migrate to the market quite quickly," says Patrick Davis, Director of the Department of Energy’s Vehicle Technologies Office. "The cost of shipping is directly added to the cost of goods and services delivered. So as you lower the cost of shipping, you would expect the cost of those goods and services to go down."

Those savings aren’t due until 2017, when tighter emissions rules go into effect. But some truck manufacturers are already getting a jump on that deadline by rolling out small improvements one by one, three years ahead of schedule.

PODCAST: Keep on truckin'

Wed, 2014-07-09 03:00

How Brazil's huge loss in its World Cup match against Germany could change the flow of public money in the Brazilian economy. Plus, more on citigroup's settlement, as well as Uber's plan to attract new users with lower fares. Also, a look at efforts to create more energy efficient big rigs

'Seinfeld' by the numbers

Wed, 2014-07-09 03:00

Babies born the year "Seinfeld" premiered are now old enough to rent cars (Better get the insurance if you plan on beating the hell out of the thing). The "Show About Nothing" premiered 25 years ago this week. Back then, "The Seinfeld Chronicles," as they were called, introduced a comedian, his friend George, and kooky neighbor Kessler (Elaine wouldn't be added until later.) Watching the slow paced pilot episode, it's hard to believe that from such modest beginnings came one of the most critically and commercially successful, game-changing shows in television history.

"Seinfeld" not only made multimillionaires of creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld many times over, it continues to be a major revenue generator for distributor Sony and production company Castle Rock, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. New York magazine recently took a look at the economics behind the show. Here's a breakdown of "Seinfeld" by the numbers:

$40,000

The amount of money Jerry Seinfeld was paid per episode during the 1991-92 season.

$1 million

How much Seinfeld made per episode by 1997-98, the show's ninth and final season.

76.3 million

The number of people who tuned in to watch the "Seinfeld" series finale. 

$110 million

The price of Jerry Seinfeld's artistic integrity. After nine seasons, Seinfeld decided to call it quits, rejecting NBC's offer of $5 million an episode - $110 million for the season - to continue the show for a tenth year. 

$3.1 billion

The amount of money "Seinfeld" has made since becoming syndicated in 1995. Those reruns on TBS and late at night after the news on your local CW affiliate add up.

$400 million

What Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld will each make off the most recent syndication cycle.

Bringing a smarter approach to American healthcare

Wed, 2014-07-09 02:00

In the debate over improving American healthcare, one issue that has come into focus is how hospital record-keeping is largely stuck in the past. It's something Dr. David Bates, Senior Vice President for Quality and Safety at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, has thought a lot about. He recently published a study on the most effective ways hospitals should be using big data to reduce healthcare costs.

According to Bates, one of the major elements of a big data approach is having an algorithm.

“A triage algorithm is a tool that helps you predict how sick a someone is going to be,” he said.

One of the bigger issues that’s prevented the implementation of these strategies is hospital record-keeping procedures.

Two years ago, only 20 percent of hospitals in the US were using electronic records. Now, the number is 80 percent. However, electronic records don’t equal big data approaches; the data itself still needs to be analyzed.  

Aging prisoners bring healthcare cost headache

Wed, 2014-07-09 02:00



Normal
0




false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE













MicrosoftInternetExplorer4













Healthcare for prisoners has long taken a bite out of state budgets, but a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts says prisons have cut back on those costs. They’ve outsourced some health services, used tele-medicine, and simply incarcerated fewer people. But the aging of the inmate population threatens to drive those costs right back up.

According to Pew's Maria Schiff, during the same period -- 1999 to 2012 --  the number of prison inmates 55 and older jumped 204 percent, while the number of inmates younger than 55 increased only nine percent.

Schiff says stiff sentences delivered in the 1980’s and an uptick in older felons drive this trend of what’s often called the graying of America’s prisons. Prisons are forced to make accommodations.

“Ramps going into a dining room, elimination of bunk beds, officer training to address things like hearing and vision loss, dementia,” she says.

And taxpayers are picking up the tab.

In 2009, Michigan spent $11 thousand on prisoners in their mid-to late 50’s, four times what the state spent on inmates in their 20’s. University of California San Francisco Professor Brie Williams says efforts to parole older, sicker prisoners are unpopular.

“Many times people say you’ve done the crime, serve the time,” she says.

But given the cost of that time, Williams says many states are now reconsidering and trying to make it easier for these inmates to be released.

 













































































































































/* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-qformat:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-para-margin-top:0in; mso-para-margin-right:0in; mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt; mso-para-margin-left:0in; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:11.0pt; font-family:"Calibri","sans-serif"; mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri; mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-fareast-font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast; mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri; mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}

 

Healthcare for prisoners has long taken a bite out of state budgets.  A new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts says prisons have cut back on those costs.  They’ve outsourced some health services, used tele-medicine and simply incarcerated fewer people. But the aging of the inmate population threatens to drive those costs right back up.

DG: Here’s a stat to chew on; since 1999 the number of prison inmates 55 and older has jumped 204%.

Schiff: While during that same period, the number of inmates younger than 55 increased only nine percent.

DG: Pew’s Maria Schiff says stiff sentences delivered in the 80’s and an uptick in older felons drive this trend.

She says prisons are forced to make accommodations.

Schiff: ramps going into a dining room, elimination of bunk beds, officer training to address things like hearing and vision loss.

DG: And taxpayers are picking up the tab.

In 2009 Michigan…spent $11 thousand dollar for prisoners in their mid-to late 50’s…four times what the state spent on inmates in their 20s.

University of California San Francisco Professor Brie Williams says efforts to parole older, sicker prisoners are unpopular.

Williams: Many times people say you’ve done the crime, serve the time.

DG: But given the cost of that time, Williams says many states are now reconsidering…trying to make it easier for these inmates to be released.

I’m DG for Marketplace.

 

U.S. companies shell out more for business travel

Wed, 2014-07-09 02:00

When the Great Recession hit, business travel was one of the first things to go as companies looked for ways to cut back. But a new report from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) shows employees are taking to the rails, roads, and skies again, as confidence in the economy continues to grow.

The group says American companies are booking more business trips than they were this time last year by 2.8 percent, and their employees are spending 7.6 percent more money on the road. The GBTA expects both numbers to keep going up as the economy rallies.

That pleases Harvard Business School Professor Tsedal Neeley, who studies global collaboration and co-authored a 2009 report on the potential negative consequences for business relationships when companies skimp on travel.

"I think we’re going to have healthier, more functional teams, more effective work," Neeley explains. "You can have similar effects without the face-to-face contact but it takes much longer."

So where does that leave video calls and other high tech tools for connecting remotely?  

"I think a lot of companies got their toes wet with teleconferencing thinking it would eliminate travel, and really what it’s turned out to be is an extra tool for businesses to compete," says Kevin Mitchell, Executive Director of the Business Travel Coalition, an advocacy group.

The report’s most encouraging finding, Mitchell believes, is that companies are spending 7.1 percent more on conventions and other group travel  – an investment that pays off longer term.

 

Note to bees: do not stop and smell the roses

Wed, 2014-07-09 02:00

Note to bees: do not stop and smell the roses.

A new study released by the environmental consulting firm Pesticide Research Institute and nonprofit group Friends of the Earth says about half of the garden plants sold at big box stores like Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart contain neonicotinoids (neonics for short), a pesticide highly toxic to pollinating insects – like bees. 

Heather Leibowitz, director of Environment NY, a statewide citizen based environmental advocacy organization, says home gardeners are buying plants, completely unaware that they're laced with poisons.

"Gardeners are putting these in their homes," she says, "and there’s no warning they could actually have a negative effect on bees."

There are no federal requirements necessitating that plants treated with neonics be labeled. Leibowitz says the lack of labels on plants is a big problem. Just imagine, she says, that you’re a bee and all that yummy nectar you’re drinking, and the pollen you’re carrying back to the hive is laced with poison and you don't know it. 

For bees, this is akin to a plot twist from a horror film. “The flowers," says Leibowitz, "are killing the bees...They just had a little snack, had a little drink and they’re going back to their hive and they’re poisoning the queen.”

Leibowitz says it’s not just farmers, but home gardeners who also now need to pay attention to pesticides.

Tim Brown, an Associate Scientistis with the Pesticide Research Institute and one of the authors of the new study, gets "super science geeky" when he explains how a neonic pesticide works. 

“It targets the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors,” he says.

For all the non scientists out there, those are within the teeny, tiny bee brain. But Brown notes, we humans have a lot riding on the wellbeing of the tiny brains of bees.

"A lot of the foods we enjoy eating," he says, "almonds, apples, blueberries, cherries -- there are a number of crops that are pollinated by bees and if we’re not protecting their health then we’re going to see impacts. Either we’re not going to get the supply that we want or it’s going to be a lot more expensive to get these foods."

Joe Bischoff, Regulatory & Legislative Affairs Director for AmericanHort, a horticultural industry association, says the pesticide question is a thorny one for growers. If we stop using neonics we’ll also have a problem he says. Think of the white fly, or the asian long-horned beetle. Not all bugs, notes Bischoff, are helpful to plants.

If you throw only one chemical class at many of these insects, they overcome it," he says. "In the long run this is a dangerous situation."

Bischoff says growers are worried about controlling problem insects, but he says we should remember that growers are businesses -- they wouldn’t buy pesticides if they didn’t have to.

And the study, he says, could be flawed. The research was based on the presence of pesticide in plant tissue - like flowers. "Bees don’t consume flowers," says Bischoff, "they consume pollen and nectar."

The pesticide also has a half life, meaning it decays and loses its potency over a certain period of time. Instead of banning neonics outright Bischoff says growers should use it more wisely.

But some big box stores are taking anti-neonic action. BJ’s Wholesale Club says it's working to sell plants that are neonic free and Home Depot will require all its suppliers to label plants that they have treated by the fourth quarter of 2014.

Brown says there aren't a lot of studies that look at how long the toxicity of a neonic lingers. One complication is that different varieties of plants metabolize poisons according to different time frames. A lot, he says, depends on the method of application. When a pesticide is sprayed on the surface of a plant the residue won’t necessarily be broken down by enzymes, but the sunlight can cause its strength to fade. But still, a poison may linger for months or years presenting a harmful dining option for bees.

"We know for a fact," says Tim Brown, that if the pesticides are in the tissue of the plant, "it’s in the pollen and nectar too."

Why American Apparel is no longer sexy

Wed, 2014-07-09 02:00

We’re gonna pause in our regularly scheduled host-blogging for something a little different today: video, not text. Pictures, not words.

The subject at hand is the weirdest CEO interview I’ve done in 13 years at Marketplace – the founder and now ex-CEO of American Apparel, Dov Charney.

He’s trying to claw his way back into the company. The company, meanwhile, looks like it’s trying to move on.

And with that… here you go:

Video produced by Preditorial 

Just how bad was it to graduate into the recession?

Tue, 2014-07-08 13:39

College graduation is supposed to be the start of something big. For millions of students who graduated in the middle of the Great Recession, it was a big disappointment.

The Department of Education has been tracking members of the class of 2008, who graduated right at the start of the financial crisis.

And today the  government delivered some new data on those 1.4 million grads.

The big takeaway is that, by 2012, more than 80 percent of them had  had jobs. 

“It’s taken a few years, but their employment numbers have gotten better,” says Ted Socha, a mathematical statistician with the National Center for Education Statistics, who ran the study.

Megan Nicklaus, who runs the career center at Colorado College, remembers those years well.

“Students were having to reevaluate and say, ‘Okay, what kind of intermediate step might I be able to take that will still set me up for when the market bounces.’”

On average, graduates of the class of 2008 have had a couple jobs. Sixteen percent of them have had three.  But unemployment is creeping up, and many recession grads report not being able to find enough hours at work.

Scott Hoberg was a senior at Fordham University, thinking about law school, when the recession set in. 

“It was sort of playing out in the background,” he remembers.

Today, Hoberg is an attorney in Cincinnati. His friends from Fordham? “Many of them haven’t found exactly their dream jobs, and certainly not jobs they’re using their degrees for.”

There are, we learned today, certain degrees were almost recession-proof: nursing and science, to name two.

Alex Wernli graduated from Iowa State University in 2008.

 "When I started school, I gave absolutely no thought to getting a job,” he says. “I’ve always wanted to be an engineer, and it’s kind of what I wanted to do.”

 Students who studied science, technology, engineering and math spent a lot less time looking for work.

 Werli had a job lined up before he graduated. They also made a lot more money out of the gate: $65,000 on average.

 “This was the lucky class,” says Tony Carnevale, who runs the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University. “They came in under the wire.”

Phoebe Berke graduated one year later, with an English degree from San Francisco State University.

“It almost did feel like we got a pretty raw deal, graduating in 2009, like right after everything had kind of fallen apart,” she says.

 Berke says she did odd jobs, and she tutored.

 “Finally, in 2012, I got my first ‘real job,’ my first nine-to-five job, and I was really excited about that because it felt like I had finally gotten over the hump.”

Berkeley, California wants to sell marijuana too

Tue, 2014-07-08 13:39

Legal recreational marijuana went on sale Tuesday up in the state of Washington.

Not to be outdone, there's a proposal in front of the city council in Berkeley, California — a state where marijuana is so far legal only for medicinal use — that would oblige pot dispensaries in the city to provide free pot to the poor and homeless in an amount equivalent to 2 percent of their annual sales.

And the ordinance says it's gotta be good stuff, too.

How to make $7k a month at your high school internship

Tue, 2014-07-08 13:39

Interns at top firms in Silicon Valley and related tech firms can, reportedly, make between $5,000 and $7,000 per month. Some of them are still in high school.

It might appear insane for a high school intern to make more pay, annualized, than his or her teacher before even leaving said high school.    

But it’s not. It’s a reflection of the tech sector’s realities. 

Partly, it derives from competition for  talent in the science, technology, engineering, and math fields (STEM). “The demand for STEM skills is increasing virtually exponentially while we aren’t turning out graduates at the same rate,” says Ross DeVol, chief research officer at the Milken Institute. 

Silicon Valley and tech firms are increasingly competing with Wall Street for such graduates.

But there’s more to the insatiable drive for talent: The tech sector is a roiling mass of instability. The floor of Silicon Valley is littered with tech companies that didn’t reinvent themselves in time.

“It’s the changing of the landscape that has a lot of firms unsettled about where things are going,” says Kyle Mayer, professor of management and organization at the University of Southern California Marshall School of Business. Apple went from a computer company to making smart phones and tablets. “Amazon started out as a marketplace for selling books. Now not only are they a marketplace for selling everything, they do a lot of back-end storage, with servers that store a lot of other companies' data.” 

Tech and new media firms that have to constantly reinvent themselves or die need a rare kind of creative, conceptual talent: not simply people who can solve a question proficiently, but who can redefine the question itself.

“It’s not just about the smartest person in the room,” says Mayer. 

Of course, in many cases, a prospective intern or candidate may well be the smartest in the room - inventing viral apps in their spare time or hacking a network for fun. But it’s not enough. 

Individuals don’t solve complex problems in the tech sector. Teams do. Having a “good fit” – someone who can work well in a team such that it becomes more than the sum of its parts.

“It’s important to remember: What’s the cost of getting the wrong person in there?” says Russell Coff, professor of strategy at the University of Wisconsin Madison. “In many cases it’s a creative endeavor, putting together product development teams, and there’s only so much you can handle in terms of a personality that doesn’t fit.” An internship is a good way to suss that out. 

Given that many firms have become famous for what Mayer calls “acqhiring” - buying out smaller companies not for the product but for the highly successful team inside - $7,000 for an intern is a small price to pay.

 Bloomberg analyzed Glassdoor salary data to chart out the highest-paid interns. Not surprisingly, Silicon Valley's heavy-hitters dominated the list:

(Courtesy:Bloomberg)

 We compared their salaries to a few other Bay Area companies on Glassdoor to figure out just how much more these interns are pulling in. These numbers are approximate, averaged from user submissions, but they paint an interesting picture of an intern's value in the tech sector.

$4,280/mo

First, just to put things into perspective, median American household income was $51,371 in 2012, according to the Census Bureau. That's a little over $4,000 per month.

$5,859/mo

 Zynga, the mobile and social games giant behind FarmVille and others, didn't appear on Bloomberg's list. But according to Glassdoor, the company pays its interns nearly as much as Google, Facebook and Microsoft per month on average, edging out the likes of Apple and Amazon.

$4,230/mo

 Compare Zynga to Electonic Arts (EA), makers of blockbuster console gaming franchises like "Madden NFL" and "Battlefield." EA interns earn less than Zynga's but their salary is nothing to sneeze at, especially when most American households make.

$4,371/mo

 Pixar, the Disney-owned animation studio with Silicon Valley roots, pays its interns, on average, a measly monthly rate compared to the tech giants accross the bay.

$2,952/mo

 Electric car manufacturer Tesla also shares some DNA - and a co-founder - with the tech world. But Tesla interns don't make nearly as much as their counterparts in the tech sector.

$6,309/mo $1,268/mo

 One of these average salaries is earned, on average, by Yelp's software development interns. The other is the marketing interns' monthly rate. Guess which is which.  

$2,600/mo

 Newspaper interns might not fare much better than marketing interns in the Bay. The San Francisco Chronicle's summer internship is advertised at $650 per week.

????

 For what it's worth, none of the Bay Area-based Glassdoor interns have submitted their salaries to the site.

As the cupcake crumbles: Lessons from Crumbs' demise

Tue, 2014-07-08 13:09

If only Crumbs had paid attention when fondue was a thing.

"Remember when we [were] all supposed to go eating fondue? "says Rita McGrath, a professor of strategy and innovation at the Columbia Business School. "I mean, in New York there must have been 20 fondue restaurants."

The reason we don’t see gaggles of fondue restaurants anymore? Because trying to build a lasting business on a temporarily popular item can be dangerous.

"People get bored, people get fat, people just want to move on to something else... and the question you have to ask is, 'Well, when the fad has run its course, what do you have to offer beyond that?'"

Adam Fleck, director of consumer equity research at Morningstar, says competition from other bakeries and other desserts meant trouble for Crumbs. Beyond fads and cake frosting, he notes, a company dependent on just one product is especially vulnerable.

"Consumer preferences can change on a dime," he says - which was especially troubling for Crumbs at a moment when kale chips and quinoa are what's for dinner.

“You know these cupcakes were very high calorie,” Fleck notes.

There are successful businesses that sell just one product. But most are in markets where it’s easy to predict demand - like steel. So, says J.P. Eggers, an assistant professor of management and organization at NYU’s Stern School of Business, “They are, in general, able to deeply understand what their customers are after, deliver what they want, how they want it, at the price that they want it.”

But there are plenty of stores that sell mostly cupcakes. Eggers says it’s unlikely they’ll all go away. He says when the cupcake bubble burst, Crumbs found itself with some odd store locations. Adam Fleck says the company expanded too quickly and got burned.

Which companies stand to learn from Crumbs' crumbling? We started brainstorming. 

So #Crumbs, the cupcake bakery is closing. Other examples of one product trends? #Cronut, #FroYo For @Marketplace

— Sally Herships (@sherships) July 8, 2014

Add to our list!:

The Cronut
Krispy Kreme
Rice Pudding (a thing in NYC for a little while)
Fro Yo
TiVo
Crocs
Sriracha
Gorilla glue

Older workers struggle for cred in new economy

Tue, 2014-07-08 12:57

The unemployment rate for Americans age 55 and older is 4.4 percent -- lower by more than 1.5 percent than the population as a whole. By contrast, the unemployment rate for 16- to 19-year-olds is 21 percent.

But older workers are also at greater risk of suffering long-term unemployment than any other age group. More than half of older workers have been unemployed for six months or longer, and many of them have been actively looking for more than one year. When older workers leave the job market for a period of time -- for instance, after a layoff, or to care for a spouse or elderly parent -- they are more likely to experience a significant decline in pay and job quality (working part-time or on contract) than other age cohorts.

And older workers often feel their age status acutely in the workforce. L.D. Kirshenbaum is 52 and lives in San Francisco. Several years ago, after a divorce and with a teenager at home to support, she found a job working half-time at a local Apple retail store.

Kirshenbaum graduated from Reed College, she’d worked as a journalist and launched a mobile news app. But she says she had to earn her cred with co-workers at the Apple store. “You’re sort of judged on your cool factor,” she says. “How clever are you with social media, do you take pictures of your lattes?”

Since then, Kirshenbaum has gone on to be an independent consultant on mobile marketing -- working with developers half her age.

“There are definitely younger co-workers that assume everyone’s uncool unless proven otherwise,” she says. “I have had colleagues who are my age, and they’re very self-conscious about showing themselves to be as young as possible. They’ll wear jeans every day, and they’ll never be caught dead wearing a wristwatch.”

The challenge is amplified when job-searching, says Ofer Sharone at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. He’s interviewed older workers extensively for his book, “Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment Experiences.”

HR managers can easily tell how old someone is, and how old they look, from LinkedIn, says Sharone. And he says they wonder: “Will the worker stick around? Maybe they want to retire, maybe they’re not as energetic, maybe they won’t work as many hours, maybe they’re not as technologically savvy.”

Sharone says most of the stereotypes are contradicted by research data on cognitive ability and job performance as we age. For instance, he says, older workers are likely to stay in a job longer than young workers. Also, they can be trained or retrained to be competent on new machines and technologies. And they bring experience and contacts that can benefit the organization, and also younger workers, through mentoring.

Sharone says what older workers need -- especially those who are job-hunting without success -- are groups to attend for career counseling and peer-group support, “to realize that other very competent, talented people are also not getting a job,” says Sharone. “And this lessens the fear that something is wrong with them, the degree of self-blame.”

Lauren Botney has attended a class for 55+ job-seekers at a local community college in Portland, Ore. She is 58, a lawyer by training, and she successfully ran a family-owned construction business. Now, she is trying to get back to full-time work after raising two kids (they are now teenagers) on her own.

“Back in the old days -- and I’ve been told to be careful using that phrase -- but, for my generation, once you started to have the gray hair, you were considered to be the sage expert in your field,” says Botney. “I think that now, there’s a feeling among many in the workplace that people of my vintage don’t understand anything about computers and therefore we’re too slow or we’re doddering.”

Botney’s trying to neutralize that stereotype by getting a digital marketing certificate from Portland State University.

“The one advantage that my age and experience brings,” says Botney, “is that I can usually do it faster than a newbie. And I should be able to. I’m better at knowing what the right questions are. That’s something that comes with time, experience and maybe a touch of intuition.”

The happy accident that changed squirt guns forever

Tue, 2014-07-08 12:10

In 1982 Lonnie Johnson made a discovery that would change his life and the future of toys.

“I was working on a new type of heat pump for refrigerators and air conditioners and I wanted to use water as a working fluid instead of Freon because I wanted working fluid that was environmentally friendly,” Johnson says. “So I was machining some nozzles and experimenting at home and shot some streams of water into the sink and then I turned and shot across the bathroom where I was doing these experiments and I thought to myself geez, this would make a neat water gun. So I decided to put the hard science stuff behind and start working on some really fun stuff.”

When Johnson says “hard science stuff” he means it. He’s a nuclear engineer by training who was working at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA’s Galileo Mission at the time of his discovery. He always dreamed of being an independent inventor, but knew he had to keep his day job to pay the bills. He loved his job, but he hoped his idea for a powerful squirt gun would be his ticket to freedom.

“I decided I could develop a toy and get some revenue from that and then use that revenue to really become an inventor and work on some of the more challenging projects I had in mind,” Johnson says.

Johnson built a prototype out of Plexiglas, PVC piping and a two-liter soda bottle and inquired about producing the gun on his own. “I got some quotes on what exactly it was going to take to set up a manufacturing line and I was told it was going to cost a couple hundred thousand dollars to get the first thousand guns off of the product line,” Johnson remembers. “I was a captain in the Air Force and didn’t have $200,000, so I said, ‘okay, there are some things I need to learn.’”

The Super Soaker prototype.

Johnson instead tried to peddle his high-powered squirt guns to toy companies. He wowed bigwigs over and over by accurately shooting paper cups off of conference tables from across meeting rooms, but no one wanted to take the risk on this guy with no business experience. It took seven years of near misses and failed deals before an up-and-coming company called Larami Corporation bought the license to manufacture what it called the “Power Drencher.”

The gun was released in 1990, but it didn’t make much of an impact at first. That’s when the ad wizards got involved. They changed the name to “Super Soaker” and shot a now iconic TV commercial.

The commercial helped rocket sales up, and in 1991 alone more than 2 million of the guns were sold. The brand, now owned by Hasbro, has now brought in more than $1 billion in total sales.

Johnson has been working on a myriad of other inventions since the “Super Soaker” made him famous. He’s gotten back to his original idea of an environmentally friendly refrigeration system, he’s developed a battery he believes can make electric cars more practical and is researching a new way to generate energy from the sun. But he certainly doesn’t mind that despite the more than 100 patents he holds, his name will forever be tied to a toy. In fact, he says without the “Super Soaker” he never would have learned the most valuable lesson of his career.

“The only way I was going to learn what I needed to learn to be successful was to take the risk,” Johnson says. “Put it out there and if things go wrong, as long as I learn from the experience I get to go again.”

ON THE AIR

KBBI is Powered by Active Listeners like You

As we celebrate 35 years of broadcasting, we look ahead to technology improvements and the changing landscape of public radio.

Support the voices, music, information, and ideas that add so much to your life.Thank you for supporting your local public radio station.

FOLLOW US

Drupal theme by pixeljets.com ver.1.4