Posts Tagged ‘business’

Tristan Walker’s Next Act: Building a Procter & Gamble for People of Color

December 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In his first few months as an entrepreneur in residence at Andreessen Horowitz, Tristan Walker dreamed big when it came to startup ideas. There were the seeds he planted for a new kind of bank. There was the idea for a venture aimed at tackling childhood obesity. But, then, Walker decided his best bet was to found a company that was more “authentic” to him and his experiences. What he came up with was Walker & Company Brands, a next-generation Procter and Gamble with a straightforward, if ambitious, mission: To make health and beauty simple for people of color. That’s what he told me in an interview on Sunday night about his new company, which has raised $2.4 million led by Los Angeles-based Upfront Ventures, with backing from Andresseen Horowitz, SV Angel, Collaborative Fund, Sherpa Ventures and the William Morris agency’s Charles King. Prior to Andreessen Horowitz, Walker ran business development at Foursquare, where he worked for nearly three years. On the surface, at least, the switch from a social-networking site to a consumer product goods company doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But when you hear Walker talk about his reason for creating Bevel, a $29.95 a month shaving kit that is the first brand launching under the Walker & Company umbrella and accepting pre-orders today , you can understand his motivation. Here’s an edited version of our conversation. Where did this idea come from? Tristan Walker: I was at Andreessen Horowitz for about nine months and I feel personally that I spent seven months of my time there chasing problems I probably wasn’t the right guy to solve. I wanted to build a bank.

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A Tale of Two Cities? A Q&A With Gavin Newsom on San Francisco’s History of “Animus” With Tech.

December 18, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

On the occasion of San Francisco finally getting its first major public Wi-Fi installation this week — nearly a decade after such an initiative had been proposed and awarded to Google and Earthlink — it seemed timely to call on Gavin Newsom. Newsom is the current lieutenant governor of California and former San Francisco mayor who had led the initial project. While still hurting over some political setbacks back then on the issue and wanting a little credit for his early efforts, he had some interesting thoughts on the history of intersections between San Francisco technology initiatives and public backlash against the tech industry. It’s a relevant and ongoing conversation as tensions continue in the city, which both embraces its tech hegemony and is also a little uncomfortable with the social and economic debates it brings. Representatives from local tech companies met behind closed doors yesterday with current Mayor Ed Lee for a conversation about “how the tech sector and the city can keep working together to continue San Francisco’s economic success for the benefit of everyone,” according to organizer Ron Conway, who said that specific areas of discussion included education, jobs and affordable housing. Here’s the conversation with Newsom, which has been edited slightly for length and the level of detail about local political skirmishes of the past. As one of the drivers behind the failed efforts for free citywide Wi-Fi when you were San Francisco mayor, what are your reflections on Wi-Fi launching on Market Street this week? I’m pleased, and I guess as a good Irish Catholic, you could say God’s delays are not God’s denials. It’s great to see the city step it up. I love the idea of Market Street because it’s the intersection of the old and the new San Francisco — symbolically, not just substantively.

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Cisco to Spend $4 Billion to Create 1,700 Jobs in Canada

December 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

The love affair between Cisco Systems and the nation of Canada got a little more serious today: They’re now going steady. The networking giant announced plans to spend $4 billion over 10 years to boost the company’s operations in the Province of Ontario to 5,000 people by 2024, which would amount to an increase of about 1,700 jobs from current levels. Cisco CEO John Chambers has been wooing Canada for about a year now. Last year, Chambers couldn’t stop gushing about how Canadian policymakers have made the region “the easiest place in the world to do business,” and that the U.S. could learn a thing or two from them. It’s all part and parcel of Chambers’s long argument with the U.S. over the corporate tax rate. Cisco had about $48.2 billion in cash and short-term investments on its balance sheet as of the quarter ended Oct. 26. Chambers has long been a vocal critic of a U.S.

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Apple Doesn’t Want to Pay the Feds’ E-Book Lawyer $70,000 a Week

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

As part of its punishment for the e-book antitrust trial it lost this summer , Apple is supposed to be footing the bill for a court-appointed “ compliance monitor .” Apple is not happy about this. At all. While it appeals the court’s ruling in the trial, Apple is now contesting the way that its monitor, former federal prosecutor Michael Bromwich, is going about his business. Among Apple’s complaints, filed in federal court this week: Bromwich is doing too much, by doing things like demanding interviews with Apple CEO Tim Cook, board member Al Gore, and Jony Ive (“whose sole and exclusive responsibility at Apple is to perfect elegant product designs,” according to an Apple attorney). Bromwich is charging too much — more than $1,100 an hour. Apple says this is “higher than Apple has ever encountered for any task.” Bromwich’s bill for his five-person team’s first two weeks of work: $138,432.40. Bromwich’s response, which he has sent to Apple and its attorneys as part of a lengthy back-and-forth over the past few weeks: You people seem to think I’m working for you. “Apple has sought for the last month to manage our relationship as though we are its outside counsel or consultant,” he wrote in a letter to Cook and his board last week. My fees are reasonable, and you have no idea what a reasonable fee looks like. Also, it doesn’t matter if you think my fees are reasonable, because you don’t get to negotiate them: You just pay them. The court will approve them

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Dropbox Goes Business Class With New Enterprise Tools

November 13, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Dropbox today is relaunching its products to make them more enterprise-friendly. Rather than creating two separate offerings for personal and business use, the company rebuilt its core file hosting product to allow enterprise users to control what their employees have access to, and to allow consumers to separate their personal files from their work files. That means company admins will have enterprise-grade tools like shared audit logs, remote wipe and account transfer when an employee leaves a company, centralized billing, two-step verifications and 24/7 customer service. Meanwhile, individual users will have both a personal folder they control, as well as a work folder they share with their company. The product will cost $795 per year for five users, and $125 per additional user per year. It is to launch in beta this month, and more broadly next year. Dropbox is already a significant business product — at least according to Dropbox. The company claims that its 200 million-plus users save more than 1 billion files every day. “That’s more tweets than on Twitter,” points out Dropbox CEO Drew Houston. “And it isn’t 140-character snippets, it’s your most important stuff.” And according to an internal count, four million companies use Dropbox today, including 97 percent of the Fortune 500. Now Dropbox is going to take those businesses more seriously. But that doesn’t mean it’s splitting off separate tools. It means it’s adding corporate-grade tools to the core Dropbox product. “Some people think there’s a consumer version of Dropbox and then there’s this different enterprise version of Dropbox,” Houston said. “We think that’s ridiculous. There should be only one.” Switching between two products would waste users’ time, he argued. Dropbox had to spend a year rebuilding its products to add the new enterprise-class controls the company unveiled today. “We’d been nervous,” Houston said. “If we clear off your computer, we might remote wipe all your baby photos.” Yet, there’s more work to be done. The new version of Dropbox doesn’t include employee collaboration tools

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Square Discontinues Monthly Flat-Rate Plan

November 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Square said it is discontinuing a monthly flat rate plan it had designed for larger businesses. “Over the past year we heard from many of our customers that caps and limits in the program were inhibiting growth—at a certain point, rates went back up the more you sold,” the company said in a post on its Web site . “So, effective February 1, 2014, we’re replacing the Square monthly pricing program with one low per-swipe rate for your business. We want our pricing to be simple: no more limits or complicated monthly caps at all. Just one low, flat per-swipe rate for your business.” The company said those enrolled in the program can keep it through the end of January, but the company said it has no plans to bring back the monthly rate plan. Square’s standard rates are 2.75 percent of a transaction where a credit card is swiped and 3.5 percent of manually entered charges, plus a 15-cent fee.

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Workplace Equality Is Good for Business

November 4, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Long before I started work as the CEO of Apple, I became aware of a fundamental truth: People are much more willing to give of themselves when they feel that their selves are being fully recognized and embraced. At Apple, we try to make sure people understand that they don’t have to check their identity at the door. We’re committed to creating a safe and welcoming workplace for all employees, regardless of their race, gender, nationality or sexual orientation. As we see it, embracing people’s individuality is a matter of basic human dignity and civil rights. It also turns out to be great for the creativity that drives our business. We’ve found that when people feel valued for who they are, they have the comfort and confidence to do the best work of their lives. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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FCC to Vote to Ease Limits on Foreign Ownership

October 25, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

The Federal Communications Commission is set to raise the 25 percent investment limit on foreign investment in U.S. radio and TV stations. Acting chairwoman Mignon Clyburn put the item on the commission's agenda for its Nov. 14 meeting. Had the decades-old 25 percent ownership been eased in the 80s, Rupert Murdoch wouldn't have had to jump through hoops and become a U.S. citizen to purchase the stations that eventually formed the basis of the Fox network. Groups like Univision Communications might also have had an easier time structuring investment. Over the years, support for easing the rule has come from all sectors of the business, but particularly from minority groups, as a way to help minority broadcasters that often find it difficult to find capital and new investors. "Approval of this item will clarify the commission's intention to review, on a case-by-case basis, proposed transactions that would exceed the 25 percent benchmark that restricts foreign ownership in companies holding broadcast licenses," Clyburn said Thursday in a brief statement. The item is likely to get a positive vote from all three commissioners. "Under our rules, a foreign company can indirectly hold more than a one-quarter stake in our nation's largest wireless carriers, cable operators, cable programmers, and Internet backbone providers. Yet that company cannot own a similar interest in a single radio station in rural Kansas. This disparity makes no sense, especially considering the difficult financial circumstances facing many broadcasters. Now is the time for the commission to revise this out-of-date restriction," said FCC commissioner Ajit Pai in a statement. Several groups that had lobbied for the rule to be changed praised the action, including the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, the Coalition for Broadcast Investment, the National Association of Media Brokers and the National Association of Broadcasters. "This is a textbook example of a deregulatory initiative that benefits underserved communities," said David Honig, MMTC president.

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Will Time Warner Provide Al Jazeera America With Ad Sales Support?

October 24, 2013  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Today Al Jazeera America passed the 50 million subscriber mark thanks in part to a new agreement with Time Warner Cable, which adds the net to its subscriber base and to Bright House Networks. It's a major milestone for the network, though perhaps not a financial watershed: according to the New York Times, Time Warner may actually be the one making money on the deal, if (as suggested) Al Jazeera is paying the cable company to sell ad sales support and marketing. "We appreciate the vote of confidence that Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks have given to our brand of unbiased journalism and look forward to working with them as Al Jazeera America continues to grow," said Ehab el Shihabi in a statement sent out earlier today. Sources in the buying world hadn't yet heard whether Time Warner Cable is repping the network, but Shihabi didn't deny it. Al Jazeera is in the odd position of not really needing advertising—the network is programming a very, very low six minutes of clutter time per hour (that's below any network except the kids' networks, which are monitored by the FCC), and much of it is direct response. Since AJAM is funded by the government of Qatar (Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, the country's progressive leader, has a reported net worth of some $2 billion personally), it's run essentially by fiat. A spokesperson for TWC said that the MSO wouldn't discuss any of the terms of the agreement, but given that the network's inventory doesn't exactly seem to be top priority at the moment, the partnership would make sense. (There's also the matter of brands worrying about associating brands with Al-anything .) Ratings for the network have been slight, frequently hash marks on the Nielsen chart, but news nets are notoriously slow to grow—Fox Business Network, launched in 2007, scored its first non-election prime-time wins against rival CNBC in May.

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NetSuite Acquires HR Software Player TribeHR

October 22, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Interesting development in the enterprise cloud software business today. NetSuite, the company that sells a cloud-based enterprise-resource management suite — applications that are used to run a company’s operations — is extending into the human resources area. NetSuite (that’s CEO Zach Nelson in the picture) said today it would acquire TribeHR, which is a player in the Human Capital Management space, and which, like NetSuite, goes after mid-market companies. So think of it as a Workday or a SuccessFactors for smaller companies. TribeHR is a four-year-old company based in Waterloo, Canada, and it has 450 customers in 50 countries. Financial terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, but NetSuite said it will talk about it in more detail when it reports quarterly earnings later this week. It’s NetSuite’s second acquisition this year. In January it got into the retail point-of-sale business by acquiring Retail Anywhere . Looks like NetSuite is going to remain acquisitive for the time being. NetSuite shares rose by less than one percent after the deal was announced to close at $109.19 today. The rise probably had more to do with the fact that JMP Securities hiked its price target on NetSuite to $115 from $98 in a research report today. And the reason for that was word from SAP over the weekend that it intends to cut back on development of Business ByDesign , a product that was created to compete with NetSuite.

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