Showing posts with label Commerce Failure. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commerce Failure. Show all posts

October 3, 2016

Someone Who Has 1 bill Losses Cannot be Called Smart


The revelation by the New York Times that Donald J. Trump was showing a tax loss on his 1995 tax returns of nearly $1 billion is stunning.

As a tax lawyer, academic and commentator, I have a pretty good sense of what is coming: a few articles, some denials and retorts—including one from Trump that came after the story appeared—and lots of complexity from talking heads. 

True believers in Trump will come away still convinced of their great leader's genius and acumen. Hillary Clinton’s followers will fume that yet another piece of evidence showing their opponent is a selfish, unprincipled con artist has come forth without finally ending this thing.

The rest of us — and the remaining undecideds -- will come away confused, in large part because stories about billion-dollar tax breaks tend to be confusing.

Here, then, are a few simple points:

• A $916 million tax loss is a big deal. It means that Trump could have earned income of almost a billion dollars over a period of up to 15 years after 1995 without paying any federal income tax. Nice work if you can get it. Trump got it.

• It is wrong to assume that Trump's nearly billion-dollar loss came from his own money. Trump is the self-proclaimed "king of debt." Much of sophisticated tax planning has always involved getting tax breaks from "other people's money," a phrase of which Trump is fond. Banks, other lenders or investors could well have put up the money generating the losses that Trump is claiming on his own tax returns.

• To truly understand the underlying source of the tax loss, we would have to see Trump's tax returns. It is certainly fair to assume that the loss came largely from other people's money, and fair for us to expect Trump to rebut such a claim .... by showing us his tax records.
The argument that “Trump is really smart, the king of tax loopholes, and that we should elect him because he alone can fix the tax system” is extremely weak, for at least two reasons:

1. There is no evidence whatsoever that Trump, himself, understands the tax laws benefiting him. The New York Times article indicates Trump's own tax accountant found him inattentive, and nothing that Trump has said in public has revealed a deep knowledge of the tax code. Trump does, on the other hand, have a frequently revealed fondness for debt, or using “other people's money."

2. Trump's own tax proposals would actually close down none of the remaining tax "loopholes" benefiting debt. Indeed, Trump's plan would greatly encourage and reward debt. Trump’s impulsive last-minute decision to continue an interest loan deduction in his otherwise standard trickle-down tax du jour plan was a $1.2 trillion dollar "whopper" -- an expense nearly five times higher than the campaign's view of the cost of Trump's child care tax plan.

Trump's continued preference for tax benefits for debt is reckless. Trump's tax policies would greatly increase taxpayer abilities to use other people's money to generate tax breaks for themselves.
Whatever happens in the sea of complexity about to be sent forth, we should all remember this: A tax loss of nearly a billion dollars is a very, very nice thing to have, especially if it came from other people’s money.

Edward McCaffery

Trump Not Self Made and Whose Money Did He Loose?

Trump wrote in his 1987 book “The Art of the Deal.” “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”
Given all the “truthful hyperbole” out there about Trump, it’s hard to know what to believe. Here are five of the most important things to know about Trump’s business career.

1) He has a talent for real estate, but that hasn’t always translated well to other industries.

Trump has forged a successful real estate career over 45 years, profiting from flagship buildings like the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, the Trump Tower Chicago, and Mar-a-Lago, a private club in Palm Beach, Fla. His Trump Organization owns a portfolio of buildings, hotels and golf courses around the world.
Yet his real estate business isn’t exactly the dominant force he suggests. Despite a national reputation as a New York property mogul, Trump doesn’t make it into top 10 lists of the city’s real estate players.
While his dealings in hotels and golf courses around the world appear to be success — his companies are privately held, so details are scarce — forays into casinos, airlines, professional football and other industries have ended badly.  His casino business, which produced the four bankruptcies that political opponents often hammer him about, is probably his most infamous flop. Though Trump paints these Chapter 11 bankruptcies as if they were a good deal, saying they allowed him to get out of a failing Atlantic City business at a strategic time, the 1991 bankruptcy proceedings brought him close to losing much of his personal fortune. As Drew Harwell and Jacob Bogage wrote for the Post, Trump had to put millions of dollars of his own money into struggling companies, sold his yacht and his airline, gave up substantial ownership stakes and decision making roles, and even agreed to limits on his own personal spending.
Today, Trump describes these bankruptcies as if no one was hurt in the process, except high rollers and sharks. He says that he has started hundreds of companies, but only used bankruptcy proceedings four times. And he claims that Atlantic City has been a losing proposition for most entrepreneurs. "Almost every hotel in Atlantic City has either been in bankruptcy or will be in bankruptcy," Trump said during the third Republican debate.
Michael d’Antonio, who wrote a recent biography of Trump, says that is an incomplete assessment.
“But there were many people who weren’t wealthy who lost money on those bankruptcies,” he said. “Anyone who invested in a bond fund or who bought individual securities that were linked to his casinos lost money.”
According to the New York Times, Wall Street banks remain hesitant to deal with Trump, due to the previous bankruptcies and his litigious nature. Federal Election Commission disclosures have shown that 15 companies associated with Trump owe more than $270 million to banks. Trump responds to these critiques by saying that he doesn't use Wall Street because he doesn't need the money — he's rich enough to do his own financing.
Another long and strange story is Trump’s involvement with professional football in the 1980s. In 1984, Trump bought the New Jersey Generals, a team in the In New York Times writer Joe Nocera’s account, Trump’s aim was in large part to have the league acquired by the National Football League, in the same way that the American Football League merged with the NFL in 1966. Trump led a charge to move the league's games from the spring to the fall, when they would go head-to-head with the NFL. Instead of merging with the NFL, the USFL simply flopped.
“I think he’s very good at real estate, I don’t think he’s very good at other things,” says biographer D'Antonio. “He tried to run an airline and failed at that. He tried to run casinos and failed four times. That’s not evidence of brilliance when it comes to operating a complex business.”
Trump has acknowledged a tendency to get bored easily with business ventures. “The same assets that excite me in the chase, often, once they are acquired, leave me bored,” Trump wrote in one of his books. “For me, you see, the important thing is the getting, not the having.”

2) Trump is not a self-made man.

One of Marco Rubio’s top zingers in the debate last week was that if Trump hadn’t gotten an inheritance of $200 million from his father, he’d be “selling watches” in the streets of Manhattan. Rubio got the figures about Trump’s inheritance wrong — $200 million is actually what Trump’s dad’s fortune was estimated at in the 1970s, not Trump’s inheritance — but Trump clearly benefited from the wealth and connections of his father, Fred Trump.
One of the richest people in America in the 1970s, Fred Trump built a real estate empire developing apartments for middle-class families in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island after World War II. After the younger Trump graduated from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School in 1968, he joined his dad’s firm and, in 1971, took over the business. He built on his dad’s success, deploying leveraged capital on risky ventures that paid off: the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42nd Street, the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue, and Trump Plaza on 61st and Third Avenue.
What Trump benefited most from initially was his dad’s credit-worthiness, says D’Antonio. “When he wanted to go into business on his own, his father’s credit was available to him, and that was worth tens of millions of dollars.” Still, there are questions over how much wealth Trump created. In the debate last week, Trump claimed that he took a loan of $1 million from his father and he turned it into a fortune of $10 billion. But The Post's fact checkers say that neither claim is quite right.
The $1 million loan doesn’t include any of the benefits Trump received from his family’s connections and joining his father’s real estate business after he graduated from college, and it doesn’t count an estimated $40 million inheritance in 1974. The $10 billion figure, which is what Trump claims as his current net worth, is also disputed. Bloomberg News has estimated Trump's net worth at only $2.9 billion, while Forbes put it at $4.1 billion. Since Trump’s businesses aren’t public, the true figure isn’t clear.
As my colleague Max Ehrenfreund has argued, even if Trump has many billions of dollars, there's an open question over whether that reflects true business acumen.
Business Week estimated Trump’s net worth at $100 million in 1978. If Trump had merely put that money in an index fund based on the Standard & Poor's 500 index — the kind many Americans use to save for retirement — he would be worth $6 billion today.

3) Everything Trump touches turns to "Trump." 

D’Antonio says the strategy of branding and franchising is unusual for a businessperson, and more reminiscent of a professional athlete. “Donald is brilliant about turning himself into a walking brand, and he seized that opportunity pretty early,” he says.
Trump’s penchant for deploying his name has been a successful marketing strategy, but it also appears to satisfy a deeper desire for fame and accomplishment. 
In addition to the Trump hotels and casinos, there are Trump-branded steaks (developed for the Sharper Image catalogue, but still served in Trump hotel restaurants), a Trump board game, the now-defunct Trump magazine and Trump Airlines, and a line of shirts and ties called the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection. Trump has put his name on water, Israeli energy drinks, cologne, Virginian wine, vodka, furniture – “almost anything that might be sold as high quality, high cost, and high-class,” D'Antonio writes.
The Trump brand family also includes the strange saga of Trump University, which has been the subject of intense criticism by his political rivals. As the Post’s Emma Brown wrote in September, Trump University was not a university at all, but a series of motivational workshops and real estate industry tips that were held in hotel ballrooms beginning in 2004.
Students paid several thousand dollars for a three-day course, and up to $35,000 for more extensive mentoring and workshop packages. Some were under the impression that they would be mentored by Trump himself, but in the end the closest they got was a cardboard cutout of Trump they could take a picture with. Trump still faces lawsuits from the venture, including a $40 million suit from the New York attorney general for defrauding students and operating an unlicensed university.
Trump responded to comments about Trump University in Thursday's debate by calling the lawsuits "nonsense."
"It's something I could have settled many times. I could settle it right now for very little money, but I don't want to do it out of principle," he said. "The people that took the course all signed -- most -- many -- many signed report cards saying it was fantastic, it was wonderful, it was beautiful."

4) Trump’s record includes some unsavory episodes.

While Trump was never accused of doing anything illegal, he worked extensively with companies controlled by the mafia on properties in New York and Atlantic City, including Trump Tower and Trump Plaza.
Some would say that was the only way to develop property in New York in the 1970s and 1980s – the mob controlled many parts of the city’s construction industry, including concrete, labor unions and trash disposal. Still, the extent of Trump's involvement is certainly unique. “No serious presidential candidate has ever had Trump’s depth of documented business relationships with mob-controlled entities,” The Post’s Robert O’Harrow Jr. wrote.
Trump has said that he did not know these companies' mafia connections, adding that they were "unbelievably good contractors in terms of doing the work."
As Republican opponents have pointed out, Trump’s businesses may have hired undocumented and guest workers — allegations that now prove awkward for a presidential candidate running on an anti-immigration platform.
Construction workers at Trump’s new D.C. hotel told The Washington Post that some workers were undocumented, while the New York Times reported that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach rejected hundreds of applications from Americans only to bring in hundreds of Romanian guest workers.
As Rubio recounted in the debate Thursday night, Trump also faced a long-running lawsuit over the use of undocumented workers at the Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. The building was allegedly built by undocumented Polish workers who were paid $5 an hour or less, when they were paid at all. The case dragged on for decades. The judged ruled that Trump knew that Polish workers were working off the books and were paid illegally and sub-standardly. Trump appealed, and the case was ultimately settled in 1999.
There were other strange incidents. The lawyer who represented the Polish workers claimed that someone named "John Baron" had called to threaten him with a lawsuit if he kept causing trouble, as Michael Daly writes for The Daily Beast. Trump denied making the call, but he used the pseudonym John Baron throughout his career. He suggested the name “John Barron” for the main character in a never-produced TV show called “The Tower” that was loosely based on Trump’s life, and he and Melania later named their son Barron.
When Rubio brought up the Polish workers in Thursday's debate, Trump responded by saying he had hired tens of thousands of people in his lifetime, and that, at the time, "the laws were totally different. That was a whole different world."

5) Trump's genius is building a brand, even a mythology.

In the 1980s, Donald Trump was short on cash but eager to get Holiday Inn involved in a new casino project in Atlantic City. The construction wasn’t far along, but the Holiday Inn executives were coming to town, and Trump wanted to impress them. So he ordered a construction crew to dig up piles of dirt and drive them around on the site as energetically as possible. When the Holiday Inn executives arrived, they were impressed and agreed to invest, Trump recalls in “The Art of the Deal.”
Trump's greatest talent turns out to be not building businesses, but constructing a larger-than-life public figure. D’Antonio says he thinks Trump has worked to create a strong brand mostly because his ego "needed the attention." However, Trump also figured out how to make the attention profitable as well.
Trump's personal brand got a huge boost from “The Apprentice,” the reality TV show in which Trump came off as a straight-talking truth-teller – “a decider who insisted on standards in a country that had somehow slipped into handing out trophies just for showing up,” as The Post’s Mark Fisher writes. In a recent book, Trump wrote that he didn’t do the show for money, but rather because of the “brand presence.”
Through his career, Trump has had a knack for converting his outrageousness into profit. Now, says D’Antonio, Trump is trying to convert it into votes.

August 13, 2016

BIG Kiss for Sainsbury-London After A Gay Couple asked to Leave


A gay couple left “humiliated” after being told to stop holding hands in Sainsbury's have inspired protesters to stage a peaceful "kiss-in" at a north London branch of the supermarket giant.

Thomas Rees and his boyfriend Josh were shopping after work at a Sainsbury’s store in Hackney, London, on August 8, when a security guard called them over.

He asked them to follow him outside and explained that a female shopper had complained they were touching and behaving inappropriately.  

Later, they were offered a £10 gift card as compensation, but the gesture wasn't enough to lay the incident to rest.

Couples - mostly same-sex - now plan to fill the aisles of the supermarket and embrace in support of the pair.

Campaigner Michael Segalov has organized a "big gay kiss in" on Facebook, which encourages LGBT people to gather at the branch where the "inappropriate hand holding" took place. Writing on Facebook, he said: “In a year that’s seen attacks all too often on the LGBT community, it’s high time that Sainsbury’s – with profits over £500 million this year – put their money where their mouths are and use their resources to ensure that homophobia becomes a thing of the past. A £10 voucher just doesn’t cut it.

“Come down to Sainsbury’s at 7pm this Saturday: hold hands, pucker up, and tell Sainsbury’s enough is enough.” Sainsbury's has come under fire before for staff treatment of LGBT people. In October 2014, a lesbian couple complained after a security guard at a branch in Brighton reportedly told the couple that another customer found them “disgusting” when one pecked the other on the cheek, and asked them to leave if they continued to show affection.

A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said: "We sincerely apologise to Thomas and Josh.

"We are an inclusive retailer and employer and do not tolerate discrimination in our stores.

“We will take appropriate action once we've concluded our investigation with our security contractor."

August 12, 2016

Gay Couples and Other Gays Being Victimized at Major Uk Locations

I encourage gay couples and others LGBT’s to report to the media(this blog), tweets, police over any victimization they receive at any store particularly in the UK, EU countries and the US. Only thru bringing light to these systemic acts of intolerance can we bring the message that this is not the world of your grandparents but of the 21 century in which we should not be discriminating nor asking who we go to bed with because simply is none of their darn business. Adam
Thomas Reed

A gay couple who held hands in a supermarket have expressed their anger after a security guard told them they were acting inappropriately.

Thomas Rees and Joshua Bradwell were in a Sainsbury's store in Hackney when the guard told them a woman had complained about their behaviour.
“It's really knocked me for six and I've spent the last day or so analyzing how I'm perceived," said Mr Rees.

Sainsbury's apologised and offered them a £10 voucher.
The 32-year-old said they were holding hands, and that he may have put his arm around his partner's waist as they were buying their food on Monday evening.
"We weren't celebrating good news, we weren't all over each other, we weren't in the throes of passion - it was essentially just holding my boyfriend's hand as I do every day. I’m very much in love and that's how I express my love," he said.

After they paid, a security guard told them about the complaint after he beckoned them outside so they would not be embarrassed, which "aggravated it more".

"I have nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed about. I shouldn't be removed from the store," said Mr Rees.
"All it's done is strengthen the importance that if you love someone, irrelevant of their gender, that is love and you should express that love in whatever way you desire or wish to. "
Mr Rees tweeted the supermarket giant and got a message back apologising and offering the voucher.
But he said he would like a phone call from them instead explaining how they train staff members to deal with diversity.
He added: "I do feel for the security guard because he was clearly unable or poorly equipped to handle these situations.

"He explained that he was brought up to believe 'live and let live' but he had to let us know that a complaint has been made and he kept repeating this complaint which was infuriating."
A spokesperson for Sainsbury's said: "We sincerely apologise to Thomas and Josh.
"We are an inclusive retailer and employer and do not tolerate discrimination in our stores.
"We will take appropriate action once we've concluded our investigation with our security contractor."
Walked off

Jo Wales, 35, contacted BBC News to claim he was also victimized at a Sainsbury's store in Wimbledon when a cashier apparently refused to serve him and his male partner at Christmas and instead glared at them from two checkouts away.

He wrote an email to the supermarket giant’s CEO but did not hear back until about a month later, by which point he said he had moved on.

Sainsbury’s said it was unable to investigate this incident because it happened so long ago, but added it was not something which happened often.

Two years ago, a “big kiss" protest was held at a Sainsbury's store in Brighton after a lesbian couple was asked to leave when one gave her partner a kiss on the cheek.

September 18, 2015

Exxon Found Out About Climate Change in 1977 but still Obstructive


When we think about climate change, many of us have a sense that it’s everyone’s fault. We think there’s no individual to blame for the fact that the Atlantic Ocean is taking up residency in people’s homes — that it’s just the system. It’s every one of us who drives a car or turns on a light switch or eats a hamburger. But while it is true that most of us (Americans) contribute enough greenhouse emissions to kill a polar bear or two, there are some standout climate villains. And one stands out further than perhaps all others: Exxon.

An investigation by InsideClimate News found that Exxon knew decades ago that burning fossil fuels would heat up the planet, long before “global warming” became part of our lexicon. Reporters spent eight months combing through archives and interviewing scientists and federal officials, and discovered systematic efforts by the company to suppress climate action over the course of decades.

Here’s a description of an Exxon meeting from way back in 1977:

At a meeting in Exxon Corporation’s headquarters, a senior company scientist named James F. Black addressed an audience of powerful oilmen. Speaking without a text as he flipped through detailed slides, Black delivered a sobering message: carbon dioxide from the world’s use of fossil fuels would warm the planet and could eventually endanger humanity.

“In the first place, there is general scientific agreement that the most likely manner in which mankind is influencing the global climate is through carbon dioxide release from the burning of fossil fuels,” Black told Exxon’s Management Committee, according to a written version he recorded later. …

Exxon responded swiftly. Within months the company launched its own extraordinary research into carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and its impact on the earth. Exxon’s ambitious program included both empirical CO2 sampling and rigorous climate modeling. It assembled a brain trust that would spend more than a decade deepening the company’s understanding of an environmental problem that posed an existential threat to the oil business.

But despite Exxon’s early internal acknowledgement that burning fossil fuels would ultimately lead to some very bad shit, the company reversed course in the early 1980s and started dismantling its own climate change programs. By the end of the ’80s, it started suppressing evidence, blocking domestic and global action to control greenhouse gases, and spreading doubt about the science of climate change — science based on its own research. It also helped start the Global Climate Coalition, an ironically named coalition of the world’s biggest companies working to stop government action to curb fossil fuel emissions. 

In a video address from 1996, Exxon CEO Lee R. Raymond says, “The scientific evidence remains inconclusive as to whether human activities affect the global climate.” We now know this to be false. Raymond knew it then.

October 29, 2014

Time Warner is Doing Bad and HBO will Pay by firing 2400 Employees, more…


I am going to give you the reason of why TW is getting rid of 7% of their work force. Are they that bad off?  NO they are not that bad off. The reason for this is purely a down on the profit loss ledger.

They want to show profit, so instead of improving services, they have cut services, and up subscriber’s rates. They are also taking out a mass number of individuals from their payrolls, 2400 to start with.

I just received a letter from Time Warner and on the latter it said, ‘Take this and enjoy it We know you can use it’. It looked like a check. I only get Fast Internet connection from this company and only because of lack of choices where I live. I thought it was a check to get me to come back to TV cable.

On the letter it said I was enjoying a special rate (never heard of it before, I thought I was overpaying). Since the year is coming to a close for that ‘special’ they will bring it to the normal the normal rate 73.98 from 55.98. 

On the body of the letter they kept me guessing what are they going to do for me since so far they have taken away. “Because Im a good customer” they will slide me to another special for 65.98 so I can enjoy their discount. Can you imagine if I was a bad customer?

Incredible! I wonder what focus group they have used that told TW that their customers are all dumb and will see a raise as a discount. I thought those days of plain misrepresentations went out with Crazy Eddie.  Not for TW they believe in the past. 

They could have told me that the price of doing business is gone up so they are raising my rate $10.00 (which is not true for them paying more but the people that use them are paying more) but still it will be more human and more honest. Right there they have the main reason why they don’t show an increase big enough on the profit margin. “Non Existent Customer Satisfaction” Maybe they believe their own actors on the commercial they play.



(Warner Bros. will cut overhead by $200 million annually, the studio's chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara said during a presentation to Time Warner investors on Wednesday.)

Weeks after the conglom went public with job cuts at its Warner Bros. and Turner Broadcasting divisions, the HBO unit is expected to trim its own staff as well, according to sources. Approximately 7% of its 2,400 employees face pink slips as early as this week.
A rep for HBO declined comment.
An internal email from HBO CEO Richard Plepler that was leaked to Variety made clear his division would not emerge unscathed. The message, which was circulated last week to HBO employees the day of the Time Warner presentation, discloses that a small layoff was in the offing before the start of November.
“We reviewed 2015 budgets and staffing plans with this in mind and reduced cost and redundancy wherever possible to preserve our ability to invest in our future,” Plepler wrote (full memo below). “This will unfortunately include the elimination of some positions.”
While Time Warner made clear at a presentation to investors last week that its studio and basic cable units would lose as much as 10% of their ranks this year as a cost-cutting measure, no mention was made of HBO staff on the chopping block.
It’s unclear what areas of operation within HBO will be impacted by the layoff but the reductions will be contained entirely to the company’s domestic personnel.
HBO made headlines that day by announcing a long-anticipated standalone streaming servicewould launch sometime next year. Plepler also laid out plans to glean more in affiliate fees from subscribers who weren’t yielding revenue for the company.
Time Warner had indicated that “cost reduction programs” were going to affect every part of the company. But what’s unclear is whether conglom management deferred to the CEOs at each division as to whether they could decide how to achieve their respective cost cuts. Sources dispute whether HBO, for instance, could have conceivably opted to reduce its expenses in lieu of losing jobs, or whether Time Warner specifically ordered layoffs that HBO chiefs didn’t want to make.
The premium cabler has long been regarded the crown jewel of Time Warner, bringing in nearly $5 billion in revenue last year, as well as $1.7 billion in operating profit. With 127 million subscribers around the world, HBO was said to be a big part of why Rupert Murdoch made a bold play earlier this year to acquire Time Warner for 21st Century Fox. The bid was ultimately rejected, which in turn has put the company’s CEO, Jeff Bewkes, under pressure to boost earnings.
HBO in particular has come under scrutiny as being undervalued, which has kicked up speculation that Time Warner could move to spin off the division or convert it to a tracking stock. While the HBO channel itself added a record 2 million subscribers in the first half of 2014 according to SNL Kagan, an over-the-top digital extension was greeted with excitement by investors because of the prospect the company could open a new revenue stream.
Given the success of HBO over the lifetime of the organization, job cuts have been a rarity in its 42-year history. Last recorded reductions came just over a decade ago in its affiliate sales division, which shed about 20 employees in a restructuring of its operations.
Warner Bros. already indicated its intent to make $200 million worth of cuts to its annual overhead, which could amount to as many as 1,000 jobs, as Variety first reported.
Turner is expected to make even steeper cuts, removing 1,475 of the 14,000 positions across its organization worldwide.
Here’s Plepler’s memo in its entirety:
Given the recent press coverage regarding cost containment efforts across Time Warner, I wanted to let you know how this affects HBO.
We have a long history of tightly managing our overhead so that we’re able to maximize investment in the creation, distribution and marketing of content. We also shift resources when necessary toward areas with the greatest potential to drive revenue growth and to enhance our brand.  We reviewed 2015 budgets and staffing plans with this in mind and reduced cost and redundancy wherever possible to preserve our ability to invest in our future. This will unfortunately include the elimination of some positions.  Where relevant, your department head will share details with you in the weeks ahead.
I understand that the news of staff reductions is unsettling.  Rest assured that we will manage this difficult process with the fairness and respect you would expect from our company.
A hallmark of our long-sustained success has been the commitment to making very difficult decisions even during times of growth and optimism.  As I said at today’s event, this is the most exciting inflection point, domestically and internationally, in the modern history of HBO. It’s fair to say that by any metric: subscriber growth, content deals, the ever-extending reach of our brand or industry buzz; we are at the top of our game – and as I also made clear, we are just getting started.   All of this is possible for one simple reason, the talented people that make up this company.
All best,                                                  


September 5, 2014

Starbuck Never Put Pumpkin in the Pumpkin Latte but did add a carcinogen so It would taste like it

Ready to indulge in a fall favorite beverage? You might want to rethink your pumpkin spice latte.
Recently, a blog post emerged that delved into this Starbucks favorite. The company announced it would bring it back sooner than later due to cooler temperatures, but they may not have realized it would be met with such backlash.
Where is the Pumpkin
Photo credit: Food Babe
After a bit of prodding about the content of the coveted PSL, Vani Hari (aka The Food Babe) got some answers. The company doesn't list ingredients... it says, "The Pumpkin Spice Latte is of pumpkin and traditional fall spice flavors combined with espresso and steamed milk, topped with whipped cream and pumpkin pie spice."
You might have seen her now-famous infographic floating around in cyberspace, aiming to uncover the truth about the not-so-pumpkin pumpkin spice latte.
Some people say that waging a war against the PSL due to its chemicals is not fair, because some foods we consume — water, for example — are chemicals.
Whats in a Starbucks PSL?
Photo credit: Food Babe
So what's in it? According to Food Babe:
  • There are two doses of Caramel Color Level IV, which is made with ammonia and considered a carcinogen.
  • It includes Mansanto Milk cows that are fed GMO corn, soy and artificial flavors made from petroleum
  • Preservatives and sulfites, which can trigger allergic reactions
  • Potential pesticide residue from using non-organic coffee beans
  • Condensed conventional milk, which is not vegan even if you order it with soy milk
  • There are no "real pumpkin" ingredients
  • According to one report, Starbucks says that one pump of pumpkin sauce contains eight grams of sugar — and a grande has three pumps. That's 24 grams just from the syrup — there are 49 grams total.
Wanna dig deeper into the PSL "conspiracy?" Read her full post, which gives you a college-level overview of the chemical components in a pumpkin spice latte.
Don't care and still plan to have one soon? Eh, life could be worse. Fall comes but once a year — perhaps enjoying a PSL isn't so bad after all. Or try this easy homemade pumpkin spice latte recipe.
What I really wonder is what happens after the PSL has lost its buzz — will Food Babe dish on the peppermint latte next? Please don’t ruin it for us!

July 19, 2014

Welcome to Microsoft, Nokia employees, You are now fired!


So came the message on Thursday as Microsoft (MSFT) announced plans to fire as many as 18,000 people over the next year. The bulk of the layoffs, about 12,500 people, will come from the Nokia (NOK) devices and services business that Microsoft officially acquired in April. Most of the rest of the firings will affect people with overlapping jobs, furthering new Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella’s pledge to create a leaner, meaner, faster-moving organization. Grrr.
It’s not easy firing this many people—especially when you’re Microsoft, which hardly ever fires anyone, and when you’re dealing with Finland, which also has a thing against firing people. The company did it with two memos and a press release. The first memo came from Nadella, who explained how the layoffs fit into the strategy outlined in his memo from last week. The second came from Stephen Elop, the former Nokia CEO and now Microsoft executive, who never really managed to revive Nokia’s business, delivered the pride of Finland into the clutches of Microsoft, and must be feeling some measure of guilt about all this. (Right?) A staggering 40,000 Nokia employees had already lost their jobs over the past few years, as the phonemaker transitioned from global market power to Harvard Business School case study.
The only large group of layoffs in Microsoft’s history occurred in 2009, when about 6,000 employees were let go in something of a face-saving gesture after the Windows Vista debacle and the company’s complete whiff on mobile. That bloodletting got Microsoft into decent shape, although the company could still stand to lose more employees or to get more out of the workers it has. Its profit and revenue per employee, while better than traditional business-software rivals such asIBM (IBM) and Oracle (ORCL), is quite a bit worse than Google (GOOG) and Apple(AAPL). Microsoft certainly did not want to see its metrics slide because of the Nokia deal.
And, while painful, these layoffs do make sense. Nokia had a huge arsenal of phones that represented an onslaught meant to return the company to its former glory. You’d figure Microsoft would trim the product lineup over time and focus on a couple of models—and, indeed, a big chunk of today’s layoffs came from Nokia’s manufacturing operations. Interestingly, Elop noted that Microsoft will center its phone production in Hanoi. As Chinese wages rise, I’m hearing more and more about companies shifting their manufacturing from China to Vietnam.
You have to dress these sorts of moves up with some “we’re on a mission” cheerleading, and that’s what Nadella did. His memo to workers arrived with the subject line “Starting to Evolve Our Organization and Culture.” For years, Microsoft has been painted as the kingdom of the middle manager, where armies of men in blue Oxford shirts and khaki pants roamed the halls looking for a meeting to bog down. No more, says Nadella. “We plan to have fewer layers of management, both top down and sideways, to accelerate the flow of information and decision making,” he writes. “This includes flattening organizations and increasing the span of control of people managers.” That’s top-down, sideways-span control with a hearty helping of flattening, which is a management overhaul taking place on at least five axes and requiring minor alterations to the space-time continuum.
 Is any of this for real? Does Microsoft really plan to end its reliance on middle managers? Can Batman sell smartphones? I guess we’ll see soon enough.

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