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Marketplace on WVTF, RADIO IQ & RADIO IQ w/BBC News
Marketplace with host Kai Ryssdal produced and distributed by American Public Media focuses on the latest business news both nationally and internationally, the global economy, and wider events linked to the financial markets.
The only national daily business news program originating from the West Coast, Marketplace is noted for its timely, relevant and accessible coverage of business, economics and personal finance.
Monday, March 10, 2014 2:27pm
We're not very far into 2014, but you can already call this the year of the IPO. So far, more than 40 companies have gone public. That's more than double last year at this time and the most since the economic boom year of 2007. "And the party’s just starting," says John Fitzgibbon, founder of IPO Scoop. He says the IPO boom is all about the strong stock market. "It’s very simple approach. Good stock market equals good IPO market. Lousy market, kiss it goodbye."
The stock market has been a bit bumpy, but worries about a crash are easing. Investors now want to put their money into companies they think will deliver solid returns. "The increase in the activity for the IPO market is really a statement of how much the market had been held back in the previous last few years," says David Menlow, president of IPO Financial.com. And Menlow says many companies feel they’ve gotta go public before the other guy. "They’ll be a sense of urgency as we move through the year and businesses will expand and as a result we’re expecting all boats to rise with the tide."
Menlow expects we’ll see the IPO pace keep up through the end of the year.
Monday, March 10, 2014 1:47pm
Lauren Wolkstein has her eyes glued to YouTube, watching the latest Wes Anderson movie. She gives a startled laugh as Jason Schwartzman's character's car crashes into a wall.
This seven minute film is not for theaters. It's for Prada, the fashion label.
“This is actually very entertaining,” Wolkstein says. She's an indie film director herself. She's had three films at Sundance. And like Wes Anderson, she's also made a short film for a fashion label, Gucci.
Which begs the question: Why are these famous directors selling out?
“To me,” Wolkstein says of her experience working for Gucci, “it was like, 'Oh, I don't have to worry about dressing the actors, I don't have to worry about the location, they gave me everything to play with, and I was able to tell a story, with these amazing clothes!''
Wolkstein says it can take years to raise enough money to finance a film, even for established indie directors. Commissions from big brands take that problem away.
"They're saying 'I love your work, here's some money, pretty much take this money and run with it and tell your stories.' And the only requirement, if any, is to put their name and the brand on the film."
She says having a fashion brand as your patron, giving you free rein, it actually raises a filmmaker's street cred.
But what's in it for the brand?
“I think fashion brands for a long time struggled to go online,” says Quynh Mai, founder of the agency Moving Image and Content, which helps fashion companies with digital marketing. “They sell exclusivity, aspiration. And for a long time the online space was the antithesis of that.”
Mai says having a web film with a fancy director gives fashion houses the exclusivity they're aiming for.
“When brands like Prada spend exorbitant amount of moneys on their films online,” Mai says, “they're trying to create a halo effect for their brand – that crosses not only their target consumer but maybe the consumer who buys their sunglasses, or buys their nail polish.”
Although, Mai says, when brands hire big name directors to make their films, it can take away attention from the brand.
“All people say is, 'Have you seen that Wes Anderson short?'” she says. “I’m not sure that that was a Prada piece.”
But director Lauren Wolkstein says hiring an indie director can actually save a brand money, because they're used to making films on a smaller budget than most commercial crews.
Monday, March 10, 2014 12:30pm
For a cloud storage company that has some major competition, Box's future seems to be getting brighter and brighter. We interviewed the company's CEO Aaron Levie at South By Southwest ahead of his presentation in Austin, and he let us in on a bit of news. Just as Box is projecting to double revenue this year to over $200 million, Levie and company have also drawn new funding from Ashton Kutcher. Ahead of the announcement, Levie told us:
"Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary invested in the company, and that was really around our focus and strategic push within the media and entertainment space...Companies like Sony Music, CIA, Live Nation, Wasserman Media Group -- all of these companies use Box to share and collaborate around their information, and we would like to go work even deeper in this market, so we are looking forward to having them on as strategic partners."
Our interview with Levie touched on everything from the pressures of a young entrepeneur to how Box was able to survive in a space where giant companies like Microsoft and Amazon were already established. Check back here for the full interview.
Monday, March 10, 2014 9:17am
Last year, Americans used public transportation to take 10.7 billion trips. According to the American Public Transportation Association, ridership hasn’t been that high since 1956.
“It’s truly a fundamental shift in how people are moving about their communities,” says Michael Melaniphy, the group’s president and CEO, noting the growth started several years ago. “Initially, when fuel prices spiked, it drove people to transit, and once they came, they decided it was good, and they stayed.”
There is a correlation, Melaniphy says, between high ridership and the health of the U.S. economy. Sixty percent of trips taken on public transit are work commutes.
However, Michael Moss, who directs the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management at New York University, argues the other 40 percent is also important:
“Mass transit today is not just a peak-hour activity,” he says. As public transportation becomes more popular, and as cities spend more money on expanding it, transit systems are opening earlier and closing later.
“There was a time when you said, ‘I want to live near a good school district,’” Moss says. “Today, people want to live near a good transit connection.”
Moss is referring to young people especially, who are ever less likely to own cars.
Monday, March 10, 2014 6:50am
Would a cheese by any other name smell as sweet? Americans might soon find out, at least if the European Union gets its way. As part of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, the EU is trying to get the US to stop using ‘protected’ cheese names. So that soft cheese you’ve been spreading on your cracker? Unless it was from a specific region of France, it shouldn’t be called ‘brie’. And that would be true for around 180 other cheeses, if the US goes along with the partnership.
If companies like Kraft have to change the name of their products, they certainly won’t be alone. Lawsuits, rulings, and a sundry of other reasons have forced organizations to change their names, and the names of their products.
Here are some highlights:
World Wrestling Federation to World Wrestling Entertainment
The World Wrestling Federation, famous to middle-schoolers the world over for its unique brand of testosterone soaked mayhem, was forced to change its name to World Wrestling Entertainment in 2001. This all stemmed from a dispute with the World Wildlife Fund, which was also using the initials WWF. Unfortunately, this dispute was settled via a lawsuit resulting in a court ruling, not, as it might be fun to imagine, in a wrestling match featuring The Rock and a giant panda squaring off. Lawsuits are actually how most name changes are forced upon companies. If one company starts using a name that another organization has the trademark on, then the second company can bring the first to court in order to make them change it. This happened when BlackBerry makers RIM tried to use the name BBX for its software. And Microsoft had to change the name of its SkyDrive into OneDrive, after a British Satellite company brought a trademark suit against them.
Boston Urban Iditarod to Boston Urban Idiotorama
Sometimes just the threat of a lawsuit is enough to get a company to change their name. This often happens when large organizations learns that a smaller company is using a trademarked name. That was the case with the Boston Urban Iditarod, which was threatened with a lawsuit from the more well known Alaskan Iditarod. Since legal fees could be potentially crippling to a tiny organization, most just change their names to make the issue go away. That’s what went down at Mission Burrito, Cafe Roubaix Bicycle Studio, and Twisted Root Restaurant & Bar. It’s actually not that surprising that so many corporations have threatened local businesses with lawsuits, large corporations have to go after trademark infringements, or they risk losing their copyright. What’s really surprising is the fact that the band Twisted Sister (you might remember them from the 80s) has gone after not one, but two small businesses for copyright infringement, a coffee shop and a food truck.
Cornish Pasty to Beef and Vegetable Pasty
But as protective of their name as Twisted Sister might be, the European Union takes its names even more seriously. The EU trying to stop American cheese makers from using European cheese names is just another example of how protective the EU is about certain foods. Essentially, if a food is culturally significant enough, it’s given protected status, and can only be made in the region it’s historically from and by the methods historically associated with the foodstuff. Which meant UK supermarket Greggs was forced to change the name of their Cornish Pasty’s because they weren’t made in Cornwall and didn’t include the right mix of ingredients. And when Croatia was let into the EU in 2013, Croatian winemakers weren’t allowed to use the name ‘Prosek’ because it was too similar to the Italian prosecco wine. The EU also tries extremely hard to make sure anything labeled ‘Champagne’ comes from the Champagne, France. In short, cheeses are certainly not the only thing the EU is concerned about.
Philip Morris to Altria
But more often than not, companies aren’t forced to change their name or even their products name. They usually just want to rebrand. So when Philip Morris no longer wanted to be associated with poisoning untold numbers of people and causing agonizing, drawn-out deaths, they simply changed their name to Altria. Netflix tried (unsuccessfully) to become Qwikster, and after a particularly bad airplane crash, ValuJet transitioned to AirTran. So, if American cheese makers have to come up with a different name for brie, they’re in good company.
Oh, and the rumor that Kentucky Fried Chicken was forced to change its name to KFC because they weren’t using real chicken? That’s completely false.
September 17, 2013