Archive for the ‘Corporations’ Category

Captain Rick: Having loved photography my entire life, an awarded Webshots photographer in the early 2000s, I became a Flickr PRO member shortly after its acquisition by Yahoo in 2005.

Flickr grew to become the one of the largest and best quality photo sites on the internet with over 12 billion photos and 100 million dedicated users.

The telecommunications giant Verizon announced that it will spend $4.8 billion to acquire Yahoo’s operating business, including popular online content such as Yahoo, Flickr and Tumblr.

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Verizon hopes that by pairing Yahoo with AOL, which Verizon bought in May 2015 for $4.4 billion, that the result will be a digital media unit that could compete with Google and Facebook. Having followed so many of these wild internet company purchases during the past decade or so, I have serious doubts that Verizon will be able to make that happen.

Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, a former Google exec, was hired in 2012 to turn things around at financially struggling Yahoo. Flickr’s core users were hopeful that it might get the attention it deserved. She allowed Yahoo to loose focus on Flickr, allowing the top site for photographers to slip in quality and innovation. Yahoo was desperately trying to appeal to the Instagram generation, and in doing so started to alienate Flickr’s core users, many of whom were professional photographers. As a Flickr Pro member, I often gave feedback … but it felt like no one was listening. Things would break and it would take eight to 10 months before someone would respond. We were members paying money for a service that wasn’t working. It was insulting to me and other photographers who had been using Flickr so actively for so many years. We were clearly not the target audience any more.

Marissa Mayer generated controversy in 2013 for saying “there’s really no such thing as professional photographers anymore,” when explaining why Flickr was phasing out its Pro membership at the time. As a Flickr Pro member for a decade, I protested loudly as did millions of other Pro members. She quickly apologized for the statement. Us Flickr Pro members saw it as extreme ignorance on her part. Flickr drew more flack the following year by putting 50 million Creative Commons licensed photos by users up for sale through its new Wall Art service. Although it was within its rights to do based on the licensing, the move left a bad taste in photographers’ mouths, and Flickr pulled the plug on the arrangement the next month.

Amid dwindling share of only 1.3% of a growing $187 billion global digital market, the best she was able to do is put Yahoo up for sale. Mayer will help in the transition, but it is not known if she will remain as a Verizon employee. I think that in view of her high salary and lack-luster performance of Yahoo and neglect of Flickr, it would be in Verizon’s best interest to let her go.

Yahoo, Flickr and Tumblr are set to officially become Verizon properties when the deal closes in early 2017, assuming anticipated government approvals occur.

My fear is that Verizon, being a giant in the mobile phone market, cares little about quality photography and photographers. I think Verizon will sell Flickr or perhaps just let it die as an expense it can write off. As a Flickr Pro member who has invested many hundreds of hours into building and supporting my Flickr Photostream and several high quality photo groups, I am deeply saddened by that thought. On the other hand, it is my hope that Verizon will realize the great photographic jewel that it will possess in Flickr and find a way to breathe new life back into it. If executed with excellence, Flickr will remain the top site for quality among serious photographers … like me.

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Captain Rick: Walmart, the world’s largest corporation turns everything it touches into gold, whereas  the U.S. government has succeeded in breaking almost every good program created … and the U.S. economy.

I suggest we hire Walmart to fix the mess that our President and Legislature have demonstrated they are totally incapable of accomplishing.

My email to President Obama:

Mr. President,

I have concluded that you and the 535 members of our legislature are ineffective and incapable of fixing our economy and the many good programs that have been broken. I have a solution, but first I want to remind you of some facts which relate to the many failures of your administration and those that preceded:

a. The U.S. Postal Service was established in 1775. You have had 238 years to get it right and it is broke.

b. Social Security was established in 1935. You have had 78 years to get it right and it is broke.

c. Fannie Mae was established in 1938. You have had 75 years to get it right and it is broke.

d. War on Poverty started in 1964. You have had 49 years to get it right; $1 trillion of our money is confiscated each year and transferred to “the poor” and they only want more…and it is broke.

e. Medicare and Medicaid were established in 1965. You have had 48 years to get it right and they are broke.

f. Freddie Mac was established in 1970. You have had 43 years to get it right and it is broke.

g. The Department of Energy was created in 1977 to lessen our dependence on foreign oil. It has ballooned to 16,000 employees with a budget of $24 billion a year and we import more oil than ever before. You had 36 years to get it right and it is an abysmal failure…and it is broke.

You have failed to fix any of the many government service failures, while overspending our tax dollars to drive America $17 trillion into debt, an amount exceeding the combined debt of all other nations on earth.

AND YOU WANT AMERICANS TO BELIEVE YOU CAN BE TRUSTED WITH A GOVERNMENT-RUN HEALTH CARE SYSTEM?

Lets pause and examine an American corporation that has a track record of turning everything it touches into gold.

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Photo above shows Walmart’s current logo used since 2008

Walmart was founded by Sam Walton in 1962…when I was in high school, just before the birth of Medicare and Medicaid. Since then the Walton family transformed it into the world’s largest corporation with $469 Billion in revenue, 8500 stores in 15 countries with 2,200,000 employees.

If Walmart were a country it would have the world’s 26th largest GDP…but more importantly, it would be the world’s most profitable country…unlike the U.S. which goes $1 Trillion farther into debt each year, with all of its programs on ‘death row’.

I love my country and hate to see you and our legislature destroying it. With all sincerity, I respectfully urge you to consider hiring Walmart to manage America’s failing economy and programs. But, I think that if that were to happen, the Walton’s would fire you and most of the legislature.

Captain Rick

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Economy

U.S. Debt Crisis

Captain Rick’s Fiscal Cliff Course 101

President Obama

Obamacare

Entitlement Reform

Corporations

Captain Rick: Bridgestone Corporation broke ground on a biorubber process research center in Mesa, Arizona. It will investigate innovative ways to better produce large quantities of natural rubber from a native southwestern shrub … the guayule. Latex from the guayule is hypoallergenic.

The site, which covers 10 acres, will include an 8,400-square-foot office and lab building, a four-platform, 3,500-square-foot shrub prep building and a 3,100-square-foot mechanical and electrical building. At completion, the center will have a staff of 40 researchers and technicians. The first rubber samples should be ready by mid-2015. Bridgestone has also begun construction on an agricultural facility in Eloy, Ariz., to grow the guayule for the Mesa research center.

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What is Guayule?
Guayule (pronounced: gua-you-lay in Spanish), is a flowering shrub in the aster family, that is native to the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. (Photo above left).
Its bark and roots can be used as an alternate source of latex to make natural rubber.

Latex is used to make rubber. Where does it come from? Where is it used?
Latex is the milky fluid inside 10% of all flowering plants. (Photo above right).
Most of the 20,000 species of plants that produce latex are not suitable for commercial use.
The most common source of latex used for commercial rubber production is from the hevea (rubber tree).
Other sources are from the poppy, mulberry, fig and asteraceae plant families. The latter shows the most promise for an alternative supply for commercial scale production. Guayule is in the asteraceae family.
Latex can also be made synthetically from petroleum products, though products do not stretch as well as natural latex from plants.
Latex is used to make mattresses, gloves, swim caps, condoms, catheters and balloons.

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Why use Guayule to make rubber? One huge reason…its hypoallergenic!
While Hevea-derived rubber contains proteins that can cause severe allergic reactions in a few people, guayule does not.
With the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, the surge in rubber glove usage revealed how many people were allergic to latex (about 10% of health care workers, according to OSHA), and thereby created a niche market for guayule.
There are synthetic alternatives for medical device products, but they are not as stretchable as natural rubber.
Guayule performs like Hevea but contains none of the proteins that cause latex allergies.

History of Guayule used as a commercial rubber latex source
In the 1920s, the shrub saw a brief and intense amount of agricultural research when a rubber company in California
produced 1400 tons of rubber after leaf blight decimated the Brazilian rubber industry.
Guayule again become a replacement for Hevea tree-produced latex during World War II when Japan cut off America’s Malaysian latex resources.
The war ended before large-scale farming of the guayule plant began, and the project was scrapped, as it was cheaper to import tree-derived latex than to crush the shrubs for a smaller amount of latex.
That scrapped vision from decades ago is coming to life today in Arizona.

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Associated ATRIDIM NEWS JOURNAL Report Categories:

Technology: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/technology/

Arizona: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/arizona/

Corporations: https://atridim.wordpress.com/category/corporations/

Captain Rick: Dell Inc. announced that it agreed to be acquired for $24.4 billion by a purchasing group that includes company founder and CEO Michael Dell, a private equity firm Silver Lake Partners and a $2 billion loan from Microsoft. If completed, Dell would become the largest leveraged buyout since the financial crisis, and one of the ten largest LBOs of all time.

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This deal has massive financing backing, which was largely enabled by Dell’s massive cash stockpile that could be used as collateral incase the stock price offer of $13.65 per share (about 25% above current price) becomes an issue due to future market changes before the deal is finalized. It also helped ‘seal the deal’ with the giant tech incumbent with loads of cash … Microsoft … with its $2 billion loan. A broader debt financing package, believed to be worth around $15 billion, was committed by BofA, Merrill Lynch, Barclays, Credit Suisse and RBC Capital Markets. It also is worth noting that this isn’t the first time Microsoft has worked with Silver Lake Partners, the private equity firm leading Dell’s acquisition. In 2011, Silver Lake sold Skype to Microsoft for $8.5 billion.

Why is Microsoft providing a $2 billion loan, instead of seeking equity?
 
In a statement, the software giant said: "Microsoft has provided a $2 billion loan to the group that has proposed to take Dell private. Microsoft is committed to the long term success of the entire PC ecosystem and invests heavily in a variety of ways to build that ecosystem for the future. We’re in an industry that is constantly evolving. As always, we will continue to look for opportunities to support partners who are committed to innovating and driving business for their devices and services built on the Microsoft platform."

Captain Rick’s Vision … This deal has significant meaning!

As an engineer…I have followed Microsoft since its beginnings way back in 1975 when founded by Bill Gates and Paul Allen. Since then Microsoft has grown to become the world’s giant of PC operating system software. Microsoft Windows operates the majority of the worlds computers. In recent years Microsoft has come under attack form Apple, which has become the world’s mobile leader. Microsoft understands the diminishing role of the PC. Hewlett Packard, the largest producer of PCs came close to abandoning PC production a while back, but has reckoned its course since. I believe Microsoft is looking to shore up its future by supporting Dell, the world’s second largest PC manufacturer…to keep it afloat. By making loan to Dell, in stead of an equity investment, Microsoft will not offend Hewlett Packard. Microsoft’s loan to Dell will most likely guide Dell’s future PC design so that it truly supports Microsoft’s future vision of the Windows operating systems that support not only PCs, but mobile devices as well. Windows 8 is a good start, but I suspect Microsoft has much greater things in mind with proper support from PC manufacturers. I believe their goal is to not only maintain their leadership with PCs but also gain leadership in the mobile world. We can expect a war between Microsoft and Apple in the coming years. Microsoft, with its multi billions of cash is no where near the condition of accepting second place. I see lots at stake in this deal. While this is not a ‘done deal’, it looks very promising to me.

Captain Rick: The Wall Street ‘chopping block’ has been in ‘full swing’ as large financial corporations cut 18 thousand jobs in recent weeks. Its more of the same story that is sweeping our world as businesses strive to ‘shore up’ their ‘bottom line’ in an economy that is as fragile as ‘thin ice’. 

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Citigroup announced it will cut 11,000 jobs as part of plan to trim costs. Citigroup has already begun making the layoffs, but expects them to continue throughout 2013. Layoffs are nothing new at Citi. Since November 2008, the bank has slashed about 25% of its staff. The 11,000 job cuts that were announced Wednesday amount to 4% of Citigroup’s current workforce, which stood at 261,000 full-time employees at the end of September.

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American Express announced Thursday that it was cutting 5,400 jobs, becoming the latest large financial firm to reduce its headcount. American Express said it expects to see its current work force of 63,500 reduced by between 4% and 6% by the end of the year.

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Morgan Stanley is expected to cut 6% of its workforce (1,600 jobs) in the coming weeks, due to "market conditions." Morgan Stanley, which currently employs nearly 58,000, has been trimming its workforce over the past couple of years. With this round of cuts, Morgan Stanley’s total headcount will have been reduce by 10% since September 2011, to roughly 56,000.

Captain Rick: The Fresh & Easy store chain has been put up for sale by U.K. retail giant Tesco, admitting defeat in an attempt to take on U.S. supermarket chains in the southwest like Fry’s, Albertsons, Safeway and Wal-Mart.

Tesco launched Fresh & Easy in California in 2007. A short time later several stores opened in Arizona. I visited one in Gilbert as soon as it opened. My first reaction was … “The prices are high. The selection is poor. The atmosphere is cold. I don’t give this chain much time before it goes under”. To my surprise, Fresh & Easy lasted five years, but I never spend a dollar there. I think Tesco underestimated the strong faithfulness that southwestern grocery shoppers have for their stores, especially here in Arizona where Fry’s is king. It has been my favorite grocery store for over 15 years. Fry’s, a subsidiary of Kroger, is neat, clean, modern with a warm and welcome feel. The selection is great. The prices are also, especially if you use your VIP card. Fry’s specials always beat out Wal-mart. The first Wednesday of the month is Senior Citizen day at Fry’s. It’s the day I stock up for the month at a great 10% discount. Fry’s rewards it’s customers with credits to save up to $2 per gallon of gas at Fry’s gas stations.

My ‘word to the wise’ for those who want to open a grocery chain in the U.S. southwest, especially Arizona … learn the ‘lay of the land’ first. This is the desert. It’s a warm place with lots of warm people who cherish our favorites. It will take a mountain to change our minds from the places we faithfully shop.

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Fresh & Easy’s woes have added to the problems Tesco faces in the U.K and other international markets. Third-quarter sales at stores open a year or more fell company-wide by 1.3%, as depressed consumer spending in the U.K. and Europe outweighed an improvement in Asia. Tesco’s share of the U.K. market is also declining.