The Breakdown

Explaining Southern California's economy

In SoCal business news: Dockworkers prepare for negotiations, Ackman's team helped organize Herbalife protests

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Good morning! Welcome to KPCC's business blog, The Breakdown. Every weekday, we compile a list of interesting business stories in the region.

  • Activist hedge fund manager William Ackman made a financial bet that Herbalife's stock will drop, and to ensure that would happen, he spent money in lobbying efforts to help the company's demise, according to the New York Times. Ackman's team has helped organize protests and letter writing campaigns against Herbalife in order to push legislators to investigate the company, according to the Times.
  • Contract negotiations will begin this spring between a union representing 23,000 dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association, the Press-Telegram reports. The union employees work in Washington, Oregon and California. Two years ago, longshore workers played a key role in helping the clerical workers strike during tense contract negotiations with their employers. The dockworkers refused to cross the picket lines, causing shipments to be delayed. The strike triggered 10 out of the 14 terminals to be shutdown.
  • Mickey Kantor, co-chair of the Los Angeles 2020 Commission, talks to the Los Angeles Magazine about the commission's report and ways the city can improve. 
  • Wall Street Journal will launch sponsored content on its website tomorrow near other news articles, according to Ad Age. Generally, sponsored content can be articles that are made or paid for by advertisers. KPCC reported on some of the controversy surrounding sponsored content, with some journalists saying they think sponsored content articles can confuse readers between what's a real news article and an ad.
  • There's a new movie studio that will launch, led by Hollywood producer Robert Simonds Jr., with backers including TPG Growth and Chinese investment firm Hony Capital, the New York Times reports. The new studio will focus on $40 million movies, such as comedies and dramas and will create content with Chinese audiences in mind, according to the Times. 
  • Billboard ranked the top money-makers in music by how much they made in the last 12 months, and number one is Taylor Swift, making nearly $39.7 million a year. 
  • Did you watch the season finale of HBO's True Detective last night? If you watched it on HBO Go, you may have had some problems due to server overload, according to the Pando Daily. The website analyzes whether HBO needs to be a great technology company when it already makes a lot of money from its cable network. 
  • So what exactly happened on last night's episode? I won't spoil it here, but you can listen Take Two's story on how the title sequence for True Detective was created, including how getting that photo of the stripper's heels took some work.
  • I've heard of juice cleanses...but the laist reports there's a store in Venice that offers coconut-based ice cream cleanses. That's if you're willing to pay $240. 

Got business news? Tweet me @thewendylee.

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