Good morning! Welcome to KPCC's business blog, The Breakdown. Every weekday morning, we compile a list of interesting business stories in the region.
- Lawsuits against GM are increasing, with some filed in Southern California (KPCC). They follow the company's recall of cars with possible faulty ignition switches. KPCC's Brian Watt says one question for the courts is "whether the new GM the government helped bail out of bankruptcy in 2009 is responsible for legal claims relating to incidents before that."
- Comcast will increase its share buyback program by an additional $2.5 billion, if Time Warner Cable shareholders approve Comcast's $45 billion purchase of Time Warner Cable (Bloomberg). This sweetens the outcome for shareholders, and comes after Comcast's rival Charter Communications urged Time Warner Cable shareholders to oppose the deal.
- Mansion in L.A. County sells for $102 million, the highest amount for any Southern California home (Los Angeles Times). L.A. Times reporter Lauren Beale said the taxes will be mailed to non-profit Milken Institute, but the institute says Michael Milken did not buy the $102 million home.
- Quiksilver ends 23-year partnership with surfer Kelly Slater (Orange County Business Journal). Reporter Kari Hamanaka says Slater will launch another brand with Paris-based luxury clothing firm Kering. Earlier this year, Quiksilver sold its clothing business tied to pro-skater Tony Hawk (KPCC).
- The Director Guild of America named its assistant executive director of diversity, Frank Bennett Gonzalez (The Wrap). He was director of creative talent development at Disney/ABC Television Group. Hollywood has fallen short on diversity, with a UCLA report showing that minority lead actors were under-represented by a factor of more than 3 to 1 (KPCC). Director Angela Robinson talked with Take Two's Alex Cohen earlier this year on what it's like to be a black, female director in Hollywood.
- Is Yelp dealing in extortion? Los Angeles Times business columnist David Lazarus writes about Alhambra jeweler Rick Fonger, who stopped paying for a Yelp ad and was told there were ads from competing businesses on his Yelp page. Lazarus says a Yelp rep told Fonger that those competing ads could "go away" if he paid Yelp $75 a month.
- Airbnb will charge hotel taxes in San Francisco this summer (San Francisco Chronicle). The article doesn't mention if or when this will happen in L.A. Silver Lake had considered banning Airbnb last year (AirTalk)
- Voice of San Diego's membership increased 27 percent to 1,850 members in 2013 (Nieman Journalism Lab). The Voice of San Diego is a non-profit, journalism website.
- Competition is intense for two whale watching businesses in Dana Point. Read the back history of the rivalry between Captain Dave's Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari and Dana Wharf Sportfishing and Whale Watching (Los Angeles Times).
- Have you ever had pho and it just didn't taste good enough? Now, there's an app that will tell you whether your pho is authentic, without you taking a bite. Take a photo and send it to the "LikeGrandmaMade" app and it will tell you how to eat the dish and its history (LA Weekly). But will cost you about $30 for the app—more than triple the cost of your pho.
Got business news? Tweet me @thewendylee.