Explaining Southern California's economy

PHOTOS: Top 10 California business and economics stories of 2012

Apple Introduces iPhone 5

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple introduces the iPhone 5 in San Francisco. It was the first time that the technology juggernaut, the most valuable California company by far, introduced a new device since Steve Jobs' death. Will it be enough to make Apple the world's first $1 trillion company in 2013?

Rupert Murdoch

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times along with dozens of other media properties, finally exited bankruptcy on New Year's Eve. Now the real fun can begin in the City of Angels: Who will buy the hometown paper? Could it be...Rupert Murdoch?

elon musk

Photo Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk watches Dragon's progress inside of SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne in May. The former PayPal founder whose other company in electric carmaker Tesla Motors put California's space business back on the map — and ushered in a new era of private voyages to the stars. But will he really be able to retire on Mars?

George Lucas Poses With A Group Of "Star Wars" Inspired Disney Characters At Disney's Hollywood Studios

Handout/Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Iger completes a trip of high-profile acquisitions, beginning with Pixar, then moving on to Marvel, culminating with a purchase of Lucasfilm from George Lucas. "Star Wars" now belongs to the Mighty Mouse — and Episode 7 is on the way! But will Disney be able to inject new life into one of pop cultures iconic entertainment franchises?

Reed Saxon

California was crushed by the housing downturn. But fours years after the bottom fell out, the state's real estate market at last began to show signs of life, as the foreclosure crisis fades and a price bubble even began to form in Southern California. Will the market return to normal in 2013?

FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Former Google superstar Marissa Mayer took the helm at troubled Yahoo, after a ugly battle between the board of directors and activist shareholder Dan Loeb. Mayer began to make immediate management changes, brought back free food, became one of the most powerful female CEOs on the U.S. — and had a baby! Can she live up to the hype in 2013?

CinemaCon 2011 - Day 2

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The battle for the future of online content heated up. In early 2012, Silicon Valley and Hollywood dueled in Washington, D.C., over anti-piracy legislation. Hollywood had the lobbying power, embodied by former senator Chris Dodd and the MPAA. But Silicon Valley won a critical skirmish in the eleventh hour by blacking out Wikipedia for a day. Will the combatants be able to strike a truce in 2013?

Job Seekers  Meet With Recruiters At Job Fair

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At the tail end of 2013, California's unemployment rate dropped into single digits for the first time since 2009. And compared with the rest of the U.S., the state spent 2012 adding jobs at a brisk clip. But will the recovery be able to sustain its momentum in 2013?

 bankrupt pensions

Steven Cuevas / KPCC

San Bernardino fell off its own fiscal cliff in 2012 — and fell fast, declaring bankruptcy quicker than anyone expected. The broke Inland Empire city joined Stockton and Mammoth Lakes in a minor bankruptcy boom in California and set the stage for the municipal bond market's worst nightmare: a long-anticipated wave of defaults in the Golden State. Could that scary event come to pass in 2013?

A sign announcing Facebook IPO is flashe

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

It was supposed to be the initial public offering of the century, enriching Facebook employees and investors and reviving a moribund IPO market for high-tech startups. But Facebook flopped in first-day trading and kept on falling in subsequent days. Facebook's lead banker, Morgan Stanley, was blamed for botching the offering. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went on the defensive. And by year end, Facebook still hadn't recovered it $100 billion valuation. But it topped 1 billion active users before the ball dropped in Times Square to ring on 2013. Will 2013 be the year it bounces back?


This is one in a series of year-end stories that look back at the most memorable pieces KPCC reporters worked on in 2012 and look ahead at a key issue that will be the focus of coverage in the coming year.

How much happened in the Golden State in 2012 when it comes to business? Lots. Lots and lots. The DeBord Report covered most of it. 

The slide show above serves up the business year in pictures for the state with the largest economy and two of America's most storied industries: Hollywood and high-tech.

And if you want to review the business year in links to the original posts...well, I've got that covered, too.

10. Apple introduces the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini — the first all-new gadgets rolled out by Cupertino since the death of Steve Jobs

9. The long, long, LONG Tribune Co. bankruptcy comes to and end. So who will buy the Los Angeles Times?

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Mark Cuban and Mark Zuckerberg agree: Facebook is TV

Reality Rocks Expo - Day 1

Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Reality Rocks

Mark Cuban speaks in Los Angeles. He blogs about what he really thinks of Facebook.

Last month, I wrote about how Facebook, even in the eyes of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is becoming a new sort of television: Social TV.

Now Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has backed up that idea, at his blog, with a post titled "What I Really Think About Facebook." (Hey, don't hold back!) It's not clear, however, that he's keeping up with what's on Zuckerberg's mind:

[W]e spend more than 26 minutes per day on FB. As this study said, FB is an alternative to boredom. FB is far more like TV than it is Google Search

FB is what it is. It's a time waster. That’s not to say we don’t engage, we do. We click, share and comment because it’s mindless and easy.  But for some reason FB doesn’t seem to want to accept that its best purpose in life is as a huge time suck platform that we use to keep up with friends, interests and stuff. I think that they are over-thinking what their network is all about .

Being a time suck that people enjoy is a good thing. There is a comfort in turning on the TV and having it work without any thought required. It’s easy. It is the best  five-hour on average per day alternative to boredom.

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FAQ: Why Mark Zuckerberg wants Facebook to be just like TV

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a news conference at Facebook headquarters. The company announced third quarter 2012 earnings today.

Facebook's adjusted net income has been on the loss column, but losses have slowed.

Meanwhile, Facebook's headcount has remained modest, even as it's acquired a billion users.


Facebook has announced third quarter earnings, and they beat what Wall Street was expecting. Analysts were looking for 11 cents a share and they got 12. Jump back! That penny is adjusted to a 2-cent loss once proper accounting protocols are followed. But a beat is indeed a beat. And as you can see in the first chart in the slide show above, Facebook lost less - on a GAAP-adjusted basis, a lot less - than it did last quarter. 

The next chart is even more interesting. As you can see, Facebook has acquired a billion users worldwide (not all of them active, however) with a headcount of just 4,331 employees. If you divide Facebook's quarterly revenue of $1.26 billion by total users, you get a per-user worth of $1.26. 

Viewed another way, every employee at Facebook is worth 230,894 users — or $290,926 in revenue. Now, you could argue that a lot of Facebook employees are costing the company more than $291,926, because they're getting stock. But you also have to consider that although Facebook pays its well, not that many of them make nearly $300,000 per quarter, or $1.2 million per year.

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Can we expect to see more of the Winklevoss twins in LA?

America's Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron W

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Tyler Winklevoss and Cameron Winklevoss at the start of the men's pair final during the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games in Beijing. The twins have started a venture capital fund and are looking to establish an office in L.A.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss — the Harvard-grad Olympic-rowing twins who infamously jousted in court with Mark Zuckerberg over who really had the core idea for Facebook — have begun the post-Facebook lives. Sort of. Their post-Facebook lives are being funded by an estimated $65-million cash-and-stock settlement the received from suing Zuckerberg and Facebook. 

With that dough, they're started a venture-capital fund, Winklevoss Capital, and as the Wall Street Journal reports, joined forces with their old Harvard classmate Divya Narendra on an initial $1-million investment in an semi-exclusive stock research site called SumZero

But they might also be spending some time apart. The Winklevii just bought a house in Hollywood last month for $18 million, reported Canyon News:

Tyler Winklevoss will remain in the 8,000 square foot home as they launch the West Wing of their venture capital company.... Cameron will remain mainly in New York City, where they have signed a five-year lease for their company's office.  

The two-story modern home with a jetliner view of Los Angeles was recently constructed as the house that had been on the lot before was bulldozed and modified. It is reported that the Winklevoss twins are in Los Angeles because they believe it is currently a great place for techies instead of Silicon Valley, where many firms are located. 

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When pivots pay off: BuzzFeed buys Kingfish Labs

BuzzFeed-Home

BuzzFeed is buying Kingfish Labs, for its ability to use data to make better Facebook ads.

TechCrunch is reporting that BuzzFeed is buying Kingfish Labs, for an as-yet undisclosed sum. It's the first acquisition for the meme-making-machine that BuzzFeed, founded in 2006, has become. But more importantly, it shows how a startup can "pivot," in the language of tech entrepreneurship, from one business model to... a completely different model.

In a conversation I conducted this morning at the Drucker Business Forum — held at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum — Allen Moore of Idealab's New Ventures Group and I briefly delved into this phenomenon. Pivoting is something that the founders of startups need to be prepared to do. As Allen put it, they need to be able to drive full speed ahead, with one foot pushing the pedal to the metal — while still keeping one foot hovering above the brake.

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