Explaining Southern California's economy

LA Auto Show: It's a rolling world of consumer electronics!

The 2012 Los Angeles Auto Show begins two days of press previews on Wednesday. The DeBord Report is there!

Toyota's Entune system fights distracted driving and keeps drivers connected via their smartphones.

Intel is just one of mant technology companies, including Google and Microsoft, that plan to join the automakers in transforming car into rolling consumer electronics platforms.

Wireless providers are also getting in on the act. Sprint has a booth at the L.A. Auto Show to display what it can do for drivers.

Don't be a dummy and drive while distracted!


The Los Angeles Auto Show has in recent years defined itself as the "green" car show. California has the largest auto market in the U.S., as well as the most environmentally preoccupied. But the most dramatic auto debuts during car show season, running through next spring, are traditionally reserved for Detroit, the auto industry's spiritual home. So L.A. has had to kick off car show season with its own  attention-getting twist.

The L.A. Auto Show focuses on the dream machines, the future of transportation and, over the past decade, on electric cars, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, alternative fuel vehicles — in short, things with wheels that aren't total slaves to gas. But this year, it's different.

The new story is technology. Specifically, how cars will soon become platforms for various consumer electronics, mainly smartphones. In the past, automakers have preferred to design and build their own in-vehicle infotainment systems or partner with tech companies. The most prominent of these has been Ford and its relationship with Microsoft;  Ford's CEO, Alan Mullaly, has also made regular pilgrimages to the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. General Motors has had a loose association with Google (and Google itself is the the auto game, with its driverless car). No one has yet broken through with Apple.

Read More...

Yahoo beats earnings expectations in CEO Marissa Mayer's first full quarter on the job

Yahoo To Announce Q2 Earnings One Day After Appointing New CEO

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Yahoo logo is displayed in front of the Yahoo headqarters in Sunnyvale, California. The company just reported a good third quarter.

Yahoo just released third-quarter earnings and they beat Wall Street expectations by almost 10 cents. The Street was looking for 26 cents a share and got 35. Just on the numbers, this is an excellent start for new CEO Marissa Mayer, who literally just returned from a whirlwind maternity leave after the birth of her first child. 

One quarter does not a turnaround make, of course. And it would be difficult to argue that Mayer is really and truly responsible for a good Q3 — revenue was about the same as a year ago, and for the second quarter of 2012. 

In its statement, Yahoo pointed to both search and display as revenue drivers. Which sounds great, until you consider that Mayer is presumably going to take Yahoo away from being a advertising-driven quasi-media company toward more of a product-creating Google-like enterprise.

Read More...

Why Google has stopped trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange

KIMIHIRO HOSHINO/AFP/GettyImages

A Google+ logo is seen at Google's annual developer conference, Google I/O, at Moscone Center in San Francisco. The search giant ran into some trouble today on Wall Street.

Two bad things happened to Internet search giant Google Thursday: the company missed Wall Street earnings expectations for the third quarter by a country mile; and its earnings release hit the wires in the middle of the trading day, rather than after hours.

The stock has stopped trading on the Nasdqaq exchange while everybody gets this all sorted out. In an amusing turn, a Twitter account has already been created for @PendingLarry, a reference to a line from Google's premature release to the SEC, "PENDING LARRY QUOTE," with the "Larry" being Google CEO Larry Page.

Former Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Harvey Pitt was on CNBC Thursday saying that the screwup with Google's release — which could equally be blamed on R.R. Donnelly, who handles the technical aspects of Google's SEC reporting — means that folks who just lost a ton of money ($19 billion market capitalization basically vanished in a matter of minutes) will lawyer up and sue everybody in sight.

Read More...

Yahoo goes all in with a tech future as former CEO Ross Levinsohn departs

Yahoo To Announce Q2 Earnings One Day After Appointing New CEO

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Yahoo logo is displayed in front of the Yahoo headqarters on July 17, 2012 in Sunnyvale, California. Former interim CEO Ross Levinsohn has left the troubled Web giant.

When Yahoo hired Marissa Mayer from Google to be its new CEO, declining for the second time to name Ross Levinsohn to the top job, there were two pretty clear signals. First, that Yahoo was going to become a technology company. Second, that Levinsohn — the interim CEO after the Scott Thompson debacle and seen by many as the leading candidate prior to Mayer — was probably headed for the exit.

Well, Levinsohn has now left. By my math, according the SEC filing, he's getting about $5 million in Yahoo stock, on top of what was getting for being CEO. It's unclear whether he ever received what Thompson was getting: $1 million per year, plus a $2-million bonus. Back in 2010, when he was hired as a Yahoo executive VP, his compensation was $700,000 plus a $500,000 bonus.

Mayer, by comparison, has a pay package that is estimated at $59 million.

Read More...

Rocketdyne is only worth half an Instagram?

Mercer 10129

AP Photo/Reed Saxon

This Feb. 12, 2009 photo shows buildings at the old Rocketdyne facility, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory, in the Simi Valley area near Los Angeles. The company was just sold for $550 million.

The success of SpaceX and its historic Space Station servicing mission put the space business in California back on the map. But the sale of on a space pioneer in the Golden State reminds us that the economy has changed. In the 1950s, high-tech meant aerospace and rocketry. In the second decade of the 20th century, those industries still command respect and inspire a romantic view of the future. But if you want to sell your company for billions, smartphones and photo-sharing apps are the way to go.

This encapsulates the rise of Silicon Valley and the decline of Southern California. Although SoCal can still turn in some good results. As I reported back in March, United Technologies decided to sell Rocketdyne — the company makes exactly what it sounds like it makes, rocket boosters — to fund a record-breaking $16.5-billion acquisition of Goodrich Corp. UT has now completed that sale, to GenCorp for $550 million, according to the L.A. Times.

Read More...