Explaining Southern California's economy

Pandit steps down as Citigroup CEO after navigating bank through 'Too big to fail' crisis

Congressional Oversight Panel Holds Hearing TARP Assistance To Citigroup

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Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit testifies during a hearing before the Congress. He just stepped down, ending a story that stretches back to the financial crisis.

Vikram Pandit steps down as CEO of Citigroup: "...a surprise to Wall Street that comes a day after the country's third-largest bank announced stronger-than-expected earnings." (LAT)

Son of Solyndra? A123 files for bankruptcy: "The bankruptcy filing may fuel further political debate over government financing of alternative-energy and transportation businesses." (Bloomberg)

Yahoo CEO and former Googler Marissa Mayer makes the incredibly tricky decision to...hire an Henrique de Castro, an executive from Google, as COO: "'This is a pivotal point in Yahoo!'s history, and I believe strongly in the opportunity ahead. I can't wait to join Marissa and the team and get started.'" (VatorNews

Oh please, oh please, oh please... The Tata Nano Americano: "So the owner of some of the world's most opulent vehicles wants to bring to the U.S. a car with fewer amenities and horsepower than your average lawn mower." (LAT)

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FAQ: Everything you need to know about the Variety sale to Jay Penske

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The 107-year-old Hollywood trade magazine has finally been sold, to the publisher who owns competing Deadline.com. The reported $25-million price tag has been called a "fire sale."

After months of negotiation, Variety finally sold to Jay Penske's PMC, for a reported $25 million. That is more than four times the iconic entertainment trade publication's anticipated 2012 profit of $6 million. On the one hand, Penske, a budding media mogul, adds a major name brand to his stable, which also includes Deadline and Movieline. On the other, Variety is a big-time turnaround challenge, with yearly revenues that have been chopped in half since 2006. Former owner Reed Elsevier had been interesting in getting rid of it for a while.

You have questions. We have answers.

Q: Who is Jay Penske?

A: He's the son of Roger Penske, an American auto-racing and auto-entpreneurship legend. The 33-year-old has been assembling a minor media empire under the Penske Media Corp. umbrella, including the aforementioned Hollywood/entertainment websites, as well as auto site OnCars (the apple doesn't fall far from the tree) and Engadget/Gizmodo gadget-website competitor BGR. He also owns an IndyCar racing team, Dragon Racing — and he and his brother had a little trouble with the law on Nantucket island over the summer. He became the top bidder late last month when billionaire businessman Ron Burkle and Avenue Capital, a hedge fund, both balked at the $25 million asking price.

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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

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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.

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Yahoo welcomes a new CEO — and misses on second-quarter earnings

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Yahoo's Santa Monica location. The company missed earnings expectations today for its second quarter.

Yahoo just named a new CEO — Google veteran Marissa Mayer — but on the day she was supposed to start work, the company also announced second-quarter earnings, and they missed expectations by $0.02 a share. Wall Street wanted $0.20 per share and got $0.18. But Yahoo still made money: about $227 million, down from a year ago, a profit nonetheless. 

The Wall Street Journal cut to the chase ("GAAP" is an accounting term — it's best to favor the GAAP and discount the non-GAAP, but non-GAAP can provide a sense of how much raw profits is coming in the door):

The numbers are sort of a split decision. A beat on a non-GAAP basis, a bit low on a GAAP basis, revenue a little light. That lack of growth or traction crystallizes the sort of stagnation that’s captured Yahoo for several years now. Mayer has her work cut out for her.

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New Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer gives liberal arts grads hope

Google Previews New Search Technology

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Marissa Mayer speaks during an announcement in San Francisco, California. She says verbal skills are just as important as math ability for future programmers.

Marissa Mayer, the new, 37-year-old CEO of Yahoo, is a computer scientist through and through. She graduated from Stanford and was officially Google employee number 20. Okay, so maybe she doesn't program day-to-day anymore. But she's a reliable source of insight about the craft. 

Or is it an art? A liberal art? Here she is in a Daily Beast interview, talking about what makes a good programmer:

“One of the more interesting things they’ve found is that programming aptitude and excellence is more tied to verbal SAT scores than to math SAT scores,” she explained. “Beyond basic mathematical aptitude, the difference between good programmers and great programmers is verbal ability.”

Interesting. And maybe something the hardcore programmer community, with their all-night hackathons, doesn't want to hear. Could it be that Mayer is a more radical chief executive, in terms of how she thinks about preparation for the Silicon Valley life, than we've been led to think?

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