Explaining Southern California's economy

Reportings: College isn't worth it; Silicon Valley is doing great!; Digital Domain goes bankrupt

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Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

Autobot 'Bumblebee' is shown during the 'Transformers - Revenge of the Fallen' world premiere in Tokyo, on June 8, 2009. The company that did the visual effects has declared bankruptcy after a precipitous stock slide.

Megan McArdle considers the exploding cost of college. "The price of a McDonald’s hamburger has risen from 85 cents in 1995 to about a dollar today. The average price of all goods and services has risen about 50 percent. But the price of a college education has nearly doubled in that time. Is the education that today’s students are getting twice as good? Are new workers twice as smart? Have they become somehow massively more expensive to educate?" (Newsweek/The Daily Beast)

Facebook aside, Silicon Valley is standing out as the place to send your venture capital dollars. "Silicon Valley startups raised $3.2 billion from venture capitalists during the April-June quarter, far more than in any other part of the U.S as tracked by the National Venture Capital Association. Venture capital flowing into Silicon Valley increased by 4 percent from the same time last year, while it dropped 12 percent nationwide." (Businessweek/AP)

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Open Internet: President Obama's Reddit answer that Hollywood won't like

President Barack Obama answering questions on Reddit on Wednesday. Did he come out in favor of the open Internet?

As you've all probably heard, President Obama took to Reddit, the Internet discussion site, to...have an Internet discussion! Which was in no way intended to upstage Paul Ryan's Really Big Speech at the Republican National Convention. Really. In no way.

As KPCC's Tony Pierce reported earlier at our Represent! blog, Obama's arrival at Reddit actually broke Reddit, for a few minutes at least.

What was truly rather Earth-shattering, however, was his answer to the first question he was asked, from "SharkGirl":

Q: We know how Republicans feel about protecting Internet Freedom. Is Internet Freedom an issue you'd push to add to the Democratic Party's 2012 platform?

Obama's A:

Internet freedom is something I know you all care passionately about; I do too. We will fight hard to make sure that the internet remains the open forum for everybody - from those who are expressing an idea to those to want to start a business. And although there will be occasional disagreements on the details of various legislative proposals, I won't stray from that principle - and it will be reflected in the platform.

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Copyright Wars: Google does what Hollywood wants

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

The Google logo is seen at the Google headquarters in Mountain View, California. The company has announced a change to its search rankings, intended to protect copyright.

Last week, Google announced that it's making a change — or more accurately perhaps, a modification — to its search algorithm. This is the explanation, from Google's search blog:

Starting next week, we will begin taking into account a new signal in our rankings: the number of valid copyright removal notices we receive for any given site. Sites with high numbers of removal notices may appear lower in our results....

Only copyright holders know if something is authorized, and only courts can decide if a copyright has been infringed; Google cannot determine whether a particular webpage does or does not violate copyright law. So while this new signal will influence the ranking of some search results, we won’t be removing any pages from search results unless we receive a valid copyright removal notice from the rights owner.

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LA startups: Tech makes all the difference

Gaikai Screen Shot

Gaikai, an L.A.-based gaming startup, just sold to Sony. It was engineering talent that made the company successful.

Nate Redmond, the managing director of L.A.'s Rustic Canyon, an early stage venture capital firm, had a must-read piece at TechCrunch over the weekend. Taking as his jumping-off point Sony’s purchase of of gaming startup Gaikai for $380 million (Rustic Canyon was an investor), he makes a case that something important is happening on the Los Angles startup scene:

LA has once again become a hotbed for technical leadership, as indicated by the flurry of investment activity. Entrepreneurs in the LA region attracted $567 million in venture capital in the first quarter of this year, 50% greater than the NY Metro area in the first quarter of the year, according to PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Money Tree report. Between the outstanding technical talent and the passion and vision of great founders, those dollars are being invested into technology-driven companies that break the stereotype of startups in LA.

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Villaraigosa rolls out new Council on Innovation and Industry for L.A.

LA Mayor, will.i.am And Americans Promoting Study Abroad Announce Major Beijing Concert To Benefit Study Abroad

Jerod Harris/Getty Images for BGR

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa hopes that a focused group of movers and shakers will help the city attract more startup investment. He says it's about much more than just job creation.

Today, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa rolled out his Council on Industry and Innovation at the Variety Venture Capital & New Media Summit. What does the mayor have in mind? He wants to turbocharge L.A.'s efforts to catch up to Silicon Valley — although it's unlikely the city will ever really close that gap.

The council’s membership is a who’s who of L.A. tech, finance, and entertainment leaders. It's been under construction since last year and includes six sub-committees that will focus on areas such as attracting investment capital to the city, improving education's role in innovation, and enhancing networking opportunities. 

Villaraigosa said that the council isn’t just about jobs and job creation. It’s about "creating a narrative about L.A. as an innovation center."

The mayor, who began forming the council last year, says that narrative has been unclear. And that’s no surprise because L.A. is know as the capital of the entertainment business. When it comes to technology and startup investment, it’s overshadowed by Silicon Valley, home to tech giants like Apple and Google. Silicon Valley has always drawn the bulk of venture funding, something like 70 percent over the past decade. That leaves L.A., New York, Massachusetts, and everyone else to fight over the rest.  

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