Explaining Southern California's economy

Harvey Weinstein still thinks Silicon Valley is stealing his content

Kris Connor/Getty Images for The Weinstein C

Harvey Weinstein speaks during a panel discussion after a screeing of the documentary "Bully" at MPAA in Washington, DC. The producer has become an outspoken critic of the "Open Internet," calling it "stealing."

In the ongoing battle between Hollywood and Silicon Valley over the future of entertainment,  two major events - one tragic, the other, comical - have defined the last few weeks.

The tragedy was the apparent suicide of "Open Internet" activist Aaron Swartz. It provoked an outpouring of support for Swartz's at-times radical vision and returned the debate about whether online content should roam free of copyrigh to the national agenda. 

The comedy was Kim Dotcom, whose Megaupload site was shut down by the U.S. government last year on the grounds that it was enabling Internet content piracy. Dotcom (not his real name) rolled out a new site last weekend, from the relative safety of New Zealand. He isn't even messing around with the "upload" part any more; the new site is simply called "Mega."

Read More...

How big should venture capital be? Try less than $25 billion

Vincent Mallet

AFP/AFP/Getty Images

A Palo Alto startup. You can still get funding, but if you don't succeed rapidly after early stage investment, you could be in trouble.

Earlier this week, the National Venture Capital Association and Thompson Reuters assessed the current state of the VC fundraising landscape. The verdict is that VC has "settled in a 'new normal,'" with the total number of funds decreasing while the total amount of money raised went up in 2012.

That performance lived up to expectations from earlier this year.

The total raised was $20.6 billion, which the NVCA suggests is the "Goldilocks" number: Not too big, not too small — but just right. There's a sense in the VC world that it's critical to keep the total amount of money raised under $25 billion.

That much money flowing into VC on an annual basis means that entrepreneurship and innovation can be funded in an optimal manner, without too many bad companies and bad ideas getting money, just because VCs need to put their funds to work.

Read More...

How Big Content is beating back the threat of Big Tech

Sofia the First

Disney Junior

I will not be aggregated, only monetized, Disney Princess Sofia tells her animal friends.

At the New York Times, the always-worth-reading-no-matter-what David Carr has an entertaining take on why rumors of the entertainment and media industries' demise at the hands of disruptive technological forces are, for now, exaggerated.

Why? Because Old Media — in television and movies, anyway — turned in a better financial performance than the technology upstarts. I've characterized this as a battle between Big Content — Hollywood — and Big Tech, based in Silicon Valley. And according to Carr, Big Content actually isn't in full retreat [emphasis is mine]:

[W]orries about insurgent threats from tech-oriented players like Netflix, Amazon and Apple turned out to be overstated. Those digital enterprises were supposed to be trouncing media companies; not only is that not happening, but they are writing checks to buy content. 

[...]

Another thing about those dinosaurs is that they aren’t really old media in the sense of, um, newspapers. When their content is digitized, it is generally monetized, not aggregated. Having learned from what happened in music and print publishing, entertainment companies, built on the still enormous riches of television, have carved their own digital route to consumers.

Read More...

Was outgoing Hulu CEO Jason Kilar fed up with Big Content?

Hulu is one of those companies that stands squarely between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. CEO Jason Kilar stepped down on Friday.

Brian Stelter and Amy Chozick make the case on the New York Times' Media Decoder blog that Jason Kilar's exit from Hulu had a lot to do with the suits who own TV networks:

Mr. Kilar’s announcement did not come as a complete surprise. At times during his tenure he has clashed with the owners on Hulu, exemplifying the divide between new, disruptive modes of distribution like the Internet and the more traditional operations at major media companies. As the owners pulled back on the amount of ABC, Fox and NBC programming it provided to Hulu, the Web site invested in original, made-for-the-Web programming to fill the gaps and attract attention.

The last time it looked as if Kilar would exit Hulu, it was when Yahoo was coming off an executive scandal, with activist shareholder Dan Loeb of the hedge fund Third Point agitating for both board-level and CEO changes. 

Read More...

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?

Read More...