Explaining Southern California's economy

Taylor Hackford versus the Internet pirates

64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards - Show

Kevin Winter/Getty Images for DGA

DGA President Taylor Hackford and host Kelsey Grammer speak onstage during the 64th Annual Directors Guild Of America Awards held at the Grand Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland on January 28, 2012 in Hollywood, California.

Directors Guild of America President Taylor Hackford went on "The Patt Morrison Show" on Wednesday to offer withering opposition to the opponents of SOPA and PIPA, the two pieces of federal legislation that are intended to halt the scourge of online copyright piracy and, if you believe Hackford, to preserve the gainful employment of many thousands of entertainment industry workers who make far less money than he does ($50,000 a year, on average).

You certainly can't begrudge Hackford his defense of the "artists" against the Internet ruffians. He's made some fine films, including "An Officer and a Gentleman" and "Ray" (we'll forgive him "Against All Odds" and the improbable ballet-tap Cold War mashup "White Nights"). He's on his second go-round as the DGA prez. That said, he could have done a better job of dealing with Patt's question during the segment about the Hollywood business model.

Read More...

Ivy League-Wall Street connection opens space for California entrepreneurs

Mary Altaffer/AP

Recent surveys show that a large percentage of graduates from the nation's top schools are taking jobs in consulting or financial sector.

UPDATE: The time is now, California grads! This is from Gabe Sherman's big New York Magazine piece on the end of Wall Street's bonus bonanza: "'If you’re a smart Ph.D. from MIT, you’d never go to Wall Street now,' says a hedge-fund executive. 'You’d go to Silicon Valley. There’s at least a prospect for a huge gain. You’d have the potential to be the next Mark Zuckerberg. It looks like he has a lot more fun.'"

NPR ran a piece today about how too many graduates of the nation's elite universities are going to work in either finance or consulting. At some prestigious schools, such as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, the percentages are alarming. The story cites a survey of 2010 Harvard grads that found close to half of graduates were planning on heading for the green meadows of big money. 

California's top schools aren't immune to this trend. Far from it. Stanford sends plenty of students into finance, as does Cal-Tech. However, they aren't yet at quite the same levels as their East Coast brethren. 

Read More...

Hollywood is shocked — Shocked! — that it lost SOPA battle

SOPA/PIPA protest, Wikipedia

Wikipedia blacked out its whole website to join the SOPA/PIPA protest

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Mozilla

Mozilla puts a note on its homepage.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, MoveOn.Org

Political website Moveon.org participates.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Minecraft

Minecraft's website sports a colorful protest page.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Imgur

Imgur.com also shuts down.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, PostSecret

Postsecret.com also joins the protest with an interactive webpage. The faint light illuminating the center of the screen follows your cursor, leaving other sections dark.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Reddit

Popular site Reddit.com also shut down in protest.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Wordpress

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Wired

Wired.com had a creative take on censoring, only blacking out certain words and photos.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Google

Google made changes to its homepage to support the SOPA/PIPA protest.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, BoingBoing

L.A.-based website Boing Boing is down for the day.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Craigslist

Craigslist updated its homepage to this message protesting SOPA/PIPA.

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Destructoid

Destructoid.com

SOPA/PIPA Protest, failblog

Failblog.org

SOPA/PIPA Protest, Flickr

Flickr is letting users participate by darkening their uploaded photos.


At The Wrap, Sharon Waxman lays into Hollywood for not being able to convince Congress that the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) was a worthy undertaking:

The messaging industry never had control of the message.

The tech guys found a simple, shareable idea -- the Stop Online Piracy Act is Censorship -- made it viral, and made it stick.

Hollywood had Chris Dodd and a press release. Silicon Valley had Facebook.

That's pretty well put. But of course it doesn't really get to the root of the issue, which is that California's two leviathan businesses — entertainment and tech — are running away from each other way faster than they're running together. And when it comes to the race for future economic viability and the hearts and minds of consumers, only tech is running in the right direction. 

Read More...

Silicon Valley philanthropy: Give it away while you're young

Mercer 14121

Manish Swarup/AP

A street child looks out from his classroom during studies conducted by the Salaam Baalak Trust at the New Delhi railway station in September 2004. Salaam Baalak Trust is an Indian charity for homeless children.

Silicon Valley naturally believes that it can change the world. This is at times a pathetic delusion, but also equally a chance for tech startup country to show off what it's got. Consider the case of Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, wife of Mark Andreesen, who co-founded Netscape and is now a venture capitalist. This is from the New York Times Bits blog:

Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen is on a mission.

[She] thinks tech titans should be more philanthropic. And she is encouraging the youngest billionaires to give away their money now, not wait until after they retire or die.

But her mission extends beyond the tech world. She wants to expand the definition of the philanthropist, to include people who give time or expertise, not just money. She also argues that philanthropy should be more professional, by borrowing strategies like research and evaluation from Silicon Valley’s for-profit businesses. These strategies include using technology to make things more efficient, inventing new ways to do business and financing nimble upstarts.

Read More...

In SOPA debate, is Hollywood on the wrong side of history?

Mercer 6349

Getty Images

Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT)

The debate over the Stop Online Piracy Act is heating up. The SOPA bill could come to a vote this week in the House, and a similar bill is under consideration in the Senate. This has kicked the so-called "Geek Lobby" into high gear. Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, a venture capital firm in New York, has been vocal on his blog, going to far as to symbolically censor his post today as a call to action.

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has suggested that the online encyclopedia could go on strike in protest. And California Republican congressman Darrell Issa has broken ranks and proposed his own alternative legislation, allying himself with Silicon Valley against Hollywood and the Big Content industry that supports the SOPA legislation.

The opposition has also created a video explainer on why the legislation is the worst thing that's ever been proposed. It's over-the-top and doesn't present the issue with anything resembling complete accuracy. But it is worth a watch (In the interest of reasonable objectivity, I'm not going to embed it, so follow the link if you're interested).

Read More...