Explaining Southern California's economy

The next time you use a computer, remember Jacob Goldman, RIP

Xerox Announces Revenue Restatement

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The House that Jacob Goldman built. The innovator died on Tuesday, at age 90.

How would we ever get anything done without the contributions of Jacob Goldman, founder of Xerox PARC, who died yesterday at age 90? This is from the New York Times' obituary:

Established in 1970 in an industrial park next to Stanford, PARC researchers designed a remarkable array of computer technologies, including the Alto personal computer, the Ethernet office network, laser printing and the graphical user interface.

The technologies would later be commercialized by both Apple Computer and Microsoft, among others, and Xerox would be criticized for not capitalizing enough on the technologies it had pioneered...

So Xerox didn't bring us the personal computing revolution. But at least the right people were around to capitalize on the research. If there's a lesson in Goldman's life, it's that research matters. And it really matters when it's funded by big companies, even if they don't wind up knowing what to do with the innovation that it enables.

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At long last, Steve Jobs gets a Grammy

Apple CEO Steve Jobs Delivers Opening Keynote At Macworld

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Steve Jobs will be awarded a special Grammy (posthumously) in February, 2012.

Maybe he should get ten. Or a special Giant Grammy that can only exist in low-earth orbit, or be used as statuary at Apple's Cupertino, Calif. campus.

This is from the New York Times' ArtsBeat blog:

Jobs, who died on Oct. 5, will be given a Trustees Award, which honors “outstanding contributions to the industry in a nonperforming capacity.” The academy’s national board of trustees decided to honor Jobs because he “helped create products and technology that transformed the way we consume music, TV, movies, and books,” the announcement said.

The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences certainly made the right call here, even if the Jobs Grammy will have to awarded posthumously. 

I'm far from the first person to argue that Steve Jobs saved the music business, making it possible for there to continue to be a National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences to award posthumous Grammys. Here's Ed Nash, who runs a entertainment management firm in, yes, Nashville:

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Bill Clinton tops $75 million in speech fees

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Former President Bill Clinton attends the 2011 New York University commencement at Yankee Stadium on May 18, 2011 in New York City.

What does a U.S. President do when he isn't President anymore? If he's Bill Clinton, who left office in 2011, he gives speeches. Lots and lots of speeches. And makes lots and lots of money. Clinton had such a good 2010 on the speechifying trail that his take since leaving the White House now tops $75 million.

This is from CNN:

Helping to propel the former president to his most lucrative year were two events for which he received a combined $1 million. The first was a June 2010 event in Moscow organized by Renaissance Capital. The other was a December speech delivered in the United Arab Emirates for Novo Nordisk, a global health care company. Clinton received $500,000 for each event, which tie for the second-largest payments he has received for a single event. In June 2008, he received $525,000 for a speech at a motivational speaking conference in Edmonton, Canada.

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Why tech companies are waiting longer to IPO

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Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks during a news conference at Facebook headquarters on October 6, 2010 in Palo Alto, California. The company's anticipated 2012 IPO could be one of the biggest ever.

According to Fred Wilson, of Union Square Ventures, it's a movement. In fact, he argues that staying private and continuing to seek venture funding rounds, rather than going for a premature IPO, is the "new IPO." And he thinks this is good:

The IPO market for web companies we have right now is rationale. We can argue whether it is pricing these offerings correctly. But it feels about right to me. I believe we will see a bunch of IPOs next year, led by Facebook, which is the poster child of this whole "stay private longer" movement. If we as an industry can be patient, keep our companies private longer until they are truly IPO ready, then we should have a sustainable IPO market. That's where we seem to be headed. Let's not get greedy and screw it up.

I actually saw this in action (sort of) yesterday, when I did an AirTalk segment on reputation management with Michael Fertik, CEO of Reputation.com. His startup is on its forth venture round and has so far raised close to $70 million. I wondered why a company that's been around since 2006 is still in the VC space. But maybe the idea is to stay private until it truly makes sense to go public.

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Tim Geithner v. Democracy

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Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner at the Detroit Economic Club April 28, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.

Today will be a day of quick hits. Call it an experiment in expanding on the "Reportings" news and opinion roundup I used to do every morning.

First up, Simon Johnson's not-so-subtle assault on Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, at the New York Times Economix blog. Background: In Ron Suskind's recent book about the early days of the Obama administration's response to the financial crisis, "Confidence Men," Geithner is cast as the official who wanted to prevent the breakup of the big banks, advocating for stability in the crisis.

Here's Johnson:

Despite a lack of any supporting evidence, Mr. Geithner sees megabanks as essential to the functioning of the economy — and he gambled on bailing them out as a way to restart the economy.

So it would have been entirely logical for him to fear disclosures that would damage their business models and legal viability.

Whenever someone or a group of people is above the law, equality before the law is ended. This is how the megabanks, and the way they are treated, threaten to undermine democracy.

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