Explaining Southern California's economy

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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Is Apple defying Steve Jobs with Apple TV?

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Steve Jobs delivers the keynote address at the 2011 Apple World Wide Developers Conference at the Moscone Center on June 6, 2011 in San Francisco, California.

It's looking more and more like Apple is going to enter the TV business. The Wall Street Journal recently characterized this as one of Steve Jobs' "ambitions." But was it really? From the same WSJ report:

In meetings as far back as 2010, Mr. Jobs met with a series of cable and satellite executives to discuss next-generation television services for Apple devices, according to people familiar with the matter. Among the questions Mr. Jobs asked in the series of meetings was how much of the universe of video content the providers actually had the rights to, according to a person familiar with the meetings.

Apple's own executives have wondered what the company had up its sleeve. Last year, at its "top 100" meeting for senior managers in Carmel, Calif., an attendee asked Mr. Jobs whether Apple was developing a television.

He responded that it would be a bad business to get into, noting that the margins on television are far lower than the margins Apple makes from its other devices and that consumers don't buy new televisions very frequently, according to this person.

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Protecting your reputation — and your business model

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I went on AirTalk today with guest host David Lazarus to discuss how people can do personal, micro-crisis PR, fixing their online reputations.

I'd already written about the "crisis" in crisis PR, as well as how Toyota was laid low, during its Great Recall, by Twitter. So the topic was in my wheelhouse.

Online reputation management has become a serious business. We were joined by Michael Fertik, the CEO of Reputation.com, a startup that has defined itself as a leader in the space. So much so that when Fertik informed us that the company had attracted $67 million to date, through four rounds of venture funding, I was taken aback. I thought the company had raised more!

We covered the various ways in which a person might deal with negative information about themselves online. A caller issued perhaps the ultimate challenge when she revealed that her ex-husband has posted a sex-tape from happier times (Fertik said it would take a few thousand to deal with that). Reputation.com has a fairly broad scale of fees, ranging from a basic $100/year plan right on up to ReputationDefender15000, which runs...$15,000 a year!

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