Explaining Southern California's economy

Starbucks buys Evolution Fresh for $30 million, but juice is just the beginning

Mercer 19107

Stephen Chernin/Getty Images

File: A Starbucks Coffee barrista readies a beverage for a customer in the new 42nd Street store August 5, 2003 in New York City.

Yesterday, Starbucks announced that it's buying Southern California's own Evolution Fresh Inc., for $30 million. That's pretty small potatoes as M&A activity goes. But for Starbucks, buying the juicemaker — which, according to the Starbucks announcement, is "one of the only true juiceries left in the industry that still cracks, peels, presses, and squeezes its own raw fruits and vegetables" — is just the beginning of the beginning.

And a risky undertaking.

Starbucks wants to move beyond coffee and expand its presence far beyond its retail stores. So far, it's been doing this slowly and carefully — and has already endured one misstep, when it over-expanded prior to the financial crisis. In Steve Jobsian fashion, CEO Howard Schultz returned to the company to trim, reinforce, and realign. The ship was righted. But now it's looking to grow again. 

Read More...

When bloggers break the rules: Did Jim Romenesko do anything wrong?

We are periodically obliged to blog about blogging here at DeBord Report. The last couple of days have seen the (sort of) downfall of one of the blogging greats, Jim Romenesko, who in 1999 started a site called MediaGossip.com. It was effectively the first blog about the peculiar inside-baseball of big-time journalism. Picked up by the Poynter Institute, it became a must-read in the profession and a model for other sites, such as LAObserved

It now appears that for the last 12 years, Romenesko has been breaking Poynter's editorial rules (they were posted online in 2004). It's just that nobody seems to have noticed until now — and none of the many journalists whose work Romenesko has kinda lifted without attribution for a decade ever complained. 

The Director of Poynter Online, Julia Moos, summarized Romenesko's infractions, over which he has officially resigned (although he was planning to retire this year anyway, with plans to start a new site). In a nutshell, Romenesko built posts about stories from around the media by cutting and pasting in the mostly verbatim language of his original sources, sometimes properly attributing, sometimes not. But he always included links to those stories — in fact, the link was the whole point. Romenesko wanted you to read the original. And that made journalists very happy, because Romenesko could drive traffic, as well as prove that you mattered in media land.

Read More...

Eurozone Crisis: Enter the economists to save the sinking ship

TO GO WITH STORY "Papademos : Greek tech

GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

This is what a European "technocrat" looks like. Lucas Papademos will take over from Georges Papandreou as prime minister of Greece, as the Eurozone continues to sink.

Europe is full of flamboyant politicians, but when it comes to rescuing the continent from financial ruin, the money right now seems to be on the most technocratic of technocrats: economists who have served time in the trenches of the very common currency they helped to create in the 1990s. As the euro has melted down, the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, has stepped aside, replaced by Lucas Papademos, an economist. In Italy, the embattled billionaire PM, Silvio Berlusconi, is being moved aside to make room for Mario Monti, another economist.

The message to Europeans is pretty clear: politicians created this mess, and now the people who actually know what they're doing with the economy will get us out. Try to imagine what this would be like in America. We'd kick Obama out of the White House and replace him with...an executive from a consulting firm. Oh, wait...didn't Mitt Romney work for Bain & Co. back in the day?

Read More...

Rather Short Book Review: Emanuel Derman's 'Models. Behaving. Badly'

Emanuel Derman is a professor of finance at Columbia University and also a physicist. But what' he's probably best known for is his years at Goldman Sachs in the lead-up to the financial crisis and his role as one of the pre-eminent Wall Street "quants" — investment professionals who attempted to use complex quantitative models to drive risk out of making money. These days, some critics blame the quants for nearly destroying the global financial system

Derman chronicled his Wall Street days in a 2004 book, "My Life as A Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance" — a full four years before the financial crisis truly took hold in late-2008. He's now followed that title up with "Models. Behaving. Badly," in which he looks back on both his life and his life's work and...finds fault with the world that he in part helped to engineer. 

Read More...

Watch out, Southern California! New York wants to do biotech, too

The guy in the video above is Fred Wilson, a venture capitalist and a partner at Union Square Ventures in New York. (He also a very active and disciplined blogger.) I've blogged about Fred and his thoughts a few times here at DeBordReport.

Watch the whole thing to get a sense of his views on engineering, startups, VC — and where New York might be headed in terms of developing a more diverse startup community.

One of the things that means is biotech.

Biotech is a startup industry that Southern Californian already does and does well. Biotech is our version of Silicon Valley and information technology. And that's good, because biotech could be the next big thing. I went down to Orange County earlier this week to find out how and dropped by a new biotech incubator, TechPortal Orange, at the UC Irvine Medical Center.

Read More...