Explaining Southern California's economy

Fisker electric-car scandal: Is this the new Solyndra?

Biden Announces Conversion Of Idled GM Plant To Electric Car Manufacturing

Jeff Fusco/Getty Images

WILMINGTON, DE - OCTOBER 27: U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the former GM Boxwood Plant on October 27, 2009 in Wilmington, Delaware. Fisker Automotive announced that the company is buying the plant to produce affordable plug-in hybrid automobiles. (Photo by Jeff Fusco/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Joe Biden

The Department of Energy's $535 loan gurantee to bankrupt solar startup Solyndra has become the Obama Administration's first quasi-scandal, with critics insisting that the government shouldn't be funding risky green-energy companies and supporters (myself included) arguing that the government is the only investor that can handle the risk. But now the bickering has spread beyond solar to the go-go world of electric vehicles — just as "Revenge of the Electric Car," the sequel to "Who Killed the Electric Car," is hitting theaters.

ABCNews and the Center for Public Integrity have teamed up to investigate DOE loans guarantees, focusing on two marquee EV companies, Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive, which together have received about a billion in government-backed financing. The takeaway isn't pretty:

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Reportings: Fed hatred; Groupon IPO; end the 30-year mortgage!

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Scott Olson/Getty Images

A sign marks the location of the Groupon headquarters on November 30, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois.

Bruce Krasting goes after the Federal Reseve. He doesn't hold back: "I want the Fed to fail so miserably that they are marginalized for the next twenty years. I want Bernanke fired. I want the Fed disgraced." (Bruce Krasting)

 

How to do an IPO, the Groupon-Goldman Sachs way: "The hardest step is the first: getting aboard this money train in the first place. You go in with a huge pitchbook that tells the company how awesome they are, how awesomely you’d tell the world how awesome they are, and how awesome you are at IPOs, etc." (Dealbreaker)

 

Abolish the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage! "At heart, it comes down to this: the 30-year fixed-rate product is always going to shift a huge amount of interest-rate risk onto the government in one form or another." (Felix Salmon)

 

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Visual Aid: The food truck business, NYC edition

I have a bit of an attitude about food trucks. Living in LA, I tend to take them for granted and also tend to focus on the basics: taco trucks. I am in fact the Foursquare mayor of my favorite truck, where I can get a ceviche tostada or a plate of tacos and a Jarritos soda for less than $5. High-end food trucks have of course become a big deal in LA, but given that we live in America's most spread-out metropolis, they seem to be able to operate without too much trouble.

Down deep, New York has serious LA envy, so in the last few years, food trucks have become thick on the streets there. New Yorkers are competitive eaters (unlike Angelenos, who are basically happy to subsist on a diet of burgers, tacos, sushi, steak and the occasional cleansing bowl of arugula), so of course they can't just emulate LA food-truck culture, they have to transform it into something that might be worthy of a Harvard Business School case study.

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Slide Show: A glimpse of things to come for LA's new football stadium

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Matthew DeBord

In the Lexus Club, the system can provide a appropriately luxurious stream of HD content.

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Matthew DeBord

If the new football stadium gets built, the big screens will be a lot more impressive.

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Matthew DeBord

Lexus sponsors its own club in the Staples Center. More of this type of branding will be on tap for Farmers Field.

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Matthew DeBord

The menu screens at concession areas can be dynamically updated and themed according to who is playing that night.

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Matthew DeBord

In the luxury Suites, the HD screens can be used to order food, buy merchandise, and tap into various video feeds from around the stadium.


Earlier this week, I took a tour of the Staples Center to check out a substantial technology upgrade throughout the facility (it's called StadiumVision). AEG joined with Cisco and Verizon to improve the way that programming and information can be displayed on HD video screens around the stadium. This ranged from theming and special offers on menu displays at concessions to e-commerce possibilities in the luxury suites. 

It was all very interesting and a pretty fair example of high-level business collaboration. AEG, Cisco, and Verizon are hardly small players. 

But it was also a glimpse of things to come. I can certainly remember the good old days of sports venues, when advertising, branding, and marketing was far more limited. Now, LA and AEG could very well be on the verge of building a state of the art football stadium Downtown, called Farmers Field. Ambitions for technology to "enhance the fan experience" are running high. The screens could be more numerous and much larger. And there could be a lot more mobile interaction, right down to the level of watching the game via a dynamic live feed to an iPhone app. From what I heard, that's the Holy Grail — you're at the game, but you can hold the game in your hands.

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Visual Aid: The Occupy Movement gets the Shepard Fairey treatment

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Obey Giant

See if you can figure out the model for Obey Giant's contribution to the Occupy Movement's graphic identity.

Yesterday, KPCC's new blog editor, Tony Pierce, and I were discussing the lack of any truly iconic Occupy Movement images. They've got plenty of signs and slogans. "But where's...noted LA public artist and occasional graphic agitator Shepard Fairey in this?" We asked. 

Well, ask and you shall receive. Fairey's Obey Giant site now has five supportive posters available for free download. I've respected Fairey's desire to have these used only by participants in the Occupy Movement and have depicted just one here. The rest can be seen at the site.

It will be easy enough to figure out which public figure served as the model for the poster that's pictured, once you check out the entire selection. But see if you can guess, without looking at the entire lineup.

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