Sexism and ‘brogrammer’ culture in Silicon Valley
From tech reporter Jessica Guynn’s story about the troubling perseverance of sexist culture in the nation’s most forward-thinking technological hub:
It’s no secret that the tech industry has a shortage of women. What’s less well known is that the industry famous for its bravado about changing the world still lags decades behind other industries in its treatment of women, many of whom say they routinely confront sexism in the companies where they work and at the technology conferences they attend.
Many blame the industry’s growing gender gap on a “brogrammer” culture, a hybrid of “bro” and “programmer” that’s become a tongue-in-check name for engineers.
Photos: David Paul Morris, Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg, Glenn Chapman / AFP/Getty Images
Evaluating Satan worshiping’s effects on real estate
Plenty of people have had some strange living situations, from incompetent landlords, fixer-upers that never quite seem to get fixed and beyond. But what about properties affixed with a legacy of ghosts and murder?
They came to the Las Vegas mansion in waves, chasing tales of ghosts and murder. Some came to gawk or snap photos in front of its black metal gate. Others came to worship Satan. Thrill seekers broke in and drew pentagrams and carved upside-down crosses throughout the house.
The vandals came after “Ghost Adventures” featured the mansion on an episode that warned of a “nasty, evil spirit” that lurked inside. The homeowner fumed and sued. He wanted the Travel Channel show to pay damages.
Simply bring in Randall Bell, a real estate appraiser whose entire career is focused around evaluating stigmatized property, but the aforementioned Satanic-associated haunts to the World Trade Center site and areas damaged during the Rodney King riots.
Read the full story, possible mob hit site renovations and all, in our latest Column One feature.
Photos: Isaac Brekken for the Times
Say hello to the new $100 bill!
The launch of the redesigned bills may have been delayed for years, but the new look will finally be in circulation starting this week. Money & Co. has the full details, and be sure to give yourself a pat on the back if you manage to get a hold of one.
Photos: Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty Images
The recession’s aftershocks, five years later
It’s been five years since the financial meltdown that spurred the Great Recession, and the effects of the downturn are still rampant. Students are saddled with debt while unable to find work, adult workers are seeing their wages stagnate while older workers who lose their jobs may not have a chance at attaining another.
Reporters Walter Hamilton and Shan Li recently looked at the economic status of a middle class family from Redondo Beach. Janet Barker, an eighth-grade teacher, thought her life was completely in order just a few years ago:
Then the financial crisis struck in 2008. She has abandoned her dreams, and these days, she’s just trying to hold her family together. Five people squeeze into her 1,000-square-foot house because they can’t afford to live anywhere else. She’s supporting her ex-husband, their daughter, an unemployed son-in-law and a grandchild.
As Carl Van Horn, labor economist and director of the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, puts it:
"American workers are between two uncomfortable realities: Either they are working and terrified about the future or they are not working at all."
Read the full story from reporters Walter Hamilton and Shan Li here.
Photos: Bethany Mollenkof / Los Angeles Times
“We’re at a point where we don’t need retailers,” D.C. council member Vincent B. Orange said. “Retailers need us.”
D.C.’s city council approved a very specific living wage law earlier this week, one that requires companies with annual sales of more than $1 billion to pay its employees a local living wage ($12.50).
Before the vote, Walmart announced it would abandon plans for three of six soon-to-be-built District stores if the city passed the law.
D.C. isn’t the first to engage in a game of chicken between itself and the mega-retailer. Emily Badger looks at Walmart’s struggles with other city governments and wonders, when exactly is it safe to make Walmart play by rules it doesn’t like?
Wal-Mart’s trouble moving into urban areas isn’t limited to D.C. - a number of groups have recently opposed a new store from being built in L.A.
test reblogged from theatlanticcities
So long, plastic grocery bags?
The Los Angeles City Council voted for an ordinance banning plastic bags Tuesday, making L.A. the largest city to possibly forbid grocers from providing anything other than paper bags (at 10 cents a pop).
Plenty of people have voiced their disapproval of the ban, including one bag-totting Target customer in Eagle Rock:
"I’m going to forget to bring my bag, and I’m not going to want to pay, so Target will probably lose some of my business," the Highland Park resident said. "Then I’ll be putting even more things back."
But the inconvenience may be worth it for the greater good, as Karin Klein writes in her account of the bag-less lifestyle (with a bit of a learning curve):
Truth is, though, it can be a pain. Sometimes, you just crave a flimsy wisp of plastic with built-in handles to carry out the trash, or to hold some messy item that should not see the inside of a backpack. The reality is that life without plastic bags is entirely doable and a lot better for the environment, but it does require some adjusting.
Read more on the possible ban, which would begin in 2014, here.
Photo: Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
The end of the Postal Service?
Neither snow nor rain nor heat are supposed to keep mail carriers from doing their duty, but the current crisis facing the postal service is a bit more of a man-made problem.
The U.S. Postal Service lost a mind-boggling $15.9 billion last year, and currently loses $25 million every day. Employee numbers have been cut down, facilities have been consolidated and delivery standards have been lowered - but the organization is still hemorrhaging cash.
It may be run as a corporation, but the Postal Service still faces congressional oversight, which has hampered its reform efforts.
Postal officials recently tried to end Saturday letter delivery, which could have saved $2 billion per year, but Congress blocked it. A legislative proposal to replace doorstep delivery with curbside delivery, which would save $4.5 billion, failed last year. A plan to close thousands of rural post offices was abandoned after postal officials deemed the closures would “upset Congress a great deal.”
And then there’s the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act, which mandated that the Postal Service pre-fund the health benefits of future retirees 50 years into the future. The yearly cost of that measure? About $5.6 billion.
Read more to learn about some measures in the works to save the 238-year-old service before it collapses in financial ruin.
Photo: Justin Lane / EPA
Are hipsters to blame for rising beer prices?
Hipsters get a bad rap from a lot of people, with a recent poll finding that just 16% of Americans having a positive opinion
But now there’s one more thing hipster-haters can add to their list of complaints (besides thinking Grizzly Bear’s boring or fedoras fell out of fashion for a reason): Rising beer prices.
Research Sciences President Chuck Ellis, who has been studying beer prices, has discovered that sub-premium beer prices have jumped 6.8% over the past seven months, with craft beer prices increasing at half that rate. And what does he think the cause is?
"I believe the single biggest driver in sub-premium beer price increases is indeed specifically PBR. It has become quite fashionable."
As an aside, with all of that said: What the heck is the definition of a hipster anyway?
Read the full story over at Money & Co.
Photos: Arkasha Stevenson, Glenn Koenig, Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times
Background on the Yahoo-Tumblr deal
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been looking to revitalize Yahoo since hopping aboard last year, examining several companies for possible acquisition. But it wasn’t until early this morning that Yahoo’s big push to gain the trust of a younger online audience was finally confirmed with a $1.1-billion purchase of Tumblr.
But many of the Tumblr faithful are concerned about Yahoo’s shaky track record in properly handling fresh acquisitions:
Yahoo has a history of buying promising young companies only to let them waste away. Acquisitions under previous Yahoo chiefs such as Geocities, an early social networking site, and Flickr, the popular photo sharing website, were long neglected within the company.
Mayer, aware of the widespread concerns of an audience that contains many users who weren’t even alive when Yahoo began, maintains that Tumblr will be independent:
We promise not to screw it up. Tumblr is incredibly special and has a great thing going. We will operate Tumblr independently. David Karp will remain CEO. The product roadmap, their team, their wit and irreverence will all remain the same as will their mission to empower creators to make their best work and get it in front of the audience they deserve.
Read more on the Yahoo-Tumblr deal via tech reporter Jessica Guynn, or sound off below on whether Yahoo’s move is brilliant, or doomed to be a bust.
Everyone, I’m elated to tell you that Tumblr will be joining Yahoo.
Before touching on how awesome this is, let me try to allay any concerns: We’re not turning purple. Our headquarters isn’t moving. Our team isn’t changing. Our roadmap isn’t changing. And our mission – to empower creators to…
The rumors turned out to be true: Yahoo has purchased Tumblr for $1.1 billion, in what may be the first corporate acquisition announced via .gif.
test reblogged from staff
Silicon Valley’s squishy, feel-good language
The tech firms that dominate Silicon Valley are largely data-driven, high-concept businesses brimming with complexities. So how do they present the culmination of their technological prowess?
Try Joshua Reeves of ZenPayroll Inc., who seeks to describe the feeling his company provides as delightful.
"That’s the effect we’re trying to achieve," said Reeves, whose company has applied to trademark "delightful payroll." "We talk about how to create that ‘aha moment,’ that feeling the first time you use it where you just stop and say, ‘This is amazing. Why weren’t you here 10 years ago?’"
In fact, the word “delight” pops up Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has used it, as has Dropbox co-founder Drew Houston and most importantly of all, the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs.
Read the full story in our latest Column One feature. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll get some delight out of it.
Photo: Times Wire Services
More legal action likely for Facebook’s bungled IPO
Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. may plan to repay brokerages $62 million lost during the disastrous launch of Facebook’s IPO, which morphed from a minor slip-up to an investment debacle last year. An estimated $500 million was lost due to the delays and general chaos caused by Nasdaq’s insufficient planning for demand of the stock.
But waiting in the wings is the possibility of the government or other interested parties filing their own legal complaints against Nasdaq.
Plus, there’s the SEC probe into the matter that has yet to be released, which probably won’t like the handling of Facebook’s IPO.
Photos: Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times
Setting the groundwork for profitable legalization
As more and more states alter their marijuana policies, from decriminalizing the possession within preset restrictions, allowing its use for medicinal purposes to outright legalization, entrepreneurs are increasingly seeing green.
Ken VandeVrede, chief operating officer at Terra Tech, a hydroponic equipment maker, is among those bracing for the flood gates to open:
"We can scale this thing very, very quickly. When hemp and cannabis become legal, we’re ready to rock and roll."
And things aren’t exactly quiet on the investment side of things. From Brendan Kennedy, chief executive of the Seattle private equity firm Privateer Holdings
"More and more people see the inevitability. They see that the Berlin Wall of cannabis prohibition is going to come down."
Read more, and learn about the possible involvement of Wall Street in the marijuana industry, here.
Photo: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg
From jamming to jingles
Wonder where those catchy little song snippets in commercials come from? With the high cost of licensing songs from famous artists scaring of advertisers, many companies are looking to create their own songs. And in a music industry grasping for new revenue streams, many artists are willing to play ball.
As musician Casey Gibson told Times reporter Colin Stutz:
"It used to be that you got called a sellout. But times have changed," said Gibson, who has been paid to write jingles for Purina dog food and Columbia Sportswear commercials. “I’m actually proud of the fact that I’m able to make a living being a creative person.”
Read more on Gibson, and other commercially-inclined musicians, here.
Photos: Christina House / For The Times