Business news

First of four parts

Ultimately, all roads lead home for Rupert Murdoch.

"The story of our company is the stuff of legend: from a small newspaper in Adelaide to a global corporation based in New York, with a market capitalization of about $44 billion," he said last October, when he addressed a News Corp. shareholders meeting in Los Angeles.

Australians view the company's history differently.

Cleveland resident Cedric Cowan was asleep on an overcast spring morning when the roaring sounds of splintering wood and falling rubble jolted him awake.

Cowan lives in a neighborhood hit hard by foreclosures. He initially thought someone was moving into the house on the other side of Fairport Avenue.

Instead, he woke that morning to find a crew tearing down the two-family house.

Over the course of three hours, an excavator smashed, crushed and ripped apart the abandoned house while a worker sprayed the rubble with a hose to keep the dust down.

Part 2 of our Silicon Valley history series

Think of the most technologically innovative companies of the past 50 years, such as Intel, Apple, Google, Facebook and Twitter. Each company has a Silicon Valley address — and each one got backing from venture capitalists. Over the past decade, more than 35 percent of the nation's venture capital has gone to Silicon Valley startups.

High-tech and venture capital go hand and hand in the valley where technology and venture capital grew up together.

Meet The New Official Cab Of New York City

Apr 4, 2012

The "Taxi of Tomorrow" has arrived in New York City. On Tuesday night, officials unveiled the Nissan-designed cab that, over the next 10 years, will gradually replace the country's largest taxi fleet. It's the first New York taxi to be designed for the job since the city's iconic Checker cab.

For Nissan's designers, the process of putting the new cab together involved months of riding in taxis and talking to cab owners, drivers and passengers about what they did and didn't like.

Since the 1900s, the country's most iconic bridges and skyscrapers have been put up by men who risked life and limb to connect steel beams hundreds of feet in the sky. Ironworkers come from all backgrounds, but a small Indian reserve outside Montreal has supplied the U.S. with a proud lineage of Mohawk ironworkers.

Italy's technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti, came to office less than five months ago as the country's finances were in a tailspin. And now he could be facing his toughest challenge yet — pushing through changes to labor regulations.

Italian labor rules ensure job security for older workers but can condemn the younger generation to a series of insecure, temporary jobs.

Since taking office, Monti has pushed through a round of tough austerity measures, budget cuts, pension reform and some deregulation.



From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Audie Cornish.

A New England company thinks it's tackled a problem that has been vexing the auto industry for decades - how to make a car fly. For about $300,000, you buy a plane that drives on the ground and parks in your garage. It's called the Transition and it's meant to be just that, bridging the gap between road and sky.

NPR's Sonari Glinton has our story from the New York Auto Show.

Yahoo will lay off 2,000 employees in an attempt to save money and restructure the company. Despite an enormous Web audience, Yahoo has struggled to build an identity as social media has taken off. It is currently embroiled in a big patent dispute with Facebook.

Robots Creep Into Every Corner Of Life

Apr 4, 2012



This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. We've all become accustomed to robots on the assembly line. We don't even think about automatic doors and the card swipe that lets us fill up when the gas station is closed. But Marketplace special correspondent David Brancaccio recently drove across the country with the goal of never speaking to another human being along the way.

He did meet a robot comic, hotel check-in kiosks and a robot receptionist.

DAVID BRANCACCIO, BYLINE: So Tank(ph), I'm looking for Room 2111.

Yahoo Cuts 2,000 Employees

Apr 4, 2012



NPR's business news starts with layoffs at Yahoo.


Jobs at U.S. businesses increased by 209,000 in March, according to a report released Wednesday by the payroll processing firm ADP. That's in line with expectations for the monthly jobs report due out Friday.

Analysts expect Friday's official employment report from the Labor Department to show that employers added 215,000 in March and that the unemployment rate remained at 8.3 percent, according to Bloomberg News.

Business News

Apr 4, 2012



NPR's business news starts with a Silicon Valley lawsuit.

Facebook has fired back in its patent dispute with Yahoo. The social networking site says Yahoo products, including the photo-sharing site Flicker, are infringing on 10 of Facebook's patents. Facebook's legal action is a counter-claim to a suit filed by Yahoo last month, also claiming 10 patent infringements. The pending court battle is a distraction for Facebook as it prepares to go public - a move that could see the company valued at up to $100 billion.

Nokia Aims For Comeback With New Phone

Apr 4, 2012



And this weekend Nokia rolls out its newest smartphone to the American public. It's called the Lumia 900. Nokia is trying to break its way back into the high-end mobile phone market it once dominated. In this fight against Apple iPhone and Google's Android, Nokia is the underdog now.

And as NPR's Steve Henn reports, it has joined up with Microsoft in its bid to make a comeback.

The Last Word In Business

Apr 4, 2012

The New York Times reports that Williams-Sonoma, the maker of cooking pots and appliances, now wants to get you out of the kitchen and into the backyard. The Agrarian Collection includes everything you need to grow your own food.



American universities, like American companies, have been looking to expand into new markets. They open campuses overseas. And now many private colleges are looking for growth back home, building satellite campuses around the United States. Now, any given public college may spread campuses across a state, but private institutions reach across state lines. Here's Monica Brady-Myerov from member station WBUR.


Only four people in the United States carry the official designation of Lego Master Model Builder. And 23-year-old Andrew Johnson of Illinois is the newest — and youngest — to earn the title.

Legos are robots in disguise for Johnson, as in a 4 1/2-foot replica of the Transformer Optimus Prime made only from those tiny bricks.

For as long as he can remember, German teenager Robin Dittmar has been obsessed with airplanes. As a little boy, the sound of a plane overhead would send him into the backyard to peer into the sky. Toys had to have wings. Even today, Dittmar sees his car as a kind of ersatz Boeing.

"I've got the number 747 as the number plate of my car. I'm really in love with this airplane," the 18-year-old says.

Two giant ships move through the Panama Canal's two parallel channels at the Miraflores locks, heading toward the Pacific Ocean.

The orange and white Bow Summer is a tanker. The deck of the Ever Dynamic is stacked high with burgundy and blue shipping containers. More boats like these are backed up in both the Pacific and the Atlantic waiting to enter the narrow waterway.

Global trade has grown dramatically, but the Panama Canal — one of the most vital transit routes — hasn't changed its basic structure since it opened in 1914.

But that is about to change.

The first in a 3-part series airing this week on Morning Edition.

When Facebook goes public later this spring, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, will be following in the footsteps of a long line of Silicon Valley tech entrepreneurs that includes Steve Jobs and Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin. But there was a time when the idea of an engineer or scientist starting his or her own company was rare.

A nonprofit foundation set up to support scientific research of interest to the Food and Drug Administration is finally starting to take off after years of struggling financially — and it's about to get some long-promised funding from the FDA.

But some critics worry that this foundation, which will also raise money from private sources including industry, could provide a way for the food and medical industries to sway FDA decisions.

As we've reported, fish fraud – labeling a less-desirable species as a more desirable one – is more widespread than you'd think. Olive oil, too, isn't always what it seems. And honey from Asia is fraught with suspicion.

The turmoil in the housing market over the past few years has scared a lot of people away from homeownership. That means many people who can afford to buy are now renting. With so much demand for apartments, rents are once again on the rise. And in places like New York City, they're near record highs.

A few weeks ago Lauren Weitz got her first apartment in the city. Every night when she gets home from the office, she upholds a New York City tradition.

Shopping apps and retail websites give consumers the power to compare prices, read reviews and shop on the go. Stephanie Clifford, business reporter at The New York Times and market researcher Paco Underhill discuss how many brick-and-mortar stores are altering pricing strategies.

How Much Would You Pay For A Flying Car?

Apr 3, 2012



And that brings us to our last word in business, flying cars. Finally, they're here. Well, almost here. We're not exactly in Jetsons' territory quite yet. But a company in Massachusetts says its prototype flying car, called the Transition, completed its first flight and will be ready for sale within the next year.

The two-seat vehicle soared to 1,400 feet in its maiden voyage. The car - can we call it that - is expected to cost $279,000, and 100 buyers have already plunked down their deposits.


Mobile gaming, or at least playing games on a cellphone, is nothing new. Just think of all the quick, sometimes mundane rounds of Snake you played if you were one of the lucky owners of that brick of a Nokia phone from the late '90s and early 2000s.

Yet as smartphones evolved in recent years, the number of games available on them grew rapidly, as well. It has become common to see users of Android phones and iPhones wrapped up in intense sessions of games like Angry Birds or Draw Something.



Well, from a classic American company to a classic industry. It turns out automobiles are improving, so much so in fact, that the U.S. seems to be entering a golden age of vehicle quality and reliability.

Michigan Radio's Tracy Samilton has this story about the demise of the lemon.


UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Please step into the door.



NPR's business news starts with what happens in Vegas...


GREENE: What happens in Vegas doesn't always stay in Vegas, especially if it involves taxpayer dollars.

The head of a federal agency has resigned after reports of inappropriate spending at a conference near Las Vegas. Martha Johnson led the General Services Administration, which manages the federal government's property.



Sixteen years - that is a long time to be number one. And this week, media critics and TV viewers are wondering whether NBC's "Today Show" can stay on top. There was a time, of course, when the name Katie Couric was synonymous with the "Today Show," helping them make it the ratings winner in morning news. And this week, Katie Couric could be the one who helps break that winning streak. Couric now works for ABC, and all week, she's guest hosting rival show "Good Morning America" with George Stephanopoulos.



The city of Detroit is broke - verging on bankruptcy, in fact. And we may have come to a moment of reckoning. This week, Michigan's governor is giving city officials a choice: either they allow the state to help run Detroit's finances, or the state will appoint an emergency manager with total authority over budgetary matters. WDET's Quin Klinefelter reports.


Avon Rejects Coty's Buyout Offer

Apr 3, 2012



Now, to news of a failed cosmetic takeover.

Avon, the global cosmetics company known for its door-to-door sales, has rejected a $10 billion takeover bid from Coty. That company is best known for things like its Lady Gaga and Calvin Klein fragrances.

NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports that Avon believed the offer was just too low.