September 26, 2017

Little Interest in ‘Lone Ranger’ Is a Blow for Disney

Walt Disney Studios spent the July 4 holiday watching its expensive action western, “The Lone Ranger,” disintegrate in a box-office collision with a strong performance by the goofy little animated heroes of Universal Pictures’s “Despicable Me 2.”

By Friday morning, “Despicable Me 2” had taken in taken in $59.5 million at the North American box office since its Tuesday night opening, according to an early estimate by Hollywood.com, and appeared to be headed for five-day total of $115 million or more. Its projected total is sure to more than double the five-day take for “The Lone Ranger,” which by some estimates is expected to take in less than $50 million for the holiday, after collecting just $19.5 million in domestic theaters since Tuesday night.

Disney’s film stars Johnny Depp, was directed by Gore Verbinski, who joined Jerry Bruckheimer as a producer to revive the studio’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” team, and cost about $225 million to make, according to a person briefed on the expenses who spoke on condition of anonymity because of studio policy. That high cost came in part because of the wreckage from the movie’s railroad action scenes.

But critics were harsh. The film scored 37 of a possible 100 on the Metacritic.com service, and A.O. Scott, reviewing for The New York Times, called it “a frantic grab bag of plots and themes, a semester-long Westerns 101 college course crammed into two and a half hours and taught by a professor whose lecture notes were rearranged by a gust of wind on his way to class.”

The audience, meanwhile, turned away from a film that seeks its appeal in Mr. Depp’s wisecracking reinterpretation of Tonto, the Native American sidekick to the masked ranger, John Reid, played by Armie Hammer, who has loomed large in American pop culture since the broadcast of a radio drama in the 1930s.

A Disney spokesman on Friday declined to discuss the film’s performance.

Early Tuesday, the analyst Doug Creutz, with Cowen Company in San Francisco, was quoted in a report from the Bloomberg News service, predicting that Disney would eventually write off $100 million on “The Lone Ranger.”

That would be about half the write-down it took on another large-scale film disaster, “John Carter,” which cost about $350 million to make and market, and collected only about $282 million at the worldwide box office after its release in March 2012. (Studios keep only part of the box office receipts, which are shared with exhibitors, but also collect money from home entertainment and other sales.) A year earlier, Disney had suffered a similar disaster with another expensive flop, “Mars Needs Moms.”

Alan F. Horn, a veteran Warner executive, became chairman of Walt Disney Studios last June, after “The Lone Ranger” was already being made.

Fierce competition from a crowded slate of blockbusters this summer leaves little room for “The Lone Ranger” to expand its appeal in coming weeks. On July 12, Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures will open “Pacific Rim,” a robot battle fantasy that was promoted this week in trailers attached to “The Lone Ranger,” while Sony Pictures Entertainment will release “Grown Ups 2,” a sequel to an earlier comedy hit, which featuring Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Chris Rock.

By midday Friday, Disney shares were largely unchanged.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/06/business/media/little-interest-in-lone-ranger-is-blow-for-disney.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Economix Blog: Warren Mosler: A Reading List

Warren MoslerRichard Perry/The New York Times Warren Mosler

In Business Day on Friday, I profile Warren Mosler, a charismatic gearhead and hedge fund executive who is among the best-known proponents of modern monetary theory. It is an unusual understanding of how money and economies work, and one of its main ideas is that governments never need to balance their budgets, ever.

Here is a brief reading list for those interested in modern monetary theory and Mr. Mosler:

     “Seven Deadly Innocent Frauds of Economic Policy,” a book Mr. Mosler wrote.

    “Soft Currency Economics,” an essay by Mr. Mosler.

    Mr. Mosler on the long-term deficit problem, or lack thereof.

     A debate between Mr. Mosler and Robert Murphy, an Austrian economist who believes that deficits very much matter.

     A mock interview and question-and-answer explanation of how Mr. Mosler believes government finances work.

     A Time Magazine article naming Mr. Mosler’s Consulier one of the 50 worst cars of all time.

     An interview Mr. Mosler did with Car and Driver magazine.

     The Washington Post on modern monetary theory.

Article source: http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/04/warren-mosler-a-reading-list/?partner=rss&emc=rss

She Owns It: Lessons Learned From a Difficult Succession

She Owns It

Portraits of women entrepreneurs.

Susan Parker, Bari Jay.Earl Wilson/The New York Times Susan Parker, Bari Jay.

At the last meeting of the She Owns It business group, we talked about succession planning. This post continues that conversation, beginning with thoughts from Susan Parker, who owns Bari Jay, a family business.

Ms. Parker’s outlook was shaped by the fact that she and her sister inherited the business unexpectedly from their father, who left no business succession plan. Had he created a plan, she said, one of two things might have happened. Either she and her sister would not be running Bari Jay today, or the two of them would have been better prepared had their father made it clear that he wanted them to take charge.

“Did you ever think about not running the company?” asked Alexandra Mayzler, who owns Thinking Caps Group.

“I did,” said Ms. Parker. But, she added, “At the end of the day, I felt like I owed it to my father and his legacy.”

And now, she and her sister also believe they owe it to their children to leave a succession plan. Ms. Parker said they are “over-consumed” with creating one and are now hammering out the details with lawyers and insurance agents. They hope to have it finalized in a few months. “We want to do everything our father didn’t,” she said. “I’ve learned from this whole process that it’s so complicated to get what you want.”

Ultimately, Ms. Parker and her sister want their children — each sister has two — to have the opportunity to enter the business if they want to. As of now, the plan provides that if something happens to one sister, her children will own half the company in a trust while the other sister continues to run it. Ms. Parker said that “something” could be a career-ending disability, as well as death — a possibility she realized only after her discussions with professionals. She also noted that the plan will need to be reassessed every five years or so.

Beth Shaw, who owns YogaFit, asked what happens if none of the children wants to enter the business.

Ms. Parker said that will be their choice. For now, she said her children, who are 6 and 8, plan to work for Bari Jay after they retire from careers as professional football players.

“Then you have the complexity of what if all your children don’t get along?” said Deirdre Lord, who owns the Megawatt Hour. “What if one person wants to get out and the other three don’t?”

The succession plan will include buyout options, Ms. Parker said. It will also ensure that neither sister’s spouse can have any part of the business — a provision that could become especially important if one sister dies and her spouse remarries someone who wants to own a piece of Bari Jay.

“There’s just so much to think about,” Ms. Parker said.

Jessica Johnson inherited Johnson Security Bureau, which both her grandmother and her father had run. Neither left a succession plan, contributing to some unresolved challenges that Ms. Johnson cannot discuss. However, she said, “It’s one thing to have a succession plan,” and another to follow it. Questions of interpretation may also arise, she said. “You can have the best intentions and put that on paper, and then how do you make sure it comes to fruition?” she asked. “That’s one of the major challenges of succession planning.”

For Ms. Shaw, the decision to create a succession plan, working with a lawyer and a financial planner, was inspired by her frequent international business travel. She said she realized she could “fall off a mountain or something” in India. Then what? For Ms. Shaw, it’s important that her business continue long after she’s gone.

“I did a plan where I’m leaving the business predominantly to some of the people who’ve worked with the company for a very long time,” she said. She’s told them, “If something happens to me, you guys are going to be running this thing.”

Ms. Parker said it would have been helpful to know that her father planned to leave the company to her and her sister.

Ms. Johnson said her grandmother took a similarly vague approach to spelling out her wishes. “She would say, ‘I’m going to the clods of dirt one day,’ and I’d say ‘What happens then?’” She said her grandmother would reply that she didn’t want to “talk about that now.”

Ms. Shaw said you have to be pragmatic: “We’re all going to be dead, so I need a plan.”

You can follow Adriana Gardella on Twitter.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/07/02/lessons-learned-from-a-difficult-succession/?partner=rss&emc=rss

She Owns It: Surviving a Succession Without a Plan

She Owns It

Portraits of women entrepreneurs.

Susan Parker (left) and Erica Rosenfeld, owners of Bari Jay.Earl Wilson/The New York Times Susan Parker (left) and Erica Rosenfeld, owners of Bari Jay.

At the most recent meeting of the She Owns It business group, the owners discussed succession planning. The topic is of particular interest to Susan Parker, owner of Bari Jay. She and her sister, Erica Rosenfeld inherited Bari Jay from their father, Bruce Cohen, who had never created a formal succession plan. In fact, neither of his daughters knew he planned to leave the company to them. “Bari Jay equaled Bruce Cohen,” Ms. Parker said.

Mr. Cohen had been running the company solo for 30 years, following the sudden death of his partner. They had had a buy-sell agreement, and Mr. Cohen bought the company from his partner’s estate. At the time, Ms. Parker said, many in the garment industry thought Bari Jay would not be able to survive because Mr. Cohen had no experience handling the back office tasks that had been his partner’s responsibility. But he quickly got up to speed.

In September 2007, the unexpected happened again. “My father left work to go get lunch and no one ever heard from him again,” Ms. Parker said. He had a massive stroke in a Japanese restaurant, and was in a coma until his death eight and a half months later.

Just before Mr. Cohen’s stroke, Bari Jay had moved production overseas. Not wanting to manage the logistics, Mr. Cohen had hired someone to handle that aspect of the business. “That was the fortunate thing — that even though my father was the name and face of Bari Jay, there was somebody there who could pick up the pieces immediately,” Ms. Parker said.

Still, she said, few realized how dire the situation was. At the company, and around the garment industry, it was assumed Mr. Cohen would soon be back at work.

“Were you working for the company at the time?” asked Beth Shaw, who owns YogaFit.

“I wasn’t,” Ms. Parker said. With the exception of a stint in the company’s customer service department while she attended business school, Ms. Parker had never worked for Bari Jay.

Mr. Cohen died in May 2008. About four months later, following a court battle with their stepmother, a judge awarded the company to Ms. Parker and her sister, in accordance with their father’s will. “We basically had like a few days to go in and start running it,” she said.

“How was the company doing financially during the time your father was away from it?” Ms. Shaw asked.

“It was in the red,” Ms. Parker said.

And there were other problems. After learning they had inherited the company, Ms. Parker and her sister offered a partnership to the employee their father had hired to handle overseas production. “We figured the company can’t survive without him, we don’t know what we’re doing,” she said.

But the employee wasn’t interested in that arrangement. “He said, ‘I will not work with little girls,’” Ms. Parker said. Instead, he hoped to take over the company and run it himself. “It got so ugly, we ended up having to lock him out of the office with armed security guards and attorneys,” she said.

“So, you didn’t only inherit a company, you inherited a company with a lot of problems,” Ms. Shaw said.

“There was a lot of baggage,” Ms. Parker acknowledged. Once again, she said, “Rumor around the garment center was that Bari Jay would no longer exist.” But the company’s accountant chuckled over the gossip. “He said, ‘Don’t let that freak you out — 30 years ago I heard the same thing when your father had the company by himself,’” Ms. Parker said.

The rocky ownership transition was not exactly a succession plan, Ms. Parker said. Noting that her father’s mother had lived into her nineties, Ms. Parker said, “I think in his mind he really was going to live forever.” That was his succession plan.

Deirdre Lord, who owns the Megawatt Hour, pointed out that he had left the company to Ms. Parker and her sister simply because it was a good asset.

“It was a really good asset,” Ms. Parker said. “But he always said, ‘I don’t want you in the industry, the industry’s changing, it’s not a good place to be.’”

“What were you doing before you worked for Bari Jay?” Ms. Shaw asked.

“I was originally a financial adviser, I left to go get my M.B.A., and then I was at Merrill Lynch,” said Ms. Parker, who worked for the firm in private wealth management. “Then I retired to be a stay-at-home mom.”

“What was your sister doing?” Ms. Shaw asked.

“She was a celebrity and movie publicist who had left to go back to school for elementary education,” Ms. Parker replied.

In future posts, we’ll discuss how Ms. Parker’s plans for Bari Jay have been shaped by her experience.

You can follow Adriana Gardella on Twitter.


This post has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: July 3, 2013

A previous version of this post misspelled Erica Rosenfeld’s last name.

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/25/surviving-a-succession-without-a-plan/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Sunday Routine | Jane Eisner: Running on Israel Time

EIGHT IS LATE I usually wake up at around 8 o’clock. That’s late for me. I’m a really early riser during the week. We’ll walk the dog, an 11-year-old Cavalier King Charles spaniel with the very inventive name of Charlie. We go to Riverside Park; it’s so wonderful. Especially in the mornings when there’s always lots of other dogs around.

TABLE WITH A VIEW I’m one of those people who needs to have their breakfast cereal and their coffee in the morning. We have two chairs and a little table set up by the window in our living room that overlooks the river, and it kind of feels like we are on a balcony. And we’ll turn on the radio, and read the paper, watch the boats go by. My husband keeps a pair of binoculars by the window just in case there’s an interesting bird that goes by. He’s a bird-watcher.

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

KEEPING UP WITH ISRAEL After breakfast, we will do some work for an hour or an hour and half or so. I need to keep abreast of things in Israel, and Sunday is a work day in Israel, so it’s a chance for me to read the papers online and perhaps be in touch with people that are working for us there.

HITTING THE PAVEMENT Usually at about 11 or 11:30, we go for a run in Riverside Park; usually for about an hour, maybe a little less. We feel so lucky, because in that time you can run through so many different environments. One area will be wooded, and one manicured, then we go down to run along the river, so that has a different feel to it. We don’t bring the dog — he would really slow us down. He’s getting old; he’s really pokey.

EXPLORATIONS We often take a nap on Saturday afternoons after synagogue, which I think is the most luxurious thing in the world. So for me, Sunday is more of a day to kind of do things, and be more active. At this stage, we’ve got memberships at a few museums; we love the parks; we’ll go to a street festival. This Sunday we have tickets to see a play, “Lucky Guy”; it’s our anniversary gift to ourselves.

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

A NOSH Sometimes we have some lunch at home, or maybe we are meeting my daughter and son-in-law somewhere for lunch. Sometimes they will come to the West Side, sometimes we will go to Brooklyn where they live, and sometimes we meet in the middle.

EVENTS, HERE AND THERE Sunday is also a big day in the Jewish community. So I am also often doing events on a Sunday, like a few weeks ago, moderating a panel at the Jewish Community Center. And it might not be here; I might have to go somewhere else. In a couple of weeks, we have a Forward Association board meeting on a Sunday.

DOG AND DINNER We will need to come back at some point in the afternoon to walk the dog, probably by about 5. Then maybe we will get ready to try to cook dinner or go out for dinner. We both do the cooking; it’s mostly vegetarian. Some of that is by design — it’s how we like to eat — and some of it is because I have to buy a new set of meat dishes.

TV OR PREP I would like to say that I routinely watch different things on television, but I’m so behind that I’m seeing older episodes of “Downton Abbey” on Netflix. But occasionally we watch something. More often than not, we are kind of getting ready for the next week. The one thing I always really try to do is get a head start on the reporting for my editorials.

Ozier Muhammad/The New York Times

READINESS My husband works out of town every other week for a small biotech company in the Midwest, so he flies out very, very early on Monday morning. So for him Sunday nights are often really kind of just getting ready for his week, and for me as well. Usually we take the dog out around 10, then after that go to bed. It’s never as early as I wish. And I read in bed some. We’re asleep usually by 11.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/23/nyregion/running-on-israel-time.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Player in Leaks Case, Out From Behind Camera

“She warned me that she was on a watchlist, and that she would be pulled out of the line,” he said Tuesday in an interview. “And sure enough, she was.”

Last week, Ms. Poitras, 49, emerged as the pivotal connection between the former government contractor Edward J. Snowden and writers for The Guardian and The Washington Post who published his leaked documents about government surveillance. She also got a byline on two of the papers’ resulting articles. But she has a much longer history as a filmmaker trying to show on screen how the world has changed since the Sept. 11 attacks.

Her first two films in that project — “My Country, My Country,” set in Iraq after the American invasion, and “The Oath,” about a former Guantánamo Bay prisoner and his brother-in-law, who once worked as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard — garnered critical praise and apparently the attention of the United States government.

In an interview Wednesday from a hotel in Hong Kong, she described herself as an unexpected player in the Snowden leak. “This is not something I was seeking out,” she said.

Mr. Snowden first contacted her in January, she said, telling her that he had read about her regular border scrutiny and saw it as “an indicator that I was a person who was ‘selected,’ ” that is, someone who would be familiar with what it is to be watched by the government. “He knew it was a subject that would resonate with me.” (He had also seen a short film about domestic surveillance, “The Program,” she made for The New York Times.)

Ms. Poitras, who won a MacArthur “genius” grant last year and was nominated for an Oscar for “My Country,” was already living and working outside the country. After six years of being questioned at the border — “upwards of 40 times, probably more, I lost count” — and having her laptop seized, her notes copied, she relocated to Europe.

“It was good timing in that way,” she said Wednesday.

But in addition to her tense relations with her government, there was another, more practical reason Mr. Snowden connected with her, she said. Because of her experience reporting on national security matters, Ms. Poitras said, she had the technical ability to hold an encrypted online conversation with Mr. Snowden from the start, which he insisted on.

“The number of journalists who know how to use it is very small,” she said. “You wouldn’t have been able to communicate with Snowden without encryption.”

Still, the way Mr. Snowden’s leaked document about Prism — the National Security Agency program that collects data from online providers of e-mail and chat services — was published is hardly typical. Both The Guardian and The Post wrote about a top-secret slide presentation on Prism at roughly the same time; for the Post article, Ms. Poitras shared a byline with Barton Gellman, whom she knew from their time together on a fellowship at New York University and contacted in February.

Later, for a profile on Mr. Snowden in The Guardian, Ms. Poitras shared a byline with Glenn Greenwald, a civil liberties writer she knew from the board of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Ewen MacAskill, a Guardian reporter.

In the interview, Ms. Poitras declined to elaborate on how the two articles came about. According to the Guardian’s account of how the news broke, Mr. Snowden tried during the winter to contact Mr. Greenwald directly, then Ms. Poitras interceded with Mr. Greenwald and “convinced him that he needed to take this more seriously.”

She also shot the 12-minute video in which Mr. Snowden explains his motivation for leaking. It has been viewed 2.5 million times, according to The Guardian, since it was posted over the weekend on the newspaper’s Web site.

Ms. Poitras also sought to deflect attention from herself and her role. “I have received a zillion e-mails,” she said.

“We are in the middle of an unfolding story, we don’t know where it is going, there are real stakes, real dangers, and my bio is just not that important,” she said, citing the recent government investigations of journalists at The Associated Press and Fox News.

But, as a struggling documentary filmmaker who has had to generate interest in her films, she has given plenty of interviews about her life.

Born in Boston, Ms. Poitras told the Web site Still in Motion that she started out as a chef. “I did French food for about 10 years, working at very, very fancy places in San Francisco,” she said. She learned film in the avant-garde tradition at the San Francisco Art Institute and later came to New York to study at the New School.

While her work today is much more realistic, she told Still in Motion what she had retained from her avant-garde teachers: “You were the artist and you made your own film — as the cinematographer, the director, the producer, the way you cut it, etc., but, totally noncommercial.”

Cara Mertes, the director of the documentary film program at Sundance, where “The Oath” had its premiere in 2010, cited a number of documentaries, including the recent “The Invisible War,” about sexual assault in the United States military, that are driving public interest and ultimately the news coverage.

Speaking of Ms. Poitras, she said, “In a lot of ways, the news has caught up with the story she is trying to tell.”

Ms. Poitras now finds herself amid the hustle and bustle of a global breaking news event, but still has her camera out and a personal vision of the story she wants to tell — and, she says, it will be very different from the way a newspaper would tell it.

The Snowden interview will be part of her next work, “a film, which is not coming out tomorrow, or next week,” she said. “It is going to take awhile.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/15/business/media/filmmaker-linked-to-leaks-has-her-own-stories-to-tell.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Disruptions: The Echo Chamber of Silicon Valley

Engineers tend to move to the Bay Area to get together with other engineers.Jim Wilson/The New York Times Engineers tend to move to the Bay Area to get together with other engineers.

In San Francisco, a bad habit can be the spark that leads to starting a company.

Mike Belshe and Bill Lee were continually running late for meetings and texting each other: “I’ll be there in 5 mins!” So they created Twist, a 10-person start-up in the city’s South of Market neighborhood. The company’s first product is a smartphone app that helps you tell someone you’re late by showing your location on a map. Investors liked the idea enough to give Twist $6 million in venture financing last year.

“We thought there had to be something better than sending a text message,” Mr. Belshe said in a phone interview. “We were trying to tackle that problem of meeting up and making it easier.”

Is Twist a great idea, or are Mr. Belshe and Mr. Lee falling into a local propensity for creating a product for technophile friends rather than the public?

Sometimes, Hollywood screenwriters create scripts filled with inside jokes that only people in Hollywood could appreciate. Sometimes, New York media writers write about other New York media writers. And sometimes, tech entrepreneurs in San Francisco and Silicon Valley to the south create companies best appreciated by other people who live and breathe technology.

Twist is hardly the only start-up whose target audience does not seem to extend far from San Francisco Bay. Among many, there’s BlackJet, which offers “affordable private jet” solutions for people in the area. And there’s Swig, which connects people with local liquor stores that provide home deliveries.

“One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that we are guilty in the Valley of designing things for ourselves, and we are not the target market,” said Andy Smith, who is the co-author of “The Dragonfly Effect,” a book about marketing, technology and entrepreneurship.

Engineers tend to move to the Bay Area because of the opportunity to get together with other engineers and, just maybe, create a great company, Mr. Smith said. But in a region that has the highest concentration of tech workers in the United States, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the bars, restaurants and other haunts of entrepreneurs can be an echo chamber. The result can be a focus on solutions for mundane problems.

“Some of the start-ups being created are designed for people who have rung the cash register already,” Mr. Smith said. “They are not necessarily bad ideas but they are not the ideas the world needs more.”

As George Packer wrote in The New Yorker last week: “Life inside Silicon Valley can be a paradise (for its winners) of opportunity and reward. Meanwhile, life outside falls further and further behind.” Mr. Packer’s critique started a new round of hand-wringing in the industry among people who worry that they are, well, thinking small.

That’s not to say there aren’t still people thinking about big markets. Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla, which sells electric cars that can cost more than $100,000, said last week at the D: All Things Digital conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif., that he hoped to offer a $30,000 version of the car in the next five years. Mr. Musk is also working on SpaceX, which is already taking cargo to the International Space Station and which he hopes will one day take regular people (or at least regular rich people) into outer space.

But too often, says Jason Pontin, the editor in chief and publisher of MIT Technology Review, these start-ups are solving “fake problems that don’t actually create any value.” Mr. Pontin knows a thing or two about companies that aren’t exactly reaching for the stars. From 1996 to 2002, he was the editor of Red Herring, a magazine in San Francisco that chronicled the region’s dot-com boom and eventual collapse.

Still, some companies that start out with Silicon Valley in mind have shown they can adapt to the rest of society. Take Uber, which began in the San Francisco area as an online service meant to shuffle the affluent around in fancy town cars. As the company has expanded to other cities, it has created less expensive options for customers.

Even the founders of Twist see a future beyond informing their friends that they are five minutes late. Mr. Belshe said Twist planned to offer a version of the app that can give users the “estimated time of arrival for your packages, too.”

Just as Facebook is synonymous with relationships, and Google is synonymous with search, Mr. Belshe said he hoped Twist could be the essential company for people who want to know the estimated arrival time for any number of things.

“When you’re a start-up, it doesn’t matter if you have it all figured out,” said Mr. Belshe, who has worked for Google and previously sold a software company to Microsoft. “It matters that you have some large opportunities.” Mr. Lee, his co-founder, is also an industry veteran.

And if the company flops, that’s fine, because most start-ups do.

“One of perhaps the most compelling things about Silicon Valley is that it is a place where you can fail, and if you do, you can raise money and try again,” said Mark Leslie, a retired entrepreneur and lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. “It’s a miraculous place; the streets are lined with gold here.”

E-mail: bilton@nytimes.com

A version of this article appeared in print on 06/03/2013, on page B5 of the NewYork edition with the headline: The Echo Chamber Of Silicon Valley.

Article source: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/disruptions-the-echo-chamber-of-silicon-valley/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Andrew M. Greeley, 1928-2013: Andrew Greeley, Outspoken Priest and Writer, Dies at 85

His niece Laura Durkin confirmed the death, saying he had died overnight in his sleep. She said he had been in poor health and under 24-hour care since suffering severe head injuries in 2008 when his clothing caught on the door of a taxi as it pulled away and he was thrown to the pavement.

In a time when the word “maverick” is often used indiscriminately, Father Greeley — priest, scholar, preacher, social critic, storyteller and scold — was the real thing. One could identify a left and a right in American Catholicism, and then there was Father Greeley, occupying a zone all his own.

Exuberantly combative, he could be scathing about the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops; at one point he described them as “morally, intellectually and religiously bankrupt.” If the church wanted “to salvage American Catholicism,” he wrote, it would be well advised to retire “a considerable number of mitered birdbrains.”

But he could be equally critical of secular intellectuals, whom he accused of being prejudiced against religion, and reform-minded Catholics, who he said had a weakness for political or cultural fads.

He wrote more than 120 books, many published by university presses, and countless articles about Catholic theology in both sociological journals and general-interest magazines, often incorporating the latest scholarship. He wrote op-ed pieces and syndicated columns in both religious and secular publications.

His greatest readership certainly stemmed from his scores of novels, many of them rife with Vatican intrigue, straying priests and explicit sex. At least 10 of them appeared on The New York Times’s best-seller list, including his first, “The Cardinal Sins” (1981), a tale of two Irish-American boys from Chicago’s West Side who enter the priesthood together, one of whom contrives to become the cardinal of Chicago, takes a mistress and fathers a child.

“Sometimes I suspect that my obituary in The New York Times,” Father Greeley once wrote, “will read, ‘Andrew Greeley, Priest; Wrote Steamy Novels.’ ”

Were they steamy? The question would probably not have even been raised if the author had not been a priest and if some of the steam had not been produced by fictional priests, in one case a cardinal, breaking their vows.

In fact, most of the priests in his novels were virtuous, wise and hard-working. The big sex scenes were generally reserved for married couples rediscovering the redemptive healing of passion after trials and estrangement.

“I suppose I have an Irish weakness for words gone wild,” Father Greeley once told The Times. “Besides, if you’re celibate, you have to do something.”

No Use for Elites

The books made him rich, though he gave his first million to charity and continued to give to various causes, including a donation, decades ago, to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, then a fledgling advocacy group.

Father Greeley had been an early and vehement advocate for victims of abusive priests at least since 1989, when he began writing articles in Chicago newspapers demanding that the church take action against pedophile priests. The public criticism angered the archdiocese and many fellow priests, but his outrage and proposals for reform were eventually recognized by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago, among others, as prescient.

Father Greeley was not shy about his politics, a New Deal liberalism grounded in an acute sense of family and neighborhood. (One of his recent books was titled with typical directness, “A Stupid, Unjust and Criminal War: Iraq 2001-2007.”) Nor did he hide his devotion to his hometown Chicago Bears, Bulls and Cubs.

Daniel E. Slotnik and Richard Severo contributed reporting.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/us/andrew-m-greeley-outspoken-priest-dies-at-85.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

From Christine Quinn, a Memoir More Personal Than Political

In college, schoolwork was not a priority. “I didn’t really care about the classes,” Ms. Quinn writes, adding, “I am also an unbelievably slow reader, who has to read things a couple of times to digest them.”

And she offers this frank assessment of her physique, courtesy of her gruff but caring father, Lawrence Quinn: “You’re big-boned. You would have been good back in Ireland in the fields flipping sheep.”

In an affecting but carefully assembled 240-page memoir, Ms. Quinn, the City Council speaker and a Democrat, offers a breezy, confessional and sometimes opaque look at her transformation from middle-class Long Island daughter to front-runner for mayor of New York City.

She recounts being called a homophobic slur in middle school and feeling too “frightened and upset” to tell her family. She discusses the guilt she still carries from her teenage years, when her mother died of cancer. “I have not totally gotten over the sense that when things are going bad, it’s my fault and mine alone,” she writes.

But Ms. Quinn’s candor about her personal life is as notable as her vagueness about politics. There is not a single reference to the slush-fund scandal that has been her lowest point as speaker. She says little about her relationship with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whom she calls “my colleague.” The battle over term limits is disposed of in two pages, while thousands of words are devoted to her wedding last year.

The memoir, titled “With Patience and Fortitude,” after the twin marble lions at the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, is to be released in June, three months before the Democratic primary for mayor; a copy was obtained by The New York Times. A common accouterment of high-profile political campaigns, the book is a sign of the national interest Ms. Quinn has attracted — and some rivals have begrudged — as she vies to become the city’s first female and first openly gay mayor.

Ms. Quinn, who wrote the memoir with Eric Marcus, whose other credits include an autobiography of Greg Louganis, had to juggle finishing the manuscript with her responsibilities as Council speaker and mayoral candidate. The book, a slim hardcover with a larger-than-average font, is being released a month later than first announced.

Flashes of Ms. Quinn’s humor appear throughout. She cites “Downton Abbey” to describe her grandmother’s work as a maidservant. Running a political campaign meant keeping “a zillion balls in the air at once.” When she began dating her future wife, Kim M. Catullo, she notes: “Things with Kim moved crazy fast. It was like the old joke: What do lesbians bring on a second date? A U-Haul.”

Still, much of the prose can be flat and unadorned, and some passages offer curiously little insight. On why she chose a career in government: “I really like being with people and doing things with them, and it has always made me feel good to get things done.”

On the therapeutic benefits of horseback riding, which Ms. Quinn describes as “the activity that sustained me” as a teenager: “If you have ever looked into the eyes of a horse, you know what I mean. Sadness and kindness flow from them.”

Ms. Quinn does not discuss why, as speaker, she supported overturning the term-limits law and allowing Mr. Bloomberg to run for re-election in 2009. “I struggled to balance what was best for him, for the city, for the City Council and for me personally,” she writes. The experience “was tough, but on reflection I have no regrets about my decision.”

The book is more revealing when it comes to Ms. Quinn’s relatives, many of them immigrants who arrived poor in New York City from Ireland and later struggled with alcoholism. She recalls an early lesson in gun control from her grandmother, who confiscated pistols from their relatives in the Police Department at family gatherings. “At the end of the evening,” Ms. Quinn writes, “she would decide who was sober enough to get their gun back.”

She writes with frankness and empathy about her father’s reticence and the pain of her mother’s cancer. “Just thinking about all her sorrows makes me sad for her,” Ms. Quinn writes. “I really doubt I would have become the first woman — or the first L.G.B.T. person — to be elected speaker if I hadn’t been driven by a leftover sense of guilt and responsibility for my mother’s illnesses and absences.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/31/nyregion/from-christine-quinn-a-memoir-more-personal-than-political.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

You’re the Boss Blog: Which Start-Up Should This Entrepreneur Pursue?

Aseem Badshah has to decide which promising start-up to pursue.Matthew Ryan Williams for The New York Times Aseem Badshah has to decide which promising start-up to pursue.

Case Study

What would you do with this business?

We just published a case study about a young entrepreneur, Aseem Badshah, who is torn between two ventures and needs to decide where to focus his time and energy.

His first business, Uptown Treehouse, creates online marketing campaigns. Three years old, it earns more than $300,000 a year on revenue of $1.3 million. His new idea is a software product called Socedo which scans social media and other public Web sites to find sales leads for clients. Mr. Badshah has 200 companies using a test version of the software and has received positive feedback.

Now he needs to decide if he should spend all his time on one of the businesses — or if he can split his time between the two ventures.

Uptown Treehouse is a successful, going concern, so if Mr. Badshah focuses all his energies there, he will face less financial risk. The company, however, offers limited growth potential that will be determined by the number of customers it can serve.

Alternatively, he could sell or close Uptown Treehouse and focus entirely on raising capital to build the Socedo team and technology. This option would be riskier because Socedo is an early technology start-up — but it also offers greater potential rewards because it is a software product, not a customized service, and could sell in high volumes quickly.

So far, Mr. Badshah is pursuing a third option: delegating the running of Uptown Treehouse to a general manager and using its profits to finance Socedo. He tries not to spend much time on Uptown Treehouse but concedes he is distracted by it. His eventual goal is to raise money from outside investors so that Socedo will not be dependent on Uptown Treehouse.

Below, you will find the recommendations of a serial entrepreneur, a small-business cash flow analyst and a start-up expert with both academic and business experience. Please use the comment section to tell us whether you agree or disagree with their advice — and to offer your own suggestions for Mr. Badshah. Next week, we will publish a follow-up.

Fred Dewey, former chief executive of Kachingle and current partner at Emotional Intelligence at Work, a training program: “Over the past three years, I was the C.E.O. of a start-up and spent some of my free time on another idea. We had a weekly conference call on my ‘spare-time project,’ where I gave input. Now it’s ready to fly and I’ve moved over to focus on it. Badshah should separate the two companies financially and divide his time 90 percent/10 percent between Socedo and Uptown. With discipline and a good Uptown general manager, he will be able to keep the value and profits of Uptown, while putting most of his energy into Socedo. Socedo’s funding plan A should be to raise outside capital with a plan B of using Uptown profits.”

Dan J. Cunningham, a financial and cash flow analysis consultant for small businesses over the past 35 years: “The revenue Badshah is making from Uptown Treehouse puts him in the top 1 percent of all American earners, so from a financial perspective, it would be difficult to see why anyone would want to give up that situation. It looks like he thinks his original company is not very exciting and that he won’t get a big payout one day where someone comes in and pays him millions and millions of dollars for his company. The risk of the new venture is, if the planning and assumptions are wrong, there will be no buyout and no millions and millions of dollars. There’s definitely something to be said for plodding along with a sure thing and making a lot of money while you do it.”

Steve Blank, an associate professor at Stanford University and author of “The Start-Up Owner’s Manual”: “Pick one business and commit to it. Betting on one idea focuses your heart, soul and all your energy on its success. If you are not fully committed to your idea, why would an investor commit to you? You can’t give your whole self to multiple girlfriends or boyfriends — it’s the same with business.”

What do you think?

Article source: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/05/29/can-one-owner-build-two-start-ups-at-once/?partner=rss&emc=rss