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AOL Fires 1300

Filed under: — 1:59 pm

Today AOL announced that it would lay off some 7% of its global labor force, cutting some 1,300 employees. The company will close its call center in Jacksonville, Fla. and cut jobs from call centers in Ogden, Utah, and Tucson, Ariz.

An AOL spokesman attributed the call-center cuts to wiser users and to better tools that AOL had developed allowing users to help themselves. Call volume has “dropped by some 50% since 2004.”

While the article downplays the effect of a decline in AOL subscriptions, these cuts are a step in the right direction for the ailing company.

Source: Forbes


MCI and Microsoft Make a (Phone) Deal

Filed under: — 12:40 pm

Microsoft said late yesterday that it has struck a deal with MCI to offer calls from a PC to a standard phone, becoming the latest player in an increasingly competitive field. So far there are no plans for the PCs to receive calls… which is a typical half-ass Microsoft copy-cat move. The articles notes it will probably be more costly than competing services. Weak, Microsoft.

Source: Seattle PI


Toyota Recalls 1.27 Million Vehicles

Filed under: — 11:26 am

Toyota Motor is recalling about 1.27 million cars in Japan, the largest single recall of vehicles in Japan, in order to repair defective headlight switches, a government official said Tuesday. The recall affects 17 different models but shouldn’t affect Toyota’s bottom line: “The part to be replaced, the headlight switch, is not that expensive,” the spokesman said. “So we don’t expect any major impact on our earnings.”

Source: USAToday


Apple Names New COO

Filed under: — 9:51 am

Apple Computer Inc. on Friday named Tim Cook chief operating officer, and said that iPod division head Jon Rubinstein would retire. Tim Cook was head of worldwide sales and “had been effectively doing the job of COO for two years”. Apple also said that this move is not about Steve Jobs “pulling back, this is about recognizing Tim for the job he is doing”.

For those who don’t know, Cook took over for a short period last year while Steve Jobs went through surgery.

Source: CNN Money


Microsoft, Yahoo to Partner in Instant Messaging

Filed under: — 11:30 pm

In a competitive realignment of the heated Internet industry, Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc. are expected to announce today that consumers using their free communications services — including instant messaging and computer-to-computer voice calling — will be able to communicate directly with each other for the first time, say people familiar with the matter. As an MSN Messenger tester I know for a fact we’ve been harping on Microsoft to do this for quite some time now. I’m surprised AOL wasn’t included. Maybe this is why MS and AOL were talking? It appears as though Google and AOL are buddies. Unfortunate for Microsoft and Yahoo becuase they only control 25 and 19 percent of the instant messaging market, respective. AOL controls a whopping 56%. I don’t see me and my friends switching away any time soon…


Research and Devlopment Money Means Little Results

Filed under: — 11:43 pm

Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., a consulting firm, analyzed six years of financial results by 1,000 publicly traded companies responsible for the bulk of R&D spending globally. The firm found the companies that spent proportionately greater sums than their industry peers didn’t enjoy greater revenue gains or better profits. The study indicated that once a certain level of spending is reached things like oversight and culture play a bigger role in the firm’s success. One could easily look at Microsoft and reach the same conclusion. The conclusion of the survey is quite simple: results come from better spending, not more spending.

Source: WSJ, Microsoft Research


FEMA to Redo Katrina Contracts

Filed under: — 12:44 pm

All contracts awarded without competition by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after Hurricane Katrina will be examined and rebid to prevent fraud or abuse, acting FEMA Director R. David Paulison told Congress yesterday. Obviously it’s hard to follow exact procedures during a disaster, but in this case there’s clearly time to go back and award fair and competitive contracts. Joe Lieberman questioned whether contracts should be in place before disasters strike. I’m thrilled to hear congress is considering the art of planning and maybe even thinking. Did you realize that there are contracts with cruise-ship lines to house Gulf Coast residents left homeless by the storm? Senators rightfully criticized those contracts as well.

Sources: WSJ, FEMA


FedEx Boosts Rates

Filed under: — 8:51 pm

FedEx plans to boost international air-shipment rates by 5.5%, the largest increase in at least nine years. WSJ

Ground shipment increases have not yet been disclosed.

This pricing illustrates the economy’s recent ability to generate robust growth in shipping for railroads, trucks and seaports.


Microsoft Does a Re-Org

Filed under: — 11:08 am

Strange coincidence, as we were learning about re-orgs in management class what am I simultaniously reading about? That’s right, the Microsoft re-org.


Wal-Mart’s Impact During Disaster

Filed under: — 2:06 pm

There have been a few articles on Wal-Mart’s response to Hurricane Katrina. Most being quite postive…

On Sunday, before the storm made landfall on the Gulf Coast, Mr. Jackson ordered Wal-Mart warehouses to deliver a variety of emergency supplies, from generators to dry ice to bottled water, to designated staging areas so that company stores would be able to reopen quickly if disaster struck… (more)

The world’s largest retailer has given generously to relief efforts — upward of $20 million — and took action to ship urgently needed goods to the Gulf region. Many in New Orleans said Wal-Mart got aid to the region faster than any local, state or federal government organization… (more)

Their network was built to be redundant. The logistics were hardly a challenge (even with nearly 90 facilities disrupted). Wal-Mart was built to supply, and supply it did…


Microsoft Names Sam’s Exec As COO

Filed under: — 11:34 am

Microsoft has hired ex-Sam’s Club chief executive Kevin Turner as it’s new chief operating officer. Kevin had been with Wal-Mart as it’s CIO. Doug McMillon will replace Turner at Sam’s Club.

“Turner’s experience as a proven leader of people in Wal-Mart’s incredibly dynamic sales environment; his IT background as CIO of a world-class company and his familiarity with our products and technologies as a Microsoft customer for more than a decade uniquely qualify him to serve as our COO,” Ballmer, according to companywide e-mail obtained by Reuters.

Read more: Yahoo!, Seattle PI.

Update: InsideMicrosoft elaborates a tad more.


GM’s ‘In Motion’ Auto Show A Blast

Filed under: — 11:48 pm

Today was a great day at Invesco Field at Mile High… or as we like to (and should) call it: Mile High Stadium. It was the host to General Motors’ ‘In Motion’ advertis-err auto show. It was free, fun, and pretty exciting. How trusting is a company thats letting thousands of people drive hundreds of their cars over a four day period? It was this simple: fill out name and driver’s license number, walk to car, drive around in a _____ (insert luxury sedan, SUV, H2, etc. here). It was a great day, great cars… great time. Plus they gave us lunch. I know what you’re thinking “oh, you drove over to a multi-car test drive…” Hardly The atmosphere was not what you’d find with a dealer sitting on your lap. There was genuine excitement and energy. I think GM is making the right move allowing people to get their hands on their cars…

…coincidently the WSJ has an article today on GM, its struggles, and how it plans to change things soon. Their four-point plan includes: overhaul the pricing strategy, consolidating Pontiac and Buick, spending more to “woo” import buyers on the coasts, and upgrading aging GM dealerships in key markets.

…did I mention I was driving a BMW 325 just hours ago?


Compare Google and Wal-Mart, Striking Similarities

Filed under: — 6:20 pm

When you become good, nay, really good, you attract plenty of critics. But thats expected: people won’t like you. In the cases of Wal-Mart and Google it seems they’ve attracted criticism becuase, perhaps, they do things similarly. Adam Penenberg from WIRED news takes a look at some of the traits these two giants have in common.

…it’s hard to belive Google doesn’t pay that well though. Seriously. Their profit increased nearly sixfold. Discussion at Jeremy’s blog suggests the same. It’s not an entirely solid article but still interesting to ponder.

PS: Did you see the latest Google-browser “proof“?


Winn-Dixie Files for Bankruptcy

Filed under: — 7:47 pm

How ironic. The store couldn’t have picked a better time to file for Chapter 11. All the meanwhile children are rushing out to see the new movie with the same name. Seriously, the dictionary probably has this under “ironic”.

..thats what you get for competing with Wal-Mart.


Circuit City Follow Up: Closing 19 Stores

Filed under: — 3:28 pm

Not but a day after the takeover bid, Circuit City has announced that it would close 19 superstores, five regional offices and a distribution center by the end of the month. From this $170 million in revenue will no longer be generated, $30 million will be created in additional expenses (terminate leases, etc), a gain of $1.8 million (from the headquarters sale) and $12.6 million in debt eliminated.

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