Archive for November, 2010

Report: Google close to buying Groupon

Google is close to a deal to buy Groupon, the online discounter, for as much as $6 billion, the New York Times is reporting.

A deal, in the $5 billion to $6 billion range, could be struck as soon as this week, people with direct knowledge of the negotiations told the Times. They cautioned that the talks still could fall apart.

At that price, Groupon — known for its daily discounts — would be one of Google’s largest acquisitions, dwarfing Google’s $3.1 billion acquisition of DoubleClick in 2007, the display advertising giant, the Times writes.

The acquisition would also be Google’s boldest foray into local business online advertising, a large and untapped market it has been trying to get into, the Times reports.

Since its founding in 2008, Groupon has been growing at a nearly unprecedented pace, the Times writes. The company, whose name is a combination of “group” and “coupon,” specializes in providing customers with discounts purchased in bulk. Subscribers receive …

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Power Breakfast: Small business improving, MARTA party, Cyber Monday, copper thefts, Delta, bank suit, Toyota, Google

There’s improvement among small businesses.

Atlanta and its northern suburbs experienced the largest decline in small business bankruptcies in the third quarter among metropolitan areas in a new study, AJC staffer David Markiewicz reports.

The number of small businesses in the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta area that filed for bankruptcy from July through September fell to 296 from 402 for the same period of 2009, according to an analysis by Atlanta-based Equifax.

The nearly 27 percent decline led the 15 U.S. markets with the most bankruptcies, Markiewicz writes. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, Ill. posted the second-largest decrease, at about 17 percent.

Overall, 11 of the metro areas studied saw decreases from 2009, Markiewicz reports.

Equifax called small business bankruptcy filings “a key indicator of the financial health of business markets across the United States.”

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Small business improving, MARTA party, Cyber Monday, copper thefts, Delta, bank suit, Toyota, Google »

How are you keeping your retirement boat afloat?

The economy has not been kind to retirees or workers who had planned to retire in the next few years, AJC staffer Russell Grantham reports.

Many people have been forced into early retirement because of layoffs or failed businesses. Others have put their plans for leaving the work force on hold, Grantham writes.

How have you coped?

Retired early for Social Security benefits?

Postponed retirement because you can no longer afford it, with real estate and stocks depreciated?

Tapping your 401-k or other savings?

Working part-time?

Continue reading How are you keeping your retirement boat afloat? »

Power Breakfast: Recession rewriting retirement plans, Cyber Monday, holiday travel, security business, Wal-Mart, Google

The triple whammy of a severe recession and bear markets on Wall Street and in real estate continues to rewrite the retirement plans of many Americans, AJC staffer Russell Grantham reports.

Though two of those obstacles have eased lately — with the recession generally considered to have ended in mid-2009 and the stock market rising roughly 60 percent since its early 2009 trough — their effects linger, Grantham writes. Many people have been forced into early retirement because of staff downsizing, while others, nervous after the recent economic events, have put their plans for leaving the work force on hold.

In a newly published book, “Reconsidering Retirement, How Losses and Layoffs Affect Older Workers,” economists Courtney Coile and Phillip Levine noted that the number of retirees claiming Social Security benefits surged 23 percent between 2008-09, far above normal trends, Grantham writes.

Coile and Levine, professors at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, …

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Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate falls to 9.7 percent

Metro Atlanta’s unemployment rate fell to 9.7 percent in October, from 9.9 percent in September, the state labor department said Wednesday.

There has been noticeable progress from a year ago, when the jobless rate stood at 10.3 percent.

The number of unemployed workers in the metro area decreased in October to 254,874 — down 7,397 from September, the labor department said.

And the number of payroll jobs increased by 12,500 from September to October. A total of 2,274,400 workers were employed in metro Atlanta last month.

Still, the situation remains troubling. A total of 26,746 laid-off workers in metro Atlanta filed initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits in October. That represented an increase of three-tenths of a percentage point from September. Most of the first-time claims were filed in manufacturing, wholesale and retail trade, administrative and support services, and construction.

Last week, the labor department said the state’s seasonally unemployment …

Continue reading Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate falls to 9.7 percent »

Nonprofits tackle challenge of age

I usually try to shy away from writing about nonprofits. After all, I’m supposed to be a business columnist.

But when a Home Depot exec called to tell me that its foundation was holding a “strategy meeting” for metro-area nonprofits to discuss “business issues,” I couldn’t resist. I’m a sucker for the word strategy.

It turns out that at least two nonprofits at the meeting are facing the same demographic issue that many businesses confront — marketing to a new age group to remain relevant. (My own industry is dealing with that, but that’s another story.)

In this case, the target age groups are far apart, although they’re both younger. The Atlanta History Center needs to attract more kids, while Senior Connections is searching for more Baby Boomers.

First, let’s talk history, which too few kids are doing.

“Most history museums are facing a younger population that is illiterate about history,” said Sal Cilella, CEO of the Atlanta Historical Society, which operates the history …

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Former Coke chief pushes formula for reshaping capitalism

I feel connected in some way to former Coke chief Neville Isdell.

I was the paper’s beat reporter covering the mess that was Coca-Cola in the late 1990s and early 2000s before Isdell was spirited from retirement and the golf courses of Barbados to return to the company and fix it.

Neville Isdell

Neville Isdell

How he did that — no easy task — was the subject of my first column. That interview took place on the day he retired as chairman 19 months ago, right before he left North Avenue for the airport to return to Barbados.

So when I found out recently that he was going to be at the OK Cafe in Buckhead to talk with my colleague Jeremiah McWilliams, I got myself invited. Talking to a sharp and effective CEO is never a waste of time, especially one who’s passionate about reshaping how corporate leaders think.

Isdell is pushing what he calls “Connected Capitalism” — his notion that, as more and more companies compete globally, they have to become integrated into the fabric of society in a more …

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Time for vacation

I’m on vacation this week so Power Breakfast will not be posted each morning. It will return next week.

Have a great Thanksgiving week!

Continue reading Time for vacation »

Support or oppose change to mortgage deduction?

The once sacred mortgage interest deduction may be on the chopping block.

Earlier this month, the leaders of the deficit reduction commission floated the idea of cutting the deduction for homeowners who have mortgages over $500,000, AJC reporter Michelle Shaw writes.

The plan doesn’t mean those homeowners would lose their deduction, Shaw explains. But it would be limited. Homeowners could deduct only interest paid on the first $500,000 of their mortgage.

Of course, the proposal could change and include more or less of a mortgage.

What do you think of the idea? Is it a good way to tackle the deficit?

What would you be willing to give up to reduce the trillions of dollars in red ink?

- Henry Unger, The Biz Beat

For instant updates, follow me on Twitter.

Continue reading Support or oppose change to mortgage deduction? »

Power Breakfast: Kia addding 1,000 jobs, mortgage interest deduction, DOT, Coke, Delta, TSA, Bernanke

It’s nice to hear about some good news on the jobs front.

Kia Motors will hire another 1,000 workers in West Point — a sign that the state’s battered manufacturing industry is poised for a rebound, AJC reporter Dan Chapman writes.

Kia, which began producing the Georgia-made Sorento crossover a year ago, currently employs 2,000 people. More than 100,000 Sorentos have been sold, underscoring the vehicle’s popularity, Chapman reports.

“By opening our third wave of hiring, we are building on that foundation and increasing our commitment to the U.S. and the local economy,” Byung Mo Ahn, CEO of Kia Motors America, said in a statement.

Kia is remaking Troup County, home to West Point, LaGrange, Kia and a passel of auto suppliers, Chapman writes. Its investment, though, didn’t come cheaply. Local, state and federal taxpayers put up $469 million in land, buildings and tax breaks to lure Kia to west Georgia.

Also in the AJC:

Continue reading Power Breakfast: Kia addding 1,000 jobs, mortgage interest deduction, DOT, Coke, Delta, TSA, Bernanke »