Archive for December, 2012

Will fiscal-cliff deal be reached today?

Working against a midnight deadline, negotiators for the White House and congressional Republicans narrowed their differences Monday on legislation to avert across-the-board tax increases, the Associated Press reports.

Congressional officials familiar with talks  said one major remaining sticking point was whether to postpone spending cuts that are scheduled to begin on Jan 1.

Republicans want to replace across-the-board reductions with targeted cuts elsewhere in the budget, and the White House and Democrats were resisting. At the same time, Democrats said the two sides were closing in on an agreement over taxes.

Do you think an agreement will be reached today and we will avoid the fiscal cliff?

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Greenway Medical CEO: ‘You have to practice going public before you go public’

Many entrepreneurs dream of growing their companies big enough to go public. Many fewer succeed.

Tee Green has. As CEO of Greenway Medical Technologies, he took his Carrollton-based company public earlier this year after 14 years as a privately held operation. The company, which sells an array of software products and services to health care providers, needed to raise capital to keep on its growth trajectory. It’s been taking advantage of a wave of conversions from paper records to electronic ones, so hospitals, doctors and nurses can more efficiently and rapidly communicate with each other about patients.

Tee Green

Tee Green

Greenway’s annual revenue rose to $124 million in the 2012 fiscal year, up from $39 million four years before. It posted $2.9 million in net income, while growing to 730 employees. (The company was launched as a $10 stock in February and is now trading in the $15 range.)

Green, 40, and his father didn’t start out in health care, but switched out of financial …

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An ‘iphone’ running off Android? ‘Heresy, I say’

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The following is certainly heresy in Cupertino, Calif.: An “iphone” running off an Android operating system.

Yes, one exists thousands of miles away in the land of Carnival, beaches and the Girl from Ipanema.

Gradiente, a Brazilian company, has begun selling a 3G smartphone carrying the iPhone name with a lower-cased “P” after receiving the government’s blessings. The company has the exclusive right to use the name through 2018, according to media reports. The phone, however, runs off an older version of Google’s Android operating system, the 2.3, not Cupertino-based Apple’s iOS. It also sells for half the price of a “real” iPhone.

In a statement obtained by the San Jose Mercury News, Gradiente said it first filed to tradmark the name in 2000 because it realized “a technological revolution” was coming that would change “the world of cellphones with the convergence of voice and data transmission and reception via mobile …

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Georgia’s jobless rate falls to 8.5 percent in November — lowest level in nearly 4 years

Georgia’s unemployment rate fell to 8.5 percent in November from 8.7 percent in October to reach the lowest level in nearly four years, the state labor department said Thursday.

“Once again, the rate dropped because of continued job growth and fewer new layoffs,” state Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.

The number of jobs increased by 9,600 to hit 3,984,000 in November.

The monthly growth came primarily in trade, transportation, and warehousing — up 12,400 jobs; educational services — up 1,700; information services — up 1,600; local government — up 1,300; financial services — up 1,200; and manufacturing — up 600.

That overall job growth was strong enough to offset losses in other sectors. Construction was down by 4,000 jobs; leisure and hospitality fell 2,700; professional and business services dropped 2,100; and other services were down 1,100.

Georgia gained 61,900 jobs since November 2011 when the unemployment rate was 9.5 percent.

The last time the rate …

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Ted Turner busy racking up conservation kudos

(Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com)

(Vino Wong, vwong@ajc.com)

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So what if Ted Turner remains the nation’s No. 2 landowner behind one-time chief cable TV competitor John Malone? Some might say it’s not how much land you have it’s what you do with it, and Turner has been busy racking up kudos for his conservation efforts, according to the annual Land Report on the top 100 U.S. landowners.

Malone, the billionaire behind Liberty Media, the Atlanta Braves, Starz and other interests, surpassed Turner last year after purchasing 1 million acres in Maine and New Hampshire. Malone now has 2.2 million acres, compared with 2 million for Turner, the founder of CNN and former Braves owner.

The land investments not only produce working ranches, such as bison for Ted’s Montana Grill, but also are made for conservation purposes. The Land Report this year chose to focus on Turner’s “longtime leadership as a steward of the land” and highlighted some of the top awards he’s …

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More employers paying year-end bonuses

Getting a little something extra in your stocking this holiday season?

Not from the family. From the boss.

Lots of workers are.

A survey of HR execs shows 72 percent of employers plan on offering some kind of year-end bonus to their employees.

Of note: That’s way up from last year when only 53 percent did.

In addition, 17 percent of employers said they’ll reward certain workers with performance bonuses.

So what’s with all the generosity?

“Many companies enjoyed increased profits this year, along with increased productivity,” said John A. Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, the outplacement consulting firm that conducted the survey of about 100 human resources pros.

“The fact that they achieved that without a rapid acceleration in hiring or capital investment means that existing employees were asked to deliver better results with fewer resources,” he added. “Even with many companies still not enjoying pre-recession business levels, it is clear, at least among our …

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Infiniti adopting ‘Q’ for all its models

(Austin American-Statesman)

(Austin American-Statesman)

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What’s in a name? That’s a good “Q”uestion for Infiniti.

The luxury automaker says it’s changing the name of its vehicles to begin with the letter Q. The company, owned by Nissan, said the 17th letter in the alphabet will be followed by a number.

Nissan’s Infiniti brand was launched in 1989 with the debut of the Q45, but not all models carried the alphabet in subsequent years. There was the M30, J30, G20, G37, M56, QX4, the FX and more recently the JX35. Some of the earlier models have since been dropped.

Infiniti’s new president, Johan de Nysschen, told The New York Times that starting with the 2014 model a Q followed by a two-digit number will identify all sedans, coupes and convertibles, SUV and crossover models will begin with QX.

Aside from the BMW (the abbreviation for German automaker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG or Bavarian Motor Works in English), alphabets usually follow an …

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Instagram backtracks on using your photos in ads

(Associated Press)

(Associated Press)

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Updated 5:52 p.m.

Instagram is taking another shot at its much-maligned new rules that would have allowed the company to use users’ photos in advertising and other promotions, without compensating them.

The company just backtracked, saying there has been a big misunderstanding. This is from the Associated Press:

Instagram says it will revise a planned update to its service agreement after confusion about its intent led to widespread user complaints.

At issue is whether users’ photos can be part of advertisements, on and off Instagram. The mobile photo-sharing company said in a blog post Tuesday that it has no plans to put users’ photos in advertisements.

That said, Instagram maintains that it was created to become a business and would like to experiment with various forms of advertisements to make money.

2:50 p.m. posting:

(TMZ is reporting that several Hollywood celebs are …

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Maker of gun used in Sandy Hook tragedy up for sale

Some fast fallout in the business world from the Sandy Hook tragedy.

From CNNMoney: “Private equity firm Cerberus has put U.S. firearms maker Freedom Group up for sale following Friday’s killing of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook school shooting in Connecticut.

“Freedom Group includes Bushmaster, maker of the rifle used in the shooting at the school in Newtown. Cerberus bought Bushmaster in 2006 before adding another 10 makers of firearms, ammunition and accessories to the group.”

In a statement, Cerberus said: “It is apparent that the Sandy Hook tragedy was a watershed event that has raised the national debate on gun control to an unprecedented level.”

For the full story at ajc.com.

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FOCUS Brands CEO: ‘Take risks where you know you can impact the outcome’

Sometimes college degrees are necessary in business. Sometimes they’re not.

Russ Umphenour would make a good poster child for the latter group. He used what he learned by working in fast-food restaurants — supplemented by reading hundreds of business books to compensate for his lack of formal training — to become the largest Arby’s franchisee. When he sold out seven years ago, his business had grown to 775 stores with nearly $900 million in annual revenue.

Russ Umphenour

Russ Umphenour

Since 2008, Umphenour has been CEO of FOCUS Brands, an Atlanta-based franchisor for a half-dozen fast-food chains — Moe’s Southwest Grill, Schlotzsky’s, Cinnabon, Carvel, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels and for the international market only, Seattle’s Best Coffee. Systemwide revenue from more than 3,700 stores around the world is estimated at $1.6 billion. The company is owned by Roark Capital Group, an Atlanta-based private equity firm.

Umphenour, 68, talks about how he built his Arby’s business, …

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