Facebook founder Zuckerberg plans lobbying group

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters recently in Menlo Park, Calif. (Associated Press)

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook headquarters recently in Menlo Park, Calif. (Associated Press)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg wants to extend the influence he has on social media to Capitol Hill.

Zuckerberg, with the help of a Harvard University alum, plans to create a lobbying group of technology industry leaders to push for political reforms on issues ranging from immigration to education.

The group might push reforms that make it easier for immigrants skilled in engineering, math and science to get visas or green cards to work in the U.S., according to The Wall Street Journal, citing people familiar with the effort. Tech execs already support legislation that would create a new visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs who hire American workers.

The new lobbying group reportedly would be announced within a few weeks. The goal is to raise $50 million for the effort, which would be a drop in the bucket when you consider the …

Continue reading Facebook founder Zuckerberg plans lobbying group »

Wells Fargo shakes finger at ‘Harlem Shake’ YouTube video

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

(Updated 3:17 p.m.)

(YouTube)

(YouTube)

Wells Fargo is getting a lot of interest on YouTube, but not because of its latest rates.

It appears Atlanta actors Emmanuel and Phillip Hudson, who have several hits on YouTube, managed to pull off a “Harlem Shake” video in a Wells Fargo bank lobby. The video,  “Emmanuel & Phillip Hudson – Harlem Shake @ The Bank,” was posted in early March and has been seen by nearly 150,000 YouTube viewers so far.

It’s the kind of attention Wells Fargo isn’t used to, or maybe even wants.

A spokesman for the Hudsons’ management company, Archive Entertainment, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution the video involved about a dozen people and took about an hour to make shortly after the bank on Lenox Road in Buckhead closed on March 8.

Anwar Patterson said Emmanuel Hudson, who banks at the Wells Fargo branch, discussed the idea with a bank manager and both the manager and a district manager were “on board,” Patterson said.

A …

Continue reading Wells Fargo shakes finger at ‘Harlem Shake’ YouTube video »

Overdue debt burdening students, graduates

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

Despite signs that the economy appears to be on the rebound, many consumers continue to struggle under the weight of debt they can’t pay off, especially when it comes to student loans.

Equifax reported Monday that student loan charge-offs, debts that creditors deem uncollectible, rose more than 36 percent to $3 billion in the first two months of the year, compared with the same period a year ago. When debt reaches that stage, lenders usually turn to collection agencies to get the money they’re owed.

High unemployment among recent graduates – and underemployment among those have been able to land a job – is hurting their ability to put dents in student  debt. That, combined with credit card debt and mortgages, makes the problem more acute.

According to Forbes, the size of the average student debt load in 2005 was $17,233, but that figure had climbed to $27,253 by 2012, a 58 percent increase.

“Continued weakness in labor markets is limiting work …

Continue reading Overdue debt burdening students, graduates »

BlackBerry CEO: Apple’s iPhone outdated

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

The new touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 smartphone is displayed in New York. (Associated Press)

The new touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 smartphone is displayed in New York. (Associated Press)

(Updated 3:27 p.m.)

The iPhone is not what people want these days because it lacks innovation and “it’s just kind of sitting there,” according to (wait for it) the head of BlackBerry.

BlackBerry began selling its new touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 on Friday in the United States. It’s already on sale in other parts of the world. A keyboard version of the smartphone, the Q10, will be available in several months.

Thorsten Heins, head of BlackBerry, told The Associated Press that its new phone, which allows users to have multiple applications open at one time like on a desktop computer, will give the new device an edge over Apple’s smartphone, which he says gives users nothing new.

“It’s still the same,” Heins said of the Apple device. “It is a sequential way to work and that’s not what people want today anymore. They want multitasking.”

Heins also told CNET

Continue reading BlackBerry CEO: Apple’s iPhone outdated »

Do you remember your first tweet or YouTube video?

South Korean rapper PSY became a YouTube sensation with his “Gangnam Style” video. (Associated Press)

South Korean rapper PSY became a YouTube sensation with his “Gangnam Style” video. (Associated Press)

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

It’s a banner week for social media if you are into marking milestones. Google, which owns YouTube, announced the online video-sharing service now averages 1 billion monthly users who stream 4 billion hours of content every month.

And Twitter, the micro-messaging behemoth, is celebrating its seventh birthday today. It was 2006 when @jack (Jack Dorsey, Twitter’s executive chairman and product lead) sent the world’s first tweet: “just setting up my twttr,” 8:50 p.m. 21 Mar 06. Dorsey, who identifies himself as “a sailor, a tailor,” now has more than 2.2 million followers.

YouTube is a year older than Twitter, created in 2005 by three former PayPal employees, but both it and Twitter have drastically changed how humans interact – some would say for the better while others, not so much.

As Fortune magazine put it, “YouTube is the video for …

Continue reading Do you remember your first tweet or YouTube video? »

Coca-Cola creates buzz with social media impact study

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

You’d think with nearly 62 million Facebook and 687,000 Twitter followers, Coca-Cola would be primed to capitalize on “buzz” about new beverages coming on line, but the Atlanta-based company says not really.

Social media chatter about its products does little to influence purchases, Coca-Cola research shows, according to Ad Age and businessinsider.com reports on comments a Coke executive made this week at an advertising conference.

“We didn’t see any statistically significant relationship between our buzz and our short-term sales,” Eric Schmidt, senior manager for corporate market strategy and insight, was quoted as saying.

Schmidt cautioned listeners not to put too much stock in the finding since the Atlanta-based beverage giant only looked at buzz and not other aspects of social media engagement, such as sharing and video views.

In a statement following the buzz Schmidt’s comments created, Coke said, “Our social strategy is focused on …

Continue reading Coca-Cola creates buzz with social media impact study »

EBay offering ‘free’ listings to lure more sellers

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

EBay is taking a page out of the wireless phone competition playbook and simplifying its rate structure in an apparent bid to be more competitive with Amazon.com.

A big part of what’s different is the word “free.”

Currently, eBay charges sellers a listing, or insertion, fee per listing, per category, regardless of the quantity of items being sold. If the item sells, you’re charged a final value fee. The value fees are calculated based on the total amount of the sale and are charged per item. Fees for eBay Motors vehicle listings and eBay Real Estate listings are calculated differently.

Starting May 1, eBay is offering up to 2,500 free listings a month if you have an eBay Stores subscription. Subscriptions cost from $16 to $200 a month depending the plan, and final fees will range from between 4 percent and 9 percent. Without a subscription, starting April 16, sellers will get 50 free listings a month and pay one flat 10 percent fee when …

Continue reading EBay offering ‘free’ listings to lure more sellers »

Fewer metro Atlanta homeowners ‘underwater’ on mortgages

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

Many metro Atlantans and Georgians continue to be stuck with properties that are worth less than the outstanding loans on them, but the good news is that fewer properties locally and nationally are dealing with negative equity.

In the last three months of 2012, Georgia again ranked fourth in the nation in percentage of mortgaged properties that were “underwater,” with 34 percent falling in that category, according to research at CoreLogic.

The finding, however, was a slight improvement from the 35 percent of underwater properties in the third quarter, when the state also ranked fourth.

Metro Atlanta ranked third in underwater properties among the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the country, CoreLogic reported.

“The scourge of negative equity continues to recede across the country,” CoreLogic Chief Executive Officer Anand Nallathambi said in a statement. “The trend toward more homeowners moving back into positive equity territory should …

Continue reading Fewer metro Atlanta homeowners ‘underwater’ on mortgages »

Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate rises to 8.7 percent in January

Employers in metro Atlanta laid off more workers in January, including many hired for the Christmas holiday season, driving up the area’s unemployment rate to 8.7 percent, from 8.4 percent in December, the labor department said Thursday.

The number of jobs in metro Atlanta declined by 29,100, or 1.2 percent, from December to January, the labor department said.

Initial claims for unemployment insurance benefits jumped by 9,751, or 44.5 percent, from December to January, primarily because of seasonal layoffs. Most of the claims were filed in construction, manufacturing, trade, transportation and warehousing, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services.

But the number of initial claims for benefits is down slightly from January 2012, when the jobless rate was 9.4 percent. Metro Atlanta started the year with 63,400 more jobs — a 2.8 percent increase — than it had in January 2012.

Over the past year, employment increased in professional and business …

Continue reading Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate rises to 8.7 percent in January »

Emory may drop Chick-fil-A from campus options

Follow us on Twitter @AJCBiz

CHICK2Emory University students may no longer be munching on Chick-fil-A sandwiches and waffle fries this summer, and the campus insists it has nothing to do with fallout over comments about gay marriage the popular restaurant chain’s president made last summer.

Students on an advisory committee have recommended that the restaurant, which has been on campus for 29 years, not be among new food vendors in a redesign of Cox Hall Food Court on the DeKalb County campus. A final decision on whether to include Chick-fil-A in the mix has not been made, a campus spokeswoman said.

Michael Sacks, co-chair of the Food Advisory Committee at Emory, said surveys show students want more choices at the food court, and a chicken restaurant is not among them.

“It’s really not politically motivated,” Sacks told AJC reporter Leon Stafford. “It’s a coincidence of timing.” He said the committee decided last week to remove Chick-fil-A and  Domino’s Pizza, although there …

Continue reading Emory may drop Chick-fil-A from campus options »