Business

Business
8:26 am
Thu April 17, 2014

To Increase Productivity, UPS Monitors Drivers' Every Move

Elise Amendola AP

Originally published on Thu April 17, 2014 7:33 am

The American workforce might want to pay attention to all those brown trucks full of cardboard boxes. UPS is using technology in ways that may soon be common throughout the economy.

On the surface, UPS trucks look the same as they did more than 20 years ago, when Bill Earle started driving for the company in rural Pennsylvania.

But underneath the surface, Earle says, the job has changed a lot. The thing you sign your name on when the UPS guy gives you a package used to be a piece of paper. Now it's a computer that tells Earle everything he needs to know.

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Toy Joy Closing
4:39 pm
Tue April 1, 2014

Why Some Stores Fail and Others Thrive in Austin's Second Street District

Austin's Second Street District, seen in 2010. The nascent neighborhood has seen lots of tenant turnover since it launched.
Callie Hernandez for KUT News

Update: Toy Joy was bought Monday by Fred Schmidt, owner of Wild About Music on E. Sixth Street. Schmidt told Time Warner Cable News he plans to keep the store downtown. "We're going to continue with this business as it has been — only make it more successful than it has [been] in recent years,” Schmidt said. “We're very committed to Toy Joy, its concept, its premise and what it has been in Austin for several decades now."

Original story (March 31): Toy Joy will be auctioned off today. The iconic Austin store closed its doors on March 16, after struggling for the last few years.

In 2013, the owners thought a new location in a hip part of town would help, so they moved from Guadalupe Street – close to the Drag – and into downtown’s Second Street District. But Toy Joy didn’t make it.

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Texas
3:21 pm
Mon March 31, 2014

You Can Buy Your Way Into Texas' Oil Boom. But Is It Worth It?

A jointly-owned oil rig atop the Eagle Ford shale south of San Antonio.
Credit Larissa Liska

In the history of Texas, few figures are as colorful as the wildcatters: oil prospectors who gambled big on the lure of black gold and striking it rich, or went broke trying. But what if you could be a wildcatter with a click of the mouse?

According to a company selling stakes in rigs right now, you too can own an oil well – or at least part of it – right here in the states. 

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Technology
2:59 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Computers That Know What You Need, Before You Ask

Expect Labs' MindMeld app uses predictive computing to push information to us, instead of us having to ask.
Courtesy of Expect Labs

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 11:14 am

We're already giving voice instructions to virtual personal assistants, like Apple's Siri. But artificial intelligence is getting even smarter. The next wave of behavior-changing computing is a technology called anticipatory computing — systems that learn to predict what you need, even before you ask.

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SXSW 2014
3:14 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

At SXSW Trade Show, Other Cities Say They Come to Pitch, Not Poach

Cities and countries are pitching themselves at SXSW as places for tourism and economic development.
Michael Samm

Update: KUT's Kate McGee appeared on WBUR's Here and Now to discuss governments pitching themselves at SXSW.

Read and listen: Cities And Countries Pitch Themselves At SXSW 

Original story (March 12): At South by Southwest, tech companies may come to pitch the next big mobile app or hardware, but city governments are also here to pitch themselves as the best place to create that next big app.

“There’s a collision of all the kinds of people were trying to attract, talented engineers looking for their next great opportunity, companies looking for a place to grow, or investors seeking deal flow," says Jenifer Boss, the director of business development with the deputy mayor’s office in Washington D.C.. "And we want to take advantage of having all those people in one place."  

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SXSW 2014
8:38 am
Fri March 14, 2014

What Happens When a Local Business Opts Out of SXSW

Craft Pride general manager David Voss answers a customer's question. The bar did not participate in any SXSW-related events this year.
Jon Shapley for KUT News

Thousands of bands have come to town for SXSW, and many of them are here thanks to one thing: brands. Doritos is reportedly paying Lady Gaga millions to do a show. Chevy is giving people free rides around town. Toilet paper brand Cottonelle even has a "refresh lounge" at the festival this year.

But what happens to local businesses that opt out of corporate freebies and VIP-only parties? 

To find out, just head to Rainey Street, aka Corporate Party Central. But at the southern end of the street sits a bar that's proudly banner-free, with no velvet rope and no VIP guestlists: Craft Pride.

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Business
7:05 am
Wed February 5, 2014

CVS To Stop Selling Tobacco Products

Soon to be gone: Marlboro cigarettes on display at a CVS store in Pittsburgh last July.
Gene J. Puskar AP

Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 10:43 am

Saying it is "the right thing for us to do for our customers and our company to help people on their path to better health," the CEO of CVS Caremark announced Wednesday that the company's 7,600 pharmacies will stop selling cigarettes and tobacco products by Oct. 1.

Larry Merlo also said CVS will try to help those who want to quit smoking with a "robust national smoking cessation program" at its locations.

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Technology
10:08 am
Tue February 4, 2014

Facebook At 10: Amid Doubters, Company Eyes Next Growth Phase

Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg told James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic, in September that he wasn't worried about whether Facebook is "cool." "We're almost 10 years old, and we're definitely not a niche thing at this point," Zuckerberg said.
Win McNamee Getty Images

Originally published on Thu February 6, 2014 7:12 am

Ten years ago, when Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook at Harvard, Noah Buyon was only nine years old.

Facebook started out as a site exclusively for college students, so it took Buyon a few years to find out about it. But when his older brothers got accounts, he wanted one too.

"It became kind of the cool thing to have," Buyon says. "I couldn't hold out any more — and I got it, and I've been saddled with it ever since."

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Austin City Council
11:45 am
Fri January 31, 2014

City Council Approves Athenahealth Incentives Deal - But Not Unanimously

Massachusetts-based athenahealth will open its offices inside the former Seaholm Power Plant
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Last night the Austin City Council approved a deal that offers nearly $680,000 dollars in incentives for athenahealth to expand in Austin. The grant will be offered in addition to a $5 million subsidy from Gov. Rick Perry's Texas Enterprise Fund.

But not everyone is happy with the deal. Some council members argue that the city’s booming economy doesn’t need to offer subsidies to bring business to Austin. (The deal passed on a 5-2 vote, with city council members Laura Morrison and Kathie Tovo voting no.)

Austin Monitor publisher Michael Kanin says that this debate is heating up as council members become increasingly divided on the issue of business incentives.

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Economy
3:14 pm
Thu January 23, 2014

Should Austin Offer Economic Incentives? Athenahealth Deal Stirs Debate

The Seaholm building, photographed in 2011. Athenahealth’s proposed research and development center would use the iconic building as office space.
I-Hwa Cheng for KUT News

Austin’s facing a familiar question: whether to approve economic incentives luring new jobs to town.

Today, the Austin City Council was briefed on a proposal for incentives for health IT company Athenahealth.

Massachusetts-based Athenahealth – which currently employs 36 Austinites in offices at The Domain – is promising a new research and development center. Located inside the former Sealholm Power Plant in downtown Austin, the company says it would create 607 new jobs over 10 years.

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Business
11:00 am
Thu January 23, 2014

Target Hack A Tipping Point In Moving Away From Magnetic Stripes

A cryptographic chip embedded in a British debit card. America is nearly alone in still relying on magnetic stripes to authenticate purchases.
Christopher Furlong Getty Images

Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 2:01 pm

The credit and debit card data breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus compromised more than 70 million American consumers, and analysts say even more of us are at risk. That's because the technology we use to swipe for our purchases — magnetic stripes on the backs of cards — isn't hard for a skilled fraudster to hack.

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Business
2:51 pm
Tue January 21, 2014

Austin Snail Mail Disruptors Outbox Shutting Down

A fleet of Outbox "unpostmen" would pick up and scan subscribers mail. Today, the company announced it was closing.
Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

Less than a year after expanding, an Austin startup is shutting down.

As KUT reported in February of last year, “Outbox picks up its customers’ mail, scans it, and makes it available online. … Outbox workers open and scan letters, catalogs and flyers. Customers log in to Outbox’s website to see their – now-digital – mail.”

At the time, Outbox had expanded its operations into California after testing its service in Austin. But citing a litany of issues impacting its service, Outbox announced today it was ceasing operations.

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Business
2:38 pm
Fri January 17, 2014

Analysts: Credit Card Hacking Goes Much Further Than Target

Hackers use credit card scanning machines as part of their sophisticated campaign to steal credit card information and sell it.
Joe Raedle Getty Images

Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 3:23 pm

The holiday season data breach at Target that hit more than 70 million consumers was part of a wide and highly skilled international hacking campaign that's "almost certainly" based in Russia. That's according to a report prepared for federal and private investigators by Dallas-based cybersecurity firm iSight Partners.

And the fraudsters are so skilled that sources say at least a handful of other retailers have been compromised.

"The intrusion operators displayed innovation and a high degree of skill," the iSight report says.

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Business
8:17 am
Sun January 12, 2014

Neiman Marcus Notifying Customers Whose Cards Were Compromised

A Neiman Marcus in Chicago.
M. Spencer Green AP

Originally published on Sat January 11, 2014 3:50 pm

The luxury retailer Neiman Marcus says it has begun notifying customers whose credit cards were compromised during a security breach.

The AP spoke to Ginger Reeder, spokeswoman for Dallas-based company, who would not estimate how many customers could be affected.

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Business
5:14 am
Thu January 9, 2014

The Fruits Of Free Trade: How NAFTA Revamped The American Diet

Originally published on Fri January 10, 2014 9:21 am

Walk through the produce section of your supermarket and you'll see things you'd never have seen years ago — like fresh raspberries or green beans in the dead of winter.

Much of that produce comes from Mexico, and it's the result of the North American Free Trade Agreement — NAFTA — which took effect 20 years ago this month.

In the years since, NAFTA radically changed the way we get our fruits and vegetables. For starters, the volume of produce from Mexico to the U.S. has tripled since 1994.

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