Google’s Brain Drain; Small Banks Fail Stress Tests

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The end goal of Google's newest algorithm? To find out which employees are most likely to quit. Brain drain doesn't only affect countries. Google is worried losing key employees could affect its ability to compete, reports the Wall Street Journal. The search engine has invented a mathematical formula that crunches employee reviews, peer views, surveys, and promotion and pay histories to figure out which of its 20,000 are most likely to be sending out resumes on the sly. The algorithm has already helped identify employees that feel underused, a critical complaint among employees who've considered leaving the fold. Google isn't the only one. "A lot of companies are waking up to the fact that there is a lot of modeling that can provide you with critical data on human capital," says the University of Southern California's Edward Lawler. Have you ever tried to figure out which of your employees is eyeing the door?

Networking is no different than high school. Tech entrepreneur Neil Patel offers some good pointers on Quick Sprout on how to make meaningful connections when networking. Avoid being a "networking whore" (the kind of person who gives out a business card to everyone they meet--you know who you are). Rather, focus on certain key individuals at each networking event. But some of Patel's suggestions read more like a high-school survival guide than a primer on professional networking. For example, his opening credo: "Look for the most popular groups in the room. These groups are popular because they are made up of the 'it' crowd. These are the type of people you want to be associated with for obvious reasons."

Bad news for local banks. The Wall Street Journal has run its own stress test on more than 900 small and midsize banks, and the results don't look good: Over 600 failed. The culprit? Commercial real estate, which the Journal estimates could generate more than $100 billion in losses. Local banks have pored money into shopping malls, office buildings, apartment complexes and hotels, and many think that's the next big shock on the way. All that said, the Journal is quick to add these results don't reflect changes banks have made since the beginning of the year to shore up capital.

Tech world atwitter over next-gen search engine Wolfram Alpha. We first told you about Wolfram Alpha, a computational search engine built to answer questions rather than just find information, back in March. Well the site, which experts are calling a potential Google Killer, went live yesterday after a few days of soft launch. And technies can barely contain themselves. Rather than using Google, which scans keywords in a search query and spits out thousands of ranked websites that might contain the information you were searching for, Wolfram Alpha uses natural language (such as "Who is the CEO of Google"), scans its databases, and provides an answer. Google, never one to sit idly by, has been trying beef up its offerings, says Reuters. "Google Squared," which is designed to give answers instead of web links, rolls out next month. In the meantime, try out Wolfram Alpha for yourself.

More Craigslist drama. Craigslist the gigantic, suspiciously un-businesslike, classifieds website now has an antagonist in Henry McMaster, South Carolina's attorney general, who has threatened CEO Jim Buckmaster with criminal charges in connection with alleged prostitution on the site. Buskmaster responded on the Craigslist blog, demanding an apology. Wrote Buckmaster, "We are willing to accept our share of criticism, but wrongfully accusing craigslist of criminal misconduct is simply beyond the pale."

$200 million for a board seat? Thanks, but no thanks. Give Mark Zuckerberg credit. When he says he's intent on keeping control of the board, kid means it. Michael Arrington over at TechCrunch is reporting that Zuckerberg has turned down a $200 million venture round that would have valued the social media giant at $8 billion "simply because the investor wanted a board seat." "That means they think they have other options," Arrington writes. Or, perhaps Zuckerberg has simply read our cautionary tale of Friendster, the Facebook predecessor that flamed out after founder Jonathan Abrams relinquished control of his board.

Daimler buys a stake in Tesla. At a press conference this morning, Tesla CEO Elon Musk (read about him here) announced that German automaker Daimler was buying a 10 percent stake in his electric car startup. The purchase price is said to be in the tens of millions of dollars and Daimler will get a board seat, according to Business Insider. Musk, who has scrambled over the past year to shore up the finances of his car company in the wake of the economic collapse, said that deal was less about money than it was about finding a partner. Daimler will use Tesla's battery pack in it's new all-electric Smart car, but Business Insider speculates that the partnership may extend to Tesla's forthcoming sedan, the Model S. Musk alluded to "future collaborators," but said that he wasn't ready to announce anything.

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Last updated: May 19, 2009




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