Swapping Employees; The 10 Best Commencement Speeches
BY Nitasha Tiku
Swap 'em if you got 'em. Today's Chicago Tribune has an interesting look at two competing software-development companies who decided to try a bold, if somewhat crazy, experiment in which they swapped employees for a week. Chicago-based 8th Light and Obtiva, also based in the Windy City, traded developers, worked on each other's projects, and even had access to each other's client lists. "This is mutually agreeable espionage," said one consultant at a management psychology firm. All in all, both companies said the experience was a positive one, enhancing the skills of their developers and giving each a fresh new perspective on their businesses.
Words from the wise, or at least the rich. University commencement speeches offer advice that ranges from learning how to fail to learning how to love, most of it trite. But The Business Insider has weeded through the platitudes to find the top ten most insightful commencement addresses in its "Advice From Rich People" feature from speakers like Bill Gates, Larry Page, and Jeff Bezos.
Financial rollercoaster downhill for Six Flags. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Six Flags officially filed for bankruptcy early Saturday. The world's largest amusement-parks chain will soon be owned primarily by its lenders -- a 90 percent stake -- if a bankruptcy judge approves the pre-negotiated deal. Daniel Snyder, owner of Six Flags and the Washington Redskins, took a cue from the government when explaining that "the harsh realities of today's credit markets, and the onerous debt we inherited from previous management, have brought us to this place." But this "place" is a little less expansive after the company sold 10 parks and laid off about 300 workers. Looks like there will be fewer team building exercises for the office this summer.
Silver screen dreams still crushed by YouTube. Shane Felux, an independent Web video producer in northern Virginia, was plucked up by Disney in 2006 to be part of the company's attempt to enter the Internet video market, Stage 9 Digital. After officially launching in early 2008, the company completed more than 20 projects, none of which have seen the light of day. The LA Times says it's only one of the Hollywood-backed online video businesses to tank. YouTube is to blame -- the site attracts 60 percent of the U.S. audience watching video on the Internet -- proving that even major media companies struggle to compete with the Google machine.
The latest cost-saving strategy? Raising your own chickens. Herbert Hoover promised citizens a chicken in every pot, but in the great recession, urban and suburban dwellers are raising their own chickens, the Los Angeles Times reports. Across the nation, community gardens are no longer enough. Instead, families are looking to chickens, and specifically their eggs to cut costs. Typically a hen lays on average one egg a day, which for large families, can save on the cost of ingredients. Environmental organizations and city leaders are fighting this recent trend, stating a foul smell, as well as sanitation and public health concerns. "When you live with your food, you have issues," said Paul Kowalski, head of New Haven's environmental health program.
Who should get money from AIG shares--taxpayers or charities? Former AIG CEO Hank Greenberg is attempting to be nice to the judge hoping that will secure him the hundreds of millions of AIG shares, Time reports. As part of the ongoing argument, those shares, combined with the $4 billion in profits are the property of AIG and Greenberg, or so he claims. But instead of qublling over the merits of the case, Greenberg and AIG are fighting over which application of the money is more deserving. If AIG wins, they want to use to money to pay back taxpayers. Greenberg has suggested donating a large portion of the money to charity. Either way, the stakes are ever increasing considering that AIG's fortunes have plummeted throughout the financial crisis.
The U.S. declares victory in the transition to DTV. The U.S. became the first "large country" to switch from analog to digital-only programming. The process started in mid-February, with the last 971 TV stations in 195 markets changing over on Friday, reports Ars Technica. A friend of ours who watched the signal go out on her old-school, no-cable set described the feeling as watching the air going out of the room. The FCC reported more than 300,000 calls to the agency's help-line on Friday, and 700,000 in the last previous week. Some consumers lost stations due to changes in the contours of the new digital signals. But it went off pretty much without a hitch. Unlike in Japan, where the pop star featured in the DTV alert commercials was arrested for scampering around a park drunk and naked.
Reporter NITASHA TIKU covers technology, finance, green business, and social entrepreneurship for Inc. magazine and contributes to the staff’s daily links blog. Her work has appeared in New York magazine, The Villager, Chelsea Now, and on nymag.com. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. @nitashatiku