Pass this man a PBR. Connecticut investor C. Dean Metropoulos once owned familiar brands like Duncan Hines baking mixes, Vlasic pickles, and Swanson frozen dinners. Now, he's adding Pabst Blue Ribbon to his portfolio, having closed the much-anticipated deal Friday. PBR was first brewed in 1848. During Prohibition, the company switched to making cheese, a business that was eventually purchased by Kraft. After Pabst owner Paul Kalmanovitz and his wife passed away, the business was run by the family's foundation. The IRS gave the charity, which can't legally operate a for-profit business, until 2010 to sell it. The size of the deal was undisclosed, but retail sales of PBR rose 33 percent in the 52 weeks ending in April. Says Reuters: "The low-cost Pabst Blue Ribbon has been rediscovered by thrifty (or broke) East Coast drinkers, who consider it hip because of the beer's blue-collar, Midwest roots. Check out the New York Times magazine archives for Rob Walker's piece The Marketing of No Marketing, about how Pabst leveraged hipster affinity for its waning brand by making sure it always looked and acted "like the underdog."
The pioneers of the pot business. Dude, it's tough to be a marijuana entrepreneur in Colorado. That's the take-away from a New York Times article on the first state in the country to allow - and attempt to tax and regulate - for-profit pot shops. Dispensaries have been, er, budding all over the state, but a web of regulations, and the difficulty of trying to legitimize a formerly underground trade, have made it tough to make a lot of money selling legal marijuana. Among the headaches: "Pot growers, used to cash-only transactions, are shocked to be paid with checks and asked for receipts," the article says. It turns out the most successful marijuana-related businesses may not actually sell the drug. The Times tracks down a doctor who writes dozens of medicinal marijuana prescriptions a day at $150 a pop, grossing about $1 million a year.
Steve Jobs says sorry. In a press release issued today, Apple announced that sales of the new iPhone 4 have met and exceeded expectations - more than 1.7 million are now in the hands of customers. Well, that still wasn't enough to meet demands. "This is the most successful product launch in Apple's history," Jobs said. "Even so, we apologize to those customers who were turned away because we did not have enough supply." The apology comes also after many buyers complained about display streaks and reception issues on the new iPhone. Holding the device properly - so as to not cover an antenna gap at the phone's lower left - has even become an issue.
Macs and PCs: not so different after all. Today, we told you why you should say no to conflict minerals used in computers and smartphones, and now, the Enough Project is doing the same (via Fast Company). The international human rights organization has released a spoof of the ever-familiar Mac v. PC commercials, but this spoof has a serious message. It explains that materials like tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold, which are mined in the Congo and sold to tons of technology companies around the world, have been "fueling the deadliest conflict in the world since World War II, five million killed in the past ten years." Though Apple's suppliers promise their minerals aren't mined in the Congo, Enough says suppliers are not always the most trustworthy sources. The nearly two-minute spot urges consumers to contact major tech companies, like BlackBerry and Apple, and ask them to make their products "conflict-free" and make their supply chains more transparent.
Foursquare set to expand with new funding. The Wall Street Journal reports that VC firm Andreessen Horowitz has led a new round of funding for the popular location-based mobile service that lets you check in at local businesses. The report said it wasn't clear how much money will be raised or what valuation investors have placed on the company, which grew to 1.7 million users, from 750,000 in March. "But Foursquare has yet to figure out how to turn its growing popularity into a business," the Journal says. "It isn't profitable, and its revenues are small. Moreover, a number of start-ups and large Internet companies are jumping into location services." Find out how your business can jump on the bandwagon with our guide to making money on Foursquare.
Can over-the-hill entrepreneurs stay edgy? Michael Arrington isn't so sure. In light of his own 40th birthday a few months back, the TechCrunch founder has been mulling over how age and experience have increased his skepticism of eccentric start-up ideas. He comes to the conclusion that "it may be that statistically a startup founded by someone over 40 will be more likely to 'win' financially than one started by a 20 year old [sic]. But nearly everything that is really disruptive is created by someone too young to know that they never had a chance of winning."
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CHRISTINE LAGORIO-CHAFKIN | Staff Writer | Senior Writer
Christine Lagorio-Chafkin is a writer, editor, and reporter whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, and The Believer, among other publications. She is a senior writer at Inc.