Jul 25th

Mark Zuckerberg Fortune Surpasses that of Google Founders

By Ronnie
Mark Zuckerberg Fortune Surpasses that of Google Founders
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg surpassed Google founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page on Bloomberg's Billionaires Index on Thursday as shares of his social network closed at a record high.  The gains pushed Zuckerberg's net worth to $33.3 billion, pushing his ranking to No. 16 and dropping Google's founders to 17th and 18th on the list.  Facebook's stock gains came after the company reported Wednesday that its second-quarter income rose 61 percent and exceeded analyst expectations.  The company's shares have gained an impressive 183 percent over the past year, and analysts do not expect that growth to slow anytime soon.  Of course, even with the growth in Zuckerberg's net worth in recent months, he still has a long way to go to be the world's richest man, as Microsoft founder Bill Gates tops the list with a fortune worth $84.7 billion.
Jul 25th

Jobless Claims Slide to 8-Year Low

By Dave Simmons
Jobless Claims Slide to 8-Year Low
 
Initial jobless claims fell to their lowest level since before the recession in the week ended July 19th, according to a report issued Thursday by the US Labor Department, offering further evidence that the labor market recovery is progressing at a faster pace than most economists thought possible.  According to the report, initial claims for regular unemployment fell 19,000 to a seasonally adjusted 284,000.  It was the smallest number of claims reported since February 2006, more than a year before the onset of the worst American economic downturn since the 1930s.  The number was also significantly better than projections from economists, who expected claims to rise to 308,000, according to a recent Reuters poll.  Thursday's report boosted optimism about the upcoming report on July payroll numbers, which was already high given job gains have surpassed 200,000 in each of the last five months.  The economy hasn't enjoyed a stretch like that since the late '90s, when job growth was being fueled by the expansion of the tech sector as the Internet was exploding.
Jul 25th

Ron Howard Sells New York Estate for Record Price

By Mike Goldman
Ron Howard Sells New York Estate for Record Price

ron-howard-house.jpg
 
Academy-award winning director Ron Howard this week closed on the $27.5 million sale of his massive estate in New York's Westchester County.  The sale set a record for the county, and is one of the biggest residential real estate deals in New York state since the recession came to an end in 2009.  Howard purchased the 32-acre parcel of land in 1991, when his first child Bryce Dallas Howard was just 10 years old.  Howard and his wife, Cheryl, spent years building a dream home on the property, as well as a 2,500 square-foot guest house, stables and a tennis court.  The main house spans an impressive 17,000 square feet and has six bedrooms, a large swimming pool and an exquisitely-outfitted home theater.  In an interview,  Howard said that he sold the home because he and Cheryl travel almost year-round these days and each of his four children moved out years ago.  The sale closed Thursday, but attempts to identify the buyer have so far been unsuccessful.
Jul 25th

Pirate Bay Launches New Mobile-Friendly Torrent Site

By Frank Galvano
Pirate Bay Launches New Mobile-Friendly Torrent Site
 
Internet piracy is adapting to modern mobile computing as the world's best-known piracy site still around has finally released a mobile-friendly version so that users can download their favorite content directly to their smartphones and tablets.  Pirate Bay, which still operates the world's most oft-used bit torrent site, launched a separate, mobile-friendly version this week that gives users an easier way to share files than just going to the website on a mobile browser.  That's because mobile browsers tend to render traditional websites differently, making them very difficult to navigate and use.  Pirate Bay's new site, dubbed "The Mobile Bay,"  is optimized for mobile devices and offers a few features not found on the original Pirate Bay website.  Of course, users of Apple iPads and iPhones will not be able to download from the site unless their device is unlocked.
Jul 25th

Zillow In Talks to Acquire Trulia

By Kelly Curtis
Zillow In Talks to Acquire Trulia

 
Several unnamed sources this week reported that online real estate giant Zillow is in talks to acquire its biggest rival in the space, Trulia.  One source even said that a deal might be reached as early as next week, though terms being discussed between the two parties are unknown at this time.  The anonymous sources were not aware of any price tag being discussed for Trulia, but the company's market cap surged to nearly $2 billion on Thursday as the rumors about a possible merger of the two biggest names in online real estate swirled.  Industry insiders noted that should the merger happen, it would make it virtually impossible for smaller competitors, such as Move. Com and Homes.com, to compete.  A Trulia / Zillow powerhouse would also have tremendous power in pricing advertising and lead-generation services for real estate agents across the country, who use the sites to generate leads that they hope will turn into home sales, and commissions.
Jun 26th

Whole Foods Fines $800k for Overpricing in California

By Kelly Curtis
Whole Foods Fines $800k for Overpricing in California

Whole Foods Market Inc., the nation's largest retailer of natural and organic foods, has agreed to pay $800,000 in penalties after officials in California determined that the store was overcharging customers in the state. The charges were initially made by city attorneys in San Diego, Santa Monica and Los Angeles, accusing the retailer of inaccurate pricing practices. Among the charges is that Whole Foods was selling bulk items without subtracting the weight of containers, and was selling many items by item that should have been sold by weight. In addition to the fines, the company has agreed to hire pricing accuracy managers, and each of its 74 stores in California will be subject to random audits for the next five years. The company issued a statement declaring it had cooperated with the investigation and will take steps top ensure more accurate pricing moving forward. 
Jun 26th

Bing and Yahoo Sending More Engaged Visitors to Websites than Google

By Dave Simmons
Bing and Yahoo Sending More Engaged Visitors to Websites than Google
 
With more and more companies conducting a larger share of their business on the Web, the importance of driving traffic to websites has increased dramatically in the last few years.  The primary method used to drive traffic has always been search engines like Google and Bing, but other avenues such as social media outlets Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter have become viable alternatives.  As a result, the share of website visitors coming from search engines has declined, according to a study conducted by Internet data research firm Shareholic, which did extensive analysis on traffic to some 300,000 websites over the last six months.  What the study revealed is that while Google still dominates the market for driving traffic to websites by a search engine, its dominance is declining.  Even more telling, perhaps, is that the study shows that Google is slipping where it counts, as Google-directed website visitors are spending less time on the websites and viewing fewer pages.
Jun 17th

The Seven Most Improved US Housing Markets

By Mike Goldman
The Seven Most Improved US Housing Markets
Since the recession, the US housing market has been in a constant state of recovery, and some markets have even seen prices rebound to pre-recession levels.  Most of these county-level markets are small communities where the housing boom and crash did not have a major impact.  Prices in these communities didn't rise as high, or fall as low, but have been steadily improving from whatever fluctuations did occur.  Perhaps the best performing market in the country, however, is the San Francisco market, where prices have soared to record levels this summer.  Prices have risen so dramatically in San Francisco, in fact, that some economists have begun to express concern that the market will undoubtedly crash in the coming months.
Jun 12th

Accuracy of Zillow "Zestimates" Called Into Question

By Kelly Curtis
Accuracy of Zillow "Zestimates" Called Into Question
The real estate market has changed drastically over the last decade or so as technology has advanced, forever changing the way that homes are bought and sold.  In fact, more than 90 percent of US homebuyers began their search online last year, according to the National Association of Realtors, and the Internet is now flooded with websites offering home search tools, advice and information aimed at helping educate consumers about the complexities of the market.  One of these online tools is an automated valuation model, which allows consumers to get an idea of what their home is worth without hiring an appraiser.  The accuracy of these tools has come into question recently, however, including the so-called “Zestimate” tool offered by the biggest name in online real estate, Zillow.
May 29th

America Remembers Maya Angelou

By Betty
America Remembers Maya Angelou

Beloved American poet, author and television personality Maya Angelou passed away this week, leaving the hearts of millions of fellow Americans to grieve the loss.  She was 86 years of age.  Born as Marguerite Ann Johnson on April 4th, 1928, Angelou rose to fame in the late 60s with her debut autobiography "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings," going on to write another six books about her life, several books of poetry and three boks of essays.  Perhaps her biggest contribution to American society came, however, in her work for the Civil Rights movement, during which she worked closely with Martin Luther King, Jr, who ironically was assasinated on Angelou's 40th birthday.  During her life, Angelou spoke at many important events, including the inauguration of President Bill Clinton, and she is still one of the most oft-quoted American personalities of the 20th century.  One of her most famous quotes: "The truth is, no one of us can be free until everybody is free," has been adopted by civil and human rights organizations all over the world.  The image below pictures Angelou receiving the Medal of Freedom from President Obama at a White House ceremony in 2010.


maya-angelou-obama-medal-of-freedom.jpg 

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