Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is awaiting word from the Securities and Exchange Commission on whether the stock market watchdog will fine him for a post on Facebook. Back in July, Hastings told his followers on the world's largest social network that Netflix users were watching a billion dollars of video a month. The SEC has indicated it believes the information was material to investors and required to be disclosed under the agency's Reg FD rule (Regulation Fair Disclosure), which mandates that important information to investors be provided to all investors at the same time. The SEC claims that not all Netflix investors have access to the executive's Facebook page, thus reporting the billion hours a month achievement there violated regulations.
LivingSocial revealed on Thursday it is laying off 400 employees, or about 10 percent of its total staff around the world, in order to streamline operations and free up capital to invest in new technologies, particularly in the mobile computing space. The daily deals site said that the job cuts will mostly affect US workers, though a handful of overseas jobs will be eliminated as well. The overwhelming majority of the workers being laid off are in the company's sales, editorial and customer service departments.
US economic growth was sluggish over the last two months, according to the Federal Reserve's “beige book” report, issued Wednesday. A Fed spokesman cited the growing uncertainty about the looming so-called fiscal cliff and the devastation wrought by Superstorm Sandy as the primary hurdles to economic growth in recent weeks, as the manufacturing sector showed weakness. Nearly all of the Fed's 12 districts showed improvement in both hiring and consumer spending, but not at sufficient levels to offset the manufacturing declines.
American Superconductor revealed on Wednesday that it has reduced its workforce by nearly 25 percent in recent weeks as it struggles to curb losses brought on by weak demand in the wind power market and excessive production. The Devens, Massachusetts based company has now shed over half of its total workforce since August 2011 and currently employs just 340 people. With its primary focus on developing components for wind turbines, AMSC is reliant on the proliferation of wind power technologies, which has a decided up and down history.
US consumer sentiment reached a 55-month high this month, according to a report from the Conference Board, issued Tuesday. The group said that its consumer confidence measure reached a reading of 73.7 in November, up from an upwardly revised reading of 73.1 in October. The latets reading in the index is the highest since February 2008, at the height of the recession, and also topped the expectations of analysts, who had expected a reading of 73.0, on average. Last month's reading was revised up from an initially reported 72.2.
The amount Americans pitched in to help the government trim the national debt increased this year to $7.7 million from an average of just $3 million over the last three years, according to a report issued by the Bureau of Public Debt. The $7.7 million total barely makes a dent, however, accounting for just 7 one-millionths of the US fiscal 2012 budget shortfall of $1.1 trillion. The total debt has surpassed $16 trillion, and officials say the new $16.394 trillion debt ceiling will be reached before the end of the year.
Twinkies connoisseurs breathed a sigh of relief Monday after Hostess, the company that makes the delicious cakes, announced it had agreed to go to mediation with the union staging the strike that may shut the baker down permanently. Speculation about the future of Hostess has been all over the map since November 9th, when the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union went on strike, effectively bringing production to a halt at most of the company's factories. Over the weekend, rumors surfaced about potential buyers of the iconic snack company, including a report that a buyer in Mexico was preparing to launch a bid.
Chinese energy giant Sinopec announced on Monday it has agreed to purchase a stake in a Nigerian oil field from France's Total for $2.5 billion. The move is the latest in a string of acquisitions made by Chinese energy companies as they try to keep up with skyrocketing demand in the world's largest nation. Sinopec will acquire a 20 percent stake in the oil field, known as OML 138 block, and will share the output from the field with several other energy companies with stakes in the field, including Chevron and Exxon. As for Total, the move is part of a broader plan to free up some $20 billion in assets over the next two years in order to focus on other exploration sites.
Cisco Systems announced on Sunday it has agreed to acquire Meraki Inc. for $1.2 billion to expand its offerings in the emerging cloud computing sector. Headquartered in San Francisco, Meraki also has offices in London, Mexico and New York City. The company offers a variety of cloud and networking services including Wi-Fi, switching and mobile device management. The company will be absorbed into Cisco and form its new Cloud Networking Group, with Meraki CEO Sanjit Biswas taking charge of the new unit. Biswas told Meraki shareholders in an email that the company had intended to stay independent and launch a CEO early next year, but Cisco's offer will allow the company to reach its goals faster, namely reaching $1 billion in annual revenue.
Chief executives from some of the largest companies in America on Tuesday launched an ad campaign designed to pressure Washington officials to take action to avert the impending fiscal cliff. The ads were officially produced by the Business Roundtable, a trade group representing CEOs from conglomerates such as General Electric, Honeywell International Dow Chemical and Xerox. Like most economists, the CEOs fear that the fiscal cliff will thrust the world's largest economy back into recession, driving unemployment higher and consumer spending down as individuals and businesses struggle to pay higher taxes that would go into effect.