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Thursday
Mar312011

California Home Sells for a Record $100 Million

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LOS ALTOS HILLS, Calif.) -- Russian investor Yuri Milner is now the proud owner of a 25,500-square foot palatial mansion in Los Altos Hills, California that went for a whopping $100 million -- the most ever paid for a home in the U.S.

But Milner can surely afford it.  He runs international investment firm Digital Sky Technologies and his investments include Facebook Inc., Groupon Inc. and Zynga Inc.

The home was sold by Fred and Annie Chan.  Fred Chan started ESS Technology, which designs and markets audio and video products for consumer markets.

Reports are that Milner is in no rush to move into the 18th-century French chateau-style home, which features a ballroom, home theater, wine cellar and indoor pool.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Social Media Jobs: Are They for You?

Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Social media platforms aren't just for finding jobs, they also create jobs. From the corporate offices of Comcast, Disney and Ford to smaller nonprofits, businesses are paying people to tweet, Facebook and blog.

Different companies manage social media staff in different ways, according to Anthony Rotolo, a social media professor at Syracuse University. While smaller organizations may ask interns to handle things like Facebook pages, other companies are hiring community managers or social media strategists.

In a day's work, someone working in social media could interact with customers and followers in different platforms, create content such as blog entries or videos, and measure web traffic to develop outreach strategies.

"These positions are focused on building relationships with an organization's audience, learning from customer feedback and even acting as an advocate for the customer," Rotolo said. Because the size of companies varies, so does the salary for professionals in social media.

Joe Soto, CEO of One Social Media, said he would "definitely consider someone fresh out of college" and just hired a recent graduate of Drake University to work at his company, which educates and trains businesses on how to use social media marketing. Soto said all but one of his sales staff is under the age of 30.

In some cases, getting hired has nothing to do with a resume and cover letter, just an eye-catching message in 140 characters or less: a job application consisting of a single tweet.  That's how Marc Jacobs International is hiring its newest employee -- someone to run the MarcJacobsIntl Twitter account.

As Soto of One Social Media attempts to fill his social media openings, he said he's looking for someone who is "a believer, user, and implementer" of various platforms.  According to Rotolo, it's "excellent communication skills and a passion for connecting with people on the Web."

It helps to have an established online "brand," or some kind of portfolio and website to showcase existing work. This means that job seekers should be well-versed in a number of social networking sites, including LinkedIn, Foursquare, MySpace and emerging networks such as Quora, a social Q&A site.

Job postings can be found on websites such as Mashable.com, a website about social and digital media news.

While younger applicants may appear to have the edge in this industry, Rotolo says it's not a rule of thumb.

"There are many examples of successful social media professionals who are more senior," he said. "It is more important that the individual possess the right experience to meet the organization's needs...and have a deep knowledge of its customers and culture."

Soto said the perfect of example of this is found within his own company. While almost everyone on his staff is under 30, he has one social media sales consultant who's 52 years old. "And she's my top sales person."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 

Wednesday
Mar302011

Back in Black: TARP Bank Programs Turn Profit

Adam Gault/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- With a $7.4 billion repayment from three banks Wednesday, the TARP bank support programs launched two and a half years ago have turned a profit, according to the Treasury Department.
 
Taxpayers saw the government pump $245 billion of their money into the Capital Purchase Program, Targeted Investment Program, Community Development Capital Initiative and Asset Guarantee Program in a historic effort to stave off the financial collapse of hundreds of the nation’s largest financial institutions.
 
With Wednesday’s repayments -- and the proceeds of interest and dividend payments the banks were obligated to pay the Treasury while they participated in the programs -- the taxpayer has made a profit of about $6 billion with a total of $251 billion in total recoveries.
 
The folks at Treasury estimate that as banks continue to pay off their loans to these programs, taxpayers can expect another $14 billion of money coming back in for a total of about $20 billion in “profits.”
 
“While our overriding objective with TARP was to break the back of the financial crisis and save American jobs, the fact that our investment in banks has also delivered a significant profit for taxpayers is a welcome development,” said Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner in a press release. “We still have more work to do repairing the damage caused by the crisis and strengthening the recovery, but today is an important milestone in our efforts to recover taxpayer dollars as we continue winding down TARP.”
 
One caveat -- these programs which have turned a profit don’t include the massive injection of taxpayer money into failed insurance firm AIG or housing giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. We’ll likely see massive (read $100 billion) in losses from those “investments.” But those losses are likely going to be offset by huge gains the Federal Reserve has made on purchases of American mortgages and other securities since the beginning of the financial crisis. Anything the Fed makes goes right back to Treasury (No “performance bonus” for Fed Chairman Bernanke or the other folks at the Fed).
 
When all is said and done, Uncle Sam is likely to have made about $24 billion more than he lost on all this financial maneuvering.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

MoveOn Calls on GE CEO to Resign from White House Post

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- MoveOn joined former Senator Russ Feingold’s group, Progressives United, on Wednesday to call on GE CEO Jeff Immelt to resign from the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness. MoveOn’s petition comes on the heels of reports that GE made $14.2 billion in profit and paid no federal taxes.

In their email, MoveOn states, “Immelt now sits as chair of the President's Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (Jobs Council), representing corporate America to the President on matters like job creation and corporate taxation. That's a slap in the face to every hardworking, tax-paying American—especially GE employees.”

After sending the email, MoveOn’s executive director, Justin Ruben, said “it is outrageous that GE made more than $14 billion in profits last year and paid no federal taxes.”

“At a time when many in Washington, including the President, are worried about our nation’s deficit we should be punishing -- not rewarding -- companies like GE who are robbing the US Government and taxpayers of billions of dollars. This sort of bad corporate behavior should not be rewarded with a top White House appointment. Jeff Immelt should resign immediately,” Ruben said.

Feingold has also called for Immelt to step down in an email to supporters.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Stocks Up at Wednesday's Close; Hiring Up for Small Businesses

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Telecommunications companies led a broad midweek stock rally while a couple jobs reports helped things along.  The Dow closed up 72 points, the Nasdaq added 20 and the S&P gained nine on Wednesday.

When was the last time you heard that hiring was up and firing was down?  Payroll processor ADP says private employers added 200,000 positions from February to March, many at small businesses.  Meanwhile, employment firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas says layoffs hit their lowest level in 16 years.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Johnson & Johnson Recalls Yet More Tylenol

Cristina Arias/Getty Images(FORT WASHINGTON, Penn.) -- The trouble continues for Johnson & Johnson, the maker of Tylenol. Yet another lot of its adult pain relievers have been recalled voluntarily because of complaints about a strange, musty odor.

Johnson & Johnson's McNeil Consumer Health division has now announced it is recalling one lot -- roughly 34,000 150-count bottles -- of Tylenol 8 Hour Extended Release Caplets.

"McNeil is taking this action as part of our ongoing surveillance and monitoring efforts that identified a small number of complaints of a musty or moldy odor," McNeil said in a statement.

The company said it believes the odor is caused by trace amounts of chemicals called 2,4,6-tribromoanisole (TBA) and 2,4,6-trichloroanisole (TCA).

TBA comes from the breakdown of a chemical in wood pallets used to transport and store the packaging materials for the bottles.

In October 2010, McNeil recalled roughly 128,000 bottles of the same caplets. In July 2010, McNeil announced a recall of 21 different product lots, including Children's Tylenol, Benadryl and Motrin. And in the largest recall of children's medicine in history, Johnson & Johnson pulled more than 136 million bottles of Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl -- more than 40 products in all -- in April.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Private Sector Grows by 201,000 Jobs in March

Creatas Images/Thinkstock(ROSELAND, N.J.) -- The U.S. private sector grew by 201,000 jobs in March, according to the latest national employment report released Wednesday by ADP.

ADP found that employment in the service-providing sector increased for a 15th consecutive month in March, rising by 164,000 jobs.  The goods-producing sector also saw an increase, growing by 37,000 for a fifth straight monthly gain.

The report also shows that employment in the manufacturing industry rose by 37,000 jobs, making March the sixth consecutive month that the industry grew.

"Today’s ADP National Employment Report confirms that U.S. private-sector employment growth has averaged about 175,000 jobs over the last six months," said Gary C. Butler, president and CEO of ADP.

When compared over the last four months, the average looks even more promising.

"The average monthly increase in employment over the last four months -- December through March -- has been 211,000, consistent with a gradual if uneven decline in the unemployment rate," said Joel Prakken, the chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers, LLC.  "This is almost three times the average monthly gain of 74,000 over the preceding four months of August through November."

Butler added that "job growth in the first quarter of 2011 has shown considerable improvement compared to the last quarter of 2010."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Tax Tip: Using Withholding Calculators

Comstock Images/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Did you get a refund last year? Most taxpayers did.

“Last year the average refund was almost $3,000 and about three in four taxpayers got refunds," said Eric Smith the IRS. “Many of those folks, if they use the withholding calculator, they could have less withheld from their paychecks, have more of their money during the year."

Jodie Reynolds with the IRS has this advice: ”Every year we actually encourage taxpayers who work and have an employer and are going to receive W2 wages to go in and use the IRS withholding calculator to determine how much they should have withheld from their taxes."

Many websites offer tax calculators. Kathy Pickering with H&R Block says they can be helpful for those with several employers: “If they change jobs or if they're working multiple jobs where they've got a couple different paychecks it can be a little bit more complicated to predict it there."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Despite Paywall, 'New York Times' Readers Find Free Access

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Don't want to pay for content hidden behind the New York Times' recently-raised paywall?  Hopping over it may be easier than you think.

Since the Times' announcement two weeks ago that it would start charging for access to its site, programmers, readers and bloggers have made a sport of finding the holes in the so-called Grey Lady's digital wall, spreading their tactics far and wide.  Some have burrowed in with lines of code, others are finding free access just by switching Web browsers.

While critics say the gaps highlight flaws in the newspapers' new business model, the Times says the holes are deliberate and meant to encourage openness across the Internet.

In announcing the digital subscription plan that went live Monday, the Times said readers could still view 20 articles every four weeks for free, including slideshows, videos and other features.

After 20 articles, the charge ranges from $15 to $35 every four weeks, depending on whether readers want to access the content from just the Web or other mobile devices as well.

Home delivery subscribers get all access for no extra charge and the Times revealed Monday that Kindle subscribers will also get free access to Web content with their $20 monthly subscription.

Readers who reach the Times through blogs and links from social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, can access unlimited articles, even if they have reached their monthly limit, the paper said.  And those who come in through search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo, get five extra stories per day.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Disaster Insurance Cost Rising Along with Occurrence of Disasters

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Insurance experts say the likelihood of more floods and hurricanes in the future is rising.

In fact, a new report from a Swiss insurance firm says the number of earthquakes, floods and other disasters around the world rose last year compared to 2009.

For homeowners without disaster insurance, damage from natural disasters can prove to be costly.

"Are you financially ready to pay for what could be hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses to fix your home?," says Anna Maria Andreotis of SmartMoney.com.

Although the premiums for these insurance policies "have been rising and they're expected to continue rising going forward," Andreotis says they may be something to consider.

"If you live in an area that's prone to either earthquakes to hurricanes to flooding that is something you need to keep in mind," she says.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







ABC News Radio