Businessweek’s cover story this week is an oral history of “The Rise and Fall of Blackberry,” where a bunch of former employees talk about the early days, as well as some of their more recent missteps, with candor and nostalgia. It is kind of amazing:
When he said, “It’s called a BlackBerry,” people started rolling their eyes. They thought it was a stupid name. This was the height of the dot-com boom. He had this dream of people getting e-mails on the move, and the feeling at the time was, “Why would anyone want their e-mails away from the office?”
Why WOULD anyone want their emails away from the office?
One thing we missed out on was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep BlackBerry. He said, “Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I’m your brand ambassador,” basically. And we pitched that to marketing: Here’s a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that. They basically threw us out of the room. They said, “This kid is a fad. He’s not going to last.” I said at the meeting: “This kid might outlive RIM.” Everyone laughed.
We’ve been covering the fast food/low-wages strike, and for today (or for your reading list this weekend) add Thomas Frank’s Harper’s story to your list, who visited North Carolina earlier this summer to report on the strikes.
Businessweek has a fun profile of Mickey Drexler, Jenna Lyons, and J. Crew this week, as they just opened three stores in London. Though fair warning, Brits: the prices are even more jacked up over there than they are here. (Drexler: “Opening international stores enormously helps your domestic business. Because then customers will buy even more when they come to America, because it’s cheaper.”)
At Harper’s, James Marcus reviews Brad Stone’s The Everything Store, a book about online retail giant Amazon and its founder, Jeff Bezos.
Twitter IPO’d! Which means that early Twitter employees and investors are probably going to make mad bank, and the rest of us get to speculate about What It All Means without really knowing what we’re talking about — my favorite pastime!
For those who haven’t heard, I am sorry to tell you that as of this morning, Amazon sales in MA are now subject to sales tax. A victory for brick-and-mortar stores, the state of Massachusetts, and anyone who panics when their accountant asks them how much they spent on online purchases since last April (this may not be related to sales tax but that question always freaks me out). Amazon already charges sales tax in a dozen other states. The change in MA is projected to earn the state an extra 37 million dollars this year. Think of how many libraries you could keep open with that kind of money!
Bloomberg Businessweek takes a look at the billion-dollar Cinnabon empire, which is run by 35-year-old Kate Cole, who previously worked at beer and buffalo wing chain Hooters. “There are 880 calories in the classic roll.” Yum?
Bloomberg Businessweek has published it’s big multimedia package on the fifth anniversary of the financial crisis, and it leads with Hank Paulson who left Goldman Sachs in 2006 to become Treasury Secretary and had a rough time dealing with the financial crisis and pushed through the big bailout bill that so many critics deemed as ineffective and wasteful. HANK, a documentary about Paulson by the magazine and filmmaker Joe Berlinger will be released on Netflix on Sept. 16, and the print edition as Paulson in his own words, which can be summed up thusly: “So today it’s worse.” Thanks Hank!
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that executives like Richard Fuld, the former head of Lehman brothers, was one of the country’s best-paid CEOs, but as we know now ran a company that crashed and burned and helped drive our country into a crisis. But it’s good to be reminded of that—especially now that companies are pushing back against a new rule proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission that would “require public companies to report how much their employees are earning compared with the CEO.” Yes to this kind of transparency.
FYI our brains are being hacked all the time, there is no free will: “If a woman checks the weather in a hot and humid location, it’s a great moment to introduce her to the new Pantene Smooth … However, if she’s in an area experiencing low humidity, her hair might be flat, so she would see an ad for a volumizing product.”
Jia Lynn Yang breaks down the wage gap at the CEO level (and all the way down)—there’s a lot more going on than women being bad negotiators: “Even if they negotiated perfectly every time, the success of any negotiation depends on a set of parameters. If a woman is subtly docked because the first word that comes to mind to describe her is ‘collaborative,’ rather than ‘brilliant,’ all the negotiation in the world isn’t going to get her paid fairly.”