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"The pendulum of economic power might well begin to shift from capital back to labor." --Stephen S. Roach, chief global economist, Morgan Stanley, on global political shifts that could lead to increased workers' pay and job security in 2007, as reported by Bloomberg Broadway and broadband--the convergence nobody saw coming. In advance of the spring 2008 opening of their Broadway production of The First Wives Club--based on the popular book and movie--producers Paul Lambert and Jonas Neilson plan to start up First Wives World, an online social networking site for divorcees.
Slated to launch this spring, it will offer ticket sales, forums, blogs, and, soon after, a dating service. The two producers plan to invest $8 million to $10 million to make it a business. First Wives Club does have a brand that means something for women," says Lambert.
Wharton management professor Eric Clemons, who is using the launch as a case study, says that with its specific issue and audience, the site will have a better chance than most MySpace wannabes. Still, women over 35, a good chunk of the target audience, are social networking laggards. And what about the risk of losing advertisers to some hotter, younger site? Toyota (TM
) has a great brand, a reputation for bullet-proof quality, and the money to keep cranking out new cars. But there's one thing missing from its line: sex appeal. The company will try to change that at the Detroit auto show, which opens to the media on Jan. 7, when it unwraps the FT-HS sports car concept--a model about the size of a Nissan 350z sports car but with a much edgier look.
It'll be an ambitious project, if Toyota winds up building the FT-HS (short for "future Toyota hybrid sport"). Engineers are planning on a tire-burning 400 horsepower but also a hybrid electric drive system to boost fuel economy--all for a target sticker price of around $35,000.
Three designers at the company's Newport Beach (Calif.) studio produced 16 different sketches before Toyota settled on the look it wanted. "We think this is in the same class as Porsches, Corvettes, and Ferraris," says Kevin Hunter, the studio's vice president.
The FT-HS is the carmaker's latest attempt to go sporty. Its recent MR2 was a flop, as was its earlier Supra, which the public deemed too pricey at $40,000. (It was dropped in 1998.) "This is what they need to do," says Eric Noble, president of The CarLab, an automotive consulting firm in Orange, Calif. "It's the right look for Toyota and should be a hit at the show." Consumers who are knowledgeable about such things know that food labels such as "organic," "natural," or even "free-range" don't necessarily guarantee good conditions for the animals that produced the meat, milk, or eggs found inside the packaging. So the Animal Welfare Institute recently introduced another tag for consumers to ponder: the "Animal Welfare Approved" label.
The seal, the institute says, assures that the animals providing such products haven't suffered chopped beaks, docked tails, or lives spent away from sunlight. The initiative may have a limited impact, because the institute is granting the label only to qualifying family farms. AWI President Cathy Liss says that awarding the seal to big farm operations carries the risk that they will apply stringent standards to only part of their operations.
The institute's aim, Liss says, is to go beyond the standards upheld by labels like the American Humane Assn.'s "Free Farmed Certified" seal and Whole Foods' "Animal Compassionate" stamp, both of which endorse corporate farms that agree to meet their standards. That said, the new label still fails to impress People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who believe the real cruelty is eating meat or drinking milk in the first place. One of the best-selling books in Palm Beach, Fla., this season isn't a poolside mystery or a collection of art reprints. It's Palm Beach Pet Society, a photo array of the resort town's most pampered pets--and in some cases, their owners. Retailing for $20 (proceeds go to local animal charities), the 140-page coffee-table book was published by Palm Beach Society magazine, which flew in New York pet photographer Jim Dratfield, whose clients include Jennifer Aniston and Henry Kissinger, to do the cover. Sales at the town's four bookstores have hit almost 2,000 copies so far, one for every 15 Palm Beach winter residents. (A few bookshops in Boca Raton and Miami's South Beach also sell the book.) Among the photos: portraits of female cats and dogs wearing an estimated $16 million to $20 million worth of bling borrowed from local jewelry outlets, among them Tiffany and Chopard. Males were shot "driving" luxury vehicles.
Yes, the society folks in town can be a bit over-the-top about their animals, admits the publisher's owner, James Sheeran. "People absolutely go crazy for these pets," he says, with some women confiding to him that "my dog is more important than my husband to me." What do you get when you combine Japan's love of gadgetry with its cleanliness obsession? The highest-tech toilets on the planet. Just out: the "Alauno", created by award-winning industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa and manufactured by Matsushita Electric Works. For a mere $3,400, consumers get a water-conserving spiral-shaped bowl that self cleans with every flush. (Air bubbles and a squirt of detergent do the scrubbing.) There are also light-emitting diodes at the foot of the toilet and inside the bowl to make the unit easy to find in the dark. WWW.STARBUCKSGOSSIP.TYPEPAD.COM
WHY READ IT: Check out the site for a view of the world filtered through Starbucks. This includes posts like the one debating the ethics of purchasing an espresso and then adding lots and lots of the milk provided free at the counter to create a discounted latte-like concoction. Not affiliated with the corporation, the blog (administered by Jim Romenesko, who also runs a popular media site) explores burning questions such as if and when it's appropriate for baristas to offer drinks on the house and whether customers' tipping habits change during the holidays. Business was the villain in a bunch of 2006 movies, the Thank You for Smoking to Casino Royale. Can you think of a pitch for a film in which business looks good?
"Corrupt congressman demands bribes from defense contractor, who realizes that protecting jobs means saying yes. CFO demands perks to keep mum, but heroic exec devises scheme to break congressman. FBI agrees to do the sting." --Reed Hastings, CEO, Netflix
"A company, like Halliburton, decides on Christmas Eve to donate all profits to a veterans' hospital because the CEO meets a dying vet at his local hospital who offers the CEO's only child his kidney. (Don't count on its being made.)" -- Esther Newberg, senior VP and co-director, Literary Dept., ICM
"Opening scene from a Truman Show remake: Hero throws a brunch, and a cast of thousands -- farmers, coffee growers, caf?? employees -- shows up to make everything at ridiculously low prices. It's a wonderful life." --Russell Roberts, economics professor, George Mason University As he completes one of the largest corporate breakups in American history, Tyco International (TYC
) CEO Edward Breen has been recruiting two entirely new boards. And BusinessWeek has learned that no fewer than 18 independent directors have signed up.
By April, Tyco, with a market valuation of $61 billion, will have spun off two new companies--Tyco Electronics and Tyco Healthcare--to be run by Breen lieutenants Thomas Lynch and Richard Meelia. Breen will remain in charge of what's left of the old conglomerate: the fire protection, security, and industrial valve businesses.
At Tyco Healthcare, the board recruits include Tadataka "Tachi" Yamada, president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Health Program. Among the directors at Tyco Electronics: Lawrence Smith, Comcast's (CMCSA
) retiring co-CFO (and an architect of its acquisitions strategy) and management guru Ram Charan, who has advised the likes of General Electric (GE
) and Verizon (VZ
Dennis Carey, a partner at executive search firm Spencer Stuart, spent eight months helping Tyco evaluate 300 potential candidates. To fill the posts of nonexecutive chairmen, Breen, with Tyco's lead director John Krol, looked for people with both CEO and board experience, the better to guide Lynch and Meelia with their first CEO gigs. For the electronics unit, he chose American Standard Companies (ASD
) CEO Frederic Poses; for health care, Praxair (PX
) Chairman Dennis Reilley.
The other directors (including retired Sprint Nextel (S
) Chairman Timothy Donahue and Waste Management (WMI
) CEO David Steiner) have expertise in everything from hr to acquisitions. "Our health-care business will probably do some M&A activity down the road," says Breen, as the electronics unit does some "pruning." Within months of Tyco International's board hiring Edward Breen to be the company's chief executive in 2002, he replaced all of the members of the board, as they had permitted former CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski and his chief financial officer to steal more than $100 million from the company.
Now Breen is recruiting two entirely new boards to complete one of the largest corporate breakups in U.S. history. By April, he plans to break up Tyco (TYC
), with a market valuation of $61 billion, into three companies. The two new companies??yco Electronics and Tyco Healthcare??ill be run by Breen lieutenants Thomas Lynch and Richard Meelia. (Breen will remain in charge of what's left of the old conglomerate: the fire protection, security, and industrial valve businesses, which accounted for $18 billion in sales last year.)
BusinessWeek has learned that no fewer than 18 independent directors have been signed up to join his effort. Here's who they are:
?/span> Tyco Cast List
The company designs and manufactures electronic components, wireless systems, and network gear for companies in such industries as automotive, aerospace, defense, and telecommunications. The unit recorded sales of $12.7 billion in 2006.
The health-care unit makes products such as disposable medical supplies, monitoring equipment, surgical devices, medical instruments, and bulk analgesic pharmaceuticals. Tyco Healthcare had 2006 sales of $9.6 billion.
Frederic M. Poses, chairman and CEO at American Standard Cos. (ASD
Dennis H. Reilley, chairman of Praxair (PX
Thomas J. Lynch, CEO of Tyco International's electronics division
Richard J. Meelia, president and CEO of Tyco International's health-care division
Pierre Brondeau, executive vice-president at Rohm & Haas (ROH
Craig Arnold, senior vice-president at Eaton Corp. (ETN
Ram Charan, management guru who has advised companies such as General Electric (GE
) and Verizon (VZ
Robert H. Brust, executive vice-president and former chief financial officer at Eastman Kodak (EK
Dr. Juergen W. Gromer, president of Tyco International's electronics division
Jack Connors Jr., chairman emeritus of Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos
Robert M. Hernandez, non-executive chairman of RTI International Metals (RTI
Christopher J. Coughlin, chief financial officer at Tyco International
Daniel J. Phelan, senior vice-president at Glaxo SmithKline (GSK
Timothy M. Donahue, retired chairman of Sprint Nextel Corp. (S
Lawrence S. Smith, executive vice-president and co-chief financial officer at Comcast (CMCSA
Kathy J. Herbert, former executive vice-president at Albertsons (SVU
Paula A. Sneed, former executive vice-president of Kraft Foods (KFT
Randall J. Hogan, chairman and CEO of Pentair (PNR
David P. Steiner, CEO of Waste Management (WMI
Tadataka Yamada, president of the global health program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Sandra S. Wijnberg, former chief financial officer of Marsh & McClennan Cos. (MMC
Joseph A. Zaccagnino, former president and CEO of Yale New Haven Health System