Weekend Digest: The Youth Market, Saving Manufacturing & A Netscape Flashback

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 98 views 

For our weekend business and political readers:

It didn’t take Marc Andreessen and some of his fellow university graduates long to get rich in the 90’s. Their product was the “breakthrough” web browser Nestscape Navigator, and to get it launched they sought funds from venture capitalists in California’s Silicon Valley.

Within 18 months, the enterprise had gone public and Andreessen had become a symbol of the Internet generation. Now he’s a co-founder and partner of Andreessen Horowitz, a Menlo Park venture capital fund that’s trying to make smart bets on tech start-ups in a climate much dicier than the one during the dot-com boom.

Harvard Business Review’s has posted an interview with Andreessen conducted by its editor in chief Adi Ignatius. In the interview at this link, Andreessen talks about the complex challenges entrepreneurs now face and an investment opportunity that slipped away.

The effort is rooted in a massive data base and the Boston Globe says the “ultimate goal is to revive the U.S. economy.” It’s all about saving time to find the right combination of compounds needed to make new products.

There are tens of thousands of known compounds in the physical world. Finding the right combination to create a new material, say a super-tough or ultra-light metal, can take years, if not decades, of hit-and-miss experimentation.

The effort is building a massive database of compounds and their properties, aiming to do for manufacturing what the Human Genome Project is doing for the biopharmaceutical industry — providing the data, tools, and understanding that will lead to breakthrough products.

Go inside the Globe story to learn how some companies are already taking advantage of the MIT database project and why the Obama administration has taken a keen interest in the effort.

Arkansas has experienced a shale boom, now Pennsylvania is coming into its own. The Marcellus Shale stretches for 600 miles and the natural gas it produces is also stretching huge gains by “dominating the Mid-Atlantic natural gas market.” The shale goes across several states but the Keystone State is reaping the most profits.

Last week, energy giant Chevron announced a plan to purchase 61 acres of land around Pittsburgh – one of several Western Pennsylvania communities targeted for Marcellus development – which the company may use as a new regional headquarters. That purchase came on the heels of Chevron’s 2011 $3.8 billion purchase of Atlas Energy and its 622,000 acres in the Marcellus Shale.

CNBC has the complete story on how much the state’s production numbers have surged in the past year with future estimates that are considered “off the charts.”

Go here for more about why some are calling the Marcellus Shale “the Saudi Arabia of natural gas'” and how concerns from environmentalists have led to moratoriums to stop drilling in other states.

The company is called BYD, which is short for Build Your Dreams, and has chosen a site in Lancaster, Calif. to manufacture electric buses and large-scale iron-phosphate energy module batteries. This is BYD’s first initiative in the U.S.

“We truly are making history,” said Mayor R. Rex Parris. “The City of Lancaster is honored to play host to BYD, a first-rate firm known around the globe as a leader in battery and sustainable energy technologies. The opening of not one, but two manufacturing facilities will provide local workers with hundreds of jobs as BYD expands its operations here in the United States, and also represents a significant investment into our local economy and in California.”

Industry Week has more at this link on this new company that has already received a huge contract to provide all-electric buses to the city of Long Beach.

The Washington Post reports findings from a new poll show Americans have lost confidence in President Obama’s ability to get things done. But the irony is, he is not getting the majority of the blame.

After public fights to avoid sequester budget cuts and pass new gun-control laws have stalled, Obama has also garnered some sympathy — two-thirds say he fights hard for his policies, and twice as many blame Republicans leaders in Congress than Obama for a lack of compromise in Washington.

For a look at the poll and some charts and graphs on how American perceptions of the President have changed over the past four years, go to this link.

The connection between the attack on the American Embassy in Benghazi and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s political future have become the forefront of a Republican strategy on her “fitness to lead” says Politico. That was made evidently clear during Congressional hearings this past week on the attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and two other Americans.

Clinton’s name was invoked over and over during the hearing (a blogger for Foreign Policy counted 32 mentions).

“Secretary Clinton said herself that she takes responsibility and yesterday’s hearings raised serious questions that need to be answered about the lack of response to cables requesting additional security in Benghazi,” said Tim Miller, spokesman for America Rising PAC, a new GOP-aligned opposition research group funded by former officials with Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.

“The testimony also called into question why Secretary Clinton’s response to the attack was so different than the reports she received directly from those on the ground.”

Politico has an in-depth analysis of how Clinton is being “targeted” over Benghazi because she is considered the Democratic frontrunner even though she hasn’t announced. Will it hurt her?  Click on this link to find out.

That’s what the Washington Post wanted to know, especially with Congress’s approval rating at a four-decade low of 15 percent. But as the Post points out, “Yet, 90 percent of House Members and 91 percent of Senators who sought re-election won last November.”

As you might have guessed, it’s a local thing.

The seeming paradox between the low regard with which people hold Congress and the high rate of re-election of incumbents is explained well by new data released by Gallup on Thursday that points to a simple reality: People hate Congress but (generally) like their Member of Congress.

So says Politico, “It’s far easier to hate an institution than an individual, particularly an individual you sort-of, kind-of think you know.”

For the complete story go to this link.

Under health care reform, the feds will begin accepting applications in October from Americans without insurance who can now buy a plan through a health insurance market place or “exchange.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) posted those applications online. It called them “consumer-friendly” and stressed their relative simplicity.

“They’re pretty short,” says J.B. Silvers, who teaches health care finance at the Case Weatherhead School of Management. “Less than an awful lot of individual forms that people fill out these days.”

To learn more about the applications and how the program will work, click on this link from NPR’s Marketplace for a complete summary.

If you haven’t ever paid attention, NPR reporters have the most unusual, and to some, ear-pleasing names. Names that are fun to repeat and have inspired their use.

Perhaps no reporter’s name is more beloved than Sylvia Poggioli, NPR’s Italian correspondent. Sylvia has had a cow in Cambodia named after her, and a restaurant in Salem, Oregon. “Every time Sylvia says her name,” the restaurateur said, “I envision Italy, I see and smell good food.”

In a good-natured piece, The Atlantic takes a look at all those rhythmic names from NPR reporters and how some of those names made it to the air. Click here for the NPR name game.

It’s called the Liberator and it’s the world’s first gun, except for a firing pin, to be made with a 3D printer. Forbes was invited to its test-firing, and it worked.

A tall, sandy blond engineer named John has just pulled a twenty-foot length of yellow string tied to a trigger, which has successfully fired the world’s first entirely 3D-printed gun for the very first time, rocketing a .380 caliber bullet into a berm of dirt and prairie brush.

Can anyone make this gun, who conceived it, and how did their political views on the whole process come in to play?  Click here to find out.

Mobile Youth has put together a post called “3 Reasons Why Youth are Important to Your Business.”

In the piece Mobile Youth also defines the youth market, redefines its value, and explodes myths. And then there’s what’s called the beachhead for the student market.

Apple got this right, first building a beachhead in the student market with its music offering, iTunes and the iPod. From this vantage point it moved into the iPhone and the rest, as they say, is history. If Apple had gone after the high-spending executive customers, it would have been duking it out with Microsoft on the Redmond’s home turf.

When I went to college, everyone used a PC. Only left-handers used Macs. By the late 90s, all the college kids were using Macs. Now, the same students are IT managers and heads of departments with their iPads and iPhones.

And then there’s the “Harley Effect.” What the heck is that?  Click here to find out in this blueprint for youth marketing.