Economy & Business

All Tech Considered
4:42 am
Sat July 19, 2014

Tech Week: Microsoft Layoffs, Comcast Call Hell And Call Of Duty

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts gestures as he speaks during a cable convention in Washington, D.C., in 2013. This week, his company drew scrutiny for an agonizing customer service experience.
Susan Walsh AP

Between the Comcast kerfuffle and big layoffs at Microsoft, we weren't at a loss for tech news this week. So here's what happened since your last wrap-up, from NPR and beyond.

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The Salt
11:01 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Soylent DIYers Sell Their Own Versions Of The Powdered Food

Soylent CEO Rob Rhinehart holds a bag of finished product in September 2013. Rhinehart recently discouraged members of the company's DIY online community from competing directly with Soylent.
Josh Edelson AFP/Getty Images

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 3:57 pm

When Rob Rhinehart first created Soylent –– a powdered, synthetic food product made of industrial nutrients and oils –– he was a San Francisco techie trying to sustain himself cheaply without the inconveniences of grocery shopping, cooking or even eating.

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The Two-Way
10:17 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Amazon Launches Subscription Service For E-Books

Amazon launched a new subscription service for e-books and audiobooks on Friday called Kindle Unlimited.

The service, which will cost subscribers $9.99 per month after a free initial 30-day trial, offers access to more than 600,000 e-books and about 2,000 audiobooks. The reading and listening experiences can be linked through a syncing service.

Such "all you can eat" subscription models have become common for music and video. Amazon now enters into a space already occupied by unlimited reading services such as Scribd, Oyster and Entitle.

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Business
5:34 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Sony Forgets To Renew Games Domain Name

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 7:00 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And now to today's last word in Business, which is shutdown.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

That's what happened to Sony's popular online gaming service Tuesday morning after the company forgot to renew a key domain name.

GREENE: This domain name was for the site www.sonyonline.net. The lapse temporarily knocked out online games like "EverQuest" and "Landmark."

INSKEEP: OK, so how did they forget? Well, Sony says it's possible that expiration notices were sent to the wrong email.

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Business
4:52 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Microsoft Announces Biggest Layoffs In Company's History

Originally published on Fri July 18, 2014 7:00 am

Transcript

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

NPR's Business News starts with a downsized Microsoft. Microsoft announced the biggest layoffs in its history yesterday. It's cutting 18,000 jobs worldwide over the next year - that's 14% of its workforce. The company's new CEO wants to adapt to a society and an industry increasingly dependent on mobile devices. From member station KPLU, Bellamy Pailthorp reports.

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All Tech Considered
2:37 am
Fri July 18, 2014

Better Culture Could Have Prevented Viral Comcast Call

The call center of Zappos.com gets high marks from consumers for strong customer service.
Shashi Bellamkonda Flickr

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 10:13 am

This week, one man's customer service call to Comcast turned into a badgering — a simple request to cancel his service was repeatedly beaten back by the employee on the other end of the line. It was a familiar feeling for a lot of us, which perhaps explains why more than 4 million people have listened to it in less than a week.

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The Two-Way
7:28 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

FedEx Charged With Shipping Drugs For Illegal Online Pharmacies

FedEx was indicted Thursday on charges of assisting illegal online pharmacies by shipping controlled substances.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

A federal grand jury has indicted FedEx on charges of assisting illegal pharmacies. Prosecutors say the shipping company knowingly distributed controlled substances, NPR's Carrie Johnson reports.

FedEx is "accused of conspiring to distribute prescription drugs to people who never met with doctors — a violation of the Controlled Substances Act," Johnson says.

She says prosecutors in San Francisco demanded that representatives for FedEx appear in court on July 29.

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Economy
4:36 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Latest Wrinkle In The Jobs Debate: Blame The Boomers

Participation in the workforce has dropped significantly since 2007, and economists say more than half of the dropouts may never return.
Spencer Platt Getty Images

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 12:46 pm

Since late 2007, the U.S. labor force has shrunk significantly, raising questions about where former workers have gone and why.

Now the White House Council of Economic Advisers says it has found answers and has compiled them into a detailed research report released Thursday.

As it turns out, most of the missing workers have been hiding in plain sight: They are retiring baby boomers.

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News
4:24 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

White House Urges Lawmakers To Address Popular Tax Dodge

Ireland (shown here in this Dingle Peninsula photo) has been among the greenest pastures for countries seeking to reduce their tax liabilities through a process called "corporate inversion."
iStockphoto

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 7:40 pm

When is it OK for an American company to avoid paying American taxes?

That's the question the Senate Finance Committee will wrestle with next week as the Obama administration urges lawmakers to make it harder for companies to duck corporate taxes by setting up shop overseas.

The latest tax-cutting strategy to go under the microscope, these so-called corporate inversions are a buttoned-down variation of an older, sexier tax dodge called the "naked inversion."

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Business
3:27 pm
Thu July 17, 2014

Lawmakers Call For GM's Top Lawyer To Step Down

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 7:40 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

At a Senate hearing today, there were calls for General Motors top lawyer to step down. Recent media reports have made clear that company lawyers knew faulty ignition switches were causing fatal accidents. Despite that GM blocked internal efforts to issue a recall and they kept information from federal safety regulators. The ignition defect is responsible for at least 13 deaths and will cost GM billions of dollars. NPR's Sonari Glinton has the latest.

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