Richard Sarnoff to Take Over as Head of KKR’s Americas Media and Telecommunications Team

Digital Media

Digital Media IMG: via Shutterstock

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR), a private equity company founded in 1976, just announced that Richard Sarnoff will be taking over as head of its Americas media and telecommunications industry team. Sarnoff, a former senior executive at European media conglomerate Bertelsmann SE & Co KGaA, will succeed Alex Navab.

This change in management will allow Navab to focus on his new position as head of KKR’s Americas private equity group. He has been co-leading this group alongside Michael Michelson since 2008, and has had to focus even more energy on this asset since Michelson stepped down from this position in May to focus his efforts on investing at KKR.

Richard Sarnoff will also be a managing director at KKR, the private equity firm said in a memo this week announcing his appointment to its investors. Business insiders are speculating that Sarnoff’s experience working in media firms such as Bertelsmann will allow him to thrive in KKR’s Americas media and telecommunications team.

Bertelsmann is a German multinational mass media corporation that was founded in 1835. It is best know for its book publisher, Random House, which is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. This company has published popular books including Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girls, and Piper Kerman’s Orange is the New Black. Sarnoff left the company in 2011 to work as a senior advisor for KKR and sit on the board of directors of music rights management company BMG, a joint venture between KKR and Bertelsmann.

Sarnoff is credited with leading Bertelsmann’s digital media efforts and orchestrating its acquisition of Random House. Sarnoff’s transition into a more prominent role has been seamless, and he is expected to make a big impact at KKR.

New Machine Gives Stray Dogs Food When People Recycle

One new company is solving two problems – people’s lack of recycling, and homeless dogs.

The Turkish company Pugedon, recently placed a vending machine in Istanbul that releases food and water for stray dogs when someone recycles a plastic bottle. The recycled bottles cover the cost of the food, and the box operates at no charge to the city.

A lot of stray animals in this city rely on the residents to feed them. Turkey is known for its large number of stray animals in urban areas. Instanbul has more than 150,000 stray dogs and cats, according to Deutsche Welle. Not only will this machine help the strays, but it will encourage people to recycle as well.

These high numbers have led the Turkish government to draft a law which would require thousands of stray dogs to be transported to a “wildlife park.” Dogs in Turkey have also been the rargets of poisoning campaigns, trying to get the number down.

The Pugedon vending machines aim to give these stray animals a brighter future, while also encouraging its users to get in a healthy recycling habit.

What are your thoughts on this? I think it would be a great machine to add to large cities! Maybe we’ll get one in NYC?

Study Shows that Users Don’t Use Snapchat Primarily to Sext



When most people think of Snapchat, they think of teenagers and college students sexting, right? Well, a new study done by the University of Washington finds that sexting is actually not the main use.

After polling 127 Snapchat users ages 18 and over, 60 percent said they used Snapchat primarily to send “funny content,” and secondly to snap a selfie. Just 14 percent said they’d previously sent sexts over Snapchat, while only 1.6 said they do regularly.

Snapchat is a smartphone app that allows users to send photos for up to 10 seconds that then self-destruct. Users can use filters, type, and draw on the photos. It currently has about 82 million users, most of who are between 13 and 25 years of age, according to Business Insider.

While the sample size is pretty small, the focus of the study was to correct Snapchat stereotypes.

Survey respondents said that the app’s temporary content makes it more fun to share silly or mundane images over Snapchat instead of a text, where pictures are automatically saved. “Snapchat allows for less serious communication,” said one person. Another stated that Snapchat “lets me have more cats in my life because my friends who don’t normally post pictures of their cats on other social media will Snapchat their cats to me.”

While the images do self-destruct, users can take a screenshot of the snap. Snapchat sends users notifications when someone takes a screenshot of their content. However, 5 people admitted to using a separate camera to photograph a message so the user wouldn’t know. I’m not entirely sure how the user would have time to quickly do this, but apparently it can be done.

Do you use Snapchat? And if you do, what for?

Corporate Games Foster Team-Building and a Strong Company Culture

Corporate Games

Corporate Games IMG: via Shutterstock

Tug-of-War, darts, softball. Sounds a bit like an excellent afternoon at camp, doesn’t it? In fact, these are just three of the almost 30 events offered by the Ventura Corporate Games, which recently held it’s 25th anniversary event.

Since 1989 the City of Ventura has been hosting the Corporate Games, which are billed as a “business-to-business teams sports competition in which companies of similar size compete for awards over six weeks of competition.” Essentially, companies throughout the area send teams of employees to compete in a series of events. Some, like softball or basketball, are more athletically driven than others, such as Scrabble or horseshoes, but all give their participants a chance to work together as a team to earn bragging rights for the year.

With more than 10,000 employees participating in the Games from nearly 80 companies, this annual event is no small matter. Why do corporations continue to participate given the cost in both lost labor and actual participation costs?

Likely part of the reason is because of the team building aspect. Team members who participate get to work together and compete in a wide variety of events, all the while feeling as if they are representing their company.   Not only does this build loyalty, but it also develops friendships and communication within the organization.

Additionally, the games are an excellent way to network within the community and build brand awareness, especially when combined with the spirit events like the T-shirt contest, won by The Cheesecake Factory this year, or other charity events.

In the most recent games, Cydcor, one of the participating companies, hosted a Corn Hole Championship charity event on behalf of the event. The Corporate Games drew 70 different corporate teams into the qualifier and final tournament and raised $672.26 for charity. Although Cydcor hosted the event, the company wasn’t able to carry the day in the competition as Amgen emerged as the winner of the tournament.

With all of the potential benefits, as well as a chance to help the community, it’s no wonder some companies are ignoring a little lost labor and choosing to compete. It’s a win-win when you can foster inter-company community building and support great causes, all while having a great time and networking with potential clients or competitors.

One of the Best Ways to Increase Brand Recognition – Improve the Hiring Process

Job Interview

IMG: via Shutterstock

Hiring is one of the most important things that a company does and, given the cost involved in looking for someone new, is not something that companies do lightly.   Many companies spend a lot of time trying to find exactly the right person, going through rounds of job postings, interviews, and offer negotiations. They are careful to craft their image in a way that appeals to the individuals they want to hire and spend quite a bit of time wooing those candidates who are among the best and the brightest.

But what most companies don’t think of is how they appear to the candidates they are not looking to hire. After all, why should they? It’s not as if those people are going to be part of the company.

However what these companies forget is that candidates are still members of the public and every chance a company has to engage with the public can be leveraged into a marketing opportunity. Job candidates will extrapolate from their experience with your company and judge your entire brand along with it.

These candidates are still individuals in the market, and they know other individuals in the market as well. What are they saying after they interview with someone? What do they tell their friends and family about the company? And, more importantly, after the process is over, would the candidate still buy products with the company they interviewed with? A negative interview experience can spread insidiously, poisoning your brand’s recognition- even more so now that interview review sites like GlassDoor are gaining visibility online.

Improving a brand through hiring can also, coincidentally, help with hiring in the future.   According to research from LinkedIn, if people admire your brand “they’re more likely to be aware of your company as an employer and potentially think it would be a good place to work,” which can lead to better candidates and lower starting salaries.

In fact, according to CareerBuilder, 68% of job seekers interviewed said that they would accept a lower salary if the employer created a great impression through their hiring process.

So what can businesses do to improve their hiring process? Here are a couple mistakes to avoid:

Vague job descriptions – Not only is this a bad idea for hiring as it provides potential job applicants with little information about what the company is looking for, but it is also a terrible lost opportunity when it comes to branding. A detailed job description is a great chance to spread branding information about the company and get people excited about your brand- even if they don’t end up working for you.

No response- There is a bit of a epidemic of company’s not responding to applicants or people who have had interviews in a timely fashion. It’s become so much of an issue that CareerBuilder reports that 62% of job seekers don’t feel that the companies they have applied to have been responsive. It is such an epidemic, in fact, that simply replying back to applicants to let them know that the position has been filled is a pleasant surprise and, if you take a little time in your response, a good chance to build your brand further.

Shoddy interviews- Always be prepared for an interview. Remember that job candidates are looking to “buy” a job as much as you are looking to hire them. A pleasant and enjoyable interview experience will help you attract better talent and leave the candidate with a favorable experience of your brand.

Not staying connected with A listers- Choosing a final candidate is always a difficult decision, and there are often multiple individuals who would make a good fit for the job. In this case it is common to promise applicants that you will leave their resume on file and contact them for positions in the future, but how often does that actually happen? These are individuals that you know are great, so why not reach out to them?   Consider reaching out to them with a personal note every couple of months to stay in touch. Even if you don’t end up hiring them, these are talented individuals who will likely find excellent jobs elsewhere- and it’s a great networking and branding opportunity to stay in touch with them.

Facebook Purchases LiveRail


IMG: via LiveRail

Facebook has added to its recent list of big buys with its purchase of video ad platform LiveRail. Following the purchases of messaging platform WhatsApp and virtual reality technology company Oculus Rift, it appears as though Facebook is investing in companies that are on the rise. This strategy is one that will allow the social media giant to capitalize on whatever new path it is that these newer companies are inventing and innovating.

LiveRail delivers video advertisements to several websites and mobile platforms and will prove invaluable in Facebook’s push to dominate digital platforms amongst brands. With video ads first appearing on Facebook a year ago, the company is looking to improve on this development by delivering higher quality and more targeted ads. While LiveRail will operate the same, it will soon be merged more closely with Facebook, allowing both to use their databases to better communicate to users, target ads, and appeal to brands deciding where their stories should be told.

With online, digital advertising becoming a key topic for brands, it’s no surprise Facebook is taking a step to stand out amongst the clutter of social media platforms. The acquisition will provide Facebook with additional leverage, as LiveRail is also the creator of CheckPoint and Video Private Exchange (VPE). CheckPoint allows publishers to block certain types of ads while VPE works as a trading desk for clients to strategically place ads.

It is expected that this acquisition combined with its other investments over the past few months will allow the company to branch out beyond its current platform with all acquisitions containing brands that have an impact on social media and non-social platforms directly.

The Worst States to Be Unemployed In


Mississippi is the worst state to live in if you are unemployed. IMG: via Shutterstock.

Being unemployed is the worst – unless of course you have a job lined up or you are unemployed on purpose. While the national unemployment rate has improved over the past couple of years, 6.3% is still pretty sad. In May of this year, it was the lowest it has been since September of 2008. However, this means that there are still 12 million Americans out of work – which is a lot. And this number isn’t including people who are underemployed or not working 40 hours a week.

24/7 Wall St. used data from The Department of Labor to identify the best and worst states to be unemployed in.

5. Illinois

With an unemployment rate of 7.9%, Illinois has one of the highest in the nation. Job growth is slow (.5%), and nearly three-quarters of the states’ unemployed did not receive benefits.

4. Kentucky

Kentucky’s unemployment rate is 7.7%, and has a very slow job growth rate, at .3%.

3. Michigan

The unemployment rate here is 7.4%, and the job growth rate is .6%. Michigan also has the highest underemployment rate in the U.S., at 15.2%.

2. Alabama

The unemployment rate in Alabama is 7.5% and the job growth rate is .7%. Alabama is the least generous with unemployment insurance, providing residents with only 26.2% of average weekly income.

1. Mississippi

Mississippi is the worst state to be unemployed in. The unemployment rate at 7.6% and the job growth rate is at .9%. What makes this state the worst is the little amount of unemployment insurance offered – an average of just $194 per week.

The best states to be unemployed in include Vermont, Hawaii, Utah, Iowa, and North Dakota.

KKR Pumps $1.2 Billion into First Data

First Data

IMG: via First Data

Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co has injected $1.2 billion into credit card company First Data. Looking to reduce the interest payments for First Data, KKR also looks to prepare the company for a future public offering.

KKR, with the guidance of CEO Henry R. Kravis, committed to the payment. Of the total amount, $700 million will be funded from its own balance sheets and $500 million will come from its private equity fund that had been set up in 2006.

Said Kravis, “Our original investment thesis was that First Data was the largest credit and debit card company in the world, and that it would continue to grow if we could get the management right.”

The New York-based KKR first acquired First Data back in 2007 for $29 million. At the time, it was one of the world’s biggest leveraged buyout deals. However, since the recession, First Data has been struggling against consumer spending. At the end of the fiscal year in March 2014, First Data had a loss of $732 million, and the majority of its cash flow was absorbed in servicing the net debt of $24 billion.

The capital infusion would lower the annual interest burden of First Data by $375 million. Including the new investment, many believe First Data will account for almost 16% of KKR’s balance sheet investment portfolio. As a private equity firm, KKR often purchases struggling companies, invests in making them more efficient, and sells the improved company off later.

“Yoga Tax” Approved in Washington D.C.

Yoga Tax

IMG: via Shutterstock.

The District of Columbia Council approved a “yoga tax” on Tuesday, which has angered many fitness enthusiasts in Washington D.C.

The new gym taxed, dubbed the “yoga tax” would include a sales tax on gyms, yoga studios and any kind of athletic business. This tax was approved 12-1 to approve a $10.6 billion dollar budget that will also expand the existing sales tax on services like tanning salons and bowling alleys.

According to the Washington Post, “The roughly $5 million it would generate yearly would be used to partially offset a package of tax cuts that could leave as much as $143 million a year in taxpayers’ pockets.”

Fitness buffs are not taking the news lightly. While I understand that they are trying to get a budget for something, taxing people who are trying to be healthy is not the answer. The more healthy people we have, the less we are going to be paying in healthcare costs.

Dozens of protesters did yoga warrior poses outside city hall this month, chanting “Tax Slurpees, not burpees!”

Mayor Vincent Gray, who opposes the tax, must sign the budget for it to take effect on Oct. 1.

“It’s a penny-wise and pound-foolish proposition,” said Phil Mendelson on the council dais, to cheers from the audience. “We are looking at increased and deferred health costs in the long run.”

What are your thoughts on this “yoga tax?”

Tesla’s Bold Move is Starting to Pay Off

Apparently Tesla’s recent risky  move is paying off.

CEO Elon Musk stated that the car company would not sue anyone who uses Tesla’s patented technology “in good faith,” in hopes of cultivating a bigger industry for rechargeable vehicles.

“If we clear a path to the creation of electric vehicles, but then lay intellectual property landmines behind us to inhibit others, we are acting in a manner contrary to that goal,” Musk wrote in a blog post. “Tesla will not initiate patent lawsuits against anyone who, in good faith, wants to use our technology.”

Four days after this announcement, Musk offered most of his company’s patents to rivals such as Nissan and BMW. It seems that Tesla is trying to make its superchargers become the industry standard. Tesla currently has 97 charging stations in the US, but with more companies using their technology, this can only grow.

Tesla charging stations in the U.S.

Tesla charging stations in the U.S.


“It makes natural sense,” Carter Driscoll, senior analyst of clean technology at MLV & Co., told The Huffington Post. “BMW and Nissan see that you have a company here that’s dedicated to electric vehicles.”

Most likely due to this announcement, Tesla’s stock price rallied to its highest point in months on Monday.

This is a bold move, especially since Tesla is located in the Silicon Valley. So many companies, especially in this area, profit by suing entrepreneurs who violate patents often registered to companies that don’t really do anything but have that patent. Intellectual property laws also fail to protect companies from international competitors.

What are your thoughts on this bold move? Do you think it will continue to pay off?


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