Hospital Costs

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Two years ago, Augie Hong, who works for an investment firm in San Francisco, awoke with severe abdominal pains. He went to an ER at the hospital closest to his house and was diagnosed with acute appendicitis. He wasn’t worried about the cost because he had health insurance from his employer. However, when he got… Read more »

Fed Up with Scorched-Earth Tactics

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A lot of people and companies are upset with Amazon these days. At the end of February, The Educational Development Company (EDC) announced that it would remove all of its titles from the online retailer’s listings because of their predator selling practices. Amazon would buy EDC’s books from a distributor and discount them to the… Read more »

The Economic Downturn Hits J.C. Penney’s Hard

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About 600 employees were laid off at the corporate headquarters of J.C. Penney this week. Under the leadership of the new CEO, Ron Johnson, one of its three call centers in Pittsburgh, PA, will also be closed later this year, which eliminates 300 more jobs. Questions: 1. What type of business is J.C. Penney? Research… Read more »

Budget Cut Alternatives?

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For generations, community colleges have been seen as a low cost education for many. However, starting this summer, Santa Monica College is going to offer courses that are typically hard to enroll in (due to greater demand and the lack of student seats) at a premium price structure. This two-tiered price structure is raising concerns… Read more »

Big News at Amazon: Fulfillment Robots

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Amazon.com Inc said on Monday it agreed to buy Kiva Systems Inc for $775 million in cash, a deal that will bring more robotic technology to the e-commerce company’s giant network of warehouses. Questions: 1. What other companies use this kind of robot technology? 2. Discuss the trend of Amazon’s fulfillment costs and what they… Read more »

Prospects for Pandora

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Internet radio’s popularity is growing, through smartphone apps and cars that allow smartphone owners to stream Web-served radio through Bluetooth wireless connections. However, this article indicates that there are bad times ahead for this company and the industry. Questions: 1. What is Pandora’s share of the total U.S. radio-listening market? 2. What does the article… Read more »

Coinstar and Self-Service Retailing

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Coinstar is a company that was founded just over two decades ago by Jens Molbak, who as a Stanford University graduate student, realized there wasn’t an easy way to spend the spare change piled up in a jar on top of his dresser. Since that time the company has become known for its Redbox kiosks,… Read more »

Traveling Electronically Naked

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When Kenneth G. Lieberthal travels to China, he leaves his cellphone and laptop at home.  As an expert at the Brookings Institute, he instead brings “loaner” devices, which he erases before he leaves the United States and then wipes clean the minute he returns. In China, he disables Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, never lets his phone… Read more »

Are you a 5 percenter?

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In a recent move, AT&T has reduced the speed it supplies to its heaviest users of data for the iPhone 4. Although customers thought they had an unlimited data plan, under a new policy, AT&T has started cutting their data speeds as part of an attempt to manage data usage on its network. Unlimited plans… Read more »

M’Hudi Winery

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A clinical psychologist, her ‘armchair farmer’ husband and their family launched an internationally successful wine label — without capital, farming experience or wine-making knowledge. The company is the first South African winery wholly owned and managed by a Black South African family. Question: 1. How did the Rangaka’s decide on their particular farm? Discuss the… Read more »