Thomas Friedman

In October I was invited to hear author and columnist Thomas Friedman speak at the Annual Speaker Series of the Visionary Leadership Institute at Lorain County Community College. Most of you are familiar with Friedman’s book “The World Is Flat,” but he is promoting his latest work, “Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist’s Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations.”

I was struck by two themes of his talk. First was his view that big companies are driving the growth of cities. With all the focus on national politics, he says, people are missing the economic successes happening in heartland cities like Louisville, where a new global air hub for UPS, the bourbon boom and the growth of Humana have created a city with 30,000 job openings.

I also was interested in his notion that technology is advancing so rapidly that humans are having a hard time catching up. This has major ramifications for education — from college students whose knowledge decays rapidly after they graduate to established workers who must embrace lifelong learning to stay employable.
“That is what Lorain County Community College is all about,” he said. “How do we enable more people to learn faster and govern smarter to meet technology where it’s going?”

Like Friedman, I’m an optimist and I believe we will build the kind of strong companies that can drive growth in Northeast Ohio.

NY Times to sell interest in Indeed, record $100 million gain

NEW YORK, Tue Sep 25, 2012 – The New York Times Co will sell its remaining interest in jobs search website, which is being acquired by Japan’s executive search firm Recruit Co Ltd.

The company said it expects to record a related after-tax gain of about $100 million in the fourth quarter.

Indeed’s co-founder Paul Forster said on Monday that the company will be sold for an undisclosed amount after several months of direct negotiations.

NY Times and Union Square Ventures were the principle investors in Indeed, with Allen & Co owning a smaller stake.

Shares of New York Times, which publishes its namesake newspaper and the Boston Globe, were up nearly 3 percent at $9.86 in morning trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

NY Times, which used to be a sprawling media conglomerate with holdings in cable networks, magazines, newspapers and sports teams, has been shedding assets over the past few years to streamline operations and shore up cash reserves as advertising dollars dry up.

NY Times sold for $300 million last month to Barry Diller’s IAC-owned

At New York Times, profit rises, CEO search drags on

NEW YORK, Thu Apr 19, 2012 — New York Times Co. investors brushed past the company’s drop in print and digital ad revenue during the first quarter, focusing instead on a better-than-expected profit and the hope it would be returned to shareholders.

With $431 million of cash, Evercore Partners analyst Doug Arthur said The New York Times should initiate a dividend.

“They have to be the only company with this much cash not paying a dividend,” he said.

The New York Times suspended its dividend in 2009.

The company has been searching for a chief executive since Janet Robinson stepped down at the end of last year and received a total payout of $24 million.

New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. has been serving as CEO for the last four months and deflected suggestions he might take the position permanently.

“I have no doubt that we will find the right candidate and I’m looking forward to that,” he said on a call with analysts on Thursday. “We will take the time necessary to find the right person for the role.”

The New York Times’ shares rose 5.5 percent in afternoon trading as the company reported adjusted first-quarter earnings per share of 8 cents, blowing past analysts’ estimates of 2 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Carlos Slim boosts stakes in New York Times and Saks

NEW YORK ― Billionaire Carlos Slim Helu has increased his stakes in newspaper company New York Times Co. and luxury retailer Saks Inc.

Through the fund Inmobiliaria Carso S A, Slim bought 553,000 Class A shares of New York Times on Aug.18 at prices ranging from $6.83 to $7.09 per share, according a regulatory filing.

The purchases increased Slim’s stake in the company, which publishes its namesake newspaper as well as the Boston Globe, to 7.3 percent from 6.9 percent.

Slim, Saks’ largest shareholder, bought 620,000 Sakes shares on August 18, giving him a total of 26.24 million, or a 16 percent stake in the upscale department store chain’s shares. In early 2010 he held 25.62 million Saks shares.

Shares of New York Times and Saks rose about 4 percent on Tuesday.

Slim, with a fortune estimated at about $74 billion, was named the world’s richest man by Forbes magazine in March for the second year running.

The 71-year-old Mexican tycoon has a reputation for having an eye for a bargain. He recently sold a stake he had accumulated in oil services company Bronco Drilling for a healthy profit.

New York Times repaid a $250 million loan to Slim on August 15, about five months earlier than expected.

Slim still holds warrants to buy 15.9 million Class A common shares of New York Times. The warrants expire on Jan. 15, 2015.

Shares of New York Times are down nearly 36 percent this year.

Saks’ shares are off 35.6 percent from 52-week highs hit in February on fears the stock market volatility and Wall Street layoffs could prompt luxury shoppers to pull back.

Saks last week forecast sales at its stores open a year or more would rise by a mid-to-high single-digit percentage in the second half of its fiscal year, which includes the holiday season. It said the current state of the stock market and the economy warranted caution in its planning.