Business

Business news and features from the Puget Sound region. Stay up-to-date with the latest business news and more.

Courtesy of Bunker Labs

A national nonprofit to help military veterans become entrepreneurs has recently opened up a Seattle chapter.

Bunker Labs aims to help veterans start their own businesses by connecting them to the resources they need to do so.

Not everyone who reaches so-called retirement age is ready to retire. But they may be ready for a change. That's one of the reasons that the tech giant Intel pays longtime employees a stipend while they try out new careers at nonprofit organizations.

It's been lean times for some of YouTube's most popular video producers. In the last two weeks ad rates have gone down as much as 75 percent. The producers are caught up in a struggle between advertisers and YouTube over ad placement.

In recent weeks, reports showed ads from major brands placed with extremist and anti-Semitic videos. Companies such as General Motors, Audi and McDonald's pulled out of YouTube. That means there's less money for everyone.

Now YouTube is trying to convince these companies to come back. And that's meant adjusting the algorithm that places ads.

Doug / Flickr

About a dozen juniors and seniors from Tacoma high schools are helping build airplanes as part of the state's first youth apprenticeship in aerospace and manufacturing.

The Aerospace Joint Apprenticeship Committee launched the program last week with several manufacturers in Pierce County.

It's daunting to think about the number of products Apple has created that have transformed how most people use technology: the original Mac with the first mass-produced mouse, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad.

But fast-forward to 2017, and it appears that a lot of innovation is coming from other companies. Amazon has a hit with its Echo, a speaker device that responds to voice commands. Reviewers say Microsoft's Surface competes with the Mac. And now, Samsung's Galaxy S8 smartphone is getting raves because of its battery life and high-end screen.

In telecom circles, Comcast's plans and efforts to wade into the mobile market go back years. On Thursday, the company finally revealed the specifics of what its new service will look like.

Comcast is calling its cellphone program Xfinity Mobile, expected to launch in the next few weeks. Its target audience is existing Comcast customers — the company hopes they'll be drawn by the savings from adding mobile service to a home Internet service or bigger bundles.

It was about unity, Pepsi explained. But the company's new ad, set at a protest march, was quickly called out for being tone-deaf, offensive, and perhaps worst of all for the brand: not "woke."

Simone Alicea / KNKX

A federal judge has temporarily blocked a law that would allow for-hire drivers, including drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft, to unionize in Seattle.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Lasnik's granted a preliminary injunction Tuesday stopping continued implementation of the law until two lawsuits make their way through court.

YouTube is launching a streaming TV service Wednesday. It's one of many — Sling, PlayStation Vue and local cable companies among them. But Google-owned YouTube TV offers several features the others don't.

They include a cloud-based DVR with no storage limits, allowing users to record as many shows as they want for later playback. Membership also gives access to original series and movies featured on its other subscription streaming service, YouTube Red. And customers can create up to six accounts on one membership, with up to three streams running at once.

The investment firm that owns Krispy Kreme, Caribou Coffee and other enterprises, is purchasing the Panera Bread Co. for $315 per share in cash — a premium of roughly 30 percent over its recent average trading price.

The deal with JAB Holding Co. is valued at around $7.5 billion, Panera said Wednesday.

If the transaction is finalized in the third quarter of 2017 as planned, Panera would be privately held.

There's a new brand on the Internet that's taking over some old ones — or at least old in Internet years. Yahoo and AOL are now under an umbrella company called Oath. The new brand has sparked more than a few jokes on Twitter and elsewhere.

One critic pointed out it sounded a lot like Oaf — and another asked if "Oof" was already taken. But with more than a billion customers, the combination has potential.

AOL CEO — soon to be Oath CEO — Tim Armstrong says consumers aren't really going to hear that name very much.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka laid out his vision for organized labor Tuesday, taking on both political parties for catering to moneyed interests instead of focusing on the plight of American workers — the hallmark of the presidential campaign.

U.S. nuclear energy company Westinghouse Electric has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing massive cost overruns in the construction of four nuclear power reactors in the U.S.

Westinghouse, a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Toshiba, says it has secured $800 million in financing as it goes through a "strategic restructuring." But that's just a fraction of the billions in losses it's expected to rack up this year.

Elaine Thompson / AP

Starbucks has long taken on the mantle of socially conscious retailer. The Seattle-based coffee chain pledged commitment to those endeavors at Wednesday's annual shareholders meeting at McCaw Hall.

Peter Morrison / AP

To get a first-class room on the RMS Titanic in 1912, it might have cost upwards of $4,300. In 2017 dollars, it's roughly $105,000.

Incidentally, that's how much it costs to get on the private submarine that will take dozens of people to the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, where the Titanic now lies.

Everett-based OceanGate is building that sub here in the Puget Sound. The company will take 54 people along with their crew next spring to comb over the wreck.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Talking about a $15 minimum wage may seem common now. But when that number was pitched to airport workers and then to SeaTac voters in 2013, the concept was far-fetched.

Jonathan Rosenblum was the SeaTac campaign director for Working Washington at the time. He has a new book chronicling that campaign called "Beyond $15: Immigrant Workers, Faith Activists, and the Revival of the Labor Movement."

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

Washington state lawmakers are trying to limit the scope of non-compete agreements.

A non-compete agreement is part of a contract that says an employee can't work for a competitor for a certain period of time after leaving a company.

There have been several attempts to restrict the use of non-compete agreements in Washington. Some states, like California, have all but banned them.

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Amazon has not yet said exactly what caused one of its cloud storage services to go down for several hours Tuesday, but businesses who were affected can learn from the headache.

The Seattle-based tech giant dominates the cloud services market, far outpacing its next three competitors.  

Japanese auto parts maker Takata Corp. has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, and agreed to pay $1 billion for concealing a defect in millions of its air bag inflators.

The decision played out in a federal courtroom in Detroit on Monday, following a deal with the U.S. Justice Department.

The 114th North American International Toy Fair boosts a chance for industry players to see "hundreds of thousands of innovative new toys and games before they hit store shelves."

To attend the four-day event in New York City must be a lot like being a kid in a candy store — er — make that toy store.

At the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, hundreds of thousands of square feet are dedicated to the "hottest new toys and trends."

Alaska Air Group stock hit a new all-time high in trading Wednesday after a solid earnings report and dividend increase. The parent company of Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air flew 13 percent more passengers in the final quarter of 2016 compared to the same period a year ago.

David Lee / Flickr

At a special commission meeting Tuesday, the Port of Seattle responded to a state accountability audit and to the resignation of ex-CEO Ted Fick.

In 2015, the commission approved a one-time payout to certain employees to boost employee morale and retention amid reorganization. Auditors flagged the move during a yearly accountability audit as it was being debated.

Mike Mozart / Flickr

Microsoft is suing the U.S. Justice Department, claiming it exploits the company's trove of data on customers who use its cloud-based products.

The Redmond-based company is asking the court to declare that a section of the law that governs electronic privacy is unconstitutional. Specifically, it wants to be able to tell customers when the government is investigating them.

Henry Alva / Flickr

Trade advocates in Washington state are feeling disappointed after President Donald Trump signed an executive order Monday to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The TPP is a trade pact between the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim countries, including Canada and Japan. 

The agreement was signed by all twelve countries, but Congress never passed it. Trump and other TPP critics have said the partnership would have been good for corporate interests and bad for American workers.

A 32-year career at Boeing comes to a close in April for engineer Dave Baine of suburban Seattle. Baine was already prepared to retire when Boeing sealed the deal by making him a buyout offer last week.

"It's better than a gold watch," he says. The deal is six months' pay in a lump sum and extended health insurance.

"It'll help the younger folks that want to stick around and help some of the older folks exit quickly and quietly," he says.

Jeff Chiu / AP

Ride-hailing company Uber is suing Seattle to block the city's new driver unionization law.

The ordinance passed by the City Council allows taxi drivers and drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to join a union.  The city has spent the past year writing the rules for how that happens. 

Those rules went into effect Tuesday, the same day Uber filed the lawsuit in King County Superior Court.

"Welcome at SEA" by bfishadow is licensed by CC BY 2.0

A new immigration bill introduced in Congress last week could affect technology companies in Washington state.

Companies like Microsoft and Amazon often hire through the H-1B visa program, which allows highly skilled workers to come to the U.S.

It's still unclear whether Verizon will follow through on a $4.8 billion deal to buy Yahoo's core internet business, but if the sale is finalized, there's a name for what will be left behind.

Ford and General Motors both reacted Tuesday to President-elect Donald Trump's continued criticism of U.S. companies manufacturing products in Mexico.

Ford announced it would cancel its $1.6 billion plans to build a plant in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, and instead invest an additional $700 million to expand an existing plant in Michigan to make autonomous and electric vehicles. That comes on the heels of another decision in November to keep production of some small SUVs at its plant in Kentucky.

The Great Recession ended 7 1/2 years ago, and job gains have been steady since, but greater demand for workers is only starting to increase pay.

The increases are still relatively modest, and the data are still mixed. In October, for example, the Labor Department reported average hourly earnings increased at a 2.8 percent rate — the highest since mid-2009, but wage growth slowed in November. A separate report this month showed the cost of labor — another measure of wage growth — increased especially during the spring of this year.

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