Business

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

Jeff Chiu / AP

Two recent studies from the University of Washington provide some insight into the ways drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft may discriminate against certain passengers in the Seattle area.

Researchers say there's good news and there's bad news. In one study published in this month's Journal of Transportation Geography, researchers found that app-based ride-hailing service was actually faster in lower-income neighborhoods.

Hours after announcing a 9 percent staff cut, Twitter says it's also cutting the Vine looping-video app, which burst to popularity after its launch in 2013 but has struggled to match that growth in the past year.

The shutdown of Vine, which recently claimed more than 200 million monthly viewers, will occur "in the coming months," the company says in a blog post about the move.

The EpiPen, the anti-allergy device that has been under investigation because of huge price increases, is soon going to have some competition.

Kaleo Pharmaceuticals, a small privately held drugmaker, says it plans to bring the Auvi-Q epinephrine auto-injector back onto the market in 2017.

Both the Auvi-Q and EpiPen devices inject a dose of epinephrine into the thigh of a person experiencing a severe allergic reaction.

Telecom giant AT&T has reached an $85.4 billion deal to buy media titan Time Warner. The news of this transformational merger has shaken up both industries, raising eyebrows on Wall Street and drawing criticism from lawmakers and even the presidential campaigns.

Many Washington and Idaho wheat farmers are struggling this year because of a weird crop problem. Researchers at the USDA’s Western Wheat Quality Lab at Washington State University in Pullman are looking into it.

By baking cakes, cookies, bread, pancakes, noodles and pasta.

At Ord Community Commissary near Monterey, Calif., there's fresh produce when you first walk in, ice cream, and meat in the back.

"Oh, we've got everything. We have lamb, we have veal," says Commissary Officer Alex King who manages the store. "Sushi is a big hit here. The customers are very much appreciative of that."

What makes the commissary different from a regular grocery store is who shops here – military troops, retirees and their families – and the savings they receive at the checkout counter.

Alaska Airlines CEO Brad Tilden said he remains confident that a proposed takeover of rival Virgin America will happen. But he acknowledged to Wall Street analysts Thursday that he had been hoping the $2.6 billion deal would have closed “a couple of weeks ago.”

The Ikea store in Shanghai doesn't mind if you curl up in one of the beds on display and take a nap.

But older people who spend the day in the cafeteria without buying anything are no longer welcome. Unless they're willing to spring for food and drinks.

That's the news from the Swedish retailer's Shanghai outpost. Ikea's decision this month to require a purchase of all cafeteria useres has sparked a spirited debate in China's social media about the plight of older citizens – nowhere to go, nothing to do.

Elaine Thompson / Associated Press

More millennials are beginning to buy homes, according to a new report on housing trends from Zillow.

The Seattle-based real estate company looked at trends for home buyers and sellers across the country. The survey found that 42 percent of people buying homes are between 18 and 34 years old, the largest share of home buyers.

Spokane-based Avista Utilities and Seattle City Light --perhaps soon to be joined by Oregon's two biggest electric utilities: Portland General Electric & Pacific Power -- are diving into a new line of business: charging up electric cars.

They have plans to buy and maintain significant numbers of electric car charging stations. These will be installed at homes, private workplaces and public locations.

A degree program in craft brewing is in its second year at Central Washington University and beer school graduates are in high demand in a market that’s growing rapidly.

The major for-profit university chain DeVry has agreed to stop making its often-repeated claim: that since 1975, 90 percent of its graduates seeking employment found jobs in their field within six months of graduation.

It is one of the most recognizable shows on television — a mainstay for nearly a half-century, with a theme song promising, "Sunny day, sweepin' the clouds away."

Yet dark financial clouds have hovered over Sesame Street's parent company in recent years.

After last month's televised congressional hearings, Wells Fargo's top executive, John Stumpf, had become the face of the company's sham-accounts scandal. He retired Wednesday.

Stumpf's downfall was the latest twist in a strange, yearlong tale about huge corporations taking their sterling reputations, tarnishing them and then frantically trying to restore luster.

Experts say undoing the harm won't be easy; great reputations can take decades to build.

Will James / knkx

Corrected on October 11, 2016 - An earlier version of this post said Washington has the nation's 42nd-highest unemployment rate. In fact, Washington has the eighth-highest.

An initiative on the ballot this election would set Washington state on the path to having one of the nation's highest minimum wages: $13.50 per hour. 

Few, if any, detractors have argued that Washington workers don't deserve a raise. But a debate has focused on whether a jump in the minimum wage would be wind drag or jet fuel for the state's uneven economy. 

Prepaid cards are a growing segment of electronic payment that often function like debit or credit cards, but currently aren't regulated like them. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says it is changing that, requiring prepaid card providers to conduct some of the same credit checks and disclosures required of credit card providers.

"This rule closes loopholes and protects prepaid consumers," CFPB director Richard Cordray said today in a statement. "And it backs up those protections with important new disclosures to let consumers know before they owe."

Despite having more than 300 million users, Twitter has struggled to make a profit and keep its investors happy. Yet, the service has arguably been good for public dialogues and news gathering.

So as Twitter considers a sale, maybe it's worth pondering the idea of Twitter getting out from under the pressures of Wall Street and turning itself into a nonprofit.

Twitter at crossroads

Two major American outdoor companies are joining forces.

Bass Pro Shops announced on Monday that it has reached an agreement to acquire rival Cabela's in a cash deal worth $5.5 billion.

"A driving force behind this agreement is the highly complementary business philosophies, product offerings, expertise and geographic footprints of the two businesses," the companies said in a statement.

Amazon employees and their parents explore a "science fair" at the company's first ever "Bring Your Parents to Work" day.
Simone Alicea / KNKX

Many companies have a bring-your-child-to-work day, but Amazon thought maybe their employees' parents were feeling left out. 

On Friday, the Seattle-based company held its first "Bring Your Parents to Work Day."

Thousands of employees and their parents crowded into Amazon buildings downtown and in South Lake Union. They attended sessions like Amazon 101 and a screening of a new Prime series. 

With activities like a "science fair" and people in bright yellow shirts directing the massive crowds, a lot of parents said they felt like they had done this before.

The chuga-chuga sound is one any dairyman would want to hear — daily. It's the sound of milking machines collecting the white liquid, which is turned into edible products that support their farm.

For Greg and Ana Kelly, the chuga-chuga sound means fresh milk from their flock of 80 milking ewes — milk to be made into cheeses and caramel at their Gallant, Ala., sheep farm, named Dayspring Dairy.

Former Wells Fargo employees who say they were fired for following the law have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking $2.6 billion in damages as the fallout continues over the creation of millions of secret, unauthorized bank accounts.

Two employees are named in the lawsuit, filed on behalf of all the bank's employees in the past 10 years who were penalized for not making sales quotas.

A panel of west coast business leaders discuss employee feedback at a Tuesday morning session at TINYcon.
Caleb Papineau / TINYpulse

Corporate leaders are gathering in downtown Seattle to talk about how they can make their workplaces more employee-friendly.

About 175 people attended a conference called TINYcon this week to hear speakers on things like employee feedback and company transparency.

Some of the people attending represent large businesses looking to change how they interact with their employees. Smaller companies and startups want to create a good workplace culture to stay competitive.

The drug company that makes the EpiPen says it isn't nearly as profitable as many people assume it is.

At least that's the message Mylan NV CEO Heather Bresch will try to deliver to members of Congress today.

Bresch, who is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, is expected to tell lawmakers that the company earns $100 profit on each two-pack of EpiPen auto-injectors, even though they carry a $600 price tag.

Seattle University law student Connor Smith researches employmetnt law at the Fair Work Center in Seattle, which runs the county's only legal clinic specializing in workplace issues.
Simone Alicea / knkx

Employees who think they're being treated unfairly at work can now find free legal advice in King County.

The Fair Work Center in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood has opened the county's first legal clinic specializing in workplace issues like pay, safety or discrimination. 

"People are having problems; and they know it's a problem. They're just not apparently sure it has a legal solution," Fair Work Center legal director Liz Ford said.

Daniel X. O'Neil via Creative Commons

Seattle may be days away from passing what some activists consider the nation's strongest worker scheduling regulations. 

The City Council's Civil Rights, Utilities, Economic Development and Arts Committee voted 5-0 Tuesday in favor of the secure scheduling proposal

The committee vote was the last step before the full nine-member City Council takes up the law, expected as soon as Monday. 

In this March 14, 2014, file photo, Jerad Bernard hands out cards to passers-by offering one free ride through the Lyft ridesharing service in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson / AP

The Seattle City Council has extended the deadline for the city to figure out out how to implement a law allowing drivers for companies like Uber and Lyft to unionize.

The City Council approved the ordinance last year and tasked the city Department of Finance and Administrative Services with determining the rules for how drivers and unions could work together.

Sure, he can chop open a coconut with a bare hand, carry a piglet through a cramped alleyway, dive into a well to retrieve a lost soccer ball — but has he won the lifetime achievement award, twice?

Does his blood smell like cologne? Is there a sandwich named after him on every continent

Does he bowl overhand?

Dos Equis has revealed the new face of its wildly popular "Most Interesting Man in the World" ad campaign.

Liberty Media says it has reached an agreement to buy the Formula One auto-racing franchise for $4.4 billion.

As NPR's Yuki Noguchi tells our Newscast unit, the U.S. cable giant "has been on a buying spree, and this acquisition bolsters its sports offerings." Here's more from Yuki:

"Liberty Media is part of the growing media empire controlled by cable-TV pioneer and billionaire John Malone. Malone's properties expanded in the last year to include Time Warner Cable.

Thirteen year-old Natalie Giorgi probably didn't know the name of the company that makes EpiPen. But the Sacramento, Calif., girl's death from a peanut-induced allergy attack in 2013 inspired passage of the California law that made the Mylan product a staple at every school in the state.

If you're like me, somewhere in your house you imagine there must be a pile of lost white iPhone earbuds. The pile is probably right next to the stack of single socks. It's one of several reasons I never liked wireless Bluetooth headphones. They're smaller and even easier to lose.

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