Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.
I'm Business columnist David Lazarus, and here's a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.
Wall Street lurches back into action Tuesday after a long holiday weekend that started on a sour note — Friday's weaker-than-expected jobs report. Employers added 156,000 net new jobs, down from payroll increases of 189,000 in July and 210,000 in June. Also, the figures for the prior two months were revised down by a total of 41,000 jobs.
New MPAA boss: Hollywood gets a new top lobbyist this week. Charles Rivkin, assistant secretary of State for economic and business affairs under former President Obama, will become chief executive of the Motion Picture Assn. of America. His first day on the job Tuesday comes as the film industry is grappling with major challenges, including box-office declines, uncertainty over the Chinese market and media consolidation.
Fund my firm: On Thursday, teams of entrepreneurs will unveil their start-up proposals to the public at UCLA. The teams are part of the college's 10-week Startup UCLA program, which provides workspace, guidance, legal services and mentors to early-stage companies. The event will take place in the Palisades Room in Carnesale Commons. Check-in begins at 5:30 p.m. and the demos begin at 6. The event is free and open to the public but registration is required.
Film festival: The Toronto International Film Festival opens Thursday, marking the unofficial start to Hollywood's awards season. Nearly all major premieres at the event are hoping to jump-start a commercial release and generate early awards buzz. New movies by Darren Aronofsky ("Mother!"), Alexander Payne ("Downsizing") and
Monday's Business section looks at San Diego's Qualcomm being in Apple's cross-hairs over how much it charges for its inventions. In January, Apple sued Qualcomm, cutting off royalty payments. It claims Qualcomm is illegally gouging Apple on patent fees and collecting royalties on innovations it had nothing to do with. Regulators in the U.S. and South Korea allege Qualcomm has concocted a scheme that leverages its dominance as a cellular modem chip supplier to overcharge for patent fees.
Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we're continuing to follow:
Uber news: Ride-hailing company Uber continues to be in the news. Dara Khosrowshahi, previously the low-profile chief exec of travel booking company Expedia, accepted an offer to be Uber's next CEO. Meanwhile, Uber co-founder and former CEO Travis Kalanick got a win when a fraud lawsuit filed against him was sent to arbitration. And a news report said Uber is cooperating with a Justice Department investigation into whether the company bribed foreign officials.
Garment workers: As retailers face increasingly tough competition from e-commerce, budget brands are putting more and more pressure on suppliers to keep prices low. The U.S. Department of Labor investigated 77 Los Angeles garment factories from April through July of 2016 and found that workers were paid as little as $4 and an average of $7 an hour for 10-hour days spent sewing clothes for Forever 21, Ross Dress for Less and TJ Maxx.
Movie slump: Hollywood is wrapping up its worst-attended summer movie season in 25 years. The results have put the squeeze on the nation's top theater chains, whose stocks have taken a drubbing. AMC Theatres CEO Adam Aron called his company's most recent quarter "simply a bust." Total admissions in the United States and Canada are likely to clock in at about 425 million, the lowest level since 1992.
WHAT WE'RE READING
And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:
Bringing it home: Best Buy and Amazon are now making house calls to advise people on what electronics they should have. The Wall Street Journal reports that both companies have launched programs to send salespeople to consumers' homes and suggest TVs, digital assistants and other gadgets. There is no cost for the consultations. One issue is finding people to do the job. Best Buy has about 1,000 job openings and has encouraged laid-off employees to apply.
Homes at risk: A rising number of seniors are facing foreclosure after taking out reverse mortgages on their homes and then failing to pay their property taxes or insurance, reports the Washington Post. "A HUD report issued last fall found that nearly 90,000 reverse mortgage loans held by seniors were at least 12 months behind in payment of taxes and insurance, and were expected to end in 'involuntary termination' in fiscal 2017."
Wearable power: A pair of entrepreneurs has invented stretchable, printable batteries, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. Lu Yin and Rajan Kumar, founders of the start-up company Ocella, have patented an ink formulation that can be used to make batteries that can be printed on clothing or painted on walls. "They are potentially six months away from perfecting the ink formula so that, beyond stretching, its printable batteries would be washable and safe for skin contact."
Deals for athletes: Venezuelans love baseball, but they're angry that their government is giving sweet financial deals to baseball teams when the country is facing its deepest recession on record and many people are struggling to buy food, says Bloomberg. "Venezuelans are outraged at the government's decision to make $10 million available for importing equipment and paying players' salaries at a preferential rate of 10 bolivars per dollar."
Tropical Storm Harvey is being called one of the most expensive storms in U.S. history, with damage estimates running in the tens of billions of dollars. The Times did a great job of pulling together scenes from the storm.
For the latest money news, go to www.latimes.com/business. Mad props to Scott J. Wilson for helping put this thing together.