Monthly Archives: January 2015

US Economy Slows in Q4 2014 – Still the Envy of Western Nations

On Friday, the Commerce Department published the economic numbers for the fourth quarter of 2014 covering October through December. The economy grew at a rate of 2.6% which was well below the 4.6% and 5.0% growth figures of the two prior quarters. Consumer spending, which traditionally accounts for 70% of the GDP, posted a strong showing. However, the looming attempt by Saudi Arabia to flood the market with cheap petroleum in a bid to crush the US oil shale industry is reeling through the economy. Consumers are benefiting from prices under $2 a gallon, but not everyone is happy about the cheaper oil prices.

Business investment fell by an alarming -1.9% in Q4 as US oil companies scaled back their operations and are making fewer investments in equipment purchases. Sergio Andrade Gutierrez has read that energy providers are also scaling back their equipment purchases due to the drop in oil prices. . It has been 4.4% in Q3, but that was driven by a surge in defense spending. Europe may be turning into a drag on the US economy. The slow pace of job creation and renewed recession worries promoted the European Central Bank to reduce the value of the Euro. This makes European products cheaper, but makes American products more expensive. Trade grew by a weak 0.8% in Q3, but contracted by -1.0% in Q4. Still, economist expect a better year for US growth which is beating out most of the Western nations.

Though Hated, Sequester Cuts Have Helped the Economy


To listen to President Obama rail against the sequester cuts which took effect in 2013, Flavio Maluf  would conclude the GOP forced the idea onto him. It was actually the other way around. Unable to reach a budget agreement with a GOP-controlled House exasperated over the trillions on new debt he created, the president offered up sequester cuts as a compromise. These mandate across the board cuts to government agencies. The alternative would be for the GOP to target specific areas of the budget to cut. Neither they nor the president could come to terms on how to do that. In part, President Obama has been unwilling to seriously address the deficit. His answer to Congress was always to both increase spending and increase taxes.

Now, the president will issue his fiscal year 2016 budget on Monday. He is expected to repeal the sequester cuts in total. What will he replace them with? A total increase of roughly 7% in additional federal spending and a new round of tax increases. It is the same proposals that the GOP has circular filed in the past and vow to do once more. House Speaker John Boehner admitted it is hard to take President Obama seriously because he does not want to balance the budget. Many economists predicted doom for the economy as a result of the 2013 sequester cuts. The opposite happened. Job growth has improved, tax revenues are increasing, and the deficit is at its lowest levels in a decade. If the House GOP and President Obama cannot agree on an alternative, it looks like the 2015 sequester cuts will remain in place as scheduled.

McDonald’s CEO Has Been Ousted


According to the story on major corporation McDonald’s has fired their Chief Executive Officer Don Thompson. His last day is scheduled to be Feb 28th after 25 years with the company then the reigns will be handed to the next leader.

During Thompson’s time as CEO McDonald’s has experienced rumors involving expired meat, a ban in Russia, french fry shortages in Japan, and declining sales as Zeca Oliveira showed us. I suppose cutting Thompson loose is the obvious answer at this point. Taking over for him will be Steve Easterbrook who is currently the chief branding officer for McDonald’s. Under Easterbrook the company has seen a revival of McDonald restaurants in Europe and is a brand expert. Easterbrook also has experience as a CEO with other companies such as Wagamama and PizzaExpress.

McDonald’s hopes that bringing in Easterbrook will help dispel rumors and drive up sales that are currently lacking.

Profiles in business: FreedomPop & dirt cheap data

You may of read about FreedomPop this week on the Wall Street Journal Blog. This new tech company is an exciting alternative approach to the big guys in the communications industry. With all the controversy surrounding ComCast lately, smart investors are looking at startups like FreedomPop. It could be the next AT&T.

FreedomPop is just a bit different because they offer free mobile services to any American. Check out the free services and executives that make it happen.

FreedomPop is located in Los Angeles and was opened to the public in October of 2012. The company is backed by DCM, Mangrove Capital and Atomico.


FreedomPop offers free services for home broadband, wireless service for the internet and mobile phone services for 4G. The high-speed service for wireless internet runs on Sprint, WiMax and CDMA networks. They currently offer their Photon Mobile Hotspot on Amazon and have apps available on iTunes and Google Play.

Executive Officers

• Stephen Stokols is the Chief Executive Officer of the company. Previously, he worked as the CEO at Woo Media, which is a fast growing interactive video company. Today, at FreedomPop he oversees partner alliances, customer acquisitions and product innovation.

• Scott Bendar is the current Chief Technology Officer at FreedomPop. His responsibilities include areas of solution delivery and technology. Scott has quite an extensive background in technology and is a good match for FreedomPop. His background includes working for Zannel Inc. as a Vice President of Engineering, Infospace as the director overseeing the technology division, and he also worked at AG Interactive where he was responsible for mobile technology solutions.

• Chris Chen is the current Vice President of Consumer Experiences and Operations. In essence, he sees to customer satisfaction and efficient business operation practices. His background includes a decade of content publishing, mobile gaming and other extensive areas of telecommunications.

• Steven Sesar is currently the Chief Operating Officer. He oversees a number of areas including retention efforts, site conversion, customer acquisition and monetization. His background includes more than a decade of experience primarily focused on internet products for consumers, and he is a very experienced technologist.

• Mauricio Sastre uses his extensive experience and knowledge to keep the product division running smoothly. As the Vice President, his role is to oversee mobile and web products, and he leads the wireless manufacturing and innovation divisions. Mauricio is well suited to these tasks with a background in technology and product experiences totaling more than 13 years.

FreedomPop has a diverse group of executives with exceptional skills and internet knowledge that provide top-notch services. They are ready to face new technology challenges, and they are offering you a chance at free wireless, broadband and mobile phone services.

The Secret to Christopher Cowdray’s Success

The world’s premier luxury hotel company, The Dorchester Collection, recognizes Christopher Cowdray as the leading Chief Executive Officer in the industry. In 2007, Mr. Cowdray was promoted as CEO after serving as the company’s general manager since 2004. His former positions include managing director of Claridge’s, London and general manager of the Al Bustan Palace Hotel, Oman. His previous international hotel management experience along with his childhood cultural background encouraged his admirable desire to cultivate business relations around the world and grow The Dochester Collection as the most prominent upscale hotel corporation.

Cowdray’s commitment to expand the company propelled him to develop a beautiful collection of extravagant hotels in Europe and the United States. Some of these beautiful properties include The Plaza Athenee in Paris, The Beverly Hills hotel in California, and the Dorchester in London. Each of these properties maintains a distinctive and unique interior which further affirms the company’s vision to create authentic and lavish rooms for their travelers. Essentially, Cowdray believed in constructing opulent properties which embody the unique culture of its location. Moreover, the company strived to cultivate energy consistent with the designated city. Cowdray and his team dedicated ample time and money brainstorming methods in creating or retaining the personality of each property. Furthermore, by utilizing his unparallel experience consisting of meticulous managerial skills Cowdray achieved The Dorchester Collection’s goal to build an unprecedented repertoire of deluxe hotels.

In addition to the company’s detailed interior design concept, Cowdray also developed a team exhibiting exceptional customer service. He corroborated the corporation’s mission to maintain extremely satisfied customers and, as a result, the properties consistently receive incomparable customer satisfaction rates. The Dorchester Collection’s highly acclaimed reviews reflect the employee’s professionalism, talent, and motivation to serve their guests. Most importantly, Cowdrary exemplifies the corporation’s key values by affirming their motto, “we care.”

Notably, Cowdrary’s plan for strategic expansion and remarkable service facilitates The Dorchester Collection’s consistent appearance in Elite Traveler’s 101 Top Suites List. Similarly, his dedication to the company’s growth was recognized when he was awarded the Lifetime Achievement award at the European Hospitality Awards ceremony. This prestigious honor acknowledges a commendable public figure for his exceptional service to the hotel industry. Undeniably, Cowdrary’s twenty three years in the international hospitality sector has strongly influenced The Dorchester Collection’s immense success.

NBA Teams Increasing in Wealth


The National Basketball Association has made a huge television deal that my coworker Sultan Alhokair predicts is about to flood money into the league and each and every organization is skyrocketing in value. The teams are simply going to have way more money than they had ever dreamed of in the past and players are set to make insane amounts of money. Take the league’s most predominant player LeBron James, who currently is making over twenty million dollars a year, while pulling in over double that in endorsements. He knew that the league is set to make record deals, so he only signed a two year deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers in the off season that gives him an option after the first year. His basis for making this decision is the fact that each team is going to have so much more money in the next couple years that he may want to move to another team that can offer him vastly more amounts of money. It is kind of shocking when you step back and realize that he will probably be making over a billion dollars in the next ten years. If you take a look at what Michael Jordan has done since his retirement and the ridiculous amount of money that he still earns, it can only be speculated that LeBron is going to eclipse that. Any way you spin it; there is a ton of money that is going to be distributed in the NBA in upcoming years.

John Texton – A Digital Imagery Pioneer

Over the last 20 years, the digital media industry has undergone amazing changes. During this time, innovators such as John Textor have become true pioneers in areas such as human digital imagery, which has revolutionized the way visual effects are being developed for movies and other mediums.

In 1987, Textor graduated from Wesleyan University with a BA in Economics. After establishing a reputation as a successful businessman, he set out on his own in 1997 when he became co-founder and managing partner of Wyndcrest Holdings. The company served as an investment firm, aiming most of its focus on the entertainment industry. The company was also responsible for funding ventures that involved both telecommunications and the Internet.

At the turn of the century, Textor began diversifying his career. In 1999, he joined Baby Universe, an Internet provider of children’s products. He was voted in as Chairman of the company in 2002 and was later hired as the Chief Executive Officer (2005).

He left Baby Universe in 2006 and joined Digital Domain as Chairman and CEO. One of his first endeavors with the company involved reorganization efforts for the company and its parent company Digital Domain Media Group. Under Textor’s direction, the new organization became a major player in the feature film industry, providing cutting edge visual effects.

Among the company’s movie credits during the Textor era were films such as “Transformers,” “Pirates of the Caribbean at World’s End,” “G.I. Joe- Rise of the Cobra,” “Jack the Giant Slayer,” “The A-Team,” “Thor” and “Ender’s Game,” a movie for which he also received credit as Producer. Digital Domain’s crowning achievement came when they provided the amazing digital aging process that captivated movies audience in the film “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” The film earned the company two academy awards in 2009 for Best Make-Up and Achievement in Visual Effects.

Textor resigned his position at Digital in mid 2012. He eventually joined Pulse Evolution Corporation, a company that specializes in producing human likenesses using digital technology. At Pulse, he oversees further advancements in the field of computer-enhanced imagery.

Anyone who saw the virtual performance of Michael Jackson at the 2014 Billboard Music Awards has been exposed to the brilliance of John Textor. Using a similar process, he has also produced virtual likeness of superstars like Tupak Shakur, Matilyn Monroes and the legendary Elvis Presley. His most recent project involves working as Producer on the highly anticipated animated film “Art Story,” a collaboration with former Disney filmmakers Aaron Blaise and Chuck Williams.

Investment New Year’s Resolution Advice from Sam Tabar

American investors are no different than American’s starting a New Year’s resolution to begin to exercise; they set new goals for a healthier new year. This year the established Fidelity Investments firm conducted an investor survey that found that over 50% of this year’s investment consumers make such New Year’s resolutions when it comes to investing. Yet unlike those resolving to get into a new exercise routine, investing in a complex arena of investment securities can quickly become overwhelmed in such complex information. The famed strategist of capital and Columbia Law School educated Sam Tabar was recently published on CNBC with his investment advice for this coming 2015. Tabar recapped his most advantageous investment advice for the self investor who is looking to better their personal net worth and aid in building a solid retirement this coming calendar year.

One of the first bits of advice according to Tabar is for newcomers to the investment game; he warns those that may have the impression that they can make a “quick hit” in the investment game. Tabar cautions those individuals who are first learning to manage their own commodity portfolios with self trading that the commodity markets are the most complex of all markets and that it’s a market full of volatility. Those who have been used to self trading in the stock market will find the commodity market more unpredictable than the stock market and mutual fund markets. He warns that commodity investors must accept that to invest in commodities they will need to do a much greater due diligence prior to investing. So succinct was this warning that Tabar advised that casual and novice investor’s alike stay away from the commodity markets entirely. That it isn’t just the additional research that is required but also the ability to absorb likely short term losses common to the commodities investment market and that such losses are most likely to occur in the volatile investment sector.

Tabar offers both the novice and casual investor the advice on diversification, and the importance of keeping one’s portfolio well balanced. He warns that many new to the investment market can often get tunnel vision on just one type of investment vehicle, such as a single outperforming stock. Tabar that its key not to have all your investment dollars set in a single vehicle, exposing it to significant loss.

What You Need to Know About North American Spine

North American Spine is a company that specializes in minimally invasive Spine surgery. Some minimally invasive techniques are dangerous and can damage healthy tissue or even worsen your condition. This could lead to the need for future procedures to correct the condition. North American Spine provides a better solution for upper back pain, lower back pain and neck pain. This procedure is known as AccuraScope. It is a procedure that provides higher precision than other non-invasive techniques and allows the patient to recover in a shorter period. There are more than 8,000 success stories from patients. This treatment procedure is also covered by major insurance plans.

AccuraScope for back

AccuraScope is the best solution for people who have been diagnosed chronic back pain and in need for a surgical procedure to treat the problem. Patients who have used all sorts of treatments including physical therapy, epidural injections or painkillers can also use this procedure to cure their problem. North American Spine’s specialists use AccuraScope to diagnose and treat multiple lumbar levels. This minimally invasive procedure is used to treat spinal stenosis, inter-vertebral lumbar discs to cure chronic back pain. The physicians can make a tiny incision in the skin and use the opening to insert an endoscopic fiber-optic scope. This allows the physician to examine the discs of the lower back, inside of the spinal canal, identify any tears and raptures bulges, scars and other abnormalities.

Benefits of the procedure

Unlike other minimally invasive procedures, the AccuraScope procedure allows physicians to treat multiple causes of back pain in a short period. This means that you do not need several procedures to cure your problem.

The other benefit with this procedure is that patients experience immediate relief. Patients are discharged after about one hour after the surgery. They can slowly resume their duties and gentle physical exercises the next day. Most patients return to work after one week.

AccuraScope for neck

AccuraScope procedure is also used to treat neck pain. People experiencing neck pain may suffer from cervical degenerated disease or cervical herniated disc. You may also feel shoulder pain, weakness or numbness in your arm. North American Spine partner physicians use Band-Aid procedure to treat neck pain. This procedure is performed exclusively in the cervical spine. The procedure does not require stitches or incision. This minimizes the risk of infection and also allows the patient to recover in a short period. The procedure also allows the physician to correctly identify the disc causing pain.

Andrew Heiberger Creates Success in Real Estate Ventures

Real estate businesses offer an exciting and demanding environment that requires strong leadership to stay competitive and successful. There is no established recipe for success as a CEO in real estate yet. However, there is a good chance that Andrew Heiberger may be setting some new guidelines. Learn how Andrew Heiberger uses his knowledge, skills and experience to become one of the most important CEOs of a top real estate firm today. My friend Igor Cornelsen and I have looked into all details of this.

Early Beginnings

Andrew became intrigued with real estate in NY at the young age of just 16. He actively worked alongside his family, making land trades and selling several properties in the Long Island area.

Citi Habitats

By 1994 at just 26, Andrew graduated from law school and established Citi Habitats. This was his first opportunity to grow a residential brokerage firm, taking it from only two brokers to more than 1000 throughout Manhattan.

Buttonwood Development

After selling Citi Habitats in 2004, Andrew went on to found Buttonwood Development. This venture focused on investment, syndication and the growth of real estate in the city of NY. One of his most successful transactions was developing a large condominium complex that generated residential sales of more than $340 million.

TOWN Residential

By December of 2010, Andrew was ready for new challenges. He used his experience and skills to co-found TOWN Residential in Manhattan. Today, he is the Co-Chairman and CEO of this successful real estate firm.


Heiberger graduated from the University of Michigan with a Business Administration degree, and he completed a J.D. at the University of Miami School of Law. As a licensed attorney and real estate broker of New York, he is more than qualified to take on future challenges.


Andrew actively participates in many organizations such as the NY Board of Real Estate and Young Presidents to name a few. He also gives back to his community by supporting charities such as The Fresh Air Fund, Make-A-Wish and the NephCure Foundation.


Although, Andrew works hard and enjoys substantial amounts of success in his real estate endeavors, he always makes time for his daughter and son. In addition, Heiberger stays active in sports like football, basketballs, tennis and golf when he is not traveling.

This busy entrepreneur is on top of his game, and he is ready for more challenges down the road. Who knows what successful real estate ventures are on the horizon for Andrew Heiberger?