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Search heightens for Nordstrom Manhattan site

May 31, 2007


Upscale retailer Nordstrom on Wednesday said it has hired Madison Retail Group to find a location in the highly competitive and costly Manhattan market.

Nordstrom has long sought to open a store in Manhattan, but its largest barriers have been finding enough space (it needs at least 200,000 square feet), and at a price per square foot that enables it to turn a profit.

In an earlier interview, President Blake Nordstrom said the company won't enter the market blindly, "because it's so expensive to do business there. But if the right opportunity availed itself, it's our No. 1 priority. We think it's important on a lot of fronts to be in Manhattan."

When the retailer opens a Boston-area store this fall, Manhattan will remain the last major U.S. market where the company doesn't have a presence.

Stonepath Group
Dismissal sought of bankruptcy case

Stonepath Group has asked a bankruptcy judge to throw out an involuntary Chapter 7 case that three trade creditors filed against the Seattle logistics firm.

In papers filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Del., Stonepath asked Judge Christopher S. Sontchi to dismiss the bankruptcy filing, saying it was made in bad faith because the companies aren't creditors of Stonepath.

The three - Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based staffing firm Spherion and two Minnesota shipping companies - claim Stonepath owes them $1.1 million.

Stonepath said the companies are actually creditors of a company called MGR. According to court papers, Stonepath owns Stonepath Logistics Domestic Services which in turn owns MGR.

Unlike Chapter 11, whereby a company reorganizes under a bankruptcy court's supervision, in Chapter 7 a trustee is appointed to liquidate a company's assets.


Joint project works on flash memory
Microsoft, Intel and Dell are working together to develop technology that helps flash memory speed up personal computers.

The three companies are forming a group to work on improving software used to control so-called Nand flash memory, according to a joint statement.

Flash memory chips, already common in consumer electronics and mobile phones, are being used in more PCs. While flash devices can access data much more quickly than magnetic hard-disk drives and use less power, adjustments to computer hardware and software may help make better use of the technology.

Some applications now work offline

Google on Wednesday introduced a way to move its online software applications off the Internet, hoping the flexibility will encourage more people to use the free services and extend the company's clout beyond its ubiquitous search engine.

By installing a plug-in into Web browsers, Google Gears opens an offline door to software programs that until now have been inaccessible without an Internet connection.

That will change with Gears, which will enable users to synchronize their computers with online applications and then use the programs offline.

"This fills a gap for us," said Jeff Huber, a vice president of engineering at Google. "The Internet is great, but you can't always be plugged in to it."

Initially, only Google's "reader" application for collecting the latest content on blogs and other Web sites will work offline, but the company plans to add other programs to the mix, Huber said. He cited Google's e-mail, calendar, word-processing and spreadsheet programs as logical candidates for offline access.

If word processing and spreadsheets become available offline, they could become even more viable threats to Microsoft's Office software suite, a major moneymaker that traditionally has been installed directly on computer hard drives.


Corporate parent buys Photobucket

The parent of MySpace is buying the media-sharing site Photobucket for about $300 million, bringing together two of the Internet's most popular hangouts.

The deal announced Wednesday will give MySpace and sister sites under News Corp.'s Fox Interactive Media access to Photobucket's photo and video technologies, while Photobucket gets Fox's resources to accelerate development of its tools.

Peter Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive, said Photobucket also would be able to incorporate advanced slideshow generators and other editing tools from Flektor, which Fox also announced Wednesday it bought.

"Together, they represent a powerful combination and we are thrilled for them to join our network," Levinsohn said.


Another top exec leaves company

Internet search-engine company Yahoo! said Chief Technology Officer Farzad Nazem has resigned, leaving two of the top executive posts at the company unfilled.

Nazem will leave June 8, Yahoo said Wednesday in a regulatory filing. Co-founder Jerry Yang will oversee Yahoo's technology group on an interim basis, spokeswoman Joanna Stevens said.

The company has yet to name an executive to oversee an audience, or products group.

"They need all the best minds that they can have," said Brian Bolan, an analyst at Jackson Securities in Chicago, who rates the shares "sell" and doesn't own any. "They're fighting tooth and nail against Google and almost everyone else."

Nazem left the company "absolutely of his own accord," Stevens said. The move had been planned for "a number of months," she said.


Company to shed 4,000 more jobs

Cellphone maker Motorola said Wednesday it will cut another 4,000 jobs as part of a plan aimed at improving sagging operational results.

The company already is eliminating 3,500 jobs as part of a two-year cost-cutting plan to save $400 million. Those layoffs, announced in January, are to be completed by June 30, Motorola said.

It said it will save another $600 million in 2008 by cutting 4,000 more workers, prioritizing investments and putting controls on discretionary spending and general and administrative expenses.

The company said it expects to take a restructuring charge of $300 million, or 8 cents per share in 2007, from severance and related expenses from staff cuts.

Motorola shares fell 2 cents to $18.28 Wednesday, then gained 17 cents in after-hours trading.


Baby computer joins smartphone

Palm on Wednesday introduced a compact portable computer to accompany its Treo smartphone, seeking to regain its competitive edge in the crowded high-end handheld-device market.

The new "Foleo" is about the size of a hardcover book and, at 2.5 pounds, half the weight of other small laptop computers. It is designed to be used with a smartphone, to help business travelers better manage their e-mail and documents by offering a 10-inch screen, full keyboard and wireless technology.

Foleo will be priced at $599 beginning this summer.


Higher tax slows boom in China

China's move to raise a tax on share trades, aimed at slowing a boom that could lead to a possible market bubble, seems to have worked, at least for now.

The main Shanghai composite index tumbled 6.5 percent Wednesday after hitting a record high Tuesday. The Shenzhen composite index for China's smaller second market fell even more, closing down 7.2 percent.

The retreat in Chinese shares came after the Finance Ministry tripled the "stamp tax" on stock trades from 0.1 percent to 0.3 percent, effective Wednesday. The ministry was trying to "cool [the] stock market," the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Despite the drop, Shanghai's benchmark index is still up 52 percent for the year, following a 130 percent jump in 2006.


PC-maker to keep direct-sales focus

Dell will keep the direct-sales focus that turned it into one of the world's top computer makers, even as it moves into the retail market, its chief executive said Wednesday.

"The direct model was a real revolution in the computer industry, but it's not a religion," Michael Dell told reporters in Toronto. "We're going to expand the number of places and ways that people can buy our products."

Company founder Dell spoke after last week's announcement that the company plans to start selling personal computers bundled with accessories through Wal-Mart in North America in June.

He said consumers should expect to see new product releases over the next few months, with a focus on industrial design and usability, but would not provide details.

Ernst & Young

4 current, former partners charged

Four current and former partners of the giant accounting firm Ernst & Young were charged Wednesday with fraud and other crimes relating to tax shelters that helped the wealthy escape taxes on incomes exceeding $10 million.

All four worked in a group the company set up in 1998 to develop tax shelters, according to an indictment filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The men allegedly defrauded the Internal Revenue Service from 1998 through 2004 by designing, marketing and selling fraudulent tax shelters.

Prosecutors charged Robert Coplan, 54, a Plano, Texas, lawyer who once was a branch chief in the IRS' Legislation and Regulations Division; Martin Nissenbaum, 51, of Brooklyn, a lawyer; Richard Shapiro, 58, of Rye Brook, N.Y., also a lawyer; and Brian Vaughn, 39, of Calhoun, La., an accountant.

They were charged with conspiracy to defraud the IRS, tax evasion, making false statements and impeding the IRS.

Compiled from Seattle Times staff, The Associated Press, Bloomberg News, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswires and Bloomberg News.”



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