The Entrepreneurs’ Daughter – In Charge – WSJ

Those of us here at ‘In Charge’ are delighted that the next Queen of England hails from entrepreneurial parents, as highlighted in today’s Opinion piece, “The Entrepreneurs’ Princess,” by John Berlau.

In 1987, Kate Middleton’s mother, Carol, then a stay-at-home mom, started a party-products company after she couldn’t find simple, fun items for her children’s parties. (Read the full story on Party Pieces’ website.) The family business grew into a multimillion-dollar success story… and fueled the family’s ability to send Kate and her siblings to elite educational institutions. Kate met Prince William at St. Andrews University, where both were students.

We often note the rewards of entrepreneurship — both financial and personal — in our coverage of small-business owners. (Making enough money to send your child to a prestigious school where she can meet the Prince isn’t typically one of them.) But we appreciate the endless possibilities that seem to accompany entrepreneurship. Starting a company and building it to great heights, after all, is the essence of the American Dream. No matter that Kate’s parents are British. The idea of achieving more than one could possibly imagine through enterprising efforts is the point.

Today’s article suggests that the royal family could utilize the Middleton family’s background to spread and encourage entrepreneurship. That’s something to be thinking about tomorrow – when this blogger (and possibly many of you) will be up at dawn to watch the royal nuptials.  As Berlau wrote in his piece: “When this couple says their ‘I dos,’ the royal family will officially be wed to the dreams and aspirations of millions of entrepreneurs in the United Kingdom and throughout the world.”

Cool.

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Apple to Update iPhone Location Services – WSJ.com

Apple Inc. defended the process it uses to gather location information via the iPhone and unveiled a planned software update to scale back such practices.

The company and Google Inc. have faced scrutiny for their practices involving the collection and storage of smartphone users’ location information. Last week, researchers found that Apple’s iPhones store unencrypted databases containing location information that sometimes stretch back several months.

IPhones, as well as smartphones operating on Google’s Android platform, regularly transmit their locations back to the respective companies.

Apple said Wednesday it isn’t tracking the location of iPhones, “has never done so and has no plans to ever do so.”

“Users are confused, partly because the creators of this new technology (including Apple) have not provided enough education about these issues to date,” the company said.

Apple said it maintains a database of Wi-Fi hot spots and cell towers around users’ locations, a process that helps the phone calculate its location. The information is used to quickly find global-positioning-system satellites, a process that otherwise could take several minutes, the Cupertino, Calif., company said.

Apple downloads a subset, or cache, of the database on each phone. The cache is “protected but not encrypted,” and backed up in the iTunes program whenever users back up their iPhones, the company said.

Apple said an individual can’t be located using the Wi-Fi and cell data.

Apple said it would release an iPhone software update in the next few weeks that reduces the size of the database cached on the phone, ceases backing up the cache and deletes the cache entirely when location services are turned off.

Separately, Apple said it would release an iPhone software update in the next few weeks that reduces the size of the database cached on the phone, ceases backing up the cache and deletes the cache entirely when location services are turned off.

Apple also said the white iPhone 4 will be available Thursday and that the second-generation iPad will arrive in Japan, Hong Kong, and other new markets this week.

Google last week defended its information location-gathering practices. U.S. lawmakers have invited representatives of the companies to attend a hearing on privacy next month following the claims they regularly track users locations and store data

Hmmm.

Charlie Sheen: Goddess broke up via text message – USATODAY.com

Charlie Sheen’s threesome may have seemed like a fantasy-come-true. But ultimately, three was a crowd.

When asked last night at the Ft. Lauderdale stop of his Violent Torpedo of Truth tour how he handled two women at once without turning to polygamy, Sheen replied, “Not well, because one left.” He revealed that goddess Rachel “Bree” Olson broke up with him via text message.

Sheen also some words of wisdom for Lindsay Lohan: “I would hug her and let her know it’s gonna be OK.”

His response to a question about what brother Emilio Estevez was doing? “Men At Work 2 and Mighty Ducks 4,” a reference to some of Estevez’s cheesier works.

Former NBA player Dennis Rodman made a brief guest appearance on stage, followed by comedian Jeff Ross, who reiterated his claims that he’s used to roasting “classier people” and challenged Sheen’s notion of winning.

“If you’re winning there must be something wrong with the scoreboard,” he quipped.

On Friday night in Tampa, Sheen made a passionate plea for the crowd to help him get his job back, telling the audience “with your support, with a room filled with love, we are going to get my job back.’

Sad.

In Afghanistan, Using Acupuncture to Treat Wounded Warriors – WSJ.com

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Bryan Denton for the Wall Street Journal

Marine Lance Cpl. Tristan Bell was injured in a jarring explosion that tore apart his armored vehicle, slammed a heavy radio into the back of his head and left him tortured by dizziness, insomnia, headaches and nightmares.

He is recovering on a padded table at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, beneath strings of soft, white Christmas lights, with the dulcet notes of “Tao of Healing” playing on an iPod and a forest of acupuncture needles sprouting from his head, ear, hands and feet.

In a bit of battlefield improvisation, the Navy is experimenting with acupuncture and soothing atmospherics to treat Marines suffering from mild cases of traumatic brain injury, commonly called concussions—the most prevalent wound of the Afghan war.

After hitting on the idea in late November, Cmdr. Keith Stuessi used acupuncture, along with the music and lights, to treat more than 20 patients suffering from mild brain injuries. All but two or three saw marked improvements, including easier sleep, reduced anxiety and fewer headaches, he says. Cmdr. Earl Frantz, who replaced Cmdr. Stuessi at Camp Leatherneck last month, has taken charge of the acupuncture project and treated 28 more concussion patients.

“I think a couple years down the road, this will be standard care,” predicts Cmdr. Stuessi, a sports-medicine specialist turned acupuncture acolyte. “At some point you have to drink the Kool-Aid, and I have drunk the Kool-Aid.”

While researchers are still investigating how exactly it works, studies have found that acupuncture can help relieve pain, stress and a range of other conditions. The newest Defense Department and Department of Veterans Affairs clinical guidelines recommend acupuncture as a supplementary therapy for post-traumatic stress disorder, pain, anxiety and sleeplessness.

The VA is recruiting candidates for a study of acupuncture’s effectiveness in treating PTSD and traumatic brain injury. Based on other studies of its benefits, “there is good reason to believe that acupuncture will induce recovery across a number of trauma spectrum dysfunctions in patients with TBI and PTSD, at low cost and with little risk,” the VA wrote.

In 2008, the Navy put Cmdr. Stuessi, a 44-year-old from Wales, Wis., and a handful of other doctors through a 300-hour acupuncture course. When he came to Afghanistan in August to create a clinic to treat concussions and minor physical injuries, the commander brought his collapsible needling table. He expected to use it for the usual array of sprained ankles and sore backs.

Once at Camp Leatherneck, though, Cmdr. Stuessi stumbled across an article about using acupuncture to treat PTSD and realized many of the symptoms overlapped with those of mild traumatic brain injury: insomnia, headache, memory deficit, attention deficit, irritability and anxiety.

Lance Cpl. Bell, 22, from Billings, Mont., was patrolling a ridgeline in mid-January when the Marines in his vehicle spotted a half-buried bomb in the road ahead. They backed up onto a second booby-trap, leaving five of the seven crewmen, including Lance Cpl. Bell, unconscious. He took medicine, but the headaches and insomnia grew relentless as the days passed. “If I took a nap, I’d have nightmares and crazy dreams,” he says. “I don’t take naps.”

He was waiting to see his regular doctor when Cmdr. Stuessi invited him to watch another Marine get acupuncture. The lance corporal hates needles, but he was getting desperate. The back of his head throbbed so hard it made his eyes hurt. “I thought, ‘Something has to change here—I want to get back out there,’ ” he recalls.

The night after his first session, he slept eight hours, twice what he had managed before. Soon he was returning eagerly every three days, when the benefits began to fade. He made a recent visit after a bad night, in which he woke up disoriented, headed out for a smoke and hit his head on the bunk bed.

When Lance Cpl. Bell showed up at Cmdr. Stuessi’s plywood office in a green Marine Corps sweatshirt and camouflage pants, the doctor turned off the overhead fluorescent light and switched on a string of Christmas lights his wife had shipped him. He shuffled his iPod from “Mack the Knife” to the flute notes of his healing music.

He slipped one needle into the top of the Marine’s head, and more into his left ear and hands. As he worked, he spoke softly of “chi,” which he described as the rush of numbness or warmth when the needle hits the spot, and “shen men,” a point in the ear connected to anxiety and stress. “This is Liver Three,” he said, sliding a needle into Lance Cpl. Bell’s left foot and moving it until the Marine felt the desired effect.

“Right there,” murmured Lance Cpl. Bell, letting his eyelids fall closed.

A 2008 RAND Corp. study found that one in five troops who serve in Iraq or Afghanistan suffers traumatic brain injury, ranging from severe head wounds to more common concussions. Standard treatment for the latter can involve painkillers, antianxiety medication, sleeping pills, counseling and group therapy.

Acupuncture immediately appeared to speed recovery, Cmdr. Stuessi says. His first patient, unable to sleep more than four hours a night despite two weeks of standard treatment, put in 10 hours the night after his initial needling. Most other patients have seen similar results.

Cmdr. Stuessi is unsure why acupuncture eases concussions. A few of Lance Cpl. Bell’s buddies remain unconvinced.

Lance Cpl. Dominic Collins, who shared a vehicle with Lance Cpl. Bell, was plagued by headaches after the bombing. One night in February, he dreamed he was being mortared. He rolled out of his bunk to take cover.

He declined the clinic’s offer of acupuncture. “It’s kind of not my thing,” he says. “I have tattoos, but it’s the idea of getting stuck” that puts him off.

One Marine tried jokingly to discourage Cpl. Francisco Sanchez, who hit two mines in one day, from using acupuncture by making him sit through an action movie in which the hero stabs the villain with a needle in the back of the neck. The villain’s eyes bleed. Then he dies.

But word has spread around camp, and Marines with everything from job stress to snuff addiction now plead for acupuncture.

“All we can say is we’ve learned from the Chinese on this,” Cmdr. Stuessi says. “They’ve been doing this for a couple thousand years.”

Excellent.

Unlocking the Loan Puzzle – WSJ.com

ALBANY, N.Y.—Schuyler Tilly, a banker at First Niagara Financial Group, sits at a long office table and spreads out documents outlining the terms of a $1 million line of credit he just extended to local businessman John Stevens.

Jamie Goldenberg for the Wall Street Journal

Schuyler Tilly, a loan officer at First Niagara Financial Group, meets with vice president/relationship manager Jerilee Beaudoin in his office.

LENDER

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“I don’t think there are going to be any surprises here,” Mr. Tilly tells Mr. Stevens, who runs a wireless-engineering company.

The loan will replace Mr. Stevens’s existing relationship with Bank of America Corp. “The way that someone like me survives is by grabbing accounts from someone else,” says Mr. Tilly, who runs First Niagara’s small-business lending in the Albany region.

The fallout from the financial crisis has presented a puzzle. Banks say they want to lend but there is little loan demand. Borrowers say they can’t get one.

Mr. Tilly’s experiences provide a clue as to how both statements could be true. The pie of small-business lending is shrinking, but bankers such as Mr. Tilly are busy stealing other banks’ pieces of it, expanding their own loan portfolios. He and his team of four business bankers troll for customers of rivals such as Bank of America, of Charlotte, N.C., and KeyCorp, of Cleveland. Indeed, the line of credit extended to Mr. Stevens won’t increase the amount of money going to credit-starved small businesses because it previously belonged to another bank.

But, like most banks, Mr. Tilly has less luck getting new qualified customers with fresh loan requests. Healthy small businesses don’t want to take on new debt—the lack of demand banks that are talking about. Troubled small businesses are discovering that banks are too traumatized by risk to extend them credit—the dearth of lending piquing small businesses.

Small-business lending by U.S. banks—or loans of less than $1 million—fell 6.2% to $652.2 billion in 2010 from a year earlier, according to a February study by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy.

There is “very little to no organic growth in the portfolio,” says Mr. Tilly, a stocky Cincinnati native.

[LENDERchart]

First Niagara, the 29th-largest U.S. bank, with $21 billion in assets and $13.1 billion in deposits, has money to lend. On Friday, the Buffalo, N.Y., bank completed its purchase of New Alliance Bancshares Inc., a Connecticut lender with $9 billion in assets and $5 billion in deposits. Not including New Alliance, First Niagara’s loan portfolio was $10.5 billion at the end of 2010, up more than 40% from a year ago. Of that, 14% are the type of small-business loans Mr. Tilly extends to customers.

The portfolio Mr. Tilly oversees rose to $155 million last year from $125 million in 2009—with most of the increase coming from clients of other banks. He hopes to add another $17 million in loans this year.

It won’t be easy. Though the Albany region’s unemployment rate of 7.8% is lower than the national rate of 8.8% and its housing market didn’t suffer a Florida-style boom and bust, the region’s business owners are bracing for tough times. State lawmakers have approved a budget that cuts spending about 2%, which will ripple through the capital district Mr. Tilly covers.

He hopes that a new semiconductor-making plant being built in nearby Malta and a planned battery plant in Schenectady will stimulate loan demand. When the economy rebounds, perhaps existing customers will ask for new loans. “We have brought in so many new customers that when the economy finally turns, we will get that organic growth,” he says.

Still, low-risk borrowers needing new loans now are few and far between. Over the course of two days, Mr. Tilly met with six clients, including the local head of Habitat for Humanity, a general contractor, the president of a packaging company and a maker of finishes for boats.

His questions to them are brief and focused: What is the client’s business outlook for the rest of the year? Are the financial reports up to date? Who audits the client’s books? He intercepts their answers with a steady stream of clipped acknowledgment. “Yep. OK. Right. All right. Nice,” he says.

Of the six clients, five were poached from other banks. Only one needs a new small-business loan. Real-estate investor Tom Julien, who already received a First Niagara loan for another project, wants new financing to purchase a rental building.

At a table in a musty café in downtown Albany, Mr. Tilly squints through a rain-spattered window to see the brick apartment building across the street that Mr. Julien wants to buy. “Are you at 100% [occupancy] in your other units?” he asks Mr. Julien, still eyeing the building.

“I rarely have rentals that are empty,” Mr. Julien says.

Over a cup of Turkish coffee, Mr. Tilly peppers his client with more questions and then walks with him to look at a brownstone Mr. Julien recently renovated with First Niagara financing.

“We love multifamily properties,” Mr. Tilly says, heading to his black Lexus sport-utility vehicle. “It’s probably our least-risky asset class.”

Good article.

Apple Profit Surges 95% on Record iPhone Sales – WSJ.com

Apple Inc.’s quarterly profit nearly doubled as consumers continued to snap up its iPhone and other products, and the company issued a forecast suggesting it will remain largely unscathed by last month’s Japan earthquake and the medical leave of Chief Executive Steve Jobs.

Apple’s earnings rose sharply thanks to strong iPhone sales, and the company downplayed concerns about Japan’s impact on its supplies, its recent lawsuit against Samsung and CEO Steve Jobs’s medical leave. WSJ’s Jake Lee and Andrew LaVallee discuss.

Apple on Wednesday posted a quarterly profit of $5.99 billion, up 95% from $3.07 billion in the year-earlier quarter. Revenue rose 83% to $24.67 billion, while gross margin rose to 41.4% from 38.5%.

Apple’s quarter was stoked in particular by sales of the iPhone. The company began selling its iPhone 4 through Verizon Wireless in February—its second carrier in the U.S. after an exclusive arrangement with AT&T Inc. ended.

The company said Wednesday that it sold 18.6 million iPhones over the quarter, more than double that of a year ago. That figure was also 15% higher than the December quarter, which is typically Apple’s strongest period since it is fueled by holiday sales. Wall Street estimates had called for sales of 16.5 million iPhones over the quarter. “We saw stunning iPhone sales,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s chief financial officer, in an interview.

The company forecast earnings per share of $5.03 in the current quarter, up 43.3% from a year ago, on revenue of about $23 billion, up about 46% from a year ago. While that was lower than some analysts’ estimates, they weren’t as low as many on Wall Street had feared.

[APPLE] Reuters

Apple’s operating chief, Tim Cook.

In a conference call, Apple said it hasn’t been affected by the disaster in Japan in terms of sales or its supply chain, though it cautioned that the situation was still unpredictable.

“Apple employees have literally been working around the clock with our supplier partners in Japan and have been able to implement a number of contingency plans,” said Chief Operating Officer Tim Cook. While he said there were “some supply risks” beyond the current quarter, he said there was “no issue today that we view as unsolvable.”

Apple’s results and its forecast helped push up its shares in after-hours trading by 3.9% to $355.69 after closing at 4 p.m. at $342.41.

Mr. Jobs, 56 years old, who was diagnosed with a rare type of pancreatic cancer in the past, continues to be involved on major strategic decisions in the company, said Mr. Cook in the conference call.

“He is still on medical leave but we do see him on a regular basis,” said Mr. Cook, adding that “I know he wants to be back full time as soon as he can.”

Mr. Cook also stood by its partnership with Samsung Electronics Co. calling it “a very valued component supplier” even though it sued the Korean electronics company last week for trademark and patent infringement related to its iPad and iPhone. “I expect the strong relationship will continue,” he said, adding Apple took legal action separate from that relationship because it felt Samsung’s mobile communication division “crossed the line.”

Over the quarter, some Apple products didn’t sell as strongly as Wall Street anticipated. Apple said it sold 4.69 million iPads, for example, compared with Wall Street expectations of about 6.2 million. The company suggested the shortfall was due to supply constraints rather than a demand issue, saying that it sold every iPad it could make. As of Wednesday, iPads were still showing one to two-week delays in shipment on its website.

Now Reporting

Track the performances of 150 companies as they report and compare their results with analyst estimates. Sort by date and industry.

[earningspr]

“The only bad number was the iPad and there’s an explanation for that,” said Gene Munster, an analyst with Piper Jaffray & Co., adding the results are “basically irrelevant” because of the strong demand.

While the company in the past has shared average selling prices for its phones with analysts, Mr. Oppenheimer declined do so for the iPhone or iPad this time, saying “we just don’t want to help our competitors.”

Apple also sold 3.76 million Macintosh computers in the latest quarter, up 28% from a year ago, as it launched a new MacBook Pro model in February. IPod media player sales declined 17% to 9.02 million units.

Interesting.