Monday, December 30, 2013

7 Worst CEO of 2013

#7. Tom Ward, former CEO, SandRidge Energy. In June, this relatively small oil and natural gas company fired its founding CEO for a combination of poor performance, exorbitant pay, and possible conflicts of interest involving another oil company run by Ward’s son, Trent. During Ward’s final quarter, SandRidge had an operating loss of $562 million on $511 million in sales and its stock had lost 90% of its value in 5 years. For that, Ward walked away with over $200 million in total compensation. 
#6. Paul Ricci, CEO of Nuance (NUAN). Talk about a technology whose time has come. Voice recognition is in everything from cars and call centers to cell phones and computers. And owing to dozens of acquisitions, one company has come to dominate the market: Nuance. In spite of that, the company’s growth has stalled, it’s bleeding red ink, and its stock is down 36% this year and trading at a three-year low.
#5. Eddie Lampert, Chairman and CEO, Sears (SHLD). As chairman since the merger of Sears and Kmart in 2005, Lampert has presided over the slow and steady decline of what was once a great American retail brand. This year he added chief executive to his title and, long story short, as revenues continue to slide, losses continue to pile up, and stores continue to close, the only thing up this year is the stock. 
#4. Don Basile, former CEO, Violin Memory (VMEM). After raising more than $180 million in venture capital, Basile botched the flash memory maker’s September IPO. The stock priced at $9, started trading at $7.50, and dropped 70% since. After surprising Wall Street with a horrendous quarter – a net loss of $34 million on revenues of just $28 million – Basile was fired. Interestingly, Basile lost his previous job as CEO of Fusion-io.
#3. Michael Jeffries, Chairman and CEO, Abercrombie & Fitch (ANF). While he deserves credit for reviving the once-bankrupt clothing chain, Jeffries has become the CEO that everyone with a weight problem loves to hate with infamous lines such as “we want to market to cool, good-looking people.” But that’s neither here nor there. Far more importantly, the company’s growth has stalled amidst declines in same-store sales and profit margins. The stock is down 30% this year.   
#2. Thorsten Heins, former CEO, BlackBerry (BBRY). Granted, when BlackBerry’s founding co-CEOs finally stepped down in 2011, they didn’t do the company any favors by handing the mess they created to one of their hand-picked, Kool-Aid drinking disciples – sleepy co-COO Thorsten Heins. On his first investor conference call, Heins proclaimed, “I don’t think there is some drastic change needed.” That was a sign. Between then and his termination last month, the once-leading smartphone company has been decimated.
#1. Ron Johnson, former CEO, JC Penney (JCP). Customers, investors, employees – pretty much everyone involved with JC Penney – rues the day that Bill Ackman’s hedge fund bought 18% of the storied retailer and brought in Ron Johnson as CEO.

[Via ]

Sunday, December 29, 2013

First Recreational Marijuana Shops in Colorado

Denver (CNN) -- Colorado will begin allowing recreational marijuana sales on January 1 to anyone age 21 or over.

Residents will be able to buy marijuana like alcohol -- except the cannabis purchase is limited to an ounce, which is substantial enough to cost about $200 or more.

It's a big moment: Colorado will become the first state in the nation to open recreational pot stores and become the first place in the world where marijuana will be regulated from seed to sale. Pot, by the way, is the third most popular recreational drug in America, after alcohol and tobacco, according to the marijuana reform group NORML.

Voters wanted this. And the law is now in the Colorado constitution after 65% of voters said yes to legalizing recreational marijuana.

If you are 21 or older, you can buy up to an ounce at a licensed store, as long as you have a Colorado ID. People from outside Colorado can buy a quarter ounce. Only a handful of stores, however, are expected to open on January 1, and Denver will be home to many of them, according to the Denver Post and the weekly Denver Westword.

In fact, there are concerns that supplies will be sold out on the first day, with so few stores having passed the lengthy licensing process so far. About 160 retailers are still seeking licenses statewide.

Users can also share an ounce of cannabis with a friend as long as no money is exchanged. You won't be allowed to smoke pot in public and, in fact, can't even smoke in the pot shop or other establishments governed by the state's Clean Indoor Air Act.

That leaves the smoking to private properties, with the owner's permission. Communities and counties can still choose not to allow recreational marijuana stores in their local jurisdictions, and a good many towns have, such as Colorado Springs and Greeley. You can grow up to six plants in your home, but the pot patch must be enclosed and locked.