For decades, Kraft and other food behemoths offered convenience, comfort, and the promise of a modern lifestyle. But the compound annual growth rate of the packaged food industry in North America has been less than 1 percent for almost 10 years, with Big Food losing market share to smaller, healthier brands. Venerable Kraft Foods—whose Singles are a “processed cheese product,” and whose Cool Whip didn’t contain milk or cream until five years ago—has lost revenue for the past three years. “Now these big food brands are old-fashioned,” says Bob Goldin, chief executive officer at researcher Technomic. “Consumers don’t see them as relevant.”
But investors, well, that’s a different matter. Warren Buffett—who drinks Coke at breakfast and says he eats like a 6-year-old—teamed up with 3G Capital, the private equity firm founded by some of Brazil’s wealthiest men and known for its penny-pinching ways at Anheuser-Busch InBev and Burger King, to buy ketchup maker Heinz in 2013. In July, Heinz closed on its purchase of Kraft, with Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G owning a 51 percent stake. Kraft Heinz instantly became the third-largest food company in North America, with global sales of $29 billion last year. The good news is it’s composed of big, profitable brands. The bad: They have little potential to grow. “What can they do with these brands?” says Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Kenneth Shea. “They’ll do the best they can, but mostly they’ll cut costs.”
When it comes to small business in the United States, more women are running the show.
On Wednesday, the National Women’s Business Council released an analysis of preliminary Census data which showed there were nearly 10 million women-owned small businesses in the U.S. in 2012, a 27.5% increase from 2007. (The Census defines a woman-owned business as one where a woman owns 51% or more of the business equity or stock).
While men still own more businesses than women, women-owned businesses grew at a rate of four times that of male-owned businesses. In 2012, men owned nearly 15 million businesses.
Overall, women-owned businesses earned a total of $1.6 trillion between 2007 and 2012 and the vast majority (89.4%) were run by sole proprietors, meaning the only employee was the owner.
The report, which pulled data from the Census’s Survey of Small Business Owners, also highlighted major increases in small business ownership among women of color, particularly black and Hispanic women.
v.19 n. 35 – Released August 25, 2015
This Week’s Headlines:
Imagine a town with crosswalks but no pedestrians, cars and trucks but no drivers. Welcome to Mcity, a fake “town” built by researchers who are testing out the driverless cars of the future.
The controlled test environment, which opened today (July 20) at the University of Michigan (U-M) in Ann Arbor, covers 32 acres (the size of about 24 football fields) and contains all the trappings of a real suburb or small city. There is an entire network of roads lined with sidewalks, streetlights, stop signs and traffic signals. There’s even a “downtown” area complete with fake building facades and outdoor dining areas.
TIMES HAVE NEVER been better for computer science workers. Jobs in computing are growing at twice the national rate of other types of jobs. By 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be 1 million more computer science-related jobs than graduating students qualified to fill them.
If any company has a vested interest in cultivating a strong talent pool of computer scientists, it’s Google. So the search giant set out to learn why students in the US aren’t being prepared to bridge the talent deficit. In a big survey conducted with Gallup and released today, Google found a range of dysfunctional reasons more K-12 students aren’t learning computer science skills. Perhaps the most surprising: schools don’t think the demand from parents and students is there.
Earlier this week, Spotify quietly announced that it plans to begin looking through your phone, tracking your location and even following your activity on Facebook in an effort to provide a more personalized experience.
It’s no surprise that investment firms are bullish on mobile upstarts, but a series of recent funding moves reveals the smartphone-driven companies marketers should keep an eye on.
1. Popular teen messaging app Kik closed $50 million from WeChat-owned Tencent, and this week’s news follows the app’s $38.3 million Series C funding in November. Kik is now valued at $1 billion.
With 240 million registered users—70 percent of whom are 13 to 24 years old—Kik’s funding puts it squarely in position to compete head-to-head with Snapchat as both companies look to build out new chat features.
2. Kahuna grabbed $45 million from Sequoia Capital and other investors to go after a bigger piece of the automated marketing space, which includes heavyweights like Oracle and Salesforce.