Alaska Airlines Giving the Boot to Virgin America Brand; So Not Cool-atta: Frozen Drink Going Away; Disney Can’t Shake Iger. And it Doesn’t Seem to Want to

So long…

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re anything you’re like me, then I bet you look forward to those fun safety videos played on Virgin America flights. But alas, come 2019, those videos might just become a sweet memory as Alaska Airlines plans to retire the Virgin America brand at that time. Apparently, extensive accounting research was done to arrive at this conclusion. That conclusion being that if Alaska Airlines wants to be successful on the West Coast after throwing down $2.6 million to merge/acquire Virgin America, then it would be prudent to stick with one name. And considering that Alaska Airlines is the one paying all that money, it’s only fair, I suppose, that it should get to stick with its own name. Alaska Airlines, however, has promised to keep the mood lighting, music and other features that made Virgin America more fun than other airlines. Virgin America will be joining the not-so-distinguished-anymore ranks of Continental Airlines and US Airways, whose names also used to grace airports all over the country. Once the merger is finalized, Alaska Airlines will have the dubious distinction of being the fifth largest airline in the country.

Just not good enough…

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Image courtesy of rakratchada torsap/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

After much soul-searching and presumably a lot of accounting research – Dunkin’ Donuts is ditching the Coolatta drink that refreshed so many parched palates over the years. The official word on why Dunkin’ Donuts is ditching the beverage is because it “…isn’t good enough.” It doesn’t get more scientific than that. But fear not Dunkin’-lovers, as the donut chain will not leave you empty-handed and un-caffeinated. Enter the “Frozen Dunkin’ Coffee.” Sure the name lacks the “cool” vibe of its predecessor, but its rumored to have a lot more coffee in it. In fact, part of the push for the new beverage has to do with the fact that special new brews are all the rage right now. And naturally Dunkin’ wants to cash in on that momentum. Also be on the lookout for the Dunkin’ Energy Punch and the Caramel Shaved Ice Espresso, among other new offerings. As for social media, plenty of Dunkin devotees didn’t take too kindly to the announcement with one disgruntled Coolatta drinker writing: “@DunkinDonuts getting rid of the coffee coolatta? Are you insane?” Nuff’ said.

So hard to say goodbye…

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Image courtesy of dfrsce/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Apparently Disney is super pleased with Bob Iger’s performance since the House of Mouse just extended the CEO’s contract until 2019 (when the Virgin America name will be retired. Coincidence? I think not. Really. I don’t) Actually it’s because Disney still hasn’t found a suitable replacement for Iger. The plan was for Iger to only stay on in his post until 2018. But since there’s no heir in the wings just yet, it was thought best to hold onto him until that could be determined. Former Disney COO Tom Staggs was rumored to be the one to fill that role, but then he left, leaving Disney to go back to the drawing board. This is the third time an extension was added to Iger’s contract. And who can blame Disney. Whoever replaces Iger is going to have some massive shoes to fill and will constantly find themselves being compared to a CEO whose leadership the board calls “outstanding.” In fact, under this outstanding leadership for the last ten years, Disney became the first movie studio to hit the $7 billion ceiling for global box office receipts. News of this latest extension sent the company stock up. Which makes perfect sense since during Iger’s tenure, investors took in a 448% return on Disney shares.

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Disney’s ESPN Not the Happiest Place on Earth; SEC Looks to Salary-Shame; Netflix and Microsoft Maternity-Leave Shami

Squeak squeak…

Image courtesy of digitalrt/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalrt/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The House of Mouse took quite the beating today on Wall Street but no animated rodents are to blame for this one. Instead we look to Disney-owned ESPN whose third quarter performance wasn’t victorious. The cable channel lost plenty of subscribers as consumers look to “cord-shaving” and “cord-cutting” their ever expanding cable bills. The fact is, when cable subscribers look to save money on their monthly expenses, ESPN is usually the first item to be sacrificed as it eats up $6 a month. Just ask the 3.2 million consumers who already dropped ESPN from their channel lineup. Of course, the network still has some 90 million subscribers but it’s not exactly sparking investor confidence because it’s got those investors wondering how ESPN could grow – and make money. At least Disney Chairman Bob Iger has some confidence left for the sports network. Someone should. But it wouldn’t be fair to only blame ESPN for the disappointing earnings. The strong dollar and declines at theme parks also added to the fiscal misery. So you see, it’s not all ESPNs fault. What a relief. Third quarter revenue hit $13.1 billion with $1.45 added per share, much to the disappointment of analysts who expected $13.2 billion. Disney hasn’t had an earnings miss in two years. You know what didn’t disappoint at Disney? “Age of Ultron” and “Cinderella.” That’s what. Together with sales of licensed products, those areas saw double digit percentage increases.

And you get to fly on the company jet?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It’s not everyday the SEC and drama can be found in the same sentence. But now that day has come all because of a new SEC ruling that is stirring quite a bit of trouble. Under the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act, public companies now have to issue a “pay ratio disclosure” detailing the compensation of its CEO and the median compensation of the its average employee. Pay gap, anyone? With a 3-2 vote for the ruling, Republicans are against it saying that it will only serve to “name and shame” CEO’s and companies and has no use or relevance to investors. Democrats feel quite the opposite feeling it’ll help investors determine and vote on pay packages for CEO’s. Of course the groups out there that protest income inequality love the new ruling because it’ll highlight and bring all the right attention to their cause. Between 1978 and 2014, the average CEO pay went up almost 1000%. That, my cyber-friends, is what you call a surge. Problem is, according to the Economic Policy Institute, pay for average employees classified as “non-supervisory” only went up by less than 11%. Talk about discrepancies. Commissioner Daniel Gallagher, who voted against the ruling, argued it will wastefully cost approximately $1.3 billion just to implement the compliance and said, “To steal a line from (Supreme Court) Justice (Antonin) Scalia, this is pure applesauce.” How poetic.

Bundle of joy…

Image courtesy  of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Netflix and Microsoft are trying to one-up each other only this time it has very little to do with tech and sales and more to do with babies. Microsoft just announced its updated maternity/paternity policy which now gives parents 20 weeks of full paid leave plus two weeks before a due date for short-term disability. But it’s not as generous as Netflix’s latest policy, dubbed “unlimited” which gives parents a whole year to be with their newest arrivals, allowing them to come and go and go and…well you get it, right? Netflix brass feel that it’s more important to “focus on what people get done, not on how many days worked.” These generous parental leave policies aren’t exactly trendsetting in Silicon Valley. Only for the rest of the country where the United States ranks dead last among 38 countries in government supported parental leave. But Netflix goes one further with its “unlimited vacation” policy too. “Netflix leaders set good examples by taking big vacations and coming back inspired to find big ideas.”  Great. Sign me up.