TechCrunch has learned that Apple has made an acquisition aimed at boosting its e-books effort versus Amazon. It has bought Boise, Idaho, startup BookLamp. A source says Apple bought BookLamp's employees and technology for a price that was "higher than $10 million, and lower than $15 million." BookLamp's most well-known product was the Book Genome Project, which makes suggestions based on natural language analysis of other titles.
According to NPD Group, the U.S. restaurant industry is stuck in neutral. Restaurant traffic remained at approximately 61 billion visits in the year ended May 2014, which was flat compared to the prior year. The firm said traffic is still below pre-recession traffic volume levels by nearly 1.3 billion visits. NPD's long-range forecast shows little traffic growth - less than 1% - over the next several years.
Advertisers in India go for the heartstrings for things like banking, jewelry, search engines, and cooking oil. Papri Dev, managing director, Zeno Group, India, said, "Brands that have stayed true to the emotion that perfectly fits with their values have reaped dividends." But Indian consumers are more engaged now, more educated, smarter, and tech- and media-savvy. "The age of social has shown us that a brand's perception and what it stands for rests firmly within the consumer mind and opinions."
In a gigantic understatement, former General Motors chairman and CEO Dan Akerson says the automaker's ignition switch recall crisis shows that corporate culture issues were far more serious than executives realized. Akerson left in January to care for his wife, who has cancer. "I think we all... didn't fully realize how deep some of the problems ran," said Akerson. "I think we built a good foundation. I think the company needed a lot of change, and I said a lot of that culture wasn't where we wanted it to be."
Darden Restaurants Inc. on Monday said Clarence Otis Jr. would be stepping down this year from both the chairman and chief executive roles. Darden's board appointed lead independent director Charles A. Ledsinger Jr., who has served since 2005, as independent non-executive chairman of the board, effective immediately.
A Minnesota man traveling with his two sons tweeted about being rudely treated by a Southwest Airlines gate agent. Minutes later, he was asked to leave the flight after the tweet hit the nets. The airline, which said it doesn't squelch social media criticism also said that its decision, "was not based solely on a customer's tweet." But the man was allowed to re-board once he had deleted the tweet.
Hershey Co. is prepping its first price hike in three years, 8% on average, because of high dairy and cocoa prices. While the company expects a short-term dip in sales, it says long-term prospects are good because of the strength of the brand and popularity of chocolate. Last week CEO John Bilbrey said the maker of Hershey Kisses and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups will be watching for reduction in sales caused by the increase. Competitor Mars Chocolate North America said on Wednesday it was raising prices 7%.
Lay's is introducing Cappuccino chips on Monday. The new, highly questionable, flavor joins Cheddar Bacon Mac & Cheese, Mango Salsa, and Wasabi Ginger as new skus. The flavors were finalists from the yearly "Lays Do Us a Flavor" contest that centers on crowd-sourced chip ideas. Whichever flavor gets the most votes online becomes a permanent Lays flavor.
Wal-Mart, whose sales have been sluggish, said Thursday that its U.S. CEO, Bill Simon, is stepping down and is being replaced by the head of the company's Asia operations. Simon had been in the role since June 2010, and was in line to be the global CEO. Doug McMillon was tapped for that job. Simon will be replaced by Gregory Foran and start a six-month consulting contract.
Paris Hilton, who hasn't done anything scintillating lately, is back with Carl's Jr. for another unlikely pairing of patties, pickles and puerile car washing. A new ad from 72andsunny has her advising Sports Illustrated model Hannah Ferguson on how to best clean a vehicle. Hilton is also doing things orally with a hamburger that don't seem really to involve eating. The soundtrack: Cole Porter's "I Love Paris."