Monday, March 31, 2014

RetailMeNot, Circuit of The Americas ink promotional coupon, ad deal

Digital Online Deals company RetailMeNot Inc. has inked a partnership deal with Circuit of The Americas racetrack to peddle special offers for events at the Austin circuit, the companies said Monday.

The agreement will also give Austin-based RetailMeNot (Nasdaq: SALE) advertising exposure at more than 20 COTA events, reaching potentially more than 1 million track attendees annually.

The deal kicked off with RetailMeNot offering a 20 percent discount on a family ticket package for the upcoming MotoGP race in April.

"We value partnerships with burgeoning Austin institutions like the Circuit of The Americas who - like RetailMeNot - are helping to change the landscape of our hometown," said Jill Balis, senior vice president of marketing for RetailMeNot in a statement.

"We believe COTA is an opportunity to grow awareness of our services with an international audience of consumers and potential brand partners who value the power of our marketing platform and mobile capabilities that help drive sales."

Michael Theis is the Austin Business Journal's digital editor.

Friday, March 28, 2014

'David', a Minimalist Platform Shooter Inspired by 'Shadow of the Colossus', Heading to the App Store Soon

<Price Comparep>Fermenter Games have recently released a new game called on Windows and Mac, and are readying a release for iOS. David is a minimalist action platformer, and like its inspiration Shadow of the Colossus, features a series of nine increasingly difficult battles against massive bosses. To combat those bosses, your tiny, abstract character will use a slingshotting mechanic inspired by Angry Birds. That might sound strange, but it totally works. Check out this brief trailer for David.

As mentioned, the game is out on PC, and I went ahead and TOFTT'd the desktop version to get an idea of what David is like. Long story short: it's really awesome. The physics in the game make for a fluid experience, and although each boss is simply a mass of different shapes, their animation and movement give them a lot of personality. You can actually sense their aggression as they come after you, it's really neat. The attacking has you holding down on your character to "charge up" a shot, then trying to fire it in the direction of each boss. It works incredibly well, but feels a bit cumbersome using a mouse and keyboard. This game will definitely shine on the touchscreen.

If any of this has captured your interest, then keep an eye out for David to hit iOS "soon" and be sure to keep tabs on the thread in our forums. Or, you can grab the desktop version on Fermenter's website for a dollar right now and get an early glimpse of what's in store for the mobile release.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Coupon inserts expected on Sunday, March 30

How many Coupon inserts will we receive on Sunday? There should be 2 inserts including 1 SmartSource and 1 P&G insert! I am sure there will be a number of additional Harris Teeter Super Doubles deals with these coupons (especially the P&G ones matched with ZVR's) and I will have a list of deals up on the blog Sunday.

You can see the coupon preview at www.sundaycouponpreview.com HERE for a list of many of the P&G coupons we should receive this Sunday. This list is not exactly what we will get here, but many will be the same.

If you buy the paper at a store on Sunday (instead of getting a subscription), make sure you buy it INSIDE the store, not from the paper boxes. You want to make sure your paper has the coupons in it before you pay, which you can't do if you are buying from the paper box.

Happy shopping everyone!

This post contains affiliate links and I appreciate your using them!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

After Disney's Maker Buy, More Deals In Store for Multichannel Networks

With Disney's blockbuster $500 million-plus deal to buy Maker Studios, look for dealmaking activity in the Promotional Code multichannel network space to continue apace.

MCNs are "now top-of-mind for all the major studios," said Peter Csathy, CEO of Manatt Digital Media Ventures. "There will certainly be a flurry of M&A activity in the next 12-18 months."

Fullscreen, another big MCN operator like Maker, is not publicly entertaining major studio suitors, according to CEO George Strompolos. However, he said, Fullscreen does see value in combining with a large, well-heeled entertainment company like Disney.

"A company getting acquired would benefit from deeper access to capital," Strompolos said in an interview just prior to Disney announcing the Maker acquisition. "There is something to be said for 'upstreaming' the best creators, the best intellectual property into more of the avenues that traditional media (offers). We see a lot of promise there in years to come."

SEE ALSO: Disney Buys Maker Studios In Deal Worth At Least $500 Million

Fullscreen's investors include Peter Chernin's Chernin Group, Comcast Ventures and global ad agency WPP. "We do get a lot of interest in third parties, and we do take that seriously," Strompolos added. "But as of right now, we are planning on staying independent, and growing a strong business the way we know how."

Stephanie Horbaczewski, president and co-founder and CEO of StyleHaul - an MCN focused on young female audiences with fashion and other programming - called the Disney-Maker deal "a breakthrough in the evolution of the online video ecosystem."

Disney's acquisition "clearly shows that online video content is an integral and essential part of the future of media and is strong validation for emerging leaders in the category," she said. L.A.-based StyleHaul has raised $17 million in funding from Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, European broadcaster RTL Group and RezVen Partners.

Studios have already been forming closer ties with the MCN players.

Earlier this month, Warner Bros. led an $18 million investment in Machinima, a struggling YouTube MCN focused on videogamers. The studio's goal with that stake is to tap into the large - and growing - digital audiences for original online video. In particular, Warners sees potential for taking its DC Comics properties to the Machinima audience, said Craig Hunegs, president of business and strategy for Warner Bros. Television Group.

"We are looking for ways to grow and expand our business, and there's a large, appealing audience on YouTube that is gravitating to MCNs like Maker and Machinima," Hunegs said. "If the audiences are there, and we stay authentic to what attracted the fan base, a business opportunity will emerge."

In addition to Hollywood studios, other potential MCN acquirers are Internet-media firms like Yahoo and AOL, which have been looking to expand their video content. Yahoo, for one - which launched unsuccessful bids for Hulu and Dailymotion - stands to rake in billions in cash through the impending IPO of Chinese e-commerce player Alibaba Group. Yahoo, which holds a 24% stake in Alibaba, is obligated to sell half that after Alibaba's IPO, which values the company at more than $100 billion.

As for which MCNs may be attracting interest from large media companies, Manatt's Csathy pointed to vertically focused companies such as StyleHaul, DanceOn, Crunchyroll - the anime MCN in which Chernin Group bought a majority stake - and Indie Music Network, a division of Troytown Entertainment.

"MCNs have a limited ability to monetize what they've been able to build," Csathy said. With studio owners or partners, they have "the ability to take those eyeballs and strategically take those properties upstream to the more traditional world of motion pictures, TV, gaming and merchandise."

Through MCN partnerships or acquisitions, he added, big media congloms "now can sell a much broader package (of advertising for audiences) that are outside the traditional media ecosystem."

Kevin Mayer, Disney's exec VP of corporate strategy and business development, said the company will be able to enhance Maker Studios' ability to make the MCN model profitable while also expanding Disney's digital reach. But, he said, the MCNs don't necessarily need a marriage with a large studio to survive.

"In the fullness of time, as these MCNs continue to grow, they can be profitable even in the standalone model," Mayer said.

Susanne Ault contributed to this report.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Flint native chose homelessness to kick-start his music career, scoring reality shows, major label placement

FLINT, MI -- Flint musician Joe Ryan III wakes up to sun shining into his Los Angeles apartment and begins brainstorming song ideas before driving to a studio to write, produce and record music for Rex Rideout, vice president of A&R for Motown Records.

Recent sessions have resulted in placements for eight-time Grammy nominee Ledisi, and a collaboration between Grammy-nominated singer Kem and iconic rap star Snoop Dogg. His songs have appeared on TV shows and he did the musical score for a reality television series.

But the big time didn't come easy for the 28-year-old former church musician who slept in his car in Los Angeles until a little over a year ago while toiling his way toward the top.

"Joe Ryan is an extremely rare talent," said MC Lyte said in an email. "Multi-faceted, creating original works as an artist/producer/engineer, he's an anomaly to this industry and exactly what the business needs. He's definitely headed to the top."

Ryan began to develop his musical chops while handling piano, drums and organ duties at True Light Holiness Church on Clio Road, started by his grandfather and passed down to his father. The Flint native moved to Madison Heights at age 15, where his basketball skills earned him a spot in the Junior Olympics and a scholarship at Tiffin University.

But less than a semester into college, he was skipping class and basketball games to focus on perfecting his songwriting and production skills. He dropped out of college to pursue music and got a job in Wisconsin, where he met the mother of his children. Recording under the name J Rilla, he won a three-month contest conducted by Milwaukee's 103.7, a radio station owned by KISS FM.

After responding to a Twitter call by Lyte for new producers and writers, he began to compose for her company, Dubose Entertainment. He landed songs in "My Moment," a reality show starring Grammy-nominated R&B artist Trey Songz, and he later handled all of the scoring for the BET reality show "Toya: A Family Affair."

In 2012, Ryan won a contest with U Rock that was scheduled to send him on tour with stars such as T.I., Big Sean, Wale and Soulja Boy. But the contest fell through, and his production deal with Eddie Galan's Mark 1 label died because of differing musical philosophies. His musical career was losing momentum quickly.

After weeks of deliberation and a sleepless night, Ryan decided there was one way to resolve his career drought: send his wife and children to stay with her parents in Wisconsin, and make the 1,879-mile drive to Los Angeles to take another shot at music.

"I told her, 'We should sell everything we've got, you stay with your parents, and I'm going to go out there and make it happen," Ryan remembered. "She knows I never make decisions on other than how I feel in my spirit. Any situation I've been in musically where we have to take a loss, I've shown her ... it's to take 10 steps forward."

He reached out to Rideout, who Lyte had introduced him to a year earlier while Ryan was writing choruses for the late rap legend Heavy D in Rideout's studio. Rideout had just gotten a job at Motown as the VP of A&R, and he said he was hoping to hear back from him soon.

Ryan made the drive across the country from Wisconsin to California, and met with Rideout at the Motown offices in Santa Monica, Calif.

"'I don't have a place for you to stay,'" Ryan remembers Rideout saying, "'but I've got a studio you can work out of when you want to.'"

That was all Ryan needed. For eight months, he spent his days in the studio, working on his own music while grabbing inspiration from award-winning stars such as Pharrell and Hit-Boy, who recorded only rooms away in the same building. At night, he lived in his car, and used free seven-day passes at a variety of gyms to take showers. To sleep, he parked in the lots of McDonald's restaurants, fitness centers -- or, if he was lucky, the gated parking lot of a Hollywood studio where friends would let him in at midnight.

Rideout took notice of Ryan's vast skill set -- not only did he write and make beats, but he also had the know-how to engineer studio sessions for other artists, and to mix down the sounds of their productions to make sure they sound of music do re mi right together. He initially tasked Ryan to just work on the artists' drums, but Ryan wanted more.

"It got to a point where I'm like, 'I'm not sharpening all my skills if I'm only doing drums. I can play keys, I can write, I can do melody,'" Ryan said. He played something for Ledisi that ended up being "Missy Doubt" from her album "The Truth." He later produced fan favorite "Lose Control" from the album.

He also connected with Kem, who had his own bouts with homelessness in Detroit before becoming a Grammy-nominated singer. Kem admired Ryan's persistence, and he went to the studio one day to give him an envelope with a note and some cash -- just enough to help Ryan make his car payment that day. He also asked Ryan for production on a song, which he ended up using for an upcoming song with Snoop Dogg.

Ryan's TV scoring is also continuing. In recent weeks, he completed the scoring for "Hip Hop Sisters," an upcoming BET reality show that will star MC Lyte, Lady of Rage, Lil Mama, and other female rappers' careers. Ryan said the show is going through editing.

The process for this was different from his previous work, since this show contrasts with his other projects.

"This show is less drama-based, so it's situational and has less points of aggression. With the Toya show, they specifically needed somebody who does movie scores," he said. "With this one, it's more cue-driven -- a lot of hip-hop beats -- and I can be a little bit more free with the format."

For Ryan's birthday in February 2013, Rideout offered him a gift for his hard work: He told him to go find a place to live, and that he would take care of it.

"When he said that, I just started crying," Ryan said. "It's not comfortable sleeping in that car. Your back is hurting, and feel like you're losing your mind."

Ryan eventually finished his own album, "1879" - -named after the miles he drove from Wisconsin to Los Angeles. He released the album around his birthday in February. He wants to use the number to describe anyone's hard journey toward reaching their dreams.

"We all have goals we're trying to reach: I want 1879 to be the representation of the grind and whatever you have to do that it takes," he said.

In California, he also connected with fellow Flint native Terry Crews, who shot a video praising the record.

"It's classic, and classy--but it still got that bump, because that's what I've got to have," Crews said in the video. "You're going to enjoy it. You're going to love it."

The TouchArcade Show - 147 - A Quick GDC Wrap Up

<Amazon Dealimg src="http://toucharcade.com/wp-content/plugins/lazy-load/images/1x1.trans.gif">

As we mentioned last week, things were going to be a little weird with this week's episode of the podcast. Jared and I actually recorded this in our hotel room. The audio quality isn't great, but we figured you guys needed something in your podcast feeds. We chat about our favorite games of the week, what we're looking forward to, why Seabeard is so awesome, and my personal highlight: Meeting Flappy Bird creator Dong Nguyen.

Don't forget to shoot us emails with any questions, feedback, or anything else relevant or irrelevant to podcast@toucharcade.com. We read 'em all, even if they don't make it into the podcast. As always, you can listen to us with the links below... And if you like what you hear, please subscribe and/or drop us a review in iTunes. Much appreciated!

iTunes Link: The TouchArcade Show
Zune Marketplace: TouchArcade.com Podcasts
RSS Feed: The TouchArcade Show
Direct Link: TouchArcadeShow-147.mp3, 47.2MB

We'll be back with a full episode next week, so be sure to stick around for that.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Shop online smarter with the Compare Hatke browser extension

E-commerce has gained a lot of attention in India and portals like Ebay, Flipkart, Snapdeal and Amazon have taken the market by storm. With so many portals, one has to jump onto every portal to check the lowest Deal Today of every product.To make things simpler, one can visit Buy Hatke, which is a very useful price comparison website that helps you compare prices from all the Indian online shopping portals.

The people behind Buy Hatke have also launched a neat browser extension called Compare Hatke which works both on Chrome and Firefox and it makes online shopping a real treat.

The extension can be simply installed from here and you are good to go. After installing, when you are shopping online and land on a product page, the extension will automatically search for the same product on every shopping portal to give you the lowest price in a tab right above your page. You can also compare the prices from all the portals by simply hitting the 'Compare prices' option in the tab.

There is also an option called 'Watch item', where Compare Hatke automatically sends you alerts when there is a price drop in a particular product. Along with that every product page includes a graph showing the rise and fall of the price of a product in the past few days. The graph also suggests whether you should buy the product in the coming few days, in a week or in a month by taking an average of the ups and downs of the price.
It is definitely a recommended extension and if you love online shopping, then Compare Hatke is a must.

Nokia presents idea to app contest: Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia Lumia 820, reward points to be won... Come Get Yours

Sunday, March 16, 2014

PlayStation 4 Camera May Be Available In Your Local Best Buy Stores

Not available online

Unlike the Xbox One's inclusion of the Kinect in its package, Sony decided to take a different route by packaging the PlayStation 4 camera separately to lower costs. With the popularity of features like the Playroom, the PlayStation 4 camera sold out very quickly, possibly due to unexpected demand. As a result, it has been about impossible to find over the last few months, but it appears that Amazon Sales may have gotten a restock in stores around the country this week.

There have been many reports online about the camera being available in many Best Buy stores, and when checking with the online inventory checker you can see if you have any stores with it in stock around you. You sadly cannot order it online, even for in-store pick up. My area actually has it in stock currently, with it being hit and miss in the surrounding areas, so your mileage may vary.

Just last week, we reported on Gamestop getting more in stock with a $10 price increase, but it appears that Best Buy has maintained the $59.99 price tag according to the website. With the speed these are selling you, I highly recommend you going to a Best Buy store at soon as possible if it is in stock locally and you want to buy one.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Missing Malaysia Airlines plane: What we know and don't know - CNN.com

(cnn weather) -- As the search for a missing Malaysia Airlines jet entered a sixth day Thursday, investigators remained uncertain about its whereabouts.

Here's a summary of what we know and what we don't know about Flight 370, which was carrying 239 people when it disappeared from radar screens over Southeast Asia.

THE FLIGHT PATH

What we know: The Boeing 777-200ER took off from Kuala Lumpur, the Malaysian capital, at 12:41 a.m. Saturday (12:41 p.m. Friday ET). It was scheduled to arrive in Beijing at 6:30 a.m. the same day, after a roughly 2,700-mile (4,350-kilometer) journey. But around 1:30 a.m., air traffic controllers in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with the plane over the sea between Malaysia and Vietnam.

Quest: They have 'no idea where plane is' Do stolen passports indicate terrorism? A deeper look at Boeing 777s

What we don't know: What happened next. The pilots did not indicate any problem to the tower, and no distress signal was issued. Malaysian military officials cite radar data as suggesting the plane might have changed course. But the pilots didn't tell air traffic control that they were doing so.

Malaysian officials say they are still trying to determine if a radar blip detected heading west soon after the plane lost contact was in fact the missing jet. If it was, the plane would have been hundreds of miles off its original flight path and headed in the wrong direction. Malaysian officials say they have asked U.S. experts to help them analyze the radar data.

We don't know why the plane would have turned around. While one expert tells CNN the plane's possible deviation could mean someone deliberately turned the plane around, another expert says power failure could have disrupted the main transponder and its backup, and the plane could have flown for more than an hour.

Adding to the puzzle, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the plane may have kept flying for a further four hours after its last reported contact. The newspaper attributed the information to two unidentified people who were citing data automatically transmitted to the ground from the passenger jet's engines. CNN has so far been unable to confirm the report.

'We have to find the aircraft'THE PASSENGERS

What we know: There were 239 people on board: 227 passengers and 12 crew members. Five of the passengers were younger than 5 years old. Those on board included a number of painters and calligraphers, as well as employees of an American semiconductor company.

According to the airline, the passengers' 14 nationalities spanned the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and North America. Passengers from China or Taiwan numbered 154, followed by Malaysians, at 38. There were three U.S. citizens on the plane. Four passengers had valid booking to travel but did not show up for the flight, according to the airline. "As such, the issue of off-loading unaccompanied baggage did not arise," it added Tuesday in a prepared statement.

What we don't know: Whether any of the passengers had anything to do with the plane's disappearance.

Friends tell of fears as hopes dim for passengersTHE PASSPORT MYSTERY

What we know: Two passengers boarded the plane using stolen passports. Authorities have identified them as Pouri Nourmohammadi, 18, and Delavar Seyed Mohammad Reza, 29, both Iranians. Malaysian police believe Nourmohammadi was trying to emigrate to Germany using the stolen Austrian passport. The men entered Malaysia on February 28 using valid Iranian passports, according to Interpol.

The use of the stolen passports had raised concern that the people who used them might be involved in the plane's disappearance. But officials have said they think it is unlikely the Iranian men had links to terrorist groups. Malaysian police said Nourmohammadi's mother contacted them after her son didn't arrive in Frankfurt as expected.

"The more information we get, the more we're inclined to conclude that it was not a terrorist incident," Ronald Noble, the secretary general of the international police organization Interpol, said Tuesday.

What we don't know: More details about the two men, particularly Reza. Malaysian officials and Interpol also gave slightly different information for Nourmohammadi's name and age. It was unclear what caused the discrepancy. Would-be immigrants have used fake passports to try to enter Western countries in the past. And Southeast Asia is known as a booming market for stolen passports.

THE SECURITY SCREENING

What we know: Interpol says the passports were listed as stolen in its database. But they had not been checked from the time they were entered into the database and the time the plane departed. Noble said it was "clearly of great concern" that passengers had been able to board an international flight using passports listed as stolen in the agency's database.

What we don't know: Whether the passports had been used to travel previously. Interpol says it's "unable to determine on how many other occasions these passports were used to board flights or cross borders." Malaysian authorities are investigating the security process at the airport in Kuala Lumpur, but have insisted it meets international standards.

How does a jet go missing?THE CREW

What we know: The crew members are Malaysian. The pilot is Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, a 53-year-old veteran with 18,365 flying hours who joined Malaysia Airlines in 1981. The first officer, Fariq Ab Hamid, has 2,763 flying hours. Fariq, 27, started at the airline in 2007. He had been flying another jet and was transitioning to the Boeing 777-200 after having completed training in a flight simulator.

What we don't know: What went on in the cockpit around the time the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers. The passenger jet was in what is considered the safest part of a flight, the cruise portion, when it disappeared. The weather conditions were reported to be good. Aviation experts say it's particularly puzzling that the pilots didn't report any kind of problems before contact was lost.

THE SEARCHAuthorities 'puzzled' by missing flight Search area for missing plane widens Are flight recorders 'antiquated?'

What we know: Dozens of ships and planes from various countries have been scouring the South China Sea near where the plane was last detected. Debris spotted in the area has turned out to be unrelated to the plane. Similarly, an oil slick in the search area was determined to be from fuel oil typically used in cargo ships, not from the plane. Vietnamese searchers found no trace Thursday of "suspected floating objects" detected in Chinese satellite imagery near the plane's last confirmed loc ation.

What we don't know: Whether the search is concentrating on the right place. Authorities initially focused their efforts around the mouth of the Gulf of Thailand, near the plane's last known position. But they have expanded efforts westward, off the other coast of the Malay Peninsula, and northward into the Andaman Sea, part of the Indian Ocean.

On Wednesday, authorities announced that they'd widened the search area to nearly 27,000 square nautical miles (35,000 square miles).

Jet was 'at safest point' in flightTHE CAUSE

What we know: Nothing. "For the aircraft to go missing just like that ... as far as we are concerned, we are equally puzzled as well," Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Malaysian Civil Aviation Department, said this week. The aircraft model in question, the Boeing 777-200ER, has an excellent safety record.

What we don't know: Until searchers find the plane and its voice and data recorders, it may be difficult to figure out what happened. CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen says the range of possible reasons behind the disappearance can be divided into three categories: mechanical failure, pilot actions and terrorism. But all we have are theories.

THE PRECEDENT

What we know: It's rare, but not unprecedented, for a commercial airliner to disappear in midflight. In June 2009, Air France Flight 447 was en route from Rio de Janeiro to Paris when communications ended suddenly from the Airbus A330, another state-of-the-art aircraft, with 228 people on board. It took five days to locate the first piece of debris from that plane -- and nearly two years to find the bulk of Flight 447's wreckage and most of the bodies in a mountain range deep in the Atlantic Ocean. It took even longer to establish the cause of the disaster.

What we don't know: Whether what happened to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane is similar to what happened to the Air France flight. Investigators attributed the Flight 447 crash to a series of errors by the pilots and their failure to react effectively to technical problems.

How traffic control keeps you safe

CNN's Tom Watkins and Steven Jiang contributed to this report.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Two coupon inserts in Sunday's N&O

Look for two Promotional Codes inserts -- a hefty Smart Source and one Red Plum -- in this Sunday's home-delivered Final Edition of The News & Observer. Plus, look for a single-page flier with one Olay coupon.

There are some nice coupons this week on brands such as Friendly's, Mrs. Paul's, Pepperidge Farm and Ronzoni. On top of that, be on the look-out for two mail-in rebate opportunities.

All together, there will be 130 coupons and two rebates with a face value of about $168.

As usual, I'll have the coupon database updated and the best of the drugstore deals posted early Sunday morning so you can get a jump on your bargain shopping for the week. And just a reminder that Kroger has switched sales cycles so the Kroger deals posts now appear on Wednesdays.

Please note: Single-copy and State Edition papers may not contain all coupon inserts.

County eases Amazon's job creation deal

SEGUIN - An amendment to the development agreement with Best Offer.com">Amazon.com was approved Tuesday by Guadalupe County Commissioners Court.

"Within a period of 12 months, we were looking to build the largest facility in our county - 1.3 million square feet - and welcome to town, to Guadalupe County, Amazon.com," David Gwin, economic development director for the city of Schertz, told commissioners court. "We have done that. They are in operation now, and we are here to talk about a tweaking of the agreement."

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Zimmer's Legacy Is Windfall With Men's Wearhouse Deal: Real M&A

Bloomberg News

Buy Cheap-real-m-and-a">

George Zimmer set the stage for a $1 billion-plus payday for shareholders of Men's Wearhouse Inc. and Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc. -- and he wasn't even there to toast the merger.

Men's Wearhouse, which Zimmer founded 40 years ago, said yesterday it will pay $65 a share for Jos. A. Bank, a deal that would value the combined company at $4.5 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The agreement ends a takeover tussle that began in October, about four months after Zimmer put his own company in play by encouraging it to consider going private.

Zimmer's disagreements with management led to his ouster, which Oscar Gruss & Son Inc. said may have removed an obstacle to Men's Wearhouse merging with its rival. In the time it took the company and Jos. A. Bank to settle on a price they both could agree on, shareholders became $1.7 billion richer as the stocks soared, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

"The clear winners are definitely the shareholders," Betty Chen, a San Francisco-based analyst at Mizuho Securities USA Inc., said in a phone interview. "Jos. A. Bank holders benefit from a higher offer price, and Men's Wearhouse holders benefit from a much stronger company with better accretion. This is a rare deal scenario where it's a win-win."

Founder Disagrees

Zimmer was fired in June after disagreements with management over strategy, including his desire to consider taking Men's Wearhouse private. Zimmer, the former face of Men's Wearhouse in TV commercials, still owned about 3.5 percent of the company, according to an August filing.

"That's really his brand, and he's probably been spending a lot of his career competing against the likes of a Jos. A. Bank," Louis Meyer, a special situations analyst at Oscar Gruss in New York, said in a phone interview. As the founder, he may have been a "roadblock" to a merger, Meyer said.

It didn't take long for Jos. A. Bank to step in with a bid after Zimmer left. Men's Wearhouse turned down the offer and began its pursuit to buy Jos. A. Bank instead. The back and forth over which retailer would be the target and at what price continued into the new year.

Zimmer's ouster "stirred the pot," Erik Gordon, a business and law professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, said in a phone interview. "Jos. A. Bank looked over there and said, 'This is a good time to pounce.' It wasn't predictable who would actually win the battle, but they were going to combine. It made too much sense for them not to."

Stocks Soar

Both stocks have more than 50 percent since they started offering to buy each other five months ago, boosting their market values by a collective $1.7 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show. The 62 percent rally in Men's Wearhouse since Oct. 8 lifted its to $2.7 billion, while shares of Jos. A. Bank gained 54 percent to value the company at $1.8 billion, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Men's Wearhouse is valuing its competitor at about 11 times trailing 12-month before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization. North American apparel retailers have sold for a median of 9.1 times Ebitda, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

"It's probably at the top end of the range," Jason Ronovech, a fund manager at Sentinel Investments, which oversees about $27 billion and owned Men's Wearhouse shares as of Dec. 31, said in a phone interview. "But when you look at the synergies they've laid out and then you factor in what might be the synergies just around a better competitive environment longer term, I think that the multiple probably makes sense."

Creating Value

Men's Wearhouse estimates the deal will result in $100 million to $150 million of annual savings and increase earnings in the first full year.

There is "a lot to be said for and it might have some very real benefits," Josh Lerner, an investment banking professor at Harvard Business School, said in a phone interview. "I think it comes down to synergies. I think what the market is telling us is there is essentially a lot of value to be created from putting these two companies together."

Next, Men's Wearhouse has some work to do in consolidating and streamlining the two businesses, said Richard Jaffe, a New York-based analyst at Stifel Financial Corp. Men's Wearhouse is headquartered in Houston, while Jos. A. Bank's offices are more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) away in Hampstead, Maryland.

"Shareholders prevail," he said. But "now the work begins. Men's Wearhouse's has a large task ahead of them."

To contact the reporters on this story: Tara Lachapelle in New York at tlachapelle@bloomberg.net; Brooke Sutherland in New York at bsutherland7@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Beth Williams at bewilliams@bloomberg.net Whitney Kisling

Monday, March 10, 2014

Titanfall Deals Are Sparse: Best Places to Buy or Pre-Order Titanfall

The launch of the upcoming first-person shooter game that's only coming to Microsoft's Xbox One, Xbox 360 and Windows PCs, is going to be big. Though the game lost some of its edge after it was delayed last year, it's now clear that Microsoft's hopes for console sales over the next few month hinges on whether Titanfall is a success.

If it isn't the company could go into the Electronic Entertainment Expo in June with millions of Xbox One owners all looking for a decent exclusive game to pick up with their system and only a handful of blockbuster titles to hold them over. If the game is successful Microsoft could have found another title that millions of users respond to. After all, the company can't continue to make Halo and Gears of War forever.

With the stakes that big, many retailers are getting on the Titanfall festivities. For example, many are offering deals on physical copies of the game. So where should you purchase your retail copy of Titanfall?

Microsoft Store

The Microsoft Store isn't rolling out a big carpet for Titanfall buyers so much as it's just introducing a few small deals to get users excited about the release. Any user who purchases Titanfall for Xbox One will have the game delivered to them on launch day. The company is also bundling a $10 gift card that buyers can use to purchase content from the Xbox Store.

Additionally, the company is letting users get a year of Xbox Live Gold when they pre-order the game for just $39.99. That's about $20 less than what it costs usually.

Amazon

Amazon is doing a bit more for Titanfall buyers. Users who pre-order the game before March 7th will receive the game along with a free mini Prima Guide for the game. According to Amazon's description that guide contains what amounts to paper maps and information to help users make it through the first few weeks of the multiplayer-only title with a bit of an edge.

PC buyers of the game will get that Prima Mini Guide plus $5 in Amazon Video Games store credit. Xbox 360 buyers will get only the Prima Mini Guide like their Xbox One counterparts.

GameStop

Surprisingly, GameStop is doing almost nothing to entice buyers. Gamers will be able to pick up the title on launch day, however its buyers won't get any exclusive content or DLC or extra deals. Instead, the gaming only retailer is giving users an exclusive game poster.

Wal-Mart

Finally, Wal-mart seems to have used the same philosophy as Microsoft did for its Titanfall buyers. Users who pre-order and purchase the game from Wal-mart will get a $4.99 voucher for the company's VUDU movie streaming service and a custom mission patch. Renting a movie on the service costs as little as $2.99 for older titles that aren't on sale. Purchasing a movie on the service could cost users as much as $15.

Read: Discount-way-to-buy-titanfall-on-day-one">What's the Best Way to Buy Titanfall on Day One?

Titanfall launches on Xbox One and the PC on March 11th. Xbox 360 users will need to wait until March 25th before they can pick up the game. Buyers should remember that the game is heavily multiplayer based. As such, they'll really need an internet connection and an Xbox Live Gold subscription for the best experience.

Travis Pope is a Reporter-at-large for GottaBeMobile. He's currently enjoying a romp in the dangerous quicksand that is Microsoft's Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox ecosystem.

Monday, March 3, 2014

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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Retailers are using mobile apps to drive up sales

<macys coupon codesp>Tia Smith clutched her new phone in one hand and a phone case in the other as she shopped at a West Hollywood Best Buy.

She clicked away into her smartphone's tiny screen and searched for the case in other nearby stores.

"I'm trying to buy this Otter phone case for my new phone," she said. "But I'm trying to see if Target or Wal-Mart has it for cheaper so they can honor the price match," she said, as she scrolled through Target's mobile site on her new phone.

As more people turn to their smartphones and tablets when they're thinking about making a purchase, retailers and marketing companies are rushing to figure out ways to transform these mobile browsers into buyers. Some are providing special bargains. A few are tracking shoppers' every move around the store and nudging them to seal the deal.

During the fourth quarter of last year, mobile devices were responsible for 16.6% of online sales, up from 11.4% in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to an IBM Corp. study. Tablets drove 11.5% of those sales compared with 5% from smartphones, IBM said.

"People are using smartphones and tablets on different occasions," said Charlie Anderson, chief executive of Shoptology Inc., a marketing company. "They're using the tablet at night when they're on the couch or in bed and making purchases or doing research, and mobile is more for doing research while you're in brick-and-mortar stores."

Mobile shoppers are always on the lookout for a better deal, said Beth Craig, director of insight for Catapult, a marketing consulting company. In a study produced by Google Inc. last year, 44% of smartphone shoppers said they used mobile devices to shop because it saved them money.

Google's search engine is popular for comparison shopping, as are a proliferation of mobile apps that can read bar codes and other coded product identifiers using a properly equipped smartphone.

The field is still relatively young, so consumer product companies and retailers are still figuring out how to attract these mobile shoppers, said Adam Guy, senior vice president of business development for Millward Brown, a market research company.

Several retailers also have turned to special shopping apps. Some are fairly basic, guiding customers to various departments within a store, cluing shoppers in on specials and enabling shoppers to make shopping lists and load coupons electronically.

Tools that provide promotional offers and digital coupons tend to be among the most popular methods of marketing on these devices.

"One of the problems with coupons is access. How many times do you go to a store and get to the counter and realize that you forgot your coupon?" Guy said.

Wal-Mart has released a more sophisticated mobile phone app that tracks a user's location using the phone's GPS and can offer in-store deals when it recognizes the shopper is in a store.

A few retailers are taking the concept even further.

In November, the Macy's department store chain began testing a product called ShopBeacon at stores in San Francisco's Union Square and New York's Herald Square.

The app, created by Shopkick Inc. of Redwood City, Calif., enables a merchant to offer discounts on specific products that a customer has expressed interest in or, perhaps, has lingered near, prodding him or her to buy.

"We can find out where you are standing and how long you've been standing in front of the Michael Kors handbag and if you haven't purchased," Macy's Chief Executive Terry Lundgren said at an analysts conference in November. "And if you haven't, I'll send you a little note to give you encouragement to do so."

"It's just like when you're at home online and ... you're on a Macy's page and you haven't actually bought, we can come back to you and send you a little pop-up message. Well, now we can do that when you're in our store, when you are thinking about purchasing and you're not purchasing," Lundgren said.

ShopBeacon, which uses sensors in a store to interact with Apple Inc.'s iBeacon location technology, began rolling out in January to 100 American Eagle Outfitters and Aerie stores in Los Angeles and other major cities. Shoppers are enticed to the opt-in technology not only by discounts but also the promise of rewards such as gift cards, music downloads and movie tickets, Shopkick said.

Although the use of mobile devices in shopping is growing, sales from phones and tablets remain relatively low.

Despite the most lucrative mobile shopping holiday on record in 2013, consumers left nearly $16 billion on the table in the form of lost mobile sales during that period, according to Jumio, a mobile payments and ID verification company. Poor mobile payment experiences drove almost half of consumers considering purchases to abandon them.

Consumers don't like having to squint as they browse on their portable screens and aren't hitting the tiny "click" button on their screen.

"Trying to search for things on this iPhone is like looking through a peephole," said Scottie Slane, a musician who was using his phone to research an SD memory card he was interested in buying at a Best Buy in West Hollywood recently.

"You've gotta zoom and then scroll," Slane said. "It's inconvenient, so I'll just do it at home."

james.barragan@latimes.com Twitter: @James_Barragan

Saturday, March 1, 2014

BusinessWest

<On Salesh2>Cover

Yasir Osman Has Taken a Long, Twisting Ride to Entrepreneurship When Yasir Osman arrived in New York from his homeland of Sudan in 1989, he had $100 in his pocket [...]

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Farms, Open Space Shape Belchertown's Outlook The sun shone brightly on almost a foot of snow as Steve Lanphear pruned apple trees in his Belchertown orchard. Although the temperature hovered [...]

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Difference Makers to Be Feted on March 20 at the Log Cabin You might call this the 'Home Depot class.' Indeed, there are some notable building, or home-restoration, stories involving [...]

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At Webber & Grinnell, the Devil Is in the Details The sales pitch at Webber & Grinnell Insurance often comes down to one simple question: what are you not covered [...]

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Partners at chikmedia Say Marketing Shouldn't Be Stressful Meghan Rothschild was taken aback by how Bob Lowry, owner of Bueno y Sano, described her new marketing firm's work: "zany things [...]

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New York Sound and Motion Invests in the Big Picture When Ed Brown interned for a neighbor's lighting and gaffing business during one of his college summers home on Long [...]

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Phillips Insurance Agency Specializes in Surety Bonds Joseph Phillips is drawing a triangle to illustrate how a surety bond works. One leg is upheld by a contractor, and the other [...]

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If the Answer Is 'No,' the Consequences Could Be Costly By MICHAEL LEVIN When it comes to cyber security and data breaches, no system is infallible. Some of the largest [...]

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A chart of insurance agencies in the region Click here to download the PDF

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Springfield-based TSM Design Opens Second Office in Hartford Nancy Urbschat recalls the moment she and her team at TSM Design saw the small yet attractive office space in the historic [...]

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As Speech-recognition Technology Improves, More Applications Emerge Speech-recognition technology, which instantly translates human speech into a digital document or command, has been around in some form for about two decades. [...]

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A chart of area web development companies Click here to download the PDF

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A listing of available commercial sites Click here to download the PDF

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Clerk of Courts Laura Gentile Has a Lot on Her Docket For almost two decades, Laura Gentile has been exposed to plenty of things she'd rather not think about - [...]

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Auto Dealers Expect Sales to Accelerate in 2014 By MICHAEL REARDON With the recession in the rear-view mirror, the automobile industry is poised for another successful year fueled by a [...]

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Opinion

Cloud of Uncertainty Hangs Over Casinos This should be a time of great anticipation and, yes, celebration for some players in the casino industry - and, likewise, in communities like [...]

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Cost Report Creates False Impressions By LYNN NICHOLAS The state's Health Policy Commission (HPC) just released its latest Cost Trends Report, in which it claims Massachusetts healthcare providers - primarily [...]

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'Deal of the Day' Campaign Aims to Boost Businesses After a Slow Winter

UPTOWN - Exposed hands and faces aren't the only things hurting in this frightfully frigid, snowy winter. Small business owners said the extreme weather has hit their bottom lines.

That's why Ald. Harry Osterman (48th) and commerce officials are partnering with shops across Andersonville, Edgewater and Uptown to launch the "Deal News" campaign, a promotion featuring one-day discounts and specials at one or more stores each day in March.

Osterman said Thursday he hoped the campaign, a collaboration between the chambers of commerce in Uptown, Andersonville and Edgewater would be a "shot in the arm" for local business.

"This winter's been brutal," Osterman said. "It's been brutal on everyone. It's been very hard on businesses. We've heard a lot from local businesses that there's been a drop off."

Ashley Collier, the manager at Sparkles Fine Jewelry in Andersonville said January has been a bit hard with, as she put it, "people hibernating because of the arctic tundra."

"I think it's extremely wonderful that the chambers and the ward is reaching out to the small businesses and trying to make sure that we are getting the attention that we may have missed out on because of the cold," she said.

On March 14, Sparkles is "going to be playing a little game" as part of the Deal of the Day campaign, Collier said.

Collier said her store, at 5405 N. Clark St., will ask patrons to guess how many diamonds are in a piece of jewelry (likely a pendant, she said, although it hasn't been finalized yet) and the person who guesses closest to the actual amount will win a 14-karat white gold and diamond pendant necklace.

City Olive, which sells special olive oil and gourmet food products at 5644 N. Clark in Andersonville, has experienced its own winter woes, owner Karen Rose said.

"It's definitely been quieter than normal, for sure," Rose said. "Obviously it's been a long winter for everybody, whether you're in retail, restaurants, the service industry; It's been more difficult for people to get around and want to be out."

On March 25, City Olive is offering 10 percent off and a free mini whisk with the purchase of oil.

Shake Rattle and Read held a four-day sale that kicked off on Valentine's Day to commemorate the book, record and memorabilia store's 48th year in Uptown. But the venerable shop raked in "a couple thousand dollars less," than last year's anniversary sale did, said owner Ric Addy, who pinned the decrease on the cold and snow.

"This was probably the worst winter we've ever had here," Addy said, discussing a drop in sales at his store, 4812 N. Broadway.

Addy is optimistic his fortunes will change with the season.

"I know when spring comes things will start popping around here," he said.

Here are some of the deals available in March:

* On Monday, Cookies and Carnitas, 5757 N. Broadway, is offering customers a buy-one-get-one deal for cookies.

* On March 7, Andersonville's Swedish American Museum, 5211 N. Clark St., is offering 20 percent off all Swedish glass, crystal, and children's books in the museum store.

* On March 19, Uncommon Ground, 1401 W. Devon Ave., is giving customers 20 percent off their bill at the restaurant between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m.

* On March 25, Uptown's Demera Ethiopian Restaurant, 4801 N. Broadway, will give a 25 percent discount on entrees.

* On March 29 in Andersonville, graphic novels and kids' comics are 20 percent off at Third Coast Comics, 6234 N. Broadway, on March 29.

For a full schedule of Deal of the Day promotions, click here.