The dramatic conclusion to Laura and Alex's search for information about Intellectual Ventures, and the inventor they claimed they were helping, Chris Crawford. The story turns out to be different than the one Intellectual Ventures originally told.
Planet Money's Alex Blumberg and NPR Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook take a tour through the world of money and politics, discovering just how much time members of Congress spend raising money and which committee assignments yield the biggest campaign donations. They also try to figure out what all this money is actually buying.For an interactive map of Washington DC fundraiser locations, charts of the best and worst types of fundraisers, and other online extras, visit Planet Money's website.
Host Ira Glass tells listeners we can no longer stand behind the reporting in the recently aired episode "Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory." He explains how Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz tracked down Daisey's interpreter in China — a woman named Cathy Lee — who disputes much of Daisey's story.
To get a sense of what really is true of Apple's working conditions in China, Ira talks to New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg. Duhigg, along with Times reporter David Barboza, wrote the newspaper's front-page investigative series in early 2012 about this subject.
Ira continues with Cole Lindbergh and the hundred teenagers who work for himin the games department at Worlds of Fun. We watch them compete againsteach other to see who can do the most business, in Cole's Sweet Sixteenbracket tournament, which pits all 32 games in the park against each other.
Two Responses to "When Patents Attack!"
There's a derogatory term in Silicon Valley for companies that amass huge troves of patents and make money by threatening lawsuits: "patent trolls." When Jeff Kelling's Internet company Fototime was sued - along with more than 130 other companies - for violating someone's patent, he wondered if it was a troll (which the company denies), and then settled out of court.
NPR reporter Laura Sydell and This American Life producer/Planet Money co-host Alex Blumberg tell the story of Intellectual Ventures, which is accused of being the largest of the patent trolls. The investigation takes them to a small town in Texas, where they find a hallway full of empty companies with no employees.
Laura and Alex continue their story about Intellectual Ventures and the practice of patent trolling. They learn why the buying and selling of patents is likely to continue being a huge, controversial business that affects the entire tech industry.
Jon Ronson investigates whether corporate leaders can, in fact, be psychopaths by visiting a former Sunbeam CEO named Al Dunlap. This is an excerpt from Ronson's book, The Psychopath Test.
Chana Joffe-Walt visits a governor who first became famous for promising hisstate he'd create jobs: Scott Walker of Wisconsin. (Yes, he's famous forsome other things since.) Walker promised 250,000 new jobs and 10,000 newbusiness in his state by the end of his first term.
In this terrible economy, we wanted to hear the sound of someone actually getting a job, and producer Lisa Pollak recorded it in the Holland Michigan office of Novo 1. On Tuesday of this week, Deborah Ozga was interviewing applicants for 15 new call center jobs.
Host Ira Glass talks about the infamous line in the band Van Halen's contract insisting that the groups' dressing room include a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown M&Ms removed. Ira used to think this request was just petulant rock-star behavior.
David Rakoff tells the story of a contract between a son and his visiting mother. David Rakoff is the author of several books including Half Empty.
In the 1970s, Dave Kestenbaum's cousin Dan Weiss got promoted from stocker to gift shop manager at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington DC. It was a good job... except for the fact that the place was bleeding cash because of apparent embezzlement.
The formula for Coca-Cola is one of the most jealously guarded trade secrets in the world. So we were surprised to come across a 1979 newspaper article with what looked like the original recipe for Coke.
Jake Halpern tells this story about document expert John Reznikoff, who came into possession of some materials which—if authentic—would change history. Then things got complicated.
David and Chana buy a toxic asset, from a guy named Wit Solberg, who used to work on Wall Street and now helps small banks who've been saddled with toxic assets. Turns out...it's hard to buy a toxic asset.
In California, a kind of crybaby cottage industry has popped up around, of all things, the Americans with Disabilities Act—the federal law that requires all public places to meet a minimum level of accessibility. Some people make a living by suing business owners for not being up to code.
Producer Jane Feltes speaks with Adam Vickers, one of the owners of Vickers Music in the town of Douglas.
Hanco's and Henry's are two restaurants in Brooklyn that sell Vietnamese sandwiches and bubble tea. Their menus are identical, down to the order of the items, the layout, the fonts.
Why is it that Barbados and Jamaica faced almost identical financial crises, but now Jamaica is incredibly poor and Barbados is prospering? Alex Blumberg reports on the surprising strategy Barbados used to survive its crisis. Alex first learned about this story from a paper by Peter Blair Henry, the dean of the Stern School of Business at New York University.
Ira Glass speaks with a man named Daniel Johnson, who is in the K&R business. That's the kidnap and ransom business, where a company helps you negotiate to get back your loved one.
Ira talks about a friend who for years had a very trusted business partner and bookkeeper, until one day when he ran away with all of her money.