Business news

A giant robot that shoots ... T-shirts?

Jul 31, 2015
Molly Wood

If the whole idea of creating a new sports entertainment league that will rival the UFC, WWE and NASCAR for sheer dollars, excitement and danger doesn't work out, the MegaBots can always do parties. It turns out that a MegaBot is a really good T-shirt cannon.

MegaBots is a startup, based in Oakland, California, doing the kind of work a lot of kids hope to be doing someday, too: building a 15-foot tall, 15,000-pound fighting robot, and hoping it'll become the centerpiece of a new global entertainment business.

This post was updated at 6:45 p.m. ET

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton released eight years worth of tax returns Friday, showing that she and her husband Bill Clinton earned $139 million since 2007. They paid nearly $44 million in federal taxes during that period. The couple's effective federal tax rate ranged from 25 percent in 2007 to 36 percent last year.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

The minimum wage debate

Jul 31, 2015
Marketplace Weekend Staff

Next weekend on Marketplace, guest host David Lazarus will take a look at the debate behind the minimum wage across the U.S. Does the minimum wage force companies to layoff low-paid employees? Or is a living wage fair to employees?

Have you ever lived on the minimum wage in your area? We want to hear your stories. Send us an email or reach us on Twitter, @MarketplaceWKND

Kai Ryssdal's 10th anniversary

Jul 31, 2015
Julian Burrell

This Friday marks the 10th anniversary of Kai Ryssdal hosting Marketplace.

To celebrate, Marketplace Senior Producer Sitara Nieves and and Executive Producer and Vice President Deborah Clark surprised him with a pop quiz:

What was his lead story 10 years ago?

What was the music for the numbers?

What was his personal admission on the broadcast?

To hear the answers, click on the audio player above.

Relativity Media goes into turnaround

Jul 31, 2015
Nova Safo

Hollywood studio Relativity Media has filed for bankruptcy after reportedly amassing more than $1 billion in debts. The company's assets amount to half of that, according to reports.

Kai Ryssdal

Joining us to talk about the week's business and economic news are Linette Lopez of Business Insider and Fusion's Felix Salmon. The big topics this week: the possibility of an interest rate hike this year, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's dependence on data and corporate profits in the tech world. 



Employee compensation growth stalls out

Jul 31, 2015
Mitchell Hartman

The Labor Department reports that employee compensation — wages, salaries and benefits — increased 0.2 percent in the second quarter of 2015. The employment cost index increased 0.7 percent in the first quarter, and economists expected about the same pace of growth for the second quarter. The annual rate of compensation inflation was 2 percent in the second quarter, compared to 2.6 percent for the first quarter.

SoulCycle pedaling hard toward IPO

Jul 31, 2015
Gigi Douban

Another surprise in the IPO-announcement department: SoulCycle, a boutique cycling studio with locations concentrated around New York and California. It's been doing well, especially with the celebrity set, tripling its studios from 2012 to last year to 36. Profits more than tripled during that time to $26 million in 2014.

Do federal contractors save the government money?

Jul 31, 2015
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

Groups of federal contract workers have been walking off the job and holding protests every few months.  

It’s part of a campaign called Good Jobs Nation, backed by organized labor. It's pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage for federal contract workers and union representation. The most recent demonstration was in Washington, in late July.

Marketplace for Friday, July 31, 2015

Jul 31, 2015

Airing on Friday, July 31, 2015: Have you gotten a raise lately? The Federal Reserve is interested. And boutique studio SoulCycle pedals hard toward an IPO.

Autonomous weapons and the eventual robot uprising

Jul 31, 2015
Molly Wood and Raghu Manavalan

This past week, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking and about a thousand other artificial intelligence researchers signed a letter calling for a ban on autonomous weapons.

The remote-operated drones that we use in modern warfare can already fly virtually undetected and use advanced targeting systems to drop bombs on buildings and people below — but the key phrase is "remote-operated." A human is usually controlling the weapon from afar.

The state of the market for consumer robots

Jul 31, 2015
Molly Wood and Jenny Ament

The personal helper bot is the holy grail of our robot fantasies. What's the state of the market for consumer robots, whether they're humanoid or social? Senior tech correspondent Molly Wood spoke to Dan Kara, who studies robotics at the tech market intelligence firm ABI Research. Plus, hear what people in downtown L.A. would want their personal robots to do for them and what they would pay for it. Kara weighs in on just how realistic our fantasies are.

Life as a busker bot in Hollywood

Jul 31, 2015
Jenny Ament

You'll usually find Daniel Moss on Hollywood Boulevard. He's the robot performer who calls himself the Gold Man, a job he's been doing on the streets of Los Angeles for 33 years. He has a treasure box where people tip him in cash as they walk by. At the end of the day, his earnings can range from zero to a thousand dollars. Why be a robot? Moss explains that in his experience, both children and adults like robots because they like toys. 

Listen to Daniel Moss's full story on the audio player above

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Tractor-trailers have 18 wheels. But under current federal law, you can't be 18 years old and drive one across state lines. You have to be 21. The highway bill working its way through the Senate, though, would change that.

PODCAST: Tuning with the push of a button

Jul 31, 2015
David Brancaccio

With another deadline on Monday for Puerto Rico to repay $60 million to bond holders, we take a look at the economic challenges for the commonwealth as tourism dips. Plus, we'll talk about Wall Streets' workout — two major fitness companies are planning IPOs. And a Nashville instrument maker has spent millions of dollars over the course of a decade trying to perfect the self-tuning guitar. But this year, Gibson started making automatic tuners a standard feature on most of its electric guitars.

Andy Uhler

Puerto Rico has debt problems; it's even been called the "Greece of the Americas." On Monday, the Puerto Rican government is due to repay another $60 million to bond holders, and the government is already preparing statements, assuming it won’t have the cash.  

It wouldn’t technically be a default. These are moral obligation bonds, so they don’t have legal repercussions for nonpayment. But it’s not just banks and bondholders who are affected.

Marketplace Tech for Friday, July 31, 2015

Jul 31, 2015

Airing on Friday, July 31, 2015: First up, we'll talk to Stephen Cobb, security researcher at ESET North America, about the Black Hat hacking conference. Plus, Annalee Newitz, Editor-in-Chief at Gizmodo, joins us to talk about the death of Google Plus. And how well have you kept up with the week in tech news? It's time for Silicon Tally! This week, host Ben Johnson takes on Aaron Harris, a partner at Y Combinator and host of Startup School Radio.

While my guitar gently tunes itself

Jul 31, 2015
Emil Moffatt

Gibson has spent millions of dollars over the course of a decade trying to perfect the self-tuning guitar. But it wasn’t until this year the brand behind the iconic Les Paul started making automatic tuners a standard feature on most of its electric guitars.

With one press of a button, tiny motors twist the tuning pegs and within seconds, the guitar is ready to play. The tuner is a small black box tucked out of sight, above the neck at the head of the guitar.

Oceanliners cruise to better results

Jul 31, 2015
Mitchell Hartman

Royal Caribbean, one of the leading global cruise operators, reported profits Friday that beat expectations. Morningstar reports the Wall Street consensus for earnings per share at 72 cents, contrasted with the company’s earnings of 66 cents per share for the same period last year.

McDonald's makes a move on moms

Jul 31, 2015
Marketplace staff

5 years

That's how long negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership have dragged on, as negotiators have tried to work out the details of various sticking points, like sugar, dairy and state-owned enterprises. What has been called the final round of negotiations will wrap up Friday in Maui, Hawaii.


Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit


Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit



Oil companies are coming to terms with the prospect that oil prices could stay low for years. Today, Royal Dutch Shell announced it's laying off 1,600 workers. NPR's John Ydstie reports.

President Obama has ordered the development of a supercomputer that is some 20 times faster than the world's current record-holder and is expected to go online by 2025.

A machine at China's National University of Defense Technology in Guangzhou, called Tianhe-2 (Milky Way-2) is thought to currently be the fastest supercomputer in existence — variously reported as doing either 34 or 55 petaflops (1 petaflop is equivalent to 1 quadrillion floating-point operations per second).

Marketplace for Thursday, July 30, 2015

Jul 30, 2015

Airing on Thursday, July 30, 2015: The unregulated industry of occupational licensing and tech's survival of the biggest.

The obsession with tech-company growth

Jul 30, 2015
Adrienne Hill

Facebook is out with second quarter earnings, and the company reported steady growth in revenue and its user base. Twitter and Yelp, on the other hand, disappointed investors with growth numbers.

Not to be too dramatic about it, but if you're a tech company, it's pretty much grow or die.

Do you really need a license to do your job?

Jul 30, 2015
Nancy Marshall-Genzer

Nivea Earl has been doing African-style hair braiding for the past 16 years.

“So it’s just kind of like a love and a passion for me,” she says.

Earl decided to open a hair braiding shop in Jacksonville, Arkansas, three years ago. 

She soon learned that she  first needed to go to school to become a licensed cosmetologist. Trained, not in braiding, but in cutting, dyeing and washing hair. Even though, as a hair braider, she wouldn’t do any of those things.

There should be a lane for that

Jul 30, 2015
Kai Ryssdal

Science once again validates that which you already knew, namely that people walking down the street with their noses buried in their smartphones are a giant pain in the collective patootie.

Students at the University of Bath over in the U.K. did the research, according to the Huffington Post.