Oracle's CEO steps down, Alibaba's record-breaking IPO, and sunny forecasts for holiday hiring top our roundup of the morning's top business news stories.
Oracle CEO Steps Down
Oracle founder and CEO Larry Ellison announced Thursday he's planning to relinquish his role, but will remain with the company as the board’s chairman and chief technology officer. Mark Hurd and Safra Catz, co-presidents of Oracle, will assume the role as CEO. Catz will handle all manufacturing, finance and legal functions at the company, while Hurd manages "sales, service and vertical global business units," USA TODAY reports. Ellison, 70, the world’s fifth richest man, founded the database giant in 1977. It is now worth an estimated $50 billion.
Biggest. U.S. IP0. Ever.
Alibaba priced its shares at $68 apiece Thursday, raising $21.8 billion for the company and investors, and solidifying its stature as the biggest U.S. IPO in history, USA TODAY reports. The stock is to trade under the symbol BABA on the New York Stock Exchange. The IPO tops Visa's $17.9 billion offering in 2008, which was previously the U.S.'s No. 1, Renaissance Capital, which manages an initial public offering exchange-traded fund, states. The $68-a-share IPO price values the entire company at $170.8 billion, which would make Alibaba the 23rd most-valuable company in the Standard & Poor, ahead of Amazon at $150 billion and eBay at $65 billion. Since the company is domiciled outside the U.S., though, the company isn't subject for inclusion in the S&P 500.
Holiday Hiring to Reach a Fifteen-Year High
Here’s an early holiday present for jobseekers. American retail and transportation companies this week have announced increases in the number of temporary workers they plan to hire for the holiday season. Among them, UPS will hire up to 95,000, Kohl's 67,000 and FedEx 50,000. Wal-Mart will add 60,000 temporary workers. The Associated Press reports that collectively such hiring could reach its highest point this year for stores since 1999. Stores are forecasting that they'll need more temporary help for the holiday season, which accounts for 20 percent of the retail industry's annual sales. Chicago-based Challenger Gray & Christmas Inc., a global outplacement consultancy, predicts retailers will add more than 800,000 seasonal workers between October and December.
Obamacare Signups Down
The Obama administration reports 7.3 million people have signed up for subsidized private health insurance under the health care law. This is down from eight million reported earlier this year. Medicare Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, whose agency oversees HealthCare.gov. updated the numbers at a hearing Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The slippage is attributed to about 10 percent of new policyholders failing to pay their first month's premium. The new count represents paying customers as of Aug. 15, Tavenner said. She expects total enrollment to remain basically stable until the next open enrollment season starts Nov. 15.
Microsoft Shuts Down Silicon Valley R &D Lab
As part of its goal of cutting 18,000 staff, Microsoft announced Thursday it will close its Silicon Valley research-and-development operation as part of 2,100 layoffs. Employees first made news of the research lab’s closure at the company’s Mountain View, California campus public on Twitter. The company later confirmed the move and said it would involve the loss of 50 jobs. Microsoft Research has more than 1,000 scientists and engineers worldwide working on new product ideas. It will consolidate its U.S. work at Microsoft's main campus in Redmond, Washington, and in offices in New York and Boston. This is the second wave of cuts that will eventually result in the loss of 14 percent of Microsoft’s workforce. Microsoft reportedly cut160 jobs in California on Thursday, and another 747 in the Seattle area, a spokesman said, as part of a total of 2,100 layoffs around the world.
U.S. Household Wealth Rose 1.7 Percent in Second Quarter
Americans’ net worth in the April-June period reached a record high, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. Household wealth rose 1.7 percent in the second quarter to $81.5 trillion. Stock and mutual fund portfolios gained $1 trillion. The value of their homes increased $230 billion. But U.S. households also took on the most new debt in five years, driven mostly by student and auto loans. Along with increased spending, increased borrowing can be a sign of confidence in the economy, although it can be a burden on young households. U.S. net worth has rebounded dramatically since the depths of the Great Recession. During the first quarter of 2009, net worth fell as low as $55.6 trillion — 19 percent below its pre-recession peak of $68.8 trillion, USA TODAY reports.