ABB CEO’s thoughts on Thomas & Betts’ acquisition

The ABB Group, a Zurich-based maker of power and automation technology, is planning to acquire Memphis-based Thomas & Betts Corp., a supplier of low-voltage products.

Details will be in The Daily News’ Tuesday, Jan. 31, edition and at www.memphisdailynews.com.

Thoughts from ABB CEO Joe Hogan:

The times they are a-changing

“Your old road is rapidly aging / Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand / For the times they are a-changing.” – Bob Dylan

Oscar contender “The Artist” is a black-and-white homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood, to that magic period when silent films were making way for talkies and when the entertainment world was on the cusp of the Next Big Thing.

Watching the movie recently at Malco’s Ridgeway 4, I was stuck by the similarities between the debonair leading man and his stubborn refusal to let go of his love of silent films – even as the world was so clearly changing around him – and the disruption of so many industries and businesses today.

We write about many of them at The Daily News. We are one of them, in fact. It’s why our social media specialist Kate Simone, for example, recently blogged about changes coming to memphisdailynews.com, including a video section and more information for our Web audience like details of Daily News seminars and events.

The pace of technology-driven change seems faster than ever. Everybody knows that. The more important thing to remember, though, is that it’s almost pointless to plan for it. The best you can hope for is just to keep yourself constantly agile and bendable enough so that when the Next Big Thing arrives, you don’t laugh it off like George Valentin, with his initial assumption that talkies won’t last.

This idea is the subject of the cover story in the current issue of Fast Company – “The Secrets of Generation Flux.” At one point, it references the world of software development and quotes from a book called “Building Data Science Teams.”

That book describes how software used to be developed by a team defining the product, another building mockups and finally engineers building it according to specifications. That’s the so-called “Waterfall” process. Increasingly, though, that process has given way to “agile” development – which allows more room for change throughout the product’s life cycle.

I’m fascinated to see how this all plays out. And it’s playing out everywhere. One of the ventures going through the soon-to-launch second round of the Seed Hatchery business investment program in Memphis is Paytopia, which is apparently going to attempt to bring some much needed change to e-commerce.

This is how Paytopia teases what it’s going to do on its website: “The payments industry inexcusably burdens small business. Paytopia is seeking zen in e-commerce: the balance of harmony between buyer and seller. Maintain focus…enlightenment is near!”

And in emails being sent out to users who sign up now, Paytopia writes: “We think you’ll love Paytopia because we, too, are merchants and we are fed up with the rigorous PCI compliance burdens and the ridiculously high fees that the archaic payments industry places on all businesses, despite the fact that the reasons those burdens exist are due to the weakness of existing payments systems! Our mission is to find a way to defeat the gargantuan regulatory issues that favor the banking industry in order to champion merchants’ rights to conduct business with fair competition among payment services providers.”

Meanwhile, PBS, which has been trying to figure out how to keep itself relevant and engaging, has discovered the elixir of premium content with its smash “Downton Abbey.” Social media is playing a big part in that.

An article on the front page of the Jan. 29 New York Times business section featured a deep dive into the precarious future of Barnes and Noble, which is the last of the mighty brick-and-mortar book retailers.

The point: B&N has taken some dramatic steps to keep it competitive with Amazon.com. And it’s working – for now.

Much Better Redistricting Maps

For those of us crying out for more detailed maps on the recent redistricting of the Tennessee legislature by the Tennessee legislature, here are the Google maps of the new State Senate, State House and U.S. House district lines as offered this afternoon by Lt. Gov. and Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey’s office.

Of particular interest in Shelby County will be the changes to the districts now represented by Memphis Democrats Jim Kyle and Beverly Marrero but Reginald Tate’s district has changed quite a bit as well in south Memphis.

These district lines are the ones that will be used in the August legislative primaries and the Nov. legislative general elections.

And you can see just how far the new 8th Congressional District will come into East Memphis proper.

Morgan Keegan advisers heading to Florida next week

Raymond James delivered details of proposed retention packages to eligible Morgan Keegan advisers Wednesday.

According to Raymond James, the awards will be paid within two weeks of the closing date of the merger with Morgan Keegan. The company expects that to occur on or about April 1.

On Monday and Tuesday, more than 75 top advisers and management officials from Morgan Keegan will be visiting the Raymond James Financial headquarters in St. Petersburg.

Raymond James isn’t publicly talking about the retention payout details yet. One source told The Daily News, and a trade publication is also reporting, that advisers producing more than $1 million will get up to 70 percent of their trailing 12-month production as part of the retention payouts.

Advisers producing less than $300,000 aren’t expected to be offered retention payments. Advisers producing between half a million and $1 million will get up 50 percent; 40 percent for those producing between $400,000 and $500,000 and 30 percent for those between $300,000 and $400,000.

Will Barton and Tarik Black Won’t be Suspended

Will Barton and Tarik Black should be eligible to play in Saturday’s home game against Marshall despite coming off the bench in Wednesday night’s 73-51 win over Rice at FedExForum.

Black, Will Barton and Trey Draper were ejected – along with Rice’s Tamir Jackson – from the game. Tamir Jackson made a hard – flagrant – foul on the Tigers’ Joe Jackson as he was going in for what would have been an easy basket late in the second half.

Had the Tiger players become directly involved in the situation on the court – there was some pushing and grabbing but no punches were thrown – they likely would be suspended for at least a game. Tigers coach Josh Pastner also left the bench. Pastner said a player not leaving the bench is something they’ve stressed.

“We have gone over that as a team,” he said. “We’ve shown film on that. It’s a normal reaction to want to help your teammates, and they took a step or two out. But they were not involved in the altercation.

“I was a little upset because it was a hard foul. I wanted to make sure Joe was OK.”

Dansette

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