TIME Companies

Walmart’s Head of U.S. Operations Will Step Down After Slump in Sales

A sign lists the current Walmart stock price at a Walmart Supercenter in Bentonville
A sign lists the current Walmart stock price at the Walmart Supercenter in Bentonville, Ark., on June 5, 2014 Rick Wilking — Reuters

His replacement has quickly ascended the ranks of the company's operations in Asia in recent years

Walmart announced on Thursday that Bill Simon, the president of its operations in the U.S., will leave the company next month after four years of leadership marked most recently by a decline in sales. Greg Foran, the New Zealand–born executive who just last month assumed his role as head of Walmart Asia, will take over from Simon from Aug. 9.

“Being asked to lead the Walmart U.S. business is a privilege that I don’t take lightly,” Foran said in a company statement. “I am excited to get started. The needs of our customers are changing dramatically, and we have an enormous opportunity to serve them in new and different ways.”

Foran will assume office at a time of uncertainty for the corporation, with five quarters of falling sales in the rearview mirror despite a recent surge in U.S. consumer confidence. A market analyst told Reuters that Walmart CEO Doug McMillon “wanted new blood” in the company to facilitate its efforts in online retail and general rebranding. Foran has been a rising star in Walmart: he left his position as Woolworths’ head of supermarkets in 2011 to take the reins of Walmart’s fledgling China project and was promoted to oversee the company’s expansion in Asia.

TIME Earnings

Amazon’s Q2 Earnings Lower Than Expected

Amazon Q2 2014 Earnings Report
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos presents the company's first smartphone, the Fire Phone, on June 18, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. David Ryder—Getty Images

Pressure is rising for Amazon's new services and products to help the company show profit

Amazon said Thursday that its second quarter financial performance was worse than expected, causing shares to tumble over six percent in after-hours trading.

Amazon reported losing 27 cents per share on revenue of $19.34 billion, while Wall Street had been expecting, on average, a loss of 15 cents per share. Additionally, Amazon’s net loss was $126 million, far greater than the $7 million posted during the same period in 2013.

The company’s net sales, however, rose 23% to $19.34 billion, compared with $15.70 billion in second quarter 2013. Amazon said it expects net sales in the third quarter to reach between $19.7 billion and $21.5 billion. It also expects an operating loss of $410 million to $810 million for next quarter, up significantly from $25 million in 2013, which Amazon attributes to stock-based compensation and amortization of intangible assets.

Investors have long been forgiving of Amazon posting losses or thin profit margins despite its rising revenue, which some insist will be channeled into developing new products that will eventually win back those losses. But Amazon’s shares have fallen by nearly 10 percent this year as some investors grow skeptical of Amazon’s potential long-term growth. Questions remain about how well Amazon’s new services, such as its same-day grocery delivery service, will perform in the future, as Amazon will likely have to work harder to convince stakeholders of its profitability.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement Thursday that the company continues “working hard on making the Amazon customer experience better and better,” noting recent improvements such as those to its cloud computing service, and its new Fire Phone, which goes on sale in the U.S. Friday.

 

TIME food and drink

This Company Is Making Millions By Giving You 5 Fewer Chips Per Bag

Lay's-New Flavor
Using images provided by Frito-Lay, this composite image shows the four finalists for its 2014 "Do Us a Flavor" contest in the U.S. Associated Press

Lay's flavored bags contain slightly fewer chips than regular bags, and the savings add up

The truth is out: yes, some bags of Lay’s potato chips do in fact contain fewer chips. It’s intentional, and it’s saving the company millions.

Lay’s regular packs are 10 oz., but the company’s bags of flavored chips are 9.5 oz, yet both sell for $4.29, according to the Associated Press. The difference is equivalent to roughly 5-6 chips. And while that gap is saving consumers about 75 greasy calories, the biggest benefits are to Lay’s parent company, PepsiCo, which raised its full-year earnings forecast Wednesday in part because of these flavored bags, whose interesting tastes were crowdsourced by potato chip-loving Americans.

Just how much is Lay’s making? Cutting half an ounce from a bag while leaving its price unchanged correlates roughly to a 21 cents-per-bag saving. Lay’s potato chips bring in over $1 billion annually in retail sales, equivalent to over 200 million bags, if the average price per bag is somewhere around $4. At 21 cents saved per bag, the total amount saved is therefore upwards of $50 million—quite a lot for Lay’s considering the tiny amount of chips on which consumers miss out.

The fewer chips strategy is a tack-on to PepsiCo’s larger effort to cut costs through productivity increases, a plan announced in 2012 that’s expected to save PepsiCo $1 billion annually through 2019. Overall this quarter, PepsiCo saw a 5% rise in worldwide on global organic snack revenue, and even a 2% global increase in global beverage sales. The two upward sales and general cost cutting are vital for PepsiCo’s ongoing battle against investor Nelson Peltz, a stakeholder who’s launched a campaign urging PepsiCo to split its snack business from its sluggish beverage business.

In the coming months, the reduced flavored bags will continue to benefit sales volume for Frito-Lay North America, according to PepsiCo CFO Hugh Johnston.

 

 

TIME facebook

Here’s How Facebook Doubled Its IPO Price

Facebook Holds f8 Developers Conference
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening kenote at the Facebook f8 conference on April 30, 2014 in San Francisco, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

Facebook's stock doubled its IPO price by midday Thursday

Facebook suffered a cruel summer back in 2012. The social network raised its IPO price just before going public in May 2012, but technical glitches during early trading caused mass investor confusion. Nasdaq eventually paid a $10 million fine over the debacle, and Wall Street showed no mercy to the social network in the ensuing months. Facebook’s stock cratered, diving from $38 to below $18 before the following autumn.

Two years later, the sun’s shining bright on the tech giant. Facebook beat analysts’ expectations yet again in its latest quarterly earnings report, generating revenue of $2.9 billion and earnings per share of 42 cents. That sent the company’s stock soaring above $76 during midday trading Thursday, doubling its IPO price of $38. That’s also more than quadruple the social network’s all-time low close of $17.73.

Screen Shot 2014-07-24 at 1.25.08 PM

Facebook’s massive turnaround has everything to do with mobile. When the company went public, its revenue was almost completely tied to desktop ads–exactly the kind of business investors in the mobile era don’t like. With more than half a billion people already accessing Facebook on mobile, the company had to prove that it could successfully transition its business. CEO Mark Zuckerberg set a laser-like focus on mobile strategy, and he forced his executive clique to do the same.

The dedication has paid off. Facebook now generates more than two-thirds of its total ad revenue on mobile and has more than a billion mobile monthly active users. Overall ad prices jumped 123 percent year-over-year, partially because mobile ads placed directly in users’ News Feeds are more valuable than ads on the right rail of the site served to desktop users.

But what really has Wall Street salivating is the fact that Facebook has plenty of mobile monetization moves left to make. New auto-playing video ads in users’ News Feeds could help the company lure marketers from television. Instagram introduced ads last year that are being positioned as an attractive option for brand marketers. The company is also likely to figure out ways to make money off its messaging goliaths Messenger and recently-acquired WhatsApp.

Overall, it’s clear that Facebook has solved its mobile conundrum, and Wall Street is rewarding it handsomely. With its share of the overall mobile advertising market quickly increasing, the company may soon to be able to challenge Google to be at the top of the totem pole of mobile.

TIME finance

Morgan Stanley Paying $275M to Settle SEC Charges

(WASHINGTON) — Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay $275 million to settle U.S. civil charges that it misled investors about risky mortgage bonds it sold ahead of the 2008 financial crisis.

The Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement Thursday with the Wall Street bank. The SEC said Morgan Stanley failed to accurately disclose the delinquency status of home mortgages backing two securities deals that it financed and sold in 2007.

New York-based Morgan Stanley neither admitted nor denied the allegations.

The $275 million Morgan Stanley is paying will be returned to investors in the deals who were harmed, the SEC said.

When the housing bubble burst in 2007, millions of home borrowers defaulted on their loans and bundles of mortgages sold by big banks left investors with billions in losses.

TIME

This Is the Secret Power at the End of the Internet

Imgur CEO Alan Schaaf Imgur

Tom Hanks is clutching a giant banana, and he looks a bit perplexed, annoyed even. It’s clear it wasn’t his idea to brandish this fruit in the middle of a bar and put a photo of the scene on the Internet. It must have been the guy with the broad grin right next to him, a Reddit user who goes by the name ASharkToof. “Explaining the banana to him was pretty awkward,” he explained in the caption for the photo, “but banana for scale.”

The odd image generated nearly 2,000 up votes on Reddit, the popular online message board, and helped popularize the nascent meme of using bananas as a makeshift measuring tool. But the photo’s story didn’t really begin on Reddit. It started on Imgur, the five-year-old photo-hosting site from which a huge proportion of visually viral things now come.

In the dial-up days of the Internet, people were punished if their online photos became too popular. A picture that was widely shared on websites and message boards was likely to exceed its bandwidth limit and be replaced with an ad for a photo-hosting site or a gross-out picture to deter people from sharing photos without permission. Alan Schaaf, an avid Reddit user (or “redditor”) who began writing computer code at age 14, saw this as an anachronism at odds with the increasingly viral nature of the Web.

So in 2009, while attending Ohio University, he launched a simple website where people could upload pictures and let them receive unlimited views for free. The site, called Imgur, was an instant hit with his Reddit brethren. “You weren’t locked down to one platform,” Schaaf says. “You could blast it all over the Internet and put it in your forum or online community.” In the same way that YouTube videos can be embedded and viewed across the Web, so too can Imgur pictures.

The memes and humor of Imgur (pronounced “Image-er”) quickly began to seep into other parts of the Web, from Tumblr blogs to Facebook posts to BuzzFeed listicles. Now Imgur says it has more than 120 million unique visitors globally and 1.5 billion page views per month. Third-party analytics firm comScore puts the company’s monthly unique visitors in the U.S. at 19 million, eclipsing Flickr and Photobucket. Imgur is one of the 50 most-trafficked sites in the world, above Craigslist, CNN and its progenitor Reddit, according to Alexa, a web analytics company. More than 1.5 million new images are uploaded to the site every day. “We are essentially like patient zero for viral images,” Schaaf says.

The site has helped usher in a new era of visual communication, where a GIF of Michael Cera collapsing in a heap can mean “I’m having a bad day” without explicitly saying it. “[Imgur] really kind of understood the ethos of what image-sharing was about,” says Ben Huh, CEO of the viral media company Cheezburger, which runs popular websites like Know Your Meme. “Imgur is what enabled Reddit to become this meme machine.”

For a site of its size, though, Imgur is still relatively unknown to many. Schaaf says the trouble is some people think of Imgur as a utility ”like electricity” rather than an entertainment destination all its own. The company is trying to change that perception this year by making its website more user-friendly. A new tagging feature unveiled last week allows users to easily organize and search for images in different categories. Users can also create custom galleries based on tags, and a new advanced search tool will make finding specific pictures easier. Combined with Imgur’s already massive user base, these changes could help cement the site as the “YouTube of images,” according to Schaaf.

That type of branding will help to lure in more advertisers, which generate the bulk of the company’s revenue. Schaff wouldn’t disclose much about sales but said that the company is profitable (he famously has only ever spent $7 of his own money on the company, in order to buy the original domain name). Brands such as Pepsi and video game developer Rockstar have paid for sponsored posts on the site aimed at getting the same viral traction as regular users’ images. Imgur also raised $40 million in its first-ever round of venture funding in April, so it has the funds to expand and experiment.

There will be challenges for the site as it tries to grow from dorm room side project to media company. Imgur’s liberal use of images gathered from all corners of the Internet brushes up against copyright law. The company says it regularly removes images that have been flagged as violating copyright. That issue, along with some of the crude content that sometimes crops up on the site—pornography, for example, is allowed—could spook brand advertisers. And because the site deals mostly in images of anonymous people posted by anonymous users, it has a less firm grip on users’ personal identities than data-rich companies like Facebook and Google. “Everybody is just so tied into their incumbent social networks and services that they’ve been using for years,” says Brian Blau, research director in consumer technologies at Gartner. “Those are very hard to unseed.”

Schaaf argues that Imgur’s community is thriving and, being heavily composed of young males, difficult for advertisers to reach elsewhere. Power users, who call themselves Imgurians, often have real-world meetups across the country. A pair of them have even gotten married. As long as these users keep posting pictures of cute pets and carefully measured bananas, Imgur’s clout will continue to rise. “We’re going to own the image, the meme and the animated GIF on the Internet,” Schaaf says. “That form of self-expression will be ours.”

TIME compensation

These Are the 15 Highest-Paid Women in America

Stanford University SIEPR Economic Summit
Safra Catz, co-president of Oracle Corp. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Last year was a banner year for executive compensation

Corporate America is still largely run by men. But women are catching up. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Sixty percent of the top U.S. companies now have at least two women on their executive committees.” Female leaders have dominated headlines in recent years, leading mergers, overseeing IPOs, acquiring companies, and defining their organizations’ overall strategy. So who are these powerful women? Research engine FindTheBest studied public company filings with the SEC to find out, compiling the following list of the 15 highest compensated female executives of 2013.

Perhaps the best-known name from the list above is Sheryl Sandberg, who served as VP of sales and operations at Google before joining Facebook as COO in 2008. The Lean In author has since helped Facebook through a shaky IPO and refined the company’s increasingly important mobile strategy. She earned $16.1 million in total annual compensation in 2013.

Also an ex-Google exec is Marissa Mayer, who left her position as a VP in 2012 to help bring Yahoo—then floundering to stay afloat—back above water as CEO. During her first year, Mayer acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion and saw Yahoo’s stock prices rise by 73 percent. She returned $3 billion back to shareholders through selling Yahoo’s stake in Alibaba (a Chinese e-commerce company) and, in the process, made $24.9 million for herself.

Another powerhouse from the tech world, Meg Whitman made $17.6 million in 2013. Although she’s the former CEO of eBay and current CEO of Hewlett-Packard, Whitman’s credentials extend beyond tech. She’s held executive positions at a swath of companies including Hasbro Inc., The Stride Rite Corporation (a footwear company), Bain & Company and Walt Disney. She also ran for CA governor in 2010.

Although Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer, and Meg Whitman are among the biggest household names for female execs, none of them took the spot of top earner. Number one went to the CFO of Oracle, Safra Catz. Not only did Catz make more than did any other female executive ($44.3 million), but she topped the The Wall Street Journal’s report of the highest paid CFO’s in 2013, earning more than every male CFO. This article was written for TIME by Kiran Dhillon of FindTheBest.

TIME viral

Meet the First Viral Snapchat Stars

Snapchat stars Jerome Jarre and Shonduras pose in a Snapchat Shonduras

The secret to how some Snapchatters earn $100,000 for a week's work and stand out in a medium that is all about disappearing

Three twenty-something guys, armed with smart phones and a neon yellow soccer ball, are scrambling in different directions in a crowded New York City Whole Foods. Shaun McBride just maneuvered around bandana-wearing Chris Carmichael to score a “goal” into a shopping cart, and now they have to escape before getting caught by startled shoppers or, worse, security.

“I got the shot!” says Jerome Jarre, breathing heavily outside of the grocery store. It is 30 minutes before the beginning of this month’s World Cup final, and they have to finish their Snapchat Story before the game starts. Together, the trio has an audience of almost 2 million people, and pockets of the fans have gathered around Union Square to take pictures of the social media personalities.

They are among the first viral stars of Snapchat, a popular mobile app created in 2011 on the premise that friends would send each other photos, videos, and doodles that would self-destruct in 10 seconds or less. Unlike Instagram or Vine, it wasn’t built to be a sharing platform to broadcast creative content to the masses but to be shared intimately with acquaintances. But Snapchat has grown up fast and now large companies are trying to reach its audience and are handing some of its most loved users six-figure paychecks to do it.

Building a Staying Following on a Disappearing Medium

When Jin Long Shi, 14, saw on Snapchat that his favorite social media celebrities were just a few blocks away, he ran out of his apartment — only stopping to buy them a box of Munchkins from Dunkin’ Donuts — to watch them shoot. “Before this, I didn’t know you could have followers on Snapchat and create stories, I thought you just used it to take selfies and send funny things to friends,” Shi says.

Shi came primarily for Jarre, 24, who describes himself as an “outgoing Borat Frenchman.” His creative niche is slapstick and playing pranks on strangers. Jarre gained his celebrity from his 6-million follower Vine account, but he has recently transitioned his focus primarily to Snapchat after downloading it a month ago.

“Why would Christophe Colomb go to America? Why would we go to the moon? It’s fresh, anything can happen there,” he says.

Jarre, who has 1.2 million Snapchat followers, says that the new medium is building his portfolio from 6-second videos to 2-minute narratives and increasing his followers. (Snapchat launched a Story feature in October that allows users to create a longer narrative that is displayed to all of their friends, rather than directly send to select followers, that lasts a 24-hours and can be viewed multiple times.) After 18 months on Vine, he had accumulated 800,000 Instagram followers. After three weeks on Snapchat, that number grew 1.3 million. Jarre shared his Story statistics, showing his zany narratives — “that always end with a positive message” — get viewed upwards of 1.1 million times and screen grabbed upwards of 43.9K times:

Snapchat story data shows how many people viewed and taken a screenshot of a user's content.
Snapchat story data shows how many people viewed and taken a screenshot of a user’s content. Jerome Jarre

“It’s the most viral platform ever because people need to screenshot, share, and talk to their friends,” Jarre says. “Because it is disappearing in 24-hours, they have to tell their friends or else no one will see it… There’s an insane word of mouth power. That’s how Shaun gained his followers from scratch.”

Shaun McBride, whose “Shonduras” Snapchat account has more than 140,000 followers, is known by brands, social media celebrities and agencies as a Snapchat pioneer. The 27-year-old snowboard sales rep from Ogden, Utah is a self-proclaimed member of the “Facebook generation,” and he didn’t have a social media presence at all until his six sisters, who are in high school and therefore Snapchat’s key demographic, pressured him into making a Snapchat account in November.

McBride’s Snapchat specialty is turning the ordinary into the extraordinary, and often silly, with detailed finger doodles over pictures. This caught on with his sisters’ friends and soon their entire high school had requested to follow him. He started getting notifications that his photographs of silly scenarios, like pictures of dogs he turned into Disney princesses with Snapchat’s drawing tools, were getting screen-shot hundreds of times. McBride says that when he would send out prompts to followers, asking them to send in a picture of a quarter in exchange for a personalized drawing, “Thousands of people sent me pictures of quarters. I spent the whole day snapping them back because I didn’t want to be rude. I was like, is this for realz?”

Snapchats by Shonduras

How to Engage With Snapchat Followers

As McBride’s following grew from hundreds to tens of thousands, he began building a presence on other social media sites so that his fans could see his content even after it disappeared. This is when his work started getting picked up by media outlets and companies (including Taco Bell, Disney, and MLS) began reaching out to work with him. That’s one of the ironies of Snapchat celebrity: It depends on screengrabs from other social media platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

“Snapchat is not like Twitter and Facebook, it’s not about likes, it’s not about followers,” Snapchat spokesperson Mary Ritti says, noting that the app doesn’t even track the number of Snapchat friends people have.

“Maybe it’s just a too cool thing,” says Molly Mitchell (Snapchat name: biggie_molls), who does marketing at men’s short-shorts company Chubbies. “Snapchat is the hipster of the social media world. It’s elusive and you need someone else’s commonplace app to purvey its content.” Mitchell gained brief Snapchat celebrity after she created an Instagram account chronicling the Snapchats she sent her friends of her relationship with her boyfriend.

Over the four hours of storyboarding and shooting their 86-second World Cup Snapchat, Jarre, McBride, and Carmichael discuss the possibilities of posting videos of their stories on YouTube.

Carmichael, (Snapchat name: ChrisCarm), keeps a Tumblr to showcase his comic book-esque Snapchat stories, which often end on cliffhangers. “My theme is that my bandana talks to me, and it’s my mentor,” Carmichael, 27, says. “It takes me on an adventure. A big story that is never ending.”

A panel from one of Carmichael’s Snapchat stories ChrisCarm

Since the medium is still young, Snapchat users are working together to find the best way to engage with fans. One of McBride’s first collaborations was with Boston-based Michael Platco (Snapchat name: mplatco), who doodled on red gloves to have a cross-country boxing match. They asked fans to Snapchat in who they wanted to win, so that they would have influence over the match.

Snapchatters Shonduras and Mplatco sent their followers disappearing photos of them boxing Shonduras and Mplatco / Snapchat
Followers sent Shonduras and Mplatco Snapchats to indicate who they wanted to win the boxing match.Shonduras / Snapchat

Shortly after the boxing match, which ended in a draw, Disney flew McBride to Disneyland and Platco to Disneyworld to simultaneously launch the theme parks’ Snapchat accounts in their first-ever paid Snapchat gigs. Since then, Platco has worked with food site GrubHub and “Harry Potter” fan site MuggleNet. (He is very active in the Snapchat-Harry Potter market, which does, in fact, exist).

Snapchat prowess has also led to full-time office jobs. Dasha Battelle (Snapchat name: dabttll) is known for her stylus-free, intricate artwork, which helped land her a job on Mashable’s visual storytelling team.

Good Snapchatting Pays Off… Literally

Just as companies pay top social media users for their Instagram and Vine abilities, they are starting to shell out cash to those who “get” Snapchat. And for good reason. The popular communication tool has a stronghold on a very young, obsessive and viral-savvy demographic of potential buyers—although the company doesn’t disclose figures, it has an estimated 30 million active monthly users, 71% of whom are under 25.

Compensation ranges widely. Consulting can pay up to $150 an hour and although Snapchatters and companies wouldn’t publicly disclose specific payments, two top Snapchat users said that the most coveted stars now earn anywhere from $1,500 a day to more than $100,000 for a week’s work for a company. That’s in the ballpark of what influencers on other social platforms are getting paid. Marcus Johns told Business Insider that a Vine ad campaign paid off his college tuition, and advertisers have sent influential Instagram users on fully paid trips around the world to Instagram events from their accounts.

Some companies have been hesitant to invest in Snapchat since the branded content doesn’t have a permanent afterlife, as it would on Instagram. But Vayner Media founder Gary Vaynerchuk, a leading social media adviser, thinks discounting Snapchat is shortsighted.

“Why anybody thought that a disappearing piece of content isn’t valuable is insane to me,” says Vaynerchuk, explaining that before technology existed to record television shows, the content within the commercial breaks disappeared. “Last time I checked, when I’m listening to a car commercial on Z100, that sh-t disappeared.”

Vaynerchuk and Jarre co-founded GrapeStory, an agency that pairs top Vine, Instagram, and now Snapchat users including McBride with companies. Sour Patch worked with GrapeStory and Logan Paul, a social media leader, to launch its Snapchat account in early July, and Sonic will use another top user to launch its account in August.

When McBride walked around the grounds of DisneyLand in a Mickey Mouse hat that read “Shonduras” over Memorial Day weekend, he thought that Snapchat had the potential to supplement some of his income as a fun side business and creative outlet.

“This month, I hope to make more than I did last year in my real job,” he says. “It’s insane.”

TIME Small Business

Recycle, Reuse, Reproft: Startups Try to Make Money Selling Your Stuff

Phones, clothes and even food get a second life on these sites

In a bustling San Francisco warehouse, a buyer for a startup called Twice is inspecting a pair of used jeans. She checks the buttonholes and zipper for snags, the legs and cuffs for wear. If the pants pass inspection, the old owner gets paid and the pants are cataloged, steamed and photographed before being listed on Twice’s website–at a fraction of their original cost (perhaps $19 for Levi’s). When someone else buys them, they become a pound or two of the 400 tons of clothing that Twice will resell this year. “It’s environmental,” says co-founder Noah Ready-Campbell of Twice’s mission. “It’s about reusing clothing and avoiding manufacturing more.”

Twice is one of many startups attempting to make the environmentally sound choice preferable and easy for consumers while making a profit in the process. The statistics driving these efforts are shocking: In the U.S., 90% of mobile devices are thrown away rather than recycled. Up to 40% of the food produced gets trashed. Americans junk some 12 million tons of textiles each year. “There’s no way we can continue to produce waste at the level that we are and survive on this planet,” says Adam Werbach, a co-founder of Yerdle, a site where people trade things they might otherwise throw out. “It really is much easier to click a button than it is to knock on your neighbor’s door.” And that is the convenience gap these enviro-preneurs hope to close.

Consider the steps involved in listing a used iPhone on eBay: take a picture, set a fair price, outline the specs, connect your bank, pay fees, wait a week for bids to come in and then hope it actually sells. These are inefficiencies that Silicon Valley types seek out like bloodhounds. “People actually feel guilt that they’re holding onto these items,” says Ryan Mickle, founder of the electronics auction site FOBO, where bidding lasts only 97 minutes and the company suggests starting prices for you. But in surveys with potential users, he found that ignoring old stuff still causes less angst than confronting what can be the messy process of getting it to someone else.

Many items cluttering closets and garages are less desirable than gadgets: DVDs, picture frames, bird books, an old wine carafe. These are items companies like Listia and Yerdle want on their sites, where by giving things away, people earn credits that they can spend on other users’ property. The sites aim to replace the rush that accompanies buying something new with the fun of bartering and the satisfaction that comes from giving away something you don’t need. “People are seeking out human connection in our day-to-day economic transactions,” says Arun Sundararajan, a business professor at New York University who studies these budding economies. “There is a noneconomic value that comes from giving your stuff to other people.”

Sundararajan says that if a company like Yerdle achieves its aim of displacing 25% of new sales, that’s good for the economy because it decreases waste. On the flip side, there is a possibility of job losses among people who make those new items. But he believes that other jobs in newer sectors would replace them, as happened when technological innovation put farmers out of work. “Efficiency is the name of the game in all of consumption,” says Ready-Campbell of Twice, “and in the whole economy, really.”

TIME Retail

Walmart Managers Average Salary Higher Than Starbucks

Wal-Mart Associate Jeff Parker stocks produce at store #100 in Bentonville, Arkansas on July 2, 2003.
Wal-Mart Associate Jeff Parker stocks produce at store #100 in Bentonville, Arkansas on July 2, 2003. Reuters

Their cashiers, however, make less than the national average of $11.22/hour

Walmart may often get criticized for not paying its workers a living wage, but according to a new working paper, climbing the corporate ladder within the chain can lead to substantial income. In fact, the National Bureau of Economic Research found, Walmart store managers make an average salary of $92,462 per year.

The authors of the new working paper used data from career site Glassdoor and the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey to analyze and compare average salaries of employees at some of the U.S.’s largest retail chains including Walmart, Costco, Whole Foods, and Starbucks. According to the analysis, Walmart store managers are among the highest paid in the nation, with Costco leading the pack with average manager salaries of $109,000. At Starbucks and Whole Foods, store managers bring home on average $44,632 and $75,775, respectively.

However, while store manager pay ranks high, according to NBER, Walmart cashiers earn about $8.48/hour and are paid less than their counterparts at the other chains. At Starbucks, “baristas” make $8.80 an hour, on average, while those at Whole Foods and Costco make $10.31 and $11.59. Cashiers at three out of four of the retailers make less than the average national hourly cashier rate of $11.22/hour.

The paper also shows a significant gender gap, even among cashiers. While high school educated women in retail make 25% less than their male counterparts, women cashiers make 17% less. Among those with some college education, women make 20% and 21% less than men when they have a high school education and some college, respectively.

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