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Twilight of the Pizza Barons

On the divergent legacies of the Domino’s and Little Caesars founders— two Detroit titans with different visions of what their companies mean to the city.

PUBLISHED: July 3, 2014
LENGTH: 10 minutes (2730 words)

The Truth About Tinder and Women Is Even Worse Than You Think

Reporter Nick Summers on what he discovered when he first covered Tinder—a company now embroiled in a sexual harassment and discrimination case involving one of its co-founders. "What gives these allegations even greater sting is Wolfe’s contention that she was not just any employee but a Tinder co-founder—and was stripped of the designation as a result of the treatment she endured."

PUBLISHED: July 2, 2014
LENGTH: 7 minutes (1813 words)

The Trouble with IBM

A legendary American tech company faces new challenges, and new competition, in areas where it once dominated:

It would have been better to walk away. As the Government Accountability Office reviewed the award, documents showed the CIA’s opinion of IBM was tepid at best. The agency had “grave” concerns about the ability of IBM technology to scale up and down in response to usage spikes, and it rated the company’s technical demo as “marginal.” Overall, the CIA concluded, IBM was a high-risk choice. In a court filing, Amazon blasted the elder company as a “late entrant to the cloud computing market” with an “uncompetitive, materially deficient proposal.” A federal judge agreed, ruling in October that with the “overall inferiority of its proposal,” IBM “lacked any chance of winning” the contract. The corporate cliché of the 1970s and ’80s, that no one ever got fired for buying IBM, had never seemed less true. IBM withdrew its challenge.

PUBLISHED: May 23, 2014
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3251 words)

The Top 5 Longreads of the Week

Our favorite stories of the week, featuring Buzzfeed, The Atlantic, The New York Times Magazine, Mosaic Science and Bloomberg Businessweek.
PUBLISHED: May 23, 2014

Stairway to Heaven

Did Led Zeppelin write the greatest song opening in rock history—or steal it?

For live audiences, Stairway’s power starts with its introductory notes. “Can you think of another song, any song, for which, when its first chord is played, an entire audience of 20,000 rise spontaneously to their feet, not just to cheer or clap hands, but in acknowledgment of an event that is crucial for all of them?” Observer critic Tony Palmer wrote in a 1975 profile. Dave Lewis writes in Led Zeppelin: The Complete Guide to Their Music that “Stairway has a pastoral opening cadence that is classical in feel and which has ensured its immortality.”

But what if those opening notes weren’t actually written by Jimmy Page or any member of Led Zeppelin? What if the foundation of the band’s immortality had been lifted from another song by a relatively forgotten California band?

PUBLISHED: May 15, 2014
LENGTH: 16 minutes (4150 words)

Font Wars

Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones were the boy wonders of the design world when they joined forces to form the type foundry Hoefler&Frere-Jones. For fifteen years their partnership seemed charmed, until it dissolved, with $20 million at stake.

Among those who draw letters for a living, Gotham is most notable for being the crowning achievement of two of the leaders of their tribe, Frere-Jones and Jonathan Hoefler. The two men seemed to be on parallel paths since the summer of 1970, when they were both born in New York. Hoefler and Frere-Jones were already prominent designers when they began operating as Hoefler&Frere-Jones in 1999, having decided to join forces instead of continuing their race to be type design’s top boy wonder. Each would serve as an editor for the other, and they would combine their efforts to promote the work they did together.

Colleagues still struggle to explain what a big deal this was at the time. Debbie Millman, president emeritus of AIGA, the major trade organization for graphic designers, begins by comparing them to John Lennon and Paul McCartney, then stops. “They were famous before they got together, so that’s how they’re not like the Beatles. It’s more like Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young,” she says, before pausing again. “You know what—I’ll tell you what they were like. They were like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.”

PUBLISHED: April 8, 2014
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3758 words)

Taking Care of Business: A Reading List

This week's picks from Emily include stories from Orange Coast Magazine, The New York Times, Business Insider, and Bloomberg Businessweek.
PUBLISHED: Feb. 16, 2014

E-Cigarettes: A $1.5 Billion Industry Braces for FDA Regulation

Are e-cigarettes a revolutionary way to make smoking safer—or are they a huge step backward on our path toward a tobacco-less society?

Among the FDA’s most difficult decisions will be determining whether e-cigarettes will be a gateway product, encouraging young smokers to develop a nicotine habit that might lead to tobacco use. After all, many of the things that make e-cigarettes attractive to smokers make them even more attractive to minors. It’s actually pretty unpleasant to start smoking—it causes dizziness, it causes coughing, and it usually takes kids a while to learn to inhale—but anyone can inhale e-cigarette vapor on the first puff. And since e-cigarettes don’t have much odor, they’re harder for parents to detect. During the debate over New York’s policy, a September report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showing e-cigarette use on the rise among teenagers was prominently discussed. Spokesmen for Altria Group (MO), Reynolds American (RAI), and Lorillard—the Big Three of tobacco—are in agreement that children should be prevented from buying e-cigarettes, just as they are prevented from buying the regular kind.

PUBLISHED: Feb. 6, 2014
LENGTH: 12 minutes (3236 words)

Meet the 103,000 People Who Could Become the First Climate-Change Refugees

A visit to the island nation of Kiribati, which could be the first country to be lost from rising tides due to global warming:

Kiribati is a flyspeck of a United Nations member state, a collection of 33 islands necklaced across the central Pacific. Thirty-two of the islands are low-lying atolls; the 33rd, called Banaba, is a raised coral island that long ago was strip-mined for its seabird-guano-derived phosphates. If scientists are correct, the ocean will swallow most of Kiribati before the end of the century, and perhaps much sooner than that. Water expands as it warms, and the oceans have lately received colossal quantities of melted ice. A recent study found that the oceans are absorbing heat 15 times faster than they have at any point during the past 10,000 years. Before the rising Pacific drowns these atolls, though, it will infiltrate, and irreversibly poison, their already inadequate supply of fresh water. The apocalypse could come even sooner for Kiribati if violent storms, of the sort that recently destroyed parts of the Philippines, strike its islands.

PUBLISHED: Nov. 22, 2013
LENGTH: 28 minutes (7040 words)