A lot of wonders and blunders took place in the business world this week, from vinyl record owners getting some digital love to a family entertainment giant shutting down a popular division. Let's review:
Music fans who prefer to get their tunes on classic vinyl have a new reason to warm up to Amazon.com.
The leading online retailer will provide free digital copies of songs purchased on vinyl records through Amazon for any labels participating in Amazon's AutoRip program.
Amazon introduced AutoRip in January, giving buyers of CDs of more than 50,000 eligible discs instant access to the tracks through Amazon's Cloud Player streaming platform. It's not just new CDs. Any purchases made since Amazon began selling music in 1998 are accessible this way, and as of this week, vinyl buyers have the same perk.
Fans of vinyl music will argue that they may never bother with digital streams. There's a reason why they prefer the warm grooves of of an analog record. However, just see what happens when that needle scratches the record. Amazon just became the best place to buy vinyl.
Manatee Gray doesn't sound like an offensive color designation, but it does if you're Target and you're only using that name to describe a plus-size kimono dress that's labeled as Dark Heather Gray for smaller sizes.
The cheap chic retailer fixed the discrepancy quickly, but not before it blew up into a public relations nightmare on Twitter.
Target has explained that it uses Manatee Gray to describe a color option on several items across home decor, footwear, and apparel, and that it simply had two different teams working on the descriptions for the Mossimo maxi dress. So, it was perfectly honest mistake. Still, it's hard to dig yourself out of a public opinion hole.
The leading provider of language-learning software wants to bulk up is online learning muscle, so it's acquiring Livemocha in an $8.5 million deal. Livemocha is a community of more than 16 million members that also doubles as a cloud-based learning platform.
Most of Rosetta Stone customers still consume its courses on CD, though the company does have Web-based offerings for corporations.
The deal is brilliant because Rosetta Stone is paying a little more than 50 cents for each member of a community that includes educators and fans of brushing up on foreign languages.That's a bargain.
The family entertainment giant is looking forward to future "Star Wars" movies, but it doesn't want George Lucas' video game studio to make the diversions for fans wanting to play along.
Disney announced that it's closing down LucasArts, which has been cranking out those video games and a host of others for decades.
Disney paid more than $4 billion for Lucasfilm. It can do what it wants with the video game arm. However, the move to license future game releases instead of developing them in-house isn't going to sit well with diehard fans, especially those that were mesmerized by early glimpses at the promising "Star Wars 1313" game that has now been nixed in the closing.
Shares of Zynga popped higher after a pair of real-money online casino games were introduced overseas.
Zynga struck a deal with Bwin a few months ago to offer Zynga-themed poker, slots, roulette, and blackjack in the U.K. -- and now the venture is a reality.
Don't bet on online gambling to be made legal closer to home anytime soon, but if it does happen, Zynga will have plenty of experience. At a time when bookings for its flagship casual and social games have been softening, it's good to see Zynga diversifying its revenue streams.
Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Rosetta Stone, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Rosetta Stone, and Walt Disney. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days.
An Iron Throne for Your Golden Years: Our 'Game of Thrones' Stock Picks
5 Winners and Losers of the Week in Business
Stock: Goldman Sachs (GS)
As the Master of Coin on the Small Council in King's Landing, Petyr is in control of the kingdom's finances. And while the ruling Lannister family has a wealth of gold, the kingdom's expenses are many. So it's no surprise that Petyr would prefer investing in a large investment banking and securities company such as Goldman Sachs. Not only does Goldman Sachs profit from various financial services, but the company seems to always be profitable regardless of what happens in the stock market, housing market, or broader economy.
Stock: Zynga (ZNGA)
Even a child ruling a kingdom needs to blow off steam once in a while. That makes Zynga, a company focused on building social and casual games, the perfect pick for Joffrey Baratheon. Zynga also watched many of its executives leave the company and its stock price plummet, similar to the situation that Joffrey faces in King's Landing as the kingdom unravels. Yet Zynga's stock structure provides its CEO, Mark Pincus, 70 votes per share. That means that as of the end of 2012, Zynga's CEO owned 59 percent of the total voting power. Take that, mere commoner! It's not bad to be the head of Zynga... unless your stock's awful performance costs you a spot on the Forbes billionaire list.
Stock: Yahoo! (YHOO)
The Queen Regent and mother of Joffrey Baratheon, Cersei Lannister would admire a bold female CEO such as Marissa Mayer of Yahoo! Joining Yahoo! less than a year ago, Mayer is determined to turn around the struggling company, and is focused on building Yahoo!'s employees and changing the internal culture. Bold leadership is something that Cersei would identify with, although the two have quite different perspectives on how to get results.
Stock: LinkedIn (LNKD)
Tyrion Lannister is often underestimated by those around him given his size and appearance. But time and again his intellect is what wins the day. Tyrion understands the value of building an intelligence network throughout King's Landing, which is why he would invest in LinkedIn. In the social media realm, LinkedIn is also oftentimes overlooked due to Facebook's much larger user base -- over 1 billion monthly active users, compared to its own roughly 200 million total registered users (not monthly active users). Although Facebook towers over LinkedIn, LinkedIn's revenue per user was 20 times that of Facebook as of this summer.
Stock: Apple (AAPL)
Having lost his father, Eddard Stark, Robb is trying to lead his father's men to the best of his ability. While he lacks experience on the battlefield, his father taught him many lessons in leadership and duty. That's why Apple would catch Robb's interest as an investor. When Tim Cook became CEO of Apple, outsiders wondered whether he was capable of leading the giant tech company. While the company has had its challenges since then (e.g., Apple Maps), its position as one of the most influential tech companies has not been usurped by any of its rivals.
Stock: Caterpillar (CAT)
As a steward of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow must protect the Wall. He knows that winter is coming -- and the Wall might need some fortification. That would make Caterpillar, which focuses on construction and building infrastructure, top on his investing list. Since some of Caterpillar's products are used for snow removal, Jon Snow would also be demonstrating a Peter Lynch mentality of buying what you know.
Stock: Garmin (GRMN)
Living in exile hasn't been easy for Daenerys, as she's never found a true place to call her own. But as she establishes her identity as the Mother of Dragons, she's determined to return to Westeros. As someone seeking direction and a way home, Daenerys would likely buy shares of Garmin for her investing portfolio. The GPS technology company creates navigation products for every mode of transportation, including air and sea. And if she's ever to return to Westeros, one of Garmin's marine products would sure be useful.
Stock: Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-A; BRK-B)
As a eunuch, Varys demonstrates his power through a (spider)web of contacts that feed him information. He uses information to gain a personal advantage, creating an insurance policy of sorts. Therefore Varys would be a fan of the insurance model and invest in Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway is a large conglomerate holding company, owning stakes in or even whole companies across many different industries. Similarly, beyond his network of information-sharing contacts, Varys seems to have a hand in structuring deals or alliances across the kingdom.