Here is our list of the ten companies that made the biggest or at least the most headlines this past year, for good or for bad.
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The company has put forward a plan for a new 67 story office tower next to Grand central Station in Manhattan to be called One Vanderbilt. It promised to spend $210 million on upgrades to Manhattan’s most important transit hub as well as include a new entranceway to it in the building’s lobby.
New York City’s largest commercial property owner also received lender commitments sufficient to modify and extend the $1.2 billion revolving line of credit portion of its $2 billion unsecured corporate credit facility.
It paid Extell $275 million for 319, 000 square feet of space at its Gem Tower office building. It added a stake in a 23-building, 2.55 million square foot portfolio comprised of 2, 815 rental apartments and 43, 000-square-feet of prime retail space in Manhattan.
In addition, SL Green also entered into numerous new long term leases with major clients for office space in its buildings.
The world leading Israeli pharmaceutical company had a number of issues this year regarding some of its medications, specifically Copaxone, used for the treatment of MS.
Ratings agencies cut their forecasts for the firm and legendary activist investor George Soros reduced his stake in the company.
8) NICE systems
The Israeli firm and its American subsidiary made multiple headlines this year. Here are but a few.
The San Antonio Military Medical Center (SAMMC), the largest U.S. Department of Defense Level I Trauma and Burn Research Center, is in the process of deploying the NICE Suspect Search video analytics solution from NICE Systems.
The company released a new NICE Fizzback Voice of the Customer (VoC) solution, which it boasts offers organizations a more holistic understanding of what customers are saying about them by capturing data from all VoC sources, whether via Fizzback or from third-party market research surveys, company websites, and social media feeds.
It launched its NICE Robotic Automation, which the company calls an innovative solution that uses software robots to automate routine back office processes to help improve operational efficiency and resource utilization.
Poland’s Naftoport oil transshipment terminal, which transships crude oil and refined oil in the Port of Gdansk, installed intrusion detection systems produced by Nice Systems. The Nice Situator and NiceVision are now in use there.
NICE Systems joined the FIDO (Fast IDentity Online) Alliance, an organization aimed at shaping global specifications and standards for simplified user authentication. It was also positioned as a Leader by Gartner in the Magic Quadrant for Customer Engagement Center Workforce Optimization.
It deployed its Safe City solution in Nanded, India, a city with more than half a million citizens. NICE’s solution provides Nanded’s law enforcement agencies with real-time situational awareness for both day-to-day operations and disaster handling.
The messaging app which lets people text other users anywhere in the world is planning on expanding into voice calling services.
It is also adding a desktop computer option to its tablet app.
It broke the 600 million user mark this year.
Its acquisition by Facebook is being reviewed by the EU for possible antitrust violations.
Oh yah and it sold out to Facebook for $19 billion. No big deal.
What a great idea. Tivo for people who do not have cable. No more VCRs. Just let Aereo rebroadcast to you the television shows shown on network television that you may have missed.
The only problem was that the broadcast networks sued the company over copyright violations. They said that Aereo was copying and rebroadcasting their transmissions without permission and the US Supreme Court agreed.
The company could no longer operate and was forced to declare bankruptcy.
The company had Israel’s largest IPO in history this year raising $890 million for a valuation of $7.6 billion. In August it sold 35.6 million shares for $25 each, above the high end of the marketed range. ‘Nuf said.
Mobileye developed software and related technologies for camera-based Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, which keeps passengers safer on the roads, reduces the risks of traffic accidents and saves lives.
The proprietary software algorithms and EyeQ chips perform detailed interpretations of the visual field in order to anticipate possible collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists, animals, debris and other obstacles. Mobileye’s products are also able to detect roadway markings such as lanes, road boundaries, barriers and similar items, as well as to identify and read traffic signs and traffic lights. The system integrated into car models from 20 global automakers including BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Nissan and Volvo.
So many stories.
Google part owned Auction.Com was sued for fraud for using fake bidders to drive up the price of homes for sale.
China just blocked both Google and its Gmail this week.
Businesses have complained that its AdSense charges them for fake clicks.
The company expects to launch a driverless car next year, but is looking for a car company to partner with on the project.
The State of Mississippi is going after the company for providing people with information on how to illegally acquire prescription medications through its web searches. Google fought back in court saying that the 1st Amendment protects this as free speech.
The company continues to irritate San Francisco residents with its reverse commute shuttle services.
It was sued by architect Eli Attia for stealing his ideas.
The EU ruled that it could be held liable for libelous content that may come up on its web searches.
It… Oops, we ran out of time for everything else.
3) American Apparel
This company ousted its founding chairman Dov Charney because of sexual harassment allegations and his alleged erratic behavior. Then it kept him on for a while in an advisory role before dumping Charney from that position too.
It also changed its board twice. It considered offers from potential buyers. And its sales were flat too this year.
The company appointed a woman, Collen Brown, as its new chairperson just in time for our end of the year lists.
The movie studio founded by Steven Spielberg, David Geffen and Jeffry Katzenberg has had an up and down year.
It’s considering changing its name. It was sued along with Sony and Disney for stealing ideas from various artists. A bid to buy out the company by Hasbro went bust while Dreamworks animation posted gains.
The studio was sued over failing to inform its shareholders of the expected losses due to the 2013 box office flop Turbo. This came after it was revealed that the SEC was investigating it for possible irregularities relating to how the company wrote down its losses from that film. This revelation led to a sharp fall in its stock’s value.
Finally Dreamworks is expected to lose a fortune from its animated film “Penguins of Madagascar.”
Facebook just keeps on finding ways to embarrass itself and alienate its customers. Everybody seems to be suing it.
The latest is a class action suit over the company’s “scanning” of its users’ messages. Facebook wants to know what people are saying to each other in private for advertising purposes.
It raised the ire of Russian dissidents by removing an anti-Putin group.
It removed a video of a Tibetan monk’s fatal self-immolation which left it open to allegations of bowing to pressure from the Chinese government and engaging in self-censorship.
It annoyed people by making them download and use only its separate messaging app for sending messages through the site instead of letting them use the regular Facebook app for messaging.
It pissed off drag queens everywhere by cracking down on its official policy of not letting people use aliases for their personal pages. After huge protests from many people, not just drag queens who use their stage names on Facebook, the company backed down.
It allowed researchers access to its users personal information 2012 — without telling them — to conduct research before the US elections that year.
It was revealed that it shared users’ info with news agencies – without telling them –in America before elections there so that the news agencies could get a better understanding of the electorate.
And worst of all it came out that Facebook had toyed with the emotions of no fewer than 689, 000 of its users by including them in a psychological experiment, again without telling them. The users had either sad or happy posts placed at the top of their timelines to see how that would affect their mood. The secrecy was defended by saying that the users had to be kept in the dark for the experiment to be effective.
There was some good news for the company, though.
It launched a new satire tag so people will know when a story is not serious. It started to go after clickbait posts so that people will not be fooled into clicking on fake stories. Its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp seems to be paying off as the messaging service continues to expand. It launched a new groups app.
We could go on and on, suffice it to say Facebook was the most written about company on JBN in 2014.