No. 92: Sam Pay, Happy Birthday to us and 12 must-have holiday gizmos

TGIF: A good Friday, everybody. Boston’s Bijou Theatre became the first American playhouse fully lit by electricity on this date in 1882. Thomas Edison installed personally. More recently, Angry Birds went into play in 2009.

Must be the free lunches: Airbnb topped Glassdoor’s annual list of the 50 best places to work – as voted by employees – with many more tech companies following. The rest of the Top 10: Bain & Company, Guidewire, Hubspot, Facebook, LinkedIn, Boston Consulting Group, Google, Nestlé Purina PetCare and Zillow.

Less tech-focused: The Church of Latter Day Saints was 22nd.

Less class: The number of Americans who qualify as “middle class” has slipped below the 50 percent mark for the first time since 1971, according to a new study by the Pew Research Center. To gloat (or not) about where you rank, try Pew’s handy income calculator.

Sam’s way: Walmart launched its own digital payment system yesterday in select stores, with full roll-out coming over the next six months. Walmart Pay uses QR codes inside the chain’s apps, which currently have about 24 million users, half of whom order over mobile devices. The firm plans to sink $2 billion into e-commerce in the coming two years.

The Tang has arrived: An Orbital ATK rocket delivered much-needed groceries to the International Space Station this week, the first shipment since April following three launch-pad mishaps (OK, they were explosions) involving a previous Orbital rocket, a Space X vehicle and a Russian craft. Orbital still had to seek help from a rival to get this one up.

Jolly good fellow: Warner/Chappell Music is out $2 million a year in royalties now that a California judge has ruled that the Happy Birthday song is actually in the public domain.

My wife would not agree: Men have a better sense of direction but women are superior at finding things, according to researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. They think it stems from the days when men hunted and women gathered.

Second-fastest is insurance, we bet: The health-care sector is expected to add the greatest number of jobs over the next 10 years and become the nation’s largest employer, overtaking state and local government, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Health-care jobs are projected to account for 13.6 percent of all U.S. employment by 2024, up from 12 percent last year.

Missed a newsletter? Most are archived here.

Isn’t this what Feinstein is doing? Kallyope, an NYC startup that is plundering “the untapped therapeutic and nutritional potential of the gut-brain axis, which no other biotech has unlocked and translated,” raised $44 million from a group led by Lux Capital.

Turnover tool: TINYpulse, a Seattle startup with a surveying platform it says can significantly reduce employee defections, raised $6 million in a series A round. It sounds an awful lot like local startup Disqovery.


Missed joining as a sponsor? Quickly correct that horrific mistake here.

The Internet of hands-free: Stony Brook startup Charmtech Labs is wading into the mainstream with technology that allows blind, dyslexic and ESL users to fully experience the Internet. Up next: joggers, drivers, fliers, you name it. Could be big, kids.

Warming to the idea: ThermoLift, the Stony Brook clean energy startup, has been named to Wells Fargo’s Innovation Incubator program, which lavishes cash and technical advice on deserving firms in the commercial clean-gen space.

Did we mention ThermoLift was a 2015 Innovator of the Year?

Tax money, coming home: Long Island won $98.3 million in the state’s annual economic development sweepstakes, landing funding for startup labs, a Huntington Station re-do and a big-deal vaccine development center at Farmingdale State College, and more.

About our sponsor: The Town of Islip’s Office of Economic Development – Whether it’s helping in site selection, cutting through red tape or finding innovative ways to meet specific needs, businesses that settle in Islip soon learn that we take a proactive approach to seeing them succeed. If your business wants to locate or expand in a stable community that offers an outstanding quality of life and the support to help you grow, then it’s time you took a closer look at Islip.


A pretty pickle: Backyard Brine, born and raised in Stony Brook’s Calverton incubator, is moving out in favor of its own production plant and storefront in Cutchogue. The firm, whose products are now in Whole Foods and an impressive list of other local retail outlets, was also just accepted into the state’s Innovation Hot Spots program, benefits of which are portable. (Portable. Niiice.)

Here’s the scoop: Local inventor Mary Putre is poised to get a utility patent on her back-easing snow shovel, which is vented to avoid the nagging buildup of slush that so complicates driveway cleanup. You’ll see her soon on Shark Tank, but why wait?

We hardly knew ye: Local bio-tech darlings Goddard Labs and Symbiotic Health are heading West, likely to Brooklyn, to join forces on a do-or-die research project that requires lab space they can’t find or afford here. They might come back, though.

Did we mention Goddard Labs was a 2015 Innovator of the Year?

Getting closer: Amazon has expanded one-hour liquor delivery to Manhattan. The charge is $7.99 for interlopers, free to Prime customers.

Don’t nuke clean power: New York would lose 30 percent of its clean energy if Gov. Cuomo closes Indian Point, forcing gas-fired plants to step up until wind projects can close the gap, likely not until 2030, opines Forbes’ James Conca.

Noted: Farrell Fritz partner John Racanelli has been elected chair of the Flushing-Willets Point-Corona Local Development Corporation, directed by former Queens prez Claire Shulman.

Stuff we’re going to: The unveiling of the AVZ economic survey and opinion poll, with Rick Lazio, Jamie Moore and more, Jan. 7, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Crest Hollow, Tom Murray and Kominicki co-moderate, $35 or call 631-913-4258 for display tables and sponsorships.

Visit us: Between newsletters, get breaking news at And please like us on Facebook, our No. 1 source of new traffic. (And we’ll never sneer at social media again.)



From Gizmag: The best dozen devices for the holidays.

Muttnik: A salute to Laika and the eight other Soviet dogs who gave their lives for the space race.

Honest, period: Text messages that end with a period are considered less sincere than those that don’t according to research from Binghamton University. Guess which punctuation mark was inexplicably considered the most sincere!

A reminder: There’s really no such thing as “free” news. Please support our sponsors.

Did we mention liking us on Facebook?

And how about that sponsorship thing? It’s quite the club.

Compiled by John Kominicki. Thanks for reading.