Comcast’s Roberts Had One of America’s Biggest CEO Paychecks Last Year

Brian L. Roberts. Image via YouTube.

The New York Times has compiled a fresh list that ranks 200 of the highest-paid CEOs in the country, and Comcast CEO Brian L. Roberts made the top 20.

The ranking is based on Equilar 200 Highest-Paid CEO data that collects CEO compensation information for companies with annual revenue of at least $1 billion.

Roberts’s 2016 compensation is listed as $28.6 million up from $27.5 million in 2015, a four percent increase. The list also includes a breakdown of the CEO’s earnings: $3 million salary; $11 million bonus; $4 million in perks; $5 million in stocks; and $5 million in options. Read more »

Warby Parker Just Launched This Controversial Eye Screening App

Though Warby Parker opened its first Philly storefront just a few months ago, Philadelphians may soon have no reason to go. The Wharton grads behind the budget glasses brand released an app on Tuesday that allows customers to check their eyeglass prescriptions at home.

Aptly named Prescription Check, the app consists of a 20-minute series of optical tests, the equivalent of the common Snellen eye test (the one with the big and small letters), completed on a smartphone and computer. Sounds simple and even revolutionary, but since the app’s release a few days ago, it’s faced backlash from ophthalmologists and optometrists who’ve expressed concerns over similar services in the past, Business Insider reports. Read more »

Philly’s Market East Is Now the Country’s Top Destination for Retailers, Report Says

Partial view of the second apartment tower at East Market. | Rendering: Morris Adjami via National Real Estate Development LLC

It’s clear the buzz about Market East won’t let up anytime soon. We still haven’t come down from the news that the area is getting a Wawa, City Fitness and Iron Hill Brewery next year; and now, real estate services firm JLL says the burgeoning Market East is the most affordable and desirable retail corridor in the country.

In its first ever City Retail report, JLL ranked the country’s most affordable and desirable prime urban retail corridors based on an average of each location’s annual asking rent per square foot. Retailers looking to expand better look at Philly: Market East’s average asking prime retail rent is $50 per square foot, more affordable than Chicago’s Wicker Park and Seattle’s Pike Street, which were ranked second and third on the list of ten locales.

“Market East emerged at the top of the pile because we’re seeing significant reinvestment in the retail destination that was once the heart of Philly shopping,” Lauren Gilchrist, JLL vice president of research told me. The corridor’s been long anchored by Macy’s and Wanamaker’s before that, but it languished because of blighted buildings, vacant lots and “a failed inward-facing mall,” according to the report. Read more »

I Love My Job: Jack Morey of Morey’s Piers in Wildwood

Jack Morey in front of the WipeOut slide at Ocean Oasis Water Park and Beach Club in Wildwood (left) and testing out Morey’s Great Nor’Easter coaster (right).

Though summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, here in the Philadelphia area, we like to think it starts this weekend. So we checked in with Jack Morey of Wildwood’s legendary and longstanding Morey’s Piers to see what’s in store this season.

I grew up in… Ft. Lauderdale, but I was born here. My dad’s from here, my mom’s from Reading. They met in Wildwood. He was a builder. She was engaged to somebody else, and he had to convince her to marry him. And we spent our time between Ft. Lauderdale and here in Wildwood.

We opened our first hotel in… 1957. My dad used to build doo-wop hotels for other people, and one day he decided to do it for himself. In 1957, he opened the Fantasy. Every other year, they’d sell a hotel and build another and move closer and closer to the beach.

Jack and his father in Wildwood.

These days, the Morey’s family owns… Morey’s piers, the water parks and resorts. There are three active amusement piers, two water parks and four hotels — the Port Royal, Blue Palms, Starlux, and the Pan-Am.

This year at Morey’s Piers we’re… doubling-down on food. We’re reinventing most of the menus, and we’ve got a new relationship with the Garces Group. They’re consulting, not running. But they’re helping us get a lot more serious about the food. But the really cool thing is the Penthouse at the Pan-Am, where our family lived in the summer in the 60s and 70s. We just redesigned it for this season, back to an awful lot of what it was originally was: an elegant showpiece born in the early 70s with a little bit of James Bond, some 60s old school glamour. It’s a helluva place.

Not Your Average Jersey Shore Motel: The Penthouse at Morey’s Pan-Am resort.

The last time I was on a roller coaster was… very recently. It was the Great Nor’Easter, our coaster that was built in 1995. We just re-tracked the entire thing at a cost of $5 million. It’s a much smoother ride now. Guests now demand a smoother experience. Shaking your brains out used to be cool.

People would be surprised to know that I can… barefoot waterski. My dad taught me years ago. I can also ride a unicycle.

The best non-Morey’s place to eat in Wildwood is… the Lobster House. There’s something about it. It’s not the finest of food, but it’s classic and just tacky enough to be fun. Here at Morey’s, you’ve gotta eat at Breakfast In the Sky, our Ferris wheel gourmet breakfast 150-feet in the air. And Joe’s Fish Company, which is super great and really fresh.

The hardest thing about my job is… that it’s a seasonal business. It takes 1,700 people to make it go around.

My role at Morey’s is basically… the planning of it all. My brother Will is the CEO. I get to travel a lot and see a lot of things that wind up shaping the environment that we’re in. I have a backlog of projects on my desk. You want to build them all, but you just can’t. I’m working on four for next year. If I’m lucky, we’ll get to do one. In the next three years, there will be a major waterpark expansion and at least one new rollercoaster. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also really hard.

Will’s role is… lots of things. I get to think of ten things and he gets to keep me from building nine of them.

The best place I’ve traveled to was… New Zealand, three or four years ago. My son was in school in Australia and we went to visit him, because we were afraid he wasn’t going to come home. New Zealand is like a giant national park.

One crazy project I haven’t been able to do yet… is a really large rollercoaster that will connect two piers together. It’s really beautiful to look at, and it’s all designed.

Ten years from now, Morey’s will be… internationally recognized as the best seaside park in the world.

The last book I read cover to cover was… Let My People Go Surfing. That’s an excellent book. And Hillbilly Elegy is terrific as well.

The hardest decision I ever had to make in this business… was when we were considering putting up a gate for all of the facilities, meaning people would pay general admission to walk onto the piers. We were on the fence for a long time. We actually decided to do it and then got cold feet. I think it would have been a disaster. Would have changed the entire culture of the boardwalk. This is a very public place. We made the right decision.

I get most of my ideas from… public spaces in cities. I love public spaces. There is a very social thing going on in public spaces. I don’t like theme parks that much. It’s a very controlled environment. The city’s big organic thing is a better social experience.

When someone uses that spray sunscreen near me, I think… man, that is really stupid.

The furthest I have ever driven was… from Seattle. It was a few months ago. I was leaving Colorado — it was me, my wife, and our two dogs — and I thought rather than just go home, let’s go to Seattle and Oregon. We did 8,260 miles in a small Jeep.

My second favorite shore town is… probably Cape May.

If I were the mayor of Wildwood, I would… embrace longer-term strategies in order to develop a really unique resort. Those strategies would include a beach park — a park on the beach. Only Wildwood has the opportunity to do that, because we have the widest beach. And I would focus like a hawk on public spaces, because only then would the place become a great spot to live year-round. The other thing I’d do is merge all three towns together — Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, and North Wildwood. Them being separate is a carryover of provincial thinking from 100 years ago that makes no sense whatsoever today.

The negative partying reputation that Wildwood has… is, no doubt, to some extent deserved, and it’s a very hard thing to get rid of. But I don’t think it’s a crazy party place. When I talk to people who don’t think they’ll like it, I give them some free pier tickets, and they always love it.

The best beach movie ever made was… Jaws. We played Jaws on the beach 15 years ago and 600 people showed up to watch it.

When we hear complaints about Morey’s… we consider it a learning opportunity. The customer really is often not right, but still. I would rather hear critiques than people always saying nice things. I can’t make the place better when you just say nice things. You gotta have some thick skin in this business.

Follow @VictorFiorillo on Twitter

Air Travelers, Rejoice! PHL to Get a $900M Facelift

OTG Liberty Prime at PHL. OTG Management plans to bring iPads and new eateries to PHL.

Philadelphia International Airport is planning its largest set renovations in over 15 years to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. 

The FAA recently announced that PHL will get a new air traffic control tower, and now some of the airport’s top airlines have approved $900 million in investments through their city lease agreements, the Inquirer reports. Some of the investments will be made in the next five to seven years.

American Airlines, which currently carries 73 percent of Philadelphia’s passengers, will contribute the largest portion of the overall investments. The airline will oversee a new arrivals building for terminals B and C, which will feature a state-of-the-art checked-bag screening system. A new high-tech transportation system, allowing passengers to move quickly between terminals, is in the works as well, but will likely be a longer-term update for PHL.  Read more »

Philly EY Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist Pool Is Tech Heavy for the First Time

A few tech community EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 finalists for Greater Philadelphia. Clockwise L to R: Andrew Voudouris & Steve Voudouris of Turn5; Darren Hill of WebLinc; Yasmine Mustafa of ROAR for Good; David Lindsay of Oncora Medical; and Felicite Moorman of StratIS. 

Now in its 31st year, the coveted Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year awards boasts another impressive list of entrepreneurs, and in Philadelphia, the pool of finalists serves as a barometer of the city’s innovation landscape.

For 2017, 45 percent of the 45 finalists are in the tech sector, the largest representation of the industry yet. “We’ve seen a big shift this year to the tech sector,” Corinne Good, EY Entrepreneur of the Year program co-director for the Greater Philadelphia region told Philadelphia magazine, “And we believe the pool of finalists is directly connected to the activity and focus that our city government has on our startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Tech companies represented on the list include the Malvern-based after market auto parts e-commerce company Turn5, precision radiation oncology software platform Oncora Medical, and digital commerce solutions company WebLinc. This increased representation of tech entrepreneurs on the list makes sense. The region has created 25,000 new tech jobs since the early 2000s, and we’re likely to see as many as 44,000 new tech jobs in the region over the next decade, according to a new report from the Economy League.   Read more »

Kauffman Index Shows Philly Startup Economy Has Much Room to Grow

Photo by J. Fusco for Visit Philadelphia™

According to Kauffman’s 2017 Startup Activity Index, the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington metro area is in a bit of a lull when it comes to new business creation activity.

Dropping two spots from last year’s ranking, the region took the 36th ranking out of 40 spots, coming in just behind Baltimore and a few spots ahead of Pittsburgh, which ranked last.

The list, topped off by Miami, Austin, and Los Angeles, was compiled using three distinct measurements for each metro area. The first – the rate of new entrepreneurs – represents a percentage of adults in the area that are entering entrepreneurship at a given point in time. The second measure, opportunity share of new entrepreneurs, evaluates the percentage of people entering entrepreneurship out of “opportunity” rather than out of “necessity.” And startup density, the final measure, looks at the number of new employer businesses normalized by population.

Read more »

Ranked: Philadelphia’s 21 Most Likeable CEOs

Left to Right: Richard J. Bolte; Bill Marvin; Amy Gutmann; Apu Gupta.

Owler, a new business community platform and rising LinkedIn competitor, recently released its inaugural top-rated CEO rankings for 50 cities worldwide, including Philadelphia.

The rankings are based on ratings submitted by the platform’s 1 million users who contributed more than a quarter million CEO ratings.

“The intent of our Owler research is not to define what makes a CEO likeable,” wrote Owler head of marketing Nicole Lopuch in a blog post. “[The ranking allows] the pubic to weigh in on whether a CEO is doing a good job or not. There is full transparency.”

She added: “In some small way, how much we all like the people who lead us tells as much about us as it does about our leaders. Why would we tolerate leaders we don’t like? What does it mean if we reward unlikeable people with our highest paying and most prestigious positions?”  Read more »

Comcast Is Fighting an Embarrassing Net Neutrality War on Twitter

Images via Twitter.

To much public dismay, the FCC voted last Thursday to begin dismantling Obama-era net-neutrality rules. Net neutrality keeps the internet free and open by requiring internet service providers (ISPs) to treat web traffic equally and fairly. With the regulation in place, Comcast, for example, doesn’t have the right to block a user’s access to certain websites or apps and also can’t throttle Internet speeds. Net neutrality also blocks paid prioritization by internet providers, which would allow them to prioritize the websites and apps that fork up extra cash.

As the FCC reopens the bitter war over Internet regulation, Comcast has already gotten knee-deep in its own battle on Twitter.  Read more »

Corporations May Soon Be Able to Slap Their Names on Pa. State Buildings

Image via Shutterstock.

Two Pennsylvania senators believe that they’ve found a way to bring in additional state revenue without raising costs for taxpayers.

Senators David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) and Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny) have introduced a proposal that would allow the state to sell government buildings’ naming rights to private corporations. Read more »

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