The $400 Million Chef, Robot Vacuums, and Banks Foreclosing on Banks

Take a break from your Cyber Monday shopping and enjoy these three interesting reads about business, investing, and life. 

Wolfgang Puck: In his own words
This feature from is the story of the incredibly successful chef, Wolfgang Puck. In his own words, he recounts his start in kitchens across Europe before coming to America and striking it big. Today, Puck overseas a reported $400 million international business empire with interests in fine dining, casual dining, and brand licensing. 

His advice for business resonates with a prudent investment strategy as well:

Stick to what you know best. I owned 10% of Eureka Brewery & Restaurant, which opened in 1990. We had so many problems bottling the beer. I had to leave. The restaurant was successful, but the brewery lost a lot, and Eureka went into bankruptcy.

The history of the Roomba
Fortune put together this entertaining presentation documenting the history of the Roomba, the domestic robot that automates the task of vacuuming your carpet. Manufactured by iRobot Corp (NASDAQ: IRBT  ) , the Roomba's history is interesting and entertaining.

I was personally surprised to know the company was even public, much less that over a million Roombas were sold in its first two years on the market alone. Or that the company's market cap is over $930 million. Or that the stock is up nearly 74% year to date. Apparently, the domestic robot business is more than just a platform for cat videos on YouTube (it could have something to do with a robust military robot division that competes with Northrop Grumman (NYSE: NOC  ) and Lockheed Marting (NYSE: LMT  ) ).

When a bank forecloses on... another bank?
This article from American Banker magazine explains a recent M&A deal between Heartland Financial USA (NASDAQ: HTLF  ) and a small community bank in Illinois. What's odd is that it seems the acquisition was a result not of strategy, but of indebtedness. Banks foreclosing on banks. 

Loans to fellow bank holding companies were once a common practice. Along with pooled trust-preferred securities, such loans were a staple in the capital structure for community banks before the economic collapse of 2008.

For many, the interconnectivity turned out to be a compounded exposure — not only did the lenders suffer from their own real estate loans, they also felt the effects of problem loans at other banks. Illinois was a hotbed for such problems, with several banks essentially failing because of other their exposure to other banks' problems

And now, back to your Cyber Monday shopping!

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