Biz Break: Netflix gets sued by ex-‘juicers’ that were paid to watch TV

Top Of The Order:  

Contractor Or Employee?: The thought of getting paid to watch TV sounds too good to be true. But, as I like to say, “TV gives so much and asks so little in return.” So, why not make a few bucks while flipping between baseball games, basketball games, football games (The CFL kicks off on June 23, eh.) and all those seasons of shows brought to you by the good folks at Netflix?

And that’s what Netflix does. Apparently, you can make $10 an hour screening movies and TV shows as part of a Netflix company program to choose which shows the video-streaming giant should promote. And guess what? A couple of former Netflix “juicers”, as they are called, are suing Netflix over their I-can-just-watch-TV-and-never-leave-my-parents’-basement level of compensation. Of course they are.

At issue in the suit is a belief that the ex-juicers, who were officially contract workers, should be classified as employees, paid as such, and receive overtime pay, health insurance and retirement benefits.

(Hmm…Where have we heard something like this before? Oh yeah…It sounds a lot like what’s going on with Uber and the many complaints its drivers have levied about how they think they should be company employees and eligible for all the benefits that come with that.)

The plaintiffs in the Netflix case claimed that since the company closely controlled and oversaw their TV watching activities, that, in effect, made them the equivalent of employees and eligible for all the benefits that Chief Executive Reed Hastings and every other Netflix employee can get.

The ex-juicers may have a point, but that will be up to the court to decide. In the meantime, the fourth season of Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black” is available today…

Middle Innings:

You Can’t Touch This: San Jose-based Synaptics makes touch-sensor controllers that are used in products from Apple and other companies. On Friday, investors didn’t want to touch Synaptics’ shares with a ten-foot pole.

Synaptics’ stock price fell 11 percent, to close at $53.85 after the company said in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it will cut approximately 160 jobs, or 9 percent of its workforce and close some of its offices as it restructures its business. There were concerns on Wall Street that Synaptics is making those moves due to losing some of its business with Apple, but Synaptics hasn’t said anything publicly about that possibility.

What has been said publicly, however, is what the market thinks of Synaptics. With Friday’s decline, Synaptics’ shares have fallen 33 percent this year. And until someone takes apart the next iPhone later this year and we find out if Synaptics’ gear is inside of it, we may see fewer people wanting to touch Synaptics’ stock.

Next Play: Let’s be frank, Jeff Weiner, LinkedIn’s Chief Executive, makes a pretty good living. Last year, for example, Weiner received a $13 million stock package as part of his compensation. And with Microsoft buying LinkedIn for $26.2 billion, and Weiner staying on as LinkedIn’s CEO, he’s going to have a nice gig for a while.

But Weiner seems to be a humble guy, too. Earlier this year, after LinkedIn delivered a disappointing business outlook, Weiner asked the company’s compensation committee to take the $14 million stock-compensation package he could have earned this year and put it back in a pool for LinkedIn employees. And on Monday, during an all-hands meeting, it sounds like Weiner became genuinely emotional while talking about LinkedIn selling itself to Microsoft.

The full transcript of Weiner’s words can be found in a filing LinkedIn made with the SEC. It might not be as emotional as, say, when Han Solo showed up for the first time in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (I’ll admit, it got a little dusty in the theater for me that happened.), but you got to give it to a guy who uses the word “verklempt” not once, but twice to express his feelings.

Bottom Of The Lineup: 

Here’s a look at how some leading Silicon Valley stocks did Friday…

Movin’ On Up: Gains came from Advanced Micro Devices, GoPro, Finisar, Rocket Fuel and Gigamon.

In The Red: In addition to Synaptics, other decliners were IXYS, YuMe, Accuray and Aemetis.

The tech-focused Nasdaq Composite Index fell almost 1 percent to 4,800.

The blue chip Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up 0.3 percent to end the week at 17,675.

And the broad-based Standard & Poor’s 500 Index also shed 0.3 percent, and closed at 2,071.

Quote Of The Day: Let’s hear from Ayesha Curry, wife Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry. After Ayesha Curry tweeted about how she felt she and others may have been delayed on purpose from going into Thursday night’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith said Curry should act more like Lebron James’ wife and, in effect, keep her mouth shut.

Ayesha Curry does not take comments like those from Stephen A. lying down…

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Photo: An image of Netflix’s series “House of Cards” and other programs, seen on an LG television. (PRNewsFoto/LG Electronics USA)





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