Funny Business with Jane Wells


  Wednesday, 19 Mar 2014 | 3:15 PM ET

Peer-to-peer's new meaning: Bathroom rentals

Posted By: Jane Wells

"This was an experiment, right?" said Travis Laurendine, standing in a men's room. "The experiment was, 'What if you could make a company that's so funny that it markets itself?'"

The experiment may be succeeding.

Laurendine co-founded Airpnp, based on the very successful Airbnb, a site which allows people to rent out their homes. In the case of Airpnp, however, people are renting out their bathrooms, hence the 'P.'

"People in the United States take 3 trillion pees a year3 trillion," he said. "Do the math. Trust me, I have."

Peer-to-peer takes on a whole new meaning.

»Read more
  Monday, 24 Feb 2014 | 12:38 PM ET

Chocolate toothpaste? We put Crest to the test

Posted By: Jane Wells

Now you can have your cake and brush your teeth with it, too.

Crest has released three new flavors targeting "experiential consumers" or "daredevils," including Mint Chocolate Trek, Vanilla Mint Spark and Lime Spearmint Zest, all marketed under the new "Be" line—as in, "Be adventurous ... inspired ... dynamic."

»Read more
  Friday, 21 Feb 2014 | 5:26 PM ET

Don King on business, Putin and concussions

Posted By: Jane Wells

Only in America could someone like Don King succeed. Where else could a man drop out of school, go to prison for killing a man, find God, meet Muhammad Ali and end up being the greatest promoter since P.T. Barnum?

This week, King is in Cleveland to promoting a boxing event airing on Showtime. The "Cleveland Show for People Care," at the Cleveland State University Wolstein Center marks a homecoming for a man whose very first promoted event happened here in 1972 with Muhammad Ali.

"Boxing is life," King told CNBC. The main event Friday features relatively unknown lightweights Angelo Santana and Hank Lundy. Young prospects Amir Imam and Jared Robinson will fight at junior welterweight. But King is intent on bringing back the glory days of heavyweight boxing to the U.S.

»Read more
  Friday, 7 Feb 2014 | 10:58 AM ET

The Doerrs? It's the #VCCoverBands game

Posted By: Jane Wells

Sitting around waiting for your smartphone to ring with news that your start-up will get the funding needed to finally start up? Kill some time playing the latest enterprenerd time-suck on Twitter, the #VCCoverBands hashtag.

Such fun mashups are a favorite pastime for tweeters. For example, #IfThatMovieWasJewish led to creative suggestions like "The Devil Wears Schmatta" and "The Wizard of Oy."

But melding the names of famous musicians or bands with venture capital firms? That takes real nerds.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 5 Feb 2014 | 10:49 AM ET

LA's priciest real estate? Not where you'd think

Posted By: Jane Wells

The most expensive real estate in Los Angeles may be 6 feet under.

"It's a deal at $699,000," said Tom Gregory, standing over the cemetery plot he owns. "It's about $10,300 per square foot."

»Read more
  Thursday, 23 Jan 2014 | 1:30 PM ET

Sugar v. corn syrup: Sweeteners clash in court

Posted By: Jane Wells
Soda production line
Dario Pignatelli | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Soda production line

The battle between sugar and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has gone into the fifth (sixth?) inning. Which will win is anybody's guess.

The two sides have been in court for three years, suing each other for false advertising.

The Western Sugar Cooperative filed the first lawsuit in 2011, accusing the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) and backers such as Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland of misleading the public with an educational campaign promoting HFCS as nutritionally identical to sugar.

"Sugar is sugar," the association said back then, as it spent an estimated $50 million to promote HFCS. It even sought—unsuccessfully—to persuade the Food and Drug Administration to let it change the name of HFCS to "corn sugar."

The CRA countersued in 2012, claiming that the sugar industry was smearing HFCS in order to get consumers to buy products sweetened with sugar.

(Read more: Global food prices tick up on higher sugar costs)

Both agricultural industry groups benefit from taxpayer subsidies and protections. Corn is the most highly subsidized crop in the U.S., with the federal government paying an estimated $10 billion or more in various forms of aid between 2010 and 2012, according to the Environmental Working Group's database.

And while Congress cannot agree on a farm bill, it did agree to renew a controversial safety net for the sugar industry that inflates prices.

»Read more
  Saturday, 1 Feb 2014 | 9:00 AM ET

Seahawks vs. Broncos: See whose fans are 'clumsy'

Posted By: Jane Wells

Russell Wilson isn't the only person in Seattle who fumbles around. The Seahawks quarterback is near the top of the 2013 fumblers list at 11, though the Broncos' Peyton Manning isn't far behind at 10.

I guess it comes with the territory.

According to SquareTrade, a company that sells extended warranties for mobile devices, Seahawks fans in general are "clumsy." A lot clumsier than Broncos fans. One in 4 people in Seattle have had a cellphone accident over the last year, compared with only 16 percent in Denver.

»Read more
  Tuesday, 14 Jan 2014 | 11:37 AM ET

Oregon Obamacare misdials going to guy in Florida

Posted By: Jane Wells
Source: Cover Oregon

David Kenyon is used to answering questions. He runs Cover Wrap Communications in Vero Beach, Fla. He's especially good at answering questions about the value of the advertising that wraps around covers of magazines placed in a doctor's office.

He's not so good at answering questions about health-care plans 3,000 miles away in Oregon.

But at least Kenyon will take your call.

"My wife thinks I'm crazy for answering the phone when I see it is from Oregon," he said. "Calls come in until 9 p.m."

»Read more
  Wednesday, 8 Jan 2014 | 10:46 AM ET

Admit it, cool high-tech guy: You still own a VCR

Posted By: Jane Wells
You can't see it in this photo, but this baby's still flashing "12:00" every two seconds.
Getty Images
You can't see it in this photo, but this baby's still flashing "12:00" every two seconds.

This week the Consumer Electronics Show is all the rage. Tech-this, and smart-that—all the cool kids have converged on Las Vegas to find out what products will make our lives better in 2014.

Meantime, most of us haven't gotten rid of the old VCR.

According to a Gallup survey, 58 percent of Americans still have their VCRs. That's a larger percentage than those owning a desktop computer, an iPod or MP3 player, a videogame console, a tablet computer, satellite TV, or an e-reader. In fact, only a few more of us—62 percent—own a smartphone.

All just a bunch of old fogies? Uh, no. According to Gallup, 41 percent of people ages 18 to 29 still own a VCR.

Here's the most amazing part of that survey—people admit they have one.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 8 Jan 2014 | 3:10 PM ET

John McAfee's 2014 resolutions: No bath salts

Posted By: Jane Wells | CNBC Reporter


Intel announced at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas that it will be rebranding its McAfee Security software products as "Intel Security." Even though the McAfee brand is almost 30 years old, the name is now most often associated with the escapades of the company's founder, John McAfee.

However, while the name is gone, Intel is keeping the red shield.

»Read more

About Funny Business with Jane Wells

  • If it was up to Jane Wells, she’d spend her entire day combing Mother Earth for stories and observations just for this blog. She has more fun writing Funny Business than anything else she does... professionally, that is. Funny business is whatever Jane considers hilarious, strange, fishy, or ridiculous, which pretty much covers everything on Wall Street. It is her hope this blog makes you smile, even when the news is grim. After all, it's only money.


  • Jane Wells

    Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.