Tue07222014

News

Q&A with Anne Wojcicki: 23andMe founder, local resident discusses Los Altos investments

Q&A with Anne Wojcicki: 23andMe founder, local resident discusses Los Altos investments


Anne Wojcicki

For the past several years, Anne Wojcicki (Wo-JIT-skee) has been quietly involved in efforts to spruce up downtown Los Altos. She and her husband, Google Inc. co-founder Sergey Brin, helped form Passerelle Investment Co., which own...

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Schools

Foothill fall registration opens Monday

Local residents interested in earning a specialized career certificate, associate degree or updated job skills can enroll beginning Monday when Foothill College opens fall registration.

In addition to its continuing-education courses, the college pr...

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Community

Horse show this Sunday in Los Altos Hills

The Los Altos Hills Horseman’s Association will be hosting a summer schooling show this coming 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday (July 27) at the Los Altos Hills Town Arena on Purissima Road.  Equestrians and spectators are welcome. Activities include jum...

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Sports

Stewart accepts job as baseball coach at Los Altos High

Stewart accepts job as baseball coach at Los Altos High


Los Altos High administrators offered Gabe Stewart the job of head baseball coach at Los Altos High even before he could apply for it.

“They approached me – they wanted an on-campus coach,” said Stewart, an AP History teacher at ...

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Comment

A good start – now follow through: Editorial

The recent announcement of a five-year agreement between the Los Altos School District and Bullis Charter School is welcome relief for the entire community. After years of dispute and litigation, the pact is nothing short of a minor miracle.

Among t...

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Business

In the business of fostering business

In the business of fostering business


took over as Los Altos’ new economic development coordinator in May after spending the past two years working as city assistant planner. Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier

Sierra Davis is wearing a slightly different hat these days as a Los Altos cit...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

GORDON E. BRANDT

GORDON E. BRANDT

In May of 2014, Gordon E. Brandt passed away after a one and one half year battle with Lymphoma. He died peacefully at home, surrounded by his family.

Gordon was born in Los Angeles, CA on July 13, 1930. He graduated from Fremont High School in 19...

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Travel

British Columbia: Richmond, Steveston, Victoria hold surprises

British Columbia: Richmond, Steveston, Victoria hold surprises


Courtesy of Tourism Richmond
Shops, restaurants and museums dot the boardwalk in British Columbia’s Steveston, a great site for strolling.

Picturesque British Columbia has long been on our bucket list, and we recently fulfilled that dream.

We...

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Stepping Out

LA Youth Theatre, LA Stage Company join forces for 'Oz'

LA Youth Theatre, LA Stage Company join forces for 'Oz'


Joyce Goldschmid/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of “The Wizard of Oz” includes, clockwise from top left, Dana Levy (as Tinman), Rebecca Krieger (Cowardly Lion), Sarah Traina (Scarecrow) and Osher Fein (Dorothy).

Los Altos Youth Theatre and L...

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Spiritual Life

Stanford students study religion through campus artifacts

The inscriptions inside Memorial Church, the death mask of Jane Stanford and the nod to the Egyptian ankh symbol formed by Palm Drive and the Stanford Oval all have one thing in common: Each was a topic of discussion for the students enrolled in a un...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Small-business owners ignoring retirement

I wrote an article earlier this year about how much we need to be saving for retirement. It turns out that small-business owners are among those most at risk. A recent AP report posted by MarketWatch shared the stories of a number of business owners who simply ignored their own futures and focused almost entirely on developing their businesses. Many viewed their companies as their nest eggs, planning to sell them to fund their retirement. Is this a wise strategy?

Kari Warburg Block didn’t even think about saving for retirement until she was unable to get a loan for her fourth business. The banker wanted to examine her personal finances, believing that people who handle their savings and investments well would also do a good job running companies and be good credit risks. Block had never taken money for her retirement out of the companies she had previously owned. As a result, the banker denied the loan. Block found herself not only without any retirement savings, but also with future prospects constrained.

She’s not alone. Of the small-business owners surveyed by American Express, 73 percent said they’re worried about their ability to save for the lifestyle they want to maintain in retirement. A study by the Small Business Administration found that only approximately one-third of owners had contributed to their individual retirement accounts in 2006, and only 18 percent had a 401(k).

How much can you lose?

I have personally known many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs over the years. What sets apart the successful ones from the unsuccessful ones is not, as one might surmise, having a great idea or being especially talented or even being in the right place at the right time. The key success factor is knowing how much they can afford to lose before making the decision to invest in a new business.

That may sound trivial, but it assuredly is not. I’ve found that entrepreneurs who were able to identify and stick to their limits were the ones who, more often than not, successfully rode out the downturns. Rather than raiding their retirement savings to prop up their businesses, they would liquidate the businesses, learn from the failures and start working on the next one, all the while supporting themselves using their savings. Their finances weren’t tied up in a single entity.

Small-business owners are naturally sanguine about the prospects for their businesses.

Michael Maher, co-owner of a clothing retailer in San Francisco, is using his own savings to start and build the company.

“We’re plowing all our money back into the company for the most part and taking a nominal salary,” he said.

And Maher believes that a company he runs is a better investment than the stock market.

“I am investing money in a business that I think is viable and that I control instead of investing in something that I don’t control,” he said.

But there are many factors beyond a business owner’s control. Take 2008. The plunge in lending to small businesses, together with the slowdown in both business and consumer spending, forced many owners to liquidate personal assets like bank accounts, stocks and mutual funds to keep their companies afloat. When you concentrate most of your assets in a single investment such as your business, you can easily be left with nothing should it collapse.

How can you determine how much you can afford to lose in a startup business? That part’s easy. It’s all about planning for your future.

For more information, see the column I wrote on this topic several months back (“Are we saving enough for retirement?” March 27).

Los Altos resident Artie Green is a Certified Financial Planner with Cognizant Wealth Advisors. For more information, call 209-4062.

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