Mark Bittman, the bestselling cookbook author and former New York Times food columnist, didn’t mince words when we finally got him on the phone to discuss his split with the Purple Carrot, the Needham-based vegan meal kit service. The company got a tremendous boost when he signed on to promote its brand last November.
Now, just six months in, Bittman was out.
“It was a feeling,” the author told us last week. “I guess it’s complicated. It’s not a simple thing and it wasn’t a falling out. It was time.”
Bittman said he’d been eager to help Purple Carrot develop its vegan recipes, and believes in the premise behind the company: that delivering meat-free meals for us to prepare ourselves will help with our health and the health of the planet. But he said his constant travel schedule didn’t allow him to dedicate the attention he wanted to the endeavor. “I helped the company relaunch in a way that was constructive and creative and fun for me,” he said. “But I didn’t know what it would be like and my travel schedule was such that it was hard to execute everything that I wanted to execute.”
Bittman maintains an ownership stake in the company, and says that he and its founder, Andy Levitt, remain friends.
“I accomplished a lot,” he continued, “and it felt like a good time to move on.”
He said that he has no immediate future plans, aside from promoting his next cookbook, “How to Bake Everything,” which will be out on Oct. 4. Any talks with the Times in the works about a possible return?
“I haven't ruled out going back but I haven’t talked to them about it,” he said. — JANELLE NANOS
Comcast CEO: Olympics ‘chaos’ inevitable
Ask Comcast Corp. CEO Brian Roberts if he’s nervous about Brazil hosting the Summer Olympics in August, and the answer is an unequivocal yes.
The cable giant’s NBCUniversal subsidiary will once again broadcast the Summer Games, and Roberts said concerns are natural with such a global competition.
“There is always a lot of questions and chaos,” Roberts said Monday at The Internet & Television Expo, a trade show at the Boston Convention & and Exhibition Center. “And there is always some potential worries.”
But anxiety seems to be running unusually high for the games in Rio de Janeiro, from whether the dangerous Zika virus will keep athletes and spectators away to the impeachment of the Brazilian president.
“Hopefully Zika will recede more than accelerate, the politics will settle down rather than destabilize,” Roberts said. “But I can’t do too much.”
As for production hiccups, Roberts acknowledged viewers can probably expect some. NBCUniversal is planning 6,000 hours of coverage, all live streamed and available on demand to cable subscribers.
“Will there be issues? Of course. That much live there will be some glitches, I’m sure,” he said. “But we’re confident it’s going to be a winner.”
A year ago, Boston was the United States Olympic Committee’s choice to host the 2024 Summer Games, but the city’s bid collapsed amid dwindling public support and the lack of a government guarantee. The USOC then gave the nod to Los Angeles.
So is Roberts rooting for a particular host city?
“Boston made its own decision. It is not easy to stage an Olympics. Better to know that sooner than later that it wasn’t going to be right,” Roberts says. — SHIRLEY LEUNG
In the name of Progress (Software)
For Progress Software chief executive Phil Pead, a corporate rebranding has turned out to be more than presenting a new corporate face to the world. It’s also about rallying employees around unifying themes.
The Bedford-based software firm unveiled its latest branding effort on Monday, the work of London-based creative agency Moving Brands. There’s a new logo, of course, and the obligatory new signs and retooled website. Progress has also ditched the “Software” part of its name, except with respect to legal filings, to emphasize its increased focus on delivering cloud-based services. (Pead and his team considered a full name change, but ultimately decided against it.) The company makes products for marketers and developers at clients such as eBay and SanDisk that, among other things, can improve their websites and mobile apps.
Pead said the exercise prompted the firm’s roughly 2,000 employees to think about their views of the company’s culture. A few catch phrases emerged, ideas such as being “magnetic” and “intrepid.” Pead wants to use those as a foundation for Progress going forward.
The key, he says, is picking themes that are already genuine for the firm.
“So many of these kinds of things fail when they’re not built on authenticity,” Pead says. “You might want to be George Clooney. But the reality is, you better have some foundation for that or it’s not going to be real.” — JON CHESTO
A tax credit that’s good for charity
The results are in from the second year of a state tax credit designed to promote one type of charitable giving, and the numbers grew dramatically.
The Community Investment Tax Credit offers a 50 percent credit to those who donate money to a community development corporation, a clunky name for a nonprofit trying to improve struggling neighborhoods.
It’s complicated, but here’s an ultra-simple explainer: CDCs receive allocations of credits that they distribute to donors. If donors make a $1,000 contribution, they get a $500 credit. The arrangement lets CDCs use government money to attract private dollars.
Last year, about 1,500 donations totaling $8.3 million were made, up from $4.8 million in 2014.
The most successful CDCs were Main South in Worcester, which raised $307,000, including $220,000 from Clark University; Lawrence CommunityWorks, which raised $303,000; and Island Housing Trust on Martha’s Vineyard, which raised $289,000. — SACHA PFEIFFER
Correction: A previous version of the item on Mark Bittman misstated the title of Bittman’s forthcoming book as well as its release date. The book is called “How to Bake Everything.” It will come out on Oct. 4.