That’s Rich


Drumroll, please. The 2014 Forbes Billionaires List is out, and it’s grown to a record 1,645 people, pulling in an aggregate net worth of $6.4 trillion. Bill Gates is at No. 1 again with his network of $76 billion; mining and telecom giant Carlo Slim comes in second with $72 billion; and Inditex’s Amancio Ortega ranks third with $64 billion. New to the list are a mixture of self-starters, like WhatsApp’s Jan Koum and Brian Acton, as well as 42 new female billionaires (bumping the global female billionaire pool to 172 billion). And, in terms of the globe’s wealthiest countries, the United States still pulls in at the top again (with 492 billionaires), trailed by China and Russia.

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Start-up Spotlight: Atlanta Tech Village


Look out Silicon Valley. Big innovations have been taking place in plain sight at Atlanta’s newly constructed Atlanta Tech Village. This sprawling modern complex, located in the heart of Buckhead on Piedmont Road, is the brainchild of entrepreneurial whiz David Cummings and is home to 106 start-ups and growing.

By the time renovations are complete on the 103,000-square-foot building this June, a projected 150-to-175 start-ups (and about 600 people) will claim the building as their work address. Since opening in 2013, it has become one of the 10 largest entrepreneurial centers in America.

“The goal is to make Atlanta one of the top 10 most successful start-up centers in the country,” says Cummings. “In the next 10 years, we’d like to create 10,000 net jobs by way of the start-ups that come through our doors.” Serving as an incubator for good ideas, the open-floor office plan and daily meetings with company leaders lend to a sense of camaraderie among companies.

Click here to learn more about the Village, and the wide range of companies that make a home there—everything from a Nicaragua travel company to a video game creator.

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And the Oscar Goes to…

The 85th Academy Awards® will air live on Oscar® Sunday, February 24, 2013.

Movie buffs and fashion devotees, your event of the year has returned yet again with the 86th Academy Awards, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. As you place your bets on the winners and get your house prepped for your famous Oscar-viewing party (impress your friends and whip up one of these tasty appetizers), take the opportunity to squeeze in a few last-minute trips to the movies to see the major contenders on the big screen.

Here, a run-down of the nominees for a few of the top categories:

Best Picture:
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Actor in a Leading Role:
Christian Bale, American Hustle
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street

Actress in a Leading Role:
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, Osage County

Actor in a Supporting Role:
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Actress in a Supporting Role:
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Feeling inspired by the grandeur of the Oscars? Host an award ceremony of your own (albeit on a much smaller scale) for stand-out employees at your office. You can make it as fun or as genuine as you like. Tweet us your winners @cocardatl.

Share your predictions and must-see flicks of the year @cocardatl #oscarpicks. View Oscar-nominated and winning films from years long passed on TCM during its 31 Days of Oscar showcase (through March 3). The 86th Academy Awards will air March 2 at 7 p.m. EST on ABC. 

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Romantic Recipe

A dish doesn’t have to be complicated in order to be delicious. Nor do expensive ingredients equate deeper affection. It’s the thought that counts here. And, considering that most are scurrying off to high-end restaurants to celebrate the day, there’s something quite charming about suggesting a romantic dinner in. Rich, velvety and comforting, beef stroganoff makes for the perfect accompaniment to February’s chilly temperatures. It looks more difficult to make than it is and fills the home with heavenly smells. Here, a trusted dish from one of our own romantics and gourmet home cooks.

Jason’s Marry Me Beef Stroganoff
Serve with a side salad and toasted bread. Pair with a full-bodied pinot or a Châtteauneuf-du-Pape.

1.5 lbs. ground beef
salt and pepper
4 T butter
4 T flour
1/2 qt. beef broth
4 tsp. dijon mustard
1 cup sour cream
olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup mushrooms
1/2 cup of dill pickles, chopped
1 lb. egg noodles cooked (be careful not to over-cook)
chopped parsley to garnish

1. Cook ground beef with onion. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
2. In a separate pan, melt butter and cook flour to make a roux.
3. Whisk in most of the broth to the roux. Bring to boil to thicken the sauce then add more broth as necessary. The sauce should be thick.
4. Stir in mustard and sour cream and cook two-to-three minutes.
5. Remove from heat and taste for seasoning.
6. Stir in the ground beef and add in pickles and egg noodles.
7. Garnish with parsley.

“Remember, no one’s more important than people! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” – Julia Child

A five-minute love story, for all ages.

A five-minute love story, for all ages:

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Winter Olympics Prep


2010’s biggies were the bandana-wearing speed skater Apolo Ohno, the enigmatic figure skater Johnny Weir, the flame-haired snowboarder Shaun White and the fearless alpine ski racer Lindsey Vonn. As you start readying your TV for the Sochi 2014 Olympics in Sochi Russia Feb. 7-23, study up on these U.S. standouts. We suspect you’ll be hearing more from this crew—especially when they’re standing on the awards podium! Keep track of the newest inductees to Team USA as we come down the pipeline—and keep tabs on these hopefuls.

Petra Acker – Speedskating

As the only female to hold a Category 1 status in short and long-track speed-skating, we have a feeling she’ll blur past the competition come February. At age 20, she’s a newbie to the Olympic arena.

Mikaela Shiffrin – Alpine Skier

Besides her recent achievements—winner of the World Cup slalom season opener and reining World Cup and world champion  in slalom—she also offers incredible on-screen charisma. Perhaps she’ll be the darling of this Olympics?

Tim Burke – Biathlon

If you’re not apt to tune into the biathlon or have a clue what that is (this is the sport that pairs cross-country skiing with rifle shooting), it’s likely you may have missed Tim Burke in the past two Olympics (2006, 2010), but the multitalented athlete has only improved with age. At the recent World Championships, he won the silver medal in the 20km individual competition, and became the second American ever  to win a World Championship medal. Way to represent!

Also noteworthy: Be sure to check out men’s and women’s slope-style skiing and men and women’s snowboard slope-style (seven-time X Games phenom Jamie Anderson is the one to watch there). Both sports are new to this Olympics.

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Understanding Google’s Top Charts Function


If you’re a regular devotee to Google Trends, you may have noticed that a “Top Charts” feature was recently unveiled.  If you put a large emphasis on your website, your blog and your web traffic, this new feature is certainly worth exploring. Top Charts allows you to assess where you stand as a business and how you compare with similar competitors in your industry by logging the subjects people are most interested in from a specific industry as determined by overall search habits (not by keywords). By discovering those trending subjects, you can obtain additional insight into your customers’ needs wants and interests and can tailor your business and/or website accordingly—directly improving your site’s traffic and potentially leading to an increase in sales.

What do you think about Top Charts? Tell us how it has helped your business @cocardatlanta.

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Get PCI DSS Compliant


Though many of you are already aware of the importance and necessity of becoming Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DDS) compliant, CoCard wants to remind you that these industry regulations are absolutely required both for the security of your business and that of your customers. These standards protect you and your customers from credit card fraud and security vulnerabilities and are not to be taken lightly. If you are not yet compliant, you’re putting yourself at risk for incurring astronomical penalty fees and you may lose your ability to process bankcards.

PCI-DSS requirements are imposed by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB International Co. and Discover to protect customers’ account data, and to protect merchants from serious security breaches and damages. These industry-wide requirements affect all merchant account providers and all merchants accepting credit cards.

Adherence to the PCI DSS is ongoing. To avoid monthly PCI non-compliance fees and the possibility of a costly security breach, please call our office at 1-800-317-1819, ext. 2 and ask for compliance assistance. We are happy to answer any questions you may have regarding PCI DDS compliance.

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On Target


Many of us are still rattled by Target’s recent security breach, affecting 40 million credit and debit cards nationwide between November 27 and December 15, 2013. Now that these stolen cards have popped up everywhere on the black market, this isn’t just a national problem, it’s a global issue. Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel addressed the breach with a message on the corporate website, noting that the company has hired a third-party forensics firm to investigate the incident and insisting that, “there is no indication PIN numbers have been compromised.”

And, while it has certainly been a hardship for the credit card holders attacked, those targeted customers will be reimbursed. In circumstances like this one, it’s the merchants that take the heaviest financial blow, both in terms of fines and in lowered customer support. Aside from the time of year that this occurred and the swarms of people shopping for gifts in Target stores, the breach has been largely attributed to the rise in mobile shopping, and the decrease in shopper verification data—users buying items on their smartphones  want to hit “buy” instantly without having to go through the lengthy security question process.

What’s the next step? According to an article from Forbes, some businesses have switched up the tactics and beefed up security by tapping into social media info as a source of verification data. Start-up company Trustev, for instance, has bulked up its verification service, utilizing around 80 sources including social media info (with the shopper’s permission).

If you suspect you were a victim of this or another credit card breach, report it to your financial institution and the Federal Trade Commission immediately.

Read CoCard’s tips about credit card security here.

What is your business doing to protect customers? Share @cocardatl 

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Give a Little Bit


You surely stocked up on your fair share of gift cards over the last few months (both as a giver and as a receiver). If that’s gotten you thinking about offering electronic gift cards at your own business (honestly, they make for great presents for any occasion), CoCard is ready to meet your needs! You can choose from denominated or non-denominated, expiring and non-expiring, plus refundable or non-refundable options. We’re happy to provide you with gift cards!

Click here to learn more or give us a call at 800.317.1819. 

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Fight the Flu


If you forgot to get your flu shot this winter, it’s not too late to get inoculated against this season’s strand. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flu season typically hits its peak in January and February, but can continue as late as May. The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive the flu shot. It’s the best protection against seasonal flu. In addition, be sure to avoid close contact with sick people; stay home when you are sick; cover your mouth and nose; wash your hands often; and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Be sure to take extra precautions with your overall health by cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, getting plenty of rest, staying active, eating healthfully, staying hydrated and managing stress.

For the full scoop on all things flu-related, click here.

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