Zuza Hicks

Staff

Back Designer

Zuza Hicks is the art director for Comstock’s magazine. 

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Startups Meet the Smart Meter

SMUD wants to turbocharge technologies that can raise the IQ of its smart grid

Giving customers price incentives to use less energy during peak periods is a key feature of SMUD’s smart grid. That new metering system is designed to let both the utility and customers better monitor energy use in homes. Now SMUD is hoping to take its grid to the next level. It’s partnering with entrepreneurs who can give customers technology that lets them use SMUD’s price incentives to save money

Dec 29, 2015 Steven Yoder

Send in the Crowd

Equity crowdfunding offers small investors a slice of the pie, but will they take a giant hit?

Pauline Marx, 63, had been a pretty conventional investor in stocks and bonds until April 2014. But to her, the rock-bottom interest rates on fixed-income tools like Treasury bills and CDs felt like stuffing money under the mattress.Then a friend told her about Fundrise, a website that lets investors buy small shares of real estate ventures around the country.

Nov 24, 2015 Steven Yoder

Legal English as a Second Language

Why can’t lawyers communicate like other humans?

Richard Wydick has spent much of his professional life trying to change how lawyers write. In 1978, he led an article for the California Law Review with this broadside: “We lawyers cannot write plain English.” That piece created such a positive response that he turned it into a foundational book on legal writing that’s now in its fifth edition.

Oct 6, 2015 Steven Yoder

Strictly Professional

For the next generation, family-business survival rests squarely on formalized governance

There’s an old saying about family businesses: Shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations. Grandpa hustles and creates the business,Dad takes the baton and then Junior goes down with the ship. According to the Family Firm Institute, just 30 percent of family businesses survive into their second generation, and only 10 percent make it to their third. Why do these firms fail?

Sep 22, 2015 Jeff Wilser

Extreme Makeover: Work Edition

Does your office need an etiquette expert?

You know That Guy. He wears too much Axe body spray, he makes loud personal calls while you’re trying to work, he chews food with his mouth open. He’s a close-talker with his shirt open one button too far. He’s also really good at his job. If you’re a manager, what do you do with That Guy?

Jan 6, 2015 Jeff Wilser
(shutterstock)

How Much for the Right to Pollute?

Traveling this holiday? Consider your fuel...

California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB32) requires the state’s major industry sectors to return California’s emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. To pay for AB32’s associated Cap-and-Trade Program, the cost of gasoline and diesel fuels will increase approximately 12 cents per gallon beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

Nov 26, 2014 Zuza Hicks
Illustrated by Zuza Hicks with elements from Shutterstock

On the Cover: Web of Thieves

Big-name cyberattacks make headlines, but smaller businesses have more to lose.

In cyberattacks against multimillion-dollar companies, computer criminals break in and steal personal information from millions of customers. Though there will be big losses and maybe a high-profile resignation, the reality is, these retail giants will live to sell another day. But the stories that won’t make the front pages involve the most frequent targets, whose survival isn’t guaranteed: small businesses.

Nov 18, 2014 Russell Nichols
(Illustrated by Zuza Hicks with elements from Shutterstock)

Bank Role

3 ways financial institutions can safeguard against cyberattacks

Compared to other industries, banks operate from a unique position, in that they have to focus intently on their own security, but also make sure their clients have the knowledge and tools to protect against computer criminals. Providing that protection usually comes down to a matter of security versus convenience.

Nov 13, 2014 Russell Nichols