Saturday, November 18, 2017

Business: No "Mouse" Deal, 21st Century Fox Still Very Much in Play

-WSJ

The Wall Street Journal scooped that Comcast has approached 21st Century Fox to express interest in buying a substantial piece of the company. Verizon and Sony’s entertainment division are also potentially interested. All this comes after news broke last week that Disney held talks with Fox but couldn’t reach a deal. The assets available include the Twentieth Century Fox studio, some U.S. cable assets and the international business. What’s driving all this activity? The need for scale and flexibility to push into new digital businesses to counter stagnation in the traditional TV business. On one end, if you want subscription revenue in the digital world you’re up against Netflix. On the other, if you want ad dollars you’re up against the duopoly. A buyer of Fox gets more content that could, perhaps, accelerate direct-to-consumer streaming plans, provide more high-quality inventory for whatever ad-supported businesses you build, and offer a foot in global TV markets that aren’t saturated like the U.S. Caution: It’s unclear which deals could actually go through, given the government’s resistance to AT&T-Time Warner. (21st Century Fox and WSJ parent News Corp share common ownership.)

Friday, November 17, 2017

Poetry: STONE CURTAIN CRUMBLES [No, Moore]

No doubt you
laughed
and gloated at
the Mogul's fall
his stunning - and deserved -
denouement
a grave around which
you could
dance
Did you even
think
the stink would
persist would
spread would
permeate
your
Stone Curtain
emblazoned in the
Biblical precepts you so
callously
used
to blind the world
to
the muck of
your own making?
Innocent little
backwater
babes
You bet that they would
stay
silent
that they would - unaided - bear the stain
of
your lecherous
cowardice
while you blustered about
family values
You arrayed their hapless
mothers
Their own
chastity
long since laid
waste
by the good ol'
Monsters
preachers, politicos and other
upstanding
citizens who
schooled you
in the doctrine of
moral absolutism as its own
absolution
bur even as a
Senator
Who
will be your king, Roy?
Who will be your
Saviour
now?

Auto: Red Streak! New Tesla Roadster Claims under 2 secs. 0-60


Tesla has used the unveiling of its long-awaited Semi to shock the world and unveil the second-generation Roadster, a car which will be the sportiest vehicle every created by the electric automaker.

Elon Musk has been promising a new Roadster for a number of years and has just announced that it has arrived. Like the original, it is a sleek two-door but unlike its predecessor, is totally bespoke and adopts a seriously sexy design.

Incredibly, the base second-generation Tesla Roadster will reportedly reach 60 mph (96 km/h) in just 1.9 seconds and reach 100 mph (160 km/h) in a mere 4.2 seconds. What’s more, it will run down the quarter mile in 8.9 seconds thanks to a 200-kWh battery pack and apparently hit over 250 mph.

According to Musk, the new Tesla Roadster has a 620-mile range and despite what the images may suggest, it does have four seats, however, the rear seats are exceptionally small. 

From a design standpoint, the new Roadster is a dramatic departure from any other Tesla before it. The front end is characterized by a pair of slim LED headlights and typical Tesla curved body panels, while the rear looks more like a radical concept car than anything remotely close to a production model. Among the most intriguing design elements are wafer-thin taillights and an aggressive diffuser.

During his speech announcing the second-generation Tesla Roadster, Musk said he wants it to serve as the final nail in the coffin for ICE vehicles, hence why such lofty performance targets have been set. If they’re all achieved, it could very well represent the future of performance cars.

Unsurprisingly, the second-gen Tesla Roadster will be more expensive than its predecessor. In fact, the base price will start at $200,000 with a $50,000 reservation required. For true die-hard Tesla enthusiasts, a Roadster Founders Series will be available, starting at $250,000.

Business: Wal-Mart Rings Up Big Quarter

-WSJ

Wal-Mart is holding its ground against Amazon. The world’s biggest retailer Thursdayposted its strongest quarterly U.S. sales growth in nearly a decade, buoyed by a big jump in e-commerce and increased store traffic at a time when many traditional retailers are struggling. Wal-Mart shares gained nearly 11% after the company reported the earnings and have risen 44% so far this year. The fiscal third-quarter results bucked a string of mostly downbeat reports from retailers this week, including Target. Wal-Mart has focused on improving its food business, and in the wake of Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition earlier this year has ramped up efforts to let shoppers order groceries online. Its grocery business delivered the strongest quarterly same-store sales growth in more than five years, including sales from online grocery pickup.

Tech Biz: Dorsey Heads to Jamaica for "Tech Beach" Summit


-Jamaica Observer

Jack Dorsey, co-founder and chief executive officer of Twitter Inc.


Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, CEO and chairman of Square, and co-founder of both has been confirmed as headline speaker for this year's Tech Beach Retreat at the Iberostar Grand Resort in Montego Bay later this month.

Other speakers will include Lloyd Carney — CEO, Brocade; Pilar Manchon — director of cognitive interfaces, Amazon; Nic Brathwaite — founding general partner, Riverwood Capital; Paul Ahlstrom — co-founder and managing director, Alta Ventures; Rodney Williams  — founder and CEO, Lisnr; and author, influencer and entrepreneur Adryenn Ashley.

The Tech Beach event is returning for its second year and aims to uplift the Caribbean's tech scene to the global stage, while helping to drive a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation throughout the region. Tech Beach is a product of the Destination Experience, which recently expanded to Barbados in October, with plans to include stagings in other markets in 2018.
In 2016, Tech Beach hosted more than 200 tech entrepreneurs, innovators and investors from North America, Africa, Europe and the wider Caribbean, some of whom hailed from companies such as tech giants Facebook, Google, Microsoft, LinkedIn, PayPal, and Microsoft. 

This year's theme is 10X S.C.A.L.E. — Building the next Billion Dollar Enterprise with particular focus on health tech, fin tech, and consumer tech. Tech Beach will also highlight emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, automation and robotics, digital payments, cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, big data and cyber security. 

“We are working to spark an entrepreneurship and innovation revolution in the Caribbean. Our goal is to connect the best in the Caribbean with the best in the world, driving a paradigm shift in the economic outlook of the Caribbean through partnerships and investment. Our summits are designed to serve as catalysts,” said Kirk-Anthony Hamilton, co-founder and curator of Tech Beach Retreat.  
Last year, more than 50 per cent of the participants were international and more than 60 per cent reported doing business with another Tech Beach participant within six months following the event.
Tickets for the event, which starts on November 30 and runs to December 2, are available online at www.techbeach.net.

Brands: Vans Skate Back into the Black

-GQ
Back in 2002, when Rian Pozzebon, who was then a relative unknown in the sneaker community, got the offer to join Vans and help rebuild the brand’s ailing skate shoe program with his longtime friend and colleague Jon Warren, he had one big question: “Will they let us mess with the classics?”
At the time, Vans wasn’t particularly interested in core models like the Slip-On, Old Skool, and Authentic. “The classics just kind of existed,” says Pozzebon. “But they weren’t pushed.” Instead, they languished—in just a few basic colors—in Vans stores.
The company's focus was directed elsewhere, on newer styles. After riding the wave of the ‘90s skateboarding boom, Vans faced new competition from younger skate shoe brands like DC and Osiris. These companies—born only a few years earlier—favored a chunkier, more tech-forward silhouette (a word the fashion community uses to describe the shape of a shoe). Vans’ retro styling, by comparison, felt stale. By the early years of the new millennium, nearly a decade of sustained growth had fallen off—as had customers’ goodwill.—as had customers’ goodwill.
“I just never took it seriously as a lifestyle shoe. At all,” Brian Trunzo, senior menswear trend forecaster at WGSN, says of his feelings about Vans at the time. Beset by new competition in its core skate market and ignored by trendsetting sneakerheads who preferred the Air Force 1 or Adidas Superstar, Vans seemed on the verge of slipping into irrelevance.
Courtesy of Vans
And here was Pozzebon—not even an employee yet—asking if he could look backwards instead of forwards to inform his design decisions. It was a bold question, to say the very least. And yet. “When we came and interviewed they were like, ‘Whatever it takes. Whatever you need,’” he recalls. Whether or not he fully knew it at the time, he’d landed on something that would prove crucial for the brand’s future success.
“It was that vintage piece,” says Pozzebon, now the head of footwear design for the company’s Classics, California Collection, and Vault divisions. “At the time, Vans didn’t necessarily know what they really had.”
By focusing on that element of the company’s DNA, Pozzebon and his design team led Vans through a turnaround that was nothing short of staggering. The brand has become a staple of American footwear culture, on the level with iconic brands like Converse (which is twice as old) and Nike (which is nearly 10 times as large). Vans are worn by celebrities and fashion influencers, the jeans and T-shirt crowd who rarely pay attention to what's stylish, teenagers and toddlers, alike. What makes it all the more impressive—especially in an age of unprecedented technological innovation—is that it leaned on just five classic styles to drive its cultural relevance, which arguably have never been higher, as well as its sales, which have inarguably never been higher.

Business: Investor Looks to Take Barnes and Noble Private

-WSJ

An activist investor in Barnes & Noble has proposed a transaction that would take the bookseller private with the help of current shareholders and a hefty dose of borrowings, an effort that could face formidable obstacles.

Sandell Asset Management has approached the company with a plan that would value Barnes & Noble at more than $650 million, or more than $9 a share, according to people familiar with the matter. The shares closed Wednesday at $6.60. Some $250 million of the purchase price would come from shareholders keeping their stakes and rolling them over into a new private entity--though according to one person, Chairman Leonard Riggio wouldn't agree to do so. He owns a roughly 18% stake.