Business • Economy
California sues Uber, Lyft alleging they misclassified workers as contractors
Uber app on a mobile phone
Uber app on a mobile phone Credit: Charles Deluvio (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys from Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco, filed a lawsuit asserting Uber and Lyft misclassified their drivers as independent contractors under the state's new labor law.

According to the lawsuit, both companies gained an unfair and unlawful competitive advantage by claiming their workers were contractors.

Techcrunch reports the lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of San Francisco, seeks $2,500 in penalties for each violation, possibly per driver, under the California Unfair Competition Law, and another $2,500 for violations against senior citizens or people with disabilities.

Business • Economy
Warren Buffett has sold all of his stocks in US airlines

The investment company Berkshire Hathaway under the lead of CEO Warren Buffett has sold all its holdings of US airline stocks. Buffett had announced during the company's annual meeting that the stocks were sold for in full and for a loss, because "when we change our mind we don't take half measures or anything of the sort".

Business • Economy
French state railway SNCF estimates a loss of 2 billion euros due to Covid-19
A SNCF TGV inOui Reseau Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon
A SNCF TGV inOui Reseau Duplex at Paris Gare de Lyon Credit: Superalbs (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

“The virus, for the moment, means we’re missing about 2 billion euros in revenue,” SNCF Chief Executive Jean-Pierre Farandou told France Inter radio. “It wouldn’t be abnormal to think of an aid plan for the SNCF,” he added.

Public transport operators reduced their service after France decided to curb non-essential travels in mid-March. While the lockdown will progressively be lifted from May 11, it is unclear when train traffic will return to normal.

Business • Economy
Deliveroo cuts over 350 employees, blaming Covid-19 crisis
Deliveroo cuts over 350 employees, blaming Covid-19 crisis

Deliveroo, an online food delivery company, has confirmed the layoff of 367 employees, approx. 15% of its global headcount. A Deliveroo spokesman said that the global health crisis had impacted their business and that they had to reduce long-term costs.

Business • Economy
WeWork lays off staff via Zoom calls
WeWork lays off staff via Zoom calls

WeWork, an office-space provider, has laid off more employees on Thursday after cutting thousands of jobs last year after the company's failed IPO. Affected departments include sales, business operations and product. The coworking company has been struggling to fill their offices with the Covid-19 lockdown and shelter-in-place-order.

London based employees were informed that WeWork would begin the 45-day consultation process required by UK law to lay off UK staff. A total number of recent lay offs has not been made public.

Business • Economy
Eurozone economy shrinks 3.8% in first quarter
The Hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a plenary session in 2014.
The Hemicycle of the European Parliament in Strasbourg during a plenary session in 2014. Credit: Diliff (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The eurozone’s gross domestic product fell 3.8% versus the final three months of 2019, according to data released Thursday, as measures imposed to limit the Covid-19 pandemic’s spread stalled everything from schools to factories to churches.

Separate figures revealed a steep fall in economic activity in France (5.8%) and Spain (5.1%) over the same period.

Business • Economy
US reports 30 million filings for unemployment since March

The Labor Department reported that another 3.8 million filed for unemployment benefits in the US last week. So far over 30 million people have lost their job due to repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic, but these numbers might not be correct a study finds. The Economic Policy Institute reports that about 50 percent more people might be out of work but didn't apply for benefits.

Business • Economy
Ferrari to gradually restart operations from May 4th
Ferrari head office and factory
Ferrari head office and factory Credit: David Schachner (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Italian carmaker Ferrari will gradually restart its Maranello and Modena plants on May 4th, aiming a return to full production on Friday, May 8th.

Ferrari also stated that "Over the coming weeks, all business activities that can be carried out through remote-working will continue as usual in this way."

Business • Economy
Microsoft reports $35 billion in revenue, Covid-19 had minimal impact on revenue
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks onstage at MWC Barcelona
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaks onstage at MWC Barcelona Credit: Microsoft (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Microsoft today reported earnings for its third fiscal quarter of 2020, including revenue of $35 billion, and a net income of $10.8 billion.

The company said that the Covid-19 pandemic had “minimal net impact on total company revenue.”

“We’ve seen two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months. From remote teamwork and learning to sales and customer service, to critical cloud infrastructure and security—we are working alongside customers every day to help them adapt and stay open for business in a world of remote everything,” CEO Satya Nadella said in a statement. “Our durable business model, diversified portfolio, and differentiated technology stack position us well for what’s ahead.”.

Business • Media & Advertising
Spotify’s Premium subscriber base reachs 130 million users.
View from Spotify’s Stockholm HQ
View from Spotify’s Stockholm HQ Credit: Spotify

Spotify published its financial results for Q1 2020, reporting that it had 130 million Premium subscribers globally at the end of the quarter. That was up by 6m subscribers compared to the end of the prior quarter (Q4 2019) and up by 30m (+31%) compared to the same period last year.

The company stated it started seeing a fall in users in late February in virus-affected countries such as Italy and Spain, but has seen a meaningful recovery in the last few weeks.

Total revenue was €1.85 billion, an increase of 22% compared to last year, while premium subscription revenue grew by 23% reaching €1.70 billion.

Business • Economy
U.S. GDP falls by 4.8 percent in first quarter

America's GDP – gross domestic product – shrank at a 4.8 percent annual rate in the first quarter of 2020, making it the biggest contraction since the Great Recession. As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, experts believe that the decline will continue into the second quarter of 2020.

Kevin Hassett, White House economic adviser, estimates GDP could go down by 20 to 30 percent, calling it "the biggest shock since the Great Depression".

Business • Economy
Prescriptions to be delivered via drones to Florida retirement community

UPS and CVS are starting a drone delivery service of prescription drugs to Florida's largest retirement community in early May. The Villages, a retirement community northwest of Orlando, is home to over more 135,000 people, most of which are deemed high-risk for Covid-19. “Our new drone delivery service will help CVS provide safe and efficient deliveries of medicines to this large retirement community, enabling residents to receive medications without leaving their homes,” Scott Price, UPS chief strategy and transformation officer, said. UPS received government approval for their drone airline last fall.

Business • Economy
Price for US Western Texas Intermediate oil turns negative
Pumpjack located south of Midland, Texas
Pumpjack located south of Midland, Texas Credit: Eric Kounce (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Oil producers have started paying buyers to take the oil out of their hands, as storage capacity is running low. A worldwide overproduction of oil is currently recorded due to a decline in demand following the spread of the coronavirus.

The lowest recorded price for a barrel (around 159 liters) of West Texas Intermediate oil was recorded at minus $37.63.

Business • Economy
Covid-19 hoarder tries to return goods, gets denied

A shopper in Adelaide, Australia who made use of a team of people to stockpile 150 bottles of hand sanitizer and 132 packs of toilet paper rolls has unsuccessfully tried to return the goods. Worth around $10,000 the shopper tried to sell the goods online, but his "eBay site has been shut down" and the director of the supermarket has refused to refund the purchases.

Business • Economy
IMF predicts worst recession since the Great Depression

IMF, the International Monetary Fund, forecasts that the recession-related to the coronavirus might be the worst since the recession of the Great Depression of the 1930s. If the coronavirus related restrictions should stay longer than anticipated or even return, the IMF warns of the subsequent damage to the world economy. The IMF further estimates a 3% shrink of global gross domestic product this year.

Business • Real Estate, Housing & Infrastructure
IKEA announces that 70% of materials during 2018 have been renewable or recycled

The furniture retailer and producer from Sweden has announced that in their pursuit of using 100% materials that are renewable or recycled by 2030, they have reached the milestone of 70% in 2018.

Business • Real Estate, Housing & Infrastructure
UK surgeon builds website to find NHS workers vacant rooms

The orthopaedic surgeon, Joseph Alsousou, was forced to leave his apartment after the landlady cancelled the contract in fear of getting the coronavirus. In order to help other NHS workers facing the same problem, he set up a website to match them with citizens or companies that are willing to provide accommodation for NHS workers for free or at drastically reduced rates. The website is

Business • Economy
Germany permits 40,000 foreign workers to work inside Germany in April and May

After previously banning the entry of seasonal workers from outside Germany as part of the measures against the coronavirus, the German agriculture minister Julia Klöckner has announced that around 40,000 workers will now be allowed inside the country. In order to secure the harvest of fruits and vegetables, mainly strawberries and asparagus, and at the same time prevent the coronavirus from spreading further, foreign seasonal workers are required to travel by plane and employers are required to do mandatory health checks on arrival. For the first 14 days, the newly arrived workers are also required to work separately from other workers and are not allowed to leave the premises of the company.

Business • Economy
Rising unemployment numbers in the US: 6.65 million new filings in past week

The federal labor department has announced that the unemployment numbers in the United States have continued rising. With more than 6.65 million people filing for unemployment benefits in the United States in the last week, adding to the around 3.3 million in the week before, the United States have an unprecedented rise in people filing for unemployment benefits.

Business • Economy
Wet markets in China have reopened

The wet markets in China, where scientists believe that Covid-19 has first been transferred from a bat to another animal and then to humans, have reopened. The markets are guarded to prevent pictures from being taken.

Business • Economy
Amazon, Instacart workers strike amid working conditions under coronavirus pandemic

Amazon warehouse workers on New York’s Staten Island, and Instacart works across the United States, went on strike Monday to call attention to what they called a lack of protections for employees who continue to come to work amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Workers for both companies want more access to paid sick time off. At this time, it's available only to those who have tested positive for the coronavirus or get placed on mandatory self-quarantine.

Amazon workers want their warehouse to be closed for a longer cleaning, with guaranteed pay.

Instacart's grocery delivery workers ask for disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer and better pay.

Business • Economy
Thailand's king isolates in German four-star hotel

King Maha Vajiralongkorn, the King of Thailand also known as Rama X, has booked the entire Grand Hotel Sonnenbichl. The hotel got a special permit to host the king and a part of his entourage because they form a "single, homogenous group of people with no fluctuation", but 119 members of said entourage have been sent back to Thailand due to suspicions of the coronavirus. The group includes 20 concubines and numerous servants, but it is unclear if the king's four wives are staying at the hotel as well.

Business • Economy
China and Vietnam are planning to impose ban on wildlife trade

Following the worldwide spread of the coronavirus, originating from a "wet market" in Wuhan on which live animals were bought and sold, China and Vietnam are planning to impose a ban on such markets. The formal bans are expected to be signed into law later this year.

Business • Economy
Worlds leading producer of condoms had stopped production

The Malaysian company Karex Bhd had stopped the production of condoms following a lockdown by the government due to the coronavirus. This has led to a missing production of around 100 million condoms, with the company normally producing 20 percent of all condoms globally. Now deemed a critical industry the government has permitted to start the production again with 50% of the workforce.

Business • Economy
CEO of Texas Roadhouse forgoes salary in order to pay restaurant workers

The Chief Executive Officer and founder of the steak restaurant chain Texas Roadhouse, W. Kent Taylor has announced to forgo his regular salary payments as well as additional bonus payments in order to make the salary payments of frontline restaurant workers possible. The company also announced that it would not pay dividends in order to have more money on hand because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Business • Economy
3.3 million filed for unemployment in the US last week

According to the Labor Department, more than 3.3 million workers filed for unemployment and applied for benefits in the last week, showing the first impact the Covid-19 pandemic has on the economy. These figures do not include some part-time, gig and low-wage workers nor independent contractors and the self-employed as they don’t qualify for unemployment benefits. In comparison, 200,000 people filed for unemployment three weeks ago.

Business • Economy
Amazon opens its workers relief fund to outside donations

The e-commerce company implemented a fund to support "employees and partners" and contributed $25 million in funds themselves. In addition to this, the company opened up the fund for outside donations stating "While we aren’t expecting anyone to do so, you can make a voluntary donation to the fund if you desire to do so" on their website.

Business • Economy
138,000 people filed for unemployment in Austria since March 16th

The unemployment figure has been rising since Austria ordered a nationwide lockdown on Monday, March 16th. As of today, 138,000 people filed for unemployment – affected industries include the catering and accommodation sector (47,000), construction (17,000) and other economic services such as trade, maintenance and repair (13,000). Sectors with strong fluctuations in employment are particularly affected.