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The White House is monitoring the GameStop stock situation
The White House is monitoring the GameStop stock situation

White House press secretary Jen Psaki confirmed that the White House is monitoring the wild and ever-changing situation with video game retailer GameStop's stock price during her daily briefing on Wednesday, telling reporters that US Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and her team are watching what's going on, though there is no word on if any action will be taken.

Psaki said that their economic team "are monitoring the situation. It's a good reminder, though, that the stock market isn't the only measure of the health of our economy,"

Business
Swatch Group reports first loss in 40 years
Swatch Group reports first loss in 40 years
Credit: Bielbienneboy, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The Swiss manufacturer of watches and jewellery Swatch Group has reported a net loss of 53 million Swiss francs for 2020, the company's first annual loss since 1983.

"For 2021, the Group sees a good chance that sales in local currencies will approach those of 2019, with significantly improved margins," the company said, adding that the group anticipated "a strong catch-up in consumption worldwide for watches and jewelry in 2021, as has already been observed in mainland China after normalization of the health situation."

Business • Markets
Shares in GameStop have risen more than 1,900% this year, as Reddit traders retaliate against Wall Street funds
Shares in GameStop have risen more than 1,900% this year, as Reddit traders retaliate against Wall Street funds
Credit: Ser_Amantio_di_Nicolao / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Since January 1, despite no real change in the underlying business, GameStop's share price has surged 1,915 per cent.

Shares of video game retailer GameStop and movie theater giant AMC Entertainment soared to astronomical levels Wednesday as an apparent swarm of ordinary investors, spurred on by a Reddit message board, took on big Wall Street funds that had bet the stock prices would fall.

The GameStop and AMC price surges were so dramatic that trading for both companies was temporarily halted by the stock exchanges to temper volatility.

Business • Economy
Apple reports record revenue of $111.4 billion
Apple reports record revenue of $111.4 billion
Credit: unsplash.com / Michał Kubalczyk

Apple has reported a 21% increase in revenue year over year counting a record revenue of $111.4 billion.

Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO, has stated that "Our December quarter business performance was fueled by double-digit growth in each product category, which drove all-time revenue records in each of our geographic segments and an all-time high for our installed base of active devices,"

Business • Health Care
Sanofi to help produce millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
Sanofi to help produce millions of doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine
Credit: Sanofi de, via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

Sanofi, a French Pharma group, has agreed to produce 125 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Coronavirus vaccine, a rare collaboration in the industry. Sanofi's own vaccine did not show sufficient results in December.

Head of Sanofi France Olivier Bogillot: "We looked at how we could show solidarity. When you look at the technological and industrial capacities of Sanofi, our expertise, I'm very proud that Sanofi has made this choice."

Business
Amazon seeks to block mail-in voting for union elections in Alabama
Amazon seeks to block mail-in voting for union elections in Alabama
Credit: unsplash.com/Bryan Angelo

Amazon is seeking to block workers planning to unionize from voting by mail, demanding the 5,800 employees at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama to vote in-person. Amazon has requested to block a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that would allow employees to cast ballots by mail.

Business
Ranking: Apple becomes "most valuable brand" globally
Ranking: Apple becomes "most valuable brand" globally
Credit: unsplash.com/Michał Kubalczyk

The US company Apple is the most valuable brand in the world with a valuation of $263,375 billion, according to the Brand Finance Global 500 2021 ranking. Amazon and Google, which are also based in the USA, follow in the second and third place.

Business • Media & Advertising
Budweiser will not advertise during the Super Bowl for the first time since 1983
Budweiser will not advertise during the Super Bowl for the first time since 1983
Credit: Anheuser Busch

The Budweiser beer brand will not have an ad during the Super Bowl, but instead, the company will donate the money it would have spent on the ad to Covid-19 vaccination awareness efforts. This is the first time since 1983 that Anheuser-Busch will not showcase its iconic Budweiser brand during the Super Bowl.

Anheuser-Busch still will use four minutes of advertising during the game for its other brands including Bud Light, Bud Light Seltzer Lemonade, Michelob Ultra and Michelob Ultra Organic Seltzer.

Business • Jobs & Careers
Instacart is laying off every employee who voted to unionize
Instacart is laying off every employee who voted to unionize
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

According to Motherboard, the US-based grocery delivery platform Instacart is laying off every employee who voted to unionize. The layoffs impact 10 unionized workers at a grocery store called Mariano’s, in addition to other Instacart employees. The group in Skokie, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, voted to unionize last year with the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1546 (UFCW).

Business • Markets
Office Depot rejected a takeover attempt by office supply rival, Staples
Office Depot store
Office Depot store Credit: The ODP Corporation

However, the parent company of Office Depot said it is open to a different kind of a deal, such as selling its retail and e-commerce businesses to Staples or agreeing to a joint venture, according to the report.

In a letter, ODP Chairman Joseph Vassalluzzo wrote that a deal that's not a full takeover "could be executed more efficiently and with far greater certainty and less regulatory risk than your proposal." He wrote the letter to Stefan Kaluzny, the managing director of Sycamore Partners and a board member of USR Parent, the subsidiary over Staples.

This was the third attempt by Staples to acquire Office Depot.

Business • Economy
Angela Merkel criticizes Trump's social media ban
Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel Credit: Bundesregierung/Denzel (Public Domain)

German government criticizes the permanent blocking of Trump's social media accounts. Merkel pointed out that freedom of expression as a fundamental right should only be restricted by legislation and not by companies.

In principle, the German government condemns statements inciting hatred and violence and is in favor of regulating social networks.

Business • Markets
Staples proposes buying rival Office Depot for $2.1 billion
Staples Inc. logo
Staples Inc. logo

Five years after the US government blocked a prior attempt, Staples is again looking to buy rival Office Depot in a $2.1 billion cash deal.

Staples went private in 2017, selling itself to Sycamore Partners, a firm focused on keeping distressed retailers afloat. To avoid antitrust scrutiny, Staples proposed selling its IT management company CompuCom or its business-to-business unit.

Business • Media & Advertising
In Possible New Marketing Trend, Luxury Fashion Brand Bottega Veneta Shuts Down Its Social Media Accounts
In Possible New Marketing Trend, Luxury Fashion Brand Bottega Veneta Shuts Down Its Social Media Accounts
Credit: Screenshot Bottega Veneta

Earlier this week, Kering-owned luxury fashion brand Bottega Veneta closed down its Instagram, Facebook and Twitter accounts without warning and with no explanation. It is unclear whether this is a mere marketing stunt or whether Bottega Veneta's decision may be a bellwether for an emerging trend.

Social media doesn’t work to attract the right people to a luxury brand, according to an analysis of a luxury insiders’ survey among some 500 executives working in or supporting the luxury industry.

“We have not found any marketing tool that produces leads qualified for our luxury products and service,” was among the comments in that survey. And another said, “So far nothing is working. Social media is seeing no actual move to act.”

Two possible reasons are currently discussed publically:

  • Social media is mass, not class. Luxury does not fit in the hodgepodge of divergent messages that is social media.
  • People who can actually afford luxury brands are over-marketed to and not likely to pay attention to the brand's social media posts. Bombarding them with irrelevant posts on social media is not how to be respectful of them and personalize every interaction.

GQ’s Rachel Tashjain speculated: “Perhaps the Bottega deletion is the ultimate act of stealth luxury – it will now be a brand that travels strictly by word of mouth.”

Business
Google workers form union amid ongoing tensions with senior executives
Google workers form union amid ongoing tensions with senior executives
Credit: Alphabet Workers Union

Over 200 employees of Google and its parent firm Alphabet have formed Alphabet Workers Union amid increasing disagreements with the company’s senior executives, including the handling of sexual misconduct by former executives, Google's partnership with the Pentagon and the controversial departure of AI researcher Timnnit Gebru.

"We hope to create a democratic process for workers to wield decision-making power; promote social, economic, and environmental justice; and end the unfair disparities between TVCs (temporary, vendors and contractors) and FTEs (full time employees)," the union's website said.

Business • Markets
Bitcoin reaches $33,000 value, all-time high
Bitcoin reaches $33,000 value, all-time high
Credit: unsplash.com/André François McKenzie's profile André François McKenzie

Bitcoin has surpassed the $30,000 mark, reaching a value of $33,000 on Saturday, an all-time high. The cryptocurrency has tripled in value in 2020 after plummeting to below $4,000 in march.

Business • Health Care
Chinese Covid-19 vaccine shows efficacy of 79 per cent
Chinese Covid-19 vaccine shows efficacy of 79 per cent
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

Pharmaceutical company Sinopharm is the first manufacturer in China to announce details of the efficacy of its Corona vaccine. The company said that the vaccine is expected to provide more than 79 percent protection against Covid-19 (79.34 percent).

The release of the data is an important step toward final approval of the vaccine, doses of which have already been secured by countries outside China.

Business • Markets
China pushes Alibaba founder Jack Ma to break up his fintech empire
Jack Ma
Jack Ma Credit: JD Lasica (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

Chinese regulators want Jack Ma's Ant Group to go back to its digital payment roots, stating Ant's corporate governance was "not sound". The Ant Group started as Alipay, which became China’s largest digital payment platform, though it eventually expanded to offer investment and savings accounts and lending, insurance and wealth management services.

The latest salvo in Beijing's battle against Ma - who had been feted as China's greatest modern-day entrepreneur until he started speaking out against strict regulations - wiped 8% off the value of Alibaba's share price in Hong Kong trading on Monday.

In November, Chinese regulators blocked Ant’s $37 billion IPO just two days before dealing was due to begin in Shanghai and Hong Kong.

Business • Health Care
Biontech applies for change in approval to get more doses from vials
Biontech applies for change in approval to get more doses from vials
Credit: Illustration by Ashley Winkler for Pendect (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

One ampoule of Biontech vaccine can often be used to produce six rations instead of five. The Mainz-based manufacturer Biontech has now submitted an application to the European Medicines Agency Ema for a change in the conditions of approval. The Ema had told the German newspaper SPIEGEL on Tuesday that if Biontech submitted an application to change the terms of its marketing authorisation, it would be "rapidly" reviewed by its human medicines committee.

Biontech is lobbying for doctors to be allowed to draw six full vaccine doses of 0.3 ml each from the provided vials containing a total of 2.25 ml of finished vaccine in the future - provided they can draw up six full doses.

Business
Bitcoin rises above $25,000 for the first time
Bitcoin rises above $25,000 for the first time
Credit: unsplash.com / Bermix Studio

On Saturday, the price of the oldest and best-known cryptocurrency rose above the round mark of 25,000 US dollars (20,503.57 euros) for the first time. On the Bitstamp trading platform, a high of 25,022 dollars was reached. This is a record high. On other trading platforms, of which there are many, the record highs may differ, as there is no central Bitcoin trading.

Business • Media & Advertising
Report: 387 journalists are imprisoned worldwide
Report: 387 journalists are imprisoned worldwide
Credit: unsplash.com / The Climate Reality Project

According to the annual press freedom survey published by the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) at least 387 journalists are imprisoned worldwide. According to the data, fifty-four journalists are currently considered abducted, and four disappeared in 2020.

Over 130 journalists have been arrested for their reporting on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Business
Bitcoin surpasses $20k milestone, continues to surge
Bitcoin surpasses $20k milestone, continues to surge
Credit: unsplash/Micheile Henderson

Bitcoin has surpassed the $20,000 mark on Wednesday and continued to surge late into the evening, reaching $22,192 on 2 am EST. Bitcoin’s market cap has reached $384 billion.

Business • Media & Advertising
Pornhub deletes over 10 million videos after Mastercard and Visa cut ties
Pornhub deletes over 10 million videos after Mastercard and Visa cut ties
Credit: Courtesy of Pornhub

The site made the announcement days after Discover, Mastercard, and Visa all stopped accepting payments from Pornhub over concerns the platform was hosting thousands of child porn and rape video clips. In its defense, Pornhub is questioning why the child porn controversy is threatening its business when illegal videos continue to circulate on mainstream social media sites such as Facebook. However, the founder of TraffickingHub, Laila Mickelwait, has long argued that Pornhub often ignored the child porn videos on its site, leaving victims to suffer while it profits from the traffic.

Business • Entrepreneurship & Startups
Gorillas, the on-demand grocery delivery startup, has raised $44M in Series A
Gorillas, the on-demand grocery delivery startup, has raised $44M in Series A
Credit: Instagram / gorillasapp

Gorillas, a grocery delivery startup that operates its own hyperlocal fulfilment centres and operates in Berlin and Cologne, has raised $44 million in Series A funding round led by hedge fund Coatue.

Founded by Kağan Sümer and Jörg Kattner in May this year, Gorillas delivers groceries within an average of ten minutes. Unlike gig economy models, it employs riders directly. It is emphasising its ability to get fresh groceries, along with other household items, to shoppers at very short notice and at "retail prices".

Business • Jobs & Careers
Oracle moves its headquarters to Austin, Texas
Oracle Corporation headquarters in Redwood Shores
Oracle Corporation headquarters in Redwood Shores Credit: Rayhe (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)

Oracle Corporation has moved its headquarters to Austin, Texas. Oracle became the latest technology company to leave California in the face of the state's higher taxes, steeper cost of living and a broader shift to remote work.

"We believe these moves best position Oracle for growth and provide our personnel with more flexibility about where and how they work," spokesperson Deborah Hellinger told CNN Business.

Business • Media & Advertising
Pornhub: Visa and Mastercard discontinue business relations
Pornhub: Visa and Mastercard discontinue business relations
Credit: unsplash.com / Ales Nesetril

Visa and Mastercard opened investigations and put MindGeek's business relationship under scrutiny on Monday after a New York Times report indicated that child abuse and non-consensual sexual violence videos had been published on Pornhub.

According to the New York Times, Mastercard stated on Thursday that the investigations had confirmed "violations of our standards to ban illegal content" on Pornhub's website. MindGeek announced on Tuesday restrictions on uploads and downloads to Pornhub in view of the accusations in the New York Times report and the subsequent investigations by Visa and Mastercard.

Business • Health Care
Hackers steal Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine data in Europe, companies say
Hackers steal Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine data in Europe, companies say
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

U.S. drugmaker Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech said on Wednesday that documents related to development of their COVID-19 vaccine had been “unlawfully accessed” in a cyberattack on Europe’s medicines regulator.

Business • Innovation & Sustainability
Hyundai Motor acquires Boston Dynamics from SoftBank for almost $1 bn
Hyundai Motor acquires Boston Dynamics from SoftBank for almost $1 bn
Credit: Web Summit / via Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Hyundai Motor Co. is acquiring the US robotics firm Boston Dynamics Inc. from SoftBank Group for slightly less than 1 trillion won ($921 million) and will finalize the acquisition at its Dec. 10 board meeting, according to sources with knowledge of the matter on Dec. 8.

Business • Markets
Wall Street begins trading water futures as a commodity
Wall Street begins trading water futures as a commodity
Credit: unsplash.com / Imani

The market new allows farmers, hedge funds, and municipalities to hedge bets on the future price of water and water availability in California.

RBC Capital Markets managing director and analyst Deane Dray has stated that "Climate change, droughts, population growth, and pollution are likely to make water scarcity issues and pricing a hot topic for years to come," and added that "We are definitely going to watch how this new water futures contract develops".

Business • Entrepreneurship & Startups
Uber has sold Uber Elevate, its air taxi business
Uber Elevate
Uber Elevate Credit: Uber

After selling its self-driving taxi technology to autonomous vehicle startup Aurora earlier this week, Uber has now sold its air taxi business Uber Elevate to California-based Joby Aviation.

Joby will be able to use Uber's app infrastructure to offer air taxi rides once the service enters the market and is FAA certified, most likely in 2023.

“We were proud to partner with Uber Elevate last year, and we’re even prouder to be welcoming them into the Joby team today while deepening our cooperation with Uber. The team at Uber Elevate has not only played an important role in our industry, but they have also developed a remarkable set of software tools that build on more than a decade of experience enabling on-demand mobility," so JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO, Joby Aviation in a statement.

Business • Health Care
First person receives Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in UK
First person receives Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine in UK
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter / NHS Midlands

A UK grandmother has become the first person in the world to be given the Pfizer Covid-19 jab as part of a mass vaccination programme.

Up to four million more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are expected by the end of the month.

"I can't thank May and the NHS staff enough who have looked after me tremendously, and my advice to anyone offered the vaccine is to take it - if I can have it at 90 then you can have it too.", said Keenan.