Holden Shuts Down

Australia Mourns the End of Its Car Manufacturing Industry:

Kane Butterfield started working for Holden at 19 in a small South Australian town built around making the distinctly Australian cars.

But on Friday, after 17 years with the company at its Adelaide auto plant, he and hundreds of other employees bid it farewell, as the factory officially closed, putting an end to car manufacturing in Australia.

“I think it’s pretty tragic really that we’ve let go of one of the best cars around the world,” Mr. Butterfield, 37, told a crowd of reporters gathered outside Australia’s last functioning car factory.

Business people love to talk about innovation and “disrupting” but you don’t hear them talk much about the working class employees getting “disrupted” out the doors of their companies.

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Business, Career

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The Slow Death of Retail

Lord & Taylor Building, Icon of New York Retail, to Become WeWork Headquarters:

From the moment it opened its doors more than a century ago, the Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan has stood as an icon of old-school retail.

Its Italian Renaissance design, complete with grand entrance arch and copper cornice, was a 676,000-square-foot temple to commerce — and was named a city landmark a decade ago.

But after Christmas next year, less than a quarter of its space will be home to Lord & Taylor’s flagship store. Instead, the retailer said on Tuesday, the Midtown Manhattan fixture will become the new global headquarters of WeWork, the seven-year-old office space start-up. Lord & Taylor will rent the bottom floors, redesigning them into a smaller version of its department store.

In selling its flagship building to a WeWork joint venture for $850 million, Lord & Taylor and its parent, the Hudson’s Bay Company, are bowing to pressures that have increasingly weighed on the retail industry. It is an acknowledgment that even the grand physical shopping spaces of old can now fetch higher values as offices catering to millennial workers.

Earlier this month my wife and I were in New Jersey for my sister’s wedding and we took a day trip into Manhattan. I noticed a significant number of empty retail spaces all over the city — many more empty spaces then when we moved out in 2012.

The state of retail seems very polarized. You’re either Apple commanding $5,546 per square foot or you’re folding.

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Business

The App Store

Back in June, Horace Dediu took a look at 9 years of numbers for the App Store:

The App Store is almost 9 years old. In that time it has generated about $100 billion in revenues, of which about $70 billion has been passed on to developers and $30 billion was kept by Apple. It’s very likely that running the App Store for 9 years did not cost $30 billion so, if it were an independent “business unit” it would probably have been and still be quite profitable.

But Apple does not run “business units” with separate Profit and Loss statements. The App Store is a part of Services which is an amalgamation of non-hardware sources of revenues but that does not mean it’s a business. The purpose of Services isn’t to turn a profit or define its value through some metric of financial performance.

The purpose of Services is to make the experience for the Apple user better. The combination of good experiences allows Apple to be perceived as a valuable brand and that allows it to obtain consistently above-average profitability through pricing power. I like to emphasize that the iPhone at over $600 in average price is more than twice the average price of all the other smartphones and captures over 90% of all available profits.

The fact that Apple doesn’t have business units is important and it’s what makes the company so hard for analysts to define and for competitors to compete with.

At the end of the day, yes, Apple is a company that manufactures physical gadgets but like Dediu points out, if you take away software or services from the equation, Apple falls apart.

It’s all connected.

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Business, Technology

Too Much CBD Oil for Nate Diaz

Coach: Nate Diaz ‘needs to get paid at least $20 million’ for Conor McGregor trilogy:

Conor McGregor’s huge paycheck for his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather could mean more money for his future UFC opponents — at least that’s what Nate Diaz’s boxing coach Richard Perez is hoping for.

Diaz’s last two fights under the UFC banner were against “The Notorious” in 2016, and he made $2.6 million dollars in disclosed pay in those bouts combined. After seeing what McGregor made against Mayweather, and the potential money that could be made in a trilogy bout with McGregor in the UFC, Perez expects 10 times more.

“At least $20 million, $30 million,” Perez told Submission Radio. “Come on. UFC’s making a whole lot of money, a whole lot of money and they’re pocketing it. They’re giving more to McGregor, so it’s not fair because it takes two in that ring to draw a crowd – I mean, a good two fighters. It’s just like Mayweather when he fought Berto. It was not even sold out at all. It was embarrassing. It’s because that guy couldn’t draw a crowd. See, that’s what I’m saying, it’s the fighters that draw the crowd, and Nathan and McGregor, third one would be outstanding. Everyone knows that. So he needs to get paid at least $30 million easy.”

Nate Diaz is out of his fucking mind if he thinks he can get $20 million to fight McGregor in the UFC.

Conor pocketed a base of $30 million (over $100 million after the final numbers were tallied) for his boxing match this past Saturday with Floyd Mayweather.

McGregor and Mayweather are both businessmen and promotion machines who work to generate the inevitable buzz that builds up around their fights. They did a 4-city world promotional tour before their fight. Nate Diaz can barely form sentences.

Can Diaz fight? One hundred percent. Diaz is an incredible fighter, but when you’re asking for $20 million, you have to bring more to the table than your fighting skills and the ability to throw water bottles at your opponent.

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Business, Sports

“Boxing is different from when I boxed. Those guys are businessmen up there.”

Mike Tyson reacts to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight back in 2015:

It’s almost like I’m in, I wouldn’t say church, but a library. Maybe I’m just a Neanderthal. I wanted to kill the other guy. I’m a natural born killer. I want to win in dramatic fashion and hurt people. They make one guy the good guy and one guy the monster and they sell it and make a lot of money. Boxing is different from when I boxed. Those guys are businessmen up there.

He really was a killer in the ring.

C.E.O.s Disbanding

Trump’s Council of C.E.O.s in Disarray Following Remarks on Protest:

President Trump’s main council of top corporate leaders appeared on the verge of disbanding on Wednesday, said people briefed on the matter, following controversial remarks from Mr. Trump on Tuesday when he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.

Late Wednesday morning, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Mr. Trump’s closest confidants in the business community, organized a conference call for members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

On the call, the chief executives of some of the largest companies in the country were debating how to proceed.

One option under serious consideration was disbanding the forum altogether.

If the forum does survive, several C.E.O.s were expected to resign from it.

This how you hit Trump where it hurts, with business.

Trump prides himself on his business acumen and all the connections and “friends” he has in the business world, so there’s nothing more insulting to Trump than to have his business council collapse.

It may not affect his pocket book, but it’s a loss and it’s symbolic.

Update: Trump is throwing in the towel with his “Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum,” as a winner does.

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Business, Tromp

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Paying for Shit

SoundCloud stays afloat with emergency investment, as CEO steps aside:

SoundCloud today announced that it has closed the investor round necessary to keep it going for the foreseeable future. As part of the agreement, Alex Ljung will step aside and former Vimeo leader Kerry Trainor will become SoundCloud’s new CEO, with Mike Weissman as COO. Ljung will stay on to “fully focus on the role of the chairman and the long-term.” Billboard reports the exact amount of the investment is $169.5 million, which, says Ljung, makes this infusion “the largest financing round in the history of SoundCloud.”

Companies these days seem to be averse to the stupid, old idea of charging money for a product. It’s all about getting funding, which is not generating revenue.

I know, I know, SoundCloud does charge for their service, but they didn’t until last year.

Seriously, people. If you want a quality product, you have to pay for it. What is so wrong with this idea? This then raises the question, Is SoundCloud a quality service? Many podcasts syndicate their content on SoudCloud, but I get mine from iTunes and I already pay for Spotify Premium.

Remember, when you’re not paying for the product you use, you are the product being sold.

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Business, Music

Dickheads in Tech

The latest dickeads-in-tech news comes from Google this week:

Alphabet Inc.’s Google has fired an employee who wrote an internal memo blasting the web company’s diversity policies, creating a firestorm across Silicon Valley.

James Damore, the Google engineer who wrote the note, confirmed his dismissal in an email, saying that he had been fired for “perpetuating gender stereotypes.” He said he’s “currently exploring all possible legal remedies.”

The imbroglio at Google is the latest in a long string of incidents concerning gender bias and diversity in the tech enclave. Uber Technologies Inc. Chief Executive Officer Travis Kalanick lost his job in June amid scandals over sexual harassment, discrimination and an aggressive culture. Ellen Pao’s gender-discrimination lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers in 2015 also brought the issue to light, and more women are speaking up to say they’ve been sidelined in the male-dominated industry, especially in engineering roles.

It’s good Sundar Pichai fired Damore. Too often we see tech companies remain quiet (at least publically) on these issues and when you remain quiet or don’t take action, it sends a message to the rest of the company that sexual harassment and discrimination is okay. It establishes entitlement. It’s not unlike a parent establishing behavior patterns for their children.

We need not look any further than the President of the United States. We’ve heard him on tape brag about his celebrity status allowing him to grab women by the pussy.

It’s no surprise then to find out Fox News is a close ally of Trump. It also shouldn’t be a surprise to find out the former CEO of Fox News, Roger Ailes, sexually harassment women at the company. This week Fox News suspended Eric Bolling for sending dick pics to female coworkers and of course we can’t forget Bill O’Reilly’s sexual harassment charges and the women to whom he gave millions to so they would remain quiet.

I’ve heard people talk about wanting to “empower” their employees to do great things and establish a great culture at their company, but these things have to be implemented through actions at the top of the company.

It’s only through actions at the top that culture and behavior patterns can cascade down throughout the rest of the company, it can never happen the other way around.

Uber’s Chief Douchebag is Out

Uber Founder Travis Kalanick Resigns as C.E.O.

Travis Kalanick stepped down Tuesday as chief executive of Uber, the ride-hailing service that he helped found in 2009 and built into a transportation colossus, after a shareholder revolt made it untenable for him to stay on at the company.

Mr. Kalanick’s exit came under pressure after hours of drama involving Uber’s investors, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, who asked to remain anonymous because the details were confidential.

Shareholder revolt. Sheesh. So dramatic.

Now that the Chief Douchebag is out, I’m curious if they’ll be replacing him with a less douchey one.

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Business

Uber, Context Is Everything

David Bonderman Resigns From Uber Board After Sexist Remark:

David Bonderman, an Uber board member and partner at private equity firm TPG, resigned from the board of the ride-hailing company after he made a disparaging remark about women at an Uber meeting on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day at an Uber staff meeting to discuss the company’s culture, Arianna Huffington, another board member, talked about how one woman on a board often leads to more women joining a board.

“Actually, what it shows is that it’s much more likely to be more talking,” Mr. Bonderman responded.

The bullshit coming out of Uber doesn’t stop.

That being said, what Bonderman said wasn’t that bad. I’ve been out at a bar with other guy friends and said way worse, and all in good humor. On the other side, I’ve heard women say equally sexist — and equally funny — comments when they’re out having a good time.

The main point to take from this is context matters. The context is everything.

I’ve listened to Howard Stern play ‘Anal Ring Toss’ on his satellite radio show one day, and the next day see him talk to little kids on America’s Got Talent.

There’s a time and a place for everything. Uber executives don’t seem to understand this.

Or care.

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Business

From the Top, Down

As if there weren’t enough scandals at Uber already, here are just a few headlines from the past week:

A Top Uber Executive Departs, Fraying the Company’s ‘A-Team’

Uber’s CEO Searches for Enlightenment in Company Lactation Room

Uber Weighs Leave of Absence for Chief Executive

Uber’s Travis Kalanick offered sex rules for 2013 party

Regardless of where something bad is happening in a company or who is involved, you have to look at the leadership for clues on what the fuck is going on. Company culture is established at the top and cascades down to the rest of the company. It’s never the other way around.

These are a few bullet points from an email Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sent out to his staff on rules for a company party:

  • Do not throw large kegs off of tall buildings. Please talk to Ryan McKillen and Amos Barreto for specific insights on this topic.

  • Do not have sex with another employee UNLESS a) you have asked that person for that privilege and they have responded with an emphatic “YES! I will have sex with you” AND b) the two (or more) of you do not work in the same chain of command. Yes, that means that Travis will be celibate on this trip. #CEOLife #FML

What a classy guy, that Travis Kalanick.

If you see your CEO conducting himself or herself in a particular way, you’re more inclined to pick up on their behavior in the things you do inside (and many times outside) the company. This idea applies to anyone in a position of power, be it a CEO, a parent, or the President of the United States: they set the tone for how things are conducted, how people are expected to interact with each other, and what is valued.

When Donald Trump calls well-respected news organizations “fake news”, whines on Twitter in the wee hours of the morning like a spoiled 13-year-old girl, and is constantly caught contradicting himself, it gives people permission (incentive?) to act the same way.

That old superhero saying, “with great power comes great responsibility” might feel tired, but it’s true.

The important thing to understand is the values, or lack of values, in the leadership of your country or company might not reflect your own values.

As citizens of a country like the U.S. you have the power to vote for who you think has values that align with your own (this ain’t always easy). When you work for company you potentially have the option to take actions to have a leader removed, or find employment with another company.

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Business

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Apple’s $1 Billion US Manufacturing Boost

Apple just promised to give US manufacturing a $1 billion boost:

Apple CEO Tim Cook said that his company will start a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the United States.

“We’re announcing it today. So you’re the first person I’m telling,” Cook told “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer on Wednesday. “Well, not the first person because we’ve talked to a company that we’re going to invest in already,” he said, adding that Apple will announce the first investment later in May.

The fund comes as President Donald Trump has made bringing back manufacturing jobs a big part of his agenda, and it fits into Apple’s larger effort to create jobs across its spectrum, from its own employees to app developers to its suppliers.

This is potentially good news.

I know very little about business and manufacturing, but I do know there’s a difference between starting a fund and paying directly for the creation of manufacturing plants which employ people.

I believe Tim Cook to be genuine in his intentions so let’s just see what happens.

Categories:

Business, Career

Rather Than Innovate, Sue Them

Inside the Hotel Industry’s Plan to Combat Airbnb:

Last year, Airbnb underwent a rough regulatory patch.

The short-term rental company became a Federal Trade Commission target last summer after three senators asked for an investigation into how companies like Airbnb affect soaring housing costs. In October, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York signed a bill imposing steep fines on Airbnb hosts who break local housing rules.

The two actions appeared unrelated. But one group quietly took credit for both: the hotel industry.

In a presentation in November, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, a trade group that counts Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide and Hyatt Hotels as members, said the federal investigation and the New York bill were “notable accomplishments.”

Rather than innovate and make booking a hotel room as easy as booking an Airbnb, the hotel industry would rather snitch on Airbnb, form alliances with politicians, and sue them out of existence.

It’s the American way!

I’m not suggesting Airbnb isn’t capable of, or hasn’t engaged in shady business practices like Uber, I’m just saying fighting upstart rivals can’t be the only tool in your box.

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Business, Law

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