Readings & Viewings
Weekly insights and news items from around the globe.
Welcome to this week's Readings & Viewings, a collection of news, analysis and other interesting snippets we've spotted from around the world during the latest week for your reading pleasure.
Firstly to Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that most people know lots about but few really understand. Followers will know that the Bitcoin price has surged out of all proportion, smashing through a new record high of $US7,848 on Thursday. But within hours it fell more than $US700 after a scheduled hard fork in its blockchain, which would have increased block size and transaction throughput, was cancelled. Talking about volatility!
Can we really believe what we read in rich lists? They certainly make for interesting reading, but one should always take the quoted wealth numbers with a grain of salt. After all, the researchers behind them hardly ever get reall access to the business people on the lists. This week Forbes dropped a bombshell on its own rich list by attacking US Treasury Secretary and billionaire Wilbur Ross for allegedly embellishing his wealth.
Another interesting snippet came from Fortune, which drew attention to US white supremacists embracing certain companies because of a perception they are supporting the so-called "alt-right". But pizza chain Pappa John's doesn't want to play ball.
With the heat being turned up by Australian retail king Solomon Lew on Myer, it was interesting to read about the problems being faced by US department store stalwart Macy's. Founded in 1858, a few decades before Myer (1900), Macy's is going through tough times too at the moment. It has just reported another drop in sales, but the market is taking a favourable view on the company's turnaround plans.
Meanwhile, rival US retailer Nordstrom also reported an earnings hit, disappointing analysts. They may make the company's quest to secure financing for a buyout more difficult.
When it comes to raising investor capital, one of the next maxi cabs off the rank will be Uber. New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has outlined plans for the company to undertake an IPO in 2019.
Maybe it's the return of Blade Runner, but we're back to talking about flying cars again. You might be surprised at how big the market actually is.
A change of pace now. Beijing has unseated Silicon Valley as the tech capital of the world — at least according to one report. Its climate is better in some respects, not in a weather sense but for those seeking early stage funding, and the city is also more affordable than San Fran on every measure. Check out how our cities rank.
Beijing is closing in on the US in more ways than one. Snap was slammed by investors after it reported earnings on Tuesday, and an opportunistic Tencent swooped in to purchase 12 per cent of Snap shares. Tencent doesn't get any voting power with the purchase, and Snap only became acquainted with its new investor after the fact, suggesting this is simply a story of a big Beijing business seeing an undervalued Silicon Valley stock.
Locally, our media sector has seen its fair share of strife in recent times, with Network Ten plunging into administration, and Seven Network, Fairfax and almost all the rest having their own dramas. Now, in the US, AT&T's $US85 billion takeover of Time Warner will be blocked unless the company sells off CNN.
Meanwhile, a key Murdoch ally has just sold his stake in 21st Century Fox. Here's what could happen now that a Prince has cashed out.
Now, this would have to rank as one of the best prison stories of all time.
Remember the old rule that mastery is achieved after putting in 10,000 hours to a particular pursuit? This entrepreneur and Forbes writer reckons success actually come from 10,000 experiments, not 10,000 hours, and looks at the careers of Thomas Edison, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg to back this up.
The WeWork founders not only want to redefine the ways in which we work, but also change how traditional schools operate. They're starting with a school in New York City which focuses on creating “a culture of kindness and conscious entrepreneurship” for kindergarten pupils and up. If you're hearing more and more about WeWork, but unsure exactly what the $US20 billion business is all about, here's a solid rundown.
Recently, in Tackling super and the gig economy, we wrote about how ongoing changes to the structure of employment, including an increase in self-employed workers, are set to put further pressure on the superannuation system. This week insurance giant Zurich pointed to the very same issue in the UK, where it sees a major pensions crisis in the making for millions.
Lastly, here's Morgan Stanley's take on the latest round of US earnings to date. The investment bank is pointing to further gains in US equities.
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