2020年1月13日 星期一

DealBook: Away’s Once and Future C.E.O.

Steph Korey stepped aside as chief of the hip luggage maker last month after internet backlash over her management style. She'll return as co-C.E.O.
 
 
January 13, 2020
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Away luggage.
Away luggage.  Nina Westervelt for The New York Times
Away’s ex-C.E.O. says giving up her title was a mistake
Andrew scooped this morning that Steph Korey, who stepped aside as the chief of the hip luggage maker last month amid controversy over her management style, will return as co-C.E.O.
Ms. Korey gave up her C.E.O. title after former employees told The Verge that she oversaw an abusive management system at Away, which created a firestorm on social media. She quickly apologized and said she would become executive chairman.
But she told Andrew that was a mistake. She decided to become co-C.E.O. alongside Stuart Haselden, who was meant to be the sole chief executive, because the company had let “inaccurate reporting influence the timeline of a transition plan that we had.”
The article “just created a misconception that she was exiting the business, which was never the intent,” Mr. Haselden added.
The Verge said it stood by its reporting, saying in a statement that Ms. Korey’s initial response “speaks for itself.”
It’s a rare attempt by a company — especially one whose success depended on social media buzz — to buck the online consensus. Whether it will backfire remains a question.
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Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York and Michael J. de la Merced in London.
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Mike Bloomberg
Mike Bloomberg  Lola Gomez/Austin American-Statesman, via Associated Press
The case for a Bloomberg victory in 2020
The common wisdom in Washington is that Michael Bloomberg has no shot at winning the Democratic presidential nomination. John Ellis, a former political columnist, writes in a WaPo op-ed that such thinking is wrong.
• “What people don’t yet seem to have grasped is this: Bloomberg is going to spend an astronomical amount of money on this race. Probably at least $1 billion. Maybe twice that. Possibly even more.”
• “Numbers like that upend every model of every presidential race in history. He can buy every news adjacency on cable and local television stations from now until November and not make a dent in his net worth.”
• “If Democrats nominate anyone besides Bloomberg, they will be outspent in the general election by 2 to 1 or even 3 to 1. If they nominate Bloomberg, he will outspend Trump at least 5 to 1.”
Right now, Mr. Bloomberg is polling fifth nationally among Democratic contenders, behind Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Pete Buttigieg. (He entered the race in November.)
Also worth noting: Mr. Bloomberg has said he would continue spending to defeat President Trump even if he doesn’t get the nomination.
  Saul Martinez for The New York Times
Inside Nissan’s secret plan to break up with Renault
The carmakers are publicly committed to maintaining their union, in spite of the fissures that have emerged since the ouster of Carlos Ghosn as their leader. But Nissan management is working on a Plan B, the FT reports, citing unnamed sources.
• “The plans include war-gaming a total divide in engineering and manufacturing, as well as changes to Nissan’s board, according to several sources, and have been ramped up since Mr. Ghosn’s dramatic escape from Japan in late December.”
• The partnership has become “toxic,” two of the unnamed sources said. Many Nissan executives now reportedly believe “the French carmaker is a drag on its Japanese counterpart.”
But a divorce would create two smaller carmakers at a time when rivals are combining forces, the FT notes. Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot have agreed to merge, while Volkswagen and Ford are creating their own alliance.
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Tallying the damage from the trade war
With U.S. and Chinese officials preparing to sign a phase-one trade deal on Wednesday, the WSJ took a look at the toll of their bitter fight. It wasn’t widespread throughout the economy — but the full consequences may take years to play out.
• U.S. farm exports to China fell to as low as $7 billion from $25 billion in recent years, and farm debt soared to a new record. The agricultural sector relied on $28 billion in federal aid to survive.
• Foreign direct investment in the U.S. contracted sharply in 2018 and 2019.
• But inflation remained largely stable, and most of the U.S. economy now works in sectors largely unaffected directly by the trade fight.
Things could have been worse, but they could have been better, the WSJ writes. The economy grew just 2 percent, despite President Trump’s goal of 3 percent. And Gregory Daco, the chief U.S. economist for Oxford Economics, estimates that it could have grown 2.6 percent if the trade fight hadn’t happened.
“People are wanting to wrap this up in a bow and draw lessons and put this behind us, but I really think it’s way too premature,” Chad Bown of the Peterson Institute for International Economics told the WSJ.
Masa Son of SoftBank
Masa Son of SoftBank  Kazuhiro Nogi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
SoftBank’s job-creation pledge hasn’t panned out
The Japanese tech giant’s chief, Masa Son, promised in 2016 to create 50,000 jobs in the U.S. through his company’s huge investment fund, the Vision Fund. Jessica Lessin of The Information points out that SoftBank-backed companies are doing the opposite.
Last week alone, over 3,000 job cuts were announced at Vision Fund portfolio companies. They include Oyo, the Indian hotel start-up; Getaround, a car-sharing service; and Zume, a robotic pizza delivery company that now plans to get out of that business.
That’s on top of the 2,400 layoffs at WeWork announced in November.
The cuts are partly a result of SoftBank’s playbook, Ms. Lessin writes. The company gave start-ups huge sums of money and told them to grow at all costs — but expenses eventually swelled, and the growth slowed down. Contraction was inevitable. The model “never really made much sense to begin with,” she adds.
The contrary view: Analysts at Bernstein wrote in a recent research note that they believe SoftBank is still the “Berkshire Hathaway of tech,” and will ultimately deliver “enormous long-term gains” for investors.
Yusaku Maezawa
Yusaku Maezawa  Toshifumi Kitamura/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Lonely billionaire seeks companion for moon shot
Yusaku Maezawa has a lot, including an estimated net worth of $3.6 billion and a ticket on SpaceX’s 2023 voyage to the moon. But he wants something else, according to Bloomberg: a companion.
• The former e-commerce entrepreneur tweeted a link yesterday to a website where women can apply to join him on the weeklong SpaceX flight. The post has been retweeted over 10,000 times, including by Elon Musk.
• “As feelings of loneliness and emptiness slowly begin to surge upon me, there’s one thing that I think about: Continuing to love one woman,” Mr. Maezawa said.
• But the process won’t be that intimate: He’s also commissioned a TV production company to shoot a documentary, “Full Moon Lovers,” about it.
The speed read
Deals
• Casper Sleep, the popular online mattress seller, has filed to go public. (CNBC)
• Aston Martin Lagonda is reportedly in talks to sell a stake in itself to raise money after reporting falling profits. (Bloomberg)
• Allies of President Trump are said to be exploring a takeover of One America News Network, a rival to Fox News. (WSJ)
• Barstool Sports, the online sports news site, is reportedly close to selling a majority stake to the casino operator Penn National Gaming. (Recode)
Politics and policy
• A new Labor Department rule would limit the ability of workers to sue big companies for wrongdoing by contractors or franchisees. (NYT)
• The Justice Department told the Supreme Court that it’s not in a hurry to settle a lawsuit over the legality of Obamacare. (Upshot)
• The Trump administration wants to scale back on telecommuting by federal workers. (WaPo)
• The economic cost of Brexit for Britain has already surpassed $170 billion, according to new research. (Bloomberg)
Tech
• Alphabet’s chief legal officer, David Drummond, is stepping down amid an investigation into his relationships with female employees at the company. (NYT)
• A deep dive into how Google is trying to collect millions of Americans’ medical records. (WSJ)
• Airbnb said it would use only union labor to build its new real-estate developments. (WSJ)
• College students are increasingly souring on working for Big Tech. (NYT)
Best of the rest
• Dennis Muilenburg, who was fired as Boeing’s C.E.O. last month, won’t receive any severance, but is entitled to more than $62 million in stock and pension awards. (NYT)
• An inquiry into Jeffrey Epstein’s donations to M.I.T. absolved the school’s senior leadership of wrongdoing, but rebuked some officials. (Only one person connected to the university was disciplined.) (NYT)
• The tight labor market is forcing employers to sweeten new workers’ moving perks. (WSJ)
• Panera plans to make half of its menu vegetarian. It’s in part because of climate change. (Business Insider)
Thanks for reading! We’ll see you tomorrow.
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