The Economist: Business

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Brace for the Amazon effect on live sport

IN 1993 FOX, a nascent cable network owned by Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-born tycoon, paid a fortune to scoop the rights to National Football League (NFL) games from under the nose of CBS, a veteran broadcaster. It caused a tremor in American television history. As one CBS reporter put it, “The NFL was ingrained in the walls of CBS like Edward R....

Pfizer’s boss thinks covid-19 is reshaping Big Pharma for the better

“THE IMPOSSIBLE can many times become possible,” reflects Albert Bourla, boss of Pfizer. He is talking about the giant American drugmaker’s speedy development (with BioNTech of Germany) of a vaccine against covid-19. The sentiment also applies to the turnaround in the fortunes of the pharmaceutical industry. Before the pandemic Big Pharma was in big...

A leaked memo from a chief impact officer

DEAR COLLEAGUES, This is my first memo as the newly appointed chief impact officer at Global United Financial Firms (GUFF) and I would like to thank everyone for welcoming me to the group. Some of you will be unfamiliar with the role of chief impact officer, but you may have seen headlines about Prince Harry taking on the role at a Silicon Valley firm....

Cairn Energy takes on India’s government

FACED WITH recalcitrant sovereign counterparties, foreign investors and companies occasionally take drastic action. A picaresque example of the genre occurred in 2012, when Elliott Management, a buccaneering American hedge fund which held distressed Argentine bonds, seized a handsome tall ship belonging to Argentina’s navy. Elliott’s aggressive tactics...

Clubhouse may fade. Group voice chat is here to stay

ONE OF SILICON VALLEY’S most successful inventions is hype. It usually disappoints. In 2015 live-streaming from smartphones became all the rage. But Meerkat, an app which pioneered it, shut down the following year. On April 1st Periscope, its more successful rival, did too (no joke). Will Clubhouse, a buzzy app that hosts live audio gabfests, suffer...

China’s rulers want more control of big tech

  Editor’s update: on April 10th Chinese authorities fined Alibaba 18.2bn yuan ($2.8bn) following an antitrust investigation. The firm is accused of pressuring retailers into offering their goods exclusively on its online store. It is the largest penalty ever handed down by the country’s regulators. CHINA’S TECH tycoons have not been themselves...

Billionaires battle for Tribune Publishing

GARY MARX and David Jackson, two veteran investigative reporters at the Chicago Tribune, spent most of last year seeking potential buyers who might save their newspaper from Alden Global Capital, a New York hedge fund. “We need a civic-minded local owner or group of owners,” they wrote in January 2020 in an opinion article in the New York Times. The...

WeWork begins a humbler second act

IT IS HARD to imagine such shockingly different financial documents. Two years ago a startup in New York that boosters claimed was worth $47bn issued a flowery prospectus in advance of its initial public offering (IPO). The firm’s mission, it declared, was to “elevate the world’s consciousness”. Such was the backlash against its puffery that it was...

Hon Hai, Apple’s biggest iPhone assembler, is eyeing cars

HON HAI PRECISION INDUSTRY is as obscure as its main client is famous. On March 30th the firm, also known as Foxconn, reported record sales of $182bn in 2020, thanks to demand for the Apple gadgets it assembles. Its market value has doubled in a year, to $63bn. It is now eyeing smartphones on wheels. Analysts think it could be making 1m electric cars...

Flying taxis are about to take off at last

THE HISTORY of the flying car is almost as old as that of powered flight itself. It started with the Curtiss Autoplane of 1917, an awkward-looking contraption with detachable wings. It never left the ground. Later machines made it into the skies but failed to take off commercially. Money is now pouring into flying taxis. On March 30th Lilium, a German...

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