Archive for the ‘business’ Category

33⅓ in 2020: LPs Outsell CDs

September 21, 2020

“Sales of vinyl records surpassed those of CDs in the U.S. for the first time since 1986, marking a key turning point for the format’s nostalgia-fueled resurgence.

People spent $232.1 million on limited-play and extended-play records in the first half of the year, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, eclipsing the $129.9 million they spent on compact discs.

Vinyl was the most popular way people listened to music throughout the 1970s and the early 1980s, at which point it gave way to tape cassettes — followed by CDs and digital formats. Each new format was more convenient than the last and suppressed interest in vinyl.”

— “Vinyl-Record Sales Top Compact Discs for First Time in 34 Years,” Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

More:

“Vinyl outsells CDs for the first time since the 1980s,” Nick Reilly, NME

“Vinyl Is Poised to Outsell CDs For the First Time Since 1986,” Elias Leight, Rolling Stone

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Image (“Leo’s DJ, after Da Vinci”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Guitar Sales Are Growing

September 17, 2020

Guitar Sales Are Growing

For the past decade, guitars have been a glut on the market, seen as boomer relics of rock music’s bygone ages. COVID home confinement has changed that:

“A half-year into a pandemic that has threatened to sink entire industries, people are turning to the guitar as a quarantine companion and psychological salve, spurring a surge in sales for some of the most storied companies (Fender, Gibson, Martin, Taylor) that has shocked even industry veterans.

‘I would never have predicted that we would be looking at having a record year,’ said Andy Mooney, the chief executive of Fender Musical Instruments Corporation, the Los Angeles-based guitar giant that has equipped Rock & Roll Hall of Famers since Buddy Holly strapped on a 1954 sunburst Fender Stratocaster back in the tail-fin 1950s.”

—  “Guitars Are Back, Baby!” Alex Williams, New York Times

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Image (“The Electric Guitar Lesson, after Renoir”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Amazon Drones On the Horizon?

September 3, 2020

Amazon Drones On the Horizon?

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird. It’s a plane. It’s a package. Amazon has received FAA approval to use drones to deliver packages:

“Amazon did not say when customers could expect drones to drop packages at their doorsteps. Obtaining the F.A.A. certificate was an ‘important step,’ the company said, adding that it would continue to test the technology, which has been in development for years.” — “Drone Delivery? Amazon Moves Closer With F.A.A. Approval,” Concepción de León, New York Times

Alphabet’s Wing and UPS already have FAA approval for drone delivery.

More:

“Amazon Prime Air lands FAA approval for drone deliveries,” Carrie Mihalcik CNET

“Amazon receives U.S. regulatory approval to start drone delivery trials,” Nilanjana Basu and Neha Malara, Reuters

Update:

“No, Amazon Won’t Deliver You a Burrito by Drone Anytime Soon,” Aarian Marshal, Wired

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Electric Bike or Electric Motorcycle?

February 10, 2020

Electric Bike or Electric Motorcycle?

Every evening, untold thousands of New Yorkers get dinner delivered by electric bike riders, but those vehicles are technically illegal. NYPD officers have been ticketing deliverymen even though lunch at NYPD HQ gets delivered by e-bikes.

The root problem is definition: when is a bike not a bike? When does a “power-assisted bike” become a moped, motorscooter, or motorcycle? And when do electric 2-wheeler riders need operator licenses? As with e-commerce, ridehail, Airbnb, and consumer drones, lawmakers are fighting a rearguard action after technology got well ahead of regulation, and it’s hitting New Yorkers where they eat. Ironically, NYC says it will let UPS make deliveries by ebike.

More:

“Electric Bikes Are Blurring The Line Between Bicycles And Motorcycles,” Matt Brown, Jalopnik

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Discontented, Destitute Cows: Borden is Bankrupt

January 8, 2020

Discontented, Destitute Cows: Borden is Bankrupt

Borden, the 163-year-old American dairy company, faces bankrupcy. Actually, in 1994 Borden was sold to private equity firm KKR, which skimmed off various Borden units and sold them. So far, Borden’s reorganization plan does not include selling Elsie the Cow for dogfood.

More:

“Borden Dairy becomes second major milk producer to file for bankruptcy in two months,” Rachel Siegel, Washington Post

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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

Deep State Damage: Maria Butina Brings Down Overstock CEO

August 23, 2019

Deep State Damage: Maria Butina Brings Down Overstock CEO

After babbling about the “Deep State” and “Men In Black” last week, Overstock. com CEO Patrick Byrne admitted to a 3-year affair with jailed Russian agent Maria Butina and resigned. The company’s depressed stock price rose 15 percent in response.

More:

“Patrick Byrne’s Overstock Exit Came After Admission He Romanced Russian,” Jeran Wittenstein, Bloomberg

“Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne resigns after saying he aided in ‘deep state’ Russia investigation,” Abha Bhattarai, Washington Post

“Overstock investors cheer after ‘too controversial’ CEO Patrick Byrne resigns,” Tomi Kilgore, MarketWatch

“Overstock CEO Resigns to Focus on Career as Deep State Intelligence Asset, One Assumes,”
Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo

“Overstock Ex-CEO’s Bonkers Rant to Fox Business: I’m Part of ‘Deep State,’” Justin Baragona, Daily Beast

Update:

“Former Overstock CEO Patrick Byrne Claims Maria Butina Offered to Arrange One-on-One for Him With Putin,” Audrey McNamara, Daily Beast

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Top image (“Maria ‘Natasha Fatale’ Butina, Overstocked, after Jay Ward and Alex Anderson“) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Breaking: EU Fines ‘Hello Kitty’

July 11, 2019

Breaking: EU Fines 'Hello Kitty'

The parent company of the ‘Hello Kitty’conglomerate was fined $7 million by the EU’s antitrust commission for resticting sales of the fab feline‘s merchandise in different countries within the European bloc for the last 11 years.

More:

“Hello Kitty’s Parent Company Fined $6.9 Million by E.U.,” Geneva Abdul, New York Times

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Image (“Newscatster, in the Style of Modigliani”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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Uber’s Employment Model: Sharecropping.

May 15, 2019

Uber's Employment Model: Sharecropping.

After the Civil War, when plantation owners were deprived of a chattel slave workforce, they implemented a form of peonage euphemistically called “sharecropping.” The landowners contracted poor black and white laborers to work their fields as tenants. These independent contractors did the backbreaking work in return for a small share of cotton harvest proceeds, often absorbing the costs of farming and bad harvests. That’s the employment model of rideshare companies like Uber.

Think of Uber’s digital platform as the plantation’s cotton fields. Uber lets the drivers plow use it if they turn over most of their cotton fare money to the plantation platform owner. Drivers absorb the costs of fuel, cellphone, car loans, permits, insurance, and maintenence. And if their mule car dies, the platform owner lets them buy a new one at subprime rates. Healthcare and retirement benefits? Nope.

Drivers are catching on, and so is the public. No wonder rideshare companies are pushing so hard for autonomous vehicles. After all, they automated the cotton fields, didn’t they?

 

More:

“Uber and the labor market,” Lawrence Mishel, The Economic Policy Institute

“Strike All You Want. Uber Won’t Pay a Living Wage.” Sarah Jeong, New York Times

“‘It’s a Laughable Fiction’: How Uber’s $82 Billion Valuation Was Built on a Lie to Its Workers.” Brianna Provenzano. Pacific Standard

“How Corporate Delusions of Automation Fuel the Cruelty of Uber and Lyft,” Brian Merchant, Gizmodo

Related:

“Research: Ride Share Has Increased San Francisco Traffic,” Rachen Swan, SF Chronicle, via Government Technology

“Uber Is a Scam,” Doug Henwood, Jacobin

Updates:

“Uber’s Path of Destruction,” Hubert Horan, American Affairs Journal

“Hundreds of Uber Drivers in Toronto Are Joining a Union,” Bryan Menegus, Gizmodo

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Image derived from “In a Cotton Field” by Horace Bradley, from Harper’s Weekly, August 1887 (Library of Congress).

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Namaste! Largest Yoga Studio Chain Is the Biggest Scam

April 10, 2019

Namaste! Largest Yoga Studio Chain Is the Biggest Scam

CorePower Yoga, America’s largest chain of yoga studios, is a pyramid scheme that’s scammed thousands of teachers, promising enlightenment, but not wages.

“At yoga studios around the country, teacher training is a popular way for instructors to supplement income from one-off classes and for students to advance in skill level — to deepen one’s practice, in yogi parlance. It’s not usually promoted as a career path. Rather, teacher training is offered as a kind of advanced workshop.

But CorePower, the country’s largest yoga studio chain, has a distinctly profitable approach: It enlists teachers as salespeople and incentivizes them with bonuses.”

— “Should Every American Citizen Be a Yoga Teacher?” Alice Hines, New York Times

More:

“How Teaching Yoga Is Like Multilevel Marketing,” Tanja Hester, OurNextLife

Related:

“CorePower Yoga Pays $1.4M in Class-Action Lawsuit,” Joy C. Einstein, Martindale

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Image (“Yoga, after a 19th Century Punjabi Manuscript”) by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com  

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Uber Shrugged

March 27, 2019

Uber Shrugged

Somehow, the sharing economy turned into the sharecropping economy. Mike Monteiro believes it was Ruined by Design, and also that Ayn Rand is a dick.

“Silicon Valley, and specifically the venture capital firms of Silicon Valley, are mostly run by old white men who read Ayn Rand in high school, thought it was great, and never changed their minds.”

“For those of you not familiar with Ayn Rand, she wrote crappy books about the power of individual achievement while she collected social security and started some pseudo-philosophy called ‘objectivism,’ which can be summed up in five words: I got mine, f*ck you.”

Those are the guys who fund the “sharing economy.”

“Once Uber’s goal moved from providing a car-sharing service to using a car-sharing service to make themselves and their investors rich, the delicate balance between drivers, riders, and Uber was destroyed. Only one of those parties was going to benefit from Uber’s future success. There’s nothing wrong with making money, but there is something inherently wrong with profiting from the labor of others without giving them a piece of the success they’ve earned.”

More from Ruined by Design here.

Related:

“Thousands of Uber drivers are striking in Los Angeles,” Alexia Fernández Campbell, Vox

“Lyft Drivers Protest Falling Wages as Execs Drum Up Investor Money for $25 Billion IPO,” Patrick Howell O’Neill, Gizmodo

“Lyft’s latest driver perks: bank accounts and car repairs,” Matt McFarland, CNN

“’I’m Pretty Sure That I’m Losing Money at the End of the Day,’” April Glaser, Slate

“Uber and Lyft slashed wages. Now California drivers are protesting their IPOs.”
Faiz Siddiqui, Washington Post

“Lyft and Other Gig-Economy Giants Cash In With IPOs Before Labor Laws catch Up With Them,” Lee Fang, The Intercept

“As IPO soars, can Uber and Lyft survive long enough to replace their drivers with computers?” Faiz Siddiqui and Greg Bensinger, Washington Post

Updates:

“Uber and Lyft Leave Their Drivers by the Side of the Road. Again.” Joe Nocera, Bloomberg

“Disgruntled drivers and ‘cultural challenges’: Uber admits to its biggest risk factors,” Julia Carrie Wong, The Guardian

“The Mounting Fallout from Uber and Lyft’s Disruption of the Taxi Industry,” Angie Schmitt, StreetsBlog

“D.C. Uber Drivers Often Don’t Know What They Earn After Expenses (As Little As $5 An Hour), Study Finds,” Jordan Pascale, DCist

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Image by Mike Licht. Download copies here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

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