Posts Tagged ‘business’

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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Anonymous, LLC

January 20, 2020

Exposing anonymous companies could cut down on crime, but the firms and governments that help disguise their ownership (looking at you, Delaware) and the wealthy who claim to need them are blocking efforts at disclosure. a TED-Ed video by Global Witness, animated by Kozmonot Animation Studio.

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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

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Boeing Stops Production of 737 Max 8 Passenger Planes

December 16, 2019

Boeing Stops Production of 737 Max 8 Passenger Planes

Boeing has stopped production of 737 Max 8 jets until FAA regulators say they’re safe to fly. Two of those planes crashed, killing 346 people, after FAA regulators originally took Boeing’s assurances that the planes were good to go. De-regulation kills.

More:

“Boeing suspends production of 737 Max model involved in fatal crashes,” Dominic Rushe, The Guardian

Related:

“How Did the F.A.A. Allow the Boeing 737 Max to Fly?” John Cassidy, The New Yorker

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

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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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Ivanka Trump Earns Millions From a Rented Government Building

June 18, 2019

Ivanka Trump Earns Millions From a Rented Government Building

Presidential Advisor, sweatshop shmata merchant, and former runway model Ivanka Trump is also an hôtelièr, renting out rooms in a publicly-owned building her Dad’s company leases in Washington. Last year Ms. Trump earned $4 million from her hotel side-hustle.

More:

“Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made as much as $135m last year,” Bernard Condon, AP, via The Guardian

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Top image (Ivanka’s book-like object) 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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Tesla Robot Taxis?

April 29, 2019

Tesla Robot Taxis?

Elon Musk must feel sorry for those exploited, underpaid Uber drivers. He wants to replace them with self-driving robot taxis. By next year.

“I feel very confident predicting 1 million autonomous robo-taxis for Tesla next year. Not in all jurisdictions because we won’t have regulatory approval everywhere, but I’m confident we will have regulatory approval at least somewhere, literally next year.”

— “Elon Musk says Tesla will have 1 million autonomous taxis on the road by next year,” Michael Burke, The Hill

More:

“Elon Musk thinks Tesla can build 1M ‘robotaxis’ in the next year,” Cale Guthre Weissman, Fast Company

“Tesla’s 2020 self-driving car promise sounds too good to be true because it is,” Emily Stewart, Recode

Update:

“Tesla’s long-shot robotaxi plan,” Joann Muller, Axios

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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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