Google’s Self-Driving Car Group Gets Its Own Name, Plus Snapchat Unveils New Features

By 12.14.16

morning-brew-new
QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Drain The Swamp” — The title of hedge fund DoubleLine Capital founder Jeff Gundlach’s latest webcast, warning of a potential stock market selloff on inauguration day. Gundlach was one of the select few who correctly predicted Trump’s presidential win, so he might be onto something.

Market Snapshot

  • And we’re back: after a short stall on Monday, investors reacted well on day one of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting (today’s the day when the interest rate decision is made, FYI). Global markets advanced and the Dow finished within 100 points of the psychologically key mark of 20,000

Introducing Waymo

…Google’s self-driving car group gets its own name. Yesterday, Google’s parent company Alphabet (+0.92%) announced its self-driving car project is being spun off into its own company dubbed Waymo (short for “a new way forward in mobility”…leave it to Google). What does this mean? Basically, that Alphabet thinks its autonomous technology is ready to take the wheel. While Waymo will focus on the technology and not the physical cars (if that sounds familiar, it’s because Apple’s doing the same thing), Google still has plenty of hot competition from major players like Apple and Tesla, among others. According to Waymo’s CEO, John Krafcik, the autonomous tech could be used for anything from long-haul trucking to ride-sharing, leaving the future wide open for Google’s newest addition. Now, about that name…

Raise It Up High

…Asahi strikes a $7.8 billion deal with Anheuser-Busch (+1.31%). Cheers! Yesterday, the Japanese beermaker agreed to buy brewing assets in five Eastern European nations from AB InBev. What’s the occasion? Well, you might recall AB InBev’s $100 billion-plus mega-beer merger with SABMiller, which was completed last fall. In order to gain approval from regulators, AB InBev had to commit to selling these assets. Regulators rejoice. The move comes as Asahi looks to grow its brand internationally and become more competitive in Europe. Not everyone was raising their glass, however, as some investors felt that the price—nearly double that of Asahi’s original $4 billion budget—was far too high. You can’t please everyone.

The Most Valuable Company in the World

…And the busiest? Apple (+1.67%) makes headlines left and right. Buckle up: to start, Apple’s AirPods finally went on sale yesterday after being delayed for reasons that remain unclear. Better late than never. And in keeping with its “delay stuff” trend, Apple also announced that its BeatsX wireless headphones will be delayed until February. Shifting gears to the MacBook Pro, the product’s latest edition is said to have a battery that can last up to 10 hours. The catch? Apple’s new update will eliminate the estimated “time remaining” display from the menu bar. You win some, you lose some.

Shazam! Snapchat Unveils New Features

…A lot of new features. Let’s go through this list one by one: first, the popular social media app cut a deal with Shazam, the magical music identification app. Now users can identify a song by pressing down on the app’s camera screen. Even better? You can now chat with up to 16 friends at once using Snapchat Groups. The app still retains its ephemerality, as these group messages disappear after 24 hours. Last and not least, the company unveiled two new editing tools, Scissors and Paintbrush. Looks like we’ll be spending a lot more time on Snap this holiday season.

Other Stories

Economic Calendar

  • Monday: Treasury Budget
  • Tuesday: Fed Meeting Begins
  • Wednesday: Fed Meeting Announcement; Retail Sales; Producer Price Index; Industrial Production
  • Thursday: Oracle, Adobe Earnings; Weekly Jobless Claims; Consumer Price Index
  • Friday: Housing Starts

Immortal Produce

We’ve got self-driving cars on the way, but our groceries are still going bad? A solution is here, and it’s about time: a SoCal startup has an FDA-approved plan to extend the afterlife of the dead plants we so joyfully consume. Apeel Sciences has developed a plant-based method to keep produce fresh for longer. The product could shake up the produce industry by limiting food waste and helping minimize the use of pesticides. Seems like a win-win—let’s take a closer look:

  • The company’s two products—Edipeel and Invisipeel—are made from pellets extracted from plant materials. Molecules from those pellets can be used to control the rate of water going in and out of the produce, thus managing the rate of decay.
  • True, the produce that makes it into your house goes bad too quickly, but even more food rots before it even hits the shelves. By limiting those losses and increasing yields, consumers could be close to saving some serious coin at the grocery store.
  • How’s Apeel doing? Pretty good: it’s already got $40 million in seed money. Even better, it estimates that current negotiations with produce companies can earn it $6 billion in sales.
  • The applications are pretty extensive. Just one example: Apeel’s products can curate a week’s bunch of bananas, one perfectly ripe for each day. That’s an experience we can get behind.

Interview Question of the Day

You have a large number of friends coming over and they all get thirsty. Your first friend asks for 1/2 a cup of water. Your second friend asks for 1/4 a cup of water. Your third friend asks for 1/8 a cup of water, etc. How many cups of water do you need to serve your friends? (Answer)

Business Person of the Day

Goldman Sachs President and COO Gary Cohn was named president-elect Donald Trump’s director of the National Economic Council yesterday. This move, along with Trump’s appointment of fellow Goldman alum Steven Mnuchin as Secretary of the Treasury, give the GS veterans lots of influence in economic decisions. Now who’s going to run Goldman while they’re away?

Food for Thought

As the holiday season nears, we humans aren’t the only ones who’ll be opening presents. According to the American Pet Products Association, Americans spent over $14 billion in 2015 on pet supplies. Feeling extra generous this holiday season? For only $380, PetChatz lets you video chat with your dog and dispense treats via a smartphone app. What a world we live in.


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