Another Big Move For Self-Driving Cars, Plus The First Virtual Reality Shopping Mall Is Being Developed


Enjoy your February 14th hand-crafted Brew!


“It will be very disruptive and very quick” — Elon Musk warns of autonomous cars’ quick rise in his best Liam Neeson impression. Quick indeed, Elon.

Market Snapshot

  • U.S. markets reached record highs yet again with the S&P 500 topping $20 trillion in market cap as investors continue riding the “Trump rally”
  • The financial sector led way just as it did on Friday, as investors continue to digest the possibility of rising interest rates, stimulus spending, lower taxes, and decreased regulations—every financial company’s favorite recipe

Another Big Move for Self-Driving Cars

What happened?

Volkswagen and Mobileye signed an autonomous driving agreement. Wait, Mobile-what? Mobileye is an Israeli-based technology company that specializes in driver assistance systems that prevent collisions. Ok, cool. And yesterday, Mobileye (+4.99%) inked a deal with the German automaker to provide its Road Experience Management (REM) mapping service in VW (+2.18%) vehicles beginning in 2018.

Why Does it Matter?

Simply, Mobileye’s technology can track road info and send that data to the cloud, where it will then be used to continually improve navigation maps. But there’s a bigger picture here. The companies believe that this “crowd-sourced” data will eventually help automakers produce maps that are needed for autonomous driving. Pretty sweet.

Verizon Goes Unlimited

…But is it too little, too late? Verizon (-0.91%) just resurrected the unlimited data plan it killed off in 2011 in a direct response to increasing competition from networks like Sprint and AT&T. Excellent news for existing Verizon customers, but will it help boost recent subpar performance? The carrier originally sent unlimited data to the chopping block because it thought it detracted from future growth, but it’s now eating those words as other carriers have started eating into its market share. Basically, Verizon’s been cornered and unlimited data is its only escape plan.

The One-Hit Wonder That Could

…We’re looking at you iPhone. It’s no secret that Apple (+0.89%) has been milking the success of the iPhone with it now accounting for over two thirds of sales and set to reach a trillion in overall revenue since the OG iPhone came out. Time to diversify? Nah, Apple is good for now. Want proof? Just yesterday, Apple finished at its highest closing stock price ever as investors continue to ride the high hopes centered on that new 10th anniversary iPhone. Apple has been unusually secretive about the new addition to the iPhone family, leading analysts to predict an unveiling consisting of a nearly entirely glass case and wireless charging capability.

Shopping Reimagined

…The innovation curve never ends. Dreamscape Interactive is a startup backed by three Hollywood studios and Steven Spielberg (yep, Steven freaking Spielberg) hoping to bring the first virtual reality shopping mall to market. Yeah, that was a lot—let’s slow it down a bit: Dreamscape, which just came out of hiding Monday, is creating an immersive and interactive shopping experience. Why would Hollywood back Dreamscape? Well, studios and malls have both been trying to increase traffic amid the rise in streaming and e-commerce. If it works for one, perhaps it’ll work for the other? We’ll surely keep an eye out.

Other Stories

  • Facebook Live reaches deal with Univision for Mexican soccer
  • Wilbur Ross to keep stake in Chinese-government-backed company
  • Google Maps new feature lets you share favorite places
  • Tesla begins selling cars in Dubai, officially entering the Middle East

Economic Calendar

  • Monday: Teva (+) Earnings
  • Tuesday: AIG, T-Mobile, Credit Suisse, Dr. Pepper Snapple Earnings; Producer Price Index
  • Wednesday: Cisco, Pepsi, Kraft Heinz, CBS, Marriott, Hilton, GoDaddy, Groupon Earnings; Consumer Price Index; Retail Sales; Industrial Production
  • Thursday: Charter Communications, MGM Resorts, Hyatt Hotels, Wendy’s Earnings; Weekly Jobless Claims; Housing Starts
  • Friday: Deere, J.M. Smucker Earnings

Water Cooler

Hudson Yards Is Hot

Quick refresher: Hudson Yards is a $20+ billion rail yard redevelopment project on the west side of Manhattan, compliments of Related Companies (owned by Stephen Ross). Why is it a big deal? For starters, it’s the largest private real estate development in the history of the United States—and when it’s finally complete, the project will feature 12.7 million square feet of retail, residential, and office space. The tenant list of Hudson Yards keeps on getting more impressive:

  • In December, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, agreed to a 20-year lease boasting 850,000 square feet of office space. The company will move its headquarters from Park Avenue once the project is complete.
  • It was announced last week that Morgan Stanley is considering purchasing 2 million square feet (goodness, that’s a lot) in 50 Hudson Yards, the same building that Blackrock will occupy. Though not confirmed, this likely means that Morgan Stanley would leave its headquarters in Times Square.
  • Other big names that have agreed to move to Hudson Yards include KKR, Wells Fargo, Coach, Time Warner, and L’Oréal. Considering this same space was once a killer combo of horse stables and industrial rail yards, this has been quite the transformation.

The Breakroom

Interview Question of the Day

Why is the amount of net tangible assets an important benchmark? (Answer)

Startup of the Day

Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day. Bloom & Wild is trying to make sure neither you nor your significant other ever sees another damaged flower in your mailbox ever again. The U.K. startup just raised another $4.7 million in funding and has delivered a monthly growth rate of 35%. Not bad for a declining industry. Best thing about the service? You can order fresh flowers straight from your phone.

Food for Thought

Another day for another overpriced drug. This time, Marathon Pharmaceuticals is taking the heat for setting a hefty $89,000-a-year tag on a drug that exists in other markets for less…$88,000 less, to be exact. Now that’s what we call price-gouging.