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MORE LIKE S(WAG) LABS INC.
SoftBank announced a $300M investment in Wag Labs Inc., an app that connects dog walkers to dog owners. Yes, it’s the Uber for dog walkers.
Initially the Wag team was looking to raise $100M to “revolutionize an industry,” but SoftBank pushed them to take more money and go global. Don’t ya just love it when investors throw 3 times more money at you? Somebody must have learned to use the wee-wee pad.
Wag charges $20 per half hour for a dog walk and takes a 40% commission on the final bill. Right now it operates in New York, Austin, Seattle and Chicago.
We’ve got a bone to pick with you
Hilary Schneider will be taking over as CEO of Wag, and she won’t have much time to sniff around before getting her paws dirty. There is some serious damage control to be done. Recently, a resident of Long Island spooked investors claiming that Wag tried to bribe her after losing her dog. C’mon lady, your story sounds a little … far-fetched.
Water Cooler Talking Point: “I love when companies say they want to ‘revolutionize industries.’ As if there is a burgeoning class of dog walkers that has been waiting for something like this to come along. Be like all good millennials: adopt a dog and make your parents take care of it! ”
BACK IN BLACK(STONE)
It’s not easy being a private equity giant with $387B in assets under management. Just ask Blackstone Group. But the enterprising masters of the universe at Stephen A. Schwarzman’s pride and joy found a way to spend that hoard of cash burning a hole in their pocket: buy Thomson Reuters (yes, Thomson Reuters threw the “Exclusive” tagline on news of their sale).
Blackstone will gobble up 55% of Thomson Reuters’ financial-information and terminal business for $17B. Thomson Reuters, the news company, will own the remaining 45%.
But the news arm of the company is far from hung out to dry: as part of the deal Blackstone will pay them at least $325M per year … for 30 years to keep the daily news delivery coming. That’s a lot of dirt-water newsroom coffee.
Water Cooler Talking Point: “I’m not sure how you put a value on future news, but I am sure it is not worth $325M. I’ll give Blackstone benefit of the doubt that they did their due diligence but I’ve got a little secret for them: you can get the news for free from Bloomberg … or The Water Coolest. In fact we’ll even curate it and make it more palatable than your daddy’s business journal.”
What do Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan all have in common? Well, they all make a lot of money, and they dislike rising healthcare costs in this country. And on Tuesday they announced that they’ll form a separate company with the goal of improving health care for their collective hundreds of thousands of employees here in the US of A.
Are these companies doing this because they truly care about the well-being and health of their employees? Probably not. Are these companies doing this because they are headquartered in the country with the world’s most expensive health care system and those costs cut into profits? Yep, that sounds more like it. But if they can cut their costs, have healthier employees and get a PR bump for the effort then it’s a win-win-win.
The companies said on Tuesday that this joint venture will be “free from profit-making incentives and constraints”. They vow to use vaguely outlined technological advances, something Jeff Bezos knows a thing or two about, to ward off the evils of the healthcare system.
Water Cooler Talking Point: “I hope that part of this health care effort means that each employee must follow Warren Buffett’s daily diet of five cans of Coca-Cola, constant snacking and salt on every meal. Because if it’s good enough for the most legendary investor of all time then it’s good enough for me.”
IN OTHER NEWS
- Chesapeake Energy is laying off 13% of its workforce. The job cuts are a result of asset sales that Chesapeake has made over the last few years. Maybe natural gas isn’t as sustainable as we thought?
- Waymo is buying some more self-driving cars. The company will buy thousands of Chrysler’s self-driving minivans to bolster its fleet of autonomous taxis. No drunk birthday girls left behind.
- Coursera CEO Jeff Maggioncalda thinks you need to keep on learning to keep up with the tech economy. Don’t let the machines beat us at our own game.
- The SEC put the kibosh on a $600M Initial Coin Offering, freezing AriseBank’s assets amid fraud concerns. See, you’re not the only one tired of hearing about bitcoins.
- US indices were up Friday:
- DOW: -1.37%
- S&P 500: -1.09%
- NASDAQ: -0.86%
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NETFLIX AND SKILLS
Who says Netflix is just for binge watching the entire series of FRIENDS for the seventh time and discovering the comedy didn’t age well?
The next time your parents try to “cut you off once and for all” by changing the family Netflix password, hit them with the “I watch the documentaries” line. And if you do decide to dabble in some learned made for TV movies, there are a slew of finance/business focused documentaries that just scream I’ve seen every episode of Shark Tank. Behold …
1) The True Cost exposes the reality of the clothing industries business practices (read: sweat shops).
2) Money for Nothing: Inside the Federal Reserve tackles the history of the Federal Reserve. Expect lots of old white men.
3) Hank: Five Years From the Brink follows the Treasury Secretary’s frantic push to put a bailout together amid the 2008 financial crisis. No word on if they considered naming the film Six Feet From the Edge.
4) Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room chronicles the clusterf*ck that was Enron.
5) Inside Job is about … you guessed it, the financial crisis. Not convinced? It’s narrated by Matt Damon. I guess Morgan Freeman was busy.