Amazon’s New Alexa Products; Juul’s CEO Ousted; Altria Merger Off
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HEY ALEXA …
Amazon held its annual hardware event yesterday. And Jeffrey Commerce plans on going all in on virtual assistants. Isn’t that right, Alexa?
Echo Buds made its debut, which is Amazon’s AirPod equivalent … but $30 cheaper. The middle-class AirPod, if you will. In addition to giving the Dot and Show facelifts, Amazon also introduced Alexa enabled eyeglasses and rings, dubbed Echo Frames and Echo Loop, respectively. Those two products are invite-only … which makes sense considering the rollout of Google Glass and Snap Spectacles.
The tech company also unveiled a wireless network, Sidewalk, that will help extend the reach of its home products to 1 mile, which doesn’t seem helpful, unless of course, you’ve bought Amazon’s new dog collar tag, Ring Fetch, to help find your pet, you terrible pet owner, you.
The bottom line …
While Amazon is directly challenging Apple’s 53% market share of the earbud market, it currently enjoys a 58% share of 2019’s smart-speaker market. But experts don’t think the good times can last forever for Jeffrey Commerce. It’s projected that Google’s Nest device will surpass Amazon’s Echo in the home virtual assistant’s market by 2023.
Amazon’s stock rose 1.5% on the day.
CEO OUT A JUUL RECHARGES
In a sudden turn of events, Juul CEO Kevin Burns is stepping down from the e-cigarette company. The new-age nicotine company has struggled as the FDA and other governmental bodies have launched investigations into whether or not its marketing campaigns were directed at youths. Altria exec K.C. Crosthwaite will be taking over in the interim.
New pod, who dis?
Both Juul and its tobacco parent company have been struggling since the latter purchased a 35% stake for $12.8B last year. Investigations into its marketing practices, recent reports of vape-related deaths and illnesses, and the Trump administration’s policy targeting flavored vape pods from the market have been real buzzkills
In addition to the leadership change, Juul announced that it will put a hold on its broadcast, print, and digital advertising until further notice. Great, just when I was coming around on those uplifting testimonials on the radio of people who turned their lives around by switching to Juul.
No go for fuego
But wait, there’s more. Talks for a potential $200B merger have ended between Altria and Phillip Morris International, which was spun off from Altria’s core business back in 2008.
Investors were initially excited about Altria’s non-smoking alternative investments but that sentiment has shifted. See: Juul. The two companies will still look to collab on a heated tobacco product called IQOS going forward. News of the canceled talks sent Phillip Morris stock up 6%.
The bottom line …
Simply put, things for Altria and Juul are looking about as good as Adam Neumann’s career prospects. Despite efforts to work with the FDA, those angsty teens haven’t shown any sign of backing off from their vape habits and it appears that Johnny Law doesn’t plan to chill the f*ck out any time soon.
IN OTHER NEWS
- CEO Devin Wenig is out at eBay. He was the head of the firm for more than four years before the announcement on Wednesday. Wenig will also resign from the board of directors at the online auction company, stating that he and the rest of the board weren’t on the same page. Activist investors had been calling for the firm to be broken up since March. CFO Scott Schenkel will be the interim CEO for the time being.
- The White House is slapping sanctions on a handful of Chinese companies and officials after the alleged shipment of Iranian oil. The Treasury Department decided that two subsidiaries of Cosco (no, not your favorite bulk grocer) would be added to the blacklist. China Concord Petroleum, Pegasus 88 Limited, Kunlun Shipping Company and Kunlun Holding Company were also sanctioned. The sanctions affect approximately 40 to 50 tankers run by Cosco alone, and could put a dent in western energy companies’ oil transportation options.
- Turns out Jamie Dimon isn’t cut out for Hollywood. The head honcho of JPMorgan pitched Disney’s Bob Iger a rom-com idea wherein a female CEO hires an all-female board to help her find a husband. Clearly this movie is of the fantasy genre. Dimon suggested that Julia Louis-Dreyfuss and Bette Midler be cast, but even an all-star cast couldn’t convince Iger to bite. Iger gave the idea a “C,” and while he called Dimon’s idea “gutsy,” it sounds like Jamie should stick to banking.
- Just when you thought a $220B money-laundering scandal was the worst of Aivar Rehe’s worries, it gets worse. He’s dead. The former head of Danske Bank in Estonia was reported missing from his home and was considered a suicide risk. Rehe was not a suspect in the laundering probe, nor had he been arrested, but he did say he felt responsible for the bank’s transgressions.
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