Choose your own adventure

MARKETS

  • U.S. markets: They don't like uncertainty, and as a result of the new trilateral trade deal between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada...some of that uncertainty has been taken off the table. Stocks celebrated the news.
  • Oil: WTI crude sprinted past $75 to its highest level since November 2014. One of the reasons? The trade deal between the North American countries calmed fears of lower demand.

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STARTUP

A Dispatch From Beantown

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Your intrepid newsletter writers shipped up to Boston yesterday to brave the 65-degree wind chill and chat with/hear from scores of influential people at the Forbes Under 30 Summit.

And, wouldn't you know, they had some pretty interesting things to say.

We heard from Anthony Scaramucci, aka "the Mooch," whose (very) brief stint in the White House convinced him of one thing: it's better to be a "frontstabber" than a backstabber.

  • In other words, it's important to be vocal when you notice something off at your organization. This happened during his time at Lehman Brothers, where Scaramucci observed that "the courtiers around the CEO were not telling him the truth."

Then there's the wisdom of Kai-Fu Li, a VC and writer very much attuned to the cultural differences between U.S. and Chinese startups.

  • Per Li, "The U.S. relies too much on Silicon Valley as the only model, on Steve Jobs as the only icon." And while Chinese businesses were once "copycats...they're copycats no longer." Look out, U.S.
  • Oh, and have you tried implementing the 9-9-6 schedule? Li says it's contributed to China's rapid rise in the tech sector. If you haven't figured out what it is by now...it's working 9 am to 9 pm, 6 days a week. Caffeine IV optional.

We heard a few life lessons from Marcela Sapone, the CEO and co-founder of personal concierge startup Hello Alfred.

  • She said the first day she walked into her consulting job at McKinsey, she knew she was going to leave someday to become an entrepreneur. That encouraged her to soak up as much knowledge as possible before taking the leap.
  • And once you do take the leap? "You have to believe in what you're doing so freakin' much" to ward off the competition when it inevitably crops up.

Bottom line, courtesy of Andy Katz-Mayfield, co-founder and CEO of Harry's: "We have a maniacal focus on getting customers to love us...Every day we screw something up, whether it's a missed delivery or we got an order wrong. If you go above and beyond to rectify it...it defines your brand and your company."

INDUSTRIALS

And Just Like That, Flannery Is Out at GE

A lot can change in a year. Just ask John Flannery, whose tenure as CEO of General Electric (+7.09%) came to an end just 426 days after he took the reins. From up in Boston, Scaramucci sympathizes...

What happened: The GE board voted to replace Flannery with former Danaher CEO Larry Culp yesterday...the same day the conglomerate announced it'll miss profit and cash flow goals for 2018 and could incur a "goodwill" charge of $23 billion for its struggling power business.

There hasn't been much goodwill at GE recently:

  • Last November, GE slashed its dividend in half to 12 cents per share.
  • Last June, GE got kicked out of the Dow (after 111 years in the index).
  • Last week, GE stock fell to a nine-year low.

Zoom out: Flannery was brought on back in August '17 to implement a much-needed turnaround at 126-year-old GE. But over the weekend, the board became too fed up with GE's slow pace of change under Flannery's leadership.

MEDIA

Netflix's Grand Adventure: An Interactive Story

We're excited to introduce our very first choose-your-own-Brew-story. Are you ready to make the tough decisions? Here we go...

You're Netflix (+1.95%), looking for a new way to grow your global subscriber base of 130 million people. Do you:

  1. Break into the Broadway scene
  2. Launch choose-your-own-adventure interactive programming

You chose B. Now that you're planning to let viewers pick their own storylines, it's time to decide which fan-favorite will serve as the guinea pig. Is it:

  1. Black Mirror, the Emmy-winning sci-fi anthology series that explores the (mostly terrifying) implications of technology on society
  2. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, because everyone knows that cliffhanger deserved a season two

You chose A. Congrats! You've just been promoted to chief product officer at Netflix.

That's because Netflix is planning to release an upcoming episode of Black Mirror as a choose-your-own-storyline special, per Bloomberg. Think of this new breed of show as the convergence of "high-speed internet, the prevalence of touch screens and interactive games."

Parents out there might know Netflix does something similar with its kids program Puss in Book. But the new Black Mirror project is Netflix's first interactive show designed for grown-ups.

And it won't be the last: Netflix has reportedly inked a deal for at least one other live-action project and is negotiating rights for others.

TRADE

Spot the Difference: NAFTA vs. USMCA Edition

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"It's not NAFTA redone, it's a brand new deal," President Trump said of the newest rendition of a trilateral trade deal between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada struck after you went to bed Sunday night.

USMCA, pronounced ooh-smih-kah (we're guessing), will replace the 25-year-old NAFTA with some updated rules and regs...pending Congressional approval, of course. But besides the name change, what's different?

Cars: The most impactful changes (at least in dollar value) have to do with auto production.

  • 75% of auto components will have to be built in North America, up from 62.5%.
  • 40%-45% of auto components will need to be made by workers earning at least $16/hr.
  • Most passenger vehicles, pickup trucks, and auto parts will be exempt from possible Trump administration auto tariffs.

Cows: This was a major sticking point. The new deal will give U.S. farmers expanded access to Canada's $16 billion annual domestic dairy market.

What stays the same? USMCA keeps a tribunal for resolving trade disputes (which the U.S. had wanted gone).

ECONOMY

IMF Appoints First-Ever Female Chief Economist

Gita Gopinath, welcome to one highly selective club. The Harvard professor has been appointed the next chief economist of the International Monetary Fund-the first-ever woman to hold the prestigious position.

  • What the IMF does, in 18 words: It's an international org that oversees the global economy and lends money and advice to financially strapped countries.

And get this...when Gopinath takes over for Maurice Obstfeld at the end of the year, the IMF will join both the World Bank and the OECD in having a woman in its top economic role.

Let's take a peek at Prof. Gopinath's impressive C.V.

  • She's written ~40 research articles on trade and investment, international financial crises, debt, and more.
  • She's best known for her work on exchange rates.
  • She's the co-editor of the American Economic Review and of the Handbook of International Economics (along with former IMF chief economist Kenneth Rogoff).

Bottom line, courtesy of former Fed chief (and Gopinath's thesis adviser) Ben Bernanke: She's "one of the strongest and most promising students I ever worked with."

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Pfizer (+0.45%) CEO Ian Read will step down at the end of the year after eight years leading the drugmaker.
  • Instagram has a new leader: Adam Mosseri, who had been its head of product. Remember, Instagram's two co-founders surprised everyone by stepping down last week.
  • Tesla stock shot up over 17% on the first trading day following a Musk/SEC settlement agreement.
  • Ripple's crypto cross-border payment product is now being used by three financial institutions.
  • James Allison and Tasuku Honjo, two cancer immunotherapy researchers, won the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

BREAKROOM

From the Crew
Yesterday, we asked you who you thought should replace Elon Musk as Tesla's chairman. We got some, uh, interesting responses.

  • "Chet Ubetcha from The Fairly OddParents. He's the most informed man in Dimmsdale and would provide a stable public image for Tesla."
  • "Leon Skum. A mysterious mustache man that looks very similar to Musk."
  • "No one. Elon will make it a self-driving company in no time!"

Brain Teaser
Arrange the numbers 1 through 16 in a square of 4 by 4 numbers so that each row, column, and diagonal adds up to 34.

(Answer located at bottom of newsletter)

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Breakroom Answers


Brain Teaser
01 15 14 04
12 06 07 09
08 10 11 05
13 03 02 16

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