It's electric

MARKETS

  • U.S. markets: Make a bet with your coworkers-will the major indexes finish positive or negative for the year?

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C-SUITE

Vine, HQ Trivia Mastermind Colin Kroll Has Died

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Colin Kroll, the co-founder of both Vine and HQ Trivia, has died of an apparent drug overdose in NYC. He was 34.

Kroll's resume reads like the stuff of dreams for any fresh-faced Midwesterner arriving in Silicon Valley:

  • In 2012, he co-created the now-defunct short form video platform Vine (which was acquired by Twitter).
  • He also co-created HQ Trivia. The hyped livestream game spent much of the beginning of this year in the top 10 for free iPhone games by downloads.

There were bumps in the road

Shortly after he was promoted to CEO of HQ Trivia (from his previous post as technology chief), Kroll faced reports of employee-filed complaints re: his "aggressive management style."

  • In his previous work at Twitter, Kroll's behavior toward women reportedly made some colleagues uncomfortable. He was eventually fired for poor management.
  • That behavior led some investors to pass on HQ Trivia when it was raising a funding round, per other reports.

FYI, Kroll apologized last spring:

"I now realize that there are things I said and did that made some feel unappreciated or uncomfortable. I apologize to those people. Today, I'm committed to building HQ Trivia into a culture-defining product and supporting the dedicated team that makes it all possible."

The problems didn't go away

Kroll's HQ Trivia app has been plagued by shrinking user counts after peaking in March with a record 2.1 million players in a single game.

At this point, it's not clear who'll take Kroll's reins at HQ-but most money is on Kroll's co-founder, Rus Yusupov. Yusopov had this to say about Kroll's death:
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HEALTH CARE

The ACA Debate Is Back

On Friday, a federal judge in Texas deemed the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) unconstitutional, a massive decision sure to give all three government branches some extra homework to do over the holidays.

The reasoning? The judge (prodded by a coalition of 20 Republican state attorneys) declared that Congress's decision to repeal the tax penalty for not buying health insurance last year essentially upended the Supreme Court's rationale for finding Obamacare constitutional in 2012.

  • Timing is everything-the ruling came just before the six-week open enrollment for ACA closed in most states. By Friday, more than 4 million people had already signed up for 2019 coverage on the ACA's exchanges.

What are some stocks to watch today? Centene Corp. and Molina Healthcare both have total ACA exposure of more than 40% of their earnings, JPMorgan said. In third is WellCare Health Plans, with ACA exchanges accounting for 10% of earnings.

But this fight is only beginning. Pencil this in on the Supreme Court's 2019 agenda-at least one state is already planning to appeal. Many legal experts and even some GOP lawmakers believe the ruling will be overturned...but you never know.

TRANSPORTATION

California Buses Go Fully Electric

The year 2029:

  • The Golden State Warriors go for their 13th straight NBA championship
  • The Brew celebrates its 14th birthday at Dave & Buster's
  • All buses purchased by mass transit agencies in California must be fully electric

That last one's the outcome of a unanimous vote by the California Air Resources Board, which says the rule "means cleaner air for all of us." FYI, there are currently only 153 zero-emissions buses on California roads, out of 12,000 total. So which companies might benefit as the transit agencies beef up their fleets?

  • BYD, a Chinese automaker in expansion mode, seems primed to win business. Plus, it makes some buses just north of LA.
  • Proterra is another one to watch. The startup has raised about $600 million from investors...including Daimler.

Not everyone is on board, especially the natural gas industry, which stands to lose fuel contracts with the state's buses.

Bottom line: When it comes to climate change regulation in the U.S., there's California...and then there's everyone else.

E-COMMERCE

Amazon Says Cut the CRaP

You know-CRaP, or products that "Can't Realize a Profit." For Amazon, CRaP items are the final frontier in the path to total e-commerce domination.

CRaP items, like bottled drinks and snack foods, offer only razor thin (or nonexistent) margins. They typically...1) retail for around $15 or less 2) are sold directly by Amazon and 3) are the kind of bulky that makes your local UPS driver repeatedly bang her head against the truck horn.

And according to the WSJ, Amazon's making moves. It's reportedly been axing unprofitable items while also pressing manufacturers to change the way those items are packaged. Let's see an example:

  • Coca-Cola used to sell a $6.99 Smartwater six-pack as the default for some Amazon Dash buttons. After Amazon intervened, though, Coke changed the default to a 24-pack for $37.20 (which upped the price per bottle by 38 cents).

Bottom line: Not being on Amazon "is not an option anymore," said one expert to the Journal. Bezos knows brands need Amazon like fish need water...and he's using that leverage to bolster his bottom line.

CALENDAR

What's on Tap

A big Fed meeting takes us into the holiday break. We wouldn't have it any other way.
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Monday: Merriam-Webster releases its Word of the Year; earnings (Oracle)

Tuesday: Fed meeting begins; earnings (FedEx)

Wednesday: The Fed is expected to hike interest rates; existing home sales; SoftBank's mobile business starts trading; earnings (General Mills, Rite Aid)

Thursday: Jobless claims; earnings (BlackBerry, Accenture, Nike, ConAgra)

Friday: GDP; quadruple witching (when index futures, index options, stock futures, and stock options simultaneously expire); winter officially begins

GIVEAWAY

We're in a Giving Mood...

Welcome to Day 1 of the Brew's weeklong holiday giveaway. Each day, we'll be selecting one lucky reader to receive a package stuffed to the brim with products from our holiday gift guide. No two packages are the same, so make sure you check in for the entire week...

Today we celebrate the connoisseur in your life. You know, the person who spends more time at a restaurant quizzing the chef about his wild mushroom foraging technique than actually talking to his friends. Maybe it's your gallery-owner pal Sebastian, maybe it's Lisa the PhD student, or maybe it's...you.

So take a look at what you'll win:

  • Snowe: Whiskey Set
  • Rally Rd.: $100 gift card
  • M.Gemi: $300 gift card
  • Zachary Prell: Oxford 3-in-1 Jacket

How the giveaway works: Today only, each time you refer a friend to the Brew, you'll get one ticket entered into the raffle to win all of the above. 1 referral=1 ticket. Share to win.

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Boeing delivered its first jet from its new factory in China. It's a 737 MAX built for Air China.
  • Renault is urging Nissan to hold a shareholder meeting ASAP to discuss the auto alliance. Remember, the Japanese automaker and its former chairman were indicted on allegations of financial misconduct.
  • Qatar Petroleum's CEO told Reuters the company is looking to invest $20 billion in the U.S. in the next few years.
  • Diplomats from more than 190 countries reached a deal on how to implement the Paris climate agreement.

BREAKROOM

Business Trivia
Can you match the food/beverage brand with its owner?

Brands: Doritos, Poland Spring water, Goldfish, Gushers

Parents: Campbell's, General Mills, PepsiCo, Nestle

(Answer located at bottom of newsletter)

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Breakroom Answers


Business Trivia
Doritos (PepsiCo), Poland Spring (Nestle), Goldfish (Campbell's), Gushers (General Mills)

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Comments (1)

Dec 17, 2018 - 8:25am

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