Sorry, bank account

MARKETS

  • U.S. markets: The Dow snapped a four-day winning streak as a few China trade reports gave investors more to think about than they would have liked.
  • On the agenda: Fed Chair Jerome Powell has a presser today following an announcement on interest rates.

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GAMING

Big Tech Is Coming to Your Friend's Basement

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How it works
No one likes a backseat gamer, but it's helpful to have Google VP Phil Harrison teach us one way to fire up a game on Stadia:

How it works

No one likes a backseat gamer, but it's helpful to have Google VP Phil Harrison teach us one way to fire up a game on Stadia:

  1. You watch a game trailer on YouTube.
  2. When the video is over, you get the option to "Play on Stadia." If you select that option, the game will launch in that same YouTube window and you can start playing in as fast as five seconds.
  3. Then, you can share a video of your game with your friends and loop them in to play with you.

And here's a big selling point: The only new hardware for Stadia is a Wi-Fi-enabled controller. The platform will work on smartphones, PCs, and TVs using Google's Chrome browser (but not on Apple's iOS).

Let's take a stretch break

Google's entering the gaming industry with a bit of catching up to do compared to its Big Tech peers. It sold $21.5 billion worth of games on its own app store last year, while Apple's App Store did $33 billion in game sales, according to Sensor Tower.

And there's no shortage of competition in games streaming, from Sony to Nvidia to Microsoft.

Btw, if you were wondering why tech giants are interested in video games…

  • Their vast network of servers puts them in a great position to leverage cloud technology.
  • The gaming market's been valued at $180 billion.

Bottom line: Stadia is an innovative platform...but it's going to need more than Block Dude to compete. May the best content win.

CRISIS MANAGEMENT

Business Setbacks, Served Three Ways

1. There's something big, dark, and disheveled near Houston...and it's not James Harden's beard. It's a huge blaze at a petrochemical storage facility owned by Intercontinental Terminals. The smoke poses no immediate health threat, say authorities, but critics are accusing regulators of lax oversight.

2. After the worst flooding in the state in 50 years, Nebraska's agricultural industry could be staring down almost $1 billion in damages and losses. Last week's "Bomb Cyclone" came at a bad time-during calving season for the 1.9 million beef cows that call Nebraska home.

  • A lot is at stake: Agriculture accounts for 20% of the state's GDP, per the WSJ.

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3. Norsk Hydro, a Norwegian aluminum producer for North American and European markets, was hit with a ransomware attack. "The entire computer network is down," Norsk Hydro's CFO said, and employes are resorting to using...phones. The horror.

  • Cyber attacks have intensified in the commodities sector, writes Bloomberg. Victims include shipping bigshot AP Moller-Maersk and Saudi oil giant Aramco

ADVERTISING

Facebook Promises to Block Discriminatory Ads

Yesterday was a historic one for Facebook (+0.69%). It announced big changes to its rules for advertisers to settle a cluster of lawsuits claiming it allowed ad buyers to illegally discriminate against minorities-mainly people of color.

The backstory: Two years' worth of investigative reports (and a handful of high-profile lawsuits) uncovered how some ad buyers abused FB's platform to block minority groups from seeing ads about certain opportunities for housing, employment, and credit.

Going forward, Facebook will remove age, gender, and ZIP code targeting for housing, employment, and credit-related ads on all platforms, plus...

  1. There will be a new advertising process tailored specifically for marketers purchasing ads in those sectors.
  2. And FB will launch an archive for housing ads (like it did for political ads) to allow users to search all active housing ads on FB, whether or not they're being targeted by them.

Zoom out: As Axios puts it, internet platforms that sell ads aren't regulated the same way TV and radio are. This probably isn't the last time you'll watch a tech company address ad transparency.

INTERNATIONAL

Guess the Skyline

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Hudson Yards is cool and all, but feast your eyes on Singapore. Look-don't touch-because The Lion City was named the most expensive city in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which compared over 400 prices across 160 products and services.

While Singapore topped the list for the sixth year in a row, it has company at No. 1 in 2019.

  1. Paris, Hong Kong, and Singapore (tie)
  2. Zurich, Switzerland
  3. Geneva, Switzerland, and Osaka, Japan (tie)
  4. Seoul, South Korea; Copenhagen, Denmark; and New York City (tie)
  5. Tel Aviv, Israel, and Los Angeles (tie)

A few other notes from the Economist:

  • "Strong economic growth in the United States in 2018 led to a sharp appreciation of the dollar and a rise up the rankings for 14 of the 16 American cities" it analyzed.
  • The top three cheapest cities: Caracas, Venezuela; Damascus, Syria; and Tashkent, Uzbekistan

E-COMMERCE

Instagram Knows Where All Your Money Went

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You thought ordering that colon cleansing tea off Instagram was easy before? You're in for a real treat now.

Instagram is adding a checkout feature that'll let users buy products from brands and retailers on their feed directly inside the app, meaning they won't have to leave Instagram to finish the transaction.

Advantage retailers: When it takes fewer steps to complete a purchase, shoppers are far more likely to smash that "place order" button.

Advantage Instagram: First, it'll keep a small cut of each sale.

  • Plus, it makes sense for IG parent Facebook. For now, only Instagram will store shoppers' payment and shipping info, but remember...Facebook has said that payments and commerce is a revenue stream it'll be leaning into going forward.

The checkout feature is starting with just 20 brands. The WSJ calls it a "cautious step" toward taking on Amazon, but you can call it a quick way to blow your bonus.

WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Former House Speaker Paul Ryan has joined the board of Fox Corp., which began trading yesterday as Disney completes its purchase of most of 21st Century
  • The Transportation Department has asked for a formal audit of the FAA's approval of the Boeing 737 Max 8 after two crashes in five months.
  • MLB star Mike Trout is reportedly closing in on a 12-year, $430 million-plus contract with the L.A. Angels. It'd be the largest contract in pro sports
  • Glossier, the millennial-pink, Instagram-famous makeup brand, is now a unicorn. It just raised $100 million at a $1.2 billion valuation.

BREAKROOM

Brewlusions
This is known as the "checker shadow illusion." And we kid you not, the "A" and the "B" squares are the exact same shade of gray.
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We know you don't believe us, so check for a link to the explanation further down.

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Breakroom Answers


Brewlusions
Learn why our brains are so weird
(here).

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