Mark Cuban buys the entire Texas town of Mustang

December 6, 2021

Mark Cuban , the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team and “Shark Tank” investor, purchased an entire Texas town last month, but says his plans for the property are still up in the air, reports Fox Business.

The Dallas Morning News was first to report that the 77 acres that comprise the town of Mustang—roughly 55 miles south of Dallas, with a population of 21—were “lassoed” by the entrepreneur.

The deal includes an abandoned strip club where a murder occurred, a building for the volunteer fire department, and a trailer park in the town of 20-some people at last count.

“I don’t know what if anything I will do with it,” Cuban told the newspaper, noting that he only bought the town because a good friend needed to offload it.

It’s unclear what Cuban paid for Mustang, but the town went onto the market for $4 million back in 2017, and the price was eventually reduced to $2 million.

Mike Turner, the real estate broker who listed the property, told the Houston Chronicle of Mustang during a 2017 interview, “There was a strip club there called Wispers that has since permanently closed. There was a killing there, the business had quite a tale.”

As an added bonus for Cuban’s purchase, Turner says, “There is a resident alligator in one of the ponds.”

Research contact @FoxBusiness

Club Med will open its first five-star resort in Utah

December 1, 2021

Home to some of the greatest snow on earth, Snowbasin—located about a half hour from Salt Lake City–will welcome a new all-inclusive resort with the opening of Club Med Utah, scheduled for December 2024, reports Forbes.

The ribbon-cutting will celebrate the brand’s first ‘Exclusive Collection’ Five-Star resort in the United States, as well as the brand’s first new resort in the USA in more than 20 years.

“Club Med is known for pioneering new destinations, and we are eager to introduce Snowbasin to travelers as well as bring the very first luxury all-inclusive mountain resort to the U.S.,” Carolyne Doyon, president and CEO of Club Med North America and the Caribbean said in a statement.

While the architecture and decor is said to be inspired by the area’s natural surroundings, the 320-room resort will combine American luxury with Club Med’s trademark all-inclusive experience.

In addition to lift tickets, all day dining and nightly entertainment, the resorts direct ski-in, ski-out access—as well as ski and snowboarding lessons—will be a big part of the draw for guests who stay here.

During the warmer months guests will have the opportunity to explore area’s 3,000 acres of peaks and valleys through guided activities like hiking through national parks, mountain biking, and Club Med’s trademark circus activities.

“Continuing our 70-year legacy, Club Med Utah will give travelers additional opportunities to discover Utah’s natural beauty and welcoming communities through a transformative mountain getaway experience,” Doyon said.

The announcement comes on the heels of the opening of Club Med Quebec which will officially open its doors to the public this month.

Research contact: @Forbes

Jack Dorsey steps down as CEO of Twitter

November 30, 2021

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey is stepping down, effective immediately, reports CNBC. Parag Agrawal, the company’s chief technology officer, will take over the helm, the company said on Monday, November 29.

Dorsey, 45, was serving as both the CEO of Twitter and Square, his digital payments company. Dorsey will remain a member of the board until his term expires at the 2022 meeting of stockholders, the company said.

Salesforce President and COO Bret Taylor will become the chairman of the board–-replacing Patrick Pichette, a former Google executive, who will remain on the board as chair of the Audit Committee.

“I’ve decided to leave Twitter because I believe the company is ready to move on from its founders,” Dorsey said in a statement, although he didn’t provide any additional detail on why he had decided to resign.

Agrawal will have to meet Twitter’s aggressive internal goals. The company said earlier this year it aims to have 315 million monetizable daily active users by the end of 2023 and to at least double its annual revenue in that year.

Agrawal, who has served as CTO since 2017, has been with Twitter for more than a decade. He had been in charge of strategy involving artificial intelligence and machine learning; and he has led projects to make tweets in users’ timelines more relevant to them.

Agrawal also was previously tasked with finding a leader for Project Bluesky, a research project Twitter launched to establish open and decentralized standards for social media platforms.

Dorsey had previously said  that Bluesky will help social media companies collaborate on how posts are promoted to users and will give users more control over the content they see. Bluesky also could make it easier for the social networks to enforce restrictions against hate speech and other abuse—essentially helping them share the load at a lower cost.

Dorsey said in an email he published on Twitter that Agrawal has been his choice to lead the company “for some time given how deeply he understands the company and its needs.”

Dorsey faced an ousting last year when Twitter stakeholder Elliott Management sought to replace him. Elliott Management founder and billionaire investor Paul Singer had wondered whether Dorsey should run both of the public companies. Singer called for Dorsey to step down as CEO of one of them before the investment firm reached a deal with Twitter’s management.

Dorsey, who co-founded the social media giant in 2006, served as CEO until 2008 before being pushed out of the role. He returned to lead Twitter in 2015 after former CEO Dick Costolo stepped down.

Research contact: @CNBC

Peloton sues Lululemon in dispute over new apparel line

November 29, 2021

Peloton Interactive, the exercise bike company, has sued Lululemon Athletica after the athletic apparel maker threatened its own lawsuit over Peloton’s new apparel line, reports Reuters.

The lawsuit was filed in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday night, November 24—just 2-1/2 months after Peloton launched its apparel brand following the end of its five-year co-branding relationship with Lululemon, a break Peloton characterized as amicable.

Peloton said Lululemon’s claims that five of its women’s bra and legging products – Strappy Bra, High Neck Bra, Cadent Peak Bra, Cadent Laser Dot Bra and Cadent Laser Dot Leggings—infringed on six Lululemon design patents “lack any merit.”

The new apparel line could help New York-based Peloton rely less on its bikes and treadmills, after sales growth slowed because more people received COVID-19 vaccines and stayed home less.

In a November 11 letter, Lululemon’s lawyer said the Vancouver, British Columbia-based company would sue Peloton unless it stopped selling its new apparel.

But Peloton said its products and Lululemon’s designs are easy to tell apart, and Lululemon’s designs are too “obvious” to deserve patent protection.

“On top of the numerous clear and obvious differences in design, Peloton and Lululemon’s brands and logos are also distinctive and well-recognized, making confusion between products a virtual impossibility,” Peloton said.

Peloton wants a court declaration that it has not infringed Lululemon patents and trade dress, and that Lululemon’s patent claims are invalid.

“At Lululemon we are known for our product innovation and iconic design,” Lululemon said in a statement on Friday, November 26. “We will defend our proprietary rights, to protect the integrity of our brand, and to safeguard our intellectual property.”

In late morning trading, Peloton shares were up $1.76, or 4%, at $45.68, as investors worried that a new coronavirus variant would spread and keep more people at home longer.

The case is Peloton Interactive Inc v Lululemon Athletica Canada Inc, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 21-10071.

 Research contact: Reuters

Samsung to create 2,000 jobs in Texas with $17 billion chip factory

November 25, 2021

Samsung is planning to build a $17 billion semiconductor manufacturing facility in Texas as part of efforts to tackle a global shortage of chips, reports CNN.

Announcing its largest-ever investment in the United States, the South Korean electronics giant said on Tuesday, November 23, that the factory would create 2,000 high-tech jobs directly, and thousands more in the local economy once it is in full operation. The facility is expected to begin operations in the second half of 2024.

“With greater manufacturing capacity, we will be able to better serve the needs of our customers and contribute to the stability of the global semiconductor supply chain,” Kinam Kim, CEO of Samsung Electronics, said in a statement.

The company said that it chose the City of Taylor in Texas for its new plant based on multiple factors, including its proximity to Samsung’s current manufacturing site in Austin, the local semiconductor ecosystem, and government support.

The Taylor site will span more than 5 million square meters (or 1.2 million acres) and is expected to serve as a key location for Samsung’s global semiconductor manufacturing capacity, along with its latest new production line in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.

Samsung’s announcement comes at a time when the Biden Administration has been pushing semiconductor production and research in the United States.

Although the current worldwide shortage of computer chips is primarily driven by the impact of the pandemic, extreme weather events that have hampered production and other factors, the United States has been lagging behind other producers for years.

Indeed, America’s share of worldwide semiconductor manufacturing dropped to just 12% last year, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA). That’s down from 37% in 1990. The trade group blamed “substantial” subsidies offered by foreign governments that place the United States at a “competitive disadvantage.”

Asian countries, including Taiwan and South Korea dominate the industry. Samsung and other South Korean manufacturers are spending huge amounts of money to shore up their production in the decade ahead.

In May, Samsung said that it would invest 38 trillion Korean won (US$34 billion) on production of logic chips, the brains that power computers. That brings its total spend on the business to 171 trillion won (US$151 billion) over the next decade, including commitments announced in 2019.

Research contact: @CNN

New homes in England must have electric vehicle charging points, government says

Novemebr 24, 2021

New homes in England will be required to have charging points for electric vehicles, according to plans announced by authorities in the United Kingdom, reports CNBC.

“We’re regulating so as to require new homes and buildings to have EV charging points, with another 145,000 charging points to be installed thanks to these regulations,” Prime Minister Boris Johnson said during a speech at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual conference.

During his speech, Johnson touched upon his own experiences of driving electric vehicles. “I tried the first Tesla for sale in this country for GQ,” he said. “It expired in the fast lane of the M40, I’m sad to say, though I think they’ve got a lot better.”

In an announcement released on Sunday, November 21, prior to Johnson’s remarks, the U.K. government fleshed out details of the plan: Alongside new homes and buildings such as workplaces and supermarkets being required to install EV charge points from 2022, the regulations will also apply to buildings where major renovations are taking place.

The plan to expand charging points comes as the U.K. attempts to develop the necessary infrastructure, in order to reach its target of stopping the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans from 2030. It will also require, from 2035, all new cars and vans to have zero tailpipe emissions.

Adequate charging options will be crucial when it comes to challenging perceptions surrounding range anxiety—a term that refers to the idea that electric vehicles aren’t able to undertake long journeys without losing power and getting stranded.

Earlier this month, signatories to a declaration at the COP26 climate change summit said they would “work towards all sales of new cars and vans being zero emission globally by 2040, and by no later than 2035 in leading markets.”

While the United States,  China, and such automakers as  Volkswagen  and  Toyota were absent from the declaration, signatories did include the United Kingdom, India, and Canada; and major automotive firms such as FordGeneral Motors and Volvo.

Research contact: @CNBC

Biden nominates Jerome Powell to remain U.S. Federal Reserve chair

November 23, 2021

Jerome Powell has been nominated by President Joe Biden to serve a second term as chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve, reports the BBC.

Powell is set to stay in the role, which includes managing inflation and regulating the financial system, for another four years. He initially was appointed by former President Donald Trump and started his first term in 2018.

The 68-year-old Republican has been praised for his management of the economy during the pandemic. The other front-running candidate, Lael Brainard—a current member of the Fed’s Board of Governors—was favored by progressives on the left of the Democratic Party; who, the BBC says, have criticized Powell for not doing enough to tackle climate change and poverty and say he has weakened regulation of financial institutions.

Brainard—who , prior to her appointment to the board in 2014, served as an under secretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury from 2010 through 2013—has been nominated as vice chair.

Announcing the nominations, Biden said: “While there’s still more to be done, we’ve made remarkable progress over the last ten months in getting Americans back to work and getting our economy moving again.

“That success is a testament to the economic agenda I’ve pursued and to the decisive action that the Federal Reserve has taken under Chair Powell and Dr Brainard to help steer us through the worst downturn in modern American history and put us on the path to recovery.”

The nominations need to be confirmed in the Senate, before Powell and Brainard take up their posts in February 2022.

Research contact: @BBC

FDA clears COVID boosters from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna for all U.S. adults

November 22, 2021

On Friday, November 19, U.S. health regulators cleared booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccines from PfizerBioNTech and from Moderna  for all U.S. adults—widening the booster campaign as officials worry about a recent uptick in cases, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s decision essentially makes an additional dose a standard part of COVID vaccinations now, although some people in the United States had found ways to get boosters even if they weren’t eligible and some states widened eligibility.

Under the federal authorizations, people 18 and older could begin receiving the additional doses within days, should the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention give a positive recommendation shortly.

Supplies should be readily available, according to federal and state health officials. America has purchased a total of 600 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses and 500 million Moderna doses.

All adults who received a single dose Johnson & Johnson  vaccine  already have been declared eligible to get any booster.

“Streamlining the eligibility criteria and making booster doses available to all individuals 18 years of age and older will help to eliminate confusion about who may receive a booster dose and ensure booster doses are available to all who may need one,” said Peter Marks, director of the FDA center that oversees vaccines.

The latest authorizations apply to adults at least six months past their second shot, whether they got the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine initially.

One more move remains before all adults can access Pfizer-BioNTech booster doses. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue its own recommendation. The agency was expected to do so also on Friday, after its advisers review the matter earlier in the day.

Research contact: @WSJ

New York developer bets on $800 million project ‘to make Queens feel like Shanghai’

November 18, 2021

Michael Lee, the chief executive of real estate developer F&T Group, moved to Flushing in the borough of Queens of New York City from Taiwan in 1982, when it was still a relatively sleepy neighborhood. He immediately got to work, building small developments, including a day-care center, his daughter, who manages the firm’s day-to-day operations, recently told The Wall Street Journal.

Flushing, which is home to one of New York City’s big three Chinatowns, already has established itself as the top U.S. destination for Asian people, said Queens Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Grech, as well as New York’s fourth-largest commercial hub.

The Tangram project will cement that status, Michael Lee told the Journal. “It will be a destination.”

A tangram is a traditional Chinese geometric puzzle and here refers to the various building elements and combinations the developer considered when creating the complex of immersive retail, residential, office, and hotel space.

The development covers a city block and includes Tangram House West, a 132-unit condominium with glass curtain walls and a minimalist design.

When it opens next summer, residents will have use of a 60-foot indoor heated saltwater lap pool; as well as a one-acre interior garden with 50 cherry trees and a 3,500-square-foot pavilion with lounges and meditation areas. Units will sell from $680,000 for a 484-square-foot studio to $3.39 million for a 2,300-square-foot penthouse.

Embryologist Harry Hou recently bought a two-bedroom apartment at Tangram for his elderly mother, who previously lived in an apartment complex two blocks away. Tangram will enable her to shop and dine out without leaving the campus. “And it really felt like an upgrade,” he said.

A 208-room Renaissance Hotel also is under construction, which the Lees hope will appeal to tourists from Asia and other locations who prefer to use Flushing as a home base when visiting New York City.

Offices that can be purchased rather than leased are popular in the Asian community. The project’s Tangram Tower is an 85,000-square-foot, 48-unit office condominium. It is already largely occupied by doctors, banks, and accounting and law offices.

But the development’s heart will be the mall offering mainstream versions of the options offered on the crowded streets of Flushing, where tiny shops hawk sesame buns and skewered pork intestines from windows along the sidewalk.

In line with that vision the final development will boast a 24,000-square-foot food court with a futuristic cyberpunk feel and 15 vendors selling fare ranging from Korean-style hot dogs to Japanese Ramen.

Research contact: @WSJ

Chipotle premieres ‘A Future Begins,’ a short film featuring music by Kacey Musgraves

November 17, 2021

In a press release posted on November 16, Chipotle Mexican Grill unveiled a new film called “A Future Begins,” which has been created by the independent content agency Observatory as a sequel to Chipotle’s award-winning 2011 film “Back to the Start.”

The earlier film featured Willie Nelson‘s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.” The new “A Future Begins” premieres new music from Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter Kacey Musgraves ,who reimagined Coldplay’s “Fix You,” as the score to the film.

At a time where Americans are coming together for the holidays, Chipotle has unveiled a new stop motion animation, based on the true story of a Chipotle farmer, that champions a family farm’s remarkable revival.

The production begins by depicting a farming family sending their child off to college. While the family battles to keep their farm intact, ultimately putting their land up for sale, the child struggles to discover his calling away at school. After a moment passes where his true duty becomes clear, the child returns to save the family farm by introducing new technology and sustainable growing techniques, which are inspired by current Chipotle suppliers and partners.

The emotionally charged, short film creatively shines a light on the enormous challenges facing the U.S. farming industry today. Over the last five years, U.S. agriculture lost over 40 times more farmers than it gained, challenging the future of small and midsize farms throughout the country. Chipotle, which sources more local produce than any other national restaurant brand, is committed to Cultivating a Better World by sourcing meat that is raised without sub-therapeutic antibiotics and growth hormones and supporting farms that treat their animals humanely and prioritize environmentally friendly farming practices.

“I truly believe in supporting family run businesses. I come from a family of small business owners myself where I’m from down in Texas,” said Musgraves. “I know that the American farm has faced a huge range of challenges over the last decade that threaten its survival, and the future of farming depends on supporting that next generation of young farmers. To be able to reimagine such a classic song while supporting an amazing cause with Chipotle really means a lot to me.”

In addition to creating “A Future Begins,” Chipotle is supporting the National Young Farmers Coalition and its movement to advocate for policy change in the 2023 Farm Bill, which would facilitate equitable access to up to one million acres of land for the next generation of farmers.

To join the campaign and impact the 2023 Farm Bill, guests can visit: www.chipotle.com/farmers. Adding your name will help the National Young Farmers Coalition advocate for Congress to invest $2.5 billion toward securing access for up to one million acres for young farmers.

Through the brand’s real change feature, guests can also support the National Young Farmers Coalition by rounding up their order total to the next highest dollar amount on the Chipotle app or Chipotle.com through the end of November.

This program is in addition to Chipotle’s larger commitment of $5 million over the next five years to support the future of farming. Chipotle is helping farmers under the age of 40 who meet its Food with Integrity standards secure long-term contracts.

In partnership with the National Young Farmers Coalition, the brand is also allocating money to fund an annual Seed Grant program, which will assist young farmers who are starting or building their farms.

Research contact: @ChipotleTweets