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10/30/20: What’s Going On

Oil industry struggles, Comcast's Peacock keeps growing, Juul drops its valuation and more from around the business world.
(Jub Ka Joo)
(Jub Ka Joo)
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Exxon Mobil Corp. said it expects to shed as much as 15% of its global workforce over the next year, including 1,900 jobs in the U.S., as the coronavirus pandemic continues to batter the oil industry. The steep job cuts, which follow similar layoff announcements by rivals Royal Dutch Shell PLC, BP PLC and Chevron Corp., are part of a wholesale effort by the beleaguered industry to restructure itself to weather the worst downturn in a generation. In all, big oil producers and services firms are collectively shedding more than 50,000 jobs.”

“Comcast’s latest earnings report includes some official user numbers for Peacock, the new streaming service from Comcast-owned NBCUniversal. Specifically, Comcast says that Peacock has received nearly 22 million sign-ups since it launched in July and that it’s ‘exceeding our expectations on all engagement metrics in only a few months.’ What’s not clear, however, is how many of those sign-ups come from paying subscribers.”

“Juul Labs Inc. has dropped its valuation to about $10 billion, in marked contrast to $38 billion two years ago when tobacco giant Altria Group Inc. took a 35% stake. Juul’s previous internal valuation earlier this year was $13 billion. Once one of the country’s most highly valued startups, Juul has been pummeled over the past two years by regulatory crackdowns, lawsuits and investigations into whether it marketed vaping products to teens. Its sales and market share have tumbled. Last month it said it was cutting more than half its workforce and considering pulling out of most overseas markets.”

Fastly, which provides a “content delivery network” that boosts performance of video and audio services on the internet, said in a letter to shareholders that TikTok parent ByteDance has removed most of its traffic from its service. This illustrates how the threat of a U.S. ban on TikTok is affecting technology providers that help power the popular video-sharing app. It’s an especially big deal for Fastly because ByteDance is its largest customer, accounting for nearly 11% of its revenue in the first nine months of the year.”

Companies Raising Capital
NameAmountDescription
PORTL Hologram$3 MillionStriving to put a hologram machine in every home.
Raycast$2.7 MillionDeveloper-Focused Productivity Tool

Amazon expects to incur $4 billion in COVID-related costs next quarter, an estimate that provides a bellwether for other businesses, large and small, trying to stay operational and control expenses amid the pandemic.”

“Netflix Inc. raised the monthly price of its most popular plan for the first time since early 2019, a move that comes as the streaming service competes with a growing number of cheaper alternatives.”

“GetYourGuide, a prominent travel tours startup, raised $133 million in convertible debt, led by private equity firm Searchlight Capital.”

Tesla has made good on founder and CEO Elon Musk’s promise to boost the price of its “Full Self-Driving” (FSD) software upgrade option, increasing it to $10,000 following the start of the staged rollout of a beta version of the software update last week.”

U.S. transportation officials and airlines are at odds with public-health officials over whether people who test negative for coronavirus before they travel should still have to quarantine when they arrive in the U.S.”

Global fitness giant Under Armour announced this morning that it will be selling MyFitnessPal to investment firm Francisco Partners for $345 million, five and a half years after acquiring it for $475 million, [and] also announced that it will be winding down the Endomondo platform which it also acquired at the same time for $85 million.”

“Jack Ma’s Ant Group Co. attracted at least $3 trillion of orders from individual investors for its dual listing in Hong Kong and Shanghai, enough money to buy JPMorgan Chase & Co. 10 times over.”

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