1. Amazon Launches Grocery Chain
Amazon’s appetite just got a lot bigger. They’re poised to take a bite out of the grocery industry this year. The company plans to open a chain of grocery stores in major U.S. cities. Amazon moved into the grocery sector in 2017 when they acquired Whole Foods for $13.7B and began offering in-store discounts and deliveries to Prime users. Since then, the company has opened a number of offline stores such as cashierless Amazon Go Stores, Amazon Bookstores, and Amazon 4-star stores. Amazon plans to launch the first of its grocery stores in Los Angeles this year which will offer cheaper pricing than Whole Foods. How does this affect competitors? Stock in Walmart, Kroger, Target, BJ’s, Costco, and Sprouts fell after the news was released. Companies like Walgreens could also be affected as the Amazon stores will include health and beauty products in addition to groceries. These retailers have already been expanding pickup and delivery options, but competing with Amazon won’t be easy.
2. Lyft Speeds Ahead of Uber
Friday, Lyft filed to go public on the Nasdaq to raise up to $100M under the stock ticker “LYFT.” While Lyft has passed Uber in the IPO lane, both ride-sharing companies are struggling to make a profit. In the last 3 years, Lyft has lost almost $2.3B, with a net loss of $911M in 2018. Uber lost $1.8B last year. Even with the losses, Lyft has increased market share in recent years compared to Uber, giving it the opportunity to go public. The company’s market share rose from 22% in 2016 to 39% in 2018 while Uber navigated reports of drivers mistreating passengers and sexual harassment within the company. Lyft took advantage of this and won the public’s favor. “We’re like cutthroat missionaries,” said co-founder of Lyft, Logan Green. “I think people see the missionary aspect, or see that we care about taking care of people, and assume it means we’ll be soft when it comes to competing.” While Lyft cares, they’re still charging ahead of Uber in going public. How will going public affect Lyft? Lyft could face liabilities against riders and drivers, as well as increased regulation of technologies such as scooters and self-driving cars. Hopefully, going public will be a Lyft off and not a crash in the fast lane.
3. “Leaving Neverland” Documentary
Yesterday, HBO released a two-part documentary called “Leaving Neverland,” which gives the testimony of two men who claim they were sexually abused by Michael Jackson when they were children. While the accusations date all the way back to 1993, they are receiving more attention in light of the #MeToo movement. The film premiered at the Sundance Festival in February, and the Jackson estate has been fighting back. They are suing HBO on the grounds of violating a 1992 contract. In the documentary, the stories of the two men, Wade Robson and James Safechuck, are almost parallel. They met Jackson as young boys and maintained relations with him for years. They say Jackson sexually abused them while keeping their families entertained at his amusement park and residence, Neverland Ranch. What was the director’s intent? “I didn’t characterize Jackson at all in the film,” said director Dan Reed to Hollywood Reporter. “It’s not a film about Michael… The film itself is an account of sexual abuse, how sexual abuse happens and then how the consequences play out later in life.” If the stories in the documentary really are true, Jackson estate and his family are receiving the consequences now.