Couple of honorable mentions for stories that almost made it into this news roundup: Sesame Workshop joins fund for backing edtech startups and United Airlines bets on electric vertical aircraft. In other news, Happy almost-Valentine’s Day!
The Business Buzz
Let the voting commence. Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Birmingham, Alabama are set to begin voting on a historical issue — whether to form a union. Voting began this week despite an appeal by Amazon to require all votes be cast in person. The appeal also asked for voting to be delayed until a final decision was reached. The National Labor Relations Board denied both requests.
But the appeal isn’t Amazon’s only action against the would-be union. The company has also created an anti-union website (DoItWithoutDues.com), sent text messages, bought Facebook ads, and hosted anti-union meetings at the warehouse. Workers at the Birmingham warehouse cite safety concerns and major communication breakdowns between managers and employees as drivers for their push to unionize. In particular, managers often use an app to carry out disciplinary actions, rather than communicating directly with an employee. Workers say this system makes it unduly difficult for them to appeal write-ups or terminations. The union vote will run until March 29 with the count scheduled to begin on March 30.
The TikTok saga continues. Way back in September 2020 I wrote about how Oracle won the bidding war to “buy” TikTok. And that seemed like it was going to be the end of it — notwithstanding multiple lawsuits on the part of TikTok’s current owner ByteDance. Flash forward to this week and the announcement that the Oracle-Walmart acquisition of the social media app is now delayed indefinitely. The new Biden administration is reviewing the question of security threats from Chinese tech companies (rather than adopting what was put in place by former President Trump). And until those threats have been thoroughly assessed, the social media app is off the hook. ByteDance and TikTok were both supportive of the delay. According to the Wall Street Journal, solutions beyond selling TikTok’s American operations while still protecting American’s data are also being considered. A potential solution could involve TikTok’s American data being managed by a third party, which would negate the need for a sale.
A buzzy IPO. Dating app Bumble went public this week, which may not seem remarkable at first glance. From a purely numbers standpoint, the company was off to a good start. It initially priced shares at $43 — the price jumped to $76 at its stock market debut on Thursday. But what’s more interesting about this IPO is Bumble’s founder and CEO, Whitney Wolfe Herd. She’s now the youngest female founder to take a U.S. company public — and one of few female founders in general to make it to the stock market. Before founding Bumble, Wolfe Herd worked at Tinder in marketing. But she left the company after filing a sexual harassment and discrimination suit. Since then, she’s made female leadership at Bumble a top priority. The board at Bumble is majority female, and the company launched a fund that focuses on investing in early stage companies that are led by women of color and other underrepresented groups.
The Private Market
Cash, credit, or bitcoin? Electric car manufacturer Tesla announced a major investment in bitcoin this week. The company bought $1.5 billion worth of the cryptocurrency. News of the purchase sent bitcoin’s price into a surge — it’s up nearly $10k from where it stood at the beginning of the week. Truthfully, this investment wasn’t terribly surprising. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been very vocal about his support for bitcoin for a while now. But the large BTC purchase wasn’t the only crypto-related news from Tesla. The car company also said that it may begin accepting bitcoin as payment for vehicles. Now that would be a pretty big deal. And with Tesla making that announcement, other companies are going to be facing the question too. In an interview this week, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said that while his company has no interest in buying BTC for itself, it would begin considering accepting bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrency as payment.
One other point of major news for bitcoin — the oldest bank in America is getting involved. Bank of New York MellonCorp (BNY Mellon) said that it will begin holding, transferring, and issuing bitcoin for its asset-management clients. Previously, those clients had to seek out different custodians for crypto assets they might have. With this move, BNY Mellon has pushed the legitimization of bitcoin into a new realm. While institutional investors have driven up interest in BTC, many still view it as a highly speculative and volatile investment. That may still be technically true — but a well-respected financial institution like BNY Mellon bringing bitcoin into its services signals a shift in how the market sees the coin’s potential.
What narcissism in startup founders and Goldilocks’ porridge have in common. They both have to be juuust right. A recent study from Trinity Business School sought to measure how much the personality traits known as the dark triad affect a founder’s success when crowdfunding. The dark triad is made up of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. And only one of them was found to have a positive effect on crowdfunding success. Machiavellianism had no effect at all, while — unsurprisingly — founders that exhibited psychopathy had lower rates of success. However, narcissism in the right amounts could positively sway investors. Too little or too much narcissism led to low levels of investment. But medium levels of narcissism — where founders were persuasive and showed their commitment to their companies without being egotistical or pushy — correlated with higher amounts secured from investors.
The Fun Stuff
Highlighting black visual artists. Continuing the theme of Black History Month and appreciation for black creativity, this week I bring you visual arts. This list of 10 Black Artists You Should Know is a good starting point. Many of those artists are more contemporary — think 1960s onward — but I’m not going to leave it at that. If you’re looking to learn about early black artists, then consider reading about sculptor Edmonia Lewis, painter Henry Ossawa Tanner, or sculptor and art teacher Augusta Savage. And if you want to support black artists today, then check out this list of current creatives whose pieces are available online via sites like Etsy and Society6.
Wall Street has Morningstar, S&P, and Bloomberg
The equity crowdfunding market has KingsCrowd.
About: Aryelle Young
Aryelle Young is a published writer and editor with experience across industries. She has worked with an independent publishing company and as a proposal writer for a government contractor. Her original work has also been published in various journals and one short story collection. At KingsCrowd, she strives to provide insightful and actionable content for all readers. Aryelle graduated with a Creative Writing degree from George Mason University.