Good morning and have a nice Memorial Day weekend. Here are the biggest business and tech stories you should know for the coming (short) week. – Charlotte Cowles
What’s happening? (May 23-29)
A blow to big oil
Exxon Mobil suffered a surprise defeat when climate activist investors won at least two seats on its 12-member board of directors on Wednesday. The investors are part of a small new hedge fund called Engine No. 1, which aims to lead businesses to greener initiatives and away from fossil fuels. The campaign faces an uphill battle in the energy industry, but this latest victory could lead more Wall Street investment firms to face climate change. In addition to the momentum, a Dutch court ruled that Royal Dutch Shell, Europe’s largest oil company, is not working fast enough to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and needs to redouble its efforts.
Epic against Apple
For the past three weeks, Apple has been vigorously (and dearly) defending itself in federal court against an antitrust lawsuit from Epic Games, the maker of the popular video game Fortnite. The case focused on whether Apple abused its market power by receiving a 30 percent commission on sales from its iPhone app store – and penalizing Epic for trying to bypass Apple and Fortnite’s in-app purchases sell directly to customers. The verdict is now in the hands of the judge, who said she hoped to deliver a verdict by August. If Apple loses, it could lead to more antitrust proceedings against Big Tech.
Amazon goes to Hollywood
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the 97-year-old film and television studio that once embodied a golden era in Hollywood, has sold itself to today’s epitome of modern commerce: Amazon. Many of MGM’s classics were sold years ago, but it brings a famous franchise – James Bond – that gives Amazon a new edge over streaming competitors like Netflix, HBO Max, and Apple TV +. That benefit cost Amazon $ 8.45 billion, about 40 percent more than other potential buyers, including Apple and Comcast, were willing to pay.
What’s next? (May 30th – June 5th)
Paging Dr. Google
Google is working with hospital chain HCA Healthcare to develop algorithms for patient care by dismantling health records. The algorithms are designed to improve patient monitoring, guide doctors’ decisions for better outcomes, streamline operations, and even develop new treatments. But progress comes at a cost, of course: patient privacy. HCA said its patient records would no longer contain identifying information before Google data scientists were given access to it. However, the terms of the contract were not made public.
President Biden proposed a $ 6 trillion budget for fiscal 2022, which provides a map of long-term investments in his administration’s economic priorities – such as infrastructure, education, and green energy – for the next decade. The proposal, which is more of a wish-list at this point, would bring the United States to the highest sustainable federal spending level since World War II. Mr Biden has announced that he will pay for his agenda through tax hikes for businesses and high earners, but the plan also sees large budget deficits for at least a decade. The budget provides for unemployment below 4 percent and stable inflation.
Again on the street
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen will meet with the Group of Seven Treasury Ministers in London later this week to discuss the nations’ next steps towards global economic recovery. Up to date: helping international access and spreading vaccines, improving public health to prevent future pandemics, and building more climate-friendly economies. Ms. Yellen has a similar agenda at home, and it’s a handful. Prior to leaving, she asked for more funds from the Treasury Department to oversee several key US economic recovery efforts.