Morning Report

What you need to know one minute before daylight

The Economy and Facebook Outperform Expectations

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Good Friday Morning,

DAYLIGHT   

The US economy added 300,000 jobs in January: The government shutdown may have hurt the economy, but there’s no sign it slowed down the United States’ record-setting job market. January’s growth means that American employers have added jobs for 100 consecutive months, extending a record run. The unemployment rate is near a multi-decade low, and wages—long a weak point—are rising.”

THE AMERICAN DREAM

The story of Jason Hairston, a former NFL player who founded a successful hunting gear and apparel company but also feared he had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, is a timely reminder that there’s another side to football: “If there is such a thing as the American dream, Hairston, at 47, gave every indication that he was living it. He was a former college football star who played briefly with two NFL teams, and he was the founder of KUIU, a top-end outfitter of hunting gear and apparel…

“He traveled to the most remote and rugged edges of the earth in search of quiet adventures and big game…He had recently described his wife and business partner, Kirstyn, during a 20th-anniversary dinner toast as ‘truly my rock, my soul mate, the most loyal wife you could ever have.’ They had family photos that looked like the kind that come with the frame.

“They lived in a grandly renovated home just a block and a half from where Kirstyn’s family ran the city of Dixon’s favorite gathering spot, Bud’s Pub and Grill, at the corner of First and A Street. It was two miles from the headquarters of KUIU, which has been heralded as a runaway business success. Hairston had it all, or so it seemed. Then the gun went off.”

STARTUPS

Julia Hartz founded Eventbrite with her fiancéand then took his job as CEO: “Some of our close friends, who had built a few businesses together, gave us this great advice: ‘Divide and conquer,’ they said. ‘Never work on the same thing at the same time.’ And that was our golden rule. We just never worked on the same area of the business at the same time. If you’re working on the same spreadsheet, you’re going to be fighting over the mouse.”

In its latest funding round, Scooter startup Lime is raising $400 million at a $2 billion valuation: “Lime and several of its competitors including Bird Rides Inc. have faced regulatory setbacks, uncertain economics, and an unexpected amount of vandalism and product loss. Still, Lime has raised roughly $867 million from previous rounds according to PitchBook and is one of a handful of electric-scooter companies to receive ample funding after deploying thousands of its dockless scooters in cities around the world.”

IMMIGRATION

The Trump administration has changed the way H-1B visas are awarded: “The shift appears to fulfill a pledge President Trump made two years ago to help Silicon Valley companies by prioritizing the most skilled applicants for the visas, known as H-1B, and reducing the number of visas secured through outsourcing firms. The new rules are likely to be challenged in court by those outsourcing companies, arguing that the administration has acted outside of its authority or sidestepped the full rulemaking process, said Leon Fresco, an immigration attorney and partner at Holland & Knight.”

MARKETING

Was 2018 Facebook’s worst year or its best year? Despite a string of scandals, the company announced record revenue and profit: “The results suggested that advertisers had continued to spend money on the site and that users were not deterred by Facebook’s issues, which include the spreading of disinformation and election meddling. The company had said last year that it expected its growth to slow as it spent to improve the privacy and security of its users.”

HUMAN RESOURCES

Ride-hailing app companies Lyft and Juno are suing NYC for a new law requiring companies to provide a minimum wage for app-based taxi drivers. “The new minimum wage rules are set to go into effect on Friday, February 1, and will ensure that drivers in New York City earn a minimum of $17.22 per hour.” This could raise wages for 77,000 drivers by $10,000.

“But just as the minimum wage policy is set to go into effect, Lyft and Juno have introduced a lawsuit against the city to halt it, saying it unfairly benefits their competitors. Adrian Durbin, Lyft’s senior director of communications, says the lawsuit isn’t intended to oppose the idea of higher driver pay. Rather, the objection is to the way the minimum wage rules are structured, which he says disadvantages smaller companies like Lyft and Juno.”

WHERE DO YOU WORK?

Thank you to Vince Thompson from MELT for sharing his stunning graffiti mural in his Atlanta office and if you look carefully it spells “MELT”! The mural was done by Lonnie Garner. It reflects the spirit and energy of a world-class, sports-marketing organization, which Vince started from scratch in 2000.

Show us something cool about where you work? It may get featured on a Morning Report. No promotional shots or taglines, we want to see something unique. Send pictures with proper captions to mattg@oxfordcenter.com.

MANUFACTURING

Foxconn, an Taiwan-based electronics company, just backed out of its plan to build a plant that would produce flatscreen panels in Wisconsin. The plant would have provided close to 13,000 jobs and was even touted by the Trump administration: “A Foxconn representative told Reuters that steep labor costs at the Wisconsin plant would make it impossible to compete with manufacturers outside the US and that three-quarters of the plant’s eventual jobs will be in research and design—rather than ‘blue-collar manufacturing jobs.’”

SUPER BOWL

Mercedes-Benz stadium was supposed to revive Atlanta’s west side. With Super Bowl LIII to be played there in a couple days, has that revival worked? “Since [Arthur] Blank signed the stadium deal in 2013, his Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, a 20-person operation headquartered in Buckhead, has contributed about $40 million toward physical projects such as parks, a jobs center, and new homes for police officers, alongside ‘human capital’ initiatives.

“Donations have been matched by Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, and others; founding partners in the stadium such as NCR Corp and SunTrust have kicked in some $25 million more.

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SPOTLIGHT

Oxford’s own M&A guy Zack Eller was recently on a podcast with member David Phelps. On the show they talk about why so many entrepreneurs are unhappy after they sell their business. Listen to the episode here. One of these days, we should get Zack, Loren and Millennial Matt all in one podcast.

And that’s what’s ahead.

Please send comments and suggestions to mattg@oxfordcenter.com and lfeldman@oxfordcenter.com.

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