Facebook’s Priorities, The Case for a Carbon Tax, A Bookstore’s Fear of Regulation

Get the Oxford Morning Report every day. Click here for a free subscription.

Good Thursday Morning,

DAYLIGHT  

There was a hilarious tweet yesterday saying, “I’m so sorry Stan Lee didn’t live long enough to create Tariff Man.” Aren’t we all? Farmers first felt the tariff sting, and President Trump had to bail them out, but now there are fears of a general economic slowdown. Industries across the country ranging from manufacturing to retail seeing costs are rising because of the trade war. Atlanta’s trucking rates have risen which could affect future demand and Dallas’s manufacturing growth has softened, just to name a few.

RETAIL

The owner of the landmark The Strand bookstore in New York City is demanding that the city not declare the store a historic landmark. Why not? Nancy Bass Wyden says landmark status could deal a death blow to her store, with increased restrictions and regulations driving up maintenance and renovation costs, threatening already thin margins.

This would be especially unfortunate, Wyden pointed out, at a time when the city is paying Jeff Bezos to bring one of his new HQ: “The richest man in America, who’s a direct competitor, has just been handed $3 billion in subsidies. I’m not asking for money or a tax rebate. Just leave me alone.”

GROWTH

A trove of Facebook emails was released and they give a pretty good indication of the company’s priorities: “They debated collecting call log data from users in ways that would bypass the privacy permissions people normally check off when signing up for an app. They acknowledged the potential blowback from their decisions.’This is a pretty high-risk thing to do from a PR perspective but it appears that the growth team will charge ahead and do it,’ the email read.”

TAXES

A climate change report published yesterday likened the quickening growth of carbon dioxide emissions to a “speeding freight train,” and warned that the world may face some of global warming’s most severe consequences sooner than expected: There is an obvious solution, says Tom Lineburger, CEO of Cumminsincentivizing lower emissions. “If we want rules that are more effective, decide the end result we want and let technology compete for the best solution. Carbon taxes are much better than all the other choices.”

THE ECONOMY

A sign of things to come? Credit card delinquencies and application rejections are on the rise, according to the Federal Reserve. Seems odd when the economy is strong and unemployment is at an historic low. It might be because credit card companies issued debt carelessly to unreliable borrowers. People with low credit scores showed the highest climb in delinquencies and companies rejecting applications for credit limit increases could mean they are trying to get out ahead of it.  

HUMAN RESOURCES

A recent Glassdoor survey just knocked Facebook off the “Best Place to Work” throne and Zoom Video Communications now tops the list. Not only has public scrutiny made the social network lose favor, the turmoil is internal. Many current and former employees cite Facebook’s move-fast culture can burn out workers. Other online and social media companies such as Amazon and Google fell in the rankings too.

FINANCE

All businesses should try to get a line of crediteven if they don’t need it: “I suggest to my clients that when it comes to obtaining a line of credit, the amount should be for about 10 percent of your topline sales or 85 percent of accounts receivable or 50 percent of inventory, whichever is greater. Also keep in mind that if you already have a line of credit, but your business has grown and your bank won’t increase it, you should find another bank.

MANAGEMENT

Have you considered opening your books to your employees? Many businesses have found it’s a great way to get employees more engagedbut, perhaps surprisingly, some employees resist: “Remember: most of your employees aren’t accountants who comprehend financial statements, business people who thrive on understanding the intricacies of how business operates, or social psychologists who know the value of open communication and transparency.

“Telling an average employee you want them to learn about the company financials, become accountable for the success of the business and work alongside leadership to build a great company is beyond intimidating.

CULTURE  

The Golden Globes were announced this morning with some surprises, some not so much. “Crazy Rich Asians” got a landmark nod for Best Picture given its commercial and critical success. But maybe the biggest sleeper of the best picture noms is from “There’s Something About Mary” director, Peter Farrelly’s “Green Book”.

The film’s based on a true story about a black pianist, played by Mahershala Ali (nominated), going on a tour in the deep South alongside his white, ignorant, meathead bodyguard. The bodyguard is played by “Lord of the Rings” actor Viggo Mortensen who is also nominated for best actor.

M&A

Dynamic Quest acquired Enroute Networks. With Dynamic Quest operating out of the Carolinas, this is an easy win to enter a new market. There’s also a bigger play here. Dynamic Quest is built around large companies while Enroute is built for medium to large companies. The new company has the potential to dominate the southeastern market.

SOCIAL MEDIA

Trillium Brewing Company is in the midst of a scandal that got started on Reddit. The main accusations come from someone claiming to be a former employee who says the company has been underpaying workers and lying to customers. The craft beer company responded on the payment issue by saying it reduced compensation when it opened a new location, but that the original pay rate has since been reinstated. The wildest accusation is that Trillium sold a slushy drink they called a tequila barrel-aged beer when it just poured tequila into a batch. The company had no comment.

*If you were forwarded this newsletter, click here for a free subscription.*

CANNABUSINESS

Adam Bierman wants to take weed to Walmart levels. He is the CEO and co-founder of MedMen, the biggest pot company in the US with 66 dispensaries and 12 growth centers. In an interview, he talks about what it’s going to take to mainstream a product that has mostly been illegal: “Think about the chardonnay moms. What is it gonna take to get them to replace chardonnay at brunch with a couple hits of a vape pen? There are plenty of what we call legacy core users, who don’t need attractive packaging or real straightforward descriptions. But that’s not who we’re catering to. We’re catering to the future.”

VENTURE CAPITAL  

Pindrop, an Atlanta-based voice security and authentication startup, raised $90 million. Surprise, another AI-powered startup. It can detect a phone fraudster with near-perfect accuracy from analyzing over 1,000 voice features like what type of phone someone is using as well as where they’re calling from.

Vagaro, a cloud-based business management platform for the salon, spa and fitness industry, raised $63 million. They recently added a form builder for salons and fitness centers to compose registrations and waivers.

Aceable, a mobile education platform, raised $47 million. The company teaches people how to drive in the age of the internet. They announced they would expand to California, Ohio, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Illinois and Oklahoma. But defensive driving is not their only focus. Aceable recently launched programs for pre-licensed real estate agents.

SPOTLIGHT

Unofficial Event – Oxford to Lead Okefenokee Trip

January 10-12

Meet at Okefenokee Adventure Center: Suwanee Canal

Contact cliff@oxfordcenter.com for more info and to RSVP.

And that’s what’s ahead.

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

BECOME AN OXFORD MEMBER