Does Your Spouse Get Involved in the Business? Have You Re-Thought Your Holiday Party Plans? How Much Money Can Uber Lose?

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Good Thursday Morning,

Daylight –  Keeping business and personal affairs separate is ideal, but when you have the same place of work, like the President and First Lady, it can be difficult.

Melania Trump went outside the norms of the First Lady’s office by calling out deputy national security advisor Mira Ricardel, saying she “no longer deserves the honor of serving in this White House” which means Ricardel’s clearing her desk.

It’s not uncommon for a First Lady to make her opinions known about her husband’s staffing picks, but privately. Michelle Obama was not a fan of Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff. Question: how much do you listen to your family or significant other when running your business?

Crisis Management – Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg have conducted a master class in how not to respond to a crisis: “But as evidence accumulated that Facebook’s power could also be exploited to disrupt elections, broadcast viral propaganda and inspired deadly campaigns of hate around the globe, Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg stumbled. Bent on growth, the pair ignored warning signs and then sought to conceal them from public view.

At critical moments over the last three years, they were distracted by personal projects, and passed off security and policy decisions to subordinates, according to current and former executives. … Facebook employed a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit activist protesters, in part by linking them to the liberal financier George Soros.”

M&A – M&A Guru Zack Eller’s Take – Johnson Controls will sell its automotive battery business for $13.2 billion, much under the $17 billion that the unit expected to fetch. All the signs point to this unit being in trouble. Although the public announcement at $17 billion was probably a positioning move, it seems a little strange that the company took only 75 percent of that.

BlackStone is considering buying some of GE’s assets. An asset sale is a win-win for both parties. GE is able to dump a division that is likely struggling, while BlackStone buys the division cheap. BlackStone has a strong cash position. This will help GE in their turnaround.

SVB Financial Group acquired Leerink Holdings, a firm running an investment bank, for $280 million.

ClearCourse Partnership acquired MillerTech, a provider of membership and customer relationship management systems for nonprofits.

Sports Business – Forbes says Atlanta United is Major League Soccer’s most valuable team, worth $330 million: “On Sunday night, Atlanta United played host to New York City FC for the second leg of their Eastern Conference Semifinals showdown. Also in the building that night? A record-breaking 70,526 fans, the biggest crowd ever gathered for an MLS playoff game.

“That sort of attendance is more in line with what popular NFL teams draw, and it was hardly an anomaly for the second-year MLS team: Sunday’s crowd pushed Atlanta past one million tickets sold on the year. That unprecedented success has made Atlanta United one of the greatest team debuts in American pro sports history.”

Style – Jeweler Harry Winston bought the “Pink Legacy” 19-carat diamond for $50 million, a record for a pink diamond. A world-record for a pink diamond where most stones of that saturated color measure at one carat or less.

Technology – In addition to renting scooters in metro areas, Lime is getting into shareable vehicles. It plans on debuting a small fleet of customized Fiat 500s in Seattle. Fitting city for the company to branch out since scooters will not be as popular with the frequent rainfall.

Layoffs – Blue Apron is struggling, so it laid off four percent of its employees and its CMO stepped down. The company’s goals are to get more revenue per customer. Part of that is bringing more traffic to its website for customers to capitalize on deals as well as giving subscribers referral discounts and letting members gift meal plans to their non-member friends.

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Hot – Now that the Amazon HQ2 move is all set to go, cue the whiny backlash from all the cities who missed out. Complaints about the subsidies and taxpayer dollars used to lure Amazon to New York and Northern Virginia are making the rounds. Most cities are saying, We didn’t want you anyway.

This is part of the ebb and flow of the media’s love-hate with Amazon. Bezos becomes richest man ever, proceeds to get grilled for not giving money to charity. It goes on and on, but Bezos and Amazon have the right PR strategy – ignoring it and carrying on to the next venture. They are so big, any major acquisition or new product is fodder for criticism.

Culture – Hasbro unveiled a Millennial edition of Monopoly. Instead of becoming a real estate mogul and have the rest of your family hating you, you buy experiences. Tagline – Forget real estate, you can’t afford it anyway. Fun fact, the game was invented to show the so-called evils of capitalism.

By the way, General Mills’s Trix cereal is bringing back its original fruit-shaped design. Definite appeal to Millennials who grew up with the cavity-inducing product. The flavors stay the same with raspberry red, orangey orange and grapity purple. Not the first time Trix strayed from its original look. It did away with the artificial dyes, but customers cried foul.

Crackdown – The Department of Justice and SEC issued subpoenas to Snap over allegations it misled investors. Suspected of inflating user numbers before its IPO, also known as growth hacking. Shares fell yesterday as a result.

Investment Banking – Lovell Minnick Partners invested in SRS Acquiom, a fintech company that provides technology-enabled services related to M&A.

Dubin Clark & Company invested in ABCOMRENTS, a provider of event technology equipment rentals and services. ABCOMRENTS might be trying to get into the music festival game given that Chicago in the summer is prime concert tour stop.

Hedge Funds – Industrial Growth Partners acquired Electric Power Systems International, a provider of outsourced electrical engineering.

IPO – Vapotherm, a maker of noninvasive breathing aids to treat respiratory distress, raised $56 million in an IPO of 4 million shares priced at $14.

Uber, which is preparing for an initial public offering, lost a $1 billion in the third quarter: “When Toyota invested in Uber in August, the ride-hailing company was valued at about $76 billion. According to proposals from Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, the company could be worth up to $120 billion, which would make Uber’s IPO the largest since Alibaba debuted on the New York Stock Exchange in 2014. Uber is in something of a race with its American rival, Lyft, to go public.” Recipe for disaster?

Venture Capital – iFood, an online food delivery platform in Latin America, has raised $500 million. This is Grubhub’s top competitor as they take in 390,000 orders per day and Grubhub, 416,000.

NextCure, a biopharmaceutical company, raised $93 million.

Sojern, a travel tech firm, raised $120 million. The company works with hotels, airlines and travel agencies in building campaigns to hook people in as they plan trips.

Mojo Vision, a firm in the augmented reality space, raised over $50 million.

ClearSky Data, a provider of on-demand primary storage with built-in offsite backup and disaster recovery, raised $20 million.

Holiday Parties – The alcohol will be flowing less freely at company holiday parties this year: “When small business clients ask employment law attorney Mark Kluger what they should do, he tells them, no alcohol, period. But Kluger says that has been the most ignored advice given by the lawyers at his New Jersey-based firm, Kluger Healey, even though when alcohol is served, ‘things can get out of hand and often do.’

“This year, clients’ concerns about alcohol are ramped up because of the potential for sexual misconduct. Kluger suggests they follow his firm’s example – it’s not serving alcohol and is having its party at a hatchet-throwing venue.”

Have you re-thought your holiday party plans? The Oxford Center’s holiday party will be held December 5 at Ray’s on the River. Contact events@oxfordcenter.com for more info.

Spotlight – Dave Duley (left) with Grant Schuette (right) in NYC below. Grant is a Wall Street stud working for Piper Jaffray, but still makes time to help out our Oxford Members. Dave’s latest project is I Can Media, with the goal of bridging the cultural and political divide.


And that’s what’s ahead.

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

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