Morning Report

What you need to know one minute before daylight

Is There a Tech Solution to Atlanta’s Traffic Problems?

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Good Tuesday Morning,

DAYLIGHT  

With all of the complaints about Sunday’s Super Bowl and halftime show, did you notice there was one aspect of the game that got surprisingly few complaints? That would be the post-game traffic. “Sunday night, the story was not about traffic,” said Dov Ganor, who is CEO of Mobi, a company that offers traffic analytics to cities who want to better manage their traffic flow. “It was about the game. And that’s a success.”

CEO of Mobi, Dov Ganor (Courtesy of Mobi)

Mobi was founded in Israel but has an office in Atlantathanks in part to the company’s first US investor, Oxford member Wayne Lazarus (and also to the city’s well-known traffic issues). The company has been working with Atlanta since August 2016 in an effort to reduce overall congestion and specifically to ease concerns about the Super Bowl. While another Israeli company, Waze, provides GPS service that can help individual drivers, Mobi tracks advanced analytics to help cities make adjustments to improve traffic flow for everyone.

Ganor knows the work is far from complete in Atlanta, but he’s also looking to other cities with traffic issuesincluding Miami, the site of next year’s Super Bowl. “We’ll be happy to help the guys in Miami,” he said.

TAXES

Perhaps surprisingly, the suggestion of implementing a wealth tax has sparked considerable talk in Silicon Valley: “The idea of a wealth tax holds interest for people in Silicon Valley. The biggest practical challenge is valuing people’s assets accurately—particularly private company equity. One solution is the creation of a registry of assets that would force people to publicly state a binding price at which they would sell their assets to others.”

REGULATION

After the founder of Canada’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, QuadrigaCX, died unexpectedly, clients have been unable to retrieve $190 million in holdings—because the owner was the only one who knew the password to access them.

The debacle highlights the problems with cryptocurrency’s lack of regulation. It’s not issued by a government or controlled through a centralized financial institution, leaving exchanges such as QuadrigaCX with near total control over investors’ assets and making them vulnerable to hackers or other mishaps.

HUMAN RESOURCES

Some companies are going beyond year-end bonuses and are instead making their workers’ dreams come true: Acceleration Partners CEO Robert Glazer “has spent the past two years asking his 130 remote workers about their life goals, or the most important relationships that they want to grow or rekindle in their lives. He then reads through their submissions with his advisory board and chooses ten wishes to grant each year. Last year, he called in a favor at MIT to give one woman the opportunity to speak about performance marketing there, as she’s always wanted to lecture at a university. His company also paid for lessons in race car driving, flying, skydiving and guitar-playing for workers, and even sent employee John Crooks and his wife to Copenhagen for a week.

“‘It was incredible,’ Crooks, 38, told Moneyish. He had only been at the company for three months when his dream of exploring the Danish city’s architecture ahead of his second child’s birth was realized. ‘I know that Bob genuinely cares about our goals in life, in addition to our goals in the company. It makes me feel great—and it would take a lot to make me leave AP.’” Which is, of course, the point.

Around 17 million people called out of work yesterday because they weren’t “feeling well.” The amount of productivity lost could amount to $4 billion. “Most managers get it: 62 percent of execs ‘think it’s funny’ when their employees call out sick the day after the big game, according to a recent survey. But the hangovers also seem to be getting worse: Research shows that the number of workers who surrender to sleeping in on the day after the Bowl has been rising since 2005.” This number should be higher because that game was so bad, how could a football fan not drink?  

M&A

Spotify is in talks to acquire Gimlet Media, a podcast producer, for $200 Millionfurther proof that podcasts are the thing: “While the music business is controlled by three big companies who have real leverage when it comes to licensing their stuff, podcasting is in its early days, and no one has a chokehold on podcast content. And though Apple remains the dominant podcast distributor, Tim Cook’s company doesn’t appear to spend much time or energy on podcasts. Podcasting is a small industry, with an ad model that generated an estimated $315 million in 2017. Digital video ads, by comparison, generated $11.9 billion in the same year. But it is growing quickly, which makes it attractive to some platforms and publishers (including Vox Media) who are interested in tapping new revenue streams.”

Blue Origin, the rocket company founded by Jeff Bezos, has announced that it has signed a deal with Canadian company Telesat to launch part of a satellite constellation aimed at providing worldwide internet: “Telesat’s network will ‘accelerate 5G expansion, bridge the digital divide with fiber-like high-speed services into rural and remote communities, and set new levels of performance for commercial and government connectivity,’ the company said in a statement.”

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION

Amazon’s HQ2 deal with NYC could be vetoed: “The ability of a local legislator to block the deal to bring a major new Amazon campus to Long Island City was exactly what Mr. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had tried to avoid when they decided to use a state development process and to bypass more onerous city rules. Opposition, while vocal, seemed futile. But now, with the insistence of Senate Democrats on appointing Mr. Gianaris to the little-known Public Authorities Control Board, those who want to stop Amazon from coming to Queens have gotten their most tangible boost yet.”

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HEALTH

We always want a doctor to provide the most personal care, but what about getting a prescription specifically developed for you? Underdosing, and sometimes overdosing, on prescription medicine can be a danger for children with health problems. One solution may be 3D printing. “Within the next two years,” says Matthew Peak, chief of research at Alder Hey in Britain, “the team aims to administer 3D-printed tablets containing active medication to children who need it. Those pills will contain a precise dose of an active drug to fight illness, in a size and shape (and maybe even a color or flavor) selected by the young patient.”

SAVING THE BUSINESS

Bill Franke is considered the Mr. Fix-It for the airline sector. His most recent fixer-upper is the once-growing Wow airline that catered to low-budget travelers and has seen its value plummet. Franke has been a longtime proponent of cheap airfare.

“Indigo [Franke’s PE firm] had owned ultra-low-cost carrier Spirit Airlines—helped the carrier grow profits by slashing costs and charging passengers more fees for things that used to come with the price of a ticket, like overhead baggage and seat selection.

“That model is in Wow’s DNA and it has been successful at getting more travelers on board. In 2013, it said it carried 400,000 travelers, which grew to 2.8 million in 2017. Last year, Wow flew 3.5 million passengers.”

SPOTLIGHT

Yesterday, we asked readers what their favorite Super Bowl ad was. Brian Moran writes, “Easily the NFL 100 ad at halftime. Loved seeing all the former players and it was very funny. They didn’t try and overdo it–try to be too funny or too serious. 95 percent of the other ads simply sucked! They weren’t funny or memorable, nor did they make me want to buy their product or service.” We’re still accepting responses. Tell us your favorite ad and why. Send to mattg@oxfordcenter.com.

And that’s what’s ahead.

Please send comments, suggestions or a photo of where you work to mattg@oxfordcenter.com and lfeldman@oxfordcenter.com. They may be featured in tomorrow’s MR.

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