Technology

France protects book industry from Amazon

As much as I like bookstores, this feels to me like too much protectionism.

Sophie Fornairon’s independent bookshop has survived the rise of Amazon thanks to a French law that prohibits price discounting on new books, but she says the e-commerce giant’s ability to undercut on shipping still skews the market against stores like hers.

Fornairon, who owns the Canal Bookstore in central Paris, now hopes that new legislation that would set a minimum price for book deliveries will even the contest further in the battle of neighbourhood stores against Amazon (AMZN.O).

French law prohibits free book deliveries but Amazon has circumvented this by charging a single centime (cent). Local book stores typically charge about 5-7 euros ($5.82-8.15) for shipping a book.

Amazon had lobbied hard against the legislation, worried the French move might set a precedent, the senator said.

Reuters

Amazon has used its scale to get ahead of independent bookstores in France. This is seen as unfair to the bookstores in France however Amazon also made a good argument that they advanced consumer welfare by having lower prices and convenience.

Technology

Uber starts 15-minute delivery in Paris

The U.S. ride-hailing and food delivery company said it has expanded a partnership with French supermarket chain Carrefour to debut the service, which is called Carrefour Sprint. It will be available on the Uber Eats app from Tuesday. Rather than sending couriers to Carrefour stores, Uber is relying on a network of so-called dark stores — small warehouses where pickers and packers prepare orders for delivery — operated by French start-up Cajoo.

The service, Carrefour Sprint, relies on so-called dark stores — small warehouses — operated by French start-up Cajoo.

CNBC

Dark stores sounds just like Amazon fulfillment centers to me. It’s overall a good move if it addresses the needs of the busy people in Paris. Personally, I don’t see a need for 15-minute delivery.

Stocks, Technology

Facebook Q3 earnings: profit beats estimates

Surprise surprise, Facebook beats profit estimates. I was skeptical in this round considering Apple’s effort on privacy and I was wrong Looks like ads are still doing pretty well.

Facebook reported mixed third quarter earnings on Monday, slightly missing revenue estimates but continuing to grow its user base in the face of multiple controversies that have sparked widespread criticism and calls for tighter regulation.

Here are the most important numbers from the report compared to analysts’ expectations, as compiled by Bloomberg:

Revenue: $29.01 billion versus $29.45 billion expected

Earnings per share: $3.22 versus $3.17 expected

Family daily active users: 2.81 billion versus 2.76 billion expected

Family monthly active users: 3.58 billion versus 3.51 billion expected

Yahoo Finance

And Mark Zuckerberg had to mention the metaverse again.

“We made good progress this quarter and our community continues to grow. I’m excited about our roadmap, especially around creators, commerce, and helping to build the metaverse.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO

Apple is announcing Q4 2021 earnings release on October 28.

Stocks, Technology

PayPal is exploring Pinterest acquisition

San Jose, California-based PayPal has recently approached Pinterest about a potential deal, the people said, asking not to be identified because the talks are private. The companies have discussed a potential price of around $70 a share, the people said.

Bloomberg

Pinterest suffered user decline in the last year and I don’t think their management knows how to fix the problem. I highly doubt PayPal would much to help on Pinterest user decline. To me, Pinterest users are a niche market of designers and collectors. I thought it would be easy for Pinterest to create a vibrant marketplace with the user personas they have. I guess it’s just too niched.

Pinterest stocks jumped about 14% today.

Stocks

Facebook fined $69.6 million in the UK for Giphy takeover

After Facebook acquired the popular GIF repository Giphy (reportedly for $400 million), the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an investigation to determine if the merger would lessen competition. As part of that probe, it said Facebook couldn’t continue with activities related to the merger (integrating products, merging teams and so on) without prior approval from the CMA. 

Now, the CMA has announced that it has fined Facebook £50.5 million ($70 million) for breaching those enforcement orders. “This is the first time a company has been found by the CMA to have breached an [order] by consciously refusing to report all the required information,” the CMA said in a press release. 

Engadget

The troubles with Facebook just never ends although $70m is probably not significant to Facebook.

Stocks, Technology

WHO hired company to copy Moderna

The World Health Organization has hired the company, called Afrigen Biologics and Vaccines, as part of a $100 million plan to figure out how to make an mRNA vaccine against COVID that is as close as possible to the version produced by Moderna.

As to why WHO has chosen to try to copy Moderna rather than the other mRNA COVID vaccine, which is made by Pfizer BioNTech, Friede says the choice was practical.

“Moderna has reiterated on several occasions that they will not enforce their intellectual property during the pandemic,” says Friede. In other words, a manufacturer probably won’t face a lawsuit for producing a vaccine that’s virtually identical to Moderna’s.

But Afrigen’s Petro Treblanche says there are still a lot of unknowns. Take Moderna’s patent.

“It’s written very carefully and cleverly to not disclose absolutely everything,” says Treblanche.

So while Afrigen has been able to determine most of the equipment and specialized ingredients that are needed, “what we don’t know is the exact concentrations,” says Treblanche. “And we don’t know some of the mixing times — some of the conditions of mixing and formulating.”

NPR

The fact that we are in a pandemic situation and we have Moderna not sharing the COVID-19 vaccine recipe makes me uncomfortable. On one hand, I think innovation should be protected and rewarded. In this case, trade is protected for 20 years for the technology that Moderna invented. The question is whether this is ethical to have a company guard their profits at the cost of potential human live losses. Moderna also promises not to enforce their intellectual property during a pandemic which seems kinda reasonable. Moderna also released the genetic sequence but not give the exact procedure to manufacture it.

Stocks

Netflix adds 4.4 million membership

Netflix Inc. added 4.4 million memberships in the third quarter and beats earning estimates.

Netflix Inc. said it added more subscribers than it predicted in the latest quarter as profit and revenue rose thanks to the return of popular series and new hits.

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based streaming company said third-quarter profit increased to $1.45 billion from $790 million a year earlier. Per-share earnings were $3.19 a share, compared with $1.74 a share last year, topping GAAP earnings estimates of $2.56 a share, according to FactSet.

Revenue rose to $7.48 billion from $6.44 billion a year earlier and was in line with analysts’ expectations.

The streaming service said it added roughly 4.4 million memberships in the third quarter. It had previously forecast it would add 3.5 million memberships.

Wall Street Journal

Looks like Squid Game helped.

Technology

DoorDash v San Francisco

Last Friday, the city rejected allegations that its cap of fifteen percent on the commissions that third-party food delivery service platforms charge independent restaurants contravenes state and federal law. The 33-page motion to dismiss claims that DoorDash Inc. and Grubhub Inc.’s assertions are merely a collection of related, “legally flawed ideas.” 

The platforms filed suit in July, arguing that the ordinance, once temporary, but eventually made permanent, violates both the California and the United States Constitution by placing impermissible restraints on private commerce.

Law Street Media

To get more context on what really happened:

San Francisco asks courts to dismiss the case

The Ordinance describes the commission cap as an “important step[] to ensure that restaurants can thrive in San Francisco and continue to nurture vibrant, distinctive commercial districts.”. It applies to third-party platforms that serve twenty or more restaurants, and covers any restaurant that does not meet the definition of a “formula retail use” under section 303.1 of the
Planning Code (in brief, eleven or more establishments in operation, with two or more of standardized merchandise, façade, décor/color scheme, uniform apparel, signage, and trademark or service mark).

The law originally had a sunset date of sixty days after the amendment or termination of the pandemic “Stay Safer At Home” order or any subsequent order allowing restaurants to resume at 100% capacity. However, in June 2021, the Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to repeal the sunset date, so that the cap would continue in effect. The Mayor declined to sign the repeal measure, but it became effective without her signature.

Plaintiffs also contend that the Ordinance is unreasonable because the City has a budget surplus and could aid restaurants in other ways. But the City is not required to forgo its regulatory authority in favor of using public funds to soften the blow of high commissions that platforms can impose through their market power, and the alleged availability of unidentified policy alternatives is simply irrelevant under the deferential standard of review applicable here.

San Francisco asks the courts to dismiss the case

An interesting question here is if San Francisco county can (or should) cap earnings from a private company such as DoorDash which is offering a service that is sought by consumers.

Stocks, Technology

DoorDash and Uber Eats is gaining on Grubhub

Note that this is a share-price chart and not representing the sales of the various companies.

On Wednesday, the new parent company of Grubhub, Amsterdam-based Just Eat Takeaway.com, TKWY 0.33% also known as Jet, provided a third-quarter trading update. While several countries showed stellar growth, Grubhub’s business looked disappointing, setting a negative tone ahead of third-quarter earnings for DoorDash DASH 0.61% and the Uber Eats unit of Uber Technologies. UBER -2.67% One conclusion is that Grubhub’s trends signal an industrywide slowdown for food delivery in the U.S. More likely, Grubhub’s pain is its competitors’ gain.

Competition looks like a key factor, though. YipitData shows that Uber Eats gained market share in the third quarter at the expense of Grubhub, overtaking the incumbent to become the market leader in New York City. Meanwhile, data from M Science shows that the U.S. market leader, DoorDash, expanded its national share over 6 percentage points year over year in the third quarter, at least in part at the expense of Grubhub.

Wall Street Journal

Both DoorDash and Uber Eats appears to be doing pretty well in the delivery business in USA.

Technology

Netflix is reopening a movie theater in SoCal

Netflix will reopen the Bay Theatre at Palisades Village in Southern California beginning October 22nd, becoming the third physical theater with which the streamer has announced a partnership.

The company previously reopened the Paris Theater in New York in 2019, and it’s working to restore the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood for a reopening in 2022. The third partnership for a theatrical space arrives as Netflix continues to explore additional points of entry to its originals beyond its app and website. In a press release, Netflix said it plans to use the space for special screenings, events, and theatrical releases for its films.

“In addition to premieres and theatrical releases of upcoming Netflix films, audiences can look forward to family-oriented film programming, 35mm screenings of beloved classic films, in-person appearances and Q&As, free public events and much more,” Scott Stuber, head of global films at Netflix, said in a statement.

The Verge

I didn’t know Netflix has movie theaters. It’s an interesting play, it probably allows Netflix to qualify for award ceremonies which was otherwise reserved for screenings that happened in the theaters. Great play here.