Numlock News: April 2, 2019 • Grindr, Lab Mice, Kardashians
By Walt Hickey
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Gay dating app Grindr was purchased by Beijing Kunlun Tech Co. Ltd over the course of two transactions — $93 million for a 60 percent stake, then $152 million for the rest of it in 2018 — a grand total of $245 million. Now, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. has ordered the company to sell the asset, following fears that Chinese ownership of the world’s largest social networking app for gay, bi, trans and queer people constitutes a national security threat. The fear is that the company could be compelled to cough up compromising information about people with security clearances to blackmail Americans. Kunlun is reportedly looking for a buyer.
Last year the top 100 law firms in Britain made £24 billion, which is £8 billion higher after adjusting for inflation than they made in 2007 immediately before the financial crisis. Those firms have added 21,000 lawyers, and the source is clear: Brexit is a legal nightmare, separating from the E.U. is a quagmire and everyone from regulatory lawyers to I.P. lawyers to employment attorneys are getting extremely paid while the rest of the U.K. devolves into uncertainty over exactly how weird this exit is going to get. What’s more, even as they do the legal groundwork for Brexit, many British lawyers themselves are eyeing the lifeboats, with 13 percent of the Irish Roll of Solicitors now comprised of British lawyers who applied since the 2016 Brexit vote so they can continue practicing in the E.U.
The Dumbest Scandal
The Mayor of Baltimore appears to be going down in what is easily the dumbest municipal scandal in quite a while. Catherine Pugh self-published a series of illustrated children’s books called Healthy Holly, and while that’s hardly scandalous, self-dealing definitely is. Since 2011, Pugh’s received $500,000 selling 100,000 copies of the books to the University of Maryland Medical System, which occurred while she sat on the board of the system and, setting that aside, would make her arguably one of the world’s most successful self-published authors of all time. Monday Kaiser Permanente disclosed it bought 20,000 copies for $114,000, which would merely prove the insurer has miserable taste in kids books, if not for the fact that a board controlled by the mayor awarded the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan of the Mid-Atlantic States a $48 million contract right after she took office.
The Writers Guild of America has voted to go to the mattresses in their ongoing dispute with the talent agencies. The union voted 7,882 to 392 to create a new code of conduct that would cut out talent agencies that received packaging fees or ownership interest in the very jobs that the writers they represent are attempting to land. The code would take effect on April 7, and would require WGA members to fire their agents if they don’t sign on. The Association of Talent Agents has strongly resisted cutting out the profitable packaging fees or ownership interests, which could mean that this goes south in a week.
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Try And Keep Up
You can say a lot about the Kardashians, but by god do they move product: in the first five minutes of Kim Kardashian introducing the KKW Beauty line in 2017, she sold 300,000 items worth an estimated $14.4 million. And last year, over the course of just 53 sponsored Instagram posts, Kendall Jenner made $26.5 million, according to estimates. It’s not always easy — sure, who hasn’t accidentally promoted a doomed Instagram festival in the Bahamas once or twice — but if it was, everyone would do it.
China’s government wants the nation to be a biomedical powerhouse by 2025, and to accomplish that requires a legion of lab mice. The global market for gene-altered mice is predicted to grow 7.5 percent per year until 2022, when it is predicted to top $1.59 billion. The industry is trying to keep up, producing hundreds of thousands of custom-bred lab animals in pathogen-free facilities. China’s spending on research and development is growing very, very rapidly: just $40.1 billion in 2000 compared to the $332 billion and $239 billion then spent in the U.S. and E.U., respectively, China’s been accelerating investment at a breakneck pace. In 2017, China spent $443 billion on R&D, just shy of the $484 billion spent by the U.S. and beating the $365 billion in the E.U.
Slightly Less Whole Paycheck
Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods has not driven as many Prime members to the high-end grocer as originally hoped, which is leading the retailer to cut prices on over 500 products by an average of 20 percent. The move is Amazon’s attempt to assert itself in the $1 trillion U.S. grocery market as Walmart and Kroger hold off the digital retailer. There are deeper discounts for Prime members, and it’s easy to see why: a survey of shoppers found that 65 percent of Prime members shop on Amazon’s website several times per month, but only 11 percent shop at Whole Foods that often.
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