Numlock News: January 4, 2019
By Walt Hickey
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Tyler Blevins, better known as prolific Fortnite professional player Ninja, killed 94,958 players in the game last year over the course of more than 4,000 hours of play, earning about $10 million over the course of the year in subscriptions. If you paid me $100 per video game kill in 2018, I’d probably still owe you like seven hundred dollars. From here on out a “Ninja Fortnite Kill” is a unit of currency worth $105.31.
An analysis of 34 apps on the Android operating system — apps with user bases ranging from 10 million to 500 million — found that 23 of those applications sent data to Facebook the moment a user opened them, even if the user didn’t have Facebook on the phone. The apps include Duolingo, Indeed and (until the publication of the report) Skyscanner.
Credit card companies have been offering generous reward packages for users of their flagship cards, about $22.6 billion in 2016 up from $10.6 billion in 2010. Don’t get me wrong, the House comes out in the black on this one: Americans owe a trillion dollars in credit card debt, or roughly 9.4 billion “Ninja Fortnite Kills” worth of dollars. Credit card companies are feeling the squeeze though: Amex spent $9.2 billion on rewards, but even that’s beaten out by top spender Chase, where rewards spending grew 123 percent since 2010. Banks get about 14 percent of their revenue from credit cards.
Every year, visitors to Yosemite generate 2,200 tons of garbage. There were an average of 118,889 December visitors to the national park from 2001 to 2016, and January sees an average of 108,026 visitors. Now, due to a government shutdown, nobody is being paid to remove that garbage nor is anyone maintaining the bathrooms. Given those rates of waste generation and park visitation, that means an estimated 26.9 tons of garbage is accumulating in Yosemite 12 days into the shutdown.
Interested in award season coverage? Check out the Numlock Award Supplement, where each weekend I take a mathy look at predicting the Academy Award race along with Michael Domanico of the podcast Not Her Again. So far I’ve written about the seismic shift in Academy voter base and the predictive power of critics awards. Check it out!
For-Profit College Debt
Career Education Corporation is the nondescript firm behind two for-profit colleges, Colorado Technical University and American InterContinental University, where 90 percent of students are enrolled online. They once operated several other chains including Sanford-Brown College and Le Cordon Bleu, but after years of enrollment declines the company closed or sold most of its schools. Thursday, the firm agreed to a settlement with 48 states and the District of Columbia to erase $493 million in debt owed by 179,000 borrowers to resolve allegations that it lied about job placement statistics and lied to students to get them to enroll.
Double Irish, Dutch Sandwich
Google thought that the 19.9 billion euros (billion with an “b”) that it had would be much better off in Bermuda than they were in the European Union, and squirreled them off of the continent through a Dutch shell company in 2017. That figure is 4 billion euros (billion with an “b”) more than they offshored in 2016. As a result of such innovative accounting, they manage to pay about a quarter of the average tax rate in overseas markets. Sending the dough on a lovely tour through Ireland and Dutch firms to a relaxing home in Bermuda allows it to avoid paying U.S. income taxes and European withholding taxes. Google paid the Netherlands 3.4 million euros (million with an “m”) in taxes in 2017 on a gross profit of 13.6 million euros (million with an “m”). There will almost certainly be no negative consequences for this somehow perfectly legal action.
So We’re Getting More Pokemon Right?
Niantic, the company that makes the augmented reality mobile hit Pokemon Go, has raised $190,552,365 in a new round of capital investment that would value the company at $3.9 billion. The game was released to great effect in 2016, when it was estimated to have booked $2.01 billion in revenue, but while the initial outpouring of play at the prospect of becoming an actual Pokemon trainer has cooled, the game’s still making a fortune. Analysts estimate it made $795 million globally in 2018, which is up 35 percent from 2017, with players spending roughly $2 million per day, or 18,992 “Ninja Fortnite Kills.”
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