Numlock News: November 3, 2021 • Leatherbacks, Chargers, Chipmunks
By Walt Hickey
The owner of the Alvin and the Chipmunks franchise is either trying to make a quick buck or is trying to tear the bounds of reality asunder by asking for about $300 million for the rights to Alvin, Simon, Theodore and the ancillary elements around the trio. Invented by Ross Bagdasarian Sr. in 1958 as a novelty act, the inexplicably durable rodents in 2007 starred in a film that spawned three sequels and were most notable for being the “most miserable experience I ever had in my professional life” for star David Cross, after being “forced at legal gunpoint” to participate in Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked. That these creatures are in any way worth $300 million in 2021 is fairly wild, given that the entire multi-faceted oeuvre of Roald Dahl just sold for $700 million, but it’ll be interesting to see which streamer is going to take the bait and fund summer homes for the next generation of hard-up comedians.
Broward County in Florida reported 79 nests laid by endangered leatherback turtles this year, a shocking amount that’s nearly double the previous record of 46 leatherback nests set in 2012. From March 1 to October 31, coastal buildings have dimmed their lights to prevent them from interfering with hatchlings who would be confused by the light and go inland, rather than out to sea. Looking at sea turtles of all species, there were 2,795 nests in Broward County beaches this past nesting season.
In the first quarter of 2021, the United States added 4,566 new electric vehicle chargers, raising the total number to 100,709 and putting the effort on pace to hit 500,000 publicly available chargers by 2030. Most were level 2 chargers, which are 240 V AC, which take 8 to 10 hours to fully charge a 250- to 300-mile vehicle, with the number rising 5.4 percent. The number of DC fast chargers — which can get a battery to 80 percent in 20 to 50 minutes — grew only 0.4 percent in the quarter, slower than hoped for, but about 56.7 percent of all the public DC fast chargers are Tesla Superchargers.
The National Interagency Fire Center raised its level of preparedness to Level 5 in July and didn’t take it down for 69 days, a new record. Level 5 is when at least 80 percent of all the nation’s wildfire resources are allocated, and as of October 15 there were 6.5 million acres burned and 8,006 people deployed still fighting 39 fires.
Zillow announced it will pull the plug on Zillow Offers, an automated system that purchased homes and sold them. A month ago the company revealed that it had a substantial backlog of homes, and the iBuying division appeared to be struggling to move properties at a profit. In the five largest markets for Zillow Offers, 64 percent of Zillow-bought homes were actually being marketed for less than Zillow’s bot originally paid for them, a figure that rose to 93 percent of Zillow-owned listings in Phoenix. The company’s going to take a write-down of $304 million in the third quarter and expects $240 million to $265 million in losses in the fourth.
A new survey found that half of Americans think Facebook’s decision to rename the company is a stunt to distract from controversy, with 50 percent saying that and 51 percent saying that the move was designed to distance the company from negative press. Only 28 percent think that the company is legitimately trying to attract a new user base, which is lower than the 29 percent who think they’re somehow doing it to avoid legal repercussions and the 32 percent who think they did it to avoid public scrutiny.
The U.S. Department of Justice has sued to prevent the acquisition of Simon & Schuster by Penguin Random House, a deal that would bring the number of large commercial publishers down from five to four. Penguin Random House is already the largest of the firms, with over 300 imprints and 15,000 releases a year. The $2.18 billion proposed acquisition would only increase that leverage, and Penguin Random House has hired the attorney who pushed the AT&T-Time Warner merger through the finish line to fight the feds on it. According to NPD BookScan, the combined market share of the two companies today is around 27 percent of books sold in the first nine months of 2021, and according to Publishers Weekly, they combined for 49.3 percent of hardcover bestsellers in 2019.
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