From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, these are the top stories that moved markets and had investors, business leaders, and entrepreneurs talking this week on Cheddar.
Apple dropped the curtain on the iPhone 13, a mid-cycle upgrade that brings a slightly bigger screen, faster processor, and better camera to the company’s flagship consumer product. An upgraded Apple Watch and a pair of redesigned iPads filled out Apple’s annual fall event, though none of the announcements did much to juice shares. That was to be expected: the stock typically tends to fall on days the company announces new products. Not that Apple hadn’t been on a heater anyway. Shares hit a new all-time high earlier this month before slumping a bit in the face of a fair amount of headline risk. The pullback started with last week’s ruling in the company’s legal fight with Epic Games that could have profound implications for Apple’s lucrative App Store revenue stream. And the iPhone event was somewhat overshadowed by the news of a software vulnerability in iMessage that forced Apple to push out an urgent patch. Shares ended the week down 3 percent.
EV GOLD RUSH
The electric car market in the U.S. is about to get much more competitive. This week, the EV startup Lucid Group received an astonishing EPA-estimated range of 520 miles for its upcoming luxury sedan, dubbed the Air Dream Edition (sticker: $169,000 and already sold out). That would beat the longest-range Tesla by more than 100 miles. On the same day, a bullish analyst note from Bank of America — calling Lucid a combination of Tesla and Ferrari — helped push shares higher for a 13 percent gain on the week. Meanwhile, Amazon-backed Rivian’s first electric pickup rolled off its assembly line in Illinois this week, making the startup the first to market with an all-electric truck. Rivian is looking to raise as much as $8 billion, according to Reuters, for an $80 billion valuation when it IPOs this fall.
AMAZON HIRING SPREE
As for Amazon, the company had its "Career Day" this week as it works furiously to fill more than 125,000 open positions in its operations network, plus another 40,000 corporate jobs. More than one million people from 170 countries applied to fill those roles. Amazon is in the midst of a hiring spree across a range of positions and offices that dwarfs any other private-sector hiring push, mainly focused on building out its delivery and logistics network for a post-COVID world. Amazon said this week that it would sweeten the pot for prospective warehouse employees, offering to pay the cost of college tuition and increasing its minimum wage to $18 an hour or higher when signing bonuses are factored in. Amazon shares have been trading in a bit of a holding pattern for much of 2021 as investors take a breather after last year’s historic 75 percent gain.
THE FACEBOOK FILES
This was a bad week for Mark Zuckerberg. The Wall Street Journal has been publishing a series of scathing investigations based on leaked internal documents that highlight how the company has been dealing — or not dealing — with various crises related to its platform. Among them: Facebook’s own acknowledgment that Instagram is making body images worse for teen girls, a tweak to the News Feed algorithm meant to enhance social relationships that had the exact opposite effect, and, in the latest expose, how anti-vax activists used Facebook’s own tools to undermine public confidence in the COVID vaccines. Still, as with other companies that make addictive products, Facebook shares have been more or less impervious to the bad headlines — so long as the user base keeps growing and the earnings keep beating expectations. Facebook fell 4 percent this week but is still up more than 35 percent on the year.
Intuit, the company behind TurboTax and QuickBooks, announced it has agreed to buy the email marketing giant Mailchimp for $12 billion in cash and stock. The deal is Intuit’s largest-ever — beating out last year’s $8 billion acquisition of Credit Karma — and comes as Intuit bets big on a small business recovery out of the pandemic. Mailchimp, which started as a digital market agency before pivoting to host email newsletters, is privately held and has never taken private investment since launching in 2001. Intuit shares jumped 2 percent on the announcement, for a 51 percent YTD gain.