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.

  • Self-Driving Setback: The realities of building an autonomous vehicle are starting to set in for some of the tech giants developing self-driving car systems that work. CNBC reported this week that Apple ($AAPL) was cutting 200 jobs at its secretive Project Titan unit, which had reportedly already been scaled back from its initial goal of making a complete autonomous car to just building its "brains." Titan employed as many as 1,000 people in 2015. In a statement, an Apple spokesperson pre-emptively denied that the cutbacks revealed a lack of optimism about the project, saying: “We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever.”

  • First for Netflix: "Roma," the opus from director Alfonso Cuarón about growing up poor in Mexico, gave Netflix ($NFLX) its first Best Picture nomination on Tuesday after years of the streaming giant's attempts to get a horse in the race for the top Oscar category. Netflix received its most nominations yet, a total of 15. On the same day, the Motion Picture Association of America, Hollywood's top trade group, said it would welcome Netflix as a member ー the first time a non-traditional studio was accepted into the MPAA's exclusive club. It all amounted to a big week for Netflix in its goal of competing as a legitimate studio heavyweight, even as it upends how the industry operates.

  • Media Bloodbath: It was an ugly week for the media industry as it continues to struggle with the economics of digital ad revenue. Gannett ($GCI), which publishes USA Today and more than 100 local papers, announced layoffs at papers across the country on Wednesday, from the Arizona Republic to the Tennessean. The next day, HuffPost axed 20 journalists and shuttered its Opinion and Healthcare verticals as part of parent company Verizon's ($VZ) restructuring. Then BuzzFeed began a round of unexpected layoffs that would reduce headcount at the once red-hot digital media company by 15 percent. Those cuts are ongoing. The tightening comes as Facebook ($FB) and Google ($GOOGL) increase their combined share of digital advertising revenue, with Amazon ($AMZN) also making inroads. That duopoly leaves digital content producers and newsrooms grasping to find new ways to make money. That includes vaunted magazine publisher Condé Nast, which said this week that it would put all of its titles behind a digital paywall by the end of the year. The move extends a strategy currently in place for Condé titles like Wired, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair, to its entire stable, including Glamour, GQ, Bon Appétit, and Vogue.

  • Home Sales Decline: U.S. existing home sales plummeted in December to their weakest reading in three years and 10 percent from a year earlier, bolstering concerns that the housing market is in the midst of a protracted slowdown. Sales fell 6.4 percent last month, according to the National Association of Realtors, an accelerated rate the group blamed on a combination of rising interest rates, stock-market volatility, and uncertainty over the government shutdown, which came to an end on Friday, at least temporarily, when President Trump announced a deal with Democrats to put federal employees back to work while a longer-term deal is negotiated.

  • Clouds Over Davos: With the World Economic Forum wrapping up its annual summit in Davos, Switzerland, what was most notable at this year's gathering of the rich and powerful was who didn't make the trip. Leaders from the U.S., UK, and France all pulled out of their scheduled appearances as each of those countries struggles with its own form of political gridlock. For those who did don their best parka and hop on a private jet for the snowy summit, they were met with a gloomy forecast from the International Monetary Fund. “After two years of solid expansion, the world economy is growing more slowly than expected and risks are rising,” said IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde. She predicted a "serious slowdown" on the horizon. Those comments were echoed by corporate executives. In a poll of North American executives by PwC, the number of respondents saying they felt optimistic about the state of the economy fell to 37 percent, from 63 percent last year.

ーCarlo Versano