Business News at a Glance
Posted December 26, 2017 8:52 p.m. EST
Unions Are Gaining Footholds at Digital Media Companies
When employees at the online media company Vox Media announced plans to form a union last month, the organizing effort was part of a growing union movement at more than a dozen digital publishers. Employees at now-defunct Gawker Media joined the Writers Guild of America East union in summer 2015. Members of the editorial staffs at Vice Media, ThinkProgress and HuffPost followed suit, organizing unions that their companies recognized. Writers and editors at The Intercept, Salon, Slate, Thrillist and MTV News have since affiliated themselves with the Writers Guild of America East, citing a need for better wages and benefits.
Many Unhappy Returns? Online Holiday Shopping’s Big Hangover
The paradox of e-commerce now is that while acquiring items has gotten easier than ever before, exchanging or returning the unwanted ones remains a time suck. While a handful of retailers receive nearly unanimous praise from shoppers for open-ended, friction-free returns of purchases made online (Amazon, Nordstrom, L.L. Bean, Madewell, among others), and many offer more generous policies during the holiday season, plenty still impose tight limitations and draconian requirements. About 30 percent of items bought online end up being returned, versus 9 percent of items bought in stores.
Tech Giants Spending Billions to Develop Health Tools
Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants have transformed the way billions of us communicate, shop, socialize and work. Now, tech companies are accelerating their efforts to remake health care by developing or collaborating on new tools for consumers, patients, doctors, insurers and medical researchers. And they are increasingly investing in health startups: In the first 11 months of this year, 10 of the largest tech companies in the United States were involved in health care equity deals worth $2.7 billion, up from just $277 million for all of 2012.
As Wearable Devices Expand Medical Uses, the Apple Watch Offers an EKG
In September, Apple announced that the Apple Watch would no longer need to be tethered to a smartphone and would become more of a stand-alone device. Since then, a wave of device manufacturers have tapped into the watch’s new features like cellular connectivity to develop medical accessories — such as an electrocardiogram for monitoring heart activity — so people can manage chronic conditions straight from their wrist. Separately, Apple is continuing research on a noninvasive continuous glucose reader, according to two people with knowledge of the project.
After the Launching (and Scrapping) of Navy Ships, a New Mission
Numerous warships set sail from the Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. on the Hackensack River in Kearny, New Jersey. Famous vessels were sliced up and sold as scrap, too. Now, the facility is embarking on a new mission. As former shipyards across the country reinvent themselves, the site is being made over as a mixed-use industrial park, called Kearny Point, that favors smaller-scale offices and workshops, plus stores, a food hall and public parks. Hugo Neu Corp., the landlord, started its $1 billion, seven-year project in 2014. The company hopes to eventually remake its entire 130-acre property.