Business News at a Glance
Posted September 13, 2018 9:40 p.m. EDT
Under Fire, Robert Mueller Has a Novel PR Strategy: Silence
Since his appointment as special counsel, Robert Mueller has granted no interviews and held no news conferences. Silence as a public relations strategy is risky, especially for someone who is impugned almost daily by Fox News pundits, Rudy Giuliani and the president. Supporters fear that the fusillade is eroding public confidence in the special counsel’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election before Mueller has a chance to present his findings. Yet veterans of similar investigations say keeping quiet may be Mueller’s only viable option. By law, special counsels must follow Justice Department guidelines that restrict them from sharing details about pending investigations, making leaks a potential criminal matter.
Facebook ‘Better Prepared’ to Fight Election Interference, Zuckerberg Says
Mark Zuckerberg began the year by promising to make Facebook safer from election interference around the world. On Wednesday, Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, published a blog post cataloging all the steps the company has taken. “In 2016, we were not prepared for the coordinated information operations we now regularly face,” he wrote, alluding to Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. “But we have learned a lot since then and have developed sophisticated systems that combine technology and people to prevent election interference on our services.” He added, "Today, Facebook is better prepared for these kinds of attacks.”
Bezos and Wife Pledge $2 Billion for Preschoolers and the Homeless
Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, pledged $2 billion Thursday for a new fund to start preschools and help homeless families. The money, put into what he called the Day 1 Fund, is by far the largest philanthropic donation by Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person. It will support organizations that provide shelter and food for homeless families and will start a network of nonprofit Montessori-inspired preschools for underserved communities. "If our own great-grandchildren don’t have lives better than ours, something has gone very wrong,” Bezos wrote on Twitter.
Defying Erdogan, Turkey’s Central Bank Raises Interest Rates
Acting to stem a currency crisis that has rattled markets worldwide, Turkey’s central bank sharply raised interest rates Thursday, defying a call by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan just hours earlier to lower borrowing costs. The move, increasing Turkey’s benchmark interest rate to 24 percent from 17.75 percent, quickly pushed the Turkish lira up 3 percent against the dollar. The currency had dropped to record lows in August on investor concern that inflation was accelerating and that Erdogan was taking too active a role in the management of the economy.
Stealing From a Cashierless Store (Without You, or the Cameras, Knowing It)
Last week, San Francisco got its first completely automated cashierless store, Standard Market. Shoppers who have downloaded the store’s app can go into the 1,900-square-foot space, grab items and simply leave. There is no check-in gate, and there is no checkout swipe. Ceiling cameras identify the shopper and the items, and determine when said items leave with said shopper. The startup behind this operation is Standard Cognition. This first market is a prototype to showcase the technology and work on the bugs. The ambitious goal is to add the tech in 100 stores a day by 2020.
Paying Is Voluntary at This Selfie-Friendly Store
At Drug Store, which opened Wednesday in Manhattan, there is no cashier or checkout counter. Anyone can walk in, grab a $10.83 activated-charcoal drink and leave. But the beverages, typically sold online by the case by Dirty Lemon, a startup that runs the store, are not free. Dirty Lemon has made a bet that customers will pay the same way they order its pricey lemon-flavored drinks for home delivery: by sending the company a text message. In the store, customers are expected to text Dirty Lemon to say they have grabbed something. A representative will then text back with a link to enter their credit card information.
Labor Board Moves Anew to Limit Employers’ Workplace Liability
After it was forced to retreat from an effort to make challenging labor practices harder in many workplaces, the National Labor Relations Board is moving to achieve the goal through other means. The board announced Thursday that it was set to publish a proposed rule redefining a company’s responsibility under labor law for workers hired by contractors or franchisees. The proposal, reversing an action taken during the Obama administration, would make it less likely that a company in such a situation would be deemed a joint employer liable for labor abuses like firing workers seeking to unionize.
Goldman’s Incoming CEO Names Two Former Bankers as Top Deputies
David M. Solomon, the incoming chief executive of Goldman Sachs, has picked two veterans of the firm’s investment banking division to help him lead the company. Goldman’s directors approved the selection of John E. Waldron to be president and chief operating officer, and Stephen M. Scherr as chief financial officer, according to an internal memo. The shift comes as Goldman’s traditionally strong trading business is in decline. R. Martin Chavez, Goldman’s current chief financial officer, will return to the securities division to help run it. He will also become a vice chairman of the firm.