House of the Dragon is coming to HBO. So is the Netflix Chill.

“The main idea behind AT&T’s acquisition of what was then-called Warner Media — first announced in 2016 but not finished until 2018 — was that the phone company could turn HBO into its own Netflix and that Wall Street would reward AT&T for owning its own Netflix. So in 2021, when it became clear that investors didn’t care about AT&T’s media foray, the company flipped a switch and dumped its entertainment assets to Discovery, the cable TV programmer best known for reality shows like 90 Day Fiancé.

But now Discovery has multiple problems. For starters, it has $53 billion in debt, much of it taken on with the Warner deal. Which means instead of spending aggressively to take on Netflix and Disney, it has to look under couch cushions for change, and David Zaslav, the CEO of the newly combined company, has promised Wall Street he’ll find $3 billion in cost savings … somewhere.

But the bigger problem is one that everyone in streaming — including Netflix — is grappling with now: Wall Street no longer likes Netflix. Netflix’s stock, which got as high as $700 last fall, is now down 50 percent because Netflix’s 10-year record rocketship growth appears over: During the first six months of this year, it actually lost subscribers. So now Wall Street, which had encouraged media companies to adopt Netflix’s growth-first, profits-maybe-later strategy, wants them to change course. (One important exemption from this: Amazon and Apple, which are tech companies dabbling in media, so they can basically spend whatever they want on programming: See Amazon’s Rings Of Power — a gazillion-dollar Lord of the Rings prequel that is very much supposed to be Amazon’s Game of Thrones. Not coincidentally, it will debut a couple weeks after House of the Dragon.)”

“Discovery plans to merge its streaming service with HBO Max sometime next year. Which means that at some point you’ll have the ability to subscribe to something that includes both House of the Dragon and Dr. Pimple Popper, a Discovery reality show that’s just what you think it’s about. You can turn up your nose at that pairing — or you can acknowledge that it’s a lot like TV used to be, when in order to subscribe to HBO, you also had to get a package of cable channels that were nothing like HBO. Streaming’s not going anywhere, but the cable TV model is going to stick around for a while longer, too.”

55% of America’s Top Startups Were Founded by Immigrants. Why Won’t Congress Let in More?

“Immigrants are 80 percent more likely than native-born Americans to found a firm, according to a study released this May by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But more than that, a report released this week by the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) indicates that immigrants are disproportionately responsible for starting high-value companies.
According to the NFAP, a nonprofit that researches trade and immigration, immigrants have started 319 of 582, or 55 percent, of America’s privately-held startups valued at $1 billion or more. Over two-thirds of the 582 companies “were founded or cofounded by immigrants or the children of immigrants,” notes the NFAP. For comparison, approximately 14 percent of America’s population is foreign-born.

Together, the immigrant-founded companies are valued at $1.2 trillion and employ 859 people on average. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has the largest valuation at $125 billion, employing 12,000 workers; Gopuff, a food delivery service valued at $15 billion, has 15,000 employees; Stripe, a payment platform valued at $95 billion, employs 7,000; and Instacart, a grocery delivery service valued at $39 billion, has 3,000 workers.

These findings are notable, the NFAP points out, since “there is generally no reliable way under U.S. immigration law for foreign nationals to start a business and remain in the country after founding a company.” A large share of the immigrant startup founders came to the country as refugees, on family-sponsored green cards, or through employment-based pathways for other companies.

“Our employment-based pathways for immigrant entrepreneurship are so poorly designed, migrant businesses are often associated with non–employment based pathways,” points out Sam Peak, an immigration policy analyst at Americans for Prosperity. Peak notes that refugees “have the highest rates of entrepreneurship of any other immigrant group,” and family-based migration, “especially among siblings, is also strongly tied to new business formation.”

Lawmakers have introduced a number of measures this year meant to bring more entrepreneurial and highly educated immigrants to the United States, but many of these have been included in—and eventually stripped from—larger bills.”

Both Democrats and Republicans Want To Break Up Big Tech. Consumers Would Pay the Price.

“You don’t have to believe that the market produces perfect outcomes to understand that government can rarely outperform private enterprise. Political decisions aren’t driven by any market signals, profit motive, or consumer preferences. These decisions are inherently political, suffer from a serious knowledge problem and are mostly untied to any accountability regimes when they fail. Government often proves to be biased against large, successful companies that provide new technology that legislators often don’t understand well but consumers love. This is why government so often fails, and this policy is no exception.”

https://reason.com/2022/07/21/both-democrats-and-republicans-want-to-break-up-big-tech-consumers-would-pay-the-price/

WHAT CAUSED THE 2021/2 INCREASE IN GAS PRICES?–Video Sources

How Much Of The Gasoline Price Surge Is President Biden’s Fault? Robert Rapier. 2022 3 13. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/rrapier/2022/03/13/how-much-of-the-gasoline-price-surge-is-president-bidens-fault/?sh=31618bce7c8b 4 reasons high gas prices aren’t Joe Biden’s fault—and one critical way he’s adding to the problem Will Daniel. 2022 6 8. Fortune. https://www.yahoo.com/video/4-reasons-high-gas-prices-090000545.html

Apple broke Facebook’s ad machine. Who’s going to fix it?

“Facebook says changes Apple made that affect how ads work on iOS apps — namely, that it’s now much harder for app-makers and advertisers to track user behavior — will cost it $10 billion in revenue this year.

For context: Facebook is still making an enormous amount of money from advertising — analyst Michael Nathanson estimates the company will generate $129 billion in ad revenue in 2022. But that would mean its ad business will only grow about 12 percent this year, compared to a 36 percent increase the previous year. Wall Street has prized Facebook for its ability to grow at a rocket velocity, and now that rocket may be sputtering.”

China Brings Out the Hypocrisy in Corporate Social Justice Warriors

“Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted, “Fight for freedom, stand with Hong Kong.”

Good for him. China crushed freedom in Hong Kong.

But China didn’t like hearing an NBA executive say that. Chinese TV stopped broadcasting Rockets games. The NBA then apparently told its players and front offices to shut up. Morey deleted his tweet and instead tweeted that he “did not intend to cause any offense.”

The NBA itself also apologized to China, saying that they were “disappointed” by Morey’s “inappropriate” tweet. Lebron James called Morey “misinformed.” James Harden said, “We love China.”

“China is able to strong-arm these companies…into actually acquiescing with its ideology,” complains Chen.

That ideology is often grotesque. The U.S. and other countries accuse China of committing genocide against a mostly Muslim minority group, the Uyghurs.

China imprisons them in “reeducation camps.” Leaked satellite footage shows blindfolded men, with their hands tied behind their backs, in what looks like a concentration camp.

“They are forced into slave labor,” says Chen.

A few Uyghurs who escaped say they were tortured.

But although the NBA runs ads that say, “Speak for the people who may not be able to be heard,” it clearly does not want its players, coaches, or executives to say anything about Uyghur genocide.”

“Hollywood doesn’t care either. The movie Mulan was filmed in the same region where Uyghurs are tortured. In the credits, Disney gave “special thanks” to government departments in Xinjiang, where the abuse occurs.

Fast and Furious 9 actor John Cena, promoting his movie to people in Taiwan, said, “Taiwan is the first country that can watch F9.”

What was wrong with that?

“He had the audacity to allude to the fact that Taiwan was a country,” says Chen, “rather than a territory owned by China.”

I don’t know what China said to Cena or Universal Pictures, but soon Cena was on Chinese social media, groveling to China, saying “sorry” over and over. “I have made a mistake….I really love and respect the Chinese people….I made a mistake,” he pleaded.

Chen calls that pathetic. “I think the Chinese government actually takes a lot of pleasure knowing that they can actually strong-arm individuals and companies into capitulation to its own political ideology.””

Facebook’s ‘Monopoly’ Was Always Doomed

“Facebook is still a behemoth, and it has a long way to fall before that will cease to be true (if it ever is). I’m not suggesting we start writing eulogies yet. But the U.S. (and European Union) antitrust push against Facebook and other big tech companies assumes—and often explicitly argues—that Facebook’s power is permanent and its market share irreversible. Recent developments and ancient history show that’s very obviously not the case.”

Elizabeth Warren Blames High Food Prices on Grocery Chains’ ‘Record’ 1 Percent Profit Margins

“Warren could hardly have picked a worse industry to use as an example: Grocery stores consistently have among the lowest profit margins of any economic sector. According to data compiled this month by New York University finance professor Aswath Damodaran, the entire retail grocery industry currently averages barely more than 1 percent in net profit. In its most recent quarter, Kroger reported a profit margin of 0.75 percent, during a time in which Warren claims that the chain was “expanding profits” due to its “market dominance.”

In actuality, for much of the last year, grocery stores have seen enormous boosts in revenue, but not increased profitability, for the simple reason that everything has been costing more: not just products, but transportation, employee compensation, and all the extra logistical steps needed to adapt to shopping during a pandemic. Couple that with persistent inflation—which Warren also recently blamed on “price gouging”—and it is no wonder that things seem a bit out of balance.”

Entrepreneurship Is on the Rise, Despite COVID-19

“Data from the Kauffman Foundation indicate that the percent of new entrepreneurs who created a business by choice instead of necessity dropped from 86.86 percent in 2019 to 69.75 percent last year. Many people happy to work for somebody else were pushed into starting a business by pandemic-era chaos.

But a lot of those people seem to have discovered that they actually like working for themselves, and that may be causing a cultural shift. At the end of November, The Wall Street Journal reported that at least part of the “Great Resignation” phenomenon of Americans quitting jobs involved people starting businesses.”