This is a Mueller-free zone today. Barr is barred. You’ll have to get your Trump fix elsewhere. Or, if you have nothing better to do on Good Friday, you can read the special prosecutor’s report directly, here.
But we will take a minute to highlight the two IPOs that launched yesterday – Pinterest and Zoom. Both were viewed as successful – Pinterest jumped more than 25% from its listing price, while Zoom zoomed 81%. Fortune’s Shawn Tully will tell you those numbers should be seen as signs of failure – meaning the investment bankers underpriced both stocks, and left money on the table. But whatever. The “window” for IPOs appears to be wide open – and that’s good news for Slack, Postmates, Palantir, Airbnb and others who intend to cash in this year.
By the way, we talk a lot about the speed of change in CEO Daily. But it’s worth remembering that video conferencing, which is what propelled Zoom to a $16 billion valuation yesterday, was first displayed to the public more than half a century ago, at the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Remarkable it took this long for it to achieve its moment of hockey stick growth.
More news below. And if you want to learn how to raise your daughters to be CEOs, read Michal Lev-Ram’s fascinating interview with Esther Wojcicki here.
A Venmo Credit Card
PayPal’s money transfer app Venmo is widely popular, especially with young consumers, but nonetheless lost a reported $394 million last year. In its latest bid to wring money from the service, PayPal is in talks with Synchrony to launch a Venmo-branded credit card. The company will be wading into a crowded field where the likes of Apple and Amazon—as well as traditional banks—are also moving in. Wall Street Journal
National Enquirer Sold
Travel group Hudson News purchased the infamous scandal sheet for $100 million from debt-ridden American Media Inc. The sale reportedly came after the manager of the hedge fund that owns AMI grew tired of legal headaches related to tormenting Jeff Bezos and running “catch and kill” operations. Washington Post
Banking Help for Marijuana
Even as pot becomes a mainstream industry, banks are still fearful of regulatory risk and are refusing to offer their services. Congress may finally fix the problem with a bill that would provide a safe harbor to banks serving marijuana companies, and another that would remove pot from the Schedule One category of illegal drugs. Despite broad bipartisan support, some fear pre-election gridlock will sink the bills’ chances. Fortune
One Big Mac Hold the Dijon
McDonald’s will no longer offer the customized burgers it introduced in 2017. The company had hoped custom toppings like guacamole and Dijon mustard would help defend its marketshare from the likes of Five Guys and Shake Shack, but sales continued to slide while the new offerings increased customer wait times. (Wall Street Journal)
Around the Water Cooler
U.S. Intelligence’s Tech Task
In the wake of 9/11, the U.S. overhauled its intelligence agencies to hunt terrorists—with a large degree of success. But today new adversaries are using easy-to-access technologies to erode the country’s edge in intelligence gathering. In response, “A national intelligence strategy for the new technology age should begin by identifying the United States’ distinctive strengths and how they can be used to secure long-term advantage.” Foreign Affairs
Food Stamps Go Online
A Department of Agriculture pilot project will let those receiving SNAP benefits (aka food stamps) buy groceries from online retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart. The move reflects how Internet purchases are no longer regarded as a luxury good. It could also—barring unintended consequences—help low income people save on transportation costs, and give them more access to affordable, healthy food. Associated Press
Regulators Eye the Big 4
It’s not just tech companies confronting a rise in anti-monopolist sentiment. The UK’s competition watchdog is pushing a law to shake up the operations of Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC—most notably by requiring them to separate their consulting business from their auditing operations. Financial Times
Raising the Smoking Age
Sen. Mitch McConnell, long a tobacco industry champion, has nonetheless agreed to sponsor legislation to raise the minimum age for cigarettes and e-cigs to 21. While smoking cessation is a laudable goal, this Canadian is puzzled by the incongruity of U.S. laws that let 18-year-olds vote for President, start a family and purchase hand guns—but also declares them too young to make decisions about alcohol and (soon) tobacco. New York Times