RIP to a startup legend. Retired Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, a beloved figure in the tech world, died on Sunday at age 46 after being caught in a house fire in Connecticut. Known for his devotion to customer service, Hsieh had run the popular shoe sales site even after selling it to Amazon in 2009. He retired in August.
The ghosts of shoppers past. Fortune's intrepid retail reporter Phil Wahba hit the malls on Friday and discovered that Black Friday has shifted mostly online thanks to COVID-19. "At the sprawling Newport Centre in Jersey City, N.J., across the Hudson River, it was a ghost town: not a single customer inside its Sears store, and only a smattering of shoppers at its J.C. Penney or Kohl's," Wahba notes. Speaking of online sales, Amazon is paying its frontline staff a $300 bonus in December, the second bonus payment since the company ended an extra $2 per hour for wages at the end of May. The announcement came as unionized Amazon workers in countries like Germany and Australia staged protests for better working conditions on Friday.
Pop goes my heart. Renewable fuel-powered truck startup Nikola got some bad news on Monday morning. Turns out, General Motors will not agree to manufacture an electric pickup truck for Nikola in return for an equity stake. Instead, GM will only consider using Nikola's hydrogen tech in its own trucks under a non-binding agreement. Nikola stock, which went public by merging with a SPAC in June, plunged 21% in premarket trading.
You have 17 billion unread messages. Trying to catch Microsoft in the productivity software wars, Salesforce is pursuing an acquisition of messaging service Slack, the Wall Street Journal reports. Data Sheet's Tuesday guy, Robert Hackett, explains why Salesforce "wants to slurp up Slack."
Check the numbers. Two of the largest providers of financial data could be combining. S&P Global is offering a reported $44 billion for IHS Markit in order to create a titan of market-moving information. Elsewhere on Wall Street, prepare for the IPO onslaught. DoorDash wants to raise almost $3 billion in its initial public offering at a valuation of $30 billion. Airbnb is targeting a similar value in its IPO. I reviewed the pros and cons of those two IPOs and a few others last week.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
To become truly popular, electric vehicles need access to a much bigger network of charging stations, writer Steve LeVine argues on his blog, The Mobilist. Should the government step in and speed up the construction process?
[Mike] Calise, the executive from Tritium, said the build-out should begin like the Eisenhower-era highway system, with the construction of EV charging corridors. These would involve the construction of EV charging stations every 10 miles or so along the country’s main highways. From there, spokes can be filled in where people live and work, especially inner cities.
The problem is that they are expensive, requiring the government to get behind them, Calise said. President-elect Joe Biden is proposing that the federal government subsidize the construction of 500,000 charging stations. If Congress approves funding, charging will be accelerated. “You will start to see them at all the gas stations, convenience stores, hotels, ports, stadiums, fleet depots,” Calise said. “The pure gas station is going to be disrupted.”
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
This new VR simulator helps you prepare for the most awkward office encounters By Lee Clifford
Tesla can now sell its made-in-China SUVs in China By Naomi Xu Elegant
As libraries fight for access to e-books, a new copyright champion emerges By Jeff John Roberts
Everything to know about T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T’s 5G plans By Aaron Pressman
The world’s largest wind farm is truly enormous, and it’s one step closer to reality Katherin Dunn
MeWe is a fast-growing social hub for conservatives. What you need to know By Danielle Abril
The email security market is littered with false claims. How to fix it By Kevin O'Brien
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BEFORE YOU GO
The Great British Baking Show (or Bake Off in the U.K.) concluded last week and crowned its latest winner as the best amateur baker of the year. There was a little too much controversy this year, but it's hard to be disappointed with the final outcome (spoiler warning: That link names the winner).
Also, the mysterious Utah monolith I mentioned last email has now vanished. Maybe it wanted to hit the malls before the crowds returned?