Alibaba Breaks Singles' Day Sales Record
Alibaba reported Wednesday that it has broken the Singles' Day sales record thanks to clever marketing and the use of several Hollywood celebrities to promote the event. The company said it generated 91.2 million yuan ($14.3 billion) on the day invented as China's answer to Valentine's Day. Top-sellers included Nike shoes, Levi's Jeans and baby-related products, which helped the company surpass last year's sales record of $9.3 billion by the middle of the day. The company went to drastic measures to boost sales for Singles' Day 2015, moving the event headquarters to Beijing and bringing in celebrities like James Bond star Daniel Craig and Kevin Spacey to take part in a four-hour variety show promoting the event.
Kroger Acquires Chicago Grocery Chain
The nation's biggest supermarket chain got bigger Wednesday as the Kroger Co. agreed to purchase a Chicago area grocery chain named Roundy's, which operates 34 Mariano's grocery stores. The purchase price of $800 million, or $3.60 a share, represents a healthy 65 percent premium over Tuesday's close, when Roundy's shares were trading at $2.19 per share. According to a press release, the boards of directors at Roundy's and Cincinnati-based Kroger have already approved the merger. In a statement, Roundy's chairman Bob Mariano lauded the merger with Kroger, calling it a “great win for our customers, communities, employees and our shareholders.” Marianio's stores will be run as a Kroger subsidiary, lead by senior members of Roundy's management team. No store closings are expected to result from the merger.
Disney CEO Joins Push to Bring NFL to Los Angeles
The push to bring the NFL got some backup Wednesday as Disney CEO Bob Iger joined the group that is pushing for two teams to move to Los Angeles suburb Carson. Formed earlier this year by the owners of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, Carson Holdings has named Iger as its non-executive chairman. If the Carson Project gets the go-ahead from the NFL, Iger would be responsible for hiring the executive responsible for overseeing day-to-day operations of the proposed $1.7 billion stadium. Iger will only be paid a $1 salary for his role, but is eligible to purchase a stake in either the Chargers or Raiders at a later date. The executive is currently slated to remain at the helm of Disney through 2018, and he has vowed not to exercise his purchase option before he steps down.
Amazon Giving Away Free Vinyl LPs
In honor of the relaunch of its Vinyl Record store, online retail giant Amazon is giving away free vinyl LPs to customers. The offer began on October 23rd, with one LP to be given away daily for 13 days. Today, the LP to be given away is a copy of the Rolling Stones' 1971 set, Sticky Fingers. On Thursday, Amazon will not only give away a copy of the Michael Jackson classic, Thriller, but also a TEAC turntable. For more information about Amazon's 13 Day Vinyl Giveaway, or to enter, Click Here.
Volkswagen Post 1st Quarterly Loss in 15 Years
Volkswagen announced Wednesday it took its first quarterly loss in some 15 years and warned shareholders that the $7.4 billion it set aside to cover costs associated with the emissions scandal may not be enough. Almost six weeks since the carmaker admitted to using deceptive software in diesel cars, the carmaker is under intense pressure to make repairs to some 11 million vehicles with the deceptive software and identify those responsible. At the same time, the company is struggling to convonce regulators and consumers that it won't make similar mistakes in the future. As a result of the biggest crisis in VW's 78-year history, its stock value has plummeted by more than 25 percent.
IBM Acquires Weather Channel Digital Assets
IBM announced Wednesday that it has agreed to purchase several digital assets from Weather Company, the organization that runs the Weather Channel and Weather Underground. The purchase includes the Weather Underground app and website, as well as the Weather Channel app and website, but does not include the Weather Channel television network. As part of the deal, Weather Channel staff will license weather forecasts and anayltics from IBM under a long-term contract. The sales price for the digital assets was not disclosed.
US Home Prices Continue to Climb
US home prices continued to pick up in July, according to a national index of values released Tuesday. The Standard & Poor's / Case-Shiller 20-city home price index showed a 5 percent year-over-year jump, which was slightly higher than the previous month's 4.9 percent increase. The index showed rising prices in each of the 20 cities it tracks, led by a 10.4 percent surge in San Francisco and a 10.3 percent uptick in Denver. Improving wages and a steady economy have convinced more Americans to buy homes, prompting sales to reach an 8-year high in July.
Groupon to Cut 1,100 Jobs, Shutter 7 International Offices
Groupon once turned down a multi-billion dollar buyout offer from tech giant Google, but the company probably wishes it had another chance at the offer based on recent performance. The formerly promising tech firm revealed Tuesday that it will reduce its workforce by 10 percent and shut down operations in seven countries, laying off some 1,100 workers in the process. The announcement came via a blog post on Tuesday from the company's COO, Rich Williams. According to the post, jobs to be cut include customer service and international sales positions. Having already closed operations in Greece and Turkey, the company will now shutter offices in Morocco, Panama, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Thailand, and Uruguay, Williams said.
Volkswagen Emission Scandal May Affect 11 Million Cars Worldwide
Volkswagen admitted Tuesday that as many as 11 million vehicles worldwide are equipped with software designed to trick emission tests, expanding a controversy that started last week in the US. The company did not specify where the vehicles in question are, though many were probably sold in Europe, a market that Volkswagen dominates by accounting for one of every four cars sold. The world's largest automaker announced it was setting aside about a half year's profits to cover costs associated with the controversy. Along with the costs of repairs to the affected vehicles, the company is also likely to face fines and damages from civil suits related to the deceptive emissions software.
Microsoft Discourages Use of Chrome & Firefox
Microsoft is using its new Windows 10 operating system to try and dissuade users from opting for Google's Chrome or Mozilla's Firefox web browsers. When searching on the company's new Edge browser for either Firefox or Chrome, Windows 10 users see an ominous message saying: “Microsoft recommends Microsoft Edge for Windows 10,” with a “Learn Why” button next to it. Clicking the button brings up a Microsoft web page that shows off all the features of Edge. A spokesman for Microsoft noted that Edge was designed specifically for Windows 10, and the notifications are to alert people to all the browser's features, but also explained that users can still choose whatever default browser they want.