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The latest updates on Elon Musk and Twitter...
April 27, 2022 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew

Augustinus Bader

Good morning. If you’ve been slacking on your Jeopardy! viewership, now’s the time to tune back in. Mattea Roach, a 23-year-old tutor from Canada, is the show’s latest sensation, winning 16 straight games for total winnings of $368,981. She’s now the highest-winning Canadian contestant in Jeopardy! history, which would make Ontario-native Alex Trebek quite proud.

Speaking of hosts, can we just make Ken Jennings full-time already?

Neal Freyman, Jamie Wilde, Max Knoblauch

MARKETS

Nasdaq

12,490.74

S&P

4,175.20

Dow

33,240.18

10-Year

2.734%

Bitcoin

$38,060.57

Tesla

$876.42

*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 11:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Stocks are really vibing with the “April showers” theme this month, and they continued to slide dramatically yesterday over fears of slowing economic growth. Deutsche Bank didn’t improve Wall Street’s mood, forecasting a “major recession” when the Fed yanks interest rates higher to tame inflation.
  • The war in Ukraine: Russia appears to be going through with its threat to cut off its gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria on Wednesday. That dramatic move sent European gas prices as much as 17% higher in anticipation that Russia will start halting shipments to other countries as well. Russia has demanded that “unfriendly” nations pay for gas in rubles, which they’ve refused to do.

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Elon and Twitter: Day 2

Elon Musk pointing with a bird on his finger Photo Illustration: Dianna “Mick” McDougall, Photo: Getty Images/Frederic J. Brown

Still nursing a hangover from Twitter accepting Elon Musk’s buyout offer? Well, the only cure, they say, is to imbibe more. Here’s the latest on the deal that rocked the world.

Tesla shares cratered. Shares of the EV company helmed by Musk fell more than 12% yesterday, erasing more than $125 billion in market value. Investors might be spooked that even the seemingly superhuman Musk could lose focus while trying to overhaul Twitter, or that he would have to sell his Tesla shares to help pay for the deal. It also means that Musk lost $21 billion on paper yesterday, which is the same amount he has personally committed to the Twitter purchase.

There is a breakup fee: According to a new SEC filing, Musk would potentially owe Twitter $1 billion if his financing sources fall through. Alternatively, Twitter would owe Musk $1 billion if shareholders ultimately reject the offer or if it finds a more attractive buyer. The deal is expected to close by October 24.

Jack Dorsey got deep. The former Twitter CEO and current Block Head tweeted on Monday that “Elon is the singular solution I trust. I trust his mission to extend the light of consciousness.”

Bezos was a bit more skeptical. Musk’s archrival on Earth and in space wondered, given the importance of the Chinese market to Tesla’s business, “Did the Chinese government just gain a bit of leverage over the town square?” Bezos answered his own question with “probably not,” since “Musk is extremely good at navigating this kind of complexity.” Time to make up, boys?

Follower counts fluctuated along party lines. Musk’s pledge to allow unfettered speech on Twitter was celebrated by Republicans, who seemingly began to flock to the platform following the deal’s announcement. In the hours following the news, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and liberal TV host Rachel Maddow both lost scores of followers, while conservatives Dinesh D'Souza and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene both gained at least 41,000, per The Bulwark’s Barry Rubin.

Ask the audience: Do you think Twitter’s product will improve, get worse, or mostly remain the same under Musk’s ownership?

Improve

Get worse

Mostly remain the same

NF

        

WORLD

Tour de headlines

A flight attendant hands out headphones on a Baltimore, Maryland bound Delta flight departing from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Rob Carr/Getty Images

Boarding just got more pleasant for Delta flight attendants. The company announced it’ll begin paying flight attendants during boarding time. It’s a first for a major US airline (typically, flight attendant pay begins when the plane’s door closes and passengers are seated). The Association of Flight Attendants, a union that has been attempting to organize Delta employees, said, “This new policy is the direct result of our organizing.”

Robinhood announced layoffs. The trading app is letting about 9% of its full-time employees go, saying that its hiring spree last year led to “duplicate roles and job functions.” Robinhood’s stock is down more than 71% since it went public last summer.

A lot of you had Covid. At least 58% of the US population had antibodies from a previous Covid-19 infection in February, up from 34% in December, according to new data from the CDC. What happened in between? Omicron. Another startling finding: 75% of children and teenagers have antibodies from a previous infection.

        

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CRYPTO

Yeet your 401(k) into bitcoin, Fidelity says

Yeet your 401(k) into bitcoin, Fidelity says Workaholics/Paramount via Giphy

Fidelity announced plans yesterday to become the first major retirement provider to allow savers to invest their 401(k) in bitcoin.

The specifics: Later this year, the 23,000 companies that use Fidelity’s retirement services can add bitcoin to their employees’ investment options. Employees will then be able to transfer up to 20% of their balance into a bitcoin-holding account, and divert up to 20% of their paycheck contributions there going forward, too.

However, employers can impose lower caps or opt out altogether—and many likely will. Concerns over the practice loom large: Last month, the US Labor Department urged employers to be Chuckie Finster-level cautious about adding crypto to 401(k) plans.

  • Meanwhile, proponents say sprinkling some crypto into a retirement portfolio can counter losses in traditional holdings and even act as an inflation hedge.

Looking ahead…while Fidelity plans to expand beyond bitcoin to other digital assets, its competitors are sticking with fiat. Vanguard Group told the WSJ it won’t be adding crypto to its retirement plans. Per the company’s website, cryptocurrencies are “highly speculative” and “their long-term investment case is weak.”—JW

        

EDUCATION

Harvard addresses its historical ties to slavery

An aerial view of Harvard's campus Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images

Following a substantial report detailing its historical ties to slavery, segregation, and discrimination, Harvard University announced yesterday that it will commit $100 million to further study and redress those ties. It’s the latest of a number of higher educational institutions seeking to acknowledge its stained legacy.

The report revealed that Harvard directly profited from slavery for centuries as it became America’s preeminent university. Among its other findings:

  • More than 70 Black and Native American people were enslaved by Harvard faculty and staff between 1636 and 1783.
  • Through financial relationships with donors, Harvard profited from slavery into the 19th century—and some of those donors’ names still adorn buildings on campus.

The report’s authors—a committee of Harvard faculty members—made a series of recommendations to work as a foundation to redress the institution’s legacy. Rather than direct financial reparations to the descendants of enslaved people, the report recommends the fund be used to improve educational opportunities for descendants, establish relationships with Black colleges and universities, and honor enslaved people through memorials, curriculum, and research.

Zoom out: Despite the pandemic, Harvard’s endowment jumped 27% in 2021 to $53 billion.—MK

        

GRAB BAG

Key performance indicators

Times Square Getty Images

Stat: In 2016, the economic output of New York’s Times Square was equivalent to the entire city of Nashville’s, and accounted for 15% of NYC’s economy, according to HR&A Advisors. But after the pandemic left office towers empty, the district is borrowing the Las Vegas playbook by leaning into entertainment and hospitality in hopes for a revival, the WSJ writes.

Quote: “If I have to, I will take this all the way to the Supreme Court.”

NBA legend Jerry West told the LA Times that he is really not a fan of HBO’s Winning Time—a show dramatizing the Lakers’ Showtime era in the 1980s. West is portrayed by Jason Clarke as a likable—albeit severely hotheaded—individual in the show but, according to West, he and the rest of the Lakers are made to look like cartoon characters. Last week, West’s attorney sent a letter to HBO demanding a retraction of the “false depiction.” In response, HBO announced that it stands by the show, which was recently renewed for a second season.

Read: The private equity giant KKR bought hundreds of homes for people with disabilities. Some vulnerable residents suffered abuse and neglect. (BuzzFeed News)

        

BREW'S BETS

Earth clock: Just go to this website and wait for ~it~ to happen. You’ll see.

Background music: The National Recording Registry inducted new audio recordings as “worthy of preservation for all time” based on their cultural importance. Listen to a playlist.

Sidekick is our spunky newsletter here to help you level-up your career and your life. We’re serving up career advice, productivity hacks, and content recs—all in the smart, witty tone you’ve come to expect from the Brew. Sign up here.

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WHAT ELSE IS BREWING

  • Alphabet shares slid after YouTube ad revenue came in lower than expected last quarter.
  • Wimbledon said it won’t have a vaccine requirement for players to participate this summer, meaning Novak Djokovic will be allowed to defend his title.
  • The housing market is still bananas. Only 14% of new home sales in March went for below $300,000. In March 2021, it was 34%, per the National Association of Home Builders.
  • VP Kamala Harris tested positive for Covid-19. The White House said she hadn’t come into close contact with President Biden in recent days.

GAMES

The puzzle section

Word Search: The theme for today’s puzzle is “final movie scenes.” Take a trip to the cinema here.

Book trivia

What’s the most famous book you can think of that’s never been adapted into a movie?

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ANSWER

The most widely cited book that’s never been made into a movie is J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. Others include One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez and Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

         

Written by Neal Freyman, Max Knoblauch, and Jamie Wilde

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