Russia Says Nyet to LinkedIn; No Regrets for Macy’s on Ditching President-Elect’s Line; Trump Making Plans

Linked Out…

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It’s Game on between LinkedIn and Russia as the social network gets banned by the Russian government. Back in 2015 Russia passed a new law requiring foreign websites to store personal data of Russian users on Russian servers. While LinkedIn counts six million registered users in the country, the social media giant said no thank you to the new law and now finds itself listed in a very unflattering registry of websites that are banned in the country. Russia’s leaders would like to put an end to its dependance on foreign tech and is even in the process of developing replacements for such services like WhatsApp. In case it wasn’t obvious, Russia has been stepping up its control over internet usage in the last few years. In the meantime Google, eBay and Uber have been looking for ways to comply with the new law lest their fate ends up similar to that of LinkedIn. However, all eyes are on Facebook to see if and how the social media giant intends to deal with this lofty piece of legislation .

Trump’d Up…

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Today, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren said that he stands by his decision to boot Donald Trump’s clothing line from his stores back in the summer of 2015. Trump had tried to retaliate by getting people to boycott the department store. But after all, Trump did say that many Mexican immigrants were rapists and murderers and well, that’s just not cool. So needless to say, his calls to boycott weren’t all that successful. Well, maybe a little as Macy’s has been struggling to post some solid quarterly gains. In any case, the retailer has been trying to court more Hispanic shoppers and getting rid of a line of clothing from a man who has been nothing short of hostile and racist seems like a prudent move. To be fair, Lundgren says he would have had to get rid of Trump’s clothing line once he entered politics anyway, even if he hadn’t made his odious comments. Macy’s doesn’t do politics and Lundgren added that even if Hillary Clinton had her clothing own line – of pantsuits, presumably – that would have to go as well once she announced her political aspirations. Incidentally, Ivanka’s clothing line at Macy’s is alive and well, which seems only right considering she has yet to offend entire races of people. Also incidentally, Ivanka’s line is manufactured in China and the Donald just hates it when American businesses outsource manufacturing there. In fact, as part of his economic plans, he wants to impose harsh tariffs on imports in an effort to curb, or perhaps even obliterate the practice. Good luck with that one, Ivanka.

More Trump’d Up…

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In other Trump news, rumor has it that the President-Elect wants to install JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon as Treasury Secretary. FYI, Dimon is a life-long Democrat and Obama supporter, although the arrival of the Dodd-Frank laws made him a less enthusiastic one. What’s so very peculiar about Trump’s choice is that he once criticized Dimon for his decision to settle civil suits against the bank. Donald is not one to settle court cases. At least that’s what he said. In the meantime, there’s no word from Jamie Dimon about whether he plans to accept. However, other rumors are swirling that he won’t as he was rooting for Hillary Clinton to win the election. And you know who probably wont be asked to join Trump’s government? Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. As the owner of the Washington Post, Jeff Bezos didn’t care for Trump’s opinions on the mainstream media bias and said Trump was “eroding our democracy.” Incidentally, Amazon’s stock went down today over 4%. Experts say it’s because all tech stocks, including Apple, Google and Microsoft took a beating today since Trump’s economic plans don’t do much for that sector. But the experts with a better sense of humor – and serious undertones – think the drop is because it’s payback time for Bezos and company, who for the most part don’t care for the President-Elect and were pretty vocal about it during campaign season. The tech sector employs a large population of foreign engineers and, well you know how Trump feels about that. Experts also think that companies like Amazon can expect payback in the form of higher taxes and anti-trust litigation. At least Bezos had the good sense to tweet: “I for one give him my most open mind and wish him great success in his service to the country.” Maybe Bezos will get a pass this time. Wink wink, nod nod.

 

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Game Over for Gawker; Yelp-ing With Joy; Election Triggers Record Gun Sales

 

Over and done with…

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The invasion of privacy lawsuit that forced Gawker into bankruptcy has finally come to a close. Well, almost. All Gawker needs to do is write a check to Hulk Hogan for $31 million, which is actually small potatoes considering that the original judgement against Gawker was for $140 million. Hogan’s suit was helped by the fact that PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel secretly financed the suit. He’s no fan of Gawker founder Nick Denton ever since he outed Thiel back in 2007. Of Hogan’s lawsuit, Thiel said, “I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.” He makes a valid point. In any case, Gawker was forced to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the company’s assets were sold in a government auction to Univision for the bargain price of $135 million. But I guess that’s what you’d call payback.

Surprise!!!

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Yelp had a nice surprise today in the form of a profit. And who doesn’t like a surprise like that?  However, with that profit came the news that the company would be saying goodbye to 175 employees – 4% of its workforce – since the company has been unsuccessful in its attempts to expand across the pond. Yelp, which reviews restaurants and other assorted businesses, makes its money through advertising, of course, and also through other services like online reservations. The company’s third quarter net income was $2.1 million, earning the site 22 cents per share, even though experts predicted a 3 cent per share loss. The company’s revenue rose by 30% to $186.2 million, again beating expectations of $183 million. That was a major change from Yelp’s year-over-year profit loss of $8.1 million and 11 cents per share. The company saw a 29% uptick in reviews which brought its total customers to 115 million users.

Oh shoot!

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Leave it to the presidential race to send gun sales soaring. Both Sturm-Ruger and Smith & Wesson have been reporting months of record gun sales. In the meantime, FBI background checks to purchase firearms rose 16% to 2.3 million this year from last year’s 2 million during the same period. And you can expect background checks to set a new record for 2016. How’s that for a correlation?  Anticipating new gun-control regulations, gun enthusiasts are stocking up as the second amendment figures prominently in this election. As a result, Sturm-Ruger not only experienced a sales surge back in the summer, but saw net sales in its third quarter jump 34% 10 $161.4 million as consumers loaded up on such favorites like concealed-carry pistols and AR-15 rifles.  Profits also went up for the company 66% to $20 million and $1.03 per share. Sturm-Ruger took all possible political outcomes into consideration both in the White House and the Senate.  While Hillary Clinton hopes to bring back the assault weapons ban, Donald Trump wants to tweak gun legislation and focus on healthcare for the mentally ill instead. The irony is that Sturm-Ruger sales went up following incidents involving gun violence that led to politicians demanding stricter gun-control laws. If gun enthusiasts feel that it will be more difficult to purchase guns in the future, they stock up now. During Sturm’s second quarter earnings call, the company implored its customers and “all freedom-loving Americans to take action in support of the Second Amendment.” Sturm-Ruger pledged $2 to the NRA for every gun it sold and offered to match all donations up to $5 million. Incidentally, despite record gun sales, shares of both Smith and Wesson and Sturm-Ruger had been down 11%. Look for Smith & Wesson’s earnings December 6.