Uber of a Mess in California; Starbucks Bids Adieu to La Boulange; Botox Plumps Up With Kythera

This could pose a problem…

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of digitalart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Things could get very ugly for ride-hailing app Uber, now that the California Labor Commission decided that Uber drivers are actual employees, like taxi drivers and pizza deliverers, and not independent contractors, as Uber sees them. The trouble for Uber began when a woman named Barbara Ann Berwick filed suit for additional compensation and the company denied her request. She took her case to the California courts where she was awarded $4,152. However, that $4,152 could actually end up feeling like billions. The company, which is privately held and has a $40 billion valuation, is appealing the ruling, as it has the potential to set a big bad precedent not just for Uber, but for other ride-sharing apps as well. Because, if Uber is forced to call its one million drivers employees, it will have to start accounting for all the expenses that go with it, like social security, workers comp, etc. and that will likely mean that  not only will Uber’s operating costs go up, but the costs for the riders go up too. By a lot.

Gone gourmet…

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It seemed like a good idea at the time, but alas, no dice as Starbucks gets set to shutter all 23 of its La Boulange bakery cafes. Even though Starbucks saw 16% growth in food with a 35% increase from just its breakfast sandwich offerings this past quarter, the gourmet goods apparently just don’t fit in with Starbucks’ long term growth plans. Translation: La Boulange may be bringing in cash now, but Starbucks isn’t convinced that it’s fiscally prudent to keep it around for the long haul. Starbucks bought La Boulange for $100 million back in 2012 because the coffee chain wanted to offer expensive fancy food that you could purchase with your extra fancy mocha drinks. While the cafes are closing, you can still get your La Boulange fancy food fix at regular Starbucks cafes. As for all those La Boulange employees who are about to be sans paycheck? Puhlease, you didn’t think a socially conscious company like Starbucks  would leave them high and dry, did you? (Insert jokes about Starbucks flopped campaign to talk about race here.) Starbucks will be helping those folks find new gainful employment, hopefully at establishments that Starbucks is not looking to unload.

Freeze…

Image courtesy of patpitchaya/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of patpitchaya/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Allergan, maker of everybody’s favorite wrinkle freezer, Botox, is buying itself some new plastic surgery fun, picking up biopharmaceutical firm Kythera for $2.1 billion. Allergan is paying 80% of that $2.1 billion in cold hard cash, with the rest paid out in shares of Allergan. And who doesn’t want a few shares of a biopharmaceutical company whose main focus is facial aesthetics? At that price, Kythera is getting about $75 per share, which seems like a lot… because it is – it’s about a 24% premium on Tuesday’s closing stock price. But hey, it’s totally worth it since Kythera also has its own beloved cosmetic treatments, including one for double chins called Kybella. Don’t laugh. Kythera’s double chin fix is currently the only non-surgical treatment for that pesky double chin issue. Of course, it entails a needle that needs to be inserted. But what’s a little needle if it gets rid of a double chin, right? Kythera’s also got something in the works for male pattern baldness. This company has GQ written all over it. In any case, Allergan, which also has Latisse and Juvederm in its cosmetic collection, is currently the fifth biggest pharmaceutical company. Which is great. Except, what to do about the fact that insurance companies don’t usually cover any of its treatments?

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Who’re You Calling Chicken? “X” Marks the $10 Million Spot and Burgers and Lattes and Beer, Oh My

Appetizing mergers…

Image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of debspoons/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s been a lot of talk of pilgrims today even though Thanksgiving is still six months away. That’s because food corporation Pilgrim’s Pride, a Colorado based company that sells chicken products made a very meaty offer to buy Hillshire Farms for about $6 billion. Just a couple of weeks ago, Hillshire Farms, the company behind Jimmy Dean Sausages and the ubiquitously advertised Ball Park hot dogs announced similar plans of its own to buy Pinnacle Foods from Blackstone Group LLP. But my how the (dinner) tables have turned and Pilgrim’s Pride said that unless Hillshire chucks its plans to buy Pinnacle, then it can keep its sausages. However, if Hillshire does indeed decide to go ahead and eat up Pilgrim’s Pride offer, then the poultry product producer will fork over $163 million to pay Pinnacle Foods’ termination fee.

Ahoy Amazon…

Image courtesy of Pong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pong/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you thought buried treasure is just for movies these days, then you might want to check out Amazon (after you finish reading this blog, of course). Tonight 1,400 19th century coins are being auctioned off on the site. The coins were discovered by a couple who were out walking their dog on their own property. While there was no “X” marking any spot, there was a suspicious looking canister making its way out of the ground. All the coins of $5, $10 and $20 denominations are, at face value, worth about $28,000. But because the coins, dated from 1847-1890 are rare, old and in “mint” condition –  the coins are set to fetch about $10 million. And no you can’t go digging in other people’s property.

Lattes and burgers? Be still my beating heart…

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of KEKO64/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you’re jonesing for a burger to complement your mocha chai latte ( I don’t even know if that’s a real thing) then Starbucks might just have the solution. The Seattle based coffee mega chain is buzzing with plans to open a La Boulange eatery in Los Angeles. Starbucks picked up the bakery chain almost a year ago for $100 million. The last time Starbucks tried to enter the gourmet food arena, customers weren’t exactly eating it up. This particular establishment, however, set to open June 11, lets customers build their own burgers and it’s offering alcohol. Sounds like a win-win to me.