The Economist

New means of getting from A to B are disrupting carmaking

IN THE DECADES after the second world war carmakers were the undisputed champions of the personal-transport economy. Competition and economies of scale made cars affordable to millions of motorists in industrialised countries. In the 1980s and 1990s the likes of General Motors (GM) and Toyota boasted some of the world’s richest market capitalisations. When it…

The method in Microsoft’s merger madness

Making sense of the software giant’s acquisitive streakTAKE OUR cash, or at least our shares. That appears to be Microsoft’s mantra these days. After failing to acquire the American operations of TikTok, a short-video app, last year, the software giant was recently rumoured to be in takeover talks with Pinterest, a virtual pin-board, and Discord,…

Life after the C-suite

THERE COMES a time when even the most glittering career must come to an end. Choosing the right moment to retire is difficult enough, but many people also struggle to imagine what they could possibly do next. In their new book, “Changing Gear”, Jan Hall, a former headhunter, and Jon Stokes, a psychologist, discuss the…

A new boss at L’Oréal will have to prove he is worth it

What will beauty habits look like after the pandemic?ACCORDING TO INDUSTRY lore, lipstick sales increase in recessions as women opt for affordable indulgences. This time it has been firms peddling masks and video-conferencing software that have prospered. But as face-to-face life slowly resumes in much of the world, purveyors of shampoo, skin creams, perfumes and…

Can South-East Asian tech’s hot streak last?

WHEN UBER came to South-East Asia, the Silicon Valley ride-hailing giant coaxed customers into cabs with free ice cream, a tactic it had deployed in Western markets. Grab, a local rival based in Singapore, plied riders with durian, a pungent tropical fruit that repels many Westerners but is beloved of people in places like Indonesia,…

CEO activism in America is risky business

IF YOU ARE an emblem of American harmony like Coca-Cola, you play your politics carefully, especially on issues as divisive as race and voting. The soft-drinks company did so brilliantly in 1964 when the elite of Atlanta—home to both Coca-Cola and Martin Luther King—threatened to snub the civil-rights leader on his return from winning the…

China’s rulers want more control of big tech

Editor’s update: on April 10th Chinese authorities fined Alibaba 18.2bn yuan ($2.8bn) following an antitrust investigation. The firm is accused of pressuring retailers into offering their goods exclusively on its online store. It is the largest penalty ever handed down by the country’s regulators.CHINA’S TECH tycoons have not been themselves lately. In early March, at…

Brace for the Amazon effect on live sport

IN 1993 FOX, a nascent cable network owned by Rupert Murdoch, an Australian-born tycoon, paid a fortune to scoop the rights to National Football League (NFL) games from under the nose of CBS, a veteran broadcaster. It caused a tremor in American television history. As one CBS reporter put it, “The NFL was ingrained in…

Clubhouse may fade. Group voice chat is here to stay

What Silicon Valley’s latest hype cycle says about the future of social mediaONE OF SILICON VALLEY’S most successful inventions is hype. It usually disappoints. In 2015 live-streaming from smartphones became all the rage. But Meerkat, an app which pioneered it, shut down the following year. On April 1st Periscope, its more successful rival, did too…

Cairn Energy takes on India’s government

A Scottish firm threatens to seize overseas assets of state-controlled Indian firmsFACED WITH recalcitrant sovereign counterparties, foreign investors and companies occasionally take drastic action. A picaresque example of the genre occurred in 2012, when Elliott Management, a buccaneering American hedge fund which held distressed Argentine bonds, seized a handsome tall ship belonging to Argentina’s navy.…

Pfizer’s boss thinks covid-19 is reshaping Big Pharma for the better

The industry is becoming nimbler and more innovative“THE IMPOSSIBLE can many times become possible,” reflects Albert Bourla, boss of Pfizer. He is talking about the giant American drugmaker’s speedy development (with BioNTech of Germany) of a vaccine against covid-19. The sentiment also applies to the turnaround in the fortunes of the pharmaceutical industry.Listen to this…

A leaked memo from a chief impact officer

The newest addition to the C-suite talks climate change and hot tubsDEAR COLLEAGUES,This is my first memo as the newly appointed chief impact officer at Global United Financial Firms (GUFF) and I would like to thank everyone for welcoming me to the group. Some of you will be unfamiliar with the role of chief impact…