Want this column in your inbox? Sign up here.
Need a break from the Mueller report? Or just want a quick rundown of the top headlines in business and tech, plus the big stories to watch in the week ahead? Catch up here.
What’s Up? Public Pinterest
Pinterest Inc., the digital pinboard where you can collect pictures of the life you wish you led, is now providing a new type of inspiration with its highly successful initial public offering. It joined another tech company, Zoom Video Communications, in going public on Thursday, and both finished their first day of trading well above their initial valuations. This is heartening news in Silicon Valley, where a number of other corporations are poised for their own I.P.O.s this year. It also eased fears that the lackluster performance of the ride-hailing company Lyft, the first of its cohort to go public, had scared off would-be tech investors. But Pinterest and Zoom may turn the tide.
Apple Rolls Over
What forced Apple, one of the world’s biggest companies, to throw in the towel on a multiyear legal battle on Tuesday? Perhaps it had no other choice. The back story: Qualcomm, which holds the patent on the tiny chips that make your iPhone work, was charging royalties on nearly every smartphone sold. Apple objected and refused to pay while continuing to use the chips, so Qualcomm sued. Then, a plot twist: Just as the case went to court this week, Qualcomm’s rival Intel announced its exit from the chip-making business — putting Apple in the awkward position of being totally dependent on Qualcomm for its 5G technology. It was a surprising turn of events (and a great one for Qualcomm), but more important: What’s the future of smartphones if Qualcomm has no competitors?
Hot Off the Presses
The ubiquitous tabloid The National Enquirer was sold this past week to James Cohen, a son of the founder of Hudson News, the equally ubiquitous airport chain that hawks magazines and gum. The publication has struggled with a string of legal issues stemming from its connections to President Trump (namely that its former chief executive, a longtime ally of Mr. Trump’s, used its resources to bury embarrassing stories about him during his 2016 campaign). More recently, it has been under federal investigation for claims that it threatened to publish lewd photographs of Amazon’s chief executive, Jeff Bezos. Mr. Cohen, who has previously done business with The Enquirer’s parent company, reportedly paid $100 million for it, a steep price for the deeply indebted enterprise. He says he plans to use its archive in podcasts and documentaries.
What’s Next? Tesla’s Show and Tell
Tesla will show off its new self-driving cars to investors at its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., on Monday and announce a “road map” for future developments. Although the technology is still in progress, autonomous vehicles will be available for attendees to “test drive” (or test sit, assuming the cars do what they’re supposed to). Is it a coincidence that this event, which will also be webcast for maximum coverage, is taking place two days before Tesla releases its first-quarter earnings, which may not be so great? Probably not.
Back and Forth to Beijing
Yes, the United States and China are still hashing out their overdue trade deal. But Washington did win one victory over Beijing on Thursday, when the World Trade Organization sided with the United States in a dispute over China’s restrictions on American grain imports. (The case was filed by the Obama administration in 2016.) China wasn’t happy with the ruling, but the trade talks drag on. Officials are planning two more rounds of face-to-face meetings at the end of April and beginning of May as they try to reach an agreement. Under the most optimistic circumstances, a presidential signing ceremony could happen as soon as next month. But the talks could also fall apart at any moment.
How’s It Going
This coming Friday, the Commerce Department will release its first-quarter economic growth data. The Federal Reserve recently lowered its growth estimates for 2019 to 2.1 percent — a full percentage point below the Trump administration’s forecast — and the new report may shed light on who’s got the more accurate picture. Either way, both parties acknowledge that the United States economy is slowing down. And amid concerns of an impending recession, the numbers will either assuage or stoke fears.
Soylent, the Silicon Valley-based company that makes drinkable “meals” so that you never have to leave your desk, is expanding into square-shaped chewable food. In other news, Samsung’s cool new Galaxy Fold phones are turning into a P.R. disaster after early users reported that the screen, which opens and closes like a book, also tends to stop working. And finally, France’s billionaires have donated hundreds of millions of euros to rebuild Notre-Dame — nice, but yet another reason for critics to point out the severe economic inequality that’s plagued the country in recent years.