And-I-trust


April 17, 2019

Today, pickpockets are back, and work-related wellness programs are getting some flak, but first…
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Editor’s note: Yesterday, we wrote about a partnership between Pepsi and StartRocket. We got some details wrong: StartRocket tested a Pepsi product logo on a stratospheric balloon, not its full “orbital billboard.” 

Companies are focused on antitrust violations, and Apple’s heavily in the mix

As regulators continue to move at a glacial pace, Axios reports that companies themselves are subjecting rivals to charges of unfair monopolies to disrupt Big Tech market dominance.

First established as the Sherman Act in 1890, antitrust laws were put into place to allow the government to set up roadblocks to neutralize major monopolistic behavior. 

Keepin’ the competition honest

In 2016, we saw Walmart file an antitrust suit against the “big three” tuna providers (Chicken of the Sea, StarKist, and BumbleBee) over fixing canned-tuna prices

But wait, there’s more…

Apple’s not far from the antitrust tree either

The tech powerhouse is getting caught up on both sides of the coin.

In a private antitrust action of sorts, The NYT and WaPo told Apple to “kick rocks” when it asked the storied news publications to join Apple’s news service that offers access to a variety of publications for a fixed price of $9.99.

Of course, it’s the 50% cut of each publication’s subscription revenue demanded by Apple that the news producers are balking at.

Then yesterday, Apple and Qualcomm settled their two years-long tussle over the 5% royalty the chip-making giant was netting on all iPhone sales — a move Apple has long called an unfair monopoly due to the company’s chip-making prowess.

But wait, there’s more

Last month it was Spotify that filed a complaint against Apple for its insane 30% tax on app store purchases (yes, the same reason Apple sued Qualcomm).

This comes after a group of iPhone users sued Apple for the exact same thing.

   @ Me Anything
Wes Schlagenhauf, News Writer at The Hustle
@wesschlagenhauf

Soon, companies will file antitrust suits against Apple for “unfairly” monopolizing antitrust suits.
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Obsessive phone scrolling is kicking off a pickpocket renaissance

When pockets started filling up with credit cards instead of cash wads around 2000, it appeared as though career wallet-whisperers would have to pick a new type of petty crime.

But, despite constant reports of the coming of a cashless economy, cash didn’t disappear as completely as expected. Now that pedestrians are more digitally distracted than ever, pickpockets are making an unlikely comeback, The Atlantic reports.

A pocket half empty becomes a pocket half full

Good pickpockets made $12k a month (inflation-adjusted) in the ’80s and ’90s. But from 2000 to 2010, the number of slick picks dwindled to the point that cops estimated only 40 career picks were left in Manhattan.

But then something strange began to happen — pocket-picking started increasing again. 

Last year, pickpocketing on transit systems increased 15% in Manhattan and 13% in Chicago. Even San Francisco, ground zero for cashless convenience, saw an 8% uptick in public-transit-pocketing. 

So, why did pickpocketing pick up again?

In a word: distraction. Pickpocketing is built on distraction, and thanks to the constant connectedness that comes with smartphones, people in public are more distracted than ever.

By combining classic sleight-of-hand techniques like “the sandwich” (bumping from one side and swiping from the other) with dastardly digital tricks like “shoulder surfing” (peeking at PIN numbers from over the shoulder), pickpockets can profit from cash, debit cards, and phones.

Smartphones, which resell for $200 even when disabled, are now the top pick. But debit cards (which still yield a profit) and cash (which is still the most popular payment method) are also still swiped.

» Pick your poison, pick your pocket

What will happen to wellness programs that don’t keep budgets healthy?

New research suggests that wellness programs may not improve employee health or decrease healthcare spending, as many companies previously believed.

Now that companies know wellness won’t cut healthcare costs, they’ll have to decide whether they’re still willing to invest in employee wellness.

Wellness programs don’t work as well as we thought

Research based on 33k workers at BJ’s Wholesale Club showed that workers enrolled in wellness programs for 1.5 years didn’t end up with better blood pressure levels, body mass indices, or cholesterol levels than their non-wellness peers — and their healthcare costs weren’t any lower.

But even though they didn’t look different on scales or in blood samples, they reportedly exercised more and watched their weight more carefully — which could lead to improved lifetime outcomes.

These findings contradict the generally accepted idea that wellness programs lower costs for businesses. But, more importantly, it confronts businesses with a difficult question…

Are wellness programs designed to cut costs or promote health?

In 2018, 82% of companies with more than 200 employees offered some kind of wellness program. But most of these programs were built on the belief that healthy employees beget healthy balance sheets.

In the name of cutting costs, some companies have even begun using 3rd-party data from connected devices like Apple Watches to make hyper-specific wellness programs, inviting lawsuits.

But some companies have begun prioritizing mental health, stress reduction, and overall life satisfaction over specific metrics like blood pressure or BMI. Based on this research, that trend will likely continue.

» Well, well, wellness

Kickstarter and Indiegogo are getting more involved in crowdsourcing campaigns

As many crowdsourced projects often fail to deliver (figuratively and literally), companies like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have started breaking down barriers between the platforms and their campaigners and backers. 

Story time…

When Mousr, an autonomous cat toy maker, raised $17k over the company’s $100k goal, the company took the money and got to work, setting an approximate shipping date within a year of launch.

But backers didn’t receive their toy until 4 years later (around a quarter of the average cat’s lifespan), meaning many of the cats had died before getting to play with ol’ android vermin surprise.

The reality is… 

Crowdfunded gadgets are often delayed for months or years, sometimes never shipping at all.

To address mishaps like Mousr (and too many others to count), Kickstarter and Indiegogo have made changes designed to keep backers informed, provide a fail-safe to campaigners, and ensure accountability if they do.

That’s enough from the peanut gallery

  • Both companies have added third-party resources and tools to help get first-time hardware makers through the production process.
  • Indiegogo told The Verge it will also launch multiple campaigns this year with an optional “guaranteed delivery” badge that tells backers they’ll either receive their product or get a refund.
  • Under this model, founders won’t receive their raised funds until they begin to ship — which means companies have to already have enough cash to develop and make their product.

Doesn’t this defeat the purpose?

While it’s obviously good to have support, the very core concept of crowdfunding is the idea of risk and reward. Without those elements, what is it?

» Shark Tank, then crowdsource
The times they are a gamin’

It didn’t take long for Fortnite to end up in the break room…

Inspired by research that shows employees are more productive after playing collaborative games (like Fortnite), startups are creating Slack channels that incorporate regular gaming into office culture in order to “improve collaboration,” Quartz reports.

Now that sounds like a benefit
 
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Too good, too true → deals, deals, deals

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