A year ago, Facebook was soaring. Its stock price was higher than ever, and it had massive user numbers.
Then came 2018. From News Feed changes that slashed engagement to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, from enabling a genocide in Myanmar to a massive data breach that put 30 million Facebook profiles at risk, it's been Facebook's annus horribilis.
Some big public pension funds are now calling for Mark Zuckerberg's removal as the company's chairman. The state treasurers of Illinois, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island, along with the comptroller of New York City are all on board, The Wall Street Journal reports.
It's the kind of pressure that could make many companies buckle--but not Facebook. That's because Zuckerberg isn't the just founder, CEO, and chairman. He also personally controls nearly 60 percent of the voting power of Facebook shares. (There are two kinds of Facebook stock; the Class B shares that Zuckerberg and other insiders own have 10 times the voting rights of Class A shares.)
No matter what happens to the company, no matter how much Zuckerberg talks about "responsibility" and the buck stopping with him, he almost certainly isn't going anywhere. If you invest in Facebook, a big part of what you're investing in is still Mark Zuckerberg.
Here's what else I'm reading today:
The most lucrative contract in sports history
In the last few weeks, both HBO and Showtime said they're dropping boxing from their lineups. Yesterday, sports streaming service DAZN announced it's signed unified middleweight boxing champion Canelo Alvarez to a five-year, $365 million contract. It's the most lucrative sports contract in sports history, and it's the latest sign of the ascendance of "over-the-top television." (Brian Campbell, CBS Sports)
The price of private email: Maybe $499 a year
An email startup out of Washington State called Helm revealed a mass-market, $499-a-year private email server yesterday that physically sits in your home or office, and that they claim is simple to set up and use (unlike say, the server that Hillary Clinton used). Their timing sounds pretty good, with privacy concerns and simmering distrust of big email providers like Google.
Taylor Soper, GeekWire
The latest race in ride-sharing: Who gets to IPO first?
Rumors and reports of the impending initial public offerings of both Uber and Lyft have been swirling for months. After their latest announcements, it seems like a full-blown race between the two ride-sharing companies, with an assumption that whichever launches first will get a better reception. (Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times)
Why billionaires love this part of the U.S. Tax Code
The U.S. tax code identifies 8,700 Opportunity Zones around the country, which are low-income communities in which some investments come with massive tax benefits. Now, billionaires are finding an extra benefit: Massively positive PR, at the same time that they get incredibly favorable tax treatment. (Theodore Schleifer, Recode)
Forget selfies, now there are groupies
It's a First World problem, and a 21st century one at that. But you know how it's hard to take a selfie of an entire group? Google is taking care of that in the Pixel 3. So expect "groupie mode" to be the next widespread feature you didn't know you needed on just about every smartphone. (John Brandon, Inc.com)