Tech Buzz

Did BuzzFeed Just Commit Suicide?

Remember the oldie, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim”? The chorus goes like this: “You don’t tug on superman’s cape, You don’t spit into the wind, You don’t pull the mask off that old lone ranger, And you don’t mess around with Jim.” One of the lessons we learned last year is that what goes for “Jim” likely also goes for Peter Thiel, who is one of President-elect Donald Trump’s leading supporters.

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ApprovedBusinessBusiness and finance

Two big European makers of eyewear agree to merge

GIANT, cross-border mergers in Europe have been rare in recent years. Deals fail to happen even when mid-sized companies—such as family-owned and run specialist manufacturers in northern Italy or the Mittelstand in Germany—have the chance to gain global heft. For that blame founding owner-managers, many of whom are reluctant to lose control of treasured companies. Blame too an artisanal culture, particularly in southern Europe, in which firms’ owners say they are content to remain small and relatively obscure. Occasionally, too, nationalist politicians block efforts by perfidious foreigners to snaffle prized local brands.

Now, though, one of the largest-ever mergers in Europe actually looks set to go ahead. Luxottica, an Italian maker of fancy specs that was founded in 1961—it owns brands such as Ray Ban and Oakley—is to merge with Essilor, a spiffy French producer of lenses. The joint entity is set to combine Italian style with deft French engineering. The deal is supposed to be completed by the end of the year, creating a new entity with a market value of €46bn ($49bn), 140,000 staff and annual revenues of €15bn. It will be listed on…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Air India may segregate some women passengers for their own safety

SEGREGATION on airlines has a long history. Sometimes it is understandable. Carriers’ business models depend on them drawing a curtain between those of us stuffed into economy-class seats and our betters who have paid for lie-flat beds. Other times it has been immoral. While racial segregation on American planes was never legal, in some airports during the first half of the 20th century it was the norm to insist that blacks did not mix with whites in the terminals. 

That particular outrage has been consigned to the past. But new forms of segregation are replacing it. This time, though, they are less to do with enshrining differences and more for the benefit of those being segregated. Or so the argument goes.

On 11th January, Ashwani Lohani, the boss of Air India, told The Hindu newspaper that the carrier plans to reserve six seats in the front rows of its aeroplanes for women passengers who are travelling alone. As the paper explains:

The move assumes significance, as it comes soon after an on-board…Continue reading

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Business and financeButtonwood's notebook

The infrastructure dilemma; castles in the air or bridges to nowhere?

IF THERE is a consensus at the moment, it must be that infrastructure spending is a good thing. It employs workers, improves economic efficiency and, at the moment, can be financed at rock-bottom bond yields. So why don’t governments get on with it?

The problem is multi-faceted. While people tend to be enthusiastic about infrastructure in general, they are more critical of specific projects. If they are in the country, then they ruin the currency; if they are in the town, then they ruin neighbourhoods or impinge on private property rights. When it comes to public infrastructure projects, the benefits are long-term but the costs are short-term. The politicians that authorises the project is rarely the same one that opens it.  So an elected leader gets all the flak from those who oppose this white elephant/blot on the landscape but none of the praise for the reduced traffic jams or cheaper power that ensue. Occasionally a leader might be tempted into authorising a big scheme (like Britain’s high-speed rail) but as the Continue reading

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