“And you thought Amazon was the only one making money from books…” – Jeff
The market was absolutely ripping during the short session on Friday. The S&P and Nasdaq both hit new highs.
Today we’re discussing a huge acquisition in the publishing industry.
Publishers clearing house
Your parents aren’t the only ones sick of their deadbeat kid living in their basement.
ViacomCBS is kicking publisher Simon & Schuster out of the nest. The newly re-integrated media giant is selling S&S to Penguin Random House for just a hair over $2B.
Why is Viacom trying to get rid of one of the largest publishers in the US?
Because paper-backs don’t pay the bills, you guys.
And because the only streaming service worse than CBS All Access is Quibi. ViacomCBS has a fragmented offering that includes CBS All Access (so… CSI reruns), Pluto TV (raise your hand if you were today years old when you found out what Pluto TV was), and Showtime (ok, the first two seasons on ‘Billions’ were good).
But it needs some cold hard cash to play catch up with the big boy.
ViacomCBS plans to use the proceeds from the S&S sale, the cash from its recent $500M sale of CNET and other assets that are on the auction block to fund its Paramount+ rebrand.
What’s the worst that could happen?
The good news for the two major publishers set to join forces? Through the nine-month period ended October 3rd, book sales rose 6.4% on the year.
The bad news? Penguin Random House accounted for nearly 25% of book sales and Simon & Schuster sold 9% of books in the US. That’s 34% of total sales for those of you keeping track at home. “Wait, why’s that bad?”
*The Department of Justice’s Spidey Senses start tingling*
PRH and S&S owning more than one third of US book sales could raise antitrust red flags. And Penguin has already been doing its best big tech impression as of late, scooping up smaller competitors like children’s publisher Little Tiger Group and a Spanish language publisher.
For what it’s worth (read: not much) Penguin believes there is plenty of competition and everything is totally kosher.
The bottom line…
Bookworms had a lot to say about the move…
Literary agent Richard Pine has concerns that one giant publisher controlling the space could be a disaster for the written word: “It’s like baseball, you need the minor leagues. Authors need to be nurtured.” Sounds like Mr. Pine got participation trophies growing up.
The CEO of HarperCollins (the company that lost out on S&S to PRH) dropped the mic after indicating “There will certainly be legal books written about this deal, though I wonder if Bertelsmann [Penguin’s parent company] would publish them.”
Crazier things have happened…
What’s the only thing that Marc Benioff likes more than cultural appropriation on indigenous Hawaiians (Marc, we get it, you went to Hawaii once)? That’s right, acquisitions.
And Salesforce has its eye on its biggest acquisition to date: Slack. Yes, the company that plans to kill email… but isn’t exactly clear how it plans to do so (but hey, dream big, kid!).
Experts believe the deal could be valued at as much as $25B and close as soon as this week, potentially ahead of Salesforce’s earnings call on Tuesday.
“Salesforce is on the clock.” (extremely Roger Goodell voice).
Billionaire throws pocket change at peasants
Presumably inspired by Tyler Perry’s recent acts of kindness, Jeff Bezos (well, technically Amazon) will shell out $500M as part of a holiday bonus program geared towards its fulfillment center workers.
The people who make sure you get your packages in 2 days or less will earn a $300 bonus if they are employed for the entire month of December.
In case you’re thinking “that sure doesn’t seem like a lot,” keep this in mind: it’s not.
Jeff “Man of the People” Bezos also recently wronged the worker bees by offering $3k sign on bonuses to new hires that came in to help during the holiday season… but a turkey voucher to current employees.
We are professional grade
From the company that brought you “it’s a good idea to invest in Nikola” comes “let’s open a bank when interest rates are near zero.”
GM is looking to get (back) into the banking game. The US carmaker has reportedly applied for an industrial bank charter, which differs from a traditional bank charter in that many of the Federal Reserve regulations don’t apply.
It would look to offer deposit products like high yield checking accounts. Just one problem… ultra low interest rates don’t make that an incredibly lucrative business.
You might remember that this isn’t GM’s first foray into banking. GMAC was set up similarly. That is, of course, before it nearly collapsed in 2008 thanks to a portfolio of subprime mortgages that went bust. Interestingly, GMAC was forced to convert to a traditional bank so that it could take a $17B bailout from the government.
Following the financial crisis GMAC rebranded as Ally (oldest trick in the book). GM sold off Ally in 2013, hence the renewed interest.
Tough break if you work as a princess (or custodial engineer) at one of Disney’s theme parks. Upon further review, $DIS has decided that it will actually need to lay off approximately 32k employees by March 2021.
That is 4k more than the previously announced 28k layoffs (because, math). The decision largely has to do with parks remaining closed or at reduced capacity. Disneyland in Anaheim is expected to sit idle until at least next year.
It also doesn’t help that leadership is pouring every available dollar into Disney+.
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