Twitter board games
Also in today’s edition: When companies rue sales growth; Sextech hits a sweet spot; Sri Lanka: chaos central; Netflix has a great fall
Good morning! US-based investment adviser Roundhill launched its Cannabis ETF on 4/20, a day handpicked for celebrating marijuana. It's been eight months in the making. A masterclass in patience, this. Going further meta, its ticker is, what else but WEED.
The Market Signal*
Stocks: Investors were finally relieved after benchmark indices ended their five-day losing streak to close in positive territory. Reliance Industries hit its 52-week high. HDFC twins, TCS and Infosys also recovered. Rising Covid-19 cases in the country proved to be a killjoy.
Early Asia: The Nifty was trading at 17251, 0.46% up in early Singapore trade. The Nikkei 225 opened in the green while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was in the red.
City Gas Companies Unhappy Sales Are Growing
Would you be unhappy if your sales increased? Well, city gas distributors (CGD) are competing with one another to sell less. Because the more they sell, the more losses they make.
The prices of CNG and PNG (piped natural) gas have gone up steeply in the past year. Yet customers are buying more CNG and PNG because they are still cheaper than petrol, diesel and LPG.
Quota blues: There is a wide difference in the prices of domestic and imported gas. However, domestically produced gas is allocated to CGDs by the government based on historical usage. New quotas based on the last six months usage are yet to be determined even though consumption has gone up and companies have to import expensive gas to make up for the shortfall. That means they are more than happy if sales remain low.
Sex-ed Gets A Head Start
Sex sure sells, but it cannot seem to get rid of its bad boy image. Now, a handful of sex startups are scrubbing clean to change the conversation around it.
Soft start: Sexual wellness brand MyMuse, which sells vibes and lubes, had a huge task at hand: acknowledge self-pleasure without being preachy on Instagram or violate its community guidelines. FemTech startup That Sassy Thing prides on being "shameless" about its products and decodes sex talk and self-love. Then there are sex-positive creators Leeza Mangaldas, Dr Tanaya, and Seema Anand who are throwing open the door for conversations.
Ask the Sexpert: Covid-19 changed how we approached sex: cue social distancing became the norm, and quarantine boredom was put to good use. These startups gave a helping hand. In related news, the Westminster College in the US currently offers a pornography class that views sex as a radical art form.
🎧 The sextech industry is here, and on a mission to decode sexuality and pleasure for Indians—one post at a time.
Musk, Dorsey, And The Twitter Boogie Board
Elon Musk got a boost after Tesla reported a seven-fold increase in Q1 2022 profit to $3.32 billion on sales of $18.76 billion which was 80% more than Q1 2021’s. Musk is still reportedly having a tough time finding bankrollers for his hostile takeover of Twitter. Brookfield Asset Management, Blackstone Group, and Vista Equity Partners have decided against financing his $43 billion mission to take Twitter private.
Why? Because Twitter’s earnings aren’t the bee’s knees. Musk may be worth $275 billion as per Forbes, but he has less than $3 billion in cash and is relying on debt financing and a loan against his Tesla shares. Financiers are wary of such a leveraged buyout not only because of Twitter's slowing growth but also due to Tesla’s stock volatility and the billionaire’s spotty record with the US SEC.
Musk has been in a standoff with Twitter’s board ever since he refused a seat at their table and washed dirty linen in public.
Twitter’s ‘poison pill’ comeback—a corporate tactic that’d ensure Musk owns no more than 15% of its shares—indicates that the board may reject his offer.
Musk won’t back off though; he’s advocating for shareholder lawsuits if his bid is rejected. He’s also likely launching a tender to drum up support and change the board constituency to remove the ‘poison pill’ that’d dilute his holdings. That shares jumped 27% after he disclosed his Twitter stake and are performing at their best since February 2021 underline that it’s Musk who’s set the tone and pushed the board into a corner.
Adding to this is Musk finding an ally in Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, whose public takedowns of his board will make for a fiery annual meeting on May 25.
Lanka Prays For Rains As Heat Rises
Resentment against the Sri Lankan government erupted after a man was killed and 14 were injured when police fired on protesters.
Power crisis: With the country running out of fuel to generate electricity, citizens are praying for rains for respite from the sweltering heat. Lanka has resumed discussions with India on a project to link the two nations' electricity grids.
India’s gain: The Indian textile industry is benefitting from the Sri Lankan economic crisis as orders from the UK, the US, and Latin American countries have started to drift towards India. The crisis can also boost Kerala’s tourism.
As a company, it doesn’t matter how disruptive you are if you do not deliver revenue and profits to shareholders. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is discovering that now as he prepares to shed his long-held shibboleths.
First off, the streamer’s earnings in Q1 2022 disappointed investors so much that they hammered the stock down 35%. Billionaire investor Bill Ackman of hedge fund Pershing Square sold his entire stake in the company at a $400 million loss. Tremors were felt in the Korean market too.
Not much choice: Netflix plans to crack down on password sharing, which, Hastings said, was not a priority when the company was growing fast. It will also introduce an ad-supported streaming service, a big U-turn for Hastings who will tread the beaten path of Hulu and Disney.
Netflix will also have to think whether the initiatives are a bulwark to prevent subscriber drain or new channels to maximise revenue. An ad-supported service can, for instance, help keep users who want to stay with the streamer but cannot because of rising cost of living.
🎧 Netflix has no time to chill, after it suffered its worst subscriber loss in a decade. What went wrong?
Covid-19 alert: India's effective 'R' value, or the rate at which the coronavirus is spreading, has gone above one for the first time in three months. Masking is again mandatory in Delhi, which, along with UP, has an R value of over 2.
Funding rounds: VideoVerse, a video editing platform, secured $46.8 million in a funding round led by A91 Partners, Alpha Wave Global and Binny Bansal. Creator economy platform Rigi raised $10 million.
Removing Buffet: Pension fund CalPERS plans to vote in favour of a shareholder proposal to replace Warren Buffett as Berkshire Hathaway's chairman.
“Reverse bias”: Uber is staring at an arbitration bill of $91 million after a lawyer orchestrated 31,000 individual disputes for Uber Eats waiving delivery fees for black-owned restaurants.
Sell-off: HDFC plans to sell 10% shares of HDFC Capital to a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority for about ₹184 crore.
Mixed fortunes: Even as WhatsApp payments seem to be taking off in India, it is struggling in Brazil.
Hot cakes: Full-time rapper Milli has turned into something of an influencer. The humble mango sticky rice is now a viral sensation after she ate the traditional pudding on the Coachella stage. Shops aren't able to keep up with demand in Thailand. The government wants to make it their signature dish. Talk about cashing in.
Made for TV: There's much drama happening off the tennis court. Wimbledon officials have issued a blanket ban against Russian and Belarusian players. This means World No. 2 Deniil Medvedev and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka will be barred from competing at the upcoming tournament in June. All eyes are on the French Open and US Open. Will they follow suit? Russia is not too pleased.
In solidarity: A two-car train in Japan has decided to call out evil. Takamatsu-Kotohira Electric Railroad is swathed in blue and yellow—colours of the Ukraine flag. This special train is flanked with messages as a show of support for the war-torn nation. Money collected from donation boxes kept in the coaches will be sent to the Ukrainian Embassy in Japan.
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