The Break-Up

That’s Enough of That

Facebook’s Christmas is not so merry; they were hit with two lawsuits. One from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the other from 46 US states. They all agree and have combined forces to break up Facebook. The lawsuits allege Facebook created a social networking monopoly by buying up competitors and boxing out others. This case is so interesting because it’s the first big direct attack on the Big Four tech companies. If you don’t know, the Big Four/Big Tech/Four Horsemen are the companies that are always being dragged before Congress: Facebook, Amazon, Google, and Apple.

Facebook, of course, has no intentions of taking this lying down. The two biggest examples used for a Facebook monopoly behavior are the acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. Facebook argues the FTC had its chance to stop the acquisitions, but instead approved them. Thus, to now say they are creating a monopoly is revisionist history. FTC says it’s not just the individual acquisitions, but the pattern of behavior over many years that is at issue. For example, Facebook allows other companies to access their users’ friends list and other data. However, there is evidence that if a company is too big or grows too much and Facebook perceives them as a threat, Facebook cuts off the company’s access to the information. This is what they did to the video platform, Vine. Consequently, if the only reason they cut off these companies is to prevent themselves from having competitors in the marketplace, then they have a problem.

FTC and the states are essentially asking that Facebook be broken up into Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp as 3 separate companies. This would fundamentally change Facebook and have major implications for the other tech companies. So, we shall see.

I for one will be watching this closely. I’m sure the other big tech companies will also be watching because they could be next. Hi, Amazon.

Vaccine Corner

FDA on track to approve Pfizer BioNTech vaccine at any moment. The advisory panel gave the green light yesterday. And today, the FDA said it would “rapidly work toward” issuing an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Everyone is on standby. FDA has notified the drugmakers, CDC, and Operation Warp Speed so they can all get ready. 

Who else is getting ready? Walmart: Walmart is entering into agreements with U.S. states to administer COVID-19 vaccines in 5000 of its stores (Walmart and Sam’s Club). CVS and Walgreens have also signed agreements to administer vaccines to nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.

Vaccines ship first: UPS and FedEx are giving priority to shipping vaccines. They will be using location tracking and priority flights to ensure timely delivery. Christmas is officially in the number to spot this month.

South Korea: Korea Superfreeze, a company backed by Goldman Sacs and SK Holdings is offering a warehouse 40 miles below Seoul for vaccine storage. They are in talks with the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency to land the contract. The warehouse uses liquid nitrogen gas (LNG) to keep temperatures so low that when you throw warm water into the room it turns to snow. I really want to see that. The company says LNG is better than electricity because there is no risk of a power outage raising temperatures and electricity has had some difficulty maintaining the -70 degrees Celsius (-94 degrees F) required. 

Australia said you first.  Australia’s Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, said they will not rush vaccine approval. The government is expected to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in late January with a March rollout. I’m sure they are watching everyone else closely. That’s fine, I guess we’ll be the guinea pigs.

Starting With The Man In Zoom

It’s not just the big box stores and Amazon that are winning during the Pandemic. Plastic surgeons are doing just fine. Believe it or not people are seeing themselves on zoom and taking steps to change what they see. “Jon Mendelsohn, medical director of Advanced Cosmetic Surgery & Laser Center in Cincinnati, said injectable procedures such as Botox and fillers were up 90 percent compared with the same period last year.” He has doubled his days in the operating room and extended his hours drastically. “During the virtual consultations, 9 out of 10 people commented about noticing these things over Zoom.” Another thing that helps is people are working from home, so recovering or taking time off to recover is easier. 

To each their own. But this is in direct contrast to people who are stealing food. Stealing to survive: More Americans are shoplifting food as aid runs out during the pandemic. From increasing second home purchases to eviction moratoriums, essential workers and stay-at-home workers, there are definitely two very different Americas.