Numlock News: January 11, 2021 • Quibi, Dry January, Fortnite

By Walt Hickey

Welcome back!

Fortnite

Epic Games will pay $95 million to purchase the Cary Towne Center, a mall in North Carolina, to convert into a new global headquarters. This is a situation where the place where all the teenagers used to hang out to socialize and buy stuff is being purchased by the owners of the new location where all the teenagers hang out and buy stuff. The 980,000-square-foot facility will be converted into offices and recreation space for the company with a target of opening the new campus by 2024.

Esther Fung, The Wall Street Journal

Quibi

Quibi agreed to sell its entire slate of original programming to Roku for an undisclosed amount that is reportedly “significantly” less than $100 million. Quibi was a bold multi-billion dollar bet on short-form, mobile-exclusive video content that imploded last year, while Roku is one of the various toll booth operators of the streaming space that will now be able to bolster its offerings in the free Roku app with over 75 shows of assorted quality, including several shows that were made but had not actually yet premiered on Quibi. Production costs were high: Quibi spent over $6 million per hour of produced content on the shorts, and bet that millennials would pay $5 or more per month to watch. In completing this sale, Quibi has finally accomplished what MoviePass did: offer a ton of media to people for an incredibly low unsustainable price.

Todd Spangler, Variety

Lobster

In 2019, Maine caught $500 million worth of lobster. Try though they might, not all of those lobsters are eaten in Maine, and are exported over long distances to various landlocked places and regions. That elaborate supply chain unfortunately leads to the deaths of many lobsters in transit, and that can have some serious costs: every 1 percent increase in lobsters dying en route to buyers is $5 million of unrealized income, so NOAA invested in a University of Maine research project to design basically a suite of activity trackers for lobsters to see how they’re holding up over the course of the journey. One, MockLobster, measures the temperature and acceleration of a lobster crate, and the second — originally called Fitbug, but changed to C-HAT after the name was trademarked — measures the heart rate of the lobsters in real time over the course of transport.

Steve Murray, Hakai Magazine

9 to 5

According to the jobs report out last Friday, U.S. employers cut 140,000 jobs in the month of December. The most galling part is that on net, women accounted for all of the job losses: on net men gained 16,000 jobs, and women lost 156,000 jobs. This cements a brutal year for women in American workplaces, with women losing over a million more jobs than men over the course of the pandemic: women ended 2020 with 5.4 million fewer jobs than in February, and men ended the year with 4.4 million fewer jobs. In February, women held 50.03 percent of all jobs, but now hold 860,000 fewer than men.

Annalyn Kurtz, CNN

Aircraft Carrier

The USS Gerald R. Ford is the brand-new next generation aircraft carrier and the most expensive warship ever built, but three years after delivery, its takeoff and landing systems remain unreliable and broken. I’m not a naval tactician, but it’s historically regarded as a key perk of an aircraft carrier that aircraft are able to get off of the aircraft carrier and then safely back on it, but again: not an expert! The $3.5 billion electromagnetic launch system is buggy as heck, according to an assessment of 3,975 launches and landing operations from November 2019 to September 2020. The electromagnetic catapult was designed to work for 4,166 launches between failures, but over the period broke down every 181 cycles.

Anthony Capaccio, Bloomberg

Dry

A new poll found that 13 percent of respondents polled January 4 to 5 were participating in “Dry January,” when people want to cut back on the booze. Most — 79 percent — attributed the decision to a health kick, while 72 percent were trying to drink less overall, 63 percent said they wanted a reset and 49 percent said they were drinking too much during the pandemic period. Meanwhile, 73 percent of Americans said they had not heard of Dry January.

Alyssa Meyers, Morning Consult

Keep It

For the past holiday season, e-commerce returns may hit $70.5 billion according to the CBRE Group, a 73 percent increase over the five-year average. Some retailers — Walmart and Amazon — are weighing the approximate value of actually shipping this stuff back to their warehouses versus just refunding customers and letting them keep the items they desired to return. UPS expects a 23 percent rise in returns in the first full week of January compared to last year, and FedEx has said that the volume of returns has been higher than ever over the past several months. The cost of processing a return can be $10 to $20 excluding freight, which can be 15 percent to 20 percent of the cost.

Suzanne Kapner and Paul Ziobro, The Wall Street Journal

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