Numlock News: July 10, 2018

By Walt Hickey


A start-up is convincing restaurants to punt on lunch in exchange for becoming co-working spaces in major cities. For $129 per month, you too can gain the right to work in any one of 25 upscale restaurants that company Spacious, the two-year-old company, operates as makeshift offices for San Francisco and New York professionals. The company has raised $9 million and wants to convince 100 restaurants to sign on to its cockamamie scheme this year. Its CEO told a newspaper “We’re trying not to use the word co-working because of some of the zoning issues, we prefer the term drop-in work space,” which I hold to be a red flag. Welcome to the new economy, where you are missing out on a premium business opportunity if you don’t look at a random empty location and think “Could I charge $100 per month to call this furniture store a ‘co-working space’?”

Nellie Bowles, The New York Times

Premium Cable

HBO, the premium cable network behind iconic television like “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City” and current hits like “Westworld” and “Game of Thrones,” is under new management. Its parent’s sale to AT&T has some at the premium network skittish, especially after executives demanded more frequent content and a move from a boutique 35 to 40 percent market penetration to a bigger, broader audience. HBO has been traditionally known for elaborate, Emmy-award winning television, not the kind of B-Movies that Netflix grinds out to feed the beast. In the past three years, HBO has spent $2 billion per year on its programming, but still reaped $6 billion in profit. I kind of get the feeling that AT&T execs would grind the Hope Diamond into glitter if they thought Netflix was selling lots of glitter.

Edmund Lee and John Koblin, The New York Times.

SpongeBob SquarePants

Nautical nonsense was, in the end, not something audiences wished for: The SpongeBob SquarePants musical will close on Broadway after what will be 29 previews and 327 regular performances. The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards. If you don’t think you’ll catch it on the Great White Way, don’t worry, Nickelodeon will absolutely sell the rights to perform it to a high school near you as soon as possible. That may help recoup some of the $18.35 million capitalization for the production.

Michael Paulson, The New York Times


Over the next 10 years, debit card payment volumes are projected to rise by 50 percent to 19.7 billion payments. That’s one motivation for a rash of financial technology acquisitions this year, with $46 billion in acquisitions through June compared to $33 billion in total acquisitions for the entirety of last year. PayPal, an established player in this field, has bought four different companies since the beginning of May.

John Detrixhe, Quartz

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Those Who Didn’t Stop

A new study published in PLOS One didn’t find evidence to support the idea that vaping helps smokers quit cigarettes. The study found that after a year, about 53 percent of smokers both vaped and smoked and about 37 percent stopped vaping but were still smoking, for a total of about 90 percent still smoking. Of that 10 percent who successfully ditched the cigarettes, 6.7 percent of the total study stopped vaping while only 2.5 percent kept at it.

Betsy McKay, The Wall Street Journal


Canada hasn’t really experienced the populist reactionary movements in reaction to immigration that other countries have, and much of that is due to the nation’s history. While the U.S. considers itself a nation of immigrants, the U.S. maxed out in the 1890s at 14.8 percent of its total population being foreign-born, still higher than the 12.9 percent of 2010. America’s maximum is Canada’s baseline, as our neighbors to the north have had between 15 percent and 20 percent of their population born somewhere else for the entirety of their history. To some notoriety, Canada has been rather cool with those who Come From Away.

Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Tax Debtors

There are 362,000 Americans who have overdue tax debts who will soon be denied new or renewed passports if they don’t make good with Uncle Sam. It’s having an effect already, as by the end of June, 220 people had coughed up $11.5 million to pay off their debts and another 1,400 have signed installment plans. Those at risk of having passports declines are those who owe a tax debt of over $51,000 after adjusting for inflation.

Laura Saunders, The Wall Street Journal

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