Numlock News: May 22, 2019 • Samsung, Everest, Mockingbird

By Walt Hickey

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Game of Phones

There's a high-stakes drama going on among the descendants of Lee Kun-hee, the 77-year-old founder of Samsung Electronics. He's the richest man in South Korea, and reports appear to indicate he isn't in the best of health following a 2014 heart attack, with lots of idle speculation about rumors of his demise. The reason for the obsession is that given his net worth of $15 billion and South Korea's 50 percent tax on estates worth more than $2.5 million, his heirs are going to have to cut a $7 billion check to whoever the Korean Uncle Sam is. "Samsung" as we know it is 62 companies, with no formal corporate entity connecting them together, valued at $300 billion. Lee owns 4.2 percent of Samsung Electronics. Right now, Lee maintains control through informal ties among executives, but should he pass the heirs appear poised to lose control of the company. Hence, all those rumors.

Min Jeong Lee and Sam Kim, Bloomberg


Since its opening in December, To Kill a Mockingbird has become the highest-grossing Broadway play in history, taking in sales of $70 million over the course of 18 weeks. Given that the show cost $8 million up front to mount, it’s fair to say it’s a hit. The production hasn’t been without controversy: there was that whole dispute with the Harper Lee estate, the bad press that stemmed from the show’s producers sending cease and desist letters to local regional theater productions of an earlier theatrical adaptation, and who could forget the national wince that happened right after we learned Jeff Daniels would once again be collaborating with Aaron Sorkin, even after the long national nightmare we knew as The Newsroom was defeated and sent back to the shadow realm.  Despite a snub in the Best Play category, the production and its performers will be a serious contender come the Tony awards. 

Brent Lang, Variety

Electronic Mail

The United States Postal Service spends $4 billion every year on highway trucking costs by paying shipping contractors to haul mail. Now they’re eyeing the future, specifically autonomous trucks that will allow the USPS to save hundreds of millions of dollars and run more efficiently. The postal service inked a deal with TuSimple to conduct five round-trip shipping runs between Phoenix and Dallas with autonomous big rigs. I, for one, am psyched for a government robot that delivers letters rather than the traditional use for federally acquired robots, delivering sophisticated missiles. 

Ira Boudeway, Bloomberg

Peak of Earth

Kami Rita Sherpa has climbed Mount Everest a record 24 times, beating his own record for the second time in a week. Seriously, he climbed it on Tuesday and then three days later he summited it again. Every year mountaineers and rich people cosplaying as mountaineers get a few weeks in May to make an attempt at the summit. This season 381 people received permits to climb as part of 44 teams, of whom 14 are natives of Nepal. As of Monday, 75 have made the summit, and one of them twice. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to sit here really thirsty because my glass of water is on the other side of the room and I don't feel like standing up to go get it.

Bill Chappell, NPR

Peak TV

Game of Thrones isn’t over yet. It’s still the flagship competitor for HBO in the drama category at the Emmy Awards, and what once seemed like a sealed deal is now a matter for debate about the show’s ability to seize the top prize after a mixed season. So far, the program has reaped 128 nominations over the course of its run, of which it won 47. This year won’t be a walk in the Kingswood, though: only eight shows have managed to win the prize for best comedy or best drama at the Emmys for a final season, and no show has ever done it for a six episode season. Those that have won in their final seasons are a murderers’ row of GOATs, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Sopranos and Breaking Bad. On Thrones’ side is a weaker year for competition, with many programs steering clear of eligibility ahead of HBO’s signature show’s big finale.

Scott Feinberg, The Hollywood Reporter

Rent The Alley

Urban Outfitters is rolling out a clothing rental service for $88 per month. Lately the size of the rental apparel market has grown 20 percent annually. When you exclude costume rentals, the industry for rental services for clothes is $1 billion. I am actually desperate to find out what the figure is if you include costume rentals, come to think of it. Anyway, that's projected to rise to $2.5 billion by 2023, an indication that consumers will try to keep up with trends by subscribing to a closet rather than stocking one. Right now, subscription services for clothes typically run anywhere from $60 to $90 per month for the basic tiers with more expensive unlimited tiers available.

Khadeeja Safdar, The Wall Street Journal

Used Macs

To say that Amazon makes a lot of money through its third-party seller marketplace is an understatement: some analysts estimate the business is worth double the internal e-commerce business, or worth about $250 billion. As a result, a decision made by Amazon can have a ripple effect for thousands of independent sellers. A recent major one was Amazon’s choice to partner with Apple and, as a concession, basically nuke refurbished computer sellers from orbit. Companies that want to hawk used and repaired Apple products on Amazon have to either be an Apple authorized reseller — a title that typically has a prerequisite physical retail space, which few have — or purchase $2.5 million of refurbished inventory from Apple every 90 days. So basically, this was a targeted policy to wipe out smaller sellers.

Nick Statt, The Verge

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Previous 2019 Sunday special editions: Crazy/Genius ·  Scrubbers ·  Saving the World ·  Summer Movies ·  No One Man Should Have All That Power ·  Film Incentives ·  Stadiums & Casinos ·  Late Night ·  65 is the new 50 ·  Scooternomics ·  Gene Therapy ·  SESTA/FOSTA ·  CAPTCHA ·  New Zealand ·  Good To Go ·  California Football ·  Personality Testing ·  China’s Corruption Crackdown ·  Yosemite

2018 Sunday Editions: 2018  ·  Game of Thrones  ·  Signal Problems · CTE and Football · Facebook · Shark Repellent · Movies · Voting Rights · Goats · Invitation Only · Fat Bear Week · Weinersmith · Airplane Bathrooms ·  NIMBYs ·  Fall 2018 Sports Analytics ·  The Media  ·  Omega-3  ·  Mattress Troubles  ·  Conspiracy Theorists  ·  Beaches  ·  Bubbles  ·  NYC Trash  ·  Fish Wars  ·  Women’s Jeans  ·  Video Stores