Numlock News: October 29, 2018

By Walt Hickey

Good morning!


Focus Brands Inc. is making preliminary plans to go public in 2019 for a valuation of over $1 billion, and while you haven’t heard of them, you have definitely shoved too much of their food in your mouth at some desolate rest stop on the interstate. Focus is basically The Avengers but for stuff you eat on the Jersey Turnpike, composed of the likes of Auntie Anne’s, Cinnabon, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Jamba Juice. You know, food you would never normally eat, because you’re a grown adult for god’s sake, but it’s 8:30 p.m. and you’re not going to make it to the good rest stops in Maryland for at least another hour, so it’s time to do something you’re going to regret by the time you hit Arlington. That is a billion dollar company in America.

Kiel Porter, Bloomberg


A 500-acre wooded park in the middle of Montreal was home to an overpopulation of docile and extremely overfed raccoons, particularly at one terrace where the animals actually lined up to feed when they heard the Pavlovian sound of a bag of chips opening. Vendors literally sold cat food on site at one point and travel guides recommended bringing some of your own. This went bad when a distemper outbreak ravaged the population last year, cutting down on the estimated 200 raccoons who were living in the park in 2012. Efforts to control the population included coating the lookout in coyote urine (it didn’t work), removing the raccoons from the list of attractions (better), and hiring staff to warn people to keep their snacks on the bus (this did the trick).

Emma Jacobs, CityLab

The Biggest Boston Story Of This Morning

Because Boston is weird, the city was exempted from redistricting its election precincts in the 1920s, making for some funky lines and weird idiosyncratic voting regions. Foremost is Ward 1, Precinct 15, which is composed of exactly two addresses, 0 Thompson Island and 1 Long Island, which are islands in Boston Harbor. A recovery center and homeless shelter were located at the latter address until 2014, and some people were registered voters. The 12 voters who are listed on the books are inactive and will be purged if they don’t vote this time around. But there are two active voters in the precinct still, and both live on Thompson Island. They live at an outdoor camp for Boston Public School students, and are the last voters in a “Phantom Electoral Precinct.”

Edgar B. Herwick III, WGBH


Lots of people claim to dislike chardonnay, yet simultaneously it stubbornly remains the most popular table wine sold through retail channels in the U.S., as roughly one in five bottles sold in the past year are chardonnay. That’s twice as much as the next most common white wine, pinot grigio. Why is this? One theory is that American chardonnays tend to lean into the oaky, buttery and boozy reputation of the varietal in order to score high ratings and give the people what they think they want, while tastemakers and sommeliers tend to push back on that in favor of the original, balanced profile of the wine.

Josh Barro, Intelligencer

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Box Office

It’s officially the largest October box office on record, with $789 million brought in so far domestically, beating out the record $757 million October seen in 2014. Halloween stayed at number one and has pilled in $172 million worldwide. Other strong contenders this month include Venom, now at $508 million worldwide, and A Star Is Born, now at $253 million. Who could have ever thought that the biggest October in history was only possible due to the smashing success of the 11th movie in a horror franchise, a movie about a violent parasite and a film in which Andrew Dice Clay is third billed.

Rebecca Rubin, Variety

Tech Deals

IBM is buying Red Hat for $34 billion in the third-largest acquisition in the history of U.S. tech, behind only the merger of Dell and EMC for $67 billion in 2006 and the dot-com era $41 billion acquisition of SDL by JDS Uniphase. Red Hat distributes open source software and technology, initially a derivative of Linux. They made $2.92 billion in revenue last year supporting the version used in data centers.

Alex Sherman and Lora Kolodny, CNBC

Amendment 3

A ballot measure in Florida would — if approved — require a 60 percent statewide support for new casinos. The measure is backed by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which operates gaming establishments, and The Walt Disney Company, which absolutely does not. The House of Mouse and the Seminole Tribe have put up a collective $36 million to support the initiative, and a Florida Chamber of Commerce poll found 54 percent of respondents planned to vote yes compared to 28 percent who planned to vote no, but the measure itself needs 60 percent approval to pass. So I’m gonna guess the casino planet subplot of The Last Jedi isn’t getting adapted into the new chunk of Epcot then?

Jessica Weiss, WRLN and Jonathan Levin, Bloomberg

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