The 11th Hour Dispatch – Wednesday, March 14, 2018

| March 14, 2018

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With its streaming service debut on the horizon, Disney has launched a strategic reorganization of its business. The Big Mouse (all hail) is now home to brand spankin’ new business, direct-to-consumer, and international segments. These segments encapsulate the technology, platforms, and distribution of the company’s streaming services, which include the upcoming ESPN+, Disney’s stake in Hulu, and Disney’s own buzzy service. Disney has also named former Chief Strategy Officer Kevin Mayer as Chairman to take charge of the new direct-to-consumer and international business segments. I really wish I didn’t immediately word associate “strategic reorganization” with “conscious uncoupling.” I did not ask for this, Goop, and I do not appreciate it.


Credit Karma has acquired chat bot and Y Combinator alum Penny to allow users to easily track their spending. What differentiates the very young startup (it hasn’t even started its Series A yet) from similar budgeting apps is its chat interface that allows users to directly communicate with a bot about their money. Credit Karma is looking to combine its existing data from its credit score offerings with a new interface, which includes Penny, to morph into more of a “personal finance coach.” Penny would allow Credit Karma to not only offer credit scores, but to also have full-blown conversations about complex financial situations like tax prep, auto loans, or, you know, literally burning all your money at Burning Man. I don’t know what you do with your money. 


In what sounds like the beginnings of a bad horror film, Walmart has filed a patent for robot bees. The “bees” would actually be “autonomous pollination drones” that could pollinate crops like the real insects and help Walmart gain control over its supply chain. The drones use cameras and sensors to detect the locations of crops to do their job. Somehow, I seem to still be deathly allergic to these, so I gotta go.


Elizabeth Holmes, founder of the infamous blood test startup Theranos, has been charged with massive fraud. This announcement comes after Holmes agreed to settle and pay a modest half-million dollar fine to the SEC. She will also be barred from leading a public company for 10 years. According to the SEC, Holmes raised $700 million from late 2013 to 2015 while “deceiving investors by making it appear as if Theranos had successfully developed a commercially-ready portable blood analyzer that could perform a full range of laboratory tests from a small sample of blood.” The SEC would not comment about whether a criminal investigation was underway or not.


Elon Musk has stolen a bunch of The Onion’s staff and is working on a secret comedy project, as you do when you can also send cars to space.

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