Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of December 7, 2020.
Vax approval in the U.K. The United Kingdom approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine for general use last week, becoming the first western country to do so. People in the U.K. will reportedly begin receiving the vaccine this week. The vaccine received approval from an independent regulator called Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which reviewed data from Pfizer and BioNTech in waves as it was released, expediting the approval process.
- The takeaway: U.K. approval could pave the way for other countries, including the United States, to greenlight the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for emergency use. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will discuss U.S. approval of the same vaccine on December 10, 2020. If it does receive approval, Pfizer and BioNTech is expected to start delivering doses to the U.S. on December 15. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), meanwhile, will reach a verdict on the vaccine for the European Union by December 19. Pfizer’s vaccine requires two doses, and needs to be stored at sub-zero temperatures, creating logistics and delivery issues. Other Covid-19 vaccine developers, such as Moderna and AstraZeneca, have also released promising trial results.
Like a Rolling Stone. Universal Music Group announced on Monday that it will purchase Bob Dylan’s entire catalog of music, in a potentially historic deal that is estimated to be worth $300 million. Universal will control the rights to lyrics and melodies of Dylan’s library, which includes more than 600 songs including classics such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,”, and “The Times They are a Changin.” All the future money earned from Dylan’s songs will go to Universal. However, Dylan reportedly will still be able to work with other publishers on new music.
- The takeaway: Bob Dylan is considered one of the most influential songwriters in modern times, having written most of the music he’s selling to Universal. In 2016, Dylan received the Nobel Prize in Literature for his body of work, becoming the first musician to receive the prestigious award. Dylan’s songs reportedly have been recorded more than 6,000 times by other artists.
Cutting Salesforce some Slack. Cloud-computing company Salesforce announced last week that it will acquire workplace communications company Slack for $27.7 billion. Slack, founded in 2010 by Stewart Butterfield, went public in 2019, with a $19.5 billion valuation. Although Slack’s share price has struggled since its IPO, the pandemic has reportedly boosted Slack’s business as more people work remotely. Slack said that its revenue increased 49% to $216 million in the three months ending in July, 2020. Revenue increased another 39% in the three months ending in October, according to reports. Remember that this growth is not guaranteed to continue.
- The takeaway: Salesforce has acquired dozens of companies since it’s founding in 2001, but Slack is its biggest purchase to date. As Salesforce explores the shifting emphasis on tools that allow employees to work from their homes, it is also beginning to compete more directly with software giant Microsoft, whose Teams communication software is now used by approximately 115 million people, dwarfing Slack’s last reported 12 million users.
Movie theaters move in. Media conglomerate WarnerMedia announced last week that it will release all of its 2021 movies on HBO Max, as well as in theaters, due to pandemic restrictions and closures. Its new releases will include the screen adaptation of the musical “In the Heights,” “Dune,” “Matrix 4,” and more. HBO Max and WarnerMedia are subsidiaries of parent company AT&T.
- The takeaway: WarnerMedia’s decision shows the effects of the pandemic on the entertainment industry, as production of TV shows and movies has been interrupted and distribution has shifted. Earlier this year, Disney+ released the live-action version of “Mulan” exclusively on the streaming site, as well as other movies such as “Hamilton”, “Artemis Fowl”, and “Soul.”
UPS’s shipping news. United Parcel Service (UPS) instructed drivers not to take packages from six retailers, including Gap, NIke, L.L. Bean, and Macy’s in response to higher than usual demand from Cyber Monday sales. Online shopping is estimated to have jumped 44% during the five days that included Black Friday and Cyber Monday, as consumers shop more online to avoid physical stores. Retailers are increasingly reliant on shippers as consumers make more digital purchases.
- The takeaway: Both UPS and FedEx have raised shipping prices to compensate for the heightened demand, and have said that they expect a squeeze in shipping capability during the holiday season, as a surplus shipment of seven million packages per day is forecast between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.