Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of February 8, 2021.
More economic relief. With a tiebreaker vote from Vice President Harris, the Senate voted 51-50 on February 4, 2021 to move forward with President Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan. The relief package went to the House of Representatives, which also voted to move it forward. While Congress has yet to determine what the income qualifications for another round of stimulus checks will be, the plan includes $1,400 direct payments to individual taxpayers. As part of the vote, the Senate shot down a $15 federal minimum wage which had been included in Biden’s original plan. Congress will reportedly move forward with a budget reconciliation process to put the stimulus package into law.
- The takeaway: The stimulus package would send aid directly to individuals and families, while also providing support for small businesses, Covid-19 testing, states, renters, and more. Additionally, the plan would extend weekly unemployment payments through September, 2021, and would increase supplemental payments to $400 from $300 per week.
Bezos bows out. Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive officer of Amazon, will reportedly step down from his role as CEO in 2021. Andy Jassy, who leads Amazon’s cloud business known as Amazon Web Services (AWS), will take over as Amazon’s CEO. Bezos will stay on as the executive chairman of the board, and will reportedly shift his focus to new products and existing projects, such as the Blue Origin spaceship venture. One of Jassy’s early challenges will be scrutiny from the House Judiciary Committee, which is examining whether Amazon and other big tech companies have exerted monopoly control over the tech industry. Since Bezos started Amazon in 1994, the company has grown to a market capitalization of more than $1.6 trillion, hitting the $1 trillion mark in January, 2020. During the fourth quarter of 2020, Amazon posted $100 billion in revenue for the first time. AWS, under Jassy, saw growth of 28% in the same quarter.
- The takeaway: With the exception of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Bezos is the last of the big four tech founders to step aside from the companies they started. Tim Cook took over as CEO of Apple when founder Steve Jobs died in 2011. Similarly, current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella took over for Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Steve Balmer in 2014. And Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page gave up their leading executive roles in 2019.
“iCars” on the horizon? iPhone maker Apple is reportedly in talks with South Korean car maker Hyundai Motor Co. and its Kia subsidiary to help build the iPhone maker’s electric vehicles in the U.S. As part of the deal, Hyundai would invest $3 billion in Apple’s plan to start building electric cars by 2024. Operating out of a Kia factory in Georgia, Apple and Kia would allegedly manufacture 100,000 cars in the first year. The deal has yet to be confirmed, however, and Apple is still in talks with other carmakers to execute its plans.
- The takeaway: A deal between Apple and Kia-Hyundai would push Apple into new territory. Apple’s reportedly betting on an increasing interest in electric vehicles and government pressure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. More automakers have committed to shifting their focus to electric and hybrid vehicles. Earlier this year, General Motors announced plans to sell only zero-emissions vehicles by 2035, with a goal of having carbon-neutral global operations by 2040.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.