Welcome to the Weekly Scan. Here’s what we’re following for the week of March 15, 2021.
Biden’s plans for the Fourth. President Biden delivered his first prime time address on March 10, following his signing of the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which will provide direct payments as well as more money for unemployment, vaccine distribution, and more. In the speech, the president charged governors across the country to make the Covid-19 vaccine available to everyone by May 1, 2021. Biden also urged Americans to continue to take the proper Covid-19 precautions such as wearing a mask and maintaining social distance in order to get the country on a path to normalcy by July 4, 2021.
- The takeaway: Mass inoculation with the Covid-19 vaccine is considered the most plausible route to economic recovery from the pandemic, allowing people to return to work and businesses to reopen. Three vaccines are currently approved for emergency use in the U.S.: Moderna’s, Pfizer’s, and Johnson & Johnson’s. The Biden administration facilitated a deal between Merck and Johson & Johnson to speed up the production of their vaccine in the hopes of getting most Americans vaccinated by the end of May, 2021. The administration also announced last week that it will purchase an extra 100 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Amazon’s real-world shopping carts. E-commerce company Amazon is going all in for groceries. The digital retailer has built 11 new brick-and-mortar Amazon Fresh grocery stores over the past year, and it reportedly has plans to build 28 additional sites across the nation in the coming months. Amazon opened the first store in Los Angeles, California in September, 2020. The prices at Amazon Fresh locations, reportedly competitive with chains such as Walmart and Aldi, have a technology twist. At a location in Illinois, Amazon is testing out its “Just Walk Out” technology, which allows customers to checkout without a cashier. The stores also feature digital price tags and carts that tally the prices of items in customers’ carts.
- The takeaway: The opening of these stores marks Amazon’s attempt to move further into the $900 billion grocery industry. Amazon has sold groceries online for more than 10 years and acquired grocery chain Whole Foods in 2017. Amazon Fresh has also pushed competitors including Walmart and Target to expand their online grocery shopping capabilities to keep up with Amazon.
What’s the password? Netflix said last week that it’s testing restrictions on password sharing on a group of viewers. When someone logs into the app, they’ll receive a message that says: “If you don’t live with the owner of this account, you need your own account to keep watching.” Roughly a third of Netflix customers currently share their Netflix password with at least one other person.
- The takeaway: In the past, Netflix has been lenient with customers who share passwords. But a third of Netflix users share their passwords, and the streaming giant could be missing out on significant revenue. The basic Netflix plan costs $8.99 per month. The $13.99 plan allows users to stream on two different screens at the same time. Netflix’s test could lead to more limitations on password sharing, and increased security measures for users.
Game of Thrones. Elon Musk, the chief executive and founder of electric vehicle company Tesla has reportedly changed his title to “Technoking.” And Zach Kirkhorn, the company’s chief financial officer will take the title of “Master of the Coin.”
- The takeaway. Both executives will retain their official titles of CEO and CFO, respectively, but the additional titles were filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which regulates public companies and tracks important changes through public filings. Musk is known for his erratic behavior, and was forced by the SEC to step down from his position as company chairman because of misleading tweets in 2018. At the time, procedures were reportedly put in place to regulate Musk’s communications. His most recent tweets are reportedly the subject of an investor lawsuit.
Find out what we covered in last week’s Scan.