China’s Singles’ Day Breaks Records Again

In the United States online consumers let loose on Cyber Monday; and in China shoppers

An illustration for the Chinese e-commerce holiday Singles’ Day. Courtesy Chrionexfleckeri1350.

run wild on what is known there as “Singles’ Day.” This year Singles’ Day saw online shoppers shell out over $14 billion within only the first two hours of commencement, flying past last year’s record of $25 billion in sales for the entire 24 hours.

Singles’ Day began ten years ago as a bit of a joke when unmarried students honored  choose November 11, the eleventh day of the eleventh month, or also known as “Double 11” day to celebrate their own single status. The ad hoc holiday was co-opted by retailers, creating a day of online buying and sales.

China’s own version of Twitter, Weibo, was swarming wit

h posts about Singles’ Day; some saying how proud they were to have resisted the temptation to make a purchase, while others bragged about the great deals they got.

Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, the platform where the crazy commerce took place, said that Singles Day is “not a day of discounts, but rather a day of gratitude. Speaking in a video which was shown at the start of the party celebrating the event he added, “It’s when retailers use the best products and best prices to show their gratitude to our consumers.”

Not everyone agrees that Singles’ Day is a day of gratitude. One economics professor, Hong Tao of Beijing Technology and Business University, said that the event encourages consumers to prefer cheap prices over high quality, causing them to buy things they definitely do not need.

“People are swept up in the festivities,” Hong said in a phone interview. “This burst of consumption, confined to just one day, can be exhausting for both buyers and sellers.”

There is also a negative environmental impact to all the unneeded buying. Although Alibaba and its close competitor JD.com have both promised to use packaging that is recyclable, research done by Greenpeace East Asia said much of the plastic that is marked as biodegradable and used by Chinese online sellers, really needs extremely high temperatures in order to fully break down. Those recycling facilities are scattered across China, and in small numbers. Greenpeace said that they are forecasting that within just two years this so-called “biodegradable” packaging might account for about 721 truckloads of garbage produced every single day in China.

IBM Grabs Open-Source Red Hat for $34 Billion

The eight-striped wordmark of IBM, the letters “IBM” in City Medium typeface. Introduced in 1967. Trademarked by International Business Machines Corporation.

Declared the third largest tech merger in history, and the largest for a software company, IBM and Red Hat have come to a deal in which IBM will purchase Red Hat for $34 billion. IBM says the merger will improve their cloud-based products.

The deal involves IBM getting all the issued and outstanding common stocks of Red Hat for $190 each share in cash. That surpasses by $70 the price of the stock just three days prior, $116.68 a share.

“The acquisition of Red Hat is a game-changer. It changes everything about the cloud market,” said IBM’s chairman, president and CEO, Ginni Rometty.

“IBM will become the world’s number one hybrid cloud provider, offering companies the only open cloud solution that will unlock the full value of the cloud for their businesses.”

Most companies can’t progress due to the limits presented by closed platforms that prevent them from making the transformation to cloud computing. Red Hat solves the problem for IBM due to its open platform configuration.

IBM earned it reputation as a computer hardware company, but it has recently made cloud computing a priority for its growth strategy, like Amazon and Microsoft. The company has been changing their focus to include more analytics, mobile and security.

Red Hat will continue to run its business independently as a separate unit of IBM. Red Hat president and CEO Jim Whitehurst and the management team already in place will continue as is, joining IBM’s senior management team, with Rometty leading the team.

“Today is a banner day for open source,” said Paul Cormier, Red Hat’s vice president and president of products and technologies. “The largest software transaction in history and it’s an open source company. Let that sink in for a minute. We just made history.”

Red Hat was founded in 1993, launching its famous version of Linux OS one year after. It became a pioneer of the open source movement that grew to counter closed source companies like Microsoft which based their strategy on keeping their source codes secret.

The company is based in Raleigh, North Carolina with a presence in 35 countries with about 12,000 employees. It is one of the most well-known open-source firms with customers paying for custom-made software solutions. In fiscal year 2018 the company saw a net profit of $259 million on a turnover of $2.9 billion, which was an increase of 21 percent over 2017.

Breast Cancer Research Foundation: 2018 Symposium and Awards Luncheon

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation Symposium and Awards Luncheon was held on October 25, 2018 at the New York Midtown Hilton. This awards luncheon marked the culmination of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, observed in October.

This important event acknowledged the efforts of over 300 scientists who have made important strides in the fight against breast cancer. Dr. Hedvig Hricak received the Jill Rose Award for outstanding research excellence. Hedvig Hricak is the current chair of the Department of Radiology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and much of Hricak’s research focuses on cancer detection and treatment. Mary Dillon, CEO of Ulta Beauty, received the Sandra Taub award for philanthropy for funding more than 440,000 hours of breast cancer research.

The event was hosted by Amy Robach (a breast cancer survivor and ABC news anchor) and actor Andrew Shue.

US Hosts Maritime Trade Talks with UK On Board the HMS Queen Elizabeth

Official Portrait of  Robert E. Lighthizer.

UK International Trade Secretary Dr. Liam Fox hosted several events designed to reinforce the economic relationship between the UK and the USA. The events took place on October 22, 2018 on board the UK’s Royal Navy’s HMS Queen Elizabeth, docked in New York Harbor.

The New York events come in the wake of the announcement by the US Treasury Secretary, Robert Lighthizer, that the US will commence talks with the UK to forge a new US-UK Free Trade Agreement to go into effect when the UK leaves the European Union.

The Department for International Trade presented a round-table discussion including some of the UK’s key computer companies. They presented their new technological advances to several US Fortune 500 companies in the hopes of forging some business partnerships.

The Secretary, Dr. Fox, spoke during the proceedings. He emphasized the ability of the UK to protect against serious cyber threats as they grow in number and danger. He announced a new sub-committee of the Board of Trade which will investigate what methods UK companies can use to grow the amount of imports in the cyber space, and how UK-US cooperation can improve the fight against cyber-attacks.

The floating backdrop of the great ship helped set the stage for Dr. Fox’s joining with the Maritime UK to host the very first Maritime Nations Forum between the US and the UK. The forum focused on the ways these two great sea-faring nations can improve maritime trade and relations.

Economy Hot Says JOLT Data

Unemployment by county in the United States 2017.

The numbers for August are in, and it seems they are telling a happy story right now about employment and the US economy. The positive findings appear in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Job Openings and Labor Turnover Report (JOLT), which is an important report that does not get enough attention.

According to JOLT there were 7.14 million job openings in the USA in August, a record number. In July there were 7.10 jobs available, which was also an historic high. It seems right now is one of the best times in US history to be job hunting.

JOLT’s assessment is that the economy is running hot. August was the fifth consecutive month in which there were more jobs available than there were unemployed people to fill them. According to JOLT there were about 1.2 million more jobs than the 5.96 million unemployed. That has never happened before, at least not since series began in 2000. Also setting records is the number of new hires, which reached 5.78 million in August.

Workers are also feeling more confidence in the labor market in general. That story is told by what is known as the “quit-rate.” In August about 3.58 million workers left their jobs voluntarily, a sign, according to economists, that people feel they can take a chance and leave their old job in hopes of finding a new, better job. The number for August 2018 was up by 12.7% over last years “quit-rate” number.