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I, For One, Welcome Our Corporate Overlords

The free market will decide
March 4, 2022

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The New Era of Corporate Leadership. Spotify opened offices in Moscow last month in compliance with a new Russian tech company law, and has now shut down those offices indefinitely. Multiple automakers are halting production as well as sales and exports into Russia. IKEA plans to close all 17 of its Russian stores; they will also pause imports and exports with Russia and Belarus. Airbnb has also suspended their operations in both countries. Airline software companies Sabre and their competitor Amadeus IT Group have suspended Russia’s Aeroflot fares from their distribution platforms. Meanwhile, Russia has announced they are blocking access to Facebook across the country.

Editor’s note: in last year’s Vision report we remarked on the rising phenomenon of corporations taking a larger role in responding to global affairs. Covid response happened first at the corporate level in 2020, with Starbucks and retailers across the United States declaring social distancing policies, even ahead of the CDC. We have seen corporations take the lead on climate change, on disinformation, and now on economic sanctions. According to 2PM editor in chief, Web Smith, the list of corporations levying their own sanctions on Russia includes global brands and retailers like Nike, Apple, TJX, H&M, Asos, Ikea, Under Armour, FedEx, UPS, Maersk, GM, Ford, Disney. Notable holdouts include WeWork.

In an era where constituents are fiercely divided, and brands have become our new communities and ideological group affiliation, we can expect more from corporate governance on a global scale. “Free markets” are only as free as long as you have access to them.

House of FILA. ANTA, a Chinese sportswear company, has announced their plans to build FILA House, the first hotel in the world to be FILA branded. The hotel will be a joint project together with the Hyatt Group of hotels. Fila are joined by other brands-cum-hoteliers, including The Taco Bell Hotel in Palm Springs.

More Sights & Sounds. Fitbit recalled over a million smartwatches after more that 100 burn injuries were reported. Best Buy’s fourth quarter sales fell short, citing inventory constraints. Fanatics is now valued at $27 billion, after a new round of funding which raised $1.5 billion.

Bravo, Walmart. Walmart has launched a clothing try on tool called “Choose My Model” to enable shoppers to skip the dressing room. The tech allows users to select a person who resembles them — including options for body shape and size, and skin tone. Future plans for this initiative would give shoppers the ability to upload photos. This is part of the company's implementation of one of their acquisitions, Zeekit.

Yellow and Blue are In Fashion. The fashion industry is speaking out in support of Ukraine, including a Polish-based label, MISBHV, which is offering accommodations and work for trained seamstresses and pattern makers to Ukrainians fleeing into Poland. Check out this list of brands raising funds and offering support.

Securing the dash. Doordash announced this week that they will be acquiring Bbot, a point-of-sale solution for hospitality. In 2021, the tech startup reported 700% growth year-over-year, and is part of DoorDash’s plans to continue to stabilize its business and protect profitability by diversifying its software offering into point-of-sale.

At-home flu tests wen?! Now that we have started swabbing our own noses at home to test ourselves for Covid, companies and manufacturers are betting that we would like to test ourselves for other things at home, too. Clinical trials are underway for simple testing that can be done outside of laboratory settings, such as flu and strep tests.

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