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S2: Hello. Welcome to the ABC edition of Slate.
S3: Money, your guide to the Business and Finance News of the Week. We have so much material to deal with this week.
S4: We are going to talk about ABC, the X, Y, Z, a.k.a. Alphabet, a.k.a. Google. We are going to talk about Cuba. We are going to talk about Manchester City Football Club. We, by the way, is me. Felix Salmon of axios and Emily Peck of HuffPost.
S5: And Anna SHYMANSKY of Breakingviews Lu. And we are going to talk about not only all of these things, but also in a lively slate plus discussion.
S4: Poor Argentina being picked on by Donald Trump and what it has to do with the price of soybeans, which I promise is more interesting than it sounds, especially if you manage to make it through the lively numbers round where we will get out the greatest TV ad that has appeared on Twitter in the past three weeks.
S6: It’s all coming up on Slate Money.
S4: Now I know my a._b._c.s, the official u._r._l. If you want to find the alphabet on the Internet is A.B.C. DOT X, Y, Z.
S7: That makes sense. That’s that that’s where that blog is. Or it’s also a Google doc blog. But Google, that blog is just for Google. ABC X, Y, Z is for the parent company, which is Alphabet because there will quirky and they put out letters from Larry and Serguei, who are always referred to by their first names and were all on first name terms with Larry and Serguei. The boys have their lives, even other. Forty six. Exactly. The boys who needed adult supervision. Remember that? Yes. And the boys put out this cute little e-mail with two exclamation points at the end of paragraphs, because that’s how like, you know, relateable, they are saying, hey, we don’t really need to run this place anymore. We can just let the sun takeover. And isn’t it all just light friendly? And we are running, you know, trillion dollar global mega behemoth company that basically controls everything that you do in every aspect of your life, including your new Fitbit Feliks, including my new Fitbit, which they now own. And all of the data about my sleep goes to Fitbit. And they say it doesn’t go to Google because maybe they’re two different companies or something. As I wrote in my new site of this week, they have so many subsidiaries like I literally lost count of how many CEOs there are within Alphabet.
S8: But so the interesting thing I thought with this news was first, what is the news? Oh, yeah, the news is the boys are riding off into the sunset on their Segways, as Matt Levine put it. They are leaving day to day operations at the company, which they are already have out of anyway, because they had created essentially this whole umbrella alphabet thing just so they could focus on the fun things they wanted to do and leave like the Google business to the this. I actually think I’m on a Google and YouTube. I mean, 90 percent of the business is Google. And then I think I might even be less than 10 words. That’s my point. Three percent of the profit. Yeah, not Google.
S3: So they were basic wage and profits bits, not Google that make profits, apparently. Well who knew? I mean I thought includes YouTube which is. Yeah but they’re mostly. Well basically I think the idea is that maybe revenue the consumer facing stuff which is linked to your Google account. So that would be Google. G-mail. Google Maps. YouTube, you know, all of that is all part of Google. And then waymo is entirely separate, which is the self-driving cars.
S6: Calico is entirely separate, which is like we will make medical breakthroughs that make you live forever and all of these other random bits and pieces. I’m not sure about ness ness to separate as well. Right. Yeah. Yeah. It’s a little bit. Well, it’s extremely confusing. It was done for reasons which. No one entirely understood in the first place.
S4: Well, I think one reason would be the two guys that are leaving, Larry and Sergei, who, by the way, to just say that like in terms of writing off on their Segway, I think they both have a private 747 with like a king sized bed in it, like they writing off in their pride of place.
S8: And like, of course, they don’t want to run Google. It’s like a big, complicated company. That’s boring. It’s not unless they start with an exciting search company to quote unquote, change. Right. It’s being tech labs from within, even like Google’s employees. I feel like one of the most vocal group of tech workers out there right now. I mean, there there’s some that were fired that are threatening to go to the NLRB with complaints that will be there.
S3: How walkout? There were complaints about Project Firefly, which was Google’s attempt to do a search engine in China.
S9: So now they’re like Synder, you get all of this, some guys that, all of it.
S8: And yeah, why would they if you have a. That’s one of the great mysteries of the billionaires. Why do they keep their jobs? Just go take take your stuff away when they’re doing right.
S6: So they’re finally doing they’re also keeping the class-B stock.
S8: Right. Right. So they also still get to control the company. Right. Right. That he felt about possible fraud. And they control the stock. And they’re basically Sanders bosses, don’t they?
S6: Yeah. They control the board. They can hire and fire Sunday at will. He doesn’t. He ostensibly reports to the board. But in reality, who he reports to, Larry and Sergei, because they control the board.
S10: They have over 50 percent of the votes between them. I did the math for my newsletter and it works out that Larry alone has 51 billion dollars worth of alphabet shares and on average, his shares have five votes each. And Sun is not exactly poor. He has one hundred million dollars worth of alphabet shares, but his shares have on average, zero point zero seven votes each.
S9: So he has to do all the work that doesn’t get the votes. In a way like he’s got I mean, I do want to say he’s getting the short end of the stick at the end of the day. He’s writing Google and he is making like nine figures. Exactly. Exactly. But, you know, as Google is becoming is coming under more scrutiny and he is going to more and more have to be the face. Now, granted, he already essentially was, but there was always the thought that, you know, you could still kind of lug the other guys in. And now that’s gonna be a lot harder.
S8: So now tech CEO used to be like a cool job. Right. They like the boys back in the day. They got to do cool stuff. Don’t be evil, bop around, sexually harass people, actually harass whoever they want. No one cared. And now Tuxedo is just like any other CEO.
S6: No. But the thing which is cool. You know, you did that whole thing about, you know, a million dollars isn’t cool. You know, cool is a billion dollars. Being a tech CEO, isn’t Google being a.
S3: Tech founder is cool because the thing that Larry and Sergei have, which no one else has, is zero accountability. There is literally no way in which anyone can hold them accountable for anything that happens. Alphabet Despite the fact that they control the company.
S11: Yeah. And yeah. Whoa. Well it’s also like I mean what you’re saying, I mean it’s a sign of kind of an end of an era I think. I mean we’re getting a lot of these signs, but like, you know, tech is maturing and it’s becoming just a normal, incredibly dominant industry. So it’s not surprising that you’re gonna have slightly more boring people running it because it isn’t even a tech company and a lot of ways.
S8: Now, like Matt Levine point out, it’s an advertising company.
S4: It’s always that. And we are entering the crazy election cycle where a bunch of fraught questions over political advertising and misinformation and all of that are going to be swirling and Sunday is going to be at the center of that. And The New York Times had a huge investigation a few months ago about YouTube, which is probably one of the most powerful vectors of misinformation on planet Earth. And no one’s really grappled with that within alphabet.
S8: And because of the structure, we don’t even YouTube doesn’t even have to tell us very much about it.
S6: It tells us nothing yet. We know we literally know nothing about YouTube’s financials because of the way, as you say, alphabet is structured. It is considered not material with an alphabet level, which is probably bullshit. But it was also, according to a letter to the FCC, they said, yeah, we don’t break out the YouTube financials because Larry doesn’t look at them, which I’m sure he didn’t. But now they can’t use that excuse anymore because they can’t say that Sun doesn’t look at them because under us still running Google. So it’ll be interesting to see whether we see the YouTube financials because bio you all accounts, by all estimates, YouTube as a standalone company would be one of the 40 biggest companies in America.
S11: I mean, they should probably just spin it off. Warren should get in there and break that stuff. I mean, Google should.
S3: So. Okay, so I’ve never heard Anna being in charge of late breaking up that guy. Why should they without YouTube?
S9: I mean, it would have a a just like it would have a higher value on its own. And B, if you’re thinking about like right now, they’re gonna be having to deal on the Google level with all of this kind of anti-tech regulatory issues. And then they’re also gonna be having to deal with that on the YouTube level. It just seems like why do they need that extra headache? I think would be better for Google and I think the better for YouTube.
S8: I think Google has both companies better off in terms of tech lash. Google has it at the employee level. But at the at the public level, the outrage is more fueled towards YouTube.
S4: So if they did say that’s coming out, like I think at the public level, this is more towards Amazon, to be honest leg. I don’t think that Google has faced nearly the level of public opprobrium that it has that matches with the, you know, media Twitter obsession with privacy issues and misinformation and that kind of stuff.
S8: But just you wait at the YouTube level, like the coverage has been really negative and coverage has been that the pedophilia stuff on YouTube. Alex Jones stuff, the misinformation, although lunatic’s, you know, that are getting tons of money through YouTube. I feel like the potential the media coverage has been really bad and the potential for public backlash is there.
S3: I just haven’t seen any pop let the tech clash hasn’t made its way to the general public really for anyone. But it did a little bit with Uber, with delete Uber. It did a little bit with Amazon, I think. I really don’t think it has with Google. Not yet. And in general, it really hasn’t made its way from press coverage into the general public. I think where how would you define that when people like Elizabeth Warren comes out and says, I want to break up the tech giants? I don’t see that as a huge applause line where like the Pennsylvania crowds are gonna be like, yeah, I break out the tech guy and it’s not something which is that important to them.
S8: That’s fair. I mean, the companies you just mentioned, I feel like there’s an acknowledgement and I may be extrapolating from my own life that that these companies are doing lots of bad stuff, invading your privacy, yadda, yadda, yadda. But like, we need them. Like, I really need that Google search and and the maps. I need it. And and Amazon is quite convenient and Uber works really well. You know, these are like they’ve made their way into our daily lives in a way that’s hard to extricate.
S3: Right. So people might complain about them. But then I got to stop using Google. No. And I think and this is one of the things which really annoys me is that when people start talking about how to deal with the anti-trust issues in big tech, there’s a lot of backlash against that from Silicon Valley saying. But people love it and they still continued to use it. And they’re not deleting Facebook. And it’s like it’s not on the individual to do these things. It’s not on individuals to stop using these services. And in fact, if you broke up these services, if you did spin off YouTube from Alphabet like no one would. Beg people to stop using YouTube. It would just stop making Alphabet such a large and powerful company because it would face competition from YouTube instead of owning YouTube.
S8: I mean, they’re almost like public utilities and that you I mean, you need you need Google, you need your electric company to work. I need my cable company, which everyone hates their cable company. But you continue to use cable. Right. And they just need to be regulated. They’re that important.
S4: So let’s talk about the most evil one of all, which is Uber.
S8: Dun dun dun. Emily, I have a lot to say.
S3: You had a bomb’s an advance copy of this report. Yes, I did. So I was skimming through 84 pages, trying to work out what this report was saying. You’ve been looking at these 84 pages for how long? Like a few all week a week. Yeah. So what are the 84 pages and what do they say?
S8: So what Uber has done, it’s put out a safety report includes data on three things that most companies never, ever, ever, ever talk about sexual assault, traffic fatalities and deaths from physical assault, which includes murder. So I am here and I know this. It would seem crazy to listeners, but like this is good. Uber did a good thing. It transparency, transparency is what everyone is asking these companies to do. And the numbers that they put out, my story really focused on sexual assault. When you consider the scale of the platform, they’re not big. They’re just not. There is fewer than 500 rapes are what Uber calls non-consensual sexual penetration, which is actually a more expansive definition than rape than you would find in most states. But that’s across 2.2 billion rides, which is like point 0 0 0 2 percent. And of those non-consensual sexual penetrations, you know, some of those were of the drivers themselves.
S6: So so, I mean, one of the things that jumped out to me from this report is that to a first approximation, the riders and the drivers seem to be victims in roughly equal measure. Like if you look at the what did they call them, fatal physical assaults. They didn’t use the word murder. They use the term fatal physical assaults. If you look at the fatal physical assaults over the past two years, there were eight riders and seven drivers. Yeah. So it kind of split 50/50. I mean, the sexual assault is more weighted towards the riders, but there are a lot of drivers will say, well, this is what’s interesting.
S8: What really interested me and was the way Uber went about counting sexual assault, because no, no company is like done this or if they have they have never talked about it and no one knows what sexual assault. It’s like the president’s been accused of it. Joe Biden has been accused of it. We think it’s rape, but it’s also like pats on the ass like no one knows. So what Uber did was like work with these like with experts in the field of sexual violence to come up with this massive taxonomy of 21 terms of sexual misconduct and sexual assault going from like learing all the way up to rape before it even got to the point where it could count. What was going on? It’s much more expansive definition. So I actually felt like defensive of them today because people are coming out and being like, this is shocking. This is a scandal. And at the bottom line, it’s it’s about 6000 reports. So they’re not all they may not all be true. Their reports. Right. These are just things. Customers.
S12: I mean, loaded our people a true that that’s truly dead. People are true.
S8: But like go to Walmart. How many people have died at Walmart in the past two years? I would bet you it’s more and they have fewer users like all Uber is, is I mean, they were bad with safety, you know, during the Travis time. And if I bet if you looked really far back at the data, it would be much worse.
S3: I would think so. This is the big question I have about the report. There was actually a thing at the very beginning report. I didn’t make it quite to the end, but there was a letter at the beginning saying, quote, We know that reporting goes up when people know how to report and feel that their reports will be taken seriously. Yes. So some advocates talked a lot. So the big question for me is, as Uber puts out this report, presumably every year from here on in every two year, every two years from here on in. How are we going to be able to judge whether it’s improving or not?
S8: It’s it’s going to be really hard.
S6: So when you say that things have improved since the Travis era, like it’s really hard to find any quantitative data for all that. There’s a million numbers in this and there’s lots of, you know, assaults per 100 million vehicle miles traveled more of these kind of, you know, metrics.
S4: I don’t know. And I can’t see anywhere in here that Uber has found any way of judging, whether it’s getting better or whether it’s getting well.
S1: But I would probably argue that the fact that they’re putting this out is a sign that the company itself is getting better, just in a sense that they’re taking this seriously. Because, you know, as we’re talking about this. You know, Emily, as you say, look, if you put these numbers in context, the really, really small.
S3: They’re not. That’s what I mean. Nine murders is night and then one year.
S11: You have to put it in context compared to what happens on public transit. Compare what happens in taxes compared to what happens in many, many other places, literally Walmart. Right. The whole point, though, is just this kind of conversation shows it. There’s almost only downside to Uber for doing this. So why you think they’re doing it?
S8: I mean, I think they’re doing it because they had to because they knew like every time something happened, it got massive publicity in a way that most companies do not get and they promise to do it. So they had to. I think they’re the advocates that work. With them are hoping other companies do it and use the taxonomy to actually define this. They open source the taxonomy and they’re like they’re like, you know, they’re their PR person, like, you have to call the airlines, you have to go hotels. Like they need to do this, too. And they’ve been going out and like talking to other companies and trying to get them to do it, too. And like, that would be great because it’s my suspicion work on these kinds of issues that most companies aren’t that much better. It’s just that Uber has such massive scale.
S4: If if if there are numbers here, if he becomes in and says, here’s our open source taxonomy and methodology, we’ve done all of the heavy lifting to create this taxonomy and methodology. Now anyone can use it. And if other people use it, then we can start getting apples to apples comparisons between companies and try and get a feel for which companies are better and worse. I mean, in principle, I I kind of half see it in practice.
S6: I don’t believe we’re ever going to get there because there will always be differences in terms of how easy it is to report. And a lot of this is just going to be a function of how easy it is to report these things. I mean, if you die in Wal-Mart, you go to the police. You don’t go to Wal-Mart.
S1: Right. I mean, a lie. But if you get raped and Uber, you don’t go to Uber, you go to police.
S8: Some people still just go to Uber because a lot of people don’t report rapes. But one thing people talked about was the Clery Act, which requires colleges to get, you know, public funding to report crime statistics. And part of that is rape and whatnot. And there are some colleges that put out their statistics and they claim to have zero sexual assaults, which everyone knows is absolute bullshit. They do everything in their power to get that numbers to be zero. Like not listening to they have no students understand everything. So the appeal of the taxonomy getting used by everyone is that you don’t have that situation right. But maybe I mean, in this day and age, aren’t these kinds of things a material risk? Like, isn’t there an argument to be made that public companies should have to report this stuff?
S1: Now, it’s interesting. It kind of goes into the ESG conversation. That’s always what you hear. Any talk of people in ESG is that the data is so bad that everybody measures these things in different ways. And you hear people saying we need better standards, we need better standards. And gradually we have those standards yet. But this could be one more thing where there’s a push to say we have to have more uniform standards, that it’s not a choice. You’re going to have to report this kind of data.
S4: So, yeah. And one of the things which just jumps out at me at this report is the way in which as a society, we and every other country in the world does an incredibly good job at ignoring traffic deaths.
S6: There were like 35 pedestrians got killed in Uber crashes basically over the past two years, which is a lot of people dead on the road.
S4: And that’s tiny compared to the total number of pedestrians who died every two years.
S6: And we you know, it’s it’s really, really hard to find people who take this issue seriously. Weirdly, Mike Bloomberg takes this issue very seriously. But like it’s in general, it’s hard.
S10: And the reason it’s hard is because you look at it like Kleiss, 35 people have been have died in the crash. Isn’t I wouldn’t want to run a company that was responsible for 35 people dying. But on some level, maybe I can kind of believe them if they tell me that if Uber hadn’t been on the road, that number would actually be higher.
S8: I mean, a couple of things. First, they looked at their data and compared it to, you know, overall the NSA data. And they claimed that their traffic fatality rate is half regular because they have older drivers in your eyes, which I thought was pretty interesting. And then the second thing that what you were saying made me think of Felix is there’s just like really good on the media episode, all about pedestrian fatalities being a direct result of like public policy and how, you know, there’s nowhere to cross the street. And like, you just need to cross the street.
S6: The government lets you walk a mile. Don’t put this on. We shouldn’t put this on companies. Right?
S8: I mean, I feel like we should. I should definitely say that, like, it’s awful that 6000 people were sexually assaulted during overrides and that there were murders. Like this is all bad and that there are fatalities. But yeah, it’s I think, public policy with those pedestrian deaths.
S10: Let me ask you one thing, Emily, which is the other huge question which I had reading this report. I don’t know if you asked Google about this, which is the majority of Uber’s business is outside the US and there’s nothing in this report about it. And the majority by far the majority of the most egregious reports of rapes and murders and stuff is outside the US. And they don’t seem to mention that tool.
S8: They didn’t. All they said to me about that was like we couldn’t do this globally because the taxonomy is def would be different. And why would the culture be different? Because things that are considered inappropriate in the U.S. like like they counted unwelcome non-consensual kissing of a non-sexual body part, which is like kisses on the cheek. They counted that, for example, as sexual assault. And I think it’s like the first category. And like if you’re in Europe. Right. Like there would be a million reports. So that’s. Why they kind of like claimed that, but I kind of think they could have done the fatality stuff right. I mean, other countries track that to death stuff. So I don’t know if that’s much of an excuse.
S3: I think I think it’s harder for them to try. I mean, I keep on in the back of my head remembering that 40 percent of Uber rides are settled in cash. And it’s like Uber is much less sort of automated and centralized in other countries and is in the U.S. I mean, the number of cash adsl2 bribes in the U.S. I think is zero. I think no one does it, but it’s very, very common in the rest of the world.
S8: Yeah, that’s what advocates said. Also, as like like if you get assaulted in some of the categories, like on the subway, you’re not going to complain about it. Like you’re just going to go on with your life. Right. We know this. But like Uber, there’s a record time, place, everything. It’s all. You don’t have to do anything. And you just now they’ve made it easier. You could just press a button and complain about it. My point is just that the tech makes it easier for these complaints to happen. And what you’re saying would make it harder. And there is the world.
S3: OK. I want to talk about Manchester City Football Club. I, as regular listeners to state money, will know. I am not a sports person. My friend Noah Brier in his wonderful way is this interesting email described me a couple of days as a sports ignoramus.
S4: So that posited this Manchester City deal is super interesting. Silverlake, which is a Silicon Valley technology investor or at least used to be a technology investor up until a couple of years ago, has invested five hundred million dollars in the parent company of Manchester City, which is called City Football Group. I think at a four point eight billion dollar valuation, which is makes it pretty much the most valuable sports team on the planet. Second most.
S3: Well, I mean, the only question the only question is whether the Dallas Cowboys are worth more than four point eight billion dollars. And since Jerry Jones isn’t selling. We don’t know. But it’s a massive valuation fat man city who like when I was growing up, we’re not exactly considered a major football. And the thing that really fascinates me is this is not hashtag billionaire whimsy. This is this is not Steve Cohen coming in and saying, I want to buy the New York Mets because I am very rich and I can afford them. And so there are no more. Damien Hirst pieces by two point $2.6 billion dollars. Two billion dollars for a majority share at a $2.6 billion valuation. That’s clearly just like still Steve Ballmer buying whatever that team was in the Los Angeles Clippers. Clippers? Yeah. That’s just you know, when you have too much money, what you do is use by a sports team. This is not that. This is Silver Lake, who has like limited partners who are paying two and twenty. And they expect to see like a 3x return on their four or five hundred million dollar investment. So my question for you is how on earth does Silverlake make a 3x return when it’s buying in at a four point eight billion dollar valuation?
S1: That’s a very good question. I mean, I think partly this is, you know, they’ve an overall kind of entertainment strategy right there. There are lots of different entertainment companies. And this is supposed to kind of fit in. And I believe what they’re also doing is they’re buying a lot of like they’ve like smaller ah, like in like a lower level clubs as well. And so it’s kind of the idea that these are all going to work together. Right.
S3: So the city football group owns, I think, seven football teams around the world, including in New York City Football Club. And the idea is that whatever they’ve perfected at Man City with their style of play in their sports medicine and their youth development teams and all of this kind of stuff, they can then take that expertise and apply it to Melbourne and to New York and to all of these other teams to their own right.
S1: And whether that will actually work is a very big question. But it’s also, you know, say you have athletes who are good, but they’re not quite ready for the big leagues. You can also potentially have them play in some of these lower level leagues as well. You know, can all kind of work move them around the world?
S8: I thought that sounded kind of genius. And I was like, why? Why don’t the Yankees buy the other teams with names? Cardinal, I don’t know.
S7: You know, I think they can it baseball is not an international sport in the same way that soccer.
S8: But like the idea that because it feels like this, this company operates like like a sports league, but it has so much has more power and and strength to, you know.
S11: Well, they never see more than one team in any given country. Right. And I believe in a lot of interest in MLB like control some of their minor leagues that are connected with them. Yeah. All right. And so it’s similar, but it might be remote control like one minor league team and others not.
S4: But there’s also different leagues have different amounts of power of what you can and can’t own. And I think by restricting yourself to one team per country, you managed to get around all of those rules about like you can’t own two teams in that kind of conflict of interest. But like to your point and you’re right, the Silverlake, this is just part of the broader media entertainment push, which includes Endeavor, which bought William Morris. It’s this big talent agency. Also, what Miss Universe. And what’s fascinating to me is that this idea of tech and we are talking about this when we’re talking about alphabet, you know, alphabet is YouTube, it’s entertainment. Technology is now media is advertising, it’s entertainment. And sports is a huge part of that entertainment economy. And on some level, I guess I understand what Silverlake is doing here is they’re trying to say, well, this bit of the entertainment economy, the the media, the talent agencies, the Miss Universe pageant, the Manchester cities, all of this kind of stuff hasn’t become rolled up, scaled, professionalized in the way that much of the rest of the technology world has. And so that’s a big bet. I just don’t entirely see how they’re going to make money at it.
S1: I mean, I’ll go with you on that. I mean, I but I do think it’s interesting because. Right. Like even what you were saying with Man City, like growing up, you would never thought they would become what they became now. And part of that is because of this kind of the Premier League has become so globalized. So I guess there’s also that idea. You can kind of bring some of these other teams up to to kind of you would never think now that what they could become in 10, 15 years. I don’t know if maybe that’s part of the idea that you just have such a bigger global audience for soccer now. Right.
S4: I suppose the idea would be that, you know, there’s been this perennial dream in the United States that soccer is going to become a major spectator sport. It’s been a huge participation sport for decades. But like people don’t watch whatever league doesn’t even know the name of the league. Yeah, but if it if they ever do if it ever reaches the point where the U.S. league becomes half as big as the English League or the Italian legal the German legal Spanish league, then it is fair to assume that New York City Football Club will be near the top of that league and will be worth, you know, more than a billion dollars on its own.
S9: Well, great. And also, I mean, obviously, soccer has always been so big in the rest of the world outside the U.S. as well. So, you know, that’s already like an enormous market that you can, you know, with some of these teams. But but I do think that’s right, that as of yet, no one’s quite been able to figure out how to get Americans to watch soccer. And women seem to be able to do it a little bit better than men could play better. But I mean, it’s interesting. I mean, I think part of it is that there just aren’t enough breaks. Americans like sports. It breaks. This is my theory on this. It’s not the Americans. It’s the TV companies. Yeah, big harpist.
S3: The purpose of the break is to run ads and make money. If you’re a TV company and you are faced with a choice between running a basketball game where there’s an ad every five minutes or a soccer game where there’s no ads for 45 minutes straight. You are going to choose the basketball game because it’s just that much more lucrative.
S9: And actually, as you’re saying that now, McRobbie can’t go back to what I just said because, you know, I will just say that ‘cause like literally I was watching on sports last week and we were watching everything on tape delay, which is wonderful because you can catch a game really quickly because you just fast-forward through all the advertisments and all the like referees looking at the play to see what actually happened. So I don’t know. I mean, but but the only way that the sport takes off is if there is money to be made from it.
S6: And the only way there is going to be money to be made of it if is if there are advertisers and x11, somehow there seems to be no shortage of money in England or Spain or Italy or Brazil or Germany or all these other places with soccer leagues and they don’t put breaks in the middle of the games.
S1: Right. But they also have existed for so long and they’ve clearly figured out other ways to monetize them. Granted, maybe you could do that here. But I mean, this is how Americans increasingly consume sports. They consume them from their living rooms.
S3: And I think that’s true. Why? I don’t think that’s increasing. I think that’s always been the case. But I do think there’s a secular trend away from ad supported television and towards subscription TV, like, you know, Netflix, HBO, all of the Disney plus. And as that trend continues and ESPN is certainly a large part of the Disney strategy, I think the requirement for sports to monetize through advertising goes down and the ability for people to enjoy watching sports on television at home. There’s no law no longer requires feeding them lots of ads because there are lots of other ways you can just get them to pay $5 a month or whatever.
S9: It’s possible, although I guess I just say that one of the reasons that sports are still considered, you know, this kind of really valuable commodity is because it’s one of the things people still tend to watch live, right? Sure. But the only reason that that’s valuable is if you can feed them.
S3: And what I don’t understand to why is it more valuable?
S4: What why is it why isn’t it that I don’t understand that at all, like you are watching a sport live and you’re willing to pay for it either. You know, with catch it. If you’re watching a sport live and you’re willing to pay for that with cash, then that’s a great revenue stream for whoever owns that sport, whether or not they can serve in that in the middle of it.
S9: But if I’m watching it actually live, I can’t do what I did last week. And fast forward to the ads. So, yes, it is possible that if you got a subscription model the same way you had like boxing or whatever, that that worked on a larger scale and everyone was just paying, then maybe that could work. But as of right now, the reason that they’re considered valuable is because more people are going to watch them live than almost any other type of thing. And so they’re going to almost certainly then watch the ads because they can’t fast forward through them like the Super Bowl is the biggest advertising.
S3: Right. Exactly. There is there is this idea that had some more valuable if people don’t fast forward to watch them, which I mean, it’s it’s funny. I’ve seen surveys like which cost a little bit of doubt on that. And the like, the amount of brand value you get by fast forwarding through an ad is actually not much lower than if you get if you actually watch the ads. But suddenly advertisers seem to prefer to show ads that people are going to be what? CHANG And so that does increase the value of the ads. I just think that in terms of soccer, the big hope of soccer as a spectator sport in the United States is 100 percent on television. It’s 100 percent people watching at home. I just don’t think it’s gonna be ad supported. I think the future of television is not as much less ad supported than it has ever been. And the future of soccer in particular is not going to be ad supported because, you know, it’s 45 minutes straight and you’re not. You can’t put an ad in the middle of a, you know, 45 minutes of football as opposed to actual football. You can put an ad every three seconds.
S13: It’s gonna ever be like football. Soccer is just never done at that time is over. Let’s have a numbers round. Emily, do you have a number? I have a number. What’s your number? Numbers 30. OK. 30 seconds. That is. That’s how long the peloton ad was.
S12: Was it really 30 seconds? It felt like an hour.
S8: So for those of you who I guess might not know, this peloton ad went viral this week featuring the Palatine wife who gets a Palestine for Christmas. She’s imahara isolated and she’s super excited. But then she’s very afraid to take her first class, even though she’s not enough. She’s fit, but she’s quite thin.
S5: And how she is so excited to get the Appellant’s on if she’s never actually done the peloton before.
S10: How did she know it? So everybody.
S8: Well, everyone knows about Pellington. Oh, OK. And so this had I guess it came out November 2. Not many people noticed it. And then someone in the media, Twitter noticed the media. Twitter went viral. Allegedly, the company’s stock went down because it went down 13 percent in two days.
S3: Well, but how did the how much to the entire market go down? Now, the market was going up as much. The point is the stock actually looked at this because it made no sense to me until I couldn’t believe that an ad and because how you in stock? It’s a liquid stock. But what people don’t tell you is that between early October and Tuesday of this week, the stock had gone up from $20 to $36 and then it went back down 30. So there was an element of just kind of what goes up must go down. But there was definitely this amazing phenomenon whereby the ad has no effect on anything until it gets noticed by Twitter, at which point it causes the stock to plunge, which was hilarious.
S8: I mean, yeah, I guess people were taking it so far that again, I defended Uber earlier and now I’m like, listen, the ad was fine.
S12: It was the same thought. It was like. Granted, I feel like if it had. Oh, my God. All right. We’re going to bring Jeff in here.
S4: Jeff, I mean, what did you make of the peloton? So Jessamy and Molly has a point that the title of the ad is The Gift that gives back. And the implication being that if you give your wife a peloton, then you get a return in the form of a hotter wife or something like that.
S11: So my assumption is that. I feel like if the ad had been done and it just hadn’t been a gift from a guy to a girl, it would have been completely different. Like I feel like I’ve just been like a woman buys herself this or whatever. And I think that was the problem that they should have thought that through. And also the fact that she was thin at the beginning and then at the end, if anything, I feel like any different. Well, no, but that’s my whole point. If anything, I feel like that makes it less body shaming. It’s not like they were like, oh, I you know, I need to fix my body. She’s like, no, I’m just want to work out. I don’t mean like, why did she make a video?
S8: Well, maybe giving back is the video that she gives back to her husband of her getting up at 5:00 a.m. the other.
S3: I mean, maybe it wasn’t a good ad, but I feel the other thing is that anyone who watched season one of Black Mirror will remember the the bike episode where, like you, you have to bike to get 15 million credits. And anyone who’s seen that episode of Black Mirror is just going to look be terrified of that black mirror on my index card to talk about this.
S14: No, sir, I think so.
S8: P.S., my husband and I maybe want a bike for a joint Christmas gift because we want one. And we were looking at Pelton’s and I just have to say they’re quite expensive. They are saying these are they’re two thousand two hundred and forty five dollars. And then you have to pay thirty nine dollars a month. The class does crazy exercise. Bikes aren’t that expensive.
S3: They are a commodity like they are all exactly the same. And there is absolutely no reason why you should buy a peloton bike rather than any one of the 87 identical other bikes. And in fact, a lot of the competitors are not only cheaper but better. Like, for instance, I know a tiny little bit about exercise bikes. Don’t ask me why one of the things that you want to be able to do in an exercise classes is make them harder or easier. Sure. Over the course, the exercise class and on the peloton, you do that the old fashioned way, which is you reach down and there’s little knob and you rotate it to the right and you rotate it to the left. And with all of these new fangled ones, they just do that automatically and you don’t need to twiddle anything. So I’m like, why not use one of those? If it’s cheaper?
S8: So all Peloton has is marketing and they fucked that up.
S11: Maybe, although maybe it won’t be really long exaggerated. So it’s a fair point. What is your. My number is one hundred and thirty seven thousand. OK. OK. So the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, Duke’s basketball team went by this lower level team, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks. What’s what? Yes. So but the thing that’s amazing about this is there is a player really good. There’s a player on this team who the Stephen F?
S9: Austin Lumberjacks yesterday, who is from the Bahamas and the university had set up this go fund me for his family because their home and like a church was destroyed in Hurricane Dorian and before this game at two thousand dollars by the Friday after this game, it had one hundred and thirty seven thousand dollars because everybody hates Duke. And so all these people were giving money because he scored the winning basket to beat Duke.
S8: That’s amazing. Wow.
S1: I’ll say the name of the team again, the Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks where they exist.
S4: Are they a university team? What was the university?
S12: Stephen? I have asked Stephen with a P-H.
S13: Yes, I knew that.
S3: That’s it. So. OK. And I have now learned many things, including the fact there was the university equal. Stephen F. Austin University team is the lumberjack. Do they wear like lumberjack shirts? I don’t think so. My number is sixty six million, which is the number of bottles of gin that was sold in the United Kingdom in 2018. Eighteen, which is I mean, that’s sixty six million. It’s like the population of the United Kingdom. This is a rise of 41 percent in one year. What’s going on? Gin has taken over the UK. Gin is now like there’s a new gin resurgence. There was a big gin thing in Spain for many years, but the Spanish don’t drink nearly as much as the English do. The English know how to drink and the English drinking gin.
S8: Is there some other alcohol that people aren’t drinking as much? Probably beer. How do they drink it with tonic?
S4: That is the normal way to drink gin. And one of the reasons why Jenny is taking off is that there is a resurgence in tonic as well. It used to be that you had the choice of like Schweppes or Schweppes. And now there are a million artisanal tonics you can experiment with.
S8: Oh, I bet that’s good. I’d be interested in tasting some artisanal tonic.
S12: Maybe we will have no tears, no tonics edition as late money. So, yeah, I.
S3: On which. No, I think we will wrap this episode up. Looking to have a slight buzz on why is Donald Trump picking on Argentina? If you are a slate plus listener, enjoy. If you’re not. Thank you for listening to Slate Money. And thank you to.
S2: Just mean Molly for producing. We will be back next week with another episode of Sleep Money.
S3: Poor Argentina. Argentina is not a country that you often feel sorry for. This is the epicenter of like self-inflicted wounds. They they are just a basket case in so many ways, so much of the time.
S5: But this latest insult is so not their fault.
S9: Yes, it is decidedly not their fault. So explain what happened. OK. So basically, Donald Trump came out early this week and said that he was going to put tariffs, steel tariffs, steel and aluminum tariffs on Brazil and Argentina. And the reason he was going to do this, he said, is because they were manipulating their currency. And this was the part that just made everybody laugh, especially with Argentina.
S12: It wasn’t. Love is. It was like they these like they were D-VA He used the word devalue, which like there’s like one probably can’t expect Donald Trump to understand the difference between a devaluation and the depreciation. But come on. Like their reference rate is like 63 percent. He’s like, yeah, he’s like, we should cut rates because everyone else is devaluing their currency. It’s like the interest rate in Argentina is 63 percent what you want them to do. They have capital controls and and both are dead even in Brazil.
S9: Do you go into the currency markets to try to help prop up their currency?
S5: So and and the thing which drives me like so insane is if you want the currencies to be stronger, you want them to be exporting more exports of the things which cause your currency to rise. If you hurt the exports by imposing tariffs, then that is going to cause the currency to fall even more. It is the most counterproductive.
S9: Right. And so. Well, one thing, it is true that Brazil has been reducing their interest rate, and that is part of the reason that their eye has declined as much as it has because the carry is less right. So people are investing. So that’s definitely one part of it. But what this really is about, like everything with Donald Trump is soybeans. I felt it was about the Fed. I honestly think it’s about sweepings. I mean, because fundamentally now China gets like 77 percent of their soybeans from Brazil and Brazil. Argentina is a combination about point is South America is essentially giving China almost all the soybeans. Now, why? Because Donald Trump’s. But stupid tariffs on. So what? This fundamental wait. Donald Trump has put tariffs on what? Well, he’s put tariffs on Chinese goods. So the Chinese retaliated by putting tariffs on on the Patriot Act, actually. And so consequently, the buy this is soybeans from Argentina and Brazil are cheaper to ditch.
S6: I say if I’m a Chinese soybean importer, I can get my soybeans from Brazil without tariffs or I can get them from the United States. But if I get this in the United States, I need to pay tariffs. And so I don’t get them the United States. And that annoys Donald Trump. And so Donald Trump blames Brazil.
S9: Yeah, it’s so dumb. And in his mind, it’s not because of the tariffs, it’s because of the Fed. Going back to that, which again, makes no sense. My theory about this is that there was a lot of coverage right before Thanksgiving about how that Brazilian rtÉ.ie was declining in value. And I think he saw some like news thing and he saw a chart and he was like, look at that. Like their rates went down and like, that’s why they’re beating us. And so this is why he did this. I really think there was almost no more logic than that. I think he saw something and reacted stupidly.
S13: He didn’t put the tariffs into place yet. Didn’t know. So maybe this is one bananas thing that it’s also entirely possible. But I can’t believe you didn’t do you bananas.
S3: I mean, so I mean, talking about bananas.
S12: I just I was really expecting you to. Do you. You were expecting him. Mauricio Catalan number one.
S8: I almost tweeted to you, Felix. Is this going to be a number that I was like. No, I don’t wanna spoil it. If he does the number, I don’t want to tip anyone off to the banana. So I said nothing.
S3: OK. So all I’m going to say trade in a second beloved slate plus listeners that if you want to know the most bananas number you have ever seen.
S4: Check out this week’s issue of axios Edge, which you can find somewhere on axios dot com.
S8: If you look hard enough so the tariffs haven’t gone now. And maybe this doesn’t even happen yet, honestly.
S1: You could also really argue whether he has the ability to do this, because this is under these like 2:32 tariffs, which are supposed to be about national security. So you’re like, what? Soybeans are a national security issue? I mean, it makes no. Like, no part of it makes sense.
S8: So hopefully it doesn’t. Plus, his friends both wasnâ€t who is very upset and learned the lesson everyone else in the world already knows, which is like Donald Trump is friends to no one. And he’s a Two-Face as a term he would use. And I just you know, I was like, I’m going to call it. I’m gonna call him and we’ll talk about it.
S6: He was so proud of himself when he decided that he was going to call Justin Trudeau toothpaste.
S12: He thought I was safe.