Depantsing Some News Briefs

June 3, 2021

Some slightly fractured takes on the week's news.

Sometimes the news comes so thick and fast that all you can do is sit back and marvel. And make snarky comments, of course.

News: Pandemic Drives Capital Investment in Food
Views: A big chunk of this is going toward delivery services that probably won’t be in such high demand much longer. Plus stuff like vertical farms, which I’ve always considered niche at best. Of course, venture capitalists typically will fund ten ventures in hopes of hitting one home run.

But venture capitalists can be aggressive; the Dilbert character “Vijay, the world’s most desperate venture capitalist” isn’t entirely fictional. They’ve been known to virtually force money on promising new businesses by threatening to fund their competitors. It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which VCs pull a bunch of companies into a direction not completely supported by the market, distorting if not ruining any future ventures in that direction.

News: Dollar Chains Bring Produce to Some Stores
Views: A basic complaint about dollar stores is that they undersell regular supermarkets on dry goods to the point where they can’t compete, leaving poorer neighborhoods without fresh-food options. Putting a basket of apples in the corner of a Dollar General isn’t going to solve this problem.

But neither will heavy-handed measures, like the restrictions some cities are putting on new dollar stores. This is a situation that requires both literal and figurative carrots, the latter being tax and other incentives to attract supermarkets where they’re needed. To every city that needs more supermarkets: Go out and get ‘em. Squelching the competition won’t get you anywhere.

News: JBS Recovering from Cyberattack
Views: I wonder if they paid the ransom, as the Colonial Pipeline people did. Whether they did or didn’t, I’m glad I wasn’t the one to make that call. You can fulminate as much as you like about not giving in to extortion, but if it’s a question of paying a few million dollars vs. absorbing tens of millions of losses daily, when does fiduciary duty kick in?

News: Tyson CEO Quits After Eight Months
Views: I kind of doubted the wisdom of bringing in a techbro to run a place like Tyson. But his replacement will make the fifth Tyson CEO in as many years. All I can tell you is, I worked at a few places where they kept changing the top guy, and in every case, I was damn glad to get out.