July 20, 2022

Today's Topics

Hi! We've been melting here in London, where temperatures hit a record 40°C yesterday. Here are today's hot topics:

  • Sky high. China is the skyscraper capital of the world, but the country's appetite for "supertalls" is waning.
  • Are you still watching? Netflix lost almost a million subscribers last quarter.
  • Boeing. The airplane manufacturer just scored a big order.
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Back to earth

China’s NDRC, the chief Chinese economic planning authority, has announced tougher national restrictions on constructing the sort of skyscrapers that have come to dominate the skyscape of many of the nation's biggest cities.

The new guidelines — if properly-enforced — would see new 500 meter (1640ft) constructions outlawed and the building of 250m (820ft) buildings severely restricted.

That's a dramatic departure in policy from the last few decades, which have seen China develop hundreds of dizzying modern monoliths in record times (like this 57-storey building that was built in 19 days).

Indeed, when it comes to tall buildings, China towers above competitors like the US and UAE, with more than 3 times as many structures that surpass 150 meters (492 feet). The country is home to 5 of the top 10 tallest buildings in the world and 38 of its cities currently occupy the top 100 table for total number of skyscrapers — Hong Kong alone has 546 buildings over 150m.

Whilst the steady stream of supertall structures has brought housing and economic benefits for a burgeoning middle class, the high-rise life in China has also created problems. Critics point to the pedestrian-unfriendly nature of some cities, the tendency for building works to go unfinished, and an incident in Shenzhen where the 984 foot SEG Plaza began to shake.

The new guidelines from the NDRC clearly have an eye on improving urban environments for the country's population, who now live in, or among, the country's 2,900+ skyscrapers.

Are you still watching?

Almost a million people decided that their lives, and their wallets, would be better off without a Netflix subscription in the last 3 months, as the streaming service reported a second consecutive quarter of falling subscriber numbers.

Losing 970,000 subscribers was hardly a success for Netflix, but it was better than the 2 million that they'd expected to lose — which is why the company's share price gained almost 6% yesterday, amidst a broader stock market rise. CEO Reed Hastings lauded the performance of global smash hit Stranger Things as a particular bright spot, and the company anticipates a turnaround in Q3, with expectations for a gain of 1 million subscribers.

Catch me if you can

The news means that Disney, which will give us an update on its Disney+ numbers in around 3 weeks, is likely to continue gaining on Netflix's early streaming lead. Netflix's hopes to stay out in front of its competition are mainly pinned to the success of its new ad-supported tier, developed in partnership with Microsoft, which is expected to launch in early 2023. The other lever that the company has pulled is its ongoing crackdown on password sharing — this week they announced that an "extra home" fee would be added to some customer accounts in certain countries. Netflix and not so chill.

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Struggling aerospace manufacturer Boeing scored a big win this week as Delta Air Lines ordered 100 Boeing 737 MAX 10 jets, in a deal that could be worth up to $13.5bn for the planemaker.

That's a strong showing of confidence in the latest version of the MAX range, which was hit with a global grounding ruling in 2019 after two fatal MAX 8 crashes in which 346 people lost their lives.

Boeing vs. Airbus

Although Boeing’s recent delivery figures for the flagship 737 are beginning to take off again, the safety concerns have put Boeing behind its fierce rival Airbus and its narrow-body equivalent the A320, which became the world’s bestselling airplane back in 2019.Competition between the two manufacturers has been roaring for decades and Delta's show of faith in the 737 MAX 10 line is a big step in the right direction for Boeing after a tumultuous few years in which the grounding was followed by COVID, which put many of its customers — airlines — on the brink of bankruptcy.

But as big as the Delta order is, Boeing was already playing catch up in July after Airbus booked a massive order from China at the start of the month for 292 of its A320s.

More Data

1) Great visualization of the rhythm of major American sports throughout the year.

2)Amazon is suing the admins of more than 11,000 Facebook groups that are allegedly responsible for facilitating the sale of fake reviews on the site.

3) An illustrative exploration of the circumstances surrounding the recent assassination of Shinzo Abe.

4)The $1.9B boba market is expected to grow 128% by 2028. All eyes are on Bobacino’s cost-cutting robotic kiosk that boasts 6X higher profit margins than competitors and $52M in revenue by 2025. Invest before 8/12.**

5)Volkswagen is planning to sell off a minority stake in Porsche to help fund its EV push, targeting a valuation as high as $90bn for the famed automotive maker.

6) Crunching the numbers behind the Emoji Overload (there are 3,600+ now).

7) Interesting data on the proportion of companies that have taken a public stance on 14 different social issues.

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