February 27, 2023

Today's Topics

Good morning and welcome to the final Chartr newsletter in America's second least favorite month (deemed only slightly better than January). See you in March! Today we're exploring:

  • Pfizer: The pharma giant is putting its Covid cash to work.
  • Hogwarts Legacy: The video game is proving a smash hit.
  • Social search: Gen Z have unique search habits.

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Pfizer’s dealmaking continues to accelerate, as the company is reportedly in talks to acquire Seagen, a biotech company with a number of promising cancer treatments, in a deal that could be worth more than $30bn.

The Covid booster

The news comes as Pfizer’s balance sheet is in a very healthy place. The company has seen its revenue grow to more than $100bn last year, as sales of its vaccine — which it developed in partnership with BioNTech — and Covid pill soared. That’s left the group with a cash balance that it has been deploying in earnest, with the ink barely dry on the company’s $5.4bn and $11.6bn acquisitions from last year.

It’s easy to see why Pfizer is eager to secure its future. If you strip out Covid products, Pfizer’s revenue would fall to $44bn last year — some ~$21bn below where it was in 2010. Additionally, the company is facing a “patent cliff”, as its exclusivity on blockbuster drugs such as Xtandi and Ibrance is set to expire by 2030 — which will create another ~$17bn hole in its sales.

Brewing a megahit

Last week, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that Hogwarts Legacy, a video game set some 200 years before the main events of the Harry Potter series, had passed $850m in sales just 2 weeks since its release.

That reception makes the game one of the fastest selling of all time, behind megahits such as Grand Theft Auto V and Cyberpunk 2077, confirming that JK Rowling’s personal controversy has failed to meaningfully dampen the excitement for all things Hogwarts.

Cast aside

$850m in sales brings Hogwarts Legacy ahead of each movie in the Fantastic Beasts (FB) spinoff series, the most recent of which limped to an unfantastic $407m in sales at the global box office. Indeed, considering the figures are just 2 weeks worth of sales, Hogwarts Legacy compares pretty favorably even with the megahits that were the original movie series (though the box office figures haven't been adjusted for inflation, which would certainly be meaningful over 20+ years).

The success of the game is a good reminder of 2 things. One is that people really like Harry Potter. The second is just how big the video game industry is. Indeed, the latest estimates put the total video game industry, including revenues from mobile, console and PC games, north of $175bn a year, nearly 7x the ~$26bn that the global box office took.

Want to build a mega-franchise? Starting with books, moving to movies, merchandise… and eventually video games is a pretty tried and tested method.

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Socially searching

A lot has been made in the tech world about the advancements in generative AI, and how advanced bots like ChatGPT might change the internet search landscape forever.

But we may not have to wait for AI to change how we search. Indeed, a new survey from Morning Consult reveals that newer platforms like TikTok have already changed habits for Gen Z. The survey of ~2,200 adults found that some 14% of Gen Zers, when looking into a major news event, would start their search for information on TikToK. For every other generation only 1% reported doing the same.

Google was still the place that most people started their research on a news story — which was true for all age groups — but across the social media landscape, the generational differences are interesting. Gen Z favors TikTok and YouTube, Millennials are more likely to fire up Facebook to start their research, while members of the Baby Boomer gen tend to go directly to a news publisher they trust and start their search there.

Whether AI-enhanced chatbots will eat Google’s lunch is a big unknown. However, Gen Z growing up and searching the internet in a very different way is already happening.

Go Deeper: Explore the full report here.

More Data

• A hiker’s SOS signal has cost him $300,000 after starting a wildfire spanning 230-acres in Arizona.

Twitter has cut jobs again, with reports that somewhere between 50 and 200 employees were locked out of Twitter's systems on Saturday evening.

• Following the Will Smith slap at last year's Oscars, the organization has implemented a new “crisis team” for 2023’s awards.


• Visualizing how sports has changed in America, and yes pickleball is a top-performer.

National Geographic released its Picture of The Year along with 9 honorable mentions.

Off the charts: What sport, which season starts this weekend, were we charting about back in September?. Answer below.

Answer here.

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