Technology: Yahoo’s rubble gets rebranded
Big changes are coming to Yahoo if Verizon goes through with its $4.8 billion purchase of the company’s core internet business, said Michael de la Merced in The New York Times. The remnants of Yahoo will be renamed “Altaba,” essentially becoming a holding company for its 15 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba. Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer and half of the board members will step down. Of course, those changes depend on whether Verizon actually goes through with the purchase—an open question in the wake of two massive hacking scandals at Yahoo that affected more than a billion user accounts.
The new name “reflects just how far Yahoo has fallen,” said Elizabeth Dwoskin in The Washington Post. Apparently, the moniker is a combination of the words “alternative” and “Alibaba,” chosen because it’s a riff on the idea “that Altaba’s stock can now be tracked as an alternative to Alibaba.” Verizon will take over Yahoo’s email service, sports content, and apps, and those popular products will likely live on under the Yahoo brand name. Nevertheless, it’s yet another indignity for the onetime internet pioneer, which, in spite of everything, remains the third-most-visited website in the U.S.
Economy: Obama’s last jobs report
President-elect Donald Trump will inherit “an economy on a steady but unspectacular path,” said Eric Morath and Ben Leubsdorf in The Wall Street Journal. The economy added 156,000 jobs in December, lagging November’s “more robust gain.” However, the last full month of Barack Obama’s presidency marked the 75th straight month in which U.S. employers added jobs—a record. Wages also increased 2.9 percent from a year earlier, “the best annual rate since 2009.” But economists are still concerned about the economy’s 2.1 percent annual growth rate, the slowest of any expansion “since at least 1949.”
Autos: 6 VW execs charged in emissions scandal
U.S. prosecutors charged six Volkswagen executives this week for their alleged role in the company’s “vast” emissions cheating scandal, said Nathan Bomey in USA Today. The Justice Department unveiled the indictments Wednesday, also announcing that the German automaker had pleaded guilty to criminal charges for conspiring to cheat environmental regulations. Volkswagen will now pay $4.3 billion in criminal and civil fines, bringing the scandal’s tab to nearly $22 billion. One of the indicted VW executives was arrested while vacationing in Florida earlier this week; the remaining five are in Germany.
Pet care: Mars expands its animal ambitions
Mars Inc., better known for candy brands like Snickers, M&M’s, and Milky Way, is spending $7.7 billion to buy a chain of animal hospitals, said James Peltz in the Los Angeles Times. The company announced this week that it will acquire Los Angeles–based VCA Inc., which operates nearly 800 animal hospitals and 60 diagnostic labs in the U.S. and Canada. Mars “has a major pet-care unit whose petfood brands include Pedigree, Whiskas, and Sheba.” Mars also owns Banfield Pet Hospitals, many of which are located in PetSmart stores.
Labor: Tech visas on chopping block, India rejoices
The Trump administration may overhaul or even scrap the U.S. visa program for highly skilled workers, and India’s tech sector couldn’t be happier, said Max Bearak in The Washington Post. Sen. Jeff Sessions, the president-elect’s nominee for attorney general, has in the past sponsored legislation “to effectively gut” the H-1B visa program, which brings nearly 100,000 contract workers to the U.S. every year, “mostly in tech and mostly from India.” Indian politicians and business executives say they’d welcome the idea. The country’s growing tech sector has lost “tens of thousands of workers” to Silicon Valley.