The news at a glance
Major Bitcoin exchange collapses; JPMorgan slashes jobs; Olympics viewership falls off; Netflix pays more to Comcast; Men’s Wearhouse chasing Jos. A. Bank
Currency: Major Bitcoin exchange collapsesThis could be the end for Bitcoin, said Ruairidh Villar, Sophie Knight,and Brett Wolf in Reuters.com. The world’s largest Bitcoin exchange, a Tokyo-based company called Mt. Gox, “abruptly stopped trading” this week, “sparking concerns about the future of the unregulated virtual currency.” As news of the downed website spread online, a purported “crisis plan for Mt. Gox” began making the rounds, citing the company’s claim that “transaction malleability” had led to the undetected theft of 744,408 Bitcoins. At current prices, the missing Mt. Gox currency—approximately 6 percent of the entire world supply of 12.4 million Bitcoins—is worth more than $300 million.
Mt. Gox’s collapse “could shake the faith of early Bitcoin adopters,” said Nathaniel Popper and Rachel Abrams in The New York Times. Traditional banks have “viewed the virtual currency with either derision or dismissiveness” since its invention in 2009. Certainly the troubles at Mt. Gox are consistent with the currency’s “stark ups and downs,” but the exchange’s failure might also mark the end of the currency’s wild years and the beginning of a more stable phase. A New York firm called SecondMarket this week announced plans “to create an exchange that could draw the world’s largest banks into the virtual-currency market for the first time.”
Banks: JPMorgan slashes jobsMore bankers are about to lose their jobs, said Bruce Horovitz in USA Today. “The financial world took a jolt” this week when JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, said it would cut 8,000 jobs in consumer and community banking because of reduced demand for refinancing. The company said it would make up for some of the cuts by creating 3,000 new positions across the company, including in its compliance department. “Overall, the bank’s head count is expected to fall by 5,000 in 2014 to about 260,000, including employees and contractors.”
Media: Olympics viewership falls offAre the Olympics losing their luster? asked Christopher S. Stewart in The Wall Street Journal. Viewership of NBC’s two-week broadcast of the Sochi Games was down 12 percent from the last Winter Games, in Vancouver, but up 6 percent from the 2006 Games in Turin, the network said this week. NBC says the drop was expected, since it was “able to air Vancouver events live during prime time in the U.S.,” but could not do so for the Games in Turin or Sochi. And despite the ratings drop, “the audiences for the Games were relatively large for traditional TV, which in recent years has seen viewership fragment among cable channels and the Web.”
Tech: Netflix pays more to ComcastNetflix is shelling out for better service, said Dawn Chmielewski in the Los Angeles Times. The streaming service has agreed to pay Comcast an unspecified amount to ensure that its “movies and TV shows stream seamlessly” to subscribers. Critics say the deal “may pave the way for similar arrangements” with other Internet service providers, such as Verizon and AT&T, which may now see a new way to “extract payment” for providing preferential treatment. Consumer advocates and technology experts worry that those extra costs could “eventually be passed on to consumers.”
Retail: Men’s Wearhouse chasing Jos. A. BankMen’s Wearhouse is dressing up its bid to buy rival Jos. A. Bank, said Jesse Solomon in CNN.com. The retailer increased its offer to take over its competitor this week, boosting its buyout offer by more than 10 percent to $1.78 billion. The new price is a 15 percent premium over Jos. A. Banks’ closing price at the time of the offer, and comes after the retailer rejected the menswear giant’s earlier bids.