The daily business briefing: March 23, 2022
MacKenzie Scott donates $436 million to Habitat for Humanity, Tesla opens its first European factory, and more
MacKenzie Scott donates $436 million to Habitat for Humanity
MacKenzie Scott has donated $436 million to Habitat for Humanity International and its 84 affiliates, the organization said Tuesday. "We could not be more excited to get the gift at a time when, in some ways, the state of housing affordability is the worst that it has been in modern times," said Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity International's CEO. The gift was Scott's largest publicly disclosed donation yet. She pledged in 2019 to give away most of her fortune after her divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. When she made the pledge, her 4 percent of Amazon shares were worth $36 billion. Since then, Scott has given away $8.8 billion, but the stock has soared and her fortune has grown to nearly $50 billion.
Tesla opens its 1st European assembly plant in Berlin
Tesla on Tuesday opened its first European assembly plant on the outskirts of Berlin. Tesla CEO Elon Musk was accompanied by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz during the ceremony. Musk danced as the electric-car maker made its first Model Y sedans deliveries at the factory. He later tweeted, "Danke Deutschland," thanking Germany as he launched a direct challenge to the country's automakers in their home territory. Tesla said the so-called Gigafactory would produce 500,000 vehicles per year once it is operating at full capacity. The facility aims to employ 12,000 people. German Economy Minister Robert Habeck said the new factory was a sign that EVs could replace gasoline-powered vehicles to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
BuzzFeed News top editors resign ahead of staff cuts
BuzzFeed News editor-in-chief Mark Schoofs announced in a staff email Tuesday that he would step down. The departure of Schoofs and two other top editors came as the newsroom braced for staff cuts as Buzzfeed, which has subsidized its news division for years, moves to make it profitable. "That will require BuzzFeed News to once again shrink in size," Schoofs said. He said the company would try to use voluntary buyouts rather than layoffs to reduce the staff, with buyout offers going out to employees on the investigations, science, politics, and inequality desks. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti said in a separate email to staff that the news division would have to "prioritize the areas of coverage our audience connects with the most."
U.S. stock futures struggle after Tuesday's gains
U.S. stock futures edged lower early Wednesday following Tuesday's solid gains. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 were down by 0.3 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. Nasdaq futures were down 0.4 percent. The Dow and the S&P 500 rose 0.7 percent and 1.1 percent on Tuesday after Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said the central bank would speed up its interest rate hikes if necessary to bring down high inflation. The tech-heavy Nasdaq jumped 2 percent. The Fed last week raised rates for the first time since 2018 and signaled that it planned six more quarter-point increases in 2022. "If we conclude that it is appropriate to move more aggressively by raising the federal funds rate by more than 25 basis points at a meeting or meetings, we will do so," Powell said.
Disney workers protest company's position on 'Don't Say Gay' bill
A small percentage of Disney employees staged a walkout Tuesday to protest the entertainment giant's response to Florida's recently passed Parental Rights in Education law, which critics call the "Don't Say Gay" bill. Many employees protested at Disney headquarters in Burbank, California, and pockets of workers participated at other locations, including near Orlando's Walt Disney World and Walt Disney Animation Studios in California. The bill, which is awaiting Gov. Ron DeSantis' signature, bars teachers from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity with students in kindergarten through third grade. The protesters criticized Disney for not speaking out against the bill before state lawmakers passed it. The company said it had decided it would be more effective lobbying against it behind the scenes.