The daily business briefing: December 22, 2017

Bitcoin plunges by 20 percent in a day, Papa John's says CEO John Schnatter is stepping down, and more

A Papa Johns restaurant in NYC
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

1. Bitcoin plunges nearly 20 percent in a day

Bitcoin plunged by as much as 21 percent early Friday, falling below $13,000 before climbing back toward $14,000 later in the morning. At one point the cryptocurrency had lost a third of its value over just five days. The digital currency was on track for its worst week since 2013 after peaking near $20,000 on Sunday. It started the year under $1,000. Bitcoin's recent volatility has fueled concerns over whether its recent gains were sustainable or evidence of a bubble. "A manic upward swing led by the herd will be followed by a downturn as the emotional sentiment changes," said Charles Hayter, founder and chief executive of industry website Cryptocompare in London. "A lot of traders have been waiting for this large correction."

Reuters Bloomberg

2. Papa John's CEO steps down

Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter will step down next month, and be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie, the company announced Thursday. Schnatter faced a wave of criticism after publicly criticizing NFL leaders over player protests during the national anthem calling attention to police mistreatment of African Americans. "The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country," Schnatter said in a Nov. 1 earnings conference call. White supremacists praised Schnatter for the remarks, and Papa John's apologized two weeks later. Ritchie would not say whether the controversy played a role in Schnatter's departure, but said it was "the right time to make this change."

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USA Today The Associated Press

3. Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt stepping down

Alphabet's executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, is stepping down from the job but staying on as a board member and technical adviser, the company announced Thursday in a press release. Schmidt served as Google CEO for a decade before shifting to the executive chairman role as the internet search giant created Alphabet as its parent company. Schmidt was a longtime software executive before becoming Google's CEO in 2001 to essentially provided experienced leadership and supervision for the company's young founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. He helped build Google into a massive industry leader. The company did not provide any reason for his decision to move on.

Recode The New York Times

4. Apple faces suit over slowing down of older iPhones

Customers filed proposed class-action lawsuits against Apple on Thursday after the company admitted it used software to slow down older iPhones under some conditions. The complaints say the consumers never consented to having their phones' performance altered. One says it was "unethical" for Apple to throttle down older phones without warning users. A day earlier, Apple issued a statement saying slowdowns reported by users of older iPhones were caused by software designed to prevent unexpected shutdowns that can occur when aging batteries get overloaded. Critics accuse Apple of deliberately hampering older models to push customers into paying to upgrade to new phones.

USA Today Business Insider

5. FCC hits Sinclair with $13 million fine

The Federal Communications Commission fined Sinclair Broadcasting $13.4 million on Thursday for failing to disclose that TV segments disguised as independent news coverage had been paid for by the Huntsman Cancer Foundation. It is the largest fine the FCC has levied for violations of its ad disclosure regulations. Sinclair has 30 days to challenge or pay the fine. Sinclair is trying to get regulatory approval to buy Tribune Media, and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has paved the way by overturning rules limiting media consolidation. According to Axios, the penalty against the right-leaning Sinclair was meant to show that Pai wasn't going easy on fellow conservatives, and that the FCC was holding news outlets accountable for misleading practices in an era of fake news concerns.

Los Angeles Times Axios

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.