Incarceration: The orange-collar CEO
Disgraced pharmaceuticals executive Martin Shkreli continues to steer his old company from prison, said Rob Copeland and Bradley Hope in The Wall Street Journal. Using a contraband smartphone, Shkreli “still helps call the shots” at Phoenixus AG while serving seven years for securities fraud. The reviled “pharma bro” CEO earned infamy for raising the price of an HIV medication to $750 per pill from $13.50. The 35-year-old conducts research at an inmate computer lab, “has made prison friends, including ‘Krispy’ and ‘D-Block,’” and now does 15 consecutive push-ups, thanks to their workout regimen.
Gigs: Uber settles driver lawsuit
Uber this week settled a long-running driver classification lawsuit for $20 million, said Andrew Hawkins in TheVerge.com. The case was initially brought in 2013 by drivers “who argued they should be classified as employees” rather than as contractors. The agreement, which covers 13,600 drivers, is “a boon for Uber,” which will not have to change the status of its drivers. A judge rejected a $100 million settlement with drivers as insufficient in 2016, but a series of higher court decisions later made it much harder for Uber’s drivers to prevail.
Hollywood: Endeavor lets go of Saudi cash
A Hollywood talent agency returned a $400 million investment from Saudi Arabia to protest the assassination of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, said Kate Kelly and Ben Hubbard in The New York Times. Endeavor, helmed by uber-agent Ari Emanuel and counting Ben Affleck and Charlize Theron among its clients, agreed to a deal with the Saudi government last spring. The deal was expected to give the wealthy kingdom entrée to “sports, events, modeling, and television and film production.” Despite an outcry over the murder of Khashoggi, most of the Saudis’ other “overseas partnerships have remained intact.”
Guns: Sporting goods chain defies NRA
Dick’s Sporting Goods announced plans this week to stop selling guns in 125 stores, said Eben Novy-Williams in Bloomberg.com. The move expands a trial in which the retailer removed hunting products from 10 stores last year. CEO Ed Stack said fourth-quarter sales and foot traffic rose in those stores. “Once a major vendor of firearms in the U.S.,” Dick’s stopped selling assault rifles and ammo after the Parkland massacre. The move angered the National Rifle Association, and Dick’s revenue fell 2 percent in 2018, partly because of “slower firearm sales.”