December 3, 2019

Analysts at Adobe estimate that consumers spent more than $29 billion online last week between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday. Although brick-and-mortar sales rose slightly as well, e-commerce sales surged to record highs as consumers increasingly turned to online retailers for their holiday shopping needs. In fact, experts predict that companies like Amazon earned as much as $9.4 billion on Cyber Monday alone. 

But while Amazon enjoyed another successful start to the festive season in the U.S., the e-commerce giant Continue reading

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November 21, 2019

Analysts estimate that last year consumers spent more than $50 billion on virtual items in video games like Counter-Strike and World of Warcraft. This lengthy but highly informative video explains why the market for virtual items has grown bigger than global box office returns for the movie industry. 

Questions:

  1. How are in-game economies similar to real-world economic systems?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of online marketplaces that sell virtual goods?
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November 15, 2019

This week, Google announced that it’s launching a banking service next year that will offer “smart checking” accounts to mobile-focused customers. Known as Cache, the program is the result of a collaboration between the search giant and two banks: Citigroup and Stanford Credit Union. Although details of the partnership remain limited at this time, Google eventually wants Cache to become an extension of its Google Pay app. The company also claims that customers will “benefit from useful insights and budgeting Continue reading

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November 14, 2019

Earlier this year, McDonald’s spent $300 million acquiring a data analysis and artificial intelligence startup called Dynamic Yield. Along with providing the fast food chain with tons of information about its operations, this new technology will also help the company upgrade its growing fleet of self-ordering kiosks. Customers can place orders on these large touchscreens rather than wait in line, which the company claims improves efficiency and increases sales. As a result, McDonald’s wants to place these machines in as Continue reading

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November 7, 2019

Airbnb has grown into a multi-billion dollar company by providing people with an online platform where they can temporarily rent out their house or apartment to guests. Although this app has changed how millions of people travel, it’s also generated a lot of controversy since launching more than a decade ago. In some popular travel destinations, landlords have displaced longtime residents in order to make room for as many Airbnbs as possible. As a result, cities like London and Barcelona Continue reading

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October 24, 2019

This in-depth video explains how stock buybacks work and why they have possibly contributed to rising income inequality over the years. Along with providing a detailed history of this controversial practice, the video also takes a close look at the closing of GM’s factory in Lordstown, Ohio. 

Questions:

  1. Do you think lawmakers should pass regulations against corporate stock buybacks? Why or why not?
  2. How did the closing of GM’s Lordstown factory affect the community as a whole?
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October 18, 2019

At the end of summer, weather-tracking services in California began issuing reports that many in the state have come to dread: extreme winds and dry conditions had increased the risk of wildfires. The previous year had been one of California’s worst due to disasters like the Camp Fire, an enormous blaze that killed more than 80 people and destroyed the town of Paradise. In the aftermath of this tragedy, many blamed the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) for failing Continue reading

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October 17, 2019

With nearly 2 million employees on the payroll, McDonald’s is constantly hiring new people to work at its thousands of locations across the globe. So in recent years the fast food giant has streamlined its hiring process to accommodate online applicants, who tend to be younger and applying for their first jobs. Then last month, McDonald’s took this concept to the next level by announcing that people can now apply for jobs using voice commands through Amazon’s Alexa or Google Continue reading

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October 15, 2019

Each year, the toy brand Nerf earns more than $400 million in revenue by selling bright neon “blasters” that shoot rubber-tipped darts. But while the Hasbro-owned company moves plenty of blasters, it has a little more trouble with the darts. Since Nerf’s foam ammo can be easily copied, consumers often opt for cheaper alternatives rather than pay a premium for Nerf-branded darts. “We’ve had the same dart or similar dart for so many years that it’s become uniformed across our Continue reading

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