December 6, 2019

This week, multiple news outlets reported about a poor potato crop in Canada and the U.S. that could potentially affect the nation’s French fry supply. With winter weather arriving early throughout North America, potato growers lost thousands of acres of crops due to freezing temperatures. As a result, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that American spud production will drop by six percent this year. And since potatoes used for French fries tend to be harvested later in the season, Continue reading

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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 22, 2019

Yesterday, we looked at how video game companies earn billions of dollars annually by selling virtual products to an ever-growing market. Inspired by the success of this unusual industry, some clothing companies have started selling digital outfits that don’t exist in the real world. For instance, the fashion label The Fabricant recently sold a virtual dress for $9,500 to the wife of a San Francisco tech executive. Although she cannot actually put on her expensive new outfit, she can Photoshop 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 19, 2019

Thanks to the popularity of streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, some lucky musicians can go viral and attract large fan bases very quickly. In the past, artists often had to tour across the country for years playing small clubs before they got noticed by major record labels. That’s not the case these days, though. For instance, the teenage singer-songwriter Billie Eilish released her debut album less than a year ago and has already sold out a stretch of 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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November 1, 2019

With Halloween done and the pet costumes put into storage, retailers across the country are now preparing for a surge of holiday sales that will arrive at the end of the month. During this vital sales period, companies can see their online orders grow tenfold as consumers grab all sorts of items for the holidays. As a result, many retailers and logistics firms bring on seasonal workers to provide additional assistance for this busy period. 

Along with hiring lots Continue reading

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October 22, 2019

The last couple of years have not been kind to brick-and-mortar retailers: since 2017 more than 50 companies have gone bankrupt and 21,000 locations have closed across the country. Instead of heading out to stores, many modern consumers now depend on Amazon for their shopping needs. Along with providing convenience, the e-commerce giant also offers everyday low prices as well as major sales events like Prime Day. In response, many traditional retailers have started offering deep discounts in an effort Continue reading

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