The Week in Business: Facebook Under Pressure and Ozy Media Shuts Down
What’s Up? (Sept. 26-Oct. 2)
Instagram Under the Spotlight
Facebook on Monday postponed the start of its Instagram Kids product after concerns were raised about whether Instagram is healthy for young people. Critics have spoken out against the project after a report about it was first leaked back in March, and those concerns gained momentum after a Wall Street Journal investigation surfaced internal research showing that Instagram had found that its app adds to body issues in teenage girls. (Facebook disputed that characterization.) At a Senate hearing on Thursday, lawmakers took sharp aim at the social network. Senator Edward J. Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, compared the company to Big Tobacco, “pushing a product that they know is harmful to the health of young people, pushing it to them early.”
Ozy’s Troubled Week
The digital media company Ozy said on Friday that it would shut down. It made the announcement days after The New York Times reported that someone had apparently impersonated a YouTube executive on a conference call with Goldman Sachs, raising questions about Ozy’s business practices. (Ozy’s chief executive, Carlos Watson, told The Times that Samir Rao, the company’s chief operating officer, was the impersonator, adding that Mr. Rao had been experiencing mental health issues.) Shortly after, one of the company’s biggest stars, the former BBC anchor and correspondent Katty Kay, announced on Twitter that she had left it; a key investor, SV Angel, gave up its shares; and Ozy’s chairman resigned. The board of directors said it had suspended Mr. Rao and hired a law firm to investigate the company’s business activities.
Vaccine mandates appear to be working. United Airlines, one of the first large companies to require its employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus, said that 99 percent of its work force of 67,000 had complied (and that it would fire several hundred employees who had refused). Tyson Foods said it had reached a 91 percent vaccination rate for its 120,000 U.S. employees after announcing a vaccine mandate in August. And major health systems in California reported that they had raised their vaccination rates to 90 percent or higher after California’s requirement that all health workers be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Last month, President Biden asked the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to order employers with more than 100 employees to require vaccines or weekly testing.
What’s Next? (Oct. 3-9)
On Friday, the U.S. government releases its report on how many people were hired in September. The numbers for August were disappointing, as employers grappled with uncertainty caused by the Delta variant of the coronavirus. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect that hiring rebounded last month. If that was the case, it could influence the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy plans. At its last meeting, the central bank indicated that it might soon — as early as November — ease some measures it put in place to support the economy since the depths of the pandemic downturn, but with the condition that the September jobs report is “reasonably good.”
Infrastructure Bill’s Fate Unknown
House Democrats are struggling to pass President Biden’s $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill, which would fund some of the most ambitious road, bridge, transportation and other projects in decades. Progressives in the party said they would oppose passage of the bill until the Senate passed a separate piece of legislation that would devote $3.5 trillion to strengthening the social safety net and combating climate change. After Mr. Biden met with House Democrats on Friday, he said that a vote on the infrastructure bill would wait until Democrats pass the safety net legislation. And that, he conceded, could take weeks.
Ford Motor is building three battery factories and a truck plant as part of its push into electric vehicles. The automaker and a supplier will spend $11.4 billion on the factories, which are expected to create 11,000 jobs over the next four years. Established automakers like Ford are racing to catch up to Tesla on electric cars as President Biden is pressing Congress to enact policies that would shift Americans away from gasoline-powered vehicles.
YouTube banned all vaccine misinformation. John Mackey will step down as chief executive of Whole Foods. Wall Street’s toughest exam appears to be getting tougher. And Nobel Prize announcements begin on Monday.