Show business: Ticketmaster’s side gig
Ticketmaster has collaborated with scalpers to resell concert tickets at an enormous markup, said Robert Cribb and Marco Chown Oved in the Toronto Star. The company has an overwhelming share of the market for concert tickets, including 80 of the U.S.’s top 100 venues. A Toronto Star/CBC News investigation found that Ticketmaster’s resale division “turns a blind eye” to scalping, provides software to make scalping easier, and holds back tickets to drive up prices by making seats appear scarce. Ticketmaster collects extra fees—in one typical case, $76 on a $400 ticket—from scalped tickets. The company denies the report.
Facebook: Turmoil over a crown jewel
A chaotic exit this week by the founders of Instagram has left many at the social network “reeling,” said Casey Newton in TheVerge.com. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, who sold Instagram to Facebook six years ago, quit rather than face “death by a thousand cuts” from their parent company’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. Bought for $1 billion, Instagram is Facebook’s “crown jewel” and could be worth 100 times that. But recently Facebook has meddled more with Instagram—even posting “notifications inside Instagram begging people to open Facebook.” In the future, Instagram will feel like more of a “front end for Facebook’s advertising network.”
Wages: Amazon’s stingy raises
Amazon gave warehouse workers raises of 25 to 55 cents an hour this week, said Abha Bhattarai in The Washington Post. The small increases backfired, leaving many workers complaining that they simply aren’t enough. One part-timer in San Bernardino, Calif., says the 40-cent bump to $13.15 an hour is the first raise he’s received in four years. An HR official, he added, demanded employees clap to show their gratitude. The warehouse workers now earn between $11.50 and $15.05 an hour, for physically demanding jobs and are subject to rigorous quotas.
Retail: Sears’ last shot
Sears proposed a last-ditch plan this week to save itself from bankruptcy, said Suzanne Kapner and Andrew Scurria in The Wall Street Journal. The iconic retailer, majority-owned by billionaire investor Eddie Lampert, has $5.5 billion in debt, with $1.1 billion in payments coming due soon. After lending money to Sears, Lampert is now both the company’s chairman and its biggest creditor. His plan would pick apart the remnant of Sears, selling off $1.5 billion in real estate and its Kenmore appliance brand.