Spotlight on Business Headlines

MICROSOFT HUNTING FOR LARGE ACQUISITIONS T wenty years ago, the United States government filed suit against Microsoft for abusing its market power. Today, Microsoft is empire building be- cause the country’s regulatory focus is on its biggest rivals. Microsoft has announced it has acquired Nuance Communications for $16 billion ($19.7 billion including net debt). The deal gives Microsoft a company that specializes in voice transcription and related artificial intelligence software. Nuance has a particular niche in health care, providing software to digitize conversa- tions from doctor’s visits and facilitate clinical docu- mentation. The acquisition comes about a month after Microsoft closed its $7.6 billion deal for ZeniMax, the parent company of video game publisher Bethesda. That transaction is meant to boost Microsoft’s Xbox against growing video gaming competition. Microsoft has also been in talks to acquire Discord, a voice, text and video-chatting platform for games, for more than $10 billion. Those discussions have hap- pened concurrently to the Nuance transaction discus- sions. DOMINO’S PIZZA PILOTS DRIVERLESS DELIVERY D omino’s Pizza’s newest deliverer isn’t a person — it’s a self-driving car. The restaurant company recently announced that an autonomous car made by Nuro will start delivering pizzas in Houston as part of a pilot program. Customers will have to place a prepaid order on Domino’s website for delivery from the chain’s Woodland Heights location. If their order falls within certain days and times, they can choose to have Nuro’s R2 robot drop off their pizza. Once the robot arrives, customers will enter a unique PIN on its touch screen to prompt the doors to open so they can retrieve their pizza.

U.S. SMALL BUSINESS CLOSURES CAUSED BY COVID Disney agreed to pay $1.9 billion annually for Monday Night Football in 2011 — a deal that runs through 2021. That dwarfed the average $1.1 billion annual cost for Fox, $1 billion annual price tag for CBS and $960 million for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. NBC, CBS and Fox are likely to accept increases closer to 100% than Disney, which is currently paying much more than the three broadcast networks for its Monday Night Football package. THE PRICE FOR NFL TV RIGHTS IS ON THE RISE T he National Football League wants to charge its current network partners double what they’ve been paying to broadcast games — but Disney is pushing back, citing the high price tag for Monday Night Football. The NFL is in active discussions on renewal rates with all four of its existing network partners — NBC, CBS, Fox, and Disney-owned ESPN. The NFL is hoping to get its primary package renewals completed before the start of the new NFL league year. S mall business closures across the U.S. and the world are creeping back toward their pandemic peaks, according to a report from Facebook and the Small Business Roundtable. The report, which surveyed over 35,000 small and medium-size businesses across the world, found that 22% of U.S. small businesses were closed in February. Those figures were up from October’s 14%. At the peak in May, the pandemic saw 23% of small and medi- um-size businesses closed — only 1 percentage point higher than the current closure rate. According to the report, 27% of small and medium businesses said they had to reduce their workforce — and 48% of those companies said they had to lay off at least half of their workforce. When it comes to getting those employees back, 51% of the businesses surveyed said they were not planning to rehire former employees within the next six months.





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