Mar.23 — In the space of two decades, Tencent Holdings Ltd. has become China’s most valuable company and Asia’s largest conglomerate. But with Chinese authorities stepping up scrutiny of the internet sector and cracking down on monopolies. it’s not clear if the WeChat owner will still have the same freedom to expand. Bloomberg Television’s David Ingles reports.
7-Eleven, home of the 64-ounce Double Gulp and the Pina Colada Slurpee, has helped revolutionize the way we shop at convenience stores. In March 2019, the 90-year-old brand launched its first Evolution Store. Featuring fresh food options and specialty alcohol, the new store concept is aimed at a new generation of consumers. And with consumer behavior changing due to Covid-19, the convenience store industry could be on the verge of a profound change.
In the midst of the pandemic, Williams-Sonoma has stood out as a company, its stock price reaching a new all-time high in January 2021, despite many businesses declining. Paired with its strength in e-commerce, the company’s ongoing success is due in large part to consumers staying at home more than ever before. Still, the company faces potential headwinds as the shift to online shopping impacts home furnishing sales and rivals like online furniture retailer Wayfair increase their market share. As a retailer known for its brick-and-mortar locations, can the brand keep up its success?
No other tech firm in history has managed to infiltrate and influence daily life to the same insane extent as search giant Google. The Californian company’s impact on how we work, play, and settle drunken arguments is so well documented it more or less goes without saying. What’s perhaps less well understood is just how vast the company has grown, since deciding it wasn’t satisfied simply being everybody’s omniscient online know-it-all. So today we’re on the search for just what this modern-day behemoth actually does and asking the question – how big is Google?
Americans love The Cheesecake Factory. The restaurant known for its massive 21-page menu, dozens of dessert options and ancient Egypt-inspired decor was ranked as one of the top casual dining restaurants in the U.S. in 2019. But the eatery popular with everyone from NBA stars to cheesecake aficionados has fallen on hard times as the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on the restaurant industry. In October, The Cheesecake Factory reported third-quarter sales fell by 12% and same-stores sales were down 23% from a year earlier. So after 40 years in business will The Cheesecake Factory be able to regain its momentum and will the chain’s takeout and delivery service be enough to offset the decline of the dine-in restaurant experience?
There’s a lot of buzz around self-driving cars, but autonomous-driving technology could revolutionize a different industry first — construction. That industry hasn’t changed much over the last several decades, according to some experts, making it an ideal candidate for automation.
“The way we build today is largely unchanged from the way we used to build 50 years ago,” said Gaurav Kikani, vice president of Built Robotics. “Within two years, I think we’re really going to turn the corner, and you’re going to see an explosion of robotics being used on construction sites.”
The industry is also faced with a labor shortage that the Covid-19 pandemic has further complicated. “Covid is making people step back and say, ‘hey, the way we’ve been doing things for a long time is just not sustainable,’” said Kevin Albert, founder and CEO of Canvas. “It is just a wake-up call for the industry.”
Canvas is one of several companies working on autonomous construction technology. Big players like Caterpillar and Komatsu, and start-ups like SafeAI and Built Robotics, see value in using autonomous machines to accelerate construction projects. The mining industry was one of the first to employ the use of self-driving tech.
Caterpillar began its first autonomy program more than 30 years ago. The company now has the largest fleet of autonomous haul trucks. Caterpillar says it’s hauled 2 billion metric tons in just over six years. Built Robotics is a San Francisco-based start-up founded by an ex-Google engineer that already has machinery out in the field. It’s automated several pieces of equipment, such as bulldozers and excavators.
“You can now collapse your construction timeline so you can knock out work overnight so that it’s ready for your human workers in the morning to speed them along,” Kikani said. SafeAI is another Silicon Valley start-up. It recently teamed up with Obayashi for a pilot program. It’s been retrofitting equipment like dump trucks, bulldozers and loaders. Robots are also helping inside.
San Francisco-based Canvas created an autonomous machine for finishing drywall and has worked on projects like the San Francisco International Airport and Chase Arena. Humans work alongside its robotic system. “Drywall is very hard work on the body,” Albert said. “And we’ve seen that 1 out of every 4 workers has to end their career early because of injuries. This will create longer careers for people and also enable people to join the trades that haven’t had access before.”
The construction industry is one of the largest sectors in the global economy, with about $10 trillion spent each year. That spending accounts for 13% of the world’s GDP, even though the sector’s annual productivity growth has only increased 1% over the past 20 years. According to McKinsey & Co., $1.6 trillion of additional value could be created through higher productivity, and autonomy would help the industry achieve that.
India is positioning itself as a smartphone-production hub amid a U.S.-China trade war that has disrupted global supply chains and left tech firms such as Apple and Samsung looking for alternatives to China to manufacture their products. Photo: Olivier Le Hellard for The Wall Street Journal
It’s no secret that the United States Postal Service has been losing money for a long time, but that’s not entirely its fault. Here are the real reasons it’s in the red.
Produced by John General Supervising Producer Bronte Lord
Once known for its “treasure hunt” atmosphere, colorful home furnishings, and distinctive holiday decorations, Pier 1 filed for bankruptcy in February 2020.
Pier 1 later announced it was winding down its entire business, in part, due to the coronavirus pandemic. And while Pier 1 had a smaller share of the home furnishing industry than some of its rivals, those store closings could mean good news for a few retailers.