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    Published on: October 7, 2020

    The goal of "The Innovation Conversation" is to explore some facet of the fast-changing, technology-driven retail landscape and how it affects businesses and consumers. It is, we think, fertile territory ... and one that Tom Furphy - a former Amazon executive, the originator of Amazon Fresh, and currently CEO and Managing Director of Consumer Equity Partners (CEP), a venture capital and venture development firm in Seattle, WA, that works with many top retailers and manufacturers - is uniquely positioned to address.

    The movement of retailers into technology has been considerable, as they seek options that will give them greater agility, elasticity and cost savings.  In this Innovation Conversation, Tom and Kevin (but mostly Tom, who knows a lot more about this stuff than Kevin) talk about both the pain and gain of such a shift, the reasons it has to be a high priority, and how it can give retailers additional bandwidth to do the things they really do well.  They also talk about the advantages and disadvantages of working with Amazon's AWS division - the leader in cloud technology - and lay out some of the other alternatives.

    FYI…you can check out AWS here … and Microsoft's competing Azure business here.

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    by Michael Sansolo

    The adage about how building a better mousetrap will bring the world to your door should contain a caveat. It only matters if you have a rodent problem.

    A key to any successful business is understanding exactly what problems the customer faces and then offering solutions to help them deal. To put it bluntly, if you aren’t helping, you don’t matter.

    At the moment, that’s an equation that interests the entire food industry. Thanks to current realities, the core shopper is screaming out for help.  (Consider this recent article from the Huffington Post, one of countless such pieces documenting the growing strains on family life in the time of Covid.)

    Now supermarkets cannot help young parents with educating their young or finding any way to relieve boredom. But you aren’t useless either and I’m of the opinion that any help given today could lead to better customer relationships into the future.

    First off, let’s give the industry some deserved credit. The pandemic has reminded shoppers of the essential nature of full-service food stores and the importance of all the people that make those stores function. Sure they don’t thank you repeatedly, but the point is made simply by your open doors and stocked shelves. 

    But it’s more than that. Homemakers, especially working parents of school-aged children, are under incredible pressure so it’s imperative to focus on the many challenges they face where you can help.

    With restaurant eating out of bounds these days, home cooking is back, which brings both positives and negatives. Play up the positives by reminding shoppers of nutritional benefits and diminish the negatives by similarly reminding them of all the step-saving products you have. It’s a good story and one they won’t tire of hearing, especially now.

    In addition, they are stressed at the simple challenge of creating menus and meal choices. Here too, look for ways to help by featuring ideas for each day of the week. As I recently discussed with a dietitian friend, jump on the social media trend of “throwback Thursdays” by suggesting time honored recipes that might be welcome comfort food in an uncomfortable time. Grilled cheese sandwiches, pancakes, mac and cheese and even sloppy Joes can always hit the spot for me. 

    And show some creativity by offering up new ideas with simple recipes for Thai food, vegetarian dishes and more. Consider having on-line customer competitions to foster sharing of recipes. It’s hard to find a downside in that.

    Lastly, remember that not all problems these days are about time. Many people are struggling financially, but here again your store and products can help provide solutions. Distribute information (online and in store) on budget saving recipes that appeal to the stomach and the purse. 

    The goal of all of this is the same. People are stressed in countless ways by the current world and there’s little sign of things getting remarkably better fast. So find a way to be your shoppers’ partner in tough times. Hopefully it will pay off down the road when things improve in long-term relationships and business. 

    Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at

    His book, “THE BIG PICTURE:  Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available here.

    And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon here.

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    This morning, KC reflects on beer brands from the past that, because of strong branding, have remained fixed in memory.

    We suggest watching these four videos in order…

    This commercial uses the same jingle as one posted yesterday on MNB, but Michael Sansolo reminded KC of this particularly memorable rendition.

    This commercial was for a competitive NY beer stalwart, and KC and Michael think it is the second-best beer jingle of the era.

    And finally, this one has a less memorable musical accompaniment, but remains in memory because of the contribution of the great Mel Allen.

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    The US House of Representatives Antitrust Subcommittee yesterday released a new report that called for the federal government to force Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google owner Alphabet to separate their popular online platforms from other businesses that they operate.

    "To put it simply, companies that once were scrappy, underdog startups that challenged the status quo have become the kinds of monopolies we last saw in the era of oil barons and railroad tycoons," the report says.  "These firms have too much power, and that power must be reined in and subject to appropriate oversight and enforcement. Our economy and democracy are at stake."

    Specifically, the Wall Street Journal writes, "The subcommittee’s report criticized Amazon for a 'lack of candor' in its responses to congressional inquiries. The report concluded that the e-commerce giant is the dominant digital marketplace controlling about 65-70% of U.S. online market sales. Amazon has said it should be viewed as part of the overall retail market, where its share is much lower."

    All of the companies are expected to strenuously oppose any efforts to reel in their market power.

    The Washington Post writes that in its immediate response to the report, Amazon said, “All large organizations attract the attention of regulators, and we welcome that scrutiny. But large companies are not dominant by definition, and the presumption that success can only be the result of anti-competitive behavior is simply wrong."

    The report was released after some 16 months of hearings and study.  It was endorsed by the Democrats on the committee, but not the Republicans.  The Journal writes that "Republicans on the House panel … have said in interviews in recent days that they share concerns about the tech companies but disagree with some farther-reaching Democratic policy recommendations."

    The Journal writes that the report essentially argues that both Facebook and Google are monopolies, while Amazon and Apple "have 'significant and durable market power'."

    Axios writes that the report accuses Apple of exerting "monopoly power over software distribution to more than half the mobile devices in the U.S., accusing it of exploiting rivals with commissions and fees and copying apps, and preferencing its own apps and services."  Facebook is accused of having "monopoly power in the social networking space" and having a "copy, acquire, kill" approach to competition.  And Google is said to have "a monopoly in the general online search and search advertising markets, staff write, maintaining its position through anticompetitive tactics such as undermining vertical search providers and acquiring rivals."

    The story goes on:  "The 449-page report recommends Congress consider a series of measures in response, including legislation forcing them to separate certain dominant online platforms from other business lines as well as changes to antitrust laws to reinvigorate a perceived lack of strong enforcement.  The report carries no legal consequences on its own, but lawmakers hope its conclusions will spur policy makers to action."

    However, the Post writes that "the findings … could carry considerable legal weight, lending fresh evidence to state and federal officials as they actively investigate Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google for potential violations of antitrust rules. The Justice Department is expected to file an antitrust lawsuit against Google expected in a matter of days, as state attorneys general mount their own, nearly finished probe of the search-and-advertising giant."

    KC's View:

    This strikes me as inevitable … as these companies fight back, I suspect it may be with the knowledge that breakups are likely to happen, and that they need to dictate the terms to the best extent possible.

    In fact, it would be a pretty good bet that all four companies have battle plans drawn up for how to deal with break-up orders from the government.

    What's the line from General Carl Von Clausewitz"  "Prepare for what the enemy can do, not what he might do."  Same goes for preparing for what happens when the battle is over.

    The one company that I'm not sure needs to be lumped in with the others is Apple - it just seems to be a very different case.  Separating out its e-commerce business from its hardware business just strikes me as counter-productive.

    The one company that I'm sure needs to be broken up is Facebook … the pressure it must be feeling to help its public relations case could be seen yesterday when it announced that it is beginning the process of removing "any group, page or Instagram account" that is associated with the looney tunes conspiracy group QAnon.  (There are those inside and outside the company who thought it was too little, too late.  Count me among them.)

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    Walmart yesterday announced the launch of Walmart Insurance Services, which it describes as "a licensed insurance brokerage, which will assist people with enrolling in insurance plans—and simplify what’s historically been a cumbersome, confusing process. Walmart Insurance Services will begin selling Medicare insurance plans during this year’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP), Oct. 15 through Dec. 7."

    The company said that "at launch, Walmart Insurance Services will provide Medicare plans (Part D, Medicare Advantage and Medicare Supplement plans) offered by Humana, UnitedHealthcare, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Amerigroup, Simply Health, Wellcare (Centene), Clover Health and Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield. More carriers may be added in the future. We are licensed in all 50 states, plus Washington D.C., and we have built a team of licensed insurance agents who can help people find the right insurance plan for them."

    Lori Flees, SVP and COO, Walmart U.S. Health & Wellness, said that the move is part of a broader health orientation at the company:  "Health care can be complicated. But we think quality health care should be within reach of everyone, and pricing should be transparent and affordable. Our money-saving $4 generic prescription program and, more recently, Walmart Health locations are helping customers save money and live healthier. Similarly, our Healthcare Begins Here program has helped customers navigate the very complex health insurance system for years."

    Meanwhile, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reports that Walmart "has debuted an interactive website that provides information on prescription drug safety and mental health resources, the company said Monday.

    "The Bentonville-based retailer’s online portal, called Safe & Well, uses videos and self-guided activities covering understanding and safe use of prescription opioids and stimulants; recognizing opioid abuse and responding to an overdose; and implementing strategies for managing mental health challenges."

    KC's View:

    So much of what Walmart has done lately has been focused on becoming intrinsic to its customers' health needs … sensing, I suppose, that there remain enormous gaps in legacy health care systems that create opportunities.

    These are the same opportunities that Amazon sees … though it is approaching them from different angles.

    This is the next front in an ongoing war.  Buckle up.

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    Random and illustrative stories about the global pandemic and how businesses and various business sectors are trying to recover from it, with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  In the United States, there now have been 7,724,207 confirmed cases of the Covid-19 coronavirus, with 215,849 deaths and 4,936,501 reported recoveries.

    Globally, there have been 36,083,208 confirmed coronavirus cases, resulting in 1,055,286 fatalities and 27,172,695 reported recoveries.

    •  The Wall Street Journal writes that "Texas led the nation with more than 4,000 new cases reported Monday, followed by Tennessee, North Carolina and California, which each recorded more than 2,000 new infections, according to Johns Hopkins. Eight other states recorded 1,000 or more cases … New cases continued to climb in the West. For the 11th time in less than three weeks, Utah on Monday recorded more than 1,000 new cases. The state, which had for the most part avoided the summer surge experienced by neighboring Arizona, was averaging fewer than 400 new cases a day at the beginning of September. The state’s seven-day average of new cases on Monday was 1,040, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of Johns Hopkins data.

    "Utah is one of several states, including Wisconsin, Wyoming, North Dakota, Montana and Alaska, where new cases have increased by 10% or more over the past week, according to the Journal’s analysis."

    Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo "said Tuesday the state would reimpose lockdown restrictions in regions that have seen recent surges in coronavirus cases, including parts of New York City and Orange County.  The governor on Monday ordered the closure of hundreds of schools in New York City neighborhoods with a surge in Covid-19 cases."

    •  From the New York Times this morning:

    "In the past week, North Dakota reported more new cases per capita than any other state.

    Hospitalizations for the virus have risen abruptly, forcing health care officials in some towns to send people to faraway hospitals, even across state lines to Montana and South Dakota.

    "Officials have huddled with hospital leaders in recent days to contemplate ways to free up more hospital beds even as they contend with broader turmoil over virus policy in a state that has seen resignations of three state health officers since the pandemic’s start.

    "The rise in cases and deaths — September was by far the deadliest month for North Dakota since the start of the pandemic — reflects a new phase of the virus in the United States. States in the Midwest and Great Plains, many of which had avoided large outbreaks in earlier months when coastal cities were hard hit, are seeing the brunt. And in rural portions of the hardest-hit states, medical resources are quickly stretched thin for residents who can live hours from large hospitals.

    "Still, partly because these outbreaks were slow in coming, public health officials say they have struggled to convince the public that the situation is urgent or that limits like mask rules make sense. North Dakota is one of fewer than 20 states with no statewide mask mandate and many counties have resisted restrictions. But as the state reaches a boiling point, health officials say they hope people now will start to take the virus more seriously."

    •  The Seattle Times writes that Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has announced that "more activities would be able to take place in counties in their various stages of his four-part coronavirus reopening plan … For counties in the second phase of the plan, movie theaters will be able to operate at 25% capacity, and in the third phase, at 50% capacity. Facial coverings and 6 feet of distance between households will be required.

    "Meanwhile, restaurants in second- or third-phase counties can serve alcohol now up to 11 p.m. Those establishments will be able to boost their table size to six in the second phase, and to eight in the third phase."

    •  The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has released, and the White House has endorsed, plans "for assessing whether a Covid-19 vaccine should be given widely," saying that it "hoped the release would help “the public understand our science-based decision-making process that assures vaccine quality, safety and efficacy for any vaccine that is authorized or approved.”

    The plans call "for a two-month observation period to see whether people who got the vaccine had suffered negative side effects," the Journal writes, adding, "The guidelines lay out the standards that any Covid-19 vaccine would need to meet for the FDA to speedily allow its use during the pandemic. Normally, the FDA’s review of an experimental vaccine can take weeks or months. Given the urgent need created by the pandemic, the agency wanted to be able to conduct its review far faster, while still making sure the vaccine works safely.

    "After such a review, the FDA could clear a vaccine for use during the pandemic. The so-called emergency-use authorization would last until the pandemic ends, after which vaccines would need the agency’s standard approval to stay in use.

    "The guidelines that the agency put together included the same kinds of strict requirements a lengthier review would have entailed. For example, they required a vaccine to lower the rate of Covid-19 disease in study subjects by 50% or better compared with people in the trial who got a placebo."

    •  The Wall Street Journal reports that there continues to be a coronavirus outbreak in Washington, DC, as the "Joint Chiefs of Staff are quarantining after attending meetings at the Pentagon with a top Coast Guard commander who tested positive this week, defense officials said."

    In addition, "A military aide to the president who is among those responsible for carrying the 'football' that contains launch codes for nuclear weapons has also tested positive, a person familiar with the matter said. The aide was the latest in a series of White House personnel - including at least three members of the press office - to test positive in recent days."

    And, the Washington Post reports, "Stephen Miller, senior policy adviser to President Trump, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, according to two senior administration officials."

    Other infected officials and aides include "senior adviser Hope Hicks, campaign manager Bill Stepien, former White House adviser Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie."

    •  From the Financial Times:

    "The first trials of a digital health pass that certifies airline passengers are Covid-free will begin this week in a push to reopen international travel fully after nearly nine months of disruption.

    "The World Economic Forum-backed CommonPass project aims to create the first globally recognised proof that a passenger has tested negative for the virus before a flight, using a digital certificate downloaded to a mobile phone. CommonPass will not conduct tests. Instead it aims to establish standard certifications for Covid-19 test results and, eventually, proof that a passenger has been vaccinated against the virus."

    There seems to be little doubt that "test before you board" is the best way to get people back on planes, at least until there is a vaccine.  The best news about this is the suggestion that there could end up being a comprehensive and globalized effort to standardize certification, which I hope will extend to vaccinations.

    •  From Fast Company:

    "One of the hardest parts of controlling COVID-19 is that it’s very difficult to know if you or someone you know is carrying it asymptomatically. So you might let your guard down, spend time in close proximity to someone else, and help it spread. Testing is useful to curb this issue, but the wait on a test result can still take days. So it’s difficult to say for sure, at any given moment, if you actually have COVID-19 or not.

    "A new device being developed at Caltech, dubbed the SARS-CoV-2 RapidPlex, could put this uncertainty to an end. It’s a SARS-CoV-2 sensor that’s being designed for use at home. When it comes into contact with a drop of blood or saliva, it can determine if you’re infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus in a mere 10 minutes. The results of the test could be beamed right to your phone over Bluetooth."

    The developers believe that the device could be available in a year - "if we push it."

    • The Boston Globe this morning reports that the New England Patriots "canceled Wednesday’s practice after star cornerback Stephon Gilmore tested positive for COVID-19, a league source confirmed … Three members of the Patriots organization have now been affected by the coronavirus. Starting quarterback Cam Newton testing positive last Friday and rookie practice squad defensive tackle Bill Murray was placed on the COVID-19 injured reserve list on Tuesday, meaning he either tested positive or was exposed to someone who has."

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    •  From CNBC:

    "Over the past month, Walmart has announced three deals with drone operators to test different uses for the drones. It’s teamed up with Flytrex to deliver groceries and household essentials in Fayetteville, North Carolina. It plans to launch another pilot project with Zipline, a company best known for its medical drone deliveries in African countries like Ghana and Rwanda, for on-demand deliveries of health and wellness products early next year. And it’s testing deliveries of at-home Covid-19 test kits with Quest Diagnostics and DroneUp in Las Vegas and Cheektowaga, a suburb of Buffalo, New York.

    "Drones, once seen as futuristic or a novelty, have gained traction as a potentially mainstream way for retailers to deliver purchases to their customers. Growing e-commerce sales have intensified pressure on retailers to speed up deliveries and use quick turnaround times as a differentiator. More Americans have gotten used to drones, as they have seen them in the sky or bought a hobby drone of their own. And pandemic-related trends, such as shopping from the couch instead of the store aisle and limiting contact with strangers, could broaden their appeal, too.

    "Tom Ward, Walmart’s senior vice president of customer products, said drones could be another way to use its giant big-box stores 'to serve customers in as many ways as we possibly can that suits their needs, whether that’s speed or convenience'."

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

    •  ShopRite yesterday  announced that "it is expanding and rebranding its award-winning Wholesome Pantry and Wholesome Pantry Organic product lines that are available at all of its stores in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania. Wholesome Pantry products will also be available at Fresh Grocer stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. ShopRite and The Fresh Grocer are supermarket banners of Wakefern Food Corp., the largest retailer-owned cooperative in the country.

    "The popular private label brand of clean ingredient, affordable foods is being reintroduced this month with an updated look and feel, select new and innovative products, and a fresh tagline, 'Food Set Free'."

    •  The New York Daily News reports that Dreyer's-owned Eskimo Pie is changing its name, to Edy's Pie.

    The decision is to eliminate anything that might be considered racially insensitive, as in the decisions by other companies to change Uncle Ben's rice to Ben's Original, to eliminate the Aunt Jemima name, and to change the Native American imagery used on Land O' Lake products.

    •  From Bloomberg:

    "Apple Inc. has stopped selling headphones and wireless speakers from rivals including Sonos Inc., Bose Corp. and Logitech International SA as the company gears up to launch its own new audio products.

    "The Cupertino, California-based technology giant has long sold third-party hardware on its website, one of the largest e-commerce operations in the world. All headphones and speakers from Bose, speakers from Logitech’s Ultimate Ears brand and Sonos’s latest smart speaker disappeared from Apple’s online store at the end of last month … Employees at Apple’s physical retail locations were also instructed to remove the products for sale at stores in recent days."

    The story notes that "the moves come as Apple develops multiple new products to expand on its audio strategy."

    I'm sure Apple will get some grief for cutting off a sales channel for some of these companies, but it seems to me that it is doing what we talk about - whenever and wherever you can, you sell proprietary and differentiated products rather than the same stuff that other folks sell.

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    •  Ann Gugino, who has been Target's senior vice president of financial planning and analysis, is moving over to Papa John's International, where she will be CFO.

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    Eddie Van Halen, the Netherlands-born, American-raised virtuoso musician and songwriter who founded the rock band Van Halen and was considered one of the greatest guitarists of all time, has passed away of throat cancer.  He was 65.

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    Got the following email from MNB reader Tom Murphy:

    You mentioned how something Amazon had done well (rapid, consistent delivery) raised the bar, and the risk for the industry.  I had an amusing experience along those lines last week at a Total Wine & More.

    My wife and I had ordered a couple of cases online for curbside pickup (a mix of Oregon and Washington wines of course).  When I parked in the pickup area, there was a sign indicating the need to text my slot number to a phone number…which I did.  Next to me was another car in a curbside pickup slot who had the driver’s door open and was waiting.  Shortly, a service clerk came out and took two cases to her…upon speaking with her, he turned and came around to me to confirm they actually were mine.

    As I started to back out, the woman in the car yelled at me…”I’ve be waiting for ten minutes for my order.  I thought they knew you were here like they do at Amazon Fresh”!

    For those readers who have never used Amazon Fresh, once you sign up and use them the first time, they capture your license plate number.  In the future, you just pull in, the camera picks up your license plate number and messages a delivery clerk to bring out your order.

    Appears that curbside pickup has been hacked by Amazon!

    Like I said.  Even if you are not competing with Amazon, you may be competing against expectations that it has created.

    On another subject - a piece by Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein about stakeholder and shareholder capitalism that I recommended to you yesterday - prompted the following email by MNB reader Tim Murphy, who I don't think is related to Tom Murphy, who wrote the email above.  (I'm leaving the capital letters and punctuation as is, because I don't want to be accused of changing the emphasis and nature of his email.)

    Longtime (original?) subscriber, first-time commenter:

    Your characterization of the recent Washington Post piece by the (activist) columnist Steven Pearlstein as “excellent’ and “nuanced’ is sorely misguided. He is a longtime “Inside DC” apologist who, unsurprisingly, believes ‘DC’ can solve most of our problems.

    Now most sentient human beings have come to the realization that this is untrue, and cannot be true.

    The extended ‘Stakeholder Argument’, espoused by the (now) beclowned Business Roundtable, is nothing more than a sad, sorry effort to appeal to the angry, politically correct (?) masses now running rampant in our nation. Hey, we need to take care of the employees … and the managers … and the suppliers … and the customers … and the neighbors … AND anyone else who believes they have a stake.

    Any rational economic being understands that Milton Friedman had it right: “THE SOLE PURPOSE OF ANY ENTERPRISE IS TO MAXIMIZE SHAREHOLDER VALUE!”

    Why? Because THAT is the ONLY way to solve that insoluble problem of competing, at-odds interests!

    More importantly, if the enterprise can so maximize … the REMAINING stakeholders will NECESSASARLIY, be duly rewarded … though perhaps not to THEIR complete satisfaction.

    If you believe otherwise, just WHO is to ‘satisfice’ the competing interests involved? The CEO, who might have his personal favorites? Some of the Board Members, who have theirs? The Mayor? The Governor? Goodness gracious, let’s just call up Kevin freaking Coupe to see what he thinks the enterprise should do!

    If I have not convinced you of the folly of ‘The Stakeholder Argument’, I apologize for having failed.

    But remember that CAPITAL (i.e. ownership/shareholder interest) ALWAYS flows to successful enterprises … who create profits (shareholder returns) BY TAKING CARE OF THEIR OTHER STAKEHOLDERS.

    First of all, let me thank you for your loyalty.  I hope it doesn't end here.

    It isn't that you haven't convinced me - though, to be honest, I'm a fan of the stakeholder capitalism model.

    It's just that it seems that you didn't read Pearlstein's column … which, if I understand it correctly, suggested that it would be wrong to straitjacket capitalism into either a stakeholder or shareholder model.

    Seems to me that it can go two ways.  You can manage a business to reward shareholders, and trust that rewards eventually will flow to other stakeholders.  Or, you can manage a business to take care of stakeholders - which, in the case of retailing, would include employees and customers - in the belief that if employees are happy and take care of customers, it will result in a business that will reward shareholders.

    Now, you may want to suggest that the Business Roundtable is "beclowned" (a word with which I am unfamiliar, though I get your point),  but I'm pretty sure that the stakeholder model is similar to one that was espoused by Jim Sinegal.  Worked out pretty well, I think.

    So we're clear about what we're talking about, here's the test of the Business Roundtable statement:

    Americans deserve an economy that allows each person to succeed through hard work and creativity and to lead a life of meaning and dignity. We believe the free-market system is the best means of generating good jobs, a strong and sustainable economy, innovation, a healthy environment and economic opportunity for all.

    Businesses play a vital role in the economy by creating jobs, fostering innovation and providing essential goods and services. Businesses make and sell consumer products; manufacture equipment and vehicles; support the national defense; grow and produce food; provide health care; generate and deliver energy; and offer financial, communications and other services that underpin economic growth.

    While each of our individual companies serves its own corporate purpose, we share a fundamental commitment to all of our stakeholders. We commit to:

    •  Delivering value to our customers. We will further the tradition of American companies leading the way in meeting or exceeding customer expectations.

    •  Investing in our employees. This starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect.

    •  Dealing fairly and ethically with our suppliers. We are dedicated to serving as good partners to the other companies, large and small, that help us meet our missions.

    •  Supporting the communities in which we work. We respect the people in our communities and protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.

    •  Generating long-term value for shareholders, who provide the capital that allows companies to invest, grow and innovate. We are committed to transparency and effective engagement with shareholders.

    Each of our stakeholders is essential. We commit to deliver value to all of them, for the future success of our companies, our communities and our country.

    This statement was delivered in August 2019, which probably explains why Pearlstein went to great pains to point out that this a statement of intent, not achievement … a beginning, not an end.

    I read that statement, and I don't see it as particularly radical.  Rather, I see it as a statement by people who strike me as trying to work within the realities of a world in which there is enormous polarization and economic disparity, believing that the engine of free enterprise (not government) can make progress in addressing social and fiscal issues.

    Works for me.  Doesn't sound like the product of a beclowned institution in any way, shape or form.

    One other thing.

    For the record, if anyone were to call me up to find out what they should do, I'm happy to offer an opinion.  But then again, I do that for a living.  People who disagree with me can take their best shot.  And often do.

    Yesterday's piece about a kind of modern automat that, mixed with a ghost kitchen, offers a glimpse of one vision of how the restaurant industry will operate in a post-pandemic future, prompted memories of visiting the old Horn & Hardart on East 42nd Street and Third Avenue in New York City.

    MNB reader Rich Heiland responded:

    When I was around 10 or 11 my dad, a theatre director at a small college in Ohio, took me to New York City for the first time on one of his theatre tours. What wow'd me? The train ride? Nope. The hotel? Nope. The tall buildings? Nope. It was the automat. I never had seen anything like it and it was cool beyond belief. My dad told me later I kept bugging him to eat all our meals there and when I got home I asked why our small town didn't have an automat. Thanks for the memories!

    My question is, did he take you to the theatre?  And if so, what did you see?

    Published on: October 7, 2020

    •  First, in Major League Baseball….

    In the National League Divisional Series, the Atlanta Braves defeated the Miami Marlins 9-5 to take a 1-0 game lead in their best-of-five series.

    And, the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the San Diego Padres 5-1, also taking a 1-0 game lead in their best-of-five series.

    Over in the American League Divisional Series, the Houston Astros defeated the Oakland Athletics 5-2, taking a 2-0 game lead in the best-of-five series.

    And the Tampa Bay Rays beat the the New York Yankees 7-5, tying up their best-of-five series at one game apiece.

    •  In the WNBA, the Seattle Storm defeated the Las Vegas Aces 92-59, completing a three game sweep of their best-of-five championship series, earning the team's fourth title in its 20 year history and second in three years.