For most of us, the past couple of weeks have been ‘all coronavirus all the time’, whether personally, professionally, or financially. I just looked at my work e-mail inbox, and 80% of messages have COVID-19 in the subject line. So it’s time to take a break from adding to the chorus of bleak forecasts or recommendations on what XYZ company should do. With April Fools approaching, here’s an attempted humorous take at some of the headlines we might see coming out of the tech and telecom worlds over the next couple of weeks.
WeWork To Change Its Name to iWork. With nearly all co-working places closed worldwide and the massive shift to working remotely, the company has been advised that anything connoted to the concept of ‘We’ will take an even bigger chunk out of WeWork’s ongoing valuation freefall. Adam Neumann, the company’s beleaguered former CEO, has suggested that the stock symbol for its future IPO should be just “I”, rather than “WE”.
Apple Temporarily Disabling Screen Time Feature. Nearly two years ago, Apple introduced a feature called Screen Time, to help customers take control over how much time they’re spending on their various iDevices. But with the kids at home for an extended period and parents also pulling their hair out, Apple has decided it’s better for everyone’s mental health if they just simply don’t see that their usage across all screens roughly mirrors the hockey-stick-like surge in confirmed coronavirus cases.
New TV Show To Debut on Netflix: “Billionaire Island”. Part ‘Survivor’ and part ‘Hunger Games’, this new series puts 12 tech billionaires infected with coronavirus on an island, without any access to PPEs or ventilators. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have signed on as advisors to the show, and, as one would expect, they’ve designed some interesting challenges and plot twists.
Secret Emerges in DISH offer to Lend Spectrum to T-Mobile. DISH’s offer let T-Mobile use a chunk of its 600 MHz spectrum for free in order to help meet network capacity demands in the coming weeks is laudable. Many were surprised, however, since DISH has been hoarding its spectrum for years. We’ve since learned that in a break during the negotiations between DISH and T-Mobile that helped get the Sprint deal done, John Legere challenged Charlie Ergen (a famous poker player) to a game of Texas Hold ‘Em, using spectrum channels rather than dollars, as currency. The evening ended with Legere up about 30 MHz.
Alexa To Be Used to Help Identify Those With Coronavirus. The shortage of test kits for the coronavirus continues to be a serious problem. But tech companies are stepping up. In his news conference yesterday, President Trump announced a new arrangement with Amazon, whereby anyone who says “I might have coronavirus” within earshot of Alexa will be entered into a national database, as a first step in determining who should get tested. The president added “If Amazon does a good job, we might take another look at that JEDI contract”.
Fund Managers Start Shorting Netflix Stock. This might seem like a counterintuitive move, since it appears that we’re all homebound for the long haul. However, it’s possible that we’ll have cycled through pretty much everything Netflix has to offer — something that until recently seemed mathematically impossible — which could lead to significant numbers of subscribers dumping Netflix once they’re actually allowed to go.out.again.
Airlines Will Make a Huge Comeback…With $1,000 Bag Fees. Airlines are the good cop/bad cop of corporate America. During the past ten flush years, they’ve done nearly everything possible to make the flying experience less pleasant. Now, they’re being all nicey-nicey, waiving change fees, cancel fees, and baiting you with $30 fares to Hawaii. But when flying returns, you can bet that they’ll be looking at all sorts of creative ways to recoup their losses. We hear they’re considering $1,000 bag fees, surcharges for crying children, and huge fines for anyone boarding a plane with so much as a runny nose.
Facebook to Relaunch Facebook Dating as A Virtual Service. Facebook received a huge amount of bad press when it launched the Facebook Dating app not long after CEO Mark Zuckerberg was summoned to testify in front of Congress about customer privacy concerns. Predictably, the app has not been a standout success. However, we hear that Facebook has pivoted and is re-casting Facebook Dating for the coronavirus era. In a press release, the company said, “Our whole company was built on the basis of people virtually, rather than actually, interacting. Facebook Dating is the logical extension of that, and is perfect for these times, since people can only virtually, and not actually, date”.
Two New Coronavirus-Era Reality Shows Being Rushed to Market:
- ‘Zoom Bloopers’, Hulu. Next week will mark the debut of the show on Hulu. Zoom users — who now equal about 100% of the U.S. population — will be asked to send in videos of their favorite Zoom fails and embarrassing moments. Categories include: Most Embarrassing Unmute Moment; Worst Audio of the Week; Most Distracting Behavior by a Child During a Work-From-Home Zoom Call; Best Example of Someone Getting Frustrated Learning How the F___ To Use This Thing; and You Shoulda Left the Camera Off.
- ‘Work From Home War Stories’, Netflix. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide who have never worked from home are now getting adjusted to this new reality. Well, this sure works better for some than others. Sketches for the first couple of episodes include: WFH Will Ruin My Marriage; Odd Spaces for Home Offices; Sweatpants Are The New ‘Business Casual’; One Thousand Ways to Distract Your Kids So You Can Actually Work For Ten Minutes; These Types of Classes Just Don’t Work For Online Learning; and Foods Not To Eat While On a Conference Call. People will be able to nominate their colleagues for a special award, to be given at the end of each episode: Least Effective Home Worker Of The Week
Stay safe, stay healthy, and stay sane.