Once again, I have no choice but to wish you all an excellent TGIF.
1. Apple has been facing scrutiny for its decision to pull an app from the App Store used by Hong Kong protesters to monitor police activity. In a memo to staff, CEO Tim Cook backed the move, saying the app had been used to “maliciously target individual officers for violence". This allegation is based on what Cook called “credible information” from the Hong Kong cybersecurity bureau. The intersection between US companies and the Chinese state has been quite something over the past week or so.
2. Despite the fact yesterday it was reported a deal between the UK and the EU was looking impossible, there might be hope yet. The pound is "soaring" after the British and Irish prime ministers signalled a Brexit deal could be happening. The two PMs said they had a “detailed and constructive discussion” about a "pathway" to a Brexit deal, which is about as good news as is currently on offer about the whole debacle. Frankly, I think they need to get on with it so I can stop cluttering this newsletter with updates.
3. Game streaming service Twitch is dealing with fallout after a synagogue shooting in Germany which left two dead was streamed live on the platform. After the Christchurch massacre earlier in the year was livestreamed on YouTube, tech companies have scrambled to find a way to stop it happening again. Twitch says 2,200 people watched the German stream in the 30 minutes it was up before being pulled.
4. DoorDash is the latest US food delivery player in the Aussie market, and it's using interesting tactics to muscle its way in. Here's our dive into what DoorDash is doing to try and challenge Uber Eats and Deliveroo. Spoiler: it involves signing up restaurants who may or may not have actually said yes to having their food delivered by the company.
5. Australian 'buy now pay later' app Afterpay, which is making moves into the US market, has picked up former Obama adviser Larry Summers. The news comes right as Scott Galloway – who predicted the collapse of WeWork's doomed IPO – says he doesn't see a bright future for Afterpay and similar companies. He reckons big players like Visa and MasterCard could easily eat Afterpay's lunch.
6. Some inside baseball for you: apparently, Amazon has a serious problem with employees leaving the company to become Amazon consultants. The lucrative revolving door basically involves Amazon insiders leaving the online retail giant to make bank teaching other companies how to navigate the often labyrinthine and opaque system the company has built up over years. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
7. Any MasterChef fans out there? The new trio of judges were announced yesterday: Jock Zonfrillo, Melissa Leong and Andy Allen. They replace Matt Preston, George Calombaris and Gary Mehigan. One assumes Ten did some thorough, thorough auditing of the history of our new judges to work out whether they'd come within even an inch of an underpayment scandal.
8. It's that most wonderful time of year: The Choice Shonky Awards, where the consumer advocate names and shames some of the worst products in the Aussie market. Among this year's esteemed wiiners is an Ikea fridge which – contrary to the expectations of a household fridge – does very poorly when it comes to keeping food cold.
9. The recovery in Australia's property market looks to be moving at pace, with home lending back at the highs of 2017. As you might recall, that was when prices in Sydney and Melbourne were at their peak. Whether or not those staggering prices were a good thing or not is something I'll leave to you, the reader, to decide.
10. With the release of the new $20 note on Wednesday, some wondered: is revamping Australia's physical money a worthwhile endeavour in 2019, as we increasingly go digital and cashless? Turns out the answer is definitely yes. While cash is plainly facing challenges from all fronts, there are plenty of good reasons as to why it will still be king in Australia for a while yet.
I mentioned above Scott Galloway's analysis of Afterpay and the 'buy now, pay later' market more generally. The whole video is worth a watch, about a category which is only going to get bigger: