Today’s Top Stories
— Europe Takes the Lead on Clean Driving: Paris and Norway ready rules to lessen air pollution.
— The Idea That’s Killing Mission-Driven Companies: What neoliberalism is doing to businesses that want to do more than make a profit.
— Swiss Voters Reject Universal Basic Income: Pilot programs remain, but the first full-country referendum is a crushing loss.
— Cadillac Dealerships Go Virtual: GM’s luxury brand looks for a way to differentiate.
— Even the Biggest Tech Companies Have To Appease Governments: Who holds more power, American tech giants or the countries that regulate them?
Paris’s Bold Plan To Fight Air Pollution
Driving an old junker? If you’re traveling to Paris, leave it at home. Starting next month, only vehicles manufactured after 1997 will be allowed in the city limits (Quartz) on weekdays between 8am and 8pm. It’s part of the city’s continuing crackdown on air pollution. Paris has company in such a move: Norway plans to ban the sale of all gasoline-powered cars by 2025 (Independent).
The Idea That’s Killing Mission-Driven Companies
If you’re a company on a mission, you’re swimming against the forces of neoliberalism, a much-cited but little-understood economic and political philosophy that elevates profit above all else. Today on NewCo Shift, Scott Rosenberg takes a deep dive into neoliberalism and shows what NewCos can do about it.
Swiss Voters Reject Universal Basic Income
The first full-country vote on universal basic income has gone down to a resounding defeat. A referendum supporting such a measure in Switzerland was voted down by 77 percent of voters. Finland and the Netherlands are moving forward with pilot programs, but nothing on the scale rejected in Switzerland. Some supporters see a silver lining in the results (Quartz), but it’s hard to see how such a dramatic “no” vote aids the cause in the short run.
Cadillac Dealerships Go Virtual
While Tesla aims to obsolete the venerable dealership system by selling direct to consumers, Cadillac is trying to reboot its flagging dealership setup by making many of its dealerships virtual (WSJ). GM’s luxury brand has three times as many U.S. stores as Toyota’s upscale Lexus but only sells half as many cars, so it’s past time for a change. Cadillac President Johan de Nysschen, brought in by Mary Barra to turn around the brand, is looking for commitments from dealers to “convert a portion of Cadillac’s 925 stores into virtual dealerships that will be low on overhead and big on sophisticated technology.” Think VR headsets and no inventory. He’s pushing a five-tier model, ranging from traditional dealerships to all-virtual, in an attempt to start selling the cars as what they are, luxury vehicles, rather than what GM has traditionally been good at selling, mass-market vehicles.
Even the Biggest Tech Companies Have To Appease Governments
Over at The New York Times, Farhad Manjoo sketches out the “coming global freak-out over the power of the American tech industry.” Nations and their regulatory agencies, particularly in Europe, are anxious over American-company dominance over so many technology platforms, and “we are bound to see increasing friction between the tiny group of tech companies that rule much of the industry and the governments that rule the lands those companies are trying to invade.” Manjoo’s column lays out the friction and doesn’t try to predict winners, but it’s easy to look at recent events — like Apple’s $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-sharing leader Didi Chuxing — and be convinced that the largest American tech players are eager to figure out ways to play nice so they can compete outside the U.S.
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