On What'd You Miss This Week, Scarlet Fu, Joe Weisenthal, Caroline Hyde and Romaine Bostick spoke with Guy Chirello, President of FirstData, about his company's work tracking Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending in real-time. Their data, which is based on card-based transactions, showed a six percent increase in spending as well as retail over the holiday weekend. Retailers got a "pleasant surprise" with in-store traffic ticking up by over four percent, Chirello said. "Last year was such a great year, we didn't think we'd see the robustness," Chirello said. "But consumer confidence is obviously very high right now."
Jonathan Tepper, Founder of Variant Perception, also joined to discuss his new book "The Myth of Capitalism: Monopolies and the Death of Competition." Tepper called Amazon's highly-publicized and perk-filled HQ 2 search "the exact opposite of capitalism." Tepper explained how the economy is quantitatively less competitive than it used to be. "Almost seventy-five percent of industries are now much more concentrated than they were twenty years ago," he said. The United States economy is now "beyond what we saw in the Gilded Age" in terms of mergers and concentration, Tepper said.
Scarlet Fu sat down with Chris Cavallini, the founder and CEO of Nutrition Solutions, to talk about his company's mission that goes beyond the bottom line and gives people with criminal records a second chance in the workforce. Seventy-five percent of upper management at the meal prep business are convicted felons, and a large portion of their employees come from "checkered pasts" including criminal backgrounds, substance abuse problems and homelessness. This commitment was not an explicit goal from the onset, but evolved out of his own story as well as their corporate values, Cavallini said. "It's something now that we own. It's something that I'm very proud of. Not the fact that we have a bunch of convicts and misfits working for us," Cavallini said. "But that these people have come in one way from a previous life and have done the work and have committed to getting better." Cavallini admitted "it doesn't work out every time" but said even if it only works half of the time, it's worth it.
Then Ohio State Treasurer Josh Mandel came on to discuss his state becoming the first one in the United States to allow companies to pay their bills with bitcoin. The policy decision was not just an effort to provide more options and ease for taxpayers, Mandel said. The state treasurer said he wanted this decision to send a statement to the industry that the Buckeye State is a place that is embracing cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. "If you want to grow a blockchain technology company, if you want to grow a software development company, do it here in the state of Ohio." Mandel tamped down risk and currency concerns, explaining that the state will not be holding any cryptocurrency assets.