Last month today: December 2020 in review

A shot in the arm of global economy

The vaccines against Covid-19 are ready and rolling into the veins of both human beings and the economic indicators. While the initial light can be seen at the end of both tunnels, full recovery will take a while.

With people, it is a bit more straightforward issue – more or less directly related to the physical speed those syringes can be filled up and pressed empty. When it comes to economics, there are more layers to it than initially meet the eye. The global lockdown, with reduced travel, job losses, huge government debts, plunged GDPs, slashed interest rates and who knows what, has put the world into a deep hole, and the best way up is to move gradually.

Having said that, central banks and other financial experts do expect the year 2021 to be a lot more positive that its predecessor. The International Money Fund, for example, forecasts a 5.2 % growth for the global economy, which has to be interpreted as promising after a 4.4 % shrinkage we will end up experiencing during 2020.

The point being: Rome was not built in a day, and even in the era when everything happens at the speed of light, we should keep our eyes on the ball and not expect any overnight miracles – at least not until next Christmas.

Cashing in on New Year resolutions

Peloton, the leading interactive fitness platform announced that it has entered into an agreement to acquire Precor, one of the largest global commercial fitness equipment providers, from Finnish sporting goods company Amer Sports, currently owned by an investor consortium. The transaction, valued at 420M USD, would enable Peloton produce connected fitness products in the US already during 2021 – and thus, according to Peloton’s President William Lynch, “lead the global connected fitness market in both innovation and scale.”

With the new year creeping in and all kinds of life-changing resolutions being made all over the world, Peloton must be expecting to make the most of the first couple of months as people, once again, will fill up the gyms wherever possible, trying to burn away all that Christmas fat and lift their spirit from self-misery to the winning mentality of Rocky Balboa. Wherever the gyms are closed due to Covid, even better – just buy your own treadmill and/or stepper and/or rowing machine. Peloton must be hoping to scale the thoughts of a former Finnish president who convinced the nation that “every excuse to not exercise is a fake one” to cover most of the Western world.

The markets seemed to agree: Peloton’s stock outright soared as the deal with Precor was announced. What will happen in May as people get tired, gyms empty and home equipment covered with cobwebs is another story – but we all will cross that bridge only – and only – when we reach it.

Slam-dunking into a new season

Only two months after the finals, and the NBA is on again – the 2020-21 basketball season is followed with even keener eye than before. The task of setting up and finishing the season in the “bubble” in Orlando was an accomplishment as such. To do that successfully, without any Covid outbreak, was an outright surprise to many more than dare to admit. The bubble is now gone and teams are playing at their own arenas, obviously without audience – and everyone’s holding their breath.

Every season brings along new owners, and 20-21 is no different as Ryan Smith, the 42-year founder (and seller to SAP for 8 billion USD) of Qualtrics, became one of the youngest owners in professional sports by acquiring Utah Jazz.

At least when it comes to public statements, Smith seems to be in for other reasons than publicity and money. He is a lifelong Utah resident and a Jazz fan, saying that he had several opportunities to purchase a team but wanted to wait until he got his chance with the team he fanatically roots for.

In a league known for flashiness and big personalities, both on the court and in front offices, Smith should fit right in, given his somewhat rugged appearance, t-shirt and dress jacket combinations as well as a backward baseball cap. If he can size up with the Mavericks’ Marc Cuban in reactions to home team dunks and questionable calls from the umpires, Ryan will be right there among the top owners!

The e-cars keep raising noise

One of the brightest highlights of the year, at least when you look at the stock charts, is Tesla. As the markets around the world have struggled to say the least, the value of the electric car manufacturer has raised sevenfold. While Tesla is still considered to be an investment target for those into risks and adventure, the company seems to be on a cruise control towards even greater heights – fueled by ambitious elements such as Elon Musk’s space travel ventures.

This must be a thorn on Apple’s side; a company that has, already for decades, taken great pride in innovative solutions that have shaped the mankind. Now, as rumors have arisen that the iPhone manufacturer might be seriously getting into the car business, it is simply considered as the guy that finishes second – an early adapter at best, and most likely a mere follower of the lead. Steve Jobs must be rolling in his grave.

Either way, both companies definitely seem to have what it takes to make the most of the speculation that seems to be heating up like a fireplace in the midst of a cold winter. Apple is boldly sticking with its “no comment” policy while certainly reading the analyses about them being the only imaginable company who could actually be able to nudge Tesla off the industry driver’s seat with interest. Elon Musk, on the other hand, moved the discussion into an even higher gear by recalling the early and not-so-glory days when he reached out to Apple CEO Tim Cook, trying to sell the company to him for “a tenth of its current value.”

Cook declined – not only the offer, but even the meeting. Now, he has quite a gap to reduce, if Apple ever decides to make a run for it.


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