A version of Instagram designed for children isn’t getting a lot of likes in Washington, D.C. The social media giant said Monday it would suspend its plans for Instagram Kids after lawmakers voiced concerns about the platform’s effects on the mental health of young people. During a Thursday hearing, Senate members then accused the company of disregarding internal research showing that Instagram is harmful for significant numbers of teen girls. Facebook shares fell 3.7% Tuesday.
Scrutiny of Alphabet’s Google is up in the land down under. Australia’s competition watchdog expressed concerns about the dominance of Alphabet’s Google unit in a large part of the online-advertising sector, and said it is considering regulatory action against the tech giant. The country has taken an aggressive stance on regulating large U.S. tech companies, an approach that has been widely watched as other countries consider similar actions. Earlier this year, Australian lawmakers passed a law effectively requiring big tech firms, including Google and Facebook, to pay news publishers for content. Alphabet shares lost 3.8% Tuesday.
The next treatment for Covid-19 could be in the form of a pill. Merck and its partner, Ridgeback Biotherapeutics LP, said Friday their experimental pill helped prevent high-risk people early in the course of Covid-19 from becoming seriously ill and dying. The drug, called molnupiravir, cut the risk of hospitalization or death in study subjects with mild to moderate Covid by about 50%. The study’s results put molnupiravir on track to potentially be authorized by the end of the year, giving an option for doctors who have spent the pandemic seeking a drug that infected people could easily take at home to keep them from becoming hospitalized. Merck shares soared 8.4% Friday.
Dollar Tree is passing the buck. The discount chain, which sells nearly everything for a dollar in its namesake chain, plans to add more products at slightly higher prices as costs rise for a range of goods. The retailer said it would start selling products at $1.25 and $1.50 or other prices slightly above $1 in some of its stores, expanding current tests of selling items at higher price points in a section labeled Dollar Tree Plus. The rising prices are a result of inflation, higher wages in the tight labor market and larger freight costs amid supply-chain snarls. Dollar Tree shares jumped 17% Wednesday.
Warby Parker had an eye-opening debut. The eyewear maker is worth roughly $6.8 billion after going public on Wednesday, finishing its first trading day with a valuation twice what it was in a private funding round last year. The company sold shares via a direct listing, rather than a traditional public offering. Warby Parker’s reception showed that investor interest in growth-focused, unprofitable direct-to-consumer retailers hasn’t entirely waned, more than a year after Casper Sleep Inc.’s underwhelming debut. Warby Parker shares ended 36% above its reference price of $40 Wednesday.
Bed Bath & Beyond fell behind this past quarter. The home-goods retailer on Thursday reported a sharp decline in quarterly sales and lowered its guidance for the year, citing supply-chain challenges, inflation and slower traffic into its stores due to Covid-19 concerns. The company’s woes come as businesses are rushing to restock pandemic-depleted inventories. The U.S. supply chain has so far failed to adapt to a crush of imports amid mounting shipping delays and cargo backlogs. Chief Executive Mark Tritton said the company is also addressing internal execution issues, such as how to best allocate its marketing resources to attract more shoppers. Bed Bath & Beyond shares dropped 22% Thursday.
Lordstown is trying to avoid running on empty. The cash-strapped electric-truck maker said Thursday it plans to sell an Ohio factory it purchased two years ago as it works to bring its first pickup truck to market. The buyer is contract assembler Foxconn Technology Group, which also plans to invest $50 million in Lordstown through a purchase of common stock. Lordstown has been trying to raise capital after warning earlier this year it was burning through cash faster than expected and it lacked the funds to scale up commercial production. The auto maker would use Foxconn to manufacture its vehicles at the factory. Lordstown shares crashed 18% Friday.
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