May 11, 2019

Axios AM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

⛳ Happy Saturday from Lexington, Va. Tomorrow is Mom's Day.

Situational awareness: "President Trump has effectively taken charge of the ... Fourth of July celebration in Washington, moving the gargantuan fireworks display from its usual spot on the Mall to be closer to the Potomac River and making tentative plans to address the nation from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial." (WashPost)

  • White House officials asked at least twice in the past month for former White House counsel Don McGahn to say that he never believed the president obstructed justice. McGahn declined. (N.Y. Times)

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1 big thing: Uber's IPO got caught in perfect storm

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber's IPO stalled out yesterday, stunning both Silicon Valley and Wall Street, Axios' Dan Primack reports.

  • Uber lost nearly $6 billion in market capitalization (value of the company’s outstanding stock) in its first five hours as a public company.
  • No, this is not normal for a highly anticipated IPO.

Why it matters: Other money-losing unicorns will now watch to see if Uber can navigate into calmer waters, or if they need to begin scrambling for life vests.

Uber got hit by a confluence of negative events, some of which were outside of its control:

  • The Dow was already down more than 300 points before Uber's first trade, due largely to President Trump's imposition of higher tariffs on Chinese imports. Stocks recovered later, but investor sentiment was lousy during the time when an IPO would typically pop.
  • The world is a vampire: North Korea. Iran. Venezuela. Pick your geopolitical poison.
  • Uber went public at the end of the stock market's worst week of 2019.
  • Lyft already had investors running scared, having earlier in the week reported disappointing Q1 results and warning of "peak losses" in 2019.
  • Ride-hail driver strikes on Wednesday didn't seem to have much impact on car availability, but raised awareness and prompted tweets from several presidential candidates.

The big picture: Uber loses more money than any other company to ever go public.

  • Uber has argued that it's the next Amazon, which also spent years in the red.
The statue of Fearless Girl stands in front of the New York Stock Exchange on Uber's first day of trading. (Photo: Mark Lennihan/AP)

The scene: Uber founder and ex-CEO Travis Kalanick wanted to help ring the bell, but was banished by current CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Axios first reported.

  • Kalanick watched with his father from a side balcony before heading a block away to celebrate with early Uber colleagues at The Bailey Restaurant NYC.

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2. Rudy U-turn
Screenshot: Fox News

Rudy Giuliani has canceled a trip to Kiev in which he planned to push the incoming Ukrainian government to press ahead with investigations that he hoped would benefit President Trump, the N.Y. Times' Ken Vogel reports:

  • The president's personal lawyer was facing "withering attacks accusing him of seeking foreign assistance for ... Trump’s re-election campaign."
  • Giuliani said that he felt like he was being "set up," and blamed Democrats for trying to "spin" the trip.

House Intelligence Chairman Adam Schiff told me yesterday at an Axios News Shapers event when I asked him about Rudy's plan:

  • "The fact that he would be so open about it, boastful almost ... it takes your breath away."

Quote of the week ... Rudy to Ken Vogel on Thursday: "We’re not meddling in an election. We’re meddling in an investigation, which we have a right to do."

3. Shaving giants sweep up the disrupters

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

With a pair of improbable billion-dollar acquisitions, huge conglomerates have snapped up both of the cheap shaving startups that shook up the men's grooming business, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.

  • The deals — for Harry’s (bought this week by the owner of Schick razors), Dollar Shave Club (bought by Unilver in 2016) and a third startup called Bevel (acquired by Procter & Gamble in December) — reflect a trend in which new companies pop up and upend large industries, but don’t last long.

Why it matters: Giants like Amazon, Unilever and Walmart are swiftly buying out plucky companies that start to threaten them.

  • In a single transaction, these deals transform upstarts from worthy competitors to weapons in the giants' battle with other giants.
  • The big companies begin to profit from the disruption.

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Bonus pics: Opening today
Photo: Eva Hambach/AFP/Getty Images

An Apple Store — the company's most extensive historic restoration project yet — opens today in the 116-year-old Carnegie Library on Mount Vernon Square in Washington.

  • The Beaux-Arts style building, once home to D.C.’s Central Public Library, opened in 1903, christened by President Teddy Roosevelt.
  • It was funded by Andrew Carnegie, the steel magnate who died in 1919.
  • The area that housed the book stacks is now the Genius Grove, per Apple.
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Image

Apple CEO Tim Cook told the WashPost: "Probably one of the least done things in an Apple Store is to buy something ... We should probably come up with a name other than 'store' ... because it’s more of a place for the community to use."

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
4. Trump gives Mayor Pete a nickname
Pete Buttigieg with his husband, Chasten Buttigieg, at a campaign event in West Hollywood, Calif., on Thursday. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

When Politico asked the president about Pete Buttigieg, Trump responded:

  • "Alfred E. Neuman cannot become president of the United States."
  • That's a reference to the nerdy, gap-toothed MAD magazine character.

Buttigieg replied: "So I'll be honest, I had to Google that. I guess it's a generational thing — I didn't get the reference."

  • "It's kinda funny, I guess. But he's also the president of the United States. And I'm surprised he's not spending more time trying to salvage this China deal."
5. Coming attractions: Space tourism
Taxiway leading to the hangar at Spaceport America in Upham, N.M. (Susan Montoya Bryan/AP)

Billionaire Richard Branson is bringing his space-tourism dream closer to reality by moving Virgin Galactic's winged passenger rocket and 100+ employees to a remote commercial launch and landing facility in New Mexico, per AP.

  • Branson's vision: hotels in close reaches of space, and a network of spaceports allowing supersonic travel anywhere on earth within a few hours.
  • No deadline was set for the first commercial flight.
6. 1 fun thing
Chart: Social Security Administration

Emma was 2018's most popular name for baby girls for the fifth year in a row.

  • Liam was the most popular boy's name for the second year in a row.

See popularity by state.

Mike Allen

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