Axios Closer

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Wednesday ✅.

Today's newsletter is 698 words, a 2½-minute read.

🚨 Situational awareness: Under Armour shares were falling after the bell on a surprise announcement that founder Kevin Plank will take over as CEO for Stephanie Linnartz after just a year.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed down 0.2%.

  • Biggest gainer? Freeport-McMoRan (+7.6%), the mining company. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Biggest decliner? Dollar Tree (-14.2%), the discount retailer, announced plans to close nearly 1,000 locations. (Details below.)

1 big thing: Anatomy of a cyberattack target

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

A central question that has emerged since the cyberattack on a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary is how the strike against a single company has wrought such chaos across an entire industry, Axios' Tina Reed writes.

The big picture: Some cybersecurity experts point to UnitedHealth's buying spree, which among other things has allowed the nation's largest insurer to control a vital piece of how medical claims are administered.

  • Horizontal and vertical mergers — which have become common among major U.S. companies — create massive targets for cyber criminals, said Jason Hogg, executive in residence at Great Hill Partners and a former FBI special agent.
  • "From a cybersecurity perspective, you can affect everything from patient records and hospitals to the actual payment system," Hogg said. "We have this massive exposure and it's a national security threat."

Case in point: The February attack was made on UnitedHealth's Change Healthcare business, a major player in payment processing across the industry.

Others said there's too little oversight of the cybersecurity protecting such critical pieces of health care infrastructure — a situation they said is unimaginable in other sectors that depend on sensitive financial transactions.

What we're watching: The cost of cyber insurance. Despite a stabilization seen in the broader cyber insurance market early last year, individual health systems continue to report major upticks in their premiums, Omid Rahmani, an associate director with credit rating agency Fitch Ratings, told Axios.

Go deeper

2. Charted: Investors fall out of Dollar Tree

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

Dollar Tree shares plummeted over 14% today after the retailer announced plans to close about 970 Family Dollar stores and 30 Dollar Tree locations over the next several years.

Why it matters: The closures represent a reversal of the retailer's rapid expansion — which included buying Family Dollar in 2015 — and the following scrutiny over product safety issues in recent years, write Nathan and Axios' Kelly Tyko.

Zoom out: Low-income shoppers, which Family Dollar caters to, have been pulling back on spending, per WSJ, Hope notes.

  • Family Dollar has lost ground to competitor Dollar General, whose prices are about 10%–15% lower, CNN notes.
  • Dollar Tree today also reported holiday sales and profits, and 2024 projections that missed investor expectations.

3. What's happening

💸 The Fed's inflation fight is starting to feel like a forever war. (Axios)

🏬 Athleisure brand Outdoor Voices is said to be shuttering retail stores nationwide and moving exclusively online. (Axios)

4. House passes TikTok bill

Protesters support TikTok at a news conference outside the Capitol building on March 12 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

The House passed a bipartisan bill this morning that would force China-based ByteDance to sell TikTok or face a ban in the U.S., Axios Pro Policy's Maria Curi and Ashley Gold report.

  • Lawmakers passed the bill in a 352-65-1 vote, raising the stakes in a battle that imperils the app for its millions of users across the country.

The intrigue: Ahead of the vote, House lawmakers yesterday met with intelligence officials for a classified briefing on the bill's national security concerns.

  • Several walked out unconvinced, saying no concerns specific to TikTok were raised.

What's next: Now comes an uphill climb in the Senate.

TikTokers, meanwhile — including students, young adults, adults and business owners — are going offline to protest the potential of losing access to the platform, Axios' April Rubin writes.

5. Neil Young returns to Spotify

Neil Young in 2019. Photo: Jo Hale/Redferns

Neil Young's boycott of Spotify is over, Hope writes.

Why it matters: Young and several other artists removed their music from Spotify over two years ago to protest the company's handling of COVID-19 misinformation — particularly through Joe Rogan's podcast.

  • With the conclusion of Rogan's exclusivity contract with Spotify, Young sees it as impossible to protest every platform.

"My decision comes as music services Apple and Amazon have started serving the same disinformation podcast features I had opposed at Spotify," he explained, without mentioning Rogan specifically.

  • "I cannot just leave Apple and Amazon, like I did Spotify, because my music would have very little streaming outlet to music lovers," he added.

6. What they're saying

"Apparently, free speech absolutism doesn't apply when it comes to questions about him from people like me."
— Former CNN anchor Don Lemon, referring to Elon Musk's decision to cancel X's partnership with his new show after the two had a "tense" interview.

Today's newsletter was edited by Pete Gannon and copy edited by Sheryl Miller.

🔮 Axios' third annual What's Next Summit returns to Washington, D.C., next week on March 19 for a day of conversations with trailblazing newsmakers on the topics defining our future.

  • Hope will be interviewing Slack CEO Denise Dresser. Check out our full lineup and register to livestream the event here.