Axios Closer

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February 04, 2022

😎 Hello Friday, the envy of all other weekdays.

🚨 Situational awareness: Amazon sets a new record for a one-day gain in market value.

Today's newsletter, edited by Pete Gannon, is 698 words, a 2½-minute read.

🔔 The dashboard: The S&P 500 closed up 0.5%.

  • Biggest gainer? Amazon (+13.5%) following strong earnings.
  • Biggest decliner? Clorox (-14.5.%) after fourth-quarter results missed expectations.

1 big thing: Pivot to the pros

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Facebook and Snapchat are relying more on professionally created content as personal sharing on social media continues to decline, Hope writes.

Why it matters: The pivot away from the stuff that made these companies what they are could provide a buffer against growing regulatory pressure.

  • At the same time, it could add to the burden and headaches of content moderation (exhibit A: Spotify's Joe Rogan dilemma).

Driving the news: Facebook parent company Meta set a record for the biggest one-day drop in market value in stock market history this week after it reported its first-ever decline in daily active users.

  • Snap, on the other hand, crushed it last quarter — and investors sent the stock soaring more than 60% after Thursday's results.

State of play: Public sharing of personal posts had already started to move more toward private messaging pre-pandemic. 

  • People shared even less of their personal lives when the pandemic sapped them of exciting or interesting things to share.
  • To maintain engagement, Facebook and Snapchat plugged those gaps with content created consistently by a smaller group of users or by professionals.

By the numbers: Snap added 160 new international channels for its premium content platform, Axios' Sara Fischer reported.

  • The company said on its earnings call that it's paid more than 12,000 people to create content.

What to watch: As more platforms rely on content they commission, the more responsibility they will be expected to assume for what creators do.

2. Charted: What labor force problem?

Data: BLS; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The percentage of people working or looking for jobs reached its largest point since before the pandemic, Nathan writes.

  • And it turns out it was better than we thought last year too after census adjustments.

Why it matters: The closely watched labor force participation rate has been a point of concern this past year, as economists have struggled to understand why so many fewer people were wanting to work.

What happened: The official labor force participation rate was 62.2% in January and was higher than previously thought in December.

  • That means fewer adults remain outside the workforce than seemed the case last year.

By the numbers: Overall, the economy added 467,000 jobs in January, far exceeding expectations, as the job market appeared to shrug off the effects of the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

The bottom line: The labor force participation problem is less severe than it seemed. In particular, the "retirees not coming back" narrative, while still true, is less of an issue than we thought.

Go deeper: January's jobs stunner

3. What's happening

🛍️ Kohl's adopted a "poison pill" to fend off unwanted takeover attempts. (CNBC)

⛽️ Gas prices hit a seven-year high Friday, as oil hit $90 per barrel for the first time since 2014. (CNBC)

4. Icy reception

Flag bearers Brittany Bowe and John Shuster of Team United States carry their flag during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics
Team United States during the opening ceremony. Photo: Fred Lee/Getty Images

Diplomatic boycotts over human rights concerns and COVID are overshadowing the Winter Olympics in Beijing, which kicked off this morning, Hope writes. 

By the numbers: While about 70% of Americans disapprove of allowing China to host, half still plan to tune in, a new Axios-Momentive poll shows.

What they're saying: "People aren’t happy that the Olympics are in China, but it’s still the Olympics," Laura Wronski, senior manager for research science at Momentive, told Axios.

Get full Olympic coverage from Axios here.

5. Cleaning was so 2020

a bottle of hand sanitizer
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The curtain has closed on “hygiene theater,” Nathan writes.

Quick take: The ever-present smell of disinfectant is a thing of the past.

  • Clorox’s health and wellness sales — which includes its cleaning business — fell 21% year-over-year in the quarter ending Dec. 31.

Why it matters: An early rush to sanitize everything during the early days of the pandemic led to what The Atlantic called “hygiene theater” — the act of establishments repeatedly wiping, scrubbing and washing.

Yes, but: When we are buying disinfectant wipes, we're buying more of them from Clorox. The company grew its market share in that segment by double digits as its supply chain for the once-hard-to-find product continues to recover.

The bottom line: We’re not having a hard time finding cleaning solutions anymore.

6. What they're saying

“While the others look to the metaverse and Mars, let’s stay here and restore ours."
— Matthew McConaughey in a new Salesforce conservation-themed commercial timed for the Winter Olympics, not so subtly taking a swipe at Facebook's virtual ambitions and billionaire space tourists.