Situational awareness: Italian artist-prankster Maurizio Cattelan duct-taped a banana to the wall of a booth at Art Basel Miami Beach this week, and promptly sold two of the limited edition for $120,000 apiece. The price of a third, destined for a museum, has now been raised to $150,000.
In this week's issue of Axios Edge (sign up here): Subaltern CEOs, the economics of Manchester City Football Club, the problem with Honey, the dynamics of Giving Tuesday, the market in counterfeits, and much more. Total word count is 1,625, which should take you about 6 minutes to read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photos: Justin Sullivan/Getty and Saul Loe/Getty
Being a CEO used to mean something very clear: You were the top dog, answerable only to the collective will of a board of directors. Today's CEOs, by contrast, are often deep down in the org chart, fireable by a boss who in turn is fireable by an even higher-up boss.
Driving the news: Aside from the high-profile shakeup at Alphabet this week (more on that in a second), Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom was fired by his boss, Barry Diller, who really runs the company.
Alphabet, until this week, had one clear top-dog CEO, Larry Page, and many subsidiary CEOs. Page's direct report Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, was himself the boss of Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of YouTube.
The bottom line: Increasingly, today's CEO is merely an executive hired by the person who is really in control.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
Sports teams have historically been a bauble for billionaires, traded infrequently between each other for stratospheric valuations that often make little economic sense.
Meanwhile, English soccer team Manchester City is much more valuable, and a very rare example of a franchise being valued on economic fundamentals rather than sentiment and ego.
Driving the news: Silver Lake, a Silicon Valley private equity fund, has just invested $500 million into the team's parent company as part of a huge secular bet on the future of technology, media and entertainment.
Our thought bubble, from Axios Sports editor Kendall Baker: "CFG is at the apex of what it means to be a 21st century sports business — a mixture of sports, entertainment, media and digital technology."
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
One of the few financial bright spots in the media industry has been the rise of commerce as an important component of media-company revenues.
Driving the news: Tech startup Honey was recently acquired by PayPal for $4 billion, even though it doesn't build trust in the same organic way.
The catch: Though Honey doesn't drive consumers to products, it claims credit for the sale through the mechanism known as "last-click attribution." Merchants generally pay their affiliate commission to the last website visited, and for people who use Honey, that's always going to be Honey.
The bottom line: Affiliate fees can create millions of dollars of value for media companies — but those revenues are being snatched at the point-of-purchase by tech companies that end up being worth billions while doing much less consumer-facing legwork.
I am not a philanthropist. As I wrote in Axios' Philanthropy Deep Dive on Saturday, philanthropists are big-picture strategic thinkers who generally want to use their money to influence government. By their nature, they're generally unaccountable and undemocratic forces in society.
The big picture: Giving Tuesday is a countervailing force to the prevailing philanthropic winds. It serves no strategic purpose; it merely encourages ordinary citizens to give money to charity on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. (The bigger long-term trend is that household donations to charity are declining, rather than rising.)
The news headlines, however, went to the New York Philharmonic, which is attempting to raise $550 million to refurbish its current home.
Giving Tuesday was explicitly designed as an antidote to the shopping frenzy of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and all the other temptations of the holiday season. (This year, Black Friday spending rose an astonishing 20%; even Thanksgiving Day, when most brick-and-mortar stores are closed, was a retail extravaganza, seeing $4.2 billion spent online.)
The big picture: As shopping goes digital, it's easier than ever to find yourself buying fakes — either deliberately or by mistake.
What they're saying: Web psychologist Nathalie Nahai says that "when consumers are seeking out items at a specific cost, their desire to meet that price point may well override their desire for authentic products, which can result in a higher likelihood of purchasing counterfeit goods."
The bottom line: Sometimes counterfeits are bought deliberately, and sometimes inadvertently — but it does seem likely that the people buying fakes tend to be the most price-sensitive consumers.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The Federal Reserve is expected to keep interest rates on hold Wednesday at its final policy meeting of the year, Axios' Courtenay Brown writes.
Street art via @captain_eyeliner on Houston St, NYC. Photo: Felix Salmon/Axios
It's rare for the chair of the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services to become a street-art meme, but Maxine Waters has managed it, and is currently being flyposted across New York.
Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images
Japanese architect Kengo Kuma's brand-new Olympic stadium has now officially opened, nestled in bustling downtown Tokyo.
Editor's note: The intro was corrected to show Maurizio Cattelan is Italian (not Spanish).