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Situational awareness: "Axios on HBO" has been extended for two additional seasons, through the end of 2021 — and will increase to 12 shows each year.
I've got 1,294 words for you this afternoon — a 5-minute read. Here we go...
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
At a moment when regulators, politicians and consumers are railing against companies getting too big, one behemoth has been growing under the radar: Walmart.
The big picture: Walmart already had its turn as the corporate villain in the 1980s. Now, as tech companies bear the brunt of the scrutiny, the retail giant is amassing wealth — earning $514.4 billion in revenue, the most of any company on Earth, in 2018.
What's happening: "I don't think anyone is paying attention to Walmart," says Sally Hubbard, a director at the Open Markets Institute and a former assistant attorney general in New York's antitrust bureau. "It's just not on people’s minds because it isn’t considered the way of the future. ... The government sees brick and mortar as more of a dying industry."
But Walmart isn't going anywhere. It has transformed into a 21st-century company that's doing everything Amazon is doing — and it's neck-and-neck with Amazon in a few high-tech areas that are considered the tech giant's home turf, like drone delivery and same-day shipping.
Investigators are under intense political pressure from lawmakers and consumers to do something about Big Tech, says Hubbard. But "the political pressure just isn't there to investigate Walmart. The places where Walmart has large grocery market share are not places where policy activists live."
Amazon is new to the U.S. grocery business, of which Walmart already owns 13%.
Jeff Bezos has become the American billionaire archetype. But also consider the Walton family of Walmart fortune: six members of the family have more wealth than the bottom 41% of Americans.
What to watch: Not only is Walmart avoiding the antitrust spotlight, but it is also helping fuel the techlash against its competitors.
Worth noting: A major driver of the global antitrust probes into Amazon is the fact that it simultaneously operates as an e-commerce platform and an individual seller — it's the mall, but it also has its own store within the mall, in the best location.
The bottom line: "The fad to hate Walmart has been overshadowed," says Eleanor Fox, an NYU antitrust law professor.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Speaking of Walmart, it and other big companies are winning in the trade war, too.
What's happening: Scores of American small businesses are losing profits and wasting inventory in the U.S.-China trade fight. But the biggest and richest are coasting — in every sector.
"Bigger guys, just by virtue of their size, can weather the storm better," says Tom Duesterberg, a trade expert at the Hudson Institute.
Bigger farms are getting even bigger, while smaller ones are going belly up. "The farms left standing after the trade [war] will likely be some of the biggest in the business," Reuters reports.
Bigger retailers, like Walmart and Amazon, have also been able to stave off the trade war's effects.
Bigger manufacturers are also faring better than their smaller counterparts.
What to watch: Chinese officials will arrive in D.C. on Thursday for the latest round of trade negotiations with their American counterparts. Look for more small businesses to suffer — or even close their doors — if the parties fail to reach a deal.
Inside the massive Nanjing warehouse of Chinese retailer Suning. Photo: Visual China Group/Getty
The world shipped 2,760 packages per second in 2018.
The big picture: That's a total of 87 billion parcels for the year, according to new data by shipping services company Pitney Bowes, provided first to Axios.
Why it matters: The rise of retail giants like Amazon, Alibaba and Rakuten is driving consumers' demand for a constant stream of parcels to their doorsteps — delivered fast and for free.
But, but, but: The demand for delivery comes with a steep environmental cost. Transportation is a larger contributor to climate change than any other industry.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
American speech spotlights Chinese censorship (Sara Fischer, Kia Kokalitcheva — Axios)
The white-collar job apocalypse that wasn't (Ben Casselman — NYT)
The complicated ethics of Tesla's autopilot (Zachary Mider — Bloomberg)
The rebirth of the urban helicopter dream (Laura Bliss — CityLab)
Singapore is the world's most competitive economy (Nana Shibata — Nikkei Asian Review)
A WeWork in San Francisco. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The We Company has quickly fallen from grace: its IPO is canceled, its embattled CEO is out and it's shedding assets to stay afloat.
CityLab's Sarah Holder has a hilarious account of how much time she spends at her WeWork office, which she says "feels even more Millennial than the harshest Millennial parody." She calls herself a "WeWorkaholic."
"It is 8 p.m., and I am sitting on the 19th floor of a WeWork in California. I eat my lunch here, and drink two cups of coffee here, and I consider going to the gym here, but don’t, almost every day. On Wednesday, I got my haircut here. Last week — and I will admit, the week before that — I had a beer here, but always less than four in one day, as is the company’s rule, not that they are monitoring my consumption. (Are they?)
Surprising as it may seem, I do not live in this WeWork. I only work here."
Thanks for reading!