Jan 1, 2021

Axios PM

🏈 Happy New Year's Day! Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 579 words, a 2½-minute read.

Bulletin: Senators of both parties, meeting in a rare Jan. 1 session, joined the House in easily overriding President Trump's veto of a $740 billion defense policy bill — the first override of his presidency.

  • Trump had called the impending rebuke a "disgraceful act of cowardice." Go deeper.
1 big thing: Tech's bundle of lawsuits — and record valuations
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Data: Yahoo Finance (through late Dec.). Chart: Axios Visuals

Tech companies have never been under more regulatory scrutiny, but it hasn't stopped their growth or spooked investors, Axios' Ashley Gold and Sara Fischer write.

Regulators across the country launched five recent investigations into some of the most high-profile tech giants in the world.

  • CEOs, once elusive and hard to wrangle to Capitol Hill, have made multiple (remote) appearances in 2020, defending their businesses and describing themselves as American success stories.

But Amazon, Google and Facebook stocks set records. Google and Facebook stock prices are each up roughly 30% since last January. Amazon's stock is up more than 70%.

  • Investors have rewarded all three companies for high-growth moves during the pandemic, including e-commerce and gaming.

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2. U.K. completes separation from Europe
Prime Minister Boris Johnson signs the Brexit trade deal with the EU in Number 10 Downing Street on Wednesday. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

After two general elections, three prime ministers, and just over 4½ years, Britain — as of today — finally has the Brexit it voted for in June 2016, Axios chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon writes.

Why it matters: For the past 40 years, Britain found peace and prosperity as one of the most important players in a community of more than 400 million people.

  • Today, it has become, once again, an island off the coast of Europe — yet still a global financial, cultural and media hub.

Between the lines: Northern Ireland is still part of the U.K., while trading as though it is part of Europe. That means anybody moving goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain needs to fill out a customs declaration first.

The bottom line: The U.K. Office for Budget Responsibility estimates that Brexit will leave the country about 4% poorer than it would have been as part of the EU.

🗞️How it's playing ...

The Guardian
3. Catch up quick
Screenshot: Wilmington's newspaper greets 2021.
  1. 💉 The U.S. passed 20 million COVID-19 cases — almost twice as many as India, the second-worst-hit country. Bloomberg
  2. 🐊 Florida became the third state, after Colorado and California, to detect the faster-spreading coronavirus variant that's walloping Britain. Go deeper.
  3. 🇦🇺 Australia's national anthem, as of today, removes a reference to the country being "young and free," amid calls to recognize that its Indigenous people are the oldest continuous civilization in the world. Reuters
4. 1 fun thing: Pandemic pet portraits
Kana — model and portrait. Photo: LM Otero/AP

Online pet story Chewy sends 1,000+ free paintings of their pets to random customers each week, winning loyalty and throwing a bone to social media, AP retail writer Joseph Pisani reports.

Why it matters: Chewy's competition has gotten stiffer as more people shop online and adopt pandemic pets. Chewy hopes to stand out with this personal touch and bit of kitsch.

You can't buy a Chewy painting from Chewy, and the company doesn't say how you get picked. But it typically sends them out to those who have pet photos on their Chewy account or have shared one with a customer service agent.

  • Danielle Moore of Dallas called Chewy about returning an order, and the customer service agent asked her to send a photo of her Australian cattle dog, Kana. The painting (above) showed up three months later.

Chewy, founded in 2011, has worked with hundreds of artists around the country, mailing them photos of the pets.