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14 February 2017 | Issue 3
Market corner

 
by Ghillie Little
ghillie@sbc.london


Outperformer
Hot and heavy start...
...to the week - but will it last? Stocks around the world soared yesterday
with US stock prices hitting new record highs. Experts are attributing this to the 'Trump effect' - optimism over his tax plan to lower corporate taxes, banking deregulation and an increase in infrastructure spending. There is no doubt markets are reacting to Washington, but it's worth looking into the other factors at play. This morning, we saw the market falter in anticipation of Janet Yellen's testimony in Congress. We wait on tenterhooks to hear what she has to say on the US economy and can expect to see continued hesitation in the markets until she finishes on Wednesday.

Neutral
It's not you, it's me
Concerns over lowering foreign demand in US debt have been swirling around and continue to do so this week. Japan and China are the largest individual holders of US treasuries and reports have proposed politically-charged motivations behind the drop in demand. Recent months have seen a lowering level of interest, but the suggestion that this is a move to force Trump's hand in some way is wonderfully salacious. Perhaps pause for thought to assess the shifting risk-reward balance for foreign investors. A slow in foreign demand does not translate to a blanket dump by all overseas creditors.
 
Underperformer
All fur and no knickers
Twitter is still struggling to stay afloat after dismal 2016 results. One would think that the company would be able to capitalise on having such a prolific user like the president of the United States but they continue to struggle with monetisation, specifically in the near-term. Suggestions have been floated for a premium account subscription which would allow subscribers an increase from the usual 140-character limit. We remain interested...
Best headline
 
Best headline goes to The Week - burn. 

"Sean Spicer picked a fight with Us Weekly, lost big-league"
Reputation

A little too much public display of affection...
Under Armour came under pressure from a slew of its top endorsers after the UA CEO Kevin Plank was quoted calling Trump "a real asset for the country". Plank is a pro-business CEO and was speaking to reporters about the company's less than stellar 2016 results when he made the Trump comment. From a business standpoint, it's understandable why  Plank would play nice with the Trump administration. Under Armour is heavily reliant on the North American market and the company's performance is dependent on North American sales. That said, it is a fine art balancing an uprising from celebrity endorsers, while remaining business minded. We would say UA reacted quickly and effectively - the last thing UA needs is to lose their top endorsers as they try to turn tides in 2017. 

Maybe a little less of the hands on approach...
Elon Musk has so far managed to avoid much backlash over his recent ties to Donald Trump, but has landed himself in a public clash with a Tesla employee in California which does not bode well for him. News of a dispute between Musk and the Tesla employee, Jose Moran, made headlines when Musk  himself discredited the employee. Usually we are used to diffuse situations around disgruntled employees. It is highly unusually for a CEO to lose their cool in this way. When it comes to a disgruntled employer, whether justified or not, he or she should steer clear of public declarations of anger towards employees, and leave the talking to the company spokesperson. It's a lose-lose situation - you demonise yourself as an individual, while playing into the hands of a so-called agitator. We'd suggest CEOs keep their dignity, take a hands-off approach and leave the responding to those tasked with doing so. 

They love me, they love me not... 
Speaker John Bercow has found himself in hot water. After publicly expressing his opinion to Parliament on President Trump's impending state visit to the UK, opponents of the Speaker were further antagonised when a video emerged of a talk he gave to students, where Bercow revealed he voted Remain. Tory MP James Duddridge, had already taken 'he's just not that into you' to the next level and put forward a motion of no confidence in Bercow, claiming to have a bevy of supporters behind him. As Speaker of the House, the holder is expected at all times to remain explicitly impartial and whether one applauds his views, he possibly crossed the line with publicly expressing his opinion of the US President. To be determined on how this lovers' quarrel transpires. Meanwhile, Bercow is business as usual on an official visit to Israel. 

Forgivable f*ck up

Who doesn't want to throw the 'party of the century' without camels and Mongolian greeters?
 
Silicon passage

by Nicholas Brown

nicholas@sbc.london


Love songs to robots
When Patrick Watson sang “I love you” to robots (obscure reference alert), who knew one day corporations and organisations would be doing the same to IBM Watson? After winning Jeopardy both on the real show and against US Congressmen, finding treatments for cancer patients and forecasting weather, Watson is now set to become a crime fighter.
 
IBM recently announced that the AI platform will be now be finding, analysing and tackling cyber attacks on companies networks. With the ability to solve problems in minutes that would take you and me weeks, this is the latest attempt to plug security gaps across the world. While it does not sound the death knell for cyber attacks, Watson as the new Kitt (I really hope Knight Rider isn’t an obscure reference) is cause for excitement for technologists, companies and anyone who worries about online safety (which should be everyone!).

An old flame comes back
The Nokia 3310 was the phone that captured the heart of so many. The most reliable phone ever, with a battery that never seemed to give up, basically indestructible and snake! What wasn’t to love? Well now it is coming back and this might just make us want to break up with our smart phones and go back to the old flame. A relaunch booked in at World Mobile Congress by HMD Global this might be the one thing that makes breaks the world’s smart phone addiction. Or probably not but I for one can’t wait to play snake again.

A leap too far?
When Magic Leap showed their augmented reality projecthe world (well, at least people like us) were transfixed, if they could pull this off we’d fall in love with this exciting new company. Well now it turns out that the guys behind the cool youtube video may be leaping too far. Being sued by the female executive you hired to appeal help your company appeal to women is never a good look for a start-up especially one that hasn’t ever shown its tech. Sort it out guys - Valentine’s Day may have started with a history of women as property but it’s 2017 – get your little boy brains round this: women are people too.
Who's having a worse week than you?

The adulterous Frenchman - dinner for one?
A Frenchman is suing Uber for 45m in damages for playing a pivotal role in his wife's discovery of his extra-marital affair, thanks to the app glitch of all glitches. The married couple have since parted ways...
Corridors
of power


by Louis Rynsard
louis@sbc.london

 
In a relationship
Emmanuel Macron
What I say about the all rallying, all disrupting, all French surprise front-runner of the 2017 Presidential race except swoon! Since leaving Rothschild's Bank to jump into politics Emmanuel Macron has become one of the most fascinating political figures in Europe. And now, while the rest of the world seems to be moving away from the liberal, globalised centre, he is taking the best of the centre and making a forward looking pluralist offer to France and so far winning. 

It's complicated
Angela Merkel
Look Angie, this is hard to say, I mean you are great and all. Letting in refugees - moral if problematic. Holding Europe together through the Eurozone crisis - well played. In power for 10 years - impressive. But despite it all, despite how great you can be, I just don't think I can commit to being in a relationship with you. Don't get me wrong, I like you, sure, but there are just other political leaders out there and I'm a pluralist guy, commitment is hard for me ok. And while you're close your sound economics and liberal thinking, you just aren't quite everything I'm looking for in a leader. 

How about we just keep things casual ? I mean, I want to keep seeing you - you're great, but I'll be seeing other people too (oh hey there Federica Mogherini represent! Check you out Sadiq you sexy Mayor you) so Angie call me, maybe? Or don't, it's cool. 

Separated
Matteo Renzi
Everybody loves the things you do, from the way to talk, to the way you move. From legalising same sex marriage and perusing pro-business labour reforms to abolishing many small taxes. Oh Matteo you were like a dream come true. It was like a movie or a song. Where did it all go wrong? 

You could have been something special but you just had to go and overreach. Look I know you’re trying to get back into power but it’s all over. You had your chance and Europe deserves someone better, someone who really gets what it needs. I’m sure you will find someone who loves you, but you and me its over. I’m sorry it's not you, it's me.
Hero of the week

Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer
All is fair in love and war...
Melissa McCarthy continues to keep us laughing with her incredible performance on Saturday Night Live.

Love letter
to clients

 
by Lief Anya Schneider
lief@sbc.london

 
As external advisors, while exercising our specialism - corporate reputation and strategy and how companies can better communicate with key stakeholders - we gain fascinating insights into the specialisms we will never have. 

In working with clients to identify the "soul" of each company, and explain that to wider audiences on behalf of clients, one comes to realise that every company is as unique as every human individual. Similarly, I have learned that business leaders do not attain their positions by accident or simply good fortune. I observe that they tend to share a special quality - a combination of constant learning, inquisitiveness and acquired knowledge with a soupçon of something indefinable. They always seem to share an ability to simplify the complex, to see through to the bare bones of a situation. People also don't usually get to the top, be it as CEO, a successful entrepreneur or a division head, without being experts in their field, without being able to inspire others and problem solve. 

Corporations, entrepreneurial businesses and institutions are at the tail end of a lot of flak. This can be insane-making. In fact, well-run, honest businesses and other organisations are the engines of societal stability and change for the better. Just look a places that don't have strong corporations and institutions for contrast - think some of the worst places to be on earth. 

Collectively, I've spent hundreds of hours in a multitude of broadcast green rooms, waiting with various clients to do broadcast interviews, set up and sat in on many press interviews as well as helped clients plan reputation strategies and speeches. I love to see people representing their companies, and explaining to their audiences how they work, what drives their companies. 

Dear clients, thank you for being interesting people, with useful contributions to make to your sectors and wider world. Thank you for making SBC London such an interesting place to work. 
Poem of the week


Picked by Lief Anya Schneider

A Fable - Love, Death and Reputation.
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