Business Stories of the Week: Oct. 6, 2017

by October 6, 2017
Shake Shack's service model seems to be headed in an automated direction. ("Shake Shack" by "angela n." via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Shake Shack’s service model seems to be headed in an automated direction. (“Shake Shack” by “angela n.” via Flickr, CC BY 2.0)


Netflix nudges prices

Creating video content is expensive, and Netflix aims to pay the bills by charging 10 percent more for its U.S.-based streaming plans, says The Washington Post. Netflix announced on Thursday that its standard plan will go from $10 to $11 a month, and the premium tier will rise from $12 to $14 a month. Given the $6 billion the company is expected to spend this year creating such acclaimed programming as “The Crown” and “Stranger Things,” it’s hoping consumers will to pay for more than one streaming service.

Retailers remove bump stocks

As Congressional Republicans and the NRA signaled their willingness to discuss a ban on bump stocks in the wake of the Las Vegas shootings, Walmart and Cabela’s removed the products from their websites. On Thursday, The New York Times reported that new demand for the conversion kits, used to turn semiautomatic rifles into automatic rifles, meant some companies had already sold out of the items as consumers anticipate a ban.

Robo-burgers loom

Shake Shack announced its first kiosk-enabled restaurant, reported Eater on Tuesday. Founder Danny Meyer has said in the past that robots aren’t likely to replace the fast-casual chain’s human workers. But kiosks that limit customer-employee interactions appear to be a step in exactly that direction.

Electric cars rev up

In an automotive sea change, General Motors and Ford both revealed their strategies for amplifying production of electric cars early this week. The New York Times details G.M.’s plans for 20 new all-electric models within the next six years and Ford’s prediction of 13 electrified models over the next several years. Currently, battery-powered electric vehicles represent about 1 percent of market share in the U.S.

IRS hires Equifax

Politico reported that the IRS awarded Equifax a $7.25 million contract to “verify taxpayer identity” days before the former CEO endured a bipartisan shaming for exposing the personal information of 145 million Americans. The no-bid contract is a “sole source order,” meaning Equifax was considered the only supplier capable of providing the required services. On Thursday, senators urged the IRS to cancel the contract. Meanwhile, CBS News says Amanda Werner was the costumed Mr. Monopoly who photo-bombed the Equifax senate hearing. Werner works for nonprofit Americans for Financial Reform.

Buffet bets on truck stops

Warren Buffet’s latest acquisition, Pilot Flying J, a chain of convenience stores tailored to truckers, is typical of the tycoon’s investments, according to Bloomberg. The truck stops, allegedly the cleanest on the road, fit neatly into the Berkshire Hathaway business model, concentrating on investments that are stable, predictable and enduring. Still, shareholders might be anticipating deals with a bit more sizzle as Berkshire Hathaway’s cash has topped $100 billion.