☕️ Skid marks

Microsoft overtook Apple as the world's most valuable company...
January 12, 2024 View Online | Sign Up | Shop

Morning Brew


Good morning. These are truly polarizing times. A cold snap is about to freeze much of the country with the lowest temps of the winter so far, with Chicago forecast to shiver at -10 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday.

And for anyone headed to the Chiefs–Dolphins playoff game in Kansas City tomorrow, here's one thing to keep in mind: layers. The windchill is expected to drop to -24 degrees by the end of the game. If you're thinking, "No way Miami can handle that," you'd be correct. The Dolphins have lost 10 straight games when the temp at kickoff is 40 degrees or below.

—Molly Liebergall, Matty Merritt, Cassandra Cassidy, Adam Epstein, Neal Freyman














*Stock data as of market close, cryptocurrency data as of 11:00pm ET. Here's what these numbers mean.

  • Markets: Stocks were hardly changed yesterday as the market struggled to make sense of the recent lukewarm inflation data. The big news was spot bitcoin ETFs rising on their first day of trading, passing the initial test of investors' appetite for easy access to crypto. Meanwhile, Netflix ticked up thanks to momentum for its ad-supported tier.


For a hot second, Microsoft was bigger than Apple

Apple and Microsoft logos Francis Scialabba

Microsoft unseated Apple yesterday as the world's most valuable publicly traded company…and then gave the throne right back.

The AI-fueled stock rally that Microsoft has enjoyed for months finally buoyed the software company's market capitalization to $2.9 trillion Thursday morning, briefly edging past Apple's $2.89 trillion. Apple had been the most valuable company in the world for a year and a half, and on-and-off for more than a decade.

Apple was back on top by midday, but Microsoft's momentary reign—the fourth time it's briefly overtaken Apple since 2018—indicates that the tables may be turning between these longtime rivals.

From allies to enemies to cordial competitors

Microsoft and Apple were simpatico in the earliest days of Big Tech, when desktops created by Steve Jobs used software developed by Bill Gates. Relations got rockier in the 1980s when Apple sued Microsoft for allegedly ripping off its Macintosh software (Apple lost), and in the 1990s when Jobs publicly trashed Microsoft's products.

But then Microsoft saved Apple. In 1997, Apple was near bankruptcy when Microsoft invested $150 million to keep the Mac-maker afloat. Jobs called Gates and personally thanked him for the lifeboat.

Fast-forward to today

Microsoft and Apple account for ~14% of the S&P 500. In the past year…

  • Microsoft's early investment in ChatGPT-maker OpenAI came to fruition with its new Office AI tool, Copilot, for Microsoft 365, which could generate $10 billion annually by 2026.
  • Shares in Microsoft increased by 63%, compared with 39% for Apple, per the Wall Street Journal.

Zoom out: Apple is facing slower demand for its iPhones, especially in China. While Microsoft boosts its business with AI, Apple will soon find out if it can do the same with mixed reality when the company releases its Vision Pro device next month.—ML



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Tour de headlines

Donald Trump at his civil fraud trial in New York Peter Foley/Getty Images

Trump gave his own closing argument after all. After Judge Arthur Engoron reconsidered allowing the former president to speak during closing arguments of his civil fraud trial in New York, Trump launched into a five-minute monologue, claiming all of his company's financial statements were "perfect" and that the trial was a "political witch hunt." New York AG Letitia James is seeking $370 million in damages and to ban Trump from doing business in the state for allegedly inflating the value of his assets to get better loans, among other chicanery. With the trial over, Judge Engoron—who was the victim of a "swatting" incident at his home on Thursday—will now decide the verdict himself, since there's no jury.

The latest inflation data was mixed. US consumer prices increased by a slightly higher-than-expected 0.3% in December, mostly due to rising shelter costs. But with volatile food and fuel prices stripped out, the "core" inflation measure came in at 3.9% in the year through December, down from 4% in 2022 and the first time that metric's been below 4% since May 2021. The data suggests that despite a "meh" December, inflation is still on track to cool down. We'll find out soon if inflation's chilled enough for Fed officials to cut interest rates this year.

Google's the latest tech giant to conduct mass layoffs. A day after Amazon laid off hundreds of employees in its streaming divisions, Google cut about a thousand roles across its Assistant and core engineering teams, The Verge reported. The company is also reportedly removing 17 "underutilized" features from its voice-activated Google Assistant software, which launched in 2016 to compete with Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa. Google announced last year that it would integrate its generative AI chatbot, Bard, into Assistant.


Hertz has some EVs to offload

Tesla with Francis Scialabba

Hertz is wondering if you'd be down to just…buy that Tesla you rented? The rental car company said yesterday it's selling 20,000 electric vehicles from its US EV fleet of around 50,000, and will use some of the money to buy some old-fashioned gas-powered cars.

A strategy 180 so hard it left skid marks. In 2021, Hertz snagged media attention after it emerged from bankruptcy and said it would go all-in on EVs and buy 100,000 Teslas for its fleet by the end of 2022. But as of October 2023, Hertz had only bought about 35,000 Teslas.

  • The company also announced in 2022 that it would buy a combined 240,000 EVs from Polestar and GM over the next five years. Hertz didn't comment on how the sell-off would affect the GM or Polestar deals.

What happened? Hertz claims the demand for EVs has declined, and they are much pricier to maintain and repair. Selling off the vehicles means the company is set to lose about $245 million because of depreciation tied to Tesla lowering vehicle prices.

Hertz isn't the only one feeling it…demand for EVs has seen its speed drop from Autobahn to residential over the last year, causing several automakers to walk back plans to go big on EVs.—MM




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Belichick's reign comes to an end

Photo of Bill Belichick Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Cutoff Patriots sweatshirts are about to become collector's items. Bill Belichick announced yesterday that he is stepping down as New England Patriots head coach after 24 years.

Belichick had a legendary tenure, which included six Super Bowl titles in nine appearances with the Pats, a record 31 postseason wins, and multiple years as the highest-paid coach in US professional sports. Between 2001 and 2019, Belichick and QB Tom Brady made magic together: The Patriots won 76% of regular season games, transforming from a struggling franchise into one of the greatest sports dynasties of all time.

But…stars can't shine forever. Belichick finished the 2023 season with a 4–13 record, garnering criticism for some of his player personnel decisions. Like a startup CEO tasked with talking to investors and interviewing interns in wrinkled blazers, Belichick was stretched too thin as the head coach and de facto general manager, critics said. If he coaches another team, it's unlikely he'll have that much autonomy again.

It was apparently the week to call it quits: Belichick's former coworker Nick Saban announced he was leaving the University of Alabama after 17 seasons leading the Tide, while longtime Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll is out after 14 years in the Emerald City. All three were among the 10 highest-paid coaches in US sports.—CC



Key performance indicators

Mean Girls Mean Girls/Paramount Pictures

Quote: "Refer to your app as a spatial computing app. Don't describe your app experience as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), extended reality (XR), or mixed reality (MR)."

Apple needs the world to know that its upcoming $3.5k Vision Pro is not a VR headset—it's a "spatial computing" device. Get it right, folks. The tech giant went as far as to scold ask app developers to refer to it as such. The company doesn't want developers calling it a headset, either. In case the new vocab was unclear, Apple used the word "spatial" 20 times in a separate Vision Pro press release. "The era of spatial computing has arrived," insisted CEO Tim Cook in the release.

Stat: When you think of the words "High Noon," do you imagine Gary Cooper winning a gunfight in the Wild West or frat stars guzzling alcohol at a tailgate? For many people, it's probably the latter, as High Noon—the ready-to-drink hard seltzer brand—is now the No. 1 spirit in the US. It sold 21.4 million cases last year, up 30% from the year before and well ahead of famous brands like Tito's Vodka (12 million) and Jack Daniel's (6.5 million). Alongside White Claw, High Noon helped the ready-to-drink market explode from 10 million cases sold in 2019 to 60 million last year.

Read: Federal regulators want state transportation officials to stop writing funny highway signs. (WSJ)


We're on to the quiz

New Friday quiz image

The feeling of getting a 5/5 on the Brew's Weekly News Quiz has been compared to going to the movies by yourself.

It's that satisfying. Ace the quiz.


What else is brewing

  • Goldman Sachs reportedly shut down its diversity investment program after fulfilling its $1 billion pledge.
  • Fruit Stripe gum was discontinued after 50 years in a blow to nostalgic chewers everywhere.
  • Sperry was sold to Authentic Brands Group, the brand management firm that owns Reebok, for $130 million.
  • Iran seized an oil tanker bound for Turkey in the Gulf of Oman in retaliation for the US confiscating the same ship and its oil last year.
  • Jewish students at Harvard sued the school, arguing that it didn't do enough to punish antisemitic protesters and faculty.


Friday to-do list

Watch: The trailer for the 12th and final season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which debuts on Feb. 4.

Rev up the Weedwacker: This lawn in Sweden was named the ugliest in the world.

Send it: The first piece of mail to be sent with a prepaid stamp could be worth as much as $2.5 million at auction.

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The puzzle section

Jigsaw: Want to escape to where it's peak summer? Sure—here's a jigsaw puzzle of Antarctica.

Friday puzzle

Below, you will find five sports with the letters scrambled. As you unscramble the letters to find each sport, you will find two extra letters in each. Once you've unscrambled each sport, take the remaining 10 letters to find one last sport.



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  1. Hockey
  2. Basketball
  3. Baseball
  4. Football
  5. Soccer

And with the remaining letters: Gymnastics. Source.

Word of the Day

Today's Word of the Day is: chicanery, meaning "the use of trickery to achieve a political, financial, or legal purpose." Thanks to Haley from Richmond, VA, and many others for the honestly excellent suggestion. Submit another Word of the Day here.

✢ A Note From SmartAsset

DISCLAIMER: "The Journal of Retirement" (Winter 2020). The projections or other information regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results, and are not guarantees of your future results. Please follow the link to see the methodologies employed in The Journal of Retirement study.


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