Greeks voted "no" in Sunday’s referendum. Silicon Valley juggernauts are struggling with workplace diversity. Wal-Mart is accused of misleading customers with "Made in the USA" labels. A revision at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could hurt Las Vegas. And Facebook is looking to gain more advertisers with a recent addition to its video advertising model. These are the five global business headlines from last week.
1. Greeks Vote 'No' in Referendum
Thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens after an overwhelming number of citizens voted "no" on Sunday’s referendum. The result would see the country disapproving Europe’s latest bailout offer, which could mean a further economic downturn and perhaps see Greece making an exit from the European Union.
More than 60 percent of Greeks voted "no" and thus supported Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras. Many were shocked by these results because pollsters had predicted a much closer 50-50 split.
What does this now mean for Greece? The prime minister will negotiate with Europe in order to receive more money from the bloc with diminished austerity. Tspiras also seeks to cancel much of the country’s immense debt.
Moreover, Greece could dump the euro and introduce its own currency, which some expect could prove harmful to the nation. Greece quickly needs a lot of money to reopen its financial institutions so depositors can access their money and pay for pensions and wages. Banks have been closed for one week.
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis resigned less than 24 hours after the historic vote. He is stepping down because he believes this will help Tspiras gain a better deal with creditors. This is important because, as Varoufakis, said in his resignation letter: "I shall wear the creditors’ loathing with pride."
2. Twitter Struggles With Diversity
Twitter is the latest tech giant to struggle with a more diverse workforce.
The microblogging social media outlet released its 2014 Equal Employment Opportunity report, which shows the company only has 49 black employees out of its 2,910 employees. Akin to other tech firms - Facebook and Google - its workforce is dominated by whites and Asians.
It was reported that 93.8 percent of Twitter’s workforce is comprised of whites and Asians, while just a tiny fraction of blacks account for Twitter workers. There are 35 black men and 14 women.
What about the other ethnic groups? Here are the results: 68 Hispanic or Latino employees, 47 "two or more races," 13 Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders and three American Indian or Alaskan natives.
When gender is taken into account, 70 percent of Twitter’s workforce is male.
The website vowed to do better in the future. Twitter will release the 2015 edition of its diversity report by the end of the year. However, many leaders in the black community are displeased with these findings as they think Silicon Valley is not taking the matter seriously enough.
“Black people are greater users of the product and capable of doing the jobs, but there has not been an adequate commitment to hire, train and maintain [black people],” said Reverend Jesse Jackson, President of the Rainbow/Push Coalition, in a statement. “Some people call it ‘Black Twitter’ because we over-index so much, but they still don’t hire more black people. We are becoming intolerant with these numbers, there’s a big gap between their talk and their implementation.”
3. Wal-Mart Under Fire for 'Made in the USA' Labels
In 2013, Wal-Mart promised to acquire about $250 billion worth of United States-made products over the next 10 years. Unfortunately, the global retail giant has failed to live up to its pledge.
A new investigative report by Truthinadvertising.org (TINA.org), an advertising watchdog group, discovered that hundreds of items on Wal-Mart’s website were labeled "Made in the USA" when they were in fact "Made in China," or in some cases "Made in Germany." The report authors say Wal-Mart misled customers.
According to the report, a large number of products were described as being manufactured from the U.S. but the packaging revealed they were from China. Furthermore, supposed "Made in the USA" products had labels listing foreign elements.
TINA.org also noted that Wal-Mart hardly differentiated between "Made in..." and "Assemble in..." This is an important distinction, says the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
Wal-Mart responded to the claims and admitted to these mistakes. The company blamed the error on its suppliers, and vowed to conduct a thorough quality assurance review. Since the report was released, Wal-Mart has deleted many U.S. labels, but there are still various products with erroneous labeling.
4. Proposed IRS Rule Could Hurt Las Vegas
The gambling industry is upset about a new rule proposed by the IRS that would see less winnings and more paperwork. According to the proposal, there would be a reduction in the size of a winning and the immediate filing of a tax form (W-2G). It could slash winnings by half, from $1,200 to $600, for instance.
Industry professionals, financial analysts and gambling consultants purport it could diminish gambling profits significantly.
Chad Beynon, who covers gaming stocks for Macquarie, opined that the proposal could cause a few headaches: first, the tax forms could dampen momentum and prompt the player to head on home. Second, it could cause players to further risk their winnings more; since the government is taking a bigger share of your jackpot they could stay longer and hope to garner bigger winnings.
The American Gaming Association (AGA) warned in a news release, meanwhile, that it could lead to a loss in state gaming revenues, which helps pay for healthcare and education. The AGA has also garnered 10,000 signatures opposing the new rule.
Some say that the gambling community is playing a game of Chicken Little.
"These people dream up everything," said Nomura analyst Harry Curtis in an interview with CNBC. "If you want to go gamble, you’re going to go gamble, because you’ve got that itch to gamble. And if it’s $1,200 or $600, that’s not going to change your decision tree. That’s nonsense."
5. Facebook's 10-Second Video Ad Option
Facebook is looking to become a leader among digital marketers in the realm of video advertising. The social network behemoth announced a new video ad model for marketers which would see brands charged for ads that are viewed by users for a minimum of 10 seconds.
In other words, if a video ad is viewed for nine seconds or less then they won’t have to pay for it.
The social media venue has regularly charged brands once video ads were viewed. Advertisers have been unhappy with this model because they want users to really view their videos rather than watching for just a couple of seconds or neglecting them entirely.
Although the 10-second option will be available for marketers, Facebook will maintain the current model. The company warned that marketers could pay more for the 10-second feature since these ads buys are done on an auction model. The 10-second option can be acquired worldwide on its Power Editor and API purchasing tools.
A Facebook spokesperson conceded that the 10-second video option isn’t a valuable or efficient option. She argued that value is garnered as soon as a consumer watches an add, even it’s for less than 10 seconds.
Last month, Twitter announced it would be enhancing its viewability standards. Moving forward, the company’s video ad model will only charge brands for video ads that have been 100 percent in full view for at least three seconds.
What are your thoughts on the week’s headlines? Was there anything else worth mentioning? Let us know in the comments section below.