CrowdStrike Stock Tanks 15%, Set For Worst Day Since 2022

Shares of cybersecurity company CrowdStrike Holdings dropped 15% on Friday after the company’s software update resulted in what may turn out to be the largest IT outage ever. CrowdStrike stock “is on pace for its steepest daily loss since November 2022 and its $290 low share price is the lowest intraday mark since April 25,” reports Forbes. “CrowdStrike is on track for the third-worst day in its five-year history as a publicly traded company.” From the report: Microsoft, which was swept up in the outage as the downed systems are those running CrowdStrike’s cybersecurity applications and Microsoft’s Windows software, also slumped, with its shares down about 1% to the $3.2 trillion behemoth’s lowest share price since June 11. CrowdStrike competitor Palo Alto Networks enjoyed a 4% rally Friday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite stock index gained about 0.2%, held up by the likes of Microsoft rival Apple’s 1% stock gain and a 1% rise for shares of Alphabet, which is reportedly in talks to buy cybersecurity firm Wiz for $23 billion.

The CrowdStrike selloff is “an overreaction to a temporary setback,” Rosenblatt analyst Catharine Trebnick wrote in a note to clients Friday. It’s a “compelling buying opportunity” as it “creates a window for investors to buy into a high-quality, growth-oriented cybersecurity company at a discounted valuation,” Trebnick continued. To her point, CrowdStrike stock’s relative valuation, according to its price-to-earnings ratio (P/E), which compares its market value to its projected profits over the next four quarters, fell Friday to its lowest number since April. Still, CrowdStrike’s P/E of about 70 is very high for a company of its size, meaning investors will need to express significant confidence in the business’ ability to grow earnings, a challenge if Friday’s incident were to impact CrowdStrike’s client base.

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Valve Runs Its Massive PC Gaming Ecosystem With Only About 350 Employees

Valve had its employee and payroll data leaked through a poorly redacted document in an antitrust lawsuit in May, offering a rare glimpse into the company’s small but impactful workforce over the years. As first noticed by SteamDB’s Pavel Djundik, Valve’s significant influence in PC gaming transactions has been maintained by just a few hundred employees. Kyle Orland reports via Ars Technica: It’s striking to consider just how small Valve is compared to other major players in the game industry. In 2021, Microsoft estimated Valve’s annual revenue at $6.5 billion, roughly on the same scale as EA’s $7.5 billion in 2024 revenue. But Steam achieved those numbers with around 350 employees, compared to well over 13,000 people employed by EA. The disparity highlights just how much money Valve brings in with a relatively small workforce. And a lot of that is thanks to the chunk of revenue Valve takes from every sale on Steam. The dominant PC gaming marketplace has seen a massive increase in the number of annual game releases since 2012 or so, thanks to initiatives like Steam Greenlight and Steam Direct.

Yet, surprisingly, the size of the “Steam” department inside Valve has shrunk in recent years, from a peak of 142 employees in 2015 down to just 79 in 2021. From the outside, having just 79 employees keeping track of more than 11,000 Steam releases in 2021 is a pretty incredible ratio. Some readers may also be surprised that Valve’s “Games” department has represented a majority of the company’s headcount since 2003. That has remained true (though to a lesser extent) even in more recent years, as Valve’s output of new games has become much more occasional. It seems likely a large number of those Games department employees are devoted to ultra-popular Valve games like Dota 2 and Counter-Strike 2, which enjoy tens of millions of players and need significant support work.

The leaked data also shows the slow rise of Valve’s small Hardware department, which started with just three employees in 2011 as the company began work on its doomed Steam Machines initiative. Transitioning into the Valve Index era in the late 2010s, the hardware department still represented just a few dozen people and a paltry 3 to 4 percent of the company’s annual payroll. By the time we hit 2021 and the run-up to the Steam Deck, the Hardware division still makes up just 12 percent of Valve’s small total headcount. Looking back, it’s impressive that such a small team was able to create a portable gaming device that quickly spawned a whole micro-industry of imitators. We can only hope the Hardware team got a little more employee support in the wake of the Steam Deck’s market success.

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Etsy Loses Its ‘Handmade’ and ‘Vintage’ Labels As It Takes On Temu and Amazon

Instead of “handmade” and “vintage,” Etsy created four new classifications for sellers on the site: “made by,” “designed by,” “handpicked by,” and “sourced by.” In order for products to be sold on Etsy, they’ll now need to fall into one of these four categories. The Verge reports: Vintage items — a backbone of Etsy’s offerings — will fall under “handpicked by,” though these items will also have “vintage” labels on product listings. Craft supplies like beads or clay are considered “sourced by.” A vase handmade by a ceramics artist would be in the “made by” category, whereas a digital illustration would be considered “designed by” the seller. These categories will be visible on Etsy product listings. The company says that this won’t change anything in practice — things that were previously prohibited, like the reselling of items made by someone else, still won’t be allowed under the new policy.

“The consistent theme here is that items are infused with a human touch, because that’s what makes Etsy, well, Etsy,” CEO Josh Silverman said in a video message. The goal for the new categories, the company says, is to provide more details to shoppers about how an item is made and how a seller was involved in the process. Etsy has differentiated itself from other marketplaces like Amazon or Temu, emphasizing itself as a place to find unique items made by an artisan or selected by a curator. But over the years, the company has loosened its rules around what exactly counts as “handmade.”

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Is AirBNB Really Worsening the Housing Crisis?

An anonymous reader shared this report from the BBC:

On 21 June, Barcelona mayor Jaume Collboni announced plans to ban short term rentals in the city starting in November 2028. The decision is designed to solve what Collboni described as “Barcelona’s biggest problem” — the housing crisis that has seen residents and workers priced out of the market — by returning the 10,000 apartments currently listed as short-term rentals on Airbnb and other platforms into the housing market… It’s all part of a wider theme: around the world. Airbnb — which dominates the short-term rental market with more than 50% of all online bookings — and others, including VRBO, Booking.com and Expedia.com, are being scrutinised at the same time as questions are being asked about who tourism is for, and where the balance lies between benefits for tourists and locals alike…

Recent years have seen a backlash against the brand, which is blamed for pushing up housing prices and affecting locals who feel they have been forced to live next door to unregulated hotels… The question is: does banning or restricting short-term rentals actually reduce housing prices or affect housing stock? Harvard Business Review’s study on the impact of the New York City ban, published earlier this year, concluded that in this case, short term rentals are not the biggest contributor to high rents, and that regulations, rather than bans, would offer better benefits to the city and locals alike. One clear result from the city’s ban has been that hotel room rates have hiked to a record average of $300 per night.

So why are tourism authorities and city councils doing it? Perhaps the real reason is that it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about how local people feel about tourism… Successful on paper or not, these bans send a signal to local people that politicians are listening to their concerns and will prioritise them over tourists. There is an alternative to outright bans, though. Many destinations, including Berlin, restrict owner-occupiers to a 90-day maximum rental period over a year, effectively allowing part-time hosts to continue to make a supplementary income while preventing professional hosts from buying up housing stock and turning it into full-time short-term rentals. The issue for all countries moving in this direction, including the UK, which proposes something similar, is about regulation. How do you do it and how much extra does it cost to do so?

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Apple Pauses Work On Planned North Carolina Campus

In 2021, Apple announced plans for a new $1 billion campus in North Carolina, set to include a new engineering and research center and support up to 3,000 employees. According to Lauren Ohnesorge of Triangle Business Journal (paywalled), Apple remains committed to the project, but the timeline has been delayed by four years. MacRumors reports: A limited amount of progress on the campus has been made since the announcement, and Apple has not provided updates on construction until now. Apple told Triangle Business Journal that it has paused work on the campus, and it is working with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper and the North Carolina Department of Commerce to extend the project’s timeline by four years.

Apple last year filed development plans for the first phase of construction, but the specific timeline for the project has never been clear. Apple’s plans for Research Triangle Park include six buildings and a parking garage totaling 700,000 square feet of office space, 190,000 square feet of accessory space, and close to 3,000 parking spaces spanning 41 acres. Apple owns 281 acres of land in the area where it plans to build its campus, so there could ultimately be several phases of construction. As it prepares to build the NC research center, Apple is leasing more than 200,000 square feet of office space in Cary, North Carolina. In a statement, Apple said it is still committed to the project: “Apple has been operating in North Carolina for over two decades. And we’re deeply committed to growing our teams here. In the last three years, we’ve added more than 600 people to our team in Raleigh, and we’re looking forward to developing our new campus in the coming years.”

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Walmart Announces Electronic Shelf Labels They Can Change Remotely

Walmart “became the latest retailer to announce it’s replacing the price stickers in its aisles with electronic shelf labels,” reports NPR.

“The new labels allow employees to change prices as often as every ten seconds.”

“If it’s hot outside, we can raise the price of water and ice cream. If there’s something that’s close to the expiration date, we can lower the price — that’s the good news,” said Phil Lempert, a grocery industry analyst…

The ability to easily change prices wasn’t mentioned in Walmart’s announcement that 2,300 stores will have the digitized shelf labels by 2026. Daniela Boscan, who participated in Walmart’s pilot of the labels in Texas, said the label’s key benefits are “increased productivity and reduced walking time,” plus quicker restocking of shelves…

As higher wages make labor more expensive, retailers big and small can benefit from the increased productivity that digitized shelf labels enable, said Santiago Gallino, a professor specializing in retail management at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. “The bottom line, at least when I talk to retailers, is the calculation of the amount of labor that they’re going to save by incorporating this. And in that sense, I don’t think that this is something that only large corporations like Walmart or Target can benefit from,” Gallino said. “I think that smaller chains can also see the potential benefit of it.”

Indeed, Walmart’s announcement calls the tech “a win” for both customers and their workers, arguing that updating prices with a mobile app means “reducing the need to walk around the store to change paper tags by hand and giving us more time to support customers in the store.” Professor Gallino tells NPR he doesn’t think Walmart will suddenly change prices — though he does think Walmart will use it to keep their offline and online prices identical.

The article also points out you can already find electronic shelf labels at other major grocers inlcuding Amazon Fresh stores and Whole Foods — and that digitized shelf labels “are even more common in stores across Europe.”

Another feature of electronic shelf labels is their product descriptions. [Grocery analyst] Lempert notes that barcodes on the new labels can provide useful details other than the price. “They can actually be used where you take your mobile device and you scan it and it can give you more information about the product — whether it’s the sourcing of the product, whether it’s gluten free, whether it’s keto friendly. That’s really the promise of what these shelf tags can do,” Lempert said.

Thanks to long-time Slashdot reader loveandpeace for sharing the article.

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