A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 2:37 p.m.
PIZZA HUT: Using Bluetooth to connect a computer or smartphone, the playable cardboard decks mix digital music using a special conductive ink design from printed electronics specialist Novalia, according to Digital Spy. (Watch DJ Vectra demo it in the video, above.) Starting today, the pizza maker is offering them in a promotion rolling out via the @PizzaHutUK Twitter feed, where it will announce which of only five restaurants will have one box each. The decks feature two turntables, a cross-fader, pitch volumes, cue buttons and the ability to rewind music, all like traditional mixers. What’s a deck?
This isn’t the first Yum unit to create electronic packaging to grab the attention of technology-loving young consumers. In June, KFC India gave away Watt a Box, a 5-in-1 meal box with a lithium-ion battery cellphone charger. The chicken chain has also fitted photo printers inside buckets and Bluetooth keyboards onto paper tray covers.
Today’s promo will surely boost U.K.’s Twitter traffic. Right now, its feed has 53,700 followers. The U.S. site has far, far more: 1.46 million; how other companies’ Twitter count compares. Pizza Hut teased customers about the cardboard gadget via Twitter yesterday:
HAIER, which bought GE Appliances in June, is pumping about $10 million into 9KaCha, a Chinese wine information app and e-commerce platform whose database and label recognition software will power its new smart wine cooler. It’s unclear whether the cooler will be offered in the U.S. (China Money Network and Decanter China).
HUMANA: Insurance companies “keep pretending” that participating in the Affordable Care Act exchanges is killing their business model, says Haider Javed Warraich, a cardiovascular disease fellow at Duke University’s Medical Center, in a Guardian newspaper column today. Humana merger partner Aetna was the latest, announcing late Monday it will withdraw from 70% of the Obamacare exchange markets where it operates by next year, including 10 Kentucky counties. Humana disclosed a similar pullback earlier this month. But, Warraich writes, “this corporate hardship story couldn’t be further from the truth. Aetna’s overall profits surged last year, and its share prices have risen consistently since the ACA passed in 2010” (Guardian).
Aetna’s Kentucky exit leaves consumers in Boone, Campbell, Owen and Kenton counties with only two exchange plans. Other counties affected are Fayette, Jefferson, Madison, Henry, Oldham and Trimble (WFPL). Humana and Aetna are fighting to save their proposed $37 billion merger after the Justice Department sued to block it on antitrust grounds. Louisville-based Humana is one of the city’s biggest private employers, with about 12,500 workers here. More about Humana.
AMAZON: In Massachusetts, the retailer will continue to avoid paying overtime to Sunday workers despite recent efforts from retailers to right the “uneven playing field,” after Gov. Charlie Baker’s $1 billion economic development bill passed into law last week eased regulations on the online giant. Amazon avoids state blue laws because of its classification as a distributor and not a traditional retailer (Boston Globe). In the state’s Fall River yesterday, Amazon started interviewing the 1,600 people who applied for 500 jobs at a new 1.2 million-square-foot distribution center opening Sept. 21 (Providence Journal).
And the retailer has added Minneapolis to the growing list of cities where it’s offering free restaurant delivery within an hour to $99-a-year Prime members. Amazon first rolled out the service last year in its hometown of Seattle; it’s now available in about a dozen U.S. cities, including Portland, Los Angeles, Chicago and New York (Star Tribune).