Ghosn’s accomplices, ride-hailing’s new normal, green snow

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Here’s what you need to know

Two men were arrested in connection to Carlos Ghosn’s escape from Japan. A US special forces veteran and his son have been charged in US federal court over their role in extracting the former Nissan boss from his house arrest in Japan.

Chinese companies could be delisted from US stock exchanges. The US Senate passed a bill that would require Chinese firms that want to be listed to verify they were not controlled by a foreign government, and undergo an audit by US auditors, which Chinese law prohibits.

ByteDance reportedly reaches $100 billion private valuation. Already the world’s most valuable startup, TikTok’s parent company has seen its valuation rise after attracting over 315 million new downloads so far this year.

Covid-19 cases reached a new milestone. The World Health Organization reported there were 106,000 new cases in a 24-hour period, the most in a single day. Separately, experts said the incubation period is longer and patients carry the virus for longer in new coronavirus clusters in northeast China compared to earlier cases in Wuhan.

Xiaomi’s earnings showed a rebound in smartphone sales. The Chinese company reported $7 billion in first-quarter sales, an increase of 13.6%, thanks in part to the recent release of higher-priced 5G models. Xiaomi said its production in mainland China has mostly restarted. 

Ride-hailing’s new normal

😷 Didi Chuxing expands its AI checks on drivers. The Chinese company will soon require drivers in Latin America to upload photos verifying they are wearing masks and disinfecting cars, measures that have been in place in China since January.

💸 Discounted Uber and Lyft rides could be gone for good. With ride-hailing drastically reduced, promotions have virtually disappeared.

🪓 Companies get leaner. India’s Ola axed 1,400 jobs on Wednesday. Uber cut an additional 3,000 roles on Monday, bringing its layoff total to 6,700 this month.

Charting unemployed couples

Chart: Share of married US couples in which neither person has a job

The pandemic and its notorious subsequent layoffs have led to a spike in completely unemployed married couples in the US. Some 11% of married couples with one partner between 25 and 54 years old had no earners in April, according to Quartz’s analysis of US Bureau of Labor Statistics data. It’s the highest number since 1976, when this type of data began being recorded. The share of couples with no earners never rose higher than 7% during the Great Recession.

For Quartz Members 

From top of the market to top of the defaulter list. REI Agro was a Cinderella story as it skyrocketed up the ranks of India’s basmati rice economy, which easily dominates the global basmati market. Then, a year of poor rainfall—and subsequent shady practices on the part of the two brothers at the helm—sent it skyrocketing up the ranks of India’s biggest loan defaulters. Prathamesh Mulye’s account of the rise and fall of Sanjay and Sandip Jhunjhunwala is a cautionary tale for the ages.

REI Agro’s problems became apparent long before Covid-19, but other companies’ weak spots are now starting to crack under the pressure. The latest field guide tracks the companies and processes that have fared well during the coronavirus pandemic, and the opportunity this moment is providing for those who haven’t.

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We’re obsessed with seatbelts

Click clack, front and back. Nothing decreases the chance of injury or death during a road collision as much as the trusted three-point seatbelt. It’s been a long, bumpy ride since its rollout in the 1950s, and even though seatbelts have saved millions of lives, they’re still not always used. Buckle up, it’s the Quartz Weekly Obsession.

You asked about real estate

If the economy is in such bad shape, why does it feel like it’s still a seller’s market for real estate?

You’re not imagining things, Lesley, particularly if you’re house hunting in the US. Though coronavirus has significantly constrained the construction of new homes, it doesn’t mean nobody’s buying existing inventory. Low interest rates, the lifting of stay-at-home orders across several states, and growing inquiries in suburban areas from residents in expensive, high-density cities have kept real estate agents busy as of late.

But the US housing market may cool off soon—officials are cautioning it may be a temporary blip caused by the relaxing of stay-at-home orders. For the buyer with money to burn, that’s good news. For the economy at large, not so much.

✉️ Do you have a burning question about how coronavirus is changing the world?

Surprising discoveries

A long-lost Prince guitar could be your newfound possession. The extremely rare Blue Angel Cloud guitar could sell for over $500,000.

Escape rooms have gone virtual. Turns out a lot of people are looking for an … escape these days.

Parts of Antarctica have green snow. Climate change is causing the proliferation of an algae that was first noticed by explorers in the early 20th century.

A man made money by buying his own pizza on an app. DoorDash, for which he had not signed up, reportedly paid his restaurant the full $24 while charging him $16.

A Chinese mother was reunited with her kidnapped child—32 years later. Mao Yin was two when he was taken from a hotel in 1988, and his mom never gave up.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, ride-hailing coupons, and escape room hidden keys to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS or Android and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was written by Dan Kopf, Karen Ho, Susan Howson, and Liz Webber.