Walmart’s TikTok bid, geography-blind networking, pizza tragedy

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Here’s what you need to know

Walmart and Microsoft may snap up TikTok’s US operations. Just hours after CEO Kevin Mayer announced his resignation after just three months on the job, Walmart confirmed it was teaming up with Microsoft on a bid for the US arm of the platform. The retailer would bring e-commerce experience to the deal, but its Chinese operations may present hurdles to White House approval.

A million more Americans filed for unemployment. Though smaller than the previous week’s tally, it still represents the 22nd week out of the past 23 weeks where the figure topped 1 million. For its part, the Federal Reserve announced big changes to its monetary policy to support the struggling labor market.

China’s Uyghur internment camps were blanked out on Baidu Maps. A Buzzfeed investigation pieced together known information on camps in the Xinjiang region with blank squares on China’s biggest mapping platform to reveal 315 facilities very likely being used as prisons, camps, or detention centers for Muslim minorities.

Manufacturers are betting on air flow. A joint Softbank-Toyota venture called Monet, which originally focused on self-driving vehicle projects, announced the Toyota Hiace—a van that enhances air flow and features screens and curtains to protect passengers’ personal airspace. LG made its own announcement: a battery-powered air-filtering face mask.

Fortnite’s new season takes a bite out of Apple. The latest update of the massively popular game won’t be available on iOS after a federal judge sided with Apple in a legal battle over in-app payments. Fortnite’s maker Epic Games did get one last laugh at Apple with the update, but it has yet to get a handle on the game’s own billion-dollar black market.

Obsession Interlude: Fixing capitalism

Albums still matter. Like books and Black lives, albums still matter.

Prince, here citing the Black Lives Matter movement at the Grammys in 2015, is perhaps a slightly unusual standard-bearer for Quartz’s Fixing Capitalism obsession. Bear with us.

The singer, songwriter, and musician was part of the holy trinity of the 1980s, alongside Michael Jackson and Madonna. But despite his enormous commercial success, Prince decided by the early 90s to hold the entire music industry to account. He demanded that the mighty Warner Bros, with whom he had recently signed a new multimillion-dollar deal, hand over the master recordings of his biggest hits. “If you don’t own your masters,” he said, “your masters own you.” It’s a story of economic empowerment, systemic change, and justice.

In our reporting, we look at the same fault lines that Prince identified. And we do it while listening to this Fixing Capitalism playlist, a collection of songs—a triple album, really—about money, poverty, inequality, power, and opportunity.

Pop in here to see what else we’re covering in our new Fixing Capitalism obsession.

Charting LinkedIn geography

With people spending less time in public spaces and more time communicating online, geography has become practically irrelevant for many employers.

The changes can be clearly seen in LinkedIn’s connection data. In late 2019, the company started to promote connections between people who actually know each other, rather than with people they found on the Internet.  But despite the new policy, connections between people in different metro areas started to grow after the pandemic hit the US.

A chart showing LinkedIn connections between US users in different metro areas

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Classic college films, but make them coronavirus

Quartz imagined what the movie plots of four classic university films would look like, if they took place during this year’s fall semester:

🤓 Revenge of the Nerds: A group of socially awkward computer science majors gets its long-awaited revenge on the less socially awkward computer science majors by challenging them to a contest to build a startup successful enough to justify dropping out of school. A prank montage involving hacked computer cameras disrupts multiple industries—not to mention class.

🎵 Pitch Perfect: A ragtag a capella group must contend with its new status as superspreaders after an outbreak is traced back to its fall semester tryouts. In the end, we learn that, no matter where we all fall within a complex campus popularity hierarchy, we’re all the same when they’ve got a Covid test up a nostril.

🍻 Old School: Mitch starts taking online college classes to fill his lockdown boredom, though he’s being long past traditional college age. And, despite an awkward in-bedroom streaking scene, he and his friends go on to become virtual campus legends by inventing sourdough starter wrestling.

As coronavirus forces universities to contend with a shift to remote learning and existential dilemma over the value of campus life, films of the future will have to figure out how to bring high-stakes campus drama online. Read more in our field guide to higher ed going remote.

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You Asked about pandemic fashion

How is coronavirus affecting the fashion industry? What is the future of business wear, casual wear, anything that we wear?

The pandemic has walloped the fashion industry. At its start, factories around Asia paused work, and then Western brands canceled orders to avoid building up unsellable inventory, dealing a huge blow to garment-exporting countries and their workers.

As the lockdowns spread, stores closed and tourism plunged, drying up a major source of sales for luxury brands in particular. Only online retailers seemed immune. High-fashion labels finally embraced digital sales, and may even be warming to Amazon. Fashion weeks went online too, though physical shows are already on their way back. Overall, the big players will survive the turmoil, but many independent designers may not.

So, what are people actually wearing? On the high-end, rare sneakers and handbags have maintained their popularity. Office clothes such as dress shoes and men’s suits have not. The only growth areas worth talking about are in loungewear and athleisure—and luxury face masks of course. One unexpected upside: Fashion retailers say their costly returns are down.

Surprising discoveries

Elephants need some help forgetting… The Warsaw zoo will attempt to de-stress its herd with medical marijuana.

… While an old coach is learning new tricks. Veteran soccer manager José Mourinho said he is adding Korean to the six languages he already speaks to better communicate with a star player.

US Girl Scout uniforms are also improving… The redesigned threads include a cell phone pocket tucked inside the sash.

And sidewalks may be, too. A green thumbed New Yorker has managed to grow corn stalks on a Manhattan sidewalk.

Some things, though, never change. A former royal chef spilled the beans that England’s Queen Elizabeth II has never once dined on pizza.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, sidewalk corn, and pachyderm nugs to Get the most out of Quartz by downloading our app on iOS and becoming a member. Today’s Daily Brief was brought to you by Dan Kopf, Marc Bain, Susan Howson, and Max Lockie.