Did the cold snap just break the patience of these businesses? Because all of the sudden everyone is moving around, buying, selling, looking to change things up.
The liquor slingers at Beam Suntory are moving their global headquarters to New York, though they still plan to keep a major office in Chicago. Meanwhile the New York Stock Exchange is considering a move to Chicago in exchange for the right tax breaks. Can’t you just help a trader out?
Uber is trying to wiggle out of its lease at the Old Main Post Office, something about a huge office space not being as attractive anymore? It swears it’s still adding jobs in Chicago. Just not desks.
Clothes reseller ThredUp is doing no such thing. It’s closing its Vernon Hills distribution center and laying off 200 workers. What’s going to happen to all that lightly worn Old Navy though?
Only Salesforce is staying true, confirming its plans to open its 500,000-square-foot office despite saying employees can continue to work remotely post-pandemic.
When building an empty office is a smart financial bet, you know the tax incentives were too good.
The itchy feet aren’t all that’s up. Companies have sliced, diced and sold themselves over the past few weeks. Kraft Heinz is spinning off its nut business (el oh el oh el oh el) to Minnesota-based Hormel for $3.35 billion. Just a reminder that we were real business journalists for real business publications we swear really.
Allstate is selling its life insurance business for $2.8 billion to private equity group Blackstone, which, you know, makes sense. Let private equity go ahead and capitalize directly on your fear of death.
Alight, formerly of insurance broker Aon, is going public via a still-somehow-not-illegal sale to a holding company already listed on the stock exchange. The HR support services company is valued at $7.3 billion, and this union will no doubt make some high-net-worth individuals very happy.
Then there are the out-and-out sales. Old-fashioned electrical product maker Tripp Lite is being picked up by a Dublin-based industrial behemoth for $1.65 billion, while Zillow is buying ShowingTime — a more-than-20-year-old tool to let agents manage real estate showings — for $500 million. No word on what will happen to ShowingTime’s 500 employees, but it does give us an excuse to link to this:
Others are just happy to get buy-in instead of bought out. Ocient, which makes software to handle unfathomable amounts of data, raised $40 million and plans to add another 75 jobs this year. Enfusion just raised $150 million in a funding round that values it at $1.5 billion. If you’ve never heard of the Enfusion before, that’s a feature, not a bug. The company provides a “hedge fund in a box,” a package of software that lets people spin up a hedge fund and start turning a profit overnight. Love to see exploitation with a bow on it!
Cameo you have heard of. The celebrity shoutout app is hoping to become the latest company with a billion-dollar valuation via a $100 million funding round. All those messages from Mark McGrath really add up.
Not everyone’s rolling in it though. Our two industrial laggards — auto and airlines — are still struggling to turn the profits to which they are accustomed. Ford announced plans to scale back production and lay off workers at plants all over the country, including the Chicago assembly plant, which will go from three shifts to one. United would also like to remind you that it’s hard to run metal sky birds right now, warning 14,000 employees that they may lose their jobs. Fortunately, both have unions. Laid off Ford workers will still get 75% of their pay, and the president of the flight attendant’s union said they’re “not interested in offering concessions.” Yes, fight!
Jobs, Glorious Jobs
Director of Communications for Chicago Coalition for the Homeless
From a fellow hustler who volunteers with the CCH: “The Chicago Coalition for the Homeless is where all the smart punks you knew in high school got jobs after they left college.” Instead of treating the symptoms, CCH works upstream, lobbying to change the laws and policies that contribute to homelessness. So, if you think homelessness deserves the kind of political representation, say, natural gas gets, you may enjoy this job.
Senior Writer of Executive Communications at Rush University Medical Center
Probably a pretty comfortable gig for those who don’t mind writing in someone else’s voice. (It’s easier somehow?) And don’t be intimidated by the post-nominal letters — they’re looking for AP. You’ll feel a sense of fulfillment being so close to the frontlines, but the rounds of approvals will afford you some breaks.
Inspiration of the week
“Does it unite us? Does it build power? Does it make us stronger?”
—The three questions former Chicago Teachers Union president Karen Lewis demanded of every decision. We can’t overstate just how much Karen Lewis did for labor organizing in her run at the head of CTU — seriously, try to name another union leader. She prevented the total kneecapping of Chicago Public Schools by getting people to come together based on what they believed, not whether they liked each other.
It’s hard not to imagine an alternate reality, where brain cancer didn’t keep her from challenging Rahm Emanuel for the mayorship in 2015, and where it didn’t take her life this week. But as much as we’d like to live there, we can still be grateful for all the work she did do. And we can let her memory inspire us to keep it going.
Forward this email to anyone who wants to build power. They can sign up here to get united and get stronger twice a month.