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In a move stranger than fiction, CBS sues its majority shareholder to stop a potential merger with Viacom.


The Hustle
Thur, May 17












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CBS board uses restraining order to keep owner away while it votes to strip her power
The juicy drama in the CBS corporate boardroom makes Real Housewives look like C-SPAN.
As of this week, CBS’s board has both sued and obtained a restraining order against controlling shareholder Shari Redstone to keep her away from a vote this morning that could eliminate her chokehold on the company -- and prevent the Viacom merger she’s been championing against their will.
A catfight decades in the making
Viacom and CBS were a single entity up until 2006, when the Redstone family split them into an independent CBS and a pared-down Viacom.
But, Redstone still owns both companies, and even though her shares only represent 10.3% of CBS’ stock, they are all preferred “A” shares -- giving her 80% voting power.
As CBS continues to lose value, it has sought partners to help spur growth -- but now, with Redstone strong-arming it into an unwanted Viacom partnership, its stock is tanking even harder. 
The plan? Force Redstone to vote like a commoner
A CBS board coalition led by CEO Les Moonves filed a lawsuit Monday claiming Scary-Shari is causing “irreversible harm to the company and its stockholders” with her selfish merger moves.
The lawsuit outlines a plan to issue dividends to existing shareholders -- diluting Redstone’s voting power from 80% to 17%.
The fear is that Redstone will fire them before the suit is finished (just like she gutted Viacom’s disagreeable board 2 years ago) —which is why board members are holding a dividend vote this morning.
Stay tuned for today’s episode of ‘Keeping up with CBS’ 
After learning of the meeting, Redstone rewrote CBS’ bylaws to require a 90% supermajority to call special board meetings.
But, since the bylaw change doesn’t legally go into effect for 20 days, and since Moonves won his 24-hour Red-straining order, today’s meeting will go on -- without Shari.
If the board strips Redstone’s controlling stake, CBS and Captain Moonves will be free to woo new suitors in place of Viacom. 
If the board votes “nay,” Redstone will likely push mutinous Moonves out of CBS -- with a $150m golden parachute to cushion the landing.
If CBS could just make TV shows this dramatic it would be doing fine...




The Real Shareholders of CBS

















 





Big green: Aurora Cannabis to buy MedReleaf in $2.5B takeover
The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reports that Aurora Cannabis will buy med-weed firm MedReleaf for $2.5B in stock in the biggest mary-j-merger ever.
The combined firm could be worth as much as $7B -- enough to smoke out the competition and make Aurora the kingpin of the weed industry.
A drug deal made just in time
The deal comes just weeks before Canada looks to legalize recreational cannabis. Aurora is leading the charge to cut costs and improve efficiency (by way of consolidation) before the floodgates open.
If (and most likely, when) shareholders give their OK, the new company’s facilities in Canada and Denmark, plus global distribution networks will potentially give it enough real estate to produce 1.2m pounds of tree a year.
But the price tag is pret-ty steep for ‘potential’
This is a gigantic swing in a budding industry (not sorry) that has yet to produce major dividends. Many Canadian growers make slim profits as they push to expand and, according to Bloomberg, MedReleaf is no exception. 
In 2017, the company only profited $8.6m on revenues of $31.5m, meaning Aurora’s takeover values MedReleaf at almost 163 times its earnings before interest and taxes. 
But, betting on “potential” is like taking a hit out of a 10-foot bong: Maybe you won’t call your mom afterwards to tell her you’re going to die, but, there’s always a chance you will.












When the THC hits...











 





The world made more billionaires than ever in 2017
Yaaayy…
The 5th edition of the Wealth-X Billionaire Census dropped this week, and it looks like the super rich are getting super-richer -- billionaires’ combined assets increased by 24% to $9.2T.
Meanwhile, the mere very rich are rising in the ranks: about 357 newcomers joined the “tres comma” club last year. 
Every time The Bell rings, a billionaire goes “cha-ching”
You know, the Wall Street Bell. It’s a perfect metaphor, people. 
The census concludes that “climbing equity markets” caused billionaires to stack cash across all regions -- particularly in China, where billionaires’ wealth grew by nearly 36%, crushing the 10% increase stateside (the US still houses the greatest number of billionaires at 680).
As of 2017, just 10 people can claim a $50B+ net worth, while 1.3k plebes sit in the $1-2B tier.
Here are a few of our favorite Big B's:

Top dawg: Fan favorite Jeff Bezos surpassed Bill Gates last year to become the world’s richest person at $133B.
World’s first: Ripple made co-founder Chris Larsen the world’s first crypto billionaire last year, briefly skyrocketing him to $60B… before gently drop-kicking him back to a modest $4.6B.
Richest-sounding name: Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, 33% owner of cosmetic brand L’Oreal. When your name is 3 things, you know you come from old money. At $48B, she’s also the richest woman in the world.

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, lady billionaires grew 18% last year -- faster than male billionaires for the first time in the history of the census.












Hell ya, Francoise











 





Bitmain helped Circle become the latest ‘bitcoin unicorn,’ and now they have big plans together
On Tuesday, the Boston-based crypto exchange and wallet company, Circle, announced that they closed a $110m Series E funding round that values the startup at nearly $3B.
More billionaire talk, eh?
The funding round was led by China-based crypto mining company Bitmain, whose investment earned them a partnership with Circle to launch a “US dollar coin” that will be regulated and backed by cold, hard, government currency, AKA a stable coin.
A major step in Bitmain’s vision of ‘private central banks’
Founded in 2013, Bitmain has become the world’s largest maker of bitcoin mining rigs, earning a reported $4B in profits last year.
As recently as March, Bitmain co-CEO Jihan Wu made appearances at major US conferences where, according to Coindesk, he promised to back high-tech alternatives to central banking, and Circle’s so-called “USD-C token” could be the stable asset to get them there.
The stable coin has recently become the white whale of the crypto world, with companies in droves attempting to make crypto less volatile by putting actual reserves behind it (hence “stable”), and make the conversion of crypto assets into fiat currency more efficient. 
Now, Bitmain can add VC to their resume
The fact that Bitmain essentially just became a VC over night spells big competition throughout the industry, but also a positive step on the whole for an industry still widely pooh-poohed by many old school economists.
By creating an investment arm, and putting money back into crypto, Bitmain continues to blaze the trail of crypto influence.












In Bitmain we trust











 









 



things you should...














RUB: Elbows with the brightest entrepreneurs at Hustle Con, $50 OFF


Calling all readers: we’re celebrating San Francisco Small Business Week by offering a limited time $50 discount on Hustle Con tickets. You know, the rad event we’re hosting on June 22nd that brings together the world's most successful (once small) business owners? Click the link below to get $50 off until 5/20.

50 MORE REASONS TO GO →









WASTE: Some glorious time playing with the digital Moog synth, $14.99


The iconic synth that was used by many of your favorite musicians is now available as an iPhone app -- and it costs less than lunch at that new overpriced cafe down the street. If there’s music in your fingers, this Moog synth will find it.

MUSIC TO MY EARS →









BREATHE IN: The purest living room air with the Molekule, $799


Air purifiers are finally cool again. We know what you’re thinking -- when were they NOT cool?! -- but now air purifier tech is taking off, and Molekule’s smart air purifier combats pollutants at the molecular level with dual filtration systems wrapped in beautiful machined aluminum.

BREATHE CLEAN →











HAVE: More fun at work in the freshest kicks from PLAE, $89.95


PLAE creates shoes with a schoolyard spirit and NASA tech. These specially designed kicks rep 3 different closure systems complete with interchangeable velcro straps and the proprietary STAELACE system. Run, jump, parkour -- it’s a shoe that moves with you, wherever your journey takes you.

THE WORLD IS YOUR PLAEGROUND →











RELAX: In furniture that survives the move from Campaign, Starting at $595


Campaign uses premium materials to build pieces that last 10x longer than the average sofa. Their seating comes with a steel frame and interchangeable covers so you can switch your style when it suits your fancy. Plus, it’s ridiculously easy to set up: no tools required, and packs up flat when it’s time to move.

BUILD-A-LOUNGE →










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