On CNN and Fox, Big Mueller News Ends Hours of Vamping

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The anchors and pundits of cable news vamped on Friday, filling the long hours of airtime with questions and speculation. And then — shortly after 5 p.m. — they finally had something headline worthy.

That was when the major networks and cable news outlets reported that the special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — who had worked in a seemingly leakproof cone during the nearly two years that he and his team investigated Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election — had submitted his report to Attorney General William Barr.

On CNN, Wolf Blitzer read aloud from a sheet of a paper that was a copy of what Mr. Barr had sent to Congress. On CBS, the anchor Jeff Glor interrupted the network’s coverage of the N.C.A.A. men’s basketball tournament. On NBC, the veteran justice reporter Pete Williams said it was not clear what exactly would be released to the public.

On Fox News, the highest-rated cable news station, the anchor Juan Williams reported the news during the daily episode of “The Five.” “We’ve just been told that the Mueller report has been delivered to the Justice Department,” he said.

Not long after those words were out of his mouth, the “Five” member Jesse Watters seemed to undercut the import of the breaking story, saying, “I honestly don’t think the rest of the country, outside the swamp and the Mueller partisans, cares about the Mueller report.”

After mentioning a few things that, in his view, typical citizens actually do care about, like Netflix and college basketball, Mr. Watters added, “If there was real collusion, it would have leaked by now.”

Another “Five” panelist, Dana Perino, took the mic next and offered less charged commentary, saying, “Setting aside what it says or doesn’t say about how Russia tried to get involved, I think this report could actually be quite instructive about what we need to do to protect our elections going forward.”

The news followed a day filled with low-calorie cable fare that teased the development the networks were counting on.

“It’s Friday, but is it Mueller Friday?” the CNN anchor John King said at the start of his noon-hour show, “Inside Politics. Around the same time, the CNN reporter Laura Jarrett noted on Twitter that the Justice Department reporters at the network had hunkered down: “Breaking — DOJ beat reporters ordering pizza,” she wrote.

What seemed like a relatively slow news days seemed to decelerate further when Fox News took a moment to declare that the 94-year-old Jimmy Carter had become the oldest former living United States president in history, surpassing the first President George Bush.

At a little after 2 p.m., the CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin came through with some facts and figures during a portion of the cable news day that had been light on both: “Six hundred and seventy-five days since Mueller has been on the job,” Ms. Baldwin said. “And, yes, we are counting.”

And then came the news.

Mr. Mueller has driven countless hours of onscreen discussion without having set foot in a television studio since he started work on the inquiry some 22 months ago. In keeping with his understated, media-shirking style, he did not face the cameras when his work was done.

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Pinterest, Ahead of I.P.O., Reveals Fast Growth and Losses

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SAN FRANCISCO — Pinterest revealed that it was growing quickly but still losing money in an offering prospectus on Friday, as it officially joined the herd of highly valued start-ups stampeding to the public markets this year.

The filing by the company, which makes an app and a website that people can use to save images and links to digital “pin boards,” follows one by Lyft, a ride-hailing company that plans to sell its shares publicly as soon as next week. Uber, Slack and the delivery company Postmates are among the other young technology companies poised to go public in the coming months, creating new a wave of Silicon Valley millionaires and prompting excitement on Wall Street.

Many of these companies are growing fast, but few are profitable. Lyft said in its offering prospectus recently that it lost $911.3 million last year. Uber had previously disclosed that it, too, was hugely unprofitable.

Pinterest is also losing money, though not as much as some of its peers. In its offering prospectus, the company reported $756 million in revenue in 2018, which came from advertising, up 60 percent from a year earlier, while it lost $63 million, compared with a net loss of $138 million in 2017.

Pinterest also said in the filing that it had an average of 265 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter of 2018.

The prospectus provides the first detailed look at Pinterest’s balance sheet. The company confidentially filed to go public in February, with Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan and Allen & Company underwriting the offering. It plans to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol PINS.

Pinterest did not say in the filing how much money it hopes to raise in the offering and did not specify the potential prices of its shares. Private market investors, who have poured around $1.5 billion into the company, last valued it at $12 billion. The largest shareholders include Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Andreessen Horowitz, Fidelity Investments and Valiant Capital Management, according to the filing.

Pinterest was started by Ben Silbermann, the company’s chief executive; Evan Sharp; and Paul Sciarra. It grew out of Cold Brew Labs, a tech incubator founded by the three men in 2008.

Although most of highly valued Silicon Valley start-ups known as unicorns put rapid growth above all else, Mr. Silbermann has favored what he calls “quality growth.” He has tried to build Pinterest slowly and steadily, even as its growth started to soar in 2011 as people began pinning photos of their weddings, meals and homes on the site. “Pinners,” as users are known, essentially used Pinterest to create collagelike mood boards that expressed their aspirations.

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Why Netflix Won’t Be Part of Apple TV

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anastasios pallis

Apple and Netflix, for better and for worse, have changed how we spend our leisure hours. In the process, the two companies have upended old media habits and created new ones.

Apple’s iPhones have already ported over big portions of people’s brains, and Netflix exploded TV time slots, creating the binge and the endless content screen. Where else can you find a soothing Japanese reality show like “Terrace House” and a Brechtian, mind-bending drama like “Russian Doll” in one place?

While setting the standard in their chosen areas, Apple and Netflix have gotten along in the past, for the most part. But that period of peace between the two tech giants is about to change.

On Monday, Apple will unveil its most ambitious media project yet — a news and entertainment bundle that is likely to offer access to magazines, newspapers, music and, perhaps most intriguingly, original shows and films. And when a tech giant like Apple jumps into entertainment, it’s going to create waves.

Famous for its teasing product demonstrations, Apple will play host to Hollywood at its Cupertino, Calif., campus so that it can show off what Reese Witherspoon, J.J. Abrams, M. Night Shyamalan and Steven Spielberg (he of the recent Netflix-films-should-not-get-Oscars argument) have done with the more than $1 billion the company has laid out for its new ambitions.

The amount it has spent on new material is nowhere near the $10 billion Netflix will plow into content this year, but Apple has something Netflix does not: more than a billion devices all over the world, which amounts to an infrastructure. If it is suddenly able to fill those screens with Apple content, as well as programming from other companies that have struck deals with Apple, it will turn itself into a beast that will put a scare into Netflix.

The cordial relations between Apple and Netflix showed signs of fraying last November, when Netflix, led by Reed Hastings, stopped allowing people to sign up for its service through Apple’s iTunes store.

Apple had been charging Netflix 15 percent on every sale, a blanket condition of being in the App Store. Now, new subscribers can still download the Netflix app on an Apple device, but they will be sent to an external website to submit payment details. (In the wonky world of internet transactions, where you make the purchase determines how, or if, Apple gets a cut.)

In a second sign of frayed relations between the two companies, Netflix has decided to opt out of the Apple bundle, which will upsell subscriptions to HBO and CBS in addition to its original programming. Netflix’s absence from the new platform says a lot about the state of play in the highly competitive streaming industry: a fight is brewing over how content is distributed.

Mr. Hastings explained it at a Netflix earlier this week: “Apple’s a great company. We want to have people watch our service — or our content on our service. And so we’ve chosen not to integrate into their service, because we prefer to have our customers watch our content in our service.”

The key word here is “service.”

Put it another way: Netflix is a service, or a pipe, that would sit on another service, or pipe, if it agreed to be included in the Apple bundle. And if it had joined forces with Apple, Netflix also would have received little to no data about who is subscribing or watching its stuff. Further muddying the company’s identity, from the Netflix point of view, would be the fact that Apple users who spooled up “Stranger Things” or “Orange Is the New Black” may not be aware that they’re watching a Netflix show. Retaining the brand is as important as owning the data.

Apple and Netflix (and others) are now in competition to become the main pipe for digital video — what television is fast becoming — and fixating on other contests, like who wins the most Emmys, is secondary to owning the pipe. The companies are battling for credit card numbers, email addresses and direct access to consumers.

The focus on Apple’s programming makes for a tantalizing narrative, given how long Silicon Valley in general and Apple in particular have remained agnostic about owning content. But original Apple fare, like the program set at a morning show starring Ms. Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, is just the appetizer. The main draw is the bundle, the one-stop service for all kinds of media. Apple’s shows are likely to be free for a period to entice users into other subscriptions, such as CBS and HBO and Starz, with Apple functioning as the reseller.

But Netflix is also in the resale business. Although the company promotes its many “originals,” it doesn’t actually own a lot of the shows associated with the service. “House of Cards” and “The Crown,” to cite two examples, are licensed.

Netflix’s programming strategy is something of a mystery, because there isn’t a clear through-line on the shows it buys or makes, resulting in a hard-to-define hodgepodge. But that’s by design. Netflix has long maintained that its brand isn’t about any particular aesthetic, like HBO’s. It’s a service that aims to serve up shows for all kinds of viewers, from people who like the teenage thriller “You” to those who are tempted to click on the tile for the dystopian Polish sci-fi show “1983.”

The same might be said for Hulu, Amazon or Comcast, all of which fund original content while also marketing other content from channels — like HBO or CBS — within their platforms.

Not coincidentally, Comcast announced its own streaming bundle just days ahead of the Apple showcase. Customers who only have Comcast’s broadband service can spend an extra $5 a month to get free streaming movies and TV shows from ad-supported services like Pluto and YouTube. They can also go through Comcast to purchase an HBO or a Netflix subscription. It’s meant to be a one-stop shop for your streaming needs, not so different from what Apple is proposing.

A nuance worth noting: Netflix is willing to work with Comcast — a competing distributor — and not with Apple because Netflix sees the Apple as the bigger threat. Netflix executives are worried the tech giant will crack the streaming code faster than Comcast, according to two people familiar with the company who were not authorized to talk publicly. Another way of putting it: Silicon Valley companies are wary of what their next door neighbors are capable of.

Netflix has 60 million customers in the United States, making it one of the largest distributors in the country. Comcast, the nation’s largest cable company, has 25 million broadband customers. Hulu has 25 million. Amazon Prime has 97 million, but not all are watching its videos.

Their reach is minuscule compared with Apple, which has more than 1.4 billion devices in use around the world, including more than 900 million iPhones. That scale explains how Apple Music, a streaming service the company started offering in 2015, garnered more than 50 million paying users so quickly.

It also explains why HBO (owned by AT&T), Showtime, CBS and Starz could show up on Apple’s service Monday. The sheer volume of mobile devices in circulation is hard to ignore. Even before it starts offering original programming, Apple is arguably the biggest entertainment distributor on the planet.

Still, HBO’s inclusion in the Apple bundle raises questions. Its owner, AT&T, is already a large distributor, with roughly 160 million wireless customers. The company also plans to start its own streaming service — which will include HBO programs and the properties it gained through its acquisition of Warner Bros., like “Wonder Woman” and “Friends” — by the end of the year.

From HBO’s perspective, allowing itself to become part of Apple’s streaming effort is not that different from selling its wares via Comcast or DirecTV. It’s just another sales outlet. Even HBO’s own streaming service, HBO Now, had a slow start until Amazon Prime started marketing it. With the push from Amazon, the number of HBO Now subscribers nearly doubled, to five million. (HBO currently has more than seven million online customers, with those who subscribed through Amazon counting for a smaller proportion.)

But that kind of indifference could cut against AT&T’s own plans to sell content directly to people. The wireless giant will have to weigh the value of the distribution muscle of Apple or Amazon or Hulu against its own needs. Why did AT&T buy Time Warner (which also included CNN, TNT and Warner Bros.) if not to jump-start its own streaming bundle?

It’s worth noting that Apple is hyping its new service at a time when sales of its most lucrative product, the iPhone, have started to lag. It stopped reporting how many devices it sold as of September. Now, it wants investors to look at another line item — its foray into the media business, which is stable and steadily growing. Apple hopes it will grow even faster with the help of Hollywood.

Interestingly, that line item (listed as “Services” on the Apple income statement) was once little more than a balance-sheet curiosity. Now, it’s a $40 billion business. The forthcoming bundle could add more than $12 billion to that, according to an estimate from Goldman Sachs.

For comparison, the entirety of the Walt Disney Company generated $59 billion in sales last year. CBS, $14 billion. Netflix, $16 billion.

Without explicitly trying, Apple has built itself into a media colossus.

So what does mean for everyone else?

Mr. Hastings said it best on an October earnings call when he talked about the flurry of new entrants into his area of expertise: “The game is on.”

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Robert Kraft Awaits Your Judgment

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When you find yourself at 77 a billionaire six times over and an N.F.L. team owner practically running out of fingers for Super Bowl rings, there aren’t a ton of opportunities you haven’t already enjoyed. Private jets are your subways. Weekends with pals at $2,000-a-night island resorts are your backyard barbecues. The question “what to do for kicks?” becomes harder to answer.

That may be why Robert K. Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, ended up on stage with Cardi B before Super Bowl LIII last month.

Mr. Kraft was at the pregame party hosted by Michael G. Rubin, the 46-year-old owner of Fanatics, the online sports merchandise company, and an owner of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Cardi B was performing “Money.” (It goes: “I like boardin’ jets, I like mornin’ sex, but nothing in this world that I like more than checks.”) “Get out there and dance,” said Meek Mill, just off the stage, to Mr. Rubin and Mr. Kraft.

Image
Robert Kraft and Cardi B during the Fanatics Super Bowl Party at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.CreditKevin Mazur/Getty Images for Fanatics

Mr. Rubin backed away. But Mr. Kraft, dressed in black and his signature Nike Air Force One sneakers, began to bust out some steps.

“He was moving more than I thought he could move,” Meek Mill said later. The video spread around the web.

It was about three weeks later, though, that news about Mr. Kraft really went viral.

On Feb. 22, Mr. Kraft was charged with two misdemeanor counts of soliciting sex at a massage parlor in Jupiter, Fla. He pleaded not guilty.

On Tuesday, prosecutors made an offer to Mr. Kraft and 24 other men facing charges: a fine and community service in return for admitting that if their cases were to go to trial, the prosecutors would win.

And on Wednesday, lawyers for Mr. Kraft and 14 other men filed a motion to prevent evidence in the case from being made public, including hidden camera video of the men at the massage parlor.

As of Friday, Mr. Kraft, who declined to comment for this article, had not accepted the proposed deal.

The Kraft camp is very sensitive to the inferences that Mr. Kraft’s solicitation charges have anything to do with what prosecutors say is a larger investigation into sex trafficking. All told, dozens of men have been charged with soliciting prostitution.

The operators of the Jupiter spa have not been charged with sex trafficking; the women Mr. Kraft is accused of soliciting are 45 and 58 years old and are licensed massage therapists.

Another woman, who ran a spa in Vero Beach, has been charged with trafficking, and the investigation continues, as does a conversation about the role of men seeking sex for money in the trafficking economy.

More on that:

And Mr. Kraft’s name continues to propel the conversation about that investigation. “It makes my skin crawl to see him being smeared this way,” said Drew Bledsoe, the former Patriots quarterback.

While Mr. Bledsoe and others who are sympathetic to Mr. Kraft say prosecutors are using the solicitation charges against him largely to publicize their broader investigation, it remains true that the sex trade often exploits women who have few or no means to escape it.

As his lawyers fight the case, Mr. Kraft has been described by friends as conflicted. He is angry about what he did and ashamed of the embarrassment he has caused, yet insistent that he did nothing illegal and is defiant enough to hire a very expensive legal team to battle charges that most people settle quickly.

Several people interviewed for this article say he continues, a month after the case became public, to break down in tears when discussing the situation.

Casual friends of Mr. Kraft think the public reaction is overblown. “I can understand someone being 77 and going to a massage parlor,” said Larry King, 85. “He’s an older man who finds himself with a need and he gets that need satisfied. Why do we care?”

Much of the fascination with this case stems from an as-yet unanswered question: Why was a gazillionaire going to a random strip mall massage parlor anyway?

Mr. Kraft yells to fans during a victory parade for the Patriots in Boston in February.CreditElise Amendola/Associated Press

And the attendant tabloid headlines are a consequence of Mr. Kraft’s fame and wealth. Here is one of the richest men in the country — a pal of President Trump and the owner of a dominant football team — charged with a seedy offense.

Now he must face the group he may care about as much as his family: his fellow N.F.L. team owners, who will gather starting Sunday at the Biltmore hotel in Phoenix for their annual meeting.

Last year the talk there surrounded Colin Kaepernick and players kneeling during the national anthem. This year, the chatter will be about what penalty the league may impose upon Mr. Kraft for “conduct detrimental to the league” — code for making the owners look bad.

Friends and colleagues in Mr. Kraft’s inner circle say that his current legal problems reveal his continuing struggle to recalibrate in the aftermath of the 2011 death of his wife, Myra.

They married in 1963, when he was 22 and about to enroll in Harvard Business School and she was 21, going into her senior year at Brandeis University. They were married for 48 years when Mrs. Kraft died of ovarian cancer.

“Bobby was so devastated when Myra died,” said Steven J. Comen, who has known Mr. Kraft since they were in kindergarten. “It took him a long time to get his bearings. If you can imagine becoming married when they were kids, and having kids when they essentially were still kids, and having the partnership to build something that was so spectacular — and her going through such a long period of suffering and then dying — well, it would have been devastating to anyone.”

Myra Kraft at the Cradles to Crayons program, a charity that provides clothing for children, in 2009.CreditJonathan Wiggs/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images

This wasn’t a situation where Mr. Kraft took care of the business and Mrs. Kraft saw to the home life, said Tom Brady, the Patriots’ quarterback for 19 years, who called from a family vacation to talk about his closeness with “RKK” and the Kraft family.

“I remember bringing my oldest son, Jack, in to her office and her playing with him on the floor, with blocks and Legos,” Mr. Brady said. “She was very influential in my life and in many players’ lives. She was the mother of four sons, so she knew what it was like being around boys.”

Mr. Kraft has had one serious girlfriend in the intervening years. He met Ricki Noel Lander, now 39, in 2012 at a party hosted by Steve Tisch, an owner of the New York Giants. They have gone through very public phases, like attending a New York City Ballet gala for which Ms. Lander served as a chair, along with Sarah Jessica Parker, in 2016, and she appeared on the field with him after Super Bowl wins, including after the most recent one.

They also have maintained separate lives. In 2017, Ms. Lander became a mother to a baby girl. The Patriots released a statement that said, “While Robert Kraft is not the biological father, he is thrilled with Ricki’s blessing of having a healthy child.” (Attempts to reach Ms. Lander were unsuccessful.)

Public and private reaction to Mr. Kraft’s most recent newsworthiness is complicated. Most of his fellow N.F.L. owners are reluctant to speak publicly about his crisis.

But his fight against a relatively minor charge, using high-priced lawyers, is evidence of his sense of self-importance, possibly prolonging the media attention, according to at least one person familiar with that world.

“The problem with Kraft is the problem with famous people, which is you bring famous attorneys and think they will do a better job,” said Hugh Culverhouse Jr., a former prosecutor and lawyer in Florida and son of the former owner of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. “It’s like going to a knife fight with the entire Seventh Army.”

Ricki Noel Lander and Mr. Kraft at the New York City Ballet gala in 2016.CreditRebecca Smeyne for The New York Times

Some politicians, including Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, said they intend to give the campaign donations they received from Mr. Kraft to groups focused on ending human trafficking, according to The Boston Globe. A group of survivors of sexual exploitation are planning to send a letter to the N.F.L. to ask that Mr. Kraft be barred from owning a team.

These days, Mr. Kraft is leaning heavily on one of his closest friends, Mr. Rubin, 30 years his junior. Like Mr. Kraft, Mr. Rubin is a billionaire who is branching into professional sports ownership.

“We talk on the phone five times a day,” said Mr. Rubin in an interview at the Fanatics office in New York. (Actually, he and Mr. Kraft like to FaceTime each other.)

They were set up on a friend date in 2012 by Mr. Kraft’s oldest son, Jonathan Kraft, the president of the Kraft Group and the New England Patriots. Mr. Rubin was divorced, and so they were two single men with 10-digit bank accounts.

“I’ll go as his date to events, he’ll come as my date,” Mr. Rubin said. “My girlfriend is jealous. She’ll say, ‘I wish you talked to me the way you talk to Robert.’”

In Charlotte, N.C., during last month’s N.B.A. All-Star weekend, Mr. Rubin chatted with an N.B.A. employee who revealed that he was a die-hard Patriots fan. “So I FaceTime Robert,” Mr. Rubin said, “he’s got his shirt off, he’s in bed. I say to the kid, ‘Say hi to Robert,’ and then I leave the phone.”

Mr. Rubin is trying to keep Mr. Kraft hip to pop culture, but some references get lost. In February, Mr. Rubin was at a 76ers game with the actress Emily Ratajkowski and her husband, Sebastian Bear-McClard, a producer, and Josh Ostrovsky, the Instagram personality known as the Fat Jew.

Mr. Rubin FaceTimed Mr. Kraft and introduced him to Mr. Ostrovsky. Mr. Kraft was perplexed. “What do you mean he’s a fat Jew?” he said.

Mr. Kraft and Meek Mill first bonded through Mr. Rubin during a guys’ weekend in Miami to attend the 2017 Major League Baseball All-Star Game.

“I am from the ghettos of America, and he is one of the most powerful billionaires,” said Meek Mill of Mr. Kraft. “He is more down-to-earth and relatable than I expected him to be.”

After the Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl, in February, Meek Mill gave Mr. Kraft his $200,000 diamond-encrusted necklace that spells out “Championships,” the title of his recent album. Mr. Kraft wore it during the victory parade.

“My chain is like my Super Bowl trophy for rising above poverty and overcoming the system,” Meek Mill said. “I said to him, ‘I wear this chain every day. It’s my gift to you.’”

Meek Mill said he had spoken to Mr. Kraft probably 30 times since the massage parlor scandal broke.

In 2017, Meek Mill, now 31, was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating his parole. (Meek Mill pleaded not guilty to the initial incident, when he was 19, and said if he had done what he was accused of, he would be dead. “Everyone knows what happens to a black kid that points a gun at police officers,” he said.)

Meek Mill’s friends, including Mr. Kraft, talked to him frequently while he was in prison and were outraged by his situation. Mr. Kraft visited him in prison a year ago and spoke to the press about injustice afterward.

The N.F.L.’s inner circle is dominated by billionaires who lean to the right. Despite his friendship with Mr. Trump, Mr. Kraft is considered one of the more liberal owners, backing an array of progressive causes and voting Democratic more often than not.

From left, Michael Rubin, Mr. Kraft and Meek Mill.CreditKevin Mazur/Getty Images for Fanatics

“He is one of the biggest faces in America, and this is a smart guy saying to the world, ‘This is a good kid.’” Meek Mill said. “It was a big deal for me.”

After Meek Mill was released, Mr. Rubin asked Mr. Kraft to join his efforts to create an organization called Reform Alliance, to fight for changes to criminal justice practices. The eight founders, including Jay-Z and Daniel Loeb, a billionaire investor, pledged a combined $50 million.

Meek Mill sees echoes of his experiences in Mr. Kraft’s current predicament. “They aligned his name with a different set of charges that weren’t tied to him at all,” he said.

There are big differences, and Meek Mill has made sure Mr. Kraft appreciates them too. “I said it to Robert the other day, ‘Someone as powerful as you, you have done so much good in the world and brung so much to America, you see what they did to you,’” Meek Mill said. “I said to him, ‘Imagine someone that comes from poverty in the ghetto who doesn’t have people to speak up for them on their behalf. It happens in my community every day.’”

Mr. Kraft grew up in Brookline, Mass., loving sports, though joining teams was difficult because he couldn’t play on the Sabbath. He liked the Boston Braves baseball team.

He went to college at Columbia, on scholarship. As a senior, he went back to Boston for a football game and spotted Myra Hiatt in a delicatessen. He waited until her date went to the restroom and then introduced himself. He went to the library on the Brandeis campus the next day to look her up, and they married the following year.

Myra finished college, and they had four sons; three work for the family business.

After attending Harvard Business School, Mr. Kraft went to work for his father-in-law. Mr. Kraft had his own vision for the company, and left but eventually purchased the business and began to build a fortune in paper and packaging. As he did, he and Mrs. Kraft established themselves as a power couple in Boston’s charity scene. The family has given away “hundreds of millions of dollars,” a Patriots spokesman said.

Foundations backed by Mr. Kraft are known to make unexpected calls to small organizations in which Mr. Kraft pledges a gift ranging from $100,000 to a few million dollars, urging the nonprofit group to create donor-match campaigns.

A few years ago, Lisa Goldblatt Grace, a founder of My Life My Choice, received such a call, from an executive at the Patriots Foundation. The mission of My Life My Choice is to support young survivors of sexual exploitation and the commercial sex industry. The foundation gave the group $100,000, with a matching incentive. The money allowed the group to hire another mentor, Ms. Grace said.

“We were heartbroken when we heard the news that Robert Kraft had been charged,” Ms. Grace said. “The most important thing we can do is focus on the victims and shine a light that helps people to understand that this is a multi-billion-dollar industry that preys on the most vulnerable.”

In 1994, Mr. Kraft paid $172 million for the Patriots, at the time the largest sum paid for a professional sports franchise.

Mr. Kraft and his son Jonathan flew back from the meeting to Boston (middle seats in coach on T.W.A.) to tell Mrs. Kraft the deal was done. She was worried that the high price tag would make it difficult for the family to continue its philanthropy. Mr. Kraft promised her that owning an N.F.L. team would give them an even larger platform to support their causes.

The next night, Mrs. Kraft overheard her husband on the phone with the head coach, Bill Parcells. Mr. Parcells said he needed $10 million for a contract to sign a player.

She was not happy. “The summer house better be in my name,” she told him.

The investment turned out to be beyond sound. In 2000 Mr. Kraft lured Bill Belichick away from the Patriots’ division rival New York Jets. The next year, Mr. Brady became the team’s starting quarterback, and the Patriots raced all the way to their first Super Bowl win.

Tom Brady with Mr. Kraft at summer training back in 2006.CreditStephan Savoia/Associated Press

The Belichick-Brady tandem has shattered records ever since. Forbes estimates that the Patriots are the second-most-valuable N.F.L. franchise, worth an estimated $3.8 billion.

The team’s success has also burnished Mr. Kraft’s status inside the N.F.L., where owners can be hypercompetitive and jealous. By most accounts, Mr. Kraft has become the league’s most influential owner, with seats on the powerful broadcasting, labor and finance committees.

His contacts in media circles make him indispensable during negotiations with the television networks that provide the bulk of the league’s income. One owner said that these multi-billion-dollar deals are typically negotiated by three people: the N.F.L. commissioner, Roger Goodell; Brian Rolapp, the league’s media chief; and Mr. Kraft.

Now, amid what friends describe as Mr. Kraft’s unyielding anguish over his travails and the uncertainties he is confronting in the legal system, the N.F.L. and the court of public opinion, Mr. Kraft’s BFFs are rallying around him, and are eager to discuss the depth of their respect.

Despite the solicitation charges, Mr. Trump has said he wants Mr. Kraft to attend a White House reception celebrating the Patriots’ recent Super Bowl victory.

Mr. Brady is also standing by his longtime friend. “I’ve been with the organization 19 years and I’ve been through a lot,” Mr. Brady said. “He has been by me and supported me. That’s hard to do these days — to have longtime relationships like we do is a challenge.”

Mr. Bledsoe, the former Patriots quarterback, said that even in the 18 years since he left the team, he still answers his mobile phone when the caller ID says “BLOCKED,” in case it’s Mr. Kraft, whom he calls “RKK.”

“RKK has achieved success on a scale that few people ever achieved and kept his soul intact all the way through,” said Mr. Bledsoe, now a winemaker in Walla Walla, Wash.

On a golf outing a few year ago, Mr. Bledsoe asked Mr. Kraft to tell him the one thing that matters most in building a successful organization. “‘There is no one thing,’” Mr. Bledsoe said he said. “‘There are no small details.’”

Kenny Chesney, the country music star, said: “Robert has become in many ways a very strong mentor in my life. He believes that music and sports bring people together like nothing else.”

Fifteen years ago, Mr. Chesney was dreaming of performing concerts in N.F.L. stadiums, which hold three to four times more fans than other large arenas. “Robert was the first N.F.L. owner to take a chance on a guy from East Tennessee,” Mr. Chesney said.

He has played Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots, in Foxborough, Mass., 19 times, more than any other musical artist. He has lunch with Mr. Kraft in his office each time he plays there.

Kenny Chesney, left, with Bill Belichick in 2017.CreditJohn Tlumacki/The Boston Globe, via Getty Images

“He set me on a path and helped me see a blueprint for how to change the scale of my business and the scope of my touring life,” Mr. Chesney said.

Mr. Kraft has made only a few public appearances since he was charged, including at parties hosted by fellow billionaires Ron Perelman and Barry Diller on Oscar weekend in Los Angeles.

Mr. Rubin called Mr. Kraft and urged him to come to Philadelphia for Meek Mill’s first hometown solo concert since being released from prison last year.

On March 15, Mr. Kraft hung out backstage while Meek Mill performed at the Met Philadelphia, a recently refurbished opera house. Mr. Kraft spent much of his time palling around with Meek Mill’s son and his son’s half brother.

Inevitably, the chatter between Mr. Kraft and the kids turned to football. So Mr. Kraft pulled out his phone and performed his favorite party trick: He FaceTimed Tom Brady and handed the phone to the boys.

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Stocks Fall as Bond Market Flashes a Recession Warning

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The bond market smells a recession. On Friday, stock investors caught a whiff too.

Economic forecasters and Wall Street traders have been watching for months as interest rates on long-term United States government bonds have dropped toward the rates on short-term debt.

Investors normally demand higher yields to buy longer-term bonds, and when those long-term yields decline it can signal a slowdown in economic growth.

On rare occasions, long-term yields can actually fall below yields on short-term bonds — a “yield curve inversion” in the parlance of the markets. Such unusual occurrences have preceded every recession over the last 60 years.

And it happened in early trading Friday.

The move on Friday followed a sharp decline on yields on long-term Treasury bonds this week after Federal Reserve decided on Wednesday to leave interest rates unchanged and signaled that it was unlikely to raise rates through the end of 2019.

But a round of dour economic data from Europe on Friday actually pushed the key bond market measure into inverted territory. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note tumbled to 2.44 percent early Friday, its lowest level since January 2018. That’s less than the 2.46 percent yield on three-month Treasury bills.

There are many different ways to measure the yield curve. On Wall Street, many analysts look at the difference between yields on two-year and 10-year Treasury notes, which has not yet inverted.

But research from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco has cited the yield difference between three-month Treasury bills and 10-year Treasury notes — which inverted Friday — as the most reliable predictor of recession risk.

Traders in the stock market picked up on the downbeat signal. Until Friday, the S&P 500 had climbed despite a recent drop in bond yields, effectively shrugging off the decline as further evidence that the Fed would keep rates low for the foreseeable future. Keeping rates low has been a good thing for stocks over the past 10 years.

But on Friday, the S&P 500 was on track for one of its worst declines this year, as stock market investors grew concerned about the economy.

Experts on interpreting the predictive power of the yield curve cautioned that a single day of inverted yield curve doesn’t necessarily mean the economy will tumble into recession.

Campbell Harvey, a Duke University finance professor whose research first showed the predictive power of the yield curve in the mid-1980s, stressed that an inversion must last, on average, three months, before it can credibly be said to be sending a clear signal. If that does occur, history shows that the economy will fall into a recession over the next nine and 18 months.

But even with the yield curve’s track record for predicting recessions, Professor Harvey emphasized that there was no such thing as certainty in economic forecasting.

“A model is just a model,” he said. “It’s not an oracle. It helps us forecast the future but it might at any point fail.”

Read more about the yield curve:

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G.M. Plans New Electric Vehicle Made at Chevy Bolt Plant

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General Motors will begin producing a new electric vehicle as part of its Chevrolet lineup, resulting in 400 jobs being added at its Orion Township, Mich., plant, the company said Friday.

The new vehicle will share some characteristics with the Chevrolet Bolt, which is already produced at the Orion factory, the carmaker said in a statement. The addition of the vehicle will be accompanied by an investment in the plant of about $300 million. The company did not offer any other details about the new vehicle.

G.M. has said since 2017 that it planned to substantially expand its lineup of all-electric cars. The push comes as other carmakers, including Hyundai and Audi, prepare to unveil new plug-in hybrids and fully electric models in a bet that car owners are ready to switch from gasoline-powered vehicles.

The announcement about the new vehicle came several days after President Trump criticized G.M. on Twitter over its decision to end production at a factory in Lordstown, Ohio. The plant is one of five in North America that the company said in November it would idle as part of a broader effort to cut costs.

G.M. said Friday that it currently had around 2,700 job openings at its factories and that it was trying to fill the vacancies with employees affected by the closings at Lordstown and elsewhere. The company said 1,100 employees from idled plants had already been placed at other factories.

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Wealth Matters: The Teddy Bear Test, and Other Ways to Pass a State Tax Audit

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Every year around this time, people grumble about their tax bills. This year, taxpayers who lost the deduction for state and local taxes in the 2017 tax overhaul bill — mainly those in California and states in the Northeast — are going to grumble even more. And for some, that grousing has turned to talk of fleeing to lower-tax states.

Those wealthy enough to own homes in multiple states will want to have their cake and eat it, too. Some will try to establish residency in one of the seven states that has no state income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.

In doing so, their tax bills will be reduced substantially: up to 13 percentage points for California residents, for instance, or nearly 9 points for those in New York and New Jersey.

The people trying to take advantage of this strategy have always been a target of state tax collectors, but financial advisers say states like California and New York have stepped up their collection efforts, and they urge caution for anyone considering this approach.

Wealthy taxpayers have long assumed that spending a minimum of 183 days, or six months plus one day, in a residence outside of a high-tax state would be sufficient to avoid taxes in that state. But advisers note that this long-held belief is not a sophisticated approach.

“There are some states that have strict day counts, but California is much more subjective,” said Chris Campbell, a principal at Deloitte Tax. “Generally speaking, you can be a resident of California for tax purposes after a few days or months.”

New York tax collectors assume you are still living in their state — even if you are spending the majority of your time elsewhere — and expect to be paid accordingly.

“In the tax world, you’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent,” said Timothy P. Noonan, a partner at Hodgson Russ, a law firm where he focuses on state and local tax law issues. “If you can’t prove where you were, the state will assume you were in their state.”

So much for flying off to Nevada or Florida and leaving your state tax bill behind.

In the high-stakes game of tax collecting, states can seek unpaid tax bills that climb into the tens of millions of dollars. People who have legitimately moved to a different state have to be ready to prove their residency. But so do executives who travel around the country for work.

The first requirement is proving your state residency. For most people, a driver’s license will suffice. But for wealthier taxpayers who have homes in two or more states, it’s not so easy.

There are apps like Monaeo, TaxBird and TaxDay, which count days spent in each state, alerting people when they get too close to the 183-day limit.

Nishant Mittal, a co-founder of Monaeo, said one of his motivations for creating the app came from staying too long in India when he was a consultant for McKinsey & Company. United States citizens living abroad face their own 183-day limit for federal taxes. Mr. Mittal had been told to keep records of where he was, and he did. But that wasn’t enough.

“When the tax authorities asked for my records, they counted the stamps in my passport,” he said. “I overstayed my welcome in India by two days. It became two of the most expensive days I’ve ever spent in the world.”

Michael Kosnitzky, a partner at the law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, who divides his time among Colorado, Florida and New York, said that counting days was insufficient and misleading.

He pointed to New York’s five-part test for determining a person’s residence for tax purposes, where time spent in the state is just one part. The state also looks at the size and cost of the New York home compared with those in other states, a person’s business and family ties to the state and a category that looks at where “near and dear” items are kept.

Traci Kratish Pumo, a managing director at the accounting firm BDO who helps people establish Florida residency, said the latter was often known as the teddy bear test.

Image
New York State has a five-part test for determining a person’s residence for tax purposes, and the amount of time spent in the state is just one of those parts.CreditBenjamin Norman for The New York Times

“Where do you keep your teddy bear at night?” she said is one of 50 questions her firm asks clients who want to move their tax residency.

“The more boxes you can tick, the better,” Ms. Pumo said. “Sometimes, they check off one or two boxes. That’s just not enough. They think they can dip their toe in their new state.”

Florida is a preferred destination for residents in the Northeast looking to cut their tax bills, and tax authorities in their former states are monitoring such moves.

When people change residency, advisers say the first few years are the most important from an auditing perspective. “The first one or two years, you shouldn’t come back very much,” Mr. Kosnitzky said. “You have to prove that you’ve left. After that the burden of proof shifts to the state.”

One way to prove you are gone is to classify your former home as a rental. Mr. Kosnitzky said the Internal Revenue Service generally checks to see if there has been actual rental income, for taxes and expenses to be deducted, but a brokerage agreement and a good-faith attempt to rent the property is usually sufficient.

Edward Nicoll, who lives in Miami Beach and has been a Florida resident since 2015, said he had been taxed on the same income by different states on two occasions.

“I ended up paying them both and then tried to get a refund from them,” he said, adding he acted on his accountant’s advice. “In one instance, I got the refund. In the other, I ended up paying double taxes” because the cost of fighting the tax was not worth it.

Mr. Nicoll, 65, said he used the Monaeo app to track his days, but said it was just one component of his effort to be as transparent as he could to build a defense for future audits.

“I’m keenly aware that avoiding taxes is something people spend a lot of time on,” he said. “I don’t mind paying my fair share of taxes. I just don’t want to pay more than my fair share — or pay it twice.”

What someone does when they move somewhere can also make a difference. Mr. Campbell said California generally allows people to buy a vacation home in the state without becoming residents for tax purposes.

“But that presumption goes away pretty quickly if you’re viewed as anything other than a seasonal tourist,” he said. And that can be a fine line, given how easy it is for many wealthy people to work wherever they are.

“If you had sufficient connections to two states and another state audited you, you now have a fight on your hands,” he said. Audit fees alone can range from $25,000 to well over $100,000, and that’s before taxes, penalties and interest are paid.

Generally, the type of income determines which state gets to tax it. Regular wages are taxed in the state where they are earned. Capital gains and dividends are taxed in the state where the person lives.

But forms of compensation like unvested options and other forms of deferred compensation are trickier. They are taxed by the states where work was performed over the vesting period, said Ryan L. Losi, a certified public accountant and executive vice president at Piascik, an accounting firm.

Mr. Losi said he expected to see a lot of these audits over the next few years, given the run-up in stock prices. Typically, he said, people pay the tax in the state where they are living when they exercise those options, but several years later, other states come looking for what is owed to them.

Taxpayers will have to settle with each state but then amend their return in the original state before the three-year statute of limitations has passed.

As someone who has been subject to state audits, Mr. Nicoll had advice for anyone considering establishing a new state residency: “Anyone who moves out now is going to be audited. People should see it as a cost for being wealthy.”

This article is from NYT – go to source

Tate Galleries Will Refuse Sackler Money Because of Opioid Links

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LONDON — Tate, which runs some of Britain’s most important art museums, announced Thursday night that it will no longer accept financial donations from the Sackler family, whose pharmaceutical interests have been linked to the opioid crisis.

“The Sackler family has given generously to Tate in the past, as they have to a large number of U.K. arts institutions,” a Tate statement said.

“We do not intend to remove references to this historic philanthropy. However, in the present circumstances we do not think it right to seek or accept further donations from the Sacklers.”

Tate’s trustees made the decision after advice from the institution’s independent ethics committee, a spokesman said in an email.

The news is the latest sign of the changing climate in the art world toward the Sacklers, who are major donors to museums. Family members own Purdue Pharma, which makes the painkiller OxyContin and is facing hundreds of lawsuits as a result of the epidemic of opioid addiction.

Tate’s statement came two days after Britain’s National Portrait Gallery said it would not accept a long-discussed $1.3 million donation from the London-based Sackler Trust, one of the family’s charitable foundations. It said the decision was taken jointly by the gallery and Trust.

But the Thursday announcement, affecting Tate Modern and Tate Britain in London, as well as Tate Liverpool and Tate St. Ives in Cornwall, could have a bigger impact in the art world. All these galleries are major tourist attractions as well as home to large, high-profile exhibitions.

In an email, a spokesman for the Mortimer and Raymond Sackler family said, “We deeply sympathise with all the communities, families and individuals affected by the addiction crisis in America. The allegations made against family members in relation to this are strongly denied and will be vigorously defended in court.” He did not comment on Tate’s decision.

Much of the focus on the Sacklers’ donations to art institutions has been in the United States, where deaths and addiction associated with prescription opioids have become an unrelenting crisis. But awareness of the crisis is high in Britain, and that has led to pressure on galleries, with the news media asking frequent questions about donations from the Sacklers.

Tate has received over $5 million from Sackler family trusts, including the Dr. Mortimer and Theresa Sackler Foundation based in Britain, according to the BBC. The trust helped finance the 2016 extension to Tate Modern known as the Blavatnik Building

There was little immediate reaction to the news from other institutions in Britain or the United States. Ken Weine, vice president and chief communications officer for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, said it was aware of Tate’s announcement but that the museum had nothing to add to a statement issued last month by Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president and chief executive.

“The Sackler family has been connected with the Met for more than a half century,” Mr. Weiss’s statement said. “The family is a large extended group and their support of The Met began decades before the opioid crisis.”

“The Met is currently engaging in a further review of our detailed gift acceptance policies, and we will have more to report in due course,” it went on to say.

The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum said in a statement it had received $9 million from members of the Mortimer D. Sackler family since 1995. It did not comment on Tate’s decision, but added “no contributions from the Sackler family have been received since 2015 and no additional gifts are planned.”

This article is from NYT – go to source

Bits: The Week in Tech: Our Future Robots Will Need Super-Smart Safety Checks

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Hi. I’m Jamie Condliffe. Greetings from London. Here’s a look at the week’s tech news:

Machines are more than ever controlled by software, not humans. Occasionally it goes fatally wrong.

On March 10, 157 people died when an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 jet crashed. Five months earlier, another crash of the same model of airplane killed 189 people. There are indications that software intended to prevent the jets from stalling may have played a role in both accidents.

Reporting by The New York Times suggests that the software didn’t receive a detailed review by the Federal Aviation Administration before it entered use: Under new rules, the agency delegated much of the responsibility to Boeing. If the software was at fault, and the problem did slip through the regulatory net, it raises questions about how safety-critical technology is vetted.

Those questions will become more important over the next few years.

A year ago, an Arizona woman was struck and killed by one of Uber’s autonomous cars. The vehicle’s autonomy systems failed to brake, as did the safety driver behind the wheel.

Companies like Uber and Waymo, along with most of the auto industry, expect autonomous cars to proliferate over the next decade. Such advances aren’t limited to cars — they will further automate everything from air travel to food delivery. They are built on technologies, like artificial intelligence, that will make split-second decisions for humans.

The Boeing software was designed to perform a simple task: Nudge the airplane’s nose down based on sensor readings if a stall was anticipated. As harder tasks are handed to software, the stakes rise.

“As you create more advanced A.I. systems, the harm that can result from them failing can be really large,” said Jade Leung, a researcher at Oxford University’s Center for the Governance of Artificial Intelligence.

But increasing the complexity of systems makes checking them more difficult. Hardware, from chips to special sensors, can be difficult to test. And it can be difficult for humans to understand how some A.I. algorithms make decisions.

Ms. Leung said regulators needed to be more aware of tail-end risks — the highly unlikely but catastrophic events that could occur if something malfunctioned. That might mean introducing more conservative rules that relax as technology matures, ideally developed in tandem with technologists who understand deeply how the systems work.

“Verifying the performance and safety of software is a really, really hard technical challenge,” Ms. Leung said. Nonetheless, it’s a challenge that has to be addressed.

When a company spends billions on world-leading digital infrastructure, it naturally wants to wring every last cent of revenue out of it. That’s partly what is driving Google’s new Stadia gaming service, announced on Tuesday.

Google’s pitch is straightforward: Think of it as Netflix for gaming. As long as they have a fast internet connection, users can pay a subscription to play high-definition games, akin to what they’d find on current top-end consoles, on any computer, phone or tablet.

The company’s promise: that its cloud infrastructure makes that achievable. It will add racks of gaming-specific chips to existing server farms to essentially give people an on-demand, remote gaming computer. And Google officials believe that since most users are now so close to its pervasive hardware, lag won’t be a problem — an issue that held back earlier game streaming platforms, like the now-defunct OnLive.

Google is not alone in the push into what some people see as the future of gaming. Microsoft had already announced that it planned to offer a trial of a similar service for Xbox consoles, computers and mobile devices this year. Amazon, which owns the game-watching service Twitch, is widely believed to be planning something similar, built on its Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure.

Those three companies happen to be the world’s largest cloud providers. It’s not surprising that they’re enamored of the idea of taking a slice of the $135 billion gaming industry, when all it could take is the flex of an existing muscle.

About $500 million should buy a lot of computer. This past week, we found out how much. Writing for The Times, Don Clark explained what the Department of Energy would get for dropping that sum on a supercomputer:

Lab officials predict it will be the first American machine to reach a milestone called “exascale” performance, surpassing a quintillion calculations per second. That’s roughly seven times the speed rating of the most powerful system built to date.

The device, called Aurora, will be used to figure out everything from how drugs work to the impact of climate change. It’s also a useful indicator of the nation’s competitiveness in science and technology — or, at this point, whether it’s leading or lagging behind China. On that front, Mr. Clark reports that it has been a mixed bag for the United States:

An IBM system called Summit, built for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, took back the No. 1 position last year on a twice-yearly ranking of the world’s 500 most powerful systems — a spot held by China for five years. But China leads by another key measure: It accounted for 227 systems on the Top 500 list, compared with 109 for the United States.

China is expected to have its own exascale supercomputer running as soon as 2020 — a full year before Aurora boots up.

Google received its third antitrust fine from the European Union since 2017. This one, for 1.5 billion euros, or about $1.7 billion, was for imposing unfair terms on the search service it offers to other websites.

Facebook will stop targeting some of its ads. It will no longer allow advertising of housing, jobs or credit to be aimed at those of a certain race, gender or age group.

The Pentagon’s giant cloud contract has a one-man holdup. Deap Ubhi, a little-known entrepreneur, is at the center of a legal battle between Amazon and Oracle over the $10 billion project.

Take a look at an early iPhone prototype. It’s red, about the size of an old computer motherboard and helped engineers to program the first breakthrough smartphone.

A.I. researchers could give computers a little more credit. Rich Sutton, a pioneer of some of today’s most effective A.I. techniques, argues that a “bitter lesson” in artificial intelligence is that “the only thing that matters in the long run is the leveraging of computation.”

Why is there still relatively little tech regulation? “Lawmakers are reluctant to disrupt the enormous wealth creation machine that technology has turned out to be,” according to the security expert Bruce Schneier.

Screen sharing can be an easy route to professional humiliation. But don’t worry, the aftermath usually isn’t as bad as you might think. (Even so, here are some tips for avoiding future catastrophes.)

Jamie Condliffe is editor of the DealBook newsletter. He also writes the weekly Bits newsletter. Follow him on Twitter here: @jme_c.

This article is from NYT – go to source

DealBook Briefing: Rajat Gupta Won’t Say Sorry

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Good Friday morning. (Was this email forwarded to you? Sign up here.)

Rajat Gupta was once a member of the financial elite: the head of McKinsey, a board member of Goldman Sachs and an adviser to Bill Gates. Then he was convicted in 2012 of tipping an insider-trading ring. Now Mr. Gupta, who served two years in prison, has spoken to Andrew about his plight.

Mr. Gupta still says he’s innocent of securities fraud, despite having been convicted of illegally slipping the hedge fund manager Raj Rajaratnam confidential information about Goldman Sachs. His only regret? Being a little too loose-lipped about corporate secrets.

Mr. Gupta forgave Mr. Rajaratnam when the two shared prison time. “We played Scrabble in prison together. We played chess. We had breakfast together,” Mr. Gupta told Andrew.

But he definitely hasn’t forgiven Preet Bharara, the prosecutor who put him behind bars. “Go after the hedge funds and their circle, play up the story in the press, and maybe no one would notice that the big banking executives were continuing to walk free,” Mr. Gupta wrote in a new book, out next week.

Since being released three years ago, Mr. Gupta has done some consulting in India, but hasn’t reconnected with many business associates from his previous life. “I didn’t want to put them in a difficult position,” he said.

But he’s learning to move on. “Don’t get too attached to anything — your reputation, your accomplishments or any of it,” Mr. Gupta told Andrew. “This thing unjustly destroyed my reputation. That’s only troubling if I am so attached to my reputation.”

____________________________

Today’s DealBook Briefing was written by Andrew Ross Sorkin in New York, and Michael J. de la Merced and Jamie Condliffe in London.

____________________________

European leaders have pushed back the deadline for Britain’s exit from the bloc, giving Prime Minister Theresa May and British lawmakers more time to avoid a no-deal Brexit, Stephen Castle and Steven Erlanger of the NYT write.

“Britain’s exit date will be pushed back to May 22 if next week Mrs. May can persuade lawmakers in Parliament to accept her plan for leaving the bloc, which they have already rejected overwhelmingly, not once but twice.”

“If she cannot persuade lawmakers to accept her plan, Mrs. May will get a shorter delay in exiting the European Union — until April 12. But Britain could stay in the bloc longer if it decides it needs more time for a more fundamental rethink of Brexit.”

The E.U. doesn’t want Britain to crash out. But officials “made it clear that it is for Britain to make serious choices, and soon, and that failure should not be laid at the door of Brussels,” Mr. Castle and Mr. Erlanger write.

More: Over two million people have signed a petition to cancel Brexit. And Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority warned that the finance industry still faces big risks in a no-deal scenario.

Image
The cockpit of a Boeing 737 Max 8 jet.CreditAbhirup Roy/Reuters

The embattled plane maker will install an extra safety alarm in its 737 Max jets after two fatal plane crashes. But it’s unclear whether that, together with a forthcoming software upgrade, will be enough to prevent future catastrophes.

The new feature warns pilots if a plane’s “angle of attack” sensors, which determine the pitch of the plane’s nose, disagree with each other. A faulty sensor is suspected of triggering anti-stall software that may have helped cause the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashes. Until now, this warning system was an optional extra on the Max jets.

But it’s only one of two features that experts say could help make the planes safer, according to the NYT. The other is an indicator that displays the sensors’ readings, which will remain an optional feature. Neither has been mandated by the F.A.A.

The move highlights Boeing’s practice of selling add-ons. The planemaker has made a lot of money by offering features as upgrades — some of which are important safety items, the NYT reports. (Among them: a backup fire extinguisher for the cargo hold and oxygen masks for the crew.)

But the damage continues to grow. Indonesia’s Garuda airline said today it was seeking to cancel a $4.9 billion order of Max 8 jets. “Our passengers, psychologically, they don’t trust flying with Max anymore,” a spokesman for the airline told the NYT.

Small countries, big companies and even just wealthy people can now turn to gun-for-hire hackers to settle their scores, according to an NYT investigation — turning the business into a multibillion-dollar industry.

Privatized cyberspying has taken off. Two companies — NSO, an Israeli company, and DarkMatter, based in the United Arab Emirates — have developed sophisticated espionage operations, helped by former government hackers on staff. They help governments perform legitimate law enforcement investigations.

But there’s a darker side. The Mexican government is suspected of using NSO tools to spy on its own citizens, including journalists and activists. Saudi Arabia has been accused of using NSO products to spy on associates of Jamal Khashoggi. And former DarkMatter employees told the NYT that the U.A.E. used the firm’s tools to spy on Ahmed Mansoor, a prominent human rights activist.

And it’s lucrative. “Francisco Partners, a private equity firm, purchased a 70 percent stake in NSO for $130 million in 2013. Last month, NSO’s co-founders raised enough money to buy back a majority stake in NSO at a valuation of just under $1 billion,” the NYT reports. Moody’s estimates that the so-called lawful intercept spyware market is worth $12 billion.

Intellectual property rules for new pharmaceutical products could derail President Trump’s push to get his revised North American Free Trade Agreement through Congress, Ana Swanson of the NYT reports.

• “While Mr. Trump secured Canada’s and Mexico’s signoff on the new agreement last year, the trade pact must be ratified by legislators in all three countries, including by Congress.”

• “Democrats, who now control the House, have already made it clear that they will not approve the new trade deal without significant changes to labor and environmental provisions.”

• “Now, they are also looking for revisions to the trade deal’s pharmaceutical provisions, in particular a measure providing an advanced class of drugs called biologics 10 years of protection from cheaper alternatives.”

• “A similar conflict over drug industry protections helped delay and ultimately sink the prospects for another trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Josh Kushner.CreditRichard Perry/The New York Times

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, went to Saudi Arabia in October 2017 in his role as a White House adviser. But his brother, Josh, was there the day before on behalf of his investment firm, David Kirkpatrick of the NYT reports — raising questions about whether Jared could be evenhanded in dealing with the kingdom.

• “Josh Kushner had spent the three days before his brother’s arrival at an investor conference, where Prince Mohammed had promised to spend billions of dollars on a high-tech future for Saudi Arabia.”

• Jared Kushner cut ties to Josh’s venture firm, Thrive Capital, including by selling his interest in its funds, after he joined the Trump administration. Previously, he had appeared to be closely involved in Thrive’s operations. Meanwhile, Josh Kushner has kept his distance from his brother.

• But, Mr. Kirkpatrick writes, Jared “was nonetheless discussing American policy with the rulers of the kingdom at virtually the same time that his brother was talking business with their top aides.”

• “It is reasonable to question Jared Kushner’s ability to be impartial,” Kathleen Clark, a law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told the NYT.

More Kushner news: Charles Kushner, the father of Jared and Josh, has publicly defended both his real estate company and Jared. And the chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee claimed that Jared uses WhatsApp for official government business.

Policy reversals at the Fed and the European Central Bank often catch economists off guard. But they can have a profound effect on nations that don’t use the dollar or the euro, the WSJ reports.

• “Switzerland and countries near the eurozone but not part of it — like Sweden and Denmark — rely on the bloc for much of their exports and imports.”

• “That makes growth and inflation highly dependent on the exchange rate.”

• “Central-bank stimulus tends to weaken a country’s exchange rate, so when the E.C.B. embraces easy-money policies, as it did two weeks ago, it tends to weaken the euro against other European currencies, such as the Swiss franc.”

• “Because the E.C.B. is so large, Switzerland and others can do little to offset it.”

As a result, small countries often adopt negative interest rates despite having otherwise healthy economies. That can be costly, particularly for commercial banks that have to pay the equivalent of billions of dollars to store funds.

James Comey.CreditJonathan Ernst/Reuters

As speculation swirls about the exact timing of Robert Mueller’s imminent submission of his special counsel report on the Russia investigation, James Comey, the former F.B.I. director, writes in an NYT Op-Ed what he hopes to see:

• “I have no idea whether the special counsel will conclude that Mr. Trump knowingly conspired with the Russians in connection with the 2016 election or that he obstructed justice with the required corrupt intent. I also don’t care.”

• “I am rooting for a demonstration to the world — and maybe most of all to our president and his enablers — that the United States has a justice system that works because there are people who believe in it and rise above personal interest and tribalism.“

• What Mr. Comey personally doesn’t want to see: an impeachment of President Trump, because “a significant portion of this country would see this as a coup.”

Wells Fargo directors are reportedly in talks to hire Harvey Schwartz, the former president of Goldman Sachs, as their bank’s next C.E.O.

Ford Motor hired Tim Stone, who was most recently the chief financial officer of Snap, as its next C.F.O., replacing Bob Shanks.

Freddie Mac has named David Brickman, its president, as its next C.E.O., replacing Donald Layton.

President Trump plans to name Michael Kratsios as his administration’s first chief technology officer.

Deals

• Shares in Levi Strauss jumped 31 percent in their first day of trading yesterday. The N.Y.S.E. relaxed its ban on jeans for the I.P.O. — but only for the day. (Reuters, WSJ)

• Pinterest reportedly plans to list on the N.Y.S.E. as soon as mid-April. (WSJ)

• Uber has reportedly picked the N.Y.S.E. for its I.P.O. (Bloomberg)

• Hyundai shareholders rejected Elliott Management’s campaign for board seats and a special dividend. (Reuters)

• Rent the Runway, the online clothing rental service, has raised $125 million at a $1 billion valuation. (NYT)

Politics and policy

• Americans are souring on the Trump tax cuts, in part because they’re receiving smaller refunds, new polling suggests. (NYT)

• Economic models, which often accurately predict presidential elections, suggest that President Trump would be re-elected if voting took place today. But economists predict a slowdown between now and 2020, which could change that. (Politico)

• Several big Democratic donors have reportedly told Joe Biden that they wouldn’t back him in the early stages of the party’s presidential primary, to see how the field shakes out. (CNBC)

• Margrethe Vestager, the E.U.’s antitrust chief, says she will run for president of the European Commission, hoping to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker. (FT)

Tech

• Facebook stored millions of user account passwords insecurely. Now might be a good time to read that deleting Facebook from your life isn’t as painful as you might expect. (NYT)

• The founder of 8chan, the website where the suspect in the Christchurch, N.Z., shooting posted a missive, thinks the site didn’t move fast enough to take down the message. And distributing the video of the shooting is a crime in the country. (WSJ, NYT)

• It looks like Tesla sales are falling. Also, the automaker has accused two groups of former employees of stealing trade secrets. (NYT, Verge)

• Walmart is building A.I. in a bid to compete with Amazon. (WSJ)

Best of the rest

• Michael Steinhardt, a former hedge fund mogul and leading donor to Jewish causes, has been accused of repeated sexual harassment. (NYT)

• Lawsuits against JetBlue claim that two of its pilots drugged and raped flight attendants. (NYT)

• Here’s everything you need to know about Modern Monetary Theory, but were too afraid to ask. (Bloomberg)

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