Talking Points

TALKING POINTS

Paytronix gets $65m investment from private equity firm

SOFTWARE

Paytronix gets $65m investment from private equity firm

Paytronix Systems, a Newton software company that provides software for rewards programs for restaurants and convenience stores, has received a $65 million investment from Great Hill Partners, a Boston private equity firm. The investment will support a significant expansion for Paytronix, including 25 new hires at its headquarters. Paytronix provides software for service industry companies such as Peet’s Coffee, California Pizza Kitchen, and 330 businesses worldwide. Locally, clients include Tavern in the Square, Legal Seafoods, JP Licks, Panera Bread, Papa Gino’s, and D’Angelos. — MARGEAUX SIPPELL

OFFICE SPACE

WeWork teaming up with online degree company

WeWork wants to be more than an office landlord. The co-working giant’s latest venture will give online-degree seekers a desk at WeWork locations. The New York company told Bloomberg it is teaming up with online education provider 2U Inc., which develops graduate courses for schools, including New York University, the University of California Berkeley, and Yale University. Students enrolled in digital courses offered by 2U will be able to study from WeWork offices, where they can join in-person study groups and rent conference rooms to work with classmates. Students will have access to any of WeWork’s 207 locations, known for their hip decor, free Wi-Fi, and on-tap kombucha. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

MEDIA

Netflix subscriptions soar in fourth quarter

“Stranger Things” is the gift that keeps on giving for Netflix. The world’s largest online TV network signed up 8.33 million customers in the fourth quarter, surpassing analysts’ estimates of 6.34 million, thanks in large part to the popularity of the fantasy series. Netflix now has 117.6 million customers worldwide, wrapping up its biggest year ever for new subscribers. While rival media companies merge, fire staff, and fret about the future of their businesses, Netflix keeps chugging along, adding customers at home, in Europe, and in Latin America. Sales grew by a third to $3.29 billion, the company said Monday after markets closed, while earnings almost tripled from a year prior. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

INTERNET

Montana governor signs order to restore Net neutrality

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Most efforts underway to restore so-called Net neutrality face big obstacles and would take many months, if not years, to succeed. But in Montana, the governor has used the stroke of a pen to bring the rules to broad parts of his state. Through an executive order, Governor Steve Bullock declared Monday that any Internet service provider with a state government contract cannot block or charge more for faster delivery of websites, two core aspects of Net neutrality, to any customer in the state. Many major landline and mobile broadband providers, including Charter, CenturyLink, AT&T, and Verizon, hold government contracts in the state. The new requirements apply to new and renewed contracts signed after July 1, 2018. The action, the first of its kind by a governor, could face legal challenges. In December, the Federal Communications Commission rolled back rules meant to protect a free and open Internet. The new rules say states cannot create Net neutrality laws. The agency did not respond to a request for comment about the Montana action. — NEW YORK TIMES

ALCOHOL

Bacardi buys tequila company Patron

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Bacardi Ltd. is tapping into the fast-growing market for tequila by acquiring Patron Spirits International AG in a deal valuing the company at $5.1 billion. The deal combines two of the world’s largest closely held distillers, putting Grey Goose vodka, Dewar’s Scotch, and Bacardi rum under the same banner as Patron’s famous tequilas. Bermuda-based Bacardi, the world’s largest private alcohol company, is transitioning to a new chief executive, Mahesh Madhavan, who will take the reins on April 1. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

FINANCE

TD Ameritrade
to offer weekday round-the-clock trading of
12 US ETFs

Stock traders who want to pull all-nighters can now do so through TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. The second-biggest discount broker now lets customers buy and sell 12 US exchange-traded funds 24 hours a day on weekdays. Clients in Asia will be among the beneficiaries, gaining the ability to trade US products during their daylight hours. But Americans wanting to key off late-breaking news can participate, too. When events such as US elections or the UK’s 2016 vote to leave the Europe Union happen, “clients want to interact with the market, but they can’t because it’s not open,” said Steve Quirk, TD Ameritrade’s executive vice president of trading and education. “Almost 70 percent of the time, clients are doing their research and making their decisions at a time when they aren’t able to trade.” — BLOOMBERG NEWS

ONLINE RETAIL

Swiss owner
of Cartier and Montblanc to buy Yoox Net-a-Porter for $3.4b

Competition has been intensifying in the high-end online retail sector. Now, a major traditional luxury group is doubling down on its investment in the space. Compagnie Financière Richemont, the Swiss company that owns the Cartier, IWC, and Montblanc brands, said Monday it had offered to take over the fashion e-commerce company Yoox Net-a-Porter for 2.8 billion euros, or about $3.4 billion. The surprise offer from Richemont for the world’s largest luxury fashion “e-tailer” by sales came nearly three years after Yoox and Net-a-Porter merged in an all-share deal. Richemont, the controlling shareholder of Net-a-Porter at the time of that merger, still holds about 25 percent of the voting rights of the combined company. The latest announcement is a clear about-face in strategy for Richemont. Wealthy consumers are becoming ever more comfortable with spending large sums of money online, with Internet luxury sales jumping by 24 percent last year, according to a recent study by consulting firm Bain & Co. — NEW YORK TIMES

INNOVATION

Uber chief predicts flying cars within the next decade

Flying cars will be zipping across US skies within the coming decade — at least that’s what Uber Technologies Inc.’s chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi, predicts. “There will be people flying around Dallas, Texas,” Khosrowshahi said at the DLD tech conference in Munich, his first public appearance in Europe since taking over the top job at Uber last year. “I think it’s going to happen within the next ten years.” The Uber CEO cited congested cities as one of the issues his company can help solve, for example by increasing the number of electric vehicles. Fully autonomous taxis are still 10 to 15 years away, however, because of the effort needed to create 3-D maps and since sensors are still too expensive, he said. Uber plans to expand to more cities in Germany this year, but will do so more carefully and in dialog with governments, companies, and the local taxi industry after it entered the market too aggressively, he said. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

DINING

Surge pricing coming to restaurants

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If you’re an Uber rider, you’re definitely familiar with their practice of surge pricing. That’s when you need a cab on a rainy Friday during rush hour and Uber quotes you twice what you normally pay for the ride. It’s completely legal and has proven very effective. So much so that other businesses — from airlines to hotels to freight carriers — have been using variations of this model for years. But now the practice is making its way into the restaurant industry. Bloomberg recently reported that a well-known London restaurant called Bob Bob Ricard is implementing surge pricing this month, with prices for the same meals being offered at a 25 percent discount during off-peak times as opposed to its busiest hours. In other words, you get a break on that Monday lunch as opposed to that Saturday dinner. Of course, your grandparents in Florida have known about surge pricing for years. They call it the ‘‘early bird discount.’’ — WASHINGTON POST