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TALKING POINTS

Alyce growing on heels of latest funding round

Greg Segall, the CEO of Boston startup Alyce.
Greg Segall, the CEO of Boston startup Alyce.Alyce

MARKETING

Alyce growing on heels of latest funding round

Go ask Alyce if you want to learn how big of a business handing out swag has become. The Boston-based subscription software startup plans to double the size of its 170-person workforce now that it has raised $30 million in its latest round of funding. This investment round, led by General Catalyst, brings the total venture capital raised by Alyce to $48 million. Alyce provides a platform for providing corporate gifts, promotional items, and direct mail, to build personal connections between companies and their clients or prospective clients. Led by chief executive Greg Segall, Alyce has made a number of key executive hires in the past 12 months. With the latest funding round, General Catalyst executive-in-residence Lou Shipley will join Alyce’s board. — JON CHESTO

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GOLF

Teeing off made a comeback after a rough start in 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic initially shut the state’s golf industry completely, forcing golfers to go over the state line to play. But once the industry reopened last spring, the pandemic proved to be a big boost: The rounds of golf played in the state surged 40 percent last year compared to 2019, according to a survey of more than 370 golf courses conducted by the Alliance of Massachusetts Golf Organizations. Meanwhile, the percentage of walking rounds — those not involving a cart —was up 30 percent. The golf association said the significant increase in business helped preserve thousands of jobs at area courses and clubs, and that the sport proved to be an ideal socially distant sport during a time of isolation. — JON CHESTO

BEER

Drinking at home boosts sales

Beer sales, already elevated in 2020 as consumers drank at home, will climb even further this year, says the maker of Modelo and Corona. Constellation Brands says net sales for beer will grow 7 percent to 9 percent this fiscal year. That segment includes names like Modelo Especial, which became the third best-selling beer in the United States last year, as well as new products like Corona Hard Seltzer, whose unfortunate name connection to the coronavirus isn’t hurting sales. In the year that just ended, the company’s net beer sales were up 8 percent. The growth in beer demand comes even as so called on-premise drinking venues like bars, restaurants, and events saw demand halved by the coronavirus, said Constellation, which on Thursday reported fourth-quarter sales that beat estimates. But those drops were more than offset by beer demand at home. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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SOCIAL MEDIA

Muslim group sues Facebook for allegedly sparking anti-Muslim abuse

A civil rights group is suing Facebook and its executives, saying CEO Mark Zuckerberg made “false and deceptive’' statements to Congress when he said the giant social network removes hate speech and other material that violates its rules. The lawsuit, filed by Muslim Advocates in Washington, D.C., Superior Court on Thursday, claims Zuckerberg and other senior executives “have engaged in a coordinated campaign to convince the public, elected representatives, federal officials, and non-profit leaders in the nation’s capital that Facebook is a safe product.’' Facebook, the lawsuit alleges, has been repeatedly alerted to hate speech and calls to violence on its platform and done nothing or very little. Making false and deceptive statements about removing hateful and harmful content violates the District of Columbia’s consumer-protection law and its bar on fraud, the lawsuit says. In a statement, Facebook said it does not allow hate speech on its platform and said it regularly works with “experts, non-profits,and stakeholders to help make sure Facebook is a safe place for everyone, recognizing anti-Muslim rhetoric can take different forms.” — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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GAMING

GameStop nominating Chewy founder as board chairman

GameStop says it’s nominating Chewy founder Ryan Cohen as chairman of the board at its annual shareholders’ meeting on June 9. In mid-January, GameStop Corp. added Cohen and two of his former colleagues from Chewy to its board after Cohen had pressed the retailer to focus on its online operations. That move contributed to the stock’s meteoric rise. Shares have given up some of their over-the-moon gains since the big runup in late January, but are still up more than 800 percent this year. Earlier this week, the Grapevine, Texas-based video retailer said that it will sell up to 3.5 million of its shares. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

ENERGY

World’s first hydrogen-fueled power plant slated for Britain

Norwegian energy major Equinor will work with SSE to develop two new low-carbon power plants in the most polluting part of the UK, including the first in the world running on hydrogen. Britain needs to find new ways to decarbonize its economy in order to meet its net zero emissions target for 2050. Technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, which remove and reduce the pollutants created by burning fossil fuels, will play a key role. The stations will be built in the Humber region in the north of England, where large industrial plants dominate the landscape. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

WORKPLACE

RBC workers get an extra day off as pandemic burnout takes hold

Royal Bank of Canada is giving employees an extra paid day off this year, and its top executive acknowledged that staff are more burned out now than at any time during the COVID-19 pandemic. Chief executive Dave McKay said in companywide memo on Thursday that many employees have said they’re exhausted and that the bank needs to “eliminate the stigma associated with asking for time to focus, concentrate, and in some cases, log off and recharge.” Burnout has become a more pressing issue for financial firms as the pandemic moves into its second year and some lines of business, including mergers and acquisitions, see a sustained boom in activity. Last month, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO David Solomon said the firm would improve enforcement of a rule designed to ensure junior bankers don’t have to work on Saturdays. His memo came after junior analysts gave managers a presentation showing that some worked 100 hours in a week. RBC, Canada’s largest lender, is also giving its roughly 86,000 employees worldwide a free, one-year subscription to Headspace, a meditation and sleep app. — BLOOMBERG NEWS

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ENERGY

Solar farms could be coming to Texas in wake of winter power disaster

A Texas renewables developer is about to test investors’ appetite for solar farms in the state after February’s devastating freeze rendered some power plants inoperable for days. Caprock Renewables is looking to raise equity for a $550 million portfolio of utility-scale solar in southern Texas, said chief executive Thanasis Iatrou. The planned projects come as power-plant investors reckon with potentially heavy losses from Texas’s energy crisis — and the possibility of regulatory changes that could drive up costs for renewables generators. — ASSOCIATED PRESS

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MORTGAGES

Rates fall after seven-week rise

After seven consecutive increases, fixed mortgage rates reversed course this week. According to the latest data released Thursday by Freddie Mac, the 30-year fixed-rate average slipped to 3.13 percent It was 3.18 percent a week ago and 3.33 percent a year ago. The 15-year fixed-rate average slid to 2.42 percent. It was 2.45 percent a week ago and 2.77 percent a year ago. — WASHINGTON POST