Welcome to the Talking Points newsletter, your daily dose of business insight from Jon Chesto, plus a recap of the top stories for Tuesday, Jan. 10.
Chesto Means Business
Grievances aired over power move: The Cape Wind project may be dead. But the offshore wind business is very much alive, thanks to a 2016 state law requiring utilities to buy power from offshore wind farms. NStar successor Eversource wants to be both a buyer and a seller, now that it is investing in one of three wind projects proposed for waters south of Massachusetts.
That doesn’t sit well over at PowerOptions, a Boston group that negotiates power purchases on behalf of cities and nonprofits. CEO Cynthia Arcate says Eversource’s stake in one of these proposals could violate the spirit of the state’s two-decades-old electricity deregulation law, by essentially allowing a utility to own a power plant and pass its financial risks on to ratepayers.
State officials are still formulating rules under which Eversource and National Grid will make long-term purchases of hyrdro and offshore wind power. But Arcate’s group just filed comments urging that bids from projects with utility-affiliated investments be rejected, because of the potential conflict of interest.
Good luck with that. Eversource and state officials say they have faith that a recently hired independent evaluator, Peregrine Energy Group, will help ensure the bidding process goes cleanly and fairly.
No one said starting a new industry is easy. But it can be particularly tricky when consumers will be asked to help pay for it.
Making sense of a strong dollar: Those tariffs being threatened by President-elect Donald Trump may be undermined by the strength of the dollar, the Globe’s Evan Horowitz writes.
In recent days, Trump has been warning automakers he intends to charge a border tax if the companies make cars in Mexico and then sell them in the United States. But given the strength of the dollar, Trump’s Made in America mentality risks “a self-defeating chain reaction.”
Instead of American-made products being cheaper, they actually become more expensive and less competitive in foreign markets as the dollar strengthens. America first has been a populist mantra that helped get Trump elected, but it remains to be seen if it will actually benefit US companies in a global economy.
January’s hire power: When you think of the New Year, you think resolutions and fitness. Well, apparently a lot of employers are resolving to fit in new employees.
The Globe’s Katie Johnston writes that January is the busiest month for job searches. The combination of companies adding jobs to their budgets and some companies downsizing as the old year ended, leads to a busy job market in January.
That, and the hiring process gets put on hold for a lot of companies during the holidays. This year with workers in high demand and salaries on the rise, January could be a monster month for workers making moves.
Funding in a flash: A Needham-based company that provides data storage for companies like Priceline and Nuance Communications received another $75 million from investors, the Globe’s Curt Woodward writes.
Kaminario, which was founded in 1998, competes against data storage giants Dell Technologies and Hewlett Packard using solid-state flash memory technology. The company stands out because of the software it uses to control the systems, says Steve Duplessie, a senior analyst at Enterprise Data Group.
“We want to stay private as long as we can,” said Dani Golan, Kaminario’s chief executive. That kind of investment can delay any need to go public.
Travel app takes off: Woodward also writes about a startup getting an infusion of cash.
Lola, the travel company created by Paul English, cofounder of Kayak, has raised $15 million as it seeks to develop a second version of the app. Lola connects users with personal travel agents “to help book flights, hotels and other travel necessities.”
Hotel recommendations will be part of the next generation of the app, according to English.
F or he’s a jolly good fellow: Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Wall Street Journal are all getting significant clicks for a story on the retirement of Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Federal Reserve. Lacker, a proponent of higher interest rates, is retiring in October.
Another blow for retailers:
Walmart latest to announce cutbacks -- Wall Street Journal
That’s a lot of VW Beetles:
Scandal settlement reportedly $4.3b -- Bloomberg
Sounding the alarm for Sonos:
Out of the box compensation:
Next logical step: In a story published in Tuesday’s Globe, Tech Lab columnist Hiawatha Bray writes about the dash by New Balance to get into the smartwatch game. The Boston-based company announced its plunge into the Fitbit-style technology at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Consumers can jog into retailers next month to get the RunIQ, powered by chips from Intel Corp. and software from Alphabet Inc. The data are being used by athletes to “improve performance,” says Chris Ladd, president of New Balance.
Consumers bought 23 million wearable devices in 2016, up 3 percent from the previous year, though New Balance is targeting the higher end of the market. The company is also considering a leap into other smart apparel such as sports bras and shirts to monitor heart rates.