Business Headlines

abriendomundo/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- NASA said it will pay a private firm $1 to collect a sample of the moon as part of its initiative to solicit help from commercial companies to obtain moon rocks and dust.

The U.S. space agency announced Thursday that it had selected four companies to collect space resources and bring them back to NASA, including two U.S. firms, one Japanese company, and one company based in Luxembourg.

NASA said that one of the U.S. companies, Lunar Outpost of Golden, Colorado, proposed collecting only a $1 fee upon returning samples after its lander arrives on the moon in 2023.

Ispace Japan and Europe are charging $5,000 for moon samples, and Masten Space Systems of California is collecting $15,000.

All told, NASA says the total contracts with these companies amount to $25,001.

The partnership with the private sector to collect cosmic samples aims to support NASA's Artemis program, which has the goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the moon by 2024.

"These awards expand NASA’s innovative use of public-private partnerships to the Moon. We’re excited to join with our commercial and international partners to make Artemis the largest and most diverse global human space exploration coalition in history," Mike Gold, NASA’s acting associate administrator for international and interagency relations, said in a statement.

"Space resources are the fuel that will propel America and all of humanity to the stars," Gold added.

Phil McAlister, the director of Commercial Spaceflight Development at NASA, added that, “leveraging commercial involvement enhances our ability to safely return to the Moon in a sustainable, innovative, and affordable fashion."

"A supportive policy for the recovery and use of space resources provides a stable and predictable investment environment for commercial space innovators and entrepreneurs," McAlister said.

The companies are tasked with collecting a small amount of lunar samples from any location on the moon as well as providing images to NASA of the collected material and data that identifies the location. The firms will then have to transfer ownership of the lunar rock samples to NASA.

Lunar Outpost said its contract with NASA "signifies a paradigm shift in the way society thinks about space exploration."

"As in the first Space Race, competition for national pride and an innate desire to explore will always play a factor in motivating humankind to push the limits of their expeditionary abilities," the company said. "However, this contract is symbolic of a new incentive that will exponentially increase the potential of future missions and be the main economic driver of the New Space economy for decades to come: access to the unlimited and invaluable resources of space."

To fulfill its contract, the Colorado firm said it will use its new rover, the Mobile Autonomous Prospecting Platform, to harvest lunar samples for NASA. The rover is set to land on the lunar South Pole in 2023.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


courtneyk/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. employers added 245,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate slipped to 6.7%, the Department of Labor said Friday.

The fresh economic data shows the labor market clawing its way out of the pandemic-induced downturn, but still far away from a full recovery. The unemployment rate in the U.S. was 3.5% in February before the crisis hit.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News Photo Illustration, Young King Hair CareBy JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- After spending hours searching for products to style her son's natural hair, only to be left with limited options, Cora Miller, along with her husband, Stefan Miller, decided to launch their own curated collection to fill the void they noticed within the natural hair care market.

Young King Hair Care is a plant-based natural hair care line that the Millers created for multicultural boys.

"Our goal is to redefine male grooming for the next generation by encouraging boys to show up with full confidence and take pride in their self-care," Cora told ABC News' Good Morning America.

Young King Hair currently offers a shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, curling cream and essential oils.

Additionally, there's a three-step styling package, The Royal Treatment, which includes the curling cream, leave-in conditioner and essential oils. These products work well together to adhere to the Liquid Oil Cream Method, also known as the L.O.C. method, which Stefan said is a proven technique for layering products to moisturize and strengthen textured hair.

The Atlanta-based company also recently launched a shampoo and conditioner, The Crown Wash Set, that works to help cleanse, refresh and enhance natural curls.

Each product has been crafted with natural ingredients and is free from sulfates, parabens, mineral oils or other harmful ingredients, which makes them safe for babies and adults.

Cora, a retired vice president of external affairs for UnitedHealth Group, and Stefan, a marketing professional, spent over a year conducting research, facilitating consumer focus groups, going through multiple iterations of brand design, identifying the right manufacturing company and testing products with parents of young boys to ensure that their product formulation aligned with their vision.

"We wanted our brand and our products to be as unique and dynamic as our target audience," Stefan told GMA. "From the ingredients to the scent to the packaging design, we wanted to be thoughtful on formulating, sourcing and finalizing our initial product offerings in order to uniquely meet the needs of boys with textured hair."

Stefan and Cora have made Sundays dedicated wash days for their son Kade, aka Young King Hair Care's "Chief Inspiration Officer."

"We generally use all three styling products daily to provide constant moisture and curl definition since his hair is on the coarser and dryer side," said Cora.

In less than a year, Young King Hair Care has received lots of positive feedback from parents. One mother, Dinah M., shared on Instagram, "These products work amazing together! My son's hair is usually dry, but he has been using this combo and his curls are staying moist and defined. Plus he loves having his own personal products."

Another mother, Jenny, raved about how hydrated and healthy her son's curls were after using the products, and said they made him feel good about himself.

"Our guiding mission has always been to redefine male grooming by encouraging boys with textured hair to celebrate and love their crowns," said Stefan. "Based on the consumer research we completed, one of the biggest pain points for parents was not knowing what to do nor how to style their son's hair and finding little options with clean, premium quality ingredients."

Cora added, "We are uplifted and shining a light on an underrepresented community within the market. We firmly believe that representation is critically important for boys of color, especially given today's current climate."

"We all know the problems facing the Black community and particularly Black boys and men," she continued. "Sadly, more often than not, Black males are seen as a threat and are prejudged before they even open their mouths. As founders of Young King Hair Care and more importantly, as parents of a growing Black boy, we want to change the narrative of how the world sees Black boys. We know our young kings are royally crafted, they are our future change-makers and they will help make this world a better place."

Young King Hair Care has been selected as one of the top 10, out of over 450 brands, to participate in Target's accelerator program for emerging beauty brands. Additionally, the brand has secured multiple retail partnerships which will allow it to be sold in more stores soon, the Millers said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- A 29-year-old woman who adopted a former student and his brother is now celebrating being completely debt-free.

Chelsea Haley of Marietta, Georgia, has eliminated a total of $48,683.41 -- the amount she owed in credit cards and student loans with interest.

 "It doesn't feel real yet," Haley, mom of Jerome, 17, and Jace, 6, told ABC News' Good Morning America. "It's so amazing. I even logged into my student loans and it said, 'Cleared. Zero balance.'"

Haley was teaching in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2015, on a two-year commitment to Teach for America, which is an organization that recruits recent college graduates to work in low-income schools. Her son, Jerome, was in her 4th-grade class at the time.

When Haley saw Jerome getting suspended from school and failing to progress academically, she started spending time with him -- going to his football games, buying him school supplies and more, she told GMA in 2018.

Soon, Jerome asked Haley if he could live with her and in 2016, Haley gained full custody of the teen.

Chelsea now has full custody of Jerome's little brother, Jace, as well.

"Being their mom is the greatest blessing of my life," Haley said. "I get to wake up in the morning and love two little guys."

Haley said she wiped out her savings for attorney fees when seeking custody of the two boys. She also accumulated debt to afford taking care of them, which was piled onto deferred student loans.

Determine to rid herself of debt, Haley took on side jobs.

"On top of being a teacher, I was tutoring a couple of days a week," she said, adding that on Fridays, she was paid extra to stay late at the school and work as the building manager.

Haley also delivered groceries, sold her home and moved back in with her parents on Nov. 6.

Her current goal is to save money for a new house and prepare Jerome for college. Both boys are thriving in school, Haley said.

"It allows me to focus on the boys' future," she said. "Saving money for them, and not spending it on my past."

Her advice for tackling debt is never to ignore your spending and stick to a plan.

"Finances can be kind of scary and it's easier to be say, 'It's out of sight, out mind,'" Haley pointed out.

Here are more debt elimination tips from Haley:

1. List all your goals, starting with the high-interest bills you'd like to pay off.

2. Look through your paycheck and pay attention to what you're spending money on.

3. Consider additional sources for income, if your time allows.

4. Learn to say no to certain money-spending habits.

It's also key to stay motivated, Haley said, by "knowing you'll have a lot more freedom once it's paid off."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


mixmotive/iStockBy AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Five current and former Metropolitan Transportation Authority employees have been charged with fraud for falsely claiming to have worked hundreds of hours of overtime that they did not in fact work.

The L.I.R.R. and NYC Transit workers were being paid while at home, on vacation or bowling, federal prosecutors said.

“These defendants, senior L.I.R.R. and New York City Transit employees, allegedly made themselves some of the highest-paid employees at the entire MTA by claiming extraordinary, almost physically impossible, amounts of overtime,” Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said.

The defendants -- Thomas Caputo, Joseph Ruzzo, John Nugent, Joseph Balestra and Michael Gundersen -- are expected to appear in court later Thursday.

"The alleged conduct by these MTA employees is an egregious betrayal of public trust," Tim Minton, communications director at the MTA, said in a statement. "The MTA has implemented a number of aggressive overtime controls that substantially increase oversight and accountability -- already resulting in a reduction of $105 million in overtime in 2019 alone and the implementation of a five-year plan to cut overtime costs by nearly $1 billion. We will continue to root out waste, fraud and abuse wherever it occurs and will continue cooperating fully with this critically important investigation."

The FBI called the workers' alleged scheme “incredibly blatant.”

“In the case of at least one defendant, the excessive compensation he received from the MTA was equivalent to purportedly working 10 additional hours a day, every day, for 365 days,” the FBI’s Bill Sweeney said. "The others weren’t far behind, collectively earning more than $1 million in overtime pay.”

In the case of Caputo, court records said he was paid approximately $461,000, most of it in claimed overtime, making him the highest-paid employee at the MTA during 2018 -- higher than, for example, the MTA chairman.

The MTA inspector general compared the time records for the defendants with various records that established their true whereabouts, such as location information for their cellular phones, bank records, MTA building access card data, work and personal emails and social media records, and records from third parties such as a bowling alley where Caputo participated in bowling league games despite claiming to work an average of 10 hours of overtime every single day of 2018.

The men were each absent from work for hundreds of hours, for which they falsely claimed to have been present and worked in time reports submitted to the MTA, the criminal complaint said.

“As a result, each received at least thousands of dollars in unjustified and fraudulently obtained compensation,” the complaint said.

Anthony Simon, general chairman of the SMART Transportation Division, the L.I.R.R.’s largest union, defended the workers in a statement: “These accusations of overtime abuse and the pending investigations are approaching 2 years old. If a few workers have been pulled out of this investigation they have every right to the process to defend the accusations. They have worked tirelessly throughout these difficult times and are innocent until proven otherwise.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- As a global race for the coronavirus vaccine heats up, IBM warned Thursday that it detected a phishing email scam spanning six countries aimed at organizations that are keeping the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain moving.

The cybersecurity researchers said they could not identify who was behind the campaign, but the precision and skills "hold the potential hallmarks of nation-state tradecraft."

The IBM team said that the operation started in September 2020, and targeted organizations that were likely associated with Gavi, The Vaccine Alliance's Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Platform (CCEOP) program, which is spearheading efforts to distribute a coronavirus vaccine to developing nations.

The researchers shared some details from the elaborate cyber scheme, saying the phishing emails impersonated an executive from Haier Biomedical, a legitimate member company of the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain and supplier for Gavi's CCEOP program.

Disguised as an employee for the major "cold chain" provider (a part of the vaccine supply chain that ensures temperature-controlled preservation of the vaccine during storage and transportation), the adversary sent phishing emails to organizations that are believed to be providers of material support to meet transportation and other needs within the vaccine supply cold chain.

"We assess that the purpose of this COVID-19 phishing campaign may have been to harvest credentials, possibly to gain future unauthorized access to corporate networks and sensitive information relating to the COVID-19 vaccine distribution," the IBM security researchers wrote.

The targets of the scheme included the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union, as well as other organizations with headquarters in Germany, Italy, South Korea, Czech Republic and Taiwan.

The emails were sent to business executives that were likely involved in efforts to support a vaccine cold chain, IBM said.

The cybersecurity experts urged companies in all parts of the COVID-19 vaccine supply chain to be extra vigilant and "remain on high alert during this time."

While the attribution remains unknown, IBM's researchers reiterated that the precision targeting and more "potentially point to nation-state activity."

"Without a clear path to a cash-out, cyber criminals are unlikely to devote the time and resources required to execute such a calculated operation with so many interlinked and globally distributed targets," the researchers wrote. "Likewise, insight into the transport of a vaccine may present a hot black-market commodity, however, advanced insight into the purchase and movement of a vaccine that can impact life and the global economy is likely a high-value and high-priority nation-state target."

The cyber scheme and new warning comes as the world anxiously awaits widespread distribution of a vaccine that can potentially end the global pandemic. The logistics of distributing the Pfizer vaccine also presents new hurdles as it must be stored in ultra-low-temperature freezers.

The U.K. became the first nation to authorize a COVID-19 vaccine on Wednesday, and the U.S. said authorizations could come later this month.

Meanwhile, as nations scramble for a vaccine, the virus continues to rage. On Wednesday, the U.S. virus death toll topped 2,804 in a single day for the first time.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


courtneyk/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Another 712,000 workers filed jobless claims last week, the Department of Labor said Thursday, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to take a toll on the labor market.

The weekly jobless claims tally fell slightly after rising for the past two consecutive weeks. It still remains well above pre-pandemic records.

The DOL also said the total number of people still claiming some form of unemployment insurance through all programs topped 20.1 million for the week ending Nov. 14.

For the comparable week in 2019, 1.5 million workers claimed benefits.

Many of the unemployment benefits are currently set to expire at the end of the month unless lawmakers approve a new stimulus bill.

The states that saw the largest increases in initial unemployment claims for the week ending Nov. 21 were Illinois, Michigan and Washington -- likely a reflection of new shutdown measures aimed to curb the virus as it surges across the country.

Earlier this week, the Government Accountability Office said the DOL's weekly report contains a number of inaccuracies due to backlogs in processing a high volume of claims each week and other data issues. Still, many economists view these weekly tallies as the best estimate available amid the historic, pandemic-induced economic downturn.

"This winter will further test the dependability of the U.I. claims as a real-time indicator during the pandemic," Glassdoor senior economist Daniel Zhao said Thursday. "Normal holiday hiring swings and anticipated seasonal furloughs in certain sectors like construction or retail could muddy the data on the extent of economic damage as COVID-19 cases rise."

"The tea leaves will be hard to decipher these next few months," he added.

The latest data from the government comes ahead of Friday's job's report, which is expected to shed more light on the pace of the recovery.

"Tomorrow's jobs report could expose deeper cracks in the recovery resulting from the recent surge in pandemic cases," Zhao said. "While a repeat of the spring crash is unlikely, it revealed how quickly economic damage can accumulate."

He said promising vaccine news offers "a light at the end of the tunnel, which makes it all the more important that Congress helps the economy hold onto gains made to-date."

"We don't want to trip over our own feet with the finish line in sight," Zhao said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


100pk/iStockBy COURTNEY HAN and ROBYN WEIL, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- With many turning to online shopping for the holidays this year, some delivery services are being pushed to their limits.

After two major shopping days, which saw a record $10.8 billion spent online for Cyber Monday and $9 billion in online purchases on Black Friday, delivery services are racing to accommodate the delivery of packages across the country.

But one delivery company is pumping the breaks on picking up packages from major stores.

In a story reported by the Wall Street Journal, UPS instructed drivers across the country to temporarily stop collecting orders from six large retailers including GAP, Nike and Macy’s after too many packages exceeded delivery capacity.

“They told these large shippers months ahead of time that, you know, this is your allocation for certain days for certain weeks,” reported the Wall Street Journal's Paul Ziobro. “But if you’re going to go over that we’re not going to pick up your packages.”

To help with the demand, both UPS and FedEx have asked retailers to spread out promotions and consider processing orders over the weekend as online orders soar during the pandemic where millions of people across the country are turning to online shopping for household essentials, which could mean a surplus of seven million packages being shipped per day between now and Christmas.

Despite the temporary halt in collecting packages, UPS is assuring that deliveries will get made, but they might be delayed.

“If demand exceeds planned allocations, we will work with our larger customers to ensure the volume gets picked up and delivered as more capacity becomes available in our network,” UPS told ABC News in a statement.

In the meantime, people are being advised to get their orders in early so gifts arrive in time for the holidays.

“If you’re buying online, buy as early as possible,” said Ziobro. “Don’t wait until December 21st, the last week before Christmas.”

Here are more Christmas shipping deadlines you should know for 2020.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(DALLAS) -- The Boeing 737 MAX returned to the skies for the first time Wednesday with members of the general public onboard since two fatal crashes forced U.S. regulators to ground the plane in March 2019.

American Airlines flew journalists on a demo flight from Dallas to Tulsa, Oklahoma, in an effort to reassure passengers that the upgraded MAX is safe. Since the crashes, Boeing rewrote the entire MAX flight computer software, receiving the Federal Aviation Administration's approval for the jet to reenter commercial service on Nov. 18.

Airlines are now tasked with training their pilots -- a process that could take months. But arguably the biggest challenge will be winning the public's trust.

American is the only U.S. airline that has plans to resume MAX flights in 2020. The carrier will soon welcome its own employees on board the MAX for more demo flights in preparation for American's first flight with paying passengers on Dec. 29 from Miami to New York City. United Airlines and Southwest Airlines don't plan to fly the MAX until later in 2021.

American said customers will know whether they are booking a flight on a MAX aircraft.

"I know our pilots would not get in this aircraft if they didn't think it was safe," American Chief Operating Officer Robert Isom told ABC News.

Relatives who lost loved ones in the crashes called the demo flight a publicity stunt -- many of them urging passengers to avoid boarding a MAX in the future.

"Neither of us would ever get on a 737 MAX," Nadia Milleron, who lost her daughter Samya in the Ethiopia crash, said. "And we will warn every single person we know and make sure they don't fly on a 737 MAX."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


guvendemir/iStockBy MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Transportation will no longer consider emotional support animals as service animals under a new rule announced Wednesday, allowing airlines to limit the types of animals that fly for free.

In a revision to its Air Carrier Access Act, the DOT defines a service animal as a "dog, regardless of breed or type, that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability." Airlines are "not required to recognize emotional support animals as service animals and may treat them as pets," it stated.

The revision follows efforts by airlines to crack down on travelers abusing emotional support animal policies. Most service animals are dogs, though miniature horses, hamsters, pigs and even peacocks have flown as emotional support animals.

The practice has "eroded the public trust in legitimate service animals," the DOT said in its rule, which it said was prompted in part by an increase in travelers "fraudulently representing their pets as service animals" to avoid charges for transporting pets.

Airlines for America, an airline trade association, estimated that the number of passengers flying with emotional support animals in 2018 increased by 14%, following a 60% increase the year before. That rise has also accompanied a "sharp increase" in incidents caused by the animals, from biting to defecation, said the group, which applauded the new rule.

"The Department of Transportation's final rule will protect the traveling public and airline crewmembers from untrained animals in the cabin, as well as improve air travel accessibility for passengers with disabilities that travel with trained service dogs," Airlines for America President and CEO Nicholas E. Calio said in a statement.

The update was also supported by several flight attendant unions.

"It is inappropriate to have untrained or undertrained service animals in confined public spaces such as the aircraft cabin," Julie Hedrick, president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said in a statement. "APFA praises DOT for issuing a final rule that will create a safe and comfortable cabin environment for passengers and crewmembers alike."

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA called the rule a "victory" for crews and the public. "It sets clear definitions and guidance to ensure people with disabilities and our veterans have necessary service animal assistance while maintaining the safety, health and security of all passengers and crew onboard our planes," the union said in a statement.

Under the new provisions, airlines can require people traveling with a service animal to fill out a form attesting to the animal's health, behavior and training. They can also require that the animals be harnessed at all times in the airport and on the aircraft.

Passengers can still travel with pets under the carrier's pet policy, which typically costs $125 each way to carry-on a small pet.

The final rule was informed by 15,000 public comments and concerns raised by people with disabilities, airlines, flight attendants, airports and others, the DOT said. It will go into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register. That date has not yet been set.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(WASHINGTON) -- Dozens of leading U.S. companies penned a letter urging President-elect Joe Biden and lawmakers to re-enter the nation into the Paris Climate Agreement and to enact "ambitious" solutions to tackle climate change.

The letter was signed by 42 companies, including Amazon, General Motors and Walmart. The companies "view climate action as a business imperative," the letter said.

"Our communities and our economy are enduring not only a devastating pandemic but also the rising costs of climate change," the letter went on. "Record wildfires, flooding, hurricanes and other extreme weather are upending lives and livelihoods. And science makes clear that future generations will face far greater environmental, economic and health impacts unless we act now."

The business leaders went on to highlight that actions to address climate change have the "added benefit" of generating substantial economic activity in the U.S.

"Leveraging American investment and innovation toward the technologies of tomorrow will create jobs, drive growth, and strengthen U.S. competitiveness," the letter said. "Near-term climate actions can contribute significantly to our economic recovery."

Finally, it said the new administration and new Congress provides an opportunity to seize the moment on climate change goals.

Notably, the letter does not provide any specific pledges or concrete steps from these companies on climate change, but does signal support from the business world for ambitious climate policy actions.

The move comes just after the Trump administration officially withdrew the U.S. from the international Paris Agreement last month. The accord is a collective agreement among nearly 200 countries that aims to prevent the earth's temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial revolution temperatures, the value that climate scientists have determined will have disastrous consequences if exceeded.

The private sector has faced renewed pressure to tackle climate change issues head-on, and many companies have unveiled ambitious goals to do so in response to consumer demands.

The business leaders argued that meeting climate goals requires sustained leadership and support from Washington, D.C.

Biden has previously said that he will recommit the U.S. to the Paris Agreement.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Cloud computing giant Salesforce said it will acquire workplace messaging service Slack in a deal valued at $27.7 billion.

Salesforce announced the deal on Tuesday, saying that under the terms of the agreement, Slack shareholders will receive $26.79 in cash and 0.0776 shares of Salesforce common stock for each Slack share. The deal is subject to shareholder approval and expected to close in the second quarter of Salesforce's fiscal year 2022.

Salesforce shares slipped Wednesday, falling 10% in early trading as Slack slipped by about 3%.

The move comes as the pandemic has accelerated demand for remote work and workplace management software, and signals that some believe that workforce shifts could become permanent.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff called it a "match made in heaven."

"Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world," Benioff said in a statement.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield added that "the opportunity we see together is massive," calling the deal "the most strategic combination in the history of software."

"As software plays a more and more critical role in the performance of every organization, we share a vision of reduced complexity, increased power and flexibility, and ultimately a greater degree of alignment and organizational agility," Butterfield said.

Saleforce said Slack will be "deeply integrated into every Salesforce Cloud" and become the new interface for Salesforce Customer 360. When combined, Salesforce and Slack will "create the most extensive open ecosystem of apps and workflows for business and empower millions of developers to build the next generation of apps, with clicks not code," according to the companies.

Tech industry analysts speculate the deal is partly a way for Salesforce to compete with fellow cloud computing giant Microsoft, which owns its own suite of Teams workplace messaging software. Dan Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities, said in a memo that keeping pace with Microsoft was the "core reason for this deal."

Ives also noted that with more people working from home "messaging platforms such as Zoom, Slack, and Teams have revolutionized the way that enterprises view collaboration software going forward."

Even after a vaccine is readily available and employees begin returning to the office in 2021, Ives noted, this type of software will only become "further embedded in enterprise initiatives."

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Katie Morales tried desperately to keep working while also caring for her 7-year-old daughter amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Friends and family [were] driving really long distances to come watch Genevieve for like a week or two weeks or a month at a time,” Morales said. “All so I could keep doing this work that I loved.”

Soon, it became too much for the 33-year-old single mom to handle.

“I used up all my sick days basically in the first six weeks of schools closing, and I think that I did what I had to do,” Morales told ABC News' Nightline.

Before the pandemic, she was working at an animal rescue farm in upstate New York. When schools closed in March, child care became an issue for the working mother.

“If the choice is between continuing to take care of animals and taking care of my daughter, I have to choose my daughter,” Morales said.

Morales made the agonizing decision to quit her dream job and move across the country, back to her hometown in Chino, California, so her mother and grandmother could help with child care.

“It was a very sad day. I really took what I was doing seriously, and I really wanted to be there,” she said.

Morales is one of nearly 2.2 million women who have left the workforce since the pandemic began, according to the National Women’s Law Center. At least one in four women are considering downsizing their careers or leaving the workforce due to challenges created by the pandemic, a study by McKinsey and found.

“You could say it’s a personal choice, but it doesn't feel like one,” Morales said.

“It’s not just moms,” she added. “It’s my mom and my grandmother. It’s generations back of women and mothers who ended up being affected by this. If I fall, who is going to pick me up? My mom. Just like I would for my daughter.”

Alicia Modestino, a professor at Northeastern University in Boston, said economists are calling the trend of women facing the same decision as Morales a “she-cession.”

“Women are taking the brunt of the labor market damage from COVID-19,” Modestino said. “This is for two reasons. One is because a lot of the industries and occupations that they work in have been hard hit by the pandemic. But the second reason is because of the lack of child care and the disruption that day care and school closures have caused.”

Women ages 25 to 44 are almost three times as likely as men of the same age group to not be working due to child care demands, according to new research from the U.S. Census Bureau and Federal Reserve.

“Even before the pandemic, a lot of the child care fell disproportionately on women,” Modestino said. “They're more likely to be cutting back their hours because of child care. They're doing more at home. They're sleeping less. They're suffering greater psychological distress. And because of this, we're going to see the gender gap widen over time.”

That would cost upward of $700 billion for the U.S. economy in terms of lost productivity -- 3.5% of the GDP, according to Modestino.

Experts say leaving the workforce even for a short time can have a long-term impact on women’s careers.

“A lot of the times we've seen when women take time off from a career, whether it be maternity leave or a year, it takes time to get back into the labor market,” Modestino said. “Right now, the labor market is not great either. And so this is likely to set women back a generation.”

Even women who have kept their jobs and have the flexibility to work from home are feeling overwhelmed.

Arika Beachy, a single mom, is doing her best with her 6-year-old son, Teddy. She's been working at a housing and human rights organization from home, out of her one-bedroom New York City apartment.

At 8 a.m., her son logs onto school online. She said they share a workspace in their modest home.

“It’s challenging for sure. He needs a lot of support and direction,” Beachy said.

During their day, they’re just feet apart. When her son’s headphones don’t work, she must work while listening to his lessons.

In addition to juggling remote school and work, Beachy has to cope with increased household responsibilities. Cooking and cleaning consume hours of her day.

“One [of the] biggest issues are dishes,” she said. “It’s one of the activities I’m up into the all hours of the morning, doing almost on a daily basis, because I don’t have a dishwasher -- just my two hands.”

Holly Oakes has been working from home since March, balancing her demanding full-time job with a sportswear company in Portland, Oregon, and helping her two kids, ages 10 and 12, with their remote learning.

She wakes up just after 5:30 a.m.

“I usually get an hour or so of uninterrupted work time,” she said. “There is also the fun fact that my son is in band, and they have to do it virtually.”

Oakes’ husband works from home, too, but she says she bears the brunt of child care.

“I feel like we're doing so much,” she said. “I kind of liken it to, you're trying to plug holes in a sinking boat, and there's just so many that you can't plug all of them. I definitely feel like I'm failing in all areas.”

Her job has been supportive, but it’s still taking a toll.

“I recognize how lucky I am that I can work from home, and I don't have to go into an office every day or into the field every day,” she said. “I also have a partner that I'm working with. I can't imagine what it would be like being a single parent, having to go into the field.”

Some single mothers like Angel Marino, a certified medical assistant in Detroit, have no choice but to keep reporting for her job at the hospital.

“Even in this time right now with this COVID-19, I can't afford not to work,” Marino told Nightline.

Women of color have been hit hardest by the pandemic. Since February, the number of Hispanic women in the U.S. labor force has fallen nearly 7%, the number of Black women declined 5.6% and the number of white women fell nearly 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Many of those individuals are working in-person jobs,” Modestino said. “There's no working from home there. There's no shifting your hours around. And they also have less access to backup child care. So they're less likely to have a nanny or a babysitter or someone else that they can turn to to watch their kids so that they can get to work.”

Marino said it’s been difficult since the pandemic began in March, but she is thankful to have a team that’s “very resourceful” and has tried to help her get through her struggles.

“They understand I'm not alone in this,” she said. But, “they also need people to show up to work, so it's been a challenge."

Even before the pandemic, Marino said finances were tight for her and her three children. They made their own hand sanitizers and their own masks. She said she never wants them to be homeless like when she was a child, after her mother died.

“I want my kids to have stability,” Marino said.

In the spring, while her workplace was under siege with COVID-19 patients, child care was a hard problem to solve.

At that time, her children were in a free day care for essential workers, funded for a time by philanthropies. Later, they went to an in-person learning pod at their school, but that will soon close on Dec. 4 due to rising COVID-19 cases.

“I am just going to have to figure it out this week, what I am going to do,” Marino said. “I don't have much support. My mom died when I was 2. My grandmother, her mother, died of cancer a few years ago."

“You fight so hard to get the job and stuff and get somewhere, and then you get it," she continued. "The choice of working or kids shouldn't be a choice. I want to be the best mom I can be”

But she has a hard-won resilience.

“We can do this,” Marino said. “I was born to cross mountains.”

Modestino said for working moms like her to continue to hold themselves to a pre-pandemic standard is "ludicrous."

"It's always going to be moms picking up the loose ends and tying them for people," she said. "Give yourself permission to leave some stuff untied."

In California, Morales said her daughter is doing virtual learning, and she hopes she can learn from this time of struggle.

“I want her to be scrappy,” she said. “I don’t have enough power to change how the world operates, but I can only show my daughter how we operate within the world.”

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(SEATTLE) -- Amazon said Tuesday that independent sellers brought in more than $4.8 billion in worldwide sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, an increase of more than 60% from 2019.

With sales from the past weekend, the e-commerce giant also said that 2020 already has become its largest holiday shopping season ever.

The new data reflects a high demand for e-commerce and delivery options for consumers this year as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.

Moreover, Amazon said nearly all of its independent businesses, which racked in the record $4.8 billion over the weekend, are small and medium sized.

The company added that more than 71,000 small- and medium-sized businesses worldwide already have surpassed $100,000 in sales. In addition, American small- and medium-sized businesses have sold an average of 9,500 products per minute this holiday season to date.

Some of the best sellers on the site over the weekend include Amazon's Echo Dot device, Barack Obama's memoir, A Promised Land, and the Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer and Volumizer Hot Air Brush, the company said.

Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon's worldwide consumer business, thanked customers, employees and selling partners "for making this our biggest holiday season to date, and for everything you’re doing to support our communities and each other now and throughout the year."

Despite a pandemic and looming economic downturn, Cyber Monday this year became the largest online spending day in history at $10.8 billion, according to data from Adobe Analytics.

This is an increase of more than 15% compared with last year. Cyber Monday pushed the total holiday season spending to date to $106 billion, Adobe analysts said.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.



(NEW YORK) -- Nasdaq is proposing new rules that would mandate diversity in the boardroom for companies listed on its stock exchange.

Nasdaq filed a proposal with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Tuesday that would require all companies listed on its U.S. stock exchange to publicly disclose the diversity statistics of its board of directors. Moreover, the new rules would require companies on the stock exchange to have at least one woman director and one who self-identifies as an "underrepresented minority" or member of the LGBTQ community -- or face possible delisting.

Foreign and smaller companies would be able to satisfy this requirement with two women directors on their boards. Nasdaq defines "underrepresented minority" as an individual who self-identifies as Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Asian, Native American (including Native Alaskan or Hawaiian), Pacific Islander or someone who is two or more races.

The new rules still need to be green lit by the SEC.

Under the proposal, however, Nasdaq-listed companies will be required to publicly disclose its board diversity statistics within one year of the SEC's approval of the new rules. From then, all companies will be expected to have one diverse director within two years of the SEC's approval of the rule. Companies listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market and Nasdaq Global Market will be expected to have two diverse directors within four years and companies listed on the Nasdaq Capital Market will be expected to have two diverse directors within five years.

If companies do not meet the diverse board requirements within the timeframes, they will have to provide a public explanation for why or face possible delisting from the exchange.

"Our goal with this proposal is to provide a transparent framework for Nasdaq-listed companies to present their board composition and diversity philosophy effectively to all stakeholders," Adena Friedman, Nasdaq's president and CEO, said in a statement. "We believe this listing rule is one step in a broader journey to achieve inclusive representation across corporate America."

Nelson Griggs, the president of Nasdaq Stock Exchange, added that the proposal "gives companies an opportunity to make progress toward increasing representation of women, underrepresented minorities and the LGBTQ community on their boards."

"Corporate diversity, at all levels, opens up a clear path to innovation and growth," Griggs said. "We are inspired by the support from our issuers and the financial community with this effort and look forward to working together with companies of all sizes to create stronger and more inclusive boards."

The proposal has garnered support from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Anthony Romero, the ACLU's executive director, lauded Nasdaq for "heeding the call of the moment."

"Incremental change and window-dressing isn’t going to cut it anymore as consumers, stakeholders and the government increasingly hold corporate America’s feet to the fire," Romero said in a statement. "Nasdaq’s efforts to prod and push its listed companies is a welcomed and necessary first step. With increased representation of people of color, women and LGBTQ people on corporate boards, corporations will have to take actionable steps to ensure underrepresented communities have a seat at the table."

The move comes amid a growing push for diversity in corporate boardrooms that was propelled in part by protests over police brutality that roiled the nation over the summer.

In June, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian made headlines when he announced he resigned from his company's board to make room for a Black business leader to take his place.

More recently, in October, California passed a bill into law that requires publicly-traded companies headquartered in the state to have at least one board member from an "underrepresented community" by the end of 2021.

Nasdaq's proposal, the first of its kind, also comes as minority groups remain vastly underrepresented in corporate boardrooms.

White board members made up 83.9% of total board seats on Fortune 500 companies in 2018, according to a report from Deloitte and the Alliance for Board Diversity. Black board members accounted for just 8.6% of those seats, Hispanic/Latino members just 3.8% and Asian/Pacific Islanders just 3.7%.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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