#FlushLush, Patrick Collison’s bookshelf and the end of Monsanto

Planet Business: The week in hashtags, numbers, lists and robot pics

A protester in  a pill-shaped costume demonstrates against Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto by German chemicals firm Bayer outside the World Conference Centre  in Bonn. Photograph: Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images

A protester in a pill-shaped costume demonstrates against Bayer’s takeover of Monsanto by German chemicals firm Bayer outside the World Conference Centre in Bonn. Photograph: Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images

 

In numbers: Goodbye, Monsanto

€54 billion
Sale price on Monsanto, the controversial US pesticides maker synonymous with GM food, to German chemicals firm Bayer. The deal, closed this week, will lead to the disappearance of the tarnished Monsanto brand.

117
Years in which the Monsanto name was in existence before what some environmental protesters have dubbed a “lethal wedding” with Bayer. “Monsanto will no longer be a company name,” the German company said.

40 million
Pages of paperwork that Bayer submitted to US and European competition regulators to get approval for the merger. Is there an executive summary?

Image of the week: Robot chores

Dirt Dalek: the Taski Swingobot 2000 cleaning robot. Photograph: Daniel Reinhardt / AFP
Dirt Dalek: the Taski Swingobot 2000 cleaning robot. Photograph: Daniel Reinhardt / AFP

Say hello to the autonomous Taski Swingobot 2000, managing to look both cheery and imperious while a human falls about in its wake. The cleaning robot, now being tested near the built environment and urban planning university at HafenCity in innovation-hungry Hamburg, Germany, is an award-winning scrubbing machine from sanitation multinational Diversey, which says it will assist cleaning staff rather than replace them. Unless it’s been given some rogue programming, it probably won’t mercilessly chase after the feet of deafened pedestrians desperately trying to take evasive action, which – as anyone who finds themselves being hunted down on O’Connell Street will know – is progress in itself.

The lexicon: #FlushLush

In what is possibly one of the oddest ad campaigns ever, high-street bath-bomb sellers Lush have got themselves into hot water after a window display suggested the British police were “paid to lie” and had “crossed a line”. It was all a reference to an inquiry into undercover officers who infiltrated activist groups and had relationships with women who didn’t know their real identities – a disturbing story, for sure, but not one that might reasonably have expected intervention from a cosmetics retailer. Lush said it was merely highlighting a “secretive subset of undercover policing” and wasn’t attacking all police. But on social media, the hashtag backlash was the potent #FlushLush.

Getting to know: Fatma Samoura

For the first time in its 18-year history, there are zero women on Forbes’s annual list of the 100 highest-paid sports stars. The top spot on its Most Powerful Women in International Sports 2018 list, however, belongs to Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura. From Senegal, Samoura spent two decades working on humanitarian projects for the UN before becoming the first female secretary-general of Fifa after an ethics clearout in 2016, putting her second only to Fifa president Gianni Infantino in reserves of world soccer power.

“There are people who don’t think that a black woman should be leading the administration of Fifa,” she has said of the racism she has encountered. “It is something we are fighting on a daily basis on the pitch.”

The list: Patrick Collison’s bookshelf

Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO at Stripe: Looked up the internet in his local library. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters
Patrick Collison, co-founder and CEO at Stripe: Looked up the internet in his local library. Photograph: Albert Gea/Reuters

Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison suffered a Twitter techlash this week after wondering why there was no “Spotify for books”. Hadn’t this Silicon Valley “bro” heard of libraries? Um, well, yes: Collison has previously said he learned about the internet growing up in Limerick by reading about it in library books, while his website lists the titles residing on his own shelf. Here are five of them:

1. Men, Machines and Modern Times

The 1968 thesis by the late technology historian Elting Morison was “ultimately concerned with a positive alternative to an Orwellian 1984”.

2. Plato at the Googleplex

In which philosopher and novelist Rebecca Goldstein explores what Plato would have made of Google and internet factionalism. A Platonic facepalm?

3. The Killing Zone

This pilot survival guide by Paul Craig is subtitled “how and why pilots die”. Both of the billionaire Collison brothers are into flying.

4. A Confederacy of Dunces

Fiction is represented by John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer winner, plus novels by F Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Pullman and Agatha Christie, among others.

5. The Charisma Myth

Or “How Anyone Can Master the Art and Science of Personal Magnetism” by Olivia Fox Cabane. You could gift this book to someone, but it might be taken as an insult.