‘Satan Shoes’, Amazon union battle and Deliveroo’s stock market flop

Planet Business: Welcome on board the VSS Imagine?

Image of the week: Unionising Amazon

In Bessemer, Alabama, workers at Amazon. com's BHM1 fulfilment centre have been voting this week on whether to create the first Amazon union in the United States. Outside the warehouse, a supporter of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) – which was formed in 1937 – predicts that "change is coming".

Because more than three-quarters of the 6,000-strong workforce are black, the fight for better working conditions is linked to the civil rights movement. "He gives all this money to Black Lives Matter," said union supporter and Bessemer worker Perry Connelly of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. "But he doesn't want to really, truly, help the black workers who work for him," he told the Financial Times. Even getting this far has taken a five-month campaign, during which workers have been inundated with anti-union messages from on high.

In numbers: Bloody shoes

$1,078 Price of a pair of "Satan Shoes", trainers released by Brooklyn art collective MSCHF that contain a drop of blood in the soles – on purpose, not because of the buyers went for a really long walk and got blisters.

2.03 Fluid ounces of red ink and a "single drop" of human blood, donated by members of the art collective, found in the air bubble cushioning sole. The trainers were made using modified Nike Air Max 97s, much to the ire of Nike.


666 Pairs of the trainers released on Monday in collaboration with rapper Lil Nas X. They reportedly sold out in less than a minute. Nike is now suing, claiming trademark infringement, preventing some would-be resellers from making a profit on eBay.

Getting to know: VSS Imagine

VSS Imagine is Virgin Galactic's "next generation" spaceship, unveiled this week before anyone had a chance to get bored with its last-generation spaceship. Virgin Galactic has now built three spaceships: VSS Enterprise, which was destroyed in a fatal test flight accident in 2014, and VSS Unity, which has flown two test spaceflights and is expected to make another one soon. VSS Imagine, dubbed a SpaceShip III class vehicle, was built using a new assembly process and "has been designed in a way that's taken the learnings we've had from all the flight testing on Unity", according to Virgin Galactic boss Michael Colglazier. The latest timeline for the company's space tourism ambitions suggests that Unity will begin flying private passengers from 2022. Imagine will be next in line for duty, while work has begun on the manufacture of the next ship, VSS Inspire.

The list: Deliveroo debut drags

Deliveroo’s stock listing in London comprehensively flopped earlier this week. But why was the market so cool on the food delivery company’s shares?

1. Victim of its own hype. Undue attention is often a risk with household-name stocks, and Deliveroo wouldn’t be the first to believe its own hype.

2. Retail availability. More of an omen of failure than a reason for it, Deliveroo nevertheless entered well-established red-flag territory when it made it easy for customers to buy the stock through its app ahead of the initial public offer (IPO).

3. Profit-free zone. Never ignore the basics, even if “will this company ever make a profit?” is a more relevant question than whether it ever has in the past.

4. Unequal voting rights. Some large investment firms shunned the company’s shares after its plan to let founder and chief executive Will Shu retain control of the business for three years.

5. Workers’ rights. In a spot of corporate karma, a shadow was cast over Deliveroo’s listing once several large investors said they were put off by the company’s reliance on gig-economy working practices. Specifically, they were worried the company would not be able to legally rely on them forever.