Newsletter: California Inc.: Facebook’s CEO to face grilling by lawmakers


Welcome to California Inc., the weekly newsletter of the L.A. Times Business Section.

I’m Business columnist David Lazarus, and here’s a rundown of upcoming stories this week and the highlights of last week.

Trading resumes Monday with investors on edge after the Dow plunged 570 points on Friday over a trade war with China. Another factor was the news that job growth slowed sharply in March, offsetting the hiring spurt in the prior month. The unemployment rate remained at 4.1% for the sixth straight month, and wage gains went up slightly for workers.



He speaks: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is scheduled to testify before Congress on Tuesday and Wednesday about his company’s role in the last election and sharing of user data. Facebook has revealed that profiles of as many as 87 million users may have been provided to a data-mining company, Cambridge Analytica.

Inflation check: The latest pulse reading of inflation comes out Wednesday as the Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the consumer price index for March. Consumer prices rose 0.2% in February, in line with expectations. On a year-over-year basis, the consumer price index rose 2.2%, a smidge ahead of the 2.1% increase reported in January.

Wells Fargo: Wells Fargo will announce its first-quarter earnings Friday morning. It will be the San Francisco bank’s first quarterly report since the Federal Reserve in February ordered it to address a bevy of bad practices that harmed consumers. Friday’s report could offer a first look at areas where Wells will cut back to comply with the Fed’s order.

Let’s Rock: Movies based on video games almost never work at the box office, but studios keep trying anyway. Enter Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, which on Friday will release the latest city-smashing monster flick “Rampage,” starring the ubiquitous Dwayne Johnson and based on the Midway franchise. Maybe the Rock will help ticket sales, which are on track for a $30-million domestic opening.



A year ago, David Dao refused to give up his seat aboard a United flight from Chicago to Louisville, Ky., for airline employees. Within 24 hours, cellphone video of the bloodied 69-year-old doctor being dragged down the aisle had gone viral. Airlines have since followed through on promises to improve the flying experience, but everyday annoyances and indignities remain as price remains paramount for many passengers.


Here are some of the other stories that ran in the Times Business section in recent days that we’re continuing to follow:

Royal visit: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, swept through Hollywood, hoping to woo investors to the desert kingdom, which is opening cinemas and modernizing its economy. A handful of deals were announced during the visit, which included a dinner with super agent Ari Emanuel and producer Brian Grazer.

Space flight: In a major milestone, Virgin Galactic successfully completed the first rocket-powered test flight of its new SpaceShipTwo, the first such test for the space tourism firm since a fatal accident in 2014. The craft reached speeds of Mach 1.87 and an altitude of 84,271 feet before returning to the Mojave Air & Space Port.

Contentious pick: The Federal Reserve’s top official on the West Coast was chosen to head its powerful New York bank. But critics said that John C. Williams, 55, failed as a regulator of Wells Fargo & Co. during its fake accounts scandal and is another white male at an institution that sorely lacks diversity.

Falling short: Elon Musk’s electric car company released its highly anticipated production numbers for its mass-market Model 3 sedan, and the results were, well, debatable. The target was 2,500 cars a week by the end of March, and Tesla managed 2,020. Critics called it a failure, while fans said it was a respectable near miss.

Cloudy sky: In a last-ditch effort to win over British regulators, 21st Century Fox Inc. promised that Rupert Murdoch and his sons would not meddle in Sky News if Fox is allowed to acquire European satellite television giant Sky. Alternately, Walt Disney Co. has offered to buy the Sky News channel to help Fox close the deal.


And some recent stories from other publications that caught our eye:

Trading places: A smart graphic from the New York Times showing how the trade war/tiff/spat with China unfolded. “It remains unclear whether China and the United States will impose their latest threats of $50 billion in tariffs on each other, but all of the other duties are already in effect.”

Frenemy: The Wall Street Journal notes that even though President Trump is beating up Amazon, the U.S. government relies heavily on the company. “The Seattle-based company has won much of the business to help the government shift computing services from legacy mainframes onto the cloud, a business where Amazon is the world leader.”

The future king: The New Yorker profiles Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who appears determined to remake the oil-rich kingdom. “We will not waste 30 years of our lives in dealing with extremist ideas,” he has said. “We will destroy them today.”

Vegan kibble: Bloomberg looks at the growing market for fake meat in pet food. “Pet food — predominantly animal-meat products — represents as much as 30% of all meat consumption in America.”

It is written: From Hodinee, a look behind the scenes at Montblanc, maker of really cool pens. “Montblanc’s history goes back to, roughly, the beginning of the history of the modern fountain pen itself.”


Want to impress your kids? Check out this video from the Scene featuring John Collins, “the paper airplane guy.” He’ll teach you how to fold a piece of paper into what he calls high-performance flying machines. One of his designs holds the distance record.

For the latest money news, go to Mad props to Laurence Darmiento and Scott J. Wilson for helping put this thing together.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the Business section.