Carlos Ghosn: From hero, to villain, to fugitive

Friday, January 3, 2020 by Robinhood Snacks | Disclosures

The only guests invited on Ghosn's private escape jet

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Hey Snackers,

U-Haul's got an aggressive new resolution: It won't offer jobs to smokers (in the 21 states where it's legal to discriminate against smokers).

Markets were already kicking off 2020 at record highs — then the Dow surged 330 points on the first day of trading.

1. Ghosn with the Wind: How the ex-CEO of Nissan escaped trial in Japan

The name's Ghosn. Carlos Ghosn... The disgraced former all-star CEO of Nissan and Renault has stealthily escaped house arrest in Tokyo, where he was awaiting trial for fraud and other financial crimes (the bad kind of money moves). This news didn't affect those car companies' businesses (or stocks), because Ghosn's the former CEO, but here's the scene-by-scene:

  • November 2018: The Brazilian-born Frenchman with Lebanese roots is arrested and forced to surrender (all 3 of) his passports.
  • April 2019: Ghosn is confined to strict house arrest in Tokyo while he waits to be tried in court (fun fact: Japanese prosecutors enjoy a 99% conviction rate) — his house is under 24/7 police surveillance.
  • Late December 2019 afternoon: Carryon-sized 5'6" Ghosn is reportedly packed into a musical instrument case owned by "Gregorian musicians" permitted to play at his home.
  • Late December 2019 evening: That music case secretly boards a private jet to Lebanon, with a pit stop at Istanbul's Ataturk Airport — that somehow goes completely unnoticed.
  • New Year's Eve: Ghosn shows up in Beirut on NYE and pops champagne while revealing his escape, annoying/confusing a lot of people.

"I am dumbfounded"... The words of Ghosn's lawyer (everyone else is baffled, too). But one thing is clear: it took months of planning, and he couldn't have done it alone. Now that he skipped trial to avoid "injustice" (his words) and forfeited $14M in bail, he may have to spend the rest of his life in Lebanon (they've got no extradition treaty with Japan).


Car execs earn 007-style respect... Successful ones can achieve heroic personas because cars are fundamental parts of the global economy (everyone uses them, they create millions of jobs, and can even influence national pride). Ghosn was idolized for rescuing a failing Nissan from bankruptcy with cost-killing powers — So Japan featured him in comic books and Lebanon still thinks he's a hero (see: "We Are All Carlos Ghosn"). He became a villain in Japan, and now this escape deserves an Oscar.


For "Best Leading Man in an Executive Role"... Apple selects ex-HBO CEO Richard Plepler. Now that the tech company launched its Apple TV+ paid streaming service last November, it's hoping the media legends will come. To start, Apple just cast Plepler to train it for the Streaming Wars:

  • Before: Plepler led HBO over 27 years to 160+ Emmys, from Game of Thrones to Big Little Lies.
  • After: Now his new production company has signed a 5-year exclusive deal to only make shows, documentaries, and films for Apple TV+.

This says more about HBO than Apple... The media icon that brought us The Sopranos and "winter is coming" is now owned by AT&T. Plepler wanted a "Chinese wall" between HBO's creatives and their new telecom-ish parent company (he's got a “Don’t let anyone monkey with your swingsign on his desk) — but AT&T disagreed. So Plepler quit last March.


The media industry probably never started a year this confused... Take streaming:

  • HBO's (still) trying to replace Game of Thrones.
  • Netflix had to splurge $13B on original content last year to stay ahead — but it's losing The Office and Friends.
  • NBC's jumping in (late) with its new streamer Peacock in April 2020.
  • Disney+ may hit 25M subscribers just 2 months after launching.
  • And Apple TV+'s The Morning Show already snagged 3 Golden Globe noms — but the rest of its original programming is facing critic hate.
What else we’re Snackin’
  • Flave: The FDA bans all flavored vape products except plain ol' tobacco and menthol
  • Heat: Amazon reportedly threatens to fire employees who speak out about climate change and the company's environmental policies (naked shipping, anyone?)
  • De-prohibition: Illinois brings in $3.2M on its 1st day of becoming the 11th state to legalize adult recreational weed
  • Health: Google's new AI system may detect breast cancer more accurately than doctors can
  • Data: CA's new privacy law kicks in, letting Californians stop companies from selling their info (this is why your inbox is flooded with "privacy update" emails right now)
  • Slippery: Oil prices jump after the US kills an Iranian commander in Iraq
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Disclosure: Authors of this Snacks own shares of Amazon and Disney

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