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5 things this week including 2001: a Budget oddity

1. Rishi's bumper budget

For a chancellor with allegedly little money, due to the dual impacts of Brexit and the pandemic, Rishi Sunak managed to make quite a splash with his second Budget. And for an avowed Thatcherite there was a surprisingly big government feel to all his taxing and spending. All the indications are that Sunak has big political ambitions and his "age of optimism" Budget seemed at its core a pitch for a move next door. Gordon Brown tried much the same. He was also keen on what at the time was referred to as "endogenous growth theory". The idea is that government investment in technology boosts productivity and grows the economy so that the investment is recouped in extra tax receipts. This money can be reinvested or used for potential tax cuts later. Despite all the 19 advance press releases, few expected the Budget to go quite so big or so 2001. Here's hoping there's not a repeat of the global financial crisis that put an end to the last experiment with endogenous growth.


2. The ipod's 20th birthday

On the subject of things being very 2001, this week we also marked the 20th anniversary of the first Apple iPod. Lots of Supper Club members are innovators and like other pioneering business founders regularly launch new products and projects. So we pulled together a piece outlining some of the key lessons from the success of the iPod. The summary version is spend the time to get the product right, but get it market at the right time and then spend all you can marketing the hell out of it.


3. Facebook goes meta

Big company rebrands rarely seem to go well. Or maybe we just remember the ones that go calamitously wrong and forget that a large number pass with either a whimper or the occasional "wow". Facebook's announcement that it was changing the parent company name to Meta, notwithstanding the inevitable social media takedowns, was pretty well received. The worst people had to say about it was that it reminded them of Google's parent rebrand (to Alphabet) or that it was a reaction to a shocking run of terrible publicity and was done to salvage what was left of a shredded reputation. Where it takes the Metaverse concept in the years to come will be interesting to watch and will doubtless have an impact on how all businesses market themselves.


4.B-Corp's European hockey stick

As the world builds up to COP26 and faces up to the possibility that we're not even close to being on course for 1.5 degrees of global warming (according to the UN is will be more like 2.7), business leaders are increasingly keen on the drive to net zero. This week, Supper Club members with an interest in achieving B Corp certification met for an online discussion. Hosted by Andy Schmidt, co-founder and COO of impact consultancy Seismic, the discussion highlighted how the interest in B Corp, especially in the UK and across Europe has taken the organisation by surprise. The result is that the dedicated team of analysts, who perform detailed checks and audits required for certification, are facing an uphill task to get through the volume of work, leading to delays and backlogs. It's a tricky conundrum. They can't rush through the work or drop standards without undermining the value of B Corp. What's striking is that while political leaders aren't doing enough, plenty of business leaders are doing all they can.


5. A budget barrel of laughs

One of the more talked-about aspects of this week's Budget was that it lacked the green credentials you might expect from a big political set piece the week before the UK hosts COP26. What did get a lot of mentions was booze. Perhaps it was essential to make this the Budget for the Age of Optimism, but Rishi Sunak mentioned alcohol more than the climate. One announcement was about the lower rate of duty for draft beer and cider, which led to the inevitable photo call for Sunak and Boris Johnson in a craft brewery. The only problem was the small barrels the pair were snapped lugging about aren't covered by the change, as the current plan is for it only to apply to barrels of at least 40-litres. Still, why let details get in the way of a good photo op?