The Latest News, Headlines, and Business Stories for December 29

Happy Friday! If you’re figuring out New Year’s plans in New York City, I’ve got a deal for you. For a mere $450 you can ring in the new year in the heart of culture: the Times Square Olive Garden. That’s a steal compared to how much tickets cost at Applebee’s and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

In today’s big story, we’re looking at some of the top business stories from the past year.

What’s on deck: 

But first, back to business.


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Story of the day

Best of biz

Barbies

Mattel Inc.; Chelsea Jia Feng/Insider



2023 wasn’t exactly business as usual. 

An economy grappling with high interest rates and inflation meant plenty of businesses had to buckle down. Several major US companies made deep job cuts in the first half of the year.  

Employee-employer relations took center stage, as unions for auto workers, UPS drivers, and Hollywood writers and actors went on strike. A broader conversation about the efficacy of the 40-hour workweek — and ways to upend it to improve workers’ happiness — also took place. 

The ties between universities and businesses garnered attention in 2023 following Hamas’ attacks on Israel. Some executives’ anger over universities’ responses to the war highlighted the tension between Wall Street and the elite institutions. 

I asked Shona Ghosh, Business Insider’s deputy executive editor for business in the UK, for five of the top stories from her team. Check them out below, along with some thoughts from Shona about what made them stand out.

MediaMath Chairman and CEO Joe Zawadzki on dark blue background surrounded by glitchy graphic elements

Andrew Toth/Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/Insider



MediaMath seemed destined for a $1B fairy-tale exit. Instead, most early investors got nothing.

Lara O’Reilly reported deeply on the decline of MediaMath, an adtech giant that seemed destined to make its investors, employees, and founders rich with a $1 billion exit. Instead, the company sold to private equity, leaving almost nothing on the table. It’s a business fairy-tale gone wrong.

Barbie is the star of the summer’s hottest blockbuster. The much-hyped movie is the pinnacle of a 60-year history filled with rejections, lawsuits, and controversies for the world’s most iconic doll.

Greta Gerwig tapped into the world’s need for something — anything — fun after the pandemic years with her loopy, fun take on Barbie. Did you know Barbie’s sometimes-controversial inventor was a woman, Ruth Handler, and her iconic toy would make her fabulously wealthy? Grace Dean delved into the history of Barbie.

GoStudent, the $3 billion edtech darling, scaled fast and partied hard. The result was a mess.

Tasmin Lockwood and Riddhi Kanetkar uncovered shocking incidents at GoStudent, the $3 billion SoftBank-backed tutoring platform that links up children with private tutors online. One father seeking a tutor for his daughter found one GoStudent candidate had been fired from his school for exchanging nudes with a female pupil. The company says it’s a different, better operation today.

Finland is the world’s happiest country, but Finns say we’re confusing happiness for something else

Finland is the world’s happiest country. But, as Bea Nolan discovered when she visited, Finns are pretty annoyed by this perception. They are happy, they said, just not in the way you think.

Ex-Facebook and DeepMind employees in talks to raise sizable initial funding round to build OpenAI rival

Everyone wants to find (and fund) the next ChatGPT. To that end, Europe’s venture capitalists are in a mad dash to back any continental company that could rival OpenAI — and they think they’ve found it. Callum Burroughs broke the news that former Meta and Google DeepMind employees set up Mistral AI, which produces its own large language models. It’s already worth $2 billion.


3 things in markets

Sunset over New York City

Nick Laham/Getty Images



  1. US commercial real estate is headed for disaster. Experts detailed why the industry, which banks are heavily exposed to, could fall into crisis in 2024. Some of the biggest red flags include a decline in office property prices and rising defaults. But for others, it’s a good time to get in the market.
  2. The new wealth whisperers. The wealth-management industry was upended in 2023, with high-profile leadership changes at Merrill Lynch, Citi, and Morgan Stanley. Analysts explain what’s at stake for executives looking to court rich clients.
  3. The wild and wacky state of the markets in 2023. Banks collapse. A meltdown in the bond market. This year wasn’t a quiet one for the markets. Check out eight of the more memorable market stories from 2023.

3 things in tech

Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates in 2000

Rick Maiman/Sygma/Getty Images



  1. Meet the former executive assistants behind the most powerful people in tech. Influential leaders like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have had executive assistants who worked around the clock to make their lives easier — and went on to build high-powered careers.
  2. Experts share what could happen with AI in 2024. Artificial intelligence experts told BI that the tech will become further ingrained into our daily lives — and that it could spell trouble for OpenAI.
  3. 2023 was Mark Zuckerberg’s comeback season. Over the past year, Zuckerberg has reinvented himself as being kind of cool and even sort of relatable. Oh, and he also got $84 billion richer.

3 things in business

downtown Dallas

Getty Images



  1. The future of the US economy is in the South. The region is poised to play a bigger role in the American economy due to a population spike followed by economic growth.
  2. Tesla can still win the EV wars. Within the next few days, Tesla could lose its spot as the world’s most popular EV maker to Chinese rival BYD. But it’s not all bad news — Tesla’s EVs outstrip others when it comes to charging, and a redesigned Model Y could be on the way.
  3. How OpenAI and Microsoft could impact The New York Times’ revenue. The outlet’s copyright infringement lawsuit lays out three ways the companies could massively impact its business, including by undercutting its paywall.

In other news

What’s happening today

  • NFL’s Pro Bowlers announced. Rosters for the annual all-star game, which will take place February 4 in Orlando, will be revealed on NFL Network.
  • Happy Birthday, Jon Voight! The “Heat” star shares his special day with Jude Law, Danny McBride, and Dylan Mulvaney.
  • Testing the confetti before the ball drops. Handfuls of confetti will be thrown from the Hard Rock Cafe marquee in Times Square ahead of the 1.5 tons of confetti that will be dropped on New Year’s Eve.

For your bookmarks

The anti-aging diet

A composite image of Bryan Johnson and his pre-blended meal.

A composite image of Bryan Johnson and his pre-blended meal.

Magdalena Wosinska and Bryan Johnson



A millionaire obsessed with reversing his age shares what he eats for lunch and dessert. Bryan Johnson, who spends as much as $2 million a year on his supposedly age-reversing regimen, packs on the veggies for lunch and opts for his own version of a pudding for dessert.


The Insider Today team: Dan DeFrancesco, deputy editor and anchor, in New York. Diamond Naga Siu, senior reporter, in San Diego. Hallam Bullock, editor, in London. Jordan Parker Erb, editor, in New York. Hayley Hudson, director, in Edinburgh. Lisa Ryan, executive editor, in New York.

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