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Suez Canal ship’s owner apologizes as blockage enters third day

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The owner of the titanic ship blocking the Suez Canal apologized Thursday for bringing one of the world’s most vital waterways to a standstill as the traffic jam stretched into its third day.

The apology from Japanese ship-leasing firm Shoei Kisen Kaisha Ltd. came as a team of powerful tugboats worked to free the Ever Given, the 440 million-pound vessel that ran aground Tuesday after high winds turned it sideways.

At least 150 other ships are reportedly waiting for the blockage to clear before they can pass through the Egyptian canal, a crucial route between Europe and Asia that carries about 12 percent of the world’s trade.

“We are determined to keep on working hard to resolve this situation as soon as possible,” Shoei Kisen Kaisha said in a statement Thursday. “We would like to apologize to all parties affected by this incident, including the ships traveling and planning to travel through Suez Canal.”

Ever Given container ship Suez Canal
The head of the Suez Canal Authority, Lt. Gen. Ossama Rabei (left) assesses the situation near the Ever Given container ship and a tugboat.
EPA

The Suez Canal Authority temporarily suspended navigation through the canal Thursday as crews continued work to free the Ever Given after an overnight pause.

Workers managed to partially refloat the skyscraper-sized cargo ship on Wednesday, which reportedly spurred hopes that some traffic could resume by Thursday.

Ever Given Suez Canal
The Ever Given, seen here in a satellite photo, ran aground Tuesday.
AP

But experts told Bloomberg News that the blockage could continue until Monday given that tugboats and diggers have failed to move the Panamanian vessel. Thirteen ships that started moving along the canal Wednesday had to drop anchor until the big boat is freed, officials said.

A team of eight large tugboats is working to tow and push the Ever Given, the largest of which has a towing power of 160 tons, according to the Suez Canal Authority. SMIT Salvage — an elite Dutch maritime firm specializing in aiding ships in distress — is helping with the effort alongside Japan’s Nippon Salvage, Bloomberg reported.

Suez Canal Ever Green
At least 150 other ships are reportedly waiting for the blockage to clear.
EPA

Dredgers have been used to clear silt from around the giant vessel, and workers may reportedly have to remove fuel or ballast water — which keeps ships stable while at sea — to lighten the load.

The economic impact of the jam will only get worse the longer it continues. More than $9 billion worth of goods could be passing through the canal each day that it’s closed, according to the shipping journal Lloyd’s List. And the affected ships may reportedly include 10 tankers carrying 13 million barrels of crude oil.

The blockage may also be an expensive headache for Shoei Kisen Kaisha. The firm and its insurers could face millions of dollars in claims from the Suez Canal Authority and other ships that are caught up in the mess, experts told Reuters.

With Post wires

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Glasses retailer Warby Parker eyeing IPO as soon as this year

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Hipster glasses retailer Warby Parker is eyeing an initial public offering.

The 11-year-old business, which started out as an e-tailer before rolling out some 130 stores across the US, is considering an IPO as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The New York-based company has amassed a huge customer following by offering less expensive prescription glasses. Warby Parker raised $120 million in its most recent funding round giving it a $3 billion valuation, according to the report.

“We’ve always explored various financing opportunities in both the debt and equity markets,” the company said in a statement. “To date, we have successfully and deliberately raised money within the private market on favorable terms and have plenty of cash on our balance sheet. We’ll continue to make strategic decisions in line with our commitment to sustainable growth.”

Founded by college buddies Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Warby Parker has attracted some large investors including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

It turned it first profit in 2018, Gilboa told The New York Times at the time.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Brian Ach/Getty Images

Customers can get prescriptions through their apps on their smartphones and use cameras to pick out frames. The company also has an optical lab in Sloatsburg, NY where it produces lenses.

While Warby Parker is not the least expensive option, it beats Costco in a recent comparison with Costco charging as little a $126 for a pair of prescription glasses compared with Warby Parker’s least expensive pair at $95.

“As consumer walk into a LensCrafters or Sunglass Hut, they see 50 different brands of glasses but don’t realize that all those brands are owned by the same company that owns the store that they’re standing in, that probably owns the vision insurance plan they’r using to pay for those glasses,” Gilboa said in a recent CNBC interview.

“And so, it’s no surprise that a lot of those glasses are marked up 10 to 20 times what they cost to manufacture,” he said.

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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.



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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.

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