OpenAI tender give is on track for January regardless of management fracas, sources say

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI participates in the “Charting the Route Ahead: The Long run of Artificial Intelligence” at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ 7 days in San Francisco, California, on November 16, 2023.

Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Pictures

OpenAI’s tender give, which would allow for staff members to provide shares in the start off-up to outside the house buyers, remains on keep track of even with the leadership tumult and board shuffle, two folks common with the issue explained to CNBC.

The tender offer you will price OpenAI at the exact same amounts as beforehand described in October, all over $86 billion, and is currently being led by Josh Kushner’s Thrive Cash, according to the folks common, who spoke anonymously to talk about personal communications freely.

The spherical and earlier documented valuation ended up jeopardized by Sam Altman’s short term ouster earlier in November, but his return cleared the way for the tender provide to proceed.

Tender presents do not involve the issuance of new fairness. Rather, Prosper and other included investors will get current models belonging mostly to workforce, giving them liquidity. The $86 billion round is three periods OpenAI’s former fundraise in April, which valued the organization at all-around $28 billion.

One more person common advised CNBC that the round experienced been extended to January 5.

The extension of the tender present will come soon after a rollercoaster pair of months for the enterprise. OpenAI’s nonprofit board argued that Altman “was not regularly candid in his communications with the board” as CEO, and his subsequent departure incited uproar from investors and workers alike, especially after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella mentioned Altman and OpenAI president Greg Brockman would lead a new AI lab less than Microsoft. Workforce threatened to walk en masse, signing an open letter and commenting in assist of Altman on social media, which led in component to a considerable turnover of OpenAI’s board.

On Wednesday, OpenAI announced Altman and Brockman’s official return to their previous roles, along with a new board, like previous Salesforce co-CEO Bret Taylor, previous Treasury Secretary Larry Summers and Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo.

Microsoft acquired a non-voting board observer position, OpenAI said Wednesday. Nadella experienced previously informed CNBC that new governance would be demanded at the startup. Microsoft retains a 49% stake in OpenAI.

Not all significant backers will get a director placement. Tiger Global will not very likely pursue a board seat, a man or woman acquainted with the make any difference stated, in line with the firm’s longstanding follow. OpenAI’s other key backers include things like Founders Fund, Sequoia Cash and, subsequent the completion of the tender offer you, Prosper Capital.

The Information and Bloomberg formerly described some details of the tender offer you.

Sequoia Capital declined to comment on irrespective of whether it would be involved in the impending tender. Founders Fund will not take part in the tender give either, a individual acquainted with the agency reported. A spokesperson for Thrive declined to remark over and above declaring it remained “committed” to OpenAI.

OpenAI did not immediately respond to CNBC’s ask for for comment.

— CNBC’s Ari Levy & Jordan Novet contributed to this report.

Observe: Elon Musk claims OpenAI is lying about utilizing copyrighted facts

Elon Musk: OpenAI is lying when it says it is not using copyrighted data



Ulta Beauty shares pop as sales climb 6%

Shares of Ulta Beauty rose in after-hours trading Thursday, as the company said its third-quarter sales rose while shoppers showed once again they’re willing to spend on fragrances, skin care and more even when the budget is tight.

The specialty beauty retailer raised the bottom end of its range for full-year sales and earnings expectations. It said it expects net sales for the fiscal year to be between $11.10 billion and $11.15 billion, and comparable sales to range from 5.0% to 5.5%. It said adjusted earnings per share for the year will range from $25.20 to $25.60.

On an earnings call with investors, CEO Dave Kimbell said the retailer saw healthy traffic at its stores and on its website. He said the company expects a more promotional holiday season in the beauty category this year, but the season is “off to a good start” and stores are stocked with “both value-first and splurge-worthy items.”

“Our insights suggest that consumers are ready to celebrate even as they navigate in an uncertain economic environment,” he said.

Here’s what Ulta reported for the three-month period that ended Oct. 28:

  • Earnings per share: $5.07
  • Revenue: $2.49 billion

It was not clear if those numbers were comparable to consensus estimates from LSEG, formerly known as Refinitiv.

The company’s shares rose as much as 10% in extended trading.

Ulta also announced a leadership change Thursday. Chief Financial Officer Scott Settersten is retiring in April after nearly two decades at the beauty retailer. The company said he will be replaced by Paula Oyibo, Ulta’s senior vice president of finance.

In the fiscal third quarter, net income rose to $249.5 million, or $5.07 per share, from $274.6 million, or $5.34 per share, in the year-ago period. Revenue increased from $2.34 billion in the year-ago period.

Comparable sales, a metric that tracks Ulta stores open at least 14 months along with online sales, increased 4.5% year over year.

During the quarter, customers made more trips to Ulta’s stores and website, but spent slightly less. Transactions went up by nearly 6% and average ticket declined by 1.4% compared with the year-ago period.

Beauty has been one of the hottest categories for retailers over the past year. Even as consumers pull back on other types of discretionary purchases, they have continued to spend on makeup, face masks, fragrances and more.

That’s inspired retailers, including Macy’s, Target and Kohl’s to lean into the category by adding new brands, products and square footage. Target, for example, has a growing number of Ulta shops in its stores.

In Ulta’s third quarter, nearly every category saw growth. Skin care was Ulta’s fastest-growing segment during the period, posting double-digit growth year over year, Kimbell said on an earnings call with investors Thursday. The fragrance and bath category grew by low double digits.

Sales in the makeup category were flat, as mid-single-digit growth in mass brands of makeup offset a decline in prestige makeup, he said. Sales in the hair segment decreased in the low single-digit range, as customers bought fewer hair tools.

Kimbell noted the resilience of the beauty category in nearly every economic environment. On the earnings call, he referred to data from Euromonitor that showed that the U.S. beauty category has grown in the low- to mid-single-digit range every year for more than a decade, except during the Great Recession and in 2020 during the Covid pandemic.

“While we expect growth will continue to normalize to historic ranges, we remain confident the category will continue to grow, barring a macroeconomic event,” he said.

He said customers are not only coming to Ulta’s stores and website to seek new brands and products but also seeing beauty as part of their wellness routine.

As of Thursday’s close, Ulta shares had fallen about 9% so far this year. That compares with the S&P 500, which is up about 19% year to date.

Shares of the company closed at $425.99 on Thursday, bringing the company’s market value to about $20.97 billion.



Novo Nordisk sues two pharmacies for allegedly selling tainted Wegovy, Ozempic knockoffs

A 0.25 mg injection pen of Novo Nordisk’s weight-loss drug Wegovy is shown in this photo illustration in Oslo, Norway, August 31, 2023.

Victoria Klesty | Reuters

Novo Nordisk on Thursday said it sued two compounding pharmacies in Florida for allegedly selling impure and “potentially unsafe” drugs claiming to contain semaglutide, the active ingredient in the drugmaker’s blockbuster weight loss treatment Wegovy and diabetes medication Ozempic. 

The actions come as Novo Nordisk grapples with shortages of Wegovy and Ozempic in the U.S. as demand skyrockets for the drugs, which are known for their ability to cause significant weight loss. 

That’s left patients scrambling to find alternative – but sometimes dangerous and unproven – methods for shedding unwanted pounds.

Novo Nordisk is the sole patent holder of semaglutide and does not sell that ingredient to outside entities, which raises questions about what compounding pharmacies, clinics and other companies sell to patients. Compounding pharmacies prepare custom-made versions of commercially available treatments to meet the specific needs of a patient. 

The Danish drugmaker found that all the products tested from Wells Pharmacy Network and Brooksville Pharmaceuticals were impure, meaning that they contained unknown and unauthorized substances other than semaglutide, according to the two lawsuits filed in federal court in Florida. One product’s level of unknown impurities was 33%.

The unknown impurities in the products “potentially pose safety risks” to consumers, including “possibly serious and life-threatening reactions,” Novo Nordisk said in the suits.

The Danish drugmaker is not seeking monetary damages but is asking the court to bar the pharmacies from selling their products.

Wells Pharmacy Network and Brooksville Pharmaceuticals did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Novo Nordisk first sued Brooksville Pharmaceuticals over copycat versions of Wegovy and Ozempic in July. A federal judge in Florida dismissed the suit in October and later gave the drugmaker time to refile its complaint against the pharmacy.

Including the newest lawsuits, Novo Nordisk has filed 12 legal actions against compounding pharmacies, medical spas and weight loss clinics allegedly selling dupes of Wegovy and Ozempic. The company said it has received preliminary injunctions in six of those cases.

Rival Eli Lilly has taken similar action against businesses selling knockoffs of its popular diabetes drug Mounjaro, including its own lawsuit against Wells Pharmacy Network. 

Novo Nordisk’s new suit against Wells Pharmacy claims that its products contained a substance called BPC-157, which was banned by the Food and Drug Administration in September. The FDA said it did not have enough data to know whether the substance was harmful to humans, but noted it could cause dangerous immune system reactions.

Novo Nordisk added in the lawsuit that products from Brooksville had lower levels of semaglutide than advertised. That puts patients “at risk of taking drug products that are less effective than expected based on their labeling,” according to Novo Nordisk. 

“Compounded products do not have the same safety, quality and effectiveness assurances as FDA-approved drugs, and adulterated and misbranded injectable compounded drugs may expose patients to significant health risks,” Jason Brett, Novo Nordisk’s executive director of medical affairs, said in a statement. 

The FDA in May warned about the safety risks of unauthorized versions of Ozempic and Wegovy after reports emerged of adverse health reactions to compounded versions of the drugs. 

Several states have also threatened to take legal action against compounding pharmacies that make or distribute unapproved variations of Novo Nordisk’s weight loss treatments.



Coinbase rallies a lot more than 60% in exact month that FTX and Binance founders brace for jail

Brian Armstrong, CEO of Coinbase, slammed the U.S. Securities and Exchange Fee. He also mentioned the cryptocurrency exchange is looking to invest more outside the house of the U.S.

Carlos Jasso | Bloomberg | Getty Photographs

In a month that saw two of the crypto industry’s foremost figures headed on the path to jail, Coinbase shares rocketed far more than 60%, their 2nd-finest month-to-month effectiveness considering the fact that the cryptocurrency trade went public in 2021.

Bolstered by rallies in bitcoin and ether as effectively as crises at essential competition, Coinbase has been just one of Wall Street’s greatest bets all yr, climbing extra than 250% in the 1st 11 months of 2023.

For early holders of the inventory, the rebound can help ease the suffering of 2022, when Coinbase dropped 86% of its worth as soaring inflation and growing fascination rates pushed investors out of crypto and higher-development tech organizations, and into assets considered safer in a economic downturn.

Tech stocks have roared again this yr, notably people tied to the synthetic intelligence boom and crypto. Coinbase has the additional reward of acquiring survived the so-known as crypto winter season, while so many of its rivals disappeared or downsized.

The field fallout came to a head this month, when Sam Bankman-Fried, founder of former Coinbase rival FTX, was observed guilty of seven prison fraud counts tied to the collapse of his exchange and the theft of client funds. His conviction landed on Nov. 2 after a monthlong demo.

Significantly less than 3 weeks afterwards, on Nov. 21, Binance founder Changpeng Zhao pleaded responsible to violations of the Bank Secrecy Act for failing to implement an successful anti-cash laundering system and for willfully violating U.S. economic sanctions.

Blend exhibiting Former FTX CEO, Sam Bankman-Fried (L) and Zhao Changpeng (R), founder and chief government officer of Binance.

Getty Images | Reuters

Bankman-Fried, who faces probable existence behind bars, is scheduled to be sentenced in March. Zhao’s sentencing is set for February. Even though recommendations propose a sentence of 12 to 18 months, the Justice Department could thrust for a lengthier punishment for the Binance founder.

In contrast to FTX, which filed for bankruptcy in late 2022, Binance is continue to standing, nevertheless now with no Zhao, who agreed to action down as CEO as section of the plea offer. Even just before that, the organization was viewing a plunge in buying and selling, with quantity down by two-thirds concerning the very first and third quarters of the 12 months, according to crypto analyst web site CoinGecko.

With assets of additional than $65 billion on the platform, Binance continues to be the world’s major crypto exchange globally. But its sector share fell from more than 60% in February to below 50% in September, “an indicator that the exchange might be losing its grip on the sector as regulators continue to strain it,” CoinGecko said.

In the to start with 24 hours after the Justice Department announced its $4.3 billion settlement with Binance, customers pulled more than $1 billion from the trade. Liquidity also dropped 25% in the immediate aftermath of the announcement as market makers pulled again their positions, in accordance to data service provider Kaiko.

A Binance spokesperson instructed CNBC in a statement that Zhao appeared in court docket “to safeguard our people and to guarantee the longevity of our business.”

“Binance’s resilience has been analyzed contrary to any other trade around currently,” the spokesperson said. “But, we go on to operate the world’s largest cryptocurrency trade by volume. In reality, we at present see a climbing share of institutional person transactions.”

Coinbase is the fourth-biggest international trade by daily quantity, according to CoinGecko. It really is the only 1 that’s publicly traded in the U.S. and has a industry cap of near $30 billion.

In a report to clients on Wednesday, analysts at Mizuho noted that Coinbase shares are up about 20% considering that Zhao’s settlement, a rally that’s most likely “in anticipation of possible share gains for COIN in wake of outflows from Binance, the industry’s most significant exchange,” they wrote. Coinbase shares fell 2.4% to $124.72 on Thursday, wiping out some of their latest gains.

Mizuho elevated its selling price goal on the stock to $35 from $31, though retaining its underperform ranking, which it really is taken care of because December.

‘Turn the page’

A Coinbase spokesperson declined to remark for this tale, but CEO Brian Armstrong explained to CNBC’s Joumanna Bercetche previously this week that the Binance settlement permits the crypto business to transfer past a spate of scandals.

“The enforcement motion against Binance, which is permitting us to form of switch the webpage on that and with any luck , shut that chapter of record,” Armstrong mentioned. “I imagine that regulatory clarity is heading to aid convey in more investment decision, primarily from institutions.”

Coinbase CEO: Binance settlement means crypto can turn a page

Both Coinbase and Binance still face legal battles with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which was significantly absent from the Binance settlement. In the meantime, Coinbase executives have floated the plan of leaving the U.S. altogether for a jurisdiction with challenging-and-quick procedures on crypto, ought to the business be unable to come to a resolution with the SEC.

Wall Road appears to be shrugging off that concern.

Analysts at Needham, who advocate buying Coinbase shares, wrote in a report on Nov. 21 that the business “exited the crypto ‘winter’ greater positioned than in the prior up cycle.” They also famous that in addition to FTX’s failure and Binance’s retreat, crypto investing system Bittrex has also exited the marketplace.

Bittrex claimed on Nov. 20, that powerful Dec. 4, “all buying and selling exercise on Bittrex International will be disabled,” and it encouraged buyers “to log into their account and withdraw belongings as soon as doable.” In April, the SEC billed Bittrex and its ex-CEO with working an unregistered trade.

Nonetheless there might be a new aggressive danger on the horizon.

U.S. regulators are anticipated to soon approve the initially U.S. location bitcoin trade-traded money, which would let investors to obtain into electronic currency instantly by way of the exact same mechanism they use to invest in stock and bond ETFs. Major asset administrators, which includes BlackRock, WisdomTree and Invesco, have filed purposes with the SEC.

Regulatory approval would open up many much more avenues for folks to buy bitcoin. Though Coinbase permits investors to invest in a range of cryptocurrencies, bitcoin accounted for 38% of transaction volume in the 3rd quarter and nearly the exact share of income. For everyday investors who just want some publicity to bitcoin, there will possibly be additional approaches to obtain, like by means of their major on line brokerage.

JPMorgan Chase analysts wrote very last 7 days that crypto ETFs would likely be fantastic for Coinbase in the small expression but far more problematic as time passes.

The preliminary raise would occur from custody revenue tied to the ETFs. Most of the large asset administrators leaping into current market, such as BlackRock, Franklin Templeton and WisdomTree, have picked Coinbase for custody expert services, which includes the storage and safekeeping of the belongings.

Even so, the for a longer period-expression issue, according to JPMorgan, is that much less individuals will will need Coinbase accounts, primary to pricing pressure.

“We see numerous beginner buyers in no way likely beyond these flagship tokens and as a result in no way needing the companies of a Coinbase,” wrote the analysts, who have a neutral score on the inventory and an $80 rate goal. “We also see the ETF marketplaces as far more clear, effective and decrease price to execute and we see the possible for a migration to ETFs for less expensive exposure and trading driving Coinbase to decreased charges.”

Check out: Former SEC enforcement main on ‘casualness’ in crypto compliance

Fmr. SEC enforcement chief: There was a lot of 'casualness' in crypto about complying with the law



Mars, accused of working with baby labor in its source chain, states it aims to finish the apply

Element of a not too long ago opened cocoa pod in Asikasu on Dec. 19, 2020.

Cristina Aldehuela | Afp | Getty Photographs

Candy large Mars claimed it aims to conclude the use of child labor in its provide chain following CBS Information documented that small children in Ghana are harvesting the cocoa that finds its way into the firm’s M&M’s and Snickers.

For a lot more than two many years, the world’s biggest chocolate makers have been pledging to get rid of — or at least minimize their reliance on — baby labor. But all those identical businesses have blown previous industry-imposed deadlines to cleanse up their supply chains.

For its element, Mars’ most recent deadline to finish youngster labor in its provide chain is 2025. The firm claimed more than 65% of its West African cocoa provide chain has already realized compliance.

Having said that, CBS News claimed that Mars is further more absent from achieving that objective than it publicly initiatives. The information outlet said subject supervisors from modest subsistence farms routinely lied on their paperwork, expressing kids were being attending college instead than working in cocoa fields, and alleged the corporations by no means tried out to validate that details.

“Mars unequivocally condemns the use of baby labor. It has no position in our source chain, and we are thoroughly dedicated to helping to eradicate it,” the sweet maker mentioned in a assertion to CNBC.

The organization also said it is “urgently investigating” the promises designed by CBS and is organized to acquire “ideal motion” in opposition to any provider not in compliance with its code of conduct.

The report compounds the problems Mars faces associated to child labor. A lawsuit submitted in the Exceptional Court of the District of Washington on Wednesday targets Mars, agricultural giant Cargill and Toblerone maker Mondelez, accusing the businesses and their leaders of negligent supervision and client fraud tied to little one labor in their source chains.

The U.S. Supreme Court docket dismissed a related lawsuit in 2021 that aimed to maintain Nestle United states of america and Cargill accountable for youngster slavery on African farms that supplied their cocoa.

Examine the complete statement from Mars down below:

Mars unequivocally condemns the use of baby labor. It has no location in our source chain, and we are completely dedicated to supporting to eradicate it.

Regardless of our recurring requests, CBS did not give certain specifics of their investigation to Mars forward of their broadcast, which intended that we were being not able to search into the allegations raised in their plan. We are now urgently investigating the claims created in the broadcast and are ready to get ideal motion in opposition to any provider found not to have satisfied our anticipations laid out in our Supplier Code of Carry out.

Our cocoa suppliers in Ghana have agreed to adhere to our robust Supplier Code of Conduct and we have also been obvious that they need to have a Boy or girl Labor Monitoring and Remediation Program (CLMRS) in place by 2025 that complies with the sector primary International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) typical. Around 65% of our cocoa offer in West Africa is presently included by CLMRS which is implemented by our suppliers on the ground, with audits carried out by certification bodies as portion of Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certification demands.
We have a strong Guarding Kids Motion Prepare in location that is backed by a sizeable financial investment decision totaling hundreds of tens of millions of dollars over the coming yrs. We are also clear in indicating that we know that more demands to be completed and we continue on to get the job done diligently with events across the cocoa sector to even further enable advance respect for human legal rights in the cocoa source chain.

Browse the comprehensive CBS News report in this article.

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How major retailers and Covid-era nostalgia helped revive the vinyl records industry

A stack of freshly pressed gold vinyl records at United Record Pressing.


This story is part of CNBC’s new quarterly Cities of Success series, which explores cities that have been transformed into business hubs with an entrepreneurial spirit that has attracted capital, companies and workers.

Once considered a dying industry, the vinyl record business has undergone a remarkable multibillion-dollar resurgence in the past decade. It has been fueled by popular artists such as Taylor Swift and major retailers including Target and Walmart, along with a growing wave of consumers rekindling their love for the nostalgic format during the Covid pandemic.

“Never in a million years did I think it would, as a market and as an industry, become what it’s become today,” Mark Michaels, CEO and chairman of United Record Pressing, the largest vinyl recording pressing plant in North America, told CNBC’s Andrea Day in the upcoming primetime special “Cities of Success,” which airs Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. ET.

United Record Pressing CEO Mark Michaels inspecting a vinyl record.


The global vinyl record market was valued at $1.98 billion in 2022 and is projected to reach $4.12 billion by 2030, according to Verified Market Research. More than 41 million vinyl albums were sold in the U.S. last year — the highest number since 1988, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

United Record Pressing has become a major player in the vinyl market, producing approximately 40,000 records daily at its Nashville, Tennessee, facility. Founded in 1949 as Southern Plastics, the company has a rich history of producing vinyl records for iconic artists, including The Beatles, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Adele and Jack White.

But the company was facing an uncertain future 16 years ago when Michaels acquired it.

Second wind

The vinyl record industry had been in decline for several decades due to the emergence of more convenient physical formats such as cassette tapes and CDs, a decrease in the quality of vinyl records due to lower-quality materials and processes, and the rise of digital music, such as MP3s and online streaming.

Vinyl record sales plummeted in the 1980s and 1990s. And by the early 2000s, the industry was on the verge of extinction: In 2006, only 1 million vinyl records were sold in the U.S., according to RIAA.

“I questioned what I did all the time,” Michaels recounted after acquiring the company. “I had many sleepless nights. [Even] my family questioned what I had done.”

But in the years that followed, Michaels said, he noticed a promising trend: Indie artists displayed a growing interest in vinyl.

Hoping to position United Record Pressing as the go-to pressing plant for those artists and music producers who valued the tangible vinyl experience, Michaels purchased old record presses from closed plants to accommodate potential growth.

“Prior to 2016, you had to be able to find and restore an old record press, and that was a real tough, tough search,” Michaels said.

The demand for vinyl from both indie and mainstream artists soon led to reissues and colored variants, marking a turning point, according to Michaels. That growth gained further momentum with the entry of major retailers such as Target and Walmart into the vinyl market in the early 2010s.

Mainstream lift

When Target and Walmart, two of the largest retailers in North America, decided to stock vinyl the entire supply chain was significantly affected, according to Michaels.

Vinyl began reaching a wider market segment: consumers who may not have traditionally shopped in independent record stores but were keen on acquiring mainstream vinyl titles.

“We recognized that with all the old presses that we had acquired, and we built the company around, that was inadequate to be able to service the needs of where the market was going,” Michaels said. “Conveniently, in sort of 2016, a couple of companies started manufacturing new record presses.”

Read more about Nashville and CNBC’s Cities of Success

Soon after, United Record Pressing implemented a growth strategy, relocating to a larger facility in 2017. The company established a creative marketing team that engaged with artists and labels, conceptualizing unique vinyl ideas such as liquid-filled, split-colored and scented records.

The company also included a digital download coupon with each record and initiated a record label, recording artists on tape and pressing directly to vinyl.

Michaels said the company also orchestrated a grassroots public relations campaign to highlight its 60-year history as the premier vinyl pressing plant in North America.

United Record Pressing’s expansion space.


The new space, spanning 155,000 square feet in Nashville, not only met present requirements but also positioned the company for future growth — which would come just a few years later when the Covid pandemic provided an additional boost to the industry as people reengaged with the nostalgic format.

Today, the medium reigns as the most popular physical music format in the U.S., representing 72% of all physical music sales, ahead of CDs and cassettes, according to mid-2023 data — the most recent information available from the RIAA.

According to Billboard, the average price of a vinyl record increased from $26.12 in 2021 to $29.65 in 2022, reflecting heightened production costs and the impact of inflation.

In addition, the landscape of vinyl retailers has evolved over time. Indie record stores led the market in 2015 with 45.4% of sales, Billboard reported, followed by internet or mail-order sellers such as Amazon at 32.9%, and chain stores such as Best Buy at 15%.

By 2018, Amazon had eaten into indie stores’ dominance, with both categories representing 41% of market share, while Best Buy’s share had decreased to just over 10%. And by 2019, major retailers such as Walmart and Target were registering on the scene.

Where big-box retailers made up only 1% of vinyl record market share in 2015, they accounted for 14.6% of sales in 2021, according to Billboard.


Michaels told CNBC he is confident that the market’s continued growth will be artist-driven. That plus a general shift in interest, as younger listeners discover vinyl, suggest the medium is here to stay, he said.

Artists such as Taylor Swift offer collectible versions of their albums, called “variants,” which are multicolored vinyl records.

Recording artist Taylor Swift’s entire music catalog, including her album “Red,” has been pressed at United Record Pressing.


“When Taylor releases a new record, there may be eight, nine, 10, different variants of that same record — different colors, different combinations, maybe there’s some unique tracks that weren’t included on the digital release, or the CD, but you get it on the vinyl,” Michaels explained. “There’s a lot of fans that say, ‘There are eight different variants. I want one of each, please.’ They’re very supportive.”

The CEO attributes a portion of his company’s success to the city of Nashville, too, praising its deep-rooted connection to music and the creative industry, which has provided a dedicated and skilled workforce.

“You have the whole musical ecosystem here,” he said. “You have artists, producers, studios — it all works together in a highly symbiotic way. It’s the perfect place, and we’re very fortunate to be here.”

TUNE IN: The “Cities of Success” special featuring Nashville will air on CNBC on Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT.



‘Sound of Freedom’ studio looks to build on crowdfunding success with new film ‘The Shift’

Neal McDonough stars as a mysterious man known as “the benefactor” in Angel Studio’s “The Shift.”

Angel Studios

“Sound of Freedom” broke the Hollywood mold this summer. Now, the studio behind the surprising smash is looking to follow-up that success with a science fiction thriller based on the Bible’s Book of Job.

Angel Studios is set to release “The Shift” this Friday. The film was crowdfunded by 6,000 investors through the company’s “Angel Guild,” which contributes money to film and television projects its members want to see made or widely distributed.

“It’s a blessing. It really is,” said Brock Heasley, who wrote and directed “The Shift.” “To know that there were 6,000 people out there praying for us, 6,000 people out there who would put, in some cases, what little money they had into this film, because they believed in it that much.”

It took five years and four crowdfunding campaigns to raise $3 million to produce the film. Additional funding was collected from private investors, bringing “The Shift’s” budget to $6.4 million, a small sum by Hollywood standards.

A relative newcomer to Hollywood, Angel Studios uses a Kickstarter-style method of generating funds. It also allows its investors to select which projects they want to fund and gives them the opportunity to purchase shares in the company and its titles. It rose to prominence in 2019, when, under the name VidAngel, it crowdfunded and released hit biblical series “The Chosen.”

“Where else in the world can you have 6,000 people put money into a film that amplifies light?” said Neal McDonough, the prolific character actor (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Justified,” “Yellowstone”) who plays the main antagonist in “The Shift.” “Only through Angel Studios. It is just remarkable that that is allowed to happen.”

This community-funding approach has enabled Angel to ensure it is making projects that audiences want to see, guaranteeing viewership on its in-house streaming platform and ticket sales for cinematic releases.

The July release of “Sound of Freedom” raised the studio’s profile even further. The Jim Caviezel-led thriller shook up norms in an industry still trying to find its footing after Covid lockdowns. It snared more than $180 million at the domestic box office during its run, outpacing big studio films such as Warner Bros.‘ “The Flash,” on a budget of just $14.5 million. It made nearly $250 million worldwide.

“Movie theaters are always looking for ways to draw additional moviegoers to their big screens and having Angel Studios in the mix is good for the bottom line,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore. “Innovation and outside the box thinking has put Angel Studios on the map. And with ‘Sound of Freedom’ the company found massive mainstream success while shaking up the status quo, competing head-to-head with the major studios in the hardscrabble summer movie marketplace and came out a winner.”

“Sound of Freedom” isn’t the only Angel Studios title to exponentially overperform its budget. “His Only Son,” a biblical drama released in early 2023, cost $250,000 to make and generated $12.4 million at the box office. A crowdfunding campaign in partnership with Angel Studios raised more than $1.2 million for prints and advertising costs. The small budget, big returns formula is reminiscent of what Blumhouse is doing for the horror genre.

The Devil’s in the details

Kristoffer Polaha and Neal McDonough star in Angel Studios’ “The Shift.”

Angel Studios

“The Shift,” which is loosely based on the “Book of Job,” centers on Kevin (Kristoffer Polaha), a man who recently lost his job and is having marital troubles after the disappearance of his young son. He crosses paths with a mysterious man known only as “the benefactor” (McDonough), who tempts Kevin with wealth and power.

The benefactor, aka the Devil himself, has the ability to “shift” people from one reality to another and promises to reunite Kevin with another version of his wife, if he agrees to work for him. Kevin grapples with whether or not to accept this enticing, yet immoral offer.

“Years ago, faith-based films were all just kind of just one-dimensional,” McDonough said. “[Brock has] created a film that has sci-fi, action, a love story, and talks about how you can be a better human being for God. And whether you’re religious or not, it’s how you can just be a better human being, period. And there aren’t enough films out there in the landscape these days to actually talk about those things.”

“The Shift” is currently seeing “healthy” ticket sales comparable to Angel Studios’ October release “After Death,” which generated $5 million during its opening weekend on its way to a $23.4 million domestic run.

“I do think that there is an audience out there who is looking for something different,” Heasley said. “It’s something that expresses their faith and their values, but that is doing it in a different way. And I think there’s room for it.”

Step into the light

Jim Caviezel stars in Angel Studio’s “Sound of Freedom.”

Angel Studios

Although Angel Studios does not bill itself as a faith-based studio — it says that its content is meant to “amplify light” — much of its content has centered on biblical storytelling. “The Chosen,” a Christian historical drama television series available on Angel’s in-house streaming service as well as on Netflix and NBCUniversal’s Peacock, has become popular and profitable for Angel and has even made the leap to the big screen through Fathom Events.

“The Chosen” has had nearly one billion views and generated more than $100 million, according to the company. Season four is set for release in February.

Soon after, “Cabrini,” a film about the Roman Catholic missionary and future Saint Francesca Cabrini, will hit theaters in March. Then there’s “Bonhoeffer,” which tells the true story of German theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who stood up to the Nazis during the Third Reich, later in 2024.

Angel has utilized its audience to reach more moviegoers. The studio has a model it calls “pay it forward,” which allows people buy tickets that can be claimed online for future screenings by those who may not be able to afford them. “Sound of Freedom” saw a significant number of tickets bought through this method. The tickets don’t count towards the film’s box office total until they are claimed.

“Angel Studios has pinpointed a greatly underserved market predominately in faith-based communities, curating and marketing content with them specifically in mind,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at “It’s always been a bit of a blind spot for the industry, but Angel has honed in on it.”

Disclosure: NBCUniversal is the parent company of Peacock and CNBC.



See inside Tennessee’s most expensive home at $65 million, just outside Nashville

This story is part of CNBC’s new quarterly Cities of Success series, which explores cities that have transformed into business hubs with an entrepreneurial spirit that has attracted capital, companies and employees.

Twin Rivers Farm could break records as Tennessee’s priciest home if it fetches its $65 million asking price. 

The property is located just 30 miles southwest of Nashville in the suburb of Leipers Fork, known for attracting high-net-worth individuals and celebrities such as Justin Timberlake and Nicole Kidman.

“It’s one of the most significant real estate holdings in the Southeast,” listing agent Dan McEwen with the McEwen Group told CNBC for the upcoming “Cities of Success” primetime special, airing Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. ET.

According to McEwen, the estate’s sheer size, unfolding over 383 acres, and its unique amenities such as a man-made private fishing lake, help it command the eight-figure asking price.

Apart from the 10,626 square foot main residence, the estate features a barn, guesthouse and a man-made lake, stocked with trout for fishing and swimming.

McEwen Group

The previous record for the most expensive home sold in the state, set in 2010, stood at $28 million.

“Over the last 20 years, the real estate market here has changed drastically. It’s been mostly because of out-of-state buyers, out-of-state families that have settled here in Middle Tennessee and invested in Middle Tennessee,” McEwen told CNBC.

The number of millionaires in the Nashville area increased more than 70% since 2019 to north of 116,000, according to research firm Wealth-X, an Altrata company. There are now more than 1,000 people in the Nashville area with a net worth over $30 million.

Read more about Nashville and CNBC’s Cities of Success

The migration wave has seen residents relocating from New York, Illinois and California. McEwen credits the region’s low costs, lack of income tax, moderate climate, low crime and culture with drawing new families.

The main residence of Twin Rivers Farm is 10,626 square feet.

McEwen Group

Larry Keele, a retired co-founder of Oaktree Capital, moved to the Twin Rivers Farm property from California in 2015, acquiring two contiguous plots of land for approximately $7.2 million.

He demolished existing structures and invested millions in constructing a resort-like estate just outside Nashville. 

“Larry spent a lot of time in [Los Angeles]. His career was in LA. I think home always called to Larry,” McEwen said. “He’s from Tennessee. And I think the quality of life here called to Larry and ultimately brought him home.”

The walls of this room are adorned with blue leather.

McEwen Group

The main residence stretches an impressive 10,626 square feet and features five bedrooms, seven bathrooms and hardwood floors imported from France. In addition, the walls are clad in rich blue leather and Italian cashmere worth $100,000, according to the broker.

“When the sellers built this home, they did not spare any expense. The quality here is what sets it apart,” McEwen said. 

The kitchen has marble countertops and the cabinets also serve as windows that offer views of the trees and landscape.

McEwen Group

The estate has multiple hidden passages leading to a game room, a safe room and a wine cellar. Additional features include a pool house with a retractable glass roof, a putting green, a jumbo-size chessboard and a tennis court.

The pool house has a retractable glass roof for year-round usability.

McEwen Group

There are also miles of scenic trails and even a man-made lake the Keeles constructed and filled with trout for fishing and swimming. 

“Everywhere you look, you see grass and trees and hills. And so the vision was to do something that fit here,” said McEwen.  

Twin Rivers Farm spans 383 acres and features a barn alongside a man-made lake.

McEwen Group

The property’s barn houses the Keeles’ chickens and sheep. It also includes an area for human guests, complete with a dining room beneath a rooftop cupola that effortlessly slides away at the touch of a button, unveiling the sky above.

The barn’s dining area features a glass-windowed door with a view overlooking the man-made lake.

McEwen Group

The main residence, barn, cabin, stable and pool house combined amount to 28,583 built square footage, according to the broker. Priced at $65 million, it translates to $2,278 per square foot.

In the Greater Nashville Area, a luxury home price is typically defined at the 95th percentile, and the most recent data indicates it to be $471 per square foot, as reported by Hannah Jones, senior economic research analyst at

The square footage the Keeles are asking for is almost five times that threshold.

According to McEwen, trophy properties like Twin Rivers Farm are in increasing demand in the area as wealthy buyers look for the large acreage and rural lifestyle of a farm, combined with high-end amenities such as pools and guest houses.

Celebrities also like the area because they can entertain their friends and enjoy nature outside the prying eyes of the public.

So why are the Keeles selling the trophy estate they spent tens of millions to customize? McEwen says the decision is driven by a desire to downsize and relocate closer to Nashville.

The 2022 real estate tax for the property amounted to $22,474.46.

TUNE IN: The “Cities of Success” special featuring Nashville will air on CNBC on Dec. 6 at 10 p.m. ET.



Tesla established to expose Cybertruck facts at Austin deliveries event

The Tesla Cybertruck all through a tour of the Elkhorn Battery energy storage program in Moss Landing, California, on June 6, 2022.

Nik Coury | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Electric automobile maker Tesla is set to reveal details about its new and unconventional Cybertruck pickup on Thursday, a person working day soon after CEO Elon Musk appeared in a bizarre job interview DealBook summit in New York. At that event, Musk boasted, “It will be the greatest product or service launch of anything by considerably on Earth this yr.”

The function, to be held in Austin at 2 pm area time (3pm ET) on Thursday, will be livestreamed and marks the firm’s 1st deliveries of the Cybertruck to buyers.

In an Oct earnings contact, Musk struck a a lot more careful take note expressing, “There will be great issues in achieving quantity generation with the Cybertruck, and then in making the Cybertruck cashflow good.” He also explained at that time, “we dug our have grave with Cybertruck,” pointing out “exceptional difficulties” in creating and bringing that truck to marketplace.

Tesla initial unveiled the Cybertruck — with its angular, and unpainted, hard steel system — in November 2019. It experienced beforehand mentioned output of the motor vehicle would start out in 2021, and the truck would market at the entry-stage cost of $39,900 for a rear-wheel-drive model, and all around $69,000 for a highest-spec, tri-motor edition.

The enterprise began using $100 refundable “reservations” for Cybertruck after it was unveiled, and the firm claimed it obtained additional than 1 million reservations given that its debut.

The covid pandemic and other things contributed to a two-yr delay on the other hand, and Tesla only started early Cybertruck creation in July this yr.

Meanwhile, rivals which includes Ford, Common Motors and Rivian began to offer their extra utilitarian electric pickups. Before this week, Rivian, which only manufactures battery electric powered autos (like Tesla) commenced to offer a leasing alternative for choose designs of its all-electrical R1T pickup truck.

The U.S. electric pickup truck market place has not expanded as swiftly as some thought when the Cybertruck was originally unveiled. Various begin-ups have both now introduced automobiles to current market or did with very little accomplishment these types of as Lordstown Motors. Equally GM and Ford have introduced plans to scale again, postpone or cancel EV merchandise and investments, together with some linked to EV vehicles.

Mike Wayland contributed to this report.



Trump gag buy in fraud scenario reinstated by New York appeals court

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends demo in a civil fraud circumstance that state Legal professional Standard Letitia James introduced from him, his grownup sons, the Trump Business and others, in New York Town, Oct. 3, 2023.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

A New York appeals courtroom Thursday reinstated a gag order on Donald Trump in the previous president’s $250 million civil organization fraud demo.

The orders bar Trump from making public statements about the employees of Manhattan Supreme Courtroom Judge Arthur Engoron, who is presiding in excess of the ongoing trial.

Engoron had imposed the gag get on Trump after Trump consistently qualified the judge’s principal regulation clerk, Allison Greenfield. Engoron afterwards imposed a comparable gag buy on Trump’s attorneys, barring them from creating any general public statements about confidential communications amongst the choose and his personnel. The gag orders on Trump’s lawyers have been also reinstated Thursday.

Engoron has claimed his chambers have been “inundated” with threats and harassment versus him and his workers through the demo. An official who monitors threats for the New York Court docket System’s Department of Public Protection advised the appeals courtroom in a sworn assertion that Trump’s opinions about Greenfield have prompted “hundreds” of threatening messages, lots of of which had been antisemitic.

In its ruling Thursday, a 4-judge appellate panel lifted a short-term suspension of the gag orders on Trump and his lawyers that was set in place though Trump appealed the speech limitations.

The one particular-line ruling came three days soon after Trump’s lawyers urged the appeals court not to reimpose the gag orders, arguing that they unconstitutionally blocked Trump from accusing Engoron and Greenfield of political bias.

Engoron has uncovered Trump in violation of his gag purchase two times, imposing a total of $15,000 in fines on the former president due to the fact the fraud demo began in early October.

The narrow get does not block Trump from attacking Engoron or New York Lawyer Common Letitia James, who introduced the scenario accusing him and his co-defendants of falsely inflating Trump’s belongings for financial obtain.

Trump has consistently attacked both of those of them, casting the decide as a Trump “hater” and decrying the circumstance as a “witch hunt.”

On Wednesday, Trump sent at minimum six individual Real truth Social posts targeting Engoron’s spouse, accusing her of criticizing Trump and commenting on the trial on X, previously Twitter. Engoron’s wife told Newsweek earlier this thirty day period that she does not have an account on X and has not posted any anti-Trump messages.

Trump sent at least a few added posts Thursday claiming that Engoron’s wife despatched anti-Trump social media messages.

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Engoron has now observed Trump, his two adult sons, the Trump Organization and its prime executives liable for fraudulently misstating the values of real estate attributes and other property. The trial will decide penalties and resolve other promises of wrongdoing in James’ accommodate.

In addition to trying to find all-around $250 million in damages, James needs to forever bar Trump Sr., Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump from functioning a New York business.

Engoron on Thursday early morning prolonged the scheduled finish of the demo from mid-December. He established closing arguments for Jan. 11 following Trump’s attorneys questioned for extra time to put together.

The defense is expected to simply call Trump back again to the stand as its last witness on Dec. 11. Engoron options to concern a verdict in the circumstance a handful of months soon after the demo ends.