Ticketmaster dominance is why Swifties can’t have nice things, say lyric-armed US senators

Image of the week: Swift justice

“I want to congratulate and thank you for an absolutely stunning achievement. You have brought together Republicans and Democrats in absolutely unified cause,” US senator Richard Blumenthal told Live Nation president and chief financial officer Joe Berchtold at a Senate judiciary committee hearing this week.

Mutual appreciation of Taylor Swift? Not quite, but close. The three-hour grilling explored whether the hated 2010 merger of Live Nation and Ticketmaster – last seen bungling the sales process for Swift’s US tour – has stifled competition in the industry and just generally made concertgoers miserable.

Both outside the Capitol building, where Swifties gathered, and inside, it was a festival of references to Swift lyrics. “May I suggest, respectfully, that Ticketmaster ought to look in the mirror and say, ‘I’m the problem, it’s me,’” offered Blumenthal, while senator Mike Lee dubbed a proposal to ban buyers from transferring their tickets in order to crack down on touts “a nightmare dressed like a daydream”.

For committee chairwoman Amy Klobuchar, this was not just about dragging the Ticketmaster owner’s reputation. “We are very interested in actually doing something and not just throwing popcorn.” That one isn’t a song lyric.

In numbers: OpenAI season

$10 billion

Sum that Microsoft is investing in OpenAI, the non-profit research outfit behind artificial intelligence tool ChatGPT, released last November and already beloved of essay-writing students everywhere.


Jobs cut by Microsoft last week, days before it released quarterly earnings showing demand for its cloud computing services isn’t quite what it used to be.


Minutes for which Microsoft customers around the world encountered “issues” with networking connectivity on its cloud platform Azure on Wednesday. But it wasn’t all bad news, as work tools Outlook and Teams also went down for a bit.

Getting to know: Quordle

So, 2022 called and it wants its online obsessions back. Quordle, as previously noted on these pages, is the brain-frying crack cocaine of Wordle-inspired games; to play it is to play four Wordles at once, only with nine guesses instead of six.

But while the New York Times snapped up the original Wordle from creator Josh Wardle in a “low seven-figure” deal a year ago, its more complex clone Quordle has only just pulled off the same trick, with US dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster stepping in to acquire it from creator Freddie Meyer for an undisclosed sum.

Like Wordle, the aim of the game is to guess five-letter words using nothing more than your thumb and hotshot recall of the English alphabet.

The list: Glitching hour

It “scared the hell out” of one fund manager. A glitch at the New York Stock Exchange on Tuesday prevented the opening auctions for a slew of stocks, prompting wild swings in prices and the halting of trading within the first 30 seconds. Such chaos is not unprecedented, however, as these previous market episodes suggest.

Fine time: The NYSE was fined $14 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2018 for various errors including a flawed software roll-out that caused a four-hour trading halt in July 2015.

Flash crash: In May 2010, a $1 trillion “flash crash” on US markets was triggered by high-speed software engaged in a practice known as “spoofing” the market. It lasted 36 long minutes.

Monday mistake: A transaction-inputting error by a London-based Citigroup trader sparked a sudden sell-off across European markets one morning in May 2022, wiping €300 billion off their value in minutes.

Sterling nosedive: As if 2016 wasn’t a challenging enough year for the pound, the currency suffered an overnight plunge in October of that year. It was later blamed on an unholy trinity of algorithms, complex trading positions and human inexperience.

Fake tweet: In April 2013, hackers tweeted from the Associated Press Twitter account that the White House had been hit by two explosions and that then-president Barack Obama had been injured. On Wall Street, a brief panic ensued.


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