Donors Stay Largely Silent Amid New Wave of Campus Protests


Top American colleges are in turmoil, with dozens of pro-Palestinian student protesters having been arrested at N.Y.U. and Yale amid new worries about antisemitism on campus.

University administrators have been struggling to restore calm, and have taken heavy criticism from students and lawmakers alike. The growing question is whether wealthy donors to these schools — who helped topple the leaders of the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard last year — will speak out as well.

The latest: Police were called in to break up pro-Palestinian protests at N.Y.U. and Yale on Monday, days after more than 100 people were arrested at a demonstration at Columbia.

Harvard shut Harvard Yard and Columbia will make classes at its main campus hybrid until next week. Encampments were growing at other schools, including M.I.T., the University of Michigan and the University of California, Berkeley.

One major donor has weighed in on the protests. Bob Kraft, the owner of the New England Patriots, suggested that he would withhold donations. “I am no longer confident that Columbia can protect its students and staff and I am not comfortable supporting the university until corrective action is taken,” he said in a statement posted on X.

Kraft is an alumnus and a longtime donor to Columbia, and he’s also a supporter of Jewish causes: He helped fund the school’s Robert K. Kraft Center for Jewish Student Life and started the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism.

Other alumni aren’t going that far, yet. Leon Cooperman, the billionaire investor and an alumnus of Columbia Business School, told CNBC that he would continue donating to the school “when they solicit” him. “I’m uncomfortable with what’s going on at the school,” he added. “But you know, I don’t want to hold the administration responsible for demonstrations.”

James Gorman, the executive chair of Morgan Stanley and the chair of Columbia Business School, declined to comment to CNBC. Other prominent alumni of Columbia — including Warren Buffett of Berkshire Hathaway, Henry Kravis of KKR and Harvey Schwartz of Carlyle — hadn’t yet spoken publicly on the issue.

Remember the power of donors: It was wealthy alumni like the financiers Marc Rowan and Bill Ackman who helped push for the ousters of Liz Magill at Penn and Claudine Gay at Harvard. Much of their power lay in the millions that they give to schools — and their threats to withhold that money.

It’s unclear what would push these benefactors into taking more drastic steps. For now, the pressure on school leaders like Nemat Shafik of Columbia is coming from students, faculty and lawmakers including Representative Elise Stefanik, Republican of New York, and Senator John Fetterman, Democrat of Pennsylvania.

Washington reportedly weighs sanctions on Chinese banks over support for Russia’s military. Measures being drafted by the Biden administration would cut off some lenders from the U.S. dollar, in an attempt to dissuade Beijing from allowing exports of technologies that help Russia’s armed forces, according to The Wall Street Journal. The threat is emerging as Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to travel to China this week.

Oracle briefs Senate aides on its TikTok work. The tech giant acts as the data center for TikTok’s U.S. users per a contract worth an estimated $1 billion. It held the meetings as the upper chamber was set to vote on legislation that would force the video app to be divested by its Chinese owner. (TikTok lobbyists have reportedly complained that Oracle hasn’t done enough to oppose the legislation.)

Opening statements are delivered in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial. Manhattan prosecutors walked jurors through their arguments that the former president orchestrated a plot to have The National Enquirer buy the silence of three people, including the porn star Stormy Daniels, to help him win the 2016 election. Trump’s lawyers declared that their client was innocent of the three dozen criminal counts he faced, including falsifying business records.

Peak earnings season has arrived with the six largest tech companies — carrying a combined market capitalization of $12.5 trillion — set to report bumper first-quarter results on the back of booming interest in artificial intelligence.

But investors are jittery. Apple shares are down in premarket trading on Tuesday after iPhone sales in China plunged last quarter. Nvidia tumbled last Friday to help drive U.S. stock markets to their worst week in two years.

Here’s the rundown: Meta kicks things off on Wednesday, with Microsoft and Google’s Alphabet following on Thursday. Amazon and Apple report next week, and Nvidia on May 22. (As DealBook flagged on Monday, Tesla, the laggard of the so-called Magnificent 7 with its shares down more than 40 percent this year, reports on Tuesday.)

The good news: The tech sector has driven huge stock gains over the past year and is expected to announce strong profits despite high inflation and high interest rates. That’s coupled with a U.S.-Beijing trade war and geopolitical uncertainty that’s putting a crimp on global growth.

A.I. tech stock darlings — including Nvidia, Amazon, Meta, Alphabet, and Microsoft — are still expected to be the biggest profit drivers of the S&P 500 this year. The so-called “fab five” are forecast to report that their combined quarterly profit grew roughly 65 percent on an annualized basis, according to FactSet.

The other 495 companies in the benchmark index are expected to combine for a bottom-line loss.

Even a good quarter for tech giants may not carry the stock market. Their performance last quarter helped the S&P 500 gain 10.6 percent. But the index has declined in six of the past seven sessions with investors increasingly spooked that the Fed could keep borrowing costs at a 22-year high well into the autumn.

Meanwhile, Marko Kolanovic, an equity analyst at JPMorgan Chase, has predicted that tech earnings season will not be enough to reverse the S&P 500’s recent tumble.

A big focus will be on when the bets on A.I. will start to pay off. Microsoft and Amazon have invested billions into A.I. start-ups. And Google and Meta are bolstering their search and apps businesses with greater A.I. capability.

Investors will be looking for signs that the A.I. boom is no bubble.


The F.T.C. has sued to block Tapestry’s $8.5 billion takeover of Capri, a blockbuster fashion deal that would put big brands like Coach, Kate Spade, Michael Kors and Versace under one roof. (Tapestry and Capri both said they would defend the deal in court.)

Behind the agency’s rare foray into the fashion world is an effort to protect a specific market: so-called accessible luxury, which caters to aspirational but budget-conscious consumers.

The focus is on competition among Coach, Kate Spade and Michael Kors, whose wares are priced below high-fashion brands. (A Marilyn medium logo tote bag from Michael Kors costs $228, while a similar Willow bag from Coach costs $350.)

The F.T.C. argues that the transaction between Capri and Tapestry, the parent of Coach, would force millions of Americans to pay more because the combined company wouldn’t feel the need to compete on price anymore. The agency added that it would also hurt workers at both companies.

Tapestry said the F.T.C. doesn’t get the fashion industry. “It’s quite clear to us that they don’t understand how consumers shop today and they don’t understand the dynamics of a marketplace with no barriers to entry, constant influx of new competitors,” Joanne Crevoiserat, the company’s C.E.O., told DealBook.

She added that consumers could shop for bags at different retailers and on numerous websites. “Type in ‘black tote,’ you’ll see thousands of choices and hundreds of brands at any price point,” she said.


Donald Trump looked glum at his hush-money trial, but the former president, who denies the charges, is set to receive good news outside of court. Trump is in line for a $1 billion windfall via an earnout that will give him more shares in the parent group of Truth Social, his social media company. Trump could use the extra financing to pay his mounting legal bills. But he won’t be able to cash out until late August.

The value of Donald Trump’s stake in Trump Media & Technology, the parent company behind Truth Social, has ballooned.

Apple is set to sign another major sports streaming deal. The iPhone maker is expected to agree on terms with FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, on a package worth at least $1 billion to stream a new tournament in the U.S. next summer. A deal for the event, the Mundial de Clubes, could be announced as early as this month, The Times’s Tariq Panja writes.

It’s the latest example of how streaming giants are piling into live sports to pull in subscribers, and would come two years after Apple paid $2.5 billion for the rights to Major League Soccer.

DealBook spoke to Panja about the potential agreement and what it means for sports deal making.

Why are they doing this now?

FIFA has never signed an all-encompassing global deal with any broadcaster, network or streaming partner. But the governing body has turned to Apple because there has been little demand from traditional broadcasters willing to pay top dollar for the quadrennial 32-team competition that FIFA hopes will become one of the most popular soccer properties on the planet.

For Apple, it hopes the deal will help it attract a bigger and broader global audience for the one-month competition than it has with the M.L.S.

What does it say about the battle for sports streaming rights?

Few other types of content can match sports for generating the audience and fealty delivered by fans, and streaming giants are upping their investments. ESPN, Fox and Warner Bros. Discovery are starting a new sports streaming platform, and Amazon has rights to N.F.L. games and a raft of other streaming agreements worldwide. Even Netflix is dipping its toe into sports-related programming, with a multibillion-dollar deal to stream the W.W.E.’s “Raw” show.

But it’s unclear if they will start bidding for the most expensive rights, which remain fixtures on network and cable television in most countries. And the fear among some FIFA executives is that the new competition won’t take off if it’s trapped behind a paywall on a streaming platform that’s not yet ubiquitous among the fans FIFA is hoping to attract.

What next?

If Apple and FIFA finalize a deal, a key moment will come in May at the start of the “upfront” season, when broadcasters and content owners start making presentations of future programming to advertisers. That will be a good gauge of interest in and market value of the new event.

Deals

  • Sam Altman of OpenAI and the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz have invested in Exowatt, a clean energy start-up, focusing on powering A.I.’s insatiable energy needs. (WSJ)

  • Goldman Sachs is exiting its mass-market robo-investing business after reaching a deal with Betterment, the digital investment advisory fund. (Bloomberg)

Policy

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