Tim Hortons banking, GoPro’s IPO and Facebook’s fumble: Business week wrap

Facebook was in very familiar territory this week as it somehow managed to irritate a large percentage of its billion-strong customer-base the same way it often does: by doing questionable things with their personal information.

It emerged this week that for a week at the start of January 2012, the company subjected about 700,000 of its members to a large sociological experiment whereby their newsfeeds were intentionally skewed with either good news or bad news, to see if that would influence their mood.

Though the company says the experiment didn’t break any laws or even breach the data use policy that users blindly sign, Facebook did apologize this week that the experiment and reasons for it were “poorly communicated.”

But some say that’s not good enough. “They sort of said, well we’re just doing it for internal company purposes, which I don’t think was enough,” one internet privacy expert told the CBC’s Ron Charles this week.

Another day, another GM recall

General Motors added to its lengthy list of recalled vehicles this week, adding another 8 million cars, including 700,000 in Canada, to the record total. All in all, GM has recalled 28 million cars this year for various ailments, the main one of which is a defective ignition switch that can turn off when the car is in motion and disable safety features like air bags and power steering.

GoPro Ipo camera diving

GoPro went public in a $100 million IPO this week. (Associated Press)

As the recall list grows (and the number of alleged new victims swells) the company has a hard time getting ahead of the scandal. On Monday, GM promised it would pay “whatever it costs” to compensate victims, an attempt to reassure drivers that the company has hit bottom but will be back.

Despite the bad press, there are some signs the strategy is working, as new data this week showed the company posted a sales increase in June, even as the recall scandal grew.

GoPro storms out of the gate after IPO

​GoPro, the makers of possibly the world’s most popular cameras, had a big week on the stock market as the company went public in a $100 million initial public offering.

GoPro cameras are beloved by thrill-seekers because they’re easy to use, take excellent shots and are hardy enough to survive extreme conditions. Just as surfers love to strap a GoPro camera on their longboard before catching a wave, the stock also rode a wave of its own, with the stock gaining 50 per cent in the days following the IPO. “If you would’ve asked me a week ago would it be up basically double from its IPO price I would’ve thought no way,” analyst Charlie Anderson told The Lang & O’Leary Exchange in an interview

Although the shares have since come back a little, it’s clear investors are looking at the company and liking what they’re seeing.

Tim Hortons unveils loyalty credit card

Closer to home, the company that pours eight out of every 10 coffees in Canada came up with a program it hopes will keep Canadians hooked on their product even more.

Tim Hortons is partnering with CIBC to offer a Visa credit card that allows the user to rack up loyalty points that can be spent at Tim Hortons

The loyalty program space is getting very competitive, and the bank was eager to find a dance partner since it lost its Aeroplan partnership to rival TD Bank last year. There’s no annual fee, but that doesn’t mean the card has no strings attached.

“You are essentially paying for this with your data, your information, every time you pull your card out and you swipe it, they learn something more about your habits which they then use to tweak their offerings,” technology analyst Carmi Levy told the CBC’s Aaron Saltzman this week.

It remains to be seen if users think a one per cent payback of free coffee is worth the effort, but for now it’s clear that Canada’s biggest restaurant chain and one of its biggest banks are doubling down on a new business venture.

That’s all for this week. Stay up to date on the latest business news on our website here, and be sure and follow our Twitter feed here.

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