Cream pies, eggs and Macronomics

Planet Business: The grammar checker that raised $110m and the billionaires who play bridge

In numbers: Rich pedantry

$110 million

Finance raised in a funding round by Grammarly, the company that claims to have "the world's most accurate online grammar checker".


Its software scans text for the correct use of more than this number of grammar rules, so it’s best to not even look at an apostrophe in its vicinity.

6.9 million

The eight-year-old San Francisco company’s English-language “writing enhancement platform” has amassed this many users so far, so if you need help spotting your subject-verb disagreements, you is not alone.

Image of the week: Top tricks

The Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, is a weekend-long affair, sort of an investor pilgrimage, really, with souvenir dolls of its chairman and chief executive, Warren Buffett, on sale to people who hang off every word the "Sage of Omaha" utters. But if you're the second-richest man in the world what better way to relax than to play bridge with the richest man in the world, Berkshire Hathaway board member Bill Gates. Buffett and Gates are bridge buddies – although the Microsoft founder learned the card game from his parents, it was "bridge addict" Buffett who really got him into it in the late 1990s. Buffett once said he wouldn't mind going to jail if he had the right three cell mates and they could play bridge all the time. That's how much he loves it.


The lexicon: Les Macronomics

Fair play to the French for not only voting in the presidential candidate who wasn't a fascist, but the one whose name sounded better with the "-onomics" suffix. Ex-banker Emmanuel Macron, currently the world's most famous 39-year-old, and a former economy minister, now has France-watchers wondering exactly what shape "Macronomics" (not to be confused with macro-economics) will take. While Macron is a centrist pro-European, he has some differences of opinion with the European Commission, which is not keen on his vision of a "Buy European Act" for public procurement, while his calls for a common euro zone budget, financed by joint euro bonds, has elicited a big fat "nein" from Germany. It's still all to play for in the "Macronomy".

Getting to know: Eddie Lampert

Eddie Lampert is the chief executive of Sears, but it's not his fault the struggling US retailer is, well, struggling. It's the media's. The hedge fund manager has presided over what Forbes calls "a remarkable dismantling" of the company since taking over in 2013, and this week he was busy lamenting the frequent use of the word "bankruptcy" in connection with Sears by US business media – which thinks Sears is about to go bankrupt. "I give you my assurance I am not in denial," Lampert told the Chicago Tribune. Interesting fact about Lampert: He is a veteran of both Goldman Sachs and a 2003 kidnapping, in which he was snatched from the car park of his office but persuaded his captors to release him after two days.

The list: Pies and eggs

It’s not only politicians on the election trail who find themselves in the line of eggs and cream pies. There’s many an executive suit that has taken a hit too, as proven only this week. Here are five notable targets.

1. Alan Joyce: The Irish boss of Qantas asked for dry cleaner recommendations after he had a pie pushed in his face at a Business Leadership Matters event in Perth on Tuesday. His attacker was enraged by Joyce's support for the introduction of same-sex marriage in Australia.

2. Rupert Murdoch: Jonathan May-Bowles, aka Jonnie Marbles, was jailed for four weeks in 2011 for lobbing a paper plate of shaving foam at Murdoch at a House of Commons hearing, in an incident best remembered for the swift reflexes of Murdoch's then wife Wendi Deng.

3. Dermot Gleeson: At the height of the banking crisis in 2009, the AIB chairman’s suit was soiled by the eggs of shareholder Gary Keogh. “Always aim for the body,” Keogh advised other egg-assailants, as victims tend to move their heads to dodge incoming missiles.

4. Bill Gates: Four cream pies were thrown at the Microsoft founder in Brussels in 1998, as he was targeted by Belgium’s “entarteurs”, a group that sought to “assassinate through ridicule all world celebrities who take themselves spectacularly seriously”. Two of the self-named “pie terrorists” were fined €75.

5. Steve Ballmer: Europe proved just as difficult for Gates's successor as Microsoft chief executive, who had three eggs hurled at him in a lecture theatre in Hungary in 2008 by a protester with "Microsoft = corruption" on the back of his shirt. Ballmer took cover behind a desk. Some glaring ensued.