In case it isn’t obvious: SPENDING THIS MUCH OF TOP LINE REVENUE ON SALES AND MARKETING IS NEW . This is not business as usual. The higher gross margins generated by software and SaaS are enabling unprecedented spending on sales and marketing below the gross margin line. I read a study recently in which two economists tried to advance their preferred narrative by citing high gross margins that can exist in business today. Yes they are high in SaaS. No, that is not the whole story. Spending below the gross margin line on sales and marketing is far higher.
Controversy first arose when the French-owned and Montgomery County, Maryland -based Keolis (already operating Virginia Railway Express trains) was the only bidder for the contract. The bidding process was suspended in the fall of 2010 due to lack of competition. Before bidding reopened in 2011, Maryland passed a law (at the request of Leo Bretholz and other Holocaust survivors) requiring Keolis's majority owner, SNCF (currently solely owned by the French government)  to fully disclose its role in transporting Jews to concentration camps during World War II (while SNCF was under control of the Nazi government), to the satisfaction of the Maryland state archivist, before Keolis would be allowed to place a bid for MARC service. Keolis faced similar issues while bidding for VRE operations in 2009, but in the end, they were allowed to run VRE.