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After TikTok video on faux Coach purse at Humboldt Park vintage store goes viral, store owners fear for their safety

The TikTok video of a customer returning a fake Coach purse has gone viral since the Mother's Day incident.The TikTok video of a customer returning a fake Coach purse has gone viral since the Mother's Day incident......»»

Category: topSource: chicagotribuneMay 19th, 2022

44 sentimental gifts that"ll make anyone feel loved, from a zodiac necklace to a custom painting

Unique mementos are a way to show someone they're valued and loved. Here are 44 of the best sentimental gifts to make them feel extra special. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Birthdate co. For those feeling extra softhearted this year, we put together a list of sentimental gift ideas. From personalized gifts to meaningful flowers, you're sure to find inspiration for anyone. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. If you always give generic gifts, select something off a wishlist, or just send a gift card, you're not alone. It can be difficult to think beyond the practical to pick items that will delight and surprise your recipient. Whether you're on the search for a sweet long-distance gift or looking to truly impress your loved ones, you'll want to choose gifts that are custom, unique, and thoughtful. You can convey just how much you care by referencing fun memories, inside jokes, and hidden interests.We've compiled 44 sentimental gifts, which include a flower subscription, a personalized photo book, and custom socks. Each of these heartfelt gifts are sure to make your giftee feel special and remind them of loving memories and events. If you're looking for more gift ideas, be sure to check out all of our gift guides here.Below are 44 sentimental gift ideas:A book holder for their nightstandCOLwoodCraft/Etsy ColWood Night Stand Book Holder, available at Etsy, $27Your book lover can get rid of their paper bookmark and replace it with this wooden book holder. They can place their book on the stand and pick up where they left off later. You can choose from six different wood color options.A cartoon book illustrating you and your giftee's relationshipLoveBookPersonalized Birthday LoveBook, $54.95LoveBook has customizable cartoon books for you to create your own nonfiction story of you and your giftee. Whether it's a birthday gift for a friend or an anniversary gift for your significant other, LoveBook offers over 10 occasions for you to choose from. A personalized gift boxGreetablPersonalized Gift Box, available at Greetabl, from $19Let them know you're thinking of them with a cute custom gift box from Greetabl. Choose to a mini gift like caramels or chocolates, a gift card, and add a note and photos to be delivered to their door. A monogrammed vegan leather passport coverMark and GrahamFillmore Vegan Leather Passport Case, available at Mark and Graham, $39 ($12.50 monogram fee)For the giftee who loves to travel, a passport cover is a great gift. You can have their initials monogrammed onto the cover to add a thoughtful and special touch to the gift. A name bracelet with handwritten letteringEtsyHandwriting Bracelet, available at Etsy, $27.75A custom piece of jewelry is already a thoughtful gift but this handwritten bracelet from Etsy goes the extra mile. Surprise your gift recipient with a gold, sterling silver, or rose gold bracelet with words on it written in yours or a loved-ones' handwriting. A family cookbook to pass downUncommon GoodsMy Family Cookbook, available at Uncommon Goods, $30The My Family Cookbook is a sweet gift that will keep on giving. After having various family members add recipes, the book can become an heirloom gift that gets passed down to generations. A mug with handwritten wordsLittle Gem Girl/EtsyLoved Ones Handwriting Coffee Mug, available at Etsy, $23.49A mug with a meaningful message is a tender gift for people who may have lost a loved one or who live far away. You can customize this mug with any words you want, printed in your handwriting or someone else's.A floral paint-by-numbers kitUncommon GoodsBirth Month Flower Paint-by-Number Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $30Inspired by the birth month of your gift recipient, this paint-by-numbers kit is a gift and a fun activity rolled into the one. The kit lets them create a painting of the flowers for their respective birth month, along with an explanation of the characteristics of each month and flower. For example, October is a marigold that represents optimism and positive energy.A monogrammed notebookPapierScallop Spine Notebook, available at Papier, $24.29Whether they love making lists or jotting down new ideas, every writer needs a durable, trusted notebook to store their notes and stories. These unique notebooks can be customized with a monogram and lined, dotted, or plain pages. The notebooks come in solid colors and several fun designs, including the brands The Pahari, Constellation, and Colourblock styles.A fresh flower subscriptionFresh SendsThe Send Bouquet, available at Fresh Sends, from $60Instead of gifting flowers solely during holidays and special occasions, send them beautiful arrangements on a more consistent basis with a subscription from Fresh Sends. Choose from three delivery frequencies and two size options for a unique bouquet every time.A calendar full of cherished personal photosArtifact UprisingPersonalized Walnut Desktop Photo Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, from $35Photos of loved ones are an instant source of joy. Structuring your daily life around them with a calendar is a great way to fill each day with more gratitude and happiness. Artifact Uprising's desktop calendar is sustainably made from reclaimed wood and fully customizable. You can also choose the calendar's starting month, so you don't have to wait for a new year to create one.A book for your favorite astrology loverBirthdate Co.The Birthdate Book, available at Birthdate Co., $95If they know their sun, moon, and rising sign, this made-to-order astrology book will make the perfect gift. Provide their birthday and time of birth, and the company will create a 70-page book with information and insights customized from their birth chart.One Insider Reviews writer said the book felt extremely personalized, and no two books are the same.A cube of conversation-starting prompt cardsUncommon GoodsTable Topics cards, available at Uncommon Goods, $25Never experience another boring dinner again with these cards from Table Topics. Each cube comes with 135 thought-provoking topic cards to help keep your meals and relationships interesting.With six themed options ranging from card sets for families, couples, and friends, you'll give them the chance to get to know everyone in their life a little better.A customized puzzleEtsyCustomizable photo puzzle, available at Etsy, $34.99Help them stay entertained by gifting them a customized puzzle of their favorite picture. This puzzle also comes with a customized box, making this gift even more special. Choose from any image to commemorate a special event, remember a great vacation, or show love to their favorite pet.A video montage of and from their loved onesMontageA video montage of their loved ones, available at Montage, from $29Ask their friends and family to record and upload videos to be automatically compiled, scored, and delivered for a thoughtful present that's sure to bring on happy tears.An astrology necklaceMejuriA necklace with their zodiac symbol, available at Mejuri, from $90If they're into astrology, get them their zodiac sign in gold. Mejuri offers all signs in its Zodiac Collection in gold vermeil, sterling silver, and 14k yellow gold.A set of socks with their pet's face printed on themTribe SocksCustom Socks with Your Pet's Face, available at Tribe Socks, $24For dog- or cat-lovers, a pair of custom socks with their pet printed on them is a lighthearted but thoughtful gift. For more inspiration for pet-themed gifts, take a look at our guide to the best gifts for dog owners.A custom night sky star map to commemorate a birth, anniversary, or any other dayStarry MapsCustom star map print, available at Starry Maps, from $55Commemorate any special night of their (or your) life by getting it printed on museum-quality 200gsm Matte paper or on canvas.An e-gift card to GoldbellyGoldbellyAn e-gift card, available at Goldbelly, from $25Whether you spend most of your time together trying out different recipes — or they're often treating you to a delicious meal — you may want to turn your gift into a thoughtful, shared experience. Wherever they are in this big old world, they can call in any comforting favorite they please from Goldbelly.A bottle of bourbon as unique as they areReservebarJefferson's Ocean: Aged At Sea Bourbon, available at Reservebar, $79If they're bourbon drinkers, nautical lovers, or both, they might just cherish this forever.An Airbnb gift cardYou could take a coffee masterclass with a national judge in Mexico via Airbnb Online Experiences.AirbnbAn Airbnb Gift Card toward the experience of their dreams, available at Airbnb, from $50Travel might not be an option right now, but Airbnb is currently offering Online Experiences held by instructors from around the world. Treat them to a coffee master class, history lesson, or even a dance class. And in the meantime, they can daydream about their next far-flung adventure or cozy staycation. A custom map posterGrafomapCustom map poster, available at Grafomap, from $49Grafomap is a website that lets you design posters with maps of any place in the world — including their hometown, college town, or favorite travel destination. A personalized photo bookSnapfish/Business InsiderPersonalized Snapfish photo book, available at Snapfish, from $12.99Convert their pile of photos and favorite mementos into one glossy book they can showcase around the home for a cohesive, beautiful keepsake. Expertly framed memoriesFramebridgeFramed photo, available at Framebridge, from $25Framebridge gift card, available at Framebridge, from $25Framebridge makes custom framing for not-custom-framing prices. You can print or paint something on your own and have it framed, or have them print and frame it. You can take advantage of a team of designers to help decide what frame to get.An engraved timepieceUncommon GoodsPersonalized watch, available at Timex, from $75If you're looking for subtle and impactful, engraving a watch is a classic for a reason. They can keep it forever, wear it every day, and know how much personal significance it has without always answering questions from onlookers. It's functional, thoughtful, and timeless.A custom-made comic book telling your shared storyEtsyCustom comic book, available at Etsy, from $549.92If you have the means, few comic book nerds would turn down owning a detailed, beautifully designed comic book featuring them as the lead character or superhero or a comic book version of the story of how they met their partner.Purchase the comic, email the makers telling them the story, and send photos of the characters and event setting to make sure everything looks right. You'll see a rough draft, send back any edits you have, and they'll complete the final copy. Opt for a digital print (emailed) or get it sent to you as a canvas print.A personalized letter necklaceAUrateMini Letter Charm Pendant with White Diamonds, available at AUrate, $560AUrate offers engravings and personalized jewelry, like this necklace with a mini letter charm. Pick a letter and select from 14-karat or 18-karat white, yellow, or rose gold. Learn more about online startups making sustainable, relatively affordable fine jewelry here.A framed quoteMintedPersonalized custom quotes, available at Minted, from $38Frame one of their favorite quotes, lyrics, or sayings and customize everything from font color to matting to make it theirs.A family portrait that includes petsHappyMomentsArts/Etsy/Business InsiderCustom family portrait, available at Etsy, from $15A perfect gift for a couple or a family, you can get a digital download of a custom family portrait that includes their furry roommates.A custom pet portraitCanvasPopCustom pet portrait, available at CanvasPop, from $89If they love their pet more than pretty much anything in the world, a Pet Portrait immortalizing them is a uniquely thoughtful gesture — and decor they're unlikely to have already. You can also get them a custom painting (from $250) if that's more their style or a framed print (from $35.55) of them with their pet.A cute set of mugsUncommon GoodsPersonalized family mugs, available at Uncommon Goods, from $30Turn your family or friends or a newly engaged couple into characters that actually look like them. One side features the artists' depiction of them (personalized through your choices of skin tone, hair, and clothing color) and the mug owner's first name, while the other displays your family name and year established — for friends, this could be the year you met. Turn meaningful audio into artEtsySoundwave art print, available at Etsy, from $70Send in a song and artist or email an audio file of you or a loved one speaking, and this Etsy shop will turn it into personalized sound-wave art. This gift is particularly thoughtful for long-distance relationships or for commemorating a loved one.Long-distance touch lampsUncommon GoodsSet of two Filimin Long-Distance Touch Lamps, available at Uncommon Goods, from $99Everyone is busy these days, and it's not as easy to keep up with loved ones as we all wish. A set of paired lamps, one of which lights up when the other is touched, lets them know you're still thinking of them even when you don't have time to talk. One Insider Reviews editor uses them to keep in touch with her parents.Brightly embroidered pillows of their favorite stateUncommon GoodsHand Embroidered State Pillows, available at Uncommon Goods, $225Bring their favorite state to them with detailed and brightly embroidered pillows that pay homage to each state's cities and cultural touchpoints. A photo print of an important life momentUncommon GoodsIntersection of Love Frame, available at Uncommon Goods, from $75Commemorate the moment their paths first crossed in a sophisticated, unique design.Personalized wine labelsTopBananaPrints/Etsy/Business InsiderCustom wine labels, available at Etsy, from $4.48Celebrate a loved one's birthday, achievements, or new life stages such as a marriage with a bottle of wine and a thoughtful, personalized label they'll want to keep. The blueprint of a beloved ski resortUncommon GoodsSki resort blueprints, available at Uncommon Goods, from $75Whether they grew up on the slopes or drag friends and family along as adults, skiers can take their favorite slopes home with them with this blueprint-inspired art. Featuring iconic ski resorts such as Park City, Vail, and Breckenridge, each officially licensed print is created with a vintage, distressed finish and contains detailed historical and statistical facts about the area.A bound book of love letters, curated from A-ZUncommon GoodsHow Do I Love Thee From A-Z, available at Uncommon Goods, $20Follow 26 prompts laid out in old-school typewriter font to leave your loved one with a bound book of love letters they can keep forever. It's the perfect spot for recording your favorite romantic moments, memories, inside jokes, and all the tiny and enormous reasons why you love them. A poster of you and a loved one styled as your favorite drinksoflifeandlemons/Etsy/Business InsiderPersonalized drinks print, available at Etsy, $23.27Whether you're turning a best friend or a lifelong partner into a cocktail avatar, the quirky Personalized Drinks Print is a sweet and fun approach to sentimental gifting. A portable printerTargetPolaroid Hi-Print Printer, available at Target, $99.99Polaroid's Wireless Mini Printer prints mini photos from your phone or tablet using a WiFi connection. It's small enough to stow in a purse for travel, and there are customizable features like stickers, filters, and borders to edit photos within the Polaroid app. A reel viewer filled with snapshots of old memoriesUncommon Goods/Business InsiderCreate your own reel viewer, available at Uncommon Goods, from $14.95As a kid, flipping through a reel viewer was one of life's greatest joys. Just because they're all grown up doesn't mean they won't like playing with the gadget. Fill the reel with snapshots of their most cherished memories (use the redemption code included with your viewer) for a gift that'll flood them with all sorts of nostalgia.A custom watercolor of their wedding venueJustArtinAround/EtsyCustom watercolor wedding venue illustration, available at Etsy, from $35.99For a deeply thoughtful gift for newlyweds, commission a custom watercolor of their wedding venue or location. All you'll have to do is send the artist a photo of the location, the couple's first and last names, and the wedding date. A candle that smells like homeUncommon GoodsHomesick Candles, available at Uncommon Goods, from $34It's hard to put a finger on just what makes home smell like home, but a whiff of a Homesick candle will transport them there with its nostalgia-inducing scents. Uniquely specific scents are made to capture the ethos of states and cities or memories like road trips, backyard BBQs, and cooking in Grandma's kitchen.If they're far from home, this affordable candle is a small but meaningful gesture that can bring them just a little closer. A cutting board that memorializes a meaningful recipeUncommon GoodsFamily Recipe Cutting Board, available at Uncommon Goods, $100There's something about family recipes that make them taste even better. This cutting board offers a unique way to preserve those special favorites. Ingredients and directions are engraved on solid cherry wood and can even be etched in the recipe writer's handwriting. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderJan 21st, 2022

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead

2021 Greatest Hits: The Most Popular Articles Of The Past Year And A Look Ahead One year ago, when looking at the 20 most popular stories of 2020, we said that the year would be a very tough act to follow as there "could not have been more regime shifts, volatility moments, and memes than 2020." And yet despite the exceedingly high bar for 2021, the year did not disappoint and proved to be a successful contender, and if judging by the sheer breadth of narratives, stories, surprises, plot twists and unexpected developments, 2021 was even more memorable and event-filled than 2020. Where does one start? While covid was the story of 2020, the pandemic that emerged out of a (Fauci-funded) genetic lab team in Wuhan, China dominated newsflow, politics and capital markets for the second year in a row. And while the biggest plot twist of 2020 was Biden's victory over Trump in the presidential election (it took the pandemic lockdowns and mail-in ballots to hand the outcome to Biden), largely thanks to Covid, Biden failed to hold to his biggest presidential promise of defeating covid, and not only did he admit in late 2021 that there is "no Federal solution" to covid waving a white flag of surrender less than a year into his presidency, but following the recent emergence of the Xi, pardon Omicron variant, the number of covid cases in the US has just shattered all records. The silver lining is not only that deaths and hospitalizations have failed to follow the number of cases, but that the scaremongering narrative itself is starting to melt in response to growing grassroots discontent with vaccine after vaccine and booster after booster, which by now it is clear, do nothing to contain the pandemic. And now that it is clear that omicron is about as mild as a moderate case of the flu, the hope has finally emerged that this latest strain will finally kill off the pandemic as it becomes the dominant, rapidly-spreading variant, leading to worldwide herd immunity thanks to the immune system's natural response. Yes, it may mean billions less in revenue for Pfizer and Moderna, but it will be a colossal victory for the entire world. The second biggest story of 2021 was undoubtedly the scourge of soaring inflation, which contrary to macrotourist predictions that it would prove "transitory", refused to do so and kept rising, and rising, and rising, until it hit levels not seen since the Volcker galloping inflation days of the 1980s. The only difference of course is that back then, the Fed Funds rate hit 20%. Now it is at 0%, and any attempts to hike aggressively will lead to a horrific market crash, something the Fed knows very well. Whether this was due to supply-chain blockages and a lack of goods and services pushing prices higher, or due to massive stimulus pushing demand for goods - and also prices - higher, or simply the result of a record injection of central bank liquidity into the system, is irrelevant but what does matter is that it got so bad that even Biden, facing a mauling for his Democratic party in next year's midterm elections, freaked out about soaring prices and pushed hard to lower the price of gasoline, ordering releases from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve and vowing to punish energy companies that dare to make a profit, while ordering Powell to contain the surge in prices even if means the market is hit. Unfortunately for Biden, the market will be hit even as inflation still remain red hot for much of the coming year. And speaking of markets, while 2022 may be a year when the piper finally gets paid, 2021 was yet another blockbuster year for risk assets, largely on the back of the continued global response to the 2020 covid pandemic, when as we wrote last year, we saw "the official arrival of global Helicopter Money, tens of trillions in fiscal and monetary stimulus, an overhaul of the global economy punctuated by an unprecedented explosion in world debt, an Orwellian crackdown on civil liberties by governments everywhere, and ultimately set the scene for what even the World Economic Forum called simply "The Great Reset." Yes, the staggering liquidity injections that started in 2020, continued throughout 2021 and the final tally is that after $3 trillion in emergency liquidity injections in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic to stabilize the world, the Fed injected almost $2 trillion in the subsequent period, of which $1.5 trillion in 2021, a year where economists were "puzzled" why inflation was soaring. This, of course, excludes the tens of trillions of monetary stimulus injected by other central banks as well as the boundless fiscal stimulus that was greenlighted with the launch of helicopter money (i.e., MMT) in 2020. It's also why with inflation running red hot and real rates the lowest they have ever been, everyone was forced to rush into the "safety" of stocks (or stonks as they came to be known among GenZ), and why after last year's torrid stock market returns, the S&P rose another 27% in 2021 and up a staggering 114% from the March 2020 lows, in the process trouncing all previous mega-rallies (including those in 1929, 1938, 1974 and 2009)... ... making this the third consecutive year of double-digit returns. This reminds us of something we said last year: "it's almost as if the world's richest asset owners requested the covid pandemic." A year later, we got confirmation for this rhetorical statement, when we calculated that in the 18 months since the covid pandemic, the richest 1% of US society have seen their net worth increase by over $30 trillion. As a result, the US is now officially a banana republic where the middle 60% of US households by income - a measure economists use as a definition of the middle class - saw their combined assets drop from 26.7% to 26.6% of national wealth as of June, the lowest in Federal Reserve data, while for the first time the super rich had a bigger share, at 27%. Yes, the 1% now own more wealth than the entire US middle class, a definition traditionally reserve for kleptocracies and despotic African banana republics. It wasn't just the rich, however: politicians the world over would benefit from the transition from QE to outright helicopter money and MMT which made the over monetization of deficits widely accepted in the blink of an eye. The common theme here is simple: no matter what happens, capital markets can never again be allowed to drop, regardless of the cost or how much more debt has to be incurred. Indeed, as we look back at the news barrage over the past year, and past decade for that matter, the one thing that becomes especially clear amid the constant din of markets, of politics, of social upheaval and geopolitical strife - and now pandemics -  in fact a world that is so flooded with constant conflicting newsflow and changing storylines that many now say it has become virtually impossible to even try to predict the future, is that despite the people's desire for change, for something original and untried, the world's established forces will not allow it and will fight to preserve the broken status quo at any price - even global coordinated shutdowns - which is perhaps why it always boils down to one thing - capital markets, that bedrock of Western capitalism and the "modern way of life", where control, even if it means central planning the likes of which have not been seen since the days of the USSR, and an upward trajectory must be preserved at all costs, as the alternative is a global, socio-economic collapse. And since it is the daily gyrations of stocks that sway popular moods the interplay between capital markets and politics has never been more profound or more consequential. The more powerful message here is the implicit realization and admission by politicians, not just Trump who had a penchant of tweeting about the S&P every time it rose, but also his peers on both sides of the aisle, that the stock market is now seen as the consummate barometer of one's political achievements and approval. Which is also why capital markets are now, more than ever, a political tool whose purpose is no longer to distribute capital efficiently and discount the future, but to manipulate voter sentiments far more efficiently than any fake Russian election interference attempt ever could. Which brings us back to 2021 and the past decade, which was best summarized by a recent Bill Blain article who said that "the last 10-years has been a story of massive central banking distortion to address the 2008 crisis. Now central banks face the consequences and are trapped. The distortion can’t go uncorrected indefinitely." He is right: the distortion will eventually collapse especially if the Fed follows through with its attempt rate hikes some time in mid-2020, but so far the establishment and the "top 1%" have been successful - perhaps the correct word is lucky - in preserving the value of risk assets: on the back of the Fed's firehose of liquidity the S&P500 returned an impressive 27% in 2021, following a 15.5% return in 2020 and 28.50% in 2019. It did so by staging the greatest rally off all time from the March lows, surpassing all of the 4 greatest rallies off the lows of the past century (1929,1938, 1974, and 2009). Yet this continued can-kicking by the establishment - all of which was made possible by the covid pandemic and lockdowns which served as an all too convenient scapegoat for the unprecedented response that served to propel risk assets (and fiat alternatives such as gold and bitcoin) to all time highs - has come with a price... and an increasingly higher price in fact. As even Bank of America CIO Michael Hartnett admits, Fed's response to the the pandemic "worsened inequality" as the value of financial assets - Wall Street -  relative to economy - Main Street - hit all-time high of 6.3x. And while the Fed was the dynamo that has propelled markets higher ever since the Lehman collapse, last year certainly had its share of breakout moments. Here is a sampling. Gamestop and the emergence of meme stonks and the daytrading apes: In January markets were hypnotized by the massive trading volumes, rolling short squeezes and surging share prices of unremarkable established companies such as consoles retailer GameStop and cinema chain AMC and various other micro and midcap names. What began as a discussion on untapped value at GameStop on Reddit months earlier by Keith Gill, better known as Roaring Kitty, morphed into a hedge fund-orchestrated, crowdsourced effort to squeeze out the short position held by a hedge fund, Melvin Capital. The momentum flooded through the retail market, where daytraders shunned stocks and bought massive out of the money calls, sparking rampant "gamma squeezes" in the process forcing some brokers to curb trading. Robinhood, a popular broker for day traders and Citadel's most lucrative "subsidiary", required a cash injection to withstand the demands placed on it by its clearing house. The company IPOed later in the year only to see its shares collapse as it emerged its business model was disappointing hollow absent constant retail euphoria. Ultimately, the market received a crash course in the power of retail investors on a mission. Ultimately, "retail favorite" stocks ended the year on a subdued note as the trading frenzy from earlier in the year petered out, but despite underperforming the S&P500, retail traders still outperformed hedge funds by more than 100%. Failed seven-year Treasury auction:  Whereas auctions of seven-year US government debt generally spark interest only among specialists, on on February 25 2021, one such typically boring event sparked shockwaves across financial markets, as the weakest demand on record hit prices across the whole spectrum of Treasury bonds. The five-, seven- and 10-year notes all fell sharply in price. Researchers at the Federal Reserve called it a “flash event”; we called it a "catastrophic, tailing" auction, the closest thing the US has had to a failed Trasury auction. The flare-up, as the FT put it, reflects one of the most pressing investor concerns of the year: inflation. At the time, fund managers were just starting to realize that consumer price rises were back with a vengeance — a huge threat to the bond market which still remembers the dire days of the Volcker Fed when inflation was about as high as it is today but the 30Y was trading around 15%. The February auaction also illustrated that the world’s most important market was far less liquid and not as structurally robust as investors had hoped. It was an extreme example of a long-running issue: since the financial crisis the traditional providers of liquidity, a group of 24 Wall Street banks, have pulled back because of higher costs associated with post-2008 capital requirements, while leaving liquidity provision to the Fed. Those banks, in their reduced role, as well as the hedge funds and high-frequency traders that have stepped into their place, have tended to withdraw in moments of market volatility. Needless to say, with the Fed now tapering its record QE, we expect many more such "flash" episodes in the bond market in the year ahead. The arch ego of Archegos: In March 2021 several banks received a brutal reminder that some of family offices, which manage some $6 trillion in wealth of successful billionaires and entrepreneurs and which have minimal reporting requirements, take risks that would make the most serrated hedge fund manager wince, when Bill Hwang’s Archegos Capital Management imploded in spectacular style. As we learned in late March when several high-flying stocks suddenly collapsed, Hwang - a former protege of fabled hedge fund group Tiger Management - had built up a vast pile of leverage using opaque Total Return Swaps with a handful of banks to boost bets on a small number of stocks (the same banks were quite happy to help despite Hwang’s having been barred from US markets in 2013 over allegations of an insider-trading scheme, as he paid generously for the privilege of borrowing the banks' balance sheet). When one of Archegos more recent bets, ViacomCBS, suddenly tumbled it set off a liquidation cascade that left banks including Credit Suisse and Nomura with billions of dollars in losses. Conveniently, as the FT noted, the damage was contained to the banks rather than leaking across financial markets, but the episode sparked a rethink among banks over how to treat these clients and how much leverage to extend. The second coming of cryptos: After hitting an all time high in late 2017 and subsequently slumping into a "crypto winter", cryptocurrencies enjoyed a huge rebound in early 2021 which sent their prices soaring amid fears of galloping inflation (as shown below, and contrary to some financial speculation, the crypto space has traditionally been a hedge either to too much liquidity or a hedge to too much inflation). As a result, Bitcoin rose to a series of new record highs that culminated at just below $62,000, nearly three times higher than their previous all time high. But the smooth ride came to a halt in May when China’s crackdown on the cryptocurrency and its production, or “mining”, sparked the first serious crash of 2021. The price of bitcoin then collapsed as much as 30% on May 19, hitting a low of $30,000 amid a liquidation of levered positions in chaotic trading conditions following a warning from Chinese authorities of tighter curbs ahead. A public acceptance by Tesla chief and crypto cheerleader Elon Musk of the industry’s environmental impact added to the declines. However, as with all previous crypto crashes, this one too proved transitory, and prices resumed their upward trajectory in late September when investors started to price in the launch of futures-based bitcoin exchange traded funds in the US. The launch of these contracts subsequently pushed bitcoin to a new all-time high in early November before prices stumbled again in early December, this time due to a rise in institutional ownership when an overall drop in the market dragged down cryptos as well. That demonstrated the growing linkage between Wall Street and cryptocurrencies, due to the growing sway of large investors in digital markets. China's common prosperity crash: China’s education and tech sectors were one of the perennial Wall Street darlings. Companies such as New Oriental, TAL Education as well as Alibaba and Didi had come to be worth billions of dollars after highly publicized US stock market flotations. So when Beijing effectively outlawed swaths of the country’s for-profit education industry in July 2021, followed by draconian anti-trust regulations on the country's fintech names (where Xi Jinping also meant to teach the country's billionaire class a lesson who is truly in charge), the short-term market impact was brutal. Beijing’s initial measures emerged as part of a wider effort to make education more affordable as part of president Xi Jinping’s drive for "common prosperity" but that quickly raised questions over whether growth prospects across corporate China are countered by the capacity of the government to overhaul entire business models overnight. Sure enough, volatility stemming from the education sector was soon overshadowed by another set of government reforms related to common prosperity, a crackdown on leverage across the real estate sector where the biggest casualty was Evergrande, the world’s most indebted developer. The company, whose boss was not long ago China's 2nd richest man, was engulfed by a liquidity crisis in the summer that eventually resulted in a default in early December. Still, as the FT notes, China continues to draw in huge amounts of foreign capital, pushing the Chinese yuan to end 2021 at the strongest level since May 2018, a major hurdle to China's attempts to kickstart its slowing economy, and surely a precursor to even more monetary easing. Natgas hyperinflation: Natural gas supplanted crude oil as the world’s most important commodity in October and December as prices exploded to unprecedented levels and the world scrambled for scarce supplies amid the developed world's catastrophic transition to "green" energy. The crunch was particularly acute in Europe, which has become increasingly reliant on imports. Futures linked to TTF, the region’s wholesale gas price, hit a record €137 per megawatt hour in early October, rising more than 75%. In Asia, spot liquefied natural gas prices briefly passed the equivalent of more than $320 a barrel of oil in October. (At the time, Brent crude was trading at $80). A number of factors contributed, including rising demand as pandemic restrictions eased, supply disruptions in the LNG market and weather-induced shortfalls in renewable energy. In Europe, this was aggravated by plunging export volumes from Gazprom, Russia’s state-backed monopoly pipeline supplier, amid a bitter political fight over the launch of the Nordstream 2 pipeline. And with delays to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, analysts say the European gas market - where storage is only 66% full - a cold snap or supply disruption away from another price spike Turkey's (latest) currency crisis:  As the FT's Jonathan Wheatley writes, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was once a source of strength for the Turkish lira, and in his first five years in power from 2003, the currency rallied from TL1.6 per US dollar to near parity at TL1.2. But those days are long gone, as Erdogan's bizarre fascination with unorthodox economics, namely the theory that lower rates lead to lower inflation also known as "Erdoganomics", has sparked a historic collapse in the: having traded at about TL7 to the dollar in February, it has since fallen beyond TL17, making it the worst performing currency of 2021. The lira’s defining moment in 2021 came on November 18 when the central bank, in spite of soaring inflation, cut its policy rate for the third time since September, at Erdogan’s behest (any central banker in Turkey who disagrees with "Erdoganomics" is promptly fired and replaced with an ideological puppet). The lira recovered some of its losses in late December when Erdogan came up with the "brilliant" idea of erecting the infamous "doom loop" which ties Turkey's balance sheet to its currency. It has worked for now (the lira surged from TL18 against the dollar to TL12, but this particular band aid solution will only last so long). The lira’s problems are not only Erdogan’s doing. A strengthening dollar, rising oil prices, the relentless covid pandemic and weak growth in developing economies have been bad for other emerging market currencies, too, but as long as Erdogan is in charge, shorting the lira remains the best trade entering 2022. While these, and many more, stories provided a diversion from the boring existence of centrally-planned markets, we are confident that the trends observed in recent years will continue: coming years will be marked by even bigger government (because only more government can "fix" problems created by government), higher stock prices and dollar debasement (because only more Fed intervention can "fix" the problems created by the Fed), and a policy flip from monetary and QE to fiscal & MMT, all of which will keep inflation at scorching levels, much to the persistent confusion of economists everywhere. Of course, we said much of this last year as well, but while we got most trends right, we were wrong about one thing: we were confident that China's aggressive roll out of the digital yuan would be a bang - or as we put it "it is very likely that while 2020 was an insane year, it may prove to be just an appetizer to the shockwaves that will be unleashed in 2021 when we see the first stage of the most historic overhaul of the fiat payment system in history" - however it turned out to be a whimper. A big reason for that was that the initial reception of the "revolutionary" currency was nothing short of disastrous, with Chinese admitting they were "not at all excited" about the prospect of yet one more surveillance mechanism for Beijing, because that's really what digital currencies are: a way for central banks everywhere to micromanage and scrutinize every single transaction, allowing the powers that be to demonetize any one person - or whole groups - with the flick of a switch. Then again, while digital money may not have made its triumphant arrival in 2021, we are confident that the launch date has merely been pushed back to 2022 when the rollout of the next monetary revolution is expected to begin in earnest. Here we should again note one thing: in a world undergoing historic transformations, any free press must be throttled and controlled, and over the past year we have seen unprecedented efforts by legacy media and its corporate owners, as well as the new "social media" overlords do everything in their power to stifle independent thought. For us it had been especially "personal" on more than one occasions. Last January, Twitter suspended our account because we dared to challenge the conventional narrative about the source of the Wuhan virus. It was only six months later that Twitter apologized, and set us free, admitting it had made a mistake. Yet barely had twitter readmitted us, when something even more unprecedented happened: for the first time ever (to our knowledge) Google - the world's largest online ad provider and monopoly - demonetized our website not because of any complaints about our writing but because of the contents of our comment section. It then held us hostage until we agreed to implement some prerequisite screening and moderation of the comments section. Google's action was followed by the likes of PayPal, Amazon, and many other financial and ad platforms, who rushed to demonetize and suspend us simply because they disagreed with what we had to say. This was a stark lesson in how quickly an ad-funded business can disintegrate in this world which resembles the dystopia of 1984 more and more each day, and we have since taken measures. One year ago, for the first time in our 13 year history, we launched a paid version of our website, which is entirely ad and moderation free, and offers readers a variety of premium content. It wasn't our intention to make this transformation but unfortunately we know which way the wind is blowing and it is only a matter of time before the gatekeepers of online ad spending block us again. As such, if we are to have any hope in continuing it will come directly from you, our readers. We will keep the free website running for as long as possible, but we are certain that it is only a matter of time before the hammer falls as the censorship bandwagon rolls out much more aggressively in the coming year. That said, whether the story of 2022, and the next decade for that matter, is one of helicopter or digital money, of (hyper)inflation or deflation: what is key, and what we learned in the past decade, is that the status quo will throw anything at the problem to kick the can, it will certainly not let any crisis go to waste... even the deadliest pandemic in over a century. And while many already knew that, the events of 2021 made it clear to a fault that not even a modest market correction can be tolerated going forward. After all, if central banks aim to punish all selling, then the logical outcome is to buy everything, and investors, traders and speculators did just that armed with the clearest backstop guarantee from the Fed, which in the deapths of the covid crash crossed the Rubicon when it formally nationalized the bond market as it started buying both investment grade bonds and junk bond ETFs in the open market. As such it is no longer even a debatable issue if the Fed will buy stocks after the next crash - the only question is when. Meanwhile, for all those lamenting the relentless coverage of politics in a financial blog, why finance appears to have taken a secondary role, and why the political "narrative" has taken a dominant role for financial analysts, the past year showed vividly why that is the case: in a world where markets gyrated, and "rotated" from value stocks to growth and vice versa, purely on speculation of how big the next stimulus out of Washington will be, the narrative over Biden's trillions proved to be one of the biggest market moving events for much of the year. And with the Biden stimulus plan off the table for now, the Fed will find it very difficult to tighten financial conditions, especially if it does so just as the economy is slowing. Here we like to remind readers of one of our favorite charts: every financial crisis is the result of Fed tightening. As for predictions about the future, as the past two years so vividly showed, when it comes to actual surprises and all true "black swans", it won't be what anyone had expected. And so while many themes, both in the political and financial realm, did get some accelerated closure courtesy of China's covid pandemic, dramatic changes in 2021 persisted, and will continue to manifest themselves in often violent and unexpected ways - from the ongoing record polarization in the US political arena, to "populist" upheavals around the developed world, to the gradual transition to a global Universal Basic (i.e., socialized) Income regime, to China's ongoing fight with preserving stability in its gargantuan financial system which is now two and a half times the size of the US. As always, we thank all of our readers for making this website - which has never seen one dollar of outside funding (and despite amusing recurring allegations, has certainly never seen a ruble from the KGB either, although now that the entire Russian hysteria episode is over, those allegations have finally quieted down), and has never spent one dollar on marketing - a small (or not so small) part of your daily routine. Which also brings us to another critical topic: that of fake news, and something we - and others who do not comply with the established narrative - have been accused of. While we find the narrative of fake news laughable, after all every single article in this website is backed by facts and links to outside sources, it is clearly a dangerous development, and a very slippery slope that the entire developed world is pushing for what is, when stripped of fancy jargon, internet censorship under the guise of protecting the average person from "dangerous, fake information." It's also why we are preparing for the next onslaught against independent thought and why we had no choice but to roll out a premium version of this website. In addition to the other themes noted above, we expect the crackdown on free speech to accelerate in the coming year when key midterm elections will be held, especially as the following list of Top 20 articles for 2021 reveals, many of the most popular articles in the past year were precisely those which the conventional media would not touch out of fear of repercussions, which in turn allowed the alternative media to continue to flourish in an orchestrated information vacuum and take significant market share from the established outlets by covering topics which the public relations arm of established media outlets refused to do, in the process earning itself the derogatory "fake news" condemnation. We are grateful that our readers - who hit a new record high in 2021 - have realized it is incumbent upon them to decide what is, and isn't "fake news." * * * And so, before we get into the details of what has now become an annual tradition for the last day of the year, those who wish to jog down memory lane, can refresh our most popular articles for every year during our no longer that brief, almost 11-year existence, starting with 2009 and continuing with 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. So without further ado, here are the articles that you, our readers, found to be the most engaging, interesting and popular based on the number of hits, during the past year. In 20th spot with 600,000 reads, was an article that touched on one of the most defining features of the market: the reflation theme the sparked a massive rally at the start of the year courtesy of the surprise outcome in the Georgia Senate race, where Democrats ended up wining both seats up for grabs, effectively giving the Dems a majority in both the House and the Senate, where despite the even, 50-seat split, Kamala Harris would cast the winning tie-breaker vote to pursue a historic fiscal stimulus. And sure enough, as we described in "Bitcoin Surges To Record High, Stocks & Bonds Battered As Dems Look Set To Take Both Georgia Senate Seats", with trillions in "stimmies" flooding both the economy and the market, not only did retail traders enjoy unprecedented returns when trading meme "stonks" and forcing short squeezes that crippled numerous hedge funds, but expectations of sharply higher inflation also helped push bitcoin and the entire crypto sector to new all time highs, which in turn legitimized the product across institutional investors and helped it reach a market cap north of $3 trillion.  In 19th spot, over 613,000 readers were thrilled to read at the start of September that "Biden Unveils Most Severe COVID Actions Yet: Mandates Vax For All Federal Workers, Contractors, & Large Private Companies." Of course, just a few weeks later much of Biden's mandate would be struck down in courts, where it is now headed to a decision by SCOTUS, while the constantly shifting "scientific" goal posts mean that just a few months later the latest set of CDC regulations have seen regulators and officials reverse the constant drone of fearmongering and are now even seeking to cut back on the duration of quarantine and other lockdown measures amid a public mood that is growing increasingly hostile to the government response. One of the defining political events of 2021 was the so-called "Jan 6 Insurrection", which the for America's conservatives was blown wildly out of proportion yet which the leftist media and Democrats in Congress have been periodically trying to push to the front pages in hopes of distracting from the growing list of failures of the Obama admin. Yet as we asked back in January, "Why Was Founder Of Far-Left BLM Group Filming Inside Capitol As Police Shot Protester?" No less than 614,000 readers found this question worthy of a response. Since then many more questions have emerged surrounding this event, many of which focus on what role the FBI had in organizing and encouraging this event, including the use of various informants and instigators. For now, a response will have to wait at least until the mid-term elections of 2022 when Republicans are expected to sweep one if not both chambers. Linked to the above, the 17th most read article of 2021 with 617,000 views, was an article we published on the very same day, which detailed that "Armed Protesters Begin To Arrive At State Capitols Around The Nation." At the end of the day, it was much ado about nothing and all protests concluded peacefully and without incident: perhaps the FBI was simply spread too thin? 2021 was a year defined by various waves of the covid pandemic which hammered poor Americans forced to hunker down at home and missing on pay, and crippled countless small mom and pop businesses. And yet, it was also a bonanza for a handful of pharma companies such as Pfizer and Moderna which made billions from the sale of "vaccines" which we now know do little if anything to halt the spread of the virus, and are instead now being pitched as palliatives, preventing a far worse clinical outcome. The same pharma companies also benefited from an unconditional indemnity, which surely would come in useful when the full side-effects of their mRNA-based therapies became apparent. One such condition to emerge was myocarditis among a subset of the vaxxed. And while the vaccines continue to be broadly rolled out across most developed nations, one place that said enough was Sweden. As over 620,000 readers found out in "Sweden Suspends Moderna Shot Indefinitely After Vaxxed Patients Develop Crippling Heart Condition", not every country was willing to use its citizens as experimental guniea pigs. This was enough to make the article the 16th most read on these pages, but perhaps in light of the (lack of) debate over the pros and cons of the covid vaccines, this should have been the most read article this year? Moving on to the 15th most popular article, 628,000 readers were shocked to learn that "Chase Bank Cancels General Mike Flynn's Credit Cards." The action, which was taken by the largest US bank due to "reputational risk" echoed a broad push by tech giants to deplatform and silence dissenting voices by literally freezing them out of the financial system. In the end, following widespread blowback from millions of Americans, JPMorgan reversed, and reactivated Flynn's cards saying the action was made in error, but unfortunately this is just one example of how those in power can lock out any dissenters with the flick of a switch. And while democrats cheer such deplatforming today, the political winds are fickle, and we doubt they will be as excited once they find themselves on the receiving end of such actions. And speaking of censorship and media blackouts, few terms sparked greater response from those in power than the term Ivermectin. Viewed by millions as a cheap, effective alternative to offerings from the pharmaceutical complex, social networks did everything in their power to silence any mention of a drug which the Journal of Antibiotics said in 2017 was an "enigmatic multifaceted ‘wonder’ drug which continues to surprise and exceed expectations." Nowhere was this more obvious than in the discussion of how widespread use of Ivermectin beat Covid in India, the topic of the 14th most popular article of 2021 "India's Ivermectin Blackout" which was read by over 653,000 readers. Unfortunately, while vaccines continue to fail upward and now some countries are now pushing with a 4th, 5th and even 6th vaccine, Ivermectin remains a dirty word. There was more covid coverage in the 13th most popular article of 2021, "Surprise Surprise - Fauci Lied Again": Rand Paul Reacts To Wuhan Bombshell" which was viewed no less than 725,000 times. Paul's reaction came following a report which revealed that Anthony Fauci's NIAID and its parent, the NIH, funded Gain-of-Function research in Wuhan, China, strongly hinting that the emergence of covid was the result of illicit US funding. Not that long ago, Fauci had called Paul a 'liar' for accusing him of funding the risky research, in which viruses are genetically modified or otherwise altered to make them more transmissible to humans. And while we could say that Paul got the last laugh, Fauci still remains Biden's top covid advisor, which may explain why one year after Biden vowed he would shut down the pandemic, the number of new cases just hit a new all time high. One hope we have for 2022 is that people will finally open their eyes... 2021 was not just about covid - soaring prices and relentless inflation were one of the most poignant topics. It got so bad that Biden's approval rating - and that of Democrats in general - tumbled toward the end of the year, putting their mid-term ambitions in jeopardy, as the public mood soured dramatically in response to the explosion in prices. And while one can debate whether it was due to supply-issues, such as the collapse in trans-pacific supply chains and the chronic lack of labor to grow the US infrastructure, or due to roaring demand sparked by trillions in fiscal stimulus, but when the "Big Short" Michael Burry warned that hyperinflation is coming, the people listened, and with over 731,000 reads, the 12th most popular article of 2021 was "Michael Burry Warns Weimar Hyperinflation Is Coming."  Of course, Burry did not say anything we haven't warned about for the past 12 years, but at least he got the people's attention, and even mainstream names such as Twitter founder Jack Dorsey agreed with him, predicting that bitcoin will be what is left after the dollar has collapsed. While hyperinflation may will be the endgame, the question remains: when. For the 11th most read article of 2021, we go back to a topic touched upon moments ago when we addressed the full-blown media campaign seeking to discredit Ivermectin, in this case via the D-grade liberal tabloid Rolling Stone (whose modern incarnation is sadly a pale shadow of the legend that house Hunter S. Thompson's unforgettable dispatches) which published the very definition of fake news when it called Ivermectin a "horse dewormer" and claimed that, according to a hospital employee, people were overdosing on it. Just a few hours later, the article was retracted as we explained in "Rolling Stone Issues 'Update' After Horse Dewormer Hit-Piece Debunked" and over 812,000 readers found out that pretty much everything had been a fabrication. But of course, by then it was too late, and the reputation of Ivermectin as a potential covid cure had been further tarnished, much to the relief of the pharma giants who had a carte blanche to sell their experimental wares. The 10th most popular article of 2021 brings us to another issue that had split America down the middle, namely the story surrounding Kyle Rittenhouse and the full-blown media campaign that declared the teenager guilty, even when eventually proven innocent. Just days before the dramatic acquittal, we learned that "FBI Sat On Bombshell Footage From Kyle Rittenhouse Shooting", which was read by over 822,000 readers. It was unfortunate to learn that once again the scandal-plagued FBI stood at the center of yet another attempt at mass misinformation, and we can only hope that one day this "deep state" agency will be overhauled from its core, or better yet, shut down completely. As for Kyle, he will have the last laugh: according to unconfirmed rumors, his numerous legal settlements with various media outlets will be in the tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars.  And from the great US social schism, we again go back to Covid for the 9th most popular article of 2021, which described the terrifying details of one of the most draconian responses to covid in the entire world: that of Australia. Over 900,000 readers were stunned to read that the "Australian Army Begins Transferring COVID-Positive Cases, Contacts To Quarantine Camps." Alas, the latest surge in Australian cases to nosebleed, record highs merely confirms that this unprecedented government lockdown - including masks and vaccines - is nothing more than an exercise in how far government can treat its population as a herd of sheep without provoking a violent response.  The 8th most popular article of 2021 looks at the market insanity of early 2021 when, at the end of January, we saw some of the most-shorted, "meme" stocks explode higher as the Reddit daytrading horde fixed their sights on a handful of hedge funds and spent billions in stimmies in an attempt to force unprecedented ramps. That was the case with "GME Soars 75% After-Hours, Erases Losses After Liquidity-Constrained Robinhood Lifts Trading Ban", which profiled the daytrading craze that gave an entire generation the feeling that it too could win in these manipulated capital markets. Then again, judging by the waning retail interest, it is possible that the excitement of the daytrading army is fading as rapidly as it first emerged, and that absent more "stimmies" markets will remain the playground of the rich and central banks. Kyle Rittenhouse may soon be a very rich man after the ordeal he went through, but the media's mission of further polarizing US society succeeded, and millions of Americans will never accept that the teenager was innocent. It's also why with just over 1 million reads, the 7th most read article on Zero Hedge this year was that "Portland Rittenhouse Protest Escalates Into Riot." Luckily, this is not a mid-term election year and there were no moneyed interests seeking to prolong this particular riot, unlike what happened in the summer of 2020... and what we are very much afraid will again happen next year when very critical elections are on deck.  With just over 1.03 million views, the 6th most popular post focused on a viral Twitter thread on Friday from Dr Robert Laone, which laid out a disturbing trend; the most-vaccinated countries in the world are experiencing  a surge in COVID-19 cases, while the least-vaccinated countries were not. As we originally discussed in ""This Is Worrying Me Quite A Bit": mRNA Vaccine Inventor Shares Viral Thread Showing COVID Surge In Most-Vaxxed Countries", this trend has only accelerated in recent weeks with the emergence of the Omicron strain. Unfortunately, instead of engaging in a constructive discussion to see why the science keeps failing again and again, Twitter's response was chilling: with just days left in 2021, it suspended the account of Dr. Malone, one of the inventors of mRNA technology. Which brings to mind something Aaron Rogers said: "If science can't be questioned it's not science anymore it's propaganda & that's the truth." In a year that was marked a flurry of domestic fiascoes by the Biden administration, it is easy to forget that the aged president was also responsible for the biggest US foreign policy disaster since Vietnam, when the botched evacuation of Afghanistan made the US laughing stock of the world after 12 US servicemembers were killed. So it's probably not surprising that over 1.1 million readers were stunned to watch what happened next, which we profiled in the 5th most popular post of 2021, where in response to the Afghan trajedy, "Biden Delivers Surreal Press Conference, Vows To Hunt Down Isis, Blames Trump." One person watching the Biden presser was Xi Jinping, who may have once harbored doubts about reclaiming Taiwan but certainly does not any more. The 4th most popular article of 2021 again has to do with with covid, and specifically the increasingly bizarre clinical response to the disease. As we detailed in "Something Really Strange Is Happening At Hospitals All Over America" while emergency rooms were overflowing, it certainly wasn't from covid cases. Even more curiously, one of the primary ailments leading to an onslaught on ERs across the nation was heart-related issues, whether arrhytmia, cardiac incidents or general heart conditions. We hope that one day there will be a candid discussion on this topic, but until then it remains one of the topics seen as taboo by the mainstream media and the deplatforming overlords, so we'll just leave it at that. We previously discussed the anti-Ivermectin narrative that dominated the mainstream press throughout 2021 and the 3rd most popular article of the year may hold clues as to why: in late September, pharma giant Pfizer and one of the two companies to peddle an mRNA based vaccine, announced that it's launching an accelerated Phase 2/3 trial for a COVID prophylactic pill designed to ward off COVID in those may have come in contact with the disease. And, as we described in "Pfizer Launches Final Study For COVID Drug That's Suspiciously Similar To 'Horse Paste'," 1.75 million readers learned that Pfizer's drug shared at least one mechanism of action as Ivermectin - an anti-parasitic used in humans for decades, which functions as a protease inhibitor against Covid-19, which researchers speculate "could be the biophysical basis behind its antiviral efficiency." Surely, this too was just another huge coincidence. In the second most popular article of 2021, almost 2 million readers discovered (to their "shock") that Fauci and the rest of Biden's COVID advisors were proven wrong about "the science" of COVID vaccines yet again. After telling Americans that vaccines offer better protection than natural infection, a new study out of Israel suggested the opposite is true: natural infection offers a much better shield against the delta variant than vaccines, something we profiled in "This Ends The Debate' - Israeli Study Shows Natural Immunity 13x More Effective Than Vaccines At Stopping Delta." We were right about one thing: anyone who dared to suggest that natural immunity was indeed more effective than vaccines was promptly canceled and censored, and all debate almost instantly ended. Since then we have had tens of millions of "breakout" cases where vaccinated people catch covid again, while any discussion why those with natural immunity do much better remains under lock and key. It may come as a surprise to many that the most read article of 2021 was not about covid, or Biden, or inflation, or China, or even the extremely polarized US congress (and/or society), but was about one of the most long-suffering topics on these pages: precious metals and their prices. Yes, back in February the retail mania briefly targeted silver and as millions of reddit daytraders piled in in hopes of squeezing the precious metal higher, the price of silver surged higher only to tumble just as quickly as it has risen as the seller(s) once again proved more powerful than the buyers. We described this in "Silver Futures Soar 8%, Rise Above $29 As Reddit Hordes Pile In", an article which some 2.4 million gold and silver bugs read with hope, only to see their favorite precious metals slump for much of the rest of the year. And yes, the fact that both gold and silver ended the year sharply lower than where they started even though inflation hit the highest level in 40 years, remains one of the great mysteries of 2021. With all that behind us, and as we wave goodbye to another bizarre, exciting, surreal year, what lies in store for 2022, and the next decade? We don't know: as frequent and not so frequent readers are aware, we do not pretend to be able to predict the future and we don't try despite endless allegations that we constantly predict the collapse of civilization: we leave the predicting to the "smartest people in the room" who year after year have been consistently wrong about everything, and never more so than in 2021 (even the Fed admitted it is clueless when Powell said it was time to retire the term "transitory"), which destroyed the reputation of central banks, of economists, of conventional media and the professional "polling" and "strategist" class forever, not to mention all those "scientists" who made a mockery of the "expertise class" with their bungled response to the covid pandemic. We merely observe, find what is unexpected, entertaining, amusing, surprising or grotesque in an increasingly bizarre, sad, and increasingly crazy world, and then just write about it. We do know, however, that after a record $30 trillion in stimulus was conjured out of thin air by the world's central banks and politicians in the past two years, the attempt to reverse this monetary and fiscal firehose in a world addicted to trillions in newly created liquidity now that central banks are freaking out after finally getting ot the inflation they were hoping to create for so long, will end in tears. We are confident, however, that in the end it will be the very final backstoppers of the status quo regime, the central banking emperors of the New Normal, who will eventually be revealed as fully naked. When that happens and what happens after is anyone's guess. But, as we have promised - and delivered - every year for the past 13, we will be there to document every aspect of it. Finally, and as always, we wish all our readers the best of luck in 2022, with much success in trading and every other avenue of life. We bid farewell to 2021 with our traditional and unwavering year-end promise: Zero Hedge will be there each and every day - usually with a cynical smile - helping readers expose, unravel and comprehend the fallacy, fiction, fraud and farce that defines every aspect of our increasingly broken system. Tyler Durden Sun, 01/02/2022 - 03:44.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 2nd, 2022

44 sentimental gifts that"ll make anyone feel loved, from a family cookbook heirloom to an astrological birth chart

Thoughtful mementos are a way to show someone they're valued and loved. Here are 44 sentimental gifts to make them feel extra special. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Birthdate co. For those feeling extra softhearted this year, we put together a list of sentimental gift ideas. From personalized gifts to meaningful flowers, you're sure to find inspiration for anyone. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. If you always give generic gifts, select something off a wishlist, or just send a gift card, you're not alone. It can be difficult to think beyond the practical to select items that will delight and surprise your giftee. If you're looking to truly impress your loved ones, you'll want to choose gifts that are custom, unique, and thoughtful. You can convey just how much you care by referencing fun memories, inside jokes, and hidden interests.We've compiled 44 sentimental gifts, which include a flower subscription, a customized puzzle, a personalized photo book, and more. Each of these gifts are sure to make your giftee feel special and remind them of loving memories and events. If you're looking for more gift ideas, be sure to check out all of our gift guides here.Below are 44 sentimental gift ideas:A personalized gift boxGreetablPersonalized Gift Box, available at Greetabl, from $19Let them know you're thinking of them with a cute custom gift box from Greetabl. Choose to a mini gift like caramels or chocolates, a gift card, and add a note and photos to be delivered to their door. A monogrammed vegan leather passport coverMark and GrahamFillmore Vegan Leather Passport Case, available at Mark and Graham, $39 ($12.50 monogram fee)For the giftee who loves to travel, a passport cover is a great gift. You can have their initials monogrammed onto the cover to add a thoughtful and special touch to the gift. A name bracelet with handwritten letteringEtsyHandwriting Bracelet, available at Etsy, $37A custom piece of jewelry is already a thoughtful gift but this handwritten bracelet from Etsy goes the extra mile. Surprise your gift recipient with a gold, sterling silver, or rose gold bracelet with words on it written in yours or a loved-ones' handwriting. A family cookbook to pass downUncommon GoodsMy Family Cookbook, available at Uncommon Goods, $30The My Family Cookbook is a sweet gift that will keep on giving. After having various family members add recipes, the book can become an heirloom gift that gets passed down to generations. A personalized children's bookAmazonGoodnight Little Me Personalized Book, available at Amazon, $39.99The Goodnight Little Me book is a sweet gift for new parents or your favorite kids. This custom bedtime book can be personalized with any child's name and includes gorgeous illustrations from the designer of the Harry Potter series' US covers. Check out our guide to the best gifts for new parents for more gift-giving ideas. A mug with handwritten wordsLittle Gem Girl/EtsyLoved Ones Handwriting Coffee Mug, available at Etsy, $29A mug with a meaningful message is a tender gift for people who may have lost a loved one or who live far away. You can customize this mug with any words you want, printed in your handwriting or someone else's.A floral paint-by-numbers kitUncommon GoodsBirth Month Flower Paint-by-Number Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $30Inspired by the birth month of your gift recipient, this paint-by-numbers kit is a gift and a fun activity rolled into the one. The kit lets them create a painting of the flowers for their respective birth month, along with an explanation of the characteristics of each month and flower. For example, October is a marigold that represents optimism and positive energy.A monogrammed notebookPapierScallop Spine Notebook, available at Papier, $26.99Whether they love making lists or jotting down new ideas, every writer needs a durable, trusted notebook to store their notes and stories. These unique notebooks can be customized with a monogram and lined, dotted, or plain pages. The notebooks come in solid colors and several fun designs, including the brands The Pahari, Constellation, and Colourblock styles.A set of low-maintenance plantsThe SillPlant Parent Set, available at The Sill, from $48Add some greenery into their space with this set of easy-to-care-for plants from The Sill. Choose from sets of three to seven plants that change seasonally.A fresh flower subscriptionFresh SendsThe Send Bouquet, available at Fresh Sends, from $55Instead of gifting flowers solely during holidays and special occasions, send them beautiful arrangements on a more consistent basis with a subscription from Fresh Sends. Choose from three delivery frequencies and two size options for a unique bouquet every time.A calendar full of cherished personal photosArtifact UprisingPersonalized Walnut Desktop Photo Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, from $35Photos of loved ones are an instant source of joy. Structuring your daily life around them with a calendar is a great way to fill each day with more gratitude and happiness. Artifact Uprising's desktop calendar is sustainably made from reclaimed wood and fully customizable. You can also choose the calendar's starting month, so you don't have to wait for a new year to create one.A book for your favorite astrology loverBirthdate Co.The Birthdate Book, available at Birthdate Co., $115If they know their sun, moon, and rising sign, this made-to-order astrology book will make the perfect gift. Provide their birthday and time of birth, and the company will create a 70-page book with information and insights customized from their birth chart.One Insider Reviews writer said the book felt extremely personalized, and no two books are the same.A cube of conversation-starting prompt cardsUncommon GoodsTable Topics cards, available at Uncommon Goods, $25Never experience another boring dinner again with these cards from Table Topics. Each cube comes with 135 thought-provoking topic cards to help keep your meals and relationships interesting.With six themed options ranging from card sets for families, couples, and friends, you'll give them the chance to get to know everyone in their life a little better.A customized puzzleEtsyCustomizable photo puzzle, available at Etsy, $31.49Help them stay entertained by gifting them a customized puzzle of their favorite picture. This puzzle also comes with a customized box, making this gift even more special. Choose from any image to commemorate a special event, remember a great vacation, or show love to their favorite pet.A video montage of and from their loved onesMontageA video montage of their loved ones, available at Montage, from $29Ask their friends and family to record and upload videos to be automatically compiled, scored, and delivered for a thoughtful present that's sure to bring on happy tears.An astrology necklaceMejuriA necklace with their zodiac symbol, available at Mejuri, from $75If they're into astrology, get them their zodiac sign in gold. Mejuri offers all signs in its Zodiac Collection in gold vermeil, sterling silver, and 14k yellow gold.A set of socks with their pet's face printed on themTribe SocksCustom Socks with Your Pet's Face, available at Tribe Socks, $24For dog- or cat-lovers, a pair of custom socks with their pet printed on them is a lighthearted but thoughtful gift. For more inspiration for pet-themed gifts, take a look at our guide to the best gifts for dog owners.A custom night sky star map to commemorate a birth, anniversary, or any other dayStarry MapsCustom star map print, available at Starry Maps, from $55Commemorate any special night of their (or your) life by getting it printed on museum-quality 200gsm Matte paper or on canvas.An e-gift card to GoldbellyGoldbellyAn e-gift card, available at Goldbelly, from $25Whether you spend most of your time together trying out different recipes — or they're often treating you to a delicious meal — you may want to turn your gift into a thoughtful, shared experience. Wherever they are in this big old world, they can call in any comforting favorite they please from Goldbelly.A bottle of bourbon as unique as they areReservebarJefferson's Ocean: Aged At Sea Bourbon, available at Reservebar, $79If they're bourbon drinkers, nautical lovers, or both, they might just cherish this forever.An Airbnb gift cardYou could take a coffee masterclass with a national judge in Mexico via Airbnb Online Experiences.AirbnbAn Airbnb Gift Card toward the experience of their dreams, available at Airbnb, from $50Travel might not be an option right now, but Airbnb is currently offering Online Experiences held by instructors from around the world. Treat them to a coffee master class, history lesson, or even a dance class. And in the meantime, they can daydream about their next far-flung adventure or cozy staycation. A custom map posterGrafomapCustom map poster, available at Grafomap, from $49Grafomap is a website that lets you design posters with maps of any place in the world — including their hometown, college town, or favorite travel destination. A personalized photo bookSnapfish/Business InsiderPersonalized Snapfish photo book, available at Snapfish, from $12.99Convert their pile of photos and favorite mementos into one glossy book they can showcase around the home for a cohesive, beautiful keepsake. Expertly framed memoriesFramebridgeFramed photo, available at Framebridge, from $25Framebridge gift card, available at Framebridge, from $25Framebridge makes custom framing for not-custom-framing prices. You can print or paint something on your own and have it framed, or have them print and frame it. You can take advantage of a team of designers to help decide what frame to get.An engraved timepieceUncommon GoodsPersonalized watch, available at Timex, from $75If you're looking for subtle and impactful, engraving a watch is a classic for a reason. They can keep it forever, wear it every day, and know how much personal significance it has without always answering questions from onlookers. It's functional, thoughtful, and timeless.A custom-made comic book telling your shared storyEtsyCustom comic book, available at Etsy, from $433.88If you have the means, few comic book nerds would turn down owning a detailed, beautifully designed comic book featuring them as the lead character or superhero or a comic book version of the story of how they met their partner.Purchase the comic, email the makers telling them the story, and send photos of the characters and event setting to make sure everything looks right. You'll see a rough draft, send back any edits you have, and they'll complete the final copy. Opt for a digital print (emailed) or get it sent to you as a canvas print.A personalized letter necklaceAUrateMini Letter Charm Pendant with White Diamonds, available at AUrate, $560AUrate offers engravings and personalized jewelry, like this necklace with a mini letter charm. Pick a letter and select from 14-karat or 18-karat white, yellow, or rose gold. Learn more about online startups making sustainable, relatively affordable fine jewelry here.A framed quoteMintedPersonalized custom quotes, available at Minted, from $38Frame one of their favorite quotes, lyrics, or sayings and customize everything from font color to matting to make it theirs.A family portrait that includes petsHappyMomentsArts/Etsy/Business InsiderCustom family portrait, available at Etsy, from $15A perfect gift for a couple or a family, you can get a digital download of a custom family portrait that includes their furry roommates.A custom pet portraitCanvasPopCustom pet portrait, available at CanvasPop, from $89If they love their pet more than pretty much anything in the world, a Pet Portrait immortalizing them is a uniquely thoughtful gesture — and decor they're unlikely to have already. You can also get them a custom painting (from $250) if that's more their style or a framed print (from $35.55) of them with their pet.A cute set of mugsUncommon GoodsPersonalized family mugs, available at Uncommon Goods, from $30Turn your family or friends or a newly engaged couple into characters that actually look like them. One side features the artists' depiction of them (personalized through your choices of skin tone, hair, and clothing color) and the mug owner's first name, while the other displays your family name and year established — for friends, this could be the year you met. Turn meaningful audio into artEtsySoundwave art print, available at Etsy, from $70Send in a song and artist or email an audio file of you or a loved one speaking, and this Etsy shop will turn it into personalized sound-wave art. This gift is particularly thoughtful for long-distance relationships or for commemorating a loved one.Long-distance touch lampsUncommon GoodsSet of two Filimin Long-Distance Touch Lamps, available at Uncommon Goods, from $85Everyone is busy these days, and it's not as easy to keep up with loved ones as we all wish. A set of paired lamps, one of which lights up when the other is touched, lets them know you're still thinking of them even when you don't have time to talk. One Insider Reviews editor uses them to keep in touch with her parents.Brightly embroidered pillows of their favorite stateUncommon GoodsHand Embroidered State Pillows, available at Uncommon Goods, $225Bring their favorite state to them with detailed and brightly embroidered pillows that pay homage to each state's cities and cultural touchpoints. A photo print of an important life momentUncommon GoodsIntersection of Love Frame, available at Uncommon Goods, from $75Commemorate the moment their paths first crossed in a sophisticated, unique design.Personalized wine labelsTopBananaPrints/Etsy/Business InsiderCustom wine labels, available at Etsy, from $4.47Celebrate a loved one's birthday, achievements, or new life stages such as a marriage with a bottle of wine and a thoughtful, personalized label they'll want to keep. The blueprint of a beloved ski resortUncommon GoodsSki resort blueprints, available at Uncommon Goods, from $75Whether they grew up on the slopes or drag friends and family along as adults, skiers can take their favorite slopes home with them with this blueprint-inspired art. Featuring iconic ski resorts such as Park City, Vail, and Breckenridge, each officially licensed print is created with a vintage, distressed finish and contains detailed historical and statistical facts about the area.A bound book of love letters, curated from A-ZUncommon GoodsHow Do I Love Thee From A-Z, available at Uncommon Goods, $20Follow 26 prompts laid out in old-school typewriter font to leave your loved one with a bound book of love letters they can keep forever. It's the perfect spot for recording your favorite romantic moments, memories, inside jokes, and all the tiny and enormous reasons why you love them. A poster of you and a loved one styled as your favorite drinksoflifeandlemons/Etsy/Business InsiderPersonalized drinks print, available at Etsy, $22.95Whether you're turning a best friend or a lifelong partner into a cocktail avatar, the quirky Personalized Drinks Print is a sweet and fun approach to sentimental gifting. A portable printerTargetPolaroid Hi-Print Printer, available at Target, $99.99Polaroid's Wireless Mini Printer prints mini photos from your phone or tablet using a WiFi connection. It's small enough to stow in a purse for travel, and there are customizable features like stickers, filters, and borders to edit photos within the Polaroid app. A reel viewer filled with snapshots of old memoriesUncommon Goods/Business InsiderCreate your own reel viewer, available at Uncommon Goods, from $14.95As a kid, flipping through a reel viewer was one of life's greatest joys. Just because they're all grown up doesn't mean they won't like playing with the gadget. Fill the reel with snapshots of their most cherished memories (use the redemption code included with your viewer) for a gift that'll flood them with all sorts of nostalgia.A custom watercolor of their wedding venueJustArtinAround/EtsyCustom watercolor wedding venue illustration, available at Etsy, from $35.99For a deeply thoughtful gift for newlyweds, commission a custom watercolor of their wedding venue or location. All you'll have to do is send the artist a photo of the location, the couple's first and last names, and the wedding date. A candle that smells like homeUncommon GoodsHomesick Candles, available at Uncommon Goods, from $34It's hard to put a finger on just what makes home smell like home, but a whiff of a Homesick candle will transport them there with its nostalgia-inducing scents. Uniquely specific scents are made to capture the ethos of states and cities or memories like road trips, backyard BBQs, and cooking in Grandma's kitchen.If they're far from home, this affordable candle is a small but meaningful gesture that can bring them just a little closer. A cutting board that memorializes a meaningful recipeUncommon GoodsFamily Recipe Cutting Board, available at Uncommon Goods, $100There's something about family recipes that make them taste even better. This cutting board offers a unique way to preserve those special favorites. Ingredients and directions are engraved on solid cherry wood and can even be etched in the recipe writer's handwriting. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

41 sentimental gifts that"ll make anyone feel loved

Thoughtful mementos are especially impactful right now. Here are 41 sentimental gifts that'll make your loved ones feel valued and appreciated. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Birthdate co. For those feeling extra softhearted this year, we put together a list of sentimental gift ideas. From customized gifts to meaningful flowers, you're sure to find inspiration for anyone. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. If you always give generic gifts, select something off a wishlist, or just send a gift card, you're not alone. It can be difficult to think beyond the practical to select items that will delight and surprise your giftee. If you're looking to truly impress your loved ones, you'll want to choose gifts that are custom, unique, and thoughtful. You can convey just how much you care by referencing fun memories, inside jokes, and hidden interests.We've compiled 41 sentimental gifts, which include a flower subscription, a customized puzzle, a personalized photo book, and more. Each of these gifts are sure to make your giftee feel special and remind them of loving memories and events. If you're looking for more gift ideas, be sure to check out all of our gift guides here.Below are 41 sentimental gift ideas: A set of socks with their pet's face printed on them Tribe Socks Custom Socks with Your Pet's Face, available at Tribe Socks, $24For dog- or cat-lovers, a pair of custom socks with their pet printed on them is a lighthearted but thoughtful gift. For more inspiration for pet-themed gifts, take a look at our guide to the best gifts for dog owners. A personalized children's book Amazon Goodnight Little Me Personalized Book, available at Amazon, $39.99The Goodnight Little Me book is a sweet gift for new parents or your favorite kids. This custom bedtime book can be personalized with any child's name and includes gorgeous illustrations from the designer of the Harry Potter series' US covers. Check out our guide to the best gifts for new parents for more gift-giving ideas.  A mug with handwritten words Little Gem Girl/Etsy Loved Ones Handwriting Coffee Mug, available at Etsy, $22.40A mug with a meaningful message is a tender gift for people who may have lost a loved one or who live far away. You can customize this mug with any words you want, printed in your handwriting or someone else's. A floral paint-by-numbers kit Uncommon Goods Birth Month Flower Paint-by-Number Kit, available at Uncommon Goods, $30Inspired by the birth month of your gift recipient, this paint-by-numbers kit is a gift and a fun activity rolled into the one. The kit lets them create a painting of the flowers for their respective birth month, along with an explanation of the characteristics of each month and flower. For example, October is a marigold that represents optimism and positive energy. A monogrammed notebook Papier Scallop Spine Notebook, available at Papier, $26.99Whether they love making lists or jotting down new ideas, every writer needs a durable, trusted notebook to store their notes and stories. These unique notebooks can be customized with a monogram and lined, dotted, or plain pages. The notebooks come in solid colors and several fun designs, including the brands The Pahari, Constellation, and Colourblock styles. A set of low-maintenance plants The Sill Plant Parent Set, available at The Sill, from $48Add some greenery into their space with this set of easy-to-care-for plants from The Sill. Choose from sets of three to seven plants that change seasonally. A fresh flower subscription Fresh Sends The Send Bouquet, available at Fresh Sends, from $55Instead of gifting flowers solely during holidays and special occasions, send them beautiful arrangements on a more consistent basis with a subscription from Fresh Sends. Choose from three delivery frequencies and two size options for a unique bouquet every time. A calendar full of cherished personal photos Artifact Uprising Personalized Walnut Desktop Photo Calendar, available at Artifact Uprising, from $35Photos of loved ones are an instant source of joy. Structuring your daily life around them with a calendar is a great way to fill each day with more gratitude and happiness. Artifact Uprising's desktop calendar is sustainably made from reclaimed wood and fully customizable. You can also choose the calendar's starting month, so you don't have to wait for a new year to create one. A book for your favorite astrology lover Birthdate Co. The Birthdate Book, available at Birthdate Co., $95If they know their sun, moon, and rising sign, this made-to-order astrology book will make the perfect gift. Provide their birthday and time of birth, and the company will create a 70-page book with information and insights customized from their birth chart. One Insider Reviews writer said the book felt extremely personalized, and no two books are the same. A cube of conversation-starting prompt cards Uncommon Goods Table Topics cards, available at Uncommon Goods, $25Never experience another boring dinner again with these cards from Table Topics. Each cube comes with 135 thought-provoking topic cards to help keep your meals and relationships interesting.With six themed options ranging from card sets for families, couples, and friends, you'll give them the chance to get to know everyone in their life a little better. A customized puzzle Etsy Customizable photo puzzle, available at Etsy, $34.99Help them stay entertained by gifting them a customized puzzle of their favorite picture. This puzzle also comes with a customized box, making this gift even more special. Choose from any image to commemorate a special event, remember a great vacation, or show love to their favorite pet. A video montage of and from their loved ones Montage A video montage of their loved ones, available at Montage, from $29Ask their friends and family to record and upload videos to be automatically compiled, scored, and delivered for a thoughtful present that's sure to bring on happy tears. An astrology necklace Mejuri A necklace with their zodiac symbol, available at Mejuri, from $90If they're into astrology, get them their zodiac sign in gold. Mejuri offers all signs in its Zodiac Collection in gold vermeil, sterling silver, and 14k yellow gold. A custom night sky star map to commemorate a birth, anniversary, or any other day Starry Maps Custom star map print, available at Starry Maps, from $49Commemorate any special night of their (or your) life by getting it printed on museum-quality 200gsm Matte paper or on canvas. An e-gift card to Goldbelly Goldbelly An e-gift card, available at Goldbelly, from $25Whether you spend most of your time together trying out different recipes — or they're often treating you to a delicious meal — you may want to turn your gift into a thoughtful, shared experience. Wherever they are in this big old world, they can call in any comforting favorite they please from Goldbelly. A bottle of bourbon as unique as they are Reservebar Jefferson's Ocean: Aged At Sea Bourbon, available at Reservebar, $79 (custom engraving included)If they're bourbon drinkers, nautical lovers, or both, they might just cherish this forever. An Airbnb gift card You could take a coffee masterclass with a national judge in Mexico via Airbnb Online Experiences. Airbnb An Airbnb Gift Card toward the experience of their dreams, available at Airbnb, from $25 Travel might not be an option right now, but Airbnb is currently offering Online Experiences held by instructors from around the world. Treat them to a coffee master class, history lesson, or even a dance class. And in the meantime, they can daydream about their next far-flung adventure or cozy staycation.  A custom map poster Grafomap Custom map poster, available at Grafomap, $49Grafomap is a website that lets you design posters with maps of any place in the world — including their hometown, college town, or favorite travel destination.  A personalized photo book Snapfish/Business Insider Personalized Snapfish photo book, available at Snapfish, from $13Convert their pile of photos and favorite mementos into one glossy book they can showcase around the home for a cohesive, beautiful keepsake.  Expertly framed memories Framebridge Framed photo, available at Framebridge, from $25Framebridge gift card, available at Framebridge, from $25Framebridge makes custom framing for not-custom-framing prices. You can print or paint something on your own and have it framed, or have them print and frame it. You can take advantage of a team of designers to help decide what frame to get. An engraved timepiece Uncommon Goods Personalized watch, available at Timex, from $75If you're looking for subtle and impactful, engraving a watch is a classic for a reason. They can keep it forever, wear it every day, and know how much personal significance it has without always answering questions from onlookers. It's functional, thoughtful, and timeless. A custom-made comic book telling your shared story Etsy Custom comic book, available at Etsy, from $443.12If you have the means, few comic book nerds would turn down owning a detailed, beautifully designed comic book featuring them as the lead character or superhero or a comic book version of the story of how they met their partner.Purchase the comic, email the makers telling them the story, and send photos of the characters and event setting to make sure everything looks right. You'll see a rough draft, send back any edits you have, and they'll complete the final copy. Opt for a digital print (emailed) or get it sent to you as a canvas print. A personalized letter necklace AUrate Mini Letter Charm Pendant with White Diamonds, available at AUrate, $560AUrate offers engravings and personalized jewelry, like this necklace with a mini letter charm. Pick a letter and select from 14-karat or 18-karat white, yellow, or rose gold. Learn more about online startups making sustainable, relatively affordable fine jewelry here. A framed quote Minted Personalized custom quotes, available at Minted, from $38Frame one of their favorite quotes, lyrics, or sayings and customize everything from font color to matting to make it theirs. A family portrait that includes pets HappyMomentsArts/Etsy/Business Insider Custom family portrait, available at Etsy, from $15A perfect gift for a couple or a family, you can get a digital download of a custom family portrait that includes their furry roommates. A custom pet portrait CanvasPop Custom pet portrait, available at CanvasPop, from $79If they love their pet more than pretty much anything in the world, a Pet Portrait immortalizing them is a uniquely thoughtful gesture — and decor they're unlikely to have already. You can also get them a custom painting (from $250) if that's more their style or a framed print (from $35.55) of them with their pet. A cute set of mugs Uncommon Goods Personalized family mugs, available at Uncommon Goods, from $30Turn your family or friends or a newly engaged couple into characters that actually look like them. One side features the artists' depiction of them (personalized through your choices of skin tone, hair, and clothing color) and the mug owner's first name, while the other displays your family name and year established — for friends, this could be the year you met.  Turn meaningful audio into art Etsy Soundwave art print, available at Etsy, from $70Send in a song and artist or email an audio file of you or a loved one speaking, and this Etsy shop will turn it into personalized sound-wave art. This gift is particularly thoughtful for long-distance relationships or for commemorating a loved one. Long-distance touch lamps Uncommon Goods Set of two Filimin Long-Distance Touch Lamps, available at Uncommon Goods, $85-$170Everyone is busy these days, and it's not as easy to keep up with loved ones as we all wish. A set of paired lamps, one of which lights up when the other is touched, lets them know you're still thinking of them even when you don't have time to talk. One Insider Reviews editor uses them to keep in touch with her parents. 90 tiny messages in a bottle Amazon/Business Insider Infmetry 90 Pcs Capsule "Message in a Bottle" Letters, available at Amazon, $12.99Write 90 tiny personal messages to a loved one and stuff them inside these cute capsules for easy, daily reminders of love — none of which you have to remember to send every morning. Brightly embroidered pillows of their favorite state Uncommon Goods Hand Embroidered State Pillows, available at Uncommon Goods, $225Bring their favorite state to them with detailed and brightly embroidered pillows that pay homage to each state's cities and cultural touchpoints.  A photo print of an important life moment Uncommon Goods Intersection of Love Frame, available at Uncommon Goods, from $75Commemorate the moment their paths first crossed in a sophisticated, unique design. Personalized wine labels TopBananaPrints/Etsy/Business Insider Custom wine labels, available at Etsy, from $4.56Celebrate a loved one's birthday, achievements, or new life stages such as a marriage with a bottle of wine and a thoughtful, personalized label they'll want to keep.  The blueprint of a beloved ski resort Uncommon Goods Ski resort blueprints, available at Uncommon Goods, from $75Whether they grew up on the slopes or drag friends and family along as adults, skiers can take their favorite slopes home with them with this blueprint-inspired art. Featuring iconic ski resorts such as Park City, Vail, and Breckenridge, each officially licensed print is created with a vintage, distressed finish and contains detailed historical and statistical facts about the area. A bound book of love letters, curated from A-Z Uncommon Goods How Do I Love Thee From A-Z, available at Uncommon Goods, $20Follow 26 prompts laid out in old-school typewriter font to leave your loved one with a bound book of love letters they can keep forever. It's the perfect spot for recording your favorite romantic moments, memories, inside jokes, and all the tiny and enormous reasons why you love them.  A poster of you and a loved one styled as your favorite drinks oflifeandlemons/Etsy/Business Insider Personalized drinks print, available at Etsy, $23.43Whether you're turning a best friend or a lifelong partner into a cocktail avatar, the quirky Personalized Drinks Print is a sweet and fun approach to sentimental gifting.  A portable printer Target Polaroid Hi-Print Printer, available at Target, $99.99Polaroid's Wireless Mini Printer prints mini photos from your phone or tablet using a WiFi connection. It's small enough to stow in a purse for travel, and there are customizable features like stickers, filters, and borders to edit photos within the Polaroid app.  A reel viewer filled with snapshots of old memories Uncommon Goods/Business Insider Create your own reel viewer, available at Uncommon Goods, from $14.95As a kid, flipping through a reel viewer was one of life's greatest joys. Just because they're all grown up doesn't mean they won't like playing with the gadget. Fill the reel with snapshots of their most cherished memories (use the redemption code included with your viewer) for a gift that'll flood them with all sorts of nostalgia. A custom watercolor of their wedding venue JustArtinAround/Etsy Custom watercolor wedding venue illustration, available at Etsy, from $35.99For a deeply thoughtful gift for newlyweds, commission a custom watercolor of their wedding venue or location. All you'll have to do is send the artist a photo of the location, the couple's first and last names, and the wedding date.  A candle that smells like home Uncommon Goods Homesick Candles, available at Uncommon Goods, from $34It's hard to put a finger on just what makes home smell like home, but a whiff of a Homesick candle will transport them there with its nostalgia-inducing scents. Uniquely specific scents are made to capture the ethos of states and cities or memories like road trips, backyard BBQs, and cooking in Grandma's kitchen.If they're far from home, this affordable candle is a small but meaningful gesture that can bring them just a little closer.  A cutting board that memorializes a meaningful recipe Uncommon Goods Family Recipe Cutting Board, available at Uncommon Goods, $100There's something about family recipes that make them taste even better. This cutting board offers a unique way to preserve those special favorites. Ingredients and directions are engraved on solid cherry wood and can even be etched in the recipe writer's handwriting.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 19th, 2021

Mountain Peaks and Tumbleweeds: Real Estate in Frontierland, USA

Editor’s note: Even in an industry where jobs are determined by the disparate geography and composition of their individual communities, there are realms that transcend the real estate firmament, where markets, environments or policy make the experience of buying and selling homes something else entirely. People who embark on careers in these spaces take on […] The post Mountain Peaks and Tumbleweeds: Real Estate in Frontierland, USA appeared first on RISMedia. Editor’s note: Even in an industry where jobs are determined by the disparate geography and composition of their individual communities, there are realms that transcend the real estate firmament, where markets, environments or policy make the experience of buying and selling homes something else entirely. People who embark on careers in these spaces take on a different set of challenges than the vast majority of those in the industry. In RISMedia’s “Real Estate On The Edge” series, we take a look at some of these people and the spaces they work in, highlighting some of the most interesting places and environments to practice real estate. In the far southwest corner of Texas lies Zapata County. Nestled against the U.S./Mexico border, the county—around 1,000 square miles of rocky desert, with a population of around 15,000—is not home to any incorporated municipalities or border crossings. About a third of the population lives in the relatively bustling county seat of Zapata, which offers all the small-town comfort that a few chain restaurants, mom-and-pop bakeries, laundromats and a newly built public playground can provide. A scrubby nine-hole golf course at the edge of town holds regular tournaments and fundraisers, and the local high school football field can accommodate more than half the town’s population for football and other sporting events. The nearest city of any measurable size is Laredo, about an hour’s drive to the north through mostly empty desert, and the nearest metro, San Antonio, lies almost four hours away by car. Liz Mendoza is the broker/owner of Cornerstone Real Estate. She has lived in Zapata her entire life. Most of her family works in education, she says, but since 1996, her passion has been real estate—something that started as a college job but evolved into much more than that as she took over the county’s only real estate brokerage. “I’m the little one from this little, small city but I’m a contender,” she promises. Most homes in Zapata County go for around $100,000, though you can get a fixer-upper for half that. Like Mendoza, many of her clients have deep roots in the small desert community, going back multiple generations. People will inherit land or a home and may want to sell, while others save enough money to upgrade after living in one of the many prefabricated structures or trailers that essentially serve as starter homes. About 15% of Zapata residents work in the oil industry, chasing jobs that have steadily moved out of the area according to Mendoza. In 1954, a dam meant to mitigate flooding issues in the Rio Grande completely destroyed the original settlement, with many property owners forced to flee on short notice, abandoning family homesteads. But many of them chose to remain in the area despite its remote location and challenges. Mendoza describes this attitude in her beloved community as not one of defiance, but persistence. People in Zapata are not staying in spite of the area’s tough history, but because of it, relishing the community and the lifestyle that their ancestors cultivated. “They keep lands in their families for generations,” she says. About 2,000 miles to the north, on the far side of the country, is another place that has historically drawn those who want to embrace a self-sustaining, rugged lifestyle far from the city rat-race. With a population of just over a million people spread out over 150,000 square miles of deeply forested, mountain terrain, Montana is one of the least densely populated states behind only Wyoming and Alaska. Will Friedner is not a native Montanan, he admits. He founded his brokerage, Montana Life Realty, about 15 years ago with his wife after growing up in Minnesota. “The most fulfilling thing is just showing people the state and watching them react,” he says. “It’s still one of the few places left in the lower 48 that is still so wild.” Though it has little else in common superficially with the shale-scattered clay of South Texas, people who choose to live in rural Montana share something very important with the folks of Zapata: pride. Friedner says that people in his state are looking for a lifestyle that is deeply personal and unique, centered on the state’s ability to provide space, and a rugged communion with nature. “I like to joke that you can watch your dog run away for three days, because there’s nothing there,” he says. Further north—much further north, in fact—is a place that most people understand is a frontier. Connie Yoshimura is a broker at Alaska Realty in Anchorage, through Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. She took a road trip up through Canada 40 years ago, she says, and never looked back. Though there is truth to what outsiders imagine when they think of her state—long winters, wildlife, empty space and self-reliance—Alaska is also a place of great diversity, she says, with bustling cultural centers and people living all sorts of lifestyles. “We’re actually a combination of a frontier state and a pretty sophisticated urban environment,” Yoshimura says. Those who are seeking to move there, or move within the state, mostly know what they are doing, she says, and also have in common a tremendous appreciation of what Alaska can offer them and their families. “I personally enjoy working with buyers and sellers and learning what brings them to this particular point in time,” she adds. “Some people come for great adventure.” What these frontier agents all have in common, though, is a deeply personal reason for doing what they do, where they do it—a connection with the people, with the landscape or with the history of these communities. Whether they grew up there or are transplants themselves, each has remained out on the edge, spending decades getting to know all the unique challenges and extraordinary experiences of these places—which in the end, is what the job is all about. What It’s Like Housing is especially unique in Zapata, according to Mendoza, because no developer has ever built speculatively there—every house is either a prefab or a custom design commissioned (or constructed) by the property owner. Because of this, and because she has been essentially the only real estate agent in the county for close to two decades, Mendoza says she has sold some’s homes three or four times. “I know the history of it, and I can tell them that. Some may or may not believe it, but I’ll tell them, ‘Oh I remember when I sold it the first time, and this is what it looked like,'” she laughs. “Limited inventory, you know, so we trade the same house over and over.” One of Mendoza’s properties outside the town of Zapata—a three-bedroom, two-bath ranch listed at $105,000—is described as “secluded…yet property is not isolated.” Among the listing photos is one of a rabbit crouched beside a cactus in the backyard (the property is great for hunting, the listing says). Another listing consists of two prefab structures (one that was formerly used as a beauty shop) connected by a sheet-metal overhang that forms a patio, or carport depending on preference. The lot includes shaded animal pens as well as a lake view, according to the listing. Mendoza says it took a while for the larger REALTOR® organization in Laredo—a relative metropolis with a population of about 100,000—to take her seriously, but she has since proved herself as a scrappy and passionate member of the community, being elected to the Board of Directors in Laredo last year. “There’s other big-time brokers that trade properties left and right, and at first I was kind of being looked down ,” she says. “They’ve learned to respect me, and now they appreciate Zapata because I tell them the good .” At the other extreme in Zapata is the relocation industry. U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agents are consistently transferred in and out, and oil industry workers—who make up about 15% of Zapata County jobs according to census data—also arrive regularly, many from thousands of miles away and hailing from very different geographic and demographic areas. “We deal a lot with relocation,” she says. “Some people are used to having Walmart a block away. We don’t have that; it’s 45 minutes to the first Walmart. So we kind of explain that to people.” While these kinds of situations—communicating the unique challenges of the area to outsiders—make up a good portion of Mendoza’s business in Zapata, out-of-staters have been Friedner’s bread and butter, at least for the last two years or so. Montana metros were the third-fastest growing in the nation as far as price appreciation this past spring and summer, according to data collected by the National Association of REALTORS®, as many people fled coastal markets looking for space and affordability during the pandemic. With all the transplants, it got to the point where late last summer Friedner filmed a video titled “Living in Montana: Things They Don’t Tell You,” which was meant to address issues most outsiders are not prepared for. That video went viral, garnering almost 2.5 million views as of press time. “Ironically enough, the video that goes viral is the one that’s about why you shouldn’t move to Montana,” he deadpans. He was inspired to make that video, he explains, after driving a couple from Los Angeles hours into the wilderness to see a home they had viewed online, and felt was a sure home-run. “They just had no idea what they were getting into,” he says. “By the time we got to it, their eyes were huge and…obviously weren’t going to live out there once they saw it in person.” Frieder says he now strongly recommends that any out-of-state buyers take a drive through the state before he sends them any specific listing, just so they can get an idea of just how vast and isolated it is—have a chance to spot a bear on the side of the road or experience a few hundred miles of cell-service blackout. If they are still interested after that, he says they can start discussing specific properties or issues, like roads that are only ploughed if you plough them yourself, grizzly bears and wolves encroaching on properties (only an issue in certain parts of the state) and what “off-grid” really means as far as your daily, monthly and yearly investment of time and money. “Some people are scared off a little bit, some people just think it sounds even better,” Friedner laughs. This is in stark contrast to Alaska where Yoshimura says people almost always have a good idea of what to expect if they are planning on moving to the state. “Everybody that’s here enjoys the great outdoors,” she says. Claire James is Alaska Realty’s business development director working with Yoshimura at Berkshire Hathaway. She herself is an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast who regularly embarks on weeklong hikes through the Alaskan wilderness. But she says a lot of folks coming up the state end up in relatively standard living arrangements in the cities or suburbs. “Often will say they’re looking for a cabin in the woods,” she says. “But in reality, we live in a major city. We do not live in igloos in Alaska. Once they’re here, they realize they want to live where the work and where the homes are, and maybe in the future they can purchase that second cabin.” That isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of unique aspects to the market. A lot of people who purchase lake homes need to know whether they are able to land or dock small airplanes there, according to Yoshimura, as air travel is extremely common in a state where roads simply do not reach every town or community. Wildlife is also endemic to all parts of the state—not just out in the boonies. “I was out walking my dog last night and I was greeted by a huge bull moose,” James says. People who have lived there a while are not necessarily surprised or in awe of these types of encounters—both black and brown bears, bald eagle and wolves—but instead approach the situation from a practical standpoint. “A lot of times you just think, ‘Okay should I run?'” James laughs. Another unique issue is for people who live in “fly-to” locations outside of the major cities and have to account for the fact that all goods and services have to arrive by plane. The trade-off is of course, access to some of the best fishing, hiking and incredible landscapes in the world. “Those towns are just beautiful,” James says. Generally, Yoshimura says people in Alaska are looking for two things: space and a view. Lake homes are very popular, and anything with mountain or water views will be in high demand. Lake access or really spectacular views can easily drive the price of a property up by six figures, she says. These things are also highly sought after in Montana, according to Friedner, but the vast surge of interest from outsiders has also resulted in a lot of push-back from the folks who have lived there for generations. In the “Living In Montana” viral video, Friedner said that some locals have begun referring to Bozeman—the state’s fourth-largest metro with a population of just over 50,000—as “Boze Angeles” due to the influx of California migrants. But though restaurants might be busier and roads might occasionally get clogged (relatively speaking) around resort areas, Frieder says Montana has plenty of room for newcomers. “As much as the locals don’t want to hear that,” he says, “you can drive ten minutes out of town and you’re in the middle of nowhere. I don’t want to see Montana turn into Southern California, but it’s going to be long after I’m gone before it ever gets to that point.” Why We’re Here In Zapata, welcoming strangers has never been an issue, according to Mendoza—something that can be traced through the area’s history of ranchers and frontiersmen who stuck together through hard times. That includes decades of 19th century outlaws feuding across the almost stateless land, and political upheaval during the short-lived Republic of the Rio Grande uprising in 1840, with the county named after slain revolutionary general Antonio Zapata. But despite its lineage of conflict, Mexican and White Anglo-Europeans in Zapata have almost always gotten along, according to the Texas Historical Society, even as nearby regions saw significant ethnic and racial violence through much of the late 19th and 20th centuries. Mendoza says this spirit of peace and harmony persists today, with the majority-Hispanic population happy to mingle with relocated workers, seasonal vacationers at nearby Falcon Lake and any new neighbors regardless of race or origin. “We’ve learned to mesh well with everyone,” she says. “People here are raised different—we’re raised to respect. Everybody here—in Spanish we say, tio and tia. So everywhere I go, people are my tio and tia, people I don’t even know. That’s the respect we have for people because we were brought up with that kind of morals.” Living in a place where everyone refers to you as an uncle or aunt is part of what has kept Mendoza in Zapata, she says, and part of what makes her work more than a job—makes it a service to every person who wants to share the unique, enduring community she belongs to. “These are people that I live with, these are people that I’m going to see at the store tomorrow,” she says. “I need to make sure that I did a good job for them because I’m going to bump into them every day, and I want to make sure they’re happy with the services that I could provide. So I take a lot of pride in that.” In Montana, there is a very different kind of priority. Many people come to the state and stay there because they would rather not see their neighbors every day, according to Friedner. “Everybody wants to go be a cowboy in Montana,” he said. The peace and opportunity that comes from that amount of space has a growing appeal, he says, with a lot of out-of-state folks explicitly asking for homes that are “off the grid” or properties with no legal restrictions. In his video, Friedner talked about housing covenants, which dictate the kind of activities or uses allowed on a particular lot. A lot of people come to him asking for properties that have no covenants, and because most of rural Montana land is also unzoned, they imagine they can do essentially whatever they want with that kind of property. Though this is often attainable, Friedner warned that there are also drawbacks. A neighbor can park dozens of junk cars haphazardly in their front yard, open a store or start raising livestock next door and there is little recourse for a property owner who is bothered by these things. Because of this need for space, sometimes even acres and acres of distance isn’t enough, Friedner says, as people value their self-reliance, history and privacy in a way that is hard to describe to outsiders. Likewise in Alaska, where James and Yoshimura say that there is an inherent respect earned simply by calling the state home. “Alaskans are really proud to live here,” she says. “There’s just no more beautiful place than Alaska,” Yoshimura affirms. Diversity is more than environment and landscape, she adds. Indigenous people speak almost 150 different languages in local schools, and Anchorage and Juneau boast growing hispanic communities, she says. And though the 18% of the population that identifies as indigenous has faced violence and continues to battle discrimination, several young people have also been able to move into the cities, according to Yoshimura, to attend colleges or elevate employment opportunities. Every individual and family—immigrant or native— bring tremendous and unique individual histories to the state, Yoshimura says, traceable across the vast Alaskan landscape and beyond. And that is the real appeal to being in this part of the world, especially as a real estate agent, she adds. Every place where people live has written its own story, stories that are often as wild and ancient as the rolling tundras, sparkling fjords and soaring mountains that initially draw people to explore Alaska. It is this deeper landscape of community and history that someone like Yoshimura, someone like Friedner, someone like Mendoza gets to explore every day, and the reason why they all have spent decades as real estate agents in the communities that they know—and love—more than anyone. Jesse Williams is RISMedia’s associate online editor. Email him your real estate news ideas to jwilliams@rismedia.com. The post Mountain Peaks and Tumbleweeds: Real Estate in Frontierland, USA appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaOct 19th, 2021

51 Christmas gifts for mom that cost $50 or less

You don't need to blow your budget to get Mom something she'll truly appreciate. We did the research and found 51 Christmas gifts for mom under $50. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Book of the Month Instagram With all she does for you, Mom deserves to be treated to something nice. You don't have to spend a lot to make her feel special. We found plenty of Christmas gifts for mom that all come in under $50. Check out more great gift ideas for her here. She's your confidante, rock, mentor, and built-in best friend. She's been there through it all, and now she deserves something special. But coming up with gift ideas for Mom can be one of the hardest tasks. After all, what do you give someone who literally gave you life?The good news is that the perfect gift for mom is out there, and, best of all, it doesn't have to break the bank to be special. When it comes to Christmas gifts for mom, whether you want to go with something big or small, thoughtfulness is key. That's why we scoured the web and collected unique gifts that show your mom you care, all for under $50.Pick a gift that embraces nostalgia, mom's favorite hobbies, or some quality time with you - whatever you give, Mom will love it. Keep reading for 51 Christmas gifts for Mom under $50: A sweet floral tea set for one Anthropologie Annie Tea-For-One-Set, available at Anthropologie, $38A sip from this adorable floral print teapot is as enjoyable as it is soothing. The stackable teapot lets you savor each taste for longer with the teapot included with a teacup. A cozy robe to keep warm Target Stars Above Cozy Plush Robe, available at Target, $30There's no better sleepwear to relax in than this plush, velvet robe for the breezy evenings or mornings. This cozy polyester robe brings extreme comfort and warmth whether you're layering or covering up. A personalized video message from her favorite celebrity Cameo Personalized video message, starting at $1, available at CameoWhen trying to think of a unique gift for Mom, one that might not immediately come to mind is Cameo. The online service has tons of famous people she might want a personalized video message from. Whether it's for her birthday, Mother's Day, or a different milestone, there's something for everyone on Cameo, with prices as low as $1. You can get Jay Jackson from "Parks and Recreation" or James Cosmo from "Game of Thrones," each for $50 or less. Read more about Cameo and how to use Cameo. A meal from mom's favorite restaurant Goldbelly Goldbelly Restaurant Meal Kits, available at Goldbelly, from $25Though dining out at restaurants is harder right now due to COVID-19, you can still treat mom to her favorite restaurant foods delivered right to her door. From lobster rolls to bagels, Goldbelly ships food gifts from famous eateries nationwide.  A dainty jewelry holder Catbird Catbird Swan Ring Holder, $32, available at CatbirdThis dainty piece of decor is as pretty as it is practical. It can hold rings, necklaces, and any other small trinkets.  A cool, minimalist puzzle Food52 Areaware Gradient Puzzle, $35, available at Food52This 1,000-piece puzzle has an aesthetically pleasing gradient pattern that's nice to look at, but hard to put together. If mom loves a challenge, she'll enjoy trying to get this one right.  A luxe body lotion Nécessaire Nécessaire The Body Lotion, $25, available at NordstromWe love this super hydrating, skin-smoothing body lotion. It's filled with nourishing, clean ingredients that will keep dry skin at bay. The sleek packaging and skin-soothing formula are sure to upgrade her post-shower routine.  A streaming stick to up mom's binge-watching experience Amazon Roku Streaming Stick +, available at Amazon, $39Upgrade mom's next Netflix marathon without needing to splurge on a new TV. The Roku Streaming Stick + features 4K, HD, and HDR streaming in a small but mighty package. A cute set of washcloths that'll hide stains Weezie Makeup Towels (Pair), $40, available at WeezieThese gentle and fluffy towels were made to help her wash off the day's makeup with ease, and the dark navy color hides stains. Choose from three different embroidery options, all of which are adorable. A box filled with Japanese treats Bokksu Bokksu Classic Gift Box, from $39.95, available at BokksuShe may not be able to travel the world, but a Bokksu Box can give Mom a fun cultural experience from the comfort of her own kitchen. The classic gift box is filled with a selection of 20-25 unique Japanese snacks, sourced directly from family-run businesses in Japan, so she can get a little more adventurous at snack time.  A high-end manicure mom can give herself Amazon The Starter Set, $28, available at Olive & JuneFor many of us, achieving a salon-quality manicure at home feels impossible. Olive & June is trying to change that. The Poppy is an innovative bottle handle that makes it easy to apply your polish smoothly and evenly. This set has everything Mom needs for an easy, at-home mani: The Poppy, a top coat, and a bottle of Olive & June polish in a sheer shade.  An organic facial steam Amazon Belier Handmade Organic Facial Steam, $12, available at EtsyWhen there's no time for a trip to the spa, this facial steam will upgrade her typical skincare routine. All she has to do is boil some water, steep the dried leaves, and hold her face over the steaming herbs — it'll enhance blood flow and open her pores, so her skin will easily absorb whatever product she puts on next.  A book subscription service for an exciting new read every month Book of the Month Instagram Book of the Month Membership, starting at $49.99 for 3 monthsIf she's always asking you for new book recommendations, she's going to love this service that curates great books and sends them to subscribers once a month. Each monthly delivery will be an exciting surprise as she discovers a new read she might not have found otherwise. Our editor tried the service herself and loved it. Refreshing and decadent bubble bath L'Occitane L'Occitane Lavender Foaming Bath, $39, available at SephoraA little luxury goes a long way. Aid your mom in getting some true relaxation with this rich bubble bath made with fresh, calming lavender.  A fancy bottle of olive oil Brightland Alive Olive Oil, available at Brightland, $37A bottle of high-quality olive oil is the perfect gift for any mom who enjoys cooking, or just eating great food. Alive from Brightland adds a vibrant, zesty flavor to any dish, and she'll appreciate the beautiful bottle.  A Disney+ subscription Alyssa Powell/Business Insider Subscribe to Disney+, $6.99/month or $69.99/year, available at Disney+Give Mom unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox. She'll have more than enough great content for movie marathons at home. Learn everything there is to know about Disney+ over here. And if you need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream. Flavor-infused cubes for mom's next brunch Uncommon Goods Minute Mimosa Sugar Cube Trio, $30, available at Uncommon GoodsMom will love these flavor-infused cubes that turn any glass of champagne into an elevated mimosa or bellini. To take it to the next level, add a bottle of bubbly to your gift. A practical and chic multipurpose pouch Nordstrom Rack Madewell Leather Pouch Clutch, $49.50, available at MadewellA bag that multitasks as well as she does makes for a great gift. This pouch will keep her little things organized in her purse during the day but can pull double-duty as a clutch come nighttime.  Tea with some extra love Uncommon Goods Heart-Shaped Tea Bags, $30, available at Uncommon GoodsThis gift for mom lets her enjoy a good cuppa while also showing her some extra love. Each set contains five English Breakfast, five Earl Grey, and five White Berry teabags.   A smart speaker mom will get a kick out of talking to Amazon Echo Dot (4th gen), $49.99, available at Best BuyWhether she's a smart home wizard or completely inept at tech, Mom will love this smart speaker that she can control with her own voice.  A T-shirt that shows off her values Everlane 100% Human Tees, $25, available at EverlaneGive mom a shirt she can feel good about wearing. When you buy a tee from this collection, Everlane will make a donation to the ACLU — an organization promoting equal rights for all. A heart-shaped succulent The Sill Hoya Heart Plant, $32, available at The SillBring some life to their space with this adorable heart-shaped succulent. With little attention needed, it's a great gift for amateur plant parents and experienced ones alike. A silk eye mask for when mom really needs some sleep Ahalife Silk Sleep Eye Mask, $50, available at SephoraMom seriously deserves some quality sleep. Make it a little easier for her to get it with this comfortable, silky smooth eye mask. A map that reminds mom of her favorite place Grafomap Custom Map, starting at $49, available at GrafomapSome things just breed nostalgia. Grafomap will make a custom map of a location of your choice — you can even add personalized labels. Choose the place she grew up, a place where you have fond memories together, or a family favorite vacation spot. It's a great piece of home decor that means something to her, too.  Textured planters that mom can fill with her favorite plants CB2 3-Piece White Loom Planter Set, $12.99, available at CB2After all those years taking care of you, caring for her plants is nothing. These planters, which can stay indoors or outdoors, are a pretty and practical way to hold some greenery.  A set of soaps that smell like a bouquet of fresh flowers Uncommon Goods Box of Flowers Soaps, $30, available at Uncommon GoodsThere's something so wonderful about the smell of fresh flowers. That mood-lifting smell, combined with all-natural, soothing ingredients, make these soaps a unique and welcomed addition to her bathroom.  A framed photo she’ll always cherish Framebridge The Aiden Frame, $39, available at FramebridgeNothing can compare to a gift that she can keep hung up forever as a reminder of the great memories you've shared together — that's what makes this framed photo so special. A candle that smells like mom's favorite place Amazon Homesick Candles, from $34, available at HomesickTake her back to her favorite place with these nostalgia-inducing candles. Whether it's the scents of spring in New York City like flowers, concrete, and fine department store fragrances, or the salty seaweed, morning coffee, and ocean air of the beach cottage she frequented as a child — these Homesick candles are sure to bring back fond memories. A cookbook from a home cook icon Amazon "Cook Like a Pro" by Ina Garten, $17.46, available at AmazonIna Garten, the icon of home cooks everywhere, just released a new cookbook — and you know your mom will want to add this one to her shelf. With new recipes and techniques, you might even get to benefit from what she learns with a delicious meal.   A set of wines she’s probably never tried before Wine.com Italian Wine Gift Set, $39.99, available at Wine.comIf she loves to try new wines, make it easy with this trio of three Italian varietals. It's no trip to Tuscany, but it still tastes pretty darn good.  A personalized T-shirt she’ll love to show off Known Supply Personalized Women's Fitted Crew, $32 + $10 for customization, available at Known SupplyMom, Mommy, Mama — whatever you call her, make it official with this personalized crew-neck T-shirt.  A vintage-looking indoor herb garden Uncommon Goods Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden, $22, available at Uncommon GoodsThese mason jar make growing fresh herbs easy. All she has to do is plant the seeds, add water, place the jars in a sunny spot, and let the herbs grow. It takes little effort on her part, but having fresh herbs will make all the difference in adding flavor to her favorite dishes. A mortar and pestle to up mom's guac game Crate & Barrel Molcajete 8-Inch, $34.95, available at Crate & BarrelMom's guac game just got a lot stronger with this molcajete. The mortar and pestle are made of volcanic stone to grind out everything to the perfect texture — so she can claim the title of best dip on the table.  A pair of plush slippers she can wear in and out of the house Pottery Barn Minnetonka Chesney Scuff Slippers, $49.95, available at ZapposLet her treat her feet right with these slippers. They're cozy and cute, so she'll love lounging in them all day long. A spiralizer that’ll help her get inventive with cooking vegetables Amazon Mueller Multi-Blade Spiralizer, $19.97, available at AmazonChances are, she was the one telling you to eat your vegetables growing up — but that doesn't mean you can't share the same sentiment for her with this spiralizer, which can grate, slice, spiralize, and shred her favorite vegetables for all different kinds of uses.  Adorable animals to hold her rings Wayfair Umbra Origami 3-Pack Ring Holder, $20, available at UmbraWhether she wants to show her rings off or make sure she doesn't lose them, these little animals do the trick. They look super cute as a piece of decor, but are undoubtedly practical. You could even pair these with a cute ring to start. A bath caddy with room for everything she might need Amazon Luxury Bathtub Caddy Tray, from $49.97, available at AmazonThe only thing that could make a bath more relaxing than some luxurious bubbles is this bathtub caddy. It can hold everything she needs — a device so she can watch her favorite show, a glass full of her favorite drink, and even a candle she can light for ambiance.  A fitting diffuser for the tastemaker of your house Snowe Tastemaker Diffuser, $40, available at SnoweWith scents of shiso leaf, wild mint, and meyer lemon, this diffuser will look and smell great anywhere in the house. A stylish water bottle that will become her go-to S'well S'well Stainless Steel Bottle, $35, available at AmazonWith a variety of shapes and sizes, S'well vacuum insulated water bottles do a great job of keeping all kinds of beverages hot (for 12 hours) or cold (for 24 hours). They come in a bunch of fun colors and patterns, which makes using a reusable water bottle a lot more fun.  A bouquet of fresh flowers to liven up her space The Bouqs Instagram Floral Bouquets, starting at $39, available at The BouqsThere's a reason flowers are a classic — bursting with color and lovely scents, they bring life to every space. The Bouqs is one of our favorite places to order flowers online for their wide variety of vibrant, fresh arrangements to choose from. A cozy throw she’ll love to cuddle up in Kohl's Madison Park Ruched Faux Fur Throw, $44.99, available at Kohl'sThis cozy throw is something she'll want to snuggle up with all winter long, and then some. It's not too heavy, so it's great for all times of year, but this super plush faux fur is just what she needs for your family movie marathons over the holidays. Bookends that also function as flower vases PortlandHomeGoods/Etsy Vase Bookends, $24.97, available at EtsyPretty and practical — what could be better? Mom will love keeping her favorite books sandwiched between these sturdy concrete vases which she can fill with her favorite flowers. A fun game that your whole family will crack up playing Amazon What Do You Meme?, $29.99, available at Target and WalmartShe might not even know what a meme is, but there's no doubt she'll be laughing for hours creating funny memes with this card game. It's perfect for a family game night, but if you family members who err on the much younger side, go for something a little more PG. A decorative way to repurpose her old wine corks Uncommon Goods Wine Cork States, $35, available at Uncommon GoodsShe insists on keeping the corks from some of her favorite wines, so give her somewhere to actually show them off. This state-shaped display board turns her keepsake wine corks into a piece of art worthy of being seen.  A dainty necklace with meaningful initials KESTJewelry/Etsy Custom Initial Necklace, starting at $27, available at EtsyWhether it's her own initials, you and your siblings' first names, or any other combinations of letters that matter to her — this necklace is a little but thoughtful way to keep those important to her close. A cool tote bag she'll use everyday Baggu Duck Bag, from $34, available at BagguFrom a grocery bag to a work bag, this canvas tote can do it all. It can fit a 15-inch laptop and has adjustable straps so she'll be comfortable carrying it around all day.  A subscription that lets her discover new beauty products Birchbox/Instagram Birchbox three month subscription gift, $45, available at BirchboxBirchbox is a subscription service that sends a box full of five makeup and skincare samples for her to use each month. It's easy to buy full-size versions on the site, in case she falls in love with any one product and wants more. Plus, it'll be exciting for her to receive the beauty surprises each month.  A convenient charging port for her most-used devices Amazon Elago 3-in-1 Charging Hub, $26.99, available at AmazonShe has an iPad, Air Pods, and Apple Watch — it might seem like there's nothing else you could get your Apple-loving mom. This is a great gift for loyal Apple fans — it's a three-in-one charging hub that looks much nicer than an average extension cord, and it'll fit all of her devices perfectly.  A custom phone case made with a collage of family photos Casetify Custom Phone Case, starting at $45 (prices vary depending on your device), available at CasetifyThere's nothing she loves more than family, so let her show it off every day with a personalized phone case. Upload some of your favorite family photos to put on this super cute case — there are plenty of options for different layouts and cases for all kinds of smartphones. A customizable and challenging puzzle Uncommon Goods New York Times Custom Front Page Puzzle, $49.95, available at Uncommon GoodsWork Mom's brain with this sentimental and interactive gift. Pick a special date (birthday, anniversary, etc.), and it'll be turned into a puzzle made of the actual front page of The New York Times from that day.  A chic mug to brighten up her morning routine Nordstrom Anthropologie Bistro Monogram Mug, $14, available at AnthropologieThis chic mug will instantly transport Mom to her favorite cafe, sipping on a cappuccino while trying to figure out how to rotate her camera as she's FaceTiming you. Choose the first letter of her name, or better yet, choose yours.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 5th, 2021

8 incredible hotels at Yosemite National Park, including a retro Airstream and a majestic mountain lodge

These are the best hotels inside or near Yosemite National Park in California, from cheap picks to luxury lodges and pet-friendly places to stay. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. tiffanynguyen/Getty Images Camping isn't your only option when visiting Yosemite National Park, there are many hotels, too. From a luxury resort to a retro Airstream or a cozy cabin, there are lots of hotels near Yosemite. We found the best Yosemite hotels with tons of activities, beautiful scenery, and easy park access. Table of Contents: Masthead StickyA trip to a national park might conjure images of tents, sleeping bags, and bugs, but that doesn't have to be the case, especially when planning a visit to Yosemite National Park.Sure, you could rough it with a camping trip, but for those who yearn for a more elevated experience, there are plenty of hotels in or near Yosemite ranging from a quirky refurbished Airstream to full-on luxury.As a native San Franciscan who lives about a four-hour drive away from Yosemite, I try to visit the park as often as I can. Since I am not much of a camper, I always choose from the following hotels, which come with comfortable rooms, stunning views, loads of activities, and perhaps most importantly, easy park access.Keep reading for my picks of the best hotels in or near Yosemite's five park entrances.Browse all of the best hotels near Yosemite National Park below, or jump to a specific area:The best Yosemite National Park hotelsFAQ: Yosemite National Park hotelsHow we selected the best hotels near Yosemite National ParkMore of the best places to stay near national parksThese are the best hotels near Yosemite National Park, sorted by price from low to high. Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite With loads of amenities and activities included, Tenaya is a dream for families looking for an active vacation. Trip Advisor Book Tenaya Lodge at YosemiteCategory: Mid-rangeLocation: Fish Camp, CATypical starting/peak prices: $141/$290On-site amenities: 4 pools, hot tubs, spa, fitness center, game room, sauna, restaurant, bar, Wi-Fi, archery range, bike rentals, rock climbing wall, kid's adventure course, ice skating, sledding, snowshoeingPros: With so many activities and amenities, the Tenaya Lodge is a destination in itself. There is plenty to keep the family entertained without ever having to leave.Cons: Tenaya is a popular place for families, so it can be busy and crowded.Located just two miles from Yosemite National Park's South Gate and amid the Sierra National Forest, the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite is ideally situated near the park with much to offer families, especially.Beyond the large Lodge, which has over 300 rooms, there are three outdoor swimming pools, including a kid's pool and an adults-only relaxation pool. There's also an indoor swimming pool for colder months, and tons of activities, ranging from a kid's adventure course and a rock-climbing wall to a variety of games, play areas, and ice skating and sledding in winter. There is also a tour service, at an additional charge, that guarantees entry into the national park.The AAA Four-Diamond hotel has a variety of different lodging types including Lodge rooms, suites, cottage rooms, and stand-alone cabins. Standard rooms in the Lodge are about 350 square feet and feature rustic wood furniture and pine barn doors.Cottage rooms have outdoor sitting areas and fireplaces, while the 560-square-foot, two-bedroom cabin Explorer Cabins come with a separate living room, a private deck, and the most privacy and space.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Autocamp Yosemite Choose from luxury canvas tents, tricked-out Airstream trailers, tiny homes, and other whimsical glamping choices. Booking.com Book Autocamp YosemiteCategory: BoutiqueLocation: Midpines, CATypical starting/peak prices: $149/$269On-site amenities: Restaurant, general store, seasonal pool, Wi-Fi, mountain bikes, Yosemite shuttlePros: Luxury tents and Airstream accommodations are modern and beautifully designed for a chic, hip glamping experience.Cons: Autocamp is from Yosemite, about a 40-minute drive to the Arch Rock entrance. The dining options are limited.For a stay immersed in the wilderness but with more luxury than you'll find in a sleeping bag, Autocamp Yosemite offers a fun take on glamping with sleek accommodations that include luxury tents, Airstreams, and tiny homes.Luxury canvas tents feature a King-size memory foam bed, a futon, electric blankets, a heater, mini-refrigerator, sofa, Wi-Fi,  and an outdoor fire pit, though restrooms and showers are shared.For a bit more privacy, opt for their Classic Airstream Suites, housed within polished, retro aluminum trailers that have a bedroom with a Queen bed in luxury linens, a futon for extra sleeping space, rain showers, a kitchenette, and a private patio with a fire pit and dining area.If you're coming with a large crew, you can choose the Premium BaseCamp Mini Suite, which features a 31-foot custom-designed Airstream Suite as well as a custom TeePee with two extra child-sized Twin beds.There's a cafe on-site, though offerings are limited, likely because all accommodations come with cookware, plates, and utensils for guests to prepare their own meals (just remember to arrive with all the ingredients you'll need). A general store is also available to purchase charcuterie fixings, BBQ-ready meats, as well as beer and wine.For socializing, Autocamp has a midcentury-inspired clubhouse with a fireplace, board games, and happy hour. They also offer yoga classes, live music, and wine tastings.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Wawona Hotel Wawona is one of just a few hotels located inside Yosemite National Park. Hotels.com Book Wawona HotelCategory: Mid-rangeLocation: Yosemite National Park, CATypical starting/peak prices: $157/$231On-site amenities: Restaurant, pool, golf, horse stables, tennis court, free breakfast buffetPros: The Wawona is one of a few hotels located within Yosemite itself, a location that offers one of the best home bases you can choose for exploring the park.Cons: Some rooms don't have private bathrooms and there are no TVs, telephones, or Wi-Fi in guest rooms.The Wawona is a quaint, historic hotel on the southern end of Yosemite National Park. It originally opened in 1856 and now consists of six whitewashed Victorian-style buildings with antique furnishings that make it feel as if you stepped back in time. Musical performances in the lounge add to the atmospheric ambiance.Room decor keeps with the Victorian aesthetic through faux antique white and wood furniture and floral draperies. Most open onto a large veranda with Adirondack chairs, and about half of the Wawona's guest rooms include a private bathroom Those without utilize nearby shared facilities that include showers, sinks, and toilets. Additionally, all rooms don't have TVs, telephones, or Wi-Fi, so this is a place for those looking to disconnect. This hotel is also seasonal; this year it closes on November 29 and opens again on March 25, 2022.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Rush Creek Lodge 8 incredible hotels at Yosemite National Park, including a retro Airstream and a majestic mountain lodge Tripadvisor Book Rush Creek Lodge Category: Mid-rangeLocation: Groveland, CATypical starting/peak suite prices: $165/$360On-site amenities: Restaurants, Pool bar, general store, spa, pool, bocce ball, games, daily activities, nightly s'moresPros: Lodge rooms have balconies and there is a wide range of on-site and nearby activities.Cons: The price can be steep in high season and may not feel worth it. Additionally, past guests have noted that the air conditioning in rooms can be loud.The Rush Creek Lodge is the newest addition to the Yosemite lodging scene joining its sister property, The Evergreen. Located just half a mile from Yosemite's Highway 120 West entrance, the Rush Creek Lodge consists of 143 hillside villas, lodge rooms, and suites spread throughout the 20-acre property.All rooms include private balconies overlooking the surrounding forest and have clean, modern, and simple layouts and furnishings, accented by large format photography of area nature and wildlife. Rooms do not have televisions but are supplied with a radio and a variety of games. If you don't want to miss the big game, there is a big screen TV in the resort's tavern.The Rush Creek Lodge is particularly fitting for families since they offer an eclectic array of activities for kids of all ages. There is a one-of-a-kind nature-oriented playground with a zip line, a 60-foot hillside slide, and a rope swing in addition to crafts and programming.Adults will appreciate the spa area that has a mineral hot tub, warm river rock loungers, and plenty of lounge chairs.The Lodge also offers a variety of tours and events for an extra fee, from guided hikes, yoga, an introduction to glass blowing to whitewater rafting.  COVID-19 procedures are available here. Yosemite Valley Lodge Hotel Rooms are basic and rustic but are much cheaper than other hotels within Yosemite National Park. Tripadvisor Book Yosemite Valley Lodge HotelCategory: Mid-rangeLocation: Yosemite Valley, CATypical starting/peak prices: $183/$251On-site amenities: Restaurants, bar, Starbucks, outdoor swimming pool, park shuttlePros: This hotel has a fantastic location inside of Yosemite National Park.Cons: Rooms don't have air conditioning so it can get hot in the summer, although small fans are provided.Located near Yosemite Falls, The Yosemite Valley Lodge is a popular choice for those looking for a centrally located place to stay within the national park.Yosemite Valley Lodge feels more like a motel than a lodge but is a top pick for its unbeatable location and the fact that it costs about half the price of the Ahwahnee, which is one of the other popular hotels inside of Yosemite National Park.Traditional Rooms are basic but possess a rustic flair with sturdy wood furniture and nature photography on the walls. These entry-level rooms are suitable for up to three people. If you need more room, Family Rooms and Bunk Rooms have extra space to spread out. Some rooms have balconies and patios, which are a nice perk. However, there is no air conditioning in any accommodation, which may be uncomfortable in hotter summer months.On-site dining is offered with a casual cafeteria-type vibe.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Evergreen Lodge at Yosemite Staying at the Evergreen Lodge is kind of like being away at a summer camp with rustic cabins and activities. Tripadvisor Book Evergreen Lodge at YosemiteCategory: Mid-rangeLocation: Groveland, CATypical starting/peak prices: $190/$310On-site amenities: Restaurants, bar, outdoor pool, hot tub, Wi-Fi, massage services, bocce ball, outdoor games, bike rental, daily activities.Pros: There is a wide range of fun activities to enjoy during your stay, which adds significant value to the rate.Cons: Most cabins are in sets of two so odds are you will have a neighbor close by. If you want more privacy, request a stand-alone cabin.Staying at the Evergreen Lodge is akin to being away at a summer camp with rustic cabins and activities galore. There are 88 cabins sprinkled across the 20-acre property located nine miles away from Yosemite's Big Oak Flat entrance.All come with private balconies, and cabins range from cozy offerings for two to family cabins that can sleep six. The standard Deluxe Cabin is 400 square feet with a King-size bed, a Queen-size pull out sofa, and a gas fireplace. The hotel can also set up tents for those who want more of a camping experience ($120 to $155 a night).During the day, sign up for nature crafts, family hikes, forest disc golf, and a variety of games, while and in the evenings, join s'mores by the fire, stargazing, and campfire sing-alongs. Live entertainment and a variety of lectures are also offered.COVID-19 procedures are available here. The Ahwahnee The Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park is the most majestic, well-located place to stay within the park itself littlenySTOCK / Shutterstock.com Book The AhwahneeCategory: LuxuryLocation: Yosemite Valley, CATypical starting/peak suite prices: $478/$699On-site amenities: Restaurant, bar, outdoor swimming pool, Wi-Fi, shuttle access (on hiatus due to COVID), food, wine eventsPros: Location, location, location — the Ahwahnee has the best placement of any hotel within Yosemite National Park.Cons: Even though the rooms were recently updated, they are a bit small and still don't have that luxury feel in line with the price.  The Ahwahnee is a stunning example of the National Park Service's historic hotels and lodging. This grand hotel, located within Yosemite National Park, opened in 1927 and has been a sought-after destination ever since. Presidents, royalty, and movie stars have all stayed here while visiting the breathtaking beauty of Yosemite.The striking hotel offers a luxurious oasis in the middle of the wilderness, with a unique and rustic architectural mix of steel, stone, and concrete, which protects it from the risk of fires. Due to its architectural importance and history, it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1987.The public spaces with roaring fireplaces, murals, and tapestries are stunning, with a casual elegance evoking the 1920s Arts and Crafts Movement. The hotel has remained timeless and classic after almost 100 years. The Great Lodge is particularly lovely with high-beamed ceilings accented with stencil work inspired by Native American artwork.The hotel's location on the floor of the Yosemite Valley is also a major benefit of staying here. It's one that far outshines any other hotel in the area as you'll be well-placed to explore Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and Glacier Point, which are all a short stroll from the hotel.Rooms are tastefully appointed with natural hues and vintage art, though they are rather small. For more space, book one of the cottages or splurge on the Library Suite with a wood-paneled sitting room, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and a cozy fireplace. For the best views, Featured Hotel Rooms boast stunning vistas of Yosemite's waterfalls and iconic cliffs.  The Ahwahnee Dining Room is a landmark with 34-foot high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, fine dining, and special events such as their Bracebridge Dinner, Vintners' Holidays, and Chefs' Holidays.COVID-19 procedures are available here. Château du Sureau A regal exterior features manicured gardens, a sleek pool, and beautiful scenery. Chateau du Sureau Book Château du SureauCategory: LuxuryLocation: Oakhurst, CATypical starting/peak suite prices: $495/$895On-site amenities: Free breakfast, pool, sauna, yoga, outdoor games, gardensPros: Thoughtful touches such as fresh baked cookies in the afternoon and top-notch breakfasts are included in the rate.Cons: Not all rooms are created equal; make sure to research before you book so you're not disappointed. With so few rooms, they also book up quickly.Château du Sureau, a Relais & Chateaux property, is a 5-star luxury hotel possessing a European fairy tale feel with a majestic stone turret, manicured gardens, and cozy interiors. Located in the foothills of the Sierras near Yosemite, the Château du Sureau is about a 20-minute drive to the South Gate.The nine-acre property is abundant with old-world charm from the grand piano nestled with a mural-covered alcove to French furnishings that feature throughout the property. No two rooms are alike; each is named for a fragrant herb from the South of France and features unique antiques and art, canopied beds, and private balconies overlooking the gardens. Some have fireplaces.Beyond the carefully curated rooms, the hotel is home to the award-winning Elderberry House Restaurant and the Spa du Sureau, both of which are destinations themselves.Contact the hotel for more information on COVID-19 procedures at (559) 683-6860 of chateau@chateausureau.com. FAQ: Yosemite National Park hotels Are there hotels in Yosemite National Park?Yes, there are a variety of hotels within Yosemite National Park, all of which are owned by the national park system. On our list, The Ahwahnee, The Wawona, and the Yosemite Valley Lodge are all located within the park.Do these hotels guarantee entrance to Yosemite National Park?Yosemite National Park utilizes a reservation system for the spring and summer when there are the most visitors. If you stay at the Ahwahnee, the Wawona, or the Yosemite Valley Inn you don't need a reservation. Many of the other hotels on the list do offer park tours, for an extra fee, that includes park admission.Are all of these hotels open in the winter?It does snow in Yosemite National Park so although visiting in the winter is beautiful, you'll need to have chains for your car and plenty of warm clothing. Most of the hotels on the list above are open all year, except for The Wawona.Which Yosemite hotel is best for couples?Many of these hotels cater to families. For those looking for a more romantic experience, the Ahwahnee and the Château du Sureau are the best hotels for couples. Both are beautiful, relaxing, romantic, and offer fine dining.What hotels in Yosemite National Park allow dogs?Autocamp Yosemite, Château du Sureau, and the Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite are the only hotels that allow dogs. In fact, Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite offers pet concierge, pet beds, and an on-property kennel.Is it safe to stay in hotels?At this time, the CDC states that domestic travel is safe if you are fully vaccinated. While the vaccination rates vary by location, the unvaccinated should continue to take extra precautions.It is advisable that all travelers continue to follow CDC and local guidelines such as wearing masks, social distancing, and using hand sanitizer. All of the hotels we included have cleaning and safety protocols in place for guest rooms and public spaces to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. How we selected the best hotels near Yosemite National Park Each hotel or resort is located a short distance, at most a 40-minute drive, from one of the Yosemite National park entrances. There are also a couple of options within the park itself.The hotels boast comfortable, spacious rooms and can accommodate families as well as be a good fit for a couples getaway.Hotels are considered three-stars and up and hold a Trip Advisor rating of four or above with significant, honest recent reviews.The hotels have good on-site amenities such as pools and perks that guests will enjoy.The hotels promote stringent COVID-19 policies to prioritize the health and safety of all guests, which we've noted for each hotel below. More of the best places to stay near national parks TripAdvisor The best hotels near US national parksThe best vacation rentals near US national parksThe best campsites in the USThe best US mountain resorts for all seasons Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 27th, 2021

Senators just released legislative text for the "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act," including the most significant new gun restrictions since the 1990s. Here"s what"s in the bill.

The bill would close the "boyfriend loophole, support states enacting "red flag" laws, and increase background checks for gun buyers under 21. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut at a press conference at the Capitol on June 14, 2022.Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images A bipartisan group of senators just released the legislative text for a new bill to enact tougher gun restrictions. The bill enacts the most significant new gun restrictions since the 1990s, including closing the "boyfriend loophole." Congress could send the bill to President Biden's desk as soon as this week. A bipartisan group of senators unveiled the "Bipartisan Safer Communities Act" on Tuesday, a new bill that would enact the most significant new federal gun restrictions since the 1990s.House Democratic leaders have also made clear that they're likely to support the bill, and proponents hope to pass it through both chambers and send it to President Joe Biden's desk before Congress goes on recess for the July 4th holiday.It comes after major mass shootings, including at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, spurred new interest in preventing gun violence.The group, led by Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, previously announced a framework last week outlining the contours of the bill.But senators working on the deal encountered hiccups when working to close the so-called "boyfriend loophole," which prevents convicted domestic abusers from owning a gun only if they lived with, were married to, or had a child with their victim."This doesn't limit law-abiding gun owners' rights. Unless someone is convicted of domestic abuse under their state laws, their gun rights will not be impacted," Cornyn said on the Senate floor shortly before the text was released. "Those who are convicted of non-spousal misdemeanor domestic abuse — not felony, but misdemeanor domestic violence — will have an opportunity after five years to have their Second Amendment rights restored. But they have to have a clean record."Additionally, Cornyn was loudly booed for his work on the gun bill by members of his own party at a Texas GOP convention on Friday.Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed the framework last week, and ten Republican senators have already announced their support for the framework, increasing the chances that the bill would survive a filibuster and clear the Senate's 60-vote threshold.Here's what's in the text of the bill. Full legislative text can be found here.Support for state-level "red flag" laws"Red flag" laws give authorities and courts the power to temporarily confiscate a gun from individuals if they are deemed to pose an immediate threat to themselves or others.Nineteen states and the District of Columbia currently have some form of red flag laws.The bill allocates $750 million to support states and tribes in enacting crisis intervention programs."We just saw Connecticut's Red Flag Law be used, just in the last month or so, to take weapons away from a young man who was making threats to shoot up schools," said Murphy on the Senate floor on Tuesday. He said that instance of the law's use potentially saved "dozens of lives."New investments in community behavioral health centersThe bill allocates $250 million to support community behavioral health centers, freeing up new federal money for states to set up new centers for treating addiction and other mental health issues.That provision was adopted from a previous bipartisan bill put forward by Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri. In a statement last year, they said that these clinics already serve 1.5 million people across 300 communities in 40 states.Closing the 'boyfriend loophole'The bill includes convicted domestic violence abusers and other individuals who are subject to domestic violence restraining orders in a national criminal background check system, closing the so-called "boyfriend loophole."Patrick Perion, a child protection specialist with the Department of Children and Family Services in Illinois, recently told Insider that the boyfriend loophole was present in all of the intimate partner violence cases that he's investigated when children and guns were involved."We have good evidence that tells us that separating people who are violent toward their intimate partners from guns when they are subject to a domestic violence restraining order makes a difference in terms of victim safety," Shannon Frattaroli, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Insider.Funding for school-based mental health servicesThe bill allocates $5 million for the fiscal years of 2023 and 2024 toward mental health and support services in schools, including early identification and intervention programs.Funding for school safety and securityThe bill allocates $100 million toward increasing security at schools, along with programs that are "interrupting cycles of violence in our communities," according to Murphy.Clarifying the definition of a Federally Licensed Firearms DealerThe bill also seeks to clarify who and what is defined as a federally licensed firearms dealer."One of the individuals who sold a weapon to a mass shooter in Odessa, Texas, should have been licensed as a federal dealer," noted Murphy on the Senate floor ahead of the bill's release. "But he wasn't, and he sold the gun to a person who was prohibited from buying the gun because of his mental health history, without a background check."Investments in telehealthThe bill will also allocate $8 million — with $50 million in grants — toward increasing access to mental and behavioral health services for youth and families in crisis via telehealth, or consultations with medical professionals via phone and video calls.Enhanced background checks for gun buyers under age 21The bill also includes greater scrutiny for gun buyers under the age of 21, requiring them to go through a review process that would include a call to the local police department and take up to 3 days."What we know is that the profile of the modern mass shooter is often in the 18 to 21 year old range," said Murphy.New penalties for straw gun purchasing and a federal ban on gun traffickingThe bill enacts a new federal ban on gun trafficking, as well as penalties for straw gun purchases — when an individual has someone else buy a gun on their behalf, avoiding the necessary paperwork."This is incredibly important for our cities. We have a flow of illegal guns that come into the cities," said Murphy. "And yet, for decades, for some reason, Congress has not given our federal authorities the ability to interrupt these gun-running rings because we have no effective ban at the federal level on trafficking."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 21st, 2022

Black Georgia election worker Shaye Moss received racist threats after Giuliani targeted her, including a message telling her to "be glad it"s 2020 and not 1920"

"I felt bad for my mom, and I felt horrible for picking this job," Moss testified. She and her mother sued Giuliani and OANN for defamation last year. Wandrea ArShaye “Shaye” Moss, a former Georgia election worker, is sworn in before January 6 committee on June 21, 2022.Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images Shaye Moss, a Black Georgia election worker, testified on the threats she got amid the push to overturn the 2020 election. She said she got numerous hateful Facebook messages "saying things like, 'be glad it's 2020 and not 1920.'" "I felt bad for my mom, and I felt horrible for picking this job," said Moss. A Black former Georgia election worker said on Tuesday that she faced racist, deadly threats as President Donald Trump publicly attacked her and her mother and sought to overturn the 2020 election results.Wandrea ArShaye "Shaye" Moss, a veteran election official in Fulton County, testified before the January 6 committee during its fourth public hearing, which focused on Trump and his allies' efforts to get states, including Georgia, to overturn their election results. Joe Biden won Georgia by just under 12,000 votes in the presidential election.Former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the Georgia state Senate that Moss and her mother, Ruby Freeman, "engaged in surreptitious illegal activity" and accused them of "passing around USB ports as if they're vials of heroin or cocaine." He claimed a video of the election workers counting ballots showed the alleged crime. That entirely unsubstantiated claim led to a deluge of racist and threatening Facebook messages, which Moss detailed to the committee on Tuesday."They included threats, a lot of threats wishing death upon me," she said. "Telling me that, you know, I'll be in jail with my mother, and saying things like, 'Be glad it's 2020 and not 1920.'"In 1920, several "Jim Crow" laws were in place to enforce racial segregation in the United States, and racially-motivated lynchings remained commonplace.—The Recount (@therecount) June 21, 2022Moss said the messages made her regret working as an elections worker, work she said she undertook because "a lot of people, older people in my family, did not have that right.""I felt bad for my mom, and I felt horrible for picking this job, and being the one that always wants to help," said Moss.The committee also aired testimony from Freeman in which she said she was nervous about going grocery shopping, and is fearful of giving her name for food orders.Moss said the Trump team's false claims have dramatically disrupted her life. "I don't go to the grocery store at all," Moss said. "I haven't gone anywhere at all. I've gained about 60 pounds. I just don't want to do nothing anymore." Moss also told the committee that the USB drive Giuliani claimed she received from her mother was actually a mint."What was your mom actually handing you on that video?" asked Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California, who led much of Tuesday's hearing."A ginger mint," Moss replied.Also testifying on Thursday were Arizona House Speaker Rusty Bowers, as well as Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger and his deputy, and Gabriel Sterling. All are Republicans.Moss and Freeman, later sued Giuliani and One America News Network for defamation, saying that the "campaign of malicious lies" against them destroyed their reputations and caused them to fear for their physical safety.Earlier that month, the duo also sued the right-wing website Gateway Pundit for the same charge.In December, Freeman called 911 after hearing loud bangs on her door around 10pm."Lord Jesus, where's the police?" she asked said in a call to police, the recording of which was obtained by Reuters. "I don't know who keeps coming to my door."OANN later settled with Moss and Freeman, issuing a statement retracting the network's claims about the 2020 election."Georgia officials have concluded that there was no widespread voter fraud by election workers who counted ballots at the State Farm Arena in November 2020," the network said in a 30-second statement at the time. "The results of this investigation indicate that Ruby Freeman and Wandrea 'Shaye' Moss did not engage in ballot fraud or criminal misconduct."At one point, a former publicist for Kanye West travelled to Freeman's home and pressured her to say she committed voter fraud."If you don't tell everything, you're going to jail," publicist Trevian Kutti told Freeman.As Insider's Grace Panetta reported in December, Freeman and Moss are among dozens of election workers that have faced threats and harassment as a result of the former president and right-wing media allies' pressure campaign.Committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi said Moss and her mother were "two of the unsung heroes in this country" and were doing the "hard work of keeping our democracy functioning."Moss received a 2022 "Profile in Courage" Award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum alongside Republican Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytJun 21st, 2022

Gun control really works. Science has shown time and again that it can prevent mass shootings and save lives.

Mass shootings in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas in recent days have once again put America's gun violence problem in the spotlight. Mourners take part in a vigil at El Paso High School after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, Texas, August 3, 2019.Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters On Tuesday, a gunman killed 21 people, including 19 children at a school in Uvalde, Texas. Data from the CDC shows that 39,773 people in the US die from firearms every year. Despite restrictions on gun control research, scientists evaluated how policies affect gun deaths. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. On Tuesday, an 18-year-old gunman opened fire at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, killing 21 people, including 19 children.Earlier this month, a different 18-year-old man dressed in tactical gear and livestreaming on Twitch, fatally shot 10 people in a supermarket in Buffalo, New York, in what authorities described as a racially motivated mass shooting.Already in 2022, the US has seen 27 school shootings and more than 200 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott in a Wednesday press conference suggested that mental health concerns are in part, responsible for the rise in mass shootings over the past few decades, but scientific research doesn't support those claims. Experts have repeatedly shown that mental health issues are not predictive of violence.What science has demonstrated, however, is that the number of gun deaths in the US is much higher than in other nations with similar rates of gun ownership – like Switzerland – and that certain policies can help prevent these fatalities. Studies have linked stricter background checks, rules prohibiting domestic abusers from owning weapons, and secure locks on firearms in the home with decreased rates of gun-related deaths.Read More: Switzerland has a stunningly high rate of gun ownership — here's why it doesn't have mass shootingsHere's what the data shows.In 2017, 39,773 people in the US died from firearms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Flowers and mementos are seen at a makeshift memorial outside Walmart, near the scene of a mass shooting that left at least 22 people dead, on August 4, 2019 in El Paso, Texas.Mario Tama/Getty ImagesMost of these firearm deaths are not from mass shootings, but from suicides and homicides, according to the CDC.There are close to as many guns in the US as there are people. There may be more, or there may be less, depending on which study you look at — there's no exact count, since there isn't a national database of gun purchases or firearm owners. Federal law does not require gun owners to get a license or permit.That's one of the many obstacles researchers face when trying to evaluate why so many people die from guns in the US and what might prevent those deaths.Gun violence is one the most poorly researched causes of death in America, according to a 2017 study.More than 80 family members and friends of people who were killed by gun violence gather for a news conference with Congressional Democrats to call for action on gun violence prevention, December 15, 2016 in Washington, DC.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images"In relation to mortality rates, gun-violence research was the least-researched cause of death and the second-least-funded cause of death," the authors of that study wrote.The study ascribed this paucity of research to a 1996 congressional appropriations bill called the Dickey Amendment, which stipulated that "none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may be used to advocate or promote gun control."Former President Donald Trump signed a bill in 2018 that weakened the Dickey Amendment — the new legal provision gives the CDC permission to research the causes of gun violence. But the amendment still maintains a ban on "using appropriated funding to advocate or promote gun control."Researchers do know, however, that the annual number of people who died from firearm injuries worldwide rose from 209,000 to 251,000 between 1990 and 2016.People gather in Juarez, Mexico on August 3, 2019 in a vigil for the three Mexican nationals who were killed in an El Paso shooting.Christian Chavez/Associated PressAccording to a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, six countries — Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Guatemala, and the US — accounted for 50.5% of the 251,000 global firearm deaths in 2016.More than 60% of worldwide firearm deaths that year were homicides, while 27% were firearm suicide deaths, and 9% were unintentional firearm deaths.The chart below shows an American's odds of dying in a gun assault or a mass shooting as of 2018, as compared to other causes of death.Accidental gun deaths and suicides using guns are not included in these numbers.Shayanne Gal/Business InsiderAn American's chance of dying from gun violence overall is more than 22 times greater than the lifetime risk of dying while riding inside a car, truck, or van (though that category excludes pedestrian, cyclist, and other deaths outside of a motor vehicle). It's also more than 10 times as high as dying from any force of nature, such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or flood. In remarks following the El Paso and Dayton shootings, President Trump blamed "gruesome video games" and "mentally ill monsters" for the violence. A wealth of research contradicts both claims.President Trump departs after speaking about the shootings in El Paso and Dayton in the White House on August 5, 2019.Leah Millis/ReutersIn his comments after shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, Trump said "mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun." He called for improvements to mental health treatment and, "when necessary, involuntary confinement" of mentally ill people.Decades of research, however, have shown that mental illness is not a cause of violence; in fact, a person with mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator. A 2016 study from the American Psychiatric Association found that "mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides," and that "the overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3%."A study published in 2019 supports those findings: Having a mental illness does not make a person more likely to commit gun violence. A better indicator was their access to firearms.Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesThe authors of the study, which published in the journal Preventative Medicine, found that individuals who had access to guns were over 18 times more likely to have threatened someone with a gun compared to people without such gun access."What we found is that the link between mental illness and gun violence is not there," one of the authors, Yu Lu, said in a press release. There is a link between reduced access to guns and lower rates of suicide.Gun safety and suicide prevention brochures on display next to guns for sale at a local retail gun store in Montrose, Colorado, February 23, 2016.Associated Press/Brennan LinsleyMore than 60% of the nearly 40,000 annual gun deaths in the US are suicides, according to the CDC; that's almost double the number of homicides. Data from other countries suggests there's a link between reduced availability of guns and fewer suicides. One study found that after the Israel Defense Forces stopped letting soldiers bring weapons home on the weekends, suicide rates dropped by 40%.Barring people convicted of domestic abuse from owning guns also decreases the number of gun deaths.A woman who has been beaten by her husband, holds her child in a shelter for women who suffered from domestic violence.Pavel Golovkin/APThe Lautenberg Amendment to the 1968 Gun Control Act disqualifies people with a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence from buying or owning weapons.According to a 2017 study, gun murders of female intimate partners decreased by 17% as a result of that amendment. A 2018 report published by Everytown, a non-profit dedicated to reducing gun violence in the US, indicates that in at least 54% of mass shootings, the perpetrator also shot a current or former intimate partner or family member. After Congress let a 1994 ban on assault weapons expire in 2004, gun massacre deaths skyrocketed.A potential buyer looks at a gun at the Heckler & Koch booth at the Shooting, Hunting, and Outdoor Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, January 19, 2016.John Locher/APWhen people in the US were allowed to start buying military-style firearms with high-capacity magazines (which enable shooters to discharge many rounds of ammunition in a short amount of time), the number of people killed in gun massacres — defined as shootings in which at least six people die — shot up 239%.By contrast, after the 1994 ban on assault weapons went into effect, the number of gun massacre deaths decreased by 43%, as researcher Louis Klarevas reported in his book "Rampage Nation."There's still debate about whether assault-rifle regulation is effective at reducing overall firearm deaths, since most gun deaths in the US are suicides. But most of the deadliest mass shootings in recent US history involved a military-style weapon with a high-capacity magazine.If US law makers do make policy changes, banning high-capacity magazines and renewing the assault weapons ban should be at the top of their lists, one researcher said.A custom-made semi-automatic hunting rifle with a high-capacity detachable magazine is displayed at a gun store in Rockin, California, October 3, 2013.Associated Press/Rich Pedroncelli"Nearly every mass shooting illustrates that large-capacity magazines can increase the death toll and that forcing a shooter to reload more frequently can provide opportunities for counter-attack by those around," John Donohue, who researches mass shootings at Stanford University, previously told Business Insider.He added: "Accordingly, a ban on high-capacity magazines is absolutely essential if one wants to reduce the loss of life from active-shooter scenarios."There's a widening gap between the number of gun deaths in states with relaxed gun-control laws and states with more restrictive policies, according to a study published in 2019.Scott Olson/Getty ImagesFor the study, researchers assigned each of the 50 US states an aggregate "firearm laws score," ranging from 0 (completely restrictive) to 100 (completely permissive). These scores accounted for 13 factors, including gun permit requirements, if and where guns are allowed to be carried and kept, and whether state laws ensure a right to self-defense.The results suggested that a 10-unit increase in the permissiveness of state gun laws (according to the scoring system) was associated with an 11.5% higher rate of mass shootings.What's more, every state's score shifted towards greater permissiveness from 1998 to 2014.States that have stricter background-check laws for gun purchases have fewer school shootings.Mourners pray around a memorial in front of Santa Fe High School on May 21, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas.Getty Images/Scott OlsonA 2018 study found that states with stricter background checks for weapon and ammunition purchases had fewer school shootings.States that spent more money on education and mental health care also had lower rates of school shootings.Though not the most common form of gun violence, school shootings have spiked in the US: There was an average of one per year from 1966 to 2008, but an average of one per week from 2013 to 2015, the same study found.In 2018, the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma called for gun policies that they say will make Americans safer, including removing firearms from domestic-violence perpetrators and regulating the sale of semi-automatic weapons.Dr. Faran Bokhari, head of the trauma department at Stroger Hospital in Chicago (second from right), and Dr. Jared Bernard, a lieutenant commander and trauma surgeon in the US Navy (third from left), work together during surgery of a gunshot victim, August 6, 2014.AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhIn a statement published in the journal Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open on August 7, 2018, the Board of Managers for the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma issued 14 recommendations "in an attempt to stem the tide of deaths from firearm violence and support safe firearm ownership."The list also includes regulating the sale of high volume ammunition, bump stocks, and trigger actuators. The surgeons want mandatory reporting of all firearm sales as well.Researchers at Johns Hopkins University in 2019 pinpointed 10 policies that could reduce gun violence in the state of Illinois. Their recommendations are similar to the surgeons' list.Nortasha Stingiey (second from left) hold hands in a group prayer during a news conference by "Purpose over Pain," a group of mothers who lost children to gun violence in Chicago, Illinois, May 6, 2016.REUTERS/Jim YoungThe suggested policies include banning the sale of new assault weapons, denying concealed-carry licenses to some individuals, and prohibiting firearm sales to people convicted of multiple alcohol-related offenses. The most significant change the researchers recommended, however, would be to require gun purchasers to apply for a license in person with law enforcement and undergo safety training, rather than applying online or by mail without training.  These recommendations mirror some of Switzerland's gun policies. In that country, nearly one in four people legally owns a gun, but there hasn't been a mass shooting in almost two decades.Nina Christen of Switzerland shoots in a training session prior to the start of the 2016 Olympic Games, August 4, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesSwiss authorities keep a log of everyone who owns a gun in their region.They can also decide on a local level whether to give people gun permits, and police don't take that duty lightly. They might vet the person by consulting a psychiatrist or talking with authorities in other areas in which a prospective gun buyer has lived. People who've been convicted of a crime or have an alcohol or drug addiction aren't allowed to buy guns in Switzerland. The law also states that anyone who "expresses a violent or dangerous attitude" won't be allowed to buy a gun.Most Swiss citizens aren't allowed to carry their guns in public — getting a concealed-carry permit is difficult for people who don't work as security officers or police.A concealed carry holster is displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, October 6, 2017.Joshua Roberts/ReutersIn the US, states that have right-to-carry (RTC) gun laws allow anyone who can own a gun and meet necessary conditions to get a concealed-carry permit. Four decades ago, only five states allowed the concealed carry of firearms. By 2014, all but eight states had reinstated RTC laws.One 2017 study found that concealed-carry laws increased the rate of firearm homicides by 9% when homicide rates were compared state by state. Research shows that states that require background checks on all gun sales had 35% fewer gun deaths per capita between 2009 and 2012.Bodies are removed from the scene of a mass shooting, August 4, 2019, in Dayton, Ohio.John Minchillo / Associated PressCurrently, US law only requires background checks when people buy guns from licensed firearms dealers. However, research from the nonpartisan Rand Corporation estimates that universal background checks could prevent 1,100 homicides per year.Seventeen US states and the District of Columbia also have "red-flag laws," which allow family members and law enforcement to file Extreme Risk Protection Orders that restrict or temporarily remove a person's access to firearms if their behavior suggests they pose a violent threat. Former President Trump endorsed those laws, saying, "we must make sure that those judged to pose a grave risk to public safety do not have access to firearms and that if they do, those firearms can be taken through rapid due process." Rates of accidental shootings are also higher when people — especially children — are around more guns.Police lead children away from Sandy Hook Elementary following a mass shooting on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut. Twenty-six people died in the attack.AP Photo/Newton Bee/Shannon HicksIn December 2012, a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. The tragedy gave rise to calls for gun-control regulation, and that resulted in what's now a predictable phenomenon: People bought more guns.With more guns around in the months after the Sandy Hook shooting, the rate of accidental deaths related to firearms rose sharply, especially among children, according to a study published in the journal Science. The calculations showed that 40 adults and 20 children died as a result of those additional gun purchases.Many accidental gun deaths can be avoided, though, if gun owners lock up their firearms.Students from Centreville, Virginia wear targets on their chests at the March for Our Lives rally on March 24, 2018 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/GettyIn 2015, 13 million US households with children contained firearms. Fewer than one in three of those households, however, followed the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendations to store all household firearms locked and unloaded.A study published this year found that up to 32% of youth suicides and accidental firearm deaths (with youth defined as any person 19 years old or younger) could be prevented if the remainder of these households were to lock up their guns.Specifically, the researchers found that if 20% of households that keep at least one gun unlocked started locking up all their guns within a year, between 72 and 135 youth firearm fatalities could be prevented.Longer prison sentences for crimes involving a gun — like armed robbery and assault with a deadly weapon — have also been shown to help reduce violent firearm use.AP/Gerry BroomeGun-robbery rates have gone down in states that approved longer sentences for assault or robbery with a gun. In the 1970s and 1980s, legislators passed 30 laws calling for additional prison time for people convicted of robbery or assault with a gun.A 40-year-analysis published in the journal Science found that gun-robbery rates dropped by  5% in the years after these longer sentencing laws were enacted.Replacing medium- and large-caliber weapons with small-caliber guns would dramatically reduce gun deaths as well, according to data from the Boston Police Department.A Boston Police car is seen before game six of the 2013 World Series on October 30, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts.Photo by Rob Carr/Getty ImagesIn a July 2018 study, researchers examined data from files of 511 gunshot victims kept by the Boston Police Department.They found that weapon caliber — which refers to the diameter of the firearm barrel and is an indication of the diameter of the bullet — played a big role in how fatal shootings were.People shot with medium-caliber weapons (.38, .380, and 9 mm) were more than twice as likely to die as those shot with small-caliber guns (.22, .25, and .32 mm). And victims shot with large caliber weapons (.357 magnum, .40, .44 magnum, .45, 10 mm, and 7.62 × 39 mm) were more than 4.5 times as likely to die as those shot with small-caliber firearms.Replacing all large- and medium-caliber guns with small ones would have reduced the homicide rate by 39.5%, the researchers found.Weapons buy-back programs have been successful in reducing mass shootings.David Gray/ReutersAfter at 1996 mass shooting left 35 people dead in Australia, the country's leaders enacted stricter gun-control legislation and set up a program for citizens to sell their weapons back to the government so they could be destroyed.The initiative appears to have been successful: Firearm suicides dropped by 65% and homicides by 59% over the decade following the 1996 legislation.While Australia saw 13 mass shootings (defined as five or more deaths) in the 18 years before the 1996 massacre, there have only been two in the 23 years since.The US has a higher rate of gun violence than any other similarly wealthy country.Mourners take part in a vigil near the border fence between Mexico and the U.S after a mass shooting at a Walmart store in El Paso, August 3, 2019.Carlos Sanchez/ReutersThe US has far more mass shootings than just about any country in the world. Of countries with at least 10 million people, there are more mass shootings per capita in only Yemen, which has the second-highest per-capita rate of gun ownership (the US has the highest).The US is not inherently a more violent society, but its policies make guns easy to get. The data that we have indicates that some gun-control measures — like banning some types of weapons, improving background checks, and putting more restrictions on weapon access — could save lives.At the very least, gathering and analyzing data could help leaders determine what sort of changes might help prevent another Parkland, Sandy Hook, or Uvalde.Kevin Loria contributed to an earlier version of this story.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 25th, 2022

Check out these 45 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startupsNeepa Patel, Themis' founder and CEOThemisWhen Themis founder and CEO Neepa Patel set out to build a new compliance tool for banks, fintech startups, and crypto companies, she tapped into her own experience managing risk at some of the nation's biggest financial firms. Having worked as a bank regulator at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and in compliance at Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank, and the enterprise blockchain company R3, Patel was well-placed to assess the shortcomings in financial compliance software. But Patel, who left the corporate world to begin work on Themis in 2020, drew on more than just her own experience and frustrations to build the startup."It's not just me building a tool based on my personal pain points. I reached out to regulators. I reached out to bank compliance officers and members in the fintech community just to make sure that we're building it exactly how they do their work," Patel told Insider. "That was the biggest problem: No one built a tool that was reflective of how people do their work."Check out the 9-page pitch deck Themis, which offers pay-as-you-go compliance for banks, fintechs, and crypto startups, used to raise $9 million in seed fundingDeploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Guto Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundCheckout made easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed round Quantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionEmbedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingAn alternative auto lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team.TomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ASoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 17th, 2022

Check out these 44 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Deploying algorithms and automation to small-business financingJustin Straight and Bernard Worthy, LoanWell co-foundersLoanWellBernard Worthy and Justin Straight, the founders of LoanWell, want to break down barriers to financing for small and medium-size businesses — and they've got algorithms and automation in their tech arsenals that they hope will do it.Worthy, the company's CEO, and Straight, its chief operating and financial officer, are powering community-focused lenders to fill a gap in the SMB financing world by boosting access to loans under $100,000. And the upstart is known for catching the attention, and dollars, of mission-driven investors. LoanWell closed a $3 million seed financing round in December led by Impact America Fund with participation from SoftBank's SB Opportunity Fund and Collab Capital.LoanWell automates the financing process — from underwriting and origination, to money movement and servicing — which shaves down an up-to-90-day process to 30 days or even same-day with some LoanWell lenders, Worthy said. SMBs rely on these loans to process quickly after two years of financial uncertainty. But the pandemic illustrated how time-consuming and expensive SMB financing can be, highlighted by efforts like the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program.Community banks, once the lifeline to capital for many local businesses, continue to shutter. And demands for smaller loan amounts remain largely unmet. More than half of business-loan applicants sought $100,000 or less, according to 2018 data from the Federal Reserve. But the average small-business bank loan was closer to six times that amount, according to the latest data from a now discontinued Federal Reserve survey.Here's the 14-page pitch deck LoanWell used to raise $3 million from investors like SoftBank.Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Guto Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundCheckout made easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed round Quantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionEmbedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingAn alternative auto lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team.TomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ASoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 18th, 2022

Check out these 43 pitch decks fintechs disrupting trading, investing, and banking used to raise millions in funding

Looking for examples of real fintech pitch decks? Check out pitch decks that Qolo, Lance, and other startups used to raise money from VCs. Check out these pitch decks for examples of fintech founders sold their vision.Yulia Reznikov/Getty Images Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech.  Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders sold their vision. See more stories on Insider's business page. Fintech funding has been on a tear.In 2021, fintech funding hit a record $132 billion globally, according to CB Insights, more than double 2020's mark.Insider has been tracking the next wave of hot new startups that are blending finance and tech. Check out these pitch decks to see how fintech founders are selling their vision and nabbing big bucks in the process. You'll see new financial tech geared at freelancers, fresh twists on digital banking, and innovation aimed at streamlining customer onboarding. Helping small businesses manage their taxesComplYant's founder Shiloh Johnson wants to help people be present in their bookkeeping.ComplYantAfter 14 years in tax accounting, Shiloh Johnson had formed a core philosophy around corporate accounting: everyone deserves to understand their business's money and business owners need to be present in their bookkeeping process.She wanted to help small businesses understand "this is why you need to do what you're doing and why you have to change the way you think about tax and be present in your bookkeeping process," she told Insider. The Los Angeles native wanted small businesses to not only understand business tax no matter their size but also to find the tools they needed to prepare their taxes in one spot. So Johnson developed a software platform that provides just that.The 13-page pitch deck ComplYant used to nab $4 million that details the tax startup's plan to be Turbotax, Quickbooks, and Xero rolled into one for small business ownersHelping LatAm startups get up to speedKamino cofounders Gut Fragoso, Rodrigo Perenha, Benjamin Gleason, and Gonzalo Parejo.KaminoThere's more venture capital flowing into Latin America than ever before, but getting the funds in founders' hands is not exactly a simple process.In 2021, investors funneled $15.3 billion into Latin American companies, more than tripling the previous record of $4.9 billion in 2019. Fintech and e-commerce sectors drove funding, accounting for 39% and 25% of total funding, respectively.  However, for many startup founders in the region who have successfully sold their ideas and gotten investors on board, there's a patchwork of corporate structuring that's needed to access the funds, according to Benjamin Gleason, who was the chief financial officer at Groupon LatAm prior to cofounding Brazil-based fintech Kamino.It's a process Gleason and his three fellow Kamino cofounders have been through before as entrepreneurs and startup execs themselves. Most often, startups have to set up offshore financial accounts outside of Brazil, which "entails creating a Cayman [Islands] holding company, a Delaware LLC, and then connecting it to a local entity here and also opening US bank accounts for the Cayman entity, which is not trivial from a KYC perspective," said Gleason, who founded open-banking fintech Guiabolso in Sao Paulo. His partner, Gonzalo Parejo, experienced the same toils when he founded insurtech Bidu."Pretty much any international investor will usually ask for that," Gleason said, adding that investors typically cite liability issues."It's just a massive amount of bureaucracy, complexity, a lot of time from the founders. All of this just to get the money from the investor that wants to give them the money," he added.Here's the 8-page pitch deck Kamino, a fintech helping LatAm startups with everything from financing to corporate credit cards, used to raise a $6.1M pre-seed round 'A bank for immigrants'Priyank Singh and Rohit Mittal are the cofounders of Stilt.StiltRohit Mittal remembers the difficulties he faced when he first arrived in the United States a decade ago as a master's student at Columbia University.As an immigrant from India, Mittal had no credit score in the US and had difficulty integrating into the financial system. Mittal even struggled to get approved to rent an apartment and couch-surfed until he found a roommate willing to offer him space in his apartment in the New York neighborhood Morningside Heights.That roommate was Priyank Singh, who would go on to become Mittal's cofounder when the two started Stilt, a financial-technology company designed to address the problems Mittal faced when he arrived in the US.Stilt, which calls itself "a bank for immigrants," does not require a social security number or credit history to access its offerings, including unsecured personal loans.Instead of relying on traditional metrics like a credit score, Stilt uses data such as education and employment to predict an individual's future income stability and cash flow before issuing a loan. Stilt has seen its loan volume grow by 500% in the past 12 months, and the startup has loaned to immigrants from 160 countries since its launch. Here are the 15 slides Stilt, which calls itself 'a bank for immigrants,' used to raise a $14 million Series A Saving on vendor invoicesHoward Katzenberg, Glean's CEO and cofounder.GleanWhen it comes to high-flying tech startups, headlines and investors typically tend to focus on industry "disruption" and the total addressable market a company is hoping to reach. Expense cutting as a way to boost growth typically isn't part of the conversation early on, and finance teams are viewed as cost centers relative to sales teams. But one fast-growing area of business payments has turned its focus to managing those costs. Startups like Ramp and established names like Bill.com have made their name offering automated expense-management systems. Now, one new fintech competitor, Glean, is looking to take that further by offering both automated payment services and tailored line-item accounts-payable insights driven by machine-learning models. Glean's CFO and founder, Howard Katzenberg, told Insider that the genesis of Glean was driven by his own personal experience managing the finance teams of startups, including mortgage lender Better.com, which Katzenberg left in 2019, and online small-business lender OnDeck. "As a CFO of high-growth companies, I spent a lot of time focused on revenue and I had amazing dashboards in real time where I could see what is going on top of the funnel, what's going on with conversion rates, what's going on in terms of pricing and attrition," Katzenberg told Insider. See the 15-slide pitch deck Glean, a startup using machine learning to find savings in vendor invoices, used to raise $10.8 million in seed fundingBetter use of payroll dataAtomic's Head of Markets, Lindsay Davis.AtomicEmployees at companies large and small know the importance — and limitations — of how firms manage their payrolls. A new crop of startups are building the API pipes that connect companies and their employees to offer a greater level of visibility and flexibility when it comes to payroll data and employee verification. On Thursday, one of those names, Atomic, announced a $40 million Series B fundraising round co-led by Mercato Partners and Greylock, alongside Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and ATX Capital. The round follows Atomic's Series A round announced in October, when the startup raised a $22 million Series A from investors including Core Innovation Capital, Portage, and Greylock.Payroll startup Atomic just raised a $40 million Series B. Here's an internal deck detailing the fintech's approach to the red-hot payments space.Data science for commercial insuranceTanner Hackett, founder and CEO of Counterpart.CounterpartThere's been no shortage of funds flowing into insurance-technology companies over the past few years. Private-market funding to insurtechs soared to $15.4 billion in 2021, a 90% increase compared to 2020. Some of the most well-known consumer insurtech names — from Oscar (which focuses on health insurance) to Metromile (which focuses on auto) — launched on the public markets last year, only to fall over time or be acquired as investors questioned the sustainability of their business models. In the commercial arena, however, the head of one insurtech company thinks there is still room to grow — especially for those catering to small businesses operating in an entirely new, pandemic-defined environment. "The bigger opportunity is in commercial lines," Tanner Hackett, the CEO of management liability insurer Counterpart, told Insider."Everywhere I poke, I'm like, 'Oh my goodness, we're still in 1.0, and all the other businesses I've built were on version three.' Insurance is still in 1.0, still managing from spreadsheets and PDFs," added Hackett, who also previously co-founded Button, which focuses on mobile marketing. See the 8-page pitch deck Counterpart, a startup disrupting commercial insurance with data science, used to raise a $30 million Series BCrypto staking made easyEthan and Eric Parker, founders of crypto-investing app Giddy.GiddyFrom the outside looking in, cryptocurrency can seem like a world of potential, but also one of complexity. That's because digital currencies, which can be traded, invested in, and moved like traditional currencies, operate on decentralized blockchain networks that can be quite technical in nature. Still, they offer the promise of big gains and have been thrusted into the mainstream over the years, converting Wall Street stalwarts and bankers.But for the everyday investor, a fear of missing out is settling in. That's why brothers Ethan and Eric Parker built Giddy, a mobile app that enables users to invest in crypto, earn passive income on certain crypto holdings via staking, and get into the red-hot space of decentralized finance, or DeFi."What we're focusing on is giving an opportunity for people who otherwise couldn't access DeFi because it's just technically too difficult," Eric Parker, CEO at Giddy, told Insider. Here's the 7-page pitch deck Giddy, an app that lets users invest in DeFi, used to raise an $8 million seed roundAccess to commercial real-estate investing LEX Markets cofounders and co-CEOs Drew Sterrett and Jesse Daugherty.LEX MarketsDrew Sterrett was structuring real-estate deals while working in private equity when he realized the inefficiencies that existed in the market. Only high-net worth individuals or accredited investors could participate in commercial real-estate deals. If they ever wanted to leave a partnership or sell their stake in a property, it was difficult to find another investor to replace them. Owners also struggled to sell minority stakes in their properties and didn't have many good options to recapitalize an asset if necessary.In short, the market had a high barrier to entry despite the fact it didn't always have enough participants to get deals done quickly. "Most investors don't have access to high-quality commercial real-estate investments. How do we have the oldest and largest asset class in the world and one of the largest wealth creators with no public and liquid market?" Sterrett told Insider. "It sort of seems like a no-brainer, and that this should have existed 50 or 60 years ago."This 15-page pitch deck helped LEX Markets, a startup making investing in commercial real estate more accessible, raise $15 millionHelping streamline how debts are repaidMethod Financial cofounders Jose Bethancourt and Marco del Carmen.Method FinancialWhen Jose Bethancourt graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in May 2019, he faced the same question that confronts over 43 million Americans: How would he repay his student loans?The problem led Bethancourt on a nearly two-year journey that culminated in the creation of a startup aimed at making it easier for consumers to more seamlessly pay off all kinds of debt.  Initially, Bethancourt and fellow UT grad Marco del Carmen built GradJoy, an app that helped users better understand how to manage student loan repayment and other financial habits. GradJoy was accepted into Y Combinator in the summer of 2019. But the duo quickly realized the real benefit to users would be helping them move money to make payments instead of simply offering recommendations."When we started GradJoy, we thought, 'Oh, we'll just give advice — we don't think people are comfortable with us touching their student loans,' and then we realized that people were saying, 'Hey, just move the money — if you think I should pay extra, then I'll pay extra.' So that's kind of the movement that we've seen, just, everybody's more comfortable with fintechs doing what's best for them," Bethancourt told Insider. Here is the 11-slide pitch deck Method Financial, a Y Combinator-backed fintech making debt repayment easier, used to raise $2.5 million in pre-seed fundingSmarter insurance for multifamily propertiesItai Ben-Zaken, cofounder and CEO of Honeycomb.HoneycombA veteran of the online-insurance world is looking to revolutionize the way the industry prices risk for commercial properties with the help of artificial intelligence.Insurance companies typically send inspectors to properties before issuing policies to better understand how the building is maintained and identify potential risks or issues with it. It's a process that can be time-consuming, expensive, and inefficient, making it hard to justify for smaller commercial properties, like apartment and condo buildings.Insurtech Honeycomb is looking to fix that by using AI to analyze a combination of third-party data and photos submitted by customers through the startup's app to quickly identify any potential risks at a property and more accurately price policies."That whole physical inspection thing had really good things in it, but it wasn't really something that is scalable and, it's also expensive," Itai Ben-Zaken, Honeycomb's cofounder and CEO, told Insider. "The best way to see a property right now is Google street view. Google street view is usually two years old."Here's the 10-page Series A pitch deck used by Honeycomb, a startup that wants to revolutionize the $26 billion market for multifamily property insuranceRetirement accounts for cryptoTodd Southwick, CEO and co-founder of iTrustCapital.iTrustCapitalTodd Southwick and Blake Skadron stuck to a simple mandate when they were building out iTrustCapital, a $1.3 billion fintech that strives to offer cryptocurrencies to the masses via dedicated individual retirement accounts."We wanted to make a product that we would feel happy recommending for our parents to use," Southwick, the CEO of iTrustCapital, told Insider. That guiding framework resulted in a software system that helped to digitize and automate the traditionally clunky and paper-based process of setting up an IRA for alternative assets, Southwick said. "We saw a real opportunity within the self-directed IRAs because we knew at that point in time, there was a fairly small segment of people that was willing to deal with the inconvenience of having to set up an IRA" for crypto, Southwick said. The process often involved phone calls to sales reps and over-the-counter trading desks, paper and fax machines, and days of wait time.iTrustCapital allows customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies using tax-advantaged IRAs with no monthly account fees. The startup provides access to 25 cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, ethereum, and dogecoin — charging a 1% transaction fee on crypto trades — as well as gold and silver.iTrustCapital, a fintech simplifying how to set up a crypto retirement account, used this 8-page pitch deck to raise a $125 million Series AA new way to assess creditworthinessPinwheel founders Curtis Lee, Kurt Lin, and Anish Basu.PinwheelGrowing up, Kurt Lin never saw his father get frustrated. A "traditional, stoic figure," Lin said his father immigrated to the United States in the 1970s. Becoming part of the financial system proved even more difficult than assimilating into a new culture.Lin recalled visiting bank after bank with his father as a child, watching as his father's applications for a mortgage were denied due to his lack of credit history. "That was the first time in my life I really saw him crack," Lin told Insider. "The system doesn't work for a lot of people — including my dad," he added. Lin would find a solution to his father's problem years later while working with Anish Basu, and Curtis Lee on an automated health savings account. The trio realized the payroll data integrations they were working on could be the basis of a product that would help lenders work with consumers without strong credit histories."That's when the lightbulb hit," said Lin, Pinwheel's CEO.In 2018, Lin, Basu, and Lee founded Pinwheel, an application-programming interface that shares payroll data to help both fintechs and traditional lenders serve consumers with limited or poor credit, who have historically struggled to access financial products. Here's the 9-page deck that Pinwheel, a fintech helping lenders tap into payroll data to serve consumers with little to no credit, used to raise a $50 million Series BA new data feed for bond tradingMark Lennihan/APFor years, the only way investors could figure out the going price of a corporate bond was calling up a dealer on the phone. The rise of electronic trading has streamlined that process, but data can still be hard to come by sometimes. A startup founded by a former Goldman Sachs exec has big plans to change that. BondCliQ is a fintech that provides a data feed of pre-trade pricing quotes for the corporate bond market. Founded by Chris White, the creator of Goldman Sachs' defunct corporate-bond-trading system, BondCliQ strives to bring transparency to a market that has traditionally kept such data close to the vest. Banks, which typically serve as the dealers of corporate bonds, have historically kept pre-trade quotes hidden from other dealers to maintain a competitive advantage.But tech advancements and the rise of electronic marketplaces have shifted power dynamics into the hands of buy-side firms, like hedge funds and asset managers. The investors are now able to get a fuller picture of the market by aggregating price quotes directly from dealers or via vendors.Here's the 9-page pitch deck that BondCliQ, a fintech looking to bring more data and transparency to bond trading, used to raise its Series AA trading app for activismAntoine Argouges, CEO and founder of Tulipshare.TulipshareAn up-and-coming fintech is taking aim at some of the world's largest corporations by empowering retail investors to push for social and environmental change by pooling their shareholder rights.London-based Tulipshare lets individuals in the UK invest as little as one pound in publicly-traded company stocks. The upstart combines individuals' shareholder rights with other like-minded investors to advocate for environmental, social, and corporate governance change at firms like JPMorgan, Apple, and Amazon.The goal is to achieve a higher number of shares to maximize the number of votes that can be submitted at shareholder meetings. Already a regulated broker-dealer in the UK, Tulipshare recently applied for registration as a broker-dealer in the US. "If you ask your friends and family if they've ever voted on shareholder resolutions, the answer will probably be close to zero," CEO and founder Antoine Argouges told Insider. "I started Tulipshare to utilize shareholder rights to bring about positive corporate change that has an impact on people's lives and our planet — what's more powerful than money to change the system we live in?"Check out the 14-page pitch deck from Tulipshare, a trading app that lets users pool their shareholder votes for activism campaignsThe back-end tech for beautyDanielle Cohen-Shohet, CEO and founder of GlossGeniusGlossGeniusDanielle Cohen-Shohet might have started as a Goldman Sachs investment analyst, but at her core she was always a coder.After about three years at Goldman Sachs, Cohen-Shohet left the world of traditional finance to code her way into starting her own company in 2016. "There was a period of time where I did nothing, but eat, sleep, and code for a few weeks," Cohen-Shohet told Insider. Her technical edge and knowledge of the point-of-sale payment space led her to launch a software company focused on providing behind-the-scenes tech for beauty and wellness small businesses.Cohen-Shohet launched GlossGenius in 2017 to provide payments tech for hair stylists, nail technicians, blow-out bars, and other small businesses in the space.Here's the 11-page deck GlossGenius, a startup that provides back-end tech for the beauty industry, used to raise $16 millionPrivate market data on the blockchainPat O'Meara, CEO of Inveniam.InveniamFor investors in publicly-traded stocks, there's typically no shortage of company data to guide investment decisions. Company financials are easily accessible and vetted by teams of regulators, lawyers, and accountants.But in the private markets — which encompass assets that range from real estate to private credit and private equity — that isn't always the case. Within real estate, for example, valuations of a specific slice of property are often the product of heavily-worked Excel models and a lot of institutional knowledge, leaving them susceptible to manual error at many points along the way.Inveniam, founded in 2017, is a software company that tokenizes the business data of private companies on the blockchain. Using a distributed ledger allows Inveniam to keep track of who is touching the data and what they are doing to it. Check out the 16-page pitch deck for Inveniam, a blockchain-based startup looking to be the Refinitiv of private-market dataHelping freelancers with their taxesJaideep Singh is the CEO and co-founder of FlyFin, an AI-driven tax preparation software program for freelancers.FlyFinSome people, particularly those with families or freelancing businesses, spend days searching for receipts for tax season, making tax preparation a time consuming and, at times, taxing experience. That's why in 2020 Jaideep Singh founded FlyFin, an artificial-intelligence tax preparation program for freelancers that helps people, as he puts it, "fly through their finances." FlyFin is set up to connect to a person's bank accounts, allowing the AI program to help users monitor for certain expenses that can be claimed on their taxes like business expenditures, the interest on mortgages, property taxes, or whatever else that might apply. "For most individuals, people have expenses distributed over multiple financial institutions. So we built an AI platform that is able to look at expenses, understand the individual, understand your profession, understand the freelance population at large, and start the categorization," Singh told Insider.Check out the 7-page pitch deck a startup helping freelancers manage their taxes used to nab $8 million in funding Shopify for embedded financeProductfy CEO and founder, Duy Vo.ProductfyProductfy is looking to break into embedded finance by becoming the Shopify of back-end banking services.Embedded finance — integrating banking services in non-financial settings — has taken hold in the e-commerce world. But Productfy is going after a different kind of customer in churches, universities, and nonprofits.The San Jose, Calif.-based upstart aims to help non-finance companies offer their own banking products. Productfy can help customers launch finance features in as little as a week and without additional engineering resources or background knowledge of banking compliance or legal requirements, Productfy founder and CEO Duy Vo told Insider. "You don't need an engineer to stand up Shopify, right? You can be someone who's just creating art and you can use Shopify to build your own online store," Vo said, adding that Productfy is looking to take that user experience and replicate it for banking services.Here's the 15-page pitch deck Productfy, a fintech looking to be the Shopify of embedded finance, used to nab a $16 million Series AReal-estate management made easyAgora founders Noam Kahan, CTO, Bar Mor, CEO, and Lior Dolinski, CPO.AgoraFor alternative asset managers of any type, the operations underpinning sales and investor communications are a crucial but often overlooked part of the business. Fund managers love to make bets on markets, not coordinate hundreds of wire transfers to clients each quarter or organize customer-relationship-management databases.Within the $10.6 trillion global market for professionally managed real-estate investing, that's where Tel Aviv and New York-based startup Agora hopes to make its mark.Founded in 2019, Agora offers a set of back-office, investor relations, and sales software tools that real-estate investment managers can plug into their workflows. On Wednesday, Agora announced a $9 million seed round, led by Israel-based venture firm Aleph, with participation from River Park Ventures and Maccabee Ventures. The funding comes on the heels of an October 2020 pre-seed fund raise worth $890,000, in which Maccabee also participated.Here's the 15-slide pitch deck that Agora, a startup helping real-estate investors manage communications and sales with their clients, used to raise a $9 million seed roundCheckout made easyBolt's Ryan Breslow.Ryan BreslowAmazon has long dominated e-commerce with its one-click checkout flows, offering easier ways for consumers to shop online than its small-business competitors.Bolt gives small merchants tools to offer the same easy checkouts so they can compete with the likes of Amazon.The startup raised its $393 million Series D to continue adding its one-click checkout feature to merchants' own websites in October.Bolt markets to merchants themselves. But a big part of Bolt's pitch is its growing network of consumers — currently over 5.6 million — that use its features across multiple Bolt merchant customers. Roughly 5% of Bolt's transactions were network-driven in May, meaning users that signed up for a Bolt account on another retailer's website used it elsewhere. The network effects were even more pronounced in verticals like furniture, where 49% of transactions were driven by the Bolt network."The network effect is now unleashed with Bolt in full fury, and that triggered the raise," Bolt's founder and CEO Ryan Breslow told Insider.Here's the 12-page deck that one-click checkout Bolt used to outline its network of 5.6 million consumers and raise its Series DHelping small banks lendCollateralEdge's Joel Radtke, cofounder, COO, and president, and Joe Beard, cofounder and CEO.CollateralEdgeFor large corporations with a track record of tapping the credit markets, taking out debt is a well-structured and clear process handled by the nation's biggest investment banks and teams of accountants. But smaller, middle-market companies — typically those with annual revenues ranging up to $1 billion — are typically served by regional and community banks that don't always have the capacity to adequately measure the risk of loans or price them competitively. Per the National Center for the Middle Market, 200,000 companies fall into this range, accounting for roughly 33% of US private sector GDP and employment.Dallas-based fintech CollateralEdge works with these banks — typically those with between $1 billion and $50 billion in assets — to help analyze and price slices of commercial and industrial loans that previously might have gone unserved by smaller lenders.On October 20th, CollateralEdge announced a $3.5 million seed round led by Dallas venture fund Perot Jain with participation from Kneeland Youngblood (a founder of the healthcare-focused private-equity firm Pharos Capital) and other individual investors.Here's the 10-page deck CollateralEdge, a fintech streamlining how small banks lend to businesses, used to raise a $3.5 million seed round Quantum computing made easyQC Ware CEO Matt Johnson.QC WareEven though banks and hedge funds are still several years out from adding quantum computing to their tech arsenals, that hasn't stopped Wall Street giants from investing time and money into the emerging technology class. And momentum for QC Ware, a startup looking to cut the time and resources it takes to use quantum computing, is accelerating. The fintech secured a $25 million Series B on September 29 co-led by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Covestro with participation from D.E. Shaw, Citi, and Samsung Ventures.QC Ware, founded in 2014, builds quantum algorithms for the likes of Goldman Sachs (which led the fintech's Series A), Airbus, and BMW Group. The algorithms, which are effectively code bases that include quantum processing elements, can run on any of the four main public-cloud providers.Quantum computing allows companies to do complex calculations faster than traditional computers by using a form of physics that runs on quantum bits as opposed to the traditional 1s and 0s that computers use. This is especially helpful in banking for risk analytics or algorithmic trading, where executing calculations milliseconds faster than the competition can give firms a leg up. Here's the 20-page deck QC Ware, a fintech making quantum computing more accessible, used to raised its $25 million Series BSimplifying quant modelsKirat Singh and Mark Higgins, Beacon's cofounders.BeaconA fintech that helps financial institutions use quantitative models to streamline their businesses and improve risk management is catching the attention, and capital, of some of the country's biggest investment managers.Beacon Platform, founded in 2014, is a fintech that builds applications and tools to help banks, asset managers, and trading firms quickly integrate quantitative models that can help with analyzing risk, ensuring compliance, and improving operational efficiency. The company raised its Series C on Wednesday, scoring a $56 million investment led by Warburg Pincus with support from Blackstone Innovations Investments, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic. Blackstone, PIMCO, and Global Atlantic are also users of Beacon's tech, as are the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Shell New Energies, a division of Royal Dutch Shell, among others.The fintech provides a shortcut for firms looking to use quantitative modelling and data science across various aspects of their businesses, a process that can often take considerable resources if done solo.Here's the 20-page pitch deck Beacon, a fintech helping Wall Street better analyze risk and data, used to raise $56 million from Warburg Pincus, Blackstone, and PIMCOInvoice financing for SMBsStacey Abrams and Lara Hodgson, Now cofounders.NowAbout a decade ago, politician Stacey Abrams and entrepreneur Lara Hodgson were forced to fold their startup because of a kink in the supply chain — but not in the traditional sense.Nourish, which made spill-proof bottled water for children, had grown quickly from selling to small retailers to national ones. And while that may sound like a feather in the small business' cap, there was a hang-up."It was taking longer and longer to get paid, and as you can imagine, you deliver the product and then you wait and you wait, but meanwhile you have to pay your employees and you have to pay your vendors," Hodgson told Insider. "Waiting to get paid was constraining our ability to grow."While it's not unusual for small businesses to grapple with working capital issues, the dust was still settling from the Great Recession. Abrams and Hodgson couldn't secure a line of credit or use financing tools like factoring to solve their problem. The two entrepreneurs were forced to close Nourish in 2012, but along the way they recognized a disconnect in the system.  "Why are we the ones borrowing money, when in fact we're the lender here because every time you send an invoice to a customer, you've essentially extended a free loan to that customer by letting them pay later," Hodgson said. "And the only reason why we were going to need to possibly borrow money was because we had just given ours away for free to Whole Foods," she added.Check out the 7-page deck that Now, Stacey Abrams' fintech that wants to help small businesses 'grow fearlessly', used to raise $29 millionInsurance goes digitalJamie Hale, CEO and cofounder of Ladder.LadderFintechs looking to transform how insurance policies are underwritten, issued, and experienced by customers have grown as new technology driven by digital trends and artificial intelligence shape the market. And while verticals like auto, homeowner's, and renter's insurance have seen their fair share of innovation from forward-thinking fintechs, one company has taken on the massive life-insurance market. Founded in 2017, Ladder uses a tech-driven approach to offer life insurance with a digital, end-to-end service that it says is more flexible, faster, and cost-effective than incumbent players.Life, annuity, and accident and health insurance within the US comprise a big chunk of the broader market. In 2020, premiums written on those policies totaled some $767 billion, compared to $144 billion for auto policies and $97 billion for homeowner's insurance.Here's the 12-page deck that Ladder, a startup disrupting the 'crown jewel' of the insurance market, used to nab $100 millionEmbedded payments for SMBsThe Highnote team.HighnoteBranded cards have long been a way for merchants with the appropriate bank relationships to create additional revenue and build customer loyalty. The rise of embedded payments, or the ability to shop and pay in a seamless experience within a single app, has broadened the number of companies looking to launch branded cards.Highnote is a startup that helps small to mid-sized merchants roll out their own debit and pre-paid digital cards. The fintech emerged from stealth on Tuesday to announce it raised $54 million in seed and Series A funding.Here's the 12-page deck Highnote, a startup helping SMBs embed payments, used to raise $54 million in seed and Series A fundingAn alternative auto lenderDaniel Chu, CEO and founder of Tricolor.TricolorAn alternative auto lender that caters to thin- and no-credit Hispanic borrowers is planning a national expansion after scoring a $90 million investment from BlackRock-managed funds. Tricolor is a Dallas-based auto lender that is a community development financial institution. It uses a proprietary artificial-intelligence engine that decisions each customer based on more than 100 data points, such as proof of income. Half of Tricolor's customers have a FICO score, and less than 12% have scores above 650, yet the average customer has lived in the US for 15 years, according to the deck.A 2017 survey by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation found 31.5% of Hispanic households had no mainstream credit compared to 14.4% of white households. "For decades, the deck has been stacked against low income or credit invisible Hispanics in the United States when it comes to the purchase and financing of a used vehicle," Daniel Chu, founder and CEO of Tricolor, said in a statement announcing the raise.An auto lender that caters to underbanked Hispanics used this 25-page deck to raise $90 million from BlackRock investorsA new way to access credit The TomoCredit team.TomoCreditKristy Kim knows first-hand the challenge of obtaining credit in the US without an established credit history. Kim, who came to the US from South Korea, couldn't initially get access to credit despite having a job in investment banking after graduating college. "I was in my early twenties, I had a good income, my job was in investment banking but I could not get approved for anything," Kim told Insider. "Many young professionals like me, we deserve an opportunity to be considered but just because we didn't have a Fico, we weren't given a chance to even apply," she added.Kim started TomoCredit in 2018 to help others like herself gain access to consumer credit. TomoCredit spent three years building an internal algorithm to underwrite customers based on cash flow, rather than a credit score.TomoCredit, a fintech that lends to thin- and no-credit borrowers, used this 17-page pitch deck to raise its $10 million Series AAn IRA for alternativesHenry Yoshida is the co-founder and CEO of retirement fintech startup Rocket Dollar.Rocket DollarFintech startup Rocket Dollar, which helps users invest their individual retirement account (IRA) dollars into alternative assets, just raised $8 million for its Series A round, the company announced on Thursday.Park West Asset Management led the round, with participation from investors including Hyphen Capital, which focuses on backing Asian American entrepreneurs, and crypto exchange Kraken's venture arm. Co-founded in 2018 by CEO Henry Yoshida, CTO Rick Dude, and VP of marketing Thomas Young, Rocket Dollar now has over $350 million in assets under management on its platform. Yoshida sold his first startup, a roboadvisor called Honest Dollar, to Goldman Sachs' investment management division for an estimated $20 million.Yoshida told Insider that while ultra-high net worth investors have been investing self-directed retirement account dollars into alternative assets like real estate, private equity, and cryptocurrency, average investors have not historically been able to access the same opportunities to invest IRA dollars in alternative assets through traditional platforms.Here's the 34-page pitch deck a fintech that helps users invest their retirement savings in crypto and real estate assets used to nab $8 millionConnecting startups and investorsHum Capital cofounder and CEO Blair Silverberg.Hum CapitalBlair Silverberg is no stranger to fundraising.For six years, Silverberg was a venture capitalist at Draper Fisher Jurvetson and Private Credit Investments making bets on startups."I was meeting with thousands of founders in person each year, watching them one at a time go through this friction where they're meeting a ton of investors, and the investors are all asking the same questions," Silverberg told Insider. He switched gears about three years ago, moving to the opposite side of the metaphorical table, to start Hum Capital, which uses artificial intelligence to match investors with startups looking to fundraise.On August 31, the New York-based fintech announced its $9 million Series A. The round was led by Future Ventures with participation from Webb Investment Network, Wavemaker Partners, and Partech. This 11-page pitch deck helped Hum Capital, a fintech using AI to match investors with startups, raise a $9 million Series A.Payments infrastructure for fintechsQolo CEO and co-founder Patricia Montesi.QoloThree years ago, Patricia Montesi realized there was a disconnect in the payments world. "A lot of new economy companies or fintech companies were looking to mesh up a lot of payment modalities that they weren't able to," Montesi, CEO and co-founder of Qolo, told Insider.Integrating various payment capabilities often meant tapping several different providers that had specializations in one product or service, she added, like debit card issuance or cross-border payments. "The way people were getting around that was that they were creating this spider web of fintech," she said, adding that "at the end of it all, they had this mess of suppliers and integrations and bank accounts."The 20-year payments veteran rounded up a group of three other co-founders — who together had more than a century of combined industry experience — to start Qolo, a business-to-business fintech that sought out to bundle back-end payment rails for other fintechs.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that provides payments infrastructure for other fintechs used to raise a $15 million Series ASoftware for managing freelancersWorksome cofounder and CEO Morten Petersen.WorksomeThe way people work has fundamentally changed over the past year, with more flexibility and many workers opting to freelance to maintain their work-from-home lifestyles.But managing a freelance or contractor workforce is often an administrative headache for employers. Worksome is a startup looking to eliminate all the extra work required for employers to adapt to more flexible working norms.Worksome started as a freelancer marketplace automating the process of matching qualified workers with the right jobs. But the team ultimately pivoted to a full suite of workforce management software, automating administrative burdens required to hire, pay, and account for contract workers.In May, Worksome closed a $13 million Series A backed by European angel investor Tommy Ahlers and Danish firm Lind & Risør.Here's the 21-slide pitch deck used by a startup that helps firms like Carlsberg and Deloitte manage freelancersPersonal finance is only a text awayYinon Ravid, the chief executive and cofounder of Albert.AlbertThe COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the growing preference of mobile banking as customers get comfortable managing their finances online.The financial app Albert has seen a similar jump in activity. Currently counting more than six million members, deposits in Albert's savings offering doubled from the start of the pandemic in March 2020 to May of this year, from $350 million to $700 million, according to new numbers released by the company. Founded in 2015, Albert offers automated budgeting and savings tools alongside guided investment portfolios. It's looked to differentiate itself through personalized features, like the ability for customers to text human financial experts.Budgeting and saving features are free on Albert. But for more tailored financial advice, customers pay a subscription fee that's a pay-what-you-can model, between $4 and $14 a month. And Albert's now banking on a new tool to bring together its investing, savings, and budgeting tools.Fintech Albert used this 10-page pitch deck to raise a $100 million Series C from General Atlantic and CapitalGRethinking debt collection Jason Saltzman, founder and CEO of ReliefReliefFor lenders, debt collection is largely automated. But for people who owe money on their credit cards, it can be a confusing and stressful process.  Relief is looking to change that. Its app automates the credit-card debt collection process for users, negotiating with lenders and collectors to settle outstanding balances on their behalf. The fintech just launched and closed a $2 million seed round led by Collaborative Ventures. Relief's fundraising experience was a bit different to most. Its pitch deck, which it shared with one investor via Google Slides, went viral. It set out to raise a $1 million seed round, but ended up doubling that and giving some investors money back to make room for others.Check out a 15-page pitch deck that went viral and helped a credit-card debt collection startup land a $2 million seed roundBlockchain for private-markets investing Carlos Domingo is cofounder and CEO of Securitize.SecuritizeSecuritize, founded in 2017 by the tech industry veterans Carlos Domingo and Jamie Finn, is bringing blockchain technology to private-markets investing. The company raised $48 million in Series B funding on June 21 from investors including Morgan Stanley and Blockchain Capital.Securitize helps companies crowdfund capital from individual and institutional investors by issuing their shares in the form of blockchain tokens that allow for more efficient settlement, record keeping, and compliance processes. Morgan Stanley's Tactical Value fund, which invests in private companies, made its first blockchain-technology investment when it coled the Series B, Securitize CEO Carlos Domingo told Insider.Here's the 11-page pitch deck a blockchain startup looking to revolutionize private-markets investing used to nab $48 million from investors like Morgan StanleyE-commerce focused business bankingMichael Rangel, cofounder and CEO, and Tyler McIntyre, cofounder and CTO of Novo.Kristelle Boulos PhotographyBusiness banking is a hot market in fintech. And it seems investors can't get enough.Novo, the digital banking fintech aimed at small e-commerce businesses, raised a $40.7 million Series A led by Valar Ventures in June. Since its launch in 2018, Novo has signed up 100,000 small businesses. Beyond bank accounts, it offers expense management, a corporate card, and integrates with e-commerce infrastructure players like Shopify, Stripe, and Wise.Founded in 2018, Novo was based in New York City, but has since moved its headquarters to Miami. Here's the 12-page pitch deck e-commerce banking startup Novo used to raise its $40 million Series ABlockchain-based credit score tech John Sun, Anna Fridman, and Adam Jiwan are the cofounders of fintech startup Spring Labs.Spring LabsA blockchain-based fintech startup that is aiming to disrupt the traditional model of evaluating peoples' creditworthiness recently raised $30 million in a Series B funding led by credit reporting giant TransUnion.Four-year-old Spring Labs aims to create a private, secure data-sharing model to help credit agencies better predict the creditworthiness of people who are not in the traditional credit bureau system. The founding team of three fintech veterans met as early employees of lending startup Avant.Existing investors GreatPoint Ventures and August Capital also joined in on the most recent round.  So far Spring Labs has raised $53 million from institutional rounds.TransUnion, a publicly-traded company with a $20 billion-plus market cap, is one of the three largest consumer credit agencies in the US. After 18 months of dialogue and six months of due diligence, TransAmerica and Spring Labs inked a deal, Spring Labs CEO and cofounder Adam Jiwan told Insider.Here's the 10-page pitch deck blockchain-based fintech Spring Labs used to snag $30 million from investors including credit reporting giant TransUnionDigital banking for freelancersJGalione/Getty ImagesLance is a new digital bank hoping to simplify the life of those workers by offering what it calls an "active" approach to business banking. "We found that every time we sat down with the existing tools and resources of our accountants and QuickBooks and spreadsheets, we just ended up getting tangled up in the whole experience of it," Lance cofounder and CEO Oona Rokyta told Insider. Lance offers subaccounts for personal salaries, withholdings, and savings to which freelancers can automatically allocate funds according to custom preset levels. It also offers an expense balance that's connected to automated tax withholdings.In May, Lance announced the closing of a $2.8 million seed round that saw participation from Barclays, BDMI, Great Oaks Capital, Imagination Capital, Techstars, DFJ Frontier, and others.Here's the 21-page pitch deck Lance, a digital bank for freelancers, used to raise a $2.8 million seed round from investors including BarclaysDigital tools for independent financial advisorsJason Wenk, founder and CEO of AltruistAltruistJason Wenk started his career at Morgan Stanley in investment research over 20 years ago. Now, he's running a company that is hoping to broaden access to financial advice for less-wealthy individuals. The startup raised $50 million in Series B funding led by Insight Partners with participation from investors Vanguard and Venrock. The round brings the Los Angeles-based startup's total funding to just under $67 million.Founded in 2018, Altruist is a digital brokerage built for independent financial advisors, intended to be an "all-in-one" platform that unites custodial functions, portfolio accounting, and a client-facing portal. It allows advisors to open accounts, invest, build models, report, trade (including fractional shares), and bill clients through an interface that can advisors time by eliminating mundane operational tasks.Altruist aims to make personalized financial advice less expensive, more efficient, and more inclusive through the platform, which is designed for registered investment advisors (RIAs), a growing segment of the wealth management industry. Here's the pitch deck for Altruist, a wealth tech challenging custodians Fidelity and Charles Schwab, that raised $50 million from Vanguard and InsightPayments and operations support HoneyBook cofounders Dror Shimoni, Oz Alon, and Naama Alon.HoneyBookWhile countless small businesses have been harmed by the pandemic, self-employment and entrepreneurship have found ways to blossom as Americans started new ventures.Half of the US population may be freelance by 2027, according to a study commissioned by remote-work hiring platform Upwork. HoneyBook, a fintech startup that provides payment and operations support for freelancers, in May raised $155 million in funding and achieved unicorn status with its $1 billion-plus valuation.Durable Capital Partners led the Series D funding with other new investors including renowned hedge fund Tiger Global, Battery Ventures, Zeev Ventures, and 01 Advisors. Citi Ventures, Citigroup's startup investment arm that also backs fintech robo-advisor Betterment, participated as an existing investor in the round alongside Norwest Venture partners. The latest round brings the company's fundraising total to $227 million to date.Here's the 21-page pitch deck a Citi-backed fintech for freelancers used to raise $155 million from investors like hedge fund Tiger GlobalFraud prevention for lenders and insurersFiordaliso/Getty ImagesOnboarding new customers with ease is key for any financial institution or retailer. The more friction you add, the more likely consumers are to abandon the entire process.But preventing fraud is also a priority, and that's where Neuro-ID comes in. The startup analyzes what it calls "digital body language," or, the way users scroll, type, and tap. Using that data, Neuro-ID can identify fraudulent users before they create an account. It's built for banks, lenders, insurers, and e-commerce players."The train has left the station for digital transformation, but there's a massive opportunity to try to replicate all those communications that we used to have when we did business in-person, all those tells that we would get verbally and non-verbally on whether or not someone was trustworthy," Neuro-ID CEO Jack Alton told Insider.Founded in 2014, the startup's pitch is twofold: Neuro-ID can save companies money by identifying fraud early, and help increase user conversion by making the onboarding process more seamless. In December Neuro-ID closed a $7 million Series A, co-led by Fin VC and TTV Capital, with participation from Canapi Ventures. With 30 employees, Neuro-ID is using the fresh funding to grow its team and create additional tools to be more self-serving for customers.Here's the 11-slide pitch deck a startup that analyzes consumers' digital behavior to fight fraud used to raise a $7 million Series AAI-powered tools to spot phony online reviews Saoud Khalifah, founder and CEO of Fakespot.FakespotMarketplaces like Amazon and eBay host millions of third-party sellers, and their algorithms will often boost items in search based on consumer sentiment, which is largely based on reviews. But many third-party sellers use fake reviews often bought from click farms to boost their items, some of which are counterfeit or misrepresented to consumers.That's where Fakespot comes in. With its Chrome extension, it warns users of sellers using potentially fake reviews to boost sales and can identify fraudulent sellers. Fakespot is currently compatible with Amazon, BestBuy, eBay, Sephora, Steam, and Walmart."There are promotional reviews written by humans and bot-generated reviews written by robots or review farms," Fakespot founder and CEO Saoud Khalifah told Insider. "Our AI system has been built to detect both categories with very high accuracy."Fakespot's AI learns via reviews data available on marketplace websites, and uses natural-language processing to identify if reviews are genuine. Fakespot also looks at things like whether the number of positive reviews are plausible given how long a seller has been active.Fakespot, a startup that helps shoppers detect robot-generated reviews and phony sellers on Amazon and Shopify, used this pitch deck to nab a $4 million Series ANew twists on digital bankingZach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradleyHMBradleyConsumers are getting used to the idea of branch-less banking, a trend that startup digital-only banks like Chime, N26, and Varo have benefited from. The majority of these fintechs target those who are underbanked, and rely on usage of their debit cards to make money off interchange. But fellow startup HMBradley has a different business model. "Our thesis going in was that we don't swipe our debit cards all that often, and we don't think the customer base that we're focusing on does either," Zach Bruhnke, cofounder and CEO of HMBradley, told Insider. "A lot of our customer base uses credit cards on a daily basis."Instead, the startup is aiming to build clientele with stable deposits. As a result, the bank is offering interest-rate tiers depending on how much a customer saves of their direct deposit.Notably, the rate tiers are dependent on the percentage of savings, not the net amount. "We'll pay you more when you save more of what comes in," Bruhnke said. "We didn't want to segment customers by how much money they had. So it was always going to be about a percentage of income. That was really important to us."Check out the 14-page pitch deck fintech HMBradley, a neobank offering interest rates as high as 3%, used to raise an $18.25 million Series ARead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 28th, 2022

On the Tesla production line: Dozens of former employees say they faced catcalls, groping, slurs, and harassment on the job

Forty-six lawsuits allege employees were targeted, harassed, and in some cases physically assaulted based on their gender and race. Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images; iStock; Rebecca Zisser/Insider In 46 lawsuits, former and current employees allege they were targeted and harassed based on gender and race. Tesla has pushed back and filed to move the majority of the cases to private arbitration. Seven experts told Insider the number of lawsuits should be a cause for concern for the carmaker. Alisa Blickman said her coworkers rated women, took photos of a female colleague's back-side, and made comments like, "I'd like to bend her over and spread her cheeks." Alex Corella said his colleagues called him "homophobic slurs" and joked that he performed oral sex on his supervisor. Terrance Dobbins said workers told him he worked at the "KFC and watermelon patch." They also made "sexually and racially offensive statements," including jokes about "pegging," he said.And Jessica Brooks said "catcalls" and groping got so bad on the job that she started stacking boxes around her workstation "to discourage men from coming and whistling at and ogling her."These are just a handful of accounts from more than 40 lawsuits filed against Tesla by former and current employees in the past five years alleging the company fosters a sexist and racist work culture. Tesla is currently attempting to push three of the cases, and many others, into private arbitration. Dobbins' case was moved into arbitration in September. Tesla founder Elon Musk built the electric-car maker as part of his utopian vision for the future. The company's cars save lives, Musk has said, and he's set out to revolutionize manufacturing, describing an "alien dreadnought" dream factory, where all parts of the carmaking process are automated. But for now, Tesla must rely on its army of workers, some of whom say these futuristic dreams are stifled in a "Jim Crow Era," "frat house" environment that allows discrimination to fester.Together, the lawsuits paint a picture of a workplace where slurs, groping, and threats were commonplace, and where the human-resources department regularly failed to address workers' concerns. In some cases, employees who turned to management for help said they were reprimanded or terminated, according to the lawsuits."After almost three years of experiencing all the harassment, it robs your sense of security — it almost dehumanizes you," Jessica Barraza, who filed a lawsuit against Tesla in November saying she was sexually harassed on a "near-daily" basis, told The Washington Post. (Insider attempted to contact all of the former employees cited in this story, and they either declined to comment or did not respond.) Tesla has filed to push the case into private arbitration.Musk did not respond to requests for comment. "Tesla believes that the appropriate place to respond is before the tribunal that will hear the actual facts and evidence, not in the press," Tesla said in a statement to Insider, declining to comment on individual cases.In the vast majority of the lawsuits, the carmaker has fought back and pushed for private arbitration. At least three cases have been dismissed and three more have been settled in court. Most others have been moved to private arbitration or are pending a hearing on Tesla's motion to compel arbitration. Meanwhile, Tesla said in October that it is actively working to "ensure that every employee feels that they can bring their whole self to work."While Tesla has largely been successful in deflecting the lawsuits and preventing settlement details from being publicized over the past five years, there are signs of cracks in its armor. The company lost two high-profile discrimination cases — one in court and one in private arbitration — last year, and it's now facing government scrutiny.An aerial view of the Tesla factory in Fremont, California.Justin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA flurry of lawsuits at FremontTesla's sprawling 5.3-million-square-foot factory in Fremont, California, is the company's largest manufacturing hub, where it produces hundreds of thousands of electric cars each year that sell for $46,990 to over $130,000. More than 10,000 employees work at the plant and face ambitious production targets as Tesla pushes to scale production by roughly 50% a year.In 2021, the Fremont factory cranked out 8,550 cars per week — more vehicles than any other automotive production plant in North America, according to a report from Bloomberg. Tesla is planning to ramp up production in the coming year with new factories, and the Fremont hub is designed to serve as the model for its future plants.As Tesla's output and workforce have grown, so have the number of lawsuits it faces from its workers. More sexual-harassment and racial-discrimination lawsuits appear to have been filed against Tesla in 2021 than any year since it was founded 18 years ago, according to an Insider review of 46 lawsuits against Tesla, over 60% of which involve the factory. In many of these cases, women and people of color said they faced racist and sexist behavior. Seven legal and labor experts told Insider that the sheer number of lawsuits against Tesla should be a cause for concern for the carmaker. "It's an astounding number for a factory with 10,000 workers," said Lisa Bloom, a California lawyer who has advised high-profile clients including Harvey Weinstein and taken on cases against Donald Trump, Bill O'Reilly, and Jeffrey Epstein. Bloom also told Insider she's had conversations with a Tesla customer considering legal action against the company. "Most people who are victims of verbal or physical abuse are hesitant to come forward," she said. "These kinds of lawsuits point to a deeper endemic problem and are likely the tip of the iceberg."Deborah Gordon, a Detroit lawyer who has worked on sexual-harassment lawsuits against companies in the United Auto Workers union, told Insider that automotive factories typically face up to a handful of sexual harassment and racial-discrimination cases per year. In an analysis of seven automotive manufacturing plants in the US that have similar workforce populations and production levels to Tesla's Fremont factory — including Toyota's facility in Georgetown, Kentucky (9,000 workers), BMW's in Spartanburg, South Carolina (11,000 workers), Nissan's in Smyrna, Tennessee (7,000 workers), Ford's in Kansas City, Missouri (7,000 workers), Hyundai's in Montgomery Alabama (3,000 workers), Stellantis' in Sterling Heights, Michigan (6,800 workers), and General Motors' in Spring Hill, Tennessee (3,200 workers) — Insider found a range of zero to 10 racial discrimination and sexual harassment cases filed against each facility across county, state, and federal courts over the past five years. Like Tesla, all six companies require employees to sign mandatory arbitration clauses, which could keep cases out of public view.Tesla pushed back on Bloom's characterization of the number as "astounding" in a statement to Insider, saying competitors have been "sued for discrimination many more times than Tesla over the last five years.""The claim that Tesla faces an unusual volume of suits is inaccurate and misleading," the spokesperson said."Your attempt to analyze at the plant level is not a fair comparison, given that the Fremont factory is not only the largest auto assembly plant in the nation, but also has the largest US workforce," Tesla added. "Comparing assembly plants with only a few thousand workers in states such as Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee to Tesla's Fremont factory – located in a jurisdiction with one of the highest rates of litigation – does not make sense. Based on these differences alone, a fair review of publicly available data does not support the assertions of your experts," Tesla added.A GM spokesperson told Insider in a statement that Tesla's comment on competitors' case numbers is also "inaccurate and misleading" and that "GM has zero tolerance for workplace harassment and discrimination in any form."A Toyota spokesperson told Insider, "not a single employee has filed a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment or racial/gender discrimination" at the company's largest US facility in Georgetown, Kentucky over the past five years. A Stellantis spokesperson said, "There is absolutely no truth to Tesla's comments about the Sterling Heights Assembly Plant or any other plant within Stellantis' manufacturing footprint." Ford, BMW, Nissan, and Hyundai did not respond to a request for comment on the number of racial discrimination and sexual harassment lawsuits that have been filed against them. While GM, Ford, and Stellantis are unionized in the US, Tesla's workforce is not, and Musk himself has had scathing words for UAW and unions in general — a factor Gordon said could be contributing to the worker complaints."The UAW is very active in addressing these types of issues," Gordon said. "They simply do not tolerate it. Verbal harassment is fairly common in a factory setting, but a union adds a layer of protection for workers. It allows grievances to be heard and readily addressed."Men represent 79% of Tesla's total workforce and 83% of leadership, the carmaker said in a 2020 report. Vicki Schultz, a labor expert at Yale Law School, told Insider that a lack of diversity in a company's workforce is a major "risk factor" for sexual harassment."The dominant group will use sexual or racial harassment to show others that they don't belong," Schultz said.Tesla has said it is a "majority-minority" company. People of color make up about 60% of the company's total workforce, according to Tesla's latest diversity report. But while Black workers make up 10% of the US workforce, they hold only 4% of roles at the director level or higher. Tesla has not provided specific demographics for the Fremont factory.Some supervisors harassed workers, lawsuits sayMichala Curran said that during her first week at Tesla, her supervisor told her to "shake her ass," become an exotic dancer, and tried to slap her backside."I just felt scared not knowing who to run to," Curran, a former production associate in the paint department, told The Washington Post. "Knowing there's nothing but males around me — not knowing if they might have the same mind-set of the supervisor."Curran is one of 24 women who have sued Tesla in the past five years alleging that they were sexually harassed, groped, or physically assaulted, and in some cases denied pay raises and promotions. Most of the plaintiffs formerly worked at the Fremont factory. Over two dozen former employees' lawsuits said their supervisors harassed them. Tesla has filed a motion to compel Curran's case into private arbitration and the decision is pending a court hearing in May. The remaining 23 cases have been moved to private arbitration or are pending a hearing on Tesla's motion to compel arbitration.Some workers' lawsuits described supervisors' behavior as threatening. Kristin Ortiz, a sales representative, said her supervisor would stalk her, invite her to change clothes in front of him, call her "the eye candy of the store" and on one occasion "kissed her on the cheek," according to a lawsuit. Erica Cloud said in a separate suit that her manager's behavior caused her to "fear for her safety," as he would "hug and massage her" and refer to his penis, saying he is "big down there." Cloud reported the behavior to HR and within several months was no longer required to work with the manager, according to her suit. Another former employee, Dominique Keeton, alleged in a lawsuit that her direct supervisor sent her text messages saying that he wanted to be "intimate" with her and "regularly used racial slurs and white-power language to degrade, belittle, ridicule, and dehumanize her." Ortiz, Cloud, and Keeton's cases have been moved into private arbitration.Over a dozen employees' lawsuits said their supervisors threatened their employment, and in seven cases fired them, after they rejected sexual advances or reported racist and sexist behavior to the company.A Tesla Model 3 is assembled at the Fremont, California, factory.Mason Trinca/The Washington PostBlickman, an assembly-line worker, said in a suit that her supervisor threatened to send her to "one of the least desirable working areas" when she was not responsive to his "sexual advances," which included "daily" back rubs and statements like, "I hear you don't like to scream loud enough."Under federal and state civil-rights laws, employers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace harassment. If a company has no way for employees to report harassment or does nothing to stop the harassment once it's reported, for example, it can be held liable in court. It's also illegal for a company to fire an employee just because they reported being harassed.Tesla HR ignored complaints, some workers saidSome Tesla workers said they tried to turn to the company's HR department for help but were ignored or reprimanded. Eden Mederos said in a lawsuit that Tesla workers at her service station in California often joked the company's HR function was nonexistent. She said she struggled to find contact information for the department after experiencing what she called "near-daily" harassment from coworkers, including her supervisor. After she reported it, the company held a meeting where she said the supervisor called her a "liar" and an HR rep called her accusations "aggressive," according to her suit. Mederos' attorney, David Lowe, told Insider the case has been moved to another county court and he anticipates Tesla will push for the case to be moved to private arbitration.Of 46 lawsuits Insider reviewed, plaintiffs in 13 cases said that verbal, written, or emailed reports sent to HR resulted in either no action or minimal follow-up. Twenty-two former employees said they were fired after reaching out to HR.DeWitt Lambert's attorney, Lawrence Organ, told Insider that Lambert presented HR with a video in which another worker called him the N-word 22 times and detailed how he would "chop up parts of his body." Lambert said he faced retaliation after reporting the incident and that HR "failed to investigate and reprimand the harassers." The same video also failed to convince a private arbitrator, who said a case could not be made against Tesla for allowing employees to use the N-word when Lambert used it himself, Organ told Insider."I feel like everything was taken away from me," Lambert told The New York Times. "I got everything snatched from up under me since I complained about it."Tesla's legal counsel argued that Lambert's filing involved "misplaced claims of employment discrimination, harassment, and retaliation" and that the dispute should be settled in arbitration, where it was ultimately dismissed.A February lawsuit and three-year investigation into Tesla's HR practices by a California civil-rights regulator found that the company's human-resources department was "under-staffed and inadequately trained" with the ratio of HR workers to personnel 1-to-740. For comparison, the Society of Human Resources Management, the profession's leading member association, estimates that companies in the US average over two HR employees per every 100 full-time workers. Tesla has said it is working to improve training for its employees."We recently rolled out an additional training program that reinforces Tesla's requirement that all employees must treat each other with respect and reminds employees about the numerous ways they can report concerns, including anonymously," Tesla said on its website.Some former employees said Tesla HR personnel were hostile toward them. Malaisha Bivens said in a lawsuit that she met with an unidentified person she assumed was an HR representative after she reported that a fellow employee touched her inappropriately. This person "threatened" her in a "harsh tone," and said "she would be fired if she was lying about the incident," according to Bivens' lawsuit. HR did not follow up about an investigation into her complaint, her lawsuit said. The case has been moved to private arbitration.Another former employee, Kaylen Barker, said in a lawsuit that Tesla human resources asked her to sign a statement saying she was "insubordinate" after she reported that a coworker referred to her using the N-word and a sexist insult while also calling her "stupid" and "dumb" before throwing a "hot tool" at her. Tesla has yet to submit a response to the case."At a big company the expectation is that the HR department has a significant responsibility to ensure the law is not being broken," Gordon said. "Based on my experience, HR departments are not completely neutral, but usually at major companies they make a concerted effort to make sure rules are followed."Tesla's HR team appeared to take action against harassers in a small fraction of the lawsuits reviewed by Insider. Only four cases cited instances in which alleged harassers faced repercussions, including termination and being reassigned to another department, after physical altercations, according to the complaints.The CEO set the tone, some workers say Musk is known for his hands-on approach in guiding Tesla. In 2018, the CEO said he would sleep on the factory floor and work over 120 hours a week.Musk's leadership style led several workers who filed lawsuits to believe that he knew about what they called a "hostile work environment" at the Fremont factory."We've had multiple witnesses that can speak to Musk's presence at the factory, at least during the time of Lambert and Diaz's cases," said Organ, who represents several former workers in cases against Tesla. "It would be very hard to believe that he doesn't know about the behavior at the factory, and yet it doesn't seem like there's been a clear message from Musk that this conduct is not tolerated."Of the cases Organ has worked on, one has been dismissed, one is ongoing, and two have won against Tesla — one in court and the other in private arbitration.Four claimants said they contacted Musk directly about their complaints, while two more alleged his behavior on Twitter indirectly contributed toward their harassment.Tesla CEO Elon Musk in Delaware.Matt Rourke/AP PhotoMarcus Vaughn, a former employee, said he was one of multiple Black employees who contacted Musk regarding "repeated instances of race-based harassment" in 2017. Vaughn and more than 100 other former Tesla workers who are Black sued the company in a class action. In response, Musk sent an email to Fremont factory workers addressing harassment at Tesla, according to Vaughn's suit."Part of not being a huge jerk is considering how someone might feel who is part of [a] historically less represented group," Musk wrote in the email, according to the suit. "Sometimes these things happen unintentionally, in which case you should apologize. In fairness, if someone is a jerk to you, but sincerely apologizes, it is important to be thick-skinned and accept that apology."The class action suit was dismissed in 2021. The automaker's counsel successfully argued "that the court should deny class certification because Tesla policy and practice is that Tesla employees are bound by the Tesla arbitration agreement."Vaughn's case is ongoing in Alameda County Court. Tesla has repeatedly pushed to move the case into private arbitration and has said the suit "fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against" Tesla. Organ claims Vaughn never signed the carmaker's mandatory arbitration agreement and the continued motions to compel arbitration are an "effort to stall."Musk is also known for his active online presence, in particular his Twitter persona — which ranks among the most-followed accounts on the site. The Tesla CEO's tweets frequently spawn headlines and in some cases scrutiny from financial regulators. Two female Tesla ex-employees pointed to instances in which they said Musk's behavior on Twitter contributed indirectly to their harassment, including recent tweets from the CEO in which he made a joke about creating a college with the acronym "TITS," and dubbed his Tesla car models "S3XY." Opening 'the floodgates'Tesla's mandatory-arbitration clause, which requires most employees to bring their claims in private arbitration instead of public court, makes it difficult to know the details of all allegations against the company. In September, Bloomberg reported that almost 90 employment-related private arbitration complaints had been filed against Tesla since 2016. The company won 11 of those cases and lost only one. Most were settled, withdrawn, or dismissed, according to Bloomberg. Melvin Berry, a former employee, is the only known person to win a discrimination case against Tesla in arbitration. He secured a $1 million settlement in August after a private arbitrator determined the company failed to stop Berry's supervisors from calling him the N-word. The carmaker denied the allegations in Berry's case, saying Tesla "is absolutely against any form of discrimination, harassment, or unfair treatment of any kind." Tesla has not appealed the case.Then, in October, a San Francisco federal jury ruled that Tesla must pay over $137 million in punitive damages to a former Tesla contractor, Owen Diaz. Diaz said his supervisor helped create a hostile work environment for Black workers by distributing racist sketches at work.The company is in the process of challenging the verdict, saying the award "bears no relationship to the actual evidence at trial." Helen Rella, a New York labor lawyer, told Insider a successful lawsuit, especially a landmark case like Diaz's, could "open the floodgates" — an issue that Tesla board members have expressed concern over in the past."Just because there is more than one complaint against a company it does not necessarily indicate that the complaints are justified, but it certainly provides the opportunity for more workers to come forward," Rella said. "Once a lawyer has one employee who's willing to sue, it's much easier to find more."Tesla also alluded to this, telling Insider that many of the lawsuits "have been brought by a handful of plaintiffs' lawyers who actively solicit Tesla workers in an effort to enrich themselves, and then often plant the same sensationalized, unadjudicated allegations to get yet more clients for self-enrichment."Organ told Insider meanwhile that over 950 former and current Tesla employees have reached out to him with racial-discrimination claims against the carmaker.Meanwhile, Tesla faces another looming legal battle.In February, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing sued the company over allegations of systemic racial discrimination and harassment at its Fremont factory. The civil-rights agency said it had received "hundreds of complaints from workers."Tesla called the lawsuit an attack against "the last remaining automobile manufacturer in California," and said that it "always disciplined and terminated employees who engage in misconduct, including those who use racial slurs or harass others in different ways.""Tesla's brand, purportedly highlighting a socially conscious future, masks the reality of a company that profits from an army of production workers, many of whom are people of color, working under egregious conditions," California said in its complaint. "Even after years of complaints, Tesla has continued to deflect and evade responsibility."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMar 23rd, 2022

"Nothing Compares To The Chaos We"re Seeing Now": Tanker Rates On Russian Crude Routes Soar Sixfold In One Day Amid War Fears

"Nothing Compares To The Chaos We're Seeing Now": Tanker Rates On Russian Crude Routes Soar Sixfold In One Day Amid War Fears As OilPrice reports, amid a general unwillingness of tanker owners to send their vessels to Russian ports, the freight rates for a medium-sized tanker to load Russian crude jumped nearly threefold on Thursday from Wednesday, shipbrokers and traders told Bloomberg. The freight rate to hire an Aframax tanker on the Baltic Sea to Europe route surged after Russia invaded Ukraine, while owners of oil tankers had already started to avoid Russian ports because of both the military invasion of Ukraine and apprehension that sanctions for oil could also come soon.   Rates for oil tankers on the TD6 Black Sea-to-Med route surged more than six-fold, by $90,752/day, to $107,382/day from under 17,000, according to data from the Baltic Exchange in London. That’s the highest since April 2020. Baltic Sea oil tanker rates have also soared. Ships on the TD7 Baltic-to- U.K. Cont. route rose by $13,407 to $135,148/day, the highest in data going back to 2008. Rates to charter Suezmax ships climbed $55,800 to $67,027/day, the highest since April 2020 when every oil merchant was scrambling to store oil offshore. As a result of the surging Baltic-Europe tanker rates, the Middle East to Europe rates also rose, and on Friday hit the highest on record. Two-thirds of Russia's crude oil exports are seaborne, from ports in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. The Russian flagship Urals crude grade loads from ports in the Baltic Sea, and most of it is sold in Europe. As we reported on Thursday, while international benchmark oil prices were soaring on Thursday, the Urals grade was offered at the deepest discount in at least 11 years—$11.60 a barrel below Dated Brent, as traders feared sanctions on Russian oil. Even Chinese buyers of Russian seabourne oil had put their purchases on hold amid US concerns over Russian sanctions. Owners of tankers have become reluctant to offer their vessels to load crude from Russia for fear that their future cargo could be breaching potential sanctions if the West decides to deploy the harshest sanctions against Russia after it invaded Ukraine early on Thursday. As Bloomberg reports, at least two merchant ships have been reportedly hit since Russian forces began the attack on its neighbor this week. Insurers are either not offering to cover vessels, or they’re demanding huge premiums to do so. That has compounded oil trading and shipping markets that were already -- with a few exceptions -- leery of doing Russian deals while people figure out the sanctions risk of buying the nation’s crude. Trade lawyers said that commodities from Russia should ultimately keep flowing, but that caution is likely in the near term and the situation is fast-changing. “I’ve been a shipbroker for more than 30 years and nothing in that time compares to the chaos we’re seeing now,” said Halvor Ellefsen, a tanker broker at Fearnley A/S in Oslo. "I just hope it resolves as peacefully as possible.” The Black Sea is a critical region for agricultural traders and oil traders alike. Ukraine and Russia together account for more than a quarter of the global trade in wheat and about a fifth of corn. That trade was thrown into chaos after Ukraine’s ports closed in the wake of Russia’s invasion. Russia’s Black Sea oil port of Novorossiysk, along with a nearby terminal, handle the best part of 2 million barrels a day of crude -- roughly the same as what gets exported from the entire North Sea. Tanker brokers, owners and oil traders said there was immediate caution about doing business with Russia after the invasion because of concern about a sanctions backlash from the West. On Thursday, a carrier chartered by Cargill Inc. was hit while sailing in Ukrainian waters in the Black Sea. The vessel was empty when the incident occurred and taken to safety, the company said. On Friday, a chemical tanker called Millennial Spirit, under the flag of Moldova was hit by a shell in the Black Sea, the country’s naval agency said in a statement on website. Cargill didn’t confirm the name of the vessel. Istanbul-based YA-SA Holding said earlier that Yasa Jupiter, a Marshall Island-flagged bulker it owns, was slightly damaged by a shell after unloading coal at the Ukrainian port of Odessa. It was unclear whether the ship was deliberately targeted or who fired the shell, and the vessel is heading under its own power to the closest port for a damage assessment, YA-SA said. On the Millennial Spirit, a fire broke out, destroying equipment and lifeboats were destroyed, and forcing the cew to abandon ship only in their life jackets, the navel agency said. “We are seeing activity where vessels are being struck,” said Munro Anderson, founding partner at security advisory Dryad Global.  “Any vessel that is sitting off Ukraine waters should have left long ago. It is a warzone, we’ve been saying that for 48 hours. Any vessel in Ukraine waters needs to leave immediately, broadcasting clearly on AIS and making their intentions known.” * * * Shipowners are also concerned about rising bunker fuel prices and have asked for higher freight rates, while owners of mid-sized Aframax tankers who have ships plying the Mediterranean are worried about war risk premiums, Reuters reported citing a shipbroker. "Activities (in the East) are quiet for now. But we will know gradually how the freight market picks up further," another shipbroker, based in Singapore, said, also speaking on condition of anonymity. Greece recommended all Greek ships immediately leave Ukraine and Russia territorial waters in the Black Sea, ship brokers and a senior Greek maritime ministry official said Thursday. It could lower rates in regions where the ships move, a shipping source said. As a result of the sudden shortage of Russian oil in the supply chain, even fuel tanker rates from the United States to Europe jumped more than 8% on Thursday, surging to their highest level since May 2020. The cost of bunkering fuel at the world's largest bunkering hub Singapore jumped 6% on Thursday to $555 per tonne, the highest since 2019. Rates for Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) from the Middle East to China, Asia's benchmark for crude freight, rose 4.77 Worldscale (W) to 38.82W on Friday, a shipbroker said, referring to points on the pricing index operated by the Worldscale Association that is used as an industry tool to calculate freight charges. Each VLCC can carry 2 million barrels of oil. All these sharply higher transit prices will eventually manifest themselves in soaring gasoline prices at the pump. But it's not just consumers that are impacted: broad economic slowdown is coming next: buyers in Asia, the key crude importing region, were alarmed that they could soon struggle to procure enough crude. The general perception among Asian oil traders is that the situation is "quite complicated," one trader told Energy Intelligence on Thursday. The latest round of sanctions against Russia—latest as of late Thursday—continues to allow energy trade and bank settlements for energy flows and does not cut off Russia from the SWIFT global banking system. Tyler Durden Fri, 02/25/2022 - 11:55.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytFeb 25th, 2022

The 22 best science fiction books of 2021, according to Goodreads reviewers

According to Goodreads, the best science fiction books of 2021 were "Project Hail Mary," "Klara and the Sun," and "Fugitive Telemetry." Prices are accurate at the time of publication.According to Goodreads, the best science fiction books of 2021 were "Project Hail Mary," "Klara and the Sun," and "Fugitive Telemetry."Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/InsiderWhen you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Science fiction has fascinating and imaginative subgenres to explore. We used Goodreads to rank the best science fiction novels of 2021. "Project Hail Mary" won the 2021 Goodreads Choice Award for Science Fiction. Like fantasy, science fiction is an imaginative genre with plenty of fascinating subgenres to explore. Some readers love space operas — fast-paced and action-packed stories that often traverse galaxies — while others gravitate (yes, that's a sci-fi pun) towards cyberpunk stories where society is dominated by robots or other technological advancements. We turned to Goodreads members to rank the best science fiction novels of 2021. On Goodreads, over 125 million members share their ratings, reviews, and recommendations for their favorite novels to friends and the community. As 2021 comes to a close, it's the perfect time to explore the galaxy, the future, or alternate realities with one of the best science fiction books released from this year. The 22 best science fiction books from 2021: "Project Hail Mary" by Andy WeirBookshop"Project Hail Mary" by Andy Weir, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.49"Project Hail Mary" is the Goodreads Choice Awards 2021 winner for best science fiction novel as well as Amazon's pick for the best 2021 science fiction/fantasy novel. The story is about Ryland Grace, who has woken up with no memories on a ship millions of miles from Earth. As his memories start to return, Ryland realizes he is the sole survivor of a last-chance mission to save humanity against an extinction-level threat. "Klara and the Sun" by Kazuo IshiguroAmazon"Klara and the Sun" by Kazuo Ishiguro, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.09Nominated for the 2021 Booker Prize and the Andrew Carnegie Medal, this stunning science fiction novel is about Klara, an Artificial Friend who is waiting in a store to be chosen by a human and live out her true purpose. Hopeful and astutely observational, Klara's coming-of-age story in a rapidly changing human world explores questions about humanity, life, and society.  "Fugitive Telemetry" by Martha WellsAmazon"Fugitive Telemetry" by Martha Wells, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $19.36"Fugitive Telemetry" is the sixth novel in Martha Well's "Murderbot Diaries," a science fiction series about a violent robot on a search for the meaning of life. In this new novella, Murderbot discovers a human body and must assist in the investigation to determine who the person was and how they died. "Light of the Jedi" by Charles SouleAmazon"Light of the Jedi" by Charles Soule, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.78In this sci-fi read that takes place 200 years before the main "Star Wars" story, tensions are rising throughout the Galaxy after a terrible incident tears a ship to pieces. As the Jedi race to protect others from the shrapnel, it becomes clear that something more sinister is afoot and the Jedis must trust in the Force to defeat it. "The Echo Wife" by Sarah GaileyAmazon"The Echo Wife" by Sarah Gailey, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.85In this mind-bending science fiction thriller, Evelyn Caldwell is a scientist who makes clones, including one of herself, named Martine, who is a more gentle and obedient version of Evelyn — and having an affair with Evelyn's husband. When Martine calls Evelyn in a panic because she's killed Nathan in self-defense, the women scramble to deal with the situation and uncover Nathan's dark and dangerous secrets. "Winter's Orbit" by Everina MaxwellAmazon"Winter's Orbit" by Everina Maxwell, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $15.93When Jainan is rushed into an arranged marriage with his recent widow's cousin, the two must learn to trust each other in deeply uncertain times. "Winter's Orbit" is a Queer, sci-fi romance with a murder to be solved, traumatic pasts to overcome, and many incredibly passionate moments. "The End of Men" by Christina Sweeney-BairdAmazon"The End of Men" by Christina Sweeney-Baird, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.90In 2025, a deadly virus has emerged that targets only men and threatens the male population of the world. Told through first-person narratives from the women who remain, this science fiction novel explores the political, familial, and social repercussions of a world void of men. "A Psalm for the Wild-Built" by Becky ChambersAmazon"A Psalm for the Wild-Built" by Becky Chambers, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $21.70Centuries ago, the robots gained self-awareness, laid down their tools, and wandered into the wilderness, never to be seen again. When a Tea Monk called Sibling Dex meets a robot named Mosscap, the robot must find out what Dex needs before they can part ways in this cozy story about purpose and productivity."Remote Control" by Nnedi OkoraforAmazon"Remote Control" by Nnedi Okorafor, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $12.99This immersive novella about purpose follows Sankofa on her journey to find the mysterious object that bestowed the power of death upon her years before. Both admired and feared, Sankofa is able to bring death upon those around her, a power brought about from a strange seed that fell from the sky during a meteor shower. "Light from Uncommon Stars" by Ryka AokiAmazon"Light from Uncommon Stars" by Ryka Aoki, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.99Shizuka Satomi is nearly free of her deal with the devil: To escape damnation, she must lure seven violin prodigies to sell their souls for success. Only one soul away from freedom, Shizuka meets a talented young runaway and an interstellar refugee and as their three lives entangle, a story of curses and hope emerges. "Rabbits" by Terry MilesAmazon"Rabbits" by Terry Miles, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.60"Rabbits" is a technothriller that is perfect for any reader who loves a good conspiracy. In this novel, "Rabbits" is an immersive alternate reality game that has become more and more vast and intricate since its introduction in 1959. As the 11th round is about to begin, a Rabbits obsessive named K is approached with the mission to fix a problem with the game, one that could have catastrophic consequences if K cannot succeed. "A Desolation Called Peace" by Arkady MartineAmazon"A Desolation Called Peace" by Arkady Martine, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.19This is the second book in the action/adventure space opera series "Texicalaan." Hailed as a perfect sequel to "A Memory Called Empire," the fleet is now facing a large group of unknown aliens and must figure out how to communicate with the enemy while keeping their own people safe. "Girl One" by Sara Flannery MurphyAmazon"Girl One" by Sara Flannery Murphy, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.40In this supernatural science fiction thriller, Josephine Morrow is the first of nine babies controversially conceived without male DNA and raised on a commune. Years after a fire destroyed their commune, Josephine's mother is missing and she must reconnect with her long-estranged sisters to find her, discovering far more than she ever expected about herself and her past along the way.  "Shards of Earth" by Adrian TchaikovskyAmazon"Shards of Earth" by Adrian Tchaikovsky, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $23.49When Earth was destroyed, humanity created enchanted humans, like Idris, to protect them from alien attackers. It's been 50 years since Idris and his crew have been needed when they discover something strange and must race across the galaxy, searching for answers, in order to protect his people once again. "Constance" by Matthew FitzSimmonsAmazon"Constance" by Matthew FitzSimmons, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $11.99In the near future, human cloning allows rich people to avoid death, military organizations to strengthen, and regular people like Constance to upload their consciousness to a clone regularly to prepare for the inevitable transition one day. When Constance's clone wakes up in the hospital with no recent memories and her original dead, she must sort through the disorientation to find out how and why she died. "The Last Watch" by J.S. DewesAmazon"The Last Watch" by J.S. Dewes, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $13.89Thousands of years in the future, the universe is ruled by a military monarchy who sends Sentinels — the exiled and outcast soldiers — to The Divide, the edge of the universe that is slowly collapsing and threatening the end of humanity. Riddled with tension, the Sentinels are humanity's only hope in this action-packed space opera. "Termination Shock" by Neal StephensonAmazon"Termination Shock" by Neal Stephenson, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.44As the consequences of global warming terrorize the planet with superstorms, heat waves, and viral pandemics, one man has an idea that may reverse climate change. Several storylines intersect in this 700-page speculative read where characters in vastly different situations around the globe face the repercussions of climate change. "Appleseed" by Matt BellAmazon"Appleseed" by Matt Bell, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.80"Appleseed" is a speculative science fiction read about climate change, responsibility, and destiny that spans from 18th century Ohio to thousands of years in the future. 50 years from now, one company owns all the world's resources and is facing a decision point that could change humanity's future when an original founder of the company returns, determined to tear down the empire he once helped build. "Firebreak" by Nicole Kornher-StaceAmazon"Firebreak" by Nicole Kornher-Stace, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $17.99Mallory is an orphan of the corporate war, living in a hotel room with eight others and streaming a VR video game to make money and help make ends meet. When Mallory has a run-in with a real-life SpecOps operative in the game, she discovers they aren't the celebrity supersoldiers everyone believes they are, but children like her who were kidnapped and tortured into their roles. Armed with the truth, Mallory knows she must do something to help them, no matter how dangerous it may be. "Machinehood" by S.B. DivyaAmazon"Machinehood" by S.B. Divya, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $16.99In a near-future where humans are dependent upon pills to protect them from disease and give them advanced strength and healing, a terrorist group called The Machinehood emerges, demanding all pill production must be stopped. As productions slow and humanity begins to fracture, humans start killing their robots in fear of an AI takeover in this fascinating new sci-fi dystopia. "Persephone Station" by Stina LeichtAmazon"Persephone Station" by Stina Leicht, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $18.80Known and loved for its large cast of diverse, Queer characters, "Persephone Station" takes place on a planet that is generally ignored until a large corporation decides they want to exploit it for its knowledge and secrets. At the center of it all is Rosie, the owner of Monk's bar, where the customers are either skilled criminals or those who seek to employ them. When Angel is asked to complete a job for Rosie, her squad is prepared for an impossible fight against the corporation. "We Could Be Heroes" by Mike ChenAmazon"We Could Be Heroes" by Mike Chen, available at Amazon and Bookshop, from $14.60Jamie wields the power to read and erase memories and Zoe has incredible strength and speed, though each of them uses their powers to lead generally normal lives. When Jamie and Zoe meet in a memory loss support group, their unlikely friendship may be the key to uncovering their pasts.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 21st, 2021

38 Secret Santa gifts under $25 they"ll actually want to keep

If you're doing Secret Santa, do it right. Check out our list of Secret Santa gifts that won't get regifted, all under $25. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Uncommon Goods You don't have to spend a lot on Secret Santa gifts to find something that's still special. We rounded up 38 fun gifts under $25 that they'll actually really like.  Check out all of our gift guides for even more inspiration, including White Elephant gift ideas.  Sign up for Insider Reviews' weekly newsletter for more buying advice and great deals In theory, Secret Santa is a great idea. In practice, it can be a little underwhelming. You could end up with that cozy scarf your best friend knew you wanted — or, you could end up with lackluster socks from your neighbor that will definitely end up in your re-gift pile.Whether you're responsible for getting a gift for someone you know really well or someone you barely do, get them a gift they won't relegate to the storage closet. If you're spending money, make it count with something they'll actually want. Don't worry, we already did the grunge work and found 38 gifts that your secret Santa recipient will love. We've got everything from the more generically-appealing, like chocolate for your sweet coworker, to the more personal, like a portable cheese melter for your cheese-obsessed friend. Plus, they're all $25 or less, so scroll with abandon.Most of these items are available with expedited shipping, and some should arrive within a few days' time, so don't stress too hard if you've left it to the last minute — just remember that the sooner you order, the better your chances of a timely arrival.Keep reading for all 38 Secret Santa gifts under $25: A behind the scenes look of The Office for fansAmazonWelcome to Dunder Mifflin: The Ultimate Oral History of The Office, available at Amazon, $20.99If they're a super fan of The Office, this tell-all book of the franchise is a must-have gift. The humorous book spills the inside story of the show with memories from every character and 100 behind-the-scene photos to relive the iconic series.A LED ring light for video calls and picturesAmazonUBeezie 10" LED Ring Light with Tripod, available at Amazon, $21.99Secure the best lighting for your friend that always needs to be camera-ready. This luminous ring light is the perfect solution for getting the best angles whether it's video calls or content creation posts. The ten-inch ring light comes with a desk tripod stand, 360 degrees of adjustable phone angles, and three lighting modes with 11 brightness levels.A healthy popcorn makerAmazonNostalgia 16-Cup Air-Pop Popcorn Maker, available at Amazon, $19.99This popcorn maker makes movie night at home much more easier and enjoyable as they never have to leave their spot. This must-have item pops 16 tasty cups of healthy, homemade popcorn with no oil required.A reusable bag that's cute and sustainableBagguStandard Baggu, available at Baggu, $16If they hate single-use plastic, they'll love this cute, reusable bag. It comes in a variety of fun colors and patterns and the simple style makes it a go-to choice for bringing to the gym, grocery shopping, or even to use like a purse.Lip balm inspired by "Schitt's Creek"Beekman 1802Rose Apothecary Tinted Lip Balm, available at Beekman 1802, $8Any fan of "Schitt's Creek" will love getting to feel like they shopped at David's chic general store, Rose Apothecary. Part of a limited edition collection, this tinted lip balm is made from natural goat milk and botanicals, and fittingly scented with the signature Beekman 1802  fragrance, Heirloom Rose. A portable cheese melterAmazonBoska Holland Partyclette Melting Pan, available at Amazon, $19.49Melted cheese can make pretty much every meal better. If you don't believe us, check out this video to see the gooey goodness in action. A small speaker they can fit in their pocketAmazonRokono Bass + Mini Speaker, available at Amazon, $19.22This speaker isn't the best in the world audio-wise (for that you'll have to spend a bit more), but for less than $20 it's a great choice. Give it the friend that values convenience, since this thing is so small they fit it in their pocket and can literally take it anywhere. A tarot cookbook for magical mealsAmazonDivine Your Dinner cookbook, available at Amazon, $19.49For the mystical friend, this cookbook lets them conjure a magical meal according to a fortune. The tarot cookbook contains 78 tarot card-inspired recipes divinely crafted by a tarot priestess and chef.A healing Himalayan salt lampAmazonMineralamp Glow Salt Lamp, available at Amazon, $19.97Himalayan salt lamps have recently become a big trend in home decor, but they're also said to have healing properties that can potentially help purify the air around them. Whether they believe in the health benefits or not, anyone can enjoy the warm glow and aesthetic appeal of this hand-carved, 100% pure Himalayan salt lamp.A set of reusable strawsCrate & Barrel Stainless Steel Drinking Straws, available at Sur la Table, $14.95 (set of 6)For those trying to make a positive impact on the planet, give them these reusable straws so they never have to rely on the wasteful plastic ones again. Use these for cocktails, lemonade, frozen coffee drinks, smoothies, and more.A carry-on cocktail kit to make flights a little more bearableUncommon GoodsOld Fashioned Carry-On Cocktail Kit, available at W&P, $24This kit fits right in their carry-on bag and has all of the fixings for two Old Fashioned cocktails. All they need to do is add whiskey or rye. This cocktail kit can be enjoyed at any altitude, but it will most definitely make for a fun flight activity, and help inspire future travels when the time is right. A five-year journal that asks the big questions — and little ones, tooUrban OutfittersOne Question a Day Journal, available at Amazon, $14.59A gift for your ambitious friend who's always asking where you see yourself in five years. Help them answer this question for themselves, with a daily journal that poses a new question each day for five years.A letter board they can leave fun messages onAmazonFelt Letter Board, available at Amazon, $20.99This is a fun message board and a great piece of home decor all in one. They'll love using this to display mantras, messages for roommates, or just to show off some random thoughts. It comes in plenty of colors, so you're sure to find one that fits their space and aesthetic. A french press coffee maker for their morning brewAmazonOXO Good Grips Shatterproof French Press, available at Amazon, $20.99A French press makes it easy to enjoy delicious, rich coffee every morning. It's not as quick as a Keurig (you have to let the grounds steep for a few minutes), but the results are worth the wait. Plus, they'll love that they can fill it with their favorite beans. A face mask that calms red and irritated skinNordstromMario Badescu Azulene Calming Mask, available at Amazon, $18This light, refreshing face mask is made with botanical ingredients that calm irritated skin. It's delicate on skin and will leave it looking more hydrated, even, and refreshed. A spice set for rescuing bland pizzasUncommon GoodsPizza Rescue Kit, available at Etsy, $15.75All pizza is not created equal. That's why the pizza aficionado in your life deserves this pizza rescue kit. With three flavorful spices, this set will transform even the most "meh" slices to something delicious. If you're not sold, it was made by New Yorkers — and they know good pizza. A best-selling book for foodiesAmazon"Salt Fat Acid Heat," available at Amazon, $16.65Home cooks will love honing in on their craft with this book. Don't expect just a recipe book, though. The vivid illustrations in this one help explain how to master cooking techniques by looking at those four important elements that are in everything we cook and eat. A diary for sports, music, or movie loversUncommon GoodsTicket Stub Diary, available at Uncommon Goods, $14A great gift for anyone who is constantly attending shows, concerts, or sports games — and never throws away their tickets. Instead of keeping them hidden in a shoe box or desk drawer, they can use this diary, which has plastic sleeves to fit all different kinds of tickets as well as open margins on the sides where they can scribble notes to remind them of each event. A tracker for keys, wallets, bags or any other important items they’re prone to loseAmazonTile Mate, available at Tile, from $19.99Your forgetful friends and family will be so thankful for this gift. They can place this tracker in their wallet, purse, or phone case to make sure they never lose their things, because if they do, the Tile app makes it easy to retrace. A cute set of plantersAmazonMkono Modern Succulent Planters, available at Amazon, $25.99 for threeHelp them add some greenery to their space with these cool concrete planters. Add some small plants if you want to complete the gift. A mini, portable pinball machineUrban OutfittersTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, available at Amazon, $19.99This pint-sized pinball machine brings all of the fun and nostalgia of their favorite retro arcade game. It even comes with a keychain, so they can take it with them wherever they go.A cozy beanie for impending chilly daysUrban OutfittersLoose Knit Beanie, available at Urban Oufitters, $15It's that time of year when everyone needs a cozy hat. With a classic cable knit, this one is as cool as it is comfortable.A cheese-making kit for chefs and foodiesThrive MarketMozzarella and Ricotta Cheese Making Kit, available at Thrive Market, $24.99The only thing better than cheese is cheese that you made with your own two hands. Cheese fiends will love the chance to make their own favorite Italian cheeses. Plus, once they learn they'll be armed with cheese-making knowledge to last a lifetime — now that's a gift that keeps on giving.A mini waffle maker for the cutest breakfast everUrban OutfittersDash Mini Waffle Maker, available at Target, $10This miniature waffle maker is adorably small and will look super cute in their kitchen. Plus, it makes for a delicious, easy breakfast.A unique hot sauce blend for an adventurous eaterUncommon GoodsGochujang Sriracha, available at Sur La Table, $9.95Give them a gift to take their hot-sauce habit to the next level. The blend of Thai sriracha and Korean gochujang is sweet, spicy, and unlike anything they've ever tasted before.A shower beer holder for mid-rinse brewsUncommon GoodsShower Beer Holder, available at Uncommon Goods, $15Shower time might not seem like the most opportune moment to crack open a cold one — that is, until now. This silicone beer holder sticks to tile (or any other glossy surface), so they can always have their favorite brew by their side, whatever time it is. A catch-all inspired by their favorite animalWest ElmLlama Trinket Dish, available at West Elm, $20.80Everyone could use a catch-all to collect the small odds and ends around the house. Llama lovers will love using this cute trinket dish modeled after their favorite animal.A set of cool coasters that's worthy of InstagramSociety6Blue Aqua Agate Coaster, available at Society6, $13.59 (set of 4)Let's be real — nobody wants water stains and rings on their nice tables, but admittedly, telling guests to put down coasters first isn't the coolest move. These agate-style coasters are practical, but also add a nice aesthetic, so you'll actually want to leave them out to be used.A history lesson with their cup of teaUncommon GoodsTea Leaf Reading Set, available at Uncommon Goods, $23Give tea lovers the chance to try something new every day with this tea leaf reading kit. It comes with a mug, loose leaf tea, and of course a lesson that explains how to read different symbols.A convenient phone grip for texting on the goAmazonPopSockets Grip, available at Amazon, from $9.97They might seem unnecessary at first, but PopSocket Grips are extremely useful. They can use them as a kickstand to prop up their tablet and to comfortably hold their phone while reading on the subway. It's a very useful way to spend $10 (or less.)An adult card game that will make parties a lot more interestingAmazonCards Against Humanity, available at Amazon, $25If they don't already own Cards Against Humanity, you owe it to them. It's a fun party game that always leaves everyone cackling, and I'm not the only one that thinks this — the game has over 29,000 5-star reviews on Amazon.A cute mug that lets them track their travelsUncommon GoodsColor Map Mugs, available at Uncommon Goods, $25No matter what they're sipping on, they'll love doing so in this mug that they can completely customize. With the included markers they can color in the destinations they've been to or want to go to, for a map of the world that's unique to them. A scratch-off bucket list to spur their next adventureUncommon Goods100 Things To Do Scratch Off Poster, available at Uncommon Goods, $15This bucket list suggests 100 unique activities to look forward to once they're safe again — from little things like "take a cooking class" to big ones like "see the Northern Lights." They can scratch each box off after they complete it to reveal a colorful image. It's a cool poster to have hanging and a definite conversation starter.A faux plant desk organizer for much needed greenery and tidinessAmazonKikkerland Potted Pen Phone Stand, available at Amazon, $12If they're stuck inside an office all day, they could benefit from the sight of something green. This plastic plant isn't as good as the real deal, but it adds some much-needed color and works as desk decor, plus it functions as a phone stand and organizational tool.A stylish cheese and pastry boardAmazonmDesign Modern Marble Round Pastry Board, available at Amazon, $21.99For the entertainer, this elegant marble cheese or pastry serving board will make for a great addition the next time they host a wine and cheese night. To complement the board, you can also pick up a matching wine bottle chiller.A hilarious coffee table bookUncommon Goods"F in Exams," available at Uncommon Goods or Amazon, from $8.50This is a great gift for the person who can laugh at the little things in life, or for anyone who works as a teacher. It's a collection of hilarious wrong test answers that is sure to keep them laughing.A bestselling body moisturizerNordstromKiehl's Creme de Corps, 2.5-ounce, available at Nordstrom, from $14Help them treat their skin right with Kiehl's beloved, and super-hydrating Creme de Corps, another one of our favorite remedies for dryness.A sweet snack they'll enjoy eatingUncommon GoodsDecadent Chocolate Fondue, available at Uncommon Goods, $24Sweeten up their holiday season with this incredibly easy-to-make chocolate fondue. All they have to do is heat up the stoneware containers (which are pre-filled with chocolate) and find some fruit for dipping.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 17th, 2021

San Francisco Mayor Finally Blasts "All The Bulls**t That"s Destroyed" The City, Demands More Money For Cops

San Francisco Mayor Finally Blasts "All The Bulls**t That's Destroyed" The City, Demands More Money For Cops Authored by Michael Shellenberger via Substack, After Black Lives Matter protesters last year demanded that cities “Defund the Police,” San Francisco Mayor London Breed held a press conference to announce that her city would be one of the first to do exactly that. Breed announced $120 million in cuts to the budgets of both San Francisco’s police and sheriff's departments. A spokesperson for the police officers’ union warned the cuts "could impact our ability to respond to emergencies,” but the police chief assured the public that the cuts “will not diminish our ability to provide essential services." Yesterday, Breed reversed herself in dramatic fashion, announcing that she was making an emergency request to the city’s Board of Supervisors for more money for the police to support a crackdown on crime, including open air drug dealing, car break-ins, and retail theft. The plan contains much of what the California Peace Coalition, which Environmental Progress and I cofounded last spring, has been demanding, including in a series of protests by parents of homeless addicts, parents of children killed by fentanyl, and recovering addicts. San Francisco Mayor Breed and other San Francisco politicians have for years promised to crack down on drug dealing and crime, and things have only grown worse over, so skepticism is merited. Already, progressives in San Francisco have denounced Mayor Breed’s plan, which she announced with the support of just two members of the city’s 11 Board of Supervisors, and without the apparent support of the city’s District Attorney. But there’s good reason for hope. Breed's plan lays out big goals and makes very specific promises, including more funding for police. There will be a recall election next June of San Francisco’s District Attorney Chesa Boudin which many political experts believe will succeed. And the progressive Supervisor who represents the Tenderloin, the neighborhood with most of city’s open drug scene, is running for state assembly, creating a leadership vacuum and opportunity for Breed. More importantly, Breed’s speech has the potential to change the conversation about crime. Breed explicitly embraced “tough love,” which is a very different philosophy from Woke victimology, which divides the world into victims and oppressors and demands that victims, a category that includes street addicts and criminals, only be given things, from cash and clean needles to their own apartment with butler service, and not be held accountable for their actions. "I'm proud this city believes in giving people second chances,” said Breed. “Nevertheless, we also need there to be accountability when someone does break the law...Our compassion cannot be mistaken for weakness or indifference…. I was raised by my grandmother to believe in 'tough love,' in keeping your house in order, and we need that, now more than ever." Breed punctuated her emotional speech with an explitive. “It is time for the reign of criminals to end,” she said. “And it comes to an end when are more aggressive with law enforcement and less tolerant of all the bulls**t that has destroyed our city.” Why is that? What explains Breed’s 180 degree reversal in less than 18 months? And what will determine whether she keeps her promise? SF Mayor @LondonBreed has literally just called bullshit on progressive criminal justice reformers “It is time for the reign of criminals to end. It comes to an end when are more aggressive with law enforcement & less tolerant of all the BULLSHIT that has destroyed our city” pic.twitter.com/ewqheftUun — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 14, 2021 Murder, Looting, and Drug Deaths The main reason for Breed’s turnabout is skyrocketing crime. A report released yesterday by San Francisco’s Public Policy Institute of California concluded that homicides increased in Los Angeles, Oakland, San Diego, and San Francisco by 17% in 2021. Property crimes in those four cities rose 7% between 2020 and 2021, reaching 25,000 total in October. Two-thirds of increase is due to larcenies, mainly car break-ins (by 21%) and vehicle thefts (by 10%). PPIC stresses that property and violent crimes are lower than historic levels, but business leaders and residents have told me for two years that they often do not report many crimes. And the rate of arrest has declined significantly for many crimes. In 2019, 40% of all shoplifting reports resulted in arrest; in 2021, only 19% did. San Francisco’s progressive D.A. charged just 46% of theft arrests, a 16 point decline since he took office in 2020, and charged just 35% of petty theft arrests, a 23 point decline from two years ago. In November, San Francisco was the first of several progressive cities hit by smash-and-grab mobs of thieves, sometimes as many as 80 in a group. Video from the San Francisco looting of Louis Vuitton shows criminals walking casually out of the store, goods in hand. In response, many of San Francisco’s luxury stores in its Union Square shopping district boarded up their windows, making the area resemble a blighted neighborhood in Detroit, and embarrassing city leaders.  Meanwhile, San Francisco’s open drug scene contributed to three times more deaths from illicit drugs than covid last year, and has degraded the low-income historically black Tenderloin neighborhood. San Francisco could shut the open drug scene down like European cities did but has instead refused to mandate proven medical treatment to drug addicts. San Francisco’s progressive leaders have effectively been overseeing a radical social experiment, one that killed more African Americans last year alone than the entire Tuskegee syphilis experiment killed over 40 years. Breed has been personally impacted by addiction and crime. Both Breed’s sister and brother struggled with addiction while growing up in public housing in San Francisco. Her sister died of a drug overdose and her brother is in prison for armed robbery. “I am not for playing games with my life when it comes to politics,” she told an interviewer. “I’ve been in that community, working in the trenches, dealing with the public safety issues, dealing with those things because my people are the ones getting left behind at the end of the day.” But Breed also had to be pushed. In May, I helped Jacqui Berlinn, a mother of a homeless fentanyl addict, organize the first-ever protest of open drug dealing in the Tenderloin, which generated national and local headlines and local TV coverage. A few months later, Berlinn and I co-founded, with parents of children killed by fentanyl, recovering addicts, and community leaders, a new state-wide group, the California Peace Coalition, to demand the enforcement of laws against open drug dealing, mandatory treatment for addicts who break the law, and a state takeover of psychiatric and addiction care. Then, in early November, over 200 mostly poor and working class people in the Tenderloin protested a 161% increase in violence in the neighborhood between 2020 and 2021, and open drug dealing, in a march on City Hall. Part of their motivation was a brutal attack on an 11-year-old girl while she was walking to school. The day before, a 61-year-old man was shot while sitting in a donut shop. Two weeks later, a half a dozen gunmen fired 30 and 40 rounds at each other, sending bystanders running in chaos. Breed put their voices at the heart of her announcement. “Last week, I met with a group of families from the TL [Tenderloin],” she wrote. “I was told about drug dealers threatening grandmothers. About mid-day shootings near a park where a single mother brings her toddler after school. About assaults on the street…. We need to take back our Tenderloin.” The response to Breed’s remarks from parents and residents was overwhelmingly positive. “I can’t express how happy this makes me,” tweeted Berlinn. Tom Wolff, a formerly homeless drug addict who is on the city’s Drug Dealing Task Force, said, "I'm really happy to hear the mayor take a tougher approach on this. We can't arrest our way out of everything, but there needs to be some target specific enforcement." Michelle Tandler, a San Francisco native whose photos of boarded up Union Square stores went viral, said, “I've been observing Mayor Breed for many years now and have to say, I think this was her greatest speech to-date. Mayor Breed took a stand for what is right. I haven't seen her this impassioned since her inauguration a few years back.” Seizing the Momentum Breed’s speech puts pressure on progressive San Francisco supervisors and the District Attorney to shut down the open drug scene in the Tenderloin. When he ran for office in 2018, San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin called “open-air drug use and drug sales… technically victimless crimes.” When Boudin announced that he was not going to prosecute street-level drug dealers he said it was because they are “themselves [are] victims of human trafficking.”  But, after the looting of Louis Vuitton, Boudin struck a more tough-on-crime tone. “I'm outraged by the looting in Union Square last night” Boudin tweeted. “We are seeing similar crimes across the country. I have a simple message: don't bring that noise to our City.” Stanford addiction expert @KeithNHumphreys describes the importance, and politics, of the promise by San Francisco Mayor @LondonBreed to shut down the open drug scene in the Tenderloin neighborhood, which kills addicts and is ruining the city. pic.twitter.com/yEhnTbbcpi — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 15, 2021 But standing up for luxury stores is different from shutting down open drug scenes. “Boudin made a very strong statement after the [flash mob] theft of Louis Vuitton,” said Stanford addiction specialist Keith Humphreys. “But I want a DA who is the most worried about the poorest residents and less about Louis Vuitton.” Other politicians are responding to the crime wave. California Attorney General Rob Bonta promised “more resources” for investigating retail theft. And the Mayor of Oakland, which will have its highest homicides in nine years, has demanded more funding for the police, and asked Gov. Gavin Newsom to finally implement technology that would allow police to read license plates on state highways to catch criminals. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer said he viewed Breed’s announcement as vindication for what he has been advocating. “Californians are tolerant, but we don’t tolerate brazen crime and dangerous streets,” he said. ”It should not even be a question as to whether or not the open drug markets should be shut down — I’ve been saying for years: if you let people live and do drugs on the streets, you’re condemning them to die on the streets. I enforced this as Mayor of San Diego and it must be enforced throughout California.” Sacramento District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert, a former Republican running for California Attorney General as an independent, praised Breed and used her announcement to attack Attorney General Bonta as soft-on-crime. “Bravo to London Breed,” Schubert tweeted, “and her commitment to cracking down on crime and open air drug usage. Breed has laid out common sense strategies that Rob Bonta clearly disagrees with. San Franciscans deserve better than an Attorney General who won’t listen to local officials about common sense public safety measures.” Breed’s announcement come days after former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter attacked progressive District Attorney Larry Krasner for dismissing the city’s record high homicides, and several weeks after Seattle voters, of whom less than 10 percent voted for Donald Trump in 2020, elected a Republican as the city’s State Attorney in response to rising crime. “I don't think we can overestimate the influence of the city of Seattle voting 8% for Donald Trump one year ago and voting 55% for a Republican city attorney who had a law and order platform in this year’s election,” said Humphreys. Here’s former Philly Mayor @Michael_Nutter denouncing “white wokeness” and “white privilege” for resulting in more homicide and crime pic.twitter.com/05bLU1Tdqn — Michael Shellenberger (@ShellenbergerMD) December 14, 2021 In the end, shutting down the city’s open drug scenes is crucial to ending drug deaths and the chaos that plagues the city. “It is an entirely fixable problem,” said Humphreys, “as many cities have shown. There will still be drug use and addiction in San Francisco. But harm reduction requires closing down open air drug scenes. Every city in America has drug problems. They do not all have a drug scene like San Francisco.” Humphreys emphasized, as did the authors of a study of how five European cities closed open drug scenes, that coordination between homeless service providers and police officers is crucial. The head of one of them, Urban Alchemy, Lena Miller, said, in response to Breed’s announcement, “We are relieved. The problem wasn’t created overnight and solving it will take time. But we very happy and looking forward to everyone coming off the sidelines to solve this.” For Humphreys, citing the European model, “Harm reduction is not a fantasy about a drug-free society, which we're never going to have. It's trying to minimize the damage that drugs do. Closing down open drug markets is going to have huge gains for people, particularly in the Tenderloin, but more broadly in the city.” Breed announcement may help change how Americans think about drugs. While it may not be possible to halt drugs from coming into the U.S., it is possible to shut down open drug scenes, and mandate treatment for those who need it. “The public is wanting some action here and she's going to try to deliver it,” said Humphreys. “I think her announcement will resonate in some of these other cities, too, and give courage. I admire the mayor for taking a political risk on behalf of the least powerful people in the city.” *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here Tyler Durden Thu, 12/16/2021 - 21:40.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 16th, 2021

Progressive District Attorneys Radically Change Rule Of Law In California Cities

Progressive District Attorneys Radically Change Rule Of Law In California Cities By Brad Jones of Epoch Times Amid a wave of “smash-and-grab” robberies and other crimes, a former prosecutor is claiming that more than 50 prosecutors, support, and victim services staff have quit their jobs over San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin’s progressive criminal justice reform policies. “The office is imploding,” said the former prosecutor, who produced the list of those who’ve left their jobs since Boudin was sworn into office on Jan. 10, 2020. “Not all of them quit, but most of them quit. Some were fired,” said the individual, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal. “The list isn’t up to date. I think more have left.” Boudin fired seven prosecutors during his second day on the job. Another former investigative supervisor sued Boudin for wrongful termination last month, claiming retaliation for calling out “improper and unlawful actions” by two prosecutors. Boudin’s office hasn’t responded to inquiries by The Epoch Times. The individual also cited a Sept. 24 court proceeding during which Superior Court Judge Bruce Chan raised concerns about actions taken in the District Attorney’s Office. “For what it’s worth, let me say a few things, maybe with the forlorn hope that someone in the DA’s office might pay attention,” Chan said. Court transcripts cite Chan as saying he “wholeheartedly” supports Boudin’s efforts to reform the criminal justice system, but he said: “I cannot express in any more certain terms my disapproval of the manner in which the Office of the District Attorney is being managed. Chesa Boudin (L), Leif Dautch (center), and Nancy Tung deliver their platforms for the office of San Francisco district attorney on Sept. 4, 2019. (Nancy Han/NTD) “We simply cannot have the current levels of inadvertence, disorganization, and expect there to be any public confidence in what we do here collectively.” Chan criticized the “constant turnover” in the office, saying, “I hope that people in the District Attorney’s Office will shift their focus from some of the bigger issues and concern themselves with the unglamorous yet necessary work of public prosecution.” The former prosecutor agreed with Chan’s comments in the hearing and accused Boudin of trying to downplay increased crime statistics. “That’s the thing that’s really frustrating is that they know it’s worse. They know it, and they’re lying.” While progressive prosecutors contend that “the reason why there’s so many criminals is because our justice system turns them into criminals, it’s a backward argument,” the person said. “They argue that people keep getting arrested because cops keep arresting them and that’s the problem.” Some believe that if the police would just leave people alone, they wouldn’t commit crimes, the person said. Crimes, especially property offenses, are vastly underreported because the public has lost faith in the justice system, the former prosecutor said. “They think that no one cares. They think that nothing is going to happen,” the person said. When police sometimes tell victims of property crimes there’s no point in reporting these incidents because district attorneys likely won’t do anything, “unfortunately, they’re right,” the person said. “People blame the cops for not wanting to take reports. That’s a symptom. The actual problem is that there’s no prosecution. If you start charging cases, the cops will step up and do their jobs.” Union Square visitors look at damage to a Louis Vuitton store in San Francisco on Nov. 21, 2021. (Danielle Echeverria/San Francisco Chronicle via AP) Crime Rates Rise The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office said recently that charges were filed against nine suspects in connection with organized retail theft at a Louis Vuitton store in Union Square. “These brazen acts will not be tolerated in San Francisco,” Boudin said in the statement. However, critics say the rising crime rates put Boudin at risk of being ousted in a June recall election. Police reported that vehicle break-ins have increased 100 to 750 percent in parts of the city compared to last year, with the number of reported vehicle thefts reaching 1,891 in May 2021—more than double the 923 reported in May 2020. San Francisco also recorded one of the largest increases in burglaries among major cities last year, with a jump of 47 percent—a trend that has continued this year. Fatal and nonfatal shootings in the first six months of this year were up more than 100 percent from the year-earlier period, increasing to 119 from 58, the city’s police chief said at a July press conference. More than 700 people died of drug overdoses last year in the city, a record that is likely to be surpassed this year, according to the chief medical examiner. Zack Smith, a legal fellow in the Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at The Heritage Foundation, has co-authored a series of reports on progressive prosecutors. He claims that the recent rise in organized thefts and other problems in San Francisco and Los Angeles are the result of extreme progressive policies. “I think you can draw a direct line to it,” Smith told The Epoch Times. “What do you expect to happen? It’s going to lead to a breakdown in law and order. It’s going to embolden criminals to commit these brazen types of thefts that we’ve seen.” In recent election cycles, several progressive candidates won their races against independent, traditional prosecutors, many of whom are from the same political party as these challengers. A man in a Bad Boys Bail Bonds jacket waits outside the Sheriff’s Department Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 30, 2015. (Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images) Progressive District Attorney Policies Boudin isn’t alone in his views on criminal justice reform, and like other progressive district attorneys—including George Gascón in Los Angeles, Marilyn Mosby in Baltimore, Rachael Rollins in Boston, Kim Foxx in Chicago, Larry Krasner in Philadelphia, and Steve Descano in Fairfax County, Virginia—he’s found himself at the center of controversy. In line with the progressive policies of restorative justice, Boudin campaigned on a platform to end mass incarceration, eliminate cash bail, and vowed to create a panel to review sentencing and potential wrongful convictions. Following his election in November 2019, Boudin announced he would deemphasize the prosecution of drug cases, so-called quality-of-life cases, and property offenses. Boudin has indicated he wants to shift the focus to more serious offenses and take on corporations. He has also suggested hiring public defenders as prosecutors. He has refused to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and has threatened to prosecute ICE officers whom he accused of breaking sanctuary laws. “The people of San Francisco have sent a powerful and clear message: It’s time for radical change to how we envision justice,” Boudin said in 2019. Boudin and the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office claim they “develop and implement data-driven policies and practices that promote justice, protect crime survivors, and that address the root causes of crime.” “The San Francisco District Attorney’s Office also strives to create policies that promote racial justice; end the criminalization of poverty; and combat mass incarceration by relying on incarceration as a last—and not first—resort,” according to the DA’s website. “Many of these policies involve innovative approaches designed to remedy systemic problems. The Office gathers and relies upon data-backed evidence in making policy decisions.” One of Boudin’s first actions was to scrap the cash bail system. The DA’s office states Boudin doesn’t believe anyone should be held in jail because they’re too poor to post bail. Under his policies, if someone poses a serious public safety risk, the DA’s office will ask that the person remain in jail while their case is pending in the courts, according to the office’s website. Everyone who doesn’t pose a serious public safety risk is released while their case is pending, although sometimes with conditions of “electronic monitoring, GPS, or drug testing.” “DA Boudin’s policy on ending cash bail in San Francisco was widely heralded as the most progressive bail policy in the nation. It plays an important step towards ending the criminalization of poverty and stopping mass incarceration,” the website states. George Gascón, then-San Francisco district attorney who took office as Los Angeles County district attorney on Dec. 7, 2020, speaks during a news conference in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 2014. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images) Los Angeles District Attorney Since Gascón took office as Los Angeles district attorney in December 2020, the city has seen a 49 percent increase in homicides, recording 325 in the first 10 months this year, and a 16 percent jump in aggravated assaults. Auto thefts are also up 50 percent, accompanying a recent wave in “follow-home” robberies, according to police. Multiple veteran prosecutors have sued Gascón, alleging retaliation for voicing criticism of the district attorney’s policies. Neither Gascón nor his office have responded to inquiries by The Epoch Times Progressives worked hard to oust former Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey, a registered Democrat and the first female and first black American to head the District Attorney’s Office. “It is political,” Smith said, “but this is a battle, not so much that all breaks down along Republican or Democratic lines, but between traditional understandings of law and order and hard-left ideologues.” Lacey was “relatively left-leaning, but by no means radical,” Smith said. “She understood her job was to enforce the laws to prosecute crimes and to protect the safety of her community. But her policies were not radical enough for George Soros or George Gascón, and so because of that, Gascón challenged her and unfortunately ultimately defeated her.” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who had backed Lacey for years, suddenly shifted their support to Gascón. Progressive candidates are challenging other Democrats who aren’t necessarily “hard-left ideologues like these individuals,” Smith said. Former Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley, who held the office for three terms from 2000 to 2012, told The Epoch Times that as Gascón continues to “double down on his ill-conceived, soft-on-crime” policies, crime will not only get worse in LA, but spread to neighboring areas as well. “What you’re seeing now is a lot of these very, very horrible crimes being committed in the suburbs in multimillion-dollar homes in Beverly Hills, Hancock Park, on the street, you know, that’s a very high-end area in Los Angeles. “They are going to the suburbs. They’re going to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills,” he said. “This is going to spread out and everyone in Los Angeles County is going to be experiencing this crime wave.” Then-Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley speaks during a news conference on Sept. 21, 2010. (Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) Gascón wants to reduce incarceration and opposes enhanced sentences that impose additional jail time for people with long criminal histories, or who inflict great bodily injuries, use a gun, or are involved in gangs, Cooley said. “He wants to eliminate enhancements. He wants to reduce incarceration to the lowest possible point, and he’s able to do that through his charging policies,” he said. “If you don’t charge great bodily injury when someone is injured in a shooting, then they’re not going to get the extra time for great bodily injury.” Many of the suspects in armed follow-home robberies and “these shoot-’em-ups at the restaurants and the flash-smash-bash-dash robberies” are juvenile gang members, Cooley said. “They all know that juveniles, even if they commit multiple murders, will never ever be tried in adult court, even though they’re age 16 or age 17. They know this and they take advantage of it. “That’s why in Beverly Hills, they’ve had a spate of robberies by juveniles—at gunpoint, armed robberies—and the juveniles are put out there by adults, because they’re not going to suffer any punishment. They will not even be charged with an armed robbery under Gascón’s policies. They commit an armed robbery, they stick a gun in someone’s face, they take their purse, they will not be charged with armed robbery,” he said. Kathleen Cady, a retired Los Angeles County deputy district attorney, said that when Gascón was sworn into office on Dec. 7 last year, he “almost simultaneously” issued nine new policies. “There were 61 pages of policies … and they all negatively impact public safety and victims,” she said. Some of those policies prohibit sentence enhancements and transferring minors to adult court for serious crimes such as murder and rape, as well as preventing prosecutors from the District Attorney’s Office from attending parole hearings. “I’ve represented well over 20 murder victims’ families where the murderer was a 16- or 17-year-olds, and in each and every one of those cases, the prosecutor is not allowed to ask the judge if the minor can go up to adult court, and the minor stays in juvenile court,” Cady said. Minors can only be held in custody until they’re 25 years old. Cady, who represents crime victims of all political stripes, agrees the “so-called reform movement” behind Gascón’s campaign is “very political,” but said the response to his policies isn’t. Opponents aren’t banding together based on politics, she said. “It’s not a right-versus-left issue at all. It’s absolutely a public safety issue. It really has nothing to do with politics, it has to do with common sense and keeping the public safe,” Cady said. “I would call myself a liberal Democrat, but I am completely opposed to this particular reform movement, because reform means to make better. Nothing is better since he has come into office.” Cady said she isn’t opposed to justice reform, but contends that Gascón’s vision of reform isn’t working. “I’m certainly not opposed to making things better. Most of us are not opposed to making things better. The problem is that his vision of what criminal justice reform is, is wrong. It’s very mistaken,” she said. “He is using false statistics and what he claims to be data to inform his policies, which are blanket policies [that] do not allow for looking at individual cases, circumstances, [and] criminal histories.” Tyler Durden Wed, 12/15/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 15th, 2021

27 gifts for music lovers that"ll hit all the right notes, from guitar ornaments to vinyl subscriptions

If they love music, you'll want to gift them something that reflects their passion. These gifts are perfect for musicians and music fans alike. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.These gifts are perfect for musicians and music lovers alike.Vinyl Me Please/Instagram The music lover in your life can always be found listening to or playing music.  Here are 27 gift ideas to fuel their passion for songs, bands, instruments, and any genre of music.  Still looking for a great gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested.  There are the people who casually listen to whatever happens to be on the radio, and then there are the people who spend hours carefully curating playlists, filling their calendars with concerts, and even playing music themselves.This gift guide is for the latter group, who don't just like music but love it. To fuel their passion, you can gift them something that elevates their listening experience, teaches them something new about music, or puts them right in front of their favorite singer.Due to the impact of the pandemic on the music industry, we also suggest looking at their favorite local music store or live event venue for merch and gift cards. Or, you can make a donation to local musician funds and venues in your recipient's name.The 27 best gifts for music lovers:A handmade ornament that pays homage to their interestsUncommon GoodsFelt Guitar Ornament, $15, available at Uncommon GoodsGet them a detailed, handmade guitar ornament to hang on their tree. A gift card for future concert ticketsStubHubStubHub Gift Card, from $25, available at StubHubWhether their favorite musicians are performing again or your gift recipient wants to wait a little longer before comfortably going to concerts again, a gift card for concert tickets is won't go to waste — and gives them something to look forward to.The best noise-canceling headphonesSonySony WH-1000XM4 Wireless Headphones, $248, available at AmazonThe best gift is the gift that improves their music-listening experience. For that, we recommend our favorite noise-canceling headphones — Sony's WH-1000XM4 — that balance sound quality, noise cancellation, and comfort with a solid price.You can find more good noise-canceling headphone options here.A microphone that brings karaoke to their homeUncommon GoodsKaraoke Microphone Speaker, $50, available at Uncommon GoodsThis karaoke speaker will help liven up all special events and get-togethers. They'll need to download an app to connect the microphone to their phone and then they'll be all set to sing their heart out all night long.A cocktail recipe book that pairs good music with good drinksAmazonBooze & Vinyl: A Spirited Guide to Great Music and Mixed Drinks, $22.49, available at Barnes & NobleCombining two great pastimes, the fun guide features 70 albums from the '50s through the 2000s and an A-side and B-side cocktail for each one. They're organized by mood, so your recipient will know just what pairing to use for the night.  A digital lecture on how music changes the brainOne Day UniversityHow Music Shapes the Brain by Dr. Indre Viskontas, $35, available at One Day UniversityLearning and performing music changes the brain, which is why neuroscientist and opera singer/director Dr. Indre Viskontas says the musician's brain is hailed as a model of neuroplasticity.Even listening to music can change the brain, and in this short, affordable lecture, Viskontas explains how — and what — music can tell us about what it means to be human. Learn more about how One Day University works here.A fun music association gameAmazonGame That Song Music Card Game, available at Amazon, $19.99The rules of this card game are simple. Everyone must choose a song based on a random card prompt, such as "a song to play that brings back good memories" or "a song to play about time." Then, everyone playing votes on the best song selection.You can play this fun, challenging game with their family, friends, or other loved ones to learn more about everyone's music preferences.A vintage band teeUrban OutfittersThe Rolling Stones Tie-Dye Tee, $39, available at Urban OutfittersUrban Outfitters offers tons of graphic T-shirts featuring the logos and designs of classic artists and bands like Nirvana, Sublime, Metallica, and The Notorious B.I.G.A vinyl record membershipVinyl Me, PleaseThree-month Gift Membership, $119, available at Vinyl Me, PleaseRecord owners experience no greater joy than when they get to add to their collection and play a new vinyl for the first time. Your recipient will choose from three different types of tracks each month and will also receive extra goodies in each package. The three-month membership includes one bonus record. Pasta shaped like music notesAmazonPastabilities Music Pasta (2-Pack), $12.99, available at AmazonIf they like playing music as much as they like playing with their food, here's a fun, edible gift they can cook right away. A poster of famous guitarsPopchartA Visual Compendium of Guitars 18"x 24" Print, $30, available at Pop ChartCan they identify all the guitars held by famous rockers in this eye-catching print? They'll find the musical companions of  Jimi Hendrix, Tom Petty, Kurt Cobain, Joan Jett, and many other iconic musicians. A custom plaque of a song they loveEtsyPersonalized Glass Acrylic Music Plaque, available at Etsy, from $26.48Submit your recipient's favorite song to make this eye-catching acrylic plaque. You can use an album cover or a personal picture to make this gift feel even more special. You can also opt for a stand so they can keep the plaque close by on their desk or any other surface.A Cameo appearance from their favorite musicianCameoCameo appearance, available at Cameo, from $50Make their day by gifting them a special video message from their favorite musician. With hundreds of artists to choose from, you can filter artists by your recipient's favorite music genre.If you want to go the extra mile, some artists offer availability for one-on-one chats and Zoom calls. Some musicians you can find on the site include Snoop Dogg, Kenny G, and Ice T.A customizable record doormatUncommon GoodsPersonalized Record Doormat, available at Uncommon Goods, $35Turn their favorite record into a treasured home decor piece with this thoughtful gift. Personalize this doormat with their favorite record title and their name to make this gift feel like it was made just for them.A turntable that doubles as a Bluetooth speakerBest BuySony Bluetooth Stereo Turntable, available at Best Buy, $229.99No music lover's vinyl collection is complete without a turntable that can play their favorite records over and over again. This turntable from Sony not only has incredible sound quality but also doubles as a Bluetooth speaker, allowing them to play music from their other devices.A pair of warm, music-themed socksAmazonFoot Traffic Novelty Socks, $12, available at AmazonThese soft and comfortable socks come in a variety of music-themed patterns, from a simple but striking piano keyboard to an ensemble of orchestral musicians. A cool music mixing gameAmazonDropMix Music Gaming System, $69.98, available at AmazonDropMix is a fast-paced game that challenges them to make new and unexpected mixes with popular tracks they already know and love. It'll be a hit among competitive music lovers and experts.A pair of wireless earbudsAppleAirPods with Charging Case, $119.99, available at Best BuyApple AirPods are far from perfect, but we have to admit they're really convenient. They're the easiest earbuds to pop into their ears since they're light and pair automatically with their phone, and they'll stay in surprisingly well. Pencils they won't be able to stop drumming on their deskAmazonSuck UK Drumstick Pencils, $7.99, available at AmazonThese clever pencils are an easy stocking stuffer for budding and experienced drummers alike. A high-end visual speakerCotodamaCotodama Canvas Lyric Speaker, $1,900, available at Cotodama This sleek WiFi-enabled speaker, which integrates seamlessly into their living room or bedroom, recognizes and artistically displays the lyrics of the song as it plays.The sound quality is also top-notch, which isn't a surprise since the company behind it is part of an incubator run by the famous Abbey Road Studios.An online class taught by a film-scoring legendMasterclassHans Zimmer Film Scoring Class, $180, available at MasterClassUnless you've been living under a rock, you've heard the work of film score composer Hans Zimmer. Through lessons on tempo, character themes, sound palettes, and more, the composer of over 150 movies including "Inception" and "The Lion King" shows students how he makes movie score magic. A waterproof portable speakerUltimate Ears/InstagramUltimate Ears Boom 3 Portable Waterproof Bluetooth Speaker, $142.80, available at AmazonThe loud and powerful UE Boom 3 delivers 360-degree sound and has a long battery life, perfect for outdoor hangouts. They can even continue being DJ at the beach or in the tub because the speaker is waterproof. A book about why humans love musicAmazonThis Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, $13.19, available at AmazonThis fascinating book delves into why music is so important to us, and is written by someone with a firm grasp on both the artistic and scientific sides of it: A neuroscientist who previously worked as a session musician, sound engineer, and record producer.A smart speakerTargetAmazon Echo (4th Generation), $99.99, available at TargetThey'll be able to stream music from Amazon Music, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, SiriusXM, and more without even lifting a finger. The newest version of the popular Echo device has even better audio features than before: 360-degree Dolby-powered audio, dynamic bass response, and personalized equalizer settings. Wine glasses they can play songs withUncommon GoodsMajor Scale Musical Wine Glasses (Set of 2), $68, available at UncommonGoodsThese special wine glasses have lines labeling different notes of the scale, so they can play a tune with their finger while enjoying their favorite red or white. A way to organize their concert ticket stubsAmazonJust the Ticket: Ticket Stub Organizer, $9.46, available at AmazonVideos and photos aside, a way to remember their concerts, down to the exact seat in the venue, is this ticket stub diary. There's also space on each page to jot down notes and memories to look fondly back on later. Cufflinks shaped like a sixteenth note and treble clefCufflinks.comCufflinks, Inc. Music Notes Cufflinks, $55, available at Cufflinks.comThese small accessories are the perfect finishing note on their ensemble, whether they're heading to work or the symphony. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 13th, 2021