DJ Hoppa, Logic And Marlon Craft Collaborate On "Keep Being You" Single

From the thriving independent hip-hop realm to the burgeoning cannabis industry, DJ Hoppa stands as a multifaceted artist-entrepreneur. read more.....»»

Category: blogSource: benzingaSep 18th, 2023

Auto Giants Charge Up the EV Era With Electrifying Alliances

From fierce rivals to electric allies, auto biggies are actively joining forces for an electrifying revolution on the roads. The world stands on the brink of a transport revolution, with electrification lighting the way. EVs are becoming more popular than ever, driving legacy automakers to adapt swiftly. However, the landscape is fraught with challenges, including high costs for a swift e-mobility shift, leading to unprecedented collaborations in the auto industry.EV Boom & The Need for Infrastructure GrowthEV sales are witnessing a massive surge, and the trend is going to only blossom in the coming years. Auto titans are revving up their e-mobility game and are setting deadlines to phase out internal combustion engine models. More than 807,000 EVs were sold last year in the United States, accounting for 5.8% of total vehicle sales, up from 3.2% in 2021. Per Statista, EV sales in the United States are expected to reach 2.46 million units by 2028.As sales grow, the spotlight falls on the backbone of this revolution — infrastructure. The emphasis isn’t merely on producing EVs. The focus is increasing on creating the necessary ecosystem to support them. Without adequate EV infrastructure, the growth of the market could be hindered. With a potential stumbling block being the astronomical costs associated with infrastructure development, automakers are taking an unconventional route, i.e., forging alliances.Collaboration Over CompetitionAuto biggies are putting rivalries aside, choosing instead to collaborate to overcome shared challenges. A significant concern is the lack of charging solutions and standardization of chargers. Also, they need to ensure that the electrical grids can withstand the demands of increasing EV adoption. Moreover, seamless communication between utility providers and EVs remains pivotal.In a groundbreaking move, three auto giants, BMW Group BMWYY, Ford F and Honda HMC, announced a joint venture — ChargeScape, LLC — yesterday. The joint venture’s core objective is to create a single, cost-effective platform, bridging the gap between EV drivers, automakers and utility companies.While BMWYY carries a Zacks Rank #5 (Strong Sell), F and HMC are currently #3 Ranked (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.ChargeScape: Pioneering a Sustainable FutureChargeScape seeks to streamline interactions between automakers and electric utility providers. This platform will provide North American grid-managing utility companies access to a potentially universal energy pool stored in EV batteries, taking advantage of bidirectional charging capabilities. With many EVs equipped with bidirectional charging, these vehicles can both draw and feed energy back to the grid.This two-way energy flow positions EVs not only as transport vehicles but also as pivotal contributors to energy stability. Ford, BMW, and Honda's venture, ChargeScape, aims to optimize this, eliminating the need for multiple negotiations with utility providers. The move will simplify logistics for automakers and utilities, making energy from various EVs accessible through a single platform. EV owners can also benefit from ChargeScape, using it to optimize charging times and potentially share their vehicle's energy with the grid during peak demand, contributing to grid stability and renewable energy utilization.Ultimately, ChargeScape strives to enhance electric grid reliability and sustainability, accelerating the adoption of smart charging and vehicle-to-everything solutions nationwide.Other Notable Collaborations in the EV EcosystemMany other companies have been actively forming alliances in the EV space. Initially, this trend gained momentum in North America when various auto giants decided to adopt Tesla's TSLA NACS charging standard. It was Ford that got the ball rolling. In May, Ford announced that it would make its charging cords compatible with Tesla's NACS cables, granting Ford EV owners access to Tesla's vast Supercharger network.General Motors GM followed suit. In June, General Motors announced a collaboration with Tesla to integrate NACS plugs into its EVs starting in 2025. The collaboration will also provide GM EV users access to 12,000 Tesla Superchargers for charging their vehicles. GM EV drivers will get access to the Tesla Supercharger Network starting in 2024 and will initially require an adaptor. Several other automakers, including Honda, Rivian, Nissan and others, joined the bandwagon.In late July, seven major automakers — BMW, GM, Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Mercedes-Benz, and Stellantis — had announced their alliance to foster a clean energy-powered charger network across North America. Their ambitious objective is to roll out a minimum of 30,000 high-speed EV chargers by 2030, with the inaugural stations slated to commence operations in the United States during the summer of 2024. To accomplish this endeavor, the consortium plans to utilize funding from the U.S. National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure program and explore additional financial support from state and federal sources in the public and private sectors.Notably, collaborations aren’t limited to infrastructure. GM and Honda are jointly working on shared EV platforms, with plans to produce millions of affordable EVs by 2027, utilizing GM's flexible EV platform and upgraded Ultium-branded battery packs. Similarly, Ford and Volkswagen have joined forces to craft a new range of EVs and autonomous vehicles.An Era of Collaborative AdvancementThe automotive landscape is in the midst of an exciting change. With electrification gaining momentum, collaboration is becoming the new competitive edge. The future of EVs seems not only promising but also more interconnected than ever as automakers join forces to shape the future of mobility. While challenges may lie ahead on this transformative journey, these alliances symbolize hope, innovation and a commitment to a cleaner, greener future. Top 5 ChatGPT Stocks Revealed Zacks Senior Stock Strategist, Kevin Cook names 5 hand-picked stocks with sky-high growth potential in a brilliant sector of Artificial Intelligence. By 2030, the AI industry is predicted to have an internet and iPhone-scale economic impact of $15.7 Trillion. Today you can invest in the wave of the future, an automation that answers follow-up questions … admits mistakes … challenges incorrect premises … rejects inappropriate requests. As one of the selected companies puts it, “Automation frees people from the mundane so they can accomplish the miraculous.”Download Free ChatGPT Stock Report Right Now >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report Ford Motor Company (F): Free Stock Analysis Report Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (HMC): Free Stock Analysis Report General Motors Company (GM): Free Stock Analysis Report Tesla, Inc. (TSLA): Free Stock Analysis Report Bayerische Motoren Werke AG Sponsored ADR (BMWYY): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 13th, 2023

List of 55 Artificial Intelligence Companies in USA

In this article, we will cover a list of 55 Artificial Intelligence Companies in USA. If you want to skip our detailed analysis, head straight to the top 10 Artificial Intelligence Companies in USA.  On 21st July 2023, seven major tech giants, including Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT), Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ:META), and, Inc […] In this article, we will cover a list of 55 Artificial Intelligence Companies in USA. If you want to skip our detailed analysis, head straight to the top 10 Artificial Intelligence Companies in USA.  On 21st July 2023, seven major tech giants, including Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT), Meta Platforms Inc (NASDAQ:META), and, Inc (NASDAQ:AMZN) pledged a “voluntary commitment” to collaborate with the Biden administration to mitigate the risks associated with artificial intelligence (AI). Following a meeting with President Joe Biden, these companies agreed to focus on safety, security, and trust in AI development. This included subjecting AI systems to external testing for safety and capabilities, safeguarding against cyber and insider threats, and ensuring that AI does not promote bias or discrimination.  How Real is the AI Hype? Whenever a new technology enters the market, investors deliberate its economic implications and its potential to augment corporate profits. The hype around Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) has now gained significant momentum which can be realized by the fact that it has contributed to a surge of nearly 40% in the Nasdaq Composite, in the first half of 2023.  While some analysts have coined this surge as an “A.I. gold rush,” there are contrasting perspectives. Some believe that investors might be preemptively optimistic about the valuation of A.I-related stocks. These cautious perspectives suggest that the anticipated A.I. boom might not unfold as projected, especially concerning stock market investors. However, the analysts at Goldman Sachs present a differing view, contending that the hype about A.I. is indeed real. Kash Rangan, a software analyst at the bank, conveyed his viewpoint through an interview featured in Goldman’s latest publication, “Top of Mind.” Rangan stated, “A.I likely isn’t undergoing a period of unwarranted exaggeration. When there’s a unanimous consensus within the technology provider community that a genuine technological shift is taking place, it signifies an actual transformation. Furthermore, when customer interest starts to escalate, such enthusiasm shouldn’t be dismissed as mere hype. The growing interest from customers solidifies the authenticity of the trend.” To read more about the disruptions by AI, check out our article on Industries Being Revolutionized by AI. How Important is Artificial Intelligence for Corporations? While the threat of AI replacing humans for employment opportunities remains huge, there is not denying that the same AI has tremendous potential to boost the productivity and efficiency of corporations. In fact, a senior strategist at Goldman Sachs, Ben Snider, projects a 1.5% annual productivity growth over the next decade through A.I which can potentially lead to a 30% or higher boost in S&P 500 profits. To read about how AI can replace human jobs, check out our article about Jobs That Will Disappear in the Future Due to AI. To exemplify, we can look at how NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA) has risen as a leader in AI by spearheading the development of specialized GPUs optimized for intricate AI computations. These GPUs, built with powerful parallel processing capabilities, are exceptionally well-suited for AI tasks. With a 95% market share in the GPU sector, NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA)’s dominance has become more than evident, as it empowers a number of AI applications with outstanding performance and efficiency. Mairs & Power, an investment advisor, released “Mairs & Power Growth Fund” that commented in second quarter investor letter: “Regarding stock selection in the first half, NVIDIA Corporation (NASDAQ:NVDA) was a massive outperformer, up 189.54%. Amazon and Microsoft were also positive contributors, up 55.19% and 42.66%, respectively. All three stocks benefited from a renewed interest in growth stocks by investors in the first half of the year. Nvidia is the leading provider of processors used for artificial intelligence (AI) computation for both learning and inferencing, and its stock rallied significantly on a massive earnings report in the first quarter as cloud data center companies invested heavily in AI.” In fact, in Q2 2023, NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA)’s revenue leaped to $13.5 billion, a twofold YoY increase, driving its stock up 220% since the year’s start, with a market cap exceeding $1 trillion. The company’s specialized AI chips underscore its advantage, and thus, dominate 80% of the global market.Moreover, NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA)’s H100 chip which is vital for AI commands double its initial price due to high demand.  On the other hand, Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) is pioneering a transformative trend with its groundbreaking “Algorithm of Thoughts” (AoT) which signifies a substantial leap forward in AI training. By combining human cognition and algorithmic logic, AoT aims to enhance the reasoning capabilities of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT. This innovative approach, guided by in-context learning, streamlines problem-solving pathways which would result in faster and less resource-intensive outcomes.  With AoT, Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) envisions a more organized and systematic exploration of solutions, potentially surpassing the performance of the algorithms themselves. This marks a pertinent shift from traditional supervised learning methods to an integrated search process. As Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) drives this paradigm shift, it underscores their commitment to shaping the future of AI through innovative techniques that can revolutionize problem-solving across industries. Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash Methodology To prepare the list of artificial intelligence companies in USA, we conducted an extensive research to find out the companies that have been highly active and innovative in the US with their AI applications. We shortlisted a total of 65 companies out of which 55 were selected on the basis of highest relevance to their AI applications in various industries and sectors with a promising growth trajectory.  Please note that the list is subjective and does not present the companies in any objective order.  Here is a list of 55 Artificial Intelligence Companies in USA.  55. CloudMinds CloudMinds is an AI company that speciales in cloud robot systems. Their products include Cloud Ginger service robots, Cloud Patrol delivery robots, and Cloudia AI Digital Human. It is one of the leading AI companies in the US. 54. AiBrain AiBrain is a tech startup in the US that focuses on autonomous AI. Their technologies include AICoRe for cognitive AI and Memory Graph for capturing insights. AIBrain aims to augment human intelligence with AI while their products embody breakthroughs in problem-solving, learning, and memory.  53. AEye, Inc (NASDAQ:LIDR) AEye, Inc (NASDAQ:LIDR) is an innovative AI company specializing in software-defined lidar solutions. Their flagship product, the 4Sight Intelligent Sensing Platform, integrates software-definable lidar technology to improve human perception and enables early object detection. AEye, Inc (NASDAQ:LIDR)’s AI-driven products find applications in automotive safety, trucking logistics, smart infrastructure management, and rail systems. It is one of the top AI companies in USA. 52. Scale AI Scale AI specializes in Generative AI solutions for enterprises by employing fine-tuning and integrating advanced AI models like OpenAI’s GPT-3.5 to customize them for specific business requirements. Scale’s Data Engine helps incorporate enterprise data into models, allowing strategic differentiation. It is one of the top AI startups in the US.  51. DefinedCrowd DefinedCrowd is a global AI data provider that combines machine learning and human intelligence to deliver high-quality training data for AI systems. Their platform offers customizable workflows for audio, text, and image annotation, improving language capabilities and human-computer interaction in AI applications, with a focus on natural interaction and supporting various industries. 50. Deep6 AI Deep 6 AI utilizes AI to match patients with clinical trials. Their platform analyzes structured and unstructured medical data, like clinical notes and reports, to facilitate patient recruitment. Founded in 2015, the company focuses on healthcare and utilizes AI to revolutionize patient trial identification for better medical outcomes. 49. Berkshire Grey, Inc (NASDAQ:BRGY) Berkshire Grey, Inc (NASDAQ:BRGY) specializes in AI and robotic solutions for e-commerce, retail, and logistics. Their systems automate pick, pack, and sort operations. As of December 2021, the company reported $50.852 million in revenue and 400 employees. Berkshire Grey, Inc (NASDAQ:BRGY) is one of the top Ai companies to invest in. 48. Cerence Inc Cerence Inc is an American multinational software company that specializes in artificial intelligence (AI) assistant technology for the automotive sector. Established in 2019 as a spin-off from Nuance Communications, Cerence develops automotive AI products like voice assistant technology for car operating systems. Their technology improves driver interaction by providing voice-controlled GPS, entertainment systems, climate settings.  47. specializes in providing decision dominance solutions to national defense and intelligence communities. Their products and service encompass domains of artificial intelligence, machine learning, data science, advanced analytics, cybersecurity, cloud solutions, digital engineering, and systems integration.  46. Presto Automation Presto Automation automates drive-thru operations in the hospitality industry using AI technology which helps enhance restaurant efficiency and guest experiences. Their AI voice assistant, Presto Voice, optimizes drive-thru processes for improved productivity. It is one of the best AI companies in USA.  45. STEM STEM specializes in AI-driven clean energy solutions, offering integrated services to enhance the value of energy assets such as storage, solar, and EV charging. Their Athena platform empowers scalable deployment and monetization of clean energy technologies while optimizing energy portfolios for greater returns. 44. PROS PROS provides AI-driven solutions for dynamic pricing and revenue optimization, using advanced algorithms to tailor pricing strategies, enhance customer experiences, and boost profits across diverse industries. 43. Innodata Inc (NASDAQ:INOD) Innodata Inc (NASDAQ:INOD) offers business process, technology, and consulting services with a focus on digital information management. It provides products and solutions to create, manage, and distribute digital information. The company has ventured into AI-related fields, including data solutions for AI computer vision initiatives and digital enablement. 42. Nuro, Inc Nuro Inc, is an innovative robotics company that specializes in autonomous delivery vehicles and holds the first autonomous exemption from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nuro’s electric self-driving vehicles are designed for local commerce delivery. 41. Urbint, Inc Urbint is a New York-based AI company that empowers urban operators with predictive analysis of data to enhance decision-making for infrastructure and assets. Their platform, “Grid,” utilizes machine learning to anticipate risks that aids utilities in mitigating service disruptions. Urbint’s technology monitors real-time data to predict asset failures and offers insights into resource consumption and emissions for smarter city planning.  40. ThirdEye Data, Inc ThirdEye Data Inc specializes in AI and Big Data technologies to develop AI applications for enterprises. Their services include Data Sciences, Analytics, and Engineering, assisting organizations in making informed decisions through insights derived from data. It is one of the leading AI companies in the US. 39. Blue River Technology Blue River Technology develops See & Spray which is an AI-powered solution for precision agriculture. Using computer vision, machine learning, and robotics, it targets weeds individually that enhances crop care efficiency and sustainability. The technology has been integrated into John Deere’s R-Series sprayers. 38. Mobileye Global Inc (NASDAQ:NBLY) Mobileye Global Inc (NASDAQ:NBLY) is an AI company focused on autonomous driving and advanced driver-assistance systems. Their technologies include the EyeQ system-on-chip, Road Experience Management (REM) for mapping, Responsibility-Sensitive Safety Model (RSS), and Mobileye Drive for Level 4 self-driving systems. It is one of the most popular artificial intelligence companies in America.  37. Upstart Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UPST) Upstart Holdings Inc (NASDAQ:UPST) is an AI lending platform partnering with financial institutions for consumer loans. It employs non-traditional variables like education and employment to predict creditworthiness. Upstart (NASDAQ:UPST) was founded by Dave Girouard, Paul Gu, and Anna Counselman. 36. Aurora Innovation Inc (NASDAQ:AUR) Aurora Innovation Inc (NASDAQ:AUR) is a self-driving vehicle tech company in Pittsburgh. It developed the Aurora Driver which is an AI system for autonomous cars. Aurora Innovation (NASDAQ:AUR) was co-founded by Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson, and Drew Bagnell. 35. Suki From our list of artificial intelligence companies in USA, Suki stands out as a special case as it provides an AI-powered voice assistant for doctors which aids them with administrative tasks. It enables physicians to dictate notes, retrieve information, and work with electronic health records (EHR). 34. Hugging Face, Inc Hugging Face is a French-American company specializing in AI, machine learning, and software development. It’s renowned for its transformers library, enabling natural language processing, and its platform for sharing ML models and datasets. 33.  SentinelOne, Inc (NYSE:S) SentinelOne, Inc (NYSE:S) is a cybersecurity company based in Mountain View, California. It employs machine learning for monitoring personal computers, IoT devices, and cloud workloads, utilizing its patented behavioral AI for endpoint security. 32. Plantir Technologies Inc (NYSE:PLTR) Palantir Technologies Inc (NYSE:PLTR) specializes in big data analytics and offers AI-powered products like Palantir Gotham for counter-terrorism, Palantir Apollo for deployment, and Palantir Foundry for corporate clients like Morgan Stanley and Airbus. 31. Dynatrace, Inc (NYSE:DT) Dynatrace, Inc (NYSE:DT) offers a software intelligence platform fueled by AI, notably Davis, for comprehensive application monitoring, microservices management, cloud-native simplification, and automated issue resolution, facilitating digital transformation and cloud adoption. 30. DataRobot, Inc  DataRobot, Inc offers AI technology and services to global enterprises. Its platform democratizes data science, automating end-to-end processes for building, deploying, and managing machine learning models.  29., Inc is a leading AI cloud company that democratizes AI through its Hybrid Cloud platform and thus, empowers businesses to solve complex problems and drive innovation. The company is trusted by global organizations as it promotes Responsible AI and AI for Good initiatives. 28. Deepmind Technologies  Google DeepMind is a pioneering AI research lab that has developed neural networks for human-like video game playing and a Neural Turing machine that simulates human brain memory. 27. Dataminr Dataminr employs AI in its products like Dataminr Pulse for real-time event monitoring and crisis response. The company helps corporations and first responders with actionable insights during emergencies with its advanced technology. It is one of the top Artificial Intelligence companies in USA.  26. UiPath, Inc (NYSE:PATH) UiPath, Inc (NYSE:PATH)  integrates AI into over 70 specialized models and facilitates screen understanding, task mining, document processing, and data utilization within enterprise workflows.  25. Databricks, Inc Databricks integrates AI into its cloud data platform, featuring the innovative “lakehouse” concept for optimized data processing, analytics, and machine learning workloads. 24., Inc Viz utilizes AI-driven deep learning to detect large vessel occlusions in brain scans, rapidly alerting stroke specialists for timely intervention, improving patient outcomes and access to care. It is one of the best companies for aritficial intelligence. 23. Darktrace Plc Darktrace is a UK-based cyber security company with operations in the US. It employs unsupervised machine learning to detect evolving threats in real time and utilizes autonomous response technology and network visualization for improved security. 22. C3.Ai, Inc (NYSE:AI) C3 AI delivers 40+ Enterprise AI applications catering to crucial business needs in diverse sectors like manufacturing, finance, government, and energy, enhancing operational efficiency and decision-making. 21. Clarifai Clarifai offers a comprehensive platform for computer vision, natural language processing, and audio recognition, aiding data exploration, model training, and AI integration via APIs and SDKs. 20.  Rockwell Automation, Inc. (NYSE:ROK) Rockwell Automation, Inc (NYSE:ROK) is an American company that specializes in providing industrial automation and digital transformation technologies. The company is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and it has a global presence with customers in over 100 countries.  19. Micron Technology, Inc (NASDAQ:MU) Micron’s AI-driven products include HBM3 Gen2 for high-bandwidth memory, DDR5 for data center workloads, 9400 NVMe SSD for critical AI tasks, and LPDDR5X for efficient AI experiences in mobile devices. 18. General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) General Electric Company (NYSE:GE) employs AI across sectors to enhance asset management, cybersecurity, manufacturing, and healthcare. They are leveraging Digital Twin technology of AI to optimize performance and maintenance with their ‘Humble AI’ increasing wind turbine efficiency. It is also one of the Biggest Internet of Things Companies in the World. 17. Advanced Micro Devices, Inc.  Advanced Micro Devices, Inc (AMD) provides a comprehensive range of AI solutions, spanning cloud to edge to endpoints. Their products include Instinct GPU accelerators, EPYC server processors, Alveo adaptive accelerators, Ryzen AI mobile processors, Versal adaptive SoCs, and Zynq adaptive SoCs.  16. Synopsys Inc (NASDAQ:SNPS) Synopsys Inc (NASDAQ:SNPS) is renowned for electronic design automation. Its tools help development of chips through logic synthesis, design, and debugging that bridge traditional semiconductors and emerging AI applications. 15. AlphaSense, Inc AlphaSense, Inc  is an AI-powered market intelligence platform that enables confident and swift decisions. Trusted by 1,800+ enterprises, it empowers professionals with AI-driven insights for strategic business choices. 14. NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA) NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA) is an AI company that offers a cutting edge AI platform for enterprises. Their AI platform spans AI supercomputers, software, and AI models/services. It enables disease prevention, code generation, data analytics, and conversational AI. NVIDIA Corp (NASDAQ:NVDA)’s AI Enterprise Suite accelerates AI workflows that makes AI-powered innovations accessible and impactful across industries. 13. Salesforce, Inc (NYSE:CRM) Salesforce, Inc (NYSE:CRM) has recently introduced its Einstein studio which is an AI layer in their Lightning Platform with an aim to democratize AI access. Einstein Studio provides predictive models, chatbots, image recognition, sentiment analysis, and data insights to empower businesses to craft custom AI-powered apps. Salesforce, Inc (NYSE:CRM) is one of the best AI companies in the US.  12. Intel Corp (NASDAQ:INTC) Intel Corp (NASDAQ:INTC) offers a comprehensive AI ecosystem that deliver tools and hardware to accelerate AI development and deployment. Their AI technologies power solutions in areas ranging from healthcare diagnostics to network optimization. With optimized software frameworks and a wide hardware portfolio, Intel empowers businesses to unlock the potential of AI across industries. 11. Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is advancing AI and robotics to achieve self-driving vehicles and humanoid robots for tasks. Their AI-driven projects include a bi-pedal robot, AI inference and training chips, and neural networks for perception and control. Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA)’s focus on autonomy algorithms, code foundations, and evaluation infrastructure propels AI innovation in transportation and beyond. Tesla Inc (NASDAQ:TSLA) is also one of the biggest green tech companies in the world.  Click here to see the list of 10 Artificial Intelligence Companies in USA Suggested Articles: Top 15 IoT Companies in the World 15 Biggest Internet Companies in the World 25 Biggest Cloud Providers by Revenue Disclosure: None. List of 55 Artificial Intelligence Companies in USA is originally published on Insider Monkey. .....»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeySep 1st, 2023

One Stop Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:OSS) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

One Stop Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:OSS) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript August 10, 2023 Operator: Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us today to discuss One Stop Systems Financial Results for the Second Quarter ended June 30, 2023. With us today are the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Mike Knowles; and its Chief Financial […] One Stop Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:OSS) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript August 10, 2023 Operator: Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us today to discuss One Stop Systems Financial Results for the Second Quarter ended June 30, 2023. With us today are the Company’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Mike Knowles; and its Chief Financial Officer, John Morrison. They are joined by the Company’s Chief Product Officer, Jim Ison. Following their remarks, we will open the call to your questions. Then, before we conclude the call, I will provide some important information regarding the forward-looking statements made by management during the call. I would like to remind everyone that the call will be recorded and made available for replay in the Investors section of the Company’s website. Now, I would like to turn the call over to OSS, President and CEO, Mike Knowles. Sir, please go ahead. Mike Knowles: Thank you, Darryl, and good afternoon, everyone. In the first half of 2023 OSS implemented strategic organizational changes designed to accelerate our growth, particularly focused on ramping up our defense business and our AI Transportable product sales. To support this strategy, on June 5th, the company appointed me President and CEO, allowing me to leverage my experience and expertise in the global defense and commercial markets to accelerate the implementation of our strategy and grow revenue. As an update to the Board of Director reprofiling that was previously disclosed, I’d like to announce that Jack Harrison, who has been serving as Chair of the Nominations and Governance Committee and Sita Lowman, who has been serving as Chair of the Compensation Committee, have resigned from the OSS Board of Directors effective as of the end of Q3. I want to thank Jack and Sita for their numerous contributions. In their place, I’m pleased announce that effective as of the end of Q3, Michael Dumont and I will be joining the OSS Board of Directors. Mr. Dumont is a retired three-star admiral whose career includes having served as the deputy commander of U.S. Northern Command and Vice Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command, otherwise known as NORAD. Admiral Dumont currently serves as Interim President of The California State University Maritime Academy. He is also a licensed attorney with both defense and commercial experience and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Marines’ Memorial Association, the board of advisors of Dataminr and the national security advisory council of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, as well as the OSS Advisory Board. We are actively pursuing additional reprofiling activities for Q4. I’d also like to note they’ve recently announced the addition of Robert Kalebaugh to the team as Vice President of Sales, reporting to me. Robert brings over 30 years of defense, business development and domain experience and defense and commercial markets. I’ve had the privilege to work with Robert for a decade and I’m confident that we will be able to leverage our experiences to enhance and improve our sales and marketing efforts to accelerate our strategy. Robert is taking leadership of our sales and marketing organization and is already active with customers driving the team and updating tools and processes to create added efficiency, growth pipeline, and drive near-term and long-term booking. Jim Ison has retained the position as Chief Product Officer and now has the opportunity to focus his full attention and efforts within the product organization to assure we continue to bring a roadmap of leadership product to the market. I appreciate his efforts over the past six months, having led both the sales, marketing and product organization. Since assuming the position of CEO two months ago, I’ve had the opportunity to meet, engage with customers and companies in the defense and commercial markets. Through these engagements, I’ve been able to build my confidence and reaffirm the current company strategy and the opportunities in the AI Transportable space. Having done so, I don’t need to see the need for major adjustments to the strategy. I’m confident to strategy and product focus remain valid because the markets continue to be backed by strong demand for AI, sensor fusion and [indiscernible]. I’ve observed how our products work across both defense and commercial applications and can serve as the underpinning for building a balanced defense and commercial business portfolio. I believe that our current business model will strategically serve our company and investors well. What I am focused on is leveraging my experience to further drive and accelerate the strategy and build greater momentum and pipeline. During these past two months, I’ve explored opportunities to create broader partnerships within our core markets and with artificial intelligence software providers. We believe that these partnerships will unlock our ability to deliver fully integrated higher value solutions for our customers so they can more successfully leverage artificial intelligence and machine learning operations for their direct mission or business objectives. OSS has established a good foundation for operations in the defense market, and as I’ve familiarized myself with the business and its operations, I’ll be implementing further improvements towards executing on our strategy. For example, AI and sensor fusion applications within the defense market are consistently moving more into the classified space where additional opportunity exists. To participate in this environment and capture these opportunities, we will need to have a security cleared facility and create a cleared workforce. In this regard, I’ve already implemented actions on these efforts and we expect to receive our facility clearance from the U.S. government by the end of the year. In addition, we have already trained a facility security officer. We have also initiated discussions with our customers based on classified opportunities, and we’ll leverage these to add a secured classified information facility referred to as a SCIF and further broaden and enhance our opportunities in the classified space. From a business and organizational perspective, we will work to strengthen our operations to better execute in the defense market. At the appropriate time, we will look to enhance our team by adding a contract specialist to deal with the complexities of defense contracting, auditing and negotiating. We will move to certify our cost and accounting systems and further mature our International Traffic in Arms Regulations or ITAR process. To this end, we have the opportunity to leverage the defense Mentor-Protege Program to assist and guide us in these areas through defense prime contractors. We are actively engaged in discussions with multiple primes at this time. I also anticipate further developing our opportunity pipeline identification and forecast modeling process over the second half this year. I’ve seen a need for improvement in the existing models and approach. This is consistent with the stage of maturation of OSS in the defense market. Improvement in these areas will allow for better assessment of forecast and opportunity timing. Additional observations over the past few months indicate that we have a talented and motivated employee base. There are strong technical and product expertise in an innovation-driven environment that can deliver on products that will meet existing and future market requirements for rugged datacenter-class edge processing. This will ensure we remain on the forefront of introducing the newest and highest level of performance for which OSS has made a reputation. I’m also excited that we have an experienced operations team and facilities with capacity to meet projected growth and demand. Overall, the company has an energetic culture with a sense of urgency to succeed. Reminiscent of environments I’ve worked in where I’ve seen the greatest success and growth. I’m pleased that my engagements with the customers have validated the capability and scale the solutions we can bring to both defense and commercial markets. The scale from our high-end Rigel products to our mid-tier SDS products and lower-end Cernis and Donati products give us the flexibility to deliver scalable performance at varying price points, which align to our customer’s requirements. Additionally, our PCIe express and storage products provide an added dimension of performance and value to our customers and attaining not only the highest levels of compute, but also the lowest latency and most flexible storage solutions. As I look at the company’s forecasted performance, we will be met with revenue challenges due to opportunity delays. Fortunately, these delays, especially in the defense market, are not inconsistent with my experience and are not a reflection of the strategy, product offerings, or value of opportunity in this market. We are also seeing a softening in the timing of the commercial market, including consolidation and delays in autonomous trucking and a conservative approach to increasing hardware spending. Having said that, I have confidence in our strategy, our product offerings, and our ability to build a robust pipeline. As we execute in Q3 and Q4, our focus will be to build upon what I have discussed here today to grow and accelerate sales and revenue. Now, before coming further, I’d like to ask John to provide the financial details for the quarter, and Jim to expand further on customer wins and products. John? John Morrison: Thank you, Mike, and good afternoon, everyone. Thank you for joining us today. Today, we issued a press release with our results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2023. The release is available in the Investor Relations section of our website at Our consolidated revenue in Q2 totaled $17.2 million, up 2.3% sequentially, but declined 6% from the same year-ago period. As anticipated, the decline was due to decreased shipments to our legacy media and entertainment customer and a reduction in product shipments into the autonomous trucking industry, which is going through consolidation and financial hardships. We also experienced delays in defense orders. We have substantially fulfilled the remaining orders associated with our media customer, and we do not expect further measurable business from them. As covered in our previous calls, this drop in the entertainment business resulted from acceleration in our customer’s investment in cloud technology and a drive towards less intelligent compute capability at the edge. This is particularly true of the virtual products, which do not require the same level of ruggedization as this system is not typically operated in harsh environments. Approximately $3.3 million of our quarterly decline in revenue was from the low margin legacy media business, which was partly offset in the quarter by our AI Transportable revenue. While we’ve experienced some delays in orders during the second quarter, it is important to note that our win rate has remained at previous levels. As you know, our company’s business is comprised of two segments: OSS Classic and OSS Europe. OSS Classic is involved in the design and manufacturer of high performance ruggedized computers, flash arrays, and connectivity. OSS Europe primarily operates as a value-added reseller with minimum product customization and an increased focus on selling OSS core products into the European community. In the second quarter, OSS Classic revenue declined 22.8% to $8.3 million due to the factors previously mentioned, while OSS Europe revenue increased 17.7% to $8.9 million. The OSS Europe increase was due to additional project-based business, including $1.2 million of OSS core products and an increase in the number of small accounts, as well as having more available inventory to ship as compared to the same year-ago quarter. Overall, gross profit in the second quarter was $4.8 million. The overall gross margin percentage was 27.9% as compared to 28.4% in the same period in 2022. The gross margin for our OSS Classic business decreased 3.8 percentage points to 29.2%, which was also attributable to the predominance of lower margin sales to the company’s media customer and higher mix of third-party components. OSS Europe’s gross margin percentage improved 4.8 percentage points to 26.7%, as compared to 21.9% in the same period in 2022, due to product mix, the sale of higher margin OSS core products, and having sought-after products readily sold at a premium. Overall, quarterly operating expenses increased 71.1% to $8.2 million, with operating expenses as a percentage of revenue increasing to 47.7% compared to 26.2% in the same period in 2022. The most significant component of this increase was a $2.7 million write-down attributable to an impairment of goodwill resulting from the overall financial performance of OSS Classic as compared to plan, the transition of our focus to AI Transportables in the defense industry and lastly, the deferment of certain orders. Another significant component was an increase of $1.3 million in general and administrative expenses, with $1.1 million attributable to increased costs associated with our organizational restructuring and strategic transitioning of senior management and outside professional services. Such transition costs include additional wages, legal fees, search fees, stock compensation, and additional compensation attributable to the strategic transition committee. This increase in operating expenses was partially offset by decreases of $241,000 in marketing and selling expenses and $297,000 in R&D expense. Loss from operations totaled $3.4 million, compared to income from operations of $402,000 in the same period in 2022. This reduction was predominantly attributable to lower revenue, the write-down attributable to the impairment of goodwill, and transition costs. Net loss on a GAAP basis was $2.4 million or loss of $0.12 per share, as compared to net income of $323,000 or $0.02 per share. Net loss in the second quarter also included a one-time benefit of $1.3 million attributable to the receipt of COVID-19 funds under the government’s employee retention credit program. Non-GAAP net loss was $84,000 or $0.00 per share compared to non-GAAP net income of $871,000, or $0.04 per share. Adjusted EBITDA, a non-GAAP metric, was $487,000 or 2.8% of revenue, a decrease from $1.2 million or 6.5% of revenue. Each of these non-GAAP metrics include adjustments of $2.7 million for the impairment of goodwill and $1.3 million for the employee retention credit. Now, turning to the results for the first half of 2023, as compared to the first half of 2022. Our consolidated revenue decreased 3.9% to $34 million. The decrease in revenue in the first half of 2023 is due to the reasons discussed in reference to Q2. Our OSS Classic revenue decreased 20.6% to $16.9 million, while OSS core product revenue is growing year-over-year. OSS Classic is experiencing delays in orders from the commercial and defense markets, which represent $5 million to $6 million of revenue, which we believe will be pushed from 2023 to 2024 and represents deferral-only of revenue opportunities. OSS Europe revenue increased 21.5% to $17.1 million, inclusive of $2.4 million of OSS core product sales. As a reminder, OSS Classic is defined as all shipments from U.S. operations delivered throughout the world. Similarly, OSS Europe is defined as all shipments originating from Europe operations. OSS core products are designed in the U.S. and sold through both operations and tend to yield higher margins. Overall gross profit was $9.9 million. The overall gross margin percentage was 29%, as compared to 29.2% in the same period in 2022. OSS’ Classic gross margin percentage was 32.8%, a decrease of 1.5 percentage points as compared to 34.3%. This was due to the predominance of lower margin sales to our media customer and a higher mix of products with third-party content. OSS Europe contributed gross margin at a rate of 25.3%, as compared to 21.5%, an increase of 3.8 percentage points, due to product mix and increased sale of OSS core products, and having sought-after products sold at a premium. Total operating expenses increased 45.1% to $13.5 million. The increase was primarily due to an increase of $2.7 million write-down attributable to an impairment of goodwill and $1.8 million in general and operating expenses, of which $1.4 million of the increase is due to increased non-recurring costs associated with the company’s organizational restructuring and outside professional services. Such costs included wages, legal fees, search firm fees, equity compensation, and additional compensation attributable to the strategic transition committee. The increase in operating expenses was partially offset by a decrease of $346,000 in R&D expense resulting from more engineers being deployed on chargeable work for which that expense is classified as a cost of revenue. Loss from operations totaled $3.6 million compared to income from operations of $1.1 million. Net loss on a GAAP basis was $2.8 million inclusive of the $1.3 million employee retention credit or $0.14 per diluted share compared to net income on a GAAP basis of $902,000, or $0.04 per diluted share. Non-GAAP net income totaled $6,000 or $0.00 per diluted share, as compared to $1.8 million or $0.09 per diluted share in the same year-ago period. Adjusted EBITDA totaled $1 million or 3% of revenue, compared to $2.6 million or 7.3% of revenue. Both non-GAAP net income and adjusted EBITDA included adjustments of the $2.7 million impairment of goodwill and the $1.3 million employee retention credit. Now, turning to the balance sheet. On June 30, 2023, cash and cash equivalents totaled $6.1 million, with short-term investments of $9.3 million, for a combined total of $15.4 million. This combined total represents an increase of $2.7 million as compared to the prior quarter. The increase is primarily due to the employee retention credit and a decrease in working capital requirements. Consistent with our prior Form S-3 shelf registration statement filing that expired in May, 2022, we anticipate that we will renew such registration and file a new Form S-3 later this month. This completes our financial review for the quarter. I would like to now turn the call over to our Chief Product Officer, Jim Ison. Jim? Jim Ison: Thank you, John, and good afternoon, everyone. In Q2, we added six new major program wins. We expect these wins to yield about $3.3 million in revenue this year across both OSS Classic and OSS Europe. Three of these wins were in AI Transportables, including commercial autonomous watercraft and autonomous trucking server, and a defense submersible application. The remaining wins included an industrial IoT and two datacenter composable infrastructure applications. The autonomous watercraft application is our second customer win for commercial harbor patrol craft that combine several AI applications into a single OSS SDS server. These customers combine the self navigation functionality with the ability to fuse data from high resolution video, infrared imagery and various sensors to provide full spatial awareness. This sensor fusion allows the watercraft to perform vessel identification, escort, security, and other port services. The autonomous truck application is the first navigation server within a new customer providing autonomous company campus goods transportation. The third AI Transportable application was a defense customer win for submarine AI sonar processing. This win combines our highly capable SDS server platform with innovative OSS liquid cooling techniques to provide datacenter capabilities under the sea while reducing the noise signature well below that of our competition. During the quarter, we also announced the $3.5 million U.S. Air Force Electronic Warfare simulation program win through a new prime contractor for our SDS storage servers. Our ability to expand our footprint with various customers then win multiple designs within an account is key to our growth strategy and for strengthening our leadership position in AI Transportable applications. We also added seven new pending major programs during the quarter. We expect such pending major programs to each generate $1 million or more in revenue over four years with a 60% or greater likelihood of closing. Our pipeline of pending major programs at the end of Q2, totaled 33 with 19 of those involving AI Transportable applications in the U.S., Asia Pacific and Europe. On the product front, over the last year, we have expanded our AI Transportable product line to target applications in multiple domains from the high performance Rigel Edge Supercomputer for government air and sea vehicle deployments to the highly integrated 3U SDS compute and storage systems that bridge rugged, commercial and government vehicles and the ultra-rugged Cernis and Donati for government land vehicle deployments. This complete product line includes our core PCIe express switch fabric technologies that enhance storage and AI application performance while significantly reducing latency, which is critical to these edge deployments. As we complete plans to evolve our well positioned product line to the latest PCIe express Gen 5 switch fabric during the year, we continue to make improvements in cooling technologies in creating valuable software products to solve edge computing challenges. These licensable software products include fast data movement, storage and remote system management, monitoring and control. The full product line and more complete software offering are attracting full system solution opportunities that tend to make for larger and more sticky deployments where recurring higher margin software revenue and longer term customers in commercial and defense market. On our previous quarterly conference call, I introduced our proprietary Unified Baseboard Management Controller or U-BMC. Since introducing our U-BMC, we have received initial orders for it to be used in composable infrastructure, autonomous truck and edged government deployments. Both Rigel and our Gen 5 4U Pro accelerator system include U-BMC with additional SDS and vehicle deployed products to be announced later in the year. Now, with that, I’d like to turn the call back over to Mike. Mike Knowles: Thank you, Jim. We see OSS as a unique and promising inflection point with the growing adoption of our superior AI Transportable edge computing and storage technology. We believe our AI Transportable solutions can have a dramatic impact on warfighter readiness and commercial business objectives. In the defense market, edge computing is important because the U.S. and its allies have chosen a distributed or decentralized command and control strategy. This approach has been adopted by the Department of Defense and named The Joint All-Domain Command and Control or JADC2, and it has been driving the increased demand for AI-enabled edge processing sensor fusion autonomy and simulation. According to this strategy is ability for commanders at the battlefield edge to be able to integrate and fuse sensor, command and communications data to assess, decide, and act faster than the centralized command and control operations of its adversaries. Our capabilities and products are key to this strategy and our ability to implement AI processing in the most rugged environment. In the commercial market, AI is now considered part of the fourth industrial revolution, so we see implementation similar to the military being required at the edge where sensor and decision systems can interact to support rapid conversion from assessment to action. Most notably, we see this in commercial industries where the sensor fusion elements such as radar, lidar, laser, and infrared are collated and processed by AI to support workflow or autonomous operations. In all during the first half of this year, we continue to advance our market position in AI Transportables with our solutions contributing to the future of commercial and military ruggedized edge processing. I’m excited to build on our strategy driving growth in both defense and commercial markets and creating a powerful business model. OSS now has the right team, products and innovation to succeed in the global marketplace. I’ve had the opportunity to share some of the same thoughts I communicated today while meeting and talking with investors over the past two months, and I’m encouraged by the commitment to our company and strategy. I believe it reflects the strong position and forward path for the company. As I look at the near-term, however, for the third quarter of 2023, we’ll witness the impact of the market delays we have discussed. As a result, we anticipate revenues of approximately $13.5 million. As stated earlier, this is a result of delays in the defense market and the forecasted timing expectations. In the commercial market it is a result of the consolidation and delays in autonomous trucking market and overall conservative approachment to investment in spend. I’m confident with the addition of Robert Kalebaugh and the support of the team will successfully work through these issues, and I reiterate that we have the strategy, products and team to execute and grow the business. Now, with that, we’d like to open the call to your questions. Darryl? Q&A Session Follow One Stop Systems Inc. Follow One Stop Systems Inc. We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. [Operator Instructions] And we’ll first go to Scott Searle from ROTH MKM. Go ahead, Scott. Scott Searle: Hey, good afternoon. Thanks for taking my questions. Mike, congrats again for coming on Board and thanks for all the color in the opening monologue. Hey, maybe just to dive in quickly on the third quarter, I want to clarify. I think I heard correctly that disguise will not be in the third quarter results. Just wanted to clarify that. And then sequentially, as you’re looking into the fourth quarter, is there a little bit of a recovery there despite the push outs? And when do you expect some of that $5 million to $6 million to start to come into the P&L? Is it in the first half or does it slide a little bit further than that? Mike Knowles: Scott, thanks for the question. So as to the Disguise business, we principally have moved on from that business. There’s some small trailing bits that we’ll see in Q3, but very small and negligible. As to the delays we’re seeing and the push outs from this year, there is risk that we’ll see that in the fourth quarter also. Robert Kalebaugh and I are now working through the pipeline and our modeling of that to get a better feel of what that looks like and the timing. And so we’ll expect to be working on that in the coming months. Scott Searle: Got it. And Mike, given your background, I’m wondering what you could provide in terms of color of the level of interest for Rigel and other products within the defense opportunity. Is there a tremendous amount of interest? Are you encouraged by the signs that you’re seeing? And what do you think the sales cycle looks like to try to start to get embedded and post some wins? Mike Knowles: Yes. Scott, thanks. I’ll try to address those. If I miss one of the kind of the questions there just let me know. Yes. So I’ve been very encouraged by the product line and not just Rigel. Rigel is a great leadership door opener and provides great capability. But as I mentioned in my notes in the earnings call, it is the scale of opportunities of products that we have from top to bottom. And while I was able to meet with existing customers that the company had before I joined. I’ve worked through my Rolodex over the past two months working through some 75 plus contacts and been able to turn some of those in meetings over the past two months. And I’ve seen general response in the same as we’ve been able to explore with a number of customers and prime contractors, additional areas where they have opportunities and programs they’re going after. And just I’ve been excited by the scalability that we can bring to that. As I mentioned, top-end Rigel, we slate in very nicely at a price point for large productions with our short-depth server or the SDS. And as we’re growing the entrance of Cernis and Donati at the next lowest level, it’s really drawing a lot of attention in those areas. So I’m encouraged by the full breadth of pipeline and by the defense market and that – where those could be adopted really across air, land and sea platforms. Scott Searle: Got it. Very helpful. And if I could, it’s interesting to hear you talk about potential AI opportunities and partnerships there. I’m wondering if you could flush that a little bit in terms of what we should expect over the next several quarters as we will be looking for some more formal announcements and relationships on that front. And along with that, building up the defense and military opportunity, does that require some new costs from an infrastructure standpoint on behalf of OSS? Mike Knowles: Yes. Great. Scott, so on the artificial intelligence partnerships that we’re looking at, so it’s something new we’ve engaged in starting to build and develop here. As I understand the market and places I’ve worked and we spoke to customers, we’ve generally been offering a hardware-only solution by potentially partnering with some AI providers. We do a couple things. We can bring a more developed or targeted, more fully integrated solution that allows us to maybe get more direct access to the actual services themselves than going through a prime that creates additional opportunity for us. The additional thing it does is there’s a lot of AI companies out there, software-only, that are doing the same thing. They’re trying to find application for their software with no hardware solution to go in to provide an end-to-end integrated solution. So as we’re starting to open and explore these partnerships, we’re going to see opportunity not only to collaborate on programs and efforts, but obviously, potentially to develop more integrated products. I think that will span a range there of time and where we’ll expect to see some of these provide positive impact to the growth of the company. There’ll be near-term opportunities that ourselves or others maybe going after with stated programs and requests for proposal from the services. Those could provide near-term opportunity, as we build some partnerships and develop some concepts and more fully integrated solutions, we’ll then – it’ll look probably more so like a normal 18, 24, 36 month product line where you’re developing and building in a specific capability. So we’ll really win the range. We’ll have more to say on that as, Robert, myself and Jim and the team start to explore and expand those over the coming quarters. Scott Searle: Very helpful. Thanks. Mike Knowles: Yes. You had a question on infrastructure, Scott. Actually we’re well suited now, not only just from a production operation standpoint, but even moving into the clear facility aspect, given the operational layout we have in the facility here in Escondido. We have opportunities to take advantage of things like mobile SCIFs that are really well priced and we have space and opportunity to bring those in. So it should be negligible facility or capital impact as a result of the strategy. Scott Searle: Got it. Very helpful. Hey, and two more quickly, if I could kind of sneak them in. With autonomous vehicle slowing down, I’m wondering what has you excited on the commercial side of the equation. And the reprofiling the Board is very encouraging to see some new military-based DNA coming on Board. It sounds like, I think you said there were some further changes to come in the fourth quarter. Just wanted to clarify, if I heard that correctly. And my assumption is that Dave Raun continues to be involved with the company from a Board level going forward. Just checking on the high level thoughts from that perspective? Thanks. Mike Knowles: Yes. Thanks, Scott. I’ll maybe go to this reverse order. Yes. Commitment to reprofile the Board has been stated. We’re pleased to announce with the two changes being made here in Q3. The Board continues to look to those reprofiling activities with some more plans for Q4, and they’re actively working on those. Dave Raun is currently on the Board and continues to serve. So we’re in a good position there. Your other question on the commercial side, we’re still interested in the autonomous trucking space. We’re still getting some orders. We’re seeing some timing delays, I would say, in that large scale deployment or big move to production, what that inflection point looks like. So we’re still interested in where that’ll be and when that’ll happen and we remain engaged with the customers. Ancillary to that, while I’ve spent kind of the majority of my two months really getting a lot of the defense stuff moving, Robert and I are going to spend a little bit more time here – extra time here now in the coming months, building out the commercial. But as you all have noticed or seen in the notes we just presented, we’ve seen some commercial move in harbor and maritime. We’ve seen some of that in Europe, so we have some commercial movement there. We’re doing some stuff in the commercial aerospace area, so there’s a number of areas where the composable infrastructure. So we’re seeing a number of areas where people are still are showing interest and still gives us promise. But as I mentioned, Robert and I are going to really work through that pipeline and definition here with some added focus now that Robert’s on Board and we’ve kind of, I would say, gotten the first big kickoff on defense. Scott Searle: Great. Thanks so much. Mike Knowles: Thanks, Scott. John Morrison: Thank you, Scott. Operator: And our next question comes from Brian Kinstlinger from Alliance Global Partners. Go ahead, Brian. Brian Kinstlinger: Great. Thanks so much. Mike, welcome aboard. I’m hoping you can give some more detail on the decline in revenues in the third versus the second quarter for Classic OSS, obviously, specifically. Maybe from a high level, if you can help me with a couple of buckets. How much was defense revenue in 2Q? I assume it’s zero in 3Q, maybe I’m wrong. How much was Disguise revenue in 2Q? And I assume it’s close to zero in 3Q. And then how much pressure are you seeing on autonomous trucking and/or commercial? Mike Knowles: Yes. Brian, I wouldn’t say we have those breakouts right now. We could clearly follow-up with you on the specific numbers and those buckets that you would be looking for. As we kind of mentioned in the call, as we’ve seen right in the defense side, if you will, those delays have been identified as existing opportunities that we had to have just moved back in time. The customers just haven’t moved to the actual placement of the order. And then, well, on the commercial side, very similar – very similar actions across a number of different vendors. Maybe if there’s something specific to ask. Brian Kinstlinger: A different way to ask, in some past quarters there’s already been delays in defense side. So I’m curious, was defense a meaningful revenue contributor in the second quarter? Jim Ison: So the answer there is yes. I mean, we’re still tracking to that 25% of total company revenue being in defense that we’re looking to move and more into the 50-50 range in the next two to three years. Brian Kinstlinger: Okay. Now listening to your comments, fourth quarter sounds like it’s going to probably be similar to the third quarter, and assuming we don’t see a hockey stick recovery in 2024, but knowing defense, it’s gradual. Looking at expenses on the other side from the previous caller, what are you thinking in terms of right sizing the business? How do you balance as a new CEO investing, which doesn’t sound like you have to make a lot of investments in growth, but you’re keeping your current investments versus trying to manage to at least breakeven on the lower revenue? Mike Knowles: Yes. I think as we had mentioned, we don’t see a number of large investments coming. The opportunity in the pipeline that’s there should give us room for growth. And that’s what Robert and I are working through now. I feel confident and good in the pipeline as I’ve gone through it. The first set, I think with Robert on Board, we’ll have opportunity to actually grow that pipeline in both the commercial and defense. And so we’ll be able to leverage the existing investments products and strategies that we have just to build that growth. Brian Kinstlinger: And sorry, to be clear, because the heart of the question is, you’re not thinking at this point with the much lower revenues than you’ve had in the first half of the year to be rightsizing expenses. Is that what I’m gathering? You’ll be holding SG&A and operating expenses where they are, there’s not going to be significant cuts? Mike Knowles: That’s correct, yes. I’m sorry if I missed that in first part of your question, Brian. Brian Kinstlinger: No worries. Mike Knowles: And manage those prudently. Brian Kinstlinger: Okay. And then my last question is, as revenue in Classic OSS lacks the scale that it’s had in the last several quarters. Are there a significant number – a significant scale of fixed cost that will need to get absorbed? And so now you’ll see significant pressure on the gross margin line until you see that recovery. Mike Knowles: Yes. The risk will be there for that with the fixed facilities and manufacturing overhead that we have with the declining revenue. We are taking internal even cost actions now to help manage that prudently against the delays in revenue. Brian Kinstlinger: Okay. Those are all my questions. Thank you. John Morrison: Thank you, Brian. Operator: And up next we have Joe Gomes from Noble Capital. Go ahead, Joe. Joe Gomes: Good afternoon. Thanks for taking my questions. So I’m going to hit you guys up with the question of the day here about the outlook on revenues from a different angle. If I’m calculating here correctly from reading the releases, the first half of the year Disguise was accounted for about $6.3 million of revenue. But you also got 13 new wins that are supposed to contribute about $8.3 million of revenue in 2023, I think. So I’m just trying to wrap my head around how we go from that to the sharp decline in projected revenue definitely for the third quarter. And again, the previous caller said sounds like in the fourth quarter also. John Morrison: So I can help answer some of that. The Disguise revenue is – there were 25% customer right then the prior years, and they’re going to zero here, negligible in the next two quarters. At the time that’s tailing off our OSS core product revenue is actually growing. That’s what is – where we’re coming in with the third quarter number. It’s just not growing at the same rate that we had hoped it would be that we had planned for and that’s where we’re at. Joe Gomes: Okay. On the autonomous truck customer that exited, was that one of your top 10 customers that you talked about in past calls? And with the slowing – that exit and the slowing growth there, is there the concern about any types of inventory write-off that would be necessary? John Morrison: So that was one of our top 10 was one of the companies that left. And at this point, no, we’re not concerned with the inventory write-off across the product we had for that market. Joe Gomes: Okay. And one more for me. You talked about kind of moving into some of the classified work, and getting the secured facility. And I think you’re going to need some secure on the labor side. And some of the other defense companies that I cover, people with security clearances are unicorns these days in terms of trying to get them costing an arm and a leg because there’s so much demand for them. How are you guys set from a labor market on employees would have – that have current security clearances or will you need to ramp hiring up to bring more people on that have security clearances? Mike Knowles: Yes. Joe, thanks for that question. So we have a couple people with security clearances right now. With the arrival of our facility clearance, we’ll be able to start to process some additional people. I think – and you’re correct, there is a market especially at those with special compartmentalized tickets that are difficult to find those employees and bring them in. I think what you’re going to see in our journey is that at the secret level and that level of classification, we’ll be able to do initial operation and find opportunities of where we’re going and we’ll be able to – as I mentioned here, we’ll be able to put in very quickly a number of our employees to do just that. So I’m confident we can pull that. There’s a couple of us that have had the higher tickets and security clearance that’ll allow us to open up the doors to find opportunities. And then the nice thing about it we can secure those types of programs. If we’ll either find people or have find it, time to transition them to get those tickets or those types programs that we’re able to move those costs to bring the higher priced employees in if we needed to go find them. So we’ll be able to make that happen. But for the market we’ll be going and the initial opportunities we’ll be going at, we’ll be able to operate well at the lower classified level and we’ll need a couple people to help translate mission applications. But we’ll be able to most likely operate the product development, especially in our commercial products, still in the unclassified level. So the SCIF and the clearances will allow us to communicate more directly for requirements and customer understanding of implementation to start, and we’ll be able to use our products and develop in the unclassified space. Joe Gomes: Okay. Great. Thank you. John Morrison: Thanks, Joe. Mike Knowles: Thanks, Joe. Operator: And our next question comes from Max Michaelis from Lake Street Capital. Go ahead, Max. Max Michaelis: Hey guys. Thanks for taking my question. First one from me, just with the exit of one of your autonomous trucking customers, what gives you the confidence that you won’t potentially lose another one, and then some other things you’ve been hearing from your economist trucking customers as well? Mike Knowles: Sure. I’m going to let, Jim, who’s been doing some recent work in that area, take you through some wins and where we stand in some place in that market. Jim Ison: Yes. So the market in general has had the Silicon Valley type of feel to it and the consolidation that’s going on in there. So while there’s some that are exiting, like too simple and embark were ones that were announced. There are still many like those that are backed by the large trucking companies like Daimler who owns Torc Robotics, and those are robust, and those are the types of customers that we also have. And those are the ones that you heard there was another design win that we had in a new autonomous truck customer. That’s the type of a player in the market that we keep designing our products towards and keep bringing in. Max Michaelis: Okay. Thanks guys. That’s it for me. John Morrison: Thank you. Mike Knowles: Thanks, Max. Operator: And we have no more questions at this time. I’d like to turn the conference back to Mike for closing remarks. Mike Knowles: Thank you, Darryl, and thanks everybody for joining us today. We’ve enjoyed sharing the latest progress at OSS with you today, and believe the company and strategy is solid and its future is bright. OSS management look forward to speaking with you again in November, if not sooner. In the meantime, as always, feel free to reach out to John, Jim, or myself at any time. With that, let’s go ahead and wrap up the call. Darryl? Operator: Thank you. Now, before we conclude today’s call, I would like to provide the Company’s Safe Harbor statement that includes important cautions regarding forward-looking statements made during today’s call. One Stop Systems cautions you that statements made in this presentation that are not a description of historical facts are forward-looking statements. These statements are based on company’ current beliefs and expectations. Such forward-looking statements include, for example, those regarding the Company’s expectations for revenue growth generated by new products, future changes to its business objectives and members of management and the board, design wins and M&A activity amongst other things. The inclusion of such forward-looking statements and others should not be regarded as a representation by OSS that any of its plans will be achieved. Actual results may differ from those set forth in the presentation due to the risks and uncertainties inherent in our business, including, without limitation, that the market for our products is developing and may not develop as we expect, military conflicts, global pandemics and other disasters or public health concerns, and economic instability in regions of the world where we have operations, customers or source material or sell products may affect such markets. Our operating results could be negatively impacted by inflationary pressures, supply chain constraints, increased interest rates or other economic conditions. Our operating results may fluctuate significantly, which would make our future operating results difficult to predict and could cause operating results to fall below expectations or guidance. If we are unable to offset anticipated future decreases in revenue in our media and entertainment space with other business, our operating financial results may be adversely affected. Our ability to successfully integrate the operation systems, technologies, product offerings and personnel with acquired companies, if any, may prove difficult and adversely affect our financial results. Our products are subject to competition, including competition from the customers to whom we may sell and competitive pressure from new and existing companies may harm our business sales, growth rates and market share. Our future success depends on our abilities to develop and successfully introduce new and enhanced products that meet the needs of our customers. The likelihood of our design proposals becoming design wins is uncertain and revenue may never be realized. Our products fulfill specialized needs and functions within the technology industry and such needs or functions may become unnecessary or the characteristics of such needs and functions may shift in such a way as to cause our products to no longer fulfill such needs or functions. New entrants into our market may harm our competitive position. We rely on the limited number of suppliers to support a manufacturer design process. And we cannot protect our proprietary design rights and intellectual property rights, our competitive position could be harmed or we could incur significant expenses to enforce our rights. Our international sales and operations subject us to additional risks that can adversely affect our operating results and financial condition. We may not be able to accurately report our financial results and other risks described in our prior press release and in our filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, including under the heading Risk Factors in our annual report on Form 10-K and any subsequent filings with the SEC. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of the conference call, and we undertake no obligation to revise or update this information to reflect events or circumstances after this date hereof. All forward-looking statements are qualified in their entirety by this cautionary statement, which is made under the Safe Harbor provision of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Before we end today’s conference, I would like to remind everyone that this call will be available for a replay starting later this evening through August 24, 2023. Please refer to today’s press release for dial-in and replay instructions available via the Company’s website at Thank you for joining us today. This concludes our conference. You may now disconnect. Follow One Stop Systems Inc. Follow One Stop Systems Inc. We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyAug 12th, 2023

Datadog, Inc. (NASDAQ:DDOG) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Datadog, Inc. (NASDAQ:DDOG) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript August 8, 2023 Datadog, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.36, expectations were $0.28. Operator: Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Q2 2023 Datadog Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the speakers’ presentation, […] Datadog, Inc. (NASDAQ:DDOG) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript August 8, 2023 Datadog, Inc. beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $0.36, expectations were $0.28. Operator: Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the Q2 2023 Datadog Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. After the speakers’ presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Please be advised that today’s conference is being recorded. I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Yuka Broderick, Vice President of Investor Relations. Please go ahead. Yuka Broderick: Thank you, Gigi. Good morning, and thank you for joining us to review Datadog’s second quarter 2023 financial results, which we announced in our press release issued this morning. Joining me on the call today are Olivier Pomel, Datadog’s Co-Founder and CEO; and David Obstler, Datadog’s CFO. During this call, we will make forward-looking statements, including statements related to our future financial performance, our outlook for the third quarter and the fiscal year 2023 and related notes and assumptions, our gross margins and operating margins, our product capabilities, our ability to capitalize on market opportunities and usage optimization trends. The words anticipate, believe, continue, estimate, expect, intend, will and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements or similar indications of future expectations. These statements reflect our views only as of today and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially. For a discussion of the material risks and other important factors that could affect our actual results, please refer to our Form 10-Q for the quarter ended March 31, 2023. Additional information will be made available in our upcoming Form 10-Q for the fiscal quarter ended June 30, 2023, and other filings with the SEC. This information is also available on the Investor Relations section of our website, along with a replay of this call. We will also discuss non-GAAP financial measures, which are reconciled to their most directly comparable GAAP financial measures in the tables in our earnings release, which is available at With that, I’d like to turn the call over to Olivier. Olivier Pomel: Thanks, Yuka, and thank you all for joining us this morning. Our team continued to execute well in Q2 as we welcome thousands of attendees at our Dashes conference last week. We continue to deliver a large number of new product innovations and we recorded strong new logo bookings throughout the quarter. Let me start with a review of our Q2 financial performance. Revenue was $509 million, an increase of 25% year-over-year and above the high-end of our guidance range. We ended with about 26,100 customers, up from about 21,200 last year. We ended the quarter with about 2,990 customers with ARR of $100,000 or more, up from about 2,420 last year. These customers generated about 85% of our ARR, and we generated free cash flow of $142 million, with a free cash flow margin of 28%. Now let’s discuss this quarter’s business drivers. At a high level, first, we saw Q2 usage growth for existing customers that was a bit lower than it had been in previous quarters. Second, we do see signs that cloud optimization may start to subside. And third, we continue scaling our sales with strong new logo bookings in Q2. Going one-level deeper. In Q2, we saw usage growth for existing customers that was a bit lower than it had been in previous quarters. We continue to see customers, particularly some larger spending customers, scrutinize costs and optimize their cloud and observability usage during Q2. We are reflecting this lower growth in our updated guidance for 2023, and David will provide more commentary regarding our guidance geography. On the other hand, we are seeing signs that the cloud optimization across our customer base may start to subside. The cohort of customers who began optimizing about a year ago appear to have stabilized the users growth at the end of Q2, as indicated by the recent activity and the related commitments with us. And we saw usage growth in aggregates rebound in July to levels that are more similar to what we see in Q1. While it is too early to call an end to cloud optimization and a significant level of macro uncertainty remains, these new trends, along with the tenor of our customer interactions are encouraging. Lastly, our bookings were strong in Q2. Our new logo and new product bookings and deal cycles haven’t been impacted by the period of cloud optimization and we continue to see healthy growth on the sales side. From a new logo bookings perspective, we had our largest Q2 and second largest quarter ever, only behind the seasonally larger Q4 2022. We also closed a record number of new business deals larger than $100,000 in annual commitment. And with our land extend model, we expect new logos to turn into much larger customers over time as they lead into the cloud, and add up more of our product. So as a conclusion, while we do apply conservatism to our guidance, recent usage trends as well as strong new logo activity and customer ramp-ups are positive signs for our future growth. Now turning to platform adoption. Q2 metrics show that our platform strategy continues to resonate in the market. As of the end of Q2, 82% of customers were using two or more products, up from 79% a year ago. 45% of customers were using four or more products, up from 37% a year ago, and 21% of our customers were using six or more products, up from 14% a year ago. The strong multiproduct adoption include expansion into our new newest products. About 30% of our customers have already adopted at least one of our products launched since 2021, including CI visibility database monitoring, cloud security management, sensitive data scanner, cloud craft and others. We expect more opportunities to expand adoption of these products as we continue to broaden their capabilities over time. In Securities, we mentioned last quarter that over 5,000 customers have adopted security products. While many of these 5,000 are just getting started with Datadog Security, we are seeing opportunities to help customers secure their cloud at scale. As of Q2, 79 of our customers spent more than $100,000 on Datadog Security and a handful are now spending more than $1 million. Now let’s move on to R&D. Last week, we had our DASH User Conference and introduced a number of exciting new products and features for our users. To kick off our keynote, we launched our first innovation for generative AI and large language model. We showcased our LLM observability product, enabling ML engineers to safely deploy and manage the models in production. This includes the model catalog centralized place to view and manage every model in every state of our customer development pipeline; analysis and insight on model performance, which allows all engineers to identify and address performance and quality issue with the model themselves; and help identify model drift, the performance degradation that happens over time as model interact with real-world data. We also introduced Bits AI. Bits understands natural language and provide insights from across the Datadog platform as well as from our customers’ collaboration and documentation tools. Among its many features, Bits AI can act as an incident management copilot identifying and suggesting success, generating synthetic tests and triggering workflows to automatically remediate critical issue. And we announced 15 new integrations across the next-generation AI stack from GPU infrastructure providers to Vector databases, module vendors and AR orchestration frameworks. As we said last quarter, we are excited about these new AI technologies, and we believe Datadog is uniquely positioned to both help our customers make the best of them as well as to incorporate them into our product alongside our data and workloads. And although, it’s early days for everyone in this space, we are getting traction with AI customers. And in Q2, our next-gen AI customers contributed about 2% of ARR. Moving on from AI. We showcased a number of new capabilities in the observability space. We introduced Flex logs for log management, allowing customers to flexibly choose retention periods and required performance separately to make new high-volume million use cases cost-effective. We are simplifying APM onboarding for large organizations, so engineers can enable APM across all applications without any core changes. With APM trade squaring, our customers can now understand the complete impact of any localized issue. We introduced our Error Tracking Assistant, which manages AI capabilities with live observability data to automatically explain, solve and test for production errors. In digital experience, we’re also applying next-gen AI technologies to help customers automatically generate synthetic tests from their live traffic data. And we have expanded our mobile monitoring features bringing a first-class experience for mobile developer teams with mobile session replay and mobile application testing. We also announced several innovations in cloud security. Our new security inbox surfaces the most pressing security issues, correlating thousands of technical insights and reducing them to a smaller number of actionable tasks. We can now expect more infrastructure vulnerabilities, whether they are in applications, container images as our hosts. With custom code venerability detection, we extended our detection capabilities beyond auto [indiscernible] and into customers on code identifying the exact vulnerable code mixed feedback with the majority in detail. And with Cloud Sim investigator, our customers can visually map an attacker’s behavior going back more than a year, leading to faster investigation and remediation. Shifting left, we’re delivering more solutions to developers with static analysis. Customers can scan code for quality issues directly within Datadog and we are introducing quality gates for engineers can set rules and prevent e-secure, buggy or slow code from deploying production. Finally, we announced new capabilities to help customers spend on property to receive more efficiently. Our container resource utilization functionality makes it clear which applications are under or over provisioned. And with cloud cost recommendations, we’re adding to our cloud cost management product to automatically discover saving opportunities and act on them. Those were just some of the many announcements we made at DASH. Our Investor Relations website includes a link to the DASH keynote, and I encourage you to watch it to learn more. Before I step away from more innovation, I’m also pleased to note that for the third year in a row, Datadog has been named the leader in the 2023 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Application Performance Monitoring and Observability. We believe this validates our approach to deliver unified platform, which breaks on silos across teams and to focus intensely on product innovation. Now let’s move on to sales and marketing. As I said earlier, we recorded strong new logo bookings, and we continue to see significant expansion opportunities with existing customers. So let’s discuss some of our wins. First, we signed an eight-figure deal over three years with a major American video games company. These customers’ previous SaaS observability vendor was not delivering on critical capabilities such as quality alerting and collaborative incident management and a recent pricing change motivated to get some rich consider other vendors. By moving to Datadog, this customer expects to get higher value out of their monitoring, produce [indiscernible] and eliminate silos among users. And as we achieve better results, they expect to save over $1 million annually by shifting to Datadog from their previous vendor. Next, we signed a seven-figure land with a major broadcaster. This customer is moving to AWS and serverless and its fragmented legacy in open-source tools meet longer incident resolution times and confusion among teams. This customer is developing seven Datadog products, consolidating five tools and has already ramped Datadog to over 500 users. Next, we signed a seven-figure land with a leading Japanese toys and media company. This company has been using a competitive observability vendor alongside smaller tools and home-grown capabilities. With the adoption of five Datadog products, they have full visibility into their applications. They can save time on the busy work and focus on delivering great experiences for their customers. Next, we signed a seven-figure expansion with one of the world’s largest tech companies. This customer is seeing massive adoption of its new generative AI product and needs to scale their GPU fleet to meet increasing demand for AI workload. Using their home-grown tools were slowing them down and put at risk critical product launches. With Datadog, this team is able to programmatically manage new environments as they come online, track and alert on their service level objectives and provide real-time visibility for [indiscernible]. Last but not least, we signed an expansion with one of the world’s largest financial institutions, taking this customer to eight-figure ARR. This customer operates at massive scale, supporting thousands of applications run by tens of thousands of developers and we have a strategic initiative to move aggressively to the public cloud this year. They chose Datadog as their preferred observability platform for cloud application. And as their business units modernize, they are expanding to 10 Datadog products and replacing a number of legacy commercial tools and that is for this quarter’s highlights. I’d like to thank our go-to-market team for their execution in Q2 and for helping our customers make the most out of Dash last week. Before I turn it over to David for a financial review, let me speak to our longer-term outlook. Despite the recent trends of product optimization and continued macro uncertainty, our posture remains the same. We are confident in our long-term growth opportunities, driven by the secular trends of cloud migration and digital transformation as well as our rapid pace of innovation to set customers in observability and beyond. And we think our strong new logo and product adoption trends this quarter are indicative of the continued large and growing opportunity for Datadog. So our long-term plans have not changed. We are continuing to invest to serve our customers as they move to the cloud, AI and other modern technologies. With that, let me turn it over to our CFO. David? David Obstler: Thanks, Olivier. Q2 revenues was $509 million, up 25% year-over-year and up 6% quarter-over-quarter. In Q2, we continued to execute solidly and we also continue to see pressure on the usage growth of existing customers. To dive into some of the drivers of Q2 performance. First, as to usage growth of existing customers, we saw positive usage growth this quarter to lower than in recent quarters, with broadly similar trends across our product lines. While too early to draw broad conclusions, existing customer usage growth improved in July and was more similar to Q1 than that of Q2. We saw more pressure on cloud native businesses than traditional enterprise customers, similar to previous quarters. Regarding customers by spending size, the more moderate growth trends were consistent across the customer base with relatively more pressure on usage growth rates with larger customers. As Olivier discussed, the cohort of customers who began optimizing about a year ago, appear to have stabilized their usage growth with Datadog, though, we recognize that the growth rates of these optimizing customers may remain muted and other customers could optimize. Regarding total customers. Our customer count increased to 26,100 from 25,500 last quarter. This quarter’s total paying customer count includes a one-time cleanup of about 200 financially immaterial customers at the very low end, who are moved to our free tier. Our gross customer additions have remained strong, especially with larger customers. Meanwhile, we are seeing some churn of smaller customers who have limited impact on our revenues. As a result, our gross revenue retention rate remains unchanged in the mid to high 90s, indicating the stickiness of our product and the importance of our product to our customers’ operations. We are executing on strong new logo bookings and new customers contributing meaningfully to our growth as they ramp up. As Olivier mentioned, we had our second largest new logo bookings quarter and a record for Q2. We expect these customers to become more meaningful as they expand with us. In Q2, about 40% of our year-over-year revenue growth or 10 points of growth was attributable to growth from these new customers that were acquired in the past year. Finally, we continue to see consolidation opportunities, particularly in larger deals. Consolidation allows our customers to improve functionality by getting all of their data into one platform, while saving money at the same time. Moving on to our trailing 12-month dollar-based net retention rate, or NRR. NRR was over 120% in Q2 as customers increased their usage and adopted more products. As we expected and as we discussed on last quarter’s call, our trailing 12-month NRR decline but was above 120 in Q2 as existing customers continue to scrutinize their tech stack costs and make efficiency improvements. If our growth trajectory continues at current levels, we expect our trailing 12-month NRR to decline to below 120 in Q3. Moving on to our financial results. Billings were $520 million in the quarter, up 31% year-over-year. Billings duration increased slightly year-over-year. Remaining performance obligations, or RPO was $1.25 billion, up 42% year-over-year. Current RPO growth was about up 30% year-over-year. We signed some larger multiyear deals in the quarter, which drove an increase in the duration year-over-year. As we’ve mentioned before, we continue to believe revenue is a better indicator of our business trends than billings and RPO as those can fluctuate relative to revenue based on the timing of invoicing and the duration of customer contracts. Now let’s review some key income statement results. Unless otherwise noted, all metrics are non-GAAP. We have provided a reconciliation of GAAP to non-GAAP financials in our earnings release. Gross profit in the quarter was $414 million, representing a gross margin of 81.3%. This compares to a gross margin of 80.5% last quarter and 80.8% in the year ago quarter. We continue to experience efficiencies in cloud costs reflected in our cost of goods sold this quarter. As a result, we are experiencing a gross margin, which is in excess of our target in the high 70s. Our Q2 OpEx grew 26% year-over-year, and this was a decline from 45% year-over-year growth last quarter. We moderated our hiring pace and executed on controlling costs, given the macro uncertainties. Q2 operating income was $106 million, or a 21% operating margin, up from 18% last quarter and flat to 21% in the year ago quarter. We are pleased with our execution on cost control and disciplined investment in this quarter. Turning to the balance sheet and cash flow statements. We ended the quarter with $2.2 billion in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. Cash from operations was $153 million in the quarter. And after taking into consideration capital expenditures and capitalized software, free cash flow was $142 million for a free cash flow margin of 28%. Now turning to our outlook for the third quarter and the fiscal year 2023. In forming our guidance, we continue to use conservative assumptions as to the usage growth of our existing customers. As a reminder, our guidance philosophy is to carry forward trends observed in recent quarters, discounted with additional conservative. For the third quarter, we expect revenue to be in the range of $521 million to $525 million, which represents a 19% to 20% year-over-year growth. Non-GAAP operating income is expected to be in the range of $98 million to $102 million. And non-GAAP net income per share is expected to be in the range of $0.33 to $0.35 per share based on approximately 354 weighted average diluted shares outstanding. And for the full fiscal year 2023, we expect revenue to be in the range of $2.05 billion to $2.06 billion, which represents 22% to 23% year-over-year growth. Non-GAAP operating income is expected to be in the range of $390 million to $400 million. Non-GAAP net income per share is expected to be in the range of $1.30 to $0.34 per share and based on approximately 351 million average sales diluted shares outstanding. Now finally, for some additional notes on the guidance. We have continued to balance near-term financial strength with investment in our large long-term opportunities, and we are executing well on our plans to invest efficiently. Next, we expect net interest and other income for fiscal year 2023 to be approximately $85 million and we expect our tax expense for the full year to be $14 million to $16 million. Finally, we expect capital expenditures and capitalized software together to be about 4% of revenues in fiscal year 2023. To reiterate Olivier’s comments, we remain excited about our long-term growth opportunities and we’re continuing to execute against those opportunities. I want to thank our Datadog worldwide for our efforts in this quarter. And with that, we will open the call for questions. Operator, let’s begin the Q&A. Q&A Session Follow Datadog Inc. (NASDAQ:DDOG) Follow Datadog Inc. (NASDAQ:DDOG) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first question comes from the line of Raimo Lenschow from Barclays. Raimo Lenschow: Hey. Thank you. Olivier, on the — if you think about the niche, can you discuss a little bit in the nature (ph) of the optimizations that you see when you compare a little bit what you saw at the early parts of the — after recession or the cycle late last year versus what you see now. Does the nature has changed there in terms of what you’re seeing there? And then I have one follow-up, David. Olivier Pomel: No, we don’t see a big change in the nature of the optimization, it’s a mix of a optimization of the cloud workloads themselves and little bit also on the observability side for the new (ph) products that have volume that can be separate from the cloud workloads, such as log from metrics and things like that. I would say, so this quarter we did see a little bit lower growth as we said in the comments across the board from existing customers. We suggest that the customers have started optimizing earlier, we’re not done yet and some others have started later and they all across many are (ph) there. We did see, however, that some of the customers in the course of customers and but you’re going to stay optimizing a year ago and that we’re on the larger side and on the primary side has stabilized their growth. And we feel a lot more confident now that they’ve done at least as far as they know. As we’ve seen some of these customers start committing long-term forward again with us and at levels that are at or above their current levels of usage, which suggest that you have a good idea of what is going next, which is all inspired — part of what you for your comments about the — fact that we think we might we see some signs that the this period by end. Still too early to call it, but we see some — we seem to be on more solid ground there. Raimo Lenschow: Yes. Okay. And then just linking that up with the guidance because that’s where I get a lot of the questions, you think about your Q3 and then Q4 implied guidance, even given that you had a full year there’s obviously still headwinds on growth that are kind of coming there. Like how much of that Q3, Q4 is kind of a lagging effect of what we’ve seen before versus kind of maybe other factors like conservatism, et cetera.? Thank you. David Obstler: Yeah, it’s both. Because our growth was a little lower than in Q2 than it had been in the previous quarters. We have that effect moving forward given our recurring revenue model. And then on top of that, we — in our guidance philosophy, we discount the most recent performance, particularly around usage growth, but also in new logos. So it’s a combination of both of that, those flowing through in our financial results for the year. Raimo Lenschow: Okay. Perfect. Thank you. Operator: Thank you. One moment for next question. Our next question comes from the line of Sanjit Singh from Morgan Stanley. Sanjit Singh: Thanks, guys for taking the question. I think I understand the comments around slower usage growth trends, particularly compared to Q1. I just wanted to dig into sort of issues around competition. David, you mentioned sort of higher churn at low end. We see total customer count growth slow down this quarter. So we think of about either [indiscernible] competition, competition with open source or DIY or maybe even customers rather than getting to hyperscale or needed solutions. Has it seen any sort of pick up there? And is that a potential as part of the mix of why we’re seeing slower usage trends this quarter? Olivier Pomel: Sanjit, you’re breaking up a little bit. So I hope I answered your question appropriately, but the — we do see a slightly higher return at the very, very low end. This is more related to the health of what happens to tiny, tiny businesses that use us for small amounts and that themselves might disappear go out of business or start having needle together. We did have a onetime cleanup also this quarter as we — on an ongoing basis, we don’t create some customers if they are not super active in the platform or if they are deals are out — are not paid up today. We changed some of the criteria around that, which ended up with a onetime cleanup of 200 customers, which changed a number there. But beyond that, we do see a little bit higher churn at the very, very low end. The numbers there are small in terms of revenue. They’re actually completely material and the overall gross retention remains unchanged and in the mid to high 90s in aggregate. David Obstler: We said that — I think on the other side of it, we said that in dollars, we had a strong new logo bookings and also cross-sell. And a lot of that, as I said in my comments, or a portion of that tends to be consolidation onto the platform, which has been going on a long time. Olivier Pomel: Yeah. And beyond that, I think it’s a good point, David, we do see — we’re actually very happy with what we see on the new product and new logos out of the business. We’re lending record numbers of new customers of scale and we’re also seeing more and more consolidation on to us. If nothing else, the committee dynamics seems to turn more into our favor as time goes by there, independently from what we see in terms of churn or go to very end (ph). Sanjit Singh: I appreciate the color. And then David and Olivier, you made some sort of, I guess, preliminary comments of potentially seeing some green shoots on the optimization headwinds that we’ve seen over the last several quarters. In terms of the percentage of the base that hasn’t optimized, any sort of color how large that is? What percentage of the customer base hasn’t yet optimized but potentially could going forward? Olivier Pomel: We can’t really give you a percentage there. But the cohort we mentioned on the call was the one we were looking at for getting a sense of stabilization in the optimization was the cohort that started optimizing the first that was typically large in volume, very cloud-native in nature and that we consider to be the highest risk one. So the one that weighed on our growth numbers, the most over the past few quarters and that’s the one we based on a lot of comment on. In addition to the other trends that David mentioned earlier, on the fact that in aggregate, we saw our growth of existing customers pick up first late in Q2 and then in July. Sanjit Singh: I appreciate the color, Olivier. Thank you. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Mark Murphy from JPMorgan. Mark Murphy: Yes. Thank you very much. Once the larger customers have compressor spending, and obviously, there’s a limit to how much they can compress that. Then they’re going to need to grow that spending again. And at some point, you’re going to have growth ramping pretty materially in security. It sounds like that has started and all of the LLM observability. And then you’re going to have easier comparisons as we head into 2024. Is it reasonable to think that optimizations could be further subsiding as you’re entering 2024 based on your comments. And then for all these reasons, should we be optimistic on growth picking up just relative to how it’s going to exit in Q4 of this year, which I think is around — which I think is around the mid-teens. And I know it’s hard to answer because you haven’t guided on that yet or would you be imagining, David, that we might kind of just drag across that 15% into 2024 as a starting point. And if you can’t answer it numerically, maybe you could just kind of speak to some of these time frames qualitatively. Thank you. David Obstler: Yeah. I think we haven’t provided guidance for next year. We cited that given the amount of our revenue growth that embedded in our existing customer base. The timing of the lapsing of optimization is critical to that. We said we see green shoots has been said, but it’s too early to call that. So that’s the biggest factor. In addition, we said that our new logo performance in terms of assigning new customers who then ramped is another green shoot that could do that, but it’s — we haven’t provided guidance on specific numbers for next year, so I really can’t go further. Olivier Pomel: Well, look, I mean, we are — obviously, we’re optimistic that we’re still very early in a big tech transition. Short-term, we don’t really control the growth of existing customers and how much to optimize their cloud environment and things like that. But for everything that we control and we secure on, which is new products, the quality of the products and the new customers and the attach of these new products with customers. Everything we see seems to be working and we see great results from that. And these are obviously great trends for the future. The one thing I would add is that in our conversation with our customers at a conference just last week. Most of the conversations were around who we’re going to get our customers to implement new use cases, add up new products, scale up, consolidate onto our platform. There was still a little bit of customers thinking about cost control, optimization and things like that, but we also see less a bit of a time. So when that kicks in, in terms of the overall growth in aggregate, as David said, it’s too early to tell and we want to be careful there because we know sometimes our customers will know everything themselves. They might face more difficulties as they go. But we’re very optimistic about the mid, long term, obviously. Mark Murphy: And Olivier, thank you for that. Just as a quick follow-up. You mentioned strong new logo bookings and I think we don’t see that in the new customer count, but you rattled off a handful of seven and eight figure wins, which I believe each and every one of this sounded like a consolidation play onto other vendor — off of other vendors and displacing those on to Datadog. Am I interpreting it accurately to think that maybe you’re seeing a pretty big shift there, where maybe in terms of just win rates, competitive displacements kind of seeing this vision of the consolidated platform really putting a dent in the competitive landscape to Datadog’s advantage? Olivier Pomel: Yeah. Well, in general, we see it and we see — by nature, this consolidation deals tend to be the ones that have the biggest headline number when we close them as opposed to just a continuation of their existing run rate we have with those customers. So that’s what causes the step functions there, and that’s why we call them out on the earnings call. But in general, we have a record number of new business deals across — above $100,000. So what you don’t see in the overall number of customers is the spread between smaller, medium and larger. There’s quite a bit of noise at the low end of that customer count, which makes the number ebb and flow a little bit. But for the part that we target with our sales force, which are the middle and the high end of it, where we actually see those numbers go nicely and commensurately with all sales force. So we’re very happy about that. David Obstler: Just to clarify the customer count. So on gross additions, a number — very consistent with what we’ve seen in previous quarters. But as Olivier mentioned, more larger deals resulted in a higher average land. That’s what produced the record Q2. And the net — the weight on the net is, we mentioned the cleanup, but on the very low end customers that are on the border between very, very slight usage and free trial. So the gross addition activities were consistent and strong. And in fact, I think as you mentioned and as you get to the larger deals, you have more consolidation impetus within those wins. Mark Murphy: Thank you very much. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Kash Rangan from Goldman Sachs. Anisha Narayan: Hey. This is Anisha (ph) on for Kash. Two quick questions. One may be on usage growth slowdown. Is that coming from particular end markets or segments or verticals that you can highlight? And second, maybe on hiring, while you’re seeing green shoots in new logo growth and we had a great number of announcements from the DASH conference, what would give you conviction to ramp up hiring or since you’ve moderated your go-to-market motion right now? Thank you. Olivier Pomel: Yeah. On the — so first on the growth slowdown. This is, I would say, across the board with the optimization, but it is a lot more pronounced with cloud-native businesses than with traditional enterprises. And the reasons for that are that cloud native businesses have a lot more they’re spending on the cloud and a lot more of an emphasis on saving there than the larger enterprises that are a lot earlier in the cloud migration and that still have most of their system or a majority of their IT spend that is outside of cloud. So this is where we’ve seen the most optimization. It’s still where we see the most optimization, though, as we said in the call, we saw that the earlier cohorts of cloud-native customers that started optimizing a year ago are showing some stabilization and some higher commitments with us in the past couple of months. In terms of hiring, I think we’re still growing the company, and we’re still investing. What we’ve done is we have moderate to that of growth to align on the — on what we’ve seen in the market. But we still consider we are very, very early in terms of the — or put our journey. We still have a lot to build in observability. We have a lot to build in security. We have a lot to build and develop our workforce and developer experience. We have a lot to be in ITSM. There’s many, many new use cases we’re going after, including AI. And so we’re not going to stop hiring and we’re not going to stop innovating there. The last thing I’ll mention is that we’ve also been growing our go-to-market teams. And the reason for that is those investments in go-to-market are yielding incremental growth on the new logo and new product side. As we said in the call, that part of the business has been working very well, and we’re very satisfied with the output there. So we’ll keep growing the team while being mindful of the margins we need to protect. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Jacob Roberge from William Blair. Jacob Roberge: Hey. Thanks for taking my questions. Obviously, AI is something that a lot of customers are excited about, but we’re hearing that it may be delaying purchasing decisions in other parts of that tech stack until customers kind of figure out how they want to incorporate AI into their broader organization and just how much that will cost? Do you feel like that dynamic impacted Q2 at all with just maybe a near-term low in IT spending until broader AI plans are finalized? Or is the updated guide mainly just driven by the optimizations you’ve been calling out? Olivier Pomel: We don’t really see that trends play. I would say — the one thing I would say is or AI customer is fully into two accounts right now. They are the ones that have been working on it for the past two, three years, that our providers of AI themselves or business that are completely built on AI and we see those business reaching scale, in some cases, very large scale right now. And — but it’s a relatively small number of customers. There’s a much larger number of customers that are standing to embrace AI. But those are still early, and it’s probably going to take a number of quarters even yours in some cases for those use cases and those customers to reach full scale. So again, a much larger number of customers, but quite early. So we have those two trends at play when you look at our AI penetration and the AI adoption. Jacob Roberge: Okay. Helpful. And then you called out the strong new logo bookings quite a few times there. Are there any commonalities between those customers from just a size or maybe an industry perspective? And I’m curious if you’ve started to see any of the newer generative AI-focused companies that are creating these LLMs start to actually layer into your model from a customer perspective? Olivier Pomel: Right. And is part of your question — can you read it? You were – your volume was a little bit low. Jacob Roberge: Yeah. The first part was just around the strong new logo bookings and just if there was any commonalities between those customers from a size or an industry perspective? Olivier Pomel: The new logo bookings are in terms of value like their [indiscernible] at mid-market and enterprise. So on the larger side and on the more traditional side. We have a number of companies or customers that are also the providers of AI, but some of those have been customers for some time already. And in some situations, we have new business units of existing customers that were with us for a while, but also started new business units around AI that start adapting more product. More recently, we have one of those also in the call comments from a very large customer. Jacob Roberge: Great. Thanks for taking my questions. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Brent Thill from Jefferies. Brent Thill: On sales and marketing in Q2, you’ve never been down sequentially. Are you holding back on quota-carrying rep hiring to get the reps productive? Are you going to be adding on that side? And a quick follow-up. David Obstler: The biggest factor there was the sales kickoff that would be in the first quarter and not in the second quarter. So the change has more to do with the timing of events. Be that as it may, as Olivier (ph) mentioned, we’re continuing to invest in sales quota-capacity, but we are growing that at a lower rate than we did last year. But the major factor in the sequential was a seasonal thing around events. Brent Thill: Okay. And real quick, just some of the large customer adds in 80, your cadence was pushing 130 to 170. So is something competitively going on there or is it just you’re equally seeing the SMB and Enterprise act the same way in terms of their conservatism? David Obstler: I didn’t understand — what — I didn’t understand the question. Yuka Broderick: Brian, you’re talking about the net adds of $100,000 plus customers? Brent Thill: Correct. David Obstler: It was 80 versus 130 to 170 in the last four quarters. Yes. I would say that we said that the number of customers has been relatively steady, although, it’s decelled (ph). And we have gotten, I would say, in that range in land, the average land has been larger. So of those that are landing smaller. And when net retention goes down because the major source of customers going into that would be from customers below $100,000. And bigger factor would be that it takes longer for those customers to evolve into a 100,000, and that’s the biggest factor in that. Olivier Pomel: Yes. And just to reiterate what we’re saying, we’re very happy with the addition of customers on the medium and large size. These numbers are going up across the board in terms of new customers and new products and — so we feel very good about that. And if nothing else, the things are improving there. Brent Thill: Thank you. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Michael Turits from KeyBanc. Michael Turits: Hey, guys. Two questions. First, can you finish on [Technical Difficulty] Can you just talk about how usage traded month by month, April, May, June? And if you can go there any logic around that? And then my second question is just, Olivier, you had said there was the difference between those [Technical Difficulty]. Olivier Pomel: I didn’t hear your second question. You’re breaking up a little bit. So the first question — and for the first question to start, maybe was on the ERT during the quarter, I guess. Yes. So ERT was not completely out of the ordinary for us. So I will say we see — we had a low in May. I would say in late April and May, we started having a low. And then things improved in June and improved some more in July, which is after the end of the quarter. That being said, as we — for more guidance for the rest of the year, we based that on what we saw throughout the quarter and we discount it. And we’re trying to avoid looking too much at what we saw the partial quarters we go after that. That’s been offset as you through that, and we’ll stick to that today. Michael Turits: Thanks. And then the second question was the optimization that was particular to absorbability. Is there any difference across your major product categories, let’s say, APM versus logs versus infrastructure? Olivier Pomel: So the ones that are the most sensitive to that are logs, some part of infrastructure, which is custom metrics and some part of APM, which is additional large volume transactions that customers might tradition to what they get included with every single cost to deploy APM on. And we’ve seen some optimization on that, that’s been specific to observability. I would say it does go hand in hand with the overall co-optimization our customers are doing. So the timing might always be exactly the same, which is also why we’re careful about the trends that we’re forecasting based on the sort of the improvement we’ve seen recently. Michael Turits: Okay. Thanks. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Andrew Nowinski from Wells Fargo. Andrew Nowinski: Okay. Thank you. Good morning, everyone. So I want to start with a clarification. Did you actually lower your discount rate that you apply to your organic growth relative to your annual outlook or when you put that together this quarter? David Obstler: Yes, we would essentially discount the most recent assumption. So if the most recent assumptions were lower, we said they were lower in Q2 then we would be lowering that in the guidance assumptions going forward. Andrew Nowinski: Right. So it wasn’t just the organic growth rate being lower, your actual discount rate was lower, too? David Obstler: I don’t know — sorry, I don’t understand your question. We do our guidance based on taking the assumptions and then discounting. I don’t know — you’d have to clarify what you mean by the discount rate. Olivier Pomel: We don’t have a discount rate card for guidance. But we do discount the historical, as we give guidance for the future. Andrew Nowinski: Okay. Fair enough. And then I just had a question on that large deal, the eight-figure deal. Is that large enough that we should normalize it when we think about our estimates for next year pr do you have enough of those eight-figure deals in the pipeline that it will blend out? Olivier Pomel: I don’t think you need to normalize for it. Andrew Nowinski: Okay. Thank you. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Taz Koujalgi from Wedbush. Taz Koujalgi: Hey, guys. Thanks for taking my question. I have a question on the new logo bookings that you mentioned. What is the average duration of new bookings or new logo bookings? And how has that trended so far? David Obstler: We haven’t discussed the duration of new bookings versus existing bookings, our durations in terms of contract it tended to be just under a year, nine months to 10 months, but we haven’t given information on the difference between new bookings, I would say the larger — if you’re getting to the because most of the revenues are existing customers, if it’s — if you’re talking about renewals or new contracts on existing customers that would have the larger effect on contract duration. As we said, there was a trend towards longer-term deals, which extended the duration in terms of our existing customers. Taz Koujalgi: And just to clarify, the duration for new customers was consistent with the prior quarter or was it higher? Olivier Pomel: The duration increased. So we said that the RPO total was higher than the current RPO and that the reason was that duration had gone up slightly from previous periods. Duration increased in contracts. Taz Koujalgi: Yeah. Very helpful. Just one follow-up. That 40% of the new, I guess, revenue growth came from new customers. So 10 points of the revenue growth came from new customers who signed up in the last, I guess, year. Is that a consistent metric or was that higher or lower than what you usually see? Olivier Pomel: Yeah. We report that in our Qs. That’s — the 40% has is higher than it had been. That’s mathematically true when net retention goes down with more consistency of new, you would have a higher percent. The 10 points, so the 10 points of growth or of our growth would be something that would be more consistent and not as dependent on the net retention. Taz Koujalgi: Got it. Thanks very much. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Koji Ikeda from Bank of America Securities. Koji Ikeda: Hey, Olivier and David. Just 1 from me here in the interest of time. Olivier, in your prepared remarks, you called out 2% of ARR being generated from next-gen AI customers. I wanted to dig into that a little bit more. How should we be thinking about how you define what a next-gen AI customer is that an existing customer with very specific AI initiatives or is that a next-gen AI-specific customers, say, like an LLM vendor? And then what was that contribution during 1Q? Thanks, guys. Olivier Pomel: So it’s — you can see it as the customers that are either selling AI themselves. So that would be LM vendors and the like. Our customers whose whole business is so is built on differentiated AI technology. And we’ve been fairly selective in terms of who we put in a category because companies everywhere are very eager to said that they differentiate we are today. So this is an illustration basically of the new kinds of businesses we’ve seen emerge, I would say, in the past year, 1.5 years, two years. In some cases, it might be divisions of existing larger companies, but in most situations, these are fairly recent and newer companies. David Obstler: We didn’t give a comparable for the numbers. This is the first time we disclose this. And we probably won’t disclose it on a regular basis just to give more color to what we see in the market today. Koji Ikeda: Got it. That’s super helpful. Thank you very much for taking the question. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Patrick Walravens from JMP Securities. Patrick Walravens: Great. Thank you. I’d love to hear what you thought about the attendance at Datadog Dash in San Francisco versus your expectations? And then more broadly about the — or your thoughts around the return to in-person events like this? Olivier Pomel: So overall, we’re actually very happily surprised. So we have decided to go to put Dash in San Francisco this year. So we switch things up a little bit and maybe see different customers than the ones we see when we do it on the East Coast. We’re a little bit worried to be honest because we did it in the summer in San Francisco, and we had heard our stories about or get people into price to show up. And we’ve been very, very happily surprised. We got great attendance actually higher than we had modeled, which forced us to scramble the first day to add some shares in the keynote roads. And so overall, the time was very good. The conference was very productive. That was very, very good. In terms of the return to in-person events across the board, we see them happen whether that’s our own conference or the other industry or an conferences that we exhibit at, we see a lot of success with those again. And since customers are very eager to connect and come to these events. So definitely something that’s happening this year that was maybe not happening as much the years before. Patrick Walravens: Okay. Thanks, Olivier. Operator: Thank you. One moment for our next question. Our next question comes from the line of Gregg Moskowitz from Mizuho. Gregg Moskowitz: Thank you for taking the question. First for Olivier and then I had a follow-up. So given the slight improvement in usage trends that you cited in the first quarter, it was a bit surprising to hear that Q2 usage growth for existing customers was a little lower than prior quarters because we haven’t really been hearing this from other consumption business models that have recently reported. And I’m just wondering if you have any thoughts as to why the usage growth for existing customers may have downtick this quarter? Anything come across? Olivier Pomel: Well, I think it’s — look, at the end of the day, we have a slightly different customer mix than some of the other folks. There are some optimizations that are with others that are special to cloud that maybe it’s also specific to different clouds of which we have a different mix than the rest of the industry. So when you combine all of that, you might see some different timing effects in terms of how various optimization might heat us versus others. So I wouldn’t read too much into that. I think the trends are broadly the same as what you see anywhere in the industry. And the other participants are also quite careful about not calling an IBM (ph) to all of the optimization. So are we, even though from the behavior we see from our — who we think of other customers, who are the most at risk of optimization. We feel better about the path we see them tech and the usage trends we see of late. Gregg Moskowitz: Okay. Thanks, Oli. And then I wanted to ask on the security side because you mentioned 79 customers now over $100,000, including a handful spending more than $1 million. So for those largest customers in particular, can you give us a flavor for which Datadog security products they’re most frequently using? Also, how much of this, again, to those largest wins, how much of this is greenfield as opposed to displacement? Thanks. Olivier Pomel: The largest customers there tend to use almost all of our security products today. Sometimes there are some exceptions. And these are customers that tend to be on the tech forward mid-market higher-end of the market side that deployers world-to-world in their organizations. Typically, the customers that have us in a six- figures are above tend to be — can be enterprise or mid-market, but the ones that are mid and above tend to be mid-market and more tech forward. And I would say overall, the adoption tracks the — the adoption in the industry of a unified DevSecOps as a practice. And again to zoom out a little bit, we believe that this is where the whole industry is going. And we’re building a product with completely ready and we have a fully mature end-to-end solution that is relevant to every single possible customer. So that by the time this becomes with general practicing in industry where we no-brainer choice for all of those customers and so-far we’re pleased with what we’re doing there. Gregg Moskowitz: Very helpful. Thank you. Operator: At this time, I would now like to turn the conference back over to Olivier Pomel, CEO of Datadog, for closing remarks. Olivier Pomel: Thank you. So first of all, thank you all for attending the call today. I also want to thank all of our employees, all the Datadog’s around the world for a Q2 that was very well-executed. And I want to thank all of our customers for making DASH last week such a vibrant conference and making some products here in terms of conversations we’ve had with them. And with these good words, thank you all. Operator: This concludes today’s conference call. Thank you for participating. 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Category: topSource: insidermonkeyAug 12th, 2023

Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript July 26, 2023 Lam Research Corporation beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $8.83, expectations were $5.07. Operator: Good day, everyone, and welcome to the Lam Research Corporation’s June 2023 Quarterly Financial Conference Call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] Please also note […] Lam Research Corporation (NASDAQ:LRCX) Q4 2023 Earnings Call Transcript July 26, 2023 Lam Research Corporation beats earnings expectations. Reported EPS is $8.83, expectations were $5.07. Operator: Good day, everyone, and welcome to the Lam Research Corporation’s June 2023 Quarterly Financial Conference Call. All participants will be in a listen-only mode. [Operator Instructions] Please also note today’s event is being recorded. At this time, I’d like to turn the floor over to Tina Correia. Ma’am, please go ahead. Tina Correia: Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the Lam Research quarterly earnings conference call. With me today are Tim Archer, President and Chief Executive Officer, and Doug Bettinger, Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer. During today’s call, we will share our overview on the business environment, and we’ll review our financial results for the June 2023 quarter and our outlook for the September 2023 quarter. The press release detailing our financial results was distributed a little after 1 o’clock PM Pacific Time this afternoon. The release can also be found on the Investor Relations section of the company’s website along with the presentation slides that accompany today’s call. Today’s presentation and Q&A include forward-looking statements, that are subject to risks and uncertainties reflected in the risk factors disclosed in our SEC public filings. Please see accompanying slides in the presentation for additional information. Today’s discussion of our financial results will be presented on a non-GAAP financial basis unless otherwise specified. A detailed reconciliation between GAAP and non-GAAP results can be found in the accompanying slides in the presentation. This call is scheduled to last until 3 o’clock PM Pacific Time. A replay of this will be made available later this afternoon on our website. And with that, I’ll hand the call over to Tim. Tim Archer: Thank you, Tina, and welcome to everyone joining the call today. Lam posted strong results for the June quarter with gross margin, operating margin and earnings per share well above the guided ranges. CSBG at 47% of revenues in the quarter, continues to stand-out as a key area of strength and stability for Lam in an otherwise weak wafer fabrication equipment spending environment. Operationally, we achieved significant improvement in on-time delivery and critical backorder performance in the quarter and now see these metrics back at normalized pre-pandemic levels. Our focus on the resiliency of our global manufacturing and supply chain network is delivering greater predictability in the short term, but more importantly, positions us to scale more efficiently when WFE growth inevitably resumes. Looking near-term, we see WFE spending in 2023 tracking to the mid $70 billion range with the upside coming from domestic China related spending as well as strong growth in high bandwidth memory or HBM related demand. By device segments, we expect overall memory WFE to be down in the mid-40% range compared to last year and non-memory segments to be down approximately 10%. We continue to see second half 2023 WFE tracking higher than first half. While 2023 is a down year for WFE, the long-term growth dynamics for the semiconductor industry are strong. Emerging growth drivers such as generative AI are only in their initial stages of adoption and will be fundamental to driving increased investment in both memory and foundry logic fabs over the next several years. Advanced AI servers have significantly higher leading edge logic memory and storage content versus traditional servers. And every incremental 1% penetration of AI servers and data centers is expected to drive $1 billion to $1.5 billion of additional WFE investment. This creates tremendous opportunity for Lam as greater etch and deposition intensity is needed to enable higher performance and more scalable device architectures. To ensure we are best positioned to win long term, we have been making significant investments to broaden our product portfolio for processing at the atomic scale. Lam is the established leader in 3D NAND and we are well positioned to benefit from the move underway to 3D in other device segments. Gate all around, 3D DRAM and advanced packaging are important 3D inflections that are expected to drive strong SAM and share growth for Lam. Advanced packaging is becoming vital to the performance, power and cost roadmaps of high-performance applications, including generative AI. Customers are increasingly adopting a wide variety of packaging schemes to enable logic and memory integration. Some of these schemes enable up to 50% improved memory density, 10 times improvement in bandwidth and 60% gain in power efficiency. Lam has a track record of excellence in the advanced packaging segment with a strong set of manufacturing proven products. Overall, we have greater than 50% market share in deposition and edge solutions required for advanced 3D stacking of high bandwidth memory. More specifically, our SABRE 3D copper electroplating tool and Syndion etch system hold 100% market share across all leading memory customers for through-silicon via formation as a result of our long established expertise in etching and filling high aspect ratio geometry structures. Overall, we expect our packaging SAM to double in the next five years. We also see our market position strengthening as we bring technology and productivity innovation to address emerging opportunities. For example, in the June quarter, we had a critical win for a new inter-die gapfill application at a key foundry-logic customer for their chiplet architecture. As this latest win ramps into production, we will have secured a leading share position for this application across the top three foundry-logic customers. We won this application for a couple of reasons. First, we delivered higher productivity relative to the competition by leveraging our unique triple quad platform architecture and multi-station sequential deposition chamber design. This enables film deposition of greater than 20 microns in a single pass, allowing the customer to run more wafers between chamber clean steps. Second, we delivered superior on-wafer performance, including better film stress management, improved defectivity, and enhanced wafer to wafter uniformity versus the competition. As we expand our position in newer high-growth markets like 3D packaging and specialty technologies, we have looked to leverage existing R&D and tools within the Lam portfolio to broaden our product offerings most efficiently. In the recent example, our long-established Kiyo etch platform has proven to be highly suited to applications which are critical to enabling new die-to-wafer hybrid bonding schemes. By delivering better etch profile than the competition, we secured a key win in the June quarter at a leading foundry-logic customer. We are currently the tool of record for a suite of etches and resist strip steps at this customer and expect to start recognizing revenue for the new application in 2023. As this customer continues to shrink packaging dimensions with future hybrid bonding iterations, we have the opportunity to double our revenue with them over the next several years. In another instance, Lam has been working with customers within the specialty segment to port key 300 millimeter etch solutions, including atomic layer etch, to 200 millimeter to overcome challenges in the manufacturing of gallium nitride devices. Adoption of GaN technology is accelerating across multiple applications ranging from high-efficiency charging devices for consumer electronics and automotive to 5G RF infrastructure. However, the fabrication of such devices is complex and requires ultra-low damage etch processes with atomic-scale precision. With our suite of solutions, we can deliver a GaN etch process that improve surface roughness and other material properties that impact device performance. These solutions were developed as a result of Lam’s deep understanding of the required technology, as well as key partnerships with customers and research institutions. Longer term, we look to outperform in the trillion-dollar semiconductor industry forecasted for the end of the decade. At Lam, we are executing a strategy to create competitive differentiation by focusing on what we see as three key vectors of rising complexity. First is the technical complexity associated with enabling the transition to 3D device and packaging architectures across all market segments. Second is the support and workforce complexity arising from the expanding geographic footprint, as regionalization efforts build momentum. And third is the sustainability complexity as we responsibly manage the carbon impact of the semiconductor industry as the output grows to $1 trillion. This quarter, we detailed one component of our strategy in a press release for our Semiverse Solutions portfolio of advanced simulation and modeling products. These products are designed to help engineers get to process solutions faster, develop new products at lower cost and collaborate across the global ecosystem with greater effectiveness. We believe that by combining the physical advantages of Lam’s diverse global R&D and manufacturing footprint with the virtual development and digital twin capabilities of our Semiverse Solutions, we will be in an excellent position to innovate and outperform as our industry grows into the future. With that, I will turn it over to Doug. Thank you. Doug Bettinger: Excellent. Thank you, Tim. Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining our call today during what I know is a very busy earnings season. We executed well in the June 2023 quarter with revenue coming in above the midpoint of our guided range and our profitability metrics exceeding the high end of guidance. While we continue to work through a challenging WFE investment year, most notably with very low memory spending, our focus on improving our operational efficiencies is showing up favorably in our results. We’re laser-focused on what’s in our direct control and executing well. Let me dig into revenue. June quarter revenue came in at $3.2 billion, a decrease from the prior quarter as we expected. Systems revenue declined quarter-over-quarter as we had reduced levels of deferred revenue with the improvement in supply chain constraints. We closed the June quarter with $1.8 million in deferred revenue on the balance sheet, which was a decrease of $165 million sequentially. We’ve got all the deferred revenue related to outstanding back order parts completely back to normal levels. As we discussed last quarter though, our deferred revenue balance is currently still at higher than historic levels. The deferred revenue balance includes increased customer cash and advanced deposits tied to orders from newer customers. We expect a significant portion of these deposits to convert to revenue during the second half of calendar year 2023. Let me now turn to the revenue segment details. Memory as a percentage of systems revenue in the June quarter was low at 27%, which was a decline from the prior quarter level of 32% and our lowest concentration percentage for this segment in the last decade. The DRAM segment within memory remained flat at 9% of systems revenue. And NAND came down to 18% of systems revenue, down from the March quarter level of 23%. We continue to expect NAND spending to remain at low levels for the remainder of the 2023 calendar year. And I just mentioned, NAND spending is at the lowest levels we’ve seen since the advent of the 3D NAND architecture. Consistent with the prior quarter, we see strong concentration of systems revenue in the foundry segment with the June quarter revenue percentage at 47% versus 46% that we saw in the March quarter. Investments were biased towards leading-edge devices. There also continues to be robust spending to support more mature specialty nodes. We had a record level of concentration in the logic and other segment with 26% of systems revenue in the June quarter, compared with 22% in the prior quarter. There was broad-based spending in areas such as advanced packaging, microprocessors, analog, image sensors and power applications. These are areas where we’ve demonstrated strong momentum with our technology solutions, and I’d just point out that they are broadly distributed geographically. With respect to the regional composition of our total revenue, the China region was 26% of the total, which was up a little bit from the prior quarter, which was 22%. China domestic customers were the majority of the China regional revenue in the June quarter. The result was strong concentration of investments for our customers in the Korea and Taiwan region, which comprised 24% and 20% of our total revenues, respectively, in the June quarter. The US region declined from the record level that we saw last quarter, largely due to the timing of customer projects. The Customer Support Business Group revenue in the June quarter totaled approximately $1.5 billion, which was a decrease of 7% from the prior quarter level and 8% lower than the June quarter in calendar 2022. CSBG represented 47% of our June quarter revenue. This is a historically high concentration percentage, driven largely by continued strength in the specialty node investments which are serviced by Reliant systems business. The Reliant and Spares businesses continue to represent the largest individual portions of CSBG revenues. Both our spares and service businesses had been negatively impacted by low fab utilization levels, particularly at our memory customers. On the profitability side of things, our June quarter gross margin came in at 45.7%, above our guided range and up from 44% that we saw in the March quarter. The quarter-on-quarter increase was related to cost and efficiency improvements, as well as a favorable product mix. We continue to expect to make further progress on our operational execution as we go forward. Operating expenses for June came in at $590 million, which was down from the $608 million in the March quarter, although it was a little bit higher than our original estimates coming into the quarter. Investing in research and development continues to be a top priority for Lam, with over two-thirds of our operating expense concentrated in R&D. We’re focused on extending our product differentiation and ensuring that our competitiveness remains very strong. The June quarter operating margin came in at 27.3%, which was over the guidance range largely because of our strong gross margin performance. The non-GAAP tax rate for the quarter came in low at 7.5% due to a more favorable jurisdictional mix of income and provision true-ups that occurred at the end of our fiscal year. We estimate the tax rate for the remainder of the 2023 calendar year will be in the low to mid-teens level. And as always, this rate will have some fluctuation quarter to quarter. Other income and expense for the June quarter was approximately $7 million in expense, consistent with the prior quarter amount and primarily related to our strong cash balances, as well as higher interest rates. And I’d just point out, from a return on cash standpoint, we’re now realizing higher interest rates on our cash balances than we’re paying on the longer-term duration debt in our capital structure. And as we’ve discussed in the past, OI&E is subject to market-related fluctuations that will cause some level of quarterly volatility. On our capital return activities, we allocated approximately $906 million to open market share buyback and we paid $232 million in dividends in the June quarter. We have $3.5 billion remaining on our Board authorized share buyback plan. For the June quarter, we returned 109% of free cash flow, and we’re very much in line with our long-term capital return plans of returning 75% to 100% of free cash flow. June quarter diluted earnings per share came in at $5.98, over the high end of our guidance range. This was enabled from stronger revenue, improved gross margin and that lower tax rate. Diluted share count was 134 million shares, on track with our expectations and down from the March quarter. Let me now pivot to the balance sheet. Cash and short-term investments, including restricted cash, totaled $5.6 billion, which was flat with the March quarter. Days sales outstanding were 80 days in the June quarter. June quarter inventory turns came down from the prior quarter level of 1.9 times to 1.5 times. While we did bring inventory down slightly during the June quarter, the balance is elevated from historic levels. As business volumes reduce, we need to cancel a significant volume of purchase orders with our suppliers. As we work through these cancellations, we’re taking more inventory than we need in the near term. This ongoing process will keep inventory higher than we’d like this year, frankly. We do expect inventory to come down though, albeit more slowly than we may have historically been able to drive it to. Non-cash expenses for the June quarter included approximately $68 million in equity compensation, $76 million in depreciation and $14 million for amortization. Capital expenditures were $79 million, which was down from the March quarter by approximately $41 million. Spending mainly centered on product development activities and our global lab infrastructure. We ended the June quarter with approximately 17,400 regular full-time employees, which was a decrease of approximately 1,300 people from the prior quarter. Most of this decrease is related to the restructuring actions we took earlier in the calendar year, with the timing of the headcount reduction showing up in the June quarter. Overall, we’re on track with our transformation initiatives to improve our operations. And as we stand at the end of the quarter, we incurred approximately $143 million year-to-date out of an anticipated $250 million estimated range for calendar year 2023. Let me now turn to our non-GAAP guidance for the September ‘23 quarter. We’re expecting revenue of $3.4 billion, plus or minus $300 million. Gross margin of 46.5%, plus or minus 1 percentage point. This improvement in gross margin is a function of our operational efforts as well as a beneficial mix. Operating margins of 28%, plus or minus 1 percentage point. We’re purposely spending a little more in R&D in the second half of 2023. And finally, earnings per share of $6.05, plus or minus $0.75, based on a declining share count of approximately 133 million shares. So, let me summarize. The results this quarter demonstrate, I think, that we’re on a solid path to strengthen our operations and our profitability profile. We’re improving and optimizing all elements of the company and solidifying Lam’s business foundation to ensure we’re well-positioned for outperformance when WFE growth resumes. And I’ll just reiterate what Tim said. We continue to see WFE a little bit second half weighted this year. Operator, with that, that concludes my prepared remarks. Tim and I would now like to open up the call for questions. Q&A Session Follow Lam Research Corp (NASDAQ:LRCX) Follow Lam Research Corp (NASDAQ:LRCX) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Ladies and gentlemen, at this time we’ll begin the question-and-answer session. [Operator Instructions] Our first question today comes from Harlan Sur from JPMorgan. Please go ahead with your question. Harlan Sur: Hi, good afternoon and congratulations on the solid execution. As we progress through this weaker period for the industry, right, the activity level can be quite noisy, but there will come a period of stabilization of fundamentals and business trends, right, fundamentals being the things that you can track, like your customers’ utilization and business-wise, the level of pushouts, reschedules and cancellations. So, I guess, with that, has the team seen utilizations starting to stabilize, albeit at low levels? And has the rate magnitude of shipment pushouts, rescheduling also come down to more normalized levels? Tim Archer: Yeah. Thanks, Harlan. Yeah. I think that we’ve — it probably varies by market segment, but clearly we’ve heard some of our customers, even just recently talking about more utilization cuts within certain device segments. Clearly, I would say it’s slowing down as the majority of the cuts that were made in the first half of the year are kind of taking effect. I do feel like, and I made a comment about, in some ways, normalizing our operations is allowing the business to be more predictable. I think the same thing is happening on the end markets and customer side as well, where people are getting a sense of how the cuts that have already been made and how the capex reductions that have already been made are starting to flow through. So I do feel like we’re in that position. And just as we, at this point, ticked a little bit up on WFE from our prior guidance of low to mid-70s to mid-70s, yeah, you’re starting to see little strength in certain parts of the market, HBM being one of them. And as also we mentioned, some of the domestic China spending. So, I would feel like things are getting to the point where people are able to predict the business a little bit better than, say, six months ago. Doug Bettinger: And Harlan, this is Doug. Maybe the only thing I would add to what Tim said is we haven’t really seen utilizations getting any better, quite frankly. You’ll remember on the call last quarter we talked about, you’ll see that from us in our spares and service components of CSBG. And as we sit here today, you’re not seeing that at this point. So it’s at a fairly low level and we really don’t see it getting any better in the near term. Tim Archer: And the only other thing that we have said that when you think about especially utilization improvements in the memory space, we would anticipate Lam being the first to sort of benefit from utilization turning back on, just given our exposure in that space and the impact that it’s had on our spares and service business through the first half of this year. Harlan Sur: Appreciate that. And then, I also appreciate you guys highlighting the advanced packaging opportunity. I think it’s quite timely right, because you guys called out a slightly better memory WFE trends due to strong HBM DRAM demand. So you guys benefit both in your core memory silicon tools and now your advanced packaging portfolio as you outlined, right? But just given the overall sort of recent and strong demand pull for accelerated compute and AI capabilities, I mean this is driving advanced packaging demand across CPU, GPU, networking, memory, right? And so, your customers are capacity-constrained here. So do you guys anticipate your advanced packaging segment to grow this year? And can you just give us some sense on how big this segment is for Lam? Tim Archer: Yeah. I don’t think we’ve — we haven’t exactly sized this business externally, but we — it is growing and, it’s in certain areas, especially as I highlighted things like etch for TSVs, copper plating for filling of those TSVs, pretty much anything related to the building of that advanced packaging structure through etch and deposition. So it is a strong area of our business right now, especially given the relative weaknesses that’s seen in the other parts of the market. Harlan Sur: Thank you. Tim Archer: Thanks, Harlan. Operator: Our next question comes from CJ Muse from Evercore. Please go ahead with your question. CJ Muse: Yeah. Good afternoon. Thanks for taking the question. I guess first question, Doug, last quarter you talked about expectations for 100 bps improvement at least exiting the year. You’ve clearly blown that away. So curious how much of that in the guide for September is due to mix versus kind of greater efficiencies that you’ve garnered? And what is kind of the new exit rate that we should be thinking about for calendar ’23? Doug Bettinger: Yeah, CJ. Actually, I think if you talk to the leadership team at Lam, we’re all pretty pleased where we’ve been able to drive the operational efficiencies in the Company and its gone quicker, I think, than I expected certainly. We’re obviously beyond that 100 basis point improvement. Having said that, though, I would point to — we do have a component of the September numbers that are mix related. I’m not going to, like, quantify it precisely for you, but we’re doing real well operationally. I’m not quite ready to guide December for you yet. Except, I’d say I think we’re pretty pleased where we’re at and we’re well beyond that 100 basis point improvement that we talked about, I think on that January call, if I recall, the first time we sort of talked about it. CJ Muse: Great, thank you. I guess the second question relates to CSBG. And how are you thinking about sustainability of Reliant? And then, as you kind of contemplate the timing of utilization picking up for memory, how do you see kind of a hand-off maybe from one part of the business to the other and how we should be modeling CSBG into September and beyond? Tim Archer: Yeah. I think that as you pointed out, I mean, obviously there is a Reliant component that’s right now is quite strong. I talked about sort of at specialty technologies, I mean we’re seeing still quite strong demand for our products across all of those different segments. Utilization driving spares and service to much lower levels than we’ve historically seen. And so, I think as people talk and worry about roll-off in the specialty technologies, maybe that does come at the time that the utilization picks up in the leading-edge and the memory fabs. But actually at this point, I would say we haven’t yet seen demand for those trailing edge technologies to really be rolling over. I mean, demand is still quite strong for us, we’re focused on new applications, new tool types and it’s just not something that we’re ready to forecast yet, although, again, as we’ve said nothing grows forever, but the broadening it feels pretty good to us right now. CJ Muse: So we should be modeling CSBG up in September? Doug Bettinger: CJ, I guided you to $3.4 billion in revenue, you can do whatever you’d like to do with the competition. You’ve got the total number. CJ Muse: Thank you, Doug and Tim. Appreciate it. Tim Archer: Yeah. Doug Bettinger: Thanks, CJ. Operator: Our next question comes from Krish Sankar from TD Cowen. Please go ahead with your question. Krish Sankar: Yeah. Hi, thanks for taking my question. And I have two questions. First one, maybe for Tim or Doug. Kind of curious, at SEMICON West a few weeks ago, Tokyo Electron spoke about a cryo etch product and I remember you had spoken about it a couple of years ago. So I’m kind of curious how to think about your high aspect ratio etch market share. And my understanding was, lot of it is geared towards 3D NAND and obviously NAND spending is at very low level. So I’m kind of curious, number one, how to think about your high aspect ratio market share and the cryo etch product, et cetera in that route? And then I have a follow-up. Tim Archer: Okay, great. Well, thanks, Krish, and I’ll take it first. I think that relative to NAND, as you pointed out, I mean it’s — spending is at very low levels, down more than — probably more than 75% year-on-year right now. But to this point of cryo etch, and I guess I would just say that at this point, Lam is the only company with cryo etch in high volume production. So it’s an area where we do have strength, I mean hundreds of chambers of experience right now. We’re the leader in high aspect ratio etch. I know that at the recent conference, competition has been out talking about a DTOR position for one pass at a memory customer for future node. But I think as probably everybody on this call knows, customers regularly engage more than one vendor when you’re in the R&D stage for all these critical applications. And in this case, our production decisions are still quite a ways off. I look at Lam and our competitiveness. I mean, we take all of that experience that we have from years of leading in this space. We’ve developed a robust technology roadmap. We’re engaged with the customer on a variety of different hardware and process innovations. But I think most importantly, when I think about our long-term competitiveness, we are still the only vendor that has this huge installed base from which every day we’re getting learning about how to take processes from the R&D stage into high-volume production. And that’s ultimately what really counts for affecting market share. And so, we’ve said in the past, we don’t win every decision, certainly not always at the DTOR stage. But I think given where we are and where we’ve come from, we’re very confident about maintaining leadership and market share in this space. Krish Sankar: Got it. Got it. Very helpful, Tim. And then just a follow-up on the advanced packaging. I understand you did mention the packaging SAM could double. And you spoke about the Syndion for TSV etch and SABRE 3D for metal dep. And if I remember, when I went back, looked at my notes, in 2015, you said it will be like a $200 million to $300 million opportunity. And then I think last you folks updated this in 2020 where you had said Syndion and SABRE actually doubled since then. I’m kind of curious. I understand a lot of it goes to HBM and all those things. So from that old realm of advanced packaging, how to think about like the opportunity from here? And also for AI, my understanding is some of your ALD for high k metal gate where DRAM can also be used. So if I put it altogether, is there a way to quantify where your Syndion, SABRE revenue numbers are today and how to think about it? And also, how to think about ALD for high k metal gate? Thank you. Tim Archer: Yeah. Well, you threw out a couple of numbers. We used to talk about a couple of hundred million dollar opportunity, doubling from there, puts it in the hundreds. I mean, it’s growing from that point. I mean, it’s becoming a sizable business for us. We just haven’t quantified specifically for those two products. I think what you can take away is we talked about our market share position. We know — I think everybody knows HBM and 3D chip stacking, those products also play into other elements of advanced packaging. It’s a very fast-growing part of our business. And so, without giving you our forecast for those markets, I think you can apply what you think about how chip stacking and 3D packaging is building momentum. You know we have 100% market share. I think just — we’re very happy to see what’s transpiring in that part of the market. Doug Bettinger: Yeah. And Krish, I would just add. You’re right about — I don’t know how long back, we quantified it as few hundred million dollars, not billions of dollars, just to kind of frame it for you. But it is a very fast-growing component of the business as Tim pointed out. So, maybe that’s a good way to think about it. It’s something when you listen to every talk and everybody is very excited about high-bandwidth memory and its enablement of AI, we’re right in the middle of all of that stuff from a packaging standpoint. Tim Archer: Krish, what I would say is in this environment, it’s the — those are the tool sets that people are actually pulling for in terms of accelerated deliveries. And so I think that gives you some sense of demand in that market. Krish Sankar: Got it. Krish Sankar: Got it. Thank you, Doug. Thanks, Tim. Operator: And our next question comes from Tim Arcuri from UBS. Please go ahead with your question. Tim Arcuri: Thanks a lot. Tim, there’s been a lot of debate that I hear on NAND WFE. And obviously, you have the highest share of all the major vendors. And you used to give this model that suggested $14 billion to $15 billion per year to drive sort of mid-30% bit growth, and there was some sensitivity around it. But since then, a lot of the producers have been basically down ticking on long-term NAND bit growth, Micron is now saying low 20s. So if you kind of use that old model, you get to something like $11 billion to $12 billion per year to drive low 20s bit growth. I know you’ve talked about more steps and so that number has gone up. But that’s just optically, it’s not a ton higher than the $9 billion or so that we’re spending this year. And so I keep on getting a ton of debate in terms of just how much NAND WFE is going to come back. So I’m not asking you for a new model, but can you sort of like handicap what’s changed vis-a-vis that old model in a market where bit growth seems to be lower going forward than what [indiscernible]? Tim Archer: Well, I think there probably is equal debate about what long-term etch growth is in the NAND space with some of the new applications coming out. But I certainly am not going to get crossways with our customers in terms of their forecast versus ours. I mean again, it’s a market where we have such a strong position that ultimately — we look to satisfy the technology roadmaps and the volume requirements of our customers, and that’s kind of where we are. So right now, we know this year, NAND is extremely low. And without giving you our number, I mean it’s — I would say even if it gets back to something close to that model, it’s a lot higher spending than where we are today. I think what’s happened too is for Lam, specifically, is not only have we taken — I mean, what might be different from that model of how much we capture of that SAM is the complexity of doing multi-tier stacking has increased our opportunity through a whole bunch of other steps that we’ve talked about in the past in terms of backside depth for stress management and gapfill — ALD gapfills for plug fill, carbon sacrificial plug fills, lots of different types of applications. And so I think even an environment where you didn’t do a lot better than the model, Lam would do a lot better. and we do a whole lot better than where we are today in such a low NAND spending environment. So I think we will get Tim, a new model out once we see a better view of the end demand picture, but that’s the best I can do for you right now. Tim Arcuri: Thanks, Tim. And then, Doug, I guess just as a follow-up, how does your inventory situation play out? I imagine that it’s still kind of a drag on gross margin, and you said it’s going to come down, you said pretty slowly as you kind of get to the back half of the year. So can you quantify how much of a drag it is as you’re — as you still have pretty high costs, I would imagine, on these parts? And then when do you think it gets back to some sort of normalized level and it’s not a headwind anymore to margin? Thanks. Doug Bettinger: Yeah, Tim, I don’t really think about it right now as a drag on gross margin, honestly. It will prevent improvement in gross margin as we have to consume some of the inventory sitting there, right, to the extent that we’re negotiating costs of some of the stuff down — the stuff that we have is already on the balance sheet, right? So you’ve got to consume that first. So that’s the right way to think about it. I don’t really think of it as a drag in the near term. And Tim, it will come down, although what I tried to say in my script was it’s going to come down a little bit more slowly than perhaps you’ve seen us be able to drive it to in the past because we canceled a lot of purchase orders, a lot of material in that as part of negotiating through that, you end up taking perhaps a little bit more than you need in the near term, we’ll consume it over time. But it’s just going to create a little bit of a delay in the reduction of inventory that you’ve seen us be able to do in the past. So it’s going to be a little bit sticky, I think, Tim, through the year. And then I think it will — it will come down through the year, but I think it’s going to be a little bit sticky. And then you’ll see it improve as we get into next year. Tim Arcuri: Thanks, Doug. Doug Bettinger: Yeah. Thanks, Tim. Operator: And our next question comes from Brian Chin from Stifel. Please go ahead with your question. Brian Chin: Hi, there. Good afternoon and thanks for letting us ask a few questions. Maybe just to backtrack on the increase to WFE this year of the, let’s call it, $2 billion to $3 billion increase, is that mainly situated in second half? How should we think about, I guess, timing between calendar 3Q and 4Q? And I guess how much of the upside is HBM oriented? Doug Bettinger: Yeah, Brian, I guess what I’d say is it is a little bit second half weighted, and the things we pointed to in our scripts were little bit of upside in China, China domestic and a little bit of high bandwidth memory. I don’t think we’re going to put a quantification between the third quarter and the fourth quarter of the calendar year, except to say it’s a little bit second half weighted. Brian Chin: Okay. That’s fair enough. Maybe for my follow-up, clearly, there’s a lot of focus on high bandwidth DRAM. But Tim, I was wondering, could you interject maybe your thoughts on the role of the role that SSD and flash storage might play in generative AI? And I’m sure that’s factored into sort of that 1% penetration for AI servers in kind of $1 billion to $1.5 billion WFE investment? Tim Archer: It is. And I think that was even in my answer to the last question was, I think there’s still a lot of debate as to how much storage really gets driven in this, but we’re a believer that there is some element of demand driven there. I think that when we think about DRAM, there’s a couple of things at play in terms of what drives it. One is, of course, the HBM also increases die size, I think, as you know. And that leads perhaps even greater WFE increase associated both with the silicon side of that as well as the packaging side. I’m not sure that same dynamic exists on the NAND side, but in terms of consumption, it feels like there should be some. But again, I’m willing to sort of let this play out a little further to see what the new model should be. And we talk closely to our customers to see what they’re seeing in the marketplace as well. Doug Bettinger: Yeah, Brian, this is Doug. I don’t know if this helps. But when I look at like the composition of some of these AI servers, nominally, there’s roughly eight times the DRAM versus an enterprise class server and three times demand from a storage standpoint. I don’t know if that will help you get your head wrapped around it. But DRAM is clearly a little bit more enabling on the compute side, but storage picks up also. Brian Chin: Okay. Got it. And probably scale out of these language models probably also could increase that storage potential over time. But thanks for your inputs. Appreciate that. Doug Bettinger: Thank you, Brian. Operator: Our next question comes from Toshiya Hari from Goldman Sachs. Please go ahead with your question. Toshiya Hari: Hi, guys. Thanks for taking the question. Tim or Doug. Just on China, I was hoping you guys could give a little more color in terms of what you’re seeing on the ground. Doug, I think you said China was 26% of revenue and a big chunk of that was domestic. What’s sort of the makeup by application, foundry, memory and other? And I guess, importantly, how should we think about sustainability going forward? It’s really hard to tell from our standpoint, just given the spend is so strategic, right? It’s not necessarily tied directly to near-term economics. So it’s hard for us. But in terms of what you’re hearing from customers, what is the feedback? And how much visibility are they giving you going forward? Tim Archer: Yeah. I think that it’s split. I mean, obviously, on the domestic China side between some memory investments as well as a lot of specialty technologies, trailing edge focus on end markets, I think we’re all familiar with automotive and industrial and those types of markets. As you mentioned, it’s strategic. I mean, these are customers that are giving us long-term forecasts. Doug talked last quarter about deferred revenues are impacted by some of the down payments, at least within the visibility horizon that we need, we feel we have a pretty good view of a fair bit of investment that this continues in China, especially in those specialty technology markets where new fabs are emerging to try to capture some element of those trailing edge end markets. Toshiya Hari: That’s helpful. Thank you. And then as a follow-up, maybe one for Doug on gross margin. You talked about operational efforts and initiatives a couple of times. What exactly are you doing today? I know there’s no ending to things like this, but which inning are you in, in terms of reaping some of the benefits? And you used to talk about Malaysia as a headwind a year ago, 1.5 years ago, where are you with the ramp there? And how should we think about the tailwind as volumes recover going forward? Thanks. Doug Bettinger: Yeah. I think, Toshi, the way to think about it is business is down. Right now, we’re not really growing anywhere. I think as we see growth come back, whenever that is, the pivot to that Malaysia factory, which has an opportunity to do more than it’s doing today, will be largely what you see from us. Now maybe to help with the restructuring activities, we embarked on plans to kind of restructure the cost footprint of the company. And maybe the best way to think about it, I’ve given you a forecast. We think we’re going to take charges of $250 million at this point. We’ve taken $143 million at the end of the last quarter. So we still have some things we’re working on. Although I would tell you the workforce portion of it is complete. We’re done with that aspect of it. So that’s behind us, we believe. So there’s just some other things you’re doing around looking at product, repositioning inventory, maybe a little bit of infrastructure stuff, we are embarked upon what will be a multiyear digital transformation initiative at the company, which will deliver efficiencies over the next several years. So there’s a handful of things that are still coming in the future, I guess, is what I would describe. Toshiya Hari: Appreciate the color. Thank you. Tim Archer: Thanks, Toshiya. Operator: Our next question comes from Atif Malik from Citi. Please go ahead with your question. Atif Malik: Hi. Thank you for taking my questions. I have two questions on leading-edge investments. I thought you gave an interesting data point that 1% AI server adoption leads to $1 billion to $1.5 billion incremental WFE. When I listened to the major foundry in Taiwan, they talked about 50% AI semi growth rate in the next few years but we did not really raise any CapEx this year. And we believe AI server adoption is probably like high single digit, 8%, 9%. So what explains the discrepancy in terms of not seeing a lift in leading-edge investments from the higher server adoption? Maybe it’s just underutilization in other end markets. Doug Bettinger: I guess what I think about, Atif, is these are longer-term statements we’re making. I think you’re right about the composition of AI servers. In the short term, you’re not really going to see a meaningful uptick in WFE, frankly. This is going to occur over the next several years. As more of — and you’re right, I think server volumes largely, I don’t know, mid- to, I’d call it, mid-single digit percent of total servers. I think that grows over time. But in the short term, it doesn’t really show up as quickly as you might think. It requires sort of capital investments to occur for future demand. That doesn’t really happen in a meaningful way in the short term. Atif Malik: Got it, Doug. And then as a follow-up, you guys are very well leveraged to get all around, particularly on the edge side and they have been waiting for this technology inflection for the last three years. Your peer in Europe is talking about pilot line orders in December quarter this year. And Tim spoke about having better visibility versus six months ago. So my question to you is, when do you see the gate all around opportunity kind of grow meaningful for you? Is it the first half of next year or second half of next year? Tim Archer: I think it starts in line with the timeline that you just talked about and it’s first — through the first half and second half of next year. I mean these things tend to ramp and I think we are at the point where gate all around is going to become more meaningful. We’ll see that in growth in some of the traditional products that are sort of lumped in with everything else. But then there are specialized products that we talked about, like selective etch those — that suite of tools that’s very specialized for applications like gate all around. We’ll see faster growth in those segments, I think, as we move through ’24 and on into ’25. So yeah, maybe we’re at that key inflection point. How that overcomes the rest of the market dynamics in ’24? We’re not ready to guide ’24 yet, but some of those technology trends are starting to move in our favor. Atif Malik: Thank you. Tim Archer: Thanks, Atif. Operator: Our next question comes from Joe Moore from Morgan Stanley. Please go ahead with your question. Joe Moore: Great. Thank you. I wanted to follow-up on the China question. I guess, how are you seeing the impact of last year’s export controls? Is that your China business has obviously done pretty well since then given the headwinds? Have there been — have the restrictions been what you thought they would be? Is there anything that’s different? And then there continue to be rumblings of additional controls. Do you have any visibility into what that could look like? Tim Archer: Yeah, Joe, we had talked last — at the end — towards the end of last year, right around the October 7 announcement that the impact to our business this year would be $2 billion to $2.5 billion. We clarified earlier this year that because we were able to make some shipments for trailing etch memory that we had not — we weren’t sure whether we could, that impact was going to be closer to the $2 billion mark. That is still what we estimate the impact of last year’s restrictions, the October 7 restrictions on our business, $2 billion of revenues. Now in the same time, as China has shifted its focus towards the areas they can invest, these trailing etch, foundry logic and some of the trailing edge memory, we’ve seen that upticking a bit as we’ve moved through this year, and that’s what we just spoke about. So I can’t really speak to future regulations that may or may not be contemplated. We have a team in Washington DC that’s regularly engaged with the government, make sure they understand our business and the details of the semiconductor industry, and that’s about the best we can do right now. Joe Moore: Okay. Thank you very much. Tim Archer: Thanks, Joe. Operator: Our next question comes from Vivek Arya from Bank of America. Please go ahead with your question. Vivek Arya: Thanks for taking my question. Tim, I’m curious, what should be the signs we should look for, for when memory utilization starts to pick up? And when orders to you guys start to improve? So if you look at historical trends, should we be waiting for like one quarter of pricing improvement, two quarters of pricing improvement? Just what are kind of the external metrics we should be keeping an eye on to try and predict when memory WFE should start to pick up? Tim Archer: Okay, a little bit difficult, I guess, just from the standpoint that, obviously, pricing improvement in memory, we tend to start to get customers interested in greater utilization of the fab. I think easier, I was going to answer relative to what you’d see in Lam. Obviously, once we start reporting an uptick in our CSBG spares and service businesses, obviously, it’s an indicator that fabs are starting to be utilized more, and therefore, consuming spares and service. That’s why I mentioned a little earlier that we are expecting to be really one of the first beneficiaries of a recovery in memory because so much of the — there have been such deep utilization cuts in the memory fabs, that the spares and service side of our business has been impacted to a greater degree than we would have expected. When they turn those back on, that revenue should come back, and that will probably be your first indications from Lam’s reported numbers of what’s going on. Vivek Arya: I guess that was really the origin of the question because from what I heard on the call, I think you were suggesting there is a scenario in which CSBG revenues do start to pick up sequentially in the next quarter. But then you mentioned that the visibility around memory utilization, right, is not there from an industry perspective. So is there still a delta between the two? Doug Bettinger: Vivek, we did not suggest CSBG is picking up in the next quarter. That was not a statement anybody on the call made. So if we said something that led you did that conclusion, maybe we misspoke or perhaps you misinterpreted something else we said. Vivek Arya: Okay. Sorry. Maybe I misheard. Then maybe for my second question, Doug, the gross margin upside in Q3, right, it was quite sizable. I don’t remember the last time you had such a strong gross margin upside. I think you mentioned something along the lines of mix. Is that mix unsustainable? Like is that likely to reverse, right, at some point? What is the right way to think about the sustainability of gross margins at these levels. So let’s say if you assume that your sales continue to grow sequentially, then can gross margins continue to be at plus minus these levels? Or is there something that would dramatically change in the mix to change the trajectory of gross margins? Doug Bettinger: Vivek, I don’t know if there’s anything I’d point to that is dramatic. I suggested two things. One, our operational efforts in terms of just efficiencies and whatnot, it is maybe a little further ahead of where I thought it would have been. And I did point to favorable mix in the current quarter. You always see mix up and down, both products as well as customer mix. We’re benefiting a little bit in the September quarter. I don’t know if you’ll see that same magnitude of mix benefit in December. The operational stuff, we will. I wouldn’t run too far away from where we are right now into the near term anyway. But I would tell you, I’m very pleased with what we’ve been able to execute and the things that are in our own control, we’ve done extremely well. Vivek Arya: Thank you. Doug Bettinger: Thank you. Operator: Our next question comes from Stacy Rasgon from Bernstein Research. Please go ahead with your question. Stacy Rasgon: Hi guys. Thanks for taking my questions. For my first one, you talked about the bulk of the China $1.8 billion in deferred selling through in the second half. How much of that $1.8 billion actually is coming from China? And how much of that do you actually see yourself recognizing in the second half? And is it more in Q3, Q4? Do you have any idea on the timing of that? Doug Bettinger: Yeah. I’ve never said how much of it is in China. I’ve described it as newer customers, right? Customers that are new that we’re not exactly sure of the creditworthiness, we require cash in advance before we build the tools. I haven’t put a number on how much of it is China. Although a decent amount of it is. And what I said on how much that turns to revenue, as I said, the majority of it turns to revenue in the second half of the year. Stacy Rasgon: So, like, you have $1.8 billion of revenue that will be recognized in the second half from that deferred? Like, what would be the normal amount [indiscernible]? Tim Archer: No, Stacy, there’s a normalized level of deferred revenue that’s always here, always has been here, and you should expect to always be here. It’s probably $750 million to $1 billion on a regular basis, I think, is what you’ve seen from us in the past. I wouldn’t expect it to be too different than that. We’ve just got a lot of this cash in advance payments right now. That’s why it’s elevated. Stacy Rasgon: Got it. Thank you. For my second question, so you’re talking memory WP down in the mid-40s. Can you give us a feeling for how you see DRAM versus NAND breaking out in that? And whether or not your views on both of those have changed over the last 90 days versus like where we were a quarter ago? Tim Archer: Yeah, we’ve said that NAND is obviously by far worse. We said about — about 75% year-on-year. So obviously, that was quite that. I mean DRAM then obviously less than down mid-40s. And I think that in terms of change, we’ve seen a little bit of improvement, as we’ve just talked about with HBM and some signs of, at least a little bit more optimism on our part that the DRAM would be the first to recover as a result of some of these trends. And again, just listening to our customers and talking to them, we’ve heard some customers talk about further cuts in NAND just in the last 24 hours. So… Stacy Rasgon: Like, do you think utilization in DRAM is still falling? Doug Bettinger: It’s still at a pretty low level, Stacy. Stacy Rasgon: Okay, got it. Thank you. Doug Bettinger: You’re welcome. Tim Archer: Thanks. Operator: Our next question comes from Blayne Curtis from Barclays. Please go ahead with your question. Blayne Curtis: Hey, thanks for squeezing me in. Maybe just following back up on what Stacy just asked. I was just kind of confused, you raised the outlook for WFE by a couple billion dollars, and it seemed like it was memory, that was the inflection. But then when you talk about memory, it seems like NAND is kind of flattish. And I’m just kind of curious how much of the increase is there in DRAM? Or is really the growth you’re seeing in September more kind of this China part that Stacy was just asking about? Doug Bettinger: Yeah, Blayne, Tim pointed to two things. A little bit more in China and high-bandwidth memory as it’s not a huge uptick in WFE, but those are the contributors. Blayne Curtis: Got you. And then I guess, I just want to understand, there’s two moving pieces in foundry logic, and you’ve seen some delays at the leading etch. Can you just some commentary between those moving pieces, kind of the non-China piece, what are you seeing for the back half of this year? Doug Bettinger: We described in generally, when you look at WFE down, where it is memory is down mid-40s, and you probably know kind of where that is run rating suggested foundry logic, looks like it’s down roughly 10%. And yeah, you’re right, just been a little bit of a softening in leading-edge foundry logic. We talked a little bit about that last quarter. I’m not sure we’re describing anything incremental. Perhaps we saw some things others didn’t see sooner than they did. But that’s how we see things setting up right now. Blayne Curtis: Okay. Thanks, Doug. Doug Bettinger: Thanks, Blayne. Tina Correia: Operator, we have time for one more question please. Operator: And ladies and gentlemen, our final question will come from Vijay Rakesh from Mizuho. Please go ahead with your question. Vijay Rakesh: Yeah. Hi. Just a question on — as you look at WFE for next year, any thoughts on how much some of these onshore greenfield fabs could contribute to CapEx for next year? Tim Archer: Well, I think it’s — as we’re just in the middle of this year, it’s too early to talk about ’24 from an absolute number. But clearly, as we move through the next couple of years, I talked about this regional — these regionalization efforts building momentum. I do think that we’ll see that becoming a meaningful contributor to spending, not only here but in other parts of the world. Vijay Rakesh: Got it. And then on the AI side, obviously, you have mentioned packaging as a big roadmap there. When you look at CoWoS packaging, any thoughts on how much — what your exposure is there and how you see that growing next year, I guess? Thanks. Tim Archer: Yeah. I mean everything related to advanced packaging is growing right now. And I would say Lam’s exposure kind of across the board in etching deposition is very strong. So I called out specifically HBM, but you’re right. I mean when you look at the importance of things like CoWoS-2 and AI packaged system, our exposure there even broadens further to the types of tools that we sell in there. And I mentioned this point, if people caught it, even in advanced packaging, we’re having to invest in new technologies for atomic scale processing. And so you can see things like ALD being used in advanced packaging now. And so we’re really in a world where ALD is being used for advanced packaging, ALE is being used for 200-millimeter GaN. I think that it is creating tremendous opportunities for Lam to leverage our really broad portfolio of technologies for all these new emerging growth opportunities. And it’s pretty exciting. Vijay Rakesh: Got it. Thank you. Tim Archer: Yeah. Thank you. Doug Bettinger: Thanks, Vijay. Operator: And with that ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be turning the floor back over to the management team for any closing remarks. And management, are you able to hear me? Ladies and gentlemen, we’ll be closing today’s conference call. We thank you for joining. You may now disconnect your lines. Follow Lam Research Corp (NASDAQ:LRCX) Follow Lam Research Corp (NASDAQ:LRCX) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyJul 27th, 2023

Aston Martin Unveils Its First Ultra-Luxury Flagship, Q New York

Where Savile Row meets Park Avenue. Aston Martin proudly opens the doors to Q New York, its first ultra-luxury flagship on 450 Park Avenue, in New York City. The new location brings the highest levels of the iconic British brand’s bespoke service, Q by Aston Martin to North America for the very first time, providing the... The post Aston Martin Unveils Its First Ultra-Luxury Flagship, Q New York appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Experience unmatched British tailoring with unique craftsmanship and highly tuned intensity at the Home of Aston Martin in Manhattan Aston Martin’s first ultra-luxury flagship location on 450 Park Avenue, in the heart of New York City Q New York provides an exclusive and immersive entry into the thrilling world of Aston Martin Offering an ultimate blend of digital and physical car configuration, the new location brings the very highest levels of the Q by Aston Martin bespoke service Flagship opening builds on Aston Martin’s long-standing commitment to luxury craft and the growing trend of personalisation Where Savile Row meets Park Avenue. Aston Martin proudly opens the doors to Q New York, its first ultra-luxury flagship on 450 Park Avenue, in New York City. The new location brings the highest levels of the iconic British brand’s bespoke service, Q by Aston Martin to North America for the very first time, providing the most sophisticated luxury specification experience available anywhere in the world. The first-of-its-kind landmark location forms a key pillar of Aston Martin’s ultra-luxury brand and customer experience strategy, with the commitment to provide the very best possible environment for its most discerning clients to create their own intimately personal Aston Martin. Conscientiously designed to immerse onlookers into the thrilling world of Aston Martin, visitors on Park Avenue are greeted by a unique window installation of epic proportion, named the ‘Champagne Frame’. Created with one of the largest single panes of glass ever installed into a New York building, the grand window frame looks into the stars — Aston Martin’s most iconic models — which are carefully illuminated by an impressive 2,100 bulbchandelier —  spanning 40-metres (131-foot). Meanwhile, the use of mosaic tiles and commanding dining tables helps define the new flagship, bringing the best of British to one of the most prominent streets in the world. The new location will serve as a showcase and launch venue for Aston Martin’s latest products, from unique special builds to limited-edition models and newcomers to Aston Martin’s breath-taking portfolio. From today, the flagship proudly displays the all-new DB12 in North America for the very first time, in addition to the era-defining Aston Martin Valkyrie AMR Pro hypercar. Q New York offers an ultimate blend of digital and physical car configuration. As part of a custom-made appointment, clients will be able to visualise their personalised Aston Martin on a 10.5 metre (35-foot) x 3.5 metre (10-foot) LED wall capable of providing an ultra-high definition, 360-degree view of any Aston Martin in real-life size. Sitting at the intersection between the physical and digital worlds, Aston Martin’s intention is to provide such a realistic configuration that clients feel as though they could open the door to their car. Use of the most innovative Near-Field Communication (NFC) technology will facilitate a seamless, high-end customer specification service, allowing clients to combine the sensorial touch and feel of physical colour and trim samples with live configuration on screen. A live video link from Manhattan to Aston Martin’s design studio in Gaydon, UK, enables real-time communication with the brand’s renowned designers and the Q by Aston Martin team, providing the most bespoke and sophisticated commissioning experience available outside of a personal visit to headquarters. Offering a concierge experience, carefully curated high-end dining and overnight travel experiences will also be available for those seeking to extend and elevate the experience of creating their own Aston Martin. Q by Aston Martin represents a key pillar of Aston Martin’s ultra-luxury strategy, giving clients the ultimate sense of freedom and expression when customising their cars. Whilst a long-standing part of Aston Martin’s DNA, this bespoke service facilitates the growing trend of personalisation across the luxury goods segment. Recent years have seen significant growth for the Q by Aston Martin division with a record number of Aston Martin units sold with bespoke touches and elements in 2022, representing a 51% year-on-year increase. Notably, the Americas is the fastest growing region for Q by Aston Martin, with 92% year-on-year growth in 2022. Special and limited-edition models have supported this growth, following the introduction of specific Q by Aston Martin: Collection options. These carefully-selected collections are fully costed and visible on the Aston Martin configurator, acting as a significant gateway to introducing customers to the world of Q by Aston Martin and demonstrating the possibilities of this most intimate of services. Q by Aston Martin: Commission, the very highest level of the bespoke service, takes customers on an even more exclusive journey that involves a personal collaboration with the Aston Martin design team. This provides an unrivalled opportunity to create a truly bespoke, individual car, with customers known to invest upwards of 30% of the car’s original retail value to add their own mark and achieve a truly bespoke creation. Located on one of the most prominent corners of Midtown Manhattan, Q New York unites both the handcrafted and high-tech nature of Aston Martin, showcasing the very best of British craftsmanship and engineering against the backdrop of an immersive specification experience, thanks to state state-of-the-art technology. Lawrence Stroll, Executive Chairman of Aston Martin said: “The opening of our first flagship Q location, in our largest commercial market, is the latest distinct expression of Aston Martin’s shift to an ultra-luxury brand. It demonstrates our ambition to drive global growth and create elevated customer experiences to match our owners’ passion for Aston Martin. “We recognise the growing trend of personalisation across the luxury goods segment and see huge value in investing in our customer experience to create the best specification experiences available anywhere in the world. With a 92% increase in Q by Aston Martin take-up in the Americas last year, this is the perfect time and the perfect place for us to open our very first global flagship location.” The design principles of the space are built upon quintessentially British architecture, including extensive use of mosaic tiles, chandeliers, beautifully framed grand windows, fireplaces, and mantel pieces, as well as large scaling dining tables. Ensuring the space reflects the latest design trends befitting of 21st century Manhattan, an extensive level of attention has been paid to adapting materials and furnishings, all of which are underlined with a conscious awareness of sustainable materials and practises, in line with Aston Martin’s Racing. Green. sustainability strategy. Marek Reichman, Executive Vice President and Chief Creative Officer of Aston Martin said: “Creating wondrous places, spaces and experiences are important design statements for us. And just as we belong in Formula One as British makers of ultra-luxury high-performance sports cars, Aston Martin belongs in New York City. It’s a place where dreams come true. “We have created Q New York as a landmark across the Atlantic where our customers can collaborate with our designers to make their own lifelong Aston Martin dreams come true. “This is our version of creative performance design and precision craft at their finest – with sights and sounds, shapes and forms, and vivid colours and textured materials – all presented using the latest technology to provide customers with the engaging Aston Martin experience that they deserve.” Q New York is now officially open at 450 Park Avenue, with appointments available to be scheduled by any Aston Martin dealer. The post Aston Martin Unveils Its First Ultra-Luxury Flagship, Q New York appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyJul 5th, 2023

An LA house that features a geodesic dome and has a long history as a creative hub for artists is on the market for $1.7 million — take a look inside

The three-story house was originally commissioned by a pediatrician who died before it was completed, Rachel Singer, the owner, told Insider. The exterior of the dome house.Jilbert Daniel A Los Angeles house with a distinctive geodesic dome is on the market for $1.7 million. Rachel Singer, the owner, used it as a studio where her friends could gather and work on their art. The previous owner was also an artist who hosted events and performances in the house. When Rachel Singer first stepped into the dome house perched on top of a hill in Los Angeles, she felt an instant connection to the place.The exterior of the geodesic dome home.Jilbert DanielConstructed in 1982, the striking structure stands out from its gabled-roof neighbors in the Glassell Park neighborhood.But checking out the quirky house was just supposed to be a fun Sunday activity; Singer, an actress who works in comedy and drama, wasn't looking to buy any real estate."I think we were probably still in bed, and my partner's friend posted it on Facebook and he was like, 'Oh, this is such a cool space! Let's just go look,'" Singer told Insider.For years, Singer had wanted to create a studio where her friends could gather and work on their art.The living area.Jilbert Daniel"I looked at various places but most of them were loft spaces with open floor plans. None of them really resonated with me and so that project went on the back burner," Singer said.That changed when she saw the dome house."I had this flood of memories of all of those things that I had thought about and all of those plans that I had, and it just felt like I could do it here, like this could be the space for it," Singer added.Singer ended up buying the dome home in November 2015 for $1 million, property history records show.The house spans three floors. The earth-sheltered lower level is built into the hill, there's a timber-framed kitchen on the middle level, and the geodesic dome sits right on top.One of the rooms on the lower floor of the house.Jilbert DanielThe house was originally commissioned by a pediatrician who died before it was completed, Singer said."But we still have some documents of her. So I have actually in the entryway, there are some photographs of her and there is a newspaper clipping of her as well," Singer said.The house has been renovated before, Singer added. The previous owner, an artist named Fritz Haeg, built a yurt on the grounds of the property. With that, Singer's vision for a creative community space came to life. Friends, colleagues, and other artists would come to work on their craft or collaborate on projects.The kitchen.Aurelia D'Amore"There was an artist who was in the yurt using that as her studio, and there was another artist in the garage using that for her photography," Singer said. "Sometimes there would be people just who would work there, but also we would also come together and do various forms of collaborative projects."Although Singer stays overnight occasionally, she doesn't live in the dome house full-time, she added. She lives in Silver Lake, an Eastside neighborhood that's a 10-minute drive away.Singer wasn't the first to use the house as a meeting space for creative minds.The primary bedroom.Aurelia D'AmoreIn an essay published on his website, the previous owner, Haeg, described it as a gathering place for "pageantry, performances, shows, stunts, and spectacles" and named these events "Sundown Salons" after the road on which the house sits. Haeg did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment."While I owned it, the people who came were more like photographers, film actors, and writers," Singer said. "And his community was more of the visual arts crowd. While both were creative communities, they were different versions."Now, after eight years, Singer is putting the dome house on the market for $1.7 million.The primary bedroom has unblocked views of the surrounding landscape and leads out to the wraparound wooden deck.Aurelia D'Amore"Once COVID hit, the community nature of the space was pretty impractical," Singer said.As time passed, most of the people who used to frequent the house have since moved on to different phases of their lives, she added. They either moved away, had children, or switched career paths.The house has one bedroom and two bathrooms.One of the two bathrooms in the house.Jilbert DanielOutside, in addition to the yurt, there's also a garden with an outdoor dining table and a campfire area.Houses in the Glassell Park neighborhood of Los Angeles have a median listing home price of $999,000, per data from real-estate platform There are currently 20 single-family homes for sale in the area, with prices ranging from $774,500 to $1.998 million.The dome house, with its $1.7 million price tag, is the third-most expensive listing in the area.Molly Kelley from Nourmand & Associates Beverly Hills holds the listing.As for the ideal buyer, that would be someone who wants to be a part of the home's colorful lineage of owners, Singer said.An outdoor seating area.Jilbert Daniel"One of the things that's very special to me about this space is the lineage of it," Singer said. "It was commissioned by a pediatrician and then there have been various owners, artists, and creative collaborators in the space."Every person who has passed through the house has shaped the place into what it is today, and one of the most exciting things about passing the house along is finding who's next, Singer added."I don't think anybody sets out to buy that space," Singer said. "It's one that you sort of adjust to figuring out what you can do with it. I know people who have looked at it, who were looking for a home, but then they're like, 'Wait, maybe I do something else with it.'"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytJan 28th, 2023

Insiders say RAINN, the nation"s foremost organization for victims of sexual assault, is in crisis over allegations of racism and sexism

22 current and former staffers said that RAINN, which has deep ties to Hollywood and corporate America, is facing an internal reckoning. Scott Berkowitz, RAINN's co-founder and CEO, began his career in politics, advising former Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign at just 14 years old.RAINN; Kris Connor/Getty Images; Alyssa Powell/Insider22 current and former staffers say the organization favored by Hollywood and corporate America is in crisis. 'How can RAINN be helping survivors externally, when they're traumatizing survivors and their own employees internally?'April Cisneros says the first time she was sexually assaulted at her private Christian college was in 2015, while she was playing piano in the school's conservatory. A music tutor came into the small practice room and began to touch her. The second time, one year later, she remembers waking up in a hotel room near campus after drinks with classmates. One man was forcing his hand into her pants while another ejaculated on top of her. The incidents were devastating, and further compounded by a conservative religious community that lacked empathy for her pain or a framework to understand it. "Maybe it's demons attached to you that attracted this fate," she recalls one pastor telling her. Others placed the blame on her, wondering if she set the right boundaries with men. While studying abroad at Oxford University in 2016, in an effort to get far away from what she suffered back home, Cisneros attempted to take her own life.Soon after, she Googled for help, and the website for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, or RAINN, flashed across her computer screen. RAINN, which was founded in 1994 as a nonprofit, bills itself as the nation's largest anti-sexual-violence organization, operating a 24-hour hotline for victims and pushing for state and federal policies to punish sex offenders and support survivors. It has deep ties to corporate America and Hollywood, partnering with Google and TikTok and media like "I May Destroy You" and "Promising Young Woman," both of which center on sexual assault. (Insider itself utilizes RAINN's hotline; our publishing system automatically appends a referral link to RAINN at the bottom of every story about sexual assault.) In 2019, it reported nearly $16 million in revenue. It says its programs have helped 3.8 million people, and 301,455 people called its hotlines last year.The organization was a beacon in a difficult time, and Cisneros soon threw herself into supporting it. She cycled 1,500 miles across the country for a fundraising drive; later, after the Trump administration rolled back Title IX protections for campus-sexual-assault victims, she decided to get involved more directly. April Cisneros biked across the US to raise money for RAINN.April Cisneros"I was so angry," Cisneros told Insider. "I just remember thinking, 'Well, why don't I just, like, go try to be a part of the solution?'" She began working for RAINN in 2018 as a communications associate.But she soon discovered that it looked very different from the inside. Instead of the supportive, inclusive victims' advocacy organization that offered her hope in the depths of her depression, Cisneros found herself in a demoralizing workplace overrun by what she described as racism and sexism. She recalled that during the filming of a video about survivors' stories, her boss asked a participant to smile while recounting a sexual assault. "If you don't," Cisneros remembered her boss saying, "it'll look like you have a bitch face."Cisneros is among 22 current and former RAINN staffers who spoke to Insider and described a roiling crisis over race and gender in the over-200-person-strong nonprofit. These people described a culture in which a routine training was beset by racist caricaturing, executives ignored employees' requests for change, and people who were deemed political risks — including sexual-assault survivors — were silenced. According to these accounts, in one instance, a supervisor badgered an employee during the time she took off to recover from an abortion. In another, an Asian staffer was replaced on a project with a white man after their boss deemed him a better fit because of his race and gender. One staffer sent a resignation letter, obtained by Insider, in which she bemoaned "toxic managerial behavioral patterns" and worried that "young employees like myself, many of them survivors themselves, are currently being treated like their rights at work do not matter, like their comfort and security and health at work doesn't matter, like the skills they bring to work are worthless."RAINN declined to make its founder and president, Scott Berkowitz, available for an interview. In a statement, the group said it had made great strides in diversifying its workplace and addressing the concerns of its employees of color. It accused the current and former staffers who came forward to Insider of providing "incomplete, misleading, and defamatory" information about "a handful of long-outdated and disproven allegations.""RAINN is proud of the work our committed staff do, day in and day out, to support survivors of sexual violence," the statement read. "As an organization, we owe it to our committed staff to provide a work environment where they feel safe, appreciated, and heard … Over the last several years, like most organizations, RAINN has worked to expand and implement comprehensive Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and goals. We regularly update staff on our progress toward achieving those goals, and solicit feedback on potential areas of improvement. While there is always room to build on our efforts, we are continually working to foster an open dialogue between employees and leadership to ensure ideas and concerns can be heard and addressed."RAINN hired Clare Locke LLP, a boutique libel law firm that has gained a reputation for representing clients facing #MeToo allegations, including Matt Lauer and the former CBS News executive Jeffrey Fager, to respond to Insider's inquiries. During Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, the firm's cofounder Libby Locke came to his defense, writing: "No wonder Judge Kavanaugh is angry. Any man falsely accused of sexual assault would be."When Insider asked RAINN whether Clare Locke's work was consistent with the organization's mission and values, the firm's partner Thomas Clare emailed a statement attributed to RAINN: "Given your questions contained outright lies about RAINN and our staff, and publication of those claims is potentially defamatory, we hired defamation counsel. We recognize we have a right to legal representation, and our attorneys have helped us disprove your ridiculous and libelous allegations."Some RAINN employees fear that the corporate dysfunction has poisoned the work of the largest sexual-violence organization in the country, which they continue to view as crucial, despite their own experiences. "How can RAINN be helping survivors externally when they're traumatizing survivors and their own employees internally?" Cisneros said.How RAINN became Hollywood and corporate America's go-to partner Through savvy marketing and hard work, RAINN has become to sexual assault what Planned Parenthood is to reproductive health: the premier, full-service resource for people struggling with a crisis and the ultimate destination for donations to help people who have been victimized.The global embrace of the #MeToo movement, and the contemporary focus on the depth and pervasiveness of sexual assault, has further aided RAINN's ascension. Companies in crisis often turn to the organization to telegraph their commitment to social responsibility. After dozens of women sued Lyft, claiming they were assaulted by its drivers, the company worked with RAINN to roll out extensive safety initiatives and contributed $1.5 million to its coffers.Hollywood has also embraced the organization. RAINN was cofounded by the Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Tori Amos, who promoted the organization's hotline at her concerts and sat on its advisory board. In 2018, Timotheé Chalamet pledged his earnings from Woody Allen's "A Rainy Day in New York" to groups including RAINN, as did Ben Affleck from productions affiliated with Harvey Weinstein. Christina Ricci, a star of Showtime's breakout hit "Yellowjackets," has served as an official spokesperson since 2007, and the platinum-selling pop artist Taylor Swift has donated to the organization, something it publicized from its social-media accounts.—RAINN (@RAINN) April 8, 2021 But Berkowitz has largely stayed out of the public eye. He began his career as a political wunderkind, advising Sen. Gary Hart's 1984 presidential campaign at just 14 years old. A profile in his grandparents' hometown newspaper in Pennsylvania said he was personally responsible for collecting $100,000 in donations for Hart — a feat achieved in between classes at American University, where he was already a sophomore. After graduation, Berkowitz continued to work in and around politics. His experience in the field, he said in a 2019 interview with RAINN, taught him about the "extent of the problem" of sexual violence in the United States and the opportunity to fill this "service gap.""I knew next to nothing about the issue," Berkowitz said. "It just seemed like a good idea." Christina Ricci has been a RAINN spokeswoman since 2007.Michael Kovac/WireImage/Getty ImagesEarly on, Berkowitz ran the day-to-day operations, and his early fundraising prowess served him well. After a series of sexual assaults at the infamous Woodstock '99 festival, promoters and record labels did damage control by giving RAINN 1% of the proceeds from the festival's CD and video releases. "In raw self-interest, the money and attention that would come from it would allow RAINN to promote the hotline better, provide more counseling, print more brochures," Berkowitz told the Village Voice. RAINN's budget swelled in tandem with its brand. Total revenue rocketed from more than $1.2 million in 2009 to nearly $16 million in 2019. Berkowitz's compensation grew from $168,000 to over $481,000 over the same period. Even though RAINN's tax returns list Berkowitz as its president and indicate that he was paid nearly a half a million dollars in the year ending in May 2020, RAINN says that he is not in fact an employee and does not receive a salary. Instead, for reasons that RAINN did not explain, he is paid through A&I Publishing, a company solely owned by Berkowitz that contracts with RAINN. "Scott Berkowitz is paid solely as an independent contractor through A&I Publishing and does not receive any salary or benefits," it said. "He has never received any employee compensation from RAINN."RAINN's tax records tell a slightly different story. The group has reported paying a total of $561,500 in consulting fees for "strategic and financial oversight" to A&I Publishing from 2001 to 2006, during which time Berkowitz drew no salary from RAINN. Since 2007, though, RAINN has reported directly paying Berkowitz a total of $3,529,000. (RAINN says he "is recused from all board consideration of his compensation.")Over the same period, RAINN also began reporting payments to A&I to service $288,000 in debt that it owed the consultancy at 5% interest. RAINN's tax records don't reflect that the organization ever received any cash from A&I; instead, the loan is described in its 2006 tax return as "issuance of debt for prior year services." RAINN says the loan, which has been repaid, stems from "deferred payment for fees" that RAINN owed A&I "for a number of years."'How does an organization like RAINN make such an egregious mistake?'With the Woodstock '99 deal, Berkowitz struck on a highly successful strategy — corporate penance — and he would often return to it. But he also looked to the public sector for funding opportunities.One of RAINN's largest sources of revenue — $2 million a year — is its contract to run the Department of Defense's Safe Helpline, which offers confidential, anonymous counseling to members of the military who have been affected by sexual violence. Multiple staffers who spoke with Insider said Berkowitz was exceedingly sensitive about maintaining the contract. They said that he had gone to great lengths to stay in the Department of Defense's good graces and that they believe RAINN has at times been overly deferential to its interests. Michael Wiedenhoeft-Wilder in February 2022.Evan Jenkins for InsiderMichael Wiedenhoeft-Wilder, a former flight attendant and roller-rink operator who previously served in the Navy as a medic, said that in 1982, just months after he enlisted, a Navy physician raped him. The doctor, who outranked Wiedenhoeft-Wilder, threatened him with prison time if he came forward. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder said it was the first of multiple sexual assaults he suffered, all of which resulted in a diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder.Wiedenhoeft-Wilder stayed silent about the assault for nearly 30 years. He became depressed and experienced paranoid suspicions that the government was spying on him, ready to silence him if he ever told the truth about his assault.But decades of therapy empowered Wiedenhoeft-Wilder to eventually come forward. He discovered the Safe Helpline, which then led him to RAINN's Speakers Bureau, a roster of more than 4,000 volunteer survivors who share their stories with the media, student groups, and other organizations. When Wiedenhoeft-Wilder signed up with the bureau, his story was selected for publication on RAINN's website. In October 2019, he worked with April Cisneros, who helped manage the Speakers Bureau, to prepare the story.But the story was abruptly killed. Cisneros said Berkowitz decided to pull Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's account once he realized that it involved an officer assaulting an enlisted man."Once we actually wrote up his story, Scott was like, 'No, we're not even getting into this,'" Cisneros told Insider, adding that Berkowitz refused to send the story to the Department of Defense for review, as it routinely did with accounts of military sexual assault. Cisneros said Berkowitz told members of the communications team that promoting the testimony of a man who had been assaulted by one of his superiors could harm the military's reputation and upset the Department of Defense. Cisneros told Insider she believed that Berkowitz did not want to risk losing the government's funding.Wiedenhoeft-Wilder was shocked. He had spent time with Cisneros revisiting the details of an assault that haunted him for 30 years, all for nothing."I've spent the last several days trying to deal with the devastating news that the article about my military sexual trauma being canceled for someone else," he told Cisneros in an email on October 31 that Insider reviewed. "How does an organization like RAINN make such an egregious mistake? Do you have any idea how this mistake has affected me? It's absolutely devastating. Just one more failure for me.""I feel victimized all over again," he wrote. "What did I ever do to you people to deserve this!"Cisneros, worried about Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's mental health, forwarded the exchange to Berkowitz and Keeli Sorensen, then the vice president of victim services, she said. "Maybe you just tell him you made a mistake," Cisneros recalled Sorensen telling her. She felt Sorensen's suggestion was, in effect, to "[fall] on my sword for RAINN."Cisneros told Insider that she told Wiedenhoeft-Wilder a lie about a scheduling conflict and blamed the mix-up entirely on herself. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder didn't believe her. "I know she wasn't telling me the truth," he told Insider. "I knew it wasn't her fault. It was a really weird, very strange thing to do to someone."Cisneros was heartbroken. She felt that she'd betrayed Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's trust and was distressed because she felt an anti-sexual-violence organization had asked her to deceive a rape victim. "What's so sad is people treat him like he's so paranoid about being silenced by the military, but that paranoia is at least … legitimate," Cisneros said. "And it happened again at RAINN."Sorensen denied having any involvement in the incident and said she was "not authorized in any way to instruct Ms. Cisneros in this matter," adding that Berkowitz had "total authority" with respect to the publication of Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's story. She said she did not know why Berkowitz pulled the testimony."I had no part in the matter," Sorensen said, "but it's my recollection, based on my conversation with Ms. Cisneros, that she had promised Mr. Wiedenhoeft-Wilder that she would publish their story before having secured final approval from Mr. Berkowitz."RAINN also said that if Cisneros had promised Wiedenhoeft-Wilder a spot on its website, it had "no knowledge of that and she was not authorized to make that commitment."Cisneros disputed that. She said that she provided Berkowitz with details of Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's story before reaching out and that he approved. "Scott gave me the greenlight to move ahead with the process if [Wiedenhoeft-Wilder] expressed interest," Cisneros said."We have no recollection as to why this survivor's story did not run in the fall of 2019," RAINN said, adding that some isolated quotes from Wiedenhoeft-Wilder's interview — stripped of their military context — were shared on RAINN's social-media accounts. The statement pointed to other stories from survivors of sexual assault in the military that RAINN had published; none of those featured scenarios in which an attacker outranked their victim.Evan Jenkins for Insider"We are not aware of the Department of Defense expressing concern over RAINN's coverage of military survivors," RAINN said, "nor is it standard practice for RAINN to consult with [the department] regarding the material and resources it publishes unless they directly mention Safe Helpline. RAINN frequently publishes the stories of military survivors and will continue to do so as it works to carry out the organization's mission to eradicate sexual violence from every corner of society."Anxiety around RAINN's relationship with the Department of Defense came up again in 2019. Six former staffers said one RAINN employee felt compelled to frantically retract public comments she had made in support of Black trans victims of violence amid the Trump administration's efforts to expel trans people from the military. The woman suddenly and mysteriously departed the organization on the day her remarks were published.(The woman's identity is known to Insider, which is not naming her because doing so may expose her to professional harm. The woman declined to comment for the record.) On March 7, 2019, to mark International Women's Day, the employee was one of "8 everyday women" featured by The Lily, a women-focused website published by The Washington Post. The Lily post listed the woman's age, background, position at RAINN, and responses to a questionnaire about her favorite fast-food chains and movies. But she came to fear that her seemingly uncontroversial answer to one question could become a professional liability.InsiderThe answer came a few months after the Trump-era transgender military ban went into effect, reanimating debates over trans rights. Two sources told Insider that the woman told them that RAINN's leadership expressed alarm over her contribution to the article and was frustrated that the woman had spoken to the media without getting consent from leadership.One source told Insider that Jodi Omear, then RAINN's vice president of communications, said minutes after reading the article that it was "too controversial" and that she worried it "could jeopardize our contract with the Department of Defense." The source said Omear escalated the article to Berkowitz and the human-resources director, Claudia Kolmer, because she was confident they would feel the same.Omear told Insider that because the former staffer had been under her supervision, it would be "inappropriate" to comment on her exit from the organization.On the day the questionnaire was published, the woman called the reporter at The Lily who'd conducted the interview and asked her to remove the reference to RAINN, as well as her comments about trans people, according to four sources familiar with the situation. The writer agreed. Insider viewed an original version of the interview that contained the employee's affiliation and comments about trans rights; the version currently published online does not.Two former employees said the woman was escorted out of the office by human resources the day the story was published. RAINN said that "it is standard practice that an employee separating from the organization is accompanied by a RAINN human resources representative when leaving the premises in order to collect their office keys, security fob and other credentials," adding that it "reached a separation agreement" with the woman a week after the story was published.One staffer who sat near her described the woman as a "fabulous" employee who was heavily invested in the projects they were set to work on together."It was one of the reasons why it was so shocking," the staffer said. "Like, where'd she go?"In its statement, RAINN claimed that the woman's remarks were an unauthorized attempt to speak on behalf of the Pentagon. "[The RAINN staffer] spoke with a Washington Post reporter on-the-record, on behalf of RAINN and the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, which she was not authorized to do," the statement said. "Contractually RAINN is barred from speaking on behalf of the Department of Defense or Safe Helpline." The Lily billed the interview as an opportunity to "step inside the lives of 8 everyday women." Aside from identifying her employer and job description — a format applied to other women featured in the post — the woman's interview did not touch on RAINN or the Department of Defense. Instead, she answered questions about her favorite body part and what she would change about her upbringing if she could.Still, RAINN said, the woman broke the rules: "The issue at hand centered around a clear violation of RAINN policy. RAINN supports all transgender survivors and has worked to remove the barriers to reporting sexual violence in LGBTQ communities, and to elevate the stories of transgender survivors, particularly for transgender persons of color for whom sexual violence is all too prevalent."Asked why, if that were the case, the woman would ask The Lily specifically to remove her comments about trans victims, RAINN said it was "unaware of any evidence indicating [the woman] was pressured to retract or remove" the comments. "RAINN is always mindful of honoring its contractual obligations not to speak on behalf of the DoD and the Safe Helpline," it said. "The fact someone commented on other subject matter or issues was irrelevant."A white male staffer was deemed a better fitJackii Wang joined RAINN's public-policy team in 2019, hopeful that she could use her experience working in national congressional offices to advance legislation that would help sexual-assault survivors. But she said her boss, RAINN's vice president of public policy, Camille Cooper, instead saddled her with administrative responsibilities like writing greeting cards. Wang said Cooper regularly discounted her ideas and "berated" her when they disagreed on issues the younger staffer considered minor. It became "psychologically terrifying," Wang said. Wang didn't immediately view that as discriminatory — multiple staffers said many of Cooper's employees complained of similar treatment. But during a performance review in December 2019, Wang said, Cooper attempted to explain her perception of Wang as defiant by rattling off stereotypes that Wang felt were "very targeted towards my Asian identity.""Camille asked me questions like, you know, 'Is your family very strict?' 'Do they expect perfectionism from you?' ... 'What was your childhood like?' Do I have problems with authority because of my family background?" Wang told Insider. What started as an implication became explicit, Wang said, when Cooper announced she would pull Wang off a lobbying assignment.Jackii WangDaniel Diasgranados for InsiderAt the time, RAINN was working on a Florida bill that would close a loophole in the state's statute of limitations for teen survivors. Cooper called Wang and another staffer into her office and told the two women she had decided to send a white male colleague in Wang's place, Wang said. Wang asked why."And she was like, 'Well, you know, because he's a white male,'" Wang recalled.Wang was mortified. While she had experience working with Florida legislators, her male colleague wasn't even registered to lobby in the state. Wang and the other staffer said Cooper argued that he would connect better with white conservatives in the state."He can talk about baseball. He can really, like, connect with these men," Cooper said, according to Wang and the other staffer present. "And these men really hate women.""Her reasoning for picking a white man over me for the project is that he'll be received better," Wang said. "But if that's the logic that she's following, then, like, I guess I shouldn't work anywhere because white men are received better everywhere."Neither Cooper nor the man responded to requests for comment.Wang said she reported the incident to Kolmer, the human-resources director, and Berkowitz in March 2020, along with a detailed recounting of other complaints about Cooper's leadership. But Wang said Kolmer never took serious action. When Wang quit that June, she sent Berkowitz a blistering resignation letter. "As you know, she has harassed and bullied every single person on our team, including an intern, and has blatantly discriminated against me," Wang wrote.Berkowitz thanked Wang for her time and for informing him, and asked Kolmer to discuss the issues Wang raised. Cooper continues to serve as a vice president, the face of RAINN's policy arm.RAINN said that Wang was too junior a staffer to lead a statewide lobbying effort and called her claims of discrimination "false and defamatory.""RAINN took Wang's allegations seriously and investigated the matter thoroughly," the statement said. "Ultimately it was determined that the basis of Wang's claims of discrimination were unfounded."RAINN did not deny Wang's claim that Cooper told her a white man would connect better with conservative legislators.Cooper wasn't the only executive to receive complaints. One current staffer and one former staffer described a meeting in which Jessica Leslie, the vice president of victim services, defended Berkowitz's unwillingness to address the concerns of staffers of color."You have to understand where he's coming from," they remember Leslie saying. "I mean, he's a white man, and you're all people of color — like, he's really nervous around you."One of the staffers was furious. "We just wanted to have a conversation. We're not about to berate the man," she told Insider. "This is not true," RAINN said. Its statement said that at a Safe Helpline shift managers meeting, a group of managers asked Leslie if Berkowitz would meet with them. When Leslie asked them to craft an agenda first, RAINN said, the shift managers asked Leslie if Berkowitz wanted an agenda because he was "uncomfortable talking to women of color." "The shift managers created this narrative," RAINN said, "not Leslie."Through an attorney, Leslie said she agreed with RAINN's responses and called the allegations against her "demonstrably baseless."A racist training, a pay disparity, and an email uprisingStaffers of color told Insider that they were often underpaid compared with their white counterparts; one, a nonwhite Latina woman who asked to remain anonymous, said she made $35,000 a year and lived in public housing to keep her head above water. After she quit for a higher-paying opportunity, RAINN filled her job with a white staffer who earned roughly $20,000 more, Cisneros said, adding that the white staffer disclosed her salary. (Three additional sources with knowledge of her salary corroborated Cisneros' account.) RAINN said the salary discrepancy was a result of both the role being "restructured" to include "significantly more responsibility" and the fact that the white staffer had an advanced degree.Four current and former RAINN staffers recalled that after RAINN's white office manager left for a new job, her replacement, a Black woman named Valinshia Walker, was asked to perform janitorial tasks that were not in her predecessor's job description — including scrubbing floors on her hands and knees, washing dishes, and disinfecting conference rooms. "Let me be very clear: [Walker's predecessor] never washed dishes from the sink. Ever," one former staffer said. "Val? You would come in, and Ms. Walker was cleaning the conference room. Like, wiping down all the tables. Spraying down the chairs. Doing the kitchen, she's washing dishes from the sink … You would see her walking around with the mask on and gloves because she literally cleaned. Like a cleaning lady."Walker declined to comment for the record. "The beliefs of your sources are simply not true," RAINN said, adding that Walker was hired as the "office coordinator," which had a different set of responsibilities than the "office manager" she replaced. "Maintaining a clean office has always fallen under the responsibilities of the HR and admin staff as a whole, this includes the office manager and office coordinator," the statement said. "We are not aware of any instances where Walker was asked to handle cleaning responsibilities beyond those that were part of the office coordinator's regular duties."Staffers also recalled what became a notorious and hamfisted mandatory sexual-harassment training in early 2020 led by an outside employment attorney hired by RAINN. According to more than a dozen employees, the attorney used a series of racist stereotypes to illustrate examples during the training."So let's just say, you know, there's Nicki [Minaj] and Cardi B are employees, and they're at their desks, and they start twerking," Cisneros recalled the lawyer saying. "Is that inappropriate workplace behavior?"At one point, Cisneros said, the lawyer proposed a hypothetical scenario in which a Latino-coded man — participants recalled his name was "Jorgé" or "José"—  kissed a coworker. The lawyer asked if the behavior could be appropriate "because this is Latino culture." "Your information regarding this training is inaccurate," RAINN said. "The examples in this legal training were all past legal cases using fictitious names." It added that staff concerns "were immediately addressed and the training was subsequently modified based on their feedback."Sarcia Adkins, a shift manager for the Department of Defense Safe Helpline who attended the training, was furious. She wrote an email to multiple executives, including Sorensen, Kolmer, and Berkowitz, on March 5 demanding action from the organization. "I wanted to get up and walk out at various points and it was one of the more traumatic experiences I've had at RAINN as a woman of color," she wrote. Kolmer acknowledged her complaints and promised to meet with Adkins alongside Berkowitz and Sorensen to discuss changes to the training and her issues with the nonprofit's culture.Adkins said that Kolmer didn't follow up that March but that Sorensen did reach out to schedule a one-on-one meeting. RAINN said Adkins agreed to meet Sorensen but "did not show up, without notification or explanation," and "did not follow up after she skipped the meeting." Several months later, after a former colleague intervened, Adkins did meet with Berkowitz and Sorensen. Adkins told Insider she was underwhelmed. "They pick what they want you to talk about," she said.The dysfunction came to a head during the summer of 2020, after the murder of George Floyd sparked a series of bitter internal conversations about RAINN's track record on race. In June 2020, Berkowitz sent an email with the subject line "A Note to the RAINN Family" to the entire staff. In it, he acknowledged the unrest and pledged to support the company's Black staffers.Sarcia Adkins replied to the email with a list of demands and copied the entire organization. She asked for mandatory cultural-competency training and a commitment to hiring Black employees for leadership positions. (RAINN says that 43% of its top seven staffers are people of color.) Adkins — who has been with RAINN since 2014 — asked Berkowitz why he hadn't reached out following the deaths of Freddie Gray, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and dozens of other victims of police violence."RAINN has never been a place [that] acknowledges or uplifts their black staff, not just people of color, and the injustices we face in the world and within the structure of RAINN," Adkins wrote.Following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, Scott Berkowitz sent an email to staffers acknowledging the resulting unrest and pledging to support the company's Black staffers. But employees at RAINN began responding en masse, including one person who asked why a similar message was not sent after other police killings of Black people.Provided to InsiderIn 2021, in response to the outrage over the George Floyd email, the organization began internally releasing draft proposals on diversity, equity, and inclusion with goals the organization planned to achieve or had already accomplished. The laundry list of objectives, which Insider reviewed, included a plan to "develop new relationships to ensure a diverse pool of internal and external candidates for all open positions" and "collect more data to identify the causes of turnover."But people working in the organization say little has been achieved, or even attempted."Hiring practices are not getting better," said a current RAINN staffer, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. "There's been no management training. Turnover is horrendous." In its statement, RAINN recounted the diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts it began implementing in 2021, including "expanded recruiting," "revised exit interviews," and "researched training on DEI-related issues.""The summer of 2020 sparked important cultural conversations in companies and organizations across the United States, RAINN among them," the statement said. "As we've seen nationwide, there is more work to be done. Over the past two years, RAINN worked with experts and garnered input from staff to develop and implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion policies and goals … Changes implemented to date include increasing diversity within senior management to better reflect our staff diversity and the people we serve, implementing an anonymous third-party ethics hotline where employees can voice concerns without fear of reprisal, offering expanded professional development and internal promotion opportunities, and increasing health and mental health benefits for employees, the four top priorities identified by staff."As evidence of its success in addressing the concerns of its employees of color, RAINN provided Insider an email that Aniyah Carter, a staffer on the Department of Defense Safe Helpline, wrote to the vice president of communications, Heather Drevna, in June 2020. Carter, who is Black, had been one of the most outspoken staffers demanding change at RAINN after Berkowitz's George Floyd email fiasco. When Drevna sent a follow-up email to staff announcing an employee survey and more personal and sick days, Carter replied with a note of thanks."I just want to personally thank you and the senior team for this," she wrote. "It's one thing to listen to and hear us. It's another thing to take action. I am proud of the responses of my colleagues and I am grateful for the swift action from leadership. It is my sincere hope that we continue to make a necessary shift in the right direction. Please let me know if there is any way I can be of assistance."Scott Berkowitz at the "Tina The Tina Turner Musical" Cocktail Reception, co-hosted by Anna Wintour in support of RAINN, on January 31, 2020.Tiffany Sage/BFA/ReutersWhen Insider asked Carter about the email, she said any movement in the right direction quickly stalled."They sent an email and that was it," Carter told Insider. "So my 'sincere hope' was crushed. It's so insulting for me. When this first happened and you were optimistic and gave us the benefit of the doubt, you say it here," she said, mocking RAINN's use of her email. "And it's like, OK, but two years later here we still are. And I've mentioned how I'm frustrated, but you're going to take words from two years ago feeling optimistic about the future and spin it as if that applies to today? Seriously? That was very upsetting because it makes me feel like this is more about optics than, like, how your staff really feels."'OK, well, who's gonna do the press clips?'When April Cisneros arrived at RAINN, she began working for Jodi Omear. Cisneros said she quickly ran up against Omear's domineering management style, which often seemed dismissive of and belittling to other women. Besides the "bitch face" comment, Cisneros said, Omear joked about how office dress codes could reduce the risk of sexual assault by preventing people from wearing provacative outfits. "I understand we're not supposed to blame the victim," Cisneros recalled Omear saying, "but, like, what do you expect to happen if you're in a dimly lit room and people of the opposite sex [are] wearing pants with holes in them?" Omear did not deny making either comment but told Insider that when training people who lacked experience with on-camera work, she directed them to "over-exaggerate facial expressions." She also said she "advocated for casual professional attire across the organization."Cisneros' low point at RAINN occurred in January 2019, when she unexpectedly became pregnant. She decided to take a sick day to visit a doctor. She told Insider she informed Omear the day before and outlined when her unfinished work would be completed.Omear became angry, Cisneros said, demanding to know why she didn't give more notice and insisting on further details. Omear called Cisneros at 9 p.m. demanding answers. Cisneros broke down and told her boss about the surprise pregnancy. According to Cisneros, Omear replied, "OK, well, who's gonna do the press clips?"The next day, as Cisneros met with her doctor, her phone buzzed with calls and texts from Omear. Between the stress of an unplanned pregnancy and Omear's incessant check-ins, Cisneros said, she "started bawling" under the stress.  A day later, Cisneros received a prescription for a two-day medical abortion. She requested an extra day off to recover, but Omear continued to pester her, texting and calling Cisneros for updates on RAINN's monthly marketing report. Cisneros said she finished the report from home while waiting for the bleeding to die down. (A RAINN staffer who was familiar with the incident corroborated Cisneros' version of events.)Omear told Insider that it would be "inappropriate" to comment on Cisneros specifically and did not directly answer a series of questions about Cisneros' allegations. "In general, when working with communications staff, especially in a fast-paced environment on such an important issue, it is/was important to ensure that other team members were able to cover assignments to meet any potential deadlines and organizational needs," she said in an emailed statement.RAINN said that it "was not aware of this incident happening in real time" and that it "supports employees taking time off and does not support managers encroaching on sick time."Omear's conduct was the final straw for Cisneros, and she wrote to human resources to complain. Cisneros said Claudia Kolmer told her in a meeting that the conflict "was a big misunderstanding" and that she should have come clean about her pregnancy sooner. (RAINN said that Kolmer told Cisneros that different managers have different preferences about how they should be notified of sick time and that "Cisneros was never asked to share sensitive personal or medical information.")Dissatisfied, Cisneros unloaded on Omear to Kolmer, accusing her boss of making inappropriate complaints about the loud breathing of a colleague who used a wheelchair and the habit of another colleague, who was blind, of walking into Omear's office by mistake, Cisneros said. (Another former RAINN employee corroborated the complaints to Insider.) Cisneros also said she told Kolmer that Omear made lewd remarks about the attractiveness of a sexual-assault victim set to make a public-service announcement. Omear denied making the lewd comments. She also denied complaining about disabled colleagues but said that she did recall "thanking one of my staff for helping" a blind colleague "when she couldn't find her way around the office."Cisneros rallied the entire RAINN communications department to put together a detailed list of other allegations of inappropriate behavior by Omear, which she collected in a memo for Kolmer and Berkowitz.Omear left RAINN that July, ostensibly to launch her own communications consulting firm. But Cisneros said Berkowitz told her that he had pushed Omear out in response to Cisneros' efforts. "We want you to know we're letting her spin her own story," Cisneros said Berkowitz told her. "But this is a direct result of the conversation you all have with us."The experience nonetheless angered staffers. Cisneros left RAINN the next year.Another colleague, Martha Durkee-Neuman, wrote a scathing resignation letter shortly after Omear announced her exit, addressing it to Omear, Berkowitz, and Kolmer."Jodi leaving of her own accord with no accountability is not justice," Durkee-Neuman wrote, according to a copy of the letter obtained by Insider. "It is not justice for the countless people that she has fired or driven from RAINN. It is not justice to pretend that nothing has happened, that staff were not forced to go to HR over and over and over until something was finally done." "I do not believe any of this work of justice or restoration will happen at RAINN, so unfortunately, this is no longer the right organization for me," she added."After the communications team raised concerns [about Omear] with Claudia Kolmer," RAINN said, "RAINN worked swiftly and diligently to investigate the staff's complaints. RAINN took appropriate action to address the findings of that investigation and Omear separated with RAINN shortly thereafter."Martha Durkee-Neuman's resignation letter.Martha Durkee-Neuman'What is left?' On November 19, 2021, Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of charges related to the shooting deaths of two people at a civil-rights rally in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Some time later, Leslie, then the interim vice president of RAINN's victim-services department, addressed the organization's Black staffers. "I am deeply saddened by the pain and violence that has continued to plague our Black neighbors and communities," she wrote. "I want to recognize how this may be affecting you, as you navigate your day and the work you do at RAINN." She then touted the racial diversity of the victim-services department.Nearly 18 months had passed since the organization sent around its email about the death of George Floyd. Despite various promises and initiatives, in the eyes of many staffers, little had changed. But here it was again, another email promising to listen to staffers of color. Employees were enraged.Aniyah Carter, the Safe Helpline worker whose email RAINN provided to Insider, reminded her boss that nearly two weeks had passed since the verdict. "By now, we have already had to check in with ourselves so that we can continue our day-to-day lives," she wrote. "And while the opportunity to check in with managers is still absolutely available (and encouraged), the reminder to do so would have been more beneficial if it occurred when this took place." Carter also highlighted the gap she saw between leadership's stated commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and its on-the-ground support of its employees of color, a sentiment echoed by other staffers who spoke to Insider.Daniel Diasgranados for InsiderFor Cisneros, the repeated failure of the organization to address the concerns of its staff speaks to something darker, and she is worried about how the culture at RAINN is affecting its ability to help abuse survivors."If church can't help, if school can't help, if the police can't help, if the hospital can't help, if my family can't help, my friends can't help — and now this nonprofit that is specifically saying that it's here to help people like me can't help?" she said."Like, what is left?"Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderFeb 25th, 2022

The 52 worst movies made by iconic directors — from Spielberg to Scorsese

Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and a number of other critically acclaimed directors have directed at least one movie that critics tore apart. "Gemini Man"Paramount Even some of the most admired and iconic directors have made at least one critically reviled film. Insider turned to Rotten Tomatoes to find the worst-reviewed movies of 52 acclaimed filmmakers. The latest is Antoine Fuqua's "Infinite," which was released this year on Paramount+. Most of the greatest film directors in history have swung and missed on occasion. Francis Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, and numerous other critically acclaimed directors have directed at least one movie that critics tore apart. For this list, we chose 52 directors who have largely been praised by critics as masters of their craft, and we turned to the reviews aggregator Rotten Tomatoes to find out which of the films they've directed was the most critically panned.We excluded a number of great directors who did not have a film in their catalog that they directed with a critic score under 60%. Stanley Kubrick, for instance, is not on this list, as his "worst" film, "Eyes Wide Shut," has a 76% "Fresh" rating on the site. Another example is Alejandro G. Iñárritu, whose lowest-rated film is "Biutiful" at 66%.John Lynch contributed to an earlier version of this post. Here are the 52 worst movies made by iconic directors, ordered from the (relative) best to worst, according to their critic scores:Guillermo del Toro — "Blade II" (2002)New LineCritic score: 57%What critics said: "The only dread it inspires is in the possibility that its director prefers turning human flesh into CGI-enhanced mush over exploring genuinely frightening material." — The Village VoiceSofia Coppola — "Marie Antoinette" (2006)Even if Marie Antoinette didn't say it, the sentiment is clear.screenshot/ "Marie Antoinette"Critic score: 57%What critics said: "Although it is purposely devoid of substance, it is still devoid of substance." — Detroit Free PressJonathan Demme — "Last Embrace" (1979)United ArtistsCritic score: 57%What critics said: "Belabored imitation Hitchcock." — Las Vegas Review JournalWes Anderson — "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou" (2004)Touchstone PicturesCritic score: 56%What critics said: "If there's anything more tiresome in film today than hip irony, it is forced irony, and here comes a boatload." — New York Daily NewsFederico Fellini — "La Casanova de Fellini" (1976)Produzioni Europee AssociationCritic score: 55%What critics said: "An ordeal rather than a pleasure, a spectacle that cries out to be endured rather than enjoyed, 'Casanova,' may be the perfect consummation of the distasteful conception Fellini had in mind." — The Washington PostJoel and Ethan Coen — "The Ladykillers" (2004)TouchstoneCritic score: 54%What critics said: "Most of this stuff isn't worthy of the Farrelly brothers, let alone the Coen brothers." — Ebert & RoeperGeorge Lucas — "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" (1999)LucasfilmCritic score: 52%What critics said: "Too busy and talky by half, overpopulated by a baffling array of aliens and robot 'droids,' 'The Phantom Menace' fails to engage the audience in its mythic quest 'to restore balance to the Force.'" — Toronto StarMartin Scorsese — "Boxcar Bertha" (1972)MGMCritic score: 52%What critics said: "'Promising juvenilia' is about the most one can say for it." — Chicago ReaderJean-Luc Goddard — "Sympathy for the Devil" (1968)Cupid ProductionsCritic score: 50%What critics said: "The politics are as muddled as the art is (deliberately?) amateurish." — TV GuideRichard Linklater — "Bad News Bears" (2005)Paramount PicturesCritic score: 48%What critics said: "More irksome is the ordained focus on plot undulation and simplistic motivation, as if nobody remembered that the first film was a social satire." — Village VoiceAlexander Payne — "Downsizing" (2017)ParamountCritic score: 47%What critics said: "The film, having launched a sprightly comic conceit, lets it glide away." — The New YorkerDavid Fincher — "Alien 3" (1992)20th Century FoxCritic score: 45%What critics said: "Good acting has salvaged many a poor script in the past, but not here." — Time OutTerrence Malick — "Song to Song" (2017)Waypoint EntertainmentCritic score: 44%What critics said: "We're left with gorgeous photography (Emmanuel Lubezki), a plotless plot and a sense that some transcendentalist Nashville may lurk here waiting to be discovered, though not — thanks — by me." — Financial TimesDavid Lynch — "Dune" (1984)MCA UniversalCritic score: 44%What critics said: "This movie is a real mess, an incomprehensible, ugly, unstructured, pointless excursion into the murkier realms of one of the most confusing screenplays of all time." — Chicago Sun-TimesDavid Cronenberg — "M. Butterfly" (1993)Warner Home VideoCritic score: 43%What critics said: "When John Lone parades around in mascara and speaks in an asexual monotone, the film audience discovers itself staring at John Lone's whiskers underneath his makeup." — FilmCritic.comJohn Huston — "Sinful Davey" (1969)United ArtistsCritic score: 43%What critics said: "A bland, lethargic period comedy." — VarietyAva DuVernay — "A Wrinkle In Time" (2018)DisneyCritic score: 42%What critics said: "Disney's version of the Madeleine L'Engle young-adult novel is a magical mystery tour minus the magic and mystery, and a great disappointment, since there were so many reasons to root for the film's success." — Wall Street JournalJohn Ford — "The Wings of Eagles" (1957)MGMCritics score: 40%What critics said: "Wants to be epic in scope but ends up feeling like ham-fisted CliffsNotes version of a man's life. The film loiters way, way too long on Frank Wead's early days as a hell-raising test pilot, then skips ahead through long sections of his life." — Sarasota Herald-TribuneAlfonso Cuarón — "Great Expectations" (1998)20th Century FoxCritic score: 37%What critics said: "A meandering, stilted movie." — San Francisco ChronicleTim Burton — "Dark Shadows" (2012)Warner Bros.Critic score: 35%What critics said: "This is not so much a coherent movie as it is a long, expensive joke in search of a purpose." — The New YorkerKathryn Bigelow — "The Weight of Water" (2001)LionsgateCritic score: 35%What critics said: "A boring, pretentious muddle that uses a sensational, real-life 19th-Century crime as a metaphor for -- well, I'm not exactly sure what -- and has all the dramatic weight of a raindrop." — Detroit Free PressRobert Zemeckis — "Welcome to Marwen" (2018)UniversalCritic score: 35%What critics said: "Mind-numbingly immense, joylessly violent and utterly lifeless... You've got to see it to believe it, though I wouldn't advise doing so." — Wall Street JournalSteven Soderbergh — "The Good German" (2007)Warner Bros.Critic score: 34%What critics said: "There's a line between homage and mimicry, and Soderbergh has crossed it." — Houston ChroniclePeter Jackson — "The Lovely Bones" (2009)ParamountCritic score: 32%What critics said: "Jackson seems more at home in the afterlife than in this one, rendering this off-kilter project creepy and pretentious." — CNNJane Campion — "In the Cut" (2003)Pathé PicturesCritic score: 32%What critics said: "Beneath its dense texture and rich mood, Jane Campion's romantic thriller is about nothing and goes nowhere." — Associated PressWoody Allen — "Wonder Wheel" (2017)Amazon StudiosCritic score: 31%What critics said: "'Wonder Wheel' will strike fans as an embarrassment and doubters as further evidence of decline - proof of Allen's lack of interest or engagement in a world beyond his shrinking artistic comfort zone." — Boston GlobeMiloš Forman — "Goya's Ghost" (2007)Samuel Goldwyn FilmsCritic score: 30%What critics said: "Think of it as an 'Amadeus' that doesn't work." — Orlando SentinelIngmar Bergman — "The Serpent's Egg" (1977)ParamountCritic score: 30%What critics said: "Bergman's paranoia runs dementedly and tediously out of control." — Time OutSteven Spielberg — "Hook" (1991)TriStar PicturesCritic score: 29%What critics said: "The exposition is so underlined and re-underlined, you could teach yourself to fly waiting for something to happen." — The Washington PostAlfred Hitchcock — "Juno and the Paycock" (1930)British International PicturesCritic score: 27%What critics said: "A fairly deadly case of canned theater that's pretty close to what Hitchcock many years later would refer to as 'photographs of people talking.'" — Chicago ReaderRobert Redford — "Lion for Lambs" (2007)MGMCritic score: 27%What critics said: "There is much talk of paralysis in Robert Redford's what's-wrong-with-America movie 'Lions for Lambs,' and there is a whole lot of the same in the movie itself." — Toronto StarAng Lee — "Gemini Man" (2019)ParamountCritic score: 26%What critics said: "No matter how many (presumably non-computer-generated) tears Smith sheds, he and Lee never transform this baby hit man into a plausible science-fiction conceit, let alone invest him with a soul." — Los Angeles TimesRidley Scott — "A Good Year" (2006)20th Century FoxCritic score: 25%What critics said: "Russell Crowe has many talents, but a gift for light comedy is not one of them." — Rolling StoneClint Eastwood — "The 15:17 to Paris" (2018)Warner Bros.Critic score: 23%What critics said: "A single act of heroism can truly transform a life, but that action does not necessarily make for a transformative motion picture." — Los Angeles TimesRon Howard — "Inferno" (2016)Sony PicturesCritic score: 23%What critics said: "Ron Howard's mostly lame adaptation of Dan Brown's wholly lame novel." — VultureJames Ivory — "Slaves of New York" (1989)Sony PicturesCritic score: 22%What critics said: "The first thing I feel is a genuine dislike for the people in this film." — Chicago Sun-Times Robert Altman — "Beyond Therapy" (1987)New WorldCritic score: 18%What critics said: "There's no special logic at work. The performances are good, but the film has been assembled without an overriding sense of humor and style." — New York TimesHoward Hawks — "Today We Live" (1933)MGMCritic score: 20%What critics said: "As a drama of the war it is not precisely convincing, for coincidences play an important part in its arrangement. It is also anachronistic." — New York TimesDanny Boyle — "The Beach" (2000)20th Century FoxCritic score: 20%What critics said: "'The Beach' is the kind of literary rubbish that makes you trace the patterns in the carpet while you're supposed to be watching the screen." — ObserverSpike Lee — "She Hate Me" (2004)Sony Pictures ClassicCritic score: 19%What critics said: "Succeeds in finding something to offend almost everybody." — Orlando SentinelWerner Herzog — "Queen of the Desert" (2017)IFC FilmsCritic score: 18%What critics said: "An emotionally empty, thematically ill-defined, and listless affair. It is never able to communicate the complexity of the woman at its center." — RogerEbert.comFrancis Ford Coppola — "Jack" (1996)Hollywood PicturesCritic score: 17%What critics said: "Someone deserves a timeout for letting this mawkish misfire get to the screen." — USA TodayRoman Polanski — "Diary of Forbidden Dreams" (1973)Carlo Ponti ProductionsCritic score: 17%What critics said: "I wonder how much Carlo Ponti gave Roman Polanski to make 'Diary of Forbidden Dreams.' Ten cents would have been excessive." — Chicago Sun-TimesAntoine Fuqua — "Infinite" (2021)Mark Wahlberg in "Infinite."ParamountCritic score: 16%What critics said: "The pace of all the action gets tripped up by a convoluted plot that Infinite tangles instead of unfurls." — IGNOliver Stone — "Alexander" (2004)Warner Bros.Critic score: 16%What critics said: "By summoning his inner classicist, [director] Stone has made an excruciating disaster for the ages." — AV ClubSydney Pollack — "Random Hearts" (1999)Columbia PicturesCritic score: 15%What critics said: "Pollack appears to have taken lessons from Martin Brest about how to irritate and bore viewers with endless pauses in conversations." — ReelViewsSidney Lumet — "Gloria" (1999)Sony PicturesCritic score: 14%What critics said: "Sidney Lumet-directed dud that sprung from the singularly bad idea of remaking John Cassavetes' oddball 1980 character study." — Entertainment WeeklyMel Brooks — "Dracula - Dead and Loving It" (1995)Warner Bros.Critic score: 11%What critics said: "Either this is the lamest Mel Brooks comedy ever or it's too close to other contenders to make much difference." — Chicago ReaderHarold Ramis — "Club Paradise" (1986)Warner Home VideoCritic score: 11%What critics said: "A frenetically unfunny and charmless movie." — Los Angeles TimesBarry Levinson — "Rock the Kasbah" (2015)Open Road FilmsCritic score: 7%What critics said: "An acclaimed film director, a legendary comic actor, lots of fun rock and pop songs, and a noble story at its core can't save 'Rock the Kasbah' from being one hugely misguided dud." — Los Angeles TimesJohn Singleton — "Abduction" (2011)LionsgateCritic score: 5%What critics said: "Actual abduction may be preferable to the movie of the same name, but only if your kidnappers don't torture you by forcing you to watch it." — New York PostWiliam Friedkin — "Good Times" (1967)Columbia PicturesCritic score: 0%What critics said: "The movie's incredibly thin storyline seems to exist for the sole purpose of allowing Sonny and Cher to sing a lot of silly pop songs and appear in cheesy sketches." — Reel Film ReviewsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 27th, 2021

Turkey"s Existential Choice: BRI Or Bust

Turkey's Existential Choice: BRI Or Bust Authored by Matthew Ehret via, Turkey may be where east meets west, but it can no longer afford to straddle two opposing geoeconomic agendas vying to define West and Central Asia's development. Ankara must choose, and soon... Two destinies are pulling on West Asia from two opposing visions of the future. As devotees of the rules-based order laid out by Zbigniew Brzezinski 40 years ago strive to uphold their dystopic model of dividing populations to feed endless wars, a more optimistic program of cooperation is being ushered in by China’s ever-evolving Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). While many nations have jumped on board this new paradigm with enthusiastic support, others have found themselves precariously straddling both worlds. Turkey plays footsie with great powers Chief among those indecisive nations is the Republic of Turkey, whose leader was given a harsh wake up call on 15 July, 2016. It was on this date that Russian intelligence provided Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the edge needed to narrowly avoid a coup launched by followers of exiled Islamist leader Fetullah Gulen. The timing of the coup has been subject to much speculation, but the fact that it occurred just two weeks after Erdogan’s letter of apology to Putin went public was likely not a coincidence. The apology in question referred to Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian fighter jet flying in Syrian airspace in November 2015, killing a soldier and very nearly activating NATO’s collective security pact. For years instrumental in providing weapons and logistical support to ISIS in both Iraq and Syria (via Operation Timber Sycamore), it is possible Erdogan was tiring of being used to further western interests in the Levant, when it had its own, quite different, aspirations in those territories. Whatever the case, since that fateful day, Turkey’s behavior as a player in West Asia took on an improved (though not entirely redeemed) character on a number of levels. Chief among those positive behavioral changes is Ankara’s participation in the Astana process with Tehran and Moscow to demilitarize large swathes of Syria. Turkey then purchased Russian S400 medium-long range missile defense systems, and has recently advanced plans to jointly produce submarines, jet engines and warships with Russia, while also accelerating the construction of a nuclear reactor built by Rosatom. That said, old habits die hard, and Turkey has been caught playing in both worlds, providing continued support for the terrorist-laden Free Syrian Army and Al Qaeda offshoot Hayat Tahrir Al Sham in Syria’s Idlib governorate. Turkey now has a total of 60 military bases and observation posts that provide protection for these and other militant groups in the country’s north. The Middle Corridor option On an economic level, Turkey’s ambition to become a gateway between Europe and Asia along the New Silk Road also indicates Erdogan’s resolution to break from his previous commitments to join the European Union and engage more intricately with the East. Turkey’s 7500 km Trans-Caspian East-West Middle Corridor is an ambitious project that runs parallel to the northern corridor of the BRI connecting China to Europe. This corridor, which began running in November 2019, has the benefit of cutting nearly 2000 km of distance off the active northern corridor and provides an efficient route between China and Europe. The route itself moves goods from the north-eastern Lianyungang Port in China through Xinjiang into Kazakhstan, the Caspian Sea, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey and on to Europe via land and sea routes. Erdogan has previously stated that “the Middle Corridor lies at the heart of the BRI” and has called to “integrate the Middle Corridor into the BRI.” Other projects that are subsumed by the Middle Corridor include the $20 billion Istanbul Canal which will be a 45km connection between the Black and Marmara Seas (reducing traffic on the Bosporus) as well as the Marmara undersea railway, Eurasian Tunnel, and the third Istanbul Bridge. Without China’s increased involvement, not only will these projects fail to take shape, but the Middle Corridor itself would crumble into oblivion. Chinese trade with Turkey recently grew from $2 billion in 2002 to $26 billion in 2020, more than 1,000 Chinese companies have investment projects throughout the nation, and Chinese consortiums hold a 65 percent stake in Turkey’s third largest port. Restraining Ankara’s options These projects have not come without a fight from both internal forces within Turkey and external ones. Two major Turkish opposition parties have threatened to cancel the Canal Istanbul as a tactic to scare away potential investors at home and abroad. And internationally, financial warfare has been unleashed against Turkey’s economy on numerous levels. Credit ratings agencies have downgraded Turkey to a ‘high risk’ nation, and sanctions have been launched by the US and EU. These acts have contributed to international investors pulling out from Turkish government bonds (a quarter of all bonds were held by foreign investors in 2009, collapsing to less than 4 percent today) and depriving the nation of vital productive credit to build infrastructure. These attacks have also resulted in the biggest Turkish banks stating they will not provide any funding to the megaproject. Despite the fact that Chinese investments into Turkey have increased significantly, western Financial Direct Investments (FDIs) have fallen from $12.18 billion in 2009 to only $6.67 billion in 2021. Dialing down its Uyghur project As with Turkey’s relations with Russia, Erdogan’s desperate need to collaborate with China in the financial realm has resulted in a change of policy in his support for Uyghur extremists. Of the 13 million Chinese Uyghurs, 50,000 live in Turkey, many of whom are part of a larger CIA-funded operation aimed at carving up China. For many years, Turkey has provided safe haven to terrorist groups like the East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement, which cut its teeth fighting alongside ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Operatives affiliated with the World Uyghur Congress, funded by the US National Endowment for Democracy and based in Germany, have also found fertile soil in Turkey. In 2009, Erdogan publicly denounced China for conducting a genocide on Muslims living in Xinjiang (long before it became de rigueur to do so in western nations). After Turkey’s 2016 failed coup, things began to change. In 2017, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu stated: “We will absolutely not allow in any activities in Turkey that target or oppose China. Additionally, we will take measures to eliminate any media reports targeting China.” There are many parallels to Turkey’s protection of radical Islamic groups in Idlib, but Ankara’s protection of radical anti-China Uyghur groups was more gradual. However, recent significant moves by Erdogan have demonstrated good faith, including the 2017 extradition treaty signed with China (ratified by Beijing though not yet by Ankara), an increased clampdown on Uyghur extremist groups, and the decision to re-instate the exclusion order banning World Uyghur Congress president Dolkun Isa from entering Turkey on 19 September, 2021. Might the INSTC bypass Ankara? Not only is Turkey eager to play a role in China’s BRI and secure essential long term credit from Beijing – without which its future will be locked to the much diminished fortunes of the European Union – but Ankara has also factored the growing International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) into its calculus. A multimodal corridor stretching across a dozen nations, the INSTC was launched by Russia, India and Iran in 2002 and has been given new life by China’s BRI. In recent years, members of the project have grown to also include Azerbaijan, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Syria, Belarus, Oman and Bulgaria. While Turkey is a member of the project, there is no guarantee that the megaproject will directly move through its borders. Here too, Erdogan is keen to stay on good terms with Russia and its allies. The International North South Transportation Corridor [image: Wikicommons] The Middle Corridor loses its shine Up until now, Turkey’s inability to break with zero-sum thinking has resulted in the self-delusion that Turkey’s Middle Corridor would be the only possible choice China had to move goods through to Europe and North Africa. This perception was for many years buoyed by the war across the ISIS-ridden region of Syria and Iraq (and the relative isolation of Iran), which appeared to ensure that no competing development corridor could be activated. However, Iran’s entry into the BRI as part of its 25-year Comprehensive Strategic Partnership struck with China in March, and its ascension to full membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in September, has provided an attractive new east-west alternative route to the Middle Corridor. Potential rail lines moving from China to Iran, Iraq and Syria This potential branch of the New Silk Road connecting China with Europe via Iran, Iraq and Syria into the Mediterranean through Syria’s port of Latakia provides a unique opportunity to not only reconstruct the war-torn West Asian nations, but to also create a durable field of stability after decades of western manipulation. This new route has the additional attraction of incorporating Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon and other Arab states into a new strategic dynamic that connects Eurasia with an African continent desperate for real development. As of this writing, 40 sub-Saharan African nations have signed onto China’s BRI. The first glimmering light of this new corridor took form in a small but game-changing 30 km rail line connecting the border city of Shalamcheh in Iran with Basra in Iraq. Work began this year, with its $150 million cost supplied by the semi-private Mostazan Foundation of Iran. Foreseeing a much larger expansion of this historic connection, Iran’s ambassador to Iraq stated: “Iraq can be connected to China through the railways of Iran and increase its strategic importance in the region … this will be a very big change and Iran’s railways will be connected to Iraq and Syria and to the Mediterranean.” Ambassador Masjidi was here referring to the provisional agreement reached among Iran, Iraq and Syria in November 2018 to build a 1570 km railway and highway from the Persian Gulf in Iran to the Latakia Port via Iraq. Already, Iran’s construction-focused investments in war-torn and sanction-torn Syria have grown immensely, boosting estimated trade between the two nations with an additional $1 billion over the next 12 months. Indicating the higher development dynamic that is shaping the Iraq–Iran railway, Iraq’s Prime Minister stated in May 2021 that “negotiations with Iran to build a railway between Basra and Shalamcheh have reached their final stages and we have signed 15 agreements and memorandums of understanding with Jordan and Egypt regarding energy and transportation lines.” Indeed, both Egypt and Jordan have also looked east for the only pathway to durable peace in the form of the New Silk Road. The trio of Egypt, Jordan and Iraq began setting the stage for this Silk Road route with a 2017 energy agreement designed to connect the electricity grids of the three nations and also construct a pipeline from Basra to Aqaba in Jordan followed by a larger extension to Egypt. A broad array of development corridors await the African and Arab worlds if the current Iraq-Syria-Iran triad can avoid being destabilized. The image above features several possibilities [Schiller Institute] Iraq and the New Silk Road In December 2020, Iraq and Egypt agreed on an important oil for reconstruction deal along the lines of a similar program activated earlier by former Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi and his Chinese counterpart in September 2019. The latter project was seriously downgraded when Mahdi stepped down in May 2020, and although PM Mustafa Al-Kadhimi has begun to repair Chinese relations, Iraq has not yet returned to the level of cooperation reached by his predecessor. To date, the only major power that has shown any genuine concern for Iraq’s reconstruction – and been willing to invest actual resources toward it – has been China. Despite the trillions of dollars wasted by the United States in its brutal invasion and occupation of the country, not a single energy project has been built by US dollars there. In fact, the only power plant constructed after 2003 has been the Chinese-built 2450 mW thermal plant in Wassit which supplies 20 percent of Iraq’s electricity. Iraq requires at least 19 GW of electricity in order to supply its basic needs after years of western bombardment strategically targeting its vital infrastructure. To this day, hardly any domestic manufacturing exists in Iraq, with 97 percent of its needs purchased from abroad, and entirely with oil revenue. If this dire situation is to be reversed, then China’s oil-for-construction plan must be brought fully back online. The kernel of this plan involves a special fund which will accumulate sales of discounted Iraqi oil to China until a $1.5 billion threshold is reached. When this happens, Chinese state banks have agreed to add an additional $8.5 billion, bringing the fund to $10 billion to be used on a full reconstruction program driven by roads, rail, water treatment, and energy grids, as well as soft infrastructure like schools and healthcare. Where the western economic models have tended to keep nations underdeveloped by emphasizing raw material extraction with no long-term investments that benefit its citizenry, creating no manufacturing capabilities or an increase in the powers of labor, the Chinese-model is entirely different, focusing instead on creating full spectrum economies. Where the former is zero sum and a closed system, the latter model is win-win and open. If Turkey can find the sense to liberate itself from the obsolete logic of zero sum geopolitics, then a bright future will await all of West and Central Asia. There is no reason to believe that the Middle Corridor will in any way be harmed by the success of an Iran–Iraq–Syria Silk Road corridor, or by its African extensions. By encouraging the development of collaborative relations, large scale infrastructure, and full-spectrum economic networks, abundance can be created in these regions to offset the underdevelopment and stagnation of recent years. Tyler Durden Wed, 10/06/2021 - 03:30.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytOct 6th, 2021

35 Best Corporate Team Building Activities and Exercises

In this article, we shall discuss the 35 best corporate team building activities and exercises. To skip our detailed analysis of the global human resource management sector in 2023 and the growing importance of organizational management, go directly and see 5 Best Corporate Team Building Activities and Exercises. The global human resource technology market is […] In this article, we shall discuss the 35 best corporate team building activities and exercises. To skip our detailed analysis of the global human resource management sector in 2023 and the growing importance of organizational management, go directly and see 5 Best Corporate Team Building Activities and Exercises. The global human resource technology market is valued at $156.98 billion as of 2022 and is projected to reach a significant valuation of $237.42 billion by 2030, at a CAGR of 5.41%. This rapid growth is largely driven by the emergence of new technological solutions tailored to the requirements of the global human resource industry. Furthermore, the rising integration of automation in modern HR practices and the increasing prevalence of remote work significantly supplements the rampant growth of the market. However, as the human resource industry adapts to the changing global environment, the reliance on corporate team building activities and exercises remains more pronounced than ever. Some of the most prominent companies which provide coaching and sales training services are Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE:FC), Stride Inc. (NYSE:LRN), and Learning Tree International (NASDAQ:LTRE). To read more about some of the biggest players in the human resource industry, check out our article on 11 Best Human Resource Stocks to Buy Today.  People + Performance Winners: An Analysis In a February 2023 report, McKinsey highlighted that in addition to upsides for employees, investment in human capital development actually contains competitive advantages for companies as well. Although business leaders often agree that such investments are the right thing to do, they are relatively unclear on how these investments relate to the company’s bottom line. In this effort, McKinsey analyzed more than 1800 large companies across sectors in more than 15 countries and categorized them into two primary factors, namely how much they invest in human capital development, and whether they financially outperform their peers. According to the report, a subset of such companies that instantly stands out are what the report terms “People + Performance Winners”, who create opportunities for their workers to build on their existing skillset while consistently achieving high financial results. According to the report, P+P Winners distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack in two primary ways. Firstly, the results they are able to achieve are much more pronounced, consistent, and have greater earnings resilience, and secondly, they boast a superior ability to attract and retain talent, seriously minimizing their turnover expenditure. In turbulent microeconomic conditions, which entail economic headwinds and labor shortages, these are fundamentally important advantages which allow these companies to maintain resilience and continuously deliver strong growth. How do P+P Winners manage to drive financial growth while increasingly investing in human capital? According to McKinsey, while investing in people is undoubtedly important, organizational capital is also a fundamental ingredient that cannot be ignored. Many of the companies that we covered in our article on the 10 Biggest Human Resource Consulting Companies in the World have begun to advise and consult on the increased importance of organizational capital in human resource management. As this concept entails corporate team building activities and exercises, workflows, employee communications, norms, and leadership, companies like Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE:FC), Stride Inc. (NYSE:LRN), and Learning Tree International (NASDAQ:LTRE) are asserting themselves as industry leaders in organizational management.  Emerging HR Operating Models: An Overview According to an article by McKinsey and Company, traditional approaches to human resource management are rapidly evolving. For the last two decades, multinational enterprises usually adopted a diverse combination of conventional HR business partners, centers of excellence, and shared service centers, variating these three areas for a tailored approach to each company’s unique requirements. However, with the emergence of innovative companies like Franklin Covey Co. (NYSE:FC), Stride Inc. (NYSE:LRN), and Learning Tree International (NASDAQ:LTRE) which focus on corporate team building activities and exercises, dynamism within the human resource industry is at an all-time high. In a survey of more than 100 chief human resource officers and senior people leaders from multinational enterprises around the world, McKinsey identified five different HR operating-model archetypes which have been emerging in response to substantial transformations in the business environment, including but not limited to increased geopolitical turbulence, the popularity of hybrid and remote working models, and the rise of the millennial workforce.  The five emerging HR models are enabled by two primary drivers: a strong, consistent data backbone and a user-friendly service foundation. The models include the Ulrich+, Agile, Ex1-Driven, Leader-led, and Machine-powered models. The Ulrich+ model is an adaptation of the classic Ulrich model, and it enables HRBPs (Human Resource Business Partners) to develop functional spikes and assume execution responsibilities. It also ensures that business services are global and operations are digitized. The Agile model, on the other hand, reduces the number of HRBPs with increased focus on management and organizational development. Within this model, end-to-end responsibility largely manifests in two ways: flow-to-work pools, and task-to-team logic. Furthermore, in the EX1-driven model, HR function largely focuses on excellence in selected moments, with other HR activities standardized across the board. There is end-to-end accountability for strategy, policy, and execution. Within the Leader-led model, people leadership operations are delegated to line managers and policies are minimized, save for legal and compliance. Alternatively, in Machine-powered models, HR focuses on high-touch interaction with employees. Reskilled, new AI and analytics experts exist and operate within the HR function. All of the aforementioned models, however, do not discount the importance of organizational management, namely corporate team building activities and exercises, in effective human resource management.  Photo by Antenna on Unsplash Our Methodology To compile our list of the 35 best corporate team building activities and exercises, we decided to use a consensus approach by acquiring data from a variety of different credible sources (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). We picked activities that appeared at least twice in these sources, assigning them a cumulative score based on the numbers at which they appeared on the lists. For example, if an activity was ranked at number 5 on one list and number 6 on another, we gave it a total score of 11. We then ranked all the entries from highest to lowest. If you are interested in reading about how to optimize human resource management, you can check out our article on Top Useful Employee Salary Management Tips From The Pros. Best Corporate Team Building Activities and Exercises 35. All The News Average Score: 74 The first entry in our list of the 35 Best Corporate Team Building Activities and Exercises is All The News, which encourages employees to think about the future goals of the company. Each sub-group is required to create headlines of the company’s potential achievements, presented as a newspaper article. It can be played with 8-20 participants. 34. Community Service Average Score: 70 Engaging in community service helps in building company culture and reinforcing the social responsibilities of the organization. 33. Pair Up Average Score: 69 Pair Up is an activity used as an ice-breaker to enhance the communication skills of the employees. Participants are required to guess the word written on their colleagues’ backs. 32. Blind Retriever Average Score: 65 Blind Retriever is a game designed to strengthen the communication and listening skills of the participants. The game requires the members of the group to help their blindfolded team member find a hidden object before the opponent team. It can be played with a minimum of four participants. 31. Stop Walk Average Score: 64 Next on our list of the 35 best corporate team building activities and exercises is a game called Stop Walk, which can played with a minimum of four people, requiring them to follow the commands of one designated leader. The commands would include “stop” and “walk”. Later, the commands would be switched. 30. Ongoing Tournaments Average Score: 62 Companies can have monthly or yearly tournaments of different activities or sports which would in turn create long-term relationships between employees and help in building a positive organizational culture. 29. Frostbite Average Score: 61 Frostbite is a roleplaying game in which participants are stranded in the arctic and need to build a shelter using the equipment provided. The members of the group are blindfolded and follow the verbal cues of their chosen team leader. This inculcates supervisory ability, teamwork, and time management. 28. Plot Me Out Average Score: 59 In Plot Me Out, participants are divided in groups and each group has to guess the name of a movie or television show with the help of a plot narration done by a moderator. 27. Sales Pitch Average Score: 56 Sales Pitch, an activity played with at least eight participants, helps employees collaborate with each other and engage in quick reasoning. Each participant is required to pick an objects from the office and present a sales pitch. It is number 27 on our list of the 35 best corporate team building activities and exercises.  26. Minefield Average Score: 55 Minefield helps in team building and icebreaking. In this activity, objects are randomly placed on the floor. In pairs, one participant helps his blindfolded team member navigate the obstacles and collect all the objects. 25. Laser Tag Average Score: 54 In Laser Tag, teams compete with each other to tag members of the opposing team using lasers. 24. Lightening Scavenger Hunts Average Score: 52 Lightening Scavenger Hunts are played online with remote workers to encourage teamwork and break the ice. The participants are simply guided using riddles and limericks to find some specific items from their house. 23. A Penny For Your Thoughts Average Score: 50 Penny For Your Thoughts creates rapport between employees and can be played with 5-7 people. Each participant picks a coin from a container and recounts an event that happened on the year inscribed on their coin. Through this, employees learn personal facts about their colleagues. 22. Field Day Average Score: 49 Participants are taken on field trips and picnics where they can engage in competitive games. These games instill a competitive spirit in the participants, while also teaching them teamwork, leadership skills, and communication skills. 21. Team Vacations Average Score: 46 Team vacations to different cities and/or countries are a vital tool that can be used for bonding, ice breaking and team building. 20. Team Lunches Average Score: 44 A team lunch builds morale and partnership between colleagues. It provides an interesting opportunity for employees to unwind, relax and get to know each other better. 19. Compliment Circles Average Score: 40 For this activity, the participants sit in a circle and turn-by-turn, each participant complements at least one member of the circle. This creates a positive work environment. 18. Murder Mystery Games Average Score: 39 Murder mystery games generally include a hypothetical murder of one participant, while all the other participants work together to expose the “killer”. It is a great tool to inculcate team work, boost morale, and create a positive working environment, which is why it makes our list of the 35 best corporate team building activities and exercises.  17. Spectrum Mapping Average Score: 37 Spectrum Mapping is played with at least four participants and encourages employees to think critically and generate ideas. The participants have to write their opinion regarding a given theme on a sticky note and paste it on a whiteboard. 16. Memory Wall Average Score: 35 Memory Wall is an activity that boosts the morale of the employees and creates positivity in the workplace. The participants are required to communicate a happy memory associated with a colleague. Then, they team up with the said colleague and make a drawing together. The drawings are then used to create a memory wall. 15. Water Balloon Dodgeball Average Score: 33 Water Balloon Dodgeball lightens the mood, improves morale and encourages teamwork. The participants are divided into two teams who stand opposite to each other. Each team has to dodge the water balloon thrown by the opponent team. Any member who is hit is eliminated. 14. Corporate Castaways Average Score: 32 Corporate Castaways is an enjoyable activity to help the employees learn problem solving and teamwork skills. It involves participants solving multiple mental puzzles and physical challenges in teams. 13. Office Debates Average Score: 30 Office Debates are a great way to understand how to deal with conflicts by teaching employees public-speaking and communication skills. It involves having two employees engage in a debate on a topic assigned to them. Through voting, the audience decides the winner. 12. Guess Who Average Score: 27 Guess Who can be played amongst groups of 3 to 4 people and builds rapport between team members. 11. The Marshmallow Challenge Average Score: 25 The Marshmallow Challenge allows the participants to think creatively while collaborating with their team on a project. Using spaghetti, marshmallow, and string, the participants are required to create the tallest possible freestanding structure. The team with the tallest structure wins. 10. The Egg Drop Average Score: 24 The Egg Drop can be played amongst groups of 5 to 6 participants, in which they are required to collaborate with each other and apply teamwork and communication skills. This activity requires each group to create a structure that can hold a fragile egg. 9. Perfect Square Average Score: 22 Next on our list of the 35 best corporate team building activities and exercises is a game called Perfect Square, which encourages employees to work together in a team and enhance their listening and communication skills. The team is blindfolded and stands in a circle, holding a rope. Then, they have to move the rope in a way that it creates a perfect square, with the help of verbal cues by their team leader. 8. Scavenger Hunt Average Score: 20 The goal in a Scavenger Hunt is to find the hidden objects around the office using clues provided. Each team works together to crack the code.  This encourages them to think critically and enhances their communication skills. 7. Blind Drawing Average Score: 19 Blind Drawing encourages instruction-taking skills, communication skills, and team-work. Divided in pairs, one participant has an image and tries to describe the image to his or her teammate as clearly as possible. The other teammate is required to draw the image using the instructions given. 6. Shrinking Vessel Average Score: 18 Shrinking Vessel tests the adaptability and the ability of the employees to work closely with each other. The participants pretend they are in a sinking ship and are required to stay close. Gradually, the boundary is restricted and the participants need to come up with strategies to stay within the boundary. Shrinking Vessel is number six on our list of the 35 best corporate team building activities and exercises.   Click to continue reading and see 5 Best Corporate Team Building Activities and Exercises.   Suggested Articles: 15 Fastest Growing Cities in the World Economically 16 Best Places to Retire in India 12 Best Streaming and TV Stocks To Buy Now   Disclosure: None. 35 Best Corporate Team Building Activities and Exercises is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkey8 hr. 40 min. ago

NASA awarded $850,000 to a company that wants to pick up space trash the old-fashioned way — with bags

NASA awarded TransAstra nearly a million dollars for its concept of capture bags large enough to scoop up space trash the size of a house. An illustration of space junk. Satellites and debris are not to scale.ESA NASA awarded TransAstra an $850,000 contract for its concept of Flytrap capture bags. Flytrap bags could be built large enough to scoop up space trash the size of a house. Space trash is a growing problem that endangers satellites, spaceships, and astronauts' lives. In the middle of a space flight, an astronaut heard a massive bang. He looked up and saw a piece of space junk embedded in the window of the shuttle.If the debris had been bigger, it could have blown out the window, and the crew would have all died, the astronaut told Joel C. Sercel, the founder and CEO of TransAstra."Space junk is one of the greatest perils that astronauts face in low Earth orbit today," Sercel told Insider. TransAstra was recently awarded an $850,000 contract from NASA to explore the possibility of cleaning up space junk with a giant "capture bag" that the company has dubbed Flytrap, Sercel said.TransAstra's capture bags could help solve Earth's space debris problem.TransAstra"It's kind of like picking up trash on the side of the highway," Sercel said.Only much, much more complex and expensive.Earth's backyard is a giant dumpsterAs humans expand into space, we're leaving a big mess.The European Space Agency estimates over 330 million pieces of space debris are circling the Earth. Space debris can reach speeds up to 17,500 mph and pose a risk to astronauts, shuttles, and satellites.Space shuttle Endeavour's radiator was hit with space debris causing this hole.NASATransAstra's Flytrap bags were initially developed to capture asteroids that, in the future, could be mined for rare elements, Sercel said.But the more Sercel and the team looked into asteroid mining, the more they "became aware of the space junk problem, and we thought this is a really good solution for cleaning up orbital debris," Sercel told Insider.Giant capture bags to clean up the messTransAstra's plan is to use bags attached to small spacecraft that can fly alongside the space junk in low Earth orbit. TransAstra's bags may eventually be used to capture asteroids for mining.TransAstraOnce in position, the craft deploys the bag and encloses the space junk, zippering it in, Sercel said.To prevent the bags from tearing, TransAstra is testing bags made from Kevlar and other strong materials proven in space.While there are other proposed means of collecting space junk, they're often only effective on certain items, Sercel said, like debris that is magnetic or can be grasped by a robotic arm.The capture bags, on the other hand, can pick up anything that fits inside them.TransAstra's bags could be designed big enough to capture space trash weighing 1,000 tons.TransAstra"We can build a Flytrap that could fit in a coffee cup and capture things the size of a watermelon, and we can build a big Flytrap that can capture items the size of a house that weigh 1,000 tons," Sercel said.The biggest challengesThis approach to capturing space junk is "absolutely valid," Dave Barnhart, research professor in the Department of Astronautical Engineering at the University of South Carolina, told Insider.TransAstra aren't the only ones with this concept.The European Space Agency is planning an endeavor, called ClearSpace-1, which plans to use a similar approach to capture debris, Barnhart said.Clearspace-1 is slated to launch in 2026. Similarly, Sercel said Flytrap technology could be used in space within two years.The biggest challenge is fuel cost, according to Barnhart, who is also CEO of Arkisys Inc, a company that plans to build ports and outposts in space."To use one spacecraft with one bag to go grab a whole bunch of stuff is a good idea, but it requires a huge amount of fuel," Barnhart said.Even debris items that are relatively close together are spread over tremendously vast expanses, he added.So far, TransAstra has developed patent-pending prototypes and worked with a government entrepreneurial program, NASA SBIR Ignite, to prove the concept.This year, it'll be building a full-sized prototype to fulfill the NASA contract, Sercel said."No one doubts the scientific feasibility," Sercel added. "It's the engineering feasibility of doing it affordably that has to be proven."How to make it affordableUltimately, one way to offset costs could be to recycle the captured space trash to help build satellites and other objects in orbit."People paid lots of money to get it into orbit in the first place," Sercel said. "Anything in space is by definition worth a lot. If you can repurpose it, that's a win for everyone."Barnhart, whose company aims to build space outposts, said recycling in space could be a reality within five to 10 years."Every single piece of the puzzle is there, but it's got to be created," he said. As space exploration and industry expand, thinking ahead about debris will become even more important, Sercel said. "Not leaving trash is part of being a good celestial citizen," he said.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 23rd, 2023

15 Countries that Export the Most Beer to the U.S.

In this article, we are going to discuss the 15 countries that export the most beer to the U.S. You can skip our detailed analysis of the import beer market in the United States, the local production of imported beer brands, and the recent success of import beer in the U.S., and go directly to […] In this article, we are going to discuss the 15 countries that export the most beer to the U.S. You can skip our detailed analysis of the import beer market in the United States, the local production of imported beer brands, and the recent success of import beer in the U.S., and go directly to 5 Countries that Export the Most Beer to the U.S. The American beer market has had a tumultuous history with influences from import trends, wars, prohibition, and local breweries. After prohibition ended in 1933, Heineken was the first imported beer to re-enter the American market, leading the way among brands positioning themselves as an upscale alternative to a domestic market that was basically nothing but watery macro brews. By the 1970s, the import market had begun to grow, making up nearly 3% of the entire U.S. beer market. As craft beer began its relentless, still accelerating rise on the domestic side in the 1990s and 2000s, imports changed as well. Heineken hasn’t gone anywhere, but Americans now also enjoy an astonishing wealth of delicious imported beer riches from Belgium, Germany, Ireland, and beyond.   Import Beer Market in the United States:  The United States of America is the largest importer of beer in the world. As we mentioned in our article – 20 Highest Rated Pilsner Beers in 2023 – the import beer category had a 22.2% share in the total U.S. sales volume in 2022, an increase of 2.8% from the previous year. In 2022, the U.S. imported around $7.05 billion worth of beer, accounting for 2 out of every 5 cross-border beer dollars.  Beer imports increased in 2022 as the premiumization trend drew consumers to foreign brews, which are often perceived to be of higher quality. An inflated U.S. dollar has also made foreign beers relatively more affordable for domestic consumers, boosting imports.  Yet, despite the positive performance of the imported beer market last year, analysts caution that inflation, depreciation of the dollar, tariffs on aluminum imports, and a possible recession could hamper its growth.  The Local Production of Imported Beer Brands:  Foreign beers usually tend to cost more than their local counterparts. Imported beer faces import duties and travels long distances, while licensed beers frequently encounter diseconomies of scale or profit-sharing arrangements with external licensors. However, revenues per hectoliter are also high as consumers generally see the product as a premium brew. As a result, many foreign beers have attractive margins. However, as costs are increasing, margins are coming under pressure and the attractiveness of imported beer is changing in the U.S. Beer coming from Europe, which makes up nearly 20% of the American beer imports, has been particularly hard hit as European imports are facing high container rates on the Europe-North America route, high fuel costs for road transport, and high packaging costs. Around 60% of U.S. beer imports arrive in glass bottles and furnaces in Europe now pay high natural gas prices due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In this context, moving production from Europe to the U.S. has obvious advantages. One of the Best Imported Beers in USA is Stella Artois. Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSE:BUD) announced in 2021 that it would shift production of the signature Belgian brand from Europe to four of its U.S. breweries, including its St. Louis flagship, which would produce the beverage for domestic consumers. The move was part of the two-year $1 billion capital investment program that Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSE:BUD) announced for its production facilities in America. In addition to the brewery upgrades, the company also committed to spend $296 million more for the domestic production and distribution of Stella Artois in the U.S. over the same two-year period.  Although the move was heavily criticized by the American beer lovers, who feared that their beloved brand would lose its originality, it was announced earlier this year that so far, both consumer perception and sales volumes of Stella Artois have held up well.  Similarly, Sapporo has also started the domestic production of its beers after its recent $165 million acquisition of the California-based Stone Brewing.  As we mentioned in our article – Top 20 Wine Producing Countries in the World – Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSE:BUD) shares haven’t gone anywhere in recent years, and it lost around 40% of its value over the last 5 years. It is a highly leveraged company and the rising interest rates aren’t helping the stock either. Nevertheless, billionaire Bill Gates’ portfolio managers decided to initiate a $96 million position in the firm during the second quarter.  Recent Success of Import Beer:  As we mentioned in our article – 25 Top-Selling Beers in America –  the popular Mexican import beer brand, Modelo Especial, has now officially dethroned Bud Light as the best-selling beer in America. Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ), an American firm that went into brewing only a decade ago, symbolizes a major success story in the American beer industry. However, an important part of this success is attributed to the U.S. antitrust laws.  Back in 2013, when the brewing industry behemoth Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Grupo Modelo for $20 billion, America’s Justice Department intervened. It was then decided that in order to keep the country’s beer market competitive, the company must divest Modelo’s entire U.S. business to Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ), which at the time was a little-known wine and spirit seller worth $8.1 billion. The American company then seized the $4.75 billion deal as a major opportunity and with its aggressive marketing and efficient distribution, turned its Mexican beers into some of the Biggest Beer Brands in America. The New York-based Fortune 500 company is single-handedly fueling the growth in the import beer industry in the U.S. through its highly sought-after Mexican brews. Shares of STZ were held by 48 out of 910 hedge funds in the Insider Monkey database at the end of Q2, with Holocene Advisors holding the largest stake of 796,935 shares, valued at $196.15 million. Constellation Brands, Inc. (NYSE:STZ) ranks among the Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds.  With that said, here are the Countries that Export the Most Beer to the U.S. Pixabay/Public Domain Methodology:  To collect data for this article, we have referred to the Beer Institute, which works closely with the U.S. Department of Commerce in order to track the volume of beer brought into the U.S. Following are the Countries that Export the Most Beer to America, ranked in order of the volume of beer they exported in 2022:  15. Japan Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 1,182,509 gallons The beer industry is an integral part of beverage manufacturing in Japan. While the country is well-known for its high-quality clear liquors such as rice wine (sake) and fruit liqueurs, beer stands at the top of alcoholic beverage production. Sapporo and Asahi are some of the popular Japanese brands in the U.S. market. 14. France Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 1,450,517 gallons France has become the European leader by number of breweries – ahead of both the United Kingdom and Germany – and second in the world. The country’s beer exports to the U.S. are lush and varied, with barrel-aged beers, beers blended with grape must, and more. France ranks among the Top Beer Producing Countries in the World.  13. Czech Republic Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 2,029,513 gallons The Czech Republic is known as a major exporter of both hops and lager beer and the country has been exporting its brews to the U.S. since as far back as 1874. Brewed exclusively in the city of Plzeň, Pilsner Urquell is the most popular Czech beer brand in the United States.  The Czech Republic ranks among the top beer exporting countries.  12. Guatemala Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 2,248,115 gallons Guatemala exported $7.59 million worth of beer to the United States in 2022, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade. Gallo is a popular beer in the Central American country, but the brand is known as Famosa in the U.S. market.  11. Vietnam Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 2,376,555 gallons Vietnam is the largest exporter of canned beer in the world and a big part of these shipments heads to the United States. Although a variety of foreign brands are produced in Vietnam and then exported worldwide, Saigon Export Beer is the only authentic Vietnamese brand available in the U.S. market.  Vietnam ranks 11th in our list of countries that export the most beer to the United States.  10. United Kingdom Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 2,536,618 gallons With total beer exports of around $568 million in 2021, the U.K. is the 6th Largest Beer Exporter in the World. After Scotch whisky and chocolate, beer is the largest food and drink export from the United Kingdom. The U.S. imported about $117.5 million worth of beer from the U.K in 2022.  9. Poland Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 2,674,820 gallons Poland is well-known for its beer culture and many varieties. The country’s large breweries are all owned by multinational companies, however, Poland’s craft beer scene has seen great evolution over the last decade.   Polish beers are not difficult to find in the U.S., especially in this day and age of online shopping. Brands such as Żywiec, Lech, Dębowe etc. can be easily bought in online shops, or found in local Polish stores.  Poland is counted among the Top 10 Countries that Export the Most Beer to America.  8. Jamaica Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 3,289,045 gallons Red Stripe is a popular Jamaican lager that has had a presence in the U.S. since 1985. Since Heineken N.V. acquired a controlling stake in the brand and returned production back to the brand’s homeland in 2016, the company has embarked on an aggressive 10-year investment plan to build Red Stripe’s position as a truly global brand. In 2017, Red Stripe invested $16 million in a new, state-of-the-art production line dedicated exclusively to export markets.  Red Stripe ranks among the Cheap Imported Beer Brands Targeting Budweiser’s Market Share. 7. Belgium Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 6,068,436 gallons Belgium witnessed an 82.7% decrease in beer exports to the U.S. in 2022, and a major reason for this is the shift of Stella Artois’ production by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSE:BUD) to its local facilities in the U.S. The Belgian Beer Week was organized at the Disney World in Orlando, FL, in May this year, with around 32 Belgian breweries taking part. The brewers’ American tour could also help to strengthen Belgian beer exports to the U.S., which have been declining in recent years after a period of strong growth. 6. Italy Beer Exported to the U.S. in 2022: 9,723,254 gallons Italy has made significant contributions to the world of beer throughout its long history and the United States is the second-largest export market for Italian beers. Peroni Nastro Azzurro is among the most popular Italian beers in America. Produced exclusively in Italy, Peroni is exported to 50 countries and ranks among the Most Imported Beer Brands in the World.  Italy ranks among the countries that the U.S. imports the most beer from. Click to continue reading and see the 5 Countries that Export the Most Beer to the U.S. Suggested Articles: Top 15 Low Carb Craft Beer Brands in the US 20 Most Famous Breweries in the US 60 Highest Rated Beers in America Disclosure: None. 15 Countries that Export the Most Beer to the U.S. is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeySep 22nd, 2023

12 Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds

In this article, we are going to discuss the 12 best alcohol stocks to own according to hedge funds. You can skip our detailed analysis of the global alcohol industry, the rise of RTDs, and the recent shifts in the global alcohol market, and go directly to 5 Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to […] In this article, we are going to discuss the 12 best alcohol stocks to own according to hedge funds. You can skip our detailed analysis of the global alcohol industry, the rise of RTDs, and the recent shifts in the global alcohol market, and go directly to 5 Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds.  The Global Alcohol Industry: In 2019, the global alcohol consumption, measured in liters of pure alcohol per person of 15 years of age or older, was 5.5 liters, which is a 4.7% relative decrease from 5.7 liters in 2010. According to Allied Market Research, the global alcoholic beverages market size was valued at $1.62 trillion in 2021, and the market is projected to reach $2 trillion by 2031, with a CAGR of 2.2% in the forecast period.  The market is likely to be driven by the increasing global young-adult demographic, coupled with high disposable income and consumer demand for premium/super-premium products. Globally, beer drives the market for alcoholic beverages. Regionally, North America and Asia-Pacific are expected to dominate the market during the forecast period. When Alcohol is a Lucrative Investment Asset Rare whiskeys are incredible as investment vehicles. The Rare Whisky 101 Apex 1000 Index tracks whiskeys that are highly sought after for collection. It has gained 415% since 2013, against 178% gains of S&P500 for the same period. The RW Japanese 100 Index, on the other hand, includes 100 collector’s bottles from Japan, and since 2014, the index has seen gains of 514.50%. The index includes bottles like Ichiro’s Malt ‘Card’ Ace of Spades, Ace of Diamonds and King of Hearts, among others. The Rise of RTDs:  Ready-to-drink beverages continue to make headlines as the fastest-growing alcohol beverage category. While malt-based RTDs still retain a 91% share by volume in the American RTD market, spirit-based RTDs grew by 51% in 2021, approximately double the growth of the wine-and malt-based categories. As we mentioned in our article – 25 Most Popular Spirits in the World –  the spirits-based RTDs are expected to grow at a CAGR of 33% in volume in the U.S. by 2025.  As consumers continue to look for ‘healthier’ alcohol options, spirit RTDs are responding with spirit-based seltzers with natural flavors and fewer calories. Spirit RTDs like Owl’s Brew’s Tea-based Seltzers claim to be alcoholic drinks that are good for health, benefiting from the ‘health halo’ created by ingredients like vitamins, anti-oxidants, and probiotics. Recent Shifts in the Global Alcohol Market:  From Japan to the United States, global drinking habits have shifted dramatically in recent years. While it may look like the alcohol industry is set to achieve a multi-trillion dollar mark in the coming decades, recent changes in consumer behavior suggest that the market, as we know it today, may be in danger of running dry.  As we mentioned in our article – Gen Z’s 25 Favorite Brands of 2023 – a growing share of the health-conscious Gen Zers are turning away from alcohol. Gen Z drink 20% less per capita than millennials – who, in turn, drink less than Baby Boomers or Gen Xers did at the same age. This has led to the rise of companies like the Athletic Brewing Co., with the non-alcoholic beer maker now becoming one of the Largest Craft Breweries in the US by Volume.  This has also caught the attention of Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSE:BUD) and the industry giant is now investing $34 million in upgrading some of its Belgian breweries, which will help expand its non-alcoholic beer portfolio. The company has also set itself an ambitious target of having low-and-no alcohol beers account for 20% of its overall sales by 2025.  According to Global Market Insights, the global non-alcoholic beer market was valued at $22 billion in 2022, and is expected to reach $40 billion by 2032, with a CAGR of 5.5% in the forecast period.  With that said, here are the Best Alcohol Stocks According to Hedge Funds.  Anna_Pustynnikova/ Methodology:  To collect data for this article, we scanned Insider Monkey’s database of 910 hedge funds and picked the top 12 companies that operate in the alcohol industry with the highest number of hedge fund investors. Following are the Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds: 12. Compañía Cervecerías Unidas S.A. (NYSE:CCU) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 6 Compañía Cervecerías Unidas S.A. (NYSE:CCU) is a beverage company that operates in Chile, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. The company is one of the biggest brewers in its home country of Chile. The brewing company boasted a revenue of $574.24 million in Q2 2023, with a net income of $118.17 million. Revenue for Q3 is expected to be around $839.9 million.  Shares of Compañía Cervecerías Unidas S.A. (NYSE:CCU) were held by 6 hedge funds at the end of Q2 in the Insider Monkey database, with First Eagle Investment Management holding the largest stake of over 14.9 million shares, valued at $241.97 million.  11. Ambev S.A. (NYSE:ABEV)  Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 14 Ambev S.A. (NYSE:ABEV), formally Companhia de Bebidas das Américas, is a Brazilian brewing company now merged into Anheuser-Busch InBev. On the 10th of July 2023, BofA upgraded Ambev to ‘Buy’ from ‘Neutral’ with a price target of $3.59, up from $3.37, as the firm rolls over its valuation model to mid-2024. BofA is constructive on margin performance in the next 18 months, driven by lower commodity costs and consistent price/mix, and estimates that 2024 EBITDA margin will be the highest since 2019.  Jean Jereissati, the CEO of Ambev S.A. (NYSE:ABEV), said in the Q2 Earnings Call Transcript:  “Although net income declined, given last year’s one-off tax credit, cash flow from operating activities increased BRL1.2 billion. So we end H1 having delivered over 23% net revenue growth, 37% EBITDA growth and 310 basis points of EBITDA margin expansion and well positioned for H2.” Shares of Ambev S.A. (NYSE:ABEV) were held by 14 hedge funds at the end of Q2 in the Insider Monkey database, with First Eagle Investment Management holding the largest stake of over 311.64 million shares, valued at $991.02 million.  Ambev S.A. (NYSE:ABEV) is a great alcohol penny stock to own and ranks among the 12 Best Quality Penny Stocks to Buy.  10. Tilray Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 15 Tilray Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) – a craft beer and cannabis company that was among the first to be licensed for medical cannabis in Canada – announced last month that it has agreed to acquire eight beer and beverage brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev for an undisclosed amount.  The deal includes the Shock Top, Blue Point, 10 Barrel, Breckenridge, Redhook, Widmer Brothers, Square Mile Cider, and HiBall Energy brands. Upon satisfaction of customary closing conditions, Tilray Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) will become the fifth-largest craft brewer in the U.S. with a 5% market share.  Berrin Noorata, the chief corporate affairs office at Tilray, said the following in the company’s Q4 Earnings Call Transcript:  “Tilray reported record financial results and delivered on projections of positive adjusted free cash flow and EBITDA guidance with Q4 net revenue of $184 million, and 93% growth in positive adjusted EBITDA of $22 million. Our total revenue for the year ended May 31, 2023 on a constant-currency basis rose 6% to $668 million in the prior year. Adjusted gross profit grew 11% to $206 million and adjusted gross margin improved to 33% from 30% in the prior year. We generated $61 million in adjusted EBITDA, 28% or $13 million higher than last year and within our annual guided range. On top of these results, we have maintained a strong foundation with almost $500 million in cash and marketable securities today.” Tilray Brands, Inc. (NASDAQ:TLRY) already owns multiple beverage brands and is also among the Biggest Marijuana Companies in the World.  9. MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 17 If you’re a whiskey lover, you’ve almost certainly tried the offerings of MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI), knowingly or not. This Indiana distillery has fueled the modern American whiskey boom by supplying distillers like High West, Smooth Ambler, WhistlePig, Angel’s Envy, Bulleit, and many others.  The company has boasted a massive increase in revenue over the last few years. In 2019, MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI) declared a revenue of $362.75 million, while by 2022, the company’s revenue had jumped up to $782.36 million – an increase of over 115%. The company reported a net income of $32.13 million in Q2 of 2023, up 25.69% from the same quarter of the previous year. MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI) also announced in June that it had acquired Penelope Bourbon in a $215.8 million deal, including incentives.  SouthernSun SMID Cap Strategy initiated a position in MGP in April this year. The investment management firm made the following comments about the Kansas-based company in its investment letter on August 2nd 2023:  “In June of 2023, MGPI announced the acquisition of Penelope Bourbon, adding a popular, growing bourbon brand to the portfolio. This transaction is the first tangible example of how we believe management will leverage its national distribution platform and existing distillation capacity to bring other brands into the fold. We expect acquisitions like this one to be a key element of the future value creation opportunity.” MGP Ingredients, Inc. (NASDAQ:MGPI) is one of the best whiskey stocks to own according to hedge funds.  8. Anheuser-Busch InBev Sa/NV (NYSE:BUD) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 19 Anheuser-Busch InBev Sa/NV (NYSE:BUD) is the Largest Beer Producer by Volume in the World. The company had a global production volume of 595 million hectoliters, or over 25% of the global beer production in 2022. It also boasted a revenue of $57.7 billion in 2022 and a net income of almost $6 billion.  The beer behemoth has been facing some headwinds in the American market after the recent controversy regarding its best-selling brand Bud Light, which resulted in the iconic brand losing its crown as the Top-Selling Beer in America after nearly two decades.  As we mentioned in our article – Top 20 Wine Producing Countries in the World – Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSE:BUD) shares haven’t gone anywhere in recent years, and it lost around 40% of its value over the last 5 years. It is a highly leveraged company and the rising interest rates aren’t helping the stock either. Nevertheless, billionaire Bill Gates’ portfolio managers decided to initiate a $96 million position in the firm during the second quarter.  Broyhill Asset Management said the following about Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSE:BUD) in its second quarter 2023 investor letter: “The largest detractors to performance over the quarter were First Horizon Corp (FHN), Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV (NYSE:BUD), and Bayer (BAYRY). Problems at Anheuser Busch InBev began on April 1 with Dylan Mulvaney’s social media post, which ignited a fiery backlash amongst Bud Light customers across ‘Merica. With volumes down sharply, and competitors gaining share at BUD’s expense, operational deleveraging is set to weigh heavily on US margins amid peak demand pressure in the second quarter. Despite severe US headwinds (second-quarter operating profit maybe half of last year’s levels), we still expect BUD to grow consolidated operating profit at a mid-single-digit rate for the full year. With current issues well understood and investor sentiment in the gutters, we see significant upside in a stock, which is approaching a double-digit FCF yield. With FX headwinds and rising input costs reversing course, increasing margins are likely to drive positive surprises into FY24 as continued deleveraging accrues more value to shareholders.” Anheuser-Busch InBev Sa/NV (NYSE:BUD) ranks among the top 10 alcohol stocks to own in 2023 according to hedge funds.  7. The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc. (NYSE:NAPA) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 20 Based in California, The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc. (NYSE:NAPA) makes wines and calls itself a manufacturing company, agricultural company, and marketing company all rolled into one.  With a portfolio of 10 high-quality brands, The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc. (NYSE:NAPA) is a ‘one-stop luxury wine shop’ and the largest pure-play luxury wine company in the U.S. The company announced gross profit of $50.5 million in its Q3, 2023 Earnings Call Transcript, an increase of $6.5 million or 14.9% compared to the same period in the prior year. On the 5th of September 2023, BMO Capital initiated coverage of Duckhorn Portfolio with a ‘Market Perform’ rating and a $14 price target. The analyst believes Duckhorn is favorably positioned for long-term growth, but expects share upside to be limited in the medium-term by consumer spending concerns. The firm also sees risk of potential incremental margin headwinds. The stock will remain pressured until visibility improves given the historical precedence of wine category to macro sensitivity, the analyst tells investors in a research note Shares of The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc. (NYSE:NAPA) were held by 20 out of 910 hedge funds in the Insider Monkey database at the end of Q2 2023, with Select Equity Group holding the largest stake of over 6.4 million shares, valued at $83.12 million.  The Duckhorn Portfolio, Inc. (NYSE:NAPA) ranks 7th in our list of best alcohol stocks to own according to hedge funds.  6. The Boston Beer Company, Inc. (NYSE:SAM) Number of Hedge Fund Holders: 23 The Boston Beer Company, Inc. (NYSE:SAM) is one of the largest American-owned brewing companies, best known for its line of all-malt beers under the brand name Samuel Adams.  The company’s adjusted EPS of $4.72 in second-quarter 2023 increased 9.5% from the same quarter of 2022. Earnings also beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $3.45. This mainly resulted from higher gross margins and operating income. Net revenues declined 2.1% YoY to $603.3 million, but beat the Zacks Consensus Estimate of $599 million. The brewing company’s shipment volume declined 4.5% YoY to 2.3 million barrels in Q2 of 2023, whereas depletions fell 3%. The decline in shipment and depletion resulted from the soft performances of the Truly Hard Seltzer, Angry Orchard, Samuel Adams and Hard Mountain Dew. These were partly negated by growth in the Twisted Tea and Dogfish Head brands. Longleaf Partners Small-Cap Fund made the following comment about The Boston Beer Company, Inc. (NYSE:SAM) in its Q2 2023 investor letter:  “In the second quarter, we initiated three new positions, added to The Boston Beer Company, Inc. (NYSE:SAM). Founded in 1984 by Jim Koch, Boston Beer today includes original beer brand Samuel Adams, Twisted Tea (which has become the largest part of the value), regional craft beers like Dogfish Head, Angry Orchard cider and Truly Seltzer, where it is the number two player in its category. Boston Beer’s share price soared to over $1,200 per share amid a great ‘seltzer boom’ in 2020, which ultimately proved to be a fad, providing us an opportunity to invest in this great business that has compounded over time at a double-digit compound annual growth rate (CAGR).” The Boston Beer Company, Inc. (NYSE:SAM) is a good stock to own according to hedge funds. Click to continue reading and see the 5 Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds.  Suggested Articles: 23 Best Hedge Funds of All Time 20 Most Popular Liquor Brands in America 25 Most Popular Whiskey Brands in the World Disclosure: None. 12 Best Alcohol Stocks to Own According to Hedge Funds is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeySep 20th, 2023

Elon Musk"s suggested X paywall is too risky to succeed, experts say: "It will only speed up the deterioration of a platform in chaos."

Elon Musk has proposed a paywall for X, formerly Twitter, and experts are skeptical about the suggested business model. Elon Musk said a paywall for X could help combat bots on the platform.Chesnot/Getty ImagesElon Musk has proposed a paywall for X, but some experts are skeptical.The billionaire said the move aimed to tackle the platform's bot problem.Experts expressed doubts over Musk's motive and his ability to get users to pay up.Elon Musk has proposed a paywall for X, formerly Twitter, and experts are skeptical about the suggested business model.During a conversation with Israel's prime minister on Monday, Musk said: "The single most important reason that we are moving to having a small monthly payment for the use of the X system, is it is the only way I could think of to combat vast armies of bots."It is unclear what form the proposed payments would take or how much they would be. Musk said the company was planning to come up with a "lower-tier pricing" of just a "small amount of money."Some experts have expressed doubt over Musk's motives."I doubt that he is introducing charges to combat bots, because he's shown no interest in effective moderation up to now," Charlie Beckett, a professor at the London School of Economics, told Insider."It doesn't make much financial sense because any serious charge that could raise significant revenue would end up driving people onto alternative networks," he added.Musk has long proclaimed to be concerned about bots on the platform. He even cited the number of fake accounts as one of the main reasons for trying to pull out of the deal to buy X, then Twitter, last year.Since taking over the platform, the billionaire has been preoccupied with trying to find new ways to monetize the social-media network. Much of that strategy has been aimed at getting users to pay through a subscription service, Twitter Blue.The Tesla CEO has repeatedly pushed for account verification as the main solution to bots on the platform. However, Twitter Blue, his main attempt to get verified, paying users onto the social-media network is estimated to have enticed sign-ups from less than 1% of X's user base."Getting everyone to pay even a small fee for X will be extremely difficult," Matt Navarra, a social-media expert, told Insider. "He's going need to to convince a lot more users to pay up.""Whilst there is some logic to Elon's plans here, the odds of success are heavily stacked against him," Navarra added.The idea of a subscription service for all has been an unpopular idea with many users. Several have taken to the platform to say they wouldn't be willing to pay for the service and planned to move to alternative platforms.Navarra said adding a paywall to the entire site would likely impact growth, pointing to the issue of affordability for users in developing countries."Advertisers may have concerns about the impact on ad reach and engagement," he added. "I think it's a risky strategy that may only speed up the deterioration of a platform in chaos."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 20th, 2023

US Air Force special operators" search for new runways is expanding from highways to beaches

The US Air Force has been looking at "every single piece of concrete in the Pacific" to find new runways. Now it's going to check out the beaches too. Air National Guard special tactics airmen in an MH-6M helicopter unloaded from a MC-130J during an exercise on a Wyoming highway in May.US Air National Guard/Master Sgt. Phil Speck The growing reach of the Chinese military has the US Air Force worried about its bases. In response, it's training more often at remote airfields and on alternative runways, like highways. Air Force special operators are widening the search, seeking more roads and even beaches to land on. US Air Force Special Operations Command is widening its search for runways as it seeks to counter what the US military sees as China's growing ability to threaten its bases across the Pacific.The Air Force as a whole is working to expand the number of places where it can land and launch aircraft as part of Agile Combat Employment, an approach to dispersed operations developed with the Pacific in mind.US airmen have used remote airfields in the Pacific and civilian highways in the US and Europe for ACE-related exercises, and US air commandos are now looking for more highways and soon for beaches on which to do those missions, Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind, the head of Air Force Special Operations Command, the Air Force component of US Special Operations Command, said this month.The efforts are an "acknowledgement that our adversaries have watched the American way of war for several decades and they are going to hold our initial staging bases and our forward operating bases at risk" in a war, Bauernfeind told reporters at the Air and Space Forces Association conference near Washington, DC, on September 12.US, Japanese, and Australian airmen with a US C-130J during an exercise on Tinian in February 2018.US Air Force/Airman 1st Class Christopher QuailAs the Air Force looks to increase the resiliency of its basing in response to that challenge, it is pursuing "runway-agnostic options" out of recognition that "we cannot always rely on Bagram or Kandahar or Balad or Al Udeid in the future," Bauernfeind said in response to a question from Insider, referring to major bases used by the US during its wars in the Middle East.The search for runways has ramped up in recent years. Gen. Kenneth Wilsbach, commander of US Air Forces in the Pacific, said in late 2020 that his command had "studied every single piece of concrete in the Pacific" to find viable airfields.Since then, US airmen have trained more often in places like Tinian, an unincorporated US territory, and Palau, an island country that has a defense partnership with the US. Highway landings are also increasingly common, including first-of-their-kind landings by piloted aircraft on highways in northern Michigan and the first landing of a drone on a US highway in Wyoming.An adversary that can deny the use of one base "is going to have a nearly impossible time trying to defend every single linear mile of roads," the deputy mission commander of the Wyoming exercise said afterward.A US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper in a dirt landing zone during training Texas in June.US Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Alysa CalvareseBauernfeind said his command has been returning to the "tactics, techniques, and procedures to find out where all of the 3,000-foot straight highways in the world" are and recently demonstrated a "C-130 seizing a 3,000-foot strip on a Wyoming highway, calling in an F-35 and an MQ-9 and fueling both and then launching them on follow-on missions."Some US Air Force aircraft also have the ability to land on non-paved surfaces, and Air Force special operators have added drones to that category, landing an MQ-9 on a dirt runway for the first time during an exercise in June.Bauernfeind said his command is now looking "at the ability for beach landings," noting that US aircraft have landed on beaches in Europe in the past. Other militaries still use that option. The British air force has landed cargo aircraft on beaches several times in recent years, including a June exercise with an Atlas A400M airlifter."We'll work with our engineering teammates to understand if the engineering in the Pacific beaches, can that enable us to do similar-type capabilities like we have done in the European theater?" Bauernfeind said. "We don't know yet, but we're getting the engineers looking at it, because there's a lot of 3,000-foot straight beaches that we could bring our C-130s and CV-22s in to."A Royal Air Force Atlas A400M lands on a beach during at Pembrey Sands in Wales in June 2023.Royal Air ForceNew technology and eventually new aircraft are also helping to expand Air Force Special Operations Command's "runway-agnostic options."Airmen have for years been testing their ability to launch and recover MQ-9 drones, which are in high demand for reconnaissance missions, using satellite communications. Air Force officials say that capability allows the MQ-9s to go to more bases and reduces the number of airmen needed for support.Bauernfeind said the use of automatic takeoff and landing with satellite communications in one combat theater "has extended on-station time by over 35%.""Automatic takeoff and landing capability has been around for quite a while, and we made the decision that we're going to accelerate and get out of the takeoff and landing business" and use automation, Bauernfeind told reporters, adding that doing so "is vastly increasing our combat capability."An illustration of an MC-130J with an amphibious modification.US Air Force Special Operations CommandBauernfeind said his command is working with DARPA "to develop a high-speed vertical-takeoff-and-lift capability," which may eventually replace its CV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft, and continuing to work on modifying an MC-130, its workhorse cargo plane, to land on water.Many militaries gave up their amphibious aircraft decades ago, but they are receiving more interest amid growing focus on the Pacific. In September 2021, Air Force Special Operations Command announced plans to increase the "runway independence and expeditionary capacity" of the MC-130J by developing an amphibious modification in a rapid prototyping effort.Two years on, officials are still evaluating their approach. A US special-operations official said in May that the service was doing tests and feasibility studies and looking to demonstrate "the full capability" in two to three years.The command has "an MC-130 amphibious craft that is still in engineering development," Bauernfeind said. "We're still continuing to resource it. It is a tough challenge, but we have to continue to understand that."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytSep 19th, 2023

Video of a cheap drone destroying an exposed T-72 hints Russian crews are still working out how to hide their tanks from a growing threat, former US general says

A former US Army general said he's shocked by Russia's poor efforts to camouflage their tanks, and it hints at larger problems in Moscow's military. A Russian Army T-72B3 main battle tank during military exercises in the Astrakhan region of Southern Russia on September 25, 2020.DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty Images A video surfaced online showing a seemingly exposed Russian T-72 tank struck by an FPV drone. Top US military officers took note of the lack of basic concealment or camouflage.  One former US Army general told Insider it may speak to larger issues within the Russian military. A video of what looks like a cheap drone destroying a Russian T-72 tank seems to speak to Ukraine's skillful use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in combat and shed light on potential problems within the Russian military with regard to basic training and communication of key lessons in an evolving fight, according to a former top US Army general. The video was shared online by Ukraine war monitors on Monday, although it's unclear exactly when and where it was recorded, and appears to show a T-72 tank relatively exposed amid some shrubbery near dirt roads without obvious camouflage, making it a prime target for a first-person view (FPV) drone rigged with an explosive.The UAV seems to identify the tank before diving and slamming into it, causing a massive explosion. In the aftermath, the T-72 is completely ruined, with flaming pieces of the wreckage spread around the area. The tank's turret is one of the pieces that goes flying, a long-standing issue with the old Soviet-era tanks. —Saint Javelin (@saintjavelin) September 18, 2023 It's far from a novel occurrence. Throughout the war, a variety of videos have been shared on Telegram and by open-source intelligence accounts documenting FPV kamikaze drones destroying Russian tanks. It's an asymmetrical loss for Moscow, as expensive, valuable assets and crews are struck and eliminated by comparatively cheap UAVs, which Ukraine has been employing in large numbers and with great skill. But this specific video sparked reactions from former top US military officers, with James Stavridis, a retired US Navy admiral and a former top NATO commander, posting on X, formerly known as Twitter, that "it appears this Russian tank is going to need more than a little time in the shop" and Mark Hertling, a retired US Army general and a former head of US Army Europe saying "this one won't be back in the motor pool by Friday."Ben Hodges, a retired lieutenant general and former commander of US Army Europe, posted more pointed criticism. "I continue to be surprised by the poor camouflage and ineffective efforts at concealment by Russian forces," he wrote. "Basic field craft. But it requires experienced demanding Sergeants." Hodges told Insider the Russian tank looked to be "easily identifiable from the air," and considering that both sides of the war have been building seemingly endless stockpiles of drones to launch at one another, the Russian crew needed to be conscious of being spotted.He added that efforts to conceal the tank and make it harder to target could have included net and foliage that breaks up the hard outlines of the vehicle. Or Russian forces could've taken a more modern approach — flying their own drones above their position to scout, protect, and counter-attack.The lack of such efforts and the certainly fatal results may reflect deeper, underlying issues for the Russian military. A single incident alone might not, but failures in basic tactics appear frequently in videos of Russian troops in action.Eighteen months into this war, training and the communication of lessons from the battlefield across the force appear to be a significant problems for Russian forces. And one of the most glaring aspects of these issues seems to be a lack of experienced troops training fresher, younger recruits on "things like tactical concealment," Hodges said. A Russian army T-72-B3 tank fires during military exercises at the Raevsky range in Southern Russia on September 23, 2020 during the "Caucasus-2020" military drills gathering China, Iran, Pakistan and Myanmar troops, along with ex-Soviet Armenia, Azerbaijan and Belarus.DIMITAR DILKOFF/AFP via Getty ImagesDrone warfare has taken the center stage in Ukraine, painting a clear picture of what future conflicts involving UAVs could look like. Russian and Ukrainian FPV drones are pummeling tanks while other drones drop bombs on soldiers.Meanwhile, Ukraine has demonstrated a special talent for driving unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) like exploding drone boats into Russian ships and bridges, making the Black Sea a nightmare to navigate. Russian, on the other hand, has used loitering munitions like the Shahed-136 to ruthlessly attack civilian targets. Both the Ukrainians and Russians are having to adapt to the growing threat of drones on the battlefield, and it's something that both sides struggle with. Some crews react better than others, but one thing Ukraine has that Russia does not is a strong noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps able to instill critical lessons across the armed forces. And casualties are only making the problem worse for Russia."This has never been a strong suit in the Russian Army, but they've lost so many of their experienced soldiers by now that the problem is even worse," he added. Ukraine spent years building a Western-style military structure, giving them a stronger support network across ranks. But Russia lacks a similar corps of noncommissioned officers, and many of their more experienced units have been decimated by high casualties and filled with lackluster replacements. That's left the Russian military weak in leadership and experience at the tactical level, resulting in a regular stream of videos of Russian armor driving into a well-executed ambush, attack helicopters flying into air defenses, and exposed infantry clustering within range of rocket artillery. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytSep 19th, 2023

Tupac, cocaine, and murder: the incredible saga of the Henchmen brothers, hip-hop’s forgotten moguls

They helped put rap on the map. Then the law caught up with them. Mario Rosemond (center top) and his brother Jimmy (second from left) clawed their way from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the music industry. Then it all came crashing down.Gary Reyes/Oakland Tribune Staff Archives; Janette Beckman/Getty; Johnny Nunez/WireImage; KMazur/WireImage for Interscope Records; Lynn Goldsmith/Corbis/VCG/Getty; Dakarai Akil for InsiderThe incredible saga of the Henchmen brothers, hip-hop's forgotten mogulsThe first time in eight years that Mario Rosemond heard his name, it filled him with terror. Almost as much as the men surrounding him with machine guns. It was March 2019, and Rosemond was living in Mexico under an assumed identity. Born in Haiti and tossed out on the streets of Brooklyn as a teenager, he was on the run from the FBI, for his role in a cocaine-trafficking empire run by his younger brother, Jimmy. But the Rosemond brothers were no ordinary hustlers. As founders of Henchmen Entertainment, rap's most notorious management firm, Jimmy and Mario had made millions the legit way: by deftly cultivating artists such as The Game, Salt-N-Pepa, Akon, Sean Kingston, and Gucci Mane. During their meteoric rise in the 1990s, Mario had kept a low profile, the Wall Street-trained numbers guy who quietly managed the company's fortunes. Jimmy, five years younger, served as Henchmen's flashy and intimidating front man, the self-described "gangster manager" of hip-hop. "They figured out how to go from the streets to the boardrooms," says Skee, one of rap's most influential producers and DJs. "They have that respect." But according to the Feds, Jimmy never left the streets at all. "Rosemond styled himself a hip hop mogul, bringing the music of the streets to a wider audience and expanding opportunities of artists," as the Justice Department put it. "In reality, his image as a music impresario was a cover for the real Jimmy Rosemond — a thug in a suit who flooded those same streets with cocaine, and shuttled drugs and money from coast to coast."Arrested in 2011, Jimmy was convicted of running a massive drug empire and of ordering the murder of Lowell "Lodi Mack" Fletcher, an associate of 50 Cent who was gunned down in the Bronx. Some in the rap world also suspected him of masterminding the 1994 shooting of Tupac Shakur at Quad Studios, igniting the bicoastal rap feud that led to the murders of both Tupac and Biggie Smalls. Now serving two life sentences in federal prison, Jimmy continues to maintain his innocence, claiming he served as the "fall guy" for the drugs and violence that plagued the music industry. "That dark force that we grew up on, that Joker character, that nemesis of good," he tells me on a recent call from prison. "Unfortunately, I became that in the music business, and to reporters, and eventually to prosecutors who felt they needed to rid the business of me."Jimmy Rosemond was arrested in 2011 and received two life sentences on charges of drug running and murder for hire.AP NewsroomIt was Jimmy's arrest that drove Mario to flee to Mexico. Faced with having to testify against his brother, Rosemond pulled a Saul Goodman. He paid $50,000 to be smuggled down to Cuernavaca, where he adopted a new identity: Tommy Davis. Leaving behind his family and friends, he spent eight years living with "my head on a swivel," as Mario puts it, always on the lookout for anyone who might recognize him. He kept a low profile. He learned Spanish, steered clear of serious relationships, and went to church on Sundays. "You're not trusting nobody," he says.It didn't help that Cuernavaca had become a battleground, with one of Mexico's fiercest cartels erupting in an internal war. Driving to the gym, Rosemond would pass the corpse of a freshly butchered gangster on the side of the road. A friend he knew got shot dead by the cartel, and his roommate, a steroid-jacked Colombian, had been kidnapped for three days before managing to escape. It was a dangerous place to be living on the lam.The moment Rosemond's past caught up with him felt nightmarishly surreal. He was doing his laundry in the courtyard of his apartment building when he spotted five armed men climbing the fence. "We're looking for Mario Rosemond," one of them told him in English. "Yo no sé," Mario stammered in Spanish. "Mi nombre es Tommy Davis."Then they threw a bag over his head, and everything went dark.Today, four years later, Rosemond's life still hangs in the balance. "It's kind of hard even speaking on it right now," he tells me. "Because I don't know what the endgame is." We're talking over breakfast at a Friendly's near Rahway, New Jersey, a universe away from Rosemond's takedown in Cuernavaca. At age 64, dressed in blue jeans and a blue polo, he comes across as less urban gangster than suburban grandad. It's a status he has earned by spending his days babysitting his 2-year-old grandson. The only sign of his hip-hop past are the tattoos on his right arm memorializing his late mother and sister. Whatever choices he has made in life, he says, it was always his family that drove him. "I don't have too many people in my circle," he says. "It's family." Now, as he awaits sentencing for participating in a conspiracy to distribute cocaine, he's sharing his incredible saga for the first time, from his meteoric rise in Brooklyn to his inglorious fall in Mexico.Jimmy (far left) and his son Jimmy Jr. with Mario (far right) and their mother, Andrea. "I don't have too many people in my circle," Mario says. "It's family."Courtesy of Leeann HellijasMario's working-class parents migrated from Port-au-Prince to New York City when he was 7. Constantin was a carpenter; Andrea got work as a nurse. "Like every immigrant family," Mario says, "they wanted a better life." The family settled in Vanderveer Estates, a housing project of 59 rundown buildings that sprawled across 30 acres of East Flatbush. Quiet and intellectual, Mario tried to provide an example for his four younger siblings, especially Jimmy. But their home life was troubled. Constantin, an abusive womanizer, "would beat us with anything and everything," Mario recalls. At age 16, after Mario stepped in to stop his father from assaulting his mother, Constantin told him there wasn't room for two grown men in the house and threw him out. "My parents worked hard to keep us out of the street," Mario says. "And, you know, the street always come and get you."Mario tried street life himself, joining a gang of petty thieves called the Jolly Stompers. But after a high-school guidance counselor helped him secure a Wall Street internship, Mario learned how to build a fortune the old-fashioned way. "Legal money, not having to worry," he says. "I learned how people really got rich." The Masters of the Universe, he realized, did it by keeping a low profile. "When you're in the background, nobody knows about you," he says. "They don't know that you're actually running things. They don't know that you're watching everything."But while Mario worked to ascend the ranks of Wall Street and started a family of his own, Jimmy remained behind in Brooklyn, where he hung out in the projects. With his father out of the picture and his mother working two jobs, Jimmy "had to fend for myself," he tells me. "I had no guardianship, so the streets is what adopted me." At 10, he fell in with a local Jamaican gang called the Untouchables. At 13, he owned his first gun. At 18, he landed in Rikers Island on a firearm charge. Jimmy considered Rikers "gladiator school." He studied the Black Panthers, converted to Islam, and learned his trade from the city's most experienced drug dealers. Despite "everything that I know better," he says, "this is the only family I had." Jimmy worked his way up to become, as he later boasted, "the biggest drug dealer in Brooklyn."In 1992, after the cops busted down his door looking for drugs, Jimmy approached his brother Mario with a proposition: Let's start a music-management company. For Jimmy, as he later put it, music was a way to create a "hideout" for his drug money. "I didn't know anything about the music business," he said. "I don't care about the music business. But one of the fascinations of being a gangster or a drug dealer is you want to rub shoulders with guys who have money, or guys of your stature, and you look at entertainers as those guys."Jimmy (left) with his client, The Game. He got into the music business, he says, to create a "hideout" for his drug money.Johnny Nunez / Getty ImagesJimmy was hitting up his brother at a vulnerable moment. Mario was just out of Rikers himself, where he was sentenced to spend every weekend for 18 months for — unwittingly, he claims — cashing stolen checks for a friend. Out of a job and unemployable on Wall Street, with a young daughter to support, Mario was a sharp-enough businessman to spot an opportunity. Plus he loved music, and had been DJing at clubs under the name Mr. Slick. With the popularity of rap on the rise, emerging artists and producers needed someone to represent them — someone who could navigate the treacherous waters of the music industry.To gather all the top talent in one place, Jimmy and Mario organized a conference called "How Can I Be Down?" Held in Miami Beach in 1992, the event attracted a Who's Who of hip-hop's early moguls: Russell Simmons, Benny Medina, Lyor Cohen, Chris Lighty, Mona Scott. While Jimmy worked the crowd, Mario practiced the skill he had learned on Wall Street. "I was just a fly on the wall, so no one really pays attention to me," he recalls. "As opposed to my brother, he wanted to be a front man. That's why in the music business we worked so well."That fall, the brothers proved their prowess by engineering one of the biggest rap songs of the year. Salt-N-Pepa, the pioneering female rap trio from New York, were on their fourth record and in need of a hit when Jimmy hooked them up with Mark Sparks, a producer friend. Jimmy had zero experience in music, but it didn't matter. "I was young enough to where I trusted my ears," he tells me. Released in September 1993, the resulting single, "Shoop," became a runaway hit, topping the rap charts and going gold in only two months.The brothers engineered their first hit: Salt-N-Pepa's 1993 single "Shoop."Paul Bergen / Getty ImagesThe brothers quickly followed up with another hit, "Tell Me," by the R&B duo Groove Theory. The band's cofounder Bryce Wilson remembers Jimmy as a small, geeky guy in glasses. "He didn't present himself as a gangster. Jimmy was a nerd," Wilson tells me. "But he was extremely loyal and extremely unselfish and would do whatever it takes to make things happen." He was also a canny businessman. Jimmy hit on a groundbreaking idea: He and Mario would sign rap producers instead of artists and make them stars in their own right. "What I understood was the real estate of the music," Jimmy says. "Everything else you're selling in music is intangible but the publishing." All they needed for their management company was a name. Jimmy wanted something that evoked his personal history, his move from Rikers to rap. "He was bringing the street into the music business," Mario says. The kid who fought his way out of the projects rebranded himself as Jimmy Henchman, and he dubbed their new enterprise Henchmen Entertainment.Jimmy and Mario have a lot in common: intelligence, loyalty to those who deserve it, no time for those who don't. They also share a way of speaking, punctuating their comments with the occasional mmm-hmm, as if preaching to themselves, a looping call and response. When I ask Jimmy what he learned from the street that he took into the music business, the convicted drug dealer delivers a gospel on integrity. "If you're known to be a thief, that's how they're gonna deal with you," he tells me. "If you're known to be trustworthy, they get to trust in you more. So it applied the same way in the music business. People buy into the person."With Jimmy as the public-facing godfather and Mario the calculating consigliere, the brothers styled themselves as hip-hop Corleones. Adopting the name Henchman not only bolstered Jimmy's reputation but also helped him dodge the cops, who were after him on gun charges. "They don't know where he is," Mario recalls, "because he's Jimmy Henchman now."The company's 15 or so employees also used the Henchman name, even printing it on their business cards. Mohammed "Tef" Stewart, a friend from Brooklyn who joined the team, became Tef Henchman, a title he wore with the same pride he took in Jimmy. "Henchman was his name," he later testified, "and it felt like we were under him." The new moniker helped them get into clubs, score meetings, and ward off trouble. "It was like a free pass," Mario says, "because everybody knew we had muscle." Only one member of the crew refused to use the new handle: Mario. "I didn't want no part of that name," he tells me. He had a motivation for playing it safe. He wanted to protect his 12-year-old daughter, who was living with his ex-wife in New Jersey.But on November 30, 1994, the Henchmen name became etched into the history of hip-hop. Jimmy had agreed to pay $15,000 to have the industry's hottest rapper, Tupac Shakur, stop by Quad Studios in New York and record a track with the Henchmen artist Little Shawn. Mario had known Tupac since the '80s and felt a kinship with the introspective young artist. "He was down to earth, a quiet, quiet, quiet dude," Mario says. "He didn't even have any bodyguards. He would be by himself. He was a regular kid."That night, Mario recalls, he was back at Henchmen's headquarters, opting for the quietude of the office over the scene at the studio. Then his phone rang. It was Jimmy, sounding agitated. Tupac was late, and with the rap stars Puff Daddy and Biggie Smalls milling around the studio, Jimmy was losing not only time and money but something even more dangerous: face. Jimmy wanted Mario to track down his old friend and get him to the studio.Mario called Tupac. "Yo, dude, where you at?" he asked. Pac said he was uptown making drops with a DJ, but promised to show up for the studio gig. "I'm gonna be there, man," he promised Mario.A few hours later, Mario got another, more alarming call from his brother. "Yo," Jimmy said, "Pac just got shot!" Suspicion immediately fell on the Henchmen brothers. Tupac's manager, Freddie Moore, called Mario and accused him and Jimmy of setting Tupac up. "Yo, somebody shot my man five times and y'all guys didn't know about it?!" Moore shouted.On the night Tupac was shot in 1994, he was supposed to record a track with the Henchmen artist Little Shawn.Al Pereira / Getty Images"Dude, do me a favor and think about this," Mario replied. "'Cause me, I start trying to think logic: If we wanted him dead or if we wanted him hurt, wouldn't we have done the record first? If he's dead, that would've been the last song. You know, my artist would be blowing the fuck up!"The police found no evidence linking Jimmy to Tupac's shooting, which ignited a deadly war between the East Coast and West Coast branches of rap. And Jimmy continues to claim, against all evidence, that Tupac accidentally shot himself with his own gun. "I look guilty as fuck to anybody who's standing around, right?" Jimmy tells me. "But this guy never was shot up — he shot himself." Still, with the police looking for him on gun charges, Jimmy wasn't taking any chances. As Tupac lay bleeding in the lobby of the studio, Jimmy slipped away.Mario is cagier about Jimmy's involvement in the shooting. "If he did do that," he tells me, "that would have been stupid." When I ask Mario if he thinks Jimmy is innocent, he laughs. "I didn't say he's innocent," he says. "I'm saying I believe he's innocent."Not long after the Tupac shooting, Mario was at his home in Plainfield, New Jersey, when the police came crashing through the door, guns drawn. They were looking for Jimmy.Avoiding drama is what had driven Mario from Brooklyn in the first place. But the streets had followed him to the suburbs. Luckily, his daughter wasn't there to see the cops raid his home, looking for her uncle. The experience left Mario more resolved than ever to stay out of his brother's affairs. "From that experience, I stay squeaky clean," he insists. "'Cause that would put my daughter and family in danger."In the rap community, Tupac's shooting only served to burnish Jimmy's reputation — especially after Pac recorded the diss track "Against All Odds," vowing "to pay back Jimmy Henchman in due time." Jimmy was thrilled. "He puts me in that record," he says, "that's what give me notoriety." But Mario was far from pleased. "It made Jimmy more famous, and for him, he loves that, right? For me, I hate it, because now it brings more light to you."With his gun charges still looming, Jimmy began working out of his car to evade the police. "Mario was in the office, so I was able to move around," he says. With more clients, more hits, and more money pouring in, the brothers made themselves indispensable to those around them. "Flush with cash, we was able to do things for folks," Mario says. With their reputation growing, they began attracting more and more top stars, from Brandy to Junior Mafia. They'd make deals, settle beefs, lend money with interest. When I ask Mario what happened when someone didn't make a payment, he dismisses the idea as unthinkable. "Everybody always did," he says.But Jimmy could run for only so long. In 1996 he was arrested in Los Angeles and sent to prison. Mario kept Henchmen running while Jimmy was behind bars, but by the time his brother got released three years later, he felt increasingly concerned. "It was hot up here," he says. "My brother, some of the moves he was making at that time, I didn't necessarily agree. Now, more so than ever, the street is definitely in the office." To protect his family, he decided to put some distance between himself and his brother. "I'm gonna go to the West Coast," he told Jimmy. "And I'm gonna start my own thing." In 2001, at the age of 43, Mario moved to Los Angeles and built a new life far from the troubles back home. He started an adult-film company called Joy Ride ("it was just as a business thing"), bought a palatial house in the Hollywood Hills, and started a new family. For a guy who always wanted to live the quiet life, it felt as if he had finally found some peace.But back in New York, Jimmy didn't stray far from the streets. Through his management company ­— now called Czar Entertainment — he continued to manage top artists. He brokered a boxing match between Mike Tyson and Lennox Lewis that became the highest-grossing bout in history, with over $100 million in revenue. He even branched out into politics, holding a free concert in Haiti with Wyclef Jean and Akon to raise awareness about the country's plight. But the generosity came with a price. "Jimmy was always there for the people," says Garland "Ghetto" Cyrus, who ran Czar's record distribution in the South. "He was just a guy that you couldn't cross."Jimmy organized a free concert for Haiti with Wyclef Jean. "He was always there for the people," one employee recalled.THONY BELIZAIRE / Getty ImagesJimmy's tough-guy approach to the music industry erupted into open violence when he signed one of his biggest artists: The Game. A member of G-Unit, the pioneering hip-hop group that included a young 50 Cent, The Game had ties to Violator Management, a rival music company whose offices happened to be directly across from Czar's on West 25th Street. Violator had a powerhouse roster, including Mariah Carey, LL Cool J, and Missy Elliott, and it didn't take The Game's defection lightly. In February 2005, when 50 Cent went on Hot 97 radio to throw The Game out of his group and dismiss him as "gone," an outraged Jimmy dispatched The Game and the Henchmen soldier Tef Stewart to the station with a small crew, according to Stewart. When they arrived, they were greeted with gunshots. The two sides clashed again the following year at the annual Mixtape Awards at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. As Jimmy fled the scene, one of his soldiers shot up a white Bentley belonging to a member of G-Unit.Then, in March 2007, a G-Unit associate named Lowell "Lodi Mack" Fletcher took the feud too far. As he was leaving Violator's office, Fletcher spotted a 14-year-old boy wearing a Czar sweatshirt outside Jimmy's office. Racing across the street, he pushed the kid against a wall, slapped him, and threatened him with a gun. The boy turned out to be Jimmy Rosemond Jr.When he got the news, Jimmy Sr. was enraged. "I just couldn't believe somebody would do that," he tells me. "The kid was only 14, he looked like he was 12. Then I found out it was these clowns. They crossed the line with my son." After Mario learned what had happened, he urged Jimmy to stay cool. "I passed word that he need to chill on that," he recalls. "I told him revenge is best served when it's cold."Fletcher was sent to prison for assault and endangering a child, but that didn't satisfy Jimmy. War broke out on the streets of New York. Tef Stewart's barbershop was burned down. The Henchmen suspected a G-Unit associate. Stewart later testified that he and others in Jimmy's crew bombed the associate's bulletproof truck with Molotov cocktails. Then, in 2009, Fletcher was released from prison for the assault on Jimmy's son. Two weeks later, as he stepped off a train in the Bronx, someone burst out of the shadows and gunned him down, shooting him five times in the back with a .22-caliber handgun. The feud over Jimmy's music business had turned fatal."I need you to help me out," Jimmy told Mario. It was the spring of 2011, and Jimmy had called his big brother in distress. By then, Jimmy was allegedly the biggest drug trafficker in the music business. With a dozen underlings at his command, he ran what the Feds later called "a large bicoastal narcotics-trafficking organization," moving thousands of pounds of coke. Now, the lieutenant who ran the operation, Khalil Abdullah, had been arrested, and Jimmy wanted Mario to make sure a coming payment got handled. "He could only trust me," Mario says, "because money, lots of money, is coming down."Czar Entertainment had become both a nexus and a cover for the trafficking enterprise. Cocaine would be wrapped in plastic, slathered in mustard, packed in musical equipment boxes, and sent from Los Angeles to a rehearsal studio in New York. Once the drugs were retrieved, the equipment boxes would be sent back to LA, loaded with millions in cash. Jimmy and his henchmen used burner phones, encrypting their messages and emails. With so many artists coming and going on various projects, no one was the wiser as contraband-filled road cases shipped through Interscope Records, the label co-founded by music legend Jimmy Iovine. (Interscope denied any involvement in the drug enterprise.)Until now, Mario had determinedly stayed out of Jimmy's underworld. He was remaking his life in LA, and he wanted nothing to do with the streets he had left behind. But there was one problem for Mario. "He'll do whatever for his family and for his people," says his friend DJ Skee. "He's extremely loyal to a fault." So when Jimmy asked him for help, Mario couldn't say no. "That's how I got back in," he tells me. He made sure the drug money "got to where it's supposed to get," he says.But the brotherly favor put Mario in the crosshairs. A few months later, he got a late-night call from a neighbor, the only other Black guy who lived in his ritzy Hollywood Hills development. The Feds had busted down the guy's door by mistake, looking for Mario. It was only a matter of time before Mario found himself in custody. And that meant, as he saw it, there was only one choice. He called up a loyal contact in the Henchmen network. "They busted down my man's door looking for me," Mario told him. "What do you have in your trick bag?""We gonna need 50 grand," the guy replied. "I'll go to Mexico and set it up for you."He called his daughter to say goodbye. "I'm in trouble," he told her. "I gotta get outta here." The guy said he would spread the money through a decentralized network of people who could smuggle Mario across the border. In the meantime, Mario couldn't go home. "This place don't exist anymore," the guy told him. Another handler picked him up and took him to a hotel, the first of three he'd be staying at over the next few days until they could get him to Mexico. From this moment forward, Mario was on the run — just as Jimmy had been for years.To get his phony identity, Mario slipped an envelope containing $5,000 in cash to a contact at the Department of Motor Vehicles. When his new ID was ready, the contact called him from a burner phone and told him what day to come by the DMV. When Mario arrived, he snaked around in line until the contact lit his red light, signaling him to come over. That's when Mario was handed an authentic California driver's license with his new identity: Tommy Davis. When I ask how he felt about the random name he was given, Mario chuckles. "Didn't make no difference to me," he says.Once he was over the border, however, Mario would lose what mattered most to him: his family. It would be too risky to speak with them again. He called his eldest daughter back in New Jersey to say goodbye. She was in her 30s, with a family of her own. "I'm in trouble," he told her. "I gotta get outta here." All he could do was listen to her cry as he explained that he didn't know when he'd be back. Then he told his two little kids in Los Angeles. "Daddy's sorry, but he has to go take care of something," he said. "It's just like when I go out and travel for business. So you're not gonna see me for a little while." He ate his last meal at Crustacean in Beverly Hills, ordering his favorites: crabs, garlic noodles, and the mango lobster appetizer.The next morning, he got instructions to go to a nearby supermarket, where a black Suburban would be waiting to pick him up. He took one duffel bag of clothes and another filled with $50,000 in cash — enough, he hoped, to last him wherever he was going in Mexico. During the drive south, Mario called Jimmy on his burner phone. They had to be vague, since the Feds could be listening. "Yo, dude," Mario said. "Man, you should really make this move with me, Jimmy.""I can't go with you," Jimmy replied. "Because the two of us together is gonna bring too much heat." But he too had an escape plan. "I'm working on something," he said. "Based what I'm working on, maybe someday I'll be able to come and see you."Mario's driver zipped them through the border patrol at San Ysidro without Mario needing to show his new ID, and then handed him off in Tijuana to his next liaison, who checked him in to a hotel. "Be at the airport at 8 a.m.," the man told him. Once there, Mario went to the specified counter where the attendant, who was on the take, issued him a ticket under his Tommy Davis alias. His destination: Mexico City. Mario's mouth went dry. He didn't speak Spanish, didn't know a soul in Mexico, and had no clue where he would be sent. "I was thirsty cuz I was nervous," he says. "I'm like, 'What am I walking into?' 'Cause I don't know nothing. But I trusted my man, you know, I trust him with my life. I don't have a choice."Living on the run in Cuernavaca, Mario changed apartments every six months. "I was never attached to anything," he says.GummyBone / Getty ImagesAfter arriving in Mexico City, Mario called a number he'd been given. An athletic Colombian guy pulled up outside with his Mexican fiancée in the passenger seat. "Welcome to Mexico City, man," he told Mario with a smile. The Colombian had been on the run from trouble in San Diego for 15 years. Mario didn't ask why, and the guy didn't inquire about Mario's predicament. They drove 50 miles south until they came to the hillside town of Cuernavaca and the apartment Mario would share with the couple. From there, he was on his own.As he adjusted to his strange new life in Mexico, Mario went to an internet café each day, checking the news from back home. On June 21, 2011, scanning the New York Post, he saw a headline: "Fugitive hip hop talent agent Rosemond charged with running drug ring." The story was accompanied by a photo of Jimmy in handcuffs, escorted by two agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration. They had busted him on his way out of the W Hotel in Manhattan. The complaint, which mapped Jimmy's vast trafficking network, revealed that he'd been brought down, in part, by two DEA informants in his organization. One was his longtime friend Tef Stewart. The other was his top lieutenant, Khalil Abdullah.The news got worse. The next day, Jimmy was indicted on an even more serious charge: murder for hire. The Feds accused him of recruiting a crew of hitmen to kill Fletcher in return for $30,000 of cocaine. When I ask Mario whether he considers Jimmy capable of murder, he dodges the question. But he isn't shy about disparaging how the killing was handled. "It sounded like some Keystone Cop-type of stupid," he goes on. "It wasn't planned out properly. Like I said, justice is best served when cold." He doesn't seem bothered by the murder, which he takes as a given: "Everybody knew somebody was gonna get dead." It's the sloppiness that irritates him. "I'm always calculated about things," he says.With Jimmy behind bars, Mario felt even more in danger of getting busted — or killed. Living on the run in Cuernavaca, he calculated his every step. Rule No. 1: Stay off the phones. If he had to make a call, he made it from a phone booth at a local convenience store. Rule No. 2: Change apartments every six months. "I was never attached to anything," he says. This included girlfriends. As one of the few Black men in Cuernavaca, he says, he attracted more than his share of attention from the Mexican women. "I was exotic to them," he tells me with a laugh. But he could never risk being himself. "You can't have a meaningful relationship with anybody," he says.But as the years passed, the dream of returning home slipped away. He would make a quick call now and then to let his family know he was alive, but he couldn't let them know anything about his location or situation. His $50,000 was dwindling, and he didn't have a way to drum up more money. So he worked out twice a day, and went to church to pray, and hoped for something to change.Then one day, after eight years on the run, something did. Mario, normally so careful and meticulous, acknowledges he had gotten sloppy. Tired of his life as Tommy Davis, alone in Cuernavaca, he had started calling home more often, and took fewer precautions to cover his tracks. "I got lazy," he says. At first, as he was in the courtyard doing his laundry, he thought the men he spotted scaling the fence were Mexican Federales. He tried to play it cool when they confronted him, but they ordered him to lie face down on the ground and pointed their weapons at him, freckling him with red laser dots. Oh, my God, he thought. I'm gonna die today. They're gonna kill me. It was only after a long, silent ride in the back of a pickup truck when his hood was removed — and he found himself staring into the eyes of a US Marshal at the Mexico City airport. He still doesn't know who ratted him out.Mario was headed back to New York to face the drug-trafficking charges he'd evaded for nearly a decade. But he felt as though his arrest had actually released him from the prison of his assumed identity. Tommy Davis was no more. All that remained was Mario Rosemond."It was a relief," he says. "Cuz no matter what anyone say, a double life is the most difficult thing to keep."After his arrest, Mario spent a year in federal prison in New York before he was released to live with his daughter's family in New Jersey, where he's now awaiting sentencing. He will plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute cocaine, which could send him away for five years to life. But Mario, who spends his days taking care of his grandson, isn't running anymore. "I'm at peace now," he tells me outside his daughter's home. "I'm ready to pay for my bad deeds and then go on with my life." One of the reasons he's sharing his story with me, he says, is to discourage others from following his path. "Dealing with any kind of illegalities, it ain't worth it," he says. "I've had all the money that I could possibly have, right? No matter how smart you think you are, the government has enough people on their payroll to outsmart you. It can go for a month or it can go for years, like for me. But sooner or later it catches up to you. So I would like to tell the younger generation coming up to try to do it a different way."NFL star Jim Brown and the actor Michael K. Williams lobbied to secure a presidential pardon for Jimmy. "Let's get this guy home for Christmas," Donald Trump told his staff.Arturo Holmes / Scott Olson / Al Pereira / Getty Images While Mario awaits his sentencing, Jimmy is trying to get free with the help of an unlikely ally: Donald Trump. In 2020, a month before Trump left office, Jimmy enlisted celebrity friends, including the actor Michael K. Williams and the NFL legend Jim Brown, to try to secure a presidential pardon. During a call with Brown on December 18, 2020, according to affidavits filed by Jimmy's attorneys, Trump told his staff, "Let's get this guy home for Christmas."Last August, a federal judge ruled that Trump's "vague" comments did not constitute clemency. Jimmy is now hoping Trump will win reelection in 2024 so he can make good on his remark. "My hope would be that a guy like Trump would be in charge," Jimmy says. "People have this misconception about Trump, especially in the Black community."While Jimmy serves out his prison sentence, the brothers remain close. "I'd ride or die for him," Mario says.Courtesy of Leeann HellijasIn the meantime, Jimmy's legacy as a music mogul lives on. Fourteen years after the murder that landed his father in prison, James Rosemond Jr. is now a manager himself — representing one of the top artists in hip-hop, Ice Spice. "It feels like some sort of redemption," Jimmy says. "I'm able to rest a little better at night because he's doing so well."Both Jimmy and Mario tell me their bond is tight as ever. "I'd ride or die for him," Mario says. When he was extradited from Mexico, he and his brother spoke by phone for the first time in years. Jimmy, who isn't known for accepting responsibility for his actions, offered his older brother an apology."Sorry I got you into this, man," Jimmy told him.Mario was having none of it. They'd been through too much — two immigrant kids from a broken home who grew up in the projects, clawed their way to the top of the music industry, and helped transform hip-hop into one of the most influential and lucrative art forms in the world. Above all, they were brothers. And brothers stick together to the end. "It's all good, man," Mario told Jimmy."What am I going to tell him?" he says now. "Yep, it's all good."David Kushner is a long-time contributor to Rolling Stone. His new book is "Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master: Pong, Atari, and the Dawn of the Video Game."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 17th, 2023

30 Happiest Countries in the World

In this piece, we will take a look at the 30 happiest countries in the world. If you want to skip out an introduction to what might make an individual happy or sad, then skip ahead to 10 Happiest Countries in the World. Happiness is perhaps one of the most widely written topics you’re likely […] In this piece, we will take a look at the 30 happiest countries in the world. If you want to skip out an introduction to what might make an individual happy or sad, then skip ahead to 10 Happiest Countries in the World. Happiness is perhaps one of the most widely written topics you’re likely to come across. Whether it’s philosophy, religion, or psychology, each has its own perspective about what makes a person happy. In scientific terms, happiness is simply a result of neurotransmitters released in the brain, and their lack can lead to mental ailments such as depression. One question that we’re perhaps unlikely to get an answer for is whether money buys happiness. The answer to this question depends on who you ask. For instance, the most successful investor of our age, Warren Buffett has the following to say about happiness: Well, I can certainly define happiness because that’s what I am. I mean I get to do what I like to do every single day of the year. I get to do it with people I like, I don’t have to associate with anybody that caused my stomach to churn. And, the only thing in my job I don’t like and this only happens about every three or four years, and occasionally I have to fire somebody and I don’t like it, it’s the only thing. Other than that I tap dance to work, I get down there and I think I’m supposed to lie on my back and paint the ceiling you know or something. I mean that’s what I feel. And it doesn’t diminish. It’s tremendous fun. They say that success is getting what you want, and happiness is wanting what you get. I don’t know which one applies in this case, but I do know I wouldn’t be doing anything else. I do advise you, when you go out to work, go to work for an organization you admire, people you admire, because it’ll turn you on and you ought to be happy where you are working. I always worry about people who say you know I’m gonna do this for ten years, and if I don’t really like it very well then it’ll be ten years of this investment. I mean that’s a little like saving up sex for your old age, I mean, not a very good idea. So get right into what you enjoy, and you’ll be successful at it, you really will, you won’t be able to miss. So, for Mr. Buffett, being happy is doing what you love, and if you can make money while doing it, then all the better. But what if we could use scientific data to see whether people become happier as they get richer? Well, on this front, researchers show that on average, happiness and its relation to income are present when incomes are increasing to touch $75,000. However, when we divide the sample according to whether people are unhappy or happy as they touch $75,000, the unhappy people actually become substantially happier as their income grows from $75,000 to $100,000. This trend is for the unhappiest people within the group, and they do not get significantly happier as their income crosses the six figure mark. However, for those that are already the happiest, their happiness actually continues to rise beyond $100,000. The study limited incomes to $500,000 so it doesn’t tell us whether becoming a millionaire will make you much, much, happier. We know what the answer is for us, though. Fortunately, researchers from Harvard, Barclays, and Germany took a look at the happiness of millionaires. Using Barclays’ data, they show that millionaires rated their happiness as 8 out of 10 on average, and categorizing their scores according to wealth brackets reveals interesting insights. It shows that increasing your net worth by tenfold doesn’t really yield any significant growth in happiness. According to the data, for people with a net worth ranging between $1 million and $1.9 million, their happiness score was 7.91. Yet, for those whose net worth was higher than $10 million, the score stood at 8.03. To sum it up, a minimum 900% increase in net worth yields a happiness growth of just 1.5%. The advances in modern science have also enabled doctors and researchers to gain a better understanding of the real determinants of happiness. What this means is that scientifically, happiness, or a lack thereof is related to neurotransmitters in the human brain. The lack of happiness is typically associated with three neurotransmitters, namely dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. Science has also allowed doctors to artificially increase the quantity of these chemicals in the brain, to alleviate depression symptoms and improve patient life quality. The market for these drugs, called anti depressants as a category is quite lucrative, with research showing that it was worth $17.7 billion in 2020 and set to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 3.3% between 2021 and 2023. The U.S., due to its large pharmaceutical industry, is expected to be the largest market for anti depressants during this time period, with China and Germany following in second and third places, respectively. Anti depressants belong to several different categories, each of which deal with either the neurotransmitters we’ve listed above or with other chemicals that either reduce or increase the neurotransmitter quantity in the brain. And even though they have been on pharmacy shelves for years, the industry continues to produce new products. Two fresh depression medications on the market are Auvelity and Spravato which are made by Axsome Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ:AXSM) and a Johnson & Johnson (NYSE:JNJ) subsidiary. These medicines target the most severe depression that one can suffer from (there are many kinds of depressions, such as bipolar and dysthymia) called Major Depressive Disorder (MDD). Spravato takes things a step further, as it is designed to help people that are resistant to MDD treatments, a disease that is known as treatment resistant depression. Taking a look at traditional anti-depressants, the usual list of big pharma suspects such as Pfizer Inc. (NYSE:PFE), Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY), and GSK plc (NYSE:GSK) manufacture the most common kind of anti-depressants called Selective Serotonin Reputake Inhibitors (SSRIs). If you’re interested in learning more about depression, you should check out 30 Countries with the Highest Depression Rates. So, which countries are the happiest in the world? Most websites use the results of a poll conducted by Gallup, World Happiness Report, to answer this question. According to the poll, Nordic countries such as Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Iceland rank at the top of the list. Finland and Sweden are among the top 20 countries with highest rates of alcoholism. If they are so happy, why do they need to abuse alcohol at such a high rate? That’s why we decided to use a different approach in this article. If you believe our approach is more appropriate to identify the happiest countries, please share this article on social media. Andrey_Popov/ Our Methodology To compile our list of the happiest countries in the world, we ranked countries based on their alcoholism, adultery, suicide, and wealth rates. The logic is that happier countries will have stronger marriages, low suicides, and little alcoholism and will be wealthier than other countries. Each country was assigned a score based on its ranking, with countries with high negative traits receiving higher scores. The scores were then averaged (with wealth given a weight of 1.20), and the countries with the lowest scores are the happiest countries in the world. Extremely poor countries, countries with autocratic or dictatorial regimes were excluded from the list. 30 Happiest Countries in the World 30. Republic of Korea Insider Monkey’s Score: 57.05 The Republic of Korea, commonly known as South Korea is an Asian country that is one of the biggest exporters in the world of products such as semiconductors and cars. 29. Hungary Insider Monkey’s Score: 53.75 Hungary is a landlocked Central European country. It has moderately high levels of alcoholism and suicides, and high levels of human development. 28. Republic of India Insider Monkey’s Score: 52.6 India is one of the largest economies in the world, and a country that made the news recently after landing an un-crewed vehicle on the Moon. It secures a place on our due to high wealth levels; however, wealth distribution is quite unequal. 27. Kingdom of Belgium Insider Monkey’s Score: 52.45 The Kingdom of Belgium is a prosperous European country. It ranks high on both human development and income equality indexes and has an economy of $624 billion in nominal terms. 26. Republic of Estonia Insider Monkey’s Score: 52.25 The Republic of Estonia is a European nation with high human development levels but moderate income equality. It ranks low in the list of countries with the most alcoholism, but high in suicide rates. 25. Kingdom of Norway Insider Monkey’s Score: 50.5 The Kingdom of Norway is another Nordic European country. It has the third highest GDP per capita in the world, which sits at a whopping $92,646. Norway ranks low on the global list of adulterous countries but high when it comes to suicide. 24. Kingdom of Sweden Insider Monkey’s Score: 50.1 The Kingdom of Sweden is one of the few developed countries in the world. A Nordic European country, it has universal healthcare for citizens and ranks high in terms of quality of life. Sweden also ranks low on the list of the most alcoholic countries in the world. 23. Commonwealth of Australia Insider Monkey’s Score: 49.5 The Commonwealth of Australia is an Oceanic country. It has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world, with the GDP per capita in nominal terms sitting at $64,964. 22. Republic of Austria Insider Monkey’s Score: 48.25 The Republic of Austria is a Central European country with a $479 billion economy. It has a diversified economy that relies on cars, industrial equipment, electrical products, and others to earn foreign exchange. 21. Republic of Finland Insider Monkey’s Score: 48 Finland is another prosperous Nordic nation that ranks high in human development and low in income inequality. It relies on petroleum products, paper, steel, and other products for its exports. 20. Republic of Poland Insider Monkey’s Score: 44.74 The Republic of Poland is a Central European country with a $748 billion economy. 19. Netherlands Insider Monkey’s Score: 44.45 The Netherlands is the flagship nation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Global economic turmoil has pushed its economy in a recession and is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. 18. Republic of Singapore Insider Monkey’s Score: 44.25 Singapore is a city and a country. It is one of the richest countries in the world, with a high number of millionaires. Singapore ranks low in adultery but high in suicide. 17. Slovak Republic Insider Monkey’s Score: 44 The Slovak Republic, or Slovakia, is a Central European landlocked country. It has a $127 billion economy but has high levels of income inequality. Slovakia also ranks high in suicide rates. 16. United States of America Insider Monkey’s Score: 42.8 The United States of America is the world’s largest economy in nominal terms. It is the richest nation on Earth as well, but ranks quite high when it comes to suicide rates. 15. Japan Insider Monkey’s Score: 42.4 Japan is an Asian country that is one of the biggest economies in the world. Japan however ranks high when it comes to suicide rates, but low in adultery. 14. Kingdom of Thailand Insider Monkey’s Score: 41.25 The Kingdom of Thailand is a Southeast Asian country. It ranks low in human development, adultery, and suicide. 13. Swiss Confederation Insider Monkey’s Score: 40.75 The Swiss Confederation, or Switzerland, is a highly developed European country. A global financial hub, it ranks low in alcoholism and has a $841 billion economy. 12. French Republic Insider Monkey’s Score: 40.05 France is a global power and an economic powerhouse. It ranks high in adultery and has a $2.9 trillion economy – the seventh largest in the world. 11. Canada Insider Monkey’s Score: 38.9 Canada is a North American nation that offers universal healthcare and child assistance programs. Rich with natural resources, it has a $2 trillion economy. Click to continue reading and see 10 Happiest Countries in the World. Suggested Articles: 30 Countries with the Highest Depression Rates 22 Most Depressing Ugliest Places in the World 13 Best Depressed Stocks To Buy Now Disclosure: None. 30 Happiest Countries in the World is originally published on Insider Monkey......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeySep 16th, 2023

Oracle"s (ORCL) EHR to Enhance REHAB Hospital"s Patient Care

Oracle (ORCL) Health announces that its EHR will be used by the REHAB Hospital of the Pacific to elevate patient care. Oracle ORCL Health's electronic health record (EHR) modules are being integrated into all of the REHAB Hospital of the Pacific's facilities. These specialized modules are specific to the needs of rehabilitation facilities and aim to support the treatment of patients with physical and cognitive disabilities.Rehabilitation centers face the challenge of limited data accessibility across different care settings and care teams. By implementing the EHR system throughout the organization, it will facilitate a more accurate clinical assessment during inpatient admissions and outpatient rehabilitation visits. This enhanced system will grant access to historical care data and external medical records, ensuring a comprehensive view of patient care.Supporting regulatory requirements are also critical for rehabilitation facilities as it bolsters the customer’s reputation, minimizes potential risks and prevents audits. Federal assessments can demand an extensive amount of data, often involving hundreds of data points for a single assessment, which can be a labor-intensive process.REHAB Hospital intends to leverage Oracle Health's Physical Outpatient Rehabilitation and Physical Inpatient Rehabilitation solutions to automate and simplify the process by extracting data that has already been captured in the clinical record, summarizing it and calculating responses.Oracle Corporation Price and Consensus  Oracle Corporation price-consensus-chart | Oracle Corporation QuoteOracle Health Adoption in Smaller Hospitals to Boost Cloud Service RevenuesOracle Health, also known as Cerner, has been successful in acquiring numerous small hospitals while experiencing a decline in market share among larger hospitals. The company has significantly increased the total number of hospitals, but the smaller hospitals, acquired by ORCL, have fewer beds and patients compared with the larger hospitals it has lost. The decrease in larger hospital clientele is primarily attributed to persistent issues with the revenue cycle.Oracle Health's success in attracting smaller hospital customers can be attributed to the perception that its CommunityWorks system offers a modern EHR solution at an affordable price point. This is expected to boost the company’s cloud service and license revenues in the upcoming quarters.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for ORCL’s fiscal 2024 cloud services and licence revenues is pegged at $44.65 billion, indicating year-over-year growth of 26.48%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for earnings is pegged at a profit of $5.51 per share, indicating year-over-year growth of 7.62%.Shares of this Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) company have gained 39.1% year to date compared with the Zacks Computer and Technology sector’s rise of 38.1% due to the giants in the healthcare cloud computing market, such as Microsoft MSFT, International Business Machines IBM and Amazon AMZN Web Services.You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.MSFT utilizes its cloud technology, Microsoft Cloud for healthcare, to integrate features from Microsoft Azure, Dynamics 365, Microsoft Power Platform and Microsoft 365.IBM offers healthcare clients a secure, open and enterprise-level environment that accommodates various workload needs and the stages of cloud adoption. This platform enables healthcare institutions to accelerate research initiatives and maintain compliance with stringent security standards.Amazon Web Services enables healthcare entities to craft patient-focused digital interactions through cloud services that support the creation of mobile apps and engagement portals for patients. Zacks Names #1 Semiconductor Stock It's only 1/9,000th the size of NVIDIA which skyrocketed more than +800% since we recommended it. NVIDIA is still strong, but our new top chip stock has much more room to boom. With strong earnings growth and an expanding customer base, it's positioned to feed the rampant demand for Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Internet of Things. Global semiconductor manufacturing is projected to explode from $452 billion in 2021 to $803 billion by 2028.See This Stock Now for Free >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report, Inc. (AMZN): Free Stock Analysis Report Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report International Business Machines Corporation (IBM): Free Stock Analysis Report Oracle Corporation (ORCL): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksSep 15th, 2023