Finding Value in Writing

7   Over the years, I have discussed my publishing about investing and related topics. (See this, this, this, or this). Many of us began doing this before monetizing content was a thing. Spend time reading any of the RWM Mafia and you a pattern as to why we put words to page emerges. We… Read More The post Finding Value in Writing appeared first on The Big Picture. 7   Over the years, I have discussed my publishing about investing and related topics. (See this, this, this, or this). Many of us began doing this before monetizing content was a thing. Spend time reading any of the RWM Mafia and you a pattern as to why we put words to page emerges. We write to: Figure out what we think Explore a topic or idea Memorialize an investment position (or potential trade) Share expertise Educate readers Publicize a concept Express outrage Signal interest in a topic Influence decision-makers Debate / argue around an issue Defend an idea or position Educate ourselves about a thing Resolve a noisy internal dialogue I am going to share a few examples, and I want you to look for the consistent thread that runs through all of them: They each add value, search for truth, expound on deeply held beliefs, are sincere, and reflect curiosity about the world. If only everything we read had those 5 attributes. Michael Batnick is Head of Research at RWM, a founding principal, and a crucial component of our investment committee (he does the heavy-lifting, I get all of the credit). This post is a perfect example of teaching readers even as he admits what he doesn’t understand: I Don’t F*ckn Get It All of this stuff is incredibly confounding. On the one hand, you have normal people speculating on Doge, which is cute and mostly harmless. I mean, it says right there on the website that “Dogecoin is an open-source peer-to-peer digital currency, favored by Shiba Inus worldwide” Silly, sure, but hard to get too worked up over this. And then on the other side are wealthy people who buy pet rocks as status symbols. I understand this drawing your ire, but I hope now, or at least after reading Packy’s piece, that you understand people’s motivations. And then, in the middle, you have brilliant investors like Chris Dixon who swear that this is web 3.0. Blair duQuesnay is a triple threat: She is a CFA who sits on our investment committee, advisor/CFP, and also manages RWM’s UHNW practice. A recent discussion reveals her curiosity and insight: Pluto is a Planet I find myself rebelling against this change like a cranky old man. Back in my day, Pluto was a planet! I refuse to call it a silly dwarf planet. Bah humbug! I’ll probably get angry again when my kids start learning the solar system in school. I notice this tendency among professional investors. The sands of time shift the way the world of money works, if only ever so slightly. What worked in investing 40 years ago, may not work today. We cling to the groundbreaking academic papers of yonder days – mean-variance optimization, the small-cap premium, the value premium, and book value. We read the masters – Ben Graham, Modigliani, Miller, Fama, French, and Merton – and we deem their work Gospel. Has anyone pursued the financial well-being of teachers more than Tony Isola? That is what he and Dina Isola do for RWM. This is first-rate: How To Escape Your Financial Cocoon Self-deception is a raging epidemic. A myriad of factors influences our point of view. Genes, family life, friends, experiences, and other items determine perceptions. Why do we believe our experiences are reality? James Low reinforces this concept. These stories have a tilt or bias. This generates a selectivity in our attention which blocks many of the other possibilities we might entertain. Delusion becomes fact. The worst part- We aren’t aware. Neither is anyone else. Nobody wants to rock the U.S.S. Delusion. Everyone’s wearing tinted sunglasses. Viewing reality in different shades turns fantasies into reality. Nick Maggiulli is our resident quant/data wonk/COO. This post is classic “Nickie Numbers” – take generally accepted wisdom, crunch the numbers, prove it is bullshit: Why Buying the Dip is a Terrible Investment Strategy But today, I’m going to change all that. Because today I’m going to give Buy the Dip the proper burial that it deserves and demonstrate without a reasonable doubt why it is a terrible investment strategy. Ben Carlson may be the best financial writer today who regularly uses data to demonstrate points on investing strategies. He works with our institutional clients. I could show you countless examples but let me simply go his most recent: The Worst Stock and Bond Returns Ever The U.S. stock market is up 13.5% per year since 2009. Valuations have been well above historical averages this entire time and moving ever higher. Interest rates are about as low as they’ve ever been. Add all this up and it’s hard to argue with the idea that investors should lower their return expectations going forward. The problem with this equation is you could have said this very same thing in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and so on yet it hasn’t happened. The low return environment that seemed like a sure thing has been nothing but high returns. There are few people in the world who can identify connections between disparate ideas like my partner and co-founder Josh Brown does. His ability to see what everyone else misses is unprecedented. And his writing is so sincerely beautiful. Like this piece: I Collect Cashflows I collect shares of businesses. Been doing it since my late teens. Not always successfully. I use a certain type of non fungible token called a stock certificate for this. I never lay hands on the certificate, it’s in digital form, living somewhere in the multiverse. A company called DTC makes sure the shares I’ve bought are the shares I get. And then I hold them. Sometimes I will trade them for digital dollars that I also don’t ever see or touch, but then soon after I am trading those dollars for another pile of virtual stock certificates. People will say “You’re crazy, why would you want to buy a fraction of a company you will never touch and hold in your hands?” And I’m like “You just don’t understand.” When ideas come together in a way that is informative, entertaining, and educational it is a thing of joy. Beautiful.   The post Finding Value in Writing appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureOct 13th, 2021

Transcript: Robyn Grew

 The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Robyn Grew, Man Group CEO, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including any podcast extras, on iTunes Stitcher, Bloomberg, Spotify, Google, and YouTube. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business… Read More The post Transcript: Robyn Grew appeared first on The Big Picture.  The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Robyn Grew, Man Group CEO, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including any podcast extras, on iTunes Stitcher, Bloomberg, Spotify, Google, and YouTube. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, another extra special guest, Robin Grew, President of Man Group, $145 billion publicly traded hedge fund in the UK, and soon to be Man Group’s CEO. This is a fascinating conversation about business growth and leadership and management and how to run a team. How to recruit and retain the best people and how to use technology as a tool to give you an edge, not just in investing but in the ability to offer clients various solutions improving your efficiency, effectiveness and productivity as a company. I — I found this to just be a fascinating masterclass in running a giant financial organization. And I think you will also. So with no further ado, my conversation with Man Group’s incoming CEO, Robyn Grew. ROBYN GREW, PRESIDENT, MAN GROUP: Thank you for having me, Barry. RITHOLTZ: I — I have been looking forward to this for a while. And when we first booked you, you were like a junior analyst. Then suddenly in the ensuing weeks, you get tagged to be CEO. That has to be a little bit of a surreal experience. GREW: It is nothing short of surreal. This is obviously new news for this particular podcast, and it is — you hear the words that people say, you know, it’s an honor and it’s a privilege. And it sounds a little trite. I mean you find yourself in one of these rare positions where somebody is asking you to take on the CEO. And I have to tell you, I mean it very authentically, it’s an honor and it’s a privilege. And it is slightly surreal. RITHOLTZ: And — and to — for a little context, maybe for some of the audience in America who may not be that familiar with Man Group, this isn’t like a startup. This traces its roots back to 18th century sugar trading, right? How old is Man Group? GREW: Well, it’s 240 years old. Put it that way, 1783. And you’re right, it traces its way back to sugar trading and at one point being the monopolistic supplier of rum to the Royal Navy, which — and in those days, that was important because everybody had a ration in the Royal Navy, and everybody wanted to use it. And it’s the journey isn’t’ it? It’s the journey of organizations to continue to be relevant. So, 240 years ago, there’s a conversation I have with people which is, if we didn’t keep changing, we’d still be making barrels on the side of the River Thames and trading sugar and hoping that the Royal Navy still needed a lot of rum. So that’s not where we are today. But the roots are deep. And now we, you know, we’re just shy of $145 billion of assets on the management across the entire credit curve. Trading through our CTAS and Quant and discretionary and private markets, reaching investors all over the world. RITHOLTZ: So, we’re going to spend a little more time delving deep into Man Group’s practice. Let’s start with your background. GREW: Sure. RITHOLTZ: Which doesn’t quite go back 274 — GREW: Thank — thank you very much for that. RITHOLTZ: You went to law school. Were the plans to become a solicitor or a barrister? That’s not the thought process of someone who wants to go into finance. GREW: You — you’re spot on. I actually qualified as a barrister, which is the fun words of I went to the bar. People use that all the time to describe me. And you’re right, I had thought I was going to be an advocate, quite frankly, a barrister, you know the one with the wigs and gowns, that you see on TV. My — my roots were very more reasonably humble. My dad was a public GP, you know, in the National Health Service in England and my mom was a public school teacher. And quite frankly, I didn’t know what financial services was. It was this — this thing that existed somewhere else. And so, when I went to law school and went to the bar, I had every — every thought that I was just going to be a barrister and be another vocational professional in my family. RITHOLTZ: When did it enter your mind that, hey, this finance stuff looks kind of interesting? GREW: It entered my mind when very early on I found myself in a position where I was looking at brief that had come to me. And it was yet another sort of sketchy criminal defense piece, where I had to go and interview a client who had been arrested because he had been out on bail and escaped bail. And I went to a very old magistrates’ court in London, at Bow Street. It’s very close to Covent Garden and very old cells. And the doors of these cells were built for men. And you — you, Barry, you have the benefit of seeing how short I am or tall I am. RITHOLTZ: You’re five foot nothing, right? GREW: I’m five foot nothing. And so I couldn’t see through the little window. I just couldn’t reach it. Right, I just wasn’t able. So, the guards had to actually stand, sort of open the door and stand on either side of me. And they were worried about me because my client was so out of his head on whatever it was he had taken, that they were actually worried for my safety. And I went home that night, and I went, do you know what, I might not want to do this forever. This might not be — this might not be a good idea. And I thought, I know what I’ll do, I will go into commerce. That’s what I thought. I’ll go into commerce. I’ll go into business. And then I will go back, and I will be a commercial barrister where they don’t have to get this into cells and see whether — RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: — I’d be worried about the safety that have to do with people like me now. So that’s — that’s what the plan was. And so, it was a plan to get into this space, get experience from being an insider, in business and go back. And I got hooked. I just never went back. RITHOLTZ: What — what was the first job in — in commerce, so to speak? GREW: In commerce? So, there was an advertisement in the newspaper. That’s a thing. That’s how old I am. There was an advertisement in the newspaper for Fidelity. And I thought, well, that sounds interesting. They wanted — they wanted to have new kind of graduates, postgraduates type people to come and do a round robin. And that’s also an expression that gets used with me a lot. And so I applied and I sent in a letter and I said yes, it sounds terribly interesting. Can you give me a shot at this? And I got invited to this interview thing. And it was a thing. So I turned up, and there are 150 people in a room. RITHOLTZ: Right. Cattle call. GREW: It was a cattle call. And I – totally new to me and I had no idea that this is what happened. So I just chatted to everybody I met. I just chatted — RITHOLTZ: Online while you’re waiting to go for the interview. GREW: Yeah, you just — you don’t know when you’re being interviewed or when you’re not being interviewed quite frankly. RITHOLTZ: Oh. Okay. GREW: I was one of the come and meet these people. And it was, I had a great time. I’m a chatty kind of individual. And off I went round the room, chatted for a couple of hours and then left and, you know, drove home. And I was rung the next day, and they said we really — really — would you like to come and join us and I said, well, yes, for sure. Let’s do that then. And I bounced around. Yes, I did some legal stuff and rank stuff but I, you know, I went in on the weekends when we did the stock certificate count. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: And counted share certificates, that it was that long ago. And I did early tech kind of pieces. I manned client call phones. I did everything. And it was a bit of a blast. It was this kind of thing of being in the center of Fidelity’s brokerage arm at that point. Not its asset management, its brokerage piece. And then — RITHOLTZ: This — this is late ‘80s or early ‘90s? GREW: Yeah, and — and then I was, necessarily (inaudible) — and I was called into — I was called in ’91 so – in that ‘90s period. And then I was called by a headhunter, by a recruiter, who said, listen, there’s this — spent a couple years at Fidelity by this time — there’s a role at this thing called LIFFE or LIFFE. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: Um, and they really need somebody who understands a criminal law. And they need it because when they conduct interviews, it’s undertaken under this police and criminal evidence act (ph) thing. We — in other words it’s done in a way that whatever is said in that interview could be brought as evidence in a court. And I said, well, I know — I know that bit of it. I’ve done — I’ve done that bit. And so I turned up to LIFFE. RITHOLTZ: What was the commerce side of LIFFE? GREW: So, it’s an exchange. It’s an open outcry exchange. In fact, at that time, the biggest open outcry exchange in Europe and we had — it was a time when LIFFE was biggest in the bond contract (ph). RITHOLTZ: So, I have to ask, why the concern about future criminal evidence? It seems sort of at odds. GREW: I know, right. So, what happens is, when you work in an open outcry (ph) environment, there are trade practices — RITHOLTZ: Okay. GREW: — that get investigated. And those trading practices are quite — they’re fun. They’re interesting and they’re complex because it’s all about hand signals. RITHOLTZ: Right. And everybody’s word is their bond or their gestures, their bond. GREW: Exactly right. And so, you’re looking at, at that point, very forward thinking videotaped evidence. RITHOLTZ: Mm-hmm. GREW: You’ve got pit observers. And you are trying to piece if there are malpractices or going on, you need to piece that all together. And so, at that point, you are building a case. You are running a market (ph) investigations team, which is looking at ensuring proper conduct. From a regulatory perspective, you are the regulator. You are managing the efficacy of those markets, and across futures and options. And so, I went to an interview. And they said how much do you know about futures and options? And I said, not a lot. In fact, I said, and there’s a chap who I’m still in touch with who repeats this at regular intervals to my embarrassment, he says, you said you know a postage stamp and you know really large writing. That’s how much I know. But I’m a super quick learner. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: And, for good or for bad and for my benefit, they hired me. RITHOLTZ: How long did you stay with LIFFE? Or LIFFE as in — GREW: LIFFE — a couple of years, just over again. And then I got another call. RITHOLTZ: Uh-oh. GREW: I know, this seems to be a process. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: So, I got a call and this one was ultimately from a recruiter who’s working for Lehman Brothers, an investment bank, a bond house. RITHOLTZ: Another one that’s a few hundred years old as well. GREW: Another one that — RITHOLTZ: At least was. GREW: Was a few hundred years old. Again, set up by, you now, brothers and all the rest of it. So, and that was another conversation where they were looking for somebody, quite frankly, who had some sort of futures, options, star LIFFE (ph) experience, because they wanted somebody to go and sit on a fixed income floor. RITHOLTZ: Right. And I want to say the criminal background turned out not to hurt either. GREW: No, they — thanks for that. We’ll talk about that later, Barry. So, the — so the sense of again, another opportunity just sort of thrown in my way. And as I joined Lehman Brothers, it was the first time that Russia had a — had a little bit of a crisis. RITHOLTZ: ’98, something like that. GREW: Correct. Correct, spot on. And I was thrown at a, okay, we now need to know what have we got in Russia, what’s our exposure, what are our legal contracts, how does this work? And I was one of many, many people. But it — it talked about landing and the rubber hitting the road. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: And at that point Lehman share price had its first sort of crumbs moment. And that was fascinating to just be in the inner workings. Baptisms by fire, I sort of enjoy — I shouldn’t probably admit that. RITHOLTZ: That’s the phrase that popped into my head as soon as you described — GREW: It is — it is sort of baptism of fire. And it was something which was phenomenal to actually be part of but for the fact that you’re living it. Does that make sense? RITHOLTZ: Sure. GREW: As an academic exercise, marvelous. When you’re in the middle of it, you – you’re kind of so caught in it. And I ended up on working on the fixed income floors until — RITHOLTZ: You’re working in London not in New York at the time. GREW: Correct, working in London. And again, the first time I’d worked in the South Side. And that’s where I sort of feel I had my biggest growth and my growing up was in that Lehman Brothers phase. In part because I again benefited from being in the mix when we were the second bank that was raided by the Japanese regulators after they’d gone into Credit Suisse. And the Japanese regulators were having a tough time with cross collateralization and issues about whether there were balance sheet accounting issues. RITHOLTZ: Is this how you ended up living in uh, Tokyo? Is that right? GREW: It is — it is. RITHOLTZ: And how long were you there for? GREW: So, well, for the year of the first year of the investigation, I flew back and forth to London. This is becoming a theme with me, flying back and forth to London. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: And then after that another two and a half years where we actually lived in Japan. Fabulous. RITHOLTZ: Tokyo, it’s supposed to be an amazing city. GREW: It was extraordinary and brilliant. And the things you learn when you live overseas, I’m not sure I can ever really put on value on those experiences. Being responsible for a region in which you are very much alien in that space. RITHOLTZ: Mm-hmm. GREW: Where you have to learn cultural cues in ways that you’ve never had to understand it before. Where you’re navigating different countries and different relationships between those countries, which — all so tricky. Lehman had its headquarters for AsiaPac unusually in Tokyo. RITHOLTZ: Mm-hmm. GREW: Most of us had a kind of Hong Kong piece — RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: — or Singapore piece and then ex-Japan piece of it. That wasn’t how Lehman did it. So being responsible for AsiaPac was — from a Tokyo base, was brilliant. RITHOLTZ: Huh, quite fascinating. (BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So, you were very successful at Lehman. You kind of worked your way up the ranks there. What else did you focus on outside of putting out fires in Japan? GREW: Well, after running and building up that, sort of, that team, I hired my successor. By the way, fabulous thing to do, I suggest everybody does that actually. I mean genuinely, we can talk about it later. But that ability to hire tremendously strong, quality people around you, is I think been an enormous opportunity to provide you with opportunity to move on and do more. So, I got a call. I got a call from the U.S. who said, hey, how do you fancy coming to the U.S.? And that again was to work at Lehman’s headquarters — fabulous opportunity. So off we went from Japan to — to New York. That was a cultural change. RITHOLTZ: Yeah, to say the very least. Lehman was very much a hyper aggressive, macho culture, Dick Fuld’s nickname was the “Gorilla.” GREW: It was. RITHOLTZ: What was it like working in that sort of, you know, very much bro culture? GREW: And I’m — and I’m slightly worried I’m going to disappoint you with this answer. But it was fabulous. I had the best time. And I never encountered that sense of being overwhelmed by a — a masculine overtly bullying kind of culture. In fact, some of the early work that I did on diversity and inclusion was at Lehman in New York. RITHOLTZ: Huh. GREW: And was sponsored by people like Joe Gregory, who was just a real champion of that — of that content. So that, maybe I’m — maybe I’m thick skinned or something. But the truth of the matter is I loved it. I enjoyed it. And I think Lehman was — I owe a lot to my experiences in that organization. RITHOLTZ: As much as Lehman spectacularly crashed and burned in the financial crisis, everybody I know who worked there really liked it. It was a pure meritocracy. GREW: Absolutely. RITHOLTZ: They didn’t care if you made money, it didn’t matter. GREW: That’s right. RITHOLTZ: And, yeah, it was a little sharp elbowed. It was a tough place to work. But people who came through that said it was the best experience professionally of their lives. GREW: Absolutely right. And you know, they had a phrase. which I still use. You know when you get to that point in — in investment banking, you ended up with those loose sites, with, you know, various things that you’re supposed to, you know, mouse (ph) match with something as well. RITHOLTZ: Sure, all the little banking things, yeah. GREW: All the little banking things from whatever. And they had one phrase, and I — I still use it which is be smart, be dumb. And it’s kind of a curious — RITHOLTZ: Be smart, be dumb. GREW: Be smart, be dumb. And what that retranslated into was, if you don’t understand something that is going on, if you’re in a meeting and you don’t get it, if you’re outside of the meeting and don’t get it, say something. Actually, ask the question. Because you’d be surprised how many people can answer the question by the way. RITHOLTZ: Uh-huh. GREW: But also, it’s okay not to know everything. It’s the only way you learn. And I still use that. I might have it — I don’t quite have it on a Lucite anymore, but I absolutely believe that to be the case. If you don’t get it ask the question. I’m not supposed to know everything in the room, that’s not the point. But I would like to understand what’s going on. RITHOLTZ: Huh. Really, really intriguing. So, let’s talk a little bit about the history for those listening who might not be familiar with uh, Man Group. What is its focus and specialties? Who are its clients? GREW: So, Man is a — as you said hundred million – 145-billion-dollar hedge fund. It’s there to –to and loan only (ph). It’s not just a hedge fund, it’s not just doing long shortcuts (ph) or loan only (ph). It’s got private markets, it’s through the credit curve it has core business engines which are driven by styles. So, we have large comp businesses. CTA and um, equity comp businesses. We have a discretionary business, what some of you might have already been familiar with in GOG, we have private markets business which is focused really on real estate. And the — that — that — the single family real estate ownership piece. Um, and community housing, and then we have something called solutions. And the solutions piece is the piece where we work with in effect our institutional clients or institutional client business, but those institutional clients are pension funds, their endowments, they are looking after the pensions and the savings of real individuals. The individuals that might — mom and dad right. The doctors, the teachers, the metal workers in Holland, wherever they may be. And we partner with those institutions to return value. And that’s our early goal. When we come in, in the morning, we think about who the real underlying clients are here. And how we partner and make sure that we’re returning Alpha. We’re an active manager and that solutions piece is how we create the spoke solution. So, we’ll take elements or particular strategies from each part of our discretionary strategy and match it with con strategy and return it to clients because we understand and we work with them on their portfolio, the exposure, what they need to achieve, their risk management to create something that is a spoke for them. RITHOLTZ: So that’s very interesting because the typical funds is this is our strategy — GREW: Take it or leave it. RITHOLTZ: Right, that’s pretty much it. You sort of have a one foot in the um, financial planning, asset management side and another side in actual fund management. What are the advantages of marrying those two together? GREW: I think the reality for me is that more and more institutional clients need something in a separate managed account. They want something that’s bespoke to them, and the portfolio risk or construction that they need answers to. These are long strategic relationships where we are investing time and effort in partnership within these institutions to understand what their portfolio construction needs to look like or what they want to achieve. And then we are part of helping them understand that. And helping them deliver a solution that we can provide to them to address certain issues. And maybe it’s the combination of strategies, maybe it’s a combination of strategies with additional transparency or additional liquidity? Maybe it’s leverage, maybe it’s a tele protection, maybe it’s an overlay hedge, maybe it’s any number of these things. The capability that Man has to do that, is what we have spent time and energy and money on. And technology on. Let’s be clear, we talk about tech and I’m sure we’ll cover it later, we talk about how we deploy tech, and we think about tech within that quant space. But we deploy technology throughout the organization to give us scale and capability, that we use to service our clients. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stay with that, before we get to the tech side of it, all the entities that you referred to various uh, foundations and institutions and pensions, many of them have a future liability. Meaning they have an obligation to pay out a certain amount of money to a certain class of beneficiaries at some point in the future. So, when you’re describing bespoke strategies, I’m assuming your targeting those future liabilities for each of those — those entities? GREW: It can be that it can be anything that they want in reality. We are much more about understanding client needs. And remember they have, as you know, vast portfolios. Trillions of dollars that they are putting into that. We’re part of that and doing it abs — understanding what they’re trying to achieve, is less efficient potentially for them. So, let me give you an example of what I mean by this. I was um, speaking to a couple clients, in the last couple of days and they were talking to me and they say listen, what we would really like to do is sit down with you and there are two or three areas and I was like terrific, what do you want to talk about? And they said, well, first of all we’d like to understand data and how you manage data and how you manage your technology in that? I said great. And then they said the second thing is, we’d really like your help in understanding our portfolio construction and whether what we think it’s doing is what it’s doing or whether we’ve got correlation where we didn’t think we’d have correlation. Or how we’re positioned. And I said sure, we’ve got tools that can help you do that. And then the third thing they said, I really want to talk to you about how you’re achieving diversity and equity and inclusion. RITHOLTZ: Really? GREW: And I was like — RITHOLTZ: That comes up in these conversations? GREW: And so, I was like, okay, we can talk to you about that too. The point is, it’s not just about delivering a fund, here’s a product let me flog it to you. It’s about a much deeper relationship for us and it’s about delivering all of the firm, not just part of the firm. And that is important to us because I think we do a better job. And by the way, I’ll put this in there as well, we believe in making our, you know, our clients smarter and better because they make us smarter and better in return. There’s a – there’s an interesting piece on a Podcast listening to Fran Lebowitz actually the other day and she was talking about the massive loss we had in the ‘80’s with the AIDS crisis of artists. And she made this really great point which is, it wasn’t just the artists we lost, we lost the audience. We lost the decerning audience in that process too. And I — it resonated with me about how we think about Man. We want our clients to be smarter and better, and equipped with what we can give them because they hold us as we hold ourselves accountable. They’re the better audience that makes the better performance. RITHOLTZ: Huh, really quite interesting. So we’ll circle back to diversity, inclusion, ESG a little later. Let’s stay with technology for a minute. How is Man deploying new technologies, what are you using in your quant work, in your — your trading and how does this, um, infiltrate the entire organization? GREW: Well, it – it’s a similar one, let me say, you know we view technology and the adoption of AI technology as a fundamental part of innovation. And it’s useful across our entire organization, in the investment process, but also through trading and execution. It’s used in every single juncture. We’re constantly looking to align the latest technology and latest techniques with our underlying investment for philosophies, not the other way around. Does that make sense. So, it’s one of the tools that make us better at delivering what we do. And new technologies aren’t replacement. They’re for me — they’re rather a compliment to what we are trying to achieve. And we are never going to be reliant on one technology. This space is moving so quickly. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: It’s about adopting the new, finding its application, seeing whether we can gain alpha from it whether it makes us smarter, allows us to monetize something which reduces cost, whatever it may be and making that happen. I think AI can do much for example, then just automate. Um, it — it’s innovative, it can increase productivity, we use it as part of our processing of data of our large data, of looking at our models, looking at portfolio construction. Um, it — we have used it for example for ESG prediction metrics. Let’s look about whether where we see weather cycles. Where we look at it um, use it in your linguistic programing to look at — to make sense of sentiment in um, annual reporting from example. RITHOLTZ: Mm-hmm. GREW: So many different applications by nature, as you know Barry, we are open source, um, space, we love it. Our developers love it. I mean I wish I was as smart as a developer, but our developers love open source. It makes them better. When you look at GitUp — RITHOLTZ: Sure. GREW: Which is one of these mechanisms which I’m sure most people know, I think we’re number two on GitUp, but it’s this sense of open-source technology um, where we use it as much as we can or we — we withing the organization but we’re always interested in what else is out there. So, we’re not frightened by tech development, we want to use it, but we don’t depart from philosophically where we start and what we need it for. RITHOLTZ: Yeah there — there’s been a little bit of a backlash against things like various AI and – and chatbots etcetera. To me it’s always been a tool, all this technology is a tool that makes people more productive, more effective, more efficient. Uh, I’ve never thought hey, ChatGPT is going to put all of us out of business it — it’s something that can be used to the betterment of our work product, and it sounds like that’s integral to Man’s philosophy. GREW: I kind of agree. ChatGPT is clearly the greatest disruptor we’ve had in the last year. I mean, it’s been — it’s been given some really quite momentous uh, bylines as well. But it’s certainly a massive disruptor from my perspective, if you think about it negatively, you’re missing the mark. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: It’s — it’s — RITHOLTZ: I’m sure it hallucinates occasionally, but — GREW: But — but, well I was going to say something, who doesn’t, but that’s not true. Um, but it’s also not going to be the first or the last piece of AI technology. This isn’t well, I’ve got ChatGPT, therefore we’re done. RITHOLTZ: We’re done. Right. GREW: That’s not going to happen, this sort of semi-hysterical fear of it, I think is all wrong. There is — there are undoubtedly going to be benefits for us being able to use technology to capture large data sources, look at what we’ve done and I, you know, I’m talking to a man at Bloomberg’s so you will know this. We talked about open architecture a minute ago, and look at what we’ve done with this ArcticDB. So, this is a piece of technology that was developed at Man Group, which in effect is a super charged database. You know, it’s able to process large chunks of data which we’re all trying to deal with in a much more efficient and effective way. We actually open sourced it back in 2015, um, it’s first version, but in one of those moments where you’ve got to be careful you’re not drinking your own Kool-aid a little bit. RITHOLTZ: Uh-huh. GREW: We – I mean we talk about tech all the time, we went to Bloomberg and said we have this cool piece of kit, um, would you like to take a look at it? And we came to Bloomberg because if there’s one place that has a phenomenal tech — RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: Space and a Ka trillion developers, and all the rest of it, it’s Bloomberg. So we came here and we were testing ourselves. Back to that audience thing. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: show me how, whether we can be better at this and show me where we’ve kidded ourselves, is this really – is this really the thing? RITHOLTZ: Mm-hmm. GREW: And after months and months it’s now in the hands of Bloomberg and it’s being — RITHOLTZ: Oh really? GREW: Endorsed as that as a program that is in the mix and is part of the Bloomberg offering in that space. So, we — we checked our audience. We worked out we weren’t drinking the Kool-Aid. But it shows you sort of the way that we think about tech. and how we think about it as something that makes us all better, but I will be super clear, it’s only part of what we have. We have a million models, we have our own technology, we have our own philosophical investment ideas within each of our engines and we use tech to make us better at that. RITHOLTZ: Huh. That sounds quite fascinating. Let’s discuss the major divisions at Man Group. I want to try and wrap my arms around, first what is Man AHL? GREW: Okay. So, think of, we have two, let me do it a slightly different way. We have two quant engines. One is numeric and one is AHL. CTA, macro, big trading hub. RITHOLTZ: When I hear CTA, I hear commodity trading. GREW: Right. RITHOLTZ: Okay. GREW: That’s where it’s originally coming at, from, but it’s much more than that. And then equities, resprimia (ph), Maloney (ph), piece and numeric which is also quant. GOG, third engine. Discretionary, human beings, people like you and me and by the way, the way I started at the firm was through GOG. That was an acquisition which is something that we — you know is part and parcel of how Man has grown over the years. So, GOG, discretionary portfolio management. Um, then you have what is FRM MSL. So that’s that solutions piece, we talked about earlier, although FRM was, and you’ve spoken to Luke before, so the fund to funds business. Um, which was also an acquisition, but that’s rolled into lucia (ph) as well and we have still got a fund to fund business where people might have thought in the past that that was a dying part, not so much, people need some help when it comes to their selection also of uh, managers that are out there and that is still something that we are part and part of. And then the fifth piece is that private market space where we have that real estate piece that we talked about earlier and we within each of those engines we also have credit offerings as part of that. RITHOLTZ: Huh, really quite fascinating. (BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So — so let’s talk a little bit about your approach to leadership. You’ve managed to distinguish yourself in a very competitive field. Tell — tell us how. GREW: Here’s the answer everyone, it’s not true. Um, I — I tell you and perhaps this is a way of thinking about it, what I have done perhaps is the better way of saying, do I and how I distinguish myself. What I’ve done is taken every single opportunity, that has come my way. And I — RITHOLTZ: So, no master plan and this just, you just stumbled blindly from one gig to the next, is that — GREW: I mean — I mean that’s the perfect way of summing it up. The um, the way of summing it up is this, if you’d have asked me 25 years ago, do you think you’ll be the CEO of an investment management company, I would have laughed. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: I would have laughed. I didn’t have a grand master plan. What I did have was a somewhat insatiable desire to learn and have some fun doing so that I loved being a fixer, I loved being put on planes, or being sent into areas to solve things. I have innately hired people around me and built teams of highly credible quality people, um, who I have empowered and who I have loved to partner in achieving whatever it was that we needed to achieve better, faster, smarter than before. And that — that empowerment piece is huge. The ability to not have to be the smartest, in fact, let me do it a different way. If I am the smartest person in the room — RITHOLTZ: You’ve done something wrong. GREW: I — I worry, I mean that’s not okay. Um, so on that basis, leadership style, hire brilliant people, put great minds around you. Put people around you who are willing to disagree with you or better still stop you from careening off a cliff. If you’re headed in the wrong direction, I can’t tell you how many times that, that is just as important as sort of the rugby tackle TE’s bit. If you’ve suddenly got yourself into a frame of this is where we’re going and I have enormously benefited from that style of management which is inclusive, it’s about delegation, it’s about empowering people to sometimes be really horrible. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stick with the delegation and the empowerment because those are key themes. You don’t sound like you’re a micromanager, you sound like you tell people this is what we want you to do, tell us what you need to get it done and now go do it. GREW: That’s our job. As great leaders I — I — that sounded arrogant. I don’t mean — RITHOLTZ: Any leader. GREW: Any leaders — RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: I think any great leader, any capable leader, maybe that’s a better way of phrasing it, any capable leader, that’s one of the hallmarks it feels to me. Migrate people, empower them. If they can’t deliver, if you’ve got the wrong person, change the person. Don’t micromanage. Don’t find the fix in making it, you do the job or somebody else. RITHOLTZ: Swap the people on board. GREW: That’s right. And so that has always been — I always find that really smart people want that. They want to be given the keys, they want to run these things and the smartest people know when they don’t know. The most frightening person is the person who doesn’t know that they don’t know. The best person who works for you is the one who goes, yep, don’t know the answer to this, leave it with me or we got to find the best solution here, not the perfect solution here. You’ve got to be able to move dynamically. You have to be able to think. You have to be able to find solutions and it be execution divine if you’re working with me. RITHOLTZ: So, you clearly have great insights and leadership skills, but you’ve said you’re surprised that you got named CEO of this large financial firm. Why the surprise? GREW: I was — RITHOLTZ: By the way I’m calling you out for a little false humility here. Defend yourself. GREW: Defend, excellent here I go – on goes the Barrister — RITHOLTZ: Barrister. GREW: Making cracks so we can get on. Let me say I — I think there are tremendously strong people. We have a great bench of senior management at Man Group. It is a bit of a privilege, and it sounds a bit trite, just happens to be true that we have a phenomenal bench of high-quality people. I don’t want to assume and didn’t want to assume that I’d be named the CEO. I am thrilled, let me tell you that I am going to be the CEO for the first of September. But it’s — there are so many capable individuals that it doesn’t do you any harm to step back and recognize the skills and the qualities of those people who you have worked with and who you want to work with going forward. So, that was, that has been something that I think has held me in good stead actually to have perspective and to keep my feet very firmly grounded. I think what perhaps surprised me in reality and yet it shouldn’t have done was the press coverage that the announcement garnered — RITHOLTZ: Meaning, and I don’t want to put words in your mouth, but I’ve read everything you’ve written. You were genuinely surprised people focused on you as a woman taking the CEO. I mean this is still a pretty — especially in finance, look there is a gender parody in business, generally and finance lags business and hedge funds lag finance. So why so surprised? GREW: At this point, I think this is where I call myself out and say why — you can’t go well obviously when you put it like that. I think perhaps I was so focused on the job. I was so focused on this being something that I looked at internally rather than I perhaps focused on the external ramification or impact of it. And it’s humbling when that happens, and it’s been heartening and, in some ways, overwhelming, and brilliant all at the same time. And of course, you get — one gets a thousand emails and a thousand messages and all of those things and some of the most touching are those from people who — who are really just saying, you know thanks — thank you Robyn but thank you Man for breaking that. For giving us somebody who is underrepresented, and it means that we all think we now, we’ve got more people, one more person sorry to — that’s broken through that barrier. Whatever that barrier may look like. And that was — that was touching I have to say. RITHOLTZ: It — it’s also when you’re on the inside, you see the changes that others won’t see manifest for years or decades, so you’re aware that things might be a little better than they appear from the outside. So maybe there’s a little surprise there. I have to mention at this point, that by the time you become CEO on September first, the Chairman replacing John Cryan, uh, will be Ann Wade. You’ll be not only led by women, the firm will be led by two women. There — there’s nothing like that in the hedge fund universe at all. GREW: It’s phenomenal, um, and Ann is a superstar. I’m very, very lucky to also work with board, we’re very luck to work with a board at Man that is — that is brilliant and engaged and highly qualified. And that with Ann has been, again, the master of transition, the master of how we think of succession at Man has been very deep in the way that the board has thought about the succession of the chair has also been a very, very in-depth, assessment and analysis. Buy happens stance we are in this position with Ann and myself, I’ve got to tell you it’s going to be brilliant, but it’s not because we’re women, it’s because we’re the best people to take these roles. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about the best people, the firm is 144.7 billion in assets. Let’s round it up to 145 as much as my compliance people hate when I do that. How do you guys’ plan on growing the assets, do you have any targets in mind? Do you want to get to 200 billion. Is it a trillion-dollar firm a decade from now. What are you thinking about? GREW: And it’s — it’s a great question, it’s also an early question let’s be clear. So um, I’m going to perhaps not give you the satisfactory answer you want. Nevertheless, you’d expect me to do exactly just what I’m about to do. The firm is brilliant, I mean it has a cracking core business and my number one job apart from anything is not to break that because that is value and it’s real and it will continue to grow. We will continue to see the value of technology and we have 35 years, 40 years of quant and data and tech behind us and we will continue to invest in that space. We will continue to look for opportunities in an MLA format. We’ve made it very clear to the market. Um, can’t guess what they’re going to be. Couldn’t tell you if I did know. But I can’t guess what that’s going to be. What I will tell you is it will additive, and it will be additive for our clients. Ultimately this is about having deeper and better client offerings. It’s that piece about the solutions that we talked about earlier. How do I ensure that I’ve got each of the components that can provide a better offering for our institutional clients. And we’ll grow that. U.S. massively important to us. Deep capitol market, you’ll absolutely see us putting effort and time into building our presence here too. RITHOLTZ: Looking forward to that. Tell us a little bit about your background in environmental, social and governance-based investing. GREW: It certainly has become a little bit controversial here but yes, so let me talk — let me talk about our background. We — in the early 2000’s we had our first sort of um, involvement in creating on thinking about climate and signing up to various supplies of information when it came to climate data. Um, and but it really, let’s be clear, it’s ESG as a concept has really hotted up, if I’m allowed to use that phrase. RITHOLTZ: Sure. GREW: With ESG. In the last — RITHOLTZ: No pun intended? GREW: No pun intended, maybe a tiny pun intended. In the last five years or so, where you see the massive change in the European regulatory environment. We have these article eight and article nine funds which are responsible investing funds, you know, you have to have a certain percentage of responsive investing and um, investments within them that can differ between article nine and article eight. Um, where we’ve moved away from exclusionness where things are becoming more complex and where data points are becoming more interesting and where um, drive investment decisions. We have certainly seen an uptick of investment interest in RI in Europe. There’s almost a point where you can’t have a conversation with somebody in Europe without the client, without there being an RI piece to it. RITHOLTZ: RI meaning? GREW: Responsible Investing. RITHOLTZ: Okay. GREW: My apologies. And so ESG RI interchangeable in this space. Um, but — but a comment I would say more generally is, since when didn’t we take into account governance and risk in investment decision making? That’s — that’s the bit that I find quite interesting here. So when I answer your questions, I answered in the format of what you’re really asking me which is the ESG kind of concept. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: When actually, you extract governance, and you say do we look like a governance of issuers. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: Who doesn’t? RITHOLTZ: It’s a risk screen if any. GREW: It’s a risk screen. And so, the way that we think about ESG at Man, is not as an evangelical point where I soap box you into saying what is right and wrong. That’s not what we’re here to do. We’re here as product providers, solution providers to our clients. And so, if a client comes to us and says I want to have a portfolio which has – which uses its impact. If I want to look at biodiversity, if I want to invest in, and his has not happened by the way, but you know, it only boards which, I only want to invest in publicly listed companies where 50 percent of the boards are made up of diverse candidates. Doesn’t happen, but these criteria, that’s where we are placed. Now, the difference that Man has is that what is happening is that there is a chunk of data out there that is holy inconsistent, highly complex, multiply sourced, and damn right contradictory. And what we can do with that is apply those 35-40 years of data science, quants and tech capability. I can throw 500 people at that if I wanted to. Well, we don’t need to, to understand what the signals are in that space. But it isn’t that everything that we do at Man Group is now, has to be ESG, it’s what do clients want. And we certainly have clients who will only want something that is responsibly invested in some format, and we have a lot of clients who don’t. RITHOLTZ: When you say the data is contradictory, there’s been some studies that have shown that ESG doesn’t generate any form of alpha or alphaperformance, very often tied to how well oil companies are doing because if you pull those out it’s a major component. And there’s others that say we’ve mentioned the risk component, hey, if you have a lot of companies with bad governance, they have a disconcerting tendency to blow up and crash. Uh, how do you reconcile these different data points or is it all in the framing and the definition of what ESG is or, what diversity and inclusion means? GREW: Well, it — it great question Barry. I think what you are pulling out there is the complexity of the questions let alone the answer. So, fundamentally, yes it has something to do with strategy. If you were in a growth strategy last year that had ESG — RITHOLTZ: Didn’t matter. GREW: Didn’t matter. If right, so, some of this is also about extracting the ESG factor not just understanding and understanding it as against the strategy that ESG was attached to. Absolutely, you’re finding, if you’re a hydroelectric company, and where your hydroelectric base is, is now suffering from drought, every year. If you are a wind company and wind patterns for the last few years have been off considerably. These are climate change, but they take into account effectively the effectiveness of your business. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: Now, so — so how do you — how do you extract the various points of that to make it a decent thesis. And the argument is what is it that you want to achieve as a client? What are you after? And are you willing, and some points of this, is the discussion out there that happens with some clients, is — is it all about P&L? Is it about alpha capture or is there a willingness here to actually say, actually, I’m more interested in, I want P & L, I want alpha capture and I actually want social impact. Or I want climate impact, or I want decarbonization. The other piece of this is, there are absolute strategies which are about transition. And transition is about recognizing the journey, between where we are between carbon and greenhouse gas vs. where a company might be going. So, you will have, and we have had clients who say I am interested in, I still want to look at all the gas and fossil fuels, but I’m interested in the transition. I’m interested in who is really putting money to work to transition from those fossil fuels into radiopuls (ph) for example. So, a complex question which then begets some fortunately, a complex answer. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about diversity and inclusion. How do you think about that as a manager and then how do you think about that as an investor? GREW: We turn a mirror on ourselves, let’s be clear. You know that — that’s important, we continue to put every effort into seeking and having difference in our organization. I mean real difference as well. I think this piece about, I’m not really interested in the person who is different on the outside but actually went through all the same educational processes and the same training. I think we need difference — RITHOLTZ: By the way, it’s funny you mention that. But there was just a study recently and I don’t remember if it was the Times or Wall Street Journal or Bloomberg, that had the story, the vast majority of economists were working in finance, went to the same six grad schools. So, what does it matter how they look, it’s the same widget coming out of the same factory. GREW: And we’ve got to get comfortable as well, let’s be clear. We have to be comfortable with discomfort. If you want real diversity — RITHOLTZ: Say that again, comfortable with discomfort. GREW: Comfortable with discomfort. When you are in a room and you can connect over your whatever it may be, it doesn’t really matter what your connections, your school or your experience in life, where you, your football team, your and by that I meant — RITHOLTZ: Soccer. GREW: Soccer. Anyway, that thing, that — that’s what we do as human beings. As human beings we try to connect with each other, that is how we smooth the conversations and how we move things forward. Actually, when you have real difference in the room it feels kind of uncomfortable. It feels a little bit jarring from time to time. Well, what do you mean you don’t understand, or you don’t get that or that wasn’t an easy conversation. We gravitate as human beings towards easier conversations where we find commonality. And what we’re asking of our organizations is to make it a little bit more friction full not friction less in that space. But I am 1,000 percent, I shouldn’t say that I know it’s a bad phrase, I’m 100 percent — RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: Um — RITHOLTZ: Thank you so much for that by the way, because my question is always, why 1,000, why not 2,000? GREW: Why not 2,000. 100 percent sure that we need, and there is a war for the best talent. And if we think, if the premise that — that only the best people come from um, certain demographics. RITHOLTZ: Your tribe. GREW: Your tribe. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: Is when you say it out loud, nonsense. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: So, how we get people into our organizations that feel, look and have difference and how we ensure that we give them the space to be that different in our organizations that’s the criticality to it. That bit of, yeah — yeah, it’s okay, we’ll have you and then please can you be like us. You’ve got to know how to create an organization which actually gives people the space to be different, because that’s what you’re getting them for. It’s a bit like an acquisition where you understand the commercial reality of it, you buy something because of its commercial differentiation and then you bring it in, and you try to squish it into something that degrades that commercial benefit. It’s the same with people, we’ve got to bring people in, you’ve got to let them fly and you’ve got to be comfortable, perhaps being a little bit more uncomfortable than you were before. RITHOLTZ: All the academic studies say if you want to avoid group thinking, if you want better decisions, the more diverse the group the more likely you are to — to reach a better decision. So even that discomfort, there’s some academic research that supports it right? GREW: Absolutely, over and over again you see the academic research and yet, it think there’s an arrogance that we’ve had in our industry a little bit, which has been that great people will come to us. And then we suddenly woke up a little while ago, especially as tech became so incredibly important to all of us, that there were other options for these very smart people. That they didn’t have to come and work at hedge funds, or maybe they weren’t interested in finance, what? How could that possibly, what, how could that be Barry? You and I — RITHOLTZ: Shocking. GREW: Shocking right? RITHOLTZ: I’ll let you in on a little secret. I’m a recovering attorney myself, so I — I get it. GREW: Right? So, it was attorney’s anonymous where you go to, anyway that aside. The so — so we suddenly found ourselves believing that we are great, therefore great people will come. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: And actually, not so much. The — the — that — those new generations have many more choices on how to deploy that expertise and actually, they look at us and they say why would I come and work for an organization where you don’t look like me, you don’t feel like me, you don’t understand me, and you’ll make me do stuff I don’t want to do. And by the way I’ve watched billions and I’m – I’m this is the difficult part of the podcast, I just made a funny face, but the point being, we have to do, and we’ve had to do a much better job I think in — in joining up the dots for that brilliant talent that’s coming through. About what we do and why we’re valuable and why it matters that we do what we do and why they are important part of ensuring financial security for millions of people who have worked very, very hard their whole lives and deserve a high-quality return on their pension. RITHOLTZ: So, I’ve always imagined the competition for the best talent is between financial companies. What you’re really saying is finance is an entity collectively has to compete against other — GREW: Absolutely. RITHOLTZ: Fields and institutions. GREW: Every day of the week. Every day of the week and maybe it’s startups, maybe that piece or maybe its Tesla or maybe it’s Facebook or maybe it’s Google, maybe it’s any number of these other spaces that are tech enabled and where their doing this their — their PR — their PR is better, has been smarter than ours and you know that piece where we use — where people skate board in the office bit, you know and I think we’ve had to be a little bit smarter and a little less scathing and a little more humble to ensure that we really are the employer or the industry or version of that choice for the best and brightest. And that includes people who are different, and they look at financial services and they don’t see difference. (BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So let me dredge up a quote of yours. GREW: Uh-oh. RITHOLTZ: That I thought was quite fascinating. You told somebody recently and I believe it was after you were named incoming CEO, “I’ve never been in the majority, whether because I was a woman, and or someone who proudly identifies as part of the LGBTQ community and that can create challenges and means that prejudice has been in a reality for me at different points in my career.” How does that affect how you run a company, how you engage in recruitment and how you think about diversity and inclusion? GREW: I think it’s given me insight. I think when you live it, when it’s your lived experience, you know it and you feel it. I think also I am now in a position and have been, I guess, for the last few years of being proof positive that people who are different can — can be in senior positions and can now run companies. I think that the prejudice for me, just kind of made me more punchy and made me more determined to succeed. So I think it makes me better at understanding what it feels like when you don’t belong. When you’re on the outside of conversation. When the culture of an organization genuinely isn’t inclusive. And that it’s not about checking boxes, it’s about investing in your culture and your organization in a way that’s very, very authentic. I — I’m lucky in many ways, I never struggled with the I shouldn’t be this, this isn’t what society wants, I’m never going to succeed. I don’t know what happened, but that bypassed me. Luckily. And so I’ve always been the way I really am today and that has been extraordinarily good for me in large part, but it’s not been without issue. I just think that I’ve overcome those issues which makes them something that I’m alive for other people. That in my organization and beyond, those struggles are still real. RITHOLTZ: Huh, really, really quite fascinating. Let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all of our guests, starting with what have you been entertaining yourself with, what are you listening to or watching or streaming? GREW: So, what I — I — Guilty — Guilty, what I’m watching. I have — I love Ted Lasso. RITHOLTZ: What’s not to love, it’s a delightful show. GREW: It’s a brilliant show and I think that it — it seems to, it’s the feel-good thing we kind of all need at t the moment, it feels to me as well. So, Ted Lasso — RITHOLTZ: I don’t even think that’s a guilty pleasure, the acting is great, the writing is so sharp. GREW: It’s fabulous. So sharp. RITHOLTZ: And people who like it are embarrassed, and go I like Ted Lasso. Why shouldn’t you like it, it’s fantastic. GREW: I find myself quoting Ted Lasso. What — perhaps not Ted Lasso himself but there are definitely points where I may be channeling some of the other characters. Definitely. Podcasts, I — I — well, obviously it would be wrong, Barry for me to not say you. RITHOLTZ: Stop. GREW: Stop — stop. But — but I — I do find — some of the series very useful. I find some of the Goldman stuff very useful. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. GREW: But I also find when I dip into, you know, Talk Easy, or I’ll dip into Dark Shepherd from time to time because it’s really interesting, hearing some of that sort of outside (inaudible). You’re finding yourself with somebody different, asking people like us different questions. RITHOLTZ: Really intriguing. Tell us about your mentors who helped shape your career. GREW: Goodness. This isn’t an exception speech. But I’ve been super lucky through every part from — from my university days through here’s — here’s something I’ll admit to. There is not one company that I have worked for or regulator that I worked for where I’m not still in touch with, my old bosses. And that is because they took the time to work at who I was and then they put me to work. And I will forever be grateful for that willingness to step back, not take a box, but invest in me as an individual and then work at what I was good at and then make it better. And so, there’s not one person through any part, you know, but I would say one of the most transformational mentors or allies or sponsors or whatever, is Luke. I have had enormous benefit from having his confidence and he has pushed me like no one else. RITHOLTZ: Huh. Really — really quite intriguing. I very much enjoyed my conversation with him also, fascinating person. GREW: He is, he’s — RITHOLTZ: Really fascinating. GREW: He’s everything and more. RITHOLTZ: Huh. Let’s talk about some of your favorite books and what you’re reading lately. GREW: So, living in Japan, gives you a bit of an insight on many things so, any Japanese author, um, Murakami, anytime Murakami puts anything out I read it then I read it again. RITHOLTZ: I’m assuming you’re reading the translated version in English not in the original. GREW: You know, I wish I was that smart. I tell you something actually about it, really good point. The translators of these books, aren’t they gifted? RITHOLTZ: Really. GREW: I mean, because it’s not just a word – it’s not like put it into Google and see what you get. It’s — RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: It’s everything and that is fine. That is just an extraordinary capability. So anything in that sort of Murakami space. What’s open on my bedside table right now, is the I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read it. But is Orlando. And — RITHOLTZ: Really. GREW: There is something extraordinary about that transformational through time, through gender, through experience. There’s something that’s really quite fascinating. I’m not saying it’s an easy book to read, I’m just saying it just happens to be the one I reopened a month ago and I’m still going through. RITHOLTZ: Interesting. And now we’re down to our final two questions. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who was thinking about a career in finance. GREW: Do it. I would — I mean — I think if, don’t expect it to be what you think it is. experience it without any form of prejudice in some ways or without any form of expectation. I would also say go for it in a take the opportunities. What finance does which is I had not anticipated, but is why I’m still in it, is it’s fast, it’s intellectually demanding, it has reached beyond its real estate footprint, it has impact, it is topical, it covers geopolitical risk. There isn’t a part of the world or society it doesn’t impact and if you embrace it, on that basis, the opportunities are actually endless. So, be yourself, go for it, don’t think too much about ladders and what your next title is or whatever that stuff is. Just immerse yourself in it and take every opportunity that is given to you. RITHOLTZ: Really interesting advice. And our final question, what do you know about the world of investing and finance and hedge funds for that matter that you wish you knew 25-30 years ago when you were first starting out? GREW: I don’t think I wish I’d known anything. I think that my slightly wide eyed, slightly intrigued, slightly uneducated start point in finance was almost a gift. Because my expectations weren’t there, because I didn’t need to know because I just was hungry to learn. Because I didn’t really think about corporate structure or what my next job was. RITHOLTZ: Right. GREW: And it was freeing, and I look back on my career and I look back on the experiences and I look back on the people, some of whom still work for me. And I — I’m not sure I’d change that. And so I’m okay with where I was. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. Robyn, thank you for being so generous with your time. This has been absolutely intriguing. We have been speaking with Robyn Grew. She is the incoming Chief Executive Officer at Man Group. If you enjoyed this conversation, well, be sure and check out any of the other 500 or so we’ve done over the past eight years. You can find those at Spotify, iTunes, YouTube or wherever you find your favorite Podcast. Be sure and sign up for our daily reads at Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. Follow all of the fine family of Bloomberg podcasts at Podcasts. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack team that helps with these conversations together each week. Bob Bragg is my audio engineer, Atika Valbrun is my project manager, Paris Wald is our Producer, Sean Russo is my head of research. I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio. END   ~~~   The post Transcript: Robyn Grew appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureMay 23rd, 2023

Evidence of the first recorded romantic kiss dating back 4,500 years has been discovered

Researchers revealed their findings on the "ancient history of kissing" in Mesopotamian societies, in an article published in Science. Babylonian clay model showing a nude couple on a couch engaged in sex and kissing from 1800 BC.Trustees of the British Museum/University of Copenhagen New research into Ancient Mesopotamia suggests people kissed romantically 4,500 years ago. The finding would mean humans began kissing 1,000 years earlier than previously thought. The article published in Science reveals kissing did not originate in one region, scientists say. Records of the very first romantic kiss date back at least 4,500 years ago, new evidence suggests, about 1,000 years earlier than scientists previously thought. In a new article published in Science, researchers from the University of Copenhagen and the University of Oxford revealed their findings on the "ancient history of kissing" after drawing on clay tablets and other materials from early Mesopotamian societies. Ancient Mesopotamia is considered to be roughly the land that is now modern-day Iraq and Syria. It was previously believed the earliest evidence of romantic-sexual lip kissing in humans originated in South Asia 3,500 years ago. Then it spread to other regions, according to the University of Copenhagen. The new research challenges these theories and suggests kissing was common across many different regions and cultures, starting much earlier.  In examining the clay tablets written in cuneiform script in the research, the scientists noted that in the Akkadian language, kissing is divided into two groups: "friendly and familial affection" and "erotic action." "Many thousands of these clay tablets have survived to this day, and they contain clear examples that kissing was considered a part of romantic intimacy in ancient times, just as kissing could be part of friendships and family members' relations," Troels Pank Arbøll, an expert on the history of medicine in Mesopotamia and co-author of the article, said in a statement. "Therefore, kissing should not be regarded as a custom that originated exclusively in any single region and spread from there but appears to have been practiced in multiple ancient cultures over several millennia," Arbøll said.Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images While the exact origins of romantic kissing remain uncertain, the study said, there is some possible evidence that it may have occurred even before the advent of writing. "In fact, research into bonobos and chimpanzees, the closest living relatives to humans, has shown that both species engage in kissing, which may suggest that the practice of kissing is a fundamental behavior in humans, explaining why it can be found across cultures," Sophie Lund Rasmussen, co-author of the study, said. The researchers also examined sexually-transmitted diseases in early kissing and its "unintentional role" in the transmission of herpes simplex virus 1 — also known as cold sores. Arbøll noted a "substantial corpus of medical texts from Mesopotamia" that mentioned symptoms reminiscent of the virus. While this cannot be taken entirely "at face value" due to the influence of certain religious and cultural overtones, he said, "it is nevertheless interesting to note some similarities between the disease known as buʾshanu in ancient medical texts."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytMay 21st, 2023

Counter-Disinformation: The New Snake Oil

Counter-Disinformation: The New Snake Oil Authored by Tom Wyatt via Racket News, The San Diego Convention Center was packed with the defense industry elite. Boeing, Northrup Grumman, Booz Allen Hamilton, and a myriad of other arms industry salesmen, hungry to peddle their wares. WEST Conference 2023 is billed as the “premier naval conference and exposition on the West Coast.” A collective of military leaders and titans of the defense industry, intermingled in incestuous harmony. The WEST 2023 conference in San Diego. It was a world with which I was well acquainted. After all, I had spent the past fifteen years in the Navy as a Special Warfare Boat Operator, using tools and weapons built by these very defense companies. My call to service came unexpectedly at the tail end of my high school senior year. I left for bootcamp on Valentine’s Day, 2007, and immediately entered the world of Naval Special Warfare upon completion. While the rest of my graduating class received tutelage at universities around the country, mine came by way of the military elite. Over a decade and a half, I received an education in Special Reconnaissance, Unconventional Warfare and tradecraft. Many of the friends and former colleagues I met along the way now worked for these defense contractors, and perhaps, in another life, I’d be a participant in this conference. As it turned out, I was there as a spectator only. I watched as a sea of suits and lanyards moved in waves throughout the lobby outside the convention floor. Thousands of exhibitors and participants waited in line to get their credentials, exchanging cards and networking as they sized up the competition. As I surveyed the crowd, I noticed something familiar in the attendees’ faces. There was a look of out-of-place discomfort. Tattoos peeking out of cuffs and collars of the business attire their bodies seemed to be rejecting. It was the look of the defense industry’s freshman class, those who had just made the leap from serving in the armed forces to being arms proliferators. The conference embodied the idea of the military industrial complex’s self-licking ice cream cone structure. There was no discernible line between merchandiser and consumer, just a single organism supporting itself. In 2021, the Revolving Door Project released a report titled “The Military-Industrial-Think Tank Complex: Conflict of Interest at the Center for a New American Security,” that trained a troubling spotlight on one of the most prominent defense-minded think tanks.  According to its website, the Center for a New American Society (CNAS) “is an independent, bipartisan, nonprofit organization that develops strong, pragmatic, and principled national security and defense policies.” The defense industry-funded group claims to “elevate the national security debate” by providing innovative research to policymakers and experts in the field. But given the whiff of defense industry influence around the organization, its high-level engagement with Washington’s most powerful figures raises numerous red flags.  A major point of concern presented by the Revolving Door Project, was, ironically CNAS’ own revolving door. According to the report, there are “16 CNAS alumni who have been selected for foreign policy and national security policy-making positions in the Biden administration.” Among them: Avril Haines, a former CNAS Board of Directors member who became Biden’s Director of National Intelligence in 2021, and Colin Kahl, the current Undersecretary of Defense Policy, a former CNAS Senior Fellow.  The report also includes instances of the think tank pushing agendas that directly benefit its membership, such as the collusion between CNAS and the United Arab Emirates to promote relaxed restrictions for exporting US drones. Not surprisingly, CNAS board member Neal Blue’s company, General Atomic, had an existing contract worth nearly $200 million with the UAE for drone production. The report reads: CNAS receives large contributions directly from defense contractors, foreign governments, and the US government; publishes research and press material that frequently supports the interests of its sponsors without proper disclosure; and even gives its financial sponsors an official oversight role in helping to shape the organization’s research. WEST 2023 offered yet another venue for private companies to seek out such connections, pushing an agenda that “supports the interests” of the defense industry–a kind of speed dating for the military industrial complex. And while the familiar mechanisms of war, like drones and submarines, were on display, the spotlight was on weapons of the information space. Panel after panel featured cybersecurity and electronic warfare experts giving discussions on information operations, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities. The conference seemed to embody the new horizon for the defense industry: Information Warfare.  Counter-Terrorism to Great Power Competition “In hindsight, we should’ve never taken our eye off the Great Power Competition,” the counter-disinformation expert said, referring to the historical focus on traditional preparation for conflict against countries like China and Russia. Her mastery of the subject was honed over a decade through the study of forensic psychology and counter-extremism strategies. She had worked across the public and private sectors, countering the dangerous narratives of violent extremists. At the end of World War II, the power that had previously been distributed across multiple nations was now consolidated by the US and Soviet Union. American foreign policy entered the era of Great Power Competition (GPC), a contest for global dominance and influence pitting the two former allies in a Highlander-style deathmatch to see who prevailed as the one true superpower. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US focused on maintaining this strategic edge, until a decade later when the towers fell.  After 9/11, the US reoriented its foreign policy around a new acronym: GWOT (Global War on Terror). The Spy vs. Spy tactics of the Cold War were obsolete now that the deadly effects of adversarial narratives had been demonstrated. While propaganda used by the Soviet Union (and the US, for that matter) was aimed at deceiving, disrupting and undermining the adversary, terrorist organizations focused their messaging campaigns on radicalization, targeting at-risk Muslim communities into armies of holy warriors.  The seemingly archaic, global network of radical Islamists tapped into the far-reaching technology of the world wide web to spread their message and indoctrinate would-be jihadists. To combat this ideological plague, the US began crafting counter-messaging tools and methodologies, giving birth to what would become an updated version of a counter-disinformation industry that had existed as far back as 1942, when Voice of America began broadcasting counter-narratives into Nazi Germany. These efforts ranged from a “whac-a-mole” style process of detecting and eliminating terrorist propaganda to enlisting moderate Muslim leaders to push a counter-message. A 1947 Voice of America broadcast It’s no revelation that you can’t carpet bomb an ideology, so while the concept of fighting extremist narratives online to tamp down on global terrorism seems logical on its face, according to the industry expert I interviewed, “In practice, it’s not very effective.”  This sentiment was affirmed by another expert in countering extremist narratives, Caroline Moreno, who formerly ran the counter-terrorism training program at the FBI Academy in Quantico, VA. “Counter messaging, when it comes from the US government, loses its credibility,” said Moreno.  It is understandable, in an unfamiliar world of ideology-based violence and radicalization, that some trial and error would occur along the path to understanding such a complex adversary. Tactics, of course, are developed over time and situationally based. Before 9/11, the military was focused on the most logical adversary, a conventional state actor, but had to adapt to the irregular warfare landscape of counter-terrorism operations. The operators and ground-pounders on the frontlines get a real-world education in the necessary fluidity of such tactics, but the military monolith is often slow to adopt lessons gleaned from battle. To further complicate the matter, there are always plenty of defense industry opportunists promoting their tactics as dogma, such as the failed “hearts and minds” approach to counterinsurgency, further setting back any notion of catching up with the current threat, and the shift from the war on terror to the GPC has only exacerbated this strategic buffering.  The shift from counter-terrorism to GPC occurred long before the official end of the GWOT. Although some within the defense and intelligence communities saw the writing on the wall for some time, the declared pivot came in 2018 with the new National Defense Strategy, issued by then Secretary of Defense James Mattis. Former Defense Secretary James Mattis “Long-term strategic competitions with China and Russia,” the guidance reads,” are the principal priorities for the Department [of Defense].” The Pentagon, in other words, was announcing plans to take us back to a Cold War mindset. In a space-race type fashion, we would need to outfox the competition in arms, technology and influence in order to maintain our world power monopoly. Unfortunately, our drawdown in the Middle East and the swan song of the war on terror would mean a natural decrease in the defense budget, hampering any lofty dreams of competition. Unless, of course, the new threat required a level of spending generally associated with kinetic warfare. A little thing like the absence of active armed conflict shouldn’t stop the growth of the defense industry. And in that spirit, the Pentagon’s budget reached its highest level last year, a whopping $816 billion.  A Brief PRIMER on Information Operations During my final six years of service, in a move that seemed to parallel the national defense strategy, I shifted from Counter-Terrorism focused special boat operations to conducting sensitive intelligence activities aimed at the Great Power Competition. Our task was to clandestinely prepare the battlespace, establishing an operational environment that would give us an advantage in the event of a hot war, but more importantly, shaping the environment so that our adversary couldn’t do the same. Our best tool in this endeavor was Information Operations. A Joint Chiefs of Staff publication on Information Operations, Joint Publication 3-13, reads: Information Operations (IO) are described as the integrated employment of electronic warfare (EW), computer network operations (CNO), psychological operations (PSYOP), military deception (MILDEC), and operations security (OPSEC), in concert with specific supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt, or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own. I’d left this world behind when I found myself at WEST 2023. Now a mere observer of the military industrial complex, I picked up a copy of Signal to orient myself to the occasion. Signal is the official magazine of the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association, or AFCEA, one of WEST 2023’s many sponsors. In fact, the conference had so many sponsors that it developed a funder caste system, segregating the donors into categories such as Premier, Platinum, Gold and Silver.  Amongst defense heavyweights Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, was a lesser-known company down in the silver category named Primer. Primer is one of the many artificial intelligence and machine learning-focused companies orbiting the defense industry. Aside from AT&T, the silver sponsors blended together in an indistinguishable list of obscure defense contractors, and perhaps Primer would’ve remained obscure, too, had the company not acquired Yonder, an Austin, Texas-based “information integrity” company. Primer had already entered the disinformation space, in 2020, when it won a Small Business Innovation Research, or SBIR, contract with the Air Force and Special Operation Command, SOCOM, to develop the first machine learning platform to automatically identify and assess suspected disinformation. This evolution into the disinformation world was fully realized with its 2022 acquisition of Yonder, an “information integrity” company focused on detecting and disrupting disinformation campaigns online. Yonder, originally New Knowledge, rose to prominence when they co-authored a report to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Russian influence campaigns leading up to the 2016 Presidential election. Ironically, New Knowledge’s own foray into election meddling would make them a household name. During the 2017 Alabama Senate race, New Knowledge’s CEO, Jonathon Morgan, created a fake Facebook page and Twitter “botnet” with the intent of persuading votes for the Democratic candidate.  “We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet,” said an internal document from Morgan’s project.  In another bit of controversy, New Knowledge, in the wake of the alleged Russian election meddling of 2016, helped develop a disinformation dashboard with the German Marshall Fund’s Alliance for Securing Democracy, or ASD. The dashboard, named Hamilton 68, acted as a repository for supposed Twitter accounts linked to Russian influence operatives, with access limited to a select few. This was ASD’s golden tablet, and only journalists and academics could wield the seer stone.  Unfortunately for all involved, including the media who treated the information as gospel, the dashboard proved most successful at identifying overzealous conservatives from middle America. This legacy, and all its implications, came part and parcel with Yonder’s acquisition. In Primer’s catalog of machine learning products, Yonder is billed as a tool capable of identifying bad actors and narrative manipulation — Primer’s very own weapon against Information Operations.  Disinformation, propaganda, active measures — whatever you call it, the name of the game is Information Operations, or IO. In a war where battles are left of boom–where the strategy is to manipulate the information landscape to gain a competitive advantage over your adversary–a cat-and-mouse-like game develops.  But with the advent of the internet, and its compounding stores of information, the task of determining what is real and what is fake is too much to ask of us mere mortals. Thus the need for a Yonder-style solution. “I’m not a fan of the term disinformation,” the counter-disinformation expert said.  The statement came as a bit of throat clearing for the industry expert, as she digressed into a brief indictment of the trade she very much believes in. “It’s been politicized. Even though disinformation has a distinct definition, it’s now being used as a label for any unwelcome information that someone doesn’t like, even when that information is true.”  A new industry has developed out of the great disinformation scare. A mishmash of government, academic and private industry experts, come together to identify what is true, and what isn’t. Or at least their idea of what they would like to be true and not true.  Most, if not all, countries dabble in information manipulation, not to mention non-state tricksters and deception artists, so it makes sense that you would need a cross-functional team of experts for such an undertaking. And given the implications of an information governing body, a kind of truth authority, you would damn well expect that all parties involved would be aboveboard.   But… “Any industry has hucksters,” the expert said. The term huckster, perhaps because of its old world feel, brought to mind a scene from the Clint Eastwood film The Outlaw Josey Wales: The camera pans across a dusty frontier town as a carpetbagging salesman in a white suit holds the attention of a crowd, proselytizing about his magic elixir. “What’s in it?” a man from the crowd asks. “Ehh…I don’t know, various things. I’m only the salesman,” the man in the white suit replies. He looks the salesman up and down. “You drink it,” the man says as he walks off. The man in white looks shaken by the question. He recomposes himself before returning to the crowd. “Well, what can you expect from a non-believer?” Enter the New Snake Oil Salesman “You can charge more if you call it information operations,” said one veteran, working in commercial Information Operations. He asked that I not reveal the company he works for but needless to say, it is one of the many government contracted companies peddling AI driven counter-disinformation products. His voice was flat with a dry, matter of fact delivery. There was no surprise in this revelation, not for him at least. “And the higher the clearance level [of the project], the more money.” The second part was less surprising. Anyone familiar with government contracts will share my lack of shock. It has been my experience that government contracts are reliably unreliable. The only thing you can count on is a cronyistic leveraging of relationships within the Department of Defense (DOD).  One former Primer employee referred to this as the “kabuki theater”: A vague request from the government, limited by over-classification and reluctance to “give too much away,” followed by a lavish set of promises from the contract winner, despite not having the specificity to deliver a quality product. These hollow requests make it impossible for the company to even know if they can deliver their empty promises.  “We need a machine learning tool, capable of dissecting media posts to identify and catalog state sponsored disinformation,” a DOD contracting officer might say to a Primer account executive.  “What systems will this work on?” the account executive asks. “Classified ones.” “Can we have access to them? It will help us.” “Nope, classified.” “Can we at least...” “Nope. Here’s $10 million, good luck!” The end result is just what you’d expect: an overly expensive useless doodad. Any oversight from the requesting agency is unlikely to catch this before it’s too late, given they rarely have the technical expertise to know what they are asking for in the first place.  “I don’t even use my company’s products,” the IO expert said, “I don’t find any of it useful.” Even though his work is in information operations, he says it is more akin to public relations than traditional IO, just layered in secrecy for effect. This was not the first time I’d heard the comparison to the PR/ marketing world. As a matter of fact, the counter-disinformation expert suggested that many of the tools marketed to counter disinformation are simply recycled marketing products. Companies use social listening software, designed to analyze consumer wants by monitoring their online behavior, and marketing tools to construct the perfect narrative to sell their product. So to detect “bad” narratives, one only has to reverse engineer the process. “Marketers use these types of social listening tools to understand who their target audience is, how to best reach them, and how best to craft a viral message. Analysts can use them to understand how state-sponsored messages traverse across the internet, hopping from platform to platform, and if they’re resonating with target audiences,” the counter-disinformation expert said. So what? Many popular products were originally meant for some other use. Viagra was supposed to lower blood pressure, now it just redirects it. What’s the problem in finding a secondary use for a product that already exists? Nothing, provided you don’t make outlandish claims about the “new” product. “With Yonder, you can slice through streams of social media to gain contextual intelligence on narratives – including their authenticity and likely trajectory of amplification…Understanding the intent, affiliations, and influence of adversarial networks provides you with critical insight into emerging topics and events before they go viral.” Other companies in the counter-disinformation industry, like Graphika, Two Six Technologies and PeakMetrics, make similar claims using comparable marketing terminology for their AI driven products. It turns out, however, that regardless of the efficacy of these tools, the Defense Department is not equipped to handle them. “The tech solutions aren’t all that great,” the IO expert said. “The DOD isn’t advanced enough, doesn’t have the infrastructure to keep up with the contracted solutions”. The bureaucracy of DOD acquisitions leaves the military in a perpetual state of obsolescence, always behind the powercurve of technology and innovation of their defense industry counterparts.   “The US is doing a shit job at [countering] disinformation,” the IO expert said, in another bit of optimistic revelation. One problem is the lack of organization in the effort. While government agencies like the Department of State’s Global Engagement Center (GEC) claim to “direct, lead, synchronize, integrate, and coordinate U.S. Federal Government efforts to recognize, understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation,” the reality is a scattered series of efforts across the government and private entities. This resulting chaos is exacerbated by the fact that the GEC is largely staffed by Foreign Service Officers and contractors, who typically don’t have a background or deep understanding of IO or disinformation. There are, of course, actual IO professionals in the space, both on the government and private side of things. These subject matter experts are a hot commodity in the task saturated world of the counter-disinformation industry, but that doesn’t mean that any IO hack can make the grade. To ensure they get the very elite, the industry has stringent requirements: X number of years as an IO expert, an active Top Secret security clearance, SCIF (sensitive compartmentalized information facility) access, and, of course, the ever-important connections to the right people. What you end up with is a small pool of the same industry experts, playing a game of musical chairs from place to place, ensuring the same entrenched mindset manifests across all aspects of the industry. A Collective Paranoia The military is a paranoid organization. If you need proof, look no further than the posters plastered all over military installations. “Loose lips…might sink ships,” reads one poster. “He’s Watching You,” reads another.  The paranoia, however, is justifiable in many instances. Being the most powerful military inspires competition, and competition can be ugly. Espionage, sabotage and propaganda are always on the menu of adversary tactics to deceive and compromise. The modern disinformation scare has, no doubt, exacerbated this paranoia. Healthy suspicion, the kind that keeps the evildoers at bay, sometimes turns toxic, resulting in operational paralysis and rampant mistrust, setting off a chain of reactionary measures run amuck. Since the military is reactive by nature, only really employed when there is a tangible threat, our tactics to disrupt the flow of disinformation are inherently reactive as well.  It is due to this failed strategy that the counter-disinformation expert recommends a more proactive approach to countering, or more appropriately, preventing the fallout from potential disinformation campaigns. Her recommendations: media literacy and civic engagement.  A more critical media consumer, although hard to imagine at the moment, isn’t a bridge too far, yet the civic engagement angle seems to be. As skeptical as people are of the media, it pales in comparison to the distrust many Americans have for the government. But rather than entertain ideas of how to rebuild that trust, and possibly embolden local leaders and everyday citizens to take ownership of their relationship with the information they ingest and propagate, Washington seems content with deflecting the blame onto a third party.  But for any of it to work, the two recommendations would need to be approached in tandem. “The majority of actions in the ‘proactive’ realm revolve around making people aware of the potential for misleading/manipulated information and encouraging them to engage critically with the content they consume,” the expert explains. To support her claim, she directs attention to Taiwan, who reportedly receives more fake news than any other country. Rather than succumb to the overwhelming disinformation campaign, or use artificial intelligence to detect and dismantle it, Taiwan employs the counter-disinformation experts’ proactive strategy. To achieve this, Taiwan partners with Non-Government Organizations, or NGOs, to promote early age media literacy, which the Ministry of Education has incorporated into its teaching guidelines, along with creating fact checking tools for messaging apps and social media. It is hard to know whether these tools are any more successful than the myriad of ones offered by the burgeoning counter-disinformation industry, but Taiwan’s proactive measures signal a move in a better direction.  Former Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Director Chris Krebs, an architect of modern DHS anti-disinformation policies. Perhaps initiatives like this, employed in the US and globally, can put an end to the counter-disinformation industry. It is, after all, beginning to show cracks. The recent dismantling of the Misinformation, Disinformation and Malinformation subcommittee, the murky remnants of the Department of Homeland Security’s failed Disinformation Governance Board, indicates a possible sea change. No doubt a more malevolent entity will take its place, but maybe, just maybe, this represents a retreat from the manic steps towards an Orwellian nightmare. Tyler Durden Sat, 05/20/2023 - 15:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeMay 20th, 2023

The first 5 steps that helped me become a 6-figure content creator after being fired from my tech job

Zulie Rane says it's never been easier to become a full-time content creator and shares how she grew her business in the last five years. Issarawat Tattong/Getty Images Zulie Rane makes six figures as a content creator.  She says she works as little as possible and loves her life way more than workng her 9 to 5.  Rane recommends selecting 2 platforms and tracking your time to clarify your return on investment.  I'm a freelance content creator living my absolute dream. I work as little as I can, and I love my life so much more than I did when I was working a 9 to 5.Since starting my journey as a content creator in 2018 after getting fired from my tech job, I've made over six-figures doing what I love. If you want to know exactly how to start turning your passion for creation into a career, read on.Zulie Rane now works 20 hours a week.Zulie Rane1. Select 2 platforms to post contentTo get started in your journey to become a full-time content creator, you need no more and no fewer than two platforms to publish your work on.For me, my main two homes are YouTube and my blogging platform. For you, they might be Twitch, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora. Probe your feelings  —  where do you feel most excited about doing a lot of work?Consistency isn't the factor that matters. Commitment is. If you can post for a full year, every week, on a platform, you're far more likely to be successful than if you give up after a month. Example: if you're very witty and have a good grasp of trending topics, Twitter is a good home for you. If you enjoy making polished visual content, go to Instagram or YouTube. If you like gaming, go to Twitch.2. Create a profileThe second most important step is to create a profile where you control the narrative. Someplace where you can post your content to your own rules and not worry about any distribution, whether the platform's algorithm or SEO.There are a lot of free options out there, and I recommend you start with one of them. For instance, I created this one on Wix in under two minutes. Your website should be:Cheap. Don't spend money unless you're ready to go full-time on something.Easy to manage. Don't waste time and energy learning how to manage a website if there are easier options.Simple to customize later on. Give yourself room to grow.You'll also need a social channel. You may have already chosen one of these as your platform, but I recommend selecting another if so. For example, I use Twitter and Instagram purely as part of my profile, where I post my contact information and the odd post in a strictly non-professional capacity.Your social media here should be separate from whatever your real-life one is.3. Design a content planThis is the actual meat of the matter. A content plan is going to be the skeleton of your content creator income. Don't worry too much about finding a niche early on and sticking to it . This can shift as you grow.Try to select 4–5 topics that you enjoy talking about. For example, I love writing about travel, pop culture, freelancing, and writing. I love creating videos about freelancing and blogging.What you absolutely must keep in mind is that your topics have to be:Valuable for an audience (entertaining, informational, or both), otherwise nobody outside your family and friends will consume your content.Interesting to you, otherwise you'll burn out.Something you have experience in, otherwise you'll be outcompeted.The most important factor here is that it is a schedule you'll be able to keep up.Be honest with yourself: can you post twice a week on your platform? If not, then scale back to once.There's always a misconception that more is better. I find that's false for two reasons. First, I've found successful content creators on every platform (yes, including TikTok) who don't post as often as they "should." And they're still killing it.4. Track your timeWhen you're doing what you love, it's easy to sink hours into it and not look back. Don't fall into that trap: track your time.This is important for two reasons.You will have a much better understanding of where your time is going. When you look back, you'll be able to know whether your efforts are worth it.You will be able to value your time once you start earning income. E.g. I know I spent 20 hours on YouTube this month and earned $500. That means my time on YouTube is worth $25/hour.I use Clockify, a free tool, to track how I spend every minute of my content creation  —  answering emails, meetings, actually writing or filming, editing, and so on. This helps me see what I'm actually spending time on, and finding a return on investment.For example, I tracked all my working hours in November 2020 and found a surprising breakdown that I spent a lot of time on YouTube and not as much as I thought on writing.Many platforms give you money through ad revenue share, like YouTube. There are also alternatives to YouTube monetization that grant income through other methods, like subscriptions.Tracking time gives you total clarity on your return on investment.5. Start building your mailing listIt's so cliche but honestly still true: email rules. Email is how you talk to your audience without algorithms or SEO. It's just people who want to hear from you.Choose an easy platform. Don't overthink the beginning! Many mailing lists are free and easy to use, like ConvertKit's basic plan (up to 1000 free subscribers before you pay a penny).There are two approaches I suggest.1."Sign up here to hear more from me." You can offer a weekly roundup of content. Post this call-to-action at the end of all the content you post, with a hyperlink to your mailing list. Pros: very easy to set up. People who sign up will be VERY keen to hear from you, because there's no incentive for them to join other than hearing more from you.Cons: you probably won't get very many subscribers.  "Join my mailing list to get X." You offer a freebie downloadable, like my five-day starter kit on Medium.Pros: You'll have a much higher rate of signups, and you start your relationship by offering real, exclusive value to your subscribers.Cons: A little harder to set up, and requires up-front work.If you're stumped on where to start, here are three beginner-friendly options:Rule of 3: Something you wrote, something you read, and a question for your followers. This helps build relationships between you and your fans as well as your peers, which never hurts. It's also a good way to start talking to your fans and understand how you can serve them.Roundup: A list of all the content you created this week, an easy way to keep fans up to date.Letter to a friend: This is how I started. I just wrote something I'd like to receive. I talked about what I'd been up to that week, and I discussed some of the challenges I've faced and how I overcame them.We live in incredible timesIt has never been so easy for literally anyone with a single creative bone in their body to become a content creator in 2023 or beyond. The platforms exist, the audience and appetite for content are huge, and there's a tremendous amount of free guidance out there.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 19th, 2023

Women in Climate Leadership: Meet 10 leaders who refuse to let the climate crisis go unchecked

Top women leaders — activists, academics, politicians, CSOs, and nonprofit and grassroots leaders — told Insider how they're tackling climate change. Sonam Velani; Nadya Kwandibens; The Solutions Project; Oatly; Wangari Muchiri; Sherry Rehman; Microsoft; Joyce Anderson; Rosemary Enobakhare; Alicia Seiger; Robyn Phelps/Insider.Insider's Women in Climate Leadership spotlights 10 leaders at the forefront of climate action in North America, Africa, and South Asia. The climate crisis disproportionally affects women, particularly those who live in disaster-prone areas, are Indigenous or Black, or identify as LGBTQ. And women are critical agents of change across communities, boardrooms, classrooms, advocacy groups, political offices, and financial organizations.Insider spoke with 10 women about their work, including Indigenous-led conservation, expanding renewable energy in Africa, helping vulnerable countries become more resilient to natural disasters, and making the food supply more sustainable.Insider's sustainability reporters and editors selected honorees based on reporting, recommendations from relevant sources, and nominations from within and outside our newsroom.Ashley Allen, the chief sustainability officer at OatlyOatly; Robyn Phelps/InsiderAfter working on international climate policy for the Obama administration, Allen saw that countries weren't prioritizing a main driver of the crisis: the food and agriculture system.The industry is responsible for an estimated one-third of global greenhouse-gas emissions. But signatories of the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit global warming by slashing emissions, were mainly focused on energy and transportation. While those areas are important, Allen said, she realized that a rapid transformation of the food supply would likely be driven by companies, not governments.We have to have more direct relationships with suppliers, processors, and farmers.Allen, 40, made the jump in 2017 to the candymaker Mars Inc., where she was the climate and land senior manager. She guided the company's work to cut emissions from its complex food supply, including developing a strategy to stop deforestation in the production of cocoa and palm oil — key ingredients in Mars' candies such as M&M's and Snickers — as well as beef, soy, pulp, and paper.That experience taught her that in order to shrink their climate impacts, food companies have to rethink the way they source ingredients. The old-school approach of buying agricultural commodities off the global market without knowing where or how they were grown is out the window, Allen said."That's the way the food system has operated for years, and it's broken," she said. "We have to have more direct relationships with suppliers, processors, and farmers."Allen is applying the lesson to her role as the chief sustainability officer at Oatly, the Swedish company that pioneered an oat-milk craze and encourages people through quirky marketing to adopt a more plant-based diet.Allen joined Oatly in 2020 as it continued a global expansion. The company aims to reduce the carbon intensity of its products by 70% per liter by 2029. This involves helping farmers move toward more sustainable operations, Allen said."We're looking at how much energy and fertilizer they use, as well as the farmers' own experience," Allen said. "We want to ensure farmers are reaping some of the benefits of producing a higher-value product."Valérie Courtois, the executive director of the Indigenous Leadership InitiativeNadya Kwandibens; Robyn Phelps/InsiderCourtois said it's no accident that 80% of the world's remaining biodiversity can be found on lands managed and beloved by Indigenous peoples.Take the boreal forest that stretches across Canada and into Alaska. It's the largest intact forest left on Earth, and also been home to Indigenous peoples for thousands of years, Courtois said. The forest is akin to the planet's lungs, absorbing more carbon per hectare than any other land-based ecosystem. It's second only to the oceans in terms of the capacity to suck carbon from the atmosphere.Courtois, 45, is a member of the Ilnu community of Mashteuiatsh but has lived in Goose Bay, Labrador, for two decades. She's a professional forester who's long been at the forefront of Indigenous-led conservation efforts in the region, including as the executive director of the Indigenous Leadership Initiative, founded in 2013. The nonprofit works on establishing Indigenous protected and conserved areas recognized by the federal government. The group also founded what's known as the Indigenous Guardians program, which has about 150 programs across the country.To protect land and water, we needed to strengthen our nations.Courtois said these guardians are the "eyes and ears" on the land and act as an expression of Indigenous peoples' stewardship responsibilities. They work on land-use planning and sustainable development. They also build relationships among Indigenous peoples' nations and with federal and provincial governments in Canada.Courtois said Indigenous nations are creating well more than 500,000 square kilometers of protected areas. That's an area about the size of Spain.She added that Canada is emerging from a "dark colonial period" and is amid reconciliation between the government and Indigenous peoples. Working with nations on land conservation is part of that process, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has recognized that doing so is the only way the country can meet its international climate and biodiversity commitments, Courtois said."To protect land and water, we needed to strengthen our nations," Courtois said.Rosemary Enobakhare, the EPA's associate administrator for public engagement and environmental educationRosemary Enobakhare; Robyn Phelps/InsiderEnobakhare doesn't consider herself an environmentalist in the traditional sense. But when she joined the Environmental Protection Agency in 2013, she quickly learned the agency's role is largely about protecting public health, especially in vulnerable communities like the one she grew up in.Enobakhare is a native of Jackson, Mississippi, which she visited last year at the height of a water crisis that left more than 140,000 predominantly Black residents without clean drinking water. Enobakhare joined three of the trips made by the EPA's administrator, Michael Regan, to meet with local officials, faith groups, and residents to discuss the emergency response and long-term fixes to the city's failing water infrastructure.The trip reminded Enobakhare why it's important that the EPA has employees like her who look like the communities they engage with."It helps build trust," Enobakhare, 36, told Insider. "I'm a hometown native, so I understood the intricacies of the community and what was happening on the ground. That helped inform some of the decisions the administrator made and also with forming authentic connections with people."How do we break those [barriers] down and make sure communities get access to this funding? That is a priority for us.Enobakhare said that in her day-to-day role leading the EPA's Office of Public Engagement and Environmental Education, she coordinates a dialogue between the agency and the American public, from businesses to environmental-justice advocates to moms worried about public health.Enobakhare's office was the architect of Regan's "Journey to Justice" tour through marginalized communities in Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Puerto Rico. Enobakhare said that seeing the environmental injustices firsthand, as well as the work communities are doing to mitigate those harms, is key as the EPA doles out $100 billion it received under President Joe Biden's bipartisan infrastructure and climate laws."Barriers of entry are high when it comes to government dollars," she said. "So how do we break those down and make sure communities get access to this funding? That is a priority for us."Enobakhare added that she's helping the agency create a pipeline of young and diverse employees by working with historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions.Jamie Margolin, a cofounder of Zero Hour, the founder of Pelea Animation, and the author of "Youth to Power"Joyce Anderson; Robyn Phelps/InsiderMargolin is playing a burned-out young climate activist in her film for a college thesis project — so more or less herself, just exaggerated."It's like a comedy-drama satire," Margolin, a junior at New York University, told Insider of the film, called "Doomers." It's about a former youth climate activist and a former NASA climate scientist who go out for a night of hedonistic destruction to celebrate giving up on fighting the climate crisis."The lesson of the story is not to throw our hands up," Margolin said. "It's just exploring the psyche of people who are like, 'Hope comes in action!' but have taken action all their life and see how messed up things still are. What would that drive people to be like?"Margolin, 21, isn't giving up the fight. But she's been an activist since she was 14 — cofounding the advocacy group Zero Hour, writing a guidebook with Greta Thunberg for other young organizers, leading marches across the country, meeting with politicians and celebrities — she needed a break.Margolin started to worry that the youth climate movement had inadvertently created a capitalistic monster. Activists became social-media influencers and got brand deals. So many companies, even big polluters or those with sweatshops in their supply chains, talk about sustainability and climate justice. Meanwhile, politicians, including Biden, continue to approve fossil-fuel projects like the Willow Project in Alaska."Corporations and politicians have exploited the youth climate movement," Margolin said. "I had to intentionally take a step back and recenter myself."These are the people who are fighting and putting themselves on the line that have been ignored and mistreated, or the opposite — targeted and murdered.Attending NYU helped. She didn't have enough hours in the day to take classes and lead a grassroots organization.Now Margolin is focused on filmmaking as a form of activism. Margolin's passion project is an animated film, "Pelea," which means fight in Spanish, that centers on land defenders in a fictional country who go up against extractive industries. It isn't finished, but Margolin has been collaborating with other artists around the world.Margolin is Colombian American and grew up in Seattle. Her mom was raised in Bogotá.  Margolin said she recognizes her privilege compared with Indigenous peoples on the front lines in Latin America. But she also wants to understand her family heritage and the land defenders whom she admires and to whom she feels indebted."These are the people who are fighting and putting themselves on the line that have been ignored and mistreated, or the opposite — targeted and murdered," Margolin said.She wants to uplift those voices and stories in her films.Wangari Muchiri, director, Africa Wind Power, Global Wind Energy CouncilWangari Muchiri; Robyn Phelps/InsiderIn 2008, Muchiri was trying to decide which field of engineering she wanted to pursue when something clicked.Muchiri, who grew up in Nairobi, Kenya, remembered when her grandmother, who lived in a rural area, went from living in a mud hut to living in a stone house with a solar panel on its roof for electricity."This meant we could stay at her house longer instead of returning to the city before sunset," Muchiri, 32, told Insider. "At the time, I didn't know it was called renewable energy."Muchiri chose to study renewable-energy engineering, joining a field dominated by men. An analysis by the International Renewable Energy Agency found that women represented 32% of the global renewable energy workforce in 2019.We have some of the world's best wind resources, but people don't know that. We've only tapped 0.01% of the potential.After she graduated, Muchiri worked for a commercial real-estate company in Australia aggregating buyers for the energy generated by wind farms. But something was missing; she wanted to be developing renewable-energy projects.Muchiri returned to Kenya and joined the nonprofit Hivos East Africa, which worked with a blockchain company and local governments to bring solar power and energy storage to off-the-grid communities and allow them to trade excess power.The Global Wind Energy Council, a trade association, chose Muchiri for its first women leadership program in 2019 and honored her with an award for young innovators the following year. Wangari was also selected as an Obama Foundation leader for Africa.When the Global Wind Energy Council decided to establish a presence in Africa, it called Muchiri. Her role as director for Africa WindPower involves hosting workshops for government officials, utilities, and developers to build relationships and get more projects off the ground."I'm learning that there hasn't been an African face for wind energy," Muchiri said. "We have some of the world's best wind resources, but people don't know that. We've only tapped 0.01% of the potential."Muchiri described Kenya, which already is mostly powered by geothermal, hydro, wind, and solar, as a model for other African countries pursuing renewable energy.Melanie Nakagawa, the chief sustainability officer at MicrosoftMicrosoft; Robyn Phelps/InsiderNakagawa's career has taken her from nonprofits to politics to business and given her a broad view of climate policy.She started as an attorney for the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council before advising Sen. John Kerry while he served as the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When Kerry became the secretary of state during the Obama administration, Nakagawa joined him and led the State Department's efforts to help support and finance other countries' clean-energy goals.The Paris Agreement was the culmination of so many years and months of engagement with governments at all levels to reach this global consensus that we all have a role to play in solving the climate challenge.Nakagawa, 43, had a front-row seat to the negotiations for the Paris Agreement, which nearly 200 countries signed in December 2015. She said it was one of her proudest moments; she'd spent many late nights trying to get the accord over the finish line."The Paris Agreement was the culmination of so many years and months of engagement with governments at all levels to reach this global consensus that we all have a role to play in solving the climate challenge, while also recognizing that we have to support the most vulnerable," Nakagawa told Insider.Since then, Nakagawa has worked at a venture-capital firm that funds climate-tech companies. She also served as a special assistant to Biden and as a senior director for climate and energy on the White House National Security Council.Nakagawa said her career moves were driven by where she thought she could make the most impact, which is why she joined Microsoft in January. Nakagawa said the company has some of the most ambitious climate goals, such as aiming to be carbon-negative by 2030 and to remove its historical greenhouse-gas emissions from the atmosphere by 2050."That was a clear signal of the importance this company places on sustainability," Nakagawa said. "What an incredible place to be to help scale that change."Sherry Rehman, Pakistan's federal minister of climate changeSherry Rehman; Robyn Phelps/InsiderMonsoon rains and flooding in Pakistan last summer killed more than 1,700 people and displaced some 30 million — just before world leaders gathered in Egypt for the United Nations' climate summit.The disaster became a rallying point for developing countries that bear little responsibility for the climate crisis yet are suffering the brunt of its impacts. A group of international scientists determined that global warming likely intensified the heavy rainfall in Pakistan.As Pakistan's federal minister for climate change, Rehman helped push the issue of "loss and damage" to the top of the climate-summit agenda for the first time. She implored world leaders to establish a fund that would compensate developing countries for the destruction they're already experiencing due to wealthy countries' greenhouse-gas emissions.We need to reimagine the whole financing pool and tap big business and multinational corporations, which are generating billions in profits.World leaders left Egypt with a historic agreement to set up the fund for vulnerable countries. But that's just the first step."I called it a down payment on our future," Rehman told Insider. "But the check still remains blank."Rehman said she'd continue to press for international climate finance, not just for loss and damage but also for adaptation projects that would help Pakistan and other vulnerable countries prepare for extreme weather. Rehman said the funding should include more grants, rather than loans, because countries shouldn't have to take on more debt to rebuild from climate disasters.Pakistan is amid an economic crisis, with inflation soaring to its highest levels in decades, in part because the severe floods last year devastated agricultural production. As of March, nearly 2 million people still lived in stagnant floodwater, according to the UN."The climate financing system is quite broken," Rehman said. "It does not address the very real needs of the developing world. We need to reimagine the whole financing pool and tap big business and multinational corporations, which are generating billions in profits."Though Pakistan is thought to emit less than 1% of global emissions, the country is taking action to address the climate crisis and improve air quality in its cities, which are some of the most polluted in the world, Rehman said. Still, it will be hard to achieve those goals without international funds.Alicia Seiger, a lecturer at Stanford Law SchoolAlicia Seiger; Robyn Phelps/InsiderSeiger describes herself as a bit of a futurist.Creating business models has been a through line of her career. She helped build one of the first web-advertising networks during the dot-com boom and a carbon-offset company in 2004, well before those industries attracted buzz.Seiger, 48, has since worked on finding new ways to finance a climate-resilient economy, including helping pension funds, foundations, and other investors develop decarbonization strategies. She's a lecturer at Stanford Law School and managing director of both the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and the Sustainable Finance Initiative at the Precourt Institute for Energy."Teaching was not something I ever thought I would do," Seiger told Insider. "But I was on my soapbox for so long about how future leaders need an education about the tools, data, and frameworks for managing climate risk and opportunity."Beyond teaching, Seiger has been described as a "pension-fund whisperer," having advised government officials in New York and California on how to lower the carbon footprint of state pension funds. Seiger also is a board member of Prime Coalition, a nonprofit launched in 2014 that has pooled more than $300 million from philanthropic donors and backed 30 climate startups often seen as too risky by mainstream investors.Disclosure can be a useful tool, but it is not the same exercise as tracking actual emissions through a complex global economy.Seiger's current passion is the subject of a book she cowrote, "Settling Climate Accounts: Navigating the Road to Net Zero." The book explores why the many net-zero pledges that companies and governments have made won't add up and proposes how to correct the course. Seiger said that to arrive at net-zero emissions, institutions need to move from counting and disclosing carbon to accounting for carbon."Disclosure can be a useful tool, but it is not the same exercise as tracking actual emissions through a complex global economy," Seiger said. "E-liability accounting is the first mechanism I've seen that achieves this goal."E-liability accounting, first proposed by faculty at Oxford and Harvard, is similar to financial accounting on a balance sheet. But rather than costs, emissions are recorded from raw materials through the production and sale of goods and services. Seiger and her colleagues at Stanford are expanding on this.Sonam Velani, a cofounder and managing partner at Streetlife VenturesSonam Velani; Robyn Phelps/InsiderVelani knows what it's like to live in outdated housing with environmental risks that so many low-income communities face in America.She said that as undocumented immigrants from Mumbai, her family moved to a basement apartment in Chicago that regularly flooded. They turned on the gas stove to keep warm during frigid winters.That upbringing shaped Velani's work in sustainable urban development. Velani, 35, has spent more than a decade finding ways to finance big infrastructure projects to help cities both mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis while also improving affordable housing. She's worked at Goldman Sachs and the World Bank and in the administration of former New York mayor Bill de Blasio. She also supports new startups.At Streetlife, we are focused on marrying the product-development process of that early-stage startup with the policy planning of cities.Velani helped design New York's OneNYC plan, known as its version of the Green New Deal, that outlined $15 billion worth of investments and 30 strategies to achieve net-zero emissions, including using more-sustainable building materials, expanding a bike-share system, and building clean-energy projects that create jobs.One project that stayed with Velani was in the Rockaways, a peninsula of seaside neighborhoods. In this section of Queens, there are now thousands of new affordable-housing units and a sewer system designed to withstand more extreme rainfall and storms.The work in city government gave Velani an idea for her own venture-capital firm, Streetlife Ventures, which is in its first fundraising round and says it plans to invest in the "nuts and bolts" of building sustainable cities. Velani said she saw how entrepreneurs often pitched public officials when it was too late, so their inventions wouldn't be incorporated into urban-development plans."At Streetlife, we are focused on marrying the product-development process of that early-stage startup with the policy planning of cities," Velani told Insider. The firm also has a storytelling platform, Parachute, to highlight climate solutions in cities and the people implementing them.Velani also found time to cofound the networking group New York Climate Tech last year. The group organizes happy hours and a speaker series and has grown to about 4,000 people."I am the recipient of a lot of mentorship," Velani said. "I want to do that for up-and-comers."Gloria Walton, the president and CEO of The Solutions ProjectThe Solutions Project; Robyn Phelps/InsiderWalton didn't talk about sustainability as a kid, but her family practiced it out of necessity. Growing up Black and poor meant avoiding food waste, conserving water and energy, wearing secondhand clothes, and sharing resources with neighbors, she told Insider.Only as Walton became an adult did she see how those values, demonstrated by her mom and grandmother, shaped her career as a climate-justice organizer and fundraiser."If we actually value communities of color and women of color, who are leading transformational change, building power, shaping climate consciousness, and legislating policy, then we need to fund them like we never have before.Walton in 2020 became the president and CEO of The Solutions Project, where she has personally raised $60 million and also worked with other donors to move a total of $112 million to community organizations, led mostly by women of color, pushing for clean air, water, energy, and transportation in places overburdened by pollution. Through this work, Walton is also leading a conversation about racial justice in the predominantly white world of philanthropy."If we actually value communities of color and women of color, who are leading transformational change, building power, shaping climate consciousness, and legislating policy, then we need to fund them like we never have before," Walton said.The Solutions Project has provided grants to 283 groups including Uprose in Brooklyn, New York, which long advocated for transforming an industrial park into a wind-energy hub; West Street Recovery in Houston, a disaster-recovery effort formed during Hurricane Harvey; and a network of labor and community groups in South Central Los Angeles advocating for transforming the Slauson Corridor, one of the most environmentally and economically disadvantaged areas of California. Projects involve adding green spaces, solar panels, and electric-vehicle charging, as well as protecting people from being displaced by gentrification.Those efforts in South Central Los Angeles are deeply personal to Walton. She spent 16 years at a community group that's involved, known as Scope. About a decade of her time there was as its president and CEO. Walton said that under her leadership, Scope transformed its mission from economic justice to climate justice.For more climate-action news, visit Insider's One Planet hub. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 10th, 2023

It"s official: Gen Z is the Hustle Generation

Contrary to what grouchy Boomers think, Gen Z is actually juggling more jobs and side hustles than anyone. Gen Z doesn't believe in the promise of the 9-5 corporate job — so they are creating new side hustles and forging their own career paths.Tyler Le/InsiderShola West always found it difficult to concentrate in a classroom. She didn't realize she had dyslexia until years after leaving school and always felt she learned better from doing than sitting and listening. So after high-school graduation, she decided to forgo college and jump right into the workforce, joining an education-tech startup. While she liked the job, she quickly grew restless. "I feel like I'm someone who can't just do one job," West told me. To try to harness her boundless energy, she decided to turn what she knew — navigating the workplace — into a side hustle. West began hosting workshops and webinars for other 20-year-olds jumping into their first full-time jobs to motivate them and discuss business ideas. Four years later, she is still running at full speed. On top of her advertising day job and career-advice side hustle, she has also started working with big organizations to organize career events.  West is one of many young workers who have turned spinning plates into a career. Social media is filled with examples: Young people are drop-shipping, Amazon reselling, investing in crypto, selling vintage clothing, and inventing their own content-creation jobs. In the midst of an uncertain economy and precarious job market, Gen Z is turning up the hustle.  In the past few years, more people across age groups have taken on various side hustles. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the number of people working multiple full-time jobs has trended up in recent years and hit an all-time high in August 2022. But while everyone is starting to hustle more, the youngest members of the workforce are leading the way. According to a 2022 survey commissioned by Microsoft, 48% of Gen Z respondents were juggling multiple side hustles at once. Even more telling: A 2022 survey from the payroll company Paychex found that about half of Gen Z are employed at two or more places compared with a third of millennials and baby boomers. As Gen Zers move into the workforce in significant numbers, it's clear they are shaking off the typical 9-to-5 career path and reinventing their own ways to earn an income. Meet: Generation Hustle.Broken promisesWhile young people often work multiple jobs through college and early in their career, Gen Zers are extending the work hustle into their formal careers. Part of Gen Z's propensity for "having side jobs and jobs on top of jobs" is due to economic concerns, Santor Nishizaki, the founder and CEO of the Mulholland Consulting Group, which helps organizations increase generational awareness, told me. Deloitte's 2022 Gen Z and Millennial Survey found that a third of Gen Z respondents worry about the cost of living above all other concerns, 45% live paycheck-to-paycheck, and more than a quarter said they doubt they'll retire comfortably. And a February global survey by Kantar, a data-analytics firm, found that 40% of responding Gen Z workers are combining at least two roles due to living expenses.But present-day financial struggles are just the tip of the iceberg: Like the generations before them, Gen Z was sold the idea that if you found a good job and worked hard, you'd reap the rewards. But after watching that dream die for millennials, Gen Z isn't buying into what they view as a broken social contract. "A lot of the time the progression is slow, and people are feeling really underpaid," West said. "It's just a lot of negative news at the moment when it comes to a nine-to-five."With the pandemic and its economic fallout only further eroding the belief that full-time employment is the best path to success and financial stability, Gen Z is not trusting anybody else to take care of their future. "Our culture has scripts about what makes work worthwhile, not just necessary," Harvard historian and lecturer Erik Baker recently wrote. "And increasingly these scripts do not play out as written."Like the generations before them, Gen Z was sold the idea that if you found a good job and worked hard, you'd reap the rewards.More than half of Gen Z and millennials could enter retirement with insufficient savings, according to estimates by Boston University economist Laurence Kotlikoff. And a Freddie Mac survey found that about 34% of responding Gen Zers said they didn't think they'd ever be able to afford to buy a house. (And Gen Zers who are able to buy homes are doing so in increasingly unconventional ways.) The reality is that a typical nine-to-five job just doesn't carry the same promise that it used to. "It's lost that credibility of 'If you do that, you're going to work your way up and be able to buy a nice car, nice house, and retire,'" West said. "Now, it's not guaranteed."Passion projects While many young people are juggling multiple jobs to make ends meet, side hustles are becoming increasingly appealing on a deeper level. By freeing themselves from a corporate grind, Gen Z has used independent work as a way to reclaim their time and explore their own interests. "I need to have another thing that's going to add value, passion and purpose," West told me. "I've realized as I've changed jobs multiple times, the passion and excitement I get from the side hustle element is the most important part."Even when she was younger, Ajla Brama, 25, had an entrepreneurial streak. When she was in middle school she would sell unwanted items from around the house on eBay and babysit in her neighborhood. As a teenager, she knew that she didn't want to do corporate work when she grew up. And when she tried a corporate marketing job during college, she hated it. "It was not for me," she said. Instead, Brama turned to what she was passionate about: natural skincare. After discovering how many products included potentially harmful ingredients, she decided to make her own products in her dorm room with pure, organic ingredients. After finishing school and quitting her marketing job, she dedicated all her time to the business, which she called Eros Essentials. After a year, Brama was making enough money that she decided to learn about investing. But instead of quietly growing her stash as someone from an older generation might, she turned her investing journey into a side hustle and began posting investing tips, money hacks, and stock advice on TikTok and Instagram. "I would make content as I went and things took off," she said. As her social media accounts grew, brands started reaching out with extra gigs. Instead of wearing her down, though, Brama said her multiple hustles gave her freedom. You can do this on the moon if you have WiFi."It's very fluid, it's very freeing. You're not tied to a place; you're not tied to a cubicle. You can do this on the moon if you have WiFi," she said.Baker explained the thinking behind this entrepreneurial ethic in his piece for Harpers: "By creating work out of what we value the most, we can accomplish something that really matters. We can change the world, even achieve personhood."Nishizaki has also noticed this shift. Gen Z, he said, "really want to make a difference" if they can. He explained that it's like Maslow's hierarchy of needs: Many young people are just trying to take care of the most basic needs like food and housing. But once those needs are met, he said that "seeking a sense of belonging is important to this generation and having an impact and community."Be your own bossBeyond the financial freedom and income that side hustles can provide, part of the allure for Gen Z is that they can control their own time. Young workers who strike out on their own are no longer at the mercy of big companies that can lay them off or change their roles at the snap of a finger. A survey by Fiverr found that 67% of responding Gen Zers currently freelance or are planning to go freelance, with one in five citing dissatisfaction with working a full-time job as the motivation. Another survey by online hosting startup WP Engine found that 62% of Gen Z respondents either have their own business or are open to starting one. And social media has made it easier than ever to start a side hustle that can quickly become profitable. A survey by Bank of America found that 72% of Gen Z respondents reported having a side hustle, with the majority earning between $500 and $1000 per month. Nishizaki said that these aspirational changes can be seen even in the youngest members of Gen Z. "When I was growing up, if you asked a kid what they wanted to be when they grew up it used to be a firefighter or an astronaut. Now, it's an influencer," he said. "So Gen Z has seen there's other ways to make money, even as a kid, through platforms like YouTube."Social-media platforms have opened up new avenues for work, and Nishizaki doesn't think career paths will be as linear as they've been for previous generations. "Access to social media and other types of resources like Coursera now allow people to really train themselves to get more skill sets to make themselves more marketable. So I think there's going to be a lot of different jobs that they can do," he said.Brama also believes that Gen Z has more options on the table than previous generations, and as a result, are embracing them all. "We have so many different things that people can do, and it's so much easier to start a business," she said. "People will take one of their skills and then create job opportunities from those skills and make so much more money that way, instead of just doing one thing."For West, her aspirational career path echoes that reality. "I don't believe that to be successful I have to then be a manager and then a director. I'd actually rather do a bit of this and a bit of that and find out what I'm good at and what I love — and that changes constantly — but I like that freedom and flexibility," she said. "I've always been someone who likes to try new things and I don't see one way of doing things as the ultimate definition of success."A boon for employersRather than rejecting their younger employees' entrepreneurial spirit, some employers are embracing or even encouraging their Gen Z workers to follow their passions. Before the pandemic, workers were hesitant to discuss anything that could distract from their full-time job, but many businesses are now more understanding of their employees' side hustles. West has the full backing of her employer for her side gigs. However, she knows friends that have to keep their side hustles secret for fear of their full-time jobs finding out and firing them."I think if companies are like that, they're just gonna lose the younger generation, because all of my friends have a side hustle of some sort."Plus, side hustles can be a boon for employers by enabling workers to gain experience and develop skills that they can invest back into their day job. Nishizaki often speaks with organizations about increasing generational awareness and discovering strengths that can elevate individuals to reach their full potential and recommends that they find opportunities to let employees branch out within the company. "So if someone's really passionate about photography, or writing, maybe they could do the company's newsletter, or if they're passionate about social media, maybe they could start the company's TikTok and run it as a recruiting tool," he said. "It's a lot more expensive to lose someone rather than to just reinvest in them."As more Gen Zers enter the workforce, companies need to anticipate their hustle mindset. Young workers are more motivated than previous generations to find work that they are passionate about — they don't want to work tirelessly up the career ladder only to find that there's not much to see from the top. Gen Z are too ambitious and optimistic for that. As West told me, "We actually have more freedom to think about what we really want to do."Eve Upton-Clark is a features writer covering culture and society.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 9th, 2023

EMCORE Corporation (NASDAQ:EMKR) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

EMCORE Corporation (NASDAQ:EMKR) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript May 6, 2023 Operator: Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the EMCORE Corporation Fiscal 2023 Second Quarter 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. Please be advised […] EMCORE Corporation (NASDAQ:EMKR) Q2 2023 Earnings Call Transcript May 6, 2023 Operator: Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the EMCORE Corporation Fiscal 2023 Second Quarter 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. Please be advised that today’s conference is being recorded. I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, Tom Minichiello, Chief Financial Officer. Please go ahead. Tom Minichiello: Thank you. Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to our conference call to discuss EMCORE’s fiscal 2023 second quarter results. The news release we issued this afternoon is posted on our website On this call, Jeff Rittichier, EMCORE’s President and Chief Executive Officer will begin with the discussion of our business highlights. I will then update you on our financial results, and we’ll conclude by taking questions. Before we begin, we would like to remind you that the information provided herein may include forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Exchange Act of 1934. These forward-looking statements are largely based on our current expectations and projections about future events and trends affecting the business. Such forward-looking statements include projections about future results, statements about plans, strategies, business prospects and changes and trends in the business and the markets in which we operate. Management cautions that these forward-looking statements relate to future events or future financial performance and are subject to business, economic and other risks and uncertainties, both known and unknown, that may cause actual results, levels of activity, performance or achievements of the business or in our industry to be materially different from those expressed or implied by any forward-looking statements. We caution you not to rely on these statements and to also consider the risks and uncertainties associated with these statements and the business, which are included in the company’s filings available on the SEC’s website located at, including the sections entitled Risk Factors in the company’s Annual Report on Form 10-K. The company assumes no obligation to update any forward-looking statements to conform such statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations, except as required by applicable law or regulation. In addition, references will be made during this call to non-GAAP financial measures, which we believe provide meaningful supplemental information to both management and investors. The non-GAAP measures reflect the company’s core ongoing operating performance and facilitates comparisons across reporting periods. Investors are encouraged to review these non-GAAP measures as well as the explanation and reconciliation of these measures to the most comparable GAAP measures included in our news release. With that, I’ll now turn the call over to Jeff. Jeff Rittichier: Thank you, Tom, and good afternoon, everyone. In Q2, EMCORE made significant progress in its transformation into an Aerospace and Defense business. Inertial Navigation grew 21% over the previous quarter to $24.3 million, driven by strong performances from our Tinley Park, Budd Lake, and Alhambra FOG operations. Consolidated revenue totaled $26.8 million, which was up 7% from Q1 2023. Aerospace and Defense generated 94% of revenue. Inertial Navigation was 90%, Broadband overall was 6%. Defense Opto was 4%, and CATV represented less than 1.5% of our top line. There were encouraging improvements in the business as it continued to work through the operating challenges of a significant transformation. Generating a GAAP operating loss of $12.2 million, our non-GAAP operating loss and adjusted EBITDA both remained roughly flat at a negative $8 million and negative $6.5 million respectively. Essentially, the improvements in gross margin and revenue in Aerospace and Defense were erased by the continued erosion of Broadband. The restructuring that we announced two weeks ago represents the logical conclusion to the end of the broadband era at EMCORE. As we pointed out in our announcement, we made a determined effort to sell the Broadband and Defense Opto businesses, which started last September. Although, we had significant interest, which manifested itself in a signed letter of intent and term sheet, we could not reach a definitive agreement or close the transaction. Historically, EMCORE’s Board had made numerous attempts to sell the Broadband business beginning all the way in 2014, employing different banks at multiple points in time over the past nine years. The Inertial Navigation business continued to grow both organically and through M&A during the period finally reaching the point where EMCORE became two distinctly different companies. In this tale of two companies, the Inertial Navigation and Broadband businesses developed with independent personnel and assets. The loan intersection of these two businesses was the indium phosphide wafer fab, which is being shutdown as part of the actions we announced. However, we prepared for this decision by building a significant stockpile of indium phosphide chips for our FOG products and consolidating our chip making operations for Quartz MEMS and lithium niobate in Concord. In summary, the actions we’ve taken effectively carve out the assets and other costs in the Broadband business from EMCORE without affecting Inertial Navigation. EMCORE is now a pure play in Inertial Navigation. This transformation is really just the beginning of the next set of changes in our manufacturing operations. Many of the improvements that we made in automated assembly for cable television that resulted in a reduction in fixed assets, improved productivity and profitability will now be applied to Inertial Navigation. Over the next few years, you should expect to see a reduction in the manufacturing floor space we require, a reduction in inventory and improvements in profitability. Our final objective for Broadband is to serve our customers last time by requirements and ensure an orderly exit from the business for customers and employees alike. We are still processing last time by orders, but believe that the total amount should be approximately $10 million, which will ship over the next two quarters or so. Turning now to Aerospace and Defense. I’ll begin my comments by stating that we had strong performance in our space and navigation Tinley Park and Alhambra operations. Q2’s book-to-bill was a little low at 0.85, but several significant orders were pushed out due to contracting priorities inside of the DoD. We expect the book-to-bill will be approximately 1.2 for the June quarter. Demand was solid across the Board with civil aviation seeing a surprising upswing. We also received orders for new UAV platforms, which are expected to total $5.6 million over the next few months as full funding is released in parts. We also book significant follow-on business for the fiber optic gyros that control targeting tourists from two important customers. BAE’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle program is continuing to pick up momentum as it heads into full rate production. International bookings were strong for turret-based platforms, stemming from our strong position in AMPV Crows and ESCRIBANO’s GUARDIAN 2 programs. On the naval side of our business, we received new orders for the next generation Mark 54 lightweight torpedo IMUs, and continue to ship against our strong Mark 48 torpedo backlog. New torpedo programs are emerging, and we are being called in to leverage our expertise in the demanding vibration environments of undersea weapons. On the precision guided munition side of things, we were slowed down a little bit getting export licenses, but are working with our customers to qualify products with less restrictive licensing requirements. Beyond program capture, we are seeing important signs of acceleration and key programs into the low rate of initial production phase, which is a key indicator of long-term growth. In particular, infrared search and track has become a key area of focus, and our multiple design wins in this application stand to benefit. Our IRST product has now achieved an important production readiness milestone with Boeing, Lockheed and NAVAIR, and we are ramping up production for these important deployments on the FA-18 Hornet. The space and navigation team has built multiple TAIMU inertial measurement units in support of the design, integration and qualification as it continues to meet shipment targets for board. These two systems are critical to the launch schedule for United Launch Alliance. Our expectation is to complete qualification late in the calendar year to enable significant volume builds and launches going forward. When these products hit full production, they are expected to produce $20 million to $25 million of revenue per year and helped significantly improve gross margins. QMEMS had a nice uptick in shipments this quarter, but margin didn’t scale quite as well as we expected, largely because of the timing of certain charges, which can be lumpy. As the entire company moves to its new ERP system in the coming months, we expect that these fluctuations will be less pronounced. Before I move on to guidance, I’d like to provide some comments on the recent acquisitions in our integration programs, which are a key area of focus this year. Both the L3Harris Space and Navigation business, as well as the former KVH inertial businesses are performing well and are clearly accreted. On the integration side of these acquisitions, space and navigation is running a common ERP system with the rest of EMCORE and has made the cutover from L3Harris IT systems with resulting reduction in TSA costs. We are expecting the transition for Chicago to complete the June quarter, but we’ve already moved the Rhode Island engineering team out of KVH’s building and have now switched both the Chicago and Middletown offices over to the EMCORE IT domain. We expect to integrate Camstar into Concord and Chicago after we complete the ERP upgrades and exit transition services. Ultimately, this will make EMCORE more efficient and will help us improve our processes, cost and inventory. Turning now to guidance in the current quarter, we expect that semiconductor shortages will slow down production for some products, tamping down growth a bit for inertial NAV in the June quarter. Additionally, we are moving forward on our last time bills from a standing start and have not yet scheduled production dates. Excluding these last time buy bills, we expect revenue in the $25 million to $27 million range for the June quarter, of which $24 million to $26 million is the inertial navigation business. With that, I will turn the call back over to Tom. Tom Minichiello: Thank you, Jeff. Consolidated revenue for fiscal 2Q grew 7% on a sequential quarter basis to $26.8 million, despite the soon to be shutdown Broadband segment contributing only $1.6 million or about half of the already low level for this business the quarter before. A&D segment revenue grew 16% sequentially to $25.2 million. More importantly, inertial navigation, which is the A&D segment without the Defense Optoelectronic products grew by $4.3 million or 21% to $24.3 million and was 90% of total EMCORE revenue. All product lines within inertial NAV were up in the March quarter when compared to the December quarter, QMEMS and the Alhambra based FOG business performed well, and the two most recent acquisitions in Tinley Park and Budd Lake both turned in excellent results. Combined, Tinley Park and Budd Lake accounted for 64% of inertial NAV revenue. Moreover, both acquisitions continue to be nicely accretive to the bottom line. Let me now turn to the rest of the operating results, the focus of which will be on a non-GAAP basis. A&D gross margin improved in the March quarter to 24%, up from 22% in the December quarter, driven primarily by the increased revenue. Conversely, the extremely low level of Broadband revenue dragged down the overall consolidated margin to 16%. Operating expenses were $12.4 million in fiscal 2Q compared to $11.8 million in the prior quarter, the $600,000 increase was largely due to material expenses for development work on FOG programs. On a consolidated basis, the operating loss in the March quarter was $8.1 million compared to $8 million the quarter before. Adjusted EBITDA was flat at negative $6.5 million. Net loss was $8.3 million or $0.18 per share compared to $8.2 million or $0.22 per share in fiscal 1Q. Shifting to the GAAP results for a moment. Fiscal 2Q net loss was $12.2 million or $0.27 per share. This included $1.3 million of transitional expenses, stemming from last year’s acquisitions and $900,000 in litigation expenses that included a $500,000 payable as part of the settlement agreement. Turning to the balance sheet. We had cash of $24.8 million at March 31 compared to $24.2 million at December 31. The $600,000 net increase included $15.4 million in net cash proceeds received from the financing completed in February, offset by the following uses of cash during the quarter. $6.5 million adjusted EBITDA, $4.8 million for working capital related to normal business operations, $1.4 million for acquisition transaction costs, $400,000 for litigation-related expenses, $1 million used for financing activities and $700,000 for CapEx. Before we get to your questions, I’d like to review several items related to our recently announced restructuring program. This plan includes, one, the shutdown of all of EMCORE’s linear optics operations, which consists of cable TV, chips, wireless, and sensing and defense optoelectronic product lines, as well as the closure of the indium phosphide wafer fab. Second, a related reduction in force of approximately 22% of our total workforce were about 100 employees, primarily in Alhambra and China. This action has already begun with expected completion by around the end of July. Third, reducing our facility footprint by approximately 25% by vacating a portion of the space currently in use in Alhambra and Concord, as well as exiting on remaining small facility in China. These actions are anticipated to be completed by the end of September. For severance costs, which we anticipate will be a combination of accelerated stock vesting and cash over time, we expect to record a GAAP charge in the June quarter of around $2.1 million. We also anticipate yet to be finalized GAAP charges for facility consolidation, timing of which will coincide with the dates we actually vacate the various spaces. The bulk of which is likely to happen during the September quarter. From a P&L perspective, once the program is fully completed, the restructuring should reduce cost and expenses by a total of at least $12 million annually and is predominantly attributable to the elimination of broadband. It’s expected that the activities related to the shutdown of the Broadband segment and the Defense Optoelectronics product line will eventually be reported as discontinued operations. Timing of this will depend largely on the extent to which we have completed production for last – for customer last time buys. Our results of operations going forward from that point will consist solely of our inertial navigation business, including lithium niobate and Quartz chips used in our FOG and Quartz MEMS products. And with that, we are now opening up the call for your questions. Q&A Session Follow Emcore Corp (NASDAQ:EMKR) Follow Emcore Corp (NASDAQ:EMKR) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. At this time, we will conduct the question-and-answer session. Our first question comes from Richard Shannon from Craig-Hallum. Your line is now open. Richard Shannon: Hi guys. Thanks for taking my questions. I’m not sure if I have a good sequence of these. Maybe I’ll just kind of go rush out over these. Jeff, first question for you, is that catch correctly that you have not baked any last time buys into the revenue guidance for this quarter? Jeff Rittichier: That is correct. We’re essentially at outstanding start here. Some of this is going to require semiconductors, where we don’t have the lead time completely squared away. And we are looking at a substantial number of chips that are going to go through the fab and you’ve got time for wafer qual and other things that you just can’t speed up. So that’s why we haven’t really baked it in. Richard Shannon: Okay. Fair enough. I think you referred to some shortages of components coming in that hurt your QMEMS products. Was it QMEMS? Is that the right one, Jeff? Jeff Rittichier: No. Actually, it isn’t. It’s going to hit us a bit in Budd Lake this quarter, and it’s – the sort of thing where you’ve got circuit boards that were supposed to arrive end of April, beginning of May, and now we’re getting June, July date and for your finish – for the finishedassemblies. And if that happens, we expect it will – it’s going to push some revenue out into the September quarter. Richard Shannon: Okay. I suspect for most of your products, we probably wouldn’t consider these boards to be commodities. Are these specialized in some way? And can you describe the constraints and there’s this something that’s kind of a one-time thing or do you have continued risk from this? Jeff Rittichier: There’s certainly nothing you can read into it. If I had to guess, it would be FPGAs, because they’ve been exceedingly difficult and there’s probably some high rail components in there, but that’s just, call it, an educated guess. Richard Shannon: Okay. All right. Fair enough. Maybe kind of a two-part question. I know you said this on the last earnings call and you just repeated here today about expecting a book-to-bill of about 1.2. And I can’t remember if this was referring to A&D in total or just in the INS business. But can you kind of give us a sense of where these were – where these bookings are coming from and what kind of lead times did those come before they hit the revenue line? Jeff Rittichier: When you say lead times, I follow you. Okay. So time to build. Some of it you’ll actually see virtually immediately as soon as the orders are let, because they’re forproducts that are normally rolling through the assembly lines. And it’s a wide variety of things, so I’ll give you an example. One of the drones that we got a big win on and there are a couple, we got only about a third of the order that we were expecting, and as we talked to supply chain in our customer, they said, hey, we just haven’t had all the funding released from the particular branch of the service that buys these things. And that’s just sort of common and what you’re seeing to a degree is just jocking around of dollars partially because of the way that expenditures are set up for the Ukraine, right? So it has caused a bit more reshuffling of dollars than normal, but we’re not expecting this to be a long-term thing. Okay. Richard Shannon: That’s fair enough. Maybe a couple more questions for me. I’ll jump out of the line here for a bit. So you talked a fair amount about the TAIMU program and they repeated your comment from last quarter about hopefully qualifying by the end of this year and getting to a nice run, right, hopefully at some point after that at a very healthy level. Maybe in the interim here, how do you think about kind of the progress here over the next few quarters? And I think you’ve mentioned in the past, hoping you could to get to a breakeven point, which I believe you’re looking at somewhere in the $30 million range a little bit more. How do we think about the kind of linearity and the kind of a source of drivers here from your guidance to getting to that breakeven point? And do you think can be by the December quarter or – and if not, when do you kind of foresee that happen? Jeff Rittichier: Yes. Well, I’ll – we’ll answer this in parts. I’ll get the second part about breakeven to Tom. But essentially you’re already starting to see it. So the TAIMU program is currently being run on time and materials. And then on top of that, there is additional – an additional contract for us to buy long lead materials for, call it, roughly the first year’s worth of production. And that’s pretty significant amount of money. It’s, I don’t know, $8 million, $9 million, something like that. And so what you’re seeing is some of that material coming in, it will become units next year, even though, we don’t have the purchase orders for the assemblies now, because the final price won’t be set until we’re done with qualification. And then you’ll see it returned to a normal sort of, hey, we’re going to order x number of these and there’s a fixed price associated with them. So what you’re going to see over the next couple quarters, and I had mentioned this before, but I didn’t provide a lot of explanation, is a nice gradual ramp. And that ramp is going to come from, first, let’s call it, material purchases, increased amounts of activity time and materials, engineering and manufacturing, engineering ultimately the assembler and technicians over the next two quarters. And so you’re not going to see a step function in this. And so those are the things that you’re looking for. Again, when you think about it, though, and you say, okay, well, EMCORE is already out buying and this is under contract with space and sensors, and ultimately ULA is already out buying long lead materials that go all the way through 2024, I think that’s a pretty strong indicator of where the program is. Richard Shannon: Fair enough. That’s a good explanation there. A couple of quick questions for Tom, and I’ll jump out of the line here. First of all, what kind of shares outstanding are you expecting for this June quarter? And as you get increased sales within the – either the A&D or INS business, whichever one refer to. What kind of margin fall through should we see there? Tom Minichiello: I’d say – Richard, was the first one shares outstanding by June. Yes. So this quarter you could see it’s an average, because of the shares that we issued in February, but when it’s all done, you should be around 53.5 million shares. Richard Shannon: Okay, great. Tom Minichiello: Okay. Because yes, so we moved from 2022 to 2024 on over $4 million in increase in revenue in A&D and that jump in margin probably would’ve been a little bit better than that had it not been for some other items that Jeff alluded to in his prepared script. So we – with growth in this quarter, not as much as last quarter, but are still growing. You’re looking at high 20% and 27%, 28% in that range, all the things being equal. But the key, by the way, that’s for inertial NAV/A&D. That’s not for the consolidated company. The other piece then Richard, I think you were asking about was the breakeven point change relating to the restructuring and how that all plays out. I get that right, Richard? Richard Shannon: Certainly it was a, a question of interest for me, yes. Tom Minichiello: Okay. So it’s lowered. So after all the restructuring program is completed, and we are a strictly an inertial navigation business, the OpEx profile changes, and so what used to be, call it, roughly about $11 million in gross profit needed to overcome OpEx net of depreciation. That’s now lower to, call it, $9.5 million, somewhere in that range. So I think if you did just over $30 million, call it, $31 million in revenue and just over 30% in gross margin, that math would get you to a breakeven point for adjusted EBITDA. Richard Shannon: Okay, perfect. Thanks guys. I will jump on the line. Operator: Thank you very much. Our next question comes to us from Brian Kinstlinger of AGP. Your line is now open. Brian Kinstlinger: Great. Thanks for taking my questions. On the semiconductor shortage at Budd Lake, what is your confidence level that this won’t impact the September or December quarters in a negative way? Jeff Rittichier: Well, first of all, it’s not the same thing. This is – well, same thing. It – we think it’s an isolated incident. It’s not like the manufacturers come back and said, well, what we told you was, 40 weeks is now 80 weeks. It’s not that at all. Its two cards with a couple of common parts that have been pushed by two months. So and this is when I say it’s an issue, now we’re talking about something in the order of $0.5 million to $1 million worth of revenue. But if that would’ve occurred in the June quarter, you’d be looking at roughly 10% quarter-over-quarter growth or something like that. That’s just not going to be quite that much because you got visibility to knowing exactly what needs to ship exactly when it needs to ship. And we’re looking at the material that’s in the circuit boards and it just is what it is, right? I mean I’m not the only guy talking about this. Brian Kinstlinger: Sure. So moving on to precision guide ammunition, you touched on that on the international piece. Jeff Rittichier: Yes. Brian Kinstlinger: I know you had a large order that you shipped in December and you had talked about at that point, opening doors to larger orders both international and domestically there, and that you were qualifying your SDI170 with other defense contractors. Maybe if you can provide some progress you’re making there would be great. Jeff Rittichier: Progress is fine. Again the – what we said, and we talked about domestic was domestic in terms of Turkey, where they have a different set of requirements for their internal programs, i.e. feeding the Turkish military and what they are allowed to sell in the outside world. And so we’re qualified for export right now. And there’s actually been some large opportunities for us. And even though we do not carry the most restricted form of license, which is ITAR, the Commerce Department has gotten some pushback from state. And so some of the EIR licenses that we were expecting to get the business is ours. They just haven’t come through. We don’t have a hard no on a couple of them, but we keep pushing out the dates and working the problem. The potential solution is to go to a product that does not require a license. We have one that is right underneath the spec at which licensing is not required. And so that’s the one that we’re working on to replace the units that we’ve been working with. So I – it’s just – it’s a licensing thing. It happens in certain parts of the world, countries that were our friends before, administrations change and their idea of who friends are changes, and we just have to live with it. Brian Kinstlinger: Great. Thanks. One follow-up, and last one for me on TAIMU, you gave us some great details and it’s great to see that you are ordering for product for to 2024. You talked about milestones that you were going to expect to achieve in March. Can you share an update on those milestones that were hidden in any details on them or are you able to… Jeff Rittichier: The only thing that I would say is that we’re expecting to reach or hit our critical design review roughly in August. And so we’re expecting to have integration complete by then, and that’s the next one to look for. Brian Kinstlinger: Great. Thanks very much. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from the line of Richard Shannon with Craig-Hallum. Richard Shannon: Hi guys, couple big picture questions for you, Jeff. Jeff Rittichier: Yes. Richard Shannon: First one, I’d love to get your sense of kind of the evolving geopolitical situation, especially as it impacts the United States DoD budget and also internationally, if you think that’s relevant and kind of the impacts positive or negative that you see with your portfolio today. Jeff Rittichier: Wow. Great question. So the way that I see the current budgeting situation inside of the DoD is there’s just a lot of scrambling to reorient plans because when you talk about support given to foreign countries usually tends to come right out of the stockpiles of the U.S. military, and then later on they have to figure out how they’re going to replenish it. So it’s not like case where let’s say the U.S. government offers $10 million in aid to Ukraine and somebody’s out there writing a checkbook, no, they’re counting the value of things that are essentially sent to Ukraine, and then later on, we’re figuring out how to pay for replacements. So it’s – there’s a lot of noise, there’s a lot of shuffling around, but I’m not sure that I would read anything more into it than that. It just creates some short-term problems that push orders from one quarter into the next. But it – and it just is what it is. But beyond that is, as you take a look at the heightened sense of preparedness that I see when I go out and talk to international customers when I look at who is interested in what, I think that overall the spending let’s call it backdrop is going to be more aggressive. The sorts of things that our – not just NATO countries, but major non-NATO allies like for example, Taiwan, the things that they’re interested in the number of them are only going up. And so the challenges that for several of us that are sitting in the critical path of some of these things is to find a way to get the supply chain – the whole supply chain, because we are part of larger weapons systems organized to be able to supply that. So I think that the budget environment in general is very strong for products like ours. It’s interesting when you take a look at, we’ll give you one example, you take a look at the amount of GPS jamming that is going on in the Ukraine. The smart guys over in the Pentagon have taken a hard look at this and have extrapolated that to, well, what might happen if China decides to be more aggressive toward Taiwan. And I think that’s resulted in a lot more emphasis on finding solutions in the Inertial Navigation space where GPS denial is not a problem. So overall, there’s the rising tide that lifts all boats in this area is certainly at play, but in Inertial Nav, I think even more so. Richard Shannon: Okay. Great thoughts there, Jeff. And as we see this political football happening with our budget deficits, do you have any experience and what are your thoughts here on whether we get some – if we get some sort of shutdown or even get close to it? Are there impacts to funding? Like I think you mentioned in some other programming, all the funding wasn’t released. Do you see any potential issues from that happening here in the near-term? Jeff Rittichier: Well, the game of chicken that constantly goes on with budgeting between three branches of government and well, usually two of them is certainly of concern. I doubt that either side of the aisle wants to see something like that happen. But it would certainly be concerning if it did. I can’t imagine it would go on for very long, a solution would be reached, especially in light of what’s going on in the banking world right now, putting U.S. credit worthiness on the line at a time like this. I can’t imagine someone with a rational mind wanting to do that. But this is politics. So I don’t have any well-formed thoughts, Richard, about how it would affect us. I think the overall concern about certain countries becoming more belligerent is going to outweigh most other factors in that analysis though. Richard Shannon: Okay. All right. As always, I appreciate those thoughts, Jeff. I think that’s all for me. I’ll jump on the line again. Thanks a lot. Operator: Thank you. With that, I would like to now turn it back to Jeff Rittichier, Chief Executive Officer for closing remarks. Jeff Rittichier: Thank you. I’d like to thank all of you for your interest in EMCORE and I do want to close my comments with a little bit longer set of points than I normally would and that relates to our Broadband team. The Broadband team really led the way in hybrid fiber coax technologies that allow the world’s cable networks to grow from simple radio-based systems into the backbone of Internet services around the world. EMCORE’s linear EML became the de facto standard for advanced CATV networks. And when COVID started to shutdown everybody, network providers turned EMCORE to upgrade the transmission networks that really made work-from-home a reality during the pandemic. Linear EML technology allowed the company to capture business from our competitors, generate significant profits and cash flow that allowed the company to make this transition to Aerospace and Defense giving EMCORE a bright future. So to our Broadband team, I would simply say thank you all for your hard work and creativity through the years, and Tom and I want to wish you all the best of luck in your future endeavors. And that’s all. Operator: Thank you for your participation in today’s conference. This does conclude the program. You may now disconnect. Follow Emcore Corp (NASDAQ:EMKR) Follow Emcore Corp (NASDAQ:EMKR) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyMay 7th, 2023

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ:RARE) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ:RARE) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript May 4, 2023 Operator: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Ultragenyx First Quarter 2023 Financial Results Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. At the end of the prepared remarks, you will have an opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A […] Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ:RARE) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript May 4, 2023 Operator: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Ultragenyx First Quarter 2023 Financial Results Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. At the end of the prepared remarks, you will have an opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A portion of the call. It is now my pleasure to turn the call over to Joshua Higa, Vice President and Head of Investor Relations. Joshua Higa: Thank you. We have issued a press release detailing our financial results, which you can find on our website at Joining me on this call are Emil Kakkis, Chief Executive Officer and President; Erik Harris, Chief Commercial Officer; Eric Crombez, Chief Medical Officer; Aaron Olsen, Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy and Finance; and Ted Huizenga, Chief Accounting Officer. I’d like to remind everyone that during today’s call, we will be making forward-looking statements. These statements are subject to certain risks and uncertainties, and our actual results may differ materially. Please refer to the risk factors discussed in our latest SEC filings. I’ll now turn the call over to Emil. Emil Kakkis: Thanks, Josh, and good afternoon, everyone. In the first part of the year, we made meaningful progress towards generating data from our key clinical programs. The Phase 2 portion of the UX143 pivotal study for osteogenesis imperfecta is fully enrolled and the team has begun analyzing the data in advance of the data release in mid-2023. Around that same time, we begin and — we expect to begin dosing patients in the randomized placebo-controlled Phase 3 portion of the study. Based on the KOL feedback, we believe the Phase 3 should roll swiftly and move us that much closer to a potential therapy for patients with this bone disease. Similarly, with GTX-102 Phase 1/2 for Angelman, we have begun ex-U.S. dosing in the expansion cohorts. Outside the U.S., we’ve seen positive feedback on our protocol and are activating multiple sites in Australia and across Europe. This broadens the number of sites who have experience with GTX-102 to support conduct of the Phase 1/2 and can participate in a future Phase 3 study. In the U.S., we’ve had productive discussions with the FDA and look forward to possibly expanding dosing in the U.S. On the commercial side of the business, we continue to grow revenue and make progress on expanding access to our therapies around the world. In the first quarter of 2023, Crysvita revenue in Latin America grew 120% to $20 million compared to $9 million in the prior year. Five years in the launch there are still meaningful opportunities for significant growth. We recently began the next chapter for Crysvita in North America with Kyowa Kirin assuming primary commercialization responsibilities for the program in the U.S. and Canada last week. We will continue our joint commercial efforts in the U.S. through April 2024. And beyond that, we’ll continue promoting this blockbuster therapy to medical geneticists. In the span of 10 years, Crysvita has moved through late-stage development with approvals in two rare genetic bone disorders and reached thousands of patients around the world. I want to acknowledge the work and dedication of our integrated Kyowa Kirin and Ultragenyx team in their commitment to the patient community and therefore, their most recent efforts in planning for and achieving a smooth transition, with patient experience as the top priority. I also want to briefly comment on the recent remarks made by Peter Marks, proposing an operation warp speed type approach to alter a rare disease. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Orphan Drug Act. While it has been instrumental to progress in treating rare diseases has left ultrarare diseases behind. We have an opportunity right now to make progress across many life-threatening diseases afflicting infants and children for which there are currently no treatment to offer hope and the path forward to the parents and families of these children. I’m fully supportive — very supportive of the agency providing clear framework that makes the accelerated approval pathway accessible to new therapies in ultra-rare genetic diseases. And I’m hopeful that the agency will work with the urgency required. Too many small companies with limited resources have had to halt promising programs. We greatly fear that we may lose the majority of these new treatments for ultra-rare diseases. I’m encouraged that the agency is showing receptivity and listening to the community. Before I turn the call over to Erik Harris, I’d like to welcome Eric Crombez to the call in his new position as Chief Medical Officer and Executive Vice President. Eric has been a driving force on our gene therapy programs and has extensive experience with rare metabolic disorders. He and Camille worked closely together for over five years on advancing our clinical programs, and it has been a seamless transition as she steps into her new role as a full-time strategic adviser. I also want to thank Camille for her passion and dedication to both Ultragenyx and the rare disease community. She’s been instrumental in development of our clinical pipeline, and I’m grateful for our ongoing partnership going forward. Now I’ll turn the call over to Erik Harris to provide an update on our commercial efforts for the quarter. Erik Harris: Thank you, Emil, and good afternoon, everyone. In April 2018, we launched Crysvita in the U.S. with the hope of offering children and adults a breakthrough therapy targeting the underlying cause of their disease. In the five years since we generated approximately $1.9 billion in cumulative top line product sales, which is shared with our partner, KKC. Our patient find efforts have led to nearly 3,000 start forms and approximately 2,500 patients who have received reimbursed therapy. When we launched Crysvita, it was not well understood whether utilization by adults would be similar to PDs. In the first quarter 2023, approximately 65% of the start forms represent in adult patients. And now they make up more than half, 55% in fact, of all patients on reimbursed therapy. This is one of the most important factors driving the success of this launch, and yet there are still plenty of opportunities to continue growing this franchise. The U.S. field and patient support teams have executed well against the goal of bringing this therapy to pediatric and adult patients with XLH and TIO. I am proud of their work establishing a strong and growing base that Kyowa Kirin with support from our extended transition team will be able to build on going forward. As we move on to the next phase, I would like to thank the relentless efforts from our North American team that led this to be a very successful rare disease launch. The team in Latin America has also made meaningful contributions to the overall success of Crysvita. As a reminder, this region is not impacted by the KKC transition, and we will continue leading all the commercialization efforts. Our team continues to work country-by-country to obtain additional regulatory and reimbursement approvals. Most recently, Mexico was added to the growing list of countries where Crysvita has received a positive reimbursement opinion. The Mexican Health Technology Agency has recommended the reimbursement for the pediatric patient population, creating the opportunity for these patients to be treated with Crysvita. In the first quarter 2021, there were approximately 120 patients on reimbursed therapy. Over the last two years, this has grown to approximately 350 patients, with the greatest acceleration happening in the last couple of quarters following pediatric reimbursement approval in Brazil. As it is common in this region, ordering patterns drive some quarter-to-quarter variability in revenue, but the underlying demand is continuing to grow. Today, we are reaffirming the Crysvita guidance we issued at the beginning of the year, the range of $325 million to $340 million includes all regions in all forms of Crysvita revenue. More specifically, it includes Crysvita product revenue from Latin America and Turkey, the cash and noncash royalties from North America and Europe and the collaboration profit share revenue prior to the transition. I’ll now shift to Dojolvi. In the U.S., the leading indicators continue to show there is a real demand for this product from the patient community. In the first quarter, we added approximately 35 completed start forms to the top of the funnel, which is one of the strongest quarters we have had since launch. As of the end of the quarter, there were approximately 400 patients on reimbursed therapy with approximately 200 health care providers writing at least one prescription for Dojolvi. Our early efforts to educate health care providers on the benefits of the dose titration supported by our clinical studies have begun to pay off. We look forward to continuing these efforts to ensure patients are able to achieve optimal dose titration. In Latin America, we are continuing to leverage our existing infrastructure to commercialize Dojolvi. Earlier this year, the first Brazilian patient navigated the injunction process to receive commercial therapy, and in Mexico, patients have begun receiving therapy through private insurance plans. We are continuing to work the authorities in Brazil, Mexico and the other countries in the region to enable greater access to this important therapy. Across Europe, the named patient and early access programs continue to drive demand for Dojolvi. As we have said before, France and Italy are leading the way, with more and more requests coming from Germany, Austria and certain Middle East countries. Across all regions, we expect Dojolvi revenue to be between $65 million and $75 million, reaffirming the range we announced at the beginning of the year. We are also reaffirming our 2023 revenue — total revenue guidance issued in the beginning of the year with a range of $425 million to $450 million. This range includes revenues for Crysvita and Dojolvi, our ultra-rare product, Mepsevii as well as our latest commercial product, Evkeeza. Before I hand it over to Aaron, I wanted to touch base on Evkeeza, the European, Canadian, Japanese and Latin American teams have made meaningful progress in their efforts to launch Evkeeza outside of the U.S. and have received strong feedback from the KOLs in those regions. Throughout the year, they will continue filing the various country applications that will support the commercial launches that are expected to begin in the second half of this year. With that, I’ll turn the call to Aaron to share more details on the financial results for the quarter. Aaron Olsen: Thanks, Erik. Earlier today, we issued a press release that included financial results for the quarter, which I will briefly summarize. Company revenue for the quarter ended March 31, 2023, totaled $100 million. Crysvita revenue for the quarter was $76 million, which includes $50 million from North America, $20 million from Latin America and $6 million in noncash European royalty and other product revenue. Dojolvi revenue in the first quarter of 2023 was $14 million. Mepsevii revenue for the same time period was $8 million. Our total operating expenses for the quarter ended March 31, 2023 were $255 million, which includes R&D expenses of $166 million, SG&A expenses of $77 million and cost of sales of $12 million. Operating expenses for the quarter include noncash stock-based compensation of $32 million. In our press release issued today, we note that we have completed enrollment of the single ascending dose portion of the UX053 Phase 1/2 study and that we have decided not to enroll patients in the multiple ascending dose cohorts at this time. This is part of the company’s decision to focus greater resources on our later-stage programs and is not related to UX053 product safety. Similarly, we have deferred IND filings for certain early-stage programs that were initially planned for this year to conserve and focus resources. For the first quarter of 2023, net loss was $164 million or $2.33 per share. We ended the quarter with approximately $750 million in cash, cash equivalents and marketable securities. In the first quarter, there are certain uses of cash that do not repeat on a quarterly basis. This is primarily attributable to the payment of our annual employee bonuses. Additionally, Q1 2023 was our last full period of Crysvita commercial cost sharing with Kyowa Kirin during the North America profit share period. And our funding of commercial support will be substantially reduced post transition. We continue to expect 2023 net cash used in operations to be less than $400 million. Now I’ll turn the call to Eric Crombez, who’ll provide an update on our key clinical programs. Eric Crombez: Thank you, Aaron, and good afternoon, everyone. Now I would like to provide brief updates on two of our key clinical programs, GTX-102 for the potential treatment of Angelman syndrome and UX143 for the potential treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta before turning the call back to Emil to close out. As previously discussed, Angelman syndrome is a severe neurogenetic disorder with a broad spectrum of disease manifestations that affect multiple developmental domains. We have been treating patients with GTX-102 for several years and have seen encouraging dose and time-dependent clinical activity. In the first part of the study, we completed enrollment of patients in dose escalation cohorts. To date, there have been 14 patients with at least six months of exposure to GTX-102, including nine patients who have been on continuous therapy for more than one year. Based on what we’ve seen in the dose escalation cohort, we have now advanced to enrolling and dosing patients and expansion cohorts, which are designed to verify the GTX-102 dose in treatment regimen that will be used in the Phase 3 study. Outside of the U.S., we plan to enroll approximately 40 patients in Cohort A, patients between four and eight years old; and Cohort B, patients between eight and 18 years of age. Patients in these cohorts will be dosed with what we expect to be the Phase 3 dose and will have the ability to individually titrate as the way to optimize the clinical benefit. We expect to have the majority of patients enrolled in the coming months. In the U.S., discussions with the FDA are ongoing with the goal of harmonizing the dose strategy with the ex-U.S. protocol. The three patients who were originally treated in the U.S. have begun redosing and continue to do well. We are encouraged that we are seeing clinical activity at these lower doses with a favorable safety profile. Now turning to UX143 or setrusumab for the potential treatment of osteogenesis imperfecta. OI is a disease of mutated collagen and of abnormal bone metabolism. We believe that bone strength can be nearly normalized without directly correcting the underlying college defect. The anti-sclerostin mechanism of setrusumab provides a unique dual action to address the body’s maladaptive response to the defective collagen. Setrusumab stimulates osteoblast to mature into bone making cells and makes those cells increased bone production while also limiting the amount of bone resorption. We are currently conducting a Phase 2 study that builds on the substantial data Mereo has generated, and we look forward to continuing the analysis and sharing the Phase 2 data. The Phase 2 data are expected to include percent change in serum P1NP and safety data for all patients. It is also expected to include changes in CTx and the available three and six month lumber spine bone mineral density. We plan to use this data to help inform Phase 3 dosing and show that we are on the path towards making stronger bone and bringing forward a much-needed treatment for patients suffering with OI. I’ll now turn the call back to Emil to highlight the key upcoming milestones and provide closing remarks. Emil Kakkis: Thank you, Eric. I’ll summarize the key clinical catalysts before we open it up for Q&A. I’ll start with our gene therapy programs. DTX401 for GSDIA dosed the last patient and pivotal study earlier this year. We’re now in the 48-week window, and we expect to share this Phase 3 data in the first half of 2024. UX701 for Wilson disease is enrolling patients and dose-finding stage. We expect this to complete in the second half of 2023 with data on safety, initial signs of connectivity expected in the first half of 2024. We’ve now dosed multiple patients in the DTX301 Phase 3 study and expect enrollment to pick up as more patients make it through the baseline screening period. Discussions with FDA on UX111 for Sanfilippo A syndrome are progressing, and we’re seeking a path to an accelerated review for this program. We look forward to sharing more details with you when they are available. Moving to UX143 for osteogenesis imperfecta. The Phase 2 portion of the study has been fully enrolled, and we expect to share these data, and the transition to Phase 3 would be in mid-2023. Separately, we’re planning to initiate a young pediatric study that compares UX143 to bisphosphonates, assessing fracture rates in a younger patient population, which have a much higher fracture frequency. This study is expected to begin later this quarter. Lastly, GTX-102 in Angelman syndrome. The long-term exposure and clinical activity Eric mentioned continue to support my belief we have a therapy that could change the future for Angelman syndrome. Our discussion with the FDA has been productive and we look forward to sharing our next data cut with you later this year. We’re making a lot of progress in our key clinical programs early in the year. We’re also investing today in our Phase 2 programs with UX143 and GTX12 by establishing a broader network and investigators and study sites in more geographies, which will enable us to drive faster and more efficient Phase 3 studies. With that, let’s move on to your questions. Operator, please provide the Q&A instructions. Q&A Session Follow Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ:RARE) Follow Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ:RARE) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Thank you. Our first question comes from Gena Wang with Barclays. You may proceed. Gena Wang: Thank you for taking my questions. I have two questions. First one is for the osteogenesis imperfecta Phase 2 update. So what would you be looking for to inform you on optimal Phase 3 study design and related to the Phase 3 study design, will patient baseline with two fractures per year? Would that be too low to show sufficient clinical benefit? My second question very quickly is more on the Crysvita guidance. The $325 million to $340 million guidance for 2023. Was that before or after 30% U.S. royalty to OMS? Emil Kakkis: Very good. I’ll go ahead and answer the OI particular question. And then I think the second part is really Aaron can answer the question on how we’re doing the royalty revenue. So on OI Phase 2, what are we looking for? We’re looking mainly in the Phase 2 portion simply to help us fine-tune the dosing. We know the drug works, and we know 20-milligram per kilo can work its dose. We’re just trying to figure out whether the young patients might do better with a higher dose. We normally expect that the exposure might need a higher dose to get — to achieve the same exposure to older kids. So that’s the primary purpose of it is just finding the dose number. The design is all set in the trial. And the question — second question you asked is two fracture per year enough a threshold. Well, first of all, that’s the minimum to enter the trial. The average patient will have a number of fractures and we’ve done the work on powering and the design of the trial with 195 patients should have plenty of power to detect the fracture change. And the key thing to recognize also is the way we’ve designed the study is we will — we’re comparing placebo what we are going to look at an interim look and look at how the groups are operating and decide how long the study should be followed, how long the last patient should be studied. The total amount time exposure for the first patient could be 18 months or longer, and some of the last ones could be a year or it could be 18 months. And so the length of the trial will help be adjusted based on the interim look to determine again, to provide reassurance we do have the power. Our expectation though is that when you treat kids with bone disease, they respond much more rapidly than adults. So our expectation is that the differential in bones will come relatively quickly as they did, for example, with XLH treatment. So the second part of the question is what is the forecast for Crysvita and the interpretation with regard to the OMERS royalty. Aaron Olsen: The Crysvita guidance of $325 million to $340 million is before the OMERS royalty share. We continue to recognize all revenue, although a certain portion will be noncash with OMERS royalty share. Emil Kakkis: This is the way the accounting needs to be done the royalty streams we have sold have a cap that come back to us and therefore, they looked at us that we are then recording and reporting noncash royalty income in addition to cash royalty income. I still think it also gives you a better apples-to-apples house picture of what the royalty is — I mean what the revenue is overall from the region, so you can compare year-to-year. Okay. Thank you. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Maury Raycroft with Jefferies. You may proceed. Maury Raycroft: Hi, thanks for taking my questions. For the Angelman program, just wondering if you can elaborate more on the feedback you received? And then is the registrational path dependent on dose harmonization? Or can you get alignment on key design considerations ahead of the data update? Emil Kakkis: Yes. I assume you’re talking Maury about the U.S. feedback just to… Maury Raycroft: Yes, that’s correct. Emil Kakkis: Good. Well, we won’t really go through it in detail. What we said is productive, meaning we’re having a good conversation that’s practical and looking at the issues. But we don’t really provide detailed feedback on how it’s going, what’s being said until we get to the end and make a decision. But our goal here is to get the loading doses to be equalized in the regimen is close and I think that we’ve said in the past, we might try different regimens, slightly different regimens. But I would look to try to get a program that is a single path in loading and maintenance that we could run a Phase 3 trial of. But remember, this is — we’re talking about the Phase 2 section and from it, we would derive what our Phase 3 plan would be. So I feel — I’m encouraged we should be able to get this figured out and get to a right dose. So on the registrational dose, yes. So the expectation is we’re going to have one dose globally for the load. But I will say one thing about dosing in rare disease in general, wells in Angelman. There really is no the dose. There is doses and the doses will have a range of responses always. Our expectation along with Angelman is that there will be some need for individual titration. And we may prove the efficacy on a regular dose. There may be some individuals that need higher or can get by with less, and that will become part of it. I’d point out, for example, the work we did on Kuvan for PKU where we had one dose for the Phase 3 study and then individual patients kind of titrate to their need. I would just guide you to think that way. The goal here in Phase 2 those get to dose that we can load and have an important clinical effect in a large majority of patients and show the benefits of that treatment, with the expectation in the long run that individuals may titrate to reach their optimal effect in their own particular situation. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Dae Gon Ha with Stifel. You may proceed. Dae Gon Ha: Great, good afternoon. Thanks for taking our question. I’ll ask a question on setrusumab again. Emil, looking back at ASTEROID, the bone biomarker data that’s been presented previously, wondering if you can comment on tachyphylaxis if that’s even appropriate. And does Romos recommend a one-year treatment duration have any implications on chronic therapy for setrusumab? Thanks so much. Emil Kakkis: Yes. I actually think you’re — what you’re talking about in setrusumab data is if you look at P1NP, the peak of P1NP kind of goes down, and so it looks like you’re losing effect, but you’re not really. What’s happening is that you’re losing the synchronization of the response, it’s like a pebble and a pan, the beginning of the response is for a sharp start. And then as each wave comes, it settles in. But if you look at the right dose at the end of the year, you will see that you get a continuous steady P1NP areas on the curve now it’s going up. And the peak is less important than the area of the curve, right? So you have to think of it as a harmonic pattern, essentially. If you look at the bone marrow density data differently, you will see the bone marrow density is linearly going up continuously for the entire year at 20, not at eight. At eight, it was fading a little more at the end of the piece, but at 20 it look continuous, and it was ongoing at a good clip even at the end of the year. So our view is that for this disease based on that information as well as the information from the withdrawal of setrusumab. The decline in bone marrow density indicates that there’s a strong reversal of the effect if you don’t continuously treat. And so our expectation is that we will need to continuously treat beyond one year. It is possible that, let’s say, after a couple of years or after achieving some level of bone marrow density that is sufficiently strong and normal that you could back into, let’s say, an every other month regimen or a maintenance regimen. And we’re going to continue to look at that as we go. But right now, we think OI is different from osteoporosis. As you do need chronic therapy, there’s a stronger stimulus for absorption there and we need to counteract that with continuous exposure. And now everything we’ve seen from ASTEROID would tell us that continuous treatment will get you continuous bone production. And so we look at these disease being distinctly different for that reason. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Anupam Rama with JPMorgan. You may proceed. Unidentified Analyst: Hi, thanks for taking the question. This is actually Malcolm Kuno on for Anupam. So looking ahead, is there anything that you would be looking for in Sarepta’s AdCom panel next week that could read through to your broader gene therapy program? Emil Kakkis: Well, in our own — I think the panel is really looking at whether they’re going to give them accelerated approval. The principal of accelerated approval may be at test there. And in addition to the specifics about their particular trial. We think accelerated approval is really important in the rare genetic diseases. So we’re support of approval. We don’t think that approval will cause other treatments or better treatments to be not developed. We — in fact, think that an accelerated approval for that program will help further improvements in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy be developed. I think the panel needs to understand that. From affecting our own programs, all of our programs have agreed upon endpoints with the FDA, and they’re all really based on standard approvals and their combination of biochemical endpoints and other clinical endpoints, whether it’s removal of their drugs or other outcomes, so our program is really not — none of the three — those three programs are dependent on excel approval at this point, and the endpoints are set for what would be expected to be standard approvals. With regard to MPS IIIA and Sanfilippo program, there was an understanding about a clinical-based long-term follow-up approach to achieving filing. But we are evaluating that situation, the use of accelerated approval on heparins sulfate biomarker. We think that’s the right thing. We think that situation is true for a number of companies. And I think that a number of the companies have treatments that reduce heparan sulfate, and I think will be highly predictive of good outcomes if you achieve a sufficient reduction in heparin sulfate. So there is maybe some meaning to that, but I would say it’s going to say more about Sarepta Duchenne than on whether MPS IIIA or other types of biomarker will get approved. But as a company, we’re supportive of using the center approval pathway in rare diseases, and we think that — we think that the FDA should not consider that to be a problem. That should be an opportunity to treat more rare diseases than we’ve been able to treat now that we have these novel precision medicine treatments available to us. Q:: Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Joon Lee with Truist Securities. You may proceed. Joon Lee: Thanks for taking our question. On the efficacy signal you’re seeing in the Angelman trial so far, what is your latest thinking in terms of approval endpoint? Is it still a CGI CAS or something different? And is that also part of your ongoing discussions with the FDA? Thank you. Emil Kakkis: Yes. So I mean, what we have talked about before continues. I mean there’s both receptive and expressive communication are important, and we’re seeing improvements there. And I think we’re seeing improvements we’ve said before in sleep. And actually, several domains. So we see a lot of potential in any of these. But since communication is important, and if we were pushed into picking one, we would pick the communication domain as being a unique and powerful one that’s important to patients. In my view, the number of those domains are important, you could decide on any of them. But at this point, our discussions with the FDA have not gone into the endpoints. We’ve certainly touched on them. They understand what we’re working on, and we expect to be able to get into that later this year with them. But right now, our focus on getting the Phase 2 open and understanding how to optimize our plan to open the study globally for the Phase 2 portion of the Angelman program. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Yigal Nochomovitz with Citi. You may proceed. Unidentified Analyst: Hi, team. This is Carly on for Yigal. Thanks for taking our questions. We wanted to ask about the initial data for Wilson disease expected early next year. I guess, can you help put into context what you plan to show and what you believe would constitute a positive outcome from that part of the study? Thank you. Emil Kakkis: Yes. The study, just remind you, and I’ll let Eric touch on what we’re evaluating. The study is basically looking at three dose levels, right? So the study will look at three doses, I mean purposes part is to pick the most effective dose, which we’ll look at in a number of ways. But we have had a discussion with the FDA, and it’s a seamless design. That is a Phase 2 will lead right to the Phase 3, and we’ve had discussion and Eric touched on what our Phase 3 approach is for the primary endpoint? Eric Crombez: Yes. Great. So I mean, fundamentally, Wilson disease is a disorder of copper metabolism. And we can measure that in many ways. Certainly with the clinical regulatory precedents that’s been established, that’s important for us to understand. So in addition to kind of the — I guess, what I’ll call typical ways to measure copper, we are also looking at an activity-based assay, which is measuring the actual loading of copper on to ceruloplasmin. That’s important, because the only way for that loading to take place is for the transgene to be producing that protein and for establishing the normal trafficking of copper. We will be also measuring ceruloplasmin levels themselves, if not bound to copper. Ceruloplasmin is quickly broken down. So if we can show increases in stabilization of ceruloplasmin levels. That’s another way to show that this transgene is producing protein, and we’re establishing the normal trafficking of copper. So again, we’re looking to yes, correct the toxicity of free copper, which key later also do, but also correct the functional copper deficiency meaning that without the loading of copper onto ceruloplasmin, you’re having a functional deficiency in these cells and tissues that need copper as a cofactor for enzymes. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from on Yaron Werber with TD Cowen. You may proceed. Yaron Werber: Yes. Great. I have an interrelated question on Angelman also. Can you just give us a little bit of a sense in the press release you mentioned 14 patients have had at least six months exposure and nine with more than a year. Is that at the 14 mg dose? Is that the only dose you’re expanding right now? Or are there two different doses. And secondly, when you’re talking about next data update in the second half of this year, is that going to be really safety only? Or do you expect to release some efficacy at that point as well? Thank you. Emil Kakkis: Yes. So remember, in the extension patients, they enter — there’s a load phase, and they were loaded at doses between really 3.5 to — 3.3 to 7.5 and then they’re on maintenance between 10 and 14. So all those patients on long-term therapy are getting Q3 therapy at 10 to 14 dosing, all right? But the loading dosing is starting is actually lower than that. That is the maintenance dosing during the maintenance period. So we haven’t said what the dosing is in our current Phase 2 expansion. We’ve decided to hold that information back. We have a plan based on what we’ve learned from the dosing so far, and we know that you can lower — we’ll load it a certain dose and maintain it — where it may rise to higher doses as we’ve seen in our other study in the first part of the study. The data later in the year will not just be safety. Our tended to put out information on the efficacy. And so we’re working through what we’ll provide and when from both the long-term data and the expansion cohort separately. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Kristen Kluska with Cantor Fitzgerald. You may proceed. Kristen Kluska: Hi, good afternoon. Just considering the late-stage nature and potential approval cadence around a number of your late-stage candidates in the next few years. I wanted to ask how you’re thinking about leveraging and building on some of your ex-U.S. and global footprint to address some of these markets where you maintain rights? Emil Kakkis: Well, thank you. So commercially, one of the benefits having company with multiple approvals it does give us an opportunity to leverage that infrastructure. And while we had precedent in certain territories, Latin America, particularly long-term in Turkey currently. Globally, we have Dojolvi and Mepsevii. And we brought in Evkeeza primarily, because we felt we could leverage our global commercial footprint more effectively by adding that, especially in this gap between several approvals we had and then the next approvals. And so the Evkeeza sort of added another product to put in a launch mode ex U.S. One of the things that advantage of the rare disease, you can launch with relatively smaller teams of high-quality people that can get a lot done. And that’s key important being efficient — capital efficient in how we do this. And with the combination of products we have, we think we are able to leverage that. If you think about the setup now having those — the three products globally and four products in South America, we’re well set up then to be able to launch several new products, whether metabolic disease or expanding into neurologic disease. So I do think it sets up for what’s important to us and a real principle for Ultragenyx from the beginning was that to optimally commercialize and gain value, you really need to commercialize globally. You can’t just do the U.S. You really need to get pulling revenue from globally once you’ve done all the work to develop an approvable product. And so that’s been our philosophy from the beginning. And I think it’s starting to pay off as we start to gain and grow revenue outside the U.S. Kristen Kluska: Great. Thank you. And it looks like you have a pretty significant presence at ASGCT this year. Wondering if there’s anything in particular you think we should be focusing on? Thanks again. Emil Kakkis: Well, we’ve got a lot of programs, probably more gene therapy programs in Phase 3 than anyone else. Is that true? I think there’s no one with more that I’m aware of. So — we also have a very strong Pinnacle PCL platform, and there’s some information on the platform out there as well as about our new program, UX055, which is a CDKL5 intrathecal gene therapy which has some very exciting data in animal models and even in primates and pigs. So we feel good about our innovations and how to enhance delivery to the brain for AAV9 gene therapy, and that one will be coming to an IND. So that — there’s data on that as well at ASGCT. So we are busy there with all these technology and products that we’re working on. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Jeffrey Hung with Morgan Stanley. You may proceed. Michael Riad: Hi, this is Michael Riad on for Jeff Hung. Thank you for taking our question. First one for GTX-102, what are you learning during the maintenance phase, especially for the nine patients who have been on for one year plus. The further out you go, has there been any evidence to suggest patients are building tolerance and can benefit from dose escalation? Thanks. And I have a follow-up. Emil Kakkis: Okay. I think one of the key things that learn from me is, first, certainly mentioned long-term safety. The fact we’re dosing so many kids chronically at these dose levels is a very important piece of the story, because if we were to have our — any safety event that happens a matter how much drug you give just needs a certain amount of drug to be accumulated, then you might have a problem at some point in time. The fact you can give the drug below threshold and given it this way that you can do that means the drug can be given long-term and chronically, which we think is important. The thing that’s more — even more interesting and important to understand is this is a development of the disease. And once we turn on their ability to develop, it doesn’t mean they develop instantly, they have to start developing, whether it’s language or other things, it takes some time. And so what we’ve said is we’re seeing time and dose dependent improvements, meaning as we watch people are gaining ground and improving, and we feel like that gives us some confidence that we’re working in a dose range that can be effective and that can change the future of these patients. So that’s what we’re learning from maintenance dosing, both long-term safety and the ability to get chronically dose drug and the fact that we can still — we can see progressive gains. Michael Riad: That’s very helpful. Thank you. And then maybe just a quick follow-up. So for COSMIC, obviously, the clearest measure is going to be bone fracture rate, but what about bone deformation and pain? It seems that these would be clinically meaningful for these patients. Is there any ability to measure bone deformation in these patients? Thanks so much. Emil Kakkis: Well, sort of bone deformation is really tricky. We did that kind of work in XLH where you developed scales, you have readers and all that. The problem is not something that’s going to help us with the regulators. And while it may help patients to know, it’s kind of thing is harder to power. Now in regard to pain and quality of life, those are being measured in the trial. We’re certainly measuring their pain, but also chronic functional activity, because we just do with people have very fragile bones, they also don’t feel good all the time. Even if they don’t have a fracture, they have microfracture, things that go on and make them feel bad that cause them to not be active, stay sedentary, et cetera. So we’ll be doing the kinds of quality of life and practical functioning assessments that will help support what the interpretation is on fractures. But so I appreciate you need to — it’s not enough just to look at fractures, but to look at the total case of an XOI patient and learn more from them. And then we are doing that deformation as one thing. We’ll look at the x-rays and see them, but we haven’t formally went about a way to assess that. I do think that’s something you would probably want to do in post-marketing and particularly the most important thing really is to take a look at our one or two-year-old that we treat and to look how their bones are maintained versus deformed. I think if we strengthen their bones, that when they’re four or five years old, they could be dramatically different from what you’d see in someone who didn’t have the right bone strength who had fractures for several years instead. So we’ll look for that. But I don’t think that’s necessarily about the Phase 3. That will be something long-term. And it’s one of the main things we’ve got into this program because we want to be able to change the future of these patients. And we think starting young before their bodies are destroyed will be a great place to change their future in a kid that doesn’t end up a wheelchair, but actually walk and is it in chronic pain, but you can live a real life. Operator: Our next question comes from Joel Beatty with Baird. You may proceed. Joel Beatty: Great. Thanks for taking the question. For the GSD1a gene therapy, do you have agreement with FDA on the primary endpoint? And are there harder clinical endpoints that are being monitor that will be important for regulatory filing or commercialization? Emil Kakkis: Yes, we do have agreement on that. We’re using the reduction in corn starch, while maintaining glucose control and that has been agreed to. But the clinical advocacy will not be just based on the primary endpoint alone. There will be other secondary endpoints that will be looked at as part of the clinical meaningfulness assessment. But the primary endpoint in corn search reduction was agreed. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Salveen Richter with Goldman Sachs. You may proceed. Unidentified Analyst: Hi, thanks for taking our question. This is Tommie on for Salveen. So to follow-up on the Angelman question, how are you thinking about the interpretability of this update in terms of efficacy? Maybe any details on months of exposure, range of doses and cohorts would be helpful here? And on OTC, can you just comment on the pace of enrollment and any headwinds or tailwinds there and when we could see data from this program? Thank you. Emil Kakkis: So on Angelman. Yes, what we’ve heard and that we need to do is make sure when we put out efficacy data that we’re putting it in proper context. So it’s not only just dose and time exposure. But how does this compare to a comparable patient from natural history and maybe to do a propensity score type analysis where you compare match natural history patients to your patients to help create greater confidence around the difference between the treated patients we’re doing and what you normally see in these patients. So we intend to do that. The other thing is to calibrate the magnitude of change, how big is that change? What does the score mean clinically? Is it clinically meaningful? So that would be the second element of what we do. We’ll also — for those patients of the original five that have been re-dosed we can certainly compare their results on how they did before, and that will probably help give you some sense. But we are sensitive to issue, which is to make sure we’re providing you the proper context in terms of the efficacy data effectively compared to what you would expect for these patients. Eric Crombez: Next question was on the timing of OTC enrollment and data expectations. Emil Kakkis: Is that — you were on OTC, you’re talking about the gene therapy. Is that right? Eric Crombez: Yes. It was. Emil Kakkis: OTC. Okay. Well, our study is just — is enrolling now. It will depend how long, we put the GSD1 study as the primary driver on our gene therapy effort. And push back the OTC in terms of the effort and drive. It is enrolling now, and we plan to be international study and sites are open, and there’s growing interest. So it should be enrolling this year. But the timeline of that study is a little longer, because the study is 64 weeks, it’s not 48. So the timeline of the data would be 64 weeks after last patient gets enrolled. So that’s not — obviously, that means if we enroll even before the end of this year, the data will not be next year, I’ll end up being year after because of the longer time frame. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Debjit Chattopadhyay with Guggenheim. You may proceed. Unidentified Analyst: Hi, this is on for Debjit. We want to get your thoughts on the translatability of P1NP correlations to BMD in the setting of postmenopausal osteoporosis translated to pediatric individuals with OI. Emil Kakkis: Okay. Well, we really don’t have to worry about osteoporosis, because there is enough ASTEROID data from P1NP and BMD. There were 90 patients at three dose levels that had different doses of different P1NP responses and different BMD responses. So we actually have 90 patients worth of day to show the correlation. What was found is that P1NP at one month is highly predictive what you see at one year in these patients, and that there clearly was a dose dependent on P1NP, and that translate later. The one — and so what’s interesting then is that how much P1NP you’re making is it really a measure of how much bone you’re laying down. But the way you respond at the beginning pretty much sets in motion a process which will generate bone marrow density. So we’re pretty impressed how well they’re correlated. That said, we’re also measuring BMD in our dosing study. So we will actually have some data through six months in some patients for the Phase 2 study, which will allow us to directly confirm what our P1NP is telling us about dose with actual BMD data, too. So we’ll have a little bit more than just P1NP for our Phase 2 in terms of understanding how to optimize the dose for our Phase 3. Unidentified Analyst: Thanks for that. in adults then translate to what you expect in the pediatric population? Is it sort of one-to-one? Emil Kakkis: Well, one of the reasons to do the study is actually determine how the adult response with OI relates to the peds response. Our expectation, the fact that young patient will respond much more strongly that they have higher P1NP level to begin with, and they’ll love a far larger surge because their bones are metabolically more active. The real other question is, because younger patients have faster metabolism, they could clear the antibody faster. And so we’d want to look at exposure too. And so we’ll look at how exposure correlates with P1NP and then we’ll look at how exposure relates to age of the patient. The combination of that will tell us, do young patients, are they equally sensitive to adults at the same exposure, yes or no. And if they are, then what is exposure needed at different doses — at different ages and do young patients need more drug? And so that would be the kind of tweaking that would help us assure that if the four-year-old really needed more antibody than the 12-year-old that we can make that adjustment and give them the optimal benefit of the drug. So that’s kind of the way we’re looking at it. Hopefully, that’s helpful. Operator: Thank you. Our next question comes from Liisa Bayko with Evercore. You may proceed. Unidentified Analyst: Hi, thanks for taking our question. This is Julian on for Liisa. My question is on setrusumab. So I met you’ll provide some BMD data. So how many patients worth of data should we expect? And is there any correlation between bone marrow density and factor? If so, how strong is the correlation? Thank you. Emil Kakkis: Yes. So we have 24 patients enrolled in the study. And we’d expect to have P1NP data on all of them. We’ll have variable amounts of BMD data depending how long ago they were enrolled. We’ll have some six month data and probably more three months data in BMD in this group. So the question you asked then follow-up was, does BMD predict fracture? I think in OI will from the ASTEROID study, they showed a trend at the high dose, which was look consistent, but there weren’t enough fractures in the adults to be able to have enough power to tell. So what we’re basing this on is the fact that the bones that are weak can be restored in strength very quickly and in the mechanism of how BMD increases with anti-sclerostin should be laying down on bone where it’s needed, where the bone is moving or where is unstable. And so just the very mechanism alone means the BMD should predict well. When BMD hasn’t predicted is usually with anti-catabolic agents like this phosphates, where you’re just keeping bone wherever it is, but it may not be in the right place. So when you make bone and lay it down in the right places this mechanism the bone marrow density will predict improvement in strength, whereas if you just block bone absorption, you end up bone somewhere, but it may not be in the right place. And that’s why there’s been some discrepancy in the past. But anabolic agent like this we feel the bone strength will correlate. It did well in the animal models that bone mass correlate very well with bone strength improvement, whereas biphosphate, that wasn’t true, bone mass increased more than the bone strength did. So I think there’s enough data to tell us that this mechanism will give us a bone marrow density that is effective in improving bone strength. Operator: Thank you. This concludes the Q&A session. I’d now like to turn the call back over to Joshua Higa for any closing remarks. Joshua Higa: Thank you. This concludes today’s call. If there are additional questions, please contact us by phone or at Thank you for joining us. Operator: Thank you. This concludes today’s conference call. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect. Follow Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. (NASDAQ:RARE) Follow Ultragenyx Pharmaceutical Inc. 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Category: topSource: insidermonkeyMay 5th, 2023

Radian Group Inc. (NYSE:RDN) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript

Radian Group Inc. (NYSE:RDN) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript May 4, 2023 Operator: Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the First Quarter 2023 Radian Group Earnings Conference Call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Please be advised that today’s conference is being recorded. I would now like […] Radian Group Inc. (NYSE:RDN) Q1 2023 Earnings Call Transcript May 4, 2023 Operator: Good day, and thank you for standing by. Welcome to the First Quarter 2023 Radian Group Earnings Conference Call. At this time all participants are in a listen-only mode. Please be advised that today’s conference is being recorded. I would now like to hand the conference over to your speaker today, John Damian, Senior Vice President, Head of Corporate Development and Investor Relations. Please go ahead. John Damian: Thank you, and welcome to Radian’s First Quarter 2023 Conference Call. Our press release, which contains Radian’s financial results for the quarter, was issued yesterday evening and is posted to the Investors section of our website at This press release includes certain non-GAAP measures that may be discussed during today’s call, including adjusted pretax operating income, adjusted diluted net operating income per share and adjusted net operating return on equity. In addition, specifically for our Homegenius segment, other non-GAAP measures in our press release that may be discussed today include adjusted gross profit and adjusted pretax operating income or loss before allocated corporate operating expenses. A complete description of all of our non-GAAP measures may be found in press release Exhibit F, and reconciliations of these measures to the most comparable GAAP measures may be found in press release Exhibit G. These exhibits are on the Investors section of our website. Today, you will hear from Rick Thornberry, Radian’s Chief Executive Officer; and Rob Quigley, Controller and Chief Accounting Officer. Also on hand for the Q&A portion of the call is Derek Brummer, President of Radian Mortgage. Before we begin, I would like to remind you that comments made during this call will include forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations, estimates, projections and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties, which may cause actual results to differ materially. For a discussion of these risks, please review the cautionary statements regarding forward-looking statements included in our earnings release and the risk factors included in our 2022 Form 10-K and subsequent reports filed with the SEC. These are also available on our website. Now, I’d like to turn the call over to Rick. Rick Thornberry: Good afternoon, and thank you all for joining us today. Today, I’m pleased to report another solid quarter for Radian. GAAP revenues grew by 6% year-over-year to $311 million. Book value per share increased 10% year-over-year to $26.23. We generated net income of $158 million and our return on equity was 15.7% in the first quarter. Our overall liquidity and capital positions remained very strong, which I’ll cover in a few minutes. Our primary Mortgage Insurance in force, which is the main driver of future earnings for our company, grew 5% year-over-year to $261.5 billion, including 8% year-over-year growth in our more profitable monthly premium insurance in force. Our persistency rate, which represents a percentage of Mortgage Insurance in force that remains on our books over a period of time, increased to 84% on a quarterly annualized basis compared to 77% a year ago. Given the current interest rate environment and the comparatively low mortgage rates across our portfolio, we expect our persistency rate to remain strong, which we believe is positive for the future insurance in-force growth. We continue to see positive credit performance in our Mortgage Insurance portfolio during the quarter, with our cure rate reaching the second highest level of 15 years. And although we generally expect new notices of defaults increase in the future as the portfolio naturally seasons and the economic environment potentially becomes a bit more challenging for certain borrowers, in the first quarter, curers outpaced new defaults by 10%, and our new default counts are in line with pre-pandemic levels. It is worth noting that the increase in interest rates has also resulted in higher yields across our $6 billion investment portfolio. The higher yields support higher returns on our Mortgage Insurance business and generate incremental income that flows directly to our bottom line. Despite continued headwinds in the mortgage and real estate markets and continuing macroeconomic uncertainty, our overall performance in the first quarter reflects the resilience of our business model, the strength of our insured portfolio, the depth of our customer relationships and the commitment of our team. Let me share a few thoughts on the mortgage and housing markets and how we are executing on our strategic priorities. In terms of the mortgage market, for 2023, recent industry mortgage origination forecasts call for a bottoming out of the origination market with a decline of approximately 26% compared to last year, followed by a return to growth in 2024. Based on a total mortgage origination market of $1.7 trillion, we expect the private mortgage insurance market in 2023 to be approximately $300 million to $325 billion. Despite a smaller overall market, origination volume is projected to be driven primarily by purchase loans, which are estimated to reach $1.4 trillion. This would represent the largest purchase market in the past 16 years, excluding the pandemic years of 2020 through 2022. We view these collective factors as a positive sign of a strong and more stable mortgage market for the mortgage insurance industry and specifically for our business. In terms of the housing market, we saw home prices coming off their record highs last year, largely driven by higher mortgage rates. But more recently, we’ve seen home prices begin to stabilize and rebound according to industry data. This was largely driven by the imbalance in housing supply and demand. And while the inventory challenges and strong market demand continue to create challenges for first-time homebuyers, these dynamics help to mitigate downside risk in terms of home values, which is positive for our insured portfolio. And we believe the resulting pent-up demand provides strong support for continuing purchase market growth in 2024 and beyond. As such, our overall outlook for the housing market remains generally positive over the near and long term. Our team remains focused across our three areas of strategic value creation growing the economic value and the future earnings of our Mortgage Insurance portfolio, growing our Homegenius business and managing our capital resources. In terms of growing the economic value of our Mortgage Insurance portfolio, we wrote $11.3 billion of high-quality Mortgage Insurance business in the first quarter of 2023, which, combined with the strong portfolio persistency, contributed to the growth of our large and valuable insurance in force portfolio. We continue to leverage our proprietary analytics in RADAR Rates platform, focused on driving economic value while calibrating our dynamic risk-based pricing to address the risk and opportunities that we see in the current market. We increased our prices in 2022 and continue to increase pricing in 2023, and we’ve seen evidence of the same among our mortgage insurance peers, while maintaining an attractive share of the market. We expect to see continued opportunity to put our capital to work at attractive risk-adjusted returns. From a Mortgage Insurance portfolio perspective, as I mentioned earlier, we expect the persistency rate to remain strong, based on the higher interest rate environment and greater concentration of purchase versus refinance loans. From a quality perspective, our Mortgage Insurance portfolio has been well underwritten and has a strong overall credit profile. And the quality of the mortgage industry’s loan manufacturing and servicing processes remain strong, including exhaustive efforts to support borrowers experiencing hardship. One recent example is the GSE’s new enhancement to their payment deferral policies that was announced in March. The policy is similar to the solution offered during the pandemic to borrowers with COVID-19 hardships. And based on its success, the GSEs are now making this a part of their standard loss mitigation efforts. This heightened focus on home retention on top of already-strong underwriting and servicing is another example of how the mortgage industry has been transformed to the benefit of all participants, including private mortgage insurers. With regard to our Homegenius business, during 2022 and continuing into 2023, we experienced a decline in Homegenius revenues due to the rapid decrease in industry-wide mortgage and real estate transaction volume. We are managing the Homegenius business through this challenging environment by continuing to focus on disciplined cost management. In addition, our team is focused on our strategic investments in data and analytics and technology, including the application of artificial intelligence and computer vision across our innovative real estate platforms. The team is also focused on growing revenue by building awareness of our suite of digital real estate products and services, including several new and recently-launched offerings, including our highly innovative Homegenius IQ technology, which combines artificial intelligence and computer vision to power many of our products; our Homegenius digital toolkit, a customizable Platform-as-a-Service for lenders and other companies to provide their customers with a unique home buying, selling and ownership experience; and a refreshed website that delivers a highly-personalized search to close experience for home buyers. Although I’m proud of how our Homegenius team continues to serve our customers and navigate the challenging market environment, we know that we still have work to do as the current business results are not where we want to be. Our issue today is primarily revenue growth, which is largely driven by two challenges, first, the decline in real estate and mortgage volumes across the market, and second, adoption curves and customer sales cycles, given the macroeconomic backdrop. We are sharply focused on managing our cost structure, investing strategically and growing our customer base in order to place Homegenius on a path to profitability. And in terms of our available liquidity and managing our capital resources, total holding company liquidity increased to $1.2 billion, including the benefit from a $100 million ordinary dividend paid by Radian Guaranty. This was the first ordinary dividend paid by Radian Guaranty, the Radian Group, since the beginning of the great financial crisis 15 years ago. And we expect Radian Guaranty to pay between approximately $200 million to $300 million of additional ordinary dividends during the remainder of 2023, based on current performance expectations and consistent with our prior guidance. Beyond 2023, future dividends from Radian Guaranty are expected to approximate Radian Guaranty’s guarantee statutory income. Radian Guaranty maintains a strong PMIERs position with excess available assets of $1.7 billion or 44% over its minimum required assets. And we continue to execute on our aggregate managed and distribute Mortgage Insurance business model, focused on lowering the risk profile, tail risk and the through the psycho volatility of the business by utilizing risk distribution structures, optimize between the capital and reinsurance markets, based on availability and strength of execution. I also want to highlight the strength of our liquidity position, given recent depository-related market events. It is important to recognize that beyond our ongoing operating expense, dividends and debt service requirements, our primary liquidity needs relate to mortgage insurance claims management. Given the normal course of mortgage defaults and the structure of our Mortgage Insurance policies, our default-to-claim cycle typically ranges between two to four years. Over the course of this claims-paying cycle, in addition to our current $6 billion investment portfolio, we also continue to generate significant cash flows from premiums and investment portfolio earnings, which provides significant liquidity and a strong source of claims-paying resources through the claims cycle. As a result, as compared to deposit-based financial substitutions, our business is not subject to similar accelerated liquidity demands in the ordinary course. And we have good visibility into the potential future cash outflows to allow for effective liquidity management. We believe the strength of our liquidity and capital position significantly enhances our financial flexibility now and going forward. As you’ve heard me say before, our company is built to withstand economic cycles, significantly strengthened by the PMIERs capital framework, dynamic risk-based pricing and the distribution of risk into the capital and reinsurance markets. Now I’d like to turn the call over to Rob for details of our financial position. Rob Quigley : Thank you, Rick. And good afternoon, everyone. I appreciate the opportunity to share additional details about our first quarter results, which reflect another strong quarter of operating performance, highlighted by the quality and resiliency of our Mortgage Insurance in force portfolio as well as by the strength and flexibility of our investment, capital and liquidity positions. As reported last night, in the first quarter of 2023, we earned GAAP net income of $158 million or $0.98 per diluted share compared to $1.01 per diluted share in the first quarter a year ago. Adjusted diluted net operating income per share for the first quarter of 2023 was also $0.98 compared to $1.17 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2022, as reflected in the detailed reconciliations provided in our press release. Those earnings helped produce a 15.7% return on equity for the first quarter of 2023 and grow our book value per share 10% year-over-year to $26.23 as of March 31, 2023. Turning to more detail behind these results, I will first address our revenue and related drivers. Despite the challenging macroeconomic environment, we generated $311 million in total GAAP revenues during the first quarter of 2023 compared to $293 million in the first quarter of 2022. Our net premiums earned continued to be the most significant contributor to those totals. As detailed on Exhibit D in our press release, we reported net premiums earned of $233 million in the first quarter of 2023, in line with the fourth quarter of 2022 and down from $254 million earned in the first quarter of 2022. The change from prior year primarily reflects an increase in ceded premiums under our reinsurance programs, including as a result of the quota share reinsurance agreement that went into effect mid last year as part of our continued strategic use of risk distribution programs to mitigate risk and optimize our capital position. In addition, our premiums earned in the first quarter of 2023 were impacted by fewer single-premium policy cancellations in our Mortgage Insurance portfolio as well as lower title insurance volume, both due primarily to the significant reduction in mortgage refinance activity during the past year. The two most significant and consistent drivers of our net premiums earned remain the size and average premium yield of our large in-force mortgage insurance portfolio. Our primary insurance in force grew 5% year-over-year to $261.5 billion as of March 31, 2023, including 8% year-over-year growth in monthly premium in force, which currently represents 86% of our total primary insured portfolio and is expected to be the most significant driver of our future revenues. Contributing to this growth was $11.3 billion of new insurance written for the first quarter of 2023 compared to $18.7 billion in the first quarter of 2022. The year-over-year decline in new insurance written reflects the reduction in the overall mortgage origination market. While the industry-wide decrease in purchase and refinance originations has had a negative impact on our new insurance written, it has significantly benefited our persistency rate, which increased to 84% on a quarterly annualized basis in the first quarter compared to 77% a year ago. Given the sharp rise in mortgage rates last year, following an extended period of very low rates, we expect our persistency rate to remain strong. In particular, since 82% of our insurance in force had a mortgage rate of 5% or less as of the end of the first quarter and is therefore less likely to cancel in the near term due to refinancing. Given the shift in mix of our insured portfolio in recent years toward our monthly premium products, we believe this increase in persistency is an especially positive indicator for our future insurance in force growth, premiums earned and recurring cash flows. As shown on webcast Slide 13 and consistent with our guidance provided last quarter, the in-force portfolio premium yield for our Mortgage Insurance portfolio stabilized in the first quarter of 2023 at approximately 38.5 basis points, a modest increase from the level reported for the fourth quarter of 2022. Given strong persistency rates and the current industry pricing environment, we continue to expect the in-force portfolio premium yield to remain relatively flat over the course of 2023, while the total net yield of our insured portfolio can fluctuate from period to period due to other factors such as changes in our risk distribution programs, profit commissions earned and single-premium policy cancellations. In addition to the positive impact on persistency rates, another benefit from the higher interest rate environment has been a significant increase in our investment income to $59 million in the first quarter of 2023, 55% higher than the $38 million reported in the first quarter a year ago, reflecting the size and strength of our investment portfolio. As shown on webcast Slide 9, our total investment portfolio of $6 billion consists of well-diversified, highly-rated securities, with 97% of our fixed income and short-term investments rated investment grade. The book yield on our investment portfolio increased during the first quarter from 3.5% to 3.8% at quarter end, and the higher rate environment should continue to be positive for the reinvestment of future cash flows. At quarter end, the duration of our investment portfolio was approximately 4.5 years, and we believe that our current assets and other claims-paying resources are appropriately structured to address the expected timing of our liabilities. As previously reported, rising interest rates had a negative effect on the fair value of our investment portfolio during 2022, resulting in unrealized losses primarily recorded directly to our stockholders’ equity. However, these unrealized losses partially reversed during the first quarter of 2023 by $70 million, net of tax, with the unrealized loss reported in accumulated other comprehensive income declining from $457 million at year-end to $387 million as of the end of the first quarter. Unless we identify specific risks or opportunities in the future that result in the need to rebalance our portfolio, we do not expect to realize these losses, given our ability to hold these securities until recovery due to the significant positive operating cash flows that we continue to generate each quarter and the other liquidity considerations that Rick discussed. Our Homegenius segment revenues totaled $13 million for the first quarter of 2023 compared to $34 million for the first quarter of 2022 and continue to be negatively impacted by the higher rate environment and industry-wide decline in mortgage and real estate transactions, as Rick noted. Moving to our provision for losses. The positive trends that we have been experiencing have continued into 2023. As noted on webcast Slide 16 and consistent with the direction in recent quarters, we had a net benefit of $17 million in our mortgage provision for losses in the first quarter of 2023 compared to a net benefit of $84 million in the first quarter of 2022. These positive benefits have been due primarily to default securing at rates greater than our previous expectations, in part due to the impact of forbearance programs and the strong home price appreciation experienced in recent years. While still significant, the magnitude of that benefit has been declining in recent quarters as our remaining default inventory and Mortgage Insurance reserve balances have returned to pre-pandemic levels. For the first quarter of 2023, the net benefit to our mortgage provision was the result of $67 million of benefit from reserve development on prior-period defaults as we again lowered our claim assumptions for certain prior periods due to favorable cure trends, partially offset by $50 million of loss provision for new defaults reported during the quarter. Among other items, our provision for new default is determined largely by two key factors, first, the number of new defaults reported to us by servicers, which, as noted on webcast Slide 17, declined slightly in the first quarter of 2023 to approximately 10,600, and second, our estimate of the frequency at which those defaults will become a paid claim. Consistent with recent quarters, we maintained this default-to-claim-rate-frequency assumption for new defaults this quarter at 8% as we continue to balance the recent favorable cure trends and the benefit from embedded equity in our insured portfolio with the risks and uncertainties associated with the current economic environment. Turning to our other expenses. For the first quarter of 2023, our other operating expenses totaled $83 million, a decrease compared to $90 million in the first quarter of 2022. The actions we took during 2022, and in particular the fourth quarter of last year, to reduce our expenses in response to challenging market conditions helped to reduce the run rate of our expenses as expected. Based on our expense savings actions to date and consistent with our previous guidance, we continue to anticipate our 2023 full-year consolidated other operating expenses to be approximately $330 million to $340 million, while we expect 2023 full-year cost of services to be approximately $50 million to $60 million. On a combined basis, these amounts represent a reduction in total expenses on a year-over-year basis of $60 million to $80 million or 13% to 17%. These expenses can fluctuate due to changes in items such as volume-related costs and variable incentive compensation, and we do expect expenses to be elevated in the second quarter of 2023 due to the timing of certain employee compensation and benefits, including our annual share-based incentive grants. Moving finally to our capital and available liquidity. As Rick highlighted, following the series of capital actions completed at year-end 2022, we are pleased to report that Radian Guaranty was able to pay an ordinary dividend of $100 million to Radian Group during the first quarter, its first since the start of the financial crisis in 2007. As Rick further noted, Radian Guaranty expects to pay between approximately $200 million to $300 million of additional ordinary dividends to Radian Group during the remainder of 2023, based on current performance expectations and consistent with our prior guidance. After payment of the dividend, Radian Guaranty’s excess PMIERs available assets over minimum required assets totaled $1.7 billion at quarter end, which represents a 44% PMIERs cushion, generally consistent with year-end levels. Our available holding company liquidity increased during the first quarter from $903 million to $956 million. This increase was primarily a result of the ordinary dividend from Radian Guaranty to the holding company, net of the payment of our quarterly dividend to Radian Group stockholders, which we increased by 12.5% in this most recent quarter to $0.225 per share and activities during the quarter under our current value-based share repurchase program, which resulted in the purchase of 716,000 shares at a total cost of $15 million. Following an additional $5 million of share purchases in April, $280 million remains available under our current share repurchase authorization, which expires in January 2025. To recap, our results for this quarter highlight not only the consistent earnings and cash flow power generated from our in-force Mortgage Insurance portfolio and the financial strength and flexibility at both our holding company and Radian Guaranty, but also the value we continue to deliver to our customers, policyholders and stockholders even in a challenging macroeconomic environment. I will now turn the call back over to Rick. Rick Thornberry: Thank you, Rob. Before we open the call to your questions, I want to highlight that we are pleased with our results and remain focused on executing our strategic plans. We are driving operational excellence across our businesses and aligning our overall expense structure and resources to reflect the market environment. Our $261.5 billion Mortgage Insurance portfolio is highly valuable and is expected to deliver significant earnings, going forward. We continue to strategically manage capital by maintaining strong holding company liquidity and PMIERs cushion while expecting to continue to pay ordinary dividends from Radian Guaranty to Radian Group, opportunistically repurchasing shares and paying the highest-yielding dividend in the industry to stockholders. And importantly, we believe we are well positioned to navigate a modest recession, which many economists are predicting for later this year. I want to thank our team for helping to drive our strong results and for the outstanding work they do every day. And finally, I’d like to invite you to join us for our next Investor Day, which will be held on Tuesday, June 20, at the New York Stock Exchange. We look forward to providing details on our business strategy, priorities, key business and product initiatives and financial metrics. And now, operator, we would be happy to take questions. Q&A Session Follow Radian Group Inc (NYSE:RDN) Follow Radian Group Inc (NYSE:RDN) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy. Operator: Our first question comes from Bose George with KBW. Bose George: Good afternoon. Just wanted to follow up on the expense guidance you guys gave. Actually, what’s the expectation for expenses just within the title segment for 2023? Rick Thornberry: Bose, this is Rick. We actually don’t — I don’t think we provide that guidance on that level of detail. I will say this, from a Homegenius perspective, we have been materially adjusting our expenses over the course of the last few quarters, and I think you see that starting to be reflected as we come into the first quarter of this year from an overall Homegenius expense. And I think we’re continuing to moderate kind of our expense structure in the title business specifically to the volume we see today and kind of our expectations in the near term. But I think as it relates to specific dollars, I would just kind of refer you back to Rob’s guidance on the overall expense guidance that we gave. Bose George: Okay. Thanks. And actually then switching over to investment income. Just in terms of optics, it looks like — so the investment income in the title segment went down, and then the other segments seem to go up. Was that just like cash from the holding company moving? Or just — curious what drove that mix. Rob Quigley: Yes. Thank you, Bose. This is Rob. I think you might be referring to the Mortgage segment versus the all other — yes, and that is a result primarily of the distributions that we did at year-end. We moved $382 million at year-end from Radian Guaranty to Radian Group and then the additional $100 million dividend during the quarter. So primarily a result of shifting those assets, but no impact on a consolidated basis. Bose George: Okay. And just a follow-up. The investment income was overall was roughly flat quarter-over-quarter. But should we expect the trajectory of that to keep increasing? Just if rates remain stable, I assume your reinvestment yield is higher than the existing portfolio? Rob Quigley: Yes, that’s exactly right. I think we would expect it to trend higher as we reinvest new cash flows. Yes. Rick Thornberry: So we have the benefit, Bose, as you know that. Just the quarterly cash flows that come in through our business from our MI business, combined with just reinvesting those investments that mature, and we invest at higher rates. So higher rates actually have benefited greatly our investment portfolio, and we would expect to see that continue to come through. Bose George: Okay, great. Thanks. Operator: Our next question comes from Mark DeVries with Barclays. Mark DeVries: Thank you. Just in light of the revenue weakness at Homegenius and kind of the continued drag on earnings that’s creating, I was hoping to get your latest thoughts on the outlook for that business and your appetite to continue to invest in it. Rick Thornberry: Yes, Mark. This is Rick. Thanks for that question. I think, look, as we — I think as we said last quarter, we’re continuing to watch this business and work very closely kind of towards the opportunities we see in the future. I think we saw the revenues be lower, but also the operating loss be lower, largely because of our expense actions. The market conditions continue to be very challenging. Homegenius is not alone. All you have to do is look at mortgage and real estate businesses across all the markets, and you can see anything that’s transaction-related largely has been impacted materially. So we’re — it’s a challenging environment. We’re managing the Homegenius business through this environment by continuing to focus on disciplined cost management. And I think, look, today, as we kind of assess the business itself, the primary issue is really a revenue issue. So we’re cutting expenses. But at some point, revenues have to reestablish from a growth point of view, largely driven by two factors, one is just the depressed kind of significantly lower mortgage and real estate volumes across the market. And there is a start-up like kind of aspect to this business around some of the newer products from the technology side. So that, in this kind of macroeconomic environment, has been a little bit more challenging than we initially thought a year or two ago. So I think — but despite those challenges, our team is very focused, and we continue to receive great feedback on products and the service delivery, and I’ve participated in several of those meetings as we’ve gone along the way. So I would say, right now, focused on adding customers, which we’ve been successfully doing, there’s just not much volume out there associated with those customers, increasing the awareness of our products; and continuing to make strategic investments across the business where we see value in the future. And I would just add that, look, we’re going to — we’ll continue to provide updates on this business as we go. But today, we’re focused on managing the cost structure, focused on investing strategically and growing our customer base to really put this on a path towards profitability and really looking at it in light of the environment we expect in the near term and, quite frankly, over the mid and long term, which I think has changed greatly. So I appreciate your question. I’m not here to give you specific guidance, but I can tell you that we’re highly focused on kind of driving this back towards a positive outcome. Mark DeVries: Okay. Understood. And then just a question on kind of the favorable developments in the reserves. I get that that’s kind of down meaningfully year-over-year, but it’s still pretty significant. Kind of surprised, given how little of the kind of the pandemic-related delinquencies remain. How much more room is there for favorable development? When should we expect that to kind of disappear? Rob Quigley: Yes. Thank you, Mark. This is Rob. I think it’s difficult to predict in future quarters. We try to come up with our best estimate each period, but we continue to be pleasantly surprised by the benefits and the strong cure trends. It’s actually continued into April, where cures outpaced new default by 136%, or the cure-to-new default ratio rather was 136%. And our total defaults are trended below 20,000. So I think we continue to see, even from the 2020, 2021, default vintages, continue to see good cure activity and continue to monitor it each quarter and try to come up with our best estimate. But it’s hard to predict exactly how much more favorable development there could be. And so we’ll continue to update each quarter. Mark DeVries: Okay. And fair enough. But can I infer from your comments that at least in April, these trends continue to exceed what kind of you expected in the reserve levels? Rick Thornberry: Yes. Well, I don’t know that we want to comment on the reserve levels per se because we’ll make that assessment at the end of the quarter. But I would say, we’re — very positive performance, which we’re pleased with. Where cures and actually, in the month of April, as Rob said, 136%, did I get that right? 136% cures over defaults, really very positive, given the macroeconomic environment. So I think we’re going to continue to watch the trends. We look and say, hey, we have to expect a recession at some point. At least, that seems to be the general consensus. But housing remains strong. Unemployment remains strong. And as demonstrated through our cure rates so far, people are finding ways to kind of cure their defaults effectively. So as I said in my — also in my prepared remarks, the GSEs also continue to kind of strengthen the loss mitigation plans associated with some borrowers, who fall into hardship. So I think overall, I don’t want to be optimistic, but I think overall, the trends remain positive so far. Mark DeVries: Got it. All right. Thank you. Operator: Our next question comes from Doug Harter with Credit Suisse. Douglas Harter: Thanks. Can you talk about your expectations for the pace of capital return? Obviously, the dividend, as you mentioned, is among the higher end. But to kind of how you see share repurchase, going forward? Rick Thornberry: Yes. Thank you, Doug. I appreciate the question. And I think we’re in a great situation with a strong capital position, with meaningful cushions across our PMIERs and our hold co. liquidity, even after the buybacks that we’ve done recently and over the last five years. I think it’s worth noting that over the last five years, we’ve returned $1.75 billion back to shareholders, of which I think $1.5 billion has been in the form of share buybacks, there as being in dividends. I think I have my numbers right, Rob. I think those are correct. So I think, look, in the first quarter, we executed our plan around returning $50 million to shareholders in the form of dividends and share buybacks. We raised our quarterly dividend by 12.5% to $0.225 per quarter. We were able to successfully begin the first ordinary dividend payment from Radian Guaranty to Radian Group since the beginning of the financial crisis, $100 million and, as continue to state our guidance for the remainder of the year, another $200 million to $300 million. So a total of $300 million to $400 million will come up from Radian Guaranty over the course of this year. So all in all, I think we’re managing capital very, very well. We don’t talk forward about capital plans. But I think just to give you some thoughts about how we manage capital internally, really hasn’t changed. We think about organic investment and growth opportunities. We think about an adequate risk buffer from our hold co. and, obviously, PMIERs cushion within our operating company. We consider strategic opportunities as uses of capital. And obviously, our debt to total capital is — we feel very appropriate and manageable as we sit here today. And then obviously, we’ve been very, very thoughtful and conscious and aggressive on returning capital back to shareholders. So I think today, our plan that we have in place for share buybacks, as we’ve always said, is a value-based plan, utilizing a preset 10b5 grid that we operate on. But I want to — I do want to kind of highlight for you that we take a very deliberate and measured approach as we balance excess capital return. With an uncertain economy, I think we can’t underestimate kind of the need to really be thoughtful about the economy that exists and how we manage through it, I think, in many ways, from a position of strength and maybe also potentially take advantage of opportunities in the market to deploy excess capital to grow our revenues and profits. So I think we’re trying to take the most prudent approach for shareholders, given kind of all these factors. Even though we don’t talk forward, I think our past kind of speaks for how disciplined stewards of capital we are on behalf of our shareholders, and we’re going to continue to act and behave accordingly. Douglas Harter: Great. Appreciated. Thank you. Operator: Our next question comes from Eric Hagen with BTIG. Eric Hagen: Good afternoon. I think maybe just one follow-up here. Can you talk about the nature of the modifications and the loans that are carrying? Like are they principal modifications, interest rate modifications? And even what the cures look like for the early-stage delinquencies versus the middle or later stage? And even how sustainable you see those cures being really across the board right now? Derek Brummer: Yes. Sure. Eric, this is Derek. So in terms of the activities, I mean in terms of the modifications, most of them are curing organically. You still have forbearance programs. A lot of them are going through kind of payment deferrals, where they take the mispayment and tack it on at the end. As Rick alluded to, a lot of programs that are very borrower-friendly, that we expect to continue. The other thing I would say, looking at the characteristics kind of across the board, the cure activity is strong kind of across the board, looking at early payment defaults and later stages. One thing to keep in mind, Rob alluded to April cure trends outpacing new defaults. The other thing I’d point out is the new defaults are coming in with substantial embedded equity, which also is the case for outstanding defaults. So if you look at our new defaults in Q1, they were coming in about 90%. A little more than 90% were coming in with 10% equity at least. So that kind of gives you an indication from a performance perspective. And coupling that with home prices starting to firm up, so after some decreases kind of in Q4, you have home prices kind of stabilizing and starting to increase. So from a trend perspective, we feel pretty positive. Eric Hagen: That’s helpful. Thank you very much. One more maybe. I mean how does the structure of the origination market drive the way you think about the business? We’re talking about banks potentially tightening the credit box, a lot of noise with regional banks here, maybe some more shift to the non-banks, MSRs getting sold, all sorts of things in this market. Does this have any bearing on the way that you think about growth rates in the industry, even the way that you price for new risk? Rick Thornberry: Yes. Maybe I’ll take the first part of that, and Derek can talk about the pricing side of it because I think — and it’s a great question. I think we’re all watching the way the market develops. And I would say, your insights into the shifting aspects of the business are really spot on in terms of how the banks are reacting to some of their liquidity and kind of capital preparedness. For us, look, I think the largest part of the mortgage market today is really driven by the supply/demand imbalance in the housing market, We’re not in an environment where refinances are going to accelerate, given the level of rates today versus where they’ve been previously. We’re in a purchase market. So the purchase markets are going to find — are really going to define kind of the mortgage market and ultimately the MI market, which we’re obviously very heavily influenced by first-time homebuyers, people’s ability to put down less than 20% on a home and our ability to support them into that pursuit. So I think for us, we’re watching the shifting players and kind of some of the consolidation going on in the industry and kind of how banks are starting to adjust their presence in the marketplace. To-date, that has largely been related to portfolio-type loans, which we don’t have a great participation in from a mortgage insurance point of view. The GSE-type volume still remains centered to their focus. But I think the good news is we’ve got 1,200 or 1,300 customers we do business with every day. So as volume shifts, we’re really working with those customers today where that volume comes. But I think volumes are going to be driven by the supply/demand imbalance in the market, a shortage of affordable housing across the country. And then, Derek, do you want to just comment on pricing? Derek Brummer: Yes. Some of what’s happening on the origination side isn’t a driver when we kind of look at the competitive dynamics in the MI industry and how we’re pricing. I think overall, the way I would characterize that environment is being positive in the sense that rational and disciplined at this point. We’re also continue to be an increasing cycle. So from our perspective, that’s a good place for us to be and really allows us to take our strategic focus, which is on generating long-term economic value and really focus on identifying and writing the portion of the MI market that has the highest potential projected returns. And so using our analytics, very granular risk-based pricing, regional economic forecasting, to have the ability in kind of a positive and stable market is really favorable for us to deploy capital at this point. Eric Hagen: That’s really insightful guys. Thank you very much. Operator: That concludes today’s question-and-answer session. I’d like to turn the call back to Rick Thornberry for closing remarks. Rick Thornberry: Thank you. I want to thank — I want to first thank our team for the great job they’re doing every day through continuing interesting times for the mortgage and real estate world. So a great big thank you to the group. I want to thank all of you for participating today. And I want to highlight again for you. We look forward to seeing you in New York at the New York Stock Exchange on June 20 for our Investor Day and hope that many of you can join us. We’ll have lots of fun things to talk about, and I look forward to seeing you there. Most of all, take care, and we look forward to talking to you, hopefully, all in the near term as we get a chance to talk more about our results for the quarter. So take care, and thank you. Operator: This concludes today’s conference call. Thank you for participating. You may now disconnect. Follow Radian Group Inc (NYSE:RDN) Follow Radian Group Inc (NYSE:RDN) We may use your email to send marketing emails about our services. Click here to read our privacy policy......»»

Category: topSource: insidermonkeyMay 5th, 2023

The Crime Of "Talking To Tucker Carlson"

The Crime Of 'Talking To Tucker Carlson' Authored by Naomi Wolf via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours), The whole world is commenting on and speculating about the abrupt departure of former Fox commentator Tucker Carlson from that network. Dr. Naomi Wolf, author of “The Bodies of Others: The New Authoritarians, COVID-19 and the War Against the Human," in New York on June 7, 2022. (The Epoch Times) Addressing the current moment is not my intent. I have no idea what the “inside story” is on the events related to Fox’s or Carlson’s decisions. Mr. Carlson is wisely being deliberative regarding his physical presence and his messaging, and by next week the news cycle will have no doubt shifted in relation to this sudden exile, or self-exile; so there is little point in adding my own theories to the events of the present. (Though I suspect that the stern, mafioso-like public warnings of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and others to the Murdochs, that they were making a mistake in tolerating Carlson’s airing of the first set of previously unseen January 6 videos, and that those who passed on the footage were playing a “treacherous game,” was a factor in at least some upheaval on the part of Fox’s leadership. I recognize a political threat of retribution when I hear one): What I want to do now is note, for the record, almost elegiacally, how important Mr. Carlson’s voice has been, in the evaluation of at least this dyed-in-the-wool old-school capital “L” Liberal. Mr. Carlson and I spent most of our careers not in alignment on anything; for decades, our places were adversarial on the public chess board. He had assumed that I was the caricature of a shrieking, irrational left-wing feminist—a view for which he has had the good grace publicly to apologize—and I, for my part, was ready to accept that he must be the boorish, sexist, racist, homophobic frat boy that the progressive news outlets I read, relentlessly insisted that he was. I almost never watched his show, so my preconceptions could flourish uncorrected. That said, I did find it odd that everyone around me in the “liberal elite” media hated him so violently—the way they hated President Trump; but that when I pressed for concrete reasons why, they could not provide them. When my liberal friends and loved ones would roll their eyes and spit out “Tucker Carlson,” as if that name itself was epithet enough, I would often pester: “What? Why? What did he actually say?” I never got a good answer. So even in the depth of the Left’s vilification of him—even as I was still on the Left myself—I was keeping, faintly, an open mind. Maybe this is because, in a limited way, I recognize where he comes from. We both come from some similar places. We both were raised in California in the 1970s (though I am six years older), a California that was very diverse and yet largely peaceful and hopeful, compared to the present; with reasonable newspapers and decent public education. It was a state drenched with sunshine and optimism; bright with discussion and with sensible plans for the future. California was the most meritocratic state in the Union, at that time. In spite of specific upheavals—the LGBTQ movement gaining force in the Bay Area, the women’s movement was fighting for access to reproductive rights, immigrant workers agitating for better conditions—we had no reason to believe that people of different races or political viewpoints or genders could not get along, or at least discuss their differences; we certainly would have found it racist to assume that immigrants or people of color could not succeed entirely on their own merits. The University of California system, unbroken at that time, an excellent nearly-free education, was almost majority nonwhite—selective, prestigious public high schools like the one I attended were majority nonwhite—so it was ridiculous to presume that people of color or immigrants could not thrive in our existing, even if imperfect, meritocracies. They were succeeding all around us. We both were sent from this early relaxed, hopeful formative background to the hothouses of rigorous, rigid, East Coast privilege—he to a prep school and then to Trinity College, I to Yale (and then Oxford). Maybe we both brought our West Coast skepticism of East Coast (and European) global elites’ nonsense and pretentiousness along with us. I was also never completely persuaded of his being the purported embodiment of pure evil, because I still had an impressionistic memory of him being around in the D.C. of the 1990s, in a time before such extreme caricatures as today’s keep both “sides” at daggers drawn. In the late 1990s, we shared a social milieu; though we were not friends, we were out and about in parallel circles in Washington, at a time in which his stint at The Weekly Standard and other conservative publications mirrored, fairly peaceably, compared with the present, my then-husband’s and my alliances with The New Republic and other left-wing publications. Social life was a Venn diagram in D.C. at that time, for pundits of all ages on both the left and the right. We all, in certain circles, dropped in to the same cocktail parties in Georgetown, huddled in the same bars in Dupont Circle, and enjoyed late-night feasts at the same hole-in-the-wall Ethiopian restaurants in Adams Morgan. Transpartisanship added frisson to social encounters, and partisanship was not yet the deadly tribalism it would later become. Sally Quinn, wife of the former executive editor of the Washington Post, the hostess who in the 1990s reigned supreme, would titillate the Clinton administration guests, at her gatherings in an antiques-filled, low-lit front room in Georgetown, with selective helpings of saucy Republican luminaries also present. The tension between commentators or apparatchiks from different “teams” made the conversation sparkle, and, to the high-spirited interlocutors of the two different parties, it made that third glass of Pinot Grigio pleasurably dangerous. It was a time when left and right could fence over Ms. Quinn’s old-school appetizers (never fish, not even cheese, and always candles, for the perfect party, as she later explained. “[Quinn] was giving a short history of the decline of Washington Establishment socializing, which she has long blamed for much of the entrenched partisan hostility that now dominates American politics. … Back then, she said, there was an easy, bipartisan commingling of ‘permanent Washington’ and elected officeholders.”). These adversaries by day would also inform one another by evening, while sparring at her events; they would make surprising, off-the-record alliances, and engage in productive off-the-record horse-trading. This behind-the-scenes, informal back and forth, was good for the country, and that was one reason that patriotic hostesses such as Ms. Quinn, I believe, facilitated it. Even brash newer hostesses—and at that time, the buzzy Arianna Huffington, equally glamorous, but arriving, with a flourish, from elsewhere, was one—had studied this art. She thus also assembled around herself, in her own salons, glittering representatives of both parties, so that nothing would be, darling, as she would say, boring. The show “Crossfire,” with its two civilized antagonists, was the allegory of the time. James Carville and Mary Matalin, with their sexy oppositional-ness, were the iconic couple of the moment. Point and counterpoint were still avidly followed then; direct, civil, well-informed debate was still considered valuable, illuminating, and a fascinating sport. I remember of D.C. in the 1990s as being what Mr. Carlson probably also remembers: a time and place for a young, ambitious intellectual, or a young, brash, public figure (as we both then were), in which a sincerity of inquiry, a seriousness of interrogation, and a regard for the verifiable truth, were all taken for granted as being what journalists and commentators were supposed to pursue. Whatever “side” we were on, we journalists and commentators all took pride in that mission. Truth existed. We would hunt it down, by God, and make our case for it. Journalists were supposed to challenge the State, and not take press releases from Presidents or White House spokespeople—or corporations for that matter—as Diktats. Arguments had to marshal evidence and to play fair. We assumed that this need that our profession was supposed to fulfill—for serious public inquiry, intense public debate—was the great indispensable thing in a Republic; we assumed that this basic underpinning of our roles as journalists would be seen by our society, our nation, as being valuable, forever; that the ethics of journalists and commentators in America would last forever; that these ethics would outlive us, as they had outlived President Jefferson. So I was not hugely surprised that in about March and April of 2021, when I was a Fellow at AIER in Great Barrington (home of the Great Barrington Declaration), and as I had started to raise questions about side effects women were experiencing with the mRNA vaccine—as well as raising questions about why our First and Fourth Amendment rights were being upended, why we were all being held under emergency law, why kids were being masked with little scientific evidence to support this abusive practice, and why pregnant women were being told the injections were safe when there was no data to back that claim up that I could find—that Mr. Carlson’s booker reached out to me. I appeared a few times on his show, to air my concerns. Right away the left-wing “watchdog” Media Matters—run by someone who had been a former acquaintance, even a friend, of ours in D.C., the former conservative who had turned Democrat, David Brock—went after me aggressively, with a systematic character assassination on Twitter and on the Media Matters website, engineered by CNN reporter Matt Gertz—a “journalist” who was actually funded to track and attack guests on Fox News: “Fox Keeps Hosting Pandemic Conspiracy Theorist Naomi Wolf.” In his hit piece, Mr. Gertz singled out the fact that I was warning about women who had received the mRNA vaccine having menstrual problems, and the fact that even women near vaccinated women were having menstrual problems. (This “shedding” via inhalation is confirmed in the Pfizer documents.) Gertz described multiple independent reports of menstrual problems from women as “purported reports”—a misogynist thing to do, mocking women’s eyewitness descriptions of their own symptoms, and one with a long history in medicine’s and Pharma’s crimes against women—and he shamefully singled out the (accurate) tweet of mine, that we now know via a lawsuit, the White House, the CDC, DHS, Twitter, and Facebook had illegally colluded to target and smear. So given the specificity of this one (accurate, important) tweet among thousands of mine, Matt Gertz may well have been acting as a henchman for these unlawfully colluding interests, to the eternal damage of what should have been his ethics as a journalist: (Screenshot/Twitter) This hit piece, calling me a “conspiracy theorist,” did a great deal to set the stage and provide the talking points for my later deplatforming at the hands of the White House working with Twitter and the CDC, and the subsequent reputational attack that spanned the globe and led to my wholesale ouster from legacy media and my former community on the Left. (It also consigned millions of women to damaged menses and infertility, by helping to silence this emerging discussion. Maternal deaths are up 40 percent now, due to compromises of women’s fertility post-mRNA injection. A million babies are missing in Europe. Great work, Mr. Gertz, Mr. Brock. You will take those harms, that you inflicted upon women and babies, to your graves.) But having appeared on Mr. Carlson’s show, to raise these and other real concerns, I also was peppered ceaselessly with nasty comments from my own “side.” Why? Because I had talked to Tucker Carlson. That was literally how they phrased my “crime.” This was the first real confrontation I had with the unreason and the cultlike thinking that were engulfing my “team.” I kept receiving messages, emails, DMs, and direct confrontations by phone, with friends and loved ones and even family members. How can you talk to Tucker Carlson?? I noted with concern that they did not say that I was wrong, or that my assertions were baseless, or even that his assertions were baseless. They did not address the crimes against women and babies I was uncovering, and sharing with the assistance of Mr. Carlson’s platform—crimes about which all the men and women on the Left, who were supposed to be such feminists and advocates for women’s rights, were silent. My soon-to-be-former friends and colleagues simply reiterated again and again, as if it were self-evident, that I had discredited myself in some nameless but completely understood and permanent and unforgivable way, by talking to Tucker Carlson. (The only other major platform that was open to hearing what I was finding, was, of course, Steve Bannon’s WarRoom. I started to appear also on WarRoom, leading to another wave of appalled DMs and emails from my friends and loved ones, who by now were actively and rapidly distancing themselves from me. “How can you talk to Steve Bannon?”) So I had to face the alarming evidence that the Left now saw anyone “talking to” the opposition, as being magically, publicly, permanently contaminated and contaminating, in some weird anthropological way, and as now being utterly invalidated, and that they believed all of this in some pre-rational, Stone Age sort of belief matrix. They were treating me as though by my talking to Mr. Carlson and Mr. Bannon, no matter about what—no matter that the issues and evidence that I brought to these platforms and to these interlocutors were both true and important—I was burning my I-am-a-good-person membership club card, in some kind of public ritual of immolation, and that thus I would have to be exiled far from the progressive community and shamed away entirely from the warming of progressive campfires. “Unclean! Unclean!” Here is Mr. Ben Dixon, from the left, asserting that I must be not a feminist because I am “talking to Tucker Carlson” who “100 per cent is an anti-feminist.” He assails “this BS from Naomi Wolf and Tucker Carlson”—“BS”—in which I warned that we were heading into an un-American two-tier discrimination society based on vaccination status. Did that actually happen, as I warned? It did: We were attacked—I was attacked—for discussing things that came true. Did this happen, below? Was this true? We predicted in 2021 that authoritarian leaders would not relinquish emergency powers. It is now 2023, so: Yes. Should the Left have supported instead of mocked such a discussion? Even most of them must realize by now that the answer is: Yes. The reaction, though, of horror, from everyone I knew, at my crime of “talking to Tucker Carlson,” horrified me (as I often say, I will talk to anyone about the Constitution). The dismay of the Left in reaction to my “talking to Tucker Carlson” horrified me because talking to people with whom I don’t agree, is one of the main ways I have ever learned anything, or, I believe, that anyone has ever learned anything. And it horrified me also because I would have gladly brought my urgently important, indeed lifesaving information, to CNN and MSNBC, as usual—to all these self-proclaimed “feminists”—but they were having none of it. Above all it horrified me because the Left thus had departed from the post-Enlightenment metric of “is it true?” to return to a pre-rational metric of “is this within our tribe and according to our rituals and our cult?” And that I knew from my study of history how disastrously that kind of thinking ends. Well, by this time my husband was watching Mr. Carlson’s show. I observed myself experiencing waves of prejudice and of squirming anxiety as I also began to watch his show. To my distress, I found that many of his monologues made sense to me. They were not unreasonable, by and large, and they were not hate-filled; to the contrary. I had been told that he was racist. And indeed I recoiled at his signature giggle as he mocked the epithet: “Racist!” But as I actually forced myself to listen, sitting in my discomfort and programmed aversion, observing the reactions in myself (as the Buddhists urge one to do), I realized—he was not in fact a racist. Mr. Carlson was usually calling attention to the way identity politics was destroying our former ideal—shared by most of us California kids and teenagers in the 1970s—that we all were Americans first of all, deserving of equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome. I realized as I listened that his stories about immigration were not anti-immigrant, as I had been told; but rather that he was calling attention to the security and social welfare threats to the nation posed by massive, unrestricted, unlawful immigration over an open Southern border, a view shared by many legal immigrants. I learned that he was not actually transphobic, as I had been told; but rather that he shone a light on the way that minors were being targeted by schools and the pharmaceutical industry, to undergo radical gender surgery before they were of age to make adult decisions. While I often still disagreed with him, I found that his reasoning was transparent—a rare thing these days—and that always he returned to that old-fashioned, common-sense basis for his conclusions: “this is simply true.” More often than not, he had a point. I was also noticing that as I scanned Twitter for what I saw as more and more evidence of flaws in the “narrative” about COVID and “lockdowns” that we were all being fed in the first half of 2021, and as I forwarded or posted these links showing primary-source evidence of fraud in the PCR tests, a lack of transparent datasets in the COVID dashboards, testimony from an OSHA expert about harms to children from masks, problems with The New York Times’ assertions about restaurant- and school-based infections and “asymptomatic spread,” and so on—evidence that I would later publish in my 2021 book “The Bodies of Others: COVID-19, The New Authoritarians and the War Against the Human”—that there was absolute silence now from my entire formerly robust and responsive network of legacy/progressive-media producers, editors, journalists, and bookers. Silence from the U.S. TV networks. Silence from The Washington Post. From The Guardian. Silence from NPR. Silence from the BBC, the Sunday Times of London, The Telegraph, The Daily Mail, my reliable former outlets. Even silence from other overseas news outlets. All of these had, until 2020, been happy to respond to what I sent, to commission my writing, or to book me to appear to speak about the links I had forwarded or posted to their producers or editors. But Eldad Yaron, Mr. Carlson’s excellent producer, pretty much alone of the major outlets’ producers, did respond to the links I sent, even inviting more. So I was in the head-spinning position of realizing that these two men, Carlson and Bannon, both unwavering conservatives, both of whom I had been told represented Evil Incarnate, were the possessors of the only major platforms interested in the hard and fast evidence of the greatest crime in history and of the direct threat to our Republic, of which I was warning; and that every other news outlet, all on the liberal side, indeed around the world, was rushing headlong into the sea of lies, and gladly sailing upon it under a wind of falsehood and prevarication. So only they, along with a smattering of other smaller independent media, were able to bring their audiences a true picture of the appalling threats faced by their viewers and our Republic. Back to Mr. Carlson in the present, and why I appreciate him and hope his voice reappears on the national and global stage more assertively than before. I don’t know him personally—we have only met once, as far as I know—when my husband Brian O’Shea and I visited Carlson’s homey, Americana-crowded studio in a tiny town in rural Maine. But underneath all of what may be our policy differences, this is in my view why so many people have seen his reporting during the last three years as absolutely critical to our survival—and why so many Democrats and independents, including myself, whether secretly or not, watch and appreciate him as well: Carlson queries current madness from the same old-fashioned, deeply American premises that shaped me, and that shaped the last three remaining true Liberals, as well. He seems to be refusing to let go of an America that actually holds journalists to the practice of journalism. I share that outrage and that nostalgia. Many do. He seems to insist on not forgetting the America that saw everyone as equal based on “the content of their character.” I, many, share this pained memory of national unity around race even as we acknowledge that our nation’s racial history has had plenty of tragedy. He won’t let go of the memory of an America in which children were safe at school and parents decided what happened to their children. I, many, share this baseline value and are terrified that it is under attack. And he insists on patriotism, in a time of relentless propaganda and the bribery of elites that urges us all to drop national identities, cultures, borders, and even allegiances. This last quality especially makes him dangerous, as our nation is led entirely now by elite-captured traitors to our country. All of these resonances are deeply nostalgic—but they are also what must be saved and protected as memories and as part of our core belief system, if we are ever to regain our Republic—and our decency—in the future. So—Mr. Carlson—thank you for caring about women and babies, in your being among the first, along with Mr. Bannon, to give me a platform to raise a lifesaving alarm about threats to both. Thank you for your dogged nostalgia about a nation that is racially optimistic. Thanks for being willing to talk to those with whom you do not agree. Thanks for not giving up on religious liberty or the First Amendment. Thank you for insisting that truth matters. And thank you for not giving up on the best core ideals of this nation. We did not used to call the aggregate of all of those ideals, “conspiracy theories.” We used to call them, America. Originally published on the author’s Substack Tyler Durden Thu, 05/04/2023 - 21:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytMay 4th, 2023

ChatGPT is more empathetic than real doctors, experts say

Researchers found the AI chatbot's responses to medical questions were better and more empathetic than a physician's about 80% of the time. New research suggests that AI chatbots like ChatGPT can answer medical queries better than humans.sorbetto/Getty Images 78.6% of medical experts preferred ChatGPT's answers to those of a physician, per a new study. Experts found the chatbot's responses to patient questions were higher quality and more empathetic.  ChatGPT can still make grave medical errors, but this study suggests AI may improve upon a doctor's bedside manner. ChatGPT may be just as good as doctors — if not better — at responding to patients' medical questions, according to a new study. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego; John Hopkins; and other universities asked OpenAI's ChatGPT 195 questions posted to Reddit's AskDocs forum, and compared both the quality and the empathy of the chatbot's responses to answers from verified physicians on Reddit. A team of healthcare experts, including professionals working in internal medicine, pediatrics, oncology, and infectious disease, scored both the bot and the human answers on a five-point scale, assessing the "quality of information" and "the empathy or bedside manner" provided.In the study, clinicians preferred the chatbot's response to the physician's in 78.6% of the 585 scenarios. The chatbot's responses were rated 3.6-times higher in quality and 9.8-times higher in empathy than those of the physicians. Doctors keep it brief — while ChatGPT responds at length A big reason ChatGPT won out in the study is because the bot's responses to questions were longer and more personable than the physicians' brief, time-saver answers. For example, when asked whether it's possible to go blind after getting bleach in your eye, ChatGPT responded "I'm sorry to hear that you got bleach splashed in your eye," and offered four additional sentences of explanation, with specific instructions on how to clean it.The physician just said, "Sounds like you will be fine," and briefly advised the patient to "flush the eye" or call poison control.Another patient's question about a "hard lump under the skin of the penis" yielded a "not an emergency" response from the doctor, who then advised the patient to make an appointment for the "first available slot" with their physician or urologist. ChatGPT, on the other hand, offered a far more explanatory three-paragraph response detailing the possibility of penile cancer."It is important to remember that the vast majority of lumps or bumps on the penis are benign and are not cancerous," the chatbot said. "However, it is important to have any new or unusual lump or bump evaluated." Similar responses were generated for treating a lingering cough, advice on going to the emergency room following a blow to the head, and concerns about finding traces of blood in feces. ChatGPT isn't really capable of diagnosing on its ownDon't let ChatGPT's performance in this study fool you. It's still not a doctor. ChatGPT was only suggesting potential tips and diagnoses for patients writing health questions on Reddit. No physical exams or clinical follow-ups were done to determine how accurate the chatbot's powers of diagnosis actually were or if its suggested fixes worked. Still, these findings suggest that doctors could use AI-assistants like ChatGPT to "unlock untapped productivity" by freeing up time for more "complex tasks," the study authors said. AI chatbots might "reduce necessary clinical visits" and "foster patient equity" for people who face barriers to healthcare access, the authors added.Chatbots might be more transparent about considering and explaining all the possible differential diagnoses for a patient's symptoms, possibly resulting in less misdiagnosis, and more patient education. Dr. Teva Brender, a medical intern at the University of California San Diego, recently said much the same in an editorial in JAMA Internal Medicine explaining how AI chatbots could help doctors save precious time at work by assisting with test result notifications for patients, discharge instructions, or routine medical charting. And Dr. Isaac Kohane, a physician and computer science expert at Harvard who was not involved in this study, recently said that GPT-4 — ChatGPT's latest language model — can offer tips for doctors on how to talk to patients with clarity and compassion. "It should be self-evident that one secret of good care for the patient is caring for the patient," another physician said on Twitter after the new study was released. "In reflection, I could be doing a better job at this."But ChatGPT can still make mistakes and misdiagnose, which is why doctors are cautious about letting it loose to patients at home. As the authors of the new book "The AI Revolution in Medicine" recently wrote, GPT-4 "is at once both smarter and dumber than any person you've ever met." It may be capable of translating or summarizing medical information for patients, but won't reliably work without clinically-trained human assistance. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 2nd, 2023

Jack Ma, who disappeared from public view in 2020, just accepted a teaching position in Japan. Here"s how the Alibaba and Ant Group founder got started and amassed a huge fortune.

Jack Ma grew up poor in China, failed his university-entrance exam twice, and was rejected from dozens of jobs before finding success with Alibaba. Jack Ma.VCG/VCG via Getty Images Jack Ma, the billionaire founder of Alibaba and Ant Group, accepted a teaching role in Japan. Ant Group said Ma would give up control of the fintech company amid closer scrutiny from Beijing. He grew up poor and faced multiple job rejections but amassed billions. Here's a look at Ma's life. Alibaba and Ant Group founder Jack Ma, who disappeared from public view in 2020 and resurfaced in Thailand in January, has accepted a teaching role in Japan. Ma is expected to conduct research on sustainable agriculture and food production, Tokyo College said in an announcement on May 1.Jay Fai restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, posted a photo of Ma when he resurfaced. The caption read: "Incredibly humble, we are honored to welcome you and your family to Jay Fai's."The billionaire faced a crackdown from Chinese regulators in 2020 that resulted in an antitrust investigation, a suspended IPO, and Ma losing $12 billion of his fortune in just a few months.The billionaire has reportedly been laying low amid intense scrutiny. His net worth is now estimated to be $33 billion, per Bloomberg Billionaires Index.This isn't Ma's first rodeo facing difficulties, however. He grew up poor in communist China, failed his university entrance exam twice, and was rejected from dozens of jobs, including one at KFC, before finding success with his third internet company, Alibaba.Here's how Ma got his start and made his fortune.Jillian D'Onfro, Charles Clark, and Taylor Nicole Rogers contributed to an earlier version of this post.Jack Ma — born Ma Yun — was born on September 10, 1964, in Hangzhou, southeastern China. He has an older brother and a younger sister.Jack Ma in 2014.REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson Source: 60 Minutes, USA TodayHe and his siblings grew up at a time when communist China was increasingly isolated from the West, and his family didn't have much money when they were young.Hangzhou, China, where Ma was raised.rongyiquan / Source: 60 Minutes, USA TodayMa was scrawny and often got into fights with classmates. "I was never afraid of opponents who were bigger than I," he recalls in "Alibaba," a book by Liu Shiying and Martha Avery.YouTube, Life NewsSource: USA Today, Business InsiderAs a kid, Ma liked collecting crickets and making them fight, and was able to distinguish the size and type of cricket just by the sound it made.Ma in 2016.REUTERS/Bobby YipSource: USA Today, Business InsiderAfter President Nixon visited Hangzhou in 1972, Ma's hometown became a tourist destination. As a teenager, Ma started waking up early to visit the city's main hotel, offering visitors tours of the city in exchange for English lessons. The nickname "Jack" was given to him by a tourist he befriended.Richard and Pat Nixon.APSource: 60 MinutesAfter high school, he applied to go to college — but failed the entrance exam twice. He finally passed on the third try, going on to attend Hangzhou Teachers Institute. He graduated in 1988 and started applying to as many jobs as he could.WEFSource: 60 MinutesHe received more than a dozen rejections — including from KFC — before being hired as an English teacher. Ma was a natural with his students and loved his job — though he only made $12 a month at a local university.ReutersSource: Business InsiderAt the World Economic Forum in 2016, Ma revealed he has been rejected from Harvard — 10 times.REUTERS/Jason LeeSource: Business InsiderMa had no experience with computers or coding, but he was captivated by the internet when he used it for the first time during a trip to the US in 1995. He had recently started a translation business and made the trip to help a Chinese firm recover a payment. Ma's first online search was "beer," but he was surprised to find that no Chinese beers turned up in the results. It was then that he decided to found an internet company for China. AP ImagesSource: Business Insider, USA TodayThough his first two ventures failed, four years later, he gathered 17 of his friends in his apartment and convinced them to invest in his vision for an online marketplace he called "Alibaba." The site allowed exporters to post product listings that customers could buy directly.Alibaba's headquarters in Hangzhou.ReutersSource: Business Insider, 60 MinutesSoon, the service started to attract members from all over the world. By October 1999, the company had raised $5 million from Goldman Sachs and $20 million from SoftBank, a Japanese telecom company that also invests in technology companies. The team remained close-knit and scrappy. "We will make it because we are young and we never, never give up," Ma said to a gathering of employees.Screenshot / The Crocodile in the YangtzeSource: Business InsiderHe was known for maintaining a sense of fun at Alibaba. In the early 2000s, when the company decided to start Taobao, its eBay competitor, he had his team do handstands during breaks to keep their energy levels up.The home page of Chinese e-commerce site Taobao.(AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)Source: Business InsiderWhen the company first became profitable, Ma gave each employee a can of Silly String to go wild with.Dollar TreeSource: Business InsiderIn 2005, Yahoo invested $1 billion in Alibaba in exchange for about a 40% stake in the company. This was huge for Alibaba — at the time it was trying to beat eBay in China — and it would eventually be an enormous win for Yahoo too, netting it $10 billion in Alibaba's IPO alone.HYSTASource: TechCrunchIn 2014, Ma told Bloomberg he knew Alibaba had made it big when another customer offered to pay his restaurant bill. The customer, Ma said in the interview, had left Ma a note that read: "I'm your customer of Alibaba group, I made a lot of money and I know you don't make any money. I'll pay the bill for you."Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderMa stepped down from his post as CEO in 2013, staying on as executive chairman.Alibaba Group Holding Ltd founder Jack Ma (2nd L) poses as he arrives at the New York Stock Exchange for his company's initial public offering (IPO) under the ticker "BABA" in New York September 19, 2014.REUTERS/Brendan McDermidSource: Tech CrunchAlibaba went public on September 19, 2014. "Today what we got is not money. What we got is the trust from the people," Ma told CNBC at the time.Ma arrives at the New York Stock Exchange in 2014.REUTERS/Brendan McDermidSource: CNBC, NYSEThe company's $150 billion IPO was the largest offering for a US-listed company in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. It also made Ma the richest person in China, with an estimated worth of $25 billion at the time.Ma after his company's initial public offering.Andrew Burton/Getty ImagesSource: BloombergMa's fortune comes from his 4.2% stake in Alibaba and a 10% stake in payment-processing service Alipay, which rebranded to Ant Group in 2014.Alipay logo is seen at a train station in Shanghai.Thomson ReutersSource: BloombergAlibaba employees threw a big party at the company's Hangzhou headquarters to celebrate the IPO. One employee even took the party as the perfect opportunity to propose. Ma told employees at a press conference that he hopes they use their newfound wealth to become "a batch of genuinely noble people, a batch of people who are able to help others, and who are kind and happy." by TencentSource:, USA TodayThe biggest day in the calendar for Alibaba is China's "Singles' Day" — a retaliation to Valentine's Day — which supposedly celebrates the country's singletons. In 2016, the site recorded nearly $20 billion in sales in 24 hours.Ma looks back at a giant electronic screen showing real-time sales figures on the "Singles' Day" online shopping festival.REUTERSSource: CNBCIn 2020, the total value of Alibaba orders placed on Singles' Day topped $56 billion.Taylor Swift performs at a show to mark Alibaba's Singles' Day global shopping festival in 2019.REUTERS/StringerSource: CNBCAlibaba's success may have made Ma an extremely wealthy man, but he has made very few flashy purchases, and he still has some pretty modest hobbies. "I don't think he has changed much, he is still that old style," Xiao-Ping Chen, a friend of Ma, told USA Today. He likes reading and writing kung fu fiction, playing poker, meditating, and practicing tai chi.Jack MaAssociated PressSource: USA TodayHis big splurge was a vineyard and a chateau in Bordeaux, France, in 2016.Ma's vineyard not pictured.Wikimedia CommonsSource: Forbes, CNBCIn March 2013, Alibaba spent a reported $49.7 million on a Gulfstream G550, mostly for Ma's use.Dean Morley / FlickrSource: China DailyOne of his greatest passions is the environment. According to Fortune, Ma developed an interest in environmentalism when a member of his wife's family became sick with an illness that Ma suspected was caused by pollution. He sits on the global board of The Nature Conservancy and spoke during a session of the Clinton Global Initiative in 2015. He has also, according to Fortune, been instrumental in funding a 27,000-acre nature reserve in China.Chelsea Clinton, left, and Jack Ma.Shannon Stapleton / REUTERSSource: FortuneMa has largely kept his family life out of the spotlight. He married Zhang Ying, a teacher he met at school, after they graduated in the late 1980s. They have two children — a daughter and a son.Alibaba founder Jack Ma in January 2018.Wang HE/Getty ImagesSource: BloombergIn 2017, Ma made headlines after meeting President Donald Trump. Despite Trump's protectionist attitude towards trade, Ma said China and the United States were not about to be drawn into a trade war. "Give Trump some time. He's open-minded," Ma told a panel at the World Economic Forum in January 2017.Donald Trump with Jack Ma.APSource: Business InsiderMa is something of a celebrity in China, and crowds of people show up to listen to him speak. The company also hosts annual talent shows, and Ma is a natural entertainer. At a company anniversary event, he dressed up as a punk rocker for a performance in front of 20,000 Alibaba employees.Steven Shi / REUTERSSource: 60 MinutesCompany lore has it that Ma came up with the name "Alibaba" while sitting in a San Francisco coffee shop. In "Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves," a secret password unlocks a trove filled with unbelievable riches. Ma's company has, in a way, revealed the potential of small and mid-sized businesses across the globe.AP ImagesSource: EntrepreneurMa stepped down as Alibaba's chairman on September 10, 2019, his 55th birthday. The company threw him a farewell party in an 80,000-seat stadium in Hangzhou, and Ma performed with other Alibaba executives.Courtesy of AlibabaSource: Business InsiderMa picked Daniel Zhang, who has been the CEO of Alibaba since 2015, to replace him as chairman. According to CNN Business, Ma decided to pivot to full-time philanthropy.AlibabaSource: Business Insider, CNN BusinessWhen the coronavirus pandemic brought the world to a halt in March 2020, Ma sourced and shipped N95 face masks and COVID-19 testing kits to over 100 countries dealing with shortages, including the US.Jack Ma/TwitterSource: Business InsiderIn May 2021, SoftBank announced that Ma would resign from the troubled investment fund's board of directors.Masayoshi Son, SoftBank's chairman and CEO.Reuters"Stepping down from SoftBank Group's Board, I believe, and he said to me actually, was something that he decided on his own," SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son said during the firm's earnings announcement. "That's sad, but we still keep in contact directly and right before the COVID-19, we met face-to-face every month to have dinner, to talk about businesses, to talk about lives. And we will remain friends for the rest of our life, I believe."Source: Business InsiderIn October 2021, Ma made headlines again in relation to Ant Group's highly anticipated IPO. Ant Group was expected to raise $37 billion with a valuation reportedly surpassing $300 billion. But then, Ma publicly snubbed China's financial regulatory system, calling it 'an old people's club.'The mascot of Ant Financial.Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderSoon after, regulators introduced new online lending rules that directly impacted Ant's business. Officials then said there were "major issues" with Ant's listing, and by November, the IPO was suspended.Ant Group's headquarters in Hangzhou.Chen Zhongqiu/VCG/Getty ImagesSource: Business InsiderOnce China's richest man, Ma's net worth has fallen by more than $25 billion since he disappeared from public view, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. His net worth is now estimated at $34.1 billion, making him China's ninth-richest person.Jack MaShu Zhang/ReutersSource: Bloomberg,ForbesChinese regulators opened an antitrust investigation into Alibaba in December 2020, yet another crackdown on Ma's empire.ReutersSource: Business InsiderIn January 2021, Yahoo Finance reported that Ma hadn't been seen publicly in more than two months and had been replaced as a judge on the TV talent show he founded, which raised the question of whether Ma had gone missing.Bryan Thomas/Getty ImagesSource: Business Insider, Yahoo FinanceMa's absence mirrored similar situations where Chinese businessmen had disappeared after battling with regulators, but multiple sources said that Ma was not missing — he was simply "laying low" amid the government scrutiny and new regulations.Charles Platiau/ReutersSource: Business Insider, Business InsiderMa appeared to resurface in Thailand in January after Jay Fai restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, posted a photo of him on Instagram. The caption read: "Incredibly humble, we are honored to welcome you and your family to Jay Fai's." A post shared by JAY FAI (เจ๊ไฝ)⭐️ (@jayfaibangkok)  Source: InsiderHis reappearance came as Ant Group said it was streamlining voting rights to prevent any one shareholder from having a controlling vote.A scene of AI technology and digital smart Life at the Booth of Alibaba and Ant Group at the World Intelligence Congress in Shanghai, China, in July 2021.CFOTO/Future Publishing via Getty ImagesSource: InsiderOn May 1, Ma accepted a teaching role at Tokyo College and is expected to conduct research on sustainable agriculture and food production.Future Publishing/Getty ImagesSource: InsiderRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderMay 1st, 2023

How to use ChatGPT to improve your Microsoft Excel skills, from identifying formulas to learning keyboard shortcuts

The popular OpenAI chatbot provided a list of ways it can help users ease their Excel spreadsheet woes and help make data analysis more efficient. ChatGPT can help ease your Excel spreadsheet woes.justplay1412/Shutterstock Workers have used OpenAI's ChatGPT for dozens of tasks since its November release. While some fear AI may replace their job, others have embraced the technology to improve their productivity. One example is by helping with sometimes tricky programs like Microsoft Excel. Since ChatGPT's debut in November, users have been turning to the popular chatbot created by OpenAI for help with everything from emailing coworkers and updating resumes to finding recipes ideas and overhauling dating profiles. While some fear the chatbot is already eliminating jobs, it has also introduced ways to help make work more efficient, allowing users to shift their energy toward other tasks and projects. One example is by using the generative AI for help with data processing programs workers often struggles with, like Microsoft Excel and Google Sheets. We asked ChatGPT how it can help alleviate spreadsheet woes — here's what the chatbot had to say about how it can help make your Excel experience easier.Assisting with tricky formulas, scripts, and templatesChatGPT can help suggest the best formulas to use within data sets to identify insights you're seeking and more quickly find results. The technology can also help write Excel scripts or macros, an action or set of actions that can be run repeatedly, like changing the font size or color of a group of cells, which can help make your work more efficient.According to ChatGPT, it can assist in designing or finding a spreadsheet that fits a specific template with headings and categories already implemented. If a user needs a function that isn't already available in Excel or Sheets, ChatGPT says it can help walk you through the process of writing it in a program like the Google Apps Script.Identifying data trends and flagging errors According to ChatGPT, the technology can help analyze data by finding trends, summarizing information into a few key statistics, and even helping to create charts and different ways to visualize data. The technology can also help quickly identify errors or missing data points, offering remedial suggestions along the way.ChatGPT said it can help users integrate data into other programs, or help with importing and exporting data to an Application Programming Interface, commonly referred to as an API.Helping beginners learn common tricksThe chatbot can walk beginners through common Excel tricks to make the program more efficient, like keyboard shortcuts or step-by-step directions on how to format data in a certain way.ChatGPT said it can also help with general troubleshooting as issues arise with a spreadsheet, which could be faster than looking through the help menu of a specific program.Finally, the chatbot said it can recommend other tutorials or guides available online based on your current Excel skill level or what specific task you are looking to complete.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 30th, 2023

Remote work hasn"t been the best for my career — I was passed up twice for promotions. But it"s been amazing for my personal life.

Hannah Hood, 26, loved the flexibility of her remote marketing role, but it was a trade-off: She missed out on two promotions she'd wanted. Hannah Hood.Courtesy of Hannah Hood Hannah Hood got passed up for a promotion she wanted while working from home — twice. While her career took a hit, she loved the flexibility in her personal life and even got her MBA virtually. In her new role, her colleagues are also remote, so in-office visibility is no longer a factor. This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Hannah Hood, 26, a corporate marketing manager from Indianapolis, Indiana. It's been edited for length and clarity.When I took my first job at 22, I remember impressing my friends with the fact that I didn't have to go into the office on Friday and had the option to work one day from home. The remote Friday was a major perk that made the job — a marketing role at my local university in rural Indiana — more enticing.I usually laid in bed and did menial, tedious tasks while watching TVOn my work-from-home days, I'd typically knock out things like scheduling social media posts, organizing, and getting caught up on my email.Sometimes I'd use it as my writing day and write press releases or blogs too. It was rare that we had meetings on Fridays, but if we did, I'd take calls from the spare bedroom of my apartment.In my first 11 months on the job, I got to build relationships with coworkers, gain an understanding of the company and the type of work I was doing, and establish myself in the role. So when COVID-19 hit and we went remote, it didn't feel that different to me — the team dynamics just shifted to Zoom, and I continued working. I got passed up for the promotion I wanted while working from home, though — and then it happened againI no longer had the same visibility with my superiors at the coordinator/manager level that I'd once had when they had to walk by my cubicle every morning. I wasn't in meetings, getting valuable face-time with decision-makers. So when those promotions popped up, I simply wasn't on their radar until I advocated for myself. And at that point, decisions were already made. The first promotion that I got passed up for took place when we were 100% remote, in the thick of COVID. The second one occurred when we were in transition to return to the office.At that time, I'd moved to Indianapolis and the rest of the team was in a different location, so I was coming into the office only as was absolutely required, while several other team members came in much more frequently.At the same time, it was amazing for my personal lifeRemote work allowed for a ton of personal flexibility, so I spent more time being active, cooking, volunteering, and spending quality time with my friends and my husband. It also gave me freedom to design a work environment at home that suited me. I have a home-base in our spare bedroom with double monitor, keyboard, and decorated desk, but I thrive when I'm able to shake up my work environment day-to-day, week-to-week — I'll work from my bed, couch, the kitchen, my mom's kitchen, over Zoom with my other remote-working friends, or in local coffee shops. The situation allowed me to obsessively train our new dog and get my MBA 100% virtually, which was super convenient. I had more energy to put towards my education; my workdays didn't drain me in the same way that they had when I was in office. But it's been a trade-off because of how it impacted my careerI ended up leaving my job at the university in March 2022. I'd just had my daughter, the three-hour round-trip commute once a week just wasn't working, and I knew that I was tapped out in terms of my job growth.I took a job at a PR agency in Indianapolis, where I worked in a hybrid setup with two days in the office and three days remote. I enjoyed my time there, but when a recruiter reached out with an opportunity for a full-remote job, I couldn't help but see it through. Now I'm about three months into a 100% remote job as a corporate marketing manager at ServicePower, where most of my coworkers are over 500 miles away. Some are across the globe. I love the culture, which is built around the fact that the majority of the team is remoteA few times a year, the team gets together for strategy meetings and social events at our base in DC, but the rest of the year, everyone works collaboratively over Teams. I've even been invited to a few virtual coffee chats with some of my coworkers where we take time to talk about our lives and connect on a more personal level. It makes a huge difference to work somewhere that knows how to manage remote workers versus a work-remote situation that occurred as a result of COVID. I'm not worried about getting passed up for opportunities because we're all in this remote environment together.As a young mom and homeowner, I'm thankful I'll never have the stress of figuring out how to take care of my family and maintain my house with the pressure to sit in an office for eight hours a day, not to mention the commute. I get to spend more time with my daughter. My husband and I don't have to stress about being able to make childcare pick-up and drop-off times. When things pop up like a leaky roof or sink, we also don't have to stress about finding a time to be home for repairs; I'm already there."Adulting" comes with a huge mental load. Working remotely makes balancing it all feel more feasible. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 25th, 2023

The Military-Industrial Stock-Buyback Complex

The Military-Industrial Stock-Buyback Complex Authored by Matt Stoller via 'BIG by Matt Stoller' Substack, Why is the US military ceding ground to China? As a new DOD report shows, big defense contractors are middlemen whose main purpose is stock buybacks and dividends. Today I’m writing about an astonishing report that came from the Pentagon this week on how Wall Street has wrecked the defense industrial base. This chart, which shows stock buybacks are up while research and development is down, is the key finding. “Despite improving profit margins and cash generation for defense contractors in 2010-2019 vs 2000-2009, the share of contractor spending on Independent Research and Development (IR&D) and capital expenditures declined while cash paid to shareholders in dividends and share repurchases increased by 73%” - DOD Contract Finance Study Report, April 2023 Before I get to that, I have a few announcements. First, there’s some good BIG-related news. Montana Congressman Ryan Zinke is demanding an investigation into Booz Allen’s contract and the consulting giant’s control over national parks. As you may recall, I broke the story about late last year, and the Wall Street Journal did a follow-up on it last week. There’s also a class action complaint against Booz Allen. So yay. Second, I’ll now be sending occasional shorter missives to paid subscribers. On Wednesday, I sent out a shorter quick read on how Wall Street expects action against drug middlemen. Don’t worry, I’ll still be writing the longer stuff. If you want access to all the writing and the BIG Discord server, you can subscribe here. And now… On the eve of Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939, America was woefully unprepared for a conflict that everyone thought would come. Most strategists knew the nation that could produce more with its industrial base would probably win, and yet even so, the American business world was oblivious. 85% of U.S. factory machinery dated from the 1920s or earlier, and some predated the Civil War. And the deeper one looked the worse the situation seemed. The next war would be fought at the cutting edge of technology, which is to say, with airplanes. And an air force required the technological marvel of aluminum, which you could only get from the longest-lasting industrial monopoly in U.S. history, the Aluminum Company of America, or Alcoa. Aluminum, light and strong, was also immensely energy-intensive to create, and Alcoa organized production of 100% of it. The President of Alcoa, Arthur Davis, a hoarder of talent, tools, and inputs like bauxite, wasn’t worried. He had promised there would be no shortage, that Alcoa, modern and sophisticated as it was, could fulfill all military and civilian demand, and then some. Yet even before the entry of America into the war, Davis was proven wrong. Aerospace firms just couldn’t get their hands on enough of the wonder metal. After America joined the fight, the shortage got worse. “Prime Minister Churchill said of the Royal Air Force that never in history did so many owe so much to so few,” wrote investigative journalist I. F. Stone. “It might be said of us that never did a people do so little with so much,” he added. Politicians were furious at Alcoa, as were military leaders. FDR demanded 50,000 airplanes a year, and the U.S. delivered that, and more. But to do so, the national security apparatus, which has always lurked in the background of monopoly power questions, had to help break Alcoa’s power, through a mammoth antitrust suit, as well as industrial strategy in the form of subsidies to nascent rivals. Today, we face something similar. Not a world war, fortunately, but a collapsing defense industrial base that limits the American ability to supply its military. And increasingly, American leaders are angry, not at Alcoa this time, but at the defense contractors who hold market power over what the military buys. From Javelins to ordinary ammunition to ship repair to ball bearings, the U.S. military just can’t get what it needs. “I am not forgiving of the fact that you’re not delivering the ordinance we need,” said Admiral Daryl Caudle at Surface Navy Association conference earlier this year. “All this stuff about COVID this, parts, supply chain this, I just don’t really care. We’ve all got tough jobs.” I’ve been writing about the defense industrial base monopoly problem for years at this point; the first major piece I did was in the American Conservative in 2019. The modern story is relatively simple. In the 1990s post-Cold War era, the White House sought to cut defense spending. Bill Clinton’s administration arranged a deal with defense contractors; they would tolerate lower revenue or stagnant revenue, if they got higher margins. And so at a dinner known as ‘The Last Supper’ held in the Pentagon, the Clinton Defense Department encouraged a merger wave. Throughout the 1990s, the DOD even paid the merger costs of its defense base firms; the number of major prime contractors (or ‘primes’) dropped from dozens to 5. In addition, Congress, under ‘Reinventing Government,’ passed laws to eliminate contracting rules that blocked price gouging of the treasury. All of this monopolization was done in a unipolar moment, when just-in-time manufacturing where suppliers kept no inventory on hand was applied to everything, even military stockpiles. This was, in retrospect, insane. Who thinks that having no resiliency is a good strategy for wars? And yet, the U.S. felt so confident in its geopolitical position that the Clinton administration even helped China build its missile program - aimed at the U.S. - with U.S. technology, all to do a favor for the McDonnell Douglas corporation. The military defense base continued to fall apart, for decades, throughout the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations. So that’s the bad news. The good news is that some of our leaders have finally started to wake up to this strategic problem. Somewhere between 2019 and 2022, military thinkers began to understand that we are in trouble. The realization that China has a military that could potentially defeat the U.S. prompted significant concern. China’s ability to build things is a big reason why. “In purchasing power parity, [China] spends about one dollar to our 20 dollars to get to the same capability,” said Maj. Gen. Cameron Holt from the US Air Force acquisition, technology, and logistics office. Then in 2020, factories in Mexico that make defense base materials as part of the just-in-time model of supply chain management closed down, against the Pentagon’s wishes. In 2022, the Ukraine war, which depleted U.S. military stockpiles, accelerated a conversation over geopolitics, with leaders on the right like Elbridge Colby forcing a conversation over trade-offs between China, Russia, and the Middle East. On the left, Democratic anti-monopoly leaders like Elizabeth Warren, Ro Khanna, and John Garamendi saw the problem as well. In the 1990s, America had 51 major contractors bidding for defense work. Today, there are only five massive companies remaining. Defense contracting should be reworked to break up the massive contracts awarded to the big guys and create opportunities for firms of all sizes. — Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) February 24, 2023 Since Covid and increasingly during the Ukraine conflict, policymakers have realized the U.S. faces real physical constraints on what we can build. Consider that the U.S. still cannot replenish its stocks of Javelin and Stinger missiles. Why? Not because the money isn’t there, but because if defense contractors act too quickly, they would, as one consultant to the industry put it, “get hammered by Wall Street.” And since there’s virtually no competition at this point in building any weapon major system, there’s no rush to take market share. Today, leaders in and around the Pentagon are starting to act to remedy the situation. Kathleen Hicks, who is the number two at the Defense Department, helped block a merger of Lockheed and Aerojet, and that successful challenge ended a merger spree in the defense industrial base. The problem isn’t fixed. But we’re getting closer. And that brings me to the Pentagon defense finance contracting report that just came out on Wednesday, which was the first wholesale reexamination of the “effect that the DOD’s contract financing and profit policies have on the defense industry” since 1985. Most DOD reports are meek, but this one attempted wholesale change in the framing of the relationship between contractors and the Pentagon. After reading it, I have to say someone in the bureaucracy is very angry at Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics. The DOD tasked three universities with examining how Pentagon contracting works, and did an internal analysis, all to determine the financial health of the defense base. And what they found is not so different than health care, big tech, finance, or any other industry segment; defense is run by a few giant middlemen who do exceptionally well by shareholders, outperforming commercial rivals and the S&P index. Contracting doesn’t look especially profitable, but the relatively lower margins are more than compensated by a host of favorable contracting terms offered by the government. Of course, like middlemen in other industries, the big guys don’t really produce, they extract. The actual work, 60% to 70% of it, is performed by subcontractors, and these firms have very few rights and get paid when the big guys feel like it. The executives at Lockheed Martin or Raytheon, in other words, act a lot more like financial engineers than actual engineers. The net effect is the following: “Despite improving profit margins and cash generation for defense contractors in 2010-2019 vs 2000-2009, the share of contractor spending on Independent Research and Development (IR&D) and capital expenditures declined while cash paid to shareholders in dividends and share repurchases increased by 73%.” And there are charts! Ok, let’s go to the details. First, the report argues that being a prime contractor is a very good business to be in. Defense primes are financed by the government, paid promptly, and bear very little financial risk for anything they do, including research and development, or building and sustaining capital assets like machinery and dry docks. Here’s an accompanying chart to the report, comparing the defense work to normal commercial work. Cash flow in the defense industry is thick and predictable. Profit margins are lower in defense, but the “gap is more than offset” because defense firms don’t have to invest very much, since their working capital is mostly provided by the government. Indeed, most of the business of being a big defense contractor seems to come down to cash management, or what Brandeis called subsisting on 'other people’s money’, in this case, that of the taxpayers. “Defense companies have higher total returns to shareholders compared to their commercial analogs, or when compared to broad equity market indices such as the S&P 500.” Here’s how it works. Defense contracts for non-commercial items often appear to be relatively low margin arrangements, with a small mark-up on a unique defense item. The cost of building an item might be $100, and so a contractor will build it and get paid the cost plus, say, $10, for a 10% profit margin. That’s good, but not great. So why are defense stocks such good investments? The reason is because contractors don’t have to use their own cash to pay for anything. If I’m using $10 of my own money, and $90 of the government’s money to build a widget, and I get a $10 profit from selling that widget, it might look like a 10% profit margin. But the internal rate of return on the cash that I’ve put down is $10 generated by putting down $10, or 100%. That’s not only a great return, but in the defense space, it’s all risk-free. Any cost overruns, or needed research, can be billed to the government, plus the usual mark-up. If the government kills the contract, or changes requirements, no worries. If labor charges go up, so do contractor profits. Even depreciation, which is to say a factory becoming less valuable over time because of wear and tear, gets reimbursed almost immediately with cash. (And the immediate reimbursement rate went up during Covid, from 80% to 90%, to improve contractor cash flow.) It’s astonishingly cushy. In other words, the trick for primes is to have very little of their own working capital involved, yet still to get returns on all the government money they spend. So far, I’ve just explained why it’s an easy business model, though not a destructive one. The government might overpay a contractor, but at least it gets Stingers and Javelins. Here’s the problem. Though the primes get risk-free returns off of other people’s money, the subcontractors who do the actual work get nothing of the sort. In 2022, over a quarter of subcontracting invoices were paid late, and this rose to 33.2% for small business invoices. Subcontractors usually don’t know who the contracting officer in government is, so they can’t complain. Often smaller firms don’t even know they are making products that will be sold to the government. It gets even worse. From 1971-2000, there was a “paid cost rule” for large primes, where contractors had to have paid supplier invoices before billing the government. In 2000, that rule was eliminated, which allows “contractors to be paid by the Government before they pay the supplier.” Now that’s a great business model, to order work from someone else, bill the government for it, get paid, hold the cash for awhile, and then pay the supplier late. The failure to provide cash to the subcontractors that actually make stuff might be one reason it’s so hard to ramp up production. “When industry has generated additional profits and cash, what has it chosen to do with it? The data in this study points to one answer: Industry did not choose to spend it on IR&D and CapEx. It chose instead to significantly increase the percentage of cash paid to shareholders in the form of cash dividends and share repurchases, thereby reducing the amount of invested capital for the corporation.” There’s also what the government gets for its money, notably, who gets to the keep the intellectual property rights when firms invent stuff. When IR&D efforts do result in a technological advance, despite the fact the Government paid the cost of the IR&D (plus profit), current laws and regulations allow the contractor to own the intellectual property (IP) rights to anything developed with IR&D funds. When this occurs, and the contractor receives the IP rights, it only strengthens the contractor’s position as a sole-source contractor for a product and can lessen the likelihood of facing competition for sustainment efforts for that product in the future. As Marine officer Elle Ekman wrote years ago in the New York Times, a lot of soldiers are not even allowed repair their own equipment because of these IP protections, even though the government paid to develop the technology. Keep in mind, while this stuff is gross and corrupt, it’s the Pentagon itself, through its internal evaluations, exposing it. So it’s *good news* that it’s being talked about, and shows that some officers at DOD want it fixed. The last part of the report worth noting is a vicious, if passive aggressive, attack on the lobbying efforts of the primes. The report highlights a couple of dishonest claims. First, contractors say that it is so very very hard to be a defense contractor. One defense industry association characterized the health of the the defense industrial base as being “fair to poor;” another described it as “at risk;” and another cited a 2022 defense industry association report which gave it a “failing grade.” Is that true? No. “These industry association comments regarding the health of the Defense Industrial Base (DIB),” wrote the report, “are difficult to reconcile with defense industry financial data.” And then the report pointed to this chart. Second, the report disputes the claims by defense lobbyists that the instability of the Federal budgeting process hurts their profits. You know how bad Congress is, yada yada. Two defense industry association commenters identified DoD budget instability and Continuing Resolutions which averaged 129 days for 2000-2009 but 177 days for 2010-2019, sequestration which began in April 2013 and ended in 2021 and the decreased use of performance-based payments which, per one defense industry association, dropped from 76% in 2010 to 36% in 2016. Is that true? Also, no. “Based on these industry comments,” the report said, “financial performance should have degraded in the 2010-2019 timeframe but the financial statements for defense contractors showed a significant improvement over the prior ten years (2000-2009).” Third, the report disputes the industry rationale for all the cash flow the government is providing, which lobbyists argue is critical for research. Defense industry association commenters specifically cited the importance of using cash to invest in research and development and capital assets. In its comments regarding capital investments, one defense industry association specifically stated: “In most cases the profitability for government customers is insufficient to finance the investments.” And this one? Once again, no. “This assertion did not appear to be demonstrated by the data,” it said. And then the authors specifically called out Lockheed Martin for misleading investors on that point: IR&D (independent research and development) in the defense industry is often inaccurately referred to as an “investment” a contractor makes on behalf of the warfighter. This study reveals that the opposite is true. IR&D is an investment by DoD and IR&D is a generator of revenue, profit and cash flow for the contractor… For example, in Lockheed Martin’s 2019 annual report it makes two statements regarding “company-funded” R&D. The first statement appears early in its annual report on Page 16 and indicates that company-funded means “using our own funds” while the clarifying statement referenced in Note 1 appears 51 pages later and indicates that “company-funded” costs are “generally recoverable on customer contracts with the U.S. Government”. Fourth, the report shows that excuses over Covid and inflation are just that. The report cited one defense trade association claiming that supply disruptions due to the pandemic and inflation were financially devastating. Here’s the cited comment: For example, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted industries across the entire economic spectrum and did not spare the Defense Sector. This is particularly true for companies that maintain both defense and commercial applications. These companies, due to the pandemic and the subsequent widespread shutdown of the economy, saw their margins eviscerated and internal business planning severely disrupted. This extended across the supply chain, as both large and small companies experienced disruptions, delays, and other hindrances that ultimately had serious ramifications on financial health. Yet, while the pandemic continues to evolve and impact society in new ways, a new issue has developed which is proving increasingly devastating: Inflation. Historically, inflation has existed at a level between 2-2.5%, allowing for a certain degree of stability when budget planning. However, as this economic indicator has risen dramatically over the preceding year, entities across the DIB have felt the effects of rising prices. Once again, not true. “The data,” wrote the report, “did not support the implication that COVID-19 had serious ramifications on financial health across the defense supply chain.” Here is one accompanying chart, which separated out Boeing because of its size and unusually large financial hit from Covid. It’s hard to convey just how much dishonesty from the industry the report authors helped disabuse. They pointed out that arguments characterizing as onerous certain accounting methods known as “cost accounting standards” for contractors, and claiming these requirements kept non-defense firms from contracts, were silly. These requirements “impact less than one eighth of prime contractors,” and usually only the biggest ones who have monopoly, aka sole source, contracts. The report made a number of recommendations, mostly focused on making sure subcontractors get paid more promptly, and that the government provide cash for primes based on whether they are doing quality work. Restoring the paid cost rule, or letting subcontractors know they are making something for the government and who they can complain to, would be useful as well. But more broadly, it’s clear that it’s time for a rethink of the defense base, if internal R&D is declining despite it being a reimbursable expense and profit center. What’s fascinating about this report is that it doesn’t even touch some of the main bad contracting practices, which involve characterizing products sold to the Pentagon as ‘commercial items’ and thus exempt from most requirements. But touching as it does just a part of the problem shows why production of military supplies is so expensive and slow. I don’t know how much this report will penetrate the DOD’s actual practices. For instance, Boeing is telling the Pentagon it can speed up deliveries to Ukraine if the DOD waves contracting rules. So we’ll see. Ultimately, breaking up the big primes is the best route to reform, since that would make it faster for dollars spent to turn into products. Because as it turns out, the reason that dumping lots of cash into prime contractors doesn’t result in what the armed forces need is because prime contractors are cash management machines who occasionally delegate grubby work to subcontractors dependent on them. Executives at the primes do not want to build weapons or military material for the Pentagon. They prefer managing the easiest risk free money generating machine in history. And because of the rules that let them grab cash flow regardless of industrial output, they often don’t need to produce a single functioning thing. *  *  * Thanks for reading! Your tips make this newsletter what it is, so please send me tips on weird monopolies, stories I’ve missed, or other thoughts. And if you liked this issue of BIG, you can sign up here for more issues, a newsletter on how to restore fair commerce, innovation and democracy. And consider becoming a paying subscriber to support this work, or if you are a paying subscriber, giving a gift subscription to a friend, colleague, or family member. Tyler Durden Mon, 04/17/2023 - 15:20.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytApr 17th, 2023

Stop worrying about the perfect interview answer and don"t send in a ChatGPT cover letter: How to get your next job, according to 3 tech recruiters

Tech recruiters were once the darling of the tech boom. But, seemingly overnight, their fortunes have turned. Tech layoffs were particularly brutal for recruiters. Here's what 3 industry sources say can help you get that new gig.Thomas Barwick About 333,000 tech workers were laid off in 2022 and 2023, according to data compiled by We asked three tech recruiters to share their best tips for finding a job. Look at recruiting for industries outside of tech and don't be sticky about salaries, they said. About 333,000 tech workers got laid off in 2022 and 2023, according to data compiled by there is no concrete data on how many of these were recruitment and HR jobs, some big tech companies — including Meta and Amazon — mentioned that these roles, in particular, would be impacted.Things started unraveling in late 2022 when tech company after tech company started announcing broad layoffs. Julia Pollock, the chief economist at American hiring platform ZipRecruiter, told the Wall Street Journal that in April 2022, there were over 10,000 job openings for tech recruiters. By October, that number was down to about 2,500.Insider spoke to two laid-off recruiters and an employer in the recruitment space who shared the strategies they've used while job-hunting and hiring recruiters, respectively.Here's what they say about how to recruit yourself into a job, in their own words.Tomas Kelly, ex-recruiting manager, cloud customer experience at GoogleTomas KellyTomas KellyLocation: Zurich, Switzerland Years of experience: over 10 years at GoogleThomas Kelly was laid off from Google's recruitment team in March. "I felt sad. I've been there for 10 years," he told Insider.Kelly's wife also works for Google in Zurich, and his immediate reaction was to check whether her role had been impacted too — it was not.Kelly's top tips for landing yourself a new job:1. Look at recruiting for industries outside of techAs the cuts are wider and deeper across the tech sector than previously, you need to look at industries outside of tech, Kelly said. While some companies are still hiring for certain roles, the big companies are not hiring.2. Build your brand onlineLinkedIn is a great avenue to build your brand. When recruiters are looking through these profiles, they're looking to see how active this person is. How are they known within the industry?What's great about LinkedIn is that you can look for people in your network who work in a particular company that you want to apply to — this is when you can approach them for potential referrals.3. Don't worry about the perfect interview answerDuring the interview, a lot of people focus on the perfect answers to interview questions — but I say focus on the thought process, and explain how you would solve a problem. A lot of people miss that.Justin Kok, a tech recruiter laid off from Visa in 2020, is now at SplunkJustin KokJustin KokLocation: SingaporeYears of experience: 8 years. Two stints at Visa — six months and under two years respectivelyKok signed a 12-month contract in December 2019 with financial services firm Visa. But when the pandemic hit, he was made redundant around May, just six months into his time with the company. One of the first things Kok did after he found out he was laid off was hug his dog. He says he had a supportive partner who was able to keep them afloat when it came to expenses.He then thought about the next stage in his career and to "not be afraid of taking an ego knock in terms of downgrading a role."Kok's tips for landing yourself a new job:1. Structure your CV to show your impact on your past organizationLeverage your network: the colleagues, ex-colleagues, and clients you've had. Make sure you have a very valid story — I just lost my job and I'm unhappy is not very helpful. Structure your CV to show your impact on your past organization.2. Don't message your recruiter on InstagramThere's a difference between being overly pushy, despite being laid off, and being polite about your job search. Don't badger people and don't find them on their personal email or Instagram.Jaya Dass, the regional managing director of permanent recruitment at RandstadJaya DassJaya DassLocation: SingaporeYears of experience: Almost 15 years at RandstadDass says that since the widespread layoffs took place, at least three to four laid-off recruiters have reached out to her every week. "It's one of those instances — they'll take anything just to come out of that situation."This is in stark contrast to last year: "The market was just so hungry and so short in supply to meet their hiring demands that they took anybody who could recruit, to do technical recruitment."Dass' tips for finding a new job:1. Don't aim for jobs that you had no success in hiring forDon't aim for jobs or industries that you had no run rate, experience, or success in hiring for because you are setting yourself up in the worst way possible to go to an interview. And when those interviews turn you down, you start getting the wrong narrative going in your head, where you tell yourself the markets are really bad. It starts becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.2. Don't be afraid of taking contract positionsIt is very common. It's more common than people think. If you're wondering what's going to happen at the end of the contract term, you are looking too far ahead. The market will evolve and change.3. Covers letters written by ChatGPT are blandThink further about which potential employers you are aiming for and write to these companies and say that it's always been your dream to work there. That sort of passion cannot be underestimated. And it cannot be faked — it's not when people are writing blasé cover letters. No matter how beautifully written it is by ChatGPT, it's still a bland cover letter. It's got no flavor, it hasn't got anything.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytApr 16th, 2023

Want to Leave Your Job? This Popular HR TikToker Suggests Having a ‘Hard Conversation’ With Your Company First

“I believe that a lot of what people want in their job is at the other end of a hard conversation typically with their boss or someone in HR,” says TikToker Amy Lentz Liberati Amy Lentz Liberati, the head of human resources at a global company, is one of TikTok’s biggest job search gurus. Her videos, posted under the name “Hack Your HR,” give viewers insight on best practices when looking, applying and interviewing for a job—and they’ve racked up nearly 3 million views. But one of her biggest tips for would-be job seekers involves engaging with your current employer before you start to look elsewhere. “I believe that a lot of what people want in their job is at the other end of a hard conversation typically with their boss or someone in HR,” she tells TIME. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] The hashtag #jobsearch has over 2 billion views on TikTok. Liberati, who has managed to get her page to over 80,000 followers in less than three months, says her most successful performing content is for viewers who are frustrated by the job process when not hearing back and are looking to stand out against countless other applicants. This comes at a time when layoffs are rampant in industries like tech and media and many who are employed are seeking employment elsewhere. More than 95% of nearly 1,000 workers polled were looking for a new position in 2023, according to a survey earlier this year from Monster. The overall U.S. job market remains strong, with an unemployment rate of 3.5%, but recent figures show hiring is starting to slow, meaning some workers may begin to have a harder time finding a job. “I have so much information that I know is helpful,” says Liberati, who is based in Los Angeles. “The trend on TikTok is to not be a gatekeeper.” TikTok content creators’ affinity to never “gatekeep” helpful information to one another is no exception on the career section of TikTok. It’s filled with applicants eager to ask job search questions, and candid professionals like Liberati willing to give them the answers. @hackyourhr #stitch with @byjuliapaige just keep swimming 🐠 #nemo #corporate ♬ original sound – Amy | Hack Your HR Before you start looking for a new job Liberati’s advice before deciding to apply to other jobs is to first ask yourself why you want to leave your current employer. “If the root of you looking for a new job is about your job description, your title or your pay, you should ask your HR department to audit your job description so that it reflects your current responsibilities and what you’re being held accountable for. If you like your company, that might be the unlock, rather than leaving the company. That’s a very reasonable ask.” If advocating for yourself doesn’t work out, or you’re fundamentally unhappy with your manager or the company, then be open to applying elsewhere. But be prepared to strategize on how to differentiate yourself from the crowd of applications you’ll be competing with during your job search. How to stand out Your application might be stellar, but you’ve got to get the company to see it first. A strong approach to standing out is to direct message a recruiter. Liberati suggests you go on the company’s LinkedIn page and search for the individuals you’d potentially be working with. For example, if you’re applying to a marketing job, you would search for marketing titles under the “People” section of LinkedIn. When sending a message to an executive, manager, or recruiter, keep it short and personable to differentiate yourself from the flood of sales-pitch-like messages most recruiters get. Liberati recommends that you don’t send an overly professional, 20-line explanation of why you want the position. Instead, send a casual and collected message that feels like you’re emailing a friend of a friend. “Visualize that the CEO might be loading the dishwasher that night. That might help with the tone of the message,” says Liberati. If you’re succinct and personable, “you can stand out in two sentences,” she says. An effective cold DM would include brief sentiments about who you are, what you do, what you’re passionate about and what most excites you about the open position. You can end your message with a direct ask like: “Can you connect me to the right person for this position?” Instead of starting with “To whom it may concern,” try “Hi, good morning!” Instead of ending with “Best regards,” try “Hope to hear from you soon.’” Generally, the best way to unlearn the usual corporate script is to try writing the way you might speak, says Liberati. Beyond TikTok TikTokers offering job help are even going beyond the app itself. Liberati offers her TikTok audience a Google Drive of free resources that answer questions like “How to ask for feedback at work?” or “How to quit your job like a pro, but still leave a positive impression?” Another user who posts about her personal job search journey, began offering a “Job Search Accountability Group” where the group will meet to “edit resumes, send out applications, or any other career-related goals.” Viewers are eager to take advantage of these online resources, Liberati says. “Just from posting two videos I got 11,000 people that wanted access to my drive in less than a week,” she says. “I’m their anonymous, informal, HR-informed person online that can provide them with candid feedback that they can use in their day to day work life.”.....»»

Category: topSource: timeApr 14th, 2023

I swear by ChatGPT as a recruiter. Here"s how it saves me 10 hours a week and helps me hire the best candidates.

Jasmine Cheng uses ChatGPT for HR and hiring. She says AI is great for finding candidates, creating interview questions, and making job descriptions. Jasmine Cheng created her own recruiting firm and uses ChatGPT to help her clients find job candidates.Courtesy of Jasmine Cheng Jasmine Cheng launched a boutique recruiting firm in December 2022. She started using ChatGPT to complete tasks and said it saves her at least 10 hours a week. Cheng said the way she uses ChatGPT doesn't take over her role, it just makes her more efficient. This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Jasmine Cheng, a recruiter from the San Francisco Bay Area, who uses ChatGPT for HR and hiring at her recruiting firm, TopKnack. The following has been edited for length and clarity.I started my recruiting career at Amazon as a technical recruiter, but I left in November 2022. A month later, I founded a boutique recruiting firm, TopKnack. I quickly started using ChatGPT for my agency, which specializes in hiring top engineering and healthcare talent.In my role at Amazon, I focused 100% of my time on hiring the best software engineers for the company. I worked closely with hiring managers to understand exactly which kind of candidates Amazon wanted, and sent them profiles to ensure that managers approved of candidates before putting them through the interview process.I also sourced passive candidates and convinced them to join our team at Amazon. Then, I'd do the first screening call and update them on their interview status throughout every step of the process.At my agency, my clients are companies that have job openings, and I work with them to fill those roles. Here's how I started using ChatGPT to find job candidates.I asked ChatGPT to give me a list of companiesI was searching for startups with employees that could be ideal job candidates for my clients. To save time, I asked ChatGPT to give me a list of companies with my desired criteria, including companies in niche industries that have a certain employee size or are based in certain locations. Then, I put those companies into my Boolean search string — an advanced keyword-searching strategy — to help me find specific job candidates.Boolean strings are a type of search query that recruiters often use to find candidate profiles on LinkedIn and other sites. Creating Boolean strings is often time-consuming, especially when there are many requirements for the candidate. Still, ChatGPT makes my job much easier by creating these Boolean search strings so I can find the right candidates more quickly.I tried ChatGPT to research schools and organizationsI used ChatGPT to create a list of specific schools and organizations. From there, I kept going back to put together even more Boolean searches. Before using ChatGPT, it took me a long time — around 15 hours a week — to manually put together lists that matched my criteria. Now, I only spend roughly five hours a week making lists of items for my Boolean search strings.I copy and pasted job descriptions into ChatGPTWhen I copy and paste job descriptions into ChatGPT, it instantly outputs a Boolean search string. Then I manually add more criteria to the string to refine my search. It's important to ensure the Boolean string is written correctly because a small mistake could cause the Boolean to break and not show any results. ChatGPT is amazing at making sure the format is correct.I used ChatGPT to create interview questions and job descriptionsIn addition to Boolean strings, I use ChatGPT for two other purposes that are huge time savers. First, I ask ChatGPT to send me interview questions that can help me analyze how well the candidates' technical and non-technical skills are. Second, I use it to output a very bare-bones job description. Then, I easily add more information to the job description and use it to attract more candidates.ChatGPT saves me a minimum of 10 hours a weekPreviously, I did the research and writing for my Boolean search string manually. Now, I just ask ChatGPT and it'll output a list for me to work from. With those hours back, I can reach more candidates, network, and even conduct more business development to get more clients, which leads to making more money.It's hard to quantify the amount of money I'm making using ChatGPT because there are a lot of other moving parts that go into making a job placement — but for each candidate I place, I make 20% to 30% of their first-year salary.The way I'm using ChatGPT doesn't take over my role as a recruiter at allPeople who are against artificial intelligence are usually afraid that ChatGPT might take over certain jobs or that it might present inaccurate information, but it can be a good thing if we can find a way for it to help our jobs and not take over them. The way I use ChatGPT helps me become more efficient and I always fact-check each piece of information before using it to make sure it's accurate.I still swear by ChatGPT as my workflow would be much slower without it. I use it daily to create Boolean strings, research company information, reword job descriptions, and generate interview questions.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytApr 14th, 2023

I quit my 6-figure consulting job to take a gap year. I felt guilty at first, but it"s the best decision I could"ve made.

Kym Wootton was apprehensive about quitting a job she was emotionally tied to, but working with HR taught her not to worry about the résumé gap. After quitting her job, Kym Wootton said she felt freer than she could have ever imagined.Kym Wootton Kym Wootton quit her six-figure job at a consulting firm to take a gap year. She said she was "emotionally wrapped up" in her job, but decided quitting was best for her. Wootton plans to use her gap year to write a book and spend more time with her sons. This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Kym Wootton, a 42-year-old from Boulder, Colorado. Insider has verified her employment with documentation. The following has been edited for length and clarity.Before I quit to take a gap year, I'd been working since the day I turned 15 — I worked throughout high school. Sometimes I had two jobs. I did the same when I went to college, and I got my first office job as soon as I graduated.I never took a break, and I was raised with the idea that the value you bring is your work. During my career, I've mostly worked in leadership positions, and I was good at moving up because I brought a lot of passion and energy that companies generally rewarded. The money was exciting too.Over those years, it didn't occur to me to ask myself, "Do I want to be doing this?"It felt like I was on autopilotIn 2021, during the COVID-19 pandemic, I was working as the chief administrative officer at a consulting firm, where I was earning six figures a year. I managed the marketing, human-resources, IT, and project-management departments. I was also responsible for integrating companies that we were buying.The stress of the job was increasing. I would work from about 7:30 a.m. to about 6:30 p.m. I'd sometimes have meetings as early as 6 a.m. if I was working with someone on the East Coast. Deep down, I had always wanted to write a book. I'd felt that I was meant to be a novelist since I was a kid, but I never felt like that was a job path available to me. It was a time many of us were reevaluating what was important in our lives. I kept trying to write on the weekends or in the evenings, finding 30 minutes where I could, but that did not work for me. I was working a lot of hours, checking emails, and working on projects for my day job on the weekends. And when I wasn't so busy with meetings, I was trying to keep up with my sons and their activities. Unfortunately, I just couldn't find the discipline to also be a good writer. And so, I felt like I needed to not be working at my job anymore. My husband was really supportive, and we started to think about how we could make quitting my job financially possible. When we were in lockdown, my family naturally started spending less money. We weren't going out to eat or taking vacations. In summer 2021, we bought an investment property so we could have more passive income. And though we still had our mortgage repayments, we'd paid off all our debts by summer 2022.I kept saying to myself that I needed to find the right time to quitI was emotionally wrapped up in the success of the company, and I felt guilty for leaving because people depended on me — I had worked there for 13 years.It felt unfair to my coworkers and the rest of the leadership team. I was also nervous about how I would find my value when I wasn't working.I soon realized that I just had to stop thinking like that, and that I should accept that there would never be a "right" time to leave. I told myself that, right now, quitting is the most important thing for me.I decided to prioritize my family and my dream of writing, and I handed in my notice in December 2022. Afterward, I felt freer and more excited than I could have ever imagined — I knew I'd made the right decision. I hope to have the first draft of my book manuscript done by early summer 2023, then I want to do some editing and start querying agents. The first draft I'm working on is a dark-dystopian novel. I've had a lot of fun writing it.After the gap year, I don't think I want to go back to doing the type of work that I did before, but I've thought about doing consulting in the future. I've also thought about starting to copywrite or doing another job that lets me use my writing skills.I'm not worried about what a career gap will look like on my résumé. Overseeing HR meant that I knew a lot about recruiting, and we were OK with gaps because contacts often recommended candidates to us, and we made sure that they had the skills. I also have a lot of contacts I could rely on if I wanted to go back into the industry.This gap year has helped me check my ego and made me realize that I don't need "chief" or "vice president" as my title.I couldn't have quit my job if I didn't have a supportive partner. He believes in me and is passionate about making my dreams happen.Over the past three months, I've been enjoying wonderful mornings with my sons before they go to school. My mornings used to be frantic and frenzied, full of early meetings. Even if I was physically with my sons having breakfast, I would be very distracted. Now, I can be more present for them. I've also made a lot of time for friends that I wasn't as connected with — we've gone out for lunch, fun dinners, and a weekend getaway. The pace of my day is so much slower now, and the freedom of that is shocking. I hadn't realized how much tension I'd been holding in.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderApr 13th, 2023

4 Generative AI Tech Stocks to Buy as ChatGPT Gains Momentum

Here we present four tech giants, CRM, BIDU, CSCO and ADBE, which are set to compete with Microsoft-backed ChatGPT, as generative AI gains prominence. The meteoric rise of Microsoft MSFT-backed ChatGPT has captivated the world’s attention on the power of generative AI to augment human capability.Generative AI is a type of artificial intelligence (AI) technology that can produce various types of content, including text, imagery, audio and synthetic data. It is driven by a large language model, which means it uses a lot of data to understand and generate conversations.Growing demand to modernize workflow across industries is expected to drive the demand for generative AI applications. The global generative AI market size is anticipated to reach $109.37 billion by 2030, according to a new report by Grand View Research. The market is expected to expand at a CAGR of 35.6% from 2023 to 2030.Generative AI technology is finding application in marketing, advertising, drug development, legal contracts, video gaming, customer support and digital art, which has sparked an AI competition among the world’s biggest tech players, including Salesforce CRM, Cisco Systems CSCO, Baidu BIDU and Adobe ADBE.As software companies integrate generative AI tools into products, their customers will spend more on software. Generative AI is expected to add an incremental $150 billion to the current global software market of $685 billion, per a Goldman Sachs report.The increasing utilization of generative AI for spam detection, preprocessing data, image compression and noise reduction from visual data along with its continuously growing usage in medical imaging and image classification are key major factors propelling the growth of the market globally.Year-to-date PerformanceImage Source: Zacks Investment ResearchSalesforce Forays Into Generative AI With Einstein GPTSalesforce announced a generative AI push as it launched Einstein GPT, the world’s first generative AI CRM technology, which delivers AI-created content across every sales, service, marketing, commerce, and IT interaction at hyperscale. With Einstein GPT, Salesforce will transform every customer experience with generative AI.With Einstein GPT, customers can connect real-time data from Salesforce Data Cloud to OpenAI’s advanced AI models or choose their own external model. Using large language prompts within Salesforce CRM, these customers will be able to generate content that adapts to changing customer information and needs in real-time.Along with the launch of Einstein GPT, this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) company has also announced a $250 million generative AI fund from Salesforce Ventures, the company’s global investment arm. This fund will support the generative AI ecosystem and promote the development of responsible and trusted technology. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for CRM first-quarter fiscal 2024 earnings is pegged at $1.61 per share, indicating an increase of 64.2% from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure.Baidu Unveils ERNIE Bot, the Generative AI Mastering Chinese LanguageBaidu introduced its AI-powered chatbot called Ernie Bot, which is capable of solving mathematics queries, responding to questions regarding Chinese literature, and generating images and videos. Further, the chatbot has the ability to generate audio in different Chinese dialects. It is also fluent in Chinese idioms and holds expertise in business writing.Ernie stands for Enhanced Representation through Knowledge Integration, describing it as a large language model that was introduced in 2019. This Zacks Rank #1 company plans to embed Ernie Bot into its search service first, which the company thinks will attract more users and boost market share in a profitable manner. The company intends to make the bot widely available to its intelligent driving unit and its business partners eventually. It expects more business owners and entrepreneurs to build their models and applications on Baidu’s AI Cloud.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for BIDU first-quarter 2023 earnings is pegged at $2.21 per share, indicating an increase of 24.84% from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure.Cisco Powers Hybrid Work Experience With AI Innovations in WebexCisco’s AI and machine learning offerings encompass a wide range of computing solutions for enterprises, including a focus on cybersecurity. This Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company plans to enhance customer experience solutions, devices and its video conferencing platform Webex Suite with ML technologies, automation and generative AI features from meeting summaries to visual enhancements.These new features include cinematic meeting experiences on Cisco devices that enable cameras to follow speakers through voice and facial recognition, automatically switching views to capture the best angle of the speaker. Other new AI capabilities in the Webex Suite include the ability to hold HD meetings that do not require HD bandwidth and smart re-lighting to automatically improve poor lighting.For customer-facing tools such as Webex Contact Center and Webex Connect, Cisco is releasing new AI capabilities to help bring organizations actionable insights on customer interactions and make agents more efficient.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for CSCO third-quarter fiscal 2023 earnings is pegged at 97 cents per share, indicating an increase of 11.49% from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure.Adobe Unveils Creative Generative AI Model, FireflyAdobe has unveiled a family of generative AI models, Firefly, focused on the generation of texts and images. According to the company, Firefly will offer more precision, speed, power, and ease in content creation. It will let users of various experience levels create high-quality images and stunning text effects.The company has launched the beta of the first Firefly model, which is focused on commercial use. It will be integrated directly into Creative Cloud, Experience Cloud, Document Cloud, and Adobe Express workflows.Through the beta process, this Zacks Rank #2 company will be engaging with the creative community and customers as the generative AI-backed tool evolves and begins integrating it into various applications. Adobe Express, Adobe Experience Manager, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop will be among the first set of applications to benefit from Firefly.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for ADBE's second-quarter fiscal 2023 earnings is pegged at $3.78 per share, indicating an increase of 12.84% from the year-ago quarter’s reported figure. 4 Oil Stocks with Massive Upsides Global demand for oil is through the roof... and oil producers are struggling to keep up. So even though oil prices are well off their recent highs, you can expect big profits from the companies that supply the world with "black gold."  Zacks Investment Research has just released an urgent special report to help you bank on this trend.  In Oil Market on Fire, you'll discover 4 unexpected oil and gas stocks positioned for big gains in the coming weeks and months. You don't want to miss these recommendations. Download your free report now to see them.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 Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Free Stock Analysis Report Salesforce Inc. (CRM): Free Stock Analysis Report Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO): Free Stock Analysis Report Baidu, Inc. (BIDU): Free Stock Analysis Report Adobe Inc. (ADBE): Free Stock Analysis ReportTo read this article on click here.Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksApr 12th, 2023