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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

Elon Musk and Elizabeth Warren have traded criticisms over taxing the ultra-wealthy. Here are some of the most heated exchanges between the billionaire and the senator.

Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, doesn't hold back on Twitter in his exchanges with politicians, especially Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images, Theo Wargo/Getty Images for TIME Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, doesn't hold back on Twitter in his exchanges with politicians. Recently, Musk has been targeting Democratic senators criticizing how much he pays in taxes. One repeated target is Sen. Elizabeth Warren, with the two tweeting about each other often. Elon Musk is the world's richest man, Time's 2021 person of the year, and an infamous Twitter personality.Elon MuskPicture Alliance/Getty ImagesMusk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, has an estimated net worth of $274 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. As CBS News reports, he became the first-ever person to have a net worth over $300 billion in the fall of 2021. He's taken to Twitter to poke fun at the fellow billionaire he displaced from the world's top spot — Jeff Bezos — replying to one of the former Amazon CEO's tweets with a silver medal emoji.Bezos has been one target of Musk's rather infamous usage of Twitter. But while Musk has tweeted plenty at Bezos throughout their 15-year feud, his tweets also have the power to drive cryptocurrency, spark discourse, and, most recently, to vividly strike back at leading progressives in the Senate.In 2018, Elon Musk reportedly paid nothing in federal income taxes. That's caught the attention of politicians pushing for more equitable taxes on America's highest earners.IRS Logo viewed on smartphone.Photo Illustration by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty ImagesOver the summer, nonprofit news outlet ProPublica released a bombshell investigation into just how much America's wealthiest people pay in taxes. According to ProPublica's reporting, Musk saw his wealth grow by $14 billion from 2014 to 2018 — but he paid just $455 million in taxes.And, in 2018, Musk paid no federal income tax, according to ProPublica. When the outlet attempted to reach him for comment, he responded with "?".Lawmakers, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, lept into action. Warren and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse wrote a letter to Senate finance chairman Ron Wyden, saying that the committee should investigate the allegations that the report revealed by homing in on financial institutions and their role in tax avoidance. "This tax avoidance by the nation's wealthiest individuals is profoundly unfair," Warren and Whitehouse wrote. "It leaves the nation unable to pay for critical investments in infrastructure, education, and health care. It favors investment income over wages, distorting our nation's economy and adding to inequality." Warren wrote on Twitter that the ProPublica report — and Musk not paying any federal income tax — showed the need for a wealth tax.Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) speaks during a press conference on Capitol Hill July 23, 2019 in Washington, DC.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesWarren also tweeted out the ProPublica report, calling out the finding that Musk paid no federal income tax in 2018. She wrote that it showed the need for a wealth tax.—Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) June 8, 2021Warren has been a longtime proponent for a wealth tax. It was a keystone of her presidential platform in her 2020 run, and she's since proposed legislation that would enact an ultramillionaire tax on households with a net worth of $50 million or more.Musk has criticized a tax Democrats proposed on billionaires' unrealized gains — under which he'd owe an estimated $50 billion — writing on Twitter that "Eventually, they run out of other people's money and then they come for you."—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 26, 2021 After Musk was named person of the year, Warren doubled down on calls for a wealth tax.Sen. Elizabeth Warren.Evelyn Hockstein-Pool/Getty ImageAfter Musk was named person of the year by Time, Warren took to Musk's preferred medium of Twitter to spark action on the tax code. She said that it was time to "change the rigged tax code" so that the newly-named person of the year (and world's richest man) "will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else."—Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 13, 2021 Musk said that Warren reminded him of a "friend's angry Mom."Tesla CEO Elon Musk.Matt Rourke/AP PhotoMusk sent a few replies to Warren's tweet, telling her to "Stop projecting!" and linking to a Fox News report on her ancestry. He then said that Warren reminded him of a "friend's angry Mom" who would "just randomly yell at everyone for no reason."—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 14, 2021Musk also went on to call Warren "Senator Karen."—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 14, 2021He then returned to the thread later in the day to talk about just how much in taxes he would pay, saying he would pay more "than any American in history this year."—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 14, 2021 It's not the first time that Musk has sent out a personal, or, arguably, crude tweet about a progressive senator. He previously tweeted a sex insult at Sen. Ron Wyden, the chair of the Senate finance committee, who had criticized Musk for creating a Twitter poll asking if he should sell off 10% of his Tesla stock.In response to a tweet from Sen. Bernie Sanders saying that the wealthy should "pay their fair share," Musk replied: "I keep forgetting that you're still alive."—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 14, 2021 Warren hit back in a fundraising email later that night.Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks to a reporter on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2021.AP Photo/Carolyn KasterWarren didn't take to Twitter to respond to Musk, but instead criticized the billionaire in a fundraising email sent out later that night. She called Musk  "a poster child for how our rigged tax code lets billionaires pay hardly any taxes at all." She ran through some of his greatest hits, citing the over $100 billion that Musk added to his wealth during the pandemic."When someone makes it big in America — millionaire big, billionaire big, Person of the Year big — part of it has to include paying it forward so the next kid can get a chance, too," the email said.She again called for a wealth tax.After Musk said just how much he would pay in taxes, Warren said it shouldn't be news when billionaires actually payDemocratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed introducing a wealth tax.Tom Williams/Getty ImagesMusk, unsurprisingly, took to Twitter to say just how much he'll pay in taxes. The expected total: over $11 billion.—Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 20, 2021As Insider's Jason Lalljee and Andy Kiersz reported, Musk could owe over $12 billion this year from taxes on his stock, taxes imposed by his previous home state of California, and taxes on net investment income.The announcement by Musk made headlines — including at Insider — something that Warren took umbrage with. She wrote in a tweet that she has a plan to ensure it's not "breaking news when a billionaire actually pays any taxes."—Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) December 21, 2021 Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 24th, 2021

How Netflix is changing the global entertainment industry

Netflix has reshaped the market for global storytelling with shows like "Squid Game" and "Money Heist," and transformed its business in the process. Netflix Netflix is writing the playbook for global entertainment. The streaming company reshaped the market for content and transformed its business in the process. It's exploring areas including video games for its next frontier.  See more stories on Insider's business page. Since Netflix began its worldwide expansion in 2016, the streaming service has rewritten the playbook for global entertainment — from TV to film, and, soon, video games.Hollywood used to exports most global hit series and movies. Now, thanks to Netflix's investments in international TV and film, programming like South Korea's "Squid Game," Spain's "Money Heist," and France's "Lupin" are finding massive audiences around the world.Netflix figured out that to thrive on an international stage it needed both US mass-market programming like "Stranger Things," as well as local content that could win over viewers in specific markets (and produce breakout hits).Read more about how Netflix's strategy for buying international TV shows is changing, according to producers who have worked with the streamer and its rivalsThe strategy helped the streaming service grow its customer base to 214 million global paid subscribers, as of September.Its momentum is also reinvigorating production in places like Germany, Mexico, and India, as companies like Amazon, Disney, WarnerMedia, and Apple follow Netflix's lead. Read more about how Netflix's global focus is changing international production marketsNetflix has reoriented its leadership around its new global model.The streaming company, cofounded by tech entrepreneur Reed Hastings, promoted content chief Ted Sarandos to co-CEO in 2020, which cemented the status of content within the organization. Meanwhile, Bela Bajaria, who had been in charge of international non-English TV, took the reins of the overall TV business, and product chief Greg Peters took on additional duties as COO, including streamlining how global teams work together. Peters also hired a new talent chief with international experience, former PepsiCo executive Sergio Ezama, to lead Netflix's global workforce.View our full interactive chart of Netflix's top leadersThe company has also formed an elite team of 23 interdisciplinary execs to help make its biggest decisions. Known internally as the "Lstaff " — the "L" stands for leadership — the group sits between the company's officers and its larger executive staff of vice presidents and above, who are called the "Estaff."Read more about Netflix's elite 'Lstaff' of 23 execs that helps the company make its most important decisionsNetflix's growth has made it a desirable place to work in recent years, as well, despite some of the tests its corporate culture has faced as it's grown. Public US work-visa data shows that Netflix, which says its pays staffers "market value," has offered six-figure annual base salaries for lots of roles in engineering, content, marketing, finance, and more.Netflix salaries revealed: How much engineers, marketers, content execs, and others get paidNetflix is searching for its next frontierStill, Netflix is facing more competition than ever from an influx of rivals that are learning to play its game.Nearly every major media company, from Disney to WarnerMedia, now runs a streaming service. Their platforms are stockpiled with tentpole movies and TV shows that used to only be found in theaters or on linear TV, and their libraries now rival Netflix's.The competition is pushing the streaming giant to keep evolving.Netflix recently expanded into podcasting and even started peddling merchandise for series like "Squid Game" and "The Witcher."The company is also bringing video games into its mobile streaming app.It hired in July Facebook's former head of Reality Labs, Mike Verdu, as its vice president of game development, and has been hiring for other video-game-related jobs.Read more about what Netflix's video-game roles reveal about its strategyThe streamer plans to approach gaming like it did movies and TV shows. It's starting slowly. It's commissioning and licensing mobile games, some of which are based on existing franchises like "Stranger Things." Then, it plans to experiment with other kinds of video-game storytelling, like it did with its original series."Maybe someday we'll see a game that spawns a film or a series," Peters told investors in July. "That would be an amazing place to get to and really see the rich interplay between these sort of different forms of entertainment."Here's a list of our recent coverage of how Netflix is disrupting facets of the entertainment industry: The Netflix effect on global TV: Netflix's 'Squid Game' is part of a robust international TV strategy that's far ahead of rivals, especially in South Korea10 reasons 'Squid Game' became a global phenomenon, according to a Netflix marketing execNetflix's Q3 subscriber growth was fueled by the Asia-Pacific market. Exclusive traffic data shows how hits like 'Squid Game' drove engagement.'Squid Game' and other Netflix hits may have reversed the streamer's growth slump, exclusive app data suggestsInternational TV producers describe how streaming competition is changing their markets, from Netflix's shifting priorities to rising budgets and costsHow Netflix's strategy for buying international TV shows is changingNetflix's Mark Millar plans to build a streaming superhero universe starting with 'Jupiter's Legacy,' after inspiring some of Marvel's biggest storiesData shows how heavily Netflix is leaning into international TV shows, especially in its upcoming projectsHow to sell a show to Netflix with the help of an easily digestible pitch document, according to a workshop by one of the streamer's execsA Netflix slide deck shows how it's trying to fix lofty problems in personalization like over-inflating a show's popularity and how to measure goals like 'joy'On filmmaking:Netflix is courting Hollywood filmmakers like "Tenet" director Christopher NolanHow Zack Snyder fits into Netflix's plans to build franchises to compete with Disney and WarnerMediaOn video gaming: Netflix is hiring for a slew of gaming jobs that shed light on its video-game strategyWhy Netflix's new video-game strategy will live or die by how well it can create mega movie and TV franchisesNetflix's evolving business model and corporate structure:Netflix org chart: We identified the 71 most powerful people at the streamer and who they report toHow top HR execs at Hollywood companies like Netflix and NBCU work to fight pandemic burnout and keep staff from quitting amid the Great ResignationMeet the top data science execs at Netflix, Disney, WarnerMedia, and more Hollywood companies who are masterminding the streaming wars and hiring hundreds of new workersAn internal Netflix meeting meant for senior staffers played a role in the streamer's recent clash with employees. Here's what happens at the quarterly reviews.The 15 most powerful marketing leaders in the streaming-video wars, from Netflix's Bozoma Saint John to the trio of execs driving Disney's strategyNetflix has hired former PepsiCo exec Sergio Ezama as its next chief talent officerNetflix lays out its M&A strategy, and experts weigh in on the kinds of companies it could buy8 top legal execs at Netflix who are helping the streamer navigate complex content deals and international regulations12 deputies under Netflix's product boss Greg Peters, as his responsibilities grow to include new areas like video gamesNetflix's global TV boss Bela Bajaria is shaking up the content division, making new hires and big promotions. Meet her team.Netflix CMO Bozoma Saint John is building her marketing team, which includes execs from Spotify and Condé NastNetflix has an elite 'Lstaff' team of 23 execs that helps make the company's biggest decisionsNetflix's growth trajectory:Exclusive web-tracking data from Q2 2020 suggests people are streaming less coming out of lockdowns but are keeping Netflix, for nowWe estimated how much Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max, and more are making from the subscribers they gained this past yearNetflix has kept churn low despite price hikes and intensifying competition, and it could be a key to success during a tough 2021Netflix's original series dominate the streaming TV landscape, but its 'demand share' shrank in 2020 as rivals emergedWorking at Netflix: Netflix salaries revealed: How much engineers, marketers, content execs, and others get paidHow much Netflix pays engineers in the US in 2021What data chiefs at companies like Netflix and Roku look for when hiring: technical prowess and an appetite for the 'unsolvable, unmeasurable, or unknowable'Netflix shares the inclusion strategy that helped it improve Black representation in its leadership and the areas it needs to do better in like recruiting Latinx staffersRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 24th, 2021

World"s Most Prestigious Medical Journal Roasts Facebook Over "Inaccurate, Incompetent & Irresponsible" Fact Check

World's Most Prestigious Medical Journal Roasts Facebook Over "Inaccurate, Incompetent & Irresponsible" Fact Check The Machiavellian quote (sic) that "if you're going to come at the king, you best not miss," may be about to bite Mark Zuckerberg and his army of fact-checking mercenaries. While Zuckerberg may feel omnipotent atop his opaque algo-world but the so-called 'fact-checkers' - so expert at shutting down any narrative-conflicting-information (on behalf of, and often at the behest of, the Biden administration) - may have met their match by claiming that one of the world's oldest and most prestigious medical journals delivered "false information" that "could mislead people." As we detailed in early November, The British Medical Journal (BMJ) - a weekly peer-reviewed medical trade journal, published by the trade union the British Medical Association - published a whistleblower report calling into question data integrity and regulatory oversight issues surrounding Pfizer's pivotal phase III Covid-19 vaccine trial. Brook Jackson, a now-fired regional director at Ventavia Research Group, revealed to The BMJ that vaccine trials at several sites in Texas last year had major problems - including falsified data, broke fundamental rules, and were 'slow' to report adverse reactions. When she notified superiors of the issues she found, they fired her. A regional director who was employed at the research organisation Ventavia Research Group has told The BMJ that the company falsified data, unblinded patients, employed inadequately trained vaccinators, and was slow to follow up on adverse events reported in Pfizer’s pivotal phase III trial. Staff who conducted quality control checks were overwhelmed by the volume of problems they were finding. After repeatedly notifying Ventavia of these problems, the regional director, Brook Jackson, emailed a complaint to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Ventavia fired her later the same day. Jackson has provided The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails. -The BMJ Very soon after, as the worrisome story went viral, BMJ soon would get a taste of what Facebook, Google, and others are doing to independent media platforms. As TrialSiteNews.com reports, even though BMJ is one of the most prominent medical journals and the information was rigorously peer-reviewed, strange things started occurring. For example, readers would try to post some of the information on social media such as Facebook to share with their networks. But “some reported being unable to share it [the information].” Moreover, those individuals that were simply sharing this content, peer-reviewed from The BMJ, were warned by Facebook that, “Independent fact-checkers concluded, “This information could mislead people.” Moreover, they were told, “Those trying to post the article were informed by Facebook that people who repeatedly share ‘false information’ might have their posts moved lower in Facebook’s News Feed.” In addition, some group administrators received notices from Facebook that the information was “partly false.” Readers were sent to a “fact check” performed by Lead Stories, a third-party fact-checker. And so, as possibly the top experts in the world when it comes to medical research information, BMJ has now been forced to fact-check the 'fact-checkers'. In a no-holds-barred 'open letter to Mark Zuckerberg', the editors exposed that 'fact-check' as "inaccurate, incompetent, and irresponsible." Having received no response from Facebook or from Lead Stories, after requesting the removal of the "fact checking" label, the BMJ's editors raise a "wider concern": We are aware that The BMJ is not the only high quality information provider to have been affected by the incompetence of Meta’s fact checking regime... Rather than investing a proportion of Meta’s substantial profits to help ensure the accuracy of medical information shared through social media, you have apparently delegated responsibility to people incompetent in carrying out this crucial task. Fact checking has been a staple of good journalism for decades. What has happened in this instance should be of concern to anyone who values and relies on sources such as The BMJ. Additionally, 'goopthink' offered more anti-censorship fire and brimstone in an eloquent comment at ycombinator: In addition to the points raised by BMJ and in the comments below, there is a limit to what independent fact checking can accomplish. For example, are their fact checkers conducting their own scientific experiments validating claims and outcomes of a scientific paper? Are fact checkers reaching out to sources from a news article and verifying quoted information? When “breaking news” or “scoops” are reported presenting totally new information about the world, how can that be verified against other information that - by virtue of something being new - cannot be verified by other preexisting sources? If the fact checking process is limited to verification based on other information that is currently available, and if the fact checking process cannot distinguish between factual information and the opinions people hold as a result of that information, the outcome will be an inevitable echo chamber that reinforces currently dominant views or whatever preexisting biases are present. ...and that is exactly what the establishment wants. *  *  * Full letter from The BMJ below (emphasis ours): Open letter from The BMJ to Mark Zuckerberg Dear Mark Zuckerberg, We are Fiona Godlee and Kamran Abbasi, editors of The BMJ, one of the world’s oldest and most influential general medical journals. We are writing to raise serious concerns about the “fact checking” being undertaken by third party providers on behalf of Facebook/Meta. In September, a former employee of Ventavia, a contract research company helping carry out the main Pfizer covid-19 vaccine trial, began providing The BMJ with dozens of internal company documents, photos, audio recordings, and emails. These materials revealed a host of poor clinical trial research practices occurring at Ventavia that could impact data integrity and patient safety. We also discovered that, despite receiving a direct complaint about these problems over a year ago, the FDA did not inspect Ventavia’s trial sites. The BMJ commissioned an investigative reporter to write up the story for our journal. The article was published on 2 November, following legal review, external peer review and subject to The BMJ’s usual high level editorial oversight and review. But from November 10, readers began reporting a variety of problems when trying to share our article. Some reported being unable to share it. Many others reported having their posts flagged with a warning about “Missing context ... Independent fact-checkers say this information could mislead people.” Those trying to post the article were informed by Facebook that people who repeatedly share “false information” might have their posts moved lower in Facebook’s News Feed. Group administrators where the article was shared received messages from Facebook informing them that such posts were “partly false.” Readers were directed to a “fact check” performed by a Facebook contractor named Lead Stories. We find the “fact check” performed by Lead Stories to be inaccurate, incompetent and irresponsible. It fails to provide any assertions of fact that The BMJ article got wrong It has a nonsensical title: “Fact Check: The British Medical Journal Did NOT Reveal Disqualifying And Ignored Reports Of Flaws In Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Trials” The first paragraph inaccurately labels The BMJ a “news blog” It contains a screenshot of our article with a stamp over it stating “Flaws Reviewed,” despite the Lead Stories article not identifying anything false or untrue in The BMJ article It published the story on its website under a URL that contains the phrase “hoax-alert” We have contacted Lead Stories, but they refuse to change anything about their article or actions that have led to Facebook flagging our article. We have also contacted Facebook directly, requesting immediate removal of the “fact checking” label and any link to the Lead Stories article, thereby allowing our readers to freely share the article on your platform. There is also a wider concern that we wish to raise. We are aware that The BMJ is not the only high quality information provider to have been affected by the incompetence of Meta’s fact checking regime. To give one other example, we would highlight the treatment by Instagram (also owned by Meta) of Cochrane, the international provider of high quality systematic reviews of the medical evidence. Rather than investing a proportion of Meta’s substantial profits to help ensure the accuracy of medical information shared through social media, you have apparently delegated responsibility to people incompetent in carrying out this crucial task. Fact checking has been a staple of good journalism for decades. What has happened in this instance should be of concern to anyone who values and relies on sources such as The BMJ. We hope you will act swiftly: specifically to correct the error relating to The BMJ’s article and to review the processes that led to the error; and generally to reconsider your investment in and approach to fact checking overall. Best wishes, Fiona Godlee, editor in chief Kamran Abbasi, incoming editor in chief The BMJ Competing interests: As current and incoming editors in chief, we are responsible for everything The BMJ contains. It appears the 'fact-checkers' have some facts of their own to check... or otherwise admit they are simply there - as Fauci and Collins collusion was exposed this week - to maintain the propaganda peace for whoever is pulling the strings. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/20/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytDec 20th, 2021

Dollar Illiquidity - The Ironic Yet Ignored Spark For The Next Crisis

Dollar Illiquidity - The Ironic Yet Ignored Spark For The Next Crisis Authored by Matthew Piepenburg via GoldSwitzerland.com, In October of 2019, I began writing/warning of the ignored yet ominous signals coming out of the repo and Eurodollar markets and what the illiquidity (i.e., lack of availability) of U.S. Dollars portended for our markets in the coming years. Well, those years have since arrived. Such dollar illiquidity may seem hard to imagine in a world otherwise awash in printed currencies and expanding money supplies. But what I warned then is no different than what is happening now: The Fed is gonna need to print a lot more dollars. In other words, today’s hawks will once again become tomorrow’s doves. Why? Because there were and are just not enough liquid dollars today to meet the fantastic array of nuanced and complex dollar demand in both U.S. and global markets. The First Tremors—2019 Repo Woes As Egon von Greyerz and I have said many times, the first overt signs of this danger in the cash-poor (i.e., illiquid) repo market which reared its “repo head” in September of 2019. This was a neon-flashing signal of long-term trouble ahead. And it had nothing to do with COVID… Informed investors in the autumn of 2019 had sifted through all the confusing minutia and noise behind the September panic in the otherwise open-fraud scheme that is the U.S. repo market (i.e., private banks levering GSE deposits for guaranteed payouts from Uncle Sam which the U.S. taxpayer funds). Despite all this noise, and despite being completely ignored (and deliberately downplayed) by an otherwise teenage-savvy mainstream financial media, the entire repo story simply boiled down to this: There weren’t enough available dollars to keep it (and the banks) going. As a result, the 2019 Fed printed more dollars and immediately dumped a $1.5 trillion rollover facility into the repo pits. Much, much more followed. After all, there’s nothing a money printer can’t temporarily solve. Unfortunately, however, this gaping wound in the repo markets was not an isolated event, but rather a symptom of a much larger and systemic problem that was equally responsible for the crisis of 2008, namely: Not enough dollars. More importantly, such dollar illiquidity will be the key factor in the next financial crisis. Second Tremor: The Misunderstood Eurodollar Market This percolating liquidity crisis has a lot to do with the Eurodollar market, an ignored little corner of the global financial cesspool which very few investors understand. This is because the Fed and the U.S. Treasury are still perceived as the official overseers of U.S. Dollar supply. Many investors still assume that these institutions know what they are doing and are “in control.” If only this were true… In reality, the Fed is becoming increasingly cornered and dysfunctional when it comes to managing U.S. Dollar liquidity. Why? Because the Fed is not in fact in control of the supply of U.S. Dollars; instead, more of the power lies in the media-ignored Eurodollar markets. THE Ticking Time Bomb Almost no one gets the Eurodollar “thing.” Almost no one sees it, yet it’s a ticking time bomb. So, what is the ticking time bomb that almost no one is publicly touching upon? What is the silent poison lurking beneath our national and global market system which no one at the Eccles Building, the White House, or the Treasury Department is discussing, let alone fully understanding? How the Eurodollar System is Quietly Killing U.S. and Global Markets In basic terms, a Eurodollar is just a U.S. Dollar held on deposit anywhere (not just in the Eurozone) outside of the U.S. Simple enough. One can therefore think of foreign banks like SocGen or Deutsche Bank making simple, clean, and direct loans to foreign companies denominated in these “Euro” dollars – i.e., U.S. Dollars held overseas. But nothing the big banks do ever stays simple, clean, or direct for very long. These bankers just can’t help themselves when it comes to leverage, short-term profits and long-term distortions. This is particularly true of what they’ve done with the Eurodollar. A Brief History of Distortion In fact, Eurodollars have been floating around the world in greater force since the mid-1950s. But banks (and bankers) always come up with clever ways to make simple Eurodollar transactions complex, as they can easily hide all kinds of greed-satisfying and wealth-generating schemes behind such deliberate Eurodollar complexity. Specifically, rather than foreign banks using U.S. Dollars overseas (i.e., Eurodollars) to make simple, direct loans to corporate borrowers that can be easily tracked and regulated on the asset and liability columns of offshore bank balance sheets, these same bankers have spent the last few decades getting more and more creative with the Eurodollar – which is to say, more and more toxic and out of control. Rather than using Eurodollars for direct loans from Bank “X” to Borrower “Y,” offshore financial groups have been busy using these Eurodollars for complex inter-bank borrowing, swap schemes, futures contracts, and levered derivative transactions. In short, and once again: More derivative-based poison (and extreme banking risk) at work. The Fed Losing Control of Its Own Dollar These mind-numbingly complex Eurodollar transactions have acted as extreme dollar multipliers entirely outside the purview or control of regulatory bodies like the Fed and now exist at what is essentially infinite leverage multiples. When U.S. banks like Bear Sterns or Lehman Brothers, for example, were leveraging U.S. Dollars in subprime derivative landmines at leverage multiples of 60:1, that was a problem. A big problem. Remember? Unfortunately, what we have been seeing (and the media ignoring) in the unregulated Eurodollar market is a leverage ratio of U.S. Dollars that is much, much, much higher – and makes the Bear Sterns of 2008 seem like child’s play by comparison today. And what this basically boils down to is that the actual amount of U.S. Dollars in overseas, shadow banking Eurodollar transactions is massively beyond the pale of what the Fed thinks it is, and, more importantly, is massively beyond the pale of anything that even the Fed can control. How Can There Be a Dollar Shortage? But wait, you’re probably asking: Matt, you just warned there’s not enough dollars, but now you’re saying that such Eurodollar schemes have dramatically increased (i.e., levered) the amount of dollars in circulation. What gives? Well, stick with me. You see, all those complex derivative schemes in Eurodollars increases their amount, but then tangles them up into so much non-liquid confusion that the end result is far fewer dollars in actual circulation.  Crazy but true. Thus, as Powell tinkers with adjusting interest rates and printing or tapering more money here in the U.S. to ostensibly “control” the amount and price of U.S. Dollars, he is effectively chasing windmills, or playing chess as Rome burns. There are now trillions in uncontrollable/unregulated U.S. Dollar liabilities floating around (and clogging up) an uber-complex international banking and Eurodollar based derivatives system. Unfortunately, this system is so interconnected and beyond the measures of complexity theory that trying to untie these Eurodollar financial knots and counter-party complexities would be akin to untying the knots of 1,000,000,000 fly-fishermen all at once. In other words, impossible. With all these U.S. Dollars (trading as “Eurodollars”) tied up in countless and unregulated banking schemes and derivative instruments, the actual amount of available U.S. Dollars is inextricably tied up in all these toxic “knots.” As a result, there are simply less dollars available for use (including emergency use) in these over-levered/risk-high markets – which is what the fancy lads call a “liquidity problem.” In fact, despite all the well-deserved attention subprime mortgages received for being the cause of the 2008 Great Financial Crisis, here’s a little secret from inside Wall Street: The subprime instruments were the “patient zero” of the 2008 disaster, but the real killer in 2008 was dollar illiquidity, much of which was tied up in these Gordian Eurodollar knots of which almost no one understands, discusses or knows how to control. In short: Today we have a similar ticking time bomb. A Eurodollar time bomb. Defusing the Eurodollar Liquidity Crisis? So how can we diffuse this ignored and misunderstood time bomb? Well, even the grandfather of debt, John Maynard Keynes, warned about this in 1944; the head of the People’s Bank of China warned about this in 2011; and in the summer of 2019, Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, warned about this at the Fed’s little banker retreat in Jackson Hole. What was the suggested option from the head of England’s central bank? Simple – we need to replace the U.S. Dollar as the world’s reserve currency with a neutral, electronic currency to settle international payments with a new, floating system that replaces the dollar. That’s a big deal. And yet it never made the headlines. Big shocker, eh? The sad but hidden and otherwise undeniable truth of the matter is that the U.S. Dollar is no longer under the control of an increasingly clueless Federal Reserve. Every Crisis is a Liquidity Crisis When the supply of dollars tightens/shortens, crisis always follows, every time, for every market crisis is, at root, a liquidity crisis. Again, we saw a brief taste of this dollar shortage during the repo scare of September 2019. But that was mere child’s play compared to what prior crises of dollar illiquidity can and have done to markets, as we saw in 2008, when our markets suffered over $2 trillion (!) in U.S. Dollar shortages (aka, “funding gap”). How was this “gap” filled? You guessed it: Global money printing gone wild. Going forward, and with the recent (and completely downplayed) tremors of the cash-poor repo market still in our rear-view mirror, the insiders in D.C. and Wall Street are bracing themselves for further crises of dollar illiquidity – i.e., major market disasters driven by “funding gaps” – aka a lack of enough dollars. The Fed knows this as well – but just barely. They certainly are in no position today to simply release the U.S. Dollar from its global reserve status. That takes years, but the IMF has effectively telegraphed that it’s coming. In the interim, this means that the only current tool available to the Fed when the next dollar-liquidity crisis sends our markets and economy over yet another cliff will be more desperate and last-minute money printing, despite the fact that they are now signaling a taper for early 2022 (!). Longer term, such inevitable money printing will be good for gold. Told You So… In 2019 and 2020, I warned of this. I warned of massive, unimaginable money printing and full-on debt monetization ahead due to massive dollar illiquidity. In case you don’t believe me, just see for yourselves in this re-published, ad-hoc warning originally released in March of 2020, here. Since that warning, the Fed’s balance sheet has more than doubled. Facts really are stubborn things, no? Investing in the New Abnormal Of course, such measures have nothing at all to do with capitalism or free markets. Central and commercial banks have kissed those old values and systems goodbye. Today, we now live, invest, and trade in a centralized market in which central banks have and are losing control over the supply of the U.S. Dollar in offshore, shadow banking Eurodollar schemes who’s embedded, levered, illiquid and complex risks, dangers, and extremes are understood by only a handful of insiders and would frankly require hundreds of more pages here to fully unpack. What YOU need to take away from all of this complexity is quite simple: Normal business cycles are now extinct, replaced instead by central bank liquidity cycles which ultimately destroy currencies. Natural supply and demand forces, including for dollars, has been replaced by money printing from the central banks. More and more dollars will be printed down the road, not because we “think so,” but simply because there is literally no other way to keep this now totally rigged-to-fail system afloat. As for market volatility and the safety and growth of your money in such a toxic and complex backdrop, we admit that it is becoming increasingly hard to rely upon old predictive measures of market risk or even recession timing to fully make sense of the Twilight Zone in which we now find our capital markets. We truly are in uncharted and completely distorted waters, where risk outweighs reward at nearly every turn. This is new terrain for all of us. The Current Landscape – Hawkish Hubris Thus, if you are wondering why the USD is up (relatively, as opposed to purchasing-power) despite insane levels of mouse-clicked money creation and broad money supply expansion, it’s simple: Those dollars are tied up in a derivative-based Eurodollar ball of knots. With not enough liquid dollars available, dollar-demand is up, and hence so is the USD. Needless to say, for those nations who owe USD-denominated debts, finding and paying for the owed dollars is getting harder, which explains why the Turkish lira is tanking, dropping 30% vs. the USD in November alone… Other cracks as well as signals in this distorted, Dollar-thirsty financial landscape include more volatility now and ahead. Recent swings in the S&P 500 (worst quarter since 2011) and BTC’s 20% drop in perfect tandem with the Wall Street sell-off are obvious examples, as well as harbingers of more pain to come, despite Jim Cramer’s pathetic (December 9th) cry that the U.S. is “the strongest economy ever seen,” and a “marvel to behold.” Poor Cramer was likely referring to the Atlanta Fed’s bullish GDP estimate for Q4: But cheerleaders like Cramer are overlooking the flattening U.S. yield curve which suggests the bond market feels such strength is temporary at best. The Future Landscape—Doves (and Pain) Ahead Meanwhile, as dollar illiquidity rises, and pandemic benefits fade, the Fed stubbornly sticks to its hawkish plan to taper/tighten liquidity into 2022—thereby adding gasoline to a risk asset fire and fiscal cliff crushing just about every asset class but the USD, UST and the VIX. With the U.S. debt/GDP at a ratio of 122%, any hope for sustainable GDP growth and the delevering of US debt in such a backdrop without causing markets to tank is pure fantasy. In other words: tic toc, tic toc… In short, if the taper collides with the aforementioned yet hidden dollar illiquidity, get ready for an extremely bumpy and unpleasant 2022 and hence a sudden reversal of the Fed’s now hawkish stance. When the doves and extreme money printing (and hence currency debasement) return, gold will be waiting, as always, to get the last word. Tyler Durden Sat, 12/18/2021 - 14:40.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 18th, 2021

The Power of Strategic Partnerships in Luxury Real Estate

How often do you spend time networking with luxury professionals outside of the real estate industry? We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and in today’s competitive luxury real estate market, that sentiment couldn’t be truer. With so many luxury real estate professionals vying for the same listings […] The post The Power of Strategic Partnerships in Luxury Real Estate appeared first on RISMedia. How often do you spend time networking with luxury professionals outside of the real estate industry? We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” and in today’s competitive luxury real estate market, that sentiment couldn’t be truer. With so many luxury real estate professionals vying for the same listings and buyers with an endless supply of choices, strategic partnerships—both with other luxury real estate professionals and other professionals who work with affluent clientele—can be your ticket to success. Fortunately, there are plenty of other industry professionals whose clientele overlap with that of a luxury real estate professional, including wealth advisers, CPAs, business attorneys, or even wine storage specialists, venetian plasterers or luxury pool installers. The best part? You can leverage other professionals’ established networks both online and offline, and the benefits are mutual. Here are just a few reasons why taking the time to create and nurture strategic partnerships is essential for growing your luxury real estate practice—plus a few practical tips on how to do it: Strategic Partnerships Help You Get Closer to the Clients You Want According to David Friedman, co-founder of wealth lookup resources Wealth Quotient and Wealth X—both of which are available to members of The Institute for Luxury Home Marketing (The Institute)—most luxury real estate professionals are taking the wrong approach to prospecting, especially when they’ve identified specific clients they’d like to work with. Instead of making a direct connection with those prospects, David recommends finding a way into their circle to be introduced by one of the prospect’s trusted peers or advisers. This is what he calls an “Inward-Out” approach, in which you become a vetted “referral” rather than an unknown agent. Creating and nurturing strategic partnerships with other luxury professionals is a simple way to arrange these introductions, which can go both ways. Strategic Partnerships Can Help You Grow a More Engaged Social Media Following Another way to benefit from strategic partnerships is to create content online for, or with, other professionals with overlapping clientele to attract qualified leads. For example, you might interview a local, high-end interior designer with a large social media following to talk about seasonal trends on your blog, livestream or podcast, and have them announce the upcoming interview to their own following, effectively landing you in front of their audience and potentially gaining a few interested followers and prospects. Similarly, you can offer to write or create content for other local professionals for their blog or other media platforms, which also puts you directly in front of their established audience. Some examples of this could be writing about local real estate trends in your market for your local luxury financial adviser’s blog or partnering with a local wine enthusiasts club to send a “guest email” about a listing with an incredible wine cellar, inviting them to a special open house. This method is especially helpful if you’re a new luxury real estate professional with a bootstrapped marketing budget, or if you’re looking for more ways to grow your online presence within your community without spending more on paid advertising. Want a Competitive Edge in the Luxury Real Estate Market? The Institute’s in-person Luxury Live events are back and, for the first time ever, we’ve introduced a Member Happy Hour to give you even more time to network with other luxury real estate professionals (or aspiring luxury real estate professionals). The curriculum for these exciting two-day events is based on our proven Seven-Step Luxury Marketing Blueprint to help you break into luxury real estate or reach the next level in your luxury real estate career. To learn more and see when Luxury Live is coming to your city, click here. Diane Hartley is the president of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing, a premier independent authority in training and designation for real estate agents working in the upper-tier residential market. Hartley brings her passion for luxury marketing and more than 20 years of experience growing and leading businesses to her role as president of the Institute. The post The Power of Strategic Partnerships in Luxury Real Estate appeared first on RISMedia......»»

Category: realestateSource: rismediaDec 16th, 2021

Transcript: Maureen Farrell

     The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Maureen Farrell on the Cult of We is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   RITHOLTZ: This… Read More The post Transcript: Maureen Farrell appeared first on The Big Picture.      The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Maureen Farrell on the Cult of We is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   RITHOLTZ: This week on the podcast, I have a special guest. Her name is Maureen Farrell, and she is the co-author of the book, “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” I read this book a couple of weeks ago and just plowed through it. It’s a lot of fun. Everything you think about WeWork is actually even crazier, and more insane, and more delusional than you would’ve guessed. All the venture capitalists and — and big investors not really doing the appropriate due diligence, relying on each other, and nobody really looking at the numbers, which kind of revealed that this was a giant money-losing, fast-growing startup that really was a real estate play pretending to be a tech play. You know, tech gets one sort of multiple, real estate gets a much lower multiple, and Neumann was able to convince a lot of people that this was a tech startup and, therefore, worthy of, you know, $1 billion and then multibillion-dollar valuation. It’s fascinating the — it’s deeply, deeply reported. There is just an incredible series of vignettes, and stories, and reveals that they’re just shocking what Neumann and company were able to — to fob off on their investors. Everything from ridiculous self-dealing to crazy valuations, to lackluster due diligence, and then just the craziest most egregious golden parachute in the history of corporate America. I found the book to be just fascinating and as well as my conversation with Maureen. So, with no further ado, my conversation with Maureen Farrell, co-author of “The Cult of We.” VOICE-OVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My special guest this week is Maureen Farrell. She is the co-author of a new book, “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” The book has been nominated for a Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award. Previously, she worked at the Wall Street Journal since 2013. Currently, she is a reporter, investigative reporter for The New York Times. Maureen Farrell, welcome to Bloomberg. FARRELL: Thank you so much for having me. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s start a little bit with your background and history. You — you covered capital markets and IPOs at the Wall Street Journal. What led you and your co-author Eliot Brown to this story because this was really a venture capital and a startup story for most of the 2010s, right? FARRELL: Exactly. And for me, personally, I was covering the IPO market and — and capital markets the sort of explosion of private capital. So, I was looking at WeWork from both angles, basically, you know, in the small cohort of the most interesting companies that were going to go public, along with Uber, Airbnb, Lyft. And it was also part of this group that had raised more capital than anyone ever before. I was looking at SoftBank and its vision fund a lot. And then — I mean, take within this cohort, there were some pretty interesting companies, but I mean, just along the way kept on hearing, you know, Adam Neumann stood out. That’s like a little bit of a different entrepreneur that the — the stories you would just hear over time just became more and more interesting a little and vain. RITHOLTZ: So when did you decide, hey, this is more than just a recurring series of — of articles? When did you say this is a book? We have to write a book about this? FARRELL: So, we were — around August 2019, by then we were writing more and more about the company as it was clear that it was, you know, made it known that it was going to go public. Suddenly, it’s S-1, the — the regulatory documents you file publicly to go public were out there, and they were completely bonkers. They sort of captivated, I think, the imagination of the business reading public. But then over the next few weeks, WeWork was on its way to finally doing this IPO. And my co-author Eliot and I who had been cover — he had covering the company long before me. He’s a real estate. He had been covering them since 2013, then he was out in San Francisco covering venture capital. And it just became the most insane story either one of us had ever reported, like day by day there’s a playbook for IPOs. And they — you know, things are different, but they sort of follow a formula and nothing was making sense. And it just was getting more and more insane until this IPO was eventually called off. And Adam Neumann, the founder and CEO was pushed out of the company for all sorts of crazy things that were given to. RITHOLTZ: So, we’re going to — we’re going to spend a lot of time talking about that. But you hinted at something I — I have to mention. Your co-author covered real estate. Hey, I was told WeWork was a tech startup, and an A.I. company, and everything else but a real estate arbitrage play. How did they manage to convince so many people that they weren’t a Regis. The CEO of Regis very famously said, “How was what they do any different than what we do?” FARRELL: Well, they tried to convince Eliot Brown, my co-author, of the same thing. He — he had heard about Adam Neumann and his company. He started seeing the valuation. Back then I think it was $1 billion, $1.5 billion, and he was … RITHOLTZ: Right. When that became a unicorn, suddenly it was like, “Wait, this is just a real estate play.” FARRELL: Exactly. And he was covering other commercial real estate companies like Regis. And he had followed them and he was like, “Wait, they only have a couple of locations even still at that point.” So, he went in to meet Adam Neumann for the first time, and he’s got great stories. But as part of it, Adam was like really horrified. He was, you know, very nice, his charming self, but also saying, “Hey, you’re a real estate reporter … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … for the Wall Street Journal. You’re the last person who should be covering this company. Do you have someone who covers like community companies?” RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And Eliot said, “No, and I’ll be following you from here on out.” RITHOLTZ: We’ll — we’ll talk about community-adjusted EBITDA a little later also. But — but let’s talk about the genesis of this because Neumann and his partner McKelvey had a — a legit business Greendesk, the — was the predecessor to WeWork. It was sold. I don’t know what the dollar amount was. Was that ever disclosed? FARRELL: Ah. RITHOLTZ: But — but it was not — nothing. It was real. And the two of them rolled that money plus a third partner who is also — Joel Schreiber is a real estate developer in New York, not coincidently. And in 2010, they launched WeWork with the first site in SoHo. So why is this real estate assign long-term leases and sell shorter-term leases at a significant markup? How is this not possibly a real estate concern? How? What was — what was the argument they were making to people that, “Hey, we’re a tech company and we deserve tech company valuations.” FARRELL: Sure. So exactly as you said, they have this Brooklyn business that was the genesis of WeWork. It was — it had a lot of that business, and it was what they took to make WeWork. It has a lot of innovation to it in terms of architecturally the aesthetic of it. I mean, we probably all have been to WeWork. They’re just — they’re beautiful buildings. RITHOLTZ: Funky, fun … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … open … FARRELL: Light coming through … RITHOLTZ: … with a beer tap and lots of glass. FARRELL: … we had light streaming through the windows. You put — you pack people very close together. So, something they started in Brooklyn, it took off, but then their — the landlord there didn’t want to grow it, so they — they split up, they moved on. Adam and his — his co-founder Miguel McKelvey. And from the very beginning, the idea was something so much bigger. They say they created — they like sketched out something and it was like essentially WeWorld. It would be, you know, schools, and apartments, and this whole universe of we. But basically, as you said, I mean, throughout for the most part, it was this like arbitrage building, arbitrage company in terms of getting long-term leases and splitting it up. RITHOLTZ: All right. So, by 2014, they have a pretty substantial investor list, J.P. Morgan Chase, T. Rowe Price, Wellington, Goldman, Harvard Endowment, Benchmark Capital, Mort Zuckerman. Was this still a rational investment in 2014 or when did things kind of go off the rails? FARRELL: By then it still seemed like the valuation was really getting ahead of itself, and it was very much predicated on this idea that you said being a tech company. And I mean, at Adam Neumann’s genius was in marketing and fund raising. And what he had the ability to do really each step of the way and it’s — it’s masterful was sort of take — take the zeitgeist, like the big business idea of the moment that was captivating investors and put that on top of WeWork. So, he’s very into — a little bit before this like sort of acquainting it to Facebook. You know, Facebook was the social network. This is like a social network in person. RITHOLTZ: In real life, right. FARRELL: In — yeah, real life social network. And he didn’t manage to kind of convince people bit by bit. I mean, it’s interesting, Benchmark, you know, as you know, is like one of the top … RITHOLTZ: Legit — right, top shelf V.C., absolutely. FARRELL: Yeah, that’s been some — behind some of the biggest tech companies. RITHOLTZ: Bill Gurley, Uber, go down the list of just incredible … FARRELL: Snap. RITHOLTZ: … yeah, amazing. FARRELL: eBay. Yeah, they’ve had — through — for decades, they’ve been behind some of the biggest companies. So, they were willing to take a gamble on them, and then they saw red flags, but just decided to jump in anyway. But for Benchmark, I mean, we see and they ultimately — they get in at such a low valuation, it’s … RITHOLTZ: Doesn’t matter. FARRELL: … exactly like — you know, they want their homeruns. And I mean, it’s still — they still ultimately got out at a pretty good — really incredible return, but it’s … RITHOLTZ: Right, $600 million to $10 billion, something like that, something (inaudible). FARRELL: Yeah, something like that. RITHOLTZ: So — so just to clarify because I — I’m — I’m going to be trashing WeWork for the next hour, but this wasn’t a Theranos situation or a Bernie Madoff, this is not an issue of fraud or anything illegal or unlawful. Fees just were insane valuations. Somebody did a great job selling investors on the potential for WeWork, and it didn’t work out. FARRELL: I’m glad you brought that up because a lot of people do ask about the differences and the parallels between Elizabeth Holmes and Adam Neumann. And I — I mean, I almost think the story, in some ways, is more interesting. I mean, the Theranos story is, obviously, the craziest and — and horrifying in so many ways. But with Adam Neumann, on the margins, there are questions about, you know, some of them (inaudible). RITHOLTZ: They’re self-dealing and there’s some — a lot of avarice. And he just cashed out way, way early, so you could criticize his behavior. But, you know, you end up with the VCs and the outside investors either looking the other way or turning a blind eye. It’s not like the stuff wasn’t disclosed or anything, he was very out front. No, I need — I need a private jet because we’re opening up WeWorks in China and in 100 other countries, and I have to join around the world. FARRELL: Yeah, and maybe you (inaudible) thing. RITHOLTZ: Now, you need a $65 million (inaudible) is a different question. But, you know, there — they didn’t hide this. They were like proud of it. FARRELL: No, and I think it is every step of the way, you see. I mean, the investors and these were some of the most sophisticated investors in the world and some of the — you know, they are thought of as the smartest investors. They saw the numbers that WeWork was putting forth and they were real, real numbers. They also saw their projections and the projections were mythical, and they never quite reached them. But you could see, if you are going to invest in any round of WeWork, you could see what their prior projections were, how they failed to hit them. But instead, the thing that we saw time and time again to this point was, very often, Adam Neumann would meet the head of an investment company, whether it’s Benchmark or SoftBank or T. Rowe Price, like the — the main decision-maker totally captivate this person. You know, it’s usually a man. The man would become kind of smitten with Adam and all his ideas and what he was going to do, totally believing it. The underlings would look at the numbers, raise all these red flags, point them out. And then the decision-maker would say … RITHOLTZ: Do it anyway. FARRELL: … yeah, he’s amazing. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) RITHOLTZ: So I want to talk about the rapid rise of WeWork and their — their really fast growth path, but I have to ask, what sort of access did you have to the main characters in the book? Were people forthcoming? I have to imagine there were some people who had grudges and were happy to speak. What — what about the — some of the original founders, Adam and his wife Rebekah? Who — who did you have access to? FARRELL: Sure. So, you know, in the interest of privacy, I can’t get into specifics. But what I will say, the interesting thing was, I mean, when we really got access for hours and hours to the vast majority of players at every step of the way in this book. And the — one of the funny things was, I mean, the pandemic really started right as Eliot and I took book leave. We started a book leave in late February 2020. And we had both planned to sort of be and all around the world, meeting people in person. Eliot had moved to New York to meet a lot of the players in person. Obviously, the world shut down and, you know, was kind of nervous about what that would mean in terms of conversations. And the funny thing was I think people are home, bored, feeling pretty reflective. So, there are a number of people that said … RITHOLTZ: What the hell. FARRELL: … I didn’t know if I wanted to talk to you and … RITHOLTZ: But what the hell. FARRELL: … these — some of these people I probably had like 10 conversations … RITHOLTZ: Really? FARRELL: … for hours with. RITHOLTZ: And — and there are 40 something pages of endnotes. It’s — I’m not suggesting that this isn’t deeply researched because a lot of these conversations that you report on like you’re fly on the wall. Clearly, it can only be one of two or three people. So, it looks like you had a ton of access to a lot of senior people and I guess, we’ll just leave it at that. So — so let’s talk about that early rise in the beginning. They were really ramping up very rapidly. I mean, you could see how somebody interested in investing in a potential unicorn in 2012, ’13, ’14 coming out of the financial crisis. Hey, the idea of all these startups just leaving a little bit of space and not a long-term lease, it looks very attractive. It looks like, hey, you could put WeWorks wherever there’s a tech community, and they should do really well there. FARRELL: Yeah, there — and it was — the marketing was — it was very viral at that point. It was, you know, people would tell their friends about it, and they would fill up very rapidly. And they were building more and more. I mean — and this is one of the — you know, as part of the genius of Adam Neumann was, you know, he was telling people from day one they were really struggling to even secure the lease on the first building. And he was like, oh, we’re going to be global, we’re going to be international. He would set these goals of how many buildings they would open and people internally, and even investors, would say, “Oh, this is impossible.” RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And he would — and he would hit that. He kept on sort of defying gravity, defying disbelief or questions. So, the growth was incredible and they were filling them up. We could talk about, you know, the lack of the cost of doing so. RITHOLTZ: Right. They — they were paying double to — to real estate agents when everybody else was paying. They were going to competitors and saying, “We’re going to reach out to your tenants, and we’re going to offer them free rent for a year.” I mean, they were really sharp elbowed and very aggressive. FARRELL: Especially as time went on. We did find that there is one year we got all their financials. We — you know, we got our hands on a vast trove of documents, but there was one year — I think it was 2011 — that they, I think, made $2 million in profit. RITHOLTZ: Wow. FARRELL: We were — we were kind of shocked to see that. We don’t think they had ever made a profit. And then from there, they did not, and the billions and billions just added up in terms of losses. RITHOLTZ: So — so the rapid rise, we — we mentioned, they peaked in 2019 at more than $47 billion. Neumann recently did a interview with your fellow Times correspondent Adam (sic) Ross Sorkin, and he was somewhat contrite. He — he had admitted that all the venture money and all the high valuations had — went to his head, quote, “You lose focus on really the core of the business and why the business is meant to be that way. It had a corrosive effect on my thinking.” That’s kind of a surprising admission from him. FARRELL: It was. Yeah, I mean, his mea culpa is very interesting. And I mean, one of the things that people said along the way was, you know, the — the higher the valuation, the more out of touch she became. I mean, he — he had a narcissist. And I don’t know what you want to call it, but … RITHOLTZ: Socio-pathological narcissistic personality disorder? I’m just — I’m not a psychologist, I’m just guessing, or a really successful salesman/CEO. There’s like a thin line between the two sometimes, it seems. FARRELL: And some of it — I mean, it seems insane. It was like, oh, he thought of himself in this like same — like with along with world leaders, but world leaders were really sort of … RITHOLTZ: Tailing him. FARRELL: … really wanted to meet him. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: Yeah. And he was like — we have a scene in the book that he was debating whether or not he was going to cancel on Theresa May because he had promised his wife that he would teach a class on entrepreneurship to their new school, so it was like a few of their kids and a few of their kids’ friends were in the school. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And they’re about five years old, five or six. And he had promised — and his wife … RITHOLTZ: Prime Minister, a five-year-old, that’s it. So, when you talk about losing touch with reality, some of the M&A that the startup did. Wavegarden or wave machine was a — like a surf wave machine, meetup.com, Conductor, they ended up dumping these for a fraction of what they paid for them. But what’s the thought process we’re going to become a technology conglomerate? I don’t — I don’t really follow the thinking other than will it be fun to have a wave machine at our buildings, like what’s the rationale there? FARRELL: OK. So, there were — there were two parts to that, and part of it was like it was the world was Adam Neumann’s playground, and he loves surfing, and he thought that — you know, that he found out this company has wave-making mission. They would make waves. So, him and his team went to Spain to surf on them and test them out, but he could basically convince his board, in general … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … who had to approve these that anything made sense, whether it’s the jet, the wave pool company or friends of his. I mean, Laird Hamilton, the famous surfer … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … was a friend of his. They invested like in his coffee creamer company. But then the second — so it was so many unseen investments that I really didn’t necessarily make any sense. But then on the other side, one of the things that we thought was interesting, he had this deal with Masa who — Masayoshi Son. He’s the CEO of SoftBank, became WeWork’s biggest investor, biggest enabler, you might say. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: And one of the — they were going to do this huge deal that would have actually kept WeWork private forever. It never came to pass, and that’s why it was sort of the beginning of the end when this deal fell apart. But as part of it, a lot of the deal is predicated on growing revenue. So, Adam also became obsessed with acquisitions like whatever they could possibly do to add more revenue to the company. I mean, he was talking about buying Sweet Cream, and he had like got pretty far along in the salad company … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, amazing. FARRELL: … in conversations with them. So, it was this idea of like let’s just throw in anything, we have money, and let’s just grow our top line. Who cares about anything else? RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about Rebekah Neumann. She was Adam Neumann’s wife. What — what what’s her role in WeWork? How important was she? FARRELL: Her role is just so fascinating throughout. So, I mean, he — he met her right as he was starting Greendesk. And I think she just sort of opened his eyes. She’d grown up very wealthy. She’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s cousin. She had always ties to Hollywood. She gave him a loan early on, a high interest loan, I think even after they were married that we report about in the book. But as time went on, she — she really want a career in Hollywood, decides to — at one point, she — she was trying to be an actress and she tells someone that she’s done with Hollywood. She’s producing babies now. They’ve gone on to have six kids. But she sort of always kind of dabbled in the company, and they retroactively made her a co-founder. RITHOLTZ: Right, she wasn’t there from day one. It was only later she got pretty active. FARRELL: Yeah, she told people like giving tours early on that she help pick out the coffee in the — in the early WeWorks. But — so she became more active, but she was sort of jumped in and out. And it was by the — one of the things that she had a big focus on their kids were growing up, she didn’t really like their choices of private or public schools, so she decided to start — she helmed sort of the education initiative that’s something … RITHOLTZ: And she was deeply qualified for this because she — she was a certified yoga instructor, right? FARRELL: Yeah, she had been. RITHOLTZ: And — and I know she went to Cornell, which is certainly a good school. What bona fide does she bring to technology, real estate, education, like I’m trying to figure it out. And in the book, you don’t really go into any details that she’s qualified to do any of these things. FARRELL: I mean, especially with — with education, it’s like she didn’t — she want this — essentially she wanted a school for her children, and she wanted very specific things in that school. And once again, they decided that that would be the next like frontier for WeWork. They’re always adding different things. But no one really — then they let them do this. They started this school in New York in the headquarters, and they were going to teach the next-generation of entrepreneurs. And … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … I mean, they — one of the things — I mean, it was the education arm more than — as much or more than other parts of it is just so tragic because they had a lot of money. She’s — she, like Adam, can just speak like — speak so — like eloquently and with this vision. So, she attracted all these very talented teachers. She sort of wooed them from the schools that they were in before and told them that they were going to start this, you know, new enterprise and change education forever. And it’s just really devolved so quickly. It became very like kind of petty. I mean, if you pull so they have PTSD from her like obsession with like the rugs like … RITHOLTZ: Right, just … FARRELL: … it was a Montessori-type school. And yeah, she obsessed over like the color of white of the rugs and made them like send back 20 rugs. RITHOLTZ: What was the most shocking thing you found out about him or her or both? FARRELL: So, one — one of these was — I mean, there is a lot of the — their personal lives, as we said, whether it was a school or other — other things where their kids are educated in, just the way in which the personal entanglements, you know, small and huge levels, but I’ll give two examples. I mean, one of the things that people said in the school, so within the WeWork headquarters was a whole … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … floor and it’s beautiful if you see pictures of it, like it just this – like really incredible school. RITHOLTZ: Money was no object. FARRELL: Yeah. And they had Bjarke Ingels, this famous architect designed the school. And — but they basically, on Friday nights, would have dinners with their friends there. And according to many people would — the team would come in Monday morning … RITHOLTZ: It’d be a disaster. FARRELL: … it will be a complete … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … disaster. So, it was like really on so many levels like everything was their personal … RITHOLTZ: So, entitled. FARRELL: Yeah. And the second thing that really shocked us was she was very — she had a lot of kind of like phobias around like health and wellness. And she says — I mean, she had a — a real tragedy in her family. Her brother died from cancer, and so she was always — she’s very focused on and she said it as much in podcasts and things. But she was very fixated on 5G. And she’s worried about vaccines for their kids. And — but the 5G of like what that could do for — you know, these signals. She wouldn’t let them have printers on the floor, like any printers on — wireless printers on the floor of the school. But there is a — they bought this … RITHOLTZ: Can you — can you even by 5G printers today? What — what was the … FARRELL: Oh, no, it’s a wireless. RITHOLTZ: … yeah, just Wi-Fi? FARRELL: Yeah, the wireless like freaked her out, so the teachers of that are like run up and downstairs to just print everything. It seems ridiculous. But the 5G towers, there was one, either being built or built right near there, across the Beam Park. RITHOLTZ: (Inaudible) City Park. FARRELL: Yeah, right nearby. So, she was so obsessed with it. She didn’t want to move in there. They had bought like six apartments in this building that she — the CFO — this is around the time they’re preparing for the IPO. I used to work at Time Warner Cable, who is the CFO of Time Warner Cable. So, she said, “Can you, Artie Minson, help us get rid of the 5G tower and have it moved?” And basically, he deputized another aide who used to work for Cuomo and worked for Governor Christie, the — both former governors. And they — like that was something they — they actually worked on. So, the — yeah, that interplay was just kind of insane. RITHOLTZ: Seems rational. There was a Vanity Fair article, “How Rebekah Neumann Put the Woo-Woo in WeWork,” and — and what you’re describing very much is — is along the lines of that. I’ve seen Neumann described as a visionary, as a crackpot, as — as a grifter, but he thinks he’s going to become the world’s first trillionaire, and — and WeWork the first $10 trillion company. Is — is any realistic scenario where that happens or is he just completely delusional? FARRELL: I mean, it seems insane and like he seems completely delusional, but he had a lot of people going along with him, including the man with one of the biggest checkbooks in the world who is Masayoshi Son, the CEO and Founder of SoftBank, who had just — I mean, the timing of the story, it’s like there’s so many things that happened at the first enrollment. RITHOLTZ: Saudi Arabia wanting to diversify, giving a ton of money. You — you call Son the enabler-in-chief. He — he put more than $10 billion of capital showered on — on to WeWork. How much do you blame Son for all of this mayhem at least in the last couple of years of WeWork’s run as a private company? FARRELL: It seems like he was the main — you know, the main person kind of pushing all of this. And when you talk to a lot of people around Adam, they just said they were just such a dicey match like that Adam was crazy to begin with. Everyone thought that. You know, it can go both ways, but … RITHOLTZ: Yeah, but people drank the Kool-Aid. It — it reminded me — you don’t mention Steve Jobs in the book, but very much the reality distortion field that Jobs was famous for, I very much got the sense Neumann was creating something like that. How did he get everybody to drink the Kool-Aid? Was he just that charismatic and that good of a salesman? FARRELL: I think so. And it was just he could talk about things and make you feel like the reality was there, this reality of distortion field. He was — he was masterful in that. Yet the thing that he did was he always found new pots of money … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … all over the world. I mean, it was the time — it was the time when the private capital markets were getting deeper and deeper, the Fidelitys and the T. Rowe that like normally kind of sober mutual funds … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … were jumping into startups. And they — they were — we call one of the chapters FOMO. It was like the … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … fun FOMO. They were fearful of missing out on the next big thing. So that we’re sort of in this climate where there is an appetite to go after, to just take a chance for the chance of getting the next like maybe not trillion-dollar company, maybe no one but him and Masa believe that, the next big thing. RITHOLTZ: But the next 100X — right. And that’s really — you know, it’s always interesting when you see these stayed, old mutual fund companies that have literally no experience in venture capital or tech startups, but happy to plow into it because they — they — they want to be part of it. And maybe that’s how we end up with community-adjusted EBITDA. Can — can you explain to us what that phrase means? I don’t even know what else to call it. FARRELL: Sure. So WeWork was losing every — every step of the way. They were growing revenue more than doubling it. You know, they’re expanding all around the world. And with that, they were losing just as much, if not more every single year than they were taking in. So, they had this brilliant idea, really a lot stemming from the CFO and Adam Neumann love the CFO’s creation. His name is Artie Minson, the CFO. And it was this idea that you essentially strip out a lot of the costs of kind of creating all the — building out all the WeWorks and, you know, marketing and opening up new buildings. You strip it out, and then you’re suddenly a profitable company. It’s like the magic. RITHOLTZ: Wait, let me — let me make sure I understand this. So, if you eliminate the cost of generating that profit, you suddenly become profitable. How come nobody else thought of this sooner? It seems like a genius idea. FARRELL: Oh. RITHOLTZ: Just don’t — it’s profits, expenses. It’s fantastic. FARRELL: And the — the conviction with which certain people inside, especially on the finance team, believe this. I mean, they were saying throughout that like, oh, we will be a profitable company if we — the idea was if we just stop growing, we could be profitable right now. We take in more per building. (COMMERCIAL BREAK) FARRELL: Then we spend on it. But, you know, that never was the case. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stick with the delusion concept. We talked about WeGrow, and we talked about WeLive a little bit, crazy stuff. What made this guy think he can help colonize Mars? Right, you’re laughing. You wrote it yourself, and it’s still funny. FARRELL: It is still … RITHOLTZ: By the way, I found a lot of the book very amusing, like very dry, like you guys didn’t try and crack jokes. But clearly, a lot of the stuff was just so insane. You read it, you start to laugh out loud. FARRELL: I’m — I’m glad to hear that because I think that we would joke that like every day. I mean, we’re in different places writing it. We are on calls constantly, and we would call each other. And it was often multiple times a day we would call each other and say, “You will never ever believe what I just heard.” And we would crack up, and we — we had a lot of fun writing it because it’s just — it was — the truth of the story was like more insane than … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … anything we could have made up ever. RITHOLTZ: That’s the joke that, you know, the difference between truth and — and fiction is fiction has to make sense, and truth is under no such obligation. So, let’s talk about Neumann colonizing Mars. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: I mean, was that a serious thing or was he just, you know, on one of his insane (inaudible) and everybody comes along? FARRELL: There — there — speaking of fine lines, I mean, he just — I think he — he started to believe more and more of like these delusions. And so, I think he really did, and yeah, he got this — he secured a meeting with Elon Musk, and he – Elon Musk — he always — Adam was always late to every meeting, would make people wait for hours, like even like the bankers in the IPO would just sit around. There’ll be rooms of like dozens of people waiting for Adam, and he’d show up like two hours late. But Elon Musk made him wait for this meeting. They sat and sat and sat, and then he told Elon Musk that getting — that he thought — like building a community on Mars is what he would do and he would help him with. And he said, you know, “Getting — getting to Mars is the easy part. Building a community is the hard part.” RITHOLTZ: Right. Because, you know, it’s very hard to get those beer taps to work in a … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … low-gravity, zero atmosphere environment. It’s a challenge, only WeWork could accomplish that. FARRELL: The – the fruit water. RITHOLTZ: Right. So — so I want to talk about the IPO, but before I get to that, I — I have to ask about the corporate offsites, the summer camp, which were described as three-day global summits of drinking and drug consumption. It was like a Woodstock event, not like a corporate retreat. How did these come about? FARRELL: So, Adam would say that he never — he grew up in Israel and he moved to the U.S. He lived for a little while the U.S., but move later in life. So, you said he never got to go to American summer camp, so he was going to recreate summer — American summer camp literally. They started at his wife’s family’s had a summer camp in upstate New York. That’s where they started. They just got bigger and bigger, eventually going to England and taking over this like huge like field — this huge estate there and bringing every single member of the company flying them from all over the world. RITHOLTZ: And there were thousands of employees? FARRELL: Thousands upon thousands, and the cost was unbelievable of every piece of it. I mean, every year, they just got bigger and bigger. I mean, the flew at the height of his fame not that he’s far off of it, but Lin-Manuel Miranda like, at the height of Hamilton, they flew him on a private jet. He — he performed on stage. The Roots came, and — and they would pay these people like … RITHOLTZ: Million dollars, right. FARRELL: … a million dollars, yeah. So, the money is no object. RITHOLTZ: That’s a good gig for an afternoon. FARRELL: Yeah, exactly. And they were — you know, especially at the beginning, it was like a younger group of people, in general. And — I mean, these — these were crazy. There’s tons of alcohol sanctioned by the company, handed out by the company. Drugs were in — you know, in supply not handed out by the company, but they were everywhere and … RITHOLTZ: And he talks about drugs. He says, “Well, we — it’s not really drugs, just, you know … FARRELL: He — so yeah, I think it — it got to a point and it was also mandatory to come to these events. So, I mean, the — they were … RITHOLTZ: And they were like meetings where there are shots, everybody has to do shots. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: This — this wasn’t just at these retreats, like hard partying was pretty common throughout the company or anywhere Neumann seemed to have touched. When — when he was there, everybody was expected to step-up and — and party hard. FARRELL: Including the investors. I mean, you’d walk into the office at 10 A.M., according to so many different people. And he’d insist on taking tequila shots with you in the morning in his office. And … RITHOLTZ: You didn’t have a shot before this? You — don’t you … FARRELL: Right. RITHOLTZ: … isn’t that — isn’t how every meeting begins? FARRELL: The breakfast … RITHOLTZ: Right? FARRELL: … of champions. RITHOLTZ: That’s — that’s right. So — so I got the sense from the book that they always seemed to be on the edge of running out of money, and they would always find another source, but it was all leading towards the IPO, but the S-1 one filing, the disclosures that go with an IPO filing, that seemed to be that they’re undoing the — the public just — investing public just torn apart. FARRELL: Exactly. I mean, the interesting piece of that, as you said, it was there’s always a new pool of capital like just when he thought that he was going to have to go public. And the board — and the board — I mean, one of the things we found time and time again was the board would say, you know, he’s really like crazy, things are getting out of hand. But like we won’t say no to him, but eventually he’s going to have to go public. This was back in like 2016-2017. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: We thought he was going to run out of money, the only place to go because they’re burning so much cash with the public markets. And the public markets will take care of it, which — that kind of floored us each step of the way. But yes, as you said, he — he — he knew how to captivate on — in one-on-one or bigger meetings to convince you of this future to tell you we always describe him kind of as a magician and think of him like this, like don’t look here, look here, like the sleight of hand. He could — then this S-1 came out. It was a regulatory document. You have to follow rules. RITHOLTZ: There’s no sleight of hand in S-1 filing. FARRELL: No, like you have to see. And people suddenly saw the — the broad public the revenue, the losses of a lot, not even all of these, you know, the questionable corporate governance, I mean, the — the … RITHOLTZ: The self-dealing. FARRELL: … the self-dealing, only pieces of that were even in it because the jet wasn’t in the S-1. They didn’t have to disclose it. The — and the interesting thing about this, I think there’s always like this distinction that people try to make between like, oh, the smart money and the dumb money. And it’s like the smart money is like the Fidelitys and the T. Rowes, and the SoftBanks. And then the dumb money, you know, it’s like — or the, you know, the average retail investor. And so, it’s just so interesting that like he — he captivated the — the quote-unquote, “smart money.” And then the minute this was all made public, everything was there, the world saw it and just said like what is — like this is insane. RITHOLTZ: I’m nursing a pet theory that it was Twitter that demolished him because people just had a — I remember the day of this filing, Twitter just blew up with — like a — a million people are taking an S-1 apart sentence by sentence and the most outrageous things bubbled up to the top of Twitter. And it was very clear that they were dead in the water. There was going to be no IPO, and the dreams of these crazy valuations seemed to crash and burn with the — the IPO filing, which — which kind of raises a question about, you know, how was all of this corporate governance so amiss. All the self-dealings that were allowed, so my — my favorite one was he personally trademarked the word We and then charged the company $6 million to use it. Again, he — he’s given these sort of crazy disclosure explanations. Hey, I’m only allowed to say this. But it seems he bought a bunch of buildings in order to flip them to WeWork at a profit. I don’t understand how the board — we mentioned Theranos — here’s the parallel. How did the board tolerate just the most egregious, avarice, lack of interest in the company and only enrichment of oneself? How does the board of directors tolerate that? FARRELL: I know that was — I think, if anything, from this whole story that just floored us was exactly that this board, I mean, it was a — it was a real like heavy-hitting board of directors. They’re not — and all financial people as opposed to Theranos, you know, it was like people who didn’t really know … RITHOLTZ: Politics and generals, and … FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: … secretaries of states, right? It was a — and a lot of elderly men who were smitten with her. I mean, like men in — what was Kissinger on the board? He was 90 something. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: So — so with this though, the other thing that’s shocking is, you know, most founders of a successful company, they live a — a reasonably comfortable lifestyle, but the thought process is, hey, one day we’ll go public and my gravy train will come in, and I’ll have a — a high, you know, eight, nine, 10-figure net worth. Early in this time line, he was paying himself cashing out stock worth tens of millions, in some cases, hundreds of millions of dollars way, way early in — in — the company was five years old and he was worth a couple 100 million liquid, and god knows how much on paper. Again, how — how does the board allow that to take place? FARRELL: Yeah, that was — and a board, investors kind of signing off on this were jumping into it, I mean, seeing that he’s going to sell a lot of stock each round. I mean, now there does seem to be a shift and it’s kind of a scary one that this is like more private companies, the founders are selling more and more. But back then, you didn’t really see this very much. And one of the things I find very interesting is he was very much following the Travis Kalanick that — for Uber CEO’s playbook, and literally like following it that like going after the same investors, going around the world. Travis had raised more money than anyone before. Travis, every step of the way, made a huge point of, “I’m all-in. I’m never selling any stock” … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … until he was kicked out of the company basically. So, Adam followed his playbook, but each step of the way was — said he took money out and was like prepare about it. RITHOLTZ: I mean, he was very wealthy for a — a scrappy startup founder, 14, 15, 16. You would think, hey, he’s — maybe he’s making a decent living, but not hundreds of millions of dollars, it’s kind of amazing. FARRELL: Or like having many, many, many houses. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: And they were like he didn’t hide the way in which he was living, having houses all over the world, jet setting all over the world. You know, and, in fact, he almost like, you know, wanted everyone to know that was part of his like a lure. RITHOLTZ: So, when the IPO filing in 2019, when — when that blows up, it seems to have a real impact on Silicon Valley for a while. Suddenly, high-spending, fast-growing, profitless companies looked bad, and now we’re back to we want profit growth and revenue, but that really didn’t last all that long, did it? FARRELL: No, it was unbelievable. I mean, we also — Eliot and I joked that we rewrote the epilogue like five times because, at first, we wrote it saying like this is the fallout. RITHOLTZ: Oh, look at the impact, right. FARRELL: Yeah, and it was — I mean, Masayoshi Son had his own mea culpa like, you know, I believe in Adam, I shouldn’t have, I made mistakes. But also, I want my companies to be profitable now … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … like I’m going to invest in these companies or the companies have invested already, they should be profitable. IPO investors, public market investors were totally spooled by money-losing companies. Then — you know, then came the pandemic, then came the Fed pumping money into the system. And then, you know, now, in some ways, it’s like, wow, WeWork always like made — generated revenue and losses. It’s like now today we have Rivian … RITHOLTZ: Right, Rivian and … FARRELL: … pre-revenue … RITHOLTZ: … Lucid and, you know, it’s all potential. Maybe it works out, maybe Amazon buys 100,000 trucks from them, but that’s kind of — that’s a possibility. And, you know, more — more than just the Fed, you had the CARES Act, you had a ton of money flow into the system, but it doesn’t necessarily flow to venture-funded outfits, it’s just a lot of cash sloshing around. Is that — is that a fair statement? FARRELL: Oh, completely. RITHOLTZ: So how quickly were the lessons of WeWork forgotten? FARRELL: Incredibly quickly. I mean, it felt like it had — it like it changed everything for a few months. I mean, the other part of it was Masayoshi Son had — had raised a $100 billion fund, biggest fund ever to invest in tech companies. He was literally about to close his second fund. It was … RITHOLTZ: $108 billion, right? FARRELL: Yeah, another $100 billion fund to just go and like pour into companies. RITHOLTZ: More, right. FARRELL: And then I mean, we’ve heard from all these people who are out meeting sovereign wealth funds, Saudi Arabia, and they were just like every meeting, it was like what about WeWork. And, you know, one of the things we’ve heard was he was pushing for it to just go public, you know, or to — or not to — to not go public because he didn’t want to take the mark. He didn’t want to make … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … all of this public. And we have a scene in the book about this that Masa tries to tell him to call off the IPO and tried to force his hand, and Adam is kind of like … RITHOLTZ: Confuses. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: Right. It’s — it’s — it’s really quite — it’s really quite astounding that we end up with — what did he burn through, $20 billion, $30 billion? FARRELL: More than $10 billion, I think. RITHOLTZ: Wow. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: That — that’s a lot of cash. FARRELL: Towards him essentially. RITHOLTZ: So — so here’s the curveball question to ask you. So, you’re now a business reporter at the Times. WeWork obviously isn’t the only company led by an eccentric leader. What are you reporting on now? What’s the next potential WeWork out there? FARRELL: You know, I’m — I’m just getting started. This is just a couple of weeks in, but — so it’s — I don’t quite know what the next WeWork is. I almost feel like there’s a lot of mini WeWorks out there, whether it’s — you know, the company is in the SPAC market. Some of these unicorns, I mean, there’s so many — so many red flags around these companies like I was saying before like if founders taking money out very early and, you know, investors are not really caring and just wanting to get into them, getting these massive packages — pay packages, compensation. So, I think there’s — there’s so many different places to look. I don’t get the sense that there’s one company now that’s sort of — of size of Adam Neumann. I think there are just a lot of many ones. I mean, he was a pretty like captivating and just insane in so many — larger than life in so many ways. But I have no doubt we’re going to find one of them fairly soon. There’ll be more. RITHOLTZ: And — and what do you think the future holds for Adam Neumann himself? He — we — we have to talk about the golden parachute, so not only does SoftBank refinance a couple hundred million dollars in loans that he has outstanding, they give him $183 million package and essentially purchased $1 billion of his stock, so he leaves WeWork as a billionaire. FARRELL: Yeah, it was — I mean, it was just an incredible thing. And I mean, then he got this pay package that they agreed to as part of the bailout. I mean, WeWork, once the IPO was called off, was on the verge of bankruptcy. They were going to run out of money in a couple of months so they had to do this very quickly. They were laid off thousands upon thousands of people. But basically, as part of the negotiations to get Adam Neumann to give up his super voting shares, these potent shares that would have let him continue to keep control of the company to do that, they struck this pay package. And I mean, it’s kind of interesting when we talk about the power founders right now that it wasn’t a wakeup call for Silicon Valley to be more wary of giving this power to founders, like when you saw the price tag that Adam Neumann extracted the cost of pushing out a founder who’s kind of a disastrous founder at some point. RITHOLTZ: Yeah. I — I remember reading that and thinking Son played it terribly. He could’ve said, “Hey, listen, I got $100 billion worth of other investments. If I take a $10 billion write-down, it’ll hurt, but I still have plenty of other money. If this goes belly up, you’re broke, you’re a disaster except I’ll give you $50 million or else you’re just impoverished. Good luck finding the lawsuits for the rest of your life.” That would have been the play, but he didn’t — I guess, it was the other second fund he didn’t want to put at risk. Why — why didn’t he hardball Neumann because I thought Son had all the leverage in that negotiation? FARRELL: That was one of the — like the enduring mysteries, I think, of this whole story because all the things you said are right, plus Adam had taken out so much money in terms. He had so much lent against his stock at $47 billion. I mean … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … J.P. Morgan, UBS, Credit Suisse, they have lent him hundreds of millions of dollars, and he would have gotten to default. He like didn’t necessarily have the liquidity to pay back everything … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … he had borrowed. So, it was — I mean, it’s kind of amazing in terms of his negotiating skills that Masa and SoftBank. It was led by Marcelo Claure who’s now the WeWork Executive Chairman. They blinked first. RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: They gave Adam a lot. And I totally agree with you, one of the things I’ve heard it was just like the interest of time. They just wanted it done $10 billion or whatever. It doesn’t mean that much. They want to just keep on moving, keep on … RITHOLTZ: Right. FARRELL: … spending, not distract too much and just get this done, but it’s crazy. I mean, the … RITHOLTZ: So … FARRELL: … the time value of money … RITHOLTZ: … could be the greatest golden parachute in the history of corporate America. I mean, I — I’m hard pressed to think of anybody who, on the way out of a — a failing company, and it was a failing company at that moment, squeeze more money out of — out of their board. FARRELL: And just to say, I mean, Andrew Ross Sorkin at — in this first big interview with Adam that he gave was — I mean, Adam defended it in different ways. I mean, Andrew very much pushed him on like why that was okay and … RITHOLTZ: Very aggressively. FARRELL: Yeah. RITHOLTZ: That was early November. And he was sort of contrite and, you know, a little shifty, but for the most part surprisingly transparent. I was — when I was prepping for this, I watched this and, you know, you could see how he constructs that, you know, reality distortion field. But there was definitely more humility than we have seen previously. I don’t want to say humble, but just closer on that spectrum. Clearly, he wants to have a future in — in business, and he needs to offer a few mea culpas of his own. FARRELL: It does feel like this is the first step on the come back toward … RITHOLTZ: Yeah. FARRELL: … Adam Neumann. RITHOLTZ: I think that’s going to be a pretty big uphill battle. That’s going to be quite the Kilimanjaro to — to — to mount given what a debacle … FARRELL: The interesting thing just so in terms of his next step is I — I agree with you, there’s an uphill battle in terms of maybe getting people to — to give him money, but he now has a lot of money and from … RITHOLTZ: Family office, yeah. FARRELL: Exactly. Anecdotally, it sounds like a lot of people are very happy to take his money. So, to begin, that’s, you know, he’s seeding a lot of things that you — who knows where they’re going to go. RITHOLTZ: Interesting. So, I only have you for a limited amount of time. Let me jump to our favorite questions we ask all of our guests starting with, you spend a lot of time researching and writing during the lockdown. Did you have any time to stream anything on Netflix or Amazon Prime? FARRELL: There — I mean, there’s still a lot of like downtime. I — I probably watched not much. You know, there — there was downtime, and I did have a few shows that were … RITHOLTZ: Give us one or two favorites. FARRELL: … Little Fires Everywhere. I really liked Never Have I Ever. RITHOLTZ: I just started watching the last week, it’s quite charming. FARRELL: Yeah, it’s really good. RITHOLTZ: Anything Mindy Kaling does is quite amusing. FARRELL: She is amazing. Schitt’s Creek, we got through the whole — that was with my favorite pandemic. RITHOLTZ: So, the — the funny thing about that is the first episode, too, were like – it’s like — it’s like succession. You don’t like any of these people. The difference being in Schitt’s Creek, you quickly start to warm up to them and they start to reveal their own path to rehabilitation of — of themselves. FARRELL: It just gets better like ever — and then it’s so devastating at the end. RITHOLTZ: So, it was really great, right? That – that was one of my favorites. Let’s talk about your mentors, who helped shape your career as a business journalist. FARRELL: I guess, my earliest mentor as a journalist, in general, was in college, I’d always thought about journalism, and I got an internship with then, I think, a septuagenarian journalist. He — his name was Gabe Pressman. I grew up in New York. He was an NBC … RITHOLTZ: Sure. FARRELL: … journalist. This is sort of the political head honcho of local journalism. I worked for him for a summer. He was in his, I think, late 70s. And he was just the most energetic, passionate journalist I’ve ever met. He was still like chasing after mayors, grilling them. It was — with the Senate race it was Hillary in the Senate race. And it was like the most fun summer I’ve ever had and seeing his energy. And — and he — he passed away a few years ago, but literally, he started blogging into his 90s. And he would joke. He would say, “You know, my wife really wants me to like take a step back and work and teach at Columbia Journalism School,” where he had gone. And he was like, “I’m just not ready like, at some point, like scale back, and he never really did. So, he — I would say he was my first mentor. Just seeing like that, it is the most fun job in the world. He just was seeing that day in and day out. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about books. What are some of your favorites and — and what are you reading right now? FARRELL: Sure. I’ll start, you know, I always wish I read more fiction, but it’s like I always get pulled in, especially the business, genre. RITHOLTZ: Sure. FARRELL: So right at this minute, I’m reading “Trillions” by Robbin Wigglesworth. It’s really good. It’s about like index funds, sort of I’m learning a lot from it, the rise of Vanguard. RITHOLTZ: He was my guest last week just so you know … FARRELL: Oh, awesome. RITHOLTZ: … or two weeks ago. FARRELL: I’m midway through, but I’m, yeah, learning … RITHOLTZ: Really interesting. FARRELL: … a ton from it. I just read Anderson Cooper’s book about the Vanderbilts. It’s — I thought it was really great and it’s so interesting. You know, he talks — it starts like the Gilded Age. And you just see so many like eerie and kind of parallels between our age right now and just like the level of like wealth creation and what it leads to. So, I really enjoyed that. I read — this is a little bit dated, but “Say Nothing” by Patrick Radden Keefe. It’s about the troubles in Northern Ireland. It is — I mean, it’s — it’s very sad, but I — and it’s pretty long, and I just could not put it down. It’s … RITHOLTZ: Really? FARRELL: … so great. Yeah, I can’t recommend that one highly enough. RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite interesting. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who was interested in a career in either journalism or — or business? FARRELL: In terms of journalism, I would just say jump in. I mean, it’s such a — as opposed to business, I felt like when I graduated from college, you know, so many people had jobs that they were going to make, you know, a decent amount of money. And with the journalism, you just have to find your way in and a lot of its internships. And it just — the path is hard. There’s no straight line. So, I would just say for journalism, it really helps to just jump into the first job you can get. Work really hard in it. And you just always have to keep — there’s no straight line, but jump and learn from it, meet people, find your mentors everywhere you go, and just keep going. You learn so much on the job. I went to Journalism School at Columbia. It was a super fun year, but it’s like within two days of working as a journalist, you just learn so much you can never learn in school. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of IPOs, capital market, business journalism today that you didn’t know 15, 20 years ago when you were first starting out? FARRELL: Okay. What I think have learned and probably the most in writing this book is you think people are rational players, and you think that titans of business are supposed to behave in sort of a rational way, and that these, you know, these checkmarks, these — like a T. Rowe Price or something or Fidelity that they’re going to do a certain amount of work looking at things. And I think the level of irrationality in business of just relationships of people, sort of not necessarily making rational decisions and just going with their gut and going with the people they like, I think, are cool like that that overrides a lot of things. I think it’s just so much less rational than you think it would be. And sometimes the things that are on their face seem really crazy and insane, maybe are. RITHOLTZ: Quite, quite fascinating. We have been speaking with Maureen Farrell. She is the co-author of “The Cult of We: WeWork, Adam Neumann, and the Great Startup Delusion.” If you enjoyed this conversation, well, be sure to check out any of our previous 400 interviews. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, wherever your podcasts from. We love your comments, feedback, and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. Follow me on Twitter @ritholtz. You can sign up for my daily reads at ritholtz.com. I would be remiss if I did not thank the team that helps put together these conversations each week. Charlie Vollmer is my Audio Engineer. Atika Valbrun is our Project Manager. Michael Batnick is my Director of Research. Paris Wald is my Producer. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: Maureen Farrell appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureDec 15th, 2021

At least 182 high-ranking congressional staffers have violated a federal conflict-of-interest law with overdue disclosure of their personal stock trades

Watchdog groups say the trend shows Congress isn't taking the STOCK Act seriously. Rebecca Zisser/InsideriStock; Skye Gould/Insider Insider analyzed congressional staff financial filings from January 2020 to mid-September 2021. Reporters found at least 182 instances in which senior staffers were late disclosing stock trades. "A lot of people just ignore the law, and it goes unenforced," one ethics watchdog said. At least 182 of Capitol Hill's most influential and highest-paid staffers have blown past deadlines to detail and disclose their personal stock trades — violating a federal conflict-of-interest law in the process, an Insider analysis of congressional financial documents reveals. The staffers' failure to properly disclose the transactions come with a laundry list of excuses and rationalizations. They're also a violation of the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, a 2012 law designed to prevent insider trading and defend against financial conflicts among elected officials and their top aides.Insider's tally includes aides in both the House and the Senate with high-ranking jobs such as chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and communications directors. Also among them are workers known as professional staff members, who serve on congressional committees to advise lawmakers on policy.High-ranking congressional staffers often wield significant influence over their elected bosses. Many also regularly meet with special interests and corporate lobbyists, who could conceivably represent a company or industry in which a congressional staffer personally invests. That's why a law President Barack Obama signed almost a decade ago obligated senior staff to disclose their stock trades, just as lawmakers had to.The late-reporting problem is decidedly bipartisan. The violations split almost exactly down the middle between Democrats and Republicans.The 182-person finding is part of Insider's exhaustive Conflicted Congress project, in which journalists reviewed nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers.Watchdog groups say the sheer number of late filings is evidence of a far-too-lax attitude on Capitol Hill about ethics rules. The congressional staffers' infractions come on top of STOCK Act disclosure violations by at least 48 members of Congress.Compounding the problem, ethics watchdogs say, is a secretive enforcement process. Both lawmakers and their staff work out any breaches of the law in private. Few are open with the public about why they failed to disclose their stock trades properly or how they worked to fix the issue."Your research is showing that when it is not disclosed a lot of people just ignore the law and it goes unenforced," said Craig Holman, a government-affairs lobbyist at Public Citizen who helped shape the STOCK Act and wants to make it stronger.He called Insider's findings "stunning" and said all documents detailing people's trades, and any enforcement steps taken, should be made public.The chief of staff for Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican of Arkansas, appeared to be late disclosing numerous trades in 2020.Gary Cameron/ReutersStaffers have lots of excusesInsider reached out to 48 staffers whose trades appeared to be disclosed the latest, as well as those who appeared to be the most frequent STOCK Act violators. Thirty-four of them didn't respond, weren't forthcoming about why their disclosures were late, or refused to share how they attempted to comply with the law. Some who provided information about why they were late said they forgot or misunderstood the deadlines despite receiving ethics training that all staff are required to take, both when they get hired and then periodically over the course of their Capitol Hill careers. Others blamed a financial advisor or spouse for failing to tell them about the trade in a timely manner. Still others described a convoluted, difficult-to-understand disclosure process that didn't always accommodate their various financial situations — including unexpected inheritances or gifts to family members — despite their best efforts to comply with the STOCK Act.Stock trades exceeding $1,000 from senior congressional staffers, their spouses, and any dependent children are supposed to be a matter of public record. Yet many senior staffers who were late disclosing their trades were unwilling to open up about what happened or whether they faced a penalty.Douglas Coutts, the chief of staff for Sen. Tom Cotton, a Republican of Arkansas who is making early moves toward a 2024 presidential run, appeared to be late disclosing numerous trades in 2020, each valued between $1,001 and $15,000. He listed trades in companies including the insurance provider Chubb Limited; Google's parent company, Alphabet; and the healthcare company Abbott Labs, known for its COVID-19 testing capabilities. Cotton sits on the Judiciary Committee, which has scrutinized large tech companies like Google over antitrust concerns.At least one document appears to show that Coutts disclosed some trades nearly two months past a federally mandated deadline.An attorney for Cotton's office declined to explain why Coutts' disclosures appeared to be habitually tardy, and she called the financial-disclosure requirements "onerous.""He is all squared away," Cotton's general counsel, Meg McGaughey, said of Coutts, declining to elaborate further on the documents.Bryan Petit, a senior professional staff member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, chaired by the conservative Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, appeared to be about a year and nine months late disclosing a JPMorgan trade from 2019. The trade was made by his spouse and was valued at $15,001 to $50,000."Senator Manchin's staff is in full compliance with Senate Ethics Committee requirements," Manchin's communications director, Sam Runyon, said without elaborating. Walter Shaub, who leads the Government Ethics Initiative at the nonpartisan Project on Government Oversight, said he was shocked by the majority of staffers who weren't forthcoming, given their access to lawmakers and lobbyists and knowledge about pending legislation."We have entrusted these people with great power. They owe us great transparency," he said. "They are not even giving us minimal transparency.""The public will have questions if these things keep happening," he added. "And there is nothing on the culture of the Hill that suggests this will stop happening.""There is at least an optics problem," said Jason Briefel, the director of policy and outreach at the Senior Executives Association, a nonprofit, nonpartisan professional association representing career federal civil servants. "All the members and staff, these are significant numbers."Some congressional staffers were forthcoming.Mike Henry, the chief of staff for Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat of Virginia, was 1 to 1 1/2 years late disclosing five sales on different dates in 2019 that his spouse made in Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. stock. The biotech company develops treatments for serious diseases such as cystic fibrosis, and it has faced backlash from state regulators for high prices. Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton's 2016 vice-presidential running mate, serves on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which has the power to regulate the healthcare industry and oversees government healthcare programs.Henry's highest Vertex sale was valued at $50,001 to $100,000. He told Insider the Senate Ethics Committee informed him that he'd forgotten to file a disclosure about it. He said that he paid a fine — the standard late-filing penalty is $200 — but that the committee didn't give him a receipt."I will certainly work harder to avoid such oversights in the future, as disclosing information like this is important to me," he said.The office of Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Democrat of Ohio, did not explain why his state director, John Ryan, appeared to be about 3 ½ years late disclosing a 2018 purchase worth up to $15,000 in TotalEnergies SE, a petroleum refining company. Trudy Perkins, Brown's communication director, said Ryan paid a late fee after the Senate Select Committee on Ethics notified him about the late reporting. One example of a staffer tardy in acknowledging a particularly large number of trades is Julie Leschke, a deputy chief of staff for Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin. Leschke and her husband, Dr. John Leschke, appeared to be more than two years late reporting at least 12 stock trades in companies that included Facebook, Amazon, and Alibaba. Taken together, the trades were worth at least $131,006 and as much as $440,000. Separate trades that appeared to be late were listed in several other documents she filed. Johnson's office attributed the late filing to a change in reporting requirements. In 2013, Leschke became state director and deputy chief of staff under a work category known as a "political fund designee" — someone who is allowed to engage in campaign activity, including fundraising, outside of Senate hours. Under Senate ethics rules, she only had to file annual personal financial disclosures in that role. Alexa Henning, deputy chief of staff for Johnson, said that Leschke filed her annual reports as required. Then, in 2018, a cost-of-living salary adjustment bumped Leschke into a different worker category that then required regular reporting of stock transactions, she said. "Senate Ethics noticed this in December of 2020 and contacted her," Henning said. "She worked closely with Ethics to quickly remedy. No waiver was necessary." Multiple other late filers didn't dispute the tardiness of their financial reporting, instead offering pandemic-related reasons for the lapses. Competing challenges mentioned include juggling work-from-home duties and full-time parenting while schools were closed; liquidating cash to bring home college-age students who would have otherwise been stranded abroad as international travel bans took hold; and caring for older relatives rather than leaving them isolated during quarantine. The staff director for Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, was late disclosing stock trades.Alex Wong/Getty ImagesComplex rules and minimal oversight Senate staffers receive automated email notifications from ethics officials when they're late disclosing their personal stock trades. But House staff face a far more complicated process and less oversight, Insider has learned. House staffers typically have to notice on their own that they forgot to disclose a stock trade on time. Then it's up to them to call up the House Ethics Committee to explain what happened and have a conversation with attorneys about whether they owe a fine or can apply for a waiver.  Gary Andres, the staff director for Rep. Kevin Brady, the top Republican on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee, said he didn't know one of his stock-trade disclosures was more than a year late until Insider asked him about it. He checked on it and said he spoke with the House Ethics Committee and "the matter has been resolved." The missing trade was valued at $500,000 to $1 million and was conducted by his spouse in Union Pacific Corp."My financial advisor filed this in January but due to a clerical error it was not logged in by the Ethic Committee," he said. "Once this clerical error was discovered by my financial advisor he filed it again in 2021."Robert Marcus, the chief of staff to Rep. Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat of Illinois, filed a disclosure roughly eight months late disclosing a purchase in Insulet Corp., a medical-device company whose products include a wearable insulin dispenser to treat diabetes.  Marcus told Insider he recently called the House Ethics Committee to let it know and the panel assessed a $200 fine, which he said he would pay. Marcus said he forgot to disclose the trade, valued between $1,001 and $15,000, on time. He said that he didn't trade large amounts of stock but that investing was fun for him and something he'd been curious about since childhood. "It wasn't nefarious," he said of missing the deadline. "It was just a missed opportunity or a missed deadline that was off.""I'm just embarrassed of myself for missing it because I do care about these things," he added. "I do care about ethics in this place. And I'm very upset at the way things are going around here nowadays in that department with some people, but I don't want to be one of them."The communications director for Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut was late disclosing stock trades.Ken Cedeno-Pool/Getty ImagesSmall consequences Most of the congressional staffers' late disclosures aren't nefarious — they happen because people aren't paying attention to the rules or are preoccupied with other parts of their lives, said a former, nonpartisan staffer for the Senate ethics panel.But the person also partly blamed the lack of serious consequences for filing disclosures late."If there is no real consequence for doing it wrong, what is the reason to really pay attention?" said the person, who requested anonymity to protect professional relationships.Staffers are supposed to pay a federally mandated fine starting at $200 after they've exceeded their deadline by 30 days. The only way to otherwise get right with the law after a tardy disclosure is to explain the reason behind the violation to the House or Senate ethics committees, which have the power to grant waivers that get staff out of paying a fine but still put them in compliance with the STOCK Act.These waivers are supposed to be granted only "in extraordinary cases," according to ethics manuals.No public ledger exists disclosing whether and when congressional staffers paid a fine or got a waiver. This makes it impossible to independently determine the extent to which congressional staffers are held accountable by Congress when they break the STOCK Act's disclosure rules. The only way to try to verify what happened is to go straight to the source of the violation. But only five senior staffers provided Insider with copies of their waivers. One was Maria McElwain, the communications director for Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut. She disclosed 18 trades late that occurred over four months in 2019, the most recent of which appears to have happened about a year before it was disclosed. McElwain attributed the gaffe to miscommunication with her financial advisor about federal reporting requirements.The Senate Select Committee on Ethics waived her late fee after she fessed up, she said. "Since this was my first mistake and I confirmed that I had developed communication safeguards to ensure that it wouldn't happen again, I was granted a penalty waiver," McElwain told Insider. That waiver appears to have covered trades worth $32,018 to $305,000 and included investments in Home Depot, Apple, and Verizon Communications. If staffers don't disclose their stock trades by the deadline but have a reasonable excuse, then the Senate Select Committee on Ethics would likely waive their fee, said a senior Senate staff member.They were also likely to get excused if it was just their first time, said the senior Senate staffer, who had no record of improperly disclosing stock trades but spoke with Insider to help explain the relationship between the Senate staff and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. The Senate Select Committee on Ethics trains congressional staffers on how to fill out the financial documents, and some professional staff who work for committees even get ethics refresher courses focusing "on topics of relevance," including how to follow the STOCK Act, according to the senior Senate aide, who was granted anonymity to speak candidly.The House and the Senate also have attorneys in each Ethics Committee at the ready in case staff have any questions or want to discuss issues in their reports, three former congressional ethics staff told Insider. Holman said he thought all STOCK Act waivers should be made public to be able to determine whether they were being granted only in extraordinary cases."Sometimes waivers are justified — and that would be compliance — but we should be able to scrutinize the grounds by which waivers are being issued," he said. Shaub also raised concerns about the circumstances under which ethics committees were choosing to grant waivers."In the executive branch, 'I didn't know' or 'I forgot' will not get you out of the $200 fine," said Shaub, who previously served as the director at the US Office of Government Ethics. "The standard is supposed to be 'unusual hardship.' Not caring enough about ethics to know the rules isn't 'unusual hardship.' In fact, it's anything but unusual in Congress."The chief of staff for Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican of Iowa, said her finances were complicated and that she wasn't always able to disclose her finances on time.Andrew Harnik-Pool/Getty ImagesMurky disclosure rulesInsider reviewed every stock trade disclosed by high-level congressional staffers from January 1, 2020, to September 13, 2021. Their trades are listed in documents known as periodic transaction reports, which, for congressional staffers, are not available to the public online and must be obtained either through a cumbersome records-request process or by using a little-known computer terminal in congressional office buildings in Washington, DC.For the most part, Capitol Hill staff members are required to report their stock trades regularly only if they earn a congressional salary starting at $132,552 annually. That's generally the salary minimum for senior aides, but many other jobs on the Hill providing tech support or financial management for offices have similar compensation.All of these job descriptions appeared among the 182 people Insider identified as having submitted their disclosures late. Only four of the total identified appeared to be nonpartisan staff. The extent to which other Capitol Hill office employees with lower salaries trade stocks is unknown because they don't have to disclose it.Senior congressional staffers have 30 days to disclose a trade, or 45 days if they learned about a trade a few days after it happened, such as when a financial advisor made it and didn't notify them right away. The first penalty is $200 regardless of how late a staffer was, the number of companies the staffer invested in, or how much the staffer invested. Increasingly higher fines follow if they continue to be late — potentially costing tens of thousands of dollars in extreme cases, though Insider hasn't found evidence of staff or members of Congress paying such large fines.While filers are, by law, considered late after 30 days, they still have another 30-day "grace period" before congressional officials might fine them. Insider's analysis identified disclosures that ranged from as little as one day late to others that appeared to be four years late.A former investigative counsel at the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body that investigates ethics concerns and complaints in the House, said cases did emerge in which it could be hard for people to figure out whether they're supposed to submit a report. The former investigative counsel, who asked not to be named to speak candidly, offered the example of a spouse leaving a company and triggering a repurchase of their stock holdings.Some senior staff members told Insider that certain circumstances could make it harder to report their finances in a timely way. Lisa Goeas, the chief of staff for Republican Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa, called her finances "complicated.""My family had several transactions involving family businesses over the past few years that resulted in the trusts and underlying assets that I disclose," she said.Goeas said she worked closely with the Senate Ethics Committee on her reports to comply with the STOCK Act, saying, "I want to get them right." But she still has filed six disclosures late in seven years, and while she said she received a waiver for the first late-filing fine, she said she paid the others and they were in the range of $200 to $400. Goeas said that she did not direct or control the investments and that in some cases she filed her report past the deadline because the trust didn't provide her with needed information on time. Rep. Abigail Spanberger, a Democrat of Virginia, introduced the bipartisan TRUST in Congress Act, which would require all members of Congress put certain investment assets in a blind trust.Win McNamee/Getty ImagesDon't hold your breath for a stronger STOCK ActGovernment experts say it's far past time to make the STOCK Act stronger. James Thurber, a professor at American University who is a congressional-studies scholar, said that for starters there should be more enforcement measures to ensure congressional staffers submit their financial disclosures on time."We should have transparency about that," he said. "They should abide by the rules."  Holman of Public Citizen said Congress and staff might better comply with the law if fines were higher and if people had to publicly disclose their violations "so that there is political pressure and political price for this." The public can get immediate access to staff's financial disclosures only through accessing five computers on Capitol Hill — three on the Senate side and two on the House side — and some open-government experts want staff to post all their financial disclosures online just as members of Congress do.Even when accessed, some periodic transaction reports may leave out details. While reporting this story, Insider viewed documents that showed the disclosures sometimes contain private, confidential notes that are visible only to a staffer and the Ethics Committee. The notes in some cases can help to explain why a trade has been disclosed late or can even contain crucial details showing the staffer hasn't run afoul of the law. Briefel at the Senior Executives Association urged caution against online disclosures of staffers' information given the potential it could create for doxxing and other kinds of attacks on public servants."This conversation probably needs to be part of a broader conversation about the balance between privacy and openness for public officials in general," he said. Yet he and good-government advocates agree the self-policing strategy Congress established in the STOCK Act has proved inadequate. Even its champions concede the law amounts to little more than a toothless annoyance. "Congress doesn't like to punish itself," the former Senate Ethics Committee staffer told Insider. Several bills reintroduced this congressional session have sought to make the STOCK Act stronger.A bipartisan House bill called the Transparent Representation Upholding Service and Trust in Congress Act would require lawmakers, their spouses, and dependent children to place certain assets into a blind trust, relinquishing all control of their assets to a third party. The Ban Conflicted Trading Act, introduced in both the Senate and the House, would prohibit members of Congress and senior staff from buying individual stocks.But the bills have languished, and no formal hearings or votes on them appear imminent.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 13th, 2021

How Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi went from doing research in a college lab to cofounding the $38 billion big data startup — and what he"s learned about leadership along the way

The most important groundwork for building the company culture was a strong founding team, Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi tells Insider. Ali Ghodsi, CEO of Databricks.Databricks CEO Ali Ghodsi cofounded $38 billion Databricks with University of California, Berkeley researchers. The most important groundwork for building company culture was a strong founding team, Ghodsi says. Databricks' next move will be growing its workforce. It's set to reach 3,000 employees this year. Visit Insider's Transforming Business homepage for more stories. When Swedish-Iranian computer scientist Ali Ghodsi arrived at the University of California, Berkeley for a one-year research opportunity, he had no intention of staying with the university or founding a startup.But Ghodsi, one of Insider's 100 People Transforming Business in 2021, stuck around. He extended his time in the research program and, shortly after, cofounded the $38 billion big data startup Databricks with other UC Berkeley researchers, including executive chairman Ion Stoica and chief technologist Matei Zaharia.When the team behind Databricks first started the company, they wanted to make a difference in the cloud industry, Ghodsi tells Insider. Databricks' core products started out as projects in the research lab. AI and cloud weren't big, but Databricks decided to bet on those technologies, along with the decision to build open source software, Ghodsi says. The combination of these three became huge advantages for Databricks and eight years after its founding, those bets have seemingly paid off. Ghodsi holds the title of CEO and, in August 2021, Databricks raised $1.6 billion at a $38 billion valuation. The startup's valuation soared sixfold in less than two years.Along the way, the Databricks founders learned lessons that helped set the culture of the company, one that's innovative and not afraid to make big bets despite others believing those bets are wrong, according to Ghodsi."People were really skeptical," Ghodsi tells Insider. "People think you have to do support and services. We believe you can build a different business model."Databricks is now growing to take on big data competitors like Snowflake. The startup is on track to end this year with 3,000 employees (called "Bricksters"), up from 2,500 in October, with plans to keep hiring at an accelerated pace. While many tech companies hit the brakes on hiring during the pandemic, Databricks hit the gas on hiring engineers. As the company prepares for the next stage, Ghodsi shares how he went from programming video games as a kid to CEO — and his advice on maintaining an innovative startup culture.A lifelong programmer, Ghodsi traveled to California to research experimental data projectsGrowing up in Sweden, Ghodsi says he started programming games as a child."Now, you need a big studio and artists to start a game," Ghodsi said. "In the late 80s, you could do this on your own. That's what got me started. I loved computers."In college, the hobby grew into a consulting firm, writing and selling software to businesses. Ghodsi pursued a PhD in computer science and took a faculty job in Sweden doing research on data processing and computer systems. Ghodsi arrived at UC Berkeley in 2009 for a year-long program to research machine learning and data processing.The program was so much fun, Ghodsi stayed for another year, and then another, finding each year more interesting than the previous one, he said. Eventually, Ghodsi decided to keep working at UC Berkeley, which he called the "perfect match." Working at European universities, Ghodsi says he was often shut down when proposing out-of-the-box research ideas, but "UC Berkeley was different. They have a, 'You can do it all' attitude. You can start writing software and change the world and question assumptions."Ghodsi went on to cofound Databricks out of a UC Berkeley research lab in 2013.Databricks founders invest in company culture from the get-goThe biggest lessons Ghodsi learned from cofounding and leading Databricks weren't about how to grow a startup or sell products — they were about managing people. Early on, the leaders realized the importance of a strong founding team to set the precedent for the type of workplace the company wants to be, according to Ghodsi. "The first 20 people you hire are the culture of the company," Ghodsi said. "Who you bring in, the first 10 to 20 people will determine what kind of company you'll be for years."Databricks' founding team was extremely innovative, Ghodsi says, with backgrounds in research and creating open source data project Spark. As a result, the company has an innovative culture that isn't afraid to experiment with and research new projects, and it has since built other cloud and AI projects. Databricks also relies on a team-oriented approach to these new ideas, as researchers collaborate with each other from all over the world, according to Ghodsi. The founding team focuses on collaboration and research to determine the facts as they make business decisions, which has helped the company be "less political" than others in similar positions, Ghodsi says. Otherwise, as companies grow bigger, different departments within the company may get siloed and start fighting each other."In Databricks, we try to be truth-seeking," Ghodsi said. "We cherish and promote and take care of people who will focus on what's best for the company. Truth-seeking is what helps customers the most." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 10th, 2021

How to get a job at Expensify, the software company that just went public and made 40% of employees on-paper millionaires

Expensify's people operations generalist, Adele Kennedy, discussed the company's unique hiring process and which traits help candidates stand out. Kazi Awal/InsiderAdele Kennedy is a people operations generalist at Expensify.Expensify Expensify's November 10th IPO made many of the 140 employees millionaires on paper.  The software company has a flat organization structure — meaning employees manage themselves.  Expensify employee Adele Kennedy told Insider how candidates can navigate the rigorous hiring process. This article is part of the 'Careers 2.0' series, focused on helping job seekers learn more about getting jobs at notable companies. As dream jobs go, Adele Kennedy couldn't be happier to hold a title she barely knew existed before finding the listing two years ago."It was one of the best things that's ever happened to me," Kennedy said.It was January 2020, and Kennedy had been feeling jaded in the recruiting space. Then she found a posting for "people operations generalist" at the expense management software company Expensify. The opening felt like the perfect opportunity to continue her talent acquisition career while growing in other fields. Today, Kennedy is a proud member of the 140-person team at Expensify, which recently went public on Nov. 10. As Insider previously reported, the IPO made 50 of the company's 140 employees on-paper millionaires — with fully vested options worth $1 million or more at the IPO sale price of $27 a share.In addition to the company's growth, Kennedy pointed to the attractive benefits as appeals for job seekers.For instance, every employee is paid a competitive "San Francisco salary" no matter where they work, Kennedy said. This is in addition to the medical leave, parental leave (for those who are birthing, non-birthing, adopting, or fostering), mental health leave, and unlimited PTO.Expensify is perhaps most unique, however, in that everyone is considered a generalist — free to dabble in any area of the business they want, provided they have the interest and time to pursue it."The autonomy you have to work on the things you care about is huge," Kennedy told Insider. "It's a lot of personal responsibility because I structure my own day. I pick up the things that I want to work on, whether it's this interview, or it's writing a design doc, or it's getting into coding." Expensify has open positions for job seekers at every stage of their career — from student ambassador to intern to engineer. Kennedy walked Insider through the hiring process and shared how interested candidates can stand out. Expensify employees gathered in New York on Nov. 10, 2021, the day of its public offering.ExpensifyA unique (and lengthy) hiring process Expensify's hiring process has 12 steps, and candidates can be cut at any point in the process. Interestingly, they can also pause the process and return to it months, or even years, later. To start, rather than requiring a résumé, Expensify asks candidates four questions when they apply: Do you have a website? What's your coding history? What do you want to do with your life? And how can Expensify help you do that? and How did you hear about us? "We think that a great engineer can come from anywhere," Kennedy said. "We have hired lots of people with non-traditional experience, like self-taught engineers." The candidate will then go through a phone screening, receive an un-timed take-home challenge, and be paired with an engineer who can answer questions and will review their final product. If the candidate passes the take-home challenge, they will meet with an engineer for a second phone call. This call will take at least 45 minutes and is meant to give candidates time to ask questions about the company's structure. The final stage is the day-long "onsite" — a seven- to eight-hour interview (which now takes place virtually due to the pandemic). Over the course of the day, candidates will complete two, one-hour challenges. The rubric for grading these challenges will be shared with the interviewee before they begin the challenges. An engineer will be in the room for the entirety of the challenge to help the candidate if they get stuck.However, candidates are also encouraged to use Google, Stack Overflow, and pieces of old code, Kennedy said. "We're not asking them to solve a problem in a vacuum," she said. "We want them to build something with as many resources as they need to do it like you would in real life." At the end of each challenge, the candidate will present their final results, answer questions from employees, have one-on-one chats about company culture, and ask employees any questions they have in a Q&A.The day ends with a logic problem and a one-on-one conversation with the Expensify CEO, David Barrett. Expensify's hiring process is challenging, but Kennedy said she thinks it has allowed Expensify to find the perfect employees for the company. "This isn't for everybody, but the people who it's for, have been here for eight-plus years," Kennedy said, adding that half the company has been there for over four years. "We're way above the average retention rate of two years for Silicon Valley people." Checking three (but really two) boxesThroughout Expensify's "exhaustive" hiring process, as Kennedy dubs it, the company is looking for three qualities: talent, ambition, and humility. Expensify gauges talent based on how job candidates can succeed at their challenges using the tools at their disposal — without the hand-holding of another engineer. "Talent is focused on basically what you can learn without being directly taught," Kennedy said. "So it is hugely important that they come in with this sort of innate ability that you can develop over time to pick things up." Ambition is shown through a candidate's application responses and conversations. Given its flat organization structure, Expensify needs employees who are self-motivated to achieve. Lastly, humility is based on a candidate's ability to come to an agreement with current employees to solve their challenges, Kennedy said. "Humility isn't saying, 'you have the better solution than I do.' Humility is saying, 'This is my idea, but I also respect your values and your opinions. Let's work towards the best solution we can come up with together.'" Even with all that said, Kennedy told us Expensify's philosophy really boils down to a simple mantra. "We only have two rules here," she said. "Which is get shit done, and don't ruin it for everybody else." Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 9th, 2021

"Punch Me Up to the Gods" is Brian Broome"s first memoir — and it just won the 2021 Kirkus Prize. Here"s how he wrote the book, from utilizing writing communities to reading James Baldwin.

We spoke to author Brian Broome about his Kirkus Prize-winning memoir, his experience with addiction and recovery, and finding community in writing. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.We spoke to author Brian Broome about his Kirkus Prize-winning memoir, "Punch Me Up to the Gods," his experience with addiction and recovery, and finding community in writing.Chatham University; Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/Insider Brian Broome is the author of the 2021 Kirkus Prize-winning memoir "Punch Me Up to the Gods."  We spoke with Broome about writing his first full-length memoir. Broome also mentions various works by authors within his community that inspired him. Brian Broome is the author of the vulnerable 2021 memoir "Punch Me Up to the Gods," which recently won the Kirkus Prize for best non-fiction and received literary accolades from the New York Times' Editors' Pick to Amazon's best books of 2021."Punch Me Up To The Gods" by Brian Broome$13.99 FROM AMAZON$14.71 FROM BOOKSHOP$15.99 FROM BARNES & NOBLEIt's not every day that an author's first full-length memoir wins recognition upon recognition — but if you read "Punch Me Up to the Gods," it's clear why Brian Broome's work is such a hit. In a way that enlightens and educates readers, Broome dives deeply into his own personal experiences growing up as a Black, Queer man in Ohio, from his childhood friend telling him that Blackness is represented by hypermasculinity to his father teaching him to suppress his tears. "Black boys have to be tough but, in doing so, we must also sacrifice our sensitivity, our humanity," he sums up in the first chapter.Sensitivity and humanity, however, seem to be an asset in Broome's writing process, which he describes as both "a lonely pursuit" and a cathartic means of coping. Growing up, Broome enjoyed writing but was told it was a strange pastime because he was a boy and "should've been playing baseball or football." In adulthood, writing has helped him shed the sense of conformity he felt when he was younger.It's exactly what makes Broome's story so powerful: The very skills that he was taught make him weak actually make his story stronger — Broome's vulnerability and personal experience compel readers to approach his words with a curious and empathetic lens, eager to learn more. Brian Broome's first full-length memoir, "Punch Me Up to the Gods," speaks candidly about Broome's experience growing up as a Black, Queer man in Ohio.Andy Johansen PhotographyWhen speaking to Broome, it's obvious that writing is incredibly valuable to him, whether as a means of processing the ongoing pandemic (during which he edited most of his memoir) or guiding him through his years of sobriety. We spoke to Broome to learn more about how his personal experiences, favorite books, and writing community shaped "Punch Me Up to the Gods."Writing serves as an emotional outlet and a way to communicate with the people Broome loves the most.Broome saw the publication of "Punch Me Up to the Gods" as equally exciting and anxiety-inducing.Annie O'Neill, Courtesy of Chatham UniversityAlthough writing "Punch Me Up to the Gods" was cathartic for Broome, he's also transparent on how the writing process — and sharing this writing with the world — is equally anxiety-provoking in how vulnerable you have to be. "It's difficult to embarrass yourself or to admit to your own shortcomings," says Broome. "The day before publication, I had a bit of an anxiety attack when it hit me that I had committed so much of my own dirt to paper, for potentially thousands of people to read."Ultimately, Broome has found this process to be productive and worthwhile. "My family and friends now have a better understanding of why I was such a nightmare for so many years, and we can now have more honest conversations about my life and theirs," he says. "This helps to keep me clean and sober."Famous figures in Black literature greatly influence Broome's writing.Gwendolyn Brooks' famed poem, "We Real Cool," is featured in Broome's memoir.Bettmann / Contributor"Punch Me Up to the Gods" is uniquely influenced by Broome's own experiences while also pulling inspiration from many different works he admires. Broome is quick to mention Gwendolyn Brooks' poem, "We Real Cool," which also appears at the start of the memoir. The introduction that precedes it — by poet Yona Harvey — speaks of the impact James Baldwin has had on Black writers, and how "Punch Me Up to the Gods" is framed around Baldwin's influence constantly appearing throughout the memoir.Broome also credits James Baldwin for bringing visibility to Queer people of color. Baldwin's novel, "Giovanni's Room" was "the first gay story I'd ever read," says Broome. "I remember being excited with the knowledge that gay stories and people could be that beautifully rendered."James Baldwin, one of the authors who inspired Broome as a writer.Sophie Bassouls / GettyHe goes on to share that "even more than his writing, I have always been enthralled by Baldwin's seeming defiance to live in a world that told him in so many ways that he shouldn't exist. It's always that that inspires me about him and so many other queer people of color. The refusal to apologize for existing the way that we are born." Some of the works and authors that have inspired Brian Broome's writing: "The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks: (American Poets Project #19)" by Gwendolyn Brooks; specifically "We Real Cool" "Giovanni's Room" by James Baldwin"The Prophets" by Robert Jones Jr. "Long Division" by Kiese Laymon"The Secret Lives of Church Ladies" by Deesha PhilyawWhile he writes alone, Broome relies on writing communities to stay inspired and connected to other writers.Broome finds that the various panels he speaks on bring him closer to his community of writers.Courtesy of the authorAlthough writing can feel especially lonely during a global pandemic, Broome cares about the writers and works who've inspired him. At the time of the interview, he was preparing for the 1455 Project, a literary arts event that celebrates the art of storytelling.Broome had the opportunity to speak on a virtual panel at the 1455 project with several creatives he admires. "I'm taking part in the event because I know what it's like to sit in that room and then write something," says Broome, going on to explain that events like the 1455 Project connect writers that may create on their own, but can learn from and motivate one another.To describe the connection between storytelling and community, Broome points to bees. Once bees return to the hive after pollination, they will act out their pollination processes to the other bees in the hive. "Even bees tell stories," says Broome — to him, his community of writers is his hive. Through community, Broome has been able to find strength in his writing, his recovery, and himself. "When I was in rehab and I was struggling with drugs and alcohol, I was really waiting to die," he says. "And now the sun is shining, and I just got off the treadmill, and I'm speaking to you.""Punch Me Up To The Gods" by Brian Broome$13.99 FROM AMAZON$14.71 FROM BOOKSHOP$15.99 FROM BARNES & NOBLERead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 8th, 2021

16 unexpected gifts for writers, from creative prompts to an encouraging mug

Celebrate the writer in your life with a gift they'll be excited about, from a book of writing prompts to a "future best-selling author" mug. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.Celebrate the writer in your life with a gift they'll be excited about, from a book of writing prompts to a "future best-selling author" mug.MintChocolateDesigns/Etsy Writers are some of the most creative people, so finding a unique gift can be tough. We put together 16 gifts for writers that are clever and motivating, from journals to fun mugs. Still looking for a gift? Check out our list of the All-Time Best products we've ever tested. It's nearly impossible to get through the day without writing. From professional authors to grocery list creators, we all rely on writing to bring the thoughts inside our heads into action. If there's a writer in your life, they'd almost certainly appreciate a gift that lets them fuel their favorite hobby. No matter their process or interest, these gifts for writers are sure to please even the pickiest wordsmiths. 16 unique gifts for writers that will spark their creativityA stack of creativity cards when they're stuckAmazonWriter Emergency Pack, $15.99, available at AmazonUnderdeveloped characters? Painful plot points? Just plain writer's block? Whatever their sticking point is, these creativity cards can help them push past it. A candle that evokes the smell of booksAmazonBook Club Homesick Candle, from $34, available at Amazon and HomesickA writer's environment has the power to completely shape what they're creating. Help them get into their best headspace with scents reminiscent of the smell of old books. A memoir by one of the all-best best writersAmazon"On Writing" by Stephen King, from $12.99, available at Amazon and BookshopGive them a sneak peek into legendary horror author Stephen King's writing process in this memoir-lecture hybrid of a story. If they're a fan of Stephen King's work, you can pair this with one of his bestselling books.Non-prescription glasses that help with eye strainZenniBluelight Glasses (no prescription), from $9.95, available at ZenniStaring at the computer all day isn't the best for their eyes or their brain, but blue-light-blocking glasses provide a healthier approach to screen time.A subtle nod to their greatest passionUncommon GoodsTypewriter Key Necklace, $70, available at Uncommon GoodsThis subtle and sweet necklace will provide them with a more understated way to show their love for writing. Even for non-writers, this personalized initial necklace is a great and simple option to elevate nearly any look. A monthly book subscriptionBook of the Month; Alyssa Powell/InsiderBook of the Month Membership, from $49.99, available at Book of the MonthThe best writers are often the best readers, and if their reading list is ever-growing, they'll appreciate you effectively gifting them a library at their doorstep. Book of the Month takes much of the decision fatigue out of book shopping, giving them a small but diverse selection of books to select from each month. You can read more about the subscription service here.A paper-saving way to organizeWalmartU Brands Magnetic Dry Erase Calendar Board, $9.96, available at WalmartJuggling multiple projects can be difficult without staying organized. This whiteboard is divided up into a monthly calendar and blank notes section, so they can keep track of upcoming tasks while keeping a zoomed-out look of what's on the horizon. I've owned a version of this whiteboard for over a year and it's definitely helped with organization and time management. A comfy seat wherever they goAmazonSeat Cushion, $35, available at PurpleThis portable seat cushion will help them find a comfortable place to write wherever they go. Gone are the days of stiff coffee shop stools and worn-in library seats. A journal filled with creative promptsBarnes and NoblePiccadilly 300 Writing Prompts Journal, $7.32, available at WalmartJournaling is an excellent way to make sense of overwhelming thoughts — and journals specifically designed with writing prompts can serve the same purpose for authors. This one has 300 prompts that focus more on fostering creativity than specific writing skills. A mug that always reminds them of their missionCelebrate the writer in your life with a gift they'll be excited about, from a book of writing prompts to a "future best-selling author" mug.MintChocolateDesigns/EtsyFuture Bestselling Author Mug, $14.99, available at EtsySet the tone for their day of writing by reminding them of their purpose before they finish their morning coffee. Plus, you can personalize it by adding their name on the back for no extra charge.A fun story creation gameAmazonThe Storymatic Classic, $29.95, available at Amazon Help them to create a story from scratch with this set of over 500 cards that will practically do the work for them. Great for non-writers and writers alike, this is also a great gift for game night or the next dinner party. A planner focused self-careDash of PepKick Today in the Butt Planner, $25 available at Dash of PepThis planner can keep them on track with an extra dose of compassion. It's dateless for customization, helps organize tasks by priority, and has built-in prompts specifically with self-care in mind.A gift card to their favorite music streaming serviceBest BuySend them a gift card to Spotify, Apple Music, or Amazon Music Unlimited Everyone focuses differently: Some need to dive deep into their favorite podcast, others just need any kind of background music, and some need a welcome distraction after writing in silence. Whatever their taste, they're likely to appreciate a gift from their favorite music streaming service. A set of funny writing pencilsbluestiggy/EtsyWriting Pencil Gift Set, from $9.69 available at EtsyFor writers that prefer a notebook and pencil to a computer, these pencils come with humorous and inspiring phrases that will keep them going. You can purchase this in a bundle with a notebook or as the pencils alone.A library of their ownAmazonKnock Knock Personal Library Kit, $21.58 available at AmazonWriters are readers — and whether they're sharing drafts of their own work or lending out their favorite book, this library kit is a cute, custom way for them to keep track of all of their shared stories. Much like a real library, it includes adhesive book pockets, checkout cards, a date stamp, and a pencil. A humorous wink to writer's blockBLOCKSetc/EtsyWriter's Block, $22.50, available at EtsyThis wooden writer's block brings an element of silliness to a typically frustrating process. Writer's block can be challenging to break through, but at the very least, they'll be able to think of you each time they get stuck. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 8th, 2021

"Punch Me Up to the Gods" is Brian Broome"s first memoir — and just won the 2021 Kirkus Prize. Here"s how he wrote the book, from utilizing writing communities to reading James Baldwin.

We spoke to author Brian Broome about his Kirkus Prize-winning memoir, his experience with addiction and recovery, and finding community in writing. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.We spoke to author Brian Broome about his Kirkus Prize-winning memoir, "Punch Me Up to the Gods," his experience with addiction and recovery, and finding community in writing.Chatham University; Amazon; Rachel Mendelson/Insider Brian Broome is the author of the 2021 Kirkus Prize-winning memoir "Punch Me Up to the Gods."  We spoke with Broome about writing his first full-length memoir. Broome also mentions various works by authors within his community that inspired him. Brian Broome is the author of the vulnerable 2021 memoir "Punch Me Up to the Gods," which recently won the Kirkus Prize for best non-fiction and received literary accolades from the New York Times' Editors' Pick to Amazon's best books of 2021."Punch Me Up To The Gods" by Brian Broome$13.99 FROM AMAZON$14.71 FROM BOOKSHOP$15.99 FROM BARNES & NOBLEIt's not every day that an author's first full-length memoir wins recognition upon recognition — but if you read "Punch Me Up to the Gods," it's clear why Brian Broome's work is such a hit. In a way that enlightens and educates readers, Broome dives deeply into his own personal experiences growing up as a Black, Queer man in Ohio, from his childhood friend telling him that Blackness is represented by hypermasculinity to his father teaching him to suppress his tears. "Black boys have to be tough but, in doing so, we must also sacrifice our sensitivity, our humanity," he sums up in the first chapter.Sensitivity and humanity, however, seem to be an asset in Broome's writing process, which he describes as both "a lonely pursuit" and a cathartic means of coping. Growing up, Broome enjoyed writing but was told it was a strange pastime because he was a boy and "should've been playing baseball or football." In adulthood, writing has helped him shed the sense of conformity he felt when he was younger.It's exactly what makes Broome's story so powerful: The very skills that he was taught make him weak actually make his story stronger — Broome's vulnerability and personal experience compel readers to approach his words with a curious and empathetic lens, eager to learn more. Brian Broome's first full-length memoir, "Punch Me Up to the Gods," speaks candidly about Broome's experience growing up as a Black, Queer man in Ohio.Andy Johansen PhotographyWhen speaking to Broome, it's obvious that writing is incredibly valuable to him, whether as a means of processing the ongoing pandemic (during which he edited most of his memoir) or guiding him through his years of sobriety. We spoke to Broome to learn more about how his personal experiences, favorite books, and writing community shaped "Punch Me Up to the Gods."Writing serves as an emotional outlet and a way to communicate with the people Broome loves the most.Broome saw the publication "Punch Me Up to the Gods" as equally exciting and anxiety-inducing.Annie O'Neill, Courtesy of Chatham UniversityAlthough writing "Punch Me Up to the Gods" was cathartic for Broome, he's also transparent on how the writing process — and sharing this writing with the world — is equally anxiety-provoking in how vulnerable you have to be. "It's difficult to embarrass yourself or to admit to your own shortcomings," says Broome. "The day before publication, I had a bit of an anxiety attack when it hit me that I had committed so much of my own dirt to paper, for potentially thousands of people to read."Ultimately, Broome has found this process to be productive and worthwhile. "My family and friends now have a better understanding of why I was such a nightmare for so many years, and we can now have more honest conversations about my life and theirs," he says. "This helps to keep me clean and sober."Famous figures in Black literature greatly influence Broome's writing.Gwendolyn Brooks' famed poem, "We Real Cool," is featured in Broome's memoir.Bettmann / Contributor"Punch Me Up to the Gods" is uniquely influenced by Broome's own experiences while also pulling inspiration from many different works he admires. Broome is quick to mention Gwendolyn Brooks' poem, "We Real Cool," which also appears at the start of the memoir. The introduction that precedes it — by poet Yona Harvey — speaks of the impact James Baldwin has had on Black writers, and how "Punch Me Up to the Gods" is framed around Baldwin's influence constantly appearing throughout the memoir.Broome also credits James Baldwin for bringing visibility to Queer people of color. Baldwin's novel, "Giovanni's Room" was "the first gay story I'd ever read," says Broome. "I remember being excited with the knowledge that gay stories and people could be that beautifully rendered."James Baldwin, one of the authors who inspired Broome as a writer.Sophie Bassouls / GettyHe goes on to share that "even more than his writing, I have always been enthralled by Baldwin's seeming defiance to live in a world that told him in so many ways that he shouldn't exist. It's always that that inspires me about him and so many other queer people of color. The refusal to apologize for existing the way that we are born." Some of the works and authors that have inspired Brian Broome's writing: "The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks: (American Poets Project #19)" by Gwendolyn Brooks; specifically "We Real Cool" "Giovanni's Room" by James Baldwin"The Prophets" by Robert Jones Jr. "Long Division" by Kiese Laymon"The Secret Lives of Church Ladies" by Deesha PhilyawWhile he writes alone, Broome relies on writing communities to stay inspired and connected to other writers.Broome finds that the various panels he speaks on bring him closer to his community of writers.Courtesy of the authorAlthough writing can feel especially lonely during a global pandemic, Broome cares about the writers and works who've inspired him. At the time of the interview, he was preparing for the 1455 Project, a literary arts event that celebrates the art of storytelling.Broome had the opportunity to speak on a virtual panel at the 1455 project with several creatives he admires. "I'm taking part in the event because I know what it's like to sit in that room and then write something," says Broome, going on to explain that events like the 1455 Project connect writers that may create on their own, but can learn from and motivate one another.To describe the connection between storytelling and community, Broome points to bees. Once bees return to the hive after pollination, they will act out their pollination processes to the other bees in the hive. "Even bees tell stories," says Broome — to him, his community of writers is his hive. Through community, Broome has been able to find strength in his writing, his recovery, and himself. "When I was in rehab and I was struggling with drugs and alcohol, I was really waiting to die," he says. "And now the sun is shining, and I just got off the treadmill, and I'm speaking to you.""Punch Me Up To The Gods" by Brian Broome$13.99 FROM AMAZON$14.71 FROM BOOKSHOP$15.99 FROM BARNES & NOBLERead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 8th, 2021

On The Quasispecies Origins Of SARS-CoV-2"s Enigmatic Furin-Cleavage Site

On The Quasispecies Origins Of SARS-CoV-2's Enigmatic Furin-Cleavage Site Via Harvard2TheBigHouse.Substack.com, A Grin Without a Cat Bottling-Up the Quasispecies Origins of SARS-CoV-2’s Enigmatic Furin-Cleavage Site.  From the co-author of the first peer-reviewed paper examining a laboratory origin for SARS-CoV-2, as well as its addendum, which formally linked the H1N1 Spanish Flu pandemic strain release of 1977 to gain-of-function research. Although it started as a point of obscure technical reference back in early 2020 as our ongoing pandemic was still in the early stages of spreading its now-ubiquitous wings, it’s now nearly two years later and debates are still raging about the origins and relevance of SARS-CoV-2’s notorious furin-cleavage site, or FCS.  This four-base amino-acid insert immediately drew the attention of the Sirotkin & Sirotkin father-and-son team as they were working on their paper covering the possible laboratory-engineered origins of the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was submitted back in April 2020, long before anyone else was discussing any of this with meaningful scientific detail: The genetic signatures in question includes two distinctive features possessed by SARS-CoV-2's spike-protein: the unique sequence in the receptor binding domain (RBD), a region known to be critical for SARS-CoV-2's utilization of human angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE2), which is the cell surface receptor used by both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2 for fusion with target cells and subsequent cell entry. The second feature is the presence of a polybasic furin cleavage site, which is also known as a multibasic cleavage site (MBS)—a four amino acid insertion with limited sequence flexibility—within the coronavirus's novel spike-protein, that is not found in SARS-CoV or other lineage B coronaviruses.  This furin cleavage site, which is poly or multibasic by definition since its composed of multiple basic amino acids, is an important virulence feature observed to have been acquired by fusion proteins of avian influenza viruses and Newcastle Disease Virus either grown under experimental conditions or isolated from commercial animal farms—settings that mimic the conditions of serial laboratory passage.  In fact, no influenza virus with a furin cleavage site has ever been found [to originate] in nature, and it is a feature that has been thoroughly investigated in the literature since it appears to allow the influenza viruses that carry it to establish a systemic multiorgan infection using different cell types including nerve cells,  is correlated with high pathogenicity, and also plays a key role in overcoming the species barrier.   More generally, despite the fact that not all serially passed viruses have demonstrated an increase in pathogenicity, the fact remains that every highly pathogenic avian influenza virus, defined by having a furin cleavage site, has either been found on commercial poultry farms that create the pseudo-natural conditions necessary for serial passage, or created in laboratories with gain-of-function serial passage experiments. The first glaring sign that the virological community had something to hide was the fact that all of the studies covering the notorious 2012 gain-of-function experiments with ferrets and influenza referred to this four amino-acid FCS insert as multi-basic instead of poly-basic, like it was in all of the 2020 studies discussing this feature in the SARS-CoV-2 virus.  Granted scientific writing always has a load of jargon, but this really seemed intentional, to try a little syntactical shield to draw attention away from the serial passage gain-of-function experiments down with ferrets back in 2012 by hiding behind the fact that polybasic was somehow different from multibasic.  However there’s still something that seems to get in the way of tying SARS-CoV-2’s FCS directly to serial passage gain-of-function vaccine work, since there doesn’t appear to be any molecular room for SARS-CoV-2 to have gotten its FCS simply during serial passage as an insert, as it apparently occurs with influenza viruses during serial passage. Based on the genetics involved, there doesn’t appear to be any clear genomic pathway for SARS-CoV-2 to have gained it’s four amino-acid FCS insert as influenza strains presumably did back in 2012, allowing our novel coronavirus to molecularly spread its wings and achieve airborne transmission. With influenza the insertion matches up based on what we know about assumed genomic behavior, with our novel coronavirus that isn’t the case. So which is it, does the FCS lead us conclusively to a laboratory origin or not?  “You may have noticed, I’m not all there myself.” - The Cheshire Cat In 2012 during the serial passage experiments with ferrets and influenza viruses, two different teams carried out similar experiments with the H5N1 strain of influenza, which was and still is proliferating all across large commercial poultry farms, and back then was beginning to draw concern that it might gain the ability to jump all the way into human populations - isolated cases had emerged in farm workers in close contact with poultry all across the globe in the years leading up to these gain-of-function experiments, but there way no recorded human-to-human transmission yet.  It’s probably worth a brief moment to consider that every major industrial poultry farm on earth is stuffed to the wattles with potential viral hosts which are unable to self-segregate when they get sick like they are in wild populations, and so despite the fact that modern poultry farms have vaccination programs with 100% genomic coverage, 100% compliance, and 100% surveillance  - a perfect experimental situation with far more controllability that human societies - the emergence highly-pathogenic influenza strains that easily cull half the flock in a matter of days and sometimes result in 100% mortality are a constant threat.  Turns out you can’t vaccinate your way out of highly-transmissible RNA viruses in crowded commercial settings, but it also turns out that humans have a little issue trying to play God, and as so here we are.  So the H5N1 strain being used for serial passage experiments back in 2012 was a close cousin to the H1N1 1918 pandemic strain: Instead of spike-proteins like coronaviruses, the part of an influenza virus that is able to access host receptor-cells consists of a hemagglutinin protein right next to a neuraminidase protein, both of which come in different assortments, and so are referred to together as HxNy - with numbers from 1 to 18 possible to represent the different hemagglutinin proteins, and 1 to 11 indicating which neuraminidase protein is present. So as a unit, the HxNx surface-protein complex in influenza viruses fills an analogous role - penetrating and successfully infecting host cells - as the spike-protein does for coronaviruses, where SARS-CoV-2 has its FCS.  In the first experiment with H5N1, a Japanese team lead by Dr. Yoshiro Kawaoka wanted to try and measure how likely this strain was to move past only jumping from poultry to people and actually establish human-to-human transmission, by taking the gene for the H5 protein from H5N1, and splicing it onto a virus with the seven other genes - not including this H5 hemagglutinin gene - from the pandemic H1N1 strain, and then seeing what happened when the strains that emerged from this process got a chance to infect a bunch of lab ferrets sharing air in the same room but isolated in separate cages.  A Dutch team lead by Dr. Ron Fouchier conducted a similar study, in this one they also took this H5N1 influenza strain, but instead of making a chimeric Frankenvirus with genes from H1N1, alternatively but to a similar effect: they jacked it full of mutagens to accelerate the evolutionary process, and then also let it run amok through a whole bunch of lab ferrets in a similar set-up - watching to see which strains were eventually able to establish airborne transmission among the critters.  And in both cases it was only strains with our notorious FCS, albeit described without that exact term and instead using multibasic inserts and other language, which were able to reliably establish airborne transmission between laboratory ferrets, telling both teams of scientists it was this furin-cleavage site which was especially dangerous and might open the door to another human influenza pandemic if a virus with it was able to jump completely off of poultry farms and into human populations.  However there’s been a fundamental misunderstanding going on, one that rests at the very base of scientific exploration, that’s caused everyone talking about the FCS to argue that it’s an insert that appeared within the virus during these serial passages between ferrets, and was an evolutionary adaptation which allowed for airborne transmission to occur.  Because if you look carefully, that’s not what happened at all.  “How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual, I wonder if I’ve been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning?” -The Cheshire Cat Fortuitously for us, the easiest way to correct the misconception around the FCS only emerging after airborne transmission between animal hosts, or being an insert that got added directly into the genome by evolution as a response to that pressure, is to examine SARS-CoV-2 and its behavior during serial passage as a quasispecies mutant swarm. The quasispecies swarm model approaches RNA viruses not as discrete genotypes transmitted on by discrete strains, but instead as quasispecies of mutant swarms of virions which carry distinct but complimentary sets of alleles - collections of genes thought to work together - which work in concert in real-time to establish and expand infections. One of the first empirical changes that comes once you consider an RNA virus as a quasispecies is that at any point in time an average of all the extant variants’ genomes serves as the smallest selective unit, as opposed to using individual virions or any single extant genome in a population, the classical approach.  This quasispecies viral swarming is an amorphous behavior that describes the search for fitness that occurs as each successive generation of the swarm produces another spectra of mutations, with the term “quasispecies” specifically describing “distributions of non-identical but related genomes subjected to a continuous process of genetic variation, competition, and selection, and which act as a unit of selection.” Each of these distributions can be considered clouds of allelic statistical possibilities, each of which represents the spectrum of mutations that can be expected to emerge within a set number of generations, so their ratios will be constantly changing over successive generations and in different environmental settings. This type of effect has just begun to be explored within the classical model, by quantifying the antigenic waves that shimmer across the surface of quasispecies mutant swarms as they shift between the host populations, and using these measurements to indirectly measure the quasispecies swarm itself without really getting the full picture of what’s really going on.  With quasispecies viruses replicating continually once a successful infection has set in and begun to smolder, the most-fit variant for a given tissue will predominate in that one tissue when a sample is taken only from it. However, although only one variant will appear in the smoky quasispecies mutant swarm infecting the tissue, the smoldering infection will be continually throwing off new variants which represent different points in the possible mutational spectrum – some of which will be better adapted to neighboring tissue, and others acting as accelerants for the predominate variant, intensifying its virulence. And just like one gas acting as an accelerant for another’s combustion can be modeled mathematically by looking at their relative binding tendencies to different elements and how they react at different concentrations, the mathematical inevitability of quasispecies mutant swarms fully exploring their mutational spectrum and finding variants to fuel their spread isn’t any different. It’s only the language that varies, as the literature currently describes the positive selection quasispecies mutant variants resulting in “hitchhiking” between mutations on variants in the same swarm, the exact same concept as different variants and their mutations acting as accelerates for each other during gaseous chemical combustion. Or in a more traditional sense, quasispecies mutant swarms likely depend on a sort of accidentally eusocial viral altruism to prosper. As one study revealed, although its usually possible to identify a majority consensus sequence from a sample of a host infected by COVID-19, the sample had a broad median variant count of 23, with nearly 250 different variants found in total just within one single host.  And considering that about half of the observed mutations thought to have a significant impact on gene expression and samples differing throughout the day even in the same organ system, as well as the fact that barely 2% of the minority variants were found to overlap at all between any two hosts - the inherently nebulous quasispecies mutant swarming nature of SARS-CoV-2 begins to coalesce even more. So as with any virus, but especially with coronaviruses, it’s important to keep in mind that hidden within their large genomes are entire suites of accessory genes which only appear functional while actually living inside their hosts, in vivo, and whose function won’t be observable within the virtual environment in lab Petri dishes, in vitro: “the coronavirus group-specific genes are not essential for growth in cell culture but function in virus-host interactions.” This means that some coronavirus genes get effectively muted when the virus isn’t being challenged by the immune system of an entire host body, which also helps explain why SARS-CoV-2 violates the “canyon hypothesis,” and has a region of its genome which appears never to have been challenged by a full host immune system like every other human coronavirus.  And so with the quasispecies model in mind, maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise that our friendly neighborhood novel coronavirus has an FCS that isn’t exactly permanent, and can pull a little bit of a disappearing act - or at least what appears to us as outside scientific observers to be a disappearing act. Since it turns out SARS-C0V-2’s quasispecies swarm almost immediately loses its FCS when it’s passaged through Vero cells, which are derived from a line of African green monkey kidney cells that’s commonly used for cell culture, or in vitro, experiments.   These cells don’t present the same set of immune challenges as a full host, hardly a tiny fraction of them, and so it turns out SARS-CoV-2’s quasispecies swarm no longer needs the group-specific genes to cleave certain cell types conferred by an FCS when its in these friendly isolated cell-culture kidney cells - meaning it drops off, almost entirely in a single passage.  Almost, but not entirely. A phrase that defines trying to understand quasispecies mutant swarms overall.  But okay, the FCS can be almost entirely lost without all the immune challenges posed by a full host, but then how did it get there in the first place? The exact same way the H5N1 strains “gained” it during the 2012 experiments with ferrets and influenza: It was always there to begin with.  “When the day becomes the night and the sky becomes the sea, when the clock strikes heavy and there’s no time for tea; and in our darkest hour, before my final rhyme, she will come back home to Wonderland and turn back the hands of time.” - The Cheshire Cat In each of the 2012 serial passage experiments with influenza strains and ferrets, the FCS didn’t appear as a response to the challenge of airborne transmission between hosts, it existed in a very small frequency within each H5N1 swarm prior to each experiment, and then quickly reached majority status once the bottleneck of jumping from ferret-to-ferret in the air was presented.  It was observed by each team after successful airborne transmission between ferrets, however before this challenge was presented to the H5N1 swarms, they were both first heavily mutated by artificial outside means - directly splicing in genes from H1N1 in the case of Dr. Yoshiro Kawaoka and bathing the swarm in a mutagen in the cast of Dr. Ron Fouchier - artificial, inherently sloppy, and unpredictable processes a long way from surgically splicing precise nucleotides in-and-out, which led to the emergence of the FCS in small minority subpopulations of their swarms prior to their presentation to ferrets for passaging. This was the challenge that created the FCS during those experiments, the outside intervention of scientists intent on carrying out their gain-of-function experiments, not the challenge of jumping through the air between ferrets. Once it exists anywhere in the swarm, the FCS is going to remain at levels that are too small for typical detection until its special ability is called for: Airborne transmission between mammalian hosts.  Directly supporting this is the reemergence of SARS-CoV-2’s FCS within Calu-3 cells - cells grown from the surface of human lungs - after it falls off in Vero cells. The swarm doesn’t need an FCS to flourish inside monkey kidney cells, inside Vero cells, however once it gets placed into human airway cells - now the chance of airborne transmission is back on the table, and so the FCS quickly returns to dominance inside the swarm, reaching fixation in just a single passage.  SARS-CoV-2’s affinity for human kidneys - up to 25% of its patients can suffer an acute kidney injury - is likely linked to this past history being passaged through Vero kidney cells during its development as a live-attenuated vaccine (LAV) - a vaccine built from an entire virus that’s supposed to be weakened down to the point where it can never establish symptomatic infections, but still serves as enough of a mock-up to provide our immune systems with the ability to recognize and neutralize the actual live version of that virus.  LAVs were discovered by Louis Pasteur of preserving dairy-products fame, who accidentally discovered that samples of chicken cholera left out in the elements got weakened to the point where they effectively became vaccines: Exposing healthy chickens to samples of cholera that’d been weakened, or attenuated by the elements, protected the chickens from infection by the full-strength virus without creating any symptoms during inoculation by the weakened strain. And although this version of a LAV wasn’t known to revert, the modern LAV that protects against Polio, called OPV, can and does revert all the way back to full virulence and cause paralysis in its hosts.  And to design a LAV against Yellow Fever, the only type of vaccine that would confer protection since it creates the strongest type, the first step was building a highly-pathogenic chimera built from genes of several different strains of that virus. This was also the first step to develop OPV, which has recently begun the paradoxical phenomenon of reassembling itself within vaccinated populations and establishing full paralytic virulence. In 2019 there were 176 cases of poliomyelitis derived from the OPV strain reverting back to virulence worldwide, when only 33 had been seen the year prior.  This enigmatic process, of a LAV reverting or deattenuating back to virulence, is one of the worst nightmares for the virological and vaccinological communities - in part because in the case of OPV, the fully reverted strains are able to infect absolutely everyone, even if they’ve been fully vaccinated or previously infected. And its a possibility virologists and vaccine-designers are all well-aware of.   After all, as our Dr. Ron Fouchier of ferret and influenza serial passage gain-of-function fame noted rather presciently in July of 2019, a few months before the start of the Wuhan Military Games: “That’s what happened in the 70s, people were trying to do live-attenuated vaccines and do human challenge studies and that might be the way the H1 re-emerged in the 70s. Some people say it was a lab accident. I don’t believe that. I think it was actually human challenge studies and live-attenuated vaccines that reverted that are the likely candidates of the 1970 reemergence of H1. And we need to make sure that doesn’t happen again.” Because when a LAV reverts, the viral swarm that emerges in the case of OPV at least runs right through both natural and vaccine-induced immunity, and this is even with a virus like Polio where the OPV vaccine is considered 100% effective and permanent.  Turns out OPV vaccine was almost, but not entirely effective.  And so SARS-CoV-2 and the experimental H5N1 viral swarms both expressing their FCS when they need to achieve airborne transmission serves as a canonical example of  “the convergent evolution that dominates virus–host interactions, since viral proteins evolve convergently and often accumulate many of the same linear motifs that mediate many functionally diverse biophysical interactions in order to manipulate complex host processes.” They’re both products of serial passage gain-of-function experiments, and both display the ability to gain and lose their FCS depending on whether or not mammalian airborne transmission is on the table. When SARS-CoV-2 is taken out of kidney cells where an FCS won’t possibly be needed for airborne transmission, it seems to disappear back into the shadows as it only remains within a small minority sub-population of the swarm, but when it’s placed back in human airway cells - in just one passage it can appear to reach fixation, although in reality there will always be a small minority subpopulation without it. But of course in the case of SARS-CoV-2, this ability for the minority population with the FCS to almost immediately become the dominant strain wasn’t first observed in the laboratory, but unfortunately for humanity occurred in the field during the Wuhan Military Games, when this unexpected emergence of the FCS-dominant swarm allowed for airborne transmission and kicked off our pandemic as the virus spread through the air all across Wuhan. The fact SARS-CoV-2 had an FCS in the first place was suppressed from the start, because of its obvious ties to the gain-of-function serial passage work of 2012. And because of the nature of quasispecies swarms, which often create the illusion that only one discrete variant is extant in a population since each isolated organ system tends to predominately host the variant that’s best suited for it at the time, this novel coronavirus appeared to have a rather immutable and stable genome - since nasal swabs will only ever catch the one variant happens to be winning in your nose at a given time.  However the full quasispecies swarm will always be there, it’s just not going to appear unless you look for it with far more exacting tools than just a nasal swab. And just like OPV and its perpetually reverting quasispecies swarm, SARS-CoV-2 is going to continue to revert back towards its original highly-pathogenic form so long as any transmissions are ongoing at all, going through gatekeeping mutations as it makes unexpected evolutionary leaps back towards full virulence.  “Only a few find the way, some don’t recognize it when they do – some… don’t ever want to.” -The Cheshire Cat H1N1 is the highly-pathogenic state of human influenza, it is not an alien virus - it is completely and entirely adapted to our genome and has been with us for thousands of years. H1N1 doesn’t create a pandemic by simply by existing in a population, it is the strain that wins out and emerges once there’s enough crowding and transmission events to trick human influenza into thinking that its host population is about to die off completely, and so it goes into a highly-pathogenic state in an attempt to jump into a new host species, in its case from humans and into pigs.   Highly-pathogenic avian influenzas are identified by the existence of an FCS, something H1N1 doesn’t need for our cells because its perfectly adapted to human populations to begin with:  “In 1997, small fragments of viral RNA were obtained for sequence analysis from an autopsy sample of a victim of the 1918 influenza. The initial characterization of the virus confirmed the H1N1 subtype and demonstrated that the 1918 HA did not possess the cleavage site mutation seen in the lethal H5 and H7 viruses. This finding eliminated the HA cleavage site mutation as an appealing explanation for the virulent behavior of the 1918 virus.” And although there haven’t been any more published gain-of-function experiments with avian influenza due to the very-selectively-enforced moratorium against the practice, in the years since poultry farms have served as their own handy real-life Petri dishes.  Studies of the H7N9 avian influenza as its emerged off of poultry farms in a highly-pathogenic state and managed to infect workers have revealed that the process of jumping from birds into people doesn’t just happen out of nowhere in one magic moment. In fact, it takes five successive waves of infections before the H7N9 swarm begins to regularly jump from birds into farm-workers, the only people in close-enough contact to the avian swarm for all five of these waves to antigenically wash over them, building up a swarm within their prospective new humans hosts, and also slowly altering the nature of H7N9’s swarm within both host species.  And of course since there’s a highly-pathogenic avian influenza forming, the FCS is the distinguishing feature found in the fifth wave that indicates humans are now at risk. However it’s not only found in the fifth wave, and begins to show up in earlier waves along with other genomic features that fully reach majority fixation in the fifth wave - again showcasing how the quasispecies mutant swarm will invariably change its shape over time, and depending on the challenges its facing. So in the many months since the COVID-19 Pandemic began, it’s abundantly clear the people who started it and are profiting the most from it have instructed the media not to talk about “serial passage” at all, nor the past links to vaccine research and past viral outbreaks, including the 1977 H1N1 outbreak linked to military vaccine gain-of-function work as well as the 2009 H1N1 endemic, both likely from serially passaged LAVs that were able to make their way back to full strength much faster than the scientists who designed them anticipated.  And so the silence from absolutely everyone when it comes to the connections our ongoing pandemic might have with vaccine research and serial passage is mirrored by the media’s refusal to discuss the millions and millions of culled farm-minks as a link to the obvious intermediate animal host. Since mink point directly to lab ferrets, their very close cousins, which were used during the 2012 gain-of-function experiments that led to a moratorium against the practice, and were almost certainly used to attenuate the SARS-like LAV, that would emerge at the Wuhan Military Games as SARS-CoV-2 - ferrets are the go-to animal to use for airborne vaccine work.  Which is why this novel virus was able to create a second simultaneous pandemic across mink farms all across dozens of nations on multiple continents, because the virus was still incredibly well-acclimated to their physiology, since it so closely mimics the ferrets that the virus was serially passaged through as it was attenuated and weakened down into a LAV - appearing to the scientists building it to lose its FCS at some past point along the way, when in reality it was always there, hiding and waiting for when its unique ability might be needed to smile on humanity.  And it’s almost certainly the past reversions of H1N1 LAVs in 1977 and 2009 that seemed to eventually just melt away, which sociopaths like Richard Ebright and the rest of his sweaty socially-retarded buddies at JASON are using to assure everyone that SARS-CoV-2, another LAV that’s reverting, will just melt away in just a few more months - just like H1N1 seems to have done twice. Unfortunately, unlike their mythical buddy: Each and everyone one of these arrogant old hacks was drawn into the siren song of multi-billion dollar defense and pharmaceutical contracts long ago, and they’re going to remain pushing for a fascist and entirely ineffective vaccination program because they’re rotten, filthy, diseased whores, and that is exactly what they are being paid to do.  Our novel coronavirus is not a naturally spreading and evolving virus, and it has not become endogenous to human populations after thousands of years of coevolution - it is reverting back towards a highly-pathogenic SARS-like chimera that our immune systems will be entirely helpless against, and is going through the same unexpected epistatic gatekeeping mutations that OPV does on its way back to full virulence, which vaccines are also entirely helpless against.  In the case of SARS-CoV-2, this gatekeeping results in the sudden emergence of new strains that appear evolutionarily impossible - like Omicron.  And so long as transmission is ongoing, there is nothing that is going to stop this pandemic except more death, because transmission means more gatekeeping, and gatekeeping means continued steps closer to the original strongest version of this highly-pathogenic virus.  Being completely and entirely acclimated to the human genome is not at all the case with OPV, a LAV against the Polio virus that’s reverting all across the third world and bringing back Polio’s terrible paralytic poliomyelitis. So OPV serves as a much more accurate analogy for SARS-CoV-2 than the H1N1 LAVs. Our novel coronavirus is a LAV derived from the work being done at UNC, the only place on earth trying to make a LAV for SARS-like viruses, which are also obviously not going to be fully acclimated to the human genome like the human influenza virus, which seems to have been with us at least since the Trojan War thousands of years ago.  Until SARS-CoV-2 is understood as a LAV that’s deattenuating towards a highly-pathogenic chimeric coronavirus that’s going through gatekeeping mutations and has no intention whatsoever of following the assumptions drawn from observing natural evolution or even the paths of the H1N1 LAVs which melted back into their original endogenous human hosts - humanity is going to continue to be standing on its head as it attempts to battle this pandemic, and misunderstanding the basic fundamental nature of what its up against.  It’s something we seem to be particularly good at, since all the way back in 1977 when the first H1N1 LAV emerged to a mass global panic, a massive push was made to create and distribute vaccines against what was thought to be a potentially pandemic strain. But it turns out that one of the ways a LAV isn’t a natural virus, is that when you attempt to vaccinate against it, neurological side-effects appear to proliferate among the vaccinated population, as the virus blows through this attempt at protection.  Because unfortunately for all of us, this isn’t the first time we’ve all been down the horrific rabbit-hole of trying to rush out an incredibly profitable vaccine against an enigmatic mystery virus that’s really a military LAV that deattenuated faster than expected. A vaccine which only provides only weak and temporary protection - but also causes wide-spread side-effects because it turns out the pharmaceutical companies were lying about their vaccine studies, and knowingly risked the lives and livelihoods of tens of millions of Americans so they could make as much money as quickly as possible: “We are all victims in-waiting.” -The Cheshire Cat Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 21:00.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 7th, 2021

An important school board group is unraveling after it sent a letter to Biden likening threats against school officials to ‘domestic terrorism and hate crimes’

The National School Boards Association is under fire after writing to the president and comparing threats against educators to "domestic terrorism." Amy Jahr sings the Star Spangled Banner after a Loudoun County School Board meeting in Northern Virginia was halted because the crowd refused to quiet down.Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters The National School Boards Association compared threats to school leaders to "domestic terrorism." The message, and Attorney General Merrick Garland's swift response, backfired. Now state school board associations are distancing themselves from NSBA. The National School Boards Association wanted to help protect education leaders from threats of violence and acts of intimidation that were playing out across the nation.So its leaders penned a controversial letter — one they'd later regret — to President Joe Biden, asking the feds to step in against threats the group compared to "a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes."That message, and Attorney General Merrick Garland's swift response, only led to more mayhem, inflaming parents, and gift wrapping talking points for Republicans eager to use the issue as a springboard back to power in 2022 and 2024. Welcome to the culture wars of 2021, where a skirmish enveloping state school board associations across the nation has education leaders fed up and finding ways to distance themselves from the group and its hot mess. "Unfortunately, the NSBA needlessly caused substantial controversy this fall, which has negatively impacted relationships among school boards, parents and community members," wrote The Wisconsin Association of School Boards, which voted in November to withdraw participation in the NSBA programs and activities.In all, associations in 27 states have distanced themselves from NSBA since that late September letter to Biden. Seventeen of those states have taken further steps, by either withdrawing membership, participation, or dues, according to the latest tracking by Parents Defending Education, an organization that says it fights "indoctrination" in the classroom. "We would have readily pointed out the mischaracterization of parents and patrons in our communities as domestic terrorists who merited federal investigation," the Idaho School Boards Association wrote in its response, which said they had not been asked for input on the letter. "We want parents and patrons engaged in our public schools – we have sought that for years," the Idaho group added.'Domestic terrorism and hate crimes'The NSBA is a nonprofit that has operated since 1940 as a federation of state associations (and the US Virgin Islands), advocating for public school board leaders. As wild parent protests at school board meetings grabbed headlines, the group and AASA, the School Superintendents Association raised alarms about threats and violence around COVID-19 guidelines at the beginning of the school year.Later, in their September 29 letter to Biden, NSBA said school boards members have been attacked for face-mask policies and threatened over false claims about "critical race theory" being taught in K-12 classrooms.The advocacy group did not characterize parents in the letter as "domestic terrorists," as has been reported, but they asked for federal assistance against threats, and requested a review examining enforceable actions under a host of federal statutes, including the post-9/11 PATRIOT Act in regards to domestic terrorism. "As these acts of malice, violence, and threats against public school officials have increased, the classification of these heinous actions could be the equivalent to a form of domestic terrorism and hate crimes," the letter from the group's president Viola Garcia and Chip Slaven, who was then the interim executive director.NSBA did not respond to a request for comment.Weeks later, NSBA apologized on Oct. 22 to its members for writing the letter, saying "there was no justification for some of the language" in it. But Garland, who in a memo called on the FBI to address illegal threats against public servants, defended his response during a Senate Judiciary Committee. "The only thing that Justice Department is concerned about is violence and threats of violence," he said, according to CNN.Republicans, hoping to be viewed as the party of parents in the midterm elections, have seized on the controversy. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, of California, issued an October 5 statement in response to Garland's memo, saying Democrats want to "silence parents, and prevent them from having a say in their own children's education."Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential 2024 GOP presidential contender, said in a statement, "We don't need the federal government investigating and intimidating parents in an attempt to squelch dissent." The Florida School Boards Association withheld their dues in July over various concerns with NSBA and stated in an October 11 letter that they would continue to do so.Former President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue, too, with Fox News' Sean Hannity, saying parents don't want "all of this nonsense that's being fed to their children," and "they're trying to make them out to be terrorists … How crazy is this?"Erika Sanzi, outreach director for Parents Defending Education, told Insider her group had "major concerns" about what seemed like a deliberate attempt to intimidate parents and the DOJ's quick response, giving NSBA what they wanted. But she said she's glad the NSBA letter backfired."There's moms out there, right, that are like wearing domestic terrorist T-shirts now in response to that letter as a way of saying, 'I am not going to be silenced. I am going to speak out about my concerns at my kids' school,'" she said. "They're taking that domestic terrorist accusation and they're having fun with it."A crowd of angry, largely unmasked people objected to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards' mask mandate for schools during an August school board meeting in Baton Rouge.AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte'Fractured relationships'School board associations acknowledged in their statements that education leaders do indeed face threats. The Idaho association pointed to "disruptive and – at times, frightening – behavior" at school board meetings in the state and across the country.But some groups said it was "overreach" to ask for federal law enforcement intervention when local law enforcement should handle protests, and they were angry that they were not consulted about the letter. The Missouri School Boards' Association, which withdrew from NSBA, said federal intervention in most cases shouldn't be the first step and it runs contrary to their tradition of local control. "Further, the use of inflammatory terms in the NSBA letter is not a model for promoting greater civility and respect for the democratic process," the statement said. While the apology was a "step in the right direction," the Missouri association wrote that NSBA has "significant work ahead" to prevent similar problems and repair their "fractured relationships."States may have decided to leave the group for reasons beyond their letter to Biden, Brian Farmer, executive director of the Wyoming School Boards Association, wrote in a letter to members. Farmer noted that NSBA has been struggling with "internal governance issues." Rather than withdraw from NSBA, the Wyoming association's board decided to continue to "monitor the situation" and not automatically renew their membership.The Pennsylvania School Boards Association withdrew from NSBA for multiple reasons, according to a letter to its members reported by The Hill, but the controversy over the letter "suggesting that some parents should be considered domestic terrorists was the final straw." The NSBA letter "fomented more disputes and cast partisanship" on their work on behalf of school directors, the Pennsylvania association wrote."Now is not the time for more politics and posturing, it is the time for solutions to the many challenges facing education," they wrote.  Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 6th, 2021

Devin Nunes Leaving Congress To Become Trump Media SPAC CEO

Devin Nunes Leaving Congress To Become Trump Media SPAC CEO 10-term congressman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) announced his retirement from Congress at the end of this month to serve as CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group. "Recently, I was presented with a new opportunity to fight for the most important issues I believe in. I’m writing to let you know I’ve decided to pursue this opportunity, and therefore I will be leaving the House of Representatives at the end of 2021," Nunes said in a vaguely worded Monday statement. "Rest assured, I have not, by any means, given up our collective fight—I’ll just be pursuing it through other means." Concurrent with his announcement, the Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG) announced in a press release that Nunes - currently the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee - had been selected to join the company as Chief Executive Officer. "Mr. Nunes is currently a sitting U.S. House Representative, representing California's 22nd congressional district, and formerly the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee. Mr. Nunes will be leaving the U.S. House of Representatives and will begin his new role as Chief Executive Officer of TMTG in January 2022." Former President Trump said of the move: "Congressman Devin Nunes is a fighter and a leader. He will make an excellent CEO of TMTG. Devin understands that we must stop the liberal media and Big Tech from destroying the freedoms that make America great. America is ready for TRUTH Social and the end to censorship and political discrimination." Nunes, meanwhile, said "The time has come to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship. The United States of America made the dream of the Internet a reality and it will be an American company that restores the dream. I'm humbled and honored President Trump has asked me to lead the mission and the world class team that will deliver on this promise." The news comes after TMTG announced a $1 billion private capital infusion over the weekend - formally known as as "PIPE" which values the company at $4 billion. Shares sold off on Monday, however, after the company revealed in an 8-k filing that it has received notifications from both FINRA and the SEC demanding documents. The company insists it's cooperating. DWAC has received certain preliminary, fact-finding inquiries from regulatory authorities, with which it is cooperating. Specifically, in late October and in early November 2021, DWAC received a request for information from FINRA, surrounding events (specifically, a review of trading) that preceded the public announcement of the October 20, 2021 Merger Agreement. According to FINRA’s request, the inquiry should not be construed as an indication that FINRA has determined that any violations of Nasdaq rules or federal securities laws have occurred, nor as a reflection upon the merits of the securities involved or upon any person who effected transactions in such securities. Additionally, in early November 2021, DWAC received a voluntary information and document request from the SEC which sought, inter alia, documents relating to meetings of DWAC’s Board of Directors, policies and procedures relating to trading, the identification of banking, telephone, and email addresses, the identities of certain investors, and certain documents and communications between DWAC and TMTG. According to the SEC’s request, the investigation does not mean that the SEC has concluded that anyone violated the law or that the SEC has a negative opinion of DWAC or any person, event, or security. Both regulators are sniffing around for rule violations, but at least the SEC is being somewhat transparent about the fact that this is a massive fishing expedition. But we can't help but wonder if they would be as aggressive under a Republican administration? Shares in TMTG (Symbol: DWAC) were up as much as 10% after hours. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 17:28.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 6th, 2021

Transcript: John Doerr

   The transcript from this week’s, MiB: John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This… Read More The post Transcript: John Doerr appeared first on The Big Picture.    The transcript from this week’s, MiB: John Doerr, Kleiner Perkins, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here. ~~~ BARRY RITHOLTZ, HOST, MASTERS IN BUSINESS: This week on the podcast, I have, yes, an extra special guest, John Doerr of the famed venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins is here to discuss all things venture capital and climate related. He has a new book out that’s really quite interesting. We talk about everything from crypto to Tesla to beyond me, to all of the opportunities that exist in order to help moderate and reduce carbon in the atmosphere and the potential climate crisis that awaits us if we don’t change our ways. So, Doerr is a venture capitalist. He invests money in order to generate a return. These aren’t just finger-wagging-be-green-for-green sake. He describes their venture fund which they put nearly a billion dollars into it 10 years ago and now, it’s worth over three billion. That’s how successful the returns have been. He describes the climate crisis as a multitrillion dollar opportunity. Yes, we need to do something in order to make sure we leave our children and grandchildren a habitable Earth. At the same time, there is a massive opportunity in everything from food to electrical grid, to transportation, on and on and on. It really is quite fascinating somebody like him sees the world from both perspectives, from the, hey, we want to make sure we have a habitable place to live but he can’t take off his VC hat and he sees just massive opportunities to do well by doing good. Really, a fascinating conversation. With no further ado, my interview with Kleiner Perkins’ John Doerr. ANNOUNCER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is John Doerr. He is the famed venture capitalists known for his work at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. The venture capital firm operates 32 funds. They’ve made more than 675 investments, including such early-stage funding for companies like Google, Twitter, Amazon and too many others to list. Doerr still holds a substantial stake in his initial investment in Google. His most recent book is “Speed & Scale: An Action Plan for Solving our Climate Crisis Now.” John Doerr, welcome to Bloomberg. JOHN DOERR, CHAIRMAN, KLEINER PERKINS: It’s thrilled to be here with you, Barry. Thank you. RITHOLTZ: And I’m thrilled to talk to you. Let’s go back to the early parts of your career before we start to get current. You originally joined Intel because you couldn’t land a gig as a venture capitalist. Tell us a little bit about that. DOERR: I came to Silicon Valley with no job, no place to live and incidentally, no girlfriend. The lady I’ve been dating decided I was too persistent and dumped me. So, I — my real goal was to win my way back into her heart and to join with some friends to start a company. I wanted to start a company and I heard that venture capital had something to do with that. So, I cold called all the venture capitalists and some of them returned my call in the mid-70s and they looked at my experience and uniformly included that I should go get a real job. That was their advice. I remember Dick Gramley (ph) said, we just backed a small new chip company called Intel, why don’t you interview for a job there, and I did. And lo and behold, unbeknownst to me, my former girlfriend, Ann Howland, now Ann Howland Doerr, has gotten a job at Intel. I got a job there and when I arrived that first summer day, I was surprised to see her there and she was not happy to see me. So, it took the rest of the summer to put our relationship back together again. But I love Intel, it was a dynamic place. They just invented the microprocessor and I’ve seriously considered abandoning my graduate education in business as it turns out to just stay at Intel. But I returned there after graduating and worked for, I guess, four or five years helping democratize computing as to get microprocessors used in everything from traffic lights to defibrillators, to nuclear resonance magnetic imaging systems, and it was all because I wanted to be part of new rapidly growing companies. RITHOLTZ: How did you work your way from Intel to venture investing? How did you find your way to Kleiner Perkins? DOERR: I got a phone call one day from a friend who said, hey, John, I just finished interviewing for job at a venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. It sounded to me like a law firm. I really didn’t know them. But he said, you should go interview there because what they want to add to their team is someone younger professional with a strong technical background, a good network in Silicon Valley, and a passion for startups. I think you and they would make a great fit. So, I didn’t — they ran an ad actually in the “Wall Street Journal” for this position which I didn’t see. But I called up, I interviewed and got a job there as an entry level professional, a gofer, I did everything. I carried people’s bags. I read business plans. But there was one important condition that I had and that is I made them promise that they would back me with my friends in starting a company. I went to work there because, honestly, I wasn’t interested in venture capital. I wanted to be an early ’80s entrepreneur. And they had — they agreed to that and pointed out that they had backed other young partners at Kleiner in writing business plans. Bob Swanson had written a business plan for Genentech that led to the whole biotech industry and Jimmy Treybig had done the same thing with Tandem Computers. My current partner, Brook Byers as the young partner at Kleiner wrote the business plan for hybrid tech. So, Eugene Kleiner and Tom Perkins were unusual and I’d even say mythic or epic figures in that they had technical backgrounds. They started their own companies and they felt that was part of what their venture capital firm ought to do. RITHOLTZ: So, here’s the key question, how come you never left Kleiner Perkins? Why didn’t you launch your own startup? DOERR: Well, I did. They backed me in doing it. The first was one called Silicon Compilers. I became the full-time CEO and founder of that with a Cal Tech professor, Carver Mead. RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: Then as I worked with companies like Compaq, Sun Microsystems, they were growing really rapidly, I realized I was not at all qualified to advise these entrepreneurs. So, I took another 18-month leave of absence from Kleiner to run the desktop division of Sun and almost left Kleiner permanently to do that. But Ann and I wanted to start a family and she said, you know, you’re doing this Sun thing and keeping involved in Kleiner, it’s just not going to work, we have to make some choices here. And so, I left my operating role at Sun. But never gave up an interest in starting new companies and did that again at a later time with a company called @Home. You may remember that they … RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: … standardized and commercialized the cable modem to access the Internet. Before the @Home venture, access to the Internet was really very slow and cable modem swept the United States and our company was key in making that happen. RITHOLTZ: So, I like this quote from you, “If you can’t invent the future, the next best thing is to fund it.” And so, I guess that helps to explain your move from Sun over back to Kleiner Perkins. DOERR: Exactly. It was Alan Kay, the Chief Scientist at Apple, who said the best way to predict the future is to invent it and while I’ve made some inventions, they’re modest, my better fortune has been to find amazing entrepreneurs, identify them and then help fund and accelerate their success. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. Amazon, Netscape, Applied Materials, Citrix, Intuit, Genentech, EA Sports, Compaq, Slack, Uber, Square, Spotify, Robinhood, that is just an amazing, amazing list of startups that you guys were fairly early investors in. Any of them stand out as uniquely memorable to you? DOERR: Well, two of the standouts got to be Amazon and Google, now, Alphabet, because, what are they, they’re two of the four or five most valuable companies in the world and I think both of them have profoundly changed the way that we live, communicate, educate, inform, conduct commerce, see the world. They both — what they both have in common is exceptional founders and really strong management teams who have a sense of urgency and a focus on either large new markets or large existing markets that deserved and have benefited from disruption. So, I remember when I was first offered a position at Kleiner Perkins, I told them that I thought it was kind of unfair that they would pay me to do the job. I would pay them for the privilege of working with these amazing entrepreneurs and founders. RITHOLTZ: So, when you’re thinking about putting money into the Amazon in the mid ’90s or Google in the late ’90s, at any point in that process, are you thinking, sure, these can become $2 trillion companies soon? DOERR: Well, I had no really good idea how big they could be. So, I put the question to Jeff Bezos and his response was, well, John, I don’t know but we’re going to get big fast. At that time, I kicked up something of a firestorm by proclaiming that the Internet had been under hyped and it might be the largest legal creation of wealth in our lifetimes. But I was more clear and explicit with Larry Page when I met with him and Sergey and I asked Larry, how big Google would get. I’ll never forget this, Barry. He responded to me without missing a beat, 10 billion, and I said, just to test myself, I said, surely, you mean market capitalization, don’t you, and he said, no, John, I mean revenues. We’re just beginning in the field of search and you cannot imagine how much better it’s going to get over time. And sure enough, he was, he was more than right. RITHOLTZ: To say the very least. So, let’s talk a bit about Google. You are known for introducing to both Larry and Sergey your concept of, OKRs, objectives and key results. What was the impact of that on Google? How did they respond to your suggestion on come up with objectives and come up with ways to measure your progress? DOERR: So, for everyone in your audience, objectives and key results or OKRs is a goalsetting system that Andy Grove invented at Intel and that’s because in the semiconductor industry, I’m a refugee from the semiconductor industry, you got to get tens of thousands of people to get lines that are a millionth of a meter, one micron wide, exactly right or nothing works, the chips fail. So, you need exceptional discipline, attention to detail, focus and execution. And so, Andy came up with the system. I was so enamored of it. When I left Intel, I took it everywhere I went from nonprofits to startups to large companies. The Gates Foundation in the nearly days, for example, how — they were — I mean, they were a very large nonprofit startup and an important one for the planet. So, I took Andy Grove’s system to Larry and Sergey, the founders of Google, in the very early days and I went through it with them and at the end of it asked them, so, guys, what you think, would you use this in growing Google, and Larry was — had no comment whatsoever. But Sergey, he was more like brilliant. I’d like to tell you, Barry, that he said, we love this, we’re going to adopt it wholeheartedly. Well, the truth of the matter is what he said was, we don’t have any better way to manage this Google company. So, we’ll give it a try, which I took as a ringing endorsement because what’s happened since then to this day, every Googler, every quarter, writes down her objectives and key results and publishes them for the entire company to see and interestingly, they never leaked. So, there’s 140,000 Googlers who are doing this four times a year. They’re graded. But at the end of each quarter, they’re swept aside because they’re not used for bonuses or promotions. They serve a higher purpose and that’s a collective social contract to get everybody focused and aligned and committed in tracking their progress to stretch for almost impossible to achieve goals. And I’m telling you this story because the same system that Andy Grove invented has now spread pretty broadly through the technology and other sectors of the economy and it’s at the heart of this plan that we have called speed and scale to deal with climate crisis. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. I want to stick with some of the early investments that you made and ask a really broad general question, how likely is it that a company you made in early stage investment in ends up looking like the company you thought you were investing in, meaning, how often do companies iterate or pivot into something totally different from what you thought you were getting involved with? DOERR: Well, I was going to say not often if it’s totally different. But if it’s meaningfully different, that happens all the time. And that’s why in the venture capital work that we do, it’s so important to back — to find fund and build a relationship with the right people because the people and the quality of the team is going to affect how they pivot, how they adapt their business plan to changing markets, changing technologies, changing opportunities. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. So, you mentioned Amazon and Google as just uniquely memorable startups. What about some memorable ones that you thought would work out that didn’t or I know VCs love to talk about look how silly we are, we had an opportunity to invest in X and we passed and now X is fabulously successful, what stands out in that space? DOERR: Well, the standout in that space is the bad decision we made to invest in Fisker instead of in Tesla and at that time, they had similar strategies, which was to enter the electric vehicle market with high-end luxury, pretty expensive car and then to drive the cost of that vehicle down over time. Both companies were struggling to raise money. One of them had experienced executive from the automobile industry, fundamentally a designer by the name of Henrik Fisker as its founder and CEO. The other had Elon Musk who had no automobile industry experience but was determined to reinvent every part of the automotive car doing it more as a machine to run software than a collection of subsystems procured from the automobile industry. We made the wrong call and the rest is history. RITHOLTZ: That Fisker, that first Fisker car was just a gorgeous design and at that time, Tesla was taking old Lotus convertibles and filling them with laptop batteries. Between the two, it’s pretty easy to see how the Fisker opportunity really looked more intriguing than Tesla did way back when. How typical is that for the world of venture? DOERR: It happens all the time. RITHOLTZ: All the time. DOERR: That’s what makes the job of finding funding and accelerating the success of entrepreneurs hard. RITHOLTZ: To say the very least. So, there was just a new report that came out. It said, renewable energy in the U.S. has quadrupled over the past decade. So, we’re all good, right? There’s nothing else to worry about with the climate? DOERR: I wish that was true. I came to this project, this passion back in 2006 when Al Gore’s movie, you remember “An Inconvenient Truth” appeared. RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: And I took my family and friends to see it and we came back for a dinner conversation and went around the table to see what people thought. When it came turn for my 16-year-old daughter Mary Doerr, she said, I’m scared and I’m angry. She said, dad, your generation created this problem, you better fix it. And, Barry, I was speechless, I had no idea what to say. So, I set out with partners at Kleiner Perkins to understand the extent of the climate crisis, even hired Al Gore as a partner and over time, over three funds, invested a third up to a half of the funds, total about $1 billion in some 70 climate ventures, most of which failed and, in fact, it’s hard, it’s very hard to grow a climate tech or green tech venture. It’s pretty lonely in the early days of doing that. And we almost lost all of our investments but we stood by these entrepreneurs and they produced companies like Beyond Meat or Enphase or the NEST smart thermostats and today are worth some $3 billion. But that was then, this is now. I think what’s important about now is we need way greater ambition and speed to avert catastrophic, irreversible climate crisis. I mean, the evidence is all around us. We’ve got devastating hurricanes and floods and wildfires and 10 million climate refugees. The IPCC says that if we don’t reduce our carbon emissions by 2030 by 55 percent, we will see global warming overshoot by more than 2°C, nearly 4°F. And the Paris accords, which were agreed to in 2015, if we were achieving them, it would still cause us to land at around 2°C. The bad news is we’re not close to achieving any of those goals. So, the latest report from the UN said this is a code red problem and I also see all problems as opportunities. Barry, I think this is going to be the greatest opportunity, human opportunity, social opportunity, economic opportunity for the 21st century. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about that opportunity. You talked in the book about cutting emissions in half by 2030 and net zero by 2050 and you referenced six main areas of attack, transportation, the electrical grid, food, protecting nature, cleaning up industry, and then removing carbon from the atmosphere. Let’s talk a little bit about each of those because they’re all quite fascinating. We were talking about Tesla, how quickly do we think that we’re going to be past internal combustion engines with a fully electrified transportation network? DOERR: Well, that’s a great question and we can — I want to put this in context. Every year, we dump 59 gigatons of carbon, greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere as if it’s some kind of free and open sewer. And so, the book and the research behind it has built a plan in electrifying transportation and the other five for which each of the objectives has three to five key results. These are Andy Grove Intel style, very measurable specific steps in transportation. It says that electric vehicles will achieve parity, price performance parity with combustion engines in the U.S. by 2024. It says one of two new personal vehicles purchased worldwide are electric vehicles by 2030. So, what I’m trying to say is this is a global plan. RITHOLTZ: Right. DOERR: We’ve seen some nations of the world, some states like California say they’re going to ban the sale of internal combustion vehicles. And there’s also key results for buses, for trucks, for miles driven, for airplanes and maritime and this whole plan is available for free. You can download it at the website speedandscale.com. So, it’s pragmatic, it’s ambitious, it’s almost unachievable. It’s a total of 55 key results for the world, numeric time bound, and we’ve got to get after them all at once. We can’t take turns. We’re not going to achieve all of these, Barry. It’s — but if we fall short on one, we can make ground faster in others. Now, I don’t want to intimidate people by how big — how tall an order this is. The book also includes 35 stories from entrepreneurs and policymakers and leaders and innovators, leaders of indigenous tribes that describe in their own words their struggle, their successes, their journey to change the world. One of my favorites is of a cross-country team who got together to petition their school district to go to cleaner busses. They were sick and tired of running behind diesel buses with polluted air and it shows that something that I deeply believe and that is we’re fast running out of time. And so, yes, we need individuals to take individual action to eat less meat, use photovoltaic solar and buy an electric vehicle if you can afford it. But I’ve really written this book for the leader inside of everyone, their inner leader, and that’s their ability to influence others to act as a group like this cross-country team of runners in Maryland who got their school district to adopt electric buses. What the book shows is that we can get this job done but, as I said, we’re fast running out of time. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about — by the way, the bus discussions in the book are quite fascinating not just because China leapt out to a big lead and have been very aggressively replacing diesel buses with electric buses but you helped fund an entrepreneur in the U.S. that’s gone around and has done a great job getting cities to purchase electric buses. The transportation grid is clearly an issue but as you point out, that’s only six gigatons. A bigger issue is the grid, the electric grid, which produces 21 gigatons of emissions. Tell us about what we need to do to decarbonize the electrical grid. DOERR: 100%, you’re right. If we move to electric vehicles but we still use coal to generate electricity, we won’t have reduced emissions. And the biggest opportunity is to decarbonize the grid and that’s to take today’s 24 gigatons of emissions mostly from goal, also natural gas to generate electricity. Take that 24 down to three gigatons. So, the first key result, the biggest of them, is to get 50 percent of our electricity from zero emission sources globally by 2025 and get it down to 38 percent — get a 90 percent by 2035. That would save us 16.5 gigatons. Simply put, we need to move to renewable sources like wind and solar and invest in longer-term durable storage so that we have reliable energy when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk about that battery technology a little bit. We’ve seen a series of incremental improvements over time but nothing has been like an order of magnitude improvement. Will we be able to get there soon enough? Do we need a Manhattan project for batteries or are all those incremental improvements compounding and we’ll get there eventually? DOERR: Much of the improvement that is needed in all of these technologies is lowering their costs. And so, batteries today are still too expensive for electric vehicles in India and in China. They’re barely affordable in the U.S. marketplace. RITHOLTZ: Right. DOERR: And so, the book tells the story of QuantumScape, I’ll disclose, a public company that I’ve invested in and served on the board of, an entrepreneur by the name of Jagdeep Singh and he is going for a quantum improvement in batteries to more than double their energy density. The energy density of a battery is how much energy you’ll get out of it for a pound of weight of a battery and it’s especially important in electric vehicles because the most expensive part of the vehicle is the battery and it’s the heaviest part and you got use energy to move the weight around. So, if you double the energy density of a battery, you can get a three or four times systems improvement in the vehicle itself. I’m not expecting, I don’t think anyone is forecasting an order of magnitude improvement. We’ve seen considerable lowering costs of batteries over time. But the QuantumScape innovation, which is an all solid-state battery, would be a genuine breakthrough. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about food, another key source of emissions. How can we become more efficient in growing the food affecting the menu of what we eat and reducing enough food waste to make a difference? DOERR: There’s three big things t to do about food. The first is to reduce the meat and dairies in our diet and I’m not saying cut them out entirely but to replace some of that with delicious, healthy plant-based proteins. And the book tells a story of Beyond Meat and the crusade of its founder. He struggled and mortgaged his house to lead the revolution in plant-based protein. It turns out that there’s a billion cows on the planet. The book tells you their story as well. If they were a nation, it would be the third largest country in terms of the emissions. The second big thing to do about food is to reduce food waste. Globally, 30 percent of the food that we produce is wasted and taking some straightforward measures we think that can be reduced. Our goal is to reduce it to 10 percent of the food that we produce, particularly when you consider the population will grow to 10 billion by the end of the century. Finally, we got to get more efficient with how we grow food and we can, for example, apply fertilizer much more precisely with new technologies. All in all, the food sector is a way for us to reduce nine gigatons of emissions to two gigatons by 2050 or a net gain of seven out of the 59 gigatons that we got to drive to zero. RITHOLTZ: So, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about beef and agriculture generally. But let’s talk about commercial fishing, what’s the impact of our fishing practices on the health of the oceans and its ability to absorb carbon and reflect heat? DOERR: Well, over fishing together with over drilling and over development have released huge amounts of carbon from the ocean floor and life and if we prevented the destruction of mangroves and other ocean life, we could prevent a gigaton of emissions from entering the atmosphere every year. Our plan calls to eliminate deep sea bottom trawling, which is an especially destructive practice. Bottom trawling releases one and a half gigatons of CO2 equivalent emissions. It also calls for increasing the protection of oceans to 30 percent by 2030 and 50 percent by 2050. I want to call out, this is an area of climate ambition that Walmart is staking out an important and powerful leadership position. Not only that they said they’re going to have their supply chain be carbon neutral by 2040 but they are going to preserve, protect millions of acres of land and ocean water in the effort to become the first scale regenerative company. RITHOLTZ: Really, really interesting. So, very often, the average person listening to a conversation like this thinks, well, what can I do, I’m just one person. What’s the balance of responsibility between individuals on one side and government and institutions on the other? DOERR: We need all the forces in our economy, in our society to come together and work on this. We need innovators. We need entrepreneurs. We need policymakers. We need investors. We need to hear more from impassioned youth. In 2018, Greta Thunberg was a single high school student skipping school on Fridays. A year later, in 2019, in December, she organized a million-person march in a hundred cities around the world and specifically, she made the climate crisis atop two voting issue in the nations in Europe. Barry, it is not a top voting issue in the U.S. It is not a top issue in China or even in India. So, we have work to do and that’s one of our accelerants, the ways we get all this done faster and that’s to turn movements into specific actions. We really need individuals to lead others in powerful ways. That’s, for example, employees, pushing your employers to make net-zero commitment or shareholders and investors demanding changes in the board rooms. It turns out that changing the lightbulbs and eating less meat is important but we’ve got to go further. We’ve got to change our laws or even our lawmakers in order to avert this climate crisis. RITHOLTZ: Quite fascinating. I want to talk about some of the things you’ve said in the book that apply everywhere but are especially applicable to the climate crisis. Let’s start with, quote, “It seems every dozen years we witness magical ever-exponentially larger waves of innovation.” So, let’s start first with climate, how and where are those waves of innovation coming that’ll help ameliorate the climate crisis? DOERR: Well, the innovations are happening on many fronts, the material sciences, electrochemistry, biology. The opportunity that the climate transition to a clean energy the economy represents is the largest of our lifetime. It’s a bigger mobilization than even the effort of the allies to defeat the Nazi Axis in World War II. You’ll remember then, we shut down for four years all manufacturing of automobiles and appliances and instead, created 268,000 fighter aircrafts, 20,000 battleships. It was a monumental effort dealing with an existential threat. And that same level of innovation and ambition is required to win in this climate campaign. Other areas of breakthroughs or innovations, I’m even becoming a believer that we’ll see nuclear fusion. That’s the kind of clean energy that comes from the sun, practical within a decade. Concrete and steel that’s carbon free, long duration storage, the opportunities to reimagine and reinvent how we create, share, transmit and use energy in every facet of our lives is as big an opportunity as we’ll see in our lifetime. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s stay focused on that opportunity for a minute. This isn’t a charity or a foundation that’s doing this for free. When we look around, there are actual venture investments that you’ve been making successfully. So, you past on Tesla but somebody put money into Tesla. Wind turbines, solar, Beyond Meat is now public company. You are an early investor into that. You’re looking at this as more than just, hey, we have to do this in order to make sure that we don’t have a runaway greenhouse effect and Earth turns into Venus and becomes uninhabitable. But there are also very legitimate economic opportunities here also. Expound on those a little bit. DOERR: Well, there’s no better example than Tesla which had gone from a struggling company reliant on loans, thank you, United States taxpayers, to the sought most valuable company in the world. And by some measures, Elon Musk is the most — is the richest individual in the world. He took on huge risks and he delivered for his customers and shareholders, his country and his planet. And the best of the work that Elon has done is inspire, perhaps, through fear but certainly by example the rest of the automobile industry to accelerate their shift to clean and electric vehicles. So, this is, how I like to say, the mother of all markets. It’s a monster market. Batteries alone, the batteries to move from internal combustion vehicles to electric vehicles, are estimated to be $400 billion per year, Barry, for 20 years. We are going to — we must recreate all the infrastructure that we use to power out planet. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk about something we haven’t gotten to when we were talking about those larger waves of innovation. Lots of folks are excited about blockchain and crypto and Web 3.0. But when we look at things like Bitcoin, it’s a big energy hog, how do we reconcile all the wealth that’s being created there with its massive electricity consumption? DOERR: Its electricity consumption is sustainable and so, we’re going to have to move to clean Bitcoin, green Bitcoin and we’ll get there by regulation, if not, by other market forces I would predict. Today, I believe that Bitcoin uses as much energy as the entire nation of Sweden. So, Bitcoin, I believe, is here to stay but it — we can’t fuel it through dirty electricity. RITHOLTZ: You mentioned concrete earlier and I also read in the book that you want to end single-use plastics. What does the world of material science promised us for replacing things in those spaces? How do you replace concrete? How do you replace single-use plastic? DOERR: Concrete is probably the hardest problem of all because in the production of the concrete, you almost must create carbon emissions. We can reduce the energy use to make concrete. There are some concrete innovations that absorb the CO2 into the material. But that’s an area where we need more innovation. What was your second area? RITHOLTZ: Single-use plastics. DOERR: Single-use plastics. The plan calls for the banning and really the replacement of single-use plastics. The banning of single-use plastics and in general to replace plastics with compostable materials that can be recycled and I am confident that with investment and entrepreneurial work, we can get that done. RITHOLTZ: So, we haven’t really talked about pulling carbon out of the atmosphere. I get the sense from some people that they’re expecting some technological magic bullet that’s going to solve climate change. Tell us about how we can remove carbon from the atmosphere and is there a magic bullet coming. DOERR: The speed and scale plan calls for us to remove 10 gigatons of carbon dioxide per year. I emphasize remove. This will be gigatons of CO2 emissions that we were not able to eliminate, we were not able to cut, we were not able to slash. They’ll be some uses of aviation fuel as an example or other stubborn carbon. Two approaches to this, one of which is to innovate around nature-based ways of removing CO2. For example, growing greater kelp forest in the oceans. But the other that has captured a lot of attention is called direct air capture or that’s engineered removal of carbon. Think of them as kind of mechanical trees and this technology works today but only at small scale. It sucks the CO2 out of the air. It requires a lot of electricity in order to do that. And so, it’s very expensive today, some $600 per ton. If we’ve got to remove five gigatons per year at $600 per ton, that’s $3 trillion a year and it’s hard to see how that’s affordable. So, entrepreneurs are hard at work to lower those costs and I hope they do. RITHOLTZ: So, there’s a quote I like from another venture capitalist who said venture capital properly deployed can solve the biggest problems, filling the void left by shrinking scientific ambitions of governments, foundations and international organizations. What are your thoughts on that approach? How crucial is venture capital to our future and can it replace these other entities? DOERR: Venture capital is crucial and it’s stepping up to the challenge. There will be an estimated $30 billion invested venture capital in climate technologies this year. Our plan calls for 50 billion this year. But venture capital is not going to get this job done on its own. We need government-funded research and development to grow in the U.S. alone to 40 billion a year. Other countries have got to triple their funding. We need project financing. We need philanthropic investing. Jeff Bezos’ commitment of $10 billion to the Bezos Earth Fund is the largest philanthropic commitment to climate crisis that we’ve ever witnessed or enjoyed. There’s really four accelerators that will get this job done. One of them is investing. Another is innovation, the work of entrepreneurs. But I think the hardest are going to be to turn our movements into actions so we get the politics and the policy correct because it’s going to take a massive, collective, coordinated effort to achieve our ultimate OKR and that’s to take 59 gigatons of emissions to net zero by 2050. RITHOLTZ: That’s an ambitious target and if we miss that target, what are the ramifications? DOERR: We’ll leave our kids and our grandkids an uninhabitable planet. We’ll see the Arctic sea ice surely melts away. We’ll have — estimates are up to a billion climate refugees. There’s 10 million of them already. Hundreds of millions of people will starve. It’s unthinkable. And so, we must get this done. RITHOLTZ: So, let me turn this back to what’s going on in the world of venture now. When the early decades of you work at Kleiner Perkins was into a very friendly IPO market, how much does timing matter broadly, meaning, hey, if there’s an exit available, if there’s a big IPO market that makes it more likely people are going to invest in these companies and have a successful exit. Tell us a little bit about timing. DOERR: Well, investors, myself included, will stop at nothing to copy success. So, the timing of today’s markets for climate technologies whether it’s Tesla or Rivian or better batteries or Beyond Meat, it’s good and I would say in the long run, it’s going to continue to be good because the size of the markets and the need, the economic need, the opportunity, and the planetary pressures. RITHOLTZ: So, if a younger venture capitalist or a newfound venture fund came to you and ask for advice, what would you tell them about this opportunity? DOERR: There’s so many different venture firms and strategies. I would say to them that this is the greatest opportunity with 21st century that they should be strategic about their contribution. Is it to work with early-stage entrepreneurs and removing technical risks or at the other extreme, is it to be smart and sharp about project financing? But the overall costs of the transition from a dirty fossil economy to a clean new energy economy is $4 trillion per year, per year. That sounds like a big number until you compare it with the cost of dirty energy, the social cost, the disruption, the premature deaths. One in five deaths are premature due to carbon pollution. Those come in at about $10 billion per year. So, it’s literally cheaper to save the Earth than it is to ruin it. RITHOLTZ: And there’s just seems to be endless amounts of cash pouring into the venture capital sector. Arguably, it’s never been higher. What are your thoughts on this? Does it worry you? What’s the driver of all this money sloshing around? DOERR: Some people say that we’re experiencing a bubble, a bubble in fintech or Bitcoin or climate technologies. I see it very differently. I think it’s a boom and historically, whether it was the advent of transcontinental railroads or the automobiles, we saw booms which led to full employment, overinvestment, rapid innovation. And, no, not all those car companies survive. But I think the same will be true of the other fields of innovation. I think one of the things that gives me great hope is the power of human ingenuity. We got ourselves into these specs and, Barry, I’m betting, we’re going to figure our way out. RITHOLTZ: So, what do you say to people who sort of posture Silicon Valley’s best days are behind it? Do you have a response to any of those folks? DOERR: I think they’re wrong. I think provided we deal with this existential threat, the climate crisis, and that is not guaranteed, but provided we do that and we get a 50% reduction in the next decade, I think we’re on track for a wonderful, prosperous, healthy planet. RITHOLTZ: Can I tell you and I should have mentioned this earlier but I read a ton of books for the show and I found the book really quite fascinating and it’s pretty obvious to me that an engineer was behind this. There’s just a lot of great slides and charts and graphs and it’s not just all texts. Parts of it are narrative and parts of it are historical and it reminds me of a well-made slide deck. So, nice job on the book. DOERR: Well, thanks for sharing that. I want to send you a bound version of the book if you’ll email me your physical mailing address. There’s one other thing — other story I might tell you about the book. RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: I was talking the other day with a reader, a mom who told me that every night, she takes two or three pages of the book and she reads them together with her daughter and then they talk about together what that means for the world her daughter is going to inherit, and I thought, wow, that’s the use of the book I never imagined and one that I’m honestly proud of. RITHOLTZ: How — it looks like this was the work of a lot of different people. How did you end up researching and writing this? DOERR: We talked to hundred different leaders in the field, policymakers, researchers, modelers, activists and from those, selected some 35 stories. We ended up with a thousand different data points that we needed to verify and collected those into 500 end notes, which are in the book. And I did it with an amazing small team of three or four on research and writing stuf. I’m an engineer as you know and so I’m not so good with words and I had the benefit of a writing team that helped make this much more readable. RITHOLTZ: Well, it shows, you can see the book is a fast read. I sat down with a bunch of stickies and highlighter and found myself just plowing through chapter after chapter. It was a relatively quick read and very easy to put down and then pick back up again. Each chapter is very distinct and you’ve really laid out a plan to prevent climate catastrophe from taking place. So, thank you for that. DOERR: One thing I want to make sure your audience know is this, they can get a free infographic, it’s a single poster-sized piece of paper that has on both sides of it all the objectives, all the key results, all the measures. And it’s reassuring for people who are fearful that there is a plan and that if we do these things, we can find a way to a habitable planet. That’s what we’ve got to do. RITHOLTZ: So, I know I only have you for a limited amount of time. Let me jump to my favorite questions that I ask all of my guests starting with tell us what you’ve been streaming these days, give us your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime or whatever podcast you’re listening to. DOERR: So, I haven’t had time for streaming on Netflix. I’ve been doing research, reading books and papers on the climate crisis itself. But getting this word out, I’ve listened to a — I’ve started listening to a couple of new podcast, John Heilemann’s Hell & High Water … RITHOLTZ: Sure. DOERR: … and Tim Ferriss Show, both of which, I think, have a distinctive imprint from their hosts (ph). RITHOLTZ: Tell us about your mentors who helped to shape your career. DOERR: So, the biggest influence on my life was my dad Lou Doerr, an engineer, entrepreneur and hero and I’ve been blessed by a number of mentors, perhaps most notable of them, Andy Grove, and what I learned from him at Intel prompted me to write a first book called “Measure What Matters” and that tells stories of a dozen different organizations using OKRs, which is what then I applied to the climate crisis. I would tell you Al Gore is a hero of mine. He’s wonderfully resolute man who’s impassioned, effective and funny. He and I talked regularly about the climate crisis. RITHOLTZ: Tell us about some of your favorite books, what are your all-time favorites and what are you reading right now. DOERR: So, my current reading, no surprise, is largely around the climate crisis. I love Elizabeth Colbert’s “Under a White Sky” which described climate futures. And two other books are “How to Avoid a Climate Disaster” by Bill Gates, very accessible book, and a profile — a new profile of Winston Churchill called “The splendid and the Vile.” RITHOLTZ: Two good recommendations. What sort of advice would you give to a recent college grad who wanted to pursue a career in venture investing? DOERR: I would say to her gain experience as an entrepreneur. I’d repeat the advice that I was given early in my career which was go get a real job in a real growing tech company and sharpen your skills in the real hard world of business economics and then take that experience to help other entrepreneurs succeed. RITHOLTZ: And our final question, what do you know about the world of venture investing today that you wish you knew 40 years ago? DOERR: I wish I knew 40 years ago how important the team is, the leadership of the team, the recruiting of the team, the growing of the team because in the end, it’s more than large market, it’s more than compelling technologies. It’s teams who know how to execute well. RITHOLTZ: Really, really fascinating stuff. Thanks, John, for being so generous with your time. We have been speaking with John Doerr. He is a partner at famed venture firm Kleiner Perkins and the author of the new book, “Speed and Scale: An Action Plan for Solving our Climate Crisis Now.” If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out all of our previous discussions. You can find those wherever you find your favorite podcast, iTunes, Spotify, Acast, wherever. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. Sign up for my daily reads @ritholtz.com. Follow me on Twitter, @Ritholtz. I would be remiss if I do not thank our crack staff that helps with these conversations together each week, Michael Batnick is my head of research, Atika Valbrun is our project manager, Paris Wald is our producer, I’m Barry Ritholtz, you’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio.   ~~~   The post Transcript: John Doerr appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureDec 6th, 2021

BP’s CEO Is Trying to Convince the World He’s Serious About Going Green

(To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Nothing in Bernard Looney’s youth suggested that he would find himself, at 50, leading one of the world’s biggest oil giants at the most tumultuous moment in its history. The CEO of the 112-year-old British company was raised in… (To receive weekly emails of conversations with the world’s top CEOs and business decisionmakers, click here.) Nothing in Bernard Looney’s youth suggested that he would find himself, at 50, leading one of the world’s biggest oil giants at the most tumultuous moment in its history. The CEO of the 112-year-old British company was raised in relative poverty on a farm in rural Ireland, and joined BP straight out of college 30 years ago. Then he rose through the ranks, and nailed the top job in February 2020. Now he says he is determined to remake BP entirely. Just weeks after becoming chief exec. last year, Looney announced the company would cut its oil and gas production by 40% by the end of this decade, plow billions into solar, wind and other renewables, and roll out electric-vehicle charging points at its convenience stations worldwide. By 2050, he says, BP will zero out its polluting carbon emissions—a whopping 415 million metric tons a year in 2019. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Climate activists are deeply skeptical, fearing Looney is tinkering at the edges, and claiming big loopholes in his plan; they hear echoes of BP’s failed attempt in the 1990s to ramp up clean energy, when it dropped its old name British Petroleum. Such skepticism was underlined in October, when the organizers of the COP26 climate talks in Glasgow rebuffed requests of BP and other oil companies to formally join the massive confab of governments, businesses, and climate activists. BP’s plans, they said, did not match the climate goals. Looney says he understands the doubts, but insists he is “all in,” to use one of his favorite phrases. On November 22, he sat down with TIME in his sleek executive offices on London’s St. James’s Square, to explain the reach—and limitations—of his strategy, and to describe the immense complexity in resetting the company’s direction after a century of putting carbon into the atmosphere. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.) Some might say it’s an unenviable job leading a Big Oil company now. You’re the villain in the climate debate. We must change. We have to lean into the transition. We must give society what it wants and needs, and that is clean, reliable, affordable energy, and to do that, we have to change. And of course, we want to change and we want to change because our employees are part of society too. They have children, they have neighbors, they have friends. They want to make a difference in the world. And we also believe in this. And it’s an enormous business opportunity for us, because trillions of dollars are going to get spent rewiring and replacing the Earth’s energy system. So yes, it is complex. Yes, there are times when it is hard. But tell me something in life that was worthwhile, that was neither complex nor hard. People are skeptical that you are actually for real. We understand why people feel like that. They see us as part of the problem, not part of the solution. I believe that we are and will be and need to be part of the solution. I would go further and say that if BP doesn’t transition, the world won’t transition. Energy is where the emissions are. Tesla sells close to a million cars a year today. The world needs 70 million cars a year. Toyota, Volkswagen, Renault-Nissan: They make 30 million cars a year. When they go electric, the world goes electric. When companies and sectors like BP start to transition, the world will transition. You just cannot scale and build enough green companies fast enough at the pace enough to make the difference. Even so, climate activists say that word “ambition” is a fuzzy word. It’s not a real commitment. Any objective person would struggle to say we are not all in on this. We took the painful decision to cut our dividend in half last year. We wrote off over $20 billion worth of assets last year that we said neither should be produced nor could be produced. We took the difficult decision to have 10,000 people leave the organization. We are reallocating capital. We are increasing our spend. We are the only company who said that they’re going to reduce their production of oil and gas. We’re not doing this to window dress and we’re not greenwashing. We’re trying to do what is the right thing for our company, for its stakeholders and importantly, for its shareholders. Environmentalists say that’s all very well, but this does not include, for example, your joint venture with [Russian oil giant] Rosneft, which is a considerable amount of BP’s production—something like a third, I believe. It’s about a million barrels a day, about a third. We’ve been absolutely transparent. We said we will reduce our production by 40%. If you include Russia, it’s 28%—still a huge amount. It’s not like we control Rosneft. We’re a 20% shareholder. You would you be surprised to hear that Rosneft’s greenhouse gas intensity per barrel of oil is lower than BP’s. They have a plan to eliminate routine flaring. They’re reducing emissions as we speak. The question is, is the world better off by BP being there or not? It’s the same argument I would use for an investor: An investor has a choice to divest from BP or invest in BP. Some people feel that they should divest, they feel that’s the right thing for the world. I think many people feel they should divest. BP is hardly alone in this. Many people, many funds, endowments, are basically getting out of fossil fuel companies. How worrying is that for you? I can assure you that is not the right thing. Our shareholders own our company. We listen to our shareholders. The way to bring about change is to invest and make your views known. We need people to back the agenda that we’re on. A transition like this is going to be messy, it’s going to be complex. It does not lend itself to a simple, ‘Who’s good, who’s bad? Who’s green, who’s not?’ There is no simple solution here. The best thing you can do for climate is to invest in a carbon-intensive company like BP and back them going green. We’re going to reduce our emissions by between 35% and 40% by 2030. We’re going to invest 10 times more in low carbon than we do today by 2030, eight times by 2025. We’re going to install 70,000 charging points for electrification. We have the scale and the resources and the cash flows and the skills to do that. But you are also in the next several years adding barrels. If I read the the third-quarter results correctly, there has been an increase in production. I read that you have added 900,000 barrels a day. Yes, between 2016 and 2021, five years. We brought on seven projects this year, and we will bring on projects next year, and the year after. We will start up new oil fields and we will invest in new oil fields, but only the ones that have the best carbon intensity, only the ones that have the best economics, the shortest paybacks, the highest returns. But we will do that because we have a three-part strategy: Part one is resilient hydrocarbons. Part number two is convenience and mobility. Part three is low carbon energy. So part one of our strategy is hydrocarbons and will be for decades to come. We’re not shying away from that. Any scenario has oil and gas in the system in 2050. Our job is to produce those hydrocarbons with the lowest possible emissions. Oil and gas will continue to be needed. People may not like to hear that. It may be an unpopular truth. We will do that and we will use those cash flows to help us make the transition. We will continue very clearly to sanction and develop new oilfields. The existing oil fields decline, and some of them decline very quickly. So net-net our production goes down by 40% through this decade: 20% by 2025, 40% by 2030. The International Energy Agency projects something like 20 million barrels of oil a day global consumption by 2050. That’s a fraction of current demand. Yes, 80% less. Very, very much smaller. We’ve projected [BP’s production will be] 1.5 million barrels a day by 2030, down from 2.6 million today. Our focus is on is developing reserves on two criteria: How do we produce barrels with the lowest possible environmental footprint? Number two: What produces the best returns. We will invest in only the best because less barrels will meet those investment thresholds. Does this mean that from your reserves of 18 billion barrels of oil equivalent, a chunk of that will never be touched, that it will remain in the ground? We’ve said things like we are no longer going to explore into new basins for exploration, right? We are no longer going to enter a new country to find the next giant oilfield. But, for example, you are in Norway. So you are going to explore new oil prospects in Norway, correct? We have a joint venture in Norway, and they will develop new oil fields. And BP will explore for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, where we have existing infrastructure: It’s been growing and it will grow. It was a great success story for America and the world, and we believe we can grow it over the next three to four years. But that doesn’t mean that the overall picture doesn’t decline. That’s what we mean by “high grading.” We will develop the best barrels, will make the portfolio higher value. How much of your overall greenhouse gas emissions targets will rely on things like carbon capture and storage technology, which climate activists see as not a solution? We can do what we’ve set out to do between now and 2030 without using carbon capture. Beyond that, we believe that the world will need sort of every tool available to it to meet its net-zero. In the longer term, things like natural climate solutions, things like carbon capture and storage will be a very big part. What about offsets, like planting trees? That’s what I mean by natural climate solutions. Planting trees or preventing trees from being cut down. There is no silver bullet. I wish there was. The world is going to have to use every tool to help it get there. People like Mark Carney, Prince Charles, activists that I’ve spoken to, Conservation International, these people believe that this is part of the solution and it will be part of our toolkit in the medium term. The barrels where we have existing infrastructure are very positive, because you’re not having to build new infrastructure and start up new facilities. So places like the Gulf of Mexico will be very important to the company for a very long time to come. Our position in the onshore in the United States is very important to the company for a long time. We’re mainly in Texas. But you will still be exploring and producing new fields. It is a three-part strategy and there is not a light switch. We cannot turn off the business that generates the cash flow overnight. There is 100 million barrels a day being used in the world today. BP produces about 2.5 million barrels a day right now. If BP is somehow removed from the system, the 100 million demand isn’t going to go away. People still need the product they need. And you would somehow have just removed one of the greatest contributors for positive change. Why would you want to do that? What you really want to do is back those people, to make the transition a real success. But you can’t do it overnight. You simply cannot flick a switch. The market has not been particularly giddy with enthusiasm about your strategy. Why do you think that is? I don’t know. You tell me. Well, look, I think this is a big change. The most important part of our strategy is what we call performing while transforming. You have to do multiple things at once. It’s about reducing emissions, and it’s about growing cash-flow. It’s about purpose. We just had our third quarter in a row of strong results. Our business is running really, really well. I was struck by the testimony of oil executives before the U.S. Congress in late October. The whole framing of that was this is like the Big Tobacco testimony, which was so memorable. Hollywood movies were made of it. Firstly, what’s it like to be compared to Big Tobacco in the media? I think the provision of energy to the world is a very, very different proposition to tobacco. The energy that the world has consumed over the last many, many decades has brought about enormous increases in standards of living. So that’s how I think about it. Talking of that, climate activists say the industry never deals with its historic carbon emissions, and the fact that they have taken so much out of the world’s carbon budget. It has been a century. Aside from transitioning to green energy now, is there also a kind of debt to be paid to the planet? I’m not the best person to ask about that. What I can tell you is that in 1997, BP’s chief executive Lord Browne gave a speech at Stanford University, where he was the first leader in our industry to acknowledge that there was a link between human activity and carbon emissions. And if you look at the work that we have done since then, including investing $10 billion and writing off most of it between 2000 and 2010, because we were simply too early, the world wasn’t really ready for renewable energy. We established an internal emissions trading system. We’ve been doing everything that we can to put this on the agenda and be do something about it. We have both an opportunity and a responsibility to help the world transition. I actually believe that with the thousands of engineers and the thousands of scientists and one of the world’s largest trading organizations and decades of experience in the energy markets, we actually can help. Society wants reliable, affordable, clean energy. This is not easy when you have wind, solar, hydro, natural gas, nuclear in the mix. Somebody has to take those forms of energy and knit them together to give a hospital or give a data center what it needs. Think about it. We spent decades going offshore, drilling for oil, finding it, building big facilities, producing it, refining it, putting it into our retail network into your car. We’re going to take offshore wind. We’re going to build that. And this time we’re going to generate electrons rather than molecules, and we’re going to take those electrons in our energy system, take them to our charging network, and put them into your car. I am thinking of buying a car, trying to figure out what to get. Will you buy an electric vehicle? I think it may be a hybrid. The hybrid is a nice representation of a world in transition. You mentioned your trading business, which is a big business. The 40% cut in oil and gas production does not include that. How much of your oil and gas is from trading, selling oil and gas that other producers drill? I don’t have a number in terms of volume. A barrel might change hands 10 times. That’s why we focused on our aim, which is the oil and gas that we take out of the ground and introduce to the world. We’re going to reduce it by 40%. I genuinely believe that if we stick to our plot, and perform while we transform, that’s the formula for success. It’s not one at the expense of the other. We have to do both. Shareholders like what we’re doing. And increasingly, they understand it and back it. Moody’s credit agency published a report in October saying the oil and gas industry has a high probability for default, because they are the least prepared for the energy transition. Even if you are a standout in the industry, are you concerned that investors, that a major credit rating agency, sees the oil and gas industry as just not the place to put your money? Well, allow me to make the value argument. Oersted used to be an oil company called the Danish National Oil Company. It transformed itself from being an oil and gas company into being the world’s largest offshore wind company, and in the process, its value went up by 30 or 40 times. We are at the beginning of a journey that will take time. That has the potential to create enormous amounts of value for our shareholders who invest in us. Good for the world and good for the bottom line. You think you can convince the young generation of that? You talk to our employees, talk to our own young people. They’re very committed. They know this transition is not a light switch. It’s going to be hard work......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 6th, 2021

I tried working in a never-ending Zoom call that"s like a "virtual WeWork," and it made my day more social while maintaining my productivity

Creator Cache Bunny started the Zoom call 18 months ago as a place for creatives to come watch each other work and stay productive. Zoom screen of Edit.PartyCache Bunny Edit.Party, a viral virtual work meeting, helped fill people's social need after COVID took it away. The zoom call hosts 50 people on average at a given time from 72 countries around the world. The "party" was not distracting — it actually helped me feel more productive at times. In the thrust of the COVID pandemic, many remote workers sat at home, configuring their homes into office spaces and struggling to recapture the feel of working in-person. As offices plan to reopen for in-person work, workers across industries have pushed to remain remote to stay "flexible." According to a report from BambooHR, one-in-three workers who are sent back to in-person work in August with highly-restrictive social settings feel worse than they did at the height of COVID quarantine. A survey from PwC in August showed that 41% of remote workers wouldn't want to go back to the office at all.I felt largely in the same boat as most remote workers, except with an eagerness to be social and work in-office. Recently, I stumbled across a Tik Tok showing a Zoom call titled, "Edit.Party," whose express goal was providing the social element of working in an office to remote workers.So I decided to try it out for a few days to see if this zoom gathering was a sustainable place to work. I've spent the last 4 months of my workdays working from home in Southern California for a company based in New York.Francis AgustinAs a sociable person, I found it hard adjusting to working in a room by myself. Sometimes, I would even long for team meetings just to inject my day with some social variety.For Cache Bunny, a Los Angeles video director and visual effects artist, COVID quarantine effectively killed the creative inspiration and human connection that came with working physically alongside other people.Cache BunnyCache Bunny originally started streaming her editing work on Twitch, but felt the five to eight hour streams were unsustainable.She found a way to repurpose Zoom, the video communications app, into a thriving co-working social community.Cache Bunny/Edit.Party"I realized I don't want to be showing my work necessarily. I don't want to be talking at all. I really just want to like be alongside people while they're also focused," Cache Bunny told Insider. "So then that's where I kind of came up with the idea for the format."Upon entering, Edit.Party looked like any other Zoom call. I went on grid-mode to fully take in the experience of seeing everyone, and it was definitely strange to be sharing my name, social handles, and face to dozens of strangers.Cache Bunny (center) welcomes me (top left) on the edit.party for the first time.Francis AgustinCache bunny said many of those on the call are from a range of professional backgrounds – from musicians, to video editors, coders, and analysts — and are not part of a particular company.Mics are silenced for all users to minimize potential distractions as a mix of EDM, Lo Fi, and indie tracks play in the background, but there is an ongoing chat on the sidebar so people can talk and interact.Francis AgustinPeople use the chat box to share more about themselves, their hobbies, interests, or what they're doing that day. Users immediately jumped in the chat to say hello to me.I even got to join what are called "Focused Sprint" sessions, where people completely mute their computers and concentrate on a project for a given time.Cache Bunny/edit.partyIt forced me to hold myself accountable for the time I was spending on work while having the support of others who were doing it too. It also got my creative juices flowing and I was able to do more writing, researching, making phone calls, sending emails, and organizing my schedule as a result.Edit.Party has evolved over the past year-and-a-half, developing its own sense of workplace culture and quirks.Much of the cultural characteristics of the zoom call are built around their artistic backgrounds, with members talking about or sharing their work with other members. Meanwhile, occasional glances at the screen showed people eating lunch, chatting with housemates, and wrangling their kids or pets.During the work day, one of the Edit.Party house creators, Collin O'Malley, showcased a drone flyby of the house for all of the zoom call attendees, getting to share his creative passions with his community.—francis agustin (@francisnagustin) November 22, 2021 O'Malley, an early user of Edit.Party who piloted the drone, quit his IT job and moved to LA to join Edit.Party members to pursue FPV drone piloting."It would be safe to say that edit.party has completely changed my life," O'Malley (left) told Insider.Cache Bunny/edit.partyHe told Insider he now runs part of the back-end of Edit.Party, finding an appreciation for the community.The relationships forged were so unique and unlike anything they had experienced, several Zoom attendees told Insider. A few original members would even move in together in a house in LA.Members met up for the first time since the pandemic began in Los Angeles, CA in July 2021.Cache Bunny/edit.party"I have all my friends with me and they're also being productive," Cache Bunny said. "So it just sort of turns something that was once the least social activity in the world into this fully social activity.""It felt so nice to be able come into a 24/7 open space full of amazing creators and just have people to edit with or hang out," said Jacob Rodier, a video content creator I met on the Zoom. "We even had a meetup recently where I met some of them in real life."New York Edit.Party members meet in October 2021Edit.PartyAccording to Cache Bunny, the call hosts users from over 72 countries around the world, who plan meetups in their respective countries, including Morocco, Colombia, and Belgium.Edit.Party members meet up in Antwerp, Belgium in November 2021.Edit.Party[This experiment] is absent any of the political intrigue of an organization and the kind of competition for resources that you typically find in organizational settings," said Stewart Friedman, a professor at University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business.A staff members sits at his work station in Facebook's office at the Potsdamer Platz in Berlin, Germany, 17 February 2016.Bernd von Jutrczenka/picture alliance via Getty Images"It creates a whole different template for the kinds of relationships people can develop that are among the many real benefits that people gain from the social affiliations that they have through work," Friedman added."Personalizing a virtual goodbye party to the individual will make the event will make it less awkward and more memorable.Morsa Images/Getty ImagesSome firms, like PayPal and Citrix, have recently tested virtual headquarters or workspaces for their employees in an attempt to meet those social needs.Workers using Facebook's Horizon Workrooms, an early version of a metaverse workplace.FacebookMeta, formerly Facebook, has also made big strides in the virtual space, redirecting focus and investment into building a "metaverse" workplace for employees to interact with each other.It might be tricky for the easily distracted, but the welcoming vibe and inherent kinship made for a stimulating work experience. It surprised me that this type of community existed out there.Francis AgustinEdit.Party is evidence of this unique overlap of people with a demand for a hybrid workspace — people who want to experience the camaraderie of the office from home. I remain uncertain on whether a forum like Edit.Party could be the future of the workplace, but from what I've gathered using it, it's proved to be an entertaining and productive place to spend my workday.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 4th, 2021

The latest news about the public relations industry, from pay and hiring to growth areas

Here's the latest on salaries, M&A, and growth areas in public relations. Protesters against abortion restrictions gathered at the Texas State Capitol on May 21, 2019.Eric Gay/AP PR is getting more complex as companies and public figures seek help navigating social issues. The industry is also booming as firms see opportunity in areas like financial communications and data. Insider rounded up its coverage of all the big trends in the industry, from hiring to growth areas to M&A. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The public relations industry is going through big changes as PR firms scramble to invest in data and analytics and fend off competition and as corporate America faces increasing public scrutiny.Firms are also seeing opportunity in areas like advertising, digital, and ecommerce. They're taking advantage of booming areas like financial communications and diversity, equity, and inclusion, creating lucrative if high-pressure jobs.Insider has been tracking these trends at some of the largest PR firms including Edelman, Weber Shandwick, and Sard Verbinnen. Here's a roundup of our coverage on everything from hot practice areas, how to get hired, and pay. Hiring, pay trendsThe PR industry employed around 270,000 people in the US as of 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It employs people who work in-house at brands as well as agencies of all sizes.PR firms have cut hundreds of jobs in the downturn, but the field remains high-paying and competitive, with growing opportunities in pharma, tech, and healthcare communications.Read more:PR industry salaries revealed: How much top firms like Teneo, BCW, and FTI pay employees, from consultants to managing directorsHere's a rundown of new perks and benefits public relations firms are offering, from big bonuses to extra vacation daysTough interview questions public relations execs can expect as social issues and politics become a bigger part of the jobWhy I quit PR agencies: 5 public relations pros share why they left and tips for former colleaguesHow to get a job at PR giant Edelman and what to expect if you land an interview, according to the company's recruitersMeet 12 top public relations recruiters to know right nowWhat it takes to get high-paying jobs at strategic consulting firms like Finsbury and Kekst CNC, from handling tricky questions to nailing writing testsThe industry is attracting new investmentPrivate equity firms used to view public relations agencies and software companies as a volatile industry, but now they're pouring money into the industry, drawn to its high recurring revenues, diversified businesses, and cash flow.Read more: 8 big investors like Golden Gate Capital and Stagwell Group that are pouring billions into public relations firmsA new Enero exec who's hunting for PR acquisitions revealed what she's looking for as it tries to grab share from holding companies like WPP and Omnicom9 public relations companies are challenging the status quo and taking on giants like Edelman and BCWInvestment giant Apollo is planning to sell Notified, one of the biggest PR software companies10 public relations firms that experts say are plum acquisition targetsSome areas of PR are thrivingFirms like Edelman, BCW, and FleishmanHillard have seen growth as new pitches pick up and companies seek help with crisis situations and communicating to the public and employees about office reopening and diversity and inclusion issues.Read more: Crypto and blockchain companies are snapping up public relations execs from Google, Twitter, and Edelman, as regulation loomsPR giants like Edelman and Sard Verbinnen are seeing a surge in demand as companies seek to minimize damage from the coronavirus pandemicPR shops like Edelman bag millions as companies struggle with back to work messInternal communications business is booming for PR firms like Edelman, Prosek, and Kekst CNC as CEOs scramble to reassure remote workforces and plan for a return to the officeThe world's two largest PR firms, Edelman and Weber Shandwick, pledged to hire more people of color in senior positionsFirms see opportunity in advertising and consultingA lucrative but less understood niche is strategic communications, which involves crisis, litigation, financial, and other high-stakes public relations and comprises firms like Finsbury, Kekst CNC, and Gladstone Place Partners.PR firms are increasingly finding themselves in competition with advertising, consulting companies, and even law firms as the lines between these industries blur.Read more: A consulting firm backed by mega-law firm Dentons is offering an unusual perk to lure top talent from public relations heavyweights like Edelman and FTICEOs of PR firms like Edelman and BCW reveal why they're focused on winning business from advertising and consulting companies coming out of the pandemic.With the Texas abortion law, CEOs face pressure on what to say on another hot-button social issue — but few have spoken outPorter Novelli's CEO lays out his plan to revive the PR firm after office closures and years of declinePublic relations heavyweight Edelman has quietly built a 600-person creative team and says it's becoming a 'serious alternative' to ad agencies, winning clients like Ikea and TazoHealthcare marketing giant W2O just snapped up two more companies as it seeks to take on consultancies like Accenture and CognizantMeet 18 top PR pros that companies like SoFi and Talkspace are turning to in the SPAC IPO crazeMeet PR exec Jennifer Prosek, who built a $60 million business spinning for clients like Goldman Sachs and The Carlyle Group, and now faces her biggest challenge yetThese are the top 15 financial public relations pros CEOs call when their companies are on fireHow tech is changing PRPublic relations pros are facing increased pressure to prove the value of their services, giving rise to a $4.5 billion communications software industry that helps PR firms do things like monitor news coverage and social media, provide accurate measurements, and identify influencers and journalists.Firms like Edelman and MSL have developed their own tools to monitor news and track the impact of PR for clients.Read more:Private equity firm Tritium Partners acquired an up-and-coming PR tech company to take on giants like Cision and Meltwater11 tech firms that top companies like Coca-Cola and Samsung rely on to prove their PR worksThe top 27 software companies serving the public relations industryPR agencies are beefing up their data services to keep consulting firms like Deloitte and Accenture from eating their lunchPR giant MSL breaks down how it's using tech tools to prove its work drives results for clients like P&G and CadillacPublic relations giant Edelman is poaching execs from WPP, Google, and others to build a data analytics powerhouseOmnicom is boosting its data arm with a new tool to convince skeptics that PR can drive business resultsRead the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 26th, 2021

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic

Black Friday Turns Red On "Terrible News" - Global Markets Crater On "Nu Variant" Panic The Friday after thanksgiving is called black Friday because that's when retailers finally turn profitable for the year. Not so much for market, however, because this morning it's red as far as the eye can see. The culprit: the same one we discussed late last night - the emergence of a new coronavirus strain detected in South Africa, known as B.1.1.529, which reportedly carries an "extremely high number" of mutations and is “clearly very different” from previous incarnations, which may drive further waves of disease by evading the body’s defenses according to South African scientists, and soon, Anthony Fauci. British authorities think it is the most significant variant to date and have hurried to impose travel restrictions on southern Africa, as did Japan, the Czech Republic and Italy on Friday. The European Union also said it aimed to halt air travel from the region. "Markets have been quite complacent about the pandemic for a while, partly because economies have been able to withstand the impact of selective lockdown measures. But we can see from the new emergency brakes on air travel that there will be ramifications for the price of oil," said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa. As a result, what was initially just a 1% drop in US index futures, has since escalated to a plunge of as much as 2% with eminis dropping the most since September, at one point dropping below 4,600 after closing on Wednesday above 4,700 as a post-Thanksgiving selloff spread across global markets amid mounting concerns the new B.1.1.529 coronavirus variant - which today will be officially called by the Greek lettter Nu - could derail the global economic recovery.  Russell 2000 contracts sank as much as 5.4%. Technology shares may be caught in the net too as Nasdaq 100 futures slid. The VIX increased as much as 9.4 vols to 28, it's biggest jump since January. It was last seen up 7.4 points, or the biggest increase since February. Adding to the pain, there is nothing on today's macro calendar and the US market closes early which will reduce already dismal liquidity even more, exacerbating some of the moves throughout the session. Headlines are likely to center on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically, as well as which countries "find" the Nu variant. Amid the panicked flight to safety, 10Y TSY yields tumbled as traders slashed bets on monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve (just hours after Goldman predicted that the Fed would double the pace of its taper and hike 3 times in 2022, oops) ... ... as did oil amid fears new covid lockdowns will lead to a collapse in crude demand (they will also certainly force OPEC+ to put on pause their plans to keep hiking output by 400K every month). Paradoxically, even cryptos are tumbling, which is surprising since even the dumbest algos should realize by now that a new covid outbreak means more dovish central banks, no tightening, and if nothing else, more QE and more liquidity which is precisely what cryptos need to break out to new all time highs. Cruise ship operator Carnival slumped 9.1% in premarket trading and Boeing slid 5.8% as travel companies tumbled worldwide. Stay-at-home stocks such as Zoom Video rallied.  Didi Global shares fell after Chinese regulators reportedly asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Here are some of the other big premarket movers: Airlines and other travel stocks slumped in premarket trading on growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant identified in southern Africa. The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from several countries in the area and the U.K. will temporarily ban flights from the region. United Airlines (UAL US) fell 8.9%, Delta Air (DAL US) -7.9%, American Airlines (AAL US) -6.7%; cruiseline-operator Carnival (CCL US) -12%; hotelier Marriott (MAR US) -6.1%; lodging company Airbnb (ABNB US) -6.9%. Stay-at-home stocks that benefit from higher demand in lockdowns rose in premarket, with Zoom Video (ZM US) gaining 8.5% and fitness equipment group Peloton (PTON US) +4.7%. Vaccine stocks surged in premarket, while Pfizer and BioNTech got an added boost after their coronavirus shot won European Union backing for expanded use in children. Moderna (MRNA US) rose 8.8%, Novavax (NVAX US) +6.2%, Pfizer (PFE US) +5.1%, BioNTech (BNTX US) +6.4%. Small biotech stocks gained in premarket as investors sought havens. Ocugen (OCGN US) added 22%, Vir Biotechnology (VIR US) +7.8%, Sorrento Therapeutics (SRNE US) +5%. Cryptocurrency-exposed stocks fell as Bitcoin dropped as investors dumped risk assets. Marathon Digital (MARA US) declined 9%, Riot Blockchain (RIOT US) -8.8%, Coinbase (COIN US) -4.6%. Didi Global (DIDI US) declined 6% in premarket after Chinese regulators were said to have asked the ride-hailing giant to delist from U.S. bourses. Selecta Biosciences (SELB US) dropped 13% in Wednesday’s postmarket ahead of Thursday’s Thanksgiving closure, after saying the U.S. FDA placed a clinical hold on a trial. Quotient Technology (QUOT US) gained 3.9% in Wednesday’s postmarket on news that a board member bought $150,000 of shares. What happens next will matter and so, all eyes are on the opening bell for the U.S. markets, set to return from the holiday for a shortened trading session. Tumbling futures and a soaring VIX signaled that the rout in Asia and Europe won’t spare New York equities, while lack of liquidity will only make the pain worse. The Japanese yen emerged as the main haven currency of the day, with the dollar languishing. “Every trader in New York will be rushing to the office now,” said Salm-Salm & Partner portfolio manager Frederik Hildner, adding that news of the new variant could mean the end of the inflation and tapering debate. The worsening pandemic poses a dilemma for central banks that are preparing to tighten monetary policy to curb elevated price pressures, according to Ipek Ozkardeskaya, senior analyst at Swissquote. “It’s terrible news,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya, a senior analyst at Swissquote, said in emailed comments. “The new Covid variant could hit the economic recovery, but this time, the central banks won’t have enough margin to act. They can’t fight inflation and boost growth at the same time. They have to choose.” “We now have a new Covid variant that’s ‘very’ different from the ones we knew so far, a rising inflation, and a market bubble,” she said.  “The only encouraging news is the easing oil prices, which could tame the inflationary pressures and give more time to the central banks before pulling back support.” In the meantime, the World Health Organization and scientists in South Africa were said to be working “at lightning speed” to ascertain how quickly the B.1.1.529 variant can spread and whether it’s resistant to vaccines. The new threat adds to the wall of worry investors are already contending with in the form of elevated inflation, monetary tightening and slowing growth. In Europe, the Stoxx 600 index headed for the biggest drop in 13 months plunging 2.7%; travel and banking industries led the Stoxx Europe 600 Index down as much as 3.7%, the biggest intraday drop since June 2020. Airbus slumped 8.6% in Paris and British Airways owner IAG tumbled 12% in London, while food-delivery stocks gained.  Here are some of the biggest European movers today: Stay-at-home stocks and Covid testing firms such as TeamViewer and DiaSorin are among the biggest gainers as worries over a new Covid variant send the Stoxx 600 tumbling on lockdown fears TeamViewer and DiaSorin rise as much as 6% and 7%, respectively On the down side, travel and leisure stocks plunge, with the likes of IAG, Lufthansa and Carnival posting double- digit falls IAG drops as much as 21% Software AG shares rise as much as 9.5% after Bloomberg reported that the firm is exploring strategic options, including a potential sale, with Morgan Stanley saying the company’s biggest headwinds are behind it. Evolution gains as much as 4.6%, recouping part of Thursday’s 16% plunge, with Bank of America saying the share price’s “crazy time” amounts to a good buying opportunity. Skistar rises as much as 3.7%, bucking steep declines for travel and leisure stocks, after Handelsbanken upgraded the stock, saying bookings for the Scandinavian ski resort operator are “set to surge.” Telecom Italia climbs as much as 2.8% following a Bloomberg report that private equity firms KKR and CVC are considering teaming up on a bid for the company. ING Groep falls as much as 11% after Goldman Sachs analyst Jean-Francois Neuez cut his recommendation to neutral from buy. Getlink drops as much as 6% as French fishermen start protests aimed at stepping up pressure on the U.K. in a post-Brexit fishing dispute. Earlier in the session, MSCI's index of Asian shares outside Japan fell 2.2%, its sharpest drop since August. Casino and beverage shares were hammered in Hong Kong, while travel stocks dropped in Sydney and Tokyo. Japan's Nikkei skidded 2.5% and S&P 500 futures were last down 1.8%. Giles Coghlan, chief currency analyst at HYCM, a brokerage, said the closure of the U.S. market for the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday had exacerbated moves. "We need to see how transmissible this variant is, is it able to evade the vaccines - this is crucial," Coghlan said. "I expect this story to drag on for a few days until scientists have a better understanding of it." Indian stocks plunged as the detection of a new coronavirus strain rattled investor sentiment globally, raising concerns over a likely setback to the nascent economic recovery.  The S&P BSE Sensex lost 2.9%, the most since mid-April, to 57,107.15 in Mumbai, taking its loss this week to 4.2%, the biggest weekly drop since January. The NSE Nifty 50 Index declined by a similar magnitude on Friday. Reliance Industries was the biggest drag on both measures and declined 3.2%.  “There is fear of this new variant spreading to other countries which might again derail the global economy,” said Hemang Jani, head of equity strategy at Motilal Oswal Financial Services Ltd.   Of the 30 shares in the Sensex index, 26 fell and 4 gained. All but one of 19 sub-indexes compiled by BSE Ltd. retreated, led by a index of realty companies. The S&P BSE Healthcare index was the only sub-index to gain, surging 1.2%. While researchers are yet to determine whether the new virus variant is more transmissible or lethal than previous ones, authorities around the world have been quick to act. The European Union, U.K., Israel, and Singapore placed emergency curbs on passengers from South Africa and the surrounding region. Travel stocks were among the hardest hit. InterGlobe Aviation Ltd. fell 8.9%, Spicejet Ltd. slipped 6.7% and Indian Hotels Co. Ltd. plunged 11.2%, the most since March 2020.  “Nervousness on the new variant of coronavirus and expectations of the U.S. Fed increasing the pace of tapering have led to recent market weakness,” Amit Gupta, fund manager for portfolio management services at ICICI Securities Ltd. said. “This trend may take some time to recover as the WHO meeting on the new mutant variant impact and hospitalization rates in US and Europe will be watched by the market very closely.” Crude oil to emerging markets completed this picture of mayhem. In rates, fixed income was firmly bid as Treasuries extended their advance led by the belly of the curve, outperforming bunds, while money markets pared rate-hike bets amid fears that a new coronavirus strain may spread globally, slowing economic growth. Cash Treasuries outperformed, richening 12-14bps across the short end, with Thursday’s closure exacerbating the optics. As shown above, 10Y Treasury yields shed as much as 10 basis points while the Japanese yen jumped the most since investors’ March 2020 rush for safety. Yields across the curve are lower by more than 8bp at long end, 13bp-15bp out to the 7-year point, moves that if sustained would be the largest since at least March 2020 and in some cases since 2009. Short-term interest rate futures downgraded the odds of Fed rate increases. Gilts richened 10-11bps across the curve, outperforming bunds by 4-5bps. Peripheral and semi-core spreads widen. In FX, JPY and CHF top the G-10 scoreboard with havens typically bid. In FX, the Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after earlier touching a fresh cycle high, and the greenback was mixed versus its Group-of-10 peers as the yen and the Swiss franc led gains while the Canadian dollar and Norwegian krone were the worst performers as commodity prices plunged. Traders pushed back the timing of a 25-basis-point rate increase by the Federal Reserve to July from June, with only one further hike expected for the remainder of 2022. It’s a similar story in the U.K. where the Bank of England is now expected to tighten policy in February instead of next month. Wagers that the ECB will raise its deposit rate by the end of next year have also been slashed, with only a six basis-point increase priced in, half of that seen earlier this week. The European Union is proposing to follow the U.K. in halting air travel from southern Africa after the new Covid-19 variant was identified there. The yen is at the epicenter of skyrocketing currency volatility as the new virus variant shakes markets. The cost of hedging against swings in the Japanese currency over the next week, which captures the release of the next U.S. payrolls report, is the most expensive in more than a year. In commodities, crude futures are hit hard. WTI drops over 7% before finding support near $73, Brent drops over 5% before recovering near $78. Spot gold grinds higher, adding $21 to trade near $1,809/oz. Base metals are sharply offered with much of the complex off as much as 3%. Looking at the otherwise quiet day ahead, data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 1.9% to 4,607.50 STOXX Europe 600 down 2.8% to 468.04 MXAP down 1.8% to 193.33 MXAPJ down 2.2% to 628.97 Nikkei down 2.5% to 28,751.62 Topix down 2.0% to 1,984.98 Hang Seng Index down 2.7% to 24,080.52 Shanghai Composite down 0.6% to 3,564.09 Sensex down 2.7% to 57,234.83 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 1.7% to 7,279.35 Kospi down 1.5% to 2,936.44 Brent Futures down 5.8% to $77.46/bbl Gold spot up 0.9% to $1,805.13 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.33% to 96.46 German 10Y yield little changed at -0.31% Euro up 0.4% to $1.1259 Top Overnight News from Bloomberg The European Union is proposing to halt air travel from southern Africa over growing concern about a new Covid-19 variant that’s spreading there, as the U.K. said it will also temporarily ban flights from the region Those close to the Kremlin say the Russian president doesn’t want to start another war in Ukraine. Still, he must show he’s ready to fight if necessary in order to stop what he sees as an existential security threat: the creeping expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in a country that for centuries had been part of Russia Bitcoin tumbled 20% from record highs notched earlier this month as a new variant of the coronavirus spurred traders to dump risk assets across the globe Germany’s Greens tapped their two co- leaders to run the foreign ministry and take charge of an influential portfolio overseeing economy and climate protection in the country’s next government under Social Democrat Olaf Scholz A more detailed breakdown of global markets courtesy of Newsquawk Asian equity markets declined and US equity futures were also on the backfoot on reopen from the prior day’s Thanksgiving lull with markets spooked by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa that was first detected in Botswana. The new variant showed a high number of mutations and was said to be the most evolved strain ever which spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and is prompting both the UK and Israel to halt flights from several African nations. ASX 200 (-1.7%) was negative with heavy losses in energy and broad underperformance in cyclicals leading the downturn across all sectors, while the much better than expected Australian Retail Sales data was largely ignored. Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) underperformed and gave up the 29k status as selling was exacerbated by detrimental currency inflows and with SoftBank shares among the worst hit on reports that China is said to have asked Didi to delist from US exchanges on security fears, which doesn't bode well for SoftBank given that its Vision Fund is the top shareholder in the Chinese ride hailing group with a stake of more than 20%. Hang Seng (-2.5%) and Shanghai Comp. (-0.7%) conformed to the risk aversion with the mood not helped by ongoing geopolitical concerns after a Chinese Defense Ministry spokesperson noted they are ready to crush Taiwan independence bid "at any time”, while China also said it opposes US sanctions on its companies and will take all necessary measures to firmly defend the rights of Chinese companies. Beijing interference further contributed to the headwinds amid the request by China for Didi to delist from US which reports stated regulators could backtrack on and with Tencent subdued after some Chinese state-run companies restricted the use of Tencent's messaging app. Top Asian News Stocks in Asia Set for Worst Day Since March on Virus Woes Mizuho CEO Steps Down After Regulator Hit on System Issues Meituan 3Q Revenue Meets Estimates Japan’s Kishida Delivers $316 billion Extra Budget for Recovery European equities are trading markedly lower (Stoxx 600 -2.9%) with losses in the Stoxx 600 extending to 3.8% WTD. Sentiment throughout the week has been hampered by various lockdown measures imposed across the region with the latest leg lower accelerated by new COVID variant concerns related to the B.1.1.529 variant in South Africa. The new variant has shown a high number of mutations and is said to be the most evolved strain so far. This has spurred fears it could be worse than Delta and has prompted multiple nations to halt flights from several African nations.The handover from the overnight session was an equally downbeat one with the Nikkei 225 (-2.5%) dealt a hammer blow by the risk environment and unfavourable currency flows. Stateside, futures are lower across the board with the RTY the clear laggard with losses of 4.2% compared to the ES -1.8%, whilst the tech-heavy NQ is faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1.6%. Note, early closures in the US and subsequent liquidity conditions could exacerbate some of the moves throughout the session. With the macro calendar light, focus for the session is likely to centre on various nations preventing travel from South Africa whilst potentially imposing more stringent COVID measures domestically. Any further clarity on the spread of the variant and its potential to evade vaccines will be of great interest to the market and likely be the main driving force of price action today. Sectors in Europe are lower across the board with the Stoxx 600 Banking (-5.1%) sector bottom of the pile amid the declines seen in global bond yields as markets scale back expectations of central bank tightening (e.g. pricing now assigns a 63% chance of a 15bps hike by the BoE next month vs. 93% a week ago). Oil & Gas names (-4.8%) are suffering on account of the declines in the crude space with WTI crude in freefall with losses of 6.7% given the potential impact of travel restrictions on demand. Travel restrictions on South Africa (from UK, Israel, EU et al) and the potential for further announcements has crushed the Travel & Leisure sector (-5.7%) with airline names dealt a hammer blow; IAG (-13.5%), easyJet (-11%), Deutsche Lufthansa (-12%), Air France (-9.5%). Elsewhere, there are a whole raft of other laggards which are very much in-fitting with the March 2020 playbook but there are simply too many to list for the purpose of this report. Defensives and Tech are faring better than peers but ultimately still lower on the session to the tune of 1% and 1.9% respectively. Finally, for anyone wanting some positivity from today’s session, the potential for further lockdowns has proved to be beneficial for the likes of HelloFresh (+3.2%), Ocado (+2.1%) and Delivery Hero (+1.9%). Top European News Airlines Skid on South Africa Travel Bans Tied to Variant German Coalition Proposes a Combustion-Car Ban Without Saying So Putin Pushes Confrontation With NATO as Hardliners Prevail Siemens Is Said to Kick Off Sale of Postal Logistics Business In FX, the index has been under pressure in the risk-averse environment amid a slump in yields and gains in its basket components – namely the JPY, CHF, EUR (see below) – and with liquidity also thinned by Thanksgiving. From a technical perspective, the index has declined from its 96.787 overnight high, through the 96.500 mark, to a low of 96.332 – with the weekly trough at 96.035. Ahead, the US calendar is once again light, with the US also poised for an early Thanksgiving closure; thus, impulses will likely be derived from the macro environment. JPY, CHF, EUR - Haven FX JPY and CHF are the clear outperformers as a function of risk-related inflows. USD/JPY has retreated from a 115.37 peak and fell through its 21 DMA (114.15) to a base around 113.66 - with the current weekly low around 113.64. USD/CHF retreated from 0.9360 to 0.9260 – with the 50 and 100 DMAs seen at 0.9234 and 0.9219, respectively, ahead of 0.9200. EUR/USD meanwhile gains on what is seemingly an unwind of the carry trade amid a spike in volatility. EUR/USD found support near 1.1200 before rebounding to a current 1.1288 peak. AUD, NZD, CAD, GBP - The non-US Dollar risk currencies bear the brunt of the latest market downturn, with losses across industrial commodities not helping. The Loonie has taken the spot as the biggest G10 loser as hefty COVID-induced losses in the oil complex keep the currency suppressed. USD/CAD trades towards the top of a current 1.2647-2774 range. AUD is also weighed on by softer base metal prices – AUD/USD fell from a 0.7200 overnight high to a current low at 0.7110. On that note, Westpac sees AUD/USD pushed down to 0.7000 by Jun 2022 (prev. 0.7700) amid rate differentials with the US; Westpac made significant changes to its FOMC policy forecast and now expect consecutive increases in the fed funds rate in Jun, Sept, and Dec 2022. NZD/USD is slightly more cushioned amid smaller exposure to commodities, and as the AUD/NZD cross takes aim at 1.0450 to the downside. GBP, meanwhile, was initially among the losers amid its high-beta status but thereafter nursed losses in a move that coincided with EUR/GBP rejecting an upside breach of its 21 DMA at 0.8475. EM - The ZAR is the standout laggard given the new South African COVID variant - B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant (expected to be named Nu) – which is said to be the most evolved strain so far and thus prompted several countries to halt travel to the country of origin. USD/ZAR currently trades within a 15.9375-16.3630 intraday band. Meanwhile, the downturn oil sees USD/RUB north of 75.00 and closer to 76.00 from a 74.2690 base. The Lira also feels some contagion despite the lower oil prices (Turkey being a large net oil importer) – USD/TRY is back on a 12.00 handle and within 11.92-1226 parameters at the time of writing. In commodities, the crude complex has been hit by compounding COVID fears which in turn triggered various travel restrictions and subsequently took its toll on global crude demand prospects. The new and more evolved South African variant prompted the UK, Singapore, and Israel to expand their travel red lists to include some African nations (Israel reported its first case of the new COVID-19 variant known as B.1.1.529). Japan also imposed tighter border restrictions. China’s Shanghai city see flights impacted by its own outbreak. Europe also tackles its surge in daily cases - German Green Party's Baerbock (incoming Foreign Minister) does not rule out a German lockdown, according to Spiegel. EU Commission President von der Leyen is also to propose activation of the emergency air brake, to halt travel from southern Africa due to the B.1.1.529 COVID-19 variant. Losses in oil have exacerbated - with WTI Jan and Brent Feb now under USD 74/bbl (vs high 78.65/bbl) and USD 77/bbl (vs high 80.42/bbl), -6.0% and -5.0% respectively. This comes ahead of the OPEC+ confab next week, whereby OPEC watchers have suggested that oil prices will be a large contributor to the final decision. It is difficult to see how OPEC+ will increase output to the levels the US et al. will be content with, with the latest COVID downturn building the case for a pause in planned output hikes. Elsewhere, haven demand sees spot gold extend on gains above USD 1,800/oz after topping the 100 DMA (1,792.95/oz), 200 DMA (1,791.38/oz), 50 DMA (1,790.13/oz) overnight. Base metals are softer across the board amid the risk aversion. LME copper posts losses of around 3% at the time of writing, as prices threaten a more convincing downside breach of USD 9,500/t. US Event Calendar Nothing major scheduled DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap Things have escalated on the covid front quite rapidly over the last 12 hours. Yesterday new covid variant B.1.1.529 was slowly starting to gather increasing attention but overnight it has begun to dominate markets and has caused a notable flight to quality with 10 year USTs -8bps lower. It was originally identified in Botswana and is starting to spread rapidly in Africa. The South African Health Minister has said it is "of serious concern". Almost 100 cases have already been identified in South Africa and the UK moved to put the country back (along with 5 other African nations) on a reinstated red travel list last night with others following this morning. The variant is said to be the most heavily mutated version yet and the WHO will meet today to decide if it is a variant of interest or a variant of concern. So a lot of eyes will be on how severe it is and whether it completely evades vaccines. At this stage very little is known. Mutations are often less severe so we shouldn’t jump to conclusions but there is clearly a lot of concern about this one. Also South Africa is one of the world leaders in sequencing so we are more likely to see this sort of news originate from there than many countries. Suffice to say at this stage no one in markets will have any idea which way this will go. Overnight in Asia all benchmarks are trading lower on the news with the Shanghai Composite (-0.50%), CSI (-0.64%), KOSPI (-1.27%), Hang Seng (-2.13%) and the Nikkei (-2.90%) all lower. Airlines and other travel stocks have obviously fallen heavily. Hong Kong has detected two confirmed cases of the new variant just as Hong Kong and China were considering quarantine-free travel. S&P 500 (-0.93%) and DAX (-1.82%) futures are also much weaker. Elsewhere, in Japan, CPI rose +0.5% year-on-year (+0.4% consensus and +0.1% previously), on the back of 16-month high fuel prices. With the US out on holiday for Thanksgiving, there wasn’t much going on yesterday after a very quiet day in markets. The variant news was only slowly creeping into the news flow so it hardly impacted trading. But in keeping with the theme of recent days, both inflation and the latest covid wave in Europe remained very much in the picture as jitters continue to increase that we could see further lockdowns as we move towards Christmas. Starting with the headline moves, European equities did actually show signs of stabilising yesterday, with the STOXX 600 up +0.42% thanks to a broad-based advance across the continent. In fact that’s actually the index’s best daily performance in over three weeks, although that’s not reflecting any particular strength, but instead the fact the index inched steadily but persistently towards a record high before selling off again a week ago. Other indices moved higher across the continent too, with the FTSE 100 (+0.33%), the CAC 40 (+0.48%) and the DAX (+0.25%) all posting similar advances. These will all likely reverse this morning. One piece of news we did get came from the ECB, who released the account of their monetary policy meeting for October. Something the minutes stressed was the importance that the Governing Council maintain optionality in their policy settings, with one part acknowledging the growing upside risks to inflation, but also saying “it was deemed important for the Governing Council to avoid an overreaction as well as unwarranted inaction, and to keep sufficient optionality in calibrating its monetary policy measures to address all inflation scenarios that might unfold.” Against this backdrop, 10yr bond yields moved lower across multiple countries, with those on bunds (-2.3ps), OATs (-2.3bps) and BTPs (-1.9bps) all declining. There was also a flattening in all 3 yield curves as well, with the 2s10s slope in Germany (-3.0bps), France (-3.7bps) and Italy (-2.8bps) shifting lower. And the moves also coincided with a continued widening in peripheral spreads, with both the Spanish and the Greek spreads over 10yr bund yields widening to their biggest levels in over a year. Of course, one of the biggest concerns in Europe right now remains the pandemic, and yesterday saw a number of fresh measures announced as policymakers seek to get a grip on the latest wave. In France, health minister Veran announced various measures, including the expansion of the booster rollout to all adults, and a reduction in the length of time between the initial vaccination and the booster shot to 5 months from 6. Meanwhile in the Czech Republic, the government declared a state of emergency and approved tighter social distancing measures, including the closure of restaurants and bars at 10pm. And in Finland, the government have said that bars and restaurants not using Covid certificates will not be able to serve alcohol after 5pm. All this came as the European Medicines Agency recommended that the Pfizer vaccine be approved for children aged 5-11, which follows the decision to approve the vaccine in the US. Their recommendation will now go to the European Commission for a final decision. There wasn’t much in the way of data at all yesterday, though German GDP growth in Q3 was revised down to show a +1.7% expansion (vs. +1.8% previous estimate). Looking at the details, private consumption was the only driver of growth (+6.2%), with government consumption (-2.2%), machinery and equipment (-3.7%) and construction (-2.3%) all declining over the quarter. To the day ahead now, and data releases include French and Italian consumer confidence for November, as well as the Euro Area M3 money supply for October. Otherwise, central bank speakers include ECB President Lagarde, Vice President de Guindos, and the ECB’s Visco, Schnabel, Centeno, Panetta and Lane, and BoE chief economist Pill. Tyler Durden Fri, 11/26/2021 - 08:12.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeNov 26th, 2021