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8 rejected "Shark Tank" products that are worth millions in 2021

Fun fact: Ring is a "Shark Tank" reject that was later bought by Amazon for $1 billion. Here are eight products the Sharks were wrong about. Prices are accurate at the time of publication.When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more.ABC We love watching "Shark Tank" because it gives us a preview of startups that have potential to make it big. As these eight products underscore, contestants don't necessarily need a deal from the investors to succeed.  Notable examples of "Shark Tank" rejects that became very successful include Ring and Kodiak Cakes.  Throughout its 12 seasons, the show "Shark Tank" has averaged millions of viewers. It's the biggest public platform that an entrepreneur could hope for, and a 10-minute pitch on the show can translate to huge sales.Household names like the Scrub Daddy and Tipsy Elves all got their start after successfully striking deals on the show, but even companies that walked away without securing an investment have done as well as — if not better than — companies that did. The founders of these companies took their "Shark Tank" rejections in stride, using them as learning lessons to make millions in sales. Money from the judges would've been nice, but it turns out the national exposure can be just as valuable. Check out eight companies you'll be surprised didn't get deals on "Shark Tank": The Bouqs Co.The BouqsShop flower bouquets at The Bouqs Co.$39.00 FROM THE BOUQS CO.Online flower delivery service The Bouqs Co. left the Tank in 2014 without an investment, but Robert Herjavec kept them in mind three years later when he was planning the flowers for his wedding. Herjavec eventually ended up investing after getting a firsthand glimpse into the process behind creating beautiful arrangements. Co-founder and CEO John Tabis said that there were several days in 2017 when the company sold $1 million in flowers in a day. It has since raised more than $88 million in funding, including a $30 million round at the beginning of 2020. Check out our guide to the best flower delivery services.RingAmazonRing Video Doorbell 3$179.99 FROM AMAZON$179.99 FROM TARGET$179.99 FROM BEST BUYThis smart video doorbell gives homeowners peace of mind about who's at their door, whether they're at home or not. When Ring founder Jamie Siminoff appeared on the show, he valued his company, then called DoorBot, at $7 million.Since then, it's counted prominent investors like Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, Qualcomm Ventures, Goldman Sachs, and Richard Branson among its supporters. Amazon bought Ring in a deal worth over $1 billion, a testament to its versatile capabilities beyond home security.Ring has evolved beyond video doorbells since. Most recently at an Amazon devices event, Ring introduced a new drone surveillance cam, car alarm, and car cam. Check out our buying guide to the best home security systems.Kodiak CakesKodiak Cakes/InstagramKodiak Cakes Power Cakes Protein Pancake Flapjack and Waffle Mix (3-Pack)$14.97 FROM AMAZONThe co-founder and COO of Kodiak Cakes, a natural food brand that makes whole grain, protein-rich breakfast options, went on the show seeking a $500,000 investment for 10% of the business. Though the Sharks all liked the taste and nutritional benefits of these pancake mixes, none of them agreed with the valuation. Now, it boasts $160 million in annual sales and has a whole lineup of products, including oats, granola bars, graham crackers, protein balls, and microwavable flapjack cups. NerdwaxNerdwax/InstagramNerdwax$19.98 FROM AMAZONGlasses that are always sliding off your nose are an annoying distraction, but according to the "Shark Tank" judges, not annoying enough to justify the cost of $10 per tube of Nerdwax. The natural, non-irritating wax can be applied directly to the nose pads of your glasses to help them stay up and now has thousands of mostly favorable reviews on Amazon. Before appearing on the show, the founders say their sales were $136,000, but glasses-wearers across the country who watched the show loved the concept and helped bring sales to $1 million. The Lip BarThe Lip Bar/InstagramThe Lip Bar lipsticks$9.99 FROM TARGETFormer Wall Street executive Melissa Butler sought to create an affordable, vegan-friendly, and cruelty-free makeup brand that showcased more diverse imagery than the rest of the current beauty industry. In an interview with Rolling Out, she said she saw the harsh "Shark Tank" rejection more like a "spring forward" because it made her realize that she needed to focus more on an audience that understood the problem she was solving.Actress Taraji P. Henson wore The Lip Bar lipstick to the 2018 Oscars ceremony, and the products — which now also include eyeshadow, lip liner, brow gel — are now available in Target stores nationwide.Xero ShoesXero Shoes/InstagramXero Shoes$64.98 FROM AMAZONAfter constantly getting injured while running, cofounder Steven Sashen switched to barefoot running and loved the effects, so he created a thin running sandal. He and his wife Lena Phoenix ultimately turned down the $400,000 for a 50% equity offer from Kevin O'Leary for Xero Shoes.Though they didn't find a celebrity investor, they did find plenty of other supporters among the public and have raised $1 million through crowdfunding. In July 2020, USA Artistic Swimming announced Xero Shoes as its official footwear partner. MealEndersABCMealEnders Signaling Lozenges$44.95 FROM AMAZONThe idea of MealEnders, a two-layered candy lozenge meant to prevent overeating, intrigued the judges, but some did not like the taste. Others doubted its expensive marketing strategy. However, it still caught the attention of plenty of viewers. When the episode aired in early 2017, the company had sales of a modest $1.2 million. One short year later, sales were at $5 million. Copa Di VinoCopa di VinoShop wine at Copa Di Vino$35.99 FROM COPA DE VINOCopa Di Vino founder James Martin walked away from Sharks' offers not just once, but twice, and he's now notoriously known as one of the most disliked entrepreneurs on the show. Despite his arrogant attitude, you have to admit that his patented, single-serving wine containers are a fun idea. The appearances on the show led sales to skyrocket from $500,000 to more than $14 million. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderNov 22nd, 2021

Inside Frances Haugen’s Decision to Take on Facebook

Blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company is no small feat Frances Haugen is in the back of a Paris taxi, waving a piece of sushi in the air. The cab is on the way to a Hilton hotel, where this November afternoon she is due to meet with the French digital economy minister. The Eiffel Tower appears briefly through the window, piercing a late-fall haze. Haugen is wolfing down lunch on the go, while recalling an episode from her childhood. The teacher of her gifted and talented class used to play a game where she would read to the other children the first letter of a word from the dictionary and its definition. Haugen and her classmates would compete, in teams, to guess the word. “At some point, my classmates convinced the teacher that it was unfair to put me on either team, because whichever team had me was going to win and so I should have to compete against the whole class,” she says. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] Did she win? “I did win,” she says with a level of satisfaction that quickly fades to indignation. “And so imagine! That makes kids hate you!” She pops an edamame into her mouth with a flourish. “I look back and I’m like, That was a bad idea.” She tells the story not to draw attention to her precociousness—although it does do that—but to share the lesson it taught her. “This shows you how badly some educators understand psychology,” she says. While some have described the Facebook whistle-blower as an activist, Haugen says she sees herself as an educator. To her mind, an important part of her mission is driving home a message in a way that resonates with people, a skill she has spent years honing. Photograph by Christopher Anderson—Magnum Photos for TIME It is the penultimate day of a grueling three-week tour of Europe, during which Haugen has cast herself in the role of educator in front of the U.K. and E.U. Parliaments, regulators and one tech conference crowd. Haugen says she wanted to cross the Atlantic to offer her advice to lawmakers putting the final touches on new regulations that take aim at the outsize influence of large social media companies. The new U.K. and E.U. laws have the potential to force Facebook and its competitors to open up their algorithms to public scrutiny, and face large fines if they fail to address problematic impacts of their platforms. European lawmakers and regulators “have been on this journey a little longer” than their U.S. counterparts, Haugen says diplomatically. “My goal was to support lawmakers as they think through these issues.” Beginning in late summer, Haugen, 37, disclosed tens of thousands of pages of internal Facebook documents to Congress and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The documents were the basis of a series of articles in the Wall Street Journal that sparked a reckoning in September over what the company knew about how it contributed to harms ranging from its impact on teens’ mental health and the extent of misinformation on its platforms, to human traffickers’ open use of its services. The documents paint a picture of a company that is often aware of the harms to which it contributes—but is either unwilling or unable to act against them. Haugen’s disclosures set Facebook stock on a downward trajectory, formed the basis for eight new whistle-blower complaints to the SEC and have prompted lawmakers around the world to intensify their calls for regulation of the company. Facundo Arrizabalaga—EPA/EFE/ShutterstockHaugen leaves the Houses of Parliament in London on Oct. 25 after giving evidence to U.K. lawmakers. Facebook has rejected Haugen’s claims that it puts profits before safety, and says it spends $5 billion per year on keeping its platforms safe. “As a company, we have every commercial and moral incentive to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible on our apps,” a spokesperson said in a statement. Although many insiders have blown the whistle on Facebook before, nobody has left the company with the breadth of material that Haugen shared. And among legions of critics in politics, academia and media, no single person has been as effective as Haugen in bringing public attention to Facebook’s negative impacts. When Haugen decided to blow the whistle against Facebook late last year, the company employed more than 58,000 people. Many had access to the documents that she would eventually pass to authorities. Why did it take so long for somebody to do what she did? Read More: How Facebook Forced a Reckoning by Shutting Down the Team That Put People Ahead of Profits One answer is that blowing the whistle against a multibillion-dollar tech company requires a particular combination of skills, personality traits and circumstances. In Haugen’s case, it took one near-death experience, a lost friend, several crushed hopes, a cryptocurrency bet that came good and months in counsel with a priest who also happens to be her mother. Haugen’s atypical personality, glittering academic background, strong moral convictions, robust support networks and self-confidence also helped. Hers is the story of how all these factors came together—some by chance, some by design—to create a watershed moment in corporate responsibility, human communication and democracy. When debate coach Scott Wunn first met a 16-year-old Haugen at Iowa City West High School, she had already been on the team for two years, after finishing junior high a year early. He was an English teacher who had been headhunted to be the debate team’s new coach. The school took this kind of extracurricular activity seriously, and so did the young girl with the blond hair. In their first exchange, Wunn remembers Haugen grilling him about whether he would take coaching as seriously as his other duties. “I could tell from that moment she was very serious about debate,” says Wunn, who is now the executive director of the National Speech and Debate Association. “When we ran tournaments, she was the student who stayed the latest, who made sure that all of the students on the team were organized. Everything that you can imagine, Frances would do.” Haugen specialized in a form of debate that specifically asked students to weigh the morality of every issue, and by her senior year, she had become one of the top 25 debaters in the country in her field. “Frances was a math whiz, and she loved political science,” Wunn says. In competitive debate, you don’t get to decide which side of the issue you argue for. But Haugen had a strong moral compass, and when she was put in a position where she had to argue for something she disagreed with, she didn’t lean back on “flash in the pan” theatrics, her former coach remembers. Instead, she would dig deeper to find evidence for an argument she could make that wouldn’t compromise her values. “Her moral convictions were strong enough, even at that age, that she wouldn’t try to manipulate the evidence such that it would go against her morality,” Wunn says. When Haugen got to college, she realized she needed to master another form of communication. “Because my parents were both professors, I was used to having dinner-table conversations where, like, someone would have read an interesting article that day, and would basically do a five-minute presentation,” she says. “And so I got to college, and I had no idea how to make small talk.” Today, Haugen is talkative and relaxed. She’s in a good mood because she got to “sleep in” until 8:30 a.m.—later than most other days on her European tour, she says. At one point, she asks if I’ve seen the TV series Archer and momentarily breaks into a song from the animated sitcom. After graduating from Olin College of Engineering—where, beyond the art of conversation, she studied the science of computer engineering—Haugen moved to Silicon Valley. During a stint at Google, she helped write the code for Secret Agent Cupid, the precursor to popular dating app Hinge. She took time off to undertake an M.B.A. at Harvard, a rarity for software engineers in Silicon Valley and something she would later credit with helping her diagnose some of the organizational flaws within Facebook. But in 2014, while back at Google, Haugen’s trajectory was knocked off course. Haugen has celiac disease, a condition that means her immune system attacks her own tissues if she eats gluten. (Hence the sushi.) She “did not take it seriously enough” in her 20s, she says. After repeated trips to the hospital, doctors eventually realized she had a blood clot in her leg that had been there for anywhere between 18 months and two years. Her leg turned purple, and she ended up in the hospital for over a month. There she had an allergic reaction to a drug and nearly bled to death. She suffered nerve damage in her hands and feet, a condition known as neuropathy, from which she still suffers today. “I think it really changes your priorities when you’ve almost died,” Haugen says. “Everything that I had defined myself [by] before, I basically lost.” She was used to being the wunderkind who could achieve anything. Now, she needed help cooking her meals. “My recovery made me feel much more powerful, because I rebuilt my body,” she says. “I think the part that informed my journey was: You have to accept when you whistle-blow like this that you could lose everything. You could lose your money, you could lose your freedom, you could alienate everyone who cares about you. There’s all these things that could happen to you. Once you overcome your fear of death, anything is possible. I think it gave me the freedom to say: Do I want to follow my conscience?” Once Haugen was out of the hospital, she moved back into her apartment but struggled with daily tasks. She hired a friend to assist her part time. “I became really close friends with him because he was so committed to my getting better,” she says. But over the course of six months, in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, she says, “I just lost him” to online misinformation. He seemed to believe conspiracy theories, like the idea that George Soros runs the world economy. “At some point, I realized I couldn’t reach him,” she says. Soon Haugen was physically recovering, and she began to consider re-entering the workforce. She spent stints at Yelp and Pinterest as a successful product manager working on algorithms. Then, in 2018, a Facebook recruiter contacted her. She told him that she would take the job only if she could work on tackling misinformation in Facebook’s “integrity” operation, the arm of the company focused on keeping the platform and its users safe. “I took that job because losing my friend was just incredibly painful, and I didn’t want anyone else to feel that pain,” she says. Her optimism that she could make a change from inside lasted about two months. Haugen’s first assignment involved helping manage a project to tackle misinformation in places where the company didn’t have any third-party fact-checkers. Everybody on her team was a new hire, and she didn’t have the data scientists she needed. “I went to the engineering manager, and I said, ‘This is the inappropriate team to work on this,’” she recalls. “He said, ‘You shouldn’t be so negative.’” The pattern repeated itself, she says. “I raised a lot of concerns in the first three months, and my concerns were always discounted by my manager and other people who had been at the company for longer.” Before long, her entire team was shifted away from working on international misinformation in some of Facebook’s most vulnerable markets to working on the 2020 U.S. election, she says. The documents Haugen would later disclose to authorities showed that in 2020, Facebook spent 3.2 million hours tackling misinformation, although just 13% of that time was spent on content from outside the U.S., the Journal reported. Facebook’s spokesperson said in a statement that the company has “dedicated teams with expertise in human rights, hate speech and misinformation” working in at-risk countries. “We dedicate resources to these countries, including those without fact-checking programs, and have been since before, during and after the 2020 U.S. elections, and this work continues today.” Read More: Why Some People See More Disturbing Content on Facebook Than Others, According to Leaked Documents Haugen said that her time working on misinformation in foreign countries made her deeply concerned about the impact of Facebook abroad. “I became concerned with India even in the first two weeks I was in the company,” she says. Many people who were accessing the Internet for the first time in places like India, Haugen realized after reading research on the topic, did not even consider the possibility that something they had read online might be false or misleading. “From that moment on, I was like, Oh, there is a huge sleeping dragon at Facebook,” she says. “We are advancing the Internet to other countries far faster than it happened in, say, the U.S.,” she says, noting that people in the U.S. have had time to build up a “cultural muscle” of skepticism toward online content. “And I worry about the gap [until] that information immune system forms.” In February 2020, Haugen sent a text message to her parents asking if she could come and live with them in Iowa when the pandemic hit. Her mother Alice Haugen recalls wondering what pandemic she was talking about, but agreed. “She had made a spreadsheet with a simple exponential growth model that tried to guess when San Francisco would be shut down,” Alice says. A little later, Frances asked if she could send some food ahead of her. Soon, large Costco boxes started arriving at the house. “She was trying to bring in six months of food for five people, because she was afraid that the supply lines might break down,” Alice says. “Our living room became a small grocery store.” After quarantining for 10 days upon arrival, the younger Haugen settled into lockdown life with her parents, continuing her work for Facebook remotely. “We shared meals, and every day we would have conversations,” Alice says. She recalled her daughter voicing specific concerns about Facebook’s impact in Ethiopia, where ethnic violence was playing out on—and in some cases being amplified by—Facebook’s platforms. On Nov. 9, Facebook said it had been investing in safety measures in Ethiopia for more than two years, including activating algorithms to down-rank potentially inflammatory content in several languages in response to escalating violence there. Haugen acknowledges the work, saying she wants to give “credit where credit is due,” but claims the social network was too late to intervene with safety measures in Ethiopia and other parts of the world. “The idea that they don’t even turn those knobs on until people are getting shot is completely unacceptable,” she says. “The reality right now is that Facebook is not willing to invest the level of resources that would allow it to intervene sooner.” A Facebook spokesperson defended the prioritization system in its statement, saying that the company has long-term strategies to “mitigate the impacts of harmful offline events in the countries we deem most at risk … while still protecting freedom of expression and other human rights principles.” What Haugen saw was happening in nations like Ethiopia and India would clarify her opinions about “engagement-based ranking”—the system within Facebook more commonly known as “the algorithm”—that chooses which posts, out of thousands of options, to rank at the top of users’ feeds. Haugen’s central argument is that human nature means this system is doomed to amplify the worst in us. “One of the things that has been well documented in psychology research is that the more times a human is exposed to something, the more they like it, and the more they believe it’s true,” she says. “One of the most dangerous things about engagement-based ranking is that it is much easier to inspire someone to hate than it is to compassion or empathy. Given that you have a system that hyperamplifies the most extreme content, you’re going to see people who get exposed over and over again to the idea that [for example] it’s O.K. to be violent to Muslims. And that destabilizes societies.” In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. election, according to media reports, some initiatives proposed by Facebook’s integrity teams to tackle misinformation and other problems were killed or watered down by executives on the policy side of the company, who are responsible both for setting the platform’s rules and lobbying governments on Facebook’s behalf. Facebook spokespeople have said in response that the interventions were part of the company’s commitment to nuanced policymaking that balanced freedom of speech with safety. Haugen’s time at business school taught her to view the problem differently: Facebook was a company that prioritized growth over the safety of its users. “Organizational structure is a wonky topic, but it matters,” Haugen says. Inside the company, she says, she observed the effect of these repeated interventions on the integrity team. “People make decisions on what projects to work on, or advance, or give more resources to, based on what they believe is the chance for success,” she says. “I think there were many projects that could be content-neutral—that didn’t involve us choosing what are good or bad ideas, but instead are about making the platform safe—that never got greenlit, because if you’ve seen other things like that fail, you don’t even try them.” Being with her parents, particularly her mother, who left a career as a professor to become an Episcopal priest, helped Haugen become comfortable with the idea she might one day have to go public. “I was learning all these horrific things about Facebook, and it was really tearing me up inside,” she says. “The thing that really hurts most whistle-blowers is: whistle-blowers live with secrets that impact the lives of other people. And they feel like they have no way of resolving them. And so instead of being destroyed by learning these things, I got to talk to my mother … If you’re having a crisis of conscience, where you’re trying to figure out a path that you can live with, having someone you can agonize to, over and over again, is the ultimate amenity.” Haugen didn’t decide to blow the whistle until December 2020, by which point she was back in San Francisco. The final straw came when Facebook dissolved Haugen’s former team, civic integrity, whose leader had asked employees to take an oath to put the public good before Facebook’s private interest. (Facebook denies that it dissolved the team, saying instead that members were spread out across the company to amplify its influence.) Haugen and many of her former colleagues felt betrayed. But her mother’s counsel had mentally prepared her. “It meant that when that moment happened, I was actually in a pretty good place,” Haugen says. “I wasn’t in a place of crisis like many whistle-blowers are.” Read More: Why Facebook Employees ‘Deprioritized’ a Misinformation Fix In March, Haugen moved to Puerto Rico, in part for the warm weather, which she says helps with her neuropathy pain. Another factor was the island’s cryptocurrency community, which has burgeoned because of the U.S. territory’s lack of capital gains taxes. In October, she told the New York Times that she had bought into crypto “at the right time,” implying that she had a financial buffer that allowed her to whistle-blow comfortably. Haugen’s detractors have pointed to the irony of her calling for tech companies to do their social duty, while living in a U.S. territory with a high rate of poverty that is increasingly being used as a tax haven. Some have also pointed out that Haugen is not entirely independent: she has received support from Luminate, a philanthropic organization pushing for progressive Big Tech reform in Europe and the U.S., and which is backed by the billionaire founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar. Luminate paid Haugen’s expenses on her trip to Europe and helped organize meetings with senior officials. Omidyar has also donated to Whistleblower Aid, the nonprofit legal organization that is now representing Haugen pro bono. Luminate says it entered into a relationship with Haugen only after she went public with her disclosures. Haugen resigned from Facebook in May this year, after being told by the human-resources team that she could not work remotely from a U.S. territory. The news accelerated the secret project that she had decided to begin after seeing her old team disbanded. To collect the documents she would later disclose, Haugen trawled Facebook’s internal employee forum, Workplace. She traced the careers of integrity colleagues she admired—many of whom had left the company in frustration—gathering slide decks, research briefs and policy proposals they had worked on, as well as other documents she came across. Read more: Facebook Will Not Fix Itself While collecting the documents, she had flashbacks to her teenage years preparing folders of evidence for debates. “I was like, Wow, this is just like debate camp!” she recalls. “When I was 16 and doing that, I had no idea that it would be useful in this way in the future.” Jabin Botsford—Getty ImagesHaugen testifies on Oct. 5 before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. In her Senate testimony in early October, Haugen suggested a federal agency should be set up to oversee social media algorithms so that “someone like me could do a tour of duty” after working at a company like Facebook. But moving to Washington, D.C., to serve at such an agency has no appeal, she says. “I am happy to be one of the people consulted by that agency,” she says. “But I have a life I really like in Puerto Rico.” Now that her tour of Europe is over, Haugen has had a chance to think about what comes next. Over an encrypted phone call from Puerto Rico a few days after we met in Paris, she says she would like to help build a grassroots movement to help young people push back against the harms caused by social media companies. In this new task, as seems to be the case with everything in Haugen’s life, she wants to try to leverage the power of education. “I am fully aware that a 19-year-old talking to a 16-year-old will be more effective than me talking to that 16-year-old,” she tells me. “There is a real opportunity for young people to flex their political muscles and demand accountability.” I ask if she has a message to send to young people reading this. “Hmm,” she says, followed by a long pause. “In every era, humans invent technologies that run away from themselves,” she says. “It’s very easy to look at some of these tech platforms and feel like they are too big, too abstract and too amorphous to influence in any way. But the reality is there are lots of things we can do. And the reason they haven’t done them is because it makes the companies less profitable. Not unprofitable, just less profitable. And no company has the right to subsidize their profits with your health. Ironically, Haugen gives partial credit to one of her managers at Facebook for inspiring her thought process around blowing the whistle. After struggling with a problem for a week without asking for help, she missed a deadline. When she explained why, the manager told her he was disappointed that she had hidden that she was having difficulty, she says. “He said, ‘We solve problems together; we don’t solve them alone,’” she says. Never one to miss a teaching opportunity, she continues, “Part of why I came forward is I believe Facebook has been struggling alone. They’ve been hiding how much they’re struggling. And the reality is, we solve problems together, we don’t solve them alone.” ShutterstockFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced the company was rebranding as Meta. It’s a philosophy that Haugen sees as the basis for how social media platforms should deal with societal issues going forward. In late October, Facebook Inc. (which owns Facebook, Whats App and Instagram) changed its name to Meta, a nod to its ambition to build the next generation of online experiences. In a late-October speech, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believed the “Metaverse”—its new proposal to build a virtual universe—would fundamentally reshape how humans interact with technology. Haugen says she is concerned the Metaverse will isolate people rather than bring them together: “I believe any tech with that much influence deserves public oversight.” But hers is also a belief system that allows for a path toward redemption. That friend she lost to misinformation? His story has a happy ending. “I learned later that he met a nice girl and he had gone back to church,” Haugen says, adding that he no longer believes in conspiracy theories. “It gives me a lot of hope that we can recover as individuals and as a society. But it involves us connecting with people.” —With reporting by Leslie Dickstein and Nik Popli.....»»

Category: topSource: timeNov 22nd, 2021

Elon Musk just made $37 billion in a single day. Here"s how much he could owe under the Democrats" new billionaires" tax proposal.

Democrats' plan would tax the kind of on-paper capital gains that Musk, the world's richest person, made as Tesla hit a $1 trillion market value. Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Brendan McDermid/Reuters Elon Musk's vast fortune increased by $37 billion on Monday alone after Tesla's stock price surged nearly 13%. Senate Democrats are drafting a plan to tax exactly that kind of wealth gains for billionaires. Musk ripped the plan on Twitter the night of his one-day wealth surge: "Eventually, they run out of other people's money and then they come for you." Elon Musk's vast personal fortune got $37 billion bigger on Monday, a one-day increase bigger than the market value of entire corporations such as Best Buy and Bridgestone Tires.The same day, news leaked that Democrats were drafting a new tax proposal, under which exactly those kinds of capital gains could mean multibillion-dollar tax bills for Musk and the world's other wealthiest people.According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Musk's net worth increased from around $252 billion on Sunday to $289 billion on Monday as Tesla's stock price surged nearly 13% on the news that car rental firm Hertz announced a deal to buy 100,000 electric cars from it.The overwhelming majority of the Tesla CEO's wealth comes from his ownership of a large share of the electric automaker's stock; its market capitalization exceeded $1 trillion after the surge on the Hertz news.Under current tax law, Musk's $37 billion increase in wealth doesn't count as income: Appreciation in the value of an asset, like a stock or a privately held business, is only taxed after the asset is sold. As long as Musk holds the bulk of his Tesla stock without selling, he won't pay taxes on those unrealized capital gains.Indeed, most of the world's richest people have paid a relatively small share of their fortunes in taxes as a result of this policy. In June, ProPublica published an analysis based on IRS tax return data showing that centibillionaires including Musk and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos have paid absolutely nothing in income taxes in some recent years.That could change in the near future under a proposal from Sen. Ron Wyden for a "billionaires' income tax" that would target these kinds of unrealized capital gains for the wealthiest Americans. While the details of the plan are still being hammered out and are expected to be released in the next few days, the basic idea would be to treat increases in the market value of assets like stock holdings as taxable income for billionaires and super-high earners.If you own a billion-dollar share of a company at the start of the year and the price of that stock goes up 50% by the end of the year, you would have $500 million of income subject to the new proposed tax, even if you don't sell a single share.This proposal would hit someone like Elon Musk pretty hard. As noted above, the details of the plan are still forthcoming, but assuming that unrealized gains would be taxed at something like the current 20% top rate for realized long-term capital gains, Musk's one-day $37 billion haul could lead to a tax bill in the range of $7.4 billion.Musk disparaged the tax proposal on Monday night, warning that even though the plan is strictly limited to billionaires and ultra-high earners - likely under 1,000 Americans would be targeted by the tax - it could open the door to similar taxes for those with more modest fortunes. "Eventually, they run out of other people's money and then they come for you," he wrote on Twitter.Still, it's rather unlikely that most Americans will end up making $37 billion in unrealized capital gains in a single day.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderOct 26th, 2021

Bitcoin & The US Fiscal Reckoning

Bitcoin & The US Fiscal Reckoning Authored by Avik Roy via NationalAffairs.com, Cryptocurrencies like bitcoin have few fans in Washington. At a July congressional hearing, Senator Elizabeth Warren warned that cryptocurrency "puts the [financial] system at the whims of some shadowy, faceless group of super-coders." Treasury secretary Janet Yellen likewise asserted that the "reality" of cryptocurrencies is that they "have been used to launder the profits of online drug traffickers; they've been a tool to finance terrorism." Thus far, Bitcoin's supporters remain undeterred. (The term "Bitcoin" with a capital "B" is used here and throughout to refer to the system of cryptography and technology that produces the currency "bitcoin" with a lowercase "b" and verifies bitcoin transactions.) A survey of 3,000 adults in the fall of 2020 found that while only 4% of adults over age 55 own cryptocurrencies, slightly more than one-third of those aged 35-44 do, as do two-fifths of those aged 25-34. As of mid-2021, Coinbase — the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the United States — had 68 million verified users. To younger Americans, digital money is as intuitive as digital media and digital friendships. But Millennials with smartphones are not the only people interested in bitcoin; a growing number of investors are also flocking to the currency's banner. Surveys indicate that as many as 21% of U.S. hedge funds now own bitcoin in some form. In 2020, after considering various asset classes like stocks, bonds, gold, and foreign currencies, celebrated hedge-fund manager Paul Tudor Jones asked, "[w]hat will be the winner in ten years' time?" His answer: "My bet is it will be bitcoin." What's driving this increased interest in a form of currency invented in 2008? The answer comes from former Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who once noted, "the U.S. government has a technology, called a printing press...that allows it to produce as many U.S. dollars as it wishes at essentially no cost. By increasing the number of U.S. dollars in circulation...the U.S. government can also reduce the value of a dollar in terms of goods and services, which is equivalent to...inflation." In other words, governments with fiat currencies — including the United States — have the power to expand the quantity of those currencies. If they choose to do so, they risk inflating the prices of necessities like food, gas, and housing. In recent months, consumers have experienced higher price inflation than they have seen in decades. A major reason for the increases is that central bankers around the world — including those at the Federal Reserve — sought to compensate for Covid-19 lockdowns with dramatic monetary inflation. As a result, nearly $4 trillion in newly printed dollars, euros, and yen found their way from central banks into the coffers of global financial institutions. Jerome Powell, the current Federal Reserve chairman, insists that 2021's inflation trends are "transitory." He may be right in the near term. But for the foreseeable future, inflation will be a profound and inescapable challenge for America due to a single factor: the rapidly expanding federal debt, increasingly financed by the Fed's printing press. In time, policymakers will face a Solomonic choice: either protect Americans from inflation, or protect the government's ability to engage in deficit spending. It will become impossible to do both. Over time, this compounding problem will escalate the importance of Bitcoin. THE FIAT-CURRENCY EXPERIMENT It's becoming clear that Bitcoin is not merely a passing fad, but a significant innovation with potentially serious implications for the future of investment and global finance. To understand those implications, we must first examine the recent history of the primary instrument that bitcoin was invented to challenge: the American dollar. Toward the end of World War II, in an agreement hashed out by 44 Allied countries in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, the value of the U.S. dollar was formally fixed to 1/35th of the price of an ounce of gold. Other countries' currencies, such as the British pound and the French franc, were in turn pegged to the dollar, making the dollar the world's official reserve currency. Under the Bretton Woods system, foreign governments could retrieve gold bullion they had sent to the United States during the war by exchanging dollars for gold at the relevant fixed exchange rate. But enabling every major country to exchange dollars for American-held gold only worked so long as the U.S. government was fiscally and monetarily responsible. By the late 1960s, it was neither. Someone needed to pay the steep bills for Lyndon Johnson's "guns and butter" policies — the Vietnam War and the Great Society, respectively — so the Federal Reserve began printing currency to meet those obligations. Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon, also pressured the Fed to flood the economy with money as a form of economic stimulus. From 1961 to 1971, the Fed nearly doubled the circulating supply of dollars. "In the first six months of 1971," noted the late Nobel laureate Robert Mundell, "monetary expansion was more rapid than in any comparable period in a quarter century." That year, foreign central banks and governments held $64 billion worth of claims on the $10 billion of gold still held by the United States. It wasn't long before the world took notice of the shortage. In a classic bank-run scenario, anxious European governments began racing to redeem dollars for American-held gold before the Fed ran out. In July 1971, Switzerland withdrew $50 million in bullion from U.S. vaults. In August, France sent a destroyer to escort $191 million of its gold back from the New York Federal Reserve. Britain put in a request for $3 billion shortly thereafter. Finally, that same month, Nixon secretly gathered a small group of trusted advisors at Camp David to devise a plan to avoid the imminent wipeout of U.S. gold vaults and the subsequent collapse of the international economy. There, they settled on a radical course of action. On the evening of August 15th, in a televised address to the nation, Nixon announced his intention to order a 90-day freeze on all prices and wages throughout the country, a 10% tariff on all imported goods, and a suspension — eventually, a permanent one — of the right of foreign governments to exchange their dollars for U.S. gold. Knowing that his unilateral abrogation of agreements involving dozens of countries would come as a shock to world leaders and the American people, Nixon labored to re-assure viewers that the change would not unsettle global markets. He promised viewers that "the effect of this action...will be to stabilize the dollar," and that the "dollar will be worth just as much tomorrow as it is today." The next day, the stock market rose — to everyone's relief. The editors of the New York Times "unhesitatingly applaud[ed] the boldness" of Nixon's move. Economic growth remained strong for months after the shift, and the following year Nixon was re-elected in a landslide, winning 49 states in the Electoral College and 61% of the popular vote. Nixon's short-term success was a mirage, however. After the election, the president lifted the wage and price controls, and inflation returned with a vengeance. By December 1980, the dollar had lost more than half the purchasing power it had back in June 1971 on a consumer-price basis. In relation to gold, the price of the dollar collapsed — from 1/35th to 1/627th of a troy ounce. Though Jimmy Carter is often blamed for the Great Inflation of the late 1970s, "the truth," as former National Economic Council director Larry Kudlow has argued, "is that the president who unleashed double-digit inflation was Richard Nixon." In 1981, Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker raised the federal-funds rate — a key interest-rate benchmark — to 19%. A deep recession ensued, but inflation ceased, and the U.S. embarked on a multi-decade period of robust growth, low unemployment, and low consumer-price inflation. As a result, few are nostalgic for the days of Bretton Woods or the gold-standard era. The view of today's economic establishment is that the present system works well, that gold standards are inherently unstable, and that advocates of gold's return are eccentric cranks. Nevertheless, it's important to remember that the post-Bretton Woods era — in which the supply of government currencies can be expanded or contracted by fiat — is only 50 years old. To those of us born after 1971, it might appear as if there is nothing abnormal about the way money works today. When viewed through the lens of human history, however, free-floating global exchange rates remain an unprecedented economic experiment — with one critical flaw. An intrinsic attribute of the post-Bretton Woods system is that it enables deficit spending. Under a gold standard or peg, countries are unable to run large budget deficits without draining their gold reserves. Nixon's 1971 crisis is far from the only example; deficit spending during and after World War I, for instance, caused economic dislocation in numerous European countries — especially Germany — because governments needed to use their shrinking gold reserves to finance their war debts. These days, by contrast, it is relatively easy for the United States to run chronic deficits. Today's federal debt of almost $29 trillion — up from $10 trillion in 2008 and $2.4 trillion in 1984 — is financed in part by U.S. Treasury bills, notes, and bonds, on which lenders to the United States collect a form of interest. Yields on Treasury bonds are denominated in dollars, but since dollars are no longer redeemable for gold, these bonds are backed solely by the "full faith and credit of the United States." Interest rates on U.S. Treasury bonds have remained low, which many people take to mean that the creditworthiness of the United States remains healthy. Just as creditworthy consumers enjoy lower interest rates on their mortgages and credit cards, creditworthy countries typically enjoy lower rates on the bonds they issue. Consequently, the post-Great Recession era of low inflation and near-zero interest rates led many on the left to argue that the old rules no longer apply, and that concerns regarding deficits are obsolete. Supporters of this view point to the massive stimulus packages passed under presidents Donald Trump and Joe Biden  that, in total, increased the federal deficit and debt by $4.6 trillion without affecting the government's ability to borrow. The extreme version of the new "deficits don't matter" narrative comes from the advocates of what has come to be called Modern Monetary Theory (MMT), who claim that because the United States controls its own currency, the federal government has infinite power to increase deficits and the debt without consequence. Though most mainstream economists dismiss MMT as unworkable and even dangerous, policymakers appear to be legislating with MMT's assumptions in mind. A new generation of Democratic economic advisors has pushed President Biden to propose an additional $3.5 trillion in spending, on top of the $4.6 trillion spent on Covid-19 relief and the $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. These Democrats, along with a new breed of populist Republicans, dismiss the concerns of older economists who fear that exploding deficits risk a return to the economy of the 1970s, complete with high inflation, high interest rates, and high unemployment. But there are several reasons to believe that America's fiscal profligacy cannot go on forever. The most important reason is the unanimous judgment of history: In every country and in every era, runaway deficits and skyrocketing debt have ended in economic stagnation or ruin. Another reason has to do with the unusual confluence of events that has enabled the United States to finance its rising debts at such low interest rates over the past few decades — a confluence that Bitcoin may play a role in ending. DECLINING FAITH IN U.S. CREDIT To members of the financial community, U.S. Treasury bonds are considered "risk-free" assets. That is to say, while many investments entail risk — a company can go bankrupt, for example, thereby wiping out the value of its stock — Treasury bonds are backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Since people believe the United States will not default on its obligations, lending money to the U.S. government — buying Treasury bonds that effectively pay the holder an interest rate — is considered a risk-free investment. The definition of Treasury bonds as "risk-free" is not merely by reputation, but also by regulation. Since 1988, the Switzerland-based Basel Committee on Banking Supervision has sponsored a series of accords among central bankers from financially significant countries. These accords were designed to create global standards for the capital held by banks such that they carry a sufficient proportion of low-risk and risk-free assets. The well-intentioned goal of these standards was to ensure that banks don't fail when markets go down, as they did in 2008. The current version of the Basel Accords, known as "Basel III," assigns zero risk to U.S. Treasury bonds. Under Basel III's formula, then, every major bank in the world is effectively rewarded for holding these bonds instead of other assets. This artificially inflates demand for the bonds and enables the United States to borrow at lower rates than other countries. The United States also benefits from the heft of its economy as well as the size of its debt. Since America is the world's most indebted country in absolute terms, the market for U.S. Treasury bonds is the largest and most liquid such market in the world. Liquid markets matter a great deal to major investors: A large financial institution or government with hundreds of billions (or more) of a given currency on its balance sheet cares about being able to buy and sell assets while minimizing the impact of such actions on the trading price. There are no alternative low-risk assets one can trade at the scale of Treasury bonds. The status of such bonds as risk-free assets — and in turn, America's ability to borrow the money necessary to fund its ballooning expenditures — depends on investors' confidence in America's creditworthiness. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve's interference in the markets for Treasury bonds have obscured our ability to determine whether financial institutions view the U.S. fiscal situation with confidence. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton's advisors prioritized reducing the deficit, largely out of a conern that Treasury-bond "vigilantes" — investors who protest a government's expansionary fiscal or monetary policy by aggressively selling bonds, which drives up interest rates — would harm the economy. Their success in eliminating the primary deficit brought yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond down from 8% to 4%. In Clinton's heyday, the Federal Reserve was limited in its ability to influence the 10-year Treasury interest rate. Its monetary interventions primarily targeted the federal-funds rate — the interest rate that banks charge each other on overnight transactions. But in 2002, Ben Bernanke advocated that the Fed "begin announcing explicit ceilings for yields on longer-maturity Treasury debt." This amounted to a schedule of interest-rate price controls. Since the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has succeeded in wiping out bond vigilantes using a policy called "quantitative easing," whereby the Fed manipulates the price of Treasury bonds by buying and selling them on the open market. As a result, Treasury-bond yields are determined not by the free market, but by the Fed. The combined effect of these forces — the regulatory impetus for banks to own Treasury bonds, the liquidity advantage Treasury bonds have in the eyes of large financial institutions, and the Federal Reserve's manipulation of Treasury-bond market prices — means that interest rates on Treasury bonds no longer indicate the United States' creditworthiness (or lack thereof). Meanwhile, indications that investors are growing increasingly concerned about the U.S. fiscal and monetary picture — and are in turn assigning more risk to "risk-free" Treasury bonds — are on the rise. One such indicator is the decline in the share of Treasury bonds owned by outside investors. Between 2010 and 2020, the share of U.S. Treasury securities owned by foreign entities fell from 47% to 32%, while the share owned by the Fed more than doubled, from 9% to 22%. Put simply, foreign investors have been reducing their purchases of U.S. government debt, thereby forcing the Fed to increase its own bond purchases to make up the difference and prop up prices. Until and unless Congress reduces the trajectory of the federal debt, U.S. monetary policy has entered a vicious cycle from which there is no obvious escape. The rising debt requires the Treasury Department to issue an ever-greater quantity of Treasury bonds, but market demand for these bonds cannot keep up with their increasing supply. In an effort to avoid a spike in interest rates, the Fed will need to print new U.S. dollars to soak up the excess supply of Treasury bonds. The resultant monetary inflation will cause increases in consumer prices. Those who praise the Fed's dramatic expansion of the money supply argue that it has not affected consumer-price inflation. And at first glance, they appear to have a point. In January of 2008, the M2 money stock was roughly $7.5 trillion; by January 2020, M2 had more than doubled, to $15.4 trillion. As of July 2021, the total M2 sits at $20.5 trillion — nearly triple what it was just 13 years ago. Over that same period, U.S. GDP increased by only 50%. And yet, since 2000, the average rate of growth in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for All Urban Consumers — a widely used inflation benchmark — has remained low, at about 2.25%. How can this be? The answer lies in the relationship between monetary inflation and price inflation, which has diverged over time. In 2008, the Federal Reserve began paying interest to banks that park their money with the Fed, reducing banks' incentive to lend that money out to the broader economy in ways that would drive price inflation. But the main reason for the divergence is that conventional measures like CPI do not accurately capture the way monetary inflation is affecting domestic prices. In a large, diverse country like the United States, different people and different industries experience price inflation in different ways. The fact that price inflation occurs earlier in certain sectors of the economy than in others was first described by the 18th-century Irish-French economist Richard Cantillon. In his 1730 "Essay on the Nature of Commerce in General," Cantillon noted that when governments increase the supply of money, those who receive the money first gain the most benefit from it — at the expense of those to whom it flows last. In the 20th century, Friedrich Hayek built on Cantillon's thinking, observing that "the real harm [of monetary inflation] is due to the differential effect on different prices, which change successively in a very irregular order and to a very different degree, so that as a result the whole structure of relative prices becomes distorted and misguides production into wrong directions." In today's context, the direct beneficiaries of newly printed money are those who need it the least. New dollars are sent to banks, which in turn lend them to the most creditworthy entities: investment funds, corporations, and wealthy individuals. As a result, the most profound price impact of U.S. monetary inflation has been on the kinds of assets that financial institutions and wealthy people purchase — stocks, bonds, real estate, venture capital, and the like. This is why the price-to-earnings ratio of S&P 500 companies is at record highs, why risky start-ups with long-shot ideas are attracting $100 million venture rounds, and why the median home sales price has jumped 24% in a single year — the biggest one-year increase of the 21st century. Meanwhile, low- and middle-income earners are facing rising prices without attendant increases in their wages. If asset inflation persists while the costs of housing and health care continue to grow beyond the reach of ordinary people, the legitimacy of our market economy will be put on trial. THE RETURN OF SOUND MONEY Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, was acutely concerned with the increasing abundance of U.S. dollars and other fiat currencies in the early 2000s. In 2009 he wrote, "the root problem with conventional currency is all the trust that's required to make it work. The central bank must be trusted not to debase the currency, but the history of fiat currencies is full of breaches of that trust." Bitcoin was created in anticipation of the looming fiscal and monetary crisis in the United States and around the world. To understand how bitcoin functions alongside fiat currency, it's helpful to examine the monetary philosophy of the Austrian School of economics, whose leading figures — especially Hayek and Ludwig von Mises — greatly influenced Nakamoto and the early developers of Bitcoin. The economists of the Austrian School were staunch advocates of what Mises called "the principle of sound money" — that is, of keeping the supply of money as constant and predictable as possible. In The Theory of Money and Credit, first published in 1912, Mises argued that sound money serves as "an instrument for the protection of civil liberties against despotic inroads on the part of governments" that belongs "in the same class with political constitutions and bills of rights." Just as bills of rights were a "reaction against arbitrary rule and the nonobservance of old customs by kings," he wrote, "the postulate of sound money was first brought up as a response to the princely practice of debasing the coinage." Mises believed that inflation was just as much a violation of someone's property rights as arbitrarily taking away his land. After all, in both cases, the government acquires economic value at the expense of the citizen. Since monetary inflation creates a sugar high of short-term stimulus, politicians interested in re-election will always have an incentive to expand the money supply. But doing so comes at the expense of long-term declines in consumer purchasing power. For Mises, the best way to address such a threat is to avoid fiat currencies altogether. And in his estimation, the best sound-money alternative to fiat currency is gold. "The excellence of the gold standard," Mises wrote, is "that it renders the determination of the monetary unit's purchasing power independent of the policies of governments and political parties." In other words, gold's primary virtue is that its supply increases slowly and steadily, and cannot be manipulated by politicians. It may appear as if gold was an arbitrary choice as the basis for currency, but gold has a combination of qualities that make it ideal for storing and exchanging value. First, it is verifiably unforgeable. Gold is very dense, which means that counterfeit gold is easy to identify — one simply has to weigh it. Second, gold is divisible. Unlike, say, cattle, gold can be delivered in fractional units both small and large, enabling precise pricing. Third, gold is durable. Unlike commodities that rot or evaporate over time, gold can be stored for centuries without degradation. Fourth, gold is fungible: An ounce of gold in Asia is worth the same as an ounce of gold in Europe. These four qualities are shared by most modern currencies. Gold's fifth quality is more distinct, however, as well as more relevant to its role as an instrument of sound money: scarcity. While people have used beads, seashells, and other commodities as primitive forms of money, those items are fairly easy to acquire and introduce into circulation. While gold's supply does gradually increase as more is extracted from the ground, the rate of extraction relative to the total above-ground supply is low: At current rates, it would take approximately 66 years to double the amount of gold in circulation. In comparison, the supply of U.S. dollars has more than doubled over just the last decade. When the Austrian-influenced designers of bitcoin set out to create a more reliable currency, they tried to replicate all of these qualities. Like gold, bitcoin is divisible, unforgeable, divisible, durable, and fungible. But bitcoin also improves upon gold as a form of sound money in several important ways. First, bitcoin is rarer than gold. Though gold's supply increases slowly, it does increase. The global supply of bitcoin, by contrast, is fixed at 21 million and cannot be feasibly altered. Second, bitcoin is far more portable than gold. Transferring physical gold from one place to another is an onerous process, especially in large quantities. Bitcoin, on the other hand, can be transmitted in any quantity as quickly as an email. Third, bitcoin is more secure than gold. A single bitcoin address carried on a USB thumb drive could theoretically hold as much value as the U.S. Treasury holds in gold bars — without the need for costly militarized facilities like Fort Knox to keep it safe. In fact, if stored using best practices, the cost of securing bitcoin from hackers or assailants is far lower than the cost of securing gold. Fourth, bitcoin is a technology. This means that, as developers identify ways to augment its functionality without compromising its core attributes, they can gradually improve the currency over time. Fifth, and finally, bitcoin cannot be censored. This past year, the Chinese government shut down Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily newspaper not by censoring its content, but by ordering banks not to do business with the publication, thereby preventing Apple Daily from paying its suppliers or employees. Those who claim the same couldn't happen here need only look to the Obama administration's Operation Choke Point, a regulatory attempt to prevent banks from doing business with legitimate entities like gun manufacturers and payday lenders — firms the administration disfavored. In contrast, so long as the transmitting party has access to the internet, no entity can prevent a bitcoin transaction from taking place. This combination of fixed supply, portability, security, improvability, and censorship resistance epitomizes Nakamoto's breakthrough. Hayek, in The Denationalisation of Money, foresaw just such a separation of money and state. "I believe we can do much better than gold ever made possible," he wrote. "Governments cannot do better. Free enterprise...no doubt would." While Hayek and Nakamoto hoped private currencies would directly compete with the U.S. dollar and other fiat currencies, bitcoin does not have to replace everyday cash transactions to transform global finance. Few people may pay for their morning coffee with bitcoin, but it is also rare for people to purchase coffee with Treasury bonds or gold bars. Bitcoin is competing not with cash, but with these latter two assets, to become the world's premier long-term store of wealth. The primary problem bitcoin was invented to address — the devaluation of fiat currency through reckless spending and borrowing — is already upon us. If Biden's $3.5 trillion spending plan passes Congress, the national debt will rise further. Someone will have to buy the Treasury bonds to enable that spending. Yet as discussed above, investors are souring on Treasurys. On June 30, 2021, the interest rate for the benchmark 10-year Treasury bond was 1.45%. Even at the Federal Reserve's target inflation rate of 2%, under these conditions, Treasury-bond holders are guaranteed to lose money in inflation-adjusted terms. One critic of the Fed's policies, MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, compares the value of today's Treasury bonds to a "melting ice cube." Last May, Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates and a former bitcoin skeptic, said "[p]ersonally, I'd rather have bitcoin than a [Treasury] bond." If hedge funds, banks, and foreign governments continue to decelerate their Treasury purchases, even by a relatively small percentage, the decrease in demand could send U.S. bond prices plummeting. If that happens, the Fed will be faced with the two unpalatable options described earlier: allowing interest rates to rise, or further inflating the money supply. The political pressure to choose the latter would likely be irresistible. But doing so would decrease inflation-adjusted returns on Treasury bonds, driving more investors away from Treasurys and into superior stores of value, such as bitcoin. In turn, decreased market interest in Treasurys would force the Fed to purchase more such bonds to suppress interest rates. AMERICA'S BITCOIN OPPORTUNITY From an American perspective, it would be ideal for U.S. Treasury bonds to remain the world's preferred reserve asset for the foreseeable future. But the tens of trillions of dollars in debt that the United States has accumulated since 1971 — and the tens of trillions to come — has made that outcome unlikely. It is understandably difficult for most of us to imagine a monetary world aside from the one in which we've lived for generations. After all, the U.S. dollar has served as the world's leading reserve currency since 1919, when Britain was forced off the gold standard. There are only a handful of people living who might recall what the world was like before then. Nevertheless, change is coming. Over the next 10 to 20 years, as bitcoin's liquidity increases and the United States becomes less creditworthy, financial institutions and foreign governments alike may replace an increasing portion of their Treasury-bond holdings with bitcoin and other forms of sound money. With asset values reaching bubble proportions and no end to federal spending in sight, it's critical for the United States to begin planning for this possibility now. Unfortunately, the instinct of some federal policymakers will be to do what countries like Argentina have done in similar circumstances: impose capital controls that restrict the ability of Americans to exchange dollars for bitcoin in an attempt to prevent the digital currency from competing with Treasurys. Yet just as Nixon's 1971 closure of the gold window led to a rapid flight from the dollar, imposing restrictions on the exchange of bitcoin for dollars would confirm to the world that the United States no longer believes in the competitiveness of its currency, accelerating the flight from Treasury bonds and undermining America's ability to borrow. A bitcoin crackdown would also be a massive strategic mistake, given that Americans are positioned to benefit enormously from bitcoin-related ventures and decentralized finance more generally. Around 50 million Americans own bitcoin today, and it's likely that Americans and U.S. institutions own a plurality, if not the majority, of the bitcoin in circulation — a sum worth hundreds of billions of dollars. This is one area where China simply cannot compete with the United States, since Bitcoin's open financial architecture is fundamentally incompatible with Beijing's centralized, authoritarian model. In the absence of major entitlement reform, well-intentioned efforts to make Treasury bonds great again are likely doomed. Instead of restricting bitcoin in a desperate attempt to forestall the inevitable, federal policymakers would do well to embrace the role of bitcoin as a geopolitically neutral reserve asset; work to ensure that the United States continues to lead the world in accumulating bitcoin-based wealth, jobs, and innovations; and ensure that Americans can continue to use bitcoin to protect themselves against government-driven inflation. To begin such an initiative, federal regulators should make it easier to operate cryptocurrency-related ventures on American shores. As things stand, too many of these firms are based abroad and closed off to American investors simply because outdated U.S. regulatory agencies — the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, the Treasury Department, and others — have been unwilling to provide clarity as to the legal standing of digital assets. For example, the SEC has barred Coinbase from paying its customers' interest on their holdings while refusing to specify which laws Coinbase has violated. Similarly, the agency has refused to approve Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) without specifying standards for a valid ETF application. Congress should implement SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce's recommendations for a three-year regulatory grace period for decentralized digital tokens and assign to a new agency the role of regulating digital assets. Second, Congress should clarify poorly worded legislation tied to a recent bipartisan infrastructure bill that would drive many high-value crypto businesses, like bitcoin-mining operations, overseas. Third, the Treasury Department should consider replacing a fraction of its gold holdings — say, 10% — with bitcoin. This move would pose little risk to the department's overall balance sheet, send a positive signal to the innovative blockchain sector, and enable the United States to benefit from bitcoin's growth. If the value of bitcoin continues to appreciate strongly against gold and the U.S. dollar, such a move would help shore up the Treasury and decrease the need for monetary inflation. Finally, when it comes to digital versions of the U.S. dollar, policymakers should follow the advice of Friedrich Hayek, not Xi Jinping. In an effort to increase government control over its monetary system, China is preparing to unveil a blockchain-based digital yuan at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Jerome Powell and other Western central bankers have expressed envy for China's initiative and fret about being left behind. But Americans should strongly oppose the development of a central-bank digital currency (CBDC). Such a currency could wipe out local banks by making traditional savings and checking accounts obsolete. What's more, a CBDC-empowered Fed would accumulate a mountain of precise information about every consumer's financial transactions. Not only would this represent a grave threat to Americans' privacy and economic freedom, it would create a massive target for hackers and equip the government with the kind of censorship powers that would make Operation Choke Point look like child's play. Congress should ensure that the Federal Reserve never has the authority to issue a virtual currency. Instead, it should instruct regulators to integrate private-sector, dollar-pegged "stablecoins" — like Tether and USD Coin — into the framework we use for money-market funds and other cash-like instruments that are ubiquitous in the financial sector. PLANNING FOR THE WORST In the best-case scenario, the rise of bitcoin will motivate the United States to mend its fiscal ways. Much as Congress lowered corporate-tax rates in 2017 to reduce the incentive for U.S. companies to relocate abroad, bitcoin-driven monetary competition could push American policymakers to tackle the unsustainable growth of federal spending. While we can hope for such a scenario, we must plan for a world in which Congress continues to neglect its essential duty as a steward of Americans' wealth. The good news is that the American people are no longer destined to go down with the Fed's sinking ship. In 1971, when Washington debased the value of the dollar, Americans had no real recourse. Today, through bitcoin, they do. Bitcoin enables ordinary Americans to protect their savings from the federal government's mismanagement. It can improve the financial security of those most vulnerable to rising prices, such as hourly wage earners and retirees on fixed incomes. And it can increase the prosperity of younger Americans who will most acutely face the consequences of the country's runaway debt. Bitcoin represents an enormous strategic opportunity for Americans and the United States as a whole. With the right legal infrastructure, the currency and its underlying technology can become the next great driver of American growth. While the 21st-century monetary order will look very different from that of the 20th, bitcoin can help America maintain its economic leadership for decades to come. Tyler Durden Tue, 10/19/2021 - 23:25.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytOct 20th, 2021

57 thoughtful gifts for mom sure to make her smile this holiday season - from a sweet tea set to a cozy robe

Here are 51 of the best gifts for mom under $50 that prove you don't have to spend a fortune to find thoughtful gifts for her. When you buy through our links, Insider may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more. Weezie There's always time to get a nice gift for mom whether it's a special occasion or to thank her. It's a great opportunity to show thanks for your mom or guardian with a thoughtful gesture. You don't have to spend a fortune - there are plenty of great gift ideas for mom under $50. See more mom gift ideas here. Whether it's a birthday or an impromptu gift, there's always time to get mom something nice. While nothing shows your appreciation for mom like year-round love and support, a gift that she'll love is always a thoughtful and appreciated gesture. And you don't have to spend a fortune either. Thankfully, most of the mom figures I know genuinely prefer something that says how much you love her, or how actively you thought about her needs, more than a high price tag. There are plenty of wonderful gift ideas for moms under $50 to be found - and 51 of them are listed for you below.Here are 51 of the best gifts for mom under $50 A sweet floral tea set for one Anthropologie Annie Tea-For-One-Set, available at Anthropologie, $38A sip from this adorable floral print teapot is as enjoyable as it is soothing. The stackable teapot lets you savor each taste for longer with the teapot included with a teacup. A cozy robe to keep warm Target Stars Above Cozy Plush Robe, available at Target, $30There's no better sleepwear to relax in than this plush, velvet robe for the breezy evenings or mornings. This cozy polyester robe brings extreme comfort and warmth whether you're layering or covering up. A personalized tea towel with a family recipe Etsy Gift the Handwritten Recipe Tea Towel, $24Take a favorite family recipe and turn it into the ultimate personalized gift thanks to Etsy. You can upload a photo of a recipe card with your order so the recipe is printed in the original handwriting of a loved one. A colorful scarf she can craft herself Free People Gift Free People We Gather Warm Kaleidoscope Dye Kit, $45If mom loves to craft, consider getting her this fun dye kit as her next project. The kit walks you through the basics of working with fiber reactive dyes and comes with a cotton scarf and three dyes so she can create her own tie-dye masterpiece. Plus, she can use the dyes again on future crafting endeavors. A cheerful vase Anthropologie Gift Anthropolgie's Lizzie Vase, $28These chic vases come in three beautiful colors and a variety of shapes. It looks great as a colorful decor item on its own, but to really up the ante you can always add some fresh blooms for mom too. A decadent treat for mom's sweet tooth Harry & David Gift Harry & David Artisan Macarons, $49.99This delivery sure to satisfy mom's sugar cravings comes with 12 macaron cookies, handcrafted from scratch. Flavors range from Espresso Coffee to Raspberry for a nice variety and express two-day shipping is including with this gift to ensure it gets to mom on time. A wine holder for an extra soothing bath Uncommon Goods Gift the Bathtime Essentials Wine Holder, $38This handy and smart wine holder suctions right onto the shower wall so mom can take a glass of wine into the bath with her for extra relaxation. It even comes with a plastic wine glass so mom doesn't have to worry about any potential broken glass and can get straight to unwinding. Super cozy slipper socks Bombas Gift the Bombas Gripper Slippers, $40Easy to slip on and wear around the house these super soft slipper socks feature a brushed lining and silicone grippers to prevent any sliding. Plus, Bombas donates a pair of socks for every pair bought so you can feel good about giving mom this gift and giving back at the same time. A heart-shaped succulent Urban Stems Gift Urban Stems The Cora Plant, $30Urban Stems makes sending fresh flowers and plants to mom a breeze if you won't be seeing her in person this year. This cute succulent is in the shape of a heart for an extra touch of love. A tasteful birthstone necklace BaubleBar Gift the BaubleBar Nascita Necklace, $25Pick out this delicate and elegant necklace in mom's birthstone or just opt for her favorite color. From ruby to aquamarine, the stone pops nicely against the 18k gold chain. Plus, it looks great on its own or stacked with other jewelry. An at-home spa kit Uncommon Goods Gift the Little Pampering Gift Set, $44Help mom unwind and have a pampering day from home with this gift set. It includes a lavender boil oil, soap, shower steamer, lip balm, and a scented candle. An all-in-one hairdryer and brush Amazon Revlon One-Step Hair Dryer, $41.99This all-in-one brush and hairdryer is one of our favorite products and makes it a breeze for mom to style her hair and easily create volume and soft curls. A lightweight yoga mat Manduka Gift a Manduka Eko Superlite Travel Yoga Mat, $45Manduka is known for making some of the best yoga products, and this five-star-rated mat is no exception. If she loves fitting a yoga class into her busy schedule, she'll appreciate this mat. Not only does it have a great grip and come in plenty of fun colors, but it's super light, so she can easily tote it around with her to class and back.  A box of unique Japanese snacks Bokksu Gift the Bokksu Classic Gift Box, from $39.95 per monthIf she loves to travel and experience new cultures through food, she'll love receiving a Bokksu Box. The classic gift box is filled with a selection of 20-25 unique Japanese snacks, sourced directly from artisan makers in Japan, so she can get a little more adventurous with her snacking.  A pure silk sleep mask Nordstrom Gift the Slip Pure Silk Sleep Mask, $42.50Give Mom a little bit of luxury with this silk sleep mask. Not only will it block out light and feel great on her skin, but it's made with Slip's proprietary Slipsilk which won't tug or leave creases on her skin.  A luxurious body moisturizer Necessaire Gift the Nécessaire Body Lotion, $25If body lotion doesn't sound that exciting to her, Nécessaire's version will probably change her mind. The formula is simple — clean ingredients, full of nourishing vitamins, and quick-absorbing. It's so good we've fought over it.  A "book of the month" membership she can look forward to every month Book of the Month Facebook Gift a Book of the Month Membership, from three months for $49.99If she loves to read and isn't ready to go 100% digital, we can't recommend a Book of the Month membership highly enough. Each month, she'll find a curated selection of the best new hardcover titles spanning a broad range of genres. The mix of both fiction and nonfiction titles is sure to impress even the pickiest bibliophiles.  A beautiful bouquet of farm-fresh flowers she can keep in the house The Bouqs Gift a bouquet from The Bouqs, from $36You can grab her a potted plant if she enjoys caring for them over time, but another great option is sending her a beautiful bouquet of flowers that she can enjoy for a few weeks with minimal effort and then throw out. If you want to get her something more lasting, you can pick up a vase ($10-$249), too.  A Himalayan salt block she can use for just about every use cooking Crate & Barrel Gift the Himalayan Salt Block, $34.95If your mom likes to cook (or, if someone else does the cooking and she just loves to eat good food), a Himalayan salt block may be a thoughtful gift. People love how they give meals enhanced flavor that can't be mimicked by a frying pan. Plus, the minerals in salt are supposed to give a more nuanced flavor than table salt, and the amount of saltiness will be regulated by the type of food (moist food absorbs more, fatty foods repel it).Himalayan salt has a very stable crystal structure, which allows it to hold a temperature very well. Mom can chill it to serve as a platter for sushi or heat it over the grill or stovetop to cook veggies.  A good-looking, efficient cold brew bottle Blue Bottle Coffee Gift the Blue Bottle Hario Cold Brew Bottle, $35Does mom love cold brew? Grab her this elegant glass cold brew bottle from the popular coffee startup Blue Bottle. It's slim enough to fit in the fridge without displacing anything else, and it looks much nicer than the plastic versions you'll find at a similar price point on Amazon.  A pro-level photo book Artifact Uprising Gift an Artifact Uprising Custom Softcover Photo Book, from $17These beautifully designed photo books look just like a personal magazine, curated by you for her — and full of 30 pages of your best and most cherished memories and people.  A scratch-off that benefits charities LottoLove/Facebook Give a card from LottoLove, from $5When you scratch off a card from LottoLove, you won't win any money. Instead, you "win" a charitable prize that's donated to someone in need. There are four possible prizes, which help provide clean water, solar light, nutritious meals, or literacy tools. Each card costs just $4.95, but gives back in invaluable ways. To date, LottoLove and its charitable partners have impacted lives in over 60 countries. A hidden gem $30 cast iron fry pan Victoria Gift Large Pre-Seasoned Cast Iron Skillet, $29.99The Victoria Cast Iron 12-Inch Skillet Fry Pan is the perfect skillet for cooking just about anything. It's well-designed, extremely affordable, and durable like you'd hope a cast iron pan would be. It has a long primary handle and a shorter secondary handle for steadying the pan as you carry or move it, and it has good depth and a wide surface perfect for searing steaks. The large pour spouts on either side make it easy to rid the pan of grease without any mess. It's also our top overall pick in our guide to the best-cast iron skillets.  Framed memories Framebridge Gift a Framebridge custom-framed art or photo gift, from $45Moms really do love looking at pictures of their kids. Why not make an impactful gift by framing a family memory or a great picture of the two of you? Plus, sites like Framebridge make it easier by letting you customize each step of the process online instead of grabbing a frame from the store and having to figure out how to correctly size and print something yourself. Framebridge will guide you through the process and let you know if the resolution is high enough to look good on mom's mantle.  A pair of beautiful earrings she can wear with anything Mejuri Gift a pair of Mejuri Midi Hoops, $50There's something satisfying about being able to afford to give your mom something delicate, luxurious, and special. Too often our moms put us first and themselves last, and something that isn't strictly "necessary" is a good way to make sure they feel pampered from time to time.Mejuri is an Insider Reviews favorite, and the Canadian company will likely be a new one of hers as well.  A coffee service that figures out what flavors she likes and gets smarter over time Driftaway Coffee Instagram Gift a Driftaway Coffee Set, from $44If mom likes coffee, she might love Driftaway. The Brooklyn-based startup is helping people figure out which flavor profiles of coffee they really love, and then uses that information to customize shipments of fresh coffee to them that their taste buds should really love.The first delivery will be a tasting kit to help determine what flavors she loves most. From there, the service will get smarter at catering to her preferences every time.  A silk pillowcase Celestial Silk Gift the Celestial Silk Pillowcase, from $38.99Silk pillowcases reduce frizz and damage to hair and make it look shiny and healthy. They also reduce the likelihood of forming new wrinkles and they won't absorb skincare products as easily as cotton pillowcases. This particular Celestial Silk pillowcase is one of the internet's hidden gems. It's $40 on Amazon and we rated it the best silk pillowcase you can buy in the Insider Reviews buying guide. Read a personal review here.  Dedicated makeup towels Weezie Gift the Weezie Makeup Towels, $40We've personally discovered Weezie's makeup towels are unexpectedly useful, and so will your giftee. These small, dark towels won't reveal unsightly makeup stains and they come in three cute embroidered styles. A popcorn maker and a movie night in with you Amazon Gift the West Bend Stir Crazy Popcorn Popper, $39.99Bring over a comfy throw blanket she can keep and turn on Netflix for a quality movie night with your lifelong best friend. It's no joke that quality time goes a long way for a gift, especially when it's for your mom. Board games and a fun night with the family that she doesn't have to plan Amazon Gift the Watch Ya' Mouth Family Edition, $15.99You may be too old to glue macaroni to a card and call it a present, but your mom still doesn't equate value with money.If you grab a couple of family-friendly board games and head to your parents' place for a night in with them and your siblings, that might be the most memorable gift you could give. Bring along some flowers, chocolate, wine, or one of the smaller gifts on this list as a token offering as well. Then, offer to do the dishes at the end of the night. An Echo Dot or Google Home Mini Amazon Gift the Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Generation), $24.99Gift the Google Home Mini, $24.99There's an ever-so-slight learning curve in figuring out what Amazon's Alexa can and can't do, but once that's passed, the Echo products can forecast the weather, read an audiobook, play music, order a pizza, tell Dad jokes, or any number of things Mom should find both helpful and fun. Be aware this isn't the newest model, but it still works great and comes at a lower price point. The Dot is also kind of the entry-level Echo product, which is perfect if your mom is just getting used to the technology. If your family is already ingrained in the Google ecosystem for tech, you might want to grab the Google Home Mini instead for the same price.  A subscription to try out new and well-loved beauty products without having to find or buy them herself Birchbox Gift a Birchbox 3-Month Subscription Gift Card, $45In general, subscriptions are some of the best gifts that you can give. A monthly treat can be a really nice thing to look forward to, especially when each delivery reminds you of your family. Every time an installment is delivered, your mom is reminded of how much you care.Birchbox is a particularly good one for mom. It combines monthly deliveries of small personalized beauty and skincare samples with an easy-to-use e-commerce shop. Birchbox will send an assortment of highly-rated or brand-new items for her to test every month instead of having to go in blind to Sephora and buy full-sized versions. If she really loves something, she can buy herself a bigger size on Birchbox or elsewhere easily.You can gift a woman's subscription gift card for 3 months for $45, 6 months for $84, or a full 12 months for $156. The best reading subscription online Scribd Gift a Scribd membership, $9.99/monthEnjoy unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of books, audiobooks, and magazines for less than $10 a month with Scribd (or $12.99 per month for access to Scribd and the New York Times). If she wasn't a bibliophile already, Scribd will make her one. I've been a subscriber for years and I think it's hands-down the best deal for online reading.  A new lipstick from a natural makeup company that she'll love RMS Beauty Gift the RMS Beauty Lipstick, $28One barrier to smarter, healthier makeup is figuring out which of those natural brands out there actually do the job. One great and thoughtful gift for mom could be introducing her to a brand that actually works, and one which requires no research or risk.RMS Beauty is a fan-favorite for its lipsticks on their own merit, with the clean ingredients as a huge plus.  Childlike cereal for adults Magic Spoon Gift all four Magic Spoon flavors, $39Gift a Magic Spoon subscription, $29.25 per monthMagic Spoon is a new "childlike cereal for adults" that's high in protein and low in sugar — and all four flavors are delicious. If you want to treat your mom without incurring any dentist-related concerns, Magic Spoon may be a fun way to introduce her to a new brand.  A stylish toiletry bag Dagne Dover Gift the Dagne Dover Small Hunter Toiletry Bag, $40Self-care should make us feel good, from beginning to end. A nice toiletry bag with ample smart organization is one way to make sure that 'beginning' and 'end' are clutter-free and beautiful. This bag is made out of a really cool neoprene material and comes in a variety of pretty colors, from a bright poppy red to more muted tones like the mossy green seen above. Dagne Dover is also best-known for its thoughtful, next-level organization. A cleaner, more efficient multivitamin Ritual Gift the Essential for Women Multivitamin, $30 per monthRitual is most known for its Essential for Women multivitamin, which fills in the gaps of women's diets and was inspired by founder Katerina Schneider's own experience of shopping for vitamins while she was pregnant. Earlier this year, it dug deeper into its original prenatal health roots with the launch of its second product, a prenatal vitamin. Regardless of where women are in their life, Ritual works to build health with cleaner, more efficient vitamins. Wireless charging pads Amazon Gift the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad for iPhone, $37.89Gift the Belkin Boost Up Wireless Charging Pad for Android, $55.60We tested the Belkin BoostUp charger with several iPhones and Android phones, and it worked perfectly — which is why we ranked it the best wireless charger that you can buy. It looks great, has excellent traction so your phone won't slide off while charging, and it juices up any phone quickly.Wireless charging is traditionally slower than wired charging, but the Boost Up pad with 15 watts of power should charge your devices faster — so long as they support fast wireless charging. A Daily Harvest gift card for healthy smoothies and soups that take 30 seconds to make Daily Harvest Gift a Daily Harvest Gift Card, from $50Help your mom start off 2020 on a healthier note with Daily Harvest, a subscription service that sends healthy, pre-portioned superfood-packed smoothies, overnight oats, soups, and more to your home either weekly or monthly. The food combinations are developed by a nutritionist and chef, and the company is backed by big names like Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams. We tried the service's smoothies and really enjoyed them. A next-gen hair wrap that uses threads finer than silk to dry wet hair faster and without friction damage Nordstrom Gift the Aquis Chevron Weave Hair Turban, $25.50These Aquis hair towels have become extremely popular in the last few years. They're designed with AQUITEX technology that uses ultra-fine fibers that are split into strands thinner than silk, so this towel won't grab at hair cuticles like regular bath towels that break and damage wet hair — which is when it's most vulnerable. It also claims to reduce drying time by up to 50%, which sounds hyperbolic until you've tried it yourself. This is the one I own and it works far, far better than I had even dared to hope.  A cute tea infuser Amazon Gift the Fred & Friends Brew Bunny Tea Infuser, $9.17Let mom take a cue from this reclining bunny and spend some time relaxing, sipping her favorite kind of loose tea (which you could pick up as an accompanying gift).  A streaming media player Roku Gift the Roku Express HD Streaming Media Player, $29.99Roku's media streamers are the best in the business, and the Express is a good entry-level system that comes at an affordable price. Your giftee can stream TV shows and movies from all their favorite streaming platforms, including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, and many more. If you're able to spend a bit more, the Roku Ultra is our top pick overall. A beautiful hand-poured candle Brooklinen Gift a Brooklinen Wake Scented Candle, $31.50Bring the fresh scents of a salty sea tide, kelp, and driftwood into mom's house with this chic, hand-poured candle from the ever-popular home startup, Brooklinen.  A reusable smart notebook Amazon Gift the Rocketbook Reusable Smart Notebook, $24.48Handwritten notes can help keep her organized and manage a seemingly endless to-do list. It's a $25 notebook, but surprisingly handy. It sends notes to the cloud so she can access them from her devices later, and wipes clean with a damp cloth. A rose-scented roll-on perfume she can carry with her and reapply when she's on the go Kai Instagram Gift the Kai Rose Perfume Oil, $45Kai's rose perfume oil features a blend of gardenia wrapped in white exotics, layered with rose absolute, and comes in a small, easy-to-use roll-on vial. The rose scent packs an extra punch while remaining subtle and not overwhelming. We're big fans of the beauty brand, and we have a feeling your mom will like it, too.  A custom quote print Minted Gift a personalized quote print, from $38Spotlight a quote from her favorite film, book, or song, or even quote mom herself. There are many font colors, sizes, and frames to choose from. A personal-styling service Stitch Fix Gift a Stitch Fix gift card, from $20Shopping isn't everyone's favorite activity — or, if it is, not all of us have the time for a trip to the mall. That's where the stylists at Stitch Fix come in. A great gift for busy moms, the service delivers the newest trends and styles to fit any occasion and price point.  An REI membership REI Gift an REI Co-op Membership, $20An REI membership offers a lifetime of benefits for a one-time purchase. That includes 10%-back dividends, special offers, access to in-store REI Garage sales, and special pricing on REI classes and events. Find out more here.  A passport cover that will age well Leatherology Gift a Leatherology Standard Passport Cover, $50Grab mom a beautiful leather passport cover that will age well and make traveling abroad easier. This one comes in 17 different colors, too. Leatherology is one of our go-to gifting shops, since the leather is high-quality, surprisingly affordable, and comes in beautiful gift-ready boxes. For a personal touch, monogram it for $10. A stainless steel mug that will keep her coffee hot for hours on end Hydro Flask Gift the Hydro Flask Mug, $24.95This mug is a common desk companion for the Insider Picks team. The 12-ounce coffee mug has the company's proprietary TempShield insulation that made its water bottles famous among outdoorsmen and the average person alike. This mug will keep hot drinks hot for up to six hours, and cold drinks cold up to 24 hours. Read a full review of it here. A mini Jo Malone set Sephora Gift the Jo Malone London Mini Luxuries Set, $50Pamper mom with this starter set from Jo Malone that includes a Wood Sage and Sea Salt Cologne for a fresh new fragrance, The Peony and Blush Suede Body Crème, and a delicious English Pear and Freesia Miniature Candle. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: dealsSource: nytOct 4th, 2021

Transcript: Hubert Joly

       The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Hubert Joly, Best Buy CEO, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, Google, Bloomberg, and Acast. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.   ~~~   BARRY RITHOLTZ,… Read More The post Transcript: Hubert Joly appeared first on The Big Picture.        The transcript from this week’s, MiB: Hubert Joly, Best Buy CEO, is below. You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Spotify, 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 an extra special guest. Hubert Joly is the man who helped turn around Best Buy when they were floundering about a decade ago. The stock has since returned 10X from when he joined as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. He is the author of a fascinating new book, “The Heart of Business: Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism.” He’s really a fascinating guy, has an amazing background, both as a consultant for McKinsey and being on a number of different boards and running a number of different companies. Everybody who’s looked at his work always put him amongst the best CEOs, top 100 this, top 30 that, really just a tremendous, tremendous track record. And I had a fascinating time speaking with him. I think if you’re at all interested in anything involving leadership or the next era of capitalism or why the old-school Neutron Jack approach to just firing everybody and cutting costs away to restore profitability no longer works, you’re going to find this to be a fascinating conversation. So, with no further ado, my interview with Hubert Joly. VOICEOVER: This is Masters in Business with Barry Ritholtz on Bloomberg Radio. RITHOLTZ: This week, my special guest is Hubert Joly. He is the former Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Best Buy. He is currently the Senior Lecturer on Business at Harvard Business School. He is on the boards of directors at Johnson & Johnson and Ralph Lauren and has been named one of the top 100 CEOs by Harvard Business Review, one of the top 30 CEOs by Barron’s and one of the top 10 CEOs to work for in the U.S. by Glassdoor. Hubert Joly, welcome to Bloomberg. HUBERT JOLY, Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School: Well, thank you, Barry, very much looking forward to our conversation. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s start with a little bit of your background, you’ve been the CEO of three major companies. Tell us about how that came about. Take us to the beginning or early days of your career. JOLY: Yes, Barry. I started my career with McKinsey & Company in France and then also in the U.S. Essentially, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. So, that, I thought, it’d be a great training ground and I ending up staying a dozen years at the firm, done a great deal and had wonderful opportunities to lead great companies. At first, I left McKinsey to lead a client that was EDS, Electronic Data Systems in France and I ended up doing a number of turnaround and transformations of companies in industry sectors that were challenged by technology. So, in videogames, in travel, and then, of course, ended up with Best Buy. And I’ve ended up working a variety of industry sectors and those specializations there and every move was a move that was based on — it was – there was somebody with whom I had developed relationship that played a critical role. And so, for example, when I left Vivendi Universal to become the CEO of Carlson Wagonlit Travel, the CEO of (inaudible), which was one of the two shareholders, had been a client of mine and where we have stayed friends. So, Barry, one of the key lessons is that try to minimize the number of people you annoy or irritate along the way and try to focus on doing a great job when you are and then I hope that God provides in the end, which is, I think, the lesson for me of my career. RITHOLTZ: So, I want to spend more time talking about your career. But I have to ask, how did you find yourself moving from France to the United States, what led to that and what was that transition like? Because every time I’m in Paris, I always end up saying to myself, God, I could live here. JOLY: Yes. Thank you for that, Barry. So, the first time I moved to the U.S. in 1985, I was with McKinsey & Company. I’d gone to school in France and there had been discussion of should I do an MBA in the U.S. and after a while, McKinsey said no, you really don’t need to do that. But if you want to spend time in the U.S., we’ll send you to one of our offices. So, I ended up in the San Francisco office, quite the years where the minors were at the top of their game, right? So, that — it’s quite fascinating. And then the last time I moved to the U.S. was in ’08, 2008, when I became the CEO of Carlson Companies. So, I moved there from Paris, France to Minneapolis, Minnesota. And I love France. I think it’s a great country. I love the U.S. What I love about the U.S. is that since Jefferson, we’ve been optimistic. It’s been the dream of a better life and it’s this optimism. Let me tell you, in France, you talk about a problem that has never been solved. People will say, well, who are you to talk about it. Nobody has been able to solve it, right. But in the U.S., if a problem has never been solved, immediately, your friends is like, this is interesting, let’s see whether we can solve it. I love this optimism in this great country and I’m now a dual citizen, Barry. RITHOLTZ: Very — really, really interesting. So, let’s talk a little bit about how one becomes a good CEO. Is it effectively on-the-job training or is it a function of your experience and ability that makes you a great leader? JOLY: Yes. There’s the myth that you’re born a leader. I think that every leader was born, of course, but none of us were born leaders and I think it’s a learning journey. And for me, it’s been — yes, I’m learning by doing, learning on the job, learning from great mentors. One thing I learned the most about — with McKinsey was watching my client’s lead and I learned so much from a number of them. Learning from colleagues, at Best Buy, I learned so much from the frontliners and some of our great executives and then our coach. So, let’s slow down here. Can we agree, Barry, that exactly 100% of the top 100 tennis players in the world have a coach. RITHOLTZ: Sure. JOLY: I think the same is true for all of the NFL teams, all of the Champions League teams. What about us executives, right? And so, it’s interesting that now, for CEOs and senior executives have coaches much more popular. But 10 or 15 years ago, not so much. And I’ve benefited enormously, my first coach was the inimitable Marshall Goldsmith. I’ve learned a ton from him. He helped me deal with feedback and focus on getting better and asking for advice. And without Marshall, I would not be – it is infomercial before and after picture, it’s most improved. RITHOLTZ: Marshall Goldsmith was where? Was that at McKinsey or? JOLY: It was — the first time I worked with Marshall was in 2009. I had just became the CEO of Carlson Companies and my head of HR, Elizabeth Bastoni, told me, would you like to work with a coach and my first reaction was, am I doing anything wrong, is everything wrong with this? He said, no, no. I know Marshall, he helps in a great deal get better. His clients are – were, at that time, Alan Mullally of Ford and Jim Kim of the World Bank. I said, that’s cool, I want to be a member of that club. And Marshall was so helpful because when I was getting feedback, you do a 360 and you hear the goods and then you hear the other parts and my reaction initially was, what’s wrong with them, right? What are they talking about? And Marshall helped me — and the way he helped was — so, I did the 360. He gave me first all of the good things that people have said and says, spend the time to swallow this, digest this. And then the next day, he gave me the other stuff and he said, here’s the scoop, you don’t need to do anything with it, right? There’s no god that says that you need to get better at any of these things but you can — but you get to decide what you want to work on and get better at, right? And think about, so, here’s a question that we could ask, right, think about things that you’d like to get better at, right, and if you cannot think about anything, try humility, right, as a potential area. And then what Marshall made me do is talk to my team and said, thank you very much for all of the feedback you’ve given me and then based on what you said, I’m going to start to work on three things, number one, number two, number three, and I’m going to follow up with each of you to ask you for advice on how I can get better at these three things and then a few months from now, I’ll follow up to see how I’m doing. Now, believe me, Barry, first time I did this, this was excruciating pain having to admit to my team that I was not perfect. They knew it. They knew I was not perfect but having to say it out loud and then I wanted to get better at something. But this getting better at something makes it very positive. And then — so, later on, when I joined Best Buy, I repeated that signaling to every one of the executives that it was OK to want to get better at something. And so, later on, everybody at Best Buy had a coach and we were all helping out each other on getting better at our job, which is what I think you need to do. So, coaching — executive coaching plays a key role in my life. RITHOLTZ: Very interesting. And I recall seeing Marshall Goldsmith’s name on a book, “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There” and a quick Google search shows me that like you, he also is a professor. He teaches at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and has quite an impressive CV. But I want to stick with the concept of coaching and mentors, what did you learn at McKinsey who helped you when you were there sort of develop into the CEO that you are today? JOLY: Yes. So, there was — for me, there were two phases, Barry, at McKinsey that we serve, before the partnership and then the partnership. So, in my first say six years as an associate and then a manager, I learned a lot about problem-solving, communications, serving functional matters and so forth. So, I could say I learned a bunch of technical skills. But when I became a partner, the opportunity I got was sit down next to the CEO of the clients, watch them do their thing and listen and learn from them and that makes me — I got a great deal, right, because they were paying us and I was learning from them, right? Couldn’t get a better deal than that. And so, I will always remember, there was a client in, Jean-Marie Descarpentries was the CEO of a computer company Honeywell Bull and this is the guy who told me that the purpose of the company is not to make money, right? It’s an outcome, right? In business, you have three imperatives. You have the people imperative, which are the right teams. We have the business imperatives, which are the customers or clients and then great products and services. And then there’s a financial imperative and, of course, you have to understand that excellence on the financial imperative is the result of excellence on the business imperative, which itself is the result of excellence on the people imperative. So, it’s people, business, finance and finance is an outcome. And by the way, it’s not the ultimate goal because if you think about a company as a human organization, a bunch of people working together, they’re probably in there to create something in the world, right, and we can dig into this but that was — and believe me that was 30 years before the BRT statement of 2019 that we said we need (ph) in August the second anniversary. And so then, it was — the practical implications around this is that when you do your monthly review with your team, start with people and organization. Don’t start with financial results. If you should start with financial result, you’re going to spend your entire time on financials and you want to understand what’s driving these results whereas if you start with people and organization, you have a chance to spend time on that, then business, customers, products and then the CFO will make sure that you’ll spend enough time on the financial results. So, for me, that was a game changer and I applied this throughout my career and you could say whether it was in videogames or in travel or hospitality or in Best Buy, this focus on people first and treating profit as an outcome was a big driver performance. And this has not smoked anything illegal when I say this, Barry. As you know, the share price of Best Buy went from beyond low, it was $11. Recently, it’s been between 110 and 120. So, time spent in nine years, that’s not bad. Maybe you could have done better, Barry, but it’s OK, I think. RITHOLTZ: No. I don’t think I could have done better than 10X and PES no longer illegal in New York. So, you could smoke whatever you like. We’re going to — by the way, those three steps that you just mentioned are right from the book and we’re going to talk a little more about the book in a few minutes. But before we get to that, I have one last question to ask you which has to do with the fact that Best Buy, you mentioned it’s up 10X, it’s a publicly-traded company. Before you were at Best Buy, you are also at a giant company but it was privately held. Tell us a little bit about what that transition was like having to answer to shareholders and Wall Street. How did you manage that? Very different experience from everybody I’ve spoken with over the years. JOLY: Yes. Barry, so, I’ve worked in a public company, Best Buy. I’ve worked in a family-owned company, this was Carlson Companies. I’ve worked in a partially private equity-owned company, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, one equity partner of JPMorgan with 45 different shareholders and frankly, I think it’s pretty much all the same. You have shareholders whether they are large entities like Fidelity or Wellington or it’s a private equity player or it’s a family, they have expectations and needs and, by the way, all of them are human beings, right, by the way and that’s focused on the high-intensity trading that all the longs and all the shorts, they are human beings, and I’ve had – even though I say profit is an outcome and is not the ultimate goal, shareholders, even in stakeholder capitalism, are very important stakeholders. They’re taking care of our retirement. So, we love them for that. And so, when I was a CEO of Best Buy, I so enjoyed spending time with our shareholders sharing with them what we’re doing, answering their questions, they’re smart. It was always taking things away and the key was pay attention, listen and then pay attention to the say/do ratio. Best Buy had lost its credibility because they were saying a lot but not doing much, right? So, with my wonderful CFO sharing the column with me, we’re going to say less and do more and that’s how we’re going to build our credibility and we would be very transparent, share our situation, the opportunities we saw, what we’re going to do, and then we update them in our progress. And so, I really enjoy the competition. But in many ways, Barry, I think public, private equity or a family is largely the same. It’s people, we have to respect them and take care of their needs. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Hubert Joly. He is the former Chairman and Chief Executive at Best Buy, a company that he helped turn around over the course of his tenure there. Let’s talk a little bit about that. If you would have asked me a decade ago what the future look like for Best Buy, I would have said they were toast that Amazon was going to eat their lunch and they were heading to the garbage pile. Tell us what the key was to turning the company around so successfully. JOLY: You’re, right. Everybody thought we’re going to die. There was zero buy recommendation on the start in 2012 and what I found as I was examining the opportunity to become the CEO because my first reaction when I was approached was this is crazy, right? This is the same reaction as you described. But what I found is that there was nothing wrong with the markets or the business outside. All of the problems were self-inflicted. In fact, the customers needed Best Buy because we needed a place where to see and touch and feel the products and ask questions. And the vendors ultimately needed Best Buy. They needed a place where to showcase their products, the fruit of their billions of dollars of R&D investments. The problems were self-inflicted. Prices were not competitive. The online shopping experience was terrible. Speed of shipping was bad. The customer experiences in the stores have deteriorated. The cost structure was bloated and, and, and. That’s great news because if a problem is self-inflicted, you can fix it. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: And so the first phase was all about fixing what was broken and the advice I had been getting, Barry, was cut, cut, cut. We’re going to have to close stores, cut headcounts. We did the opposite. All of the stores were profitable. So, frankly, there was no point of closing stores in a significant fashion. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: It was very — the first phase was a very people centric approach, listening to the frontliners. My first week on the job, I spent it in the store in St. Cloud, Minnesota. I think in France, we would say St. Cloud but over there it’s St. Cloud so there you go. And really listening to the frontliners, they had all of the answers about what needed to be done. And so, my job was pretty easy, it was do what they have to — what they said we needed to do like fix the website, make sure the prices were competitive and so forth. The second on the people centric approach, build the right team at the top and then instead of focusing on headcount reduction, focus on growing the top line by meeting the customer needs and fixing what was broken in the customer experience and treating headcount reduction really as a last resort. And then focus on mobilizing the team on what we need to do for the customers. That sounds soft but that was our opportunity and that’s what we need to do in the first two or three or four years. And then once we have saved the company, it was about how do we — where do we go from here, how — what kind of company do we want to build for the future. And that’s why we focused on designing our purpose as a company. We said we’re actually not a consumer electronics retailer. We are a company in the business of enriching life through technology by addressing key human needs, which we’ll talk more about this. But this was transported because it’s expanded our addressable market and have to mobilize everybody. And as a company, we have to work on making this come to life in all of our activities and really creating an environment where – I think the summary at that time was we unleashed human magic. We had a hundred thousand people plus, I think spring in their step, connecting would drive them in life with their job and doing magical things for customers. And frankly, Barry, I learned so much along the way and, again, all of this sound soft but go back to — we went from $11 to 110 or 120. That was the key. RITHOLTZ: To say the very least. So, let’s talk a little bit about what you guys had done in the physical stores. The big threat to Best Buy was people showrooming, meaning showing up to look it up products and then buying it for a little cheaper at Amazon. How did you — and this is the line from the book, quote, “How did you kill showrooming and turned it into showcasing?” unquote. JOLY: Yes. So, everybody was talking about showrooming at that time. The frequenct was not that high actually but of course, it was incredibly frustrating for the blue shirt associates in our store to spend time with you, Barry, we love you but we spent 30 minutes with you answering all of your questions about the TV and then you buy it online. So, after 30 days at the company, we actually decided that we were going to take price off the table by lining up places with Amazon and giving the blue shirts the authority on the spot to match Amazon prices. And so, I took price off the table … RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: … and the customers, once they were in our stores, they were ours to lose. RITHOLTZ: Right. When you want to drive home with the TV in the back of the car instead of waiting a couple of days from it to come from Amazon, immediate gratification has to be a huge benefit you guys have as the physical store. JOLY: Exactly. And then, yes, of course, the (inaudible) but you’re still going to die because your cost structure is too high, it’s higher than Amazon or Walmart. So, we did take $2 billion of cost out. RITHOLTZ: Wow. JOLY: But the way we won in the end was we just had aha moment of, as I said, showcasing. If you are a Samsung or HP or Amazon and Google products, you need a place where to showcase your products, right, because you spend billions of dollars on R&D and if it’s just I’d say vignette on a website or box on a shelf, you’re not going to excite the customers. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: You need a place where to showcase your products. And so, we did deals. The first one was with Samsung where we had a meeting in December of 2012, Barry. J.K. Shin, the then CEO of Samsung Electronics came to visit us in Minneapolis in December of 2012 and over dinner, we did a deal where in a matter of months, you would have 1,000 Samsung stores within our stores where you could showcase these products. It was just across the aisle from — we already had an Apple store within the store and it was good for the customers because they could see the products, they could compare with Apple. It was good for Samsung, right, because the alternative for them first was to build 1,000 stores in the U.S., it takes time, it’s difficult, and. of course, we have this great location and great traffic. And good for us because it was part of our OPM strategy, other people’s money strategy, right, because there were some good economics for us. And so, that allowed us to offset the cost advantage in Walmart or Amazon we have and then over time, we did deal with all of the world’s foremost almost tech companies, including Amazon for crying out loud, and that was the game changer. And we look — if you look at our stores today, they are shiny because — we have all of these shiny objects and you can see and experience all of these products. So, that was really a game changer. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about both Samsung and Amazon. First, I’m always surprised that people don’t realize what a giant product company Samsung is. It’s not just phones but it’s phones, its TVs, it’s washers, dryers. I mean, Samsung basically anything in your house is a product that Samsung makes and not just entry-level washer, dryers or refrigerators. I think was it last year or two years ago, they bought Dacor, which is like a subzero, high-end manufacturer of kitchen appliances. So, when you set up the store within a store with Samsung, tell us about what that did and how did that impact Samsung’s sales at Best Buys? JOLY: Sure. Yes. I mean, you’re right to highlight this great company. The first deal we did with them was focused on phones and tablets and cameras. So, in a matter of months, they had these stores within our stores and it really put them on the map. It is I think — if you go back to the ’90s, Samsung was not the same company. They were really low end and the chairman at that time, so, the father of the current — of J.Y. Lee now, came to the U.S. and said, at some point, I want Best Buy to carry us and it would be the ultimate goal. And now, they’re one of our top five vendors, probably better than top five. And so, it really gives them the physical presence and to prove that it’s worth for them was then we did the same in the TV department and then in the appliance department. So, it’s been a series of wins for them. And once we have announced the deal with Samsung, other — we had similar conversation with Microsoft, Steve Ballmer, we had a conversation at CES and then two months later, we did the Microsoft stores within Best Buy and then it went on and on. And Tim Cook at Apple told me that he didn’t really like what we were doing, he understood it but he didn’t really like it and Apple has been a very important vendor to Best Buy. So, what we decided to do with them is do more. And so, it was stronger partnership. So, Best Buy is not simply carrying products and partners with the world’s foremost tech companies and with some of these companies and partners on product development, new product introduction and because there’s so much innovation that drives the business, it’s a critical role we play. We also partner in service, Best Buy sells AppleCare, an authorized Apple service provider. So, these partnerships really changed the game. And in the U.S., I think it’s not arrogant to say that Best Buy is the only player which these large companies can do these meaningful deals. So, it really changed the trajectory. RITHOLTZ: I have to ask you about the Geek Squad. Whose idea was that and how significant is it to the company? JOLY: Sure. Robert Stephens was a student at the University of Minnesota, was the — is the founder of Geek Squad in 1994. Very creative guy. The name itself is good — is cool, the logo and so forth, and then Best Buy acquired the company in 2002 when it was quite — still quite small and now, of course, it’s become really big, it’s 20,000 employees. And it’s the key elements of Best Buy’s differentiation because Best Buy is not just in the business of selling you something. We’re — our target customer — people who are excited about technology need technology but also need help with it. And so, with the Geek Squad and the blue shirts, we’re able to advise you when you’re looking at what to do but also help you implement in your home, helps you figure out if something is not working across, right? Of course, let’s take an example. If Netflix is not working tonight at your house, Barry, is it because of Netflix, is it piping to the home, is it the router, is it the streaming device, is it the TV, honey, what is it, right? And we’re honey, right, and we’re going to be able to help you across all of these vendors. And so, that’s a big differentiator for the company. So, really genius. RITHOLTZ: My extra special guest this week is Hubert Joly. His new book is called, “The Heart of Business.” Let’s talk a little bit about writing a book which is quite an endeavor. What motivated you to sit down and say, sure, I’ll write a book? JOLY: Well, this is not a traditional field book. So, this is not a memoir. This is not about the story of the Best Buy turnaround per se. It was reflection, Barry, and it’s really been something I’ve been thinking about for the last 30 years that so much of what I’ve learned at business school, what McKinsey or the early years of my career is wrong, dated or incomplete. And when sit back today or in the last couple of years, even though I’m the eternal (ph) optimist, I have to say it out loud, the world as we know it is not working, right? We’re in this multifaceted crisis, you have, of course, the health crisis and economic crisis, suicidal issues, racial issues, environmental problems, geopolitical tension, it simply is not working. And what’s the definition of madness, right? It’s doing the same thing and hoping for different outcome. And for me, on my FBI’s most wanted list, is two people. One is Milton Friedman, shareholder primacy, and two is Bob McNamara, the former Secretary of Defense and executive at Ford who’s the — almost the inventor top-down scientific management. These approaches don’t work and I think they got us in trouble and there’s a growing number of us, right, and certainly, I’m not the only one, who believe that there’s a better formula that business can be a force for good that — it’s the idea that business should pursue a noble purpose and take care of all of the stakeholders that you put people at the center. You embrace all stakeholders in some kind of declaration of future dependents. There’s no need to choose between employees and customers and shareholders. It’s by taking care of customers and employees and the community that generate great returns for shareholders. We treat profit as an outcome and this formula, people call it stakeholder capitalism or purposeful leadership, I think everybody now talks about it and embrace it, most people. There’s still a few who don’t agree. But the challenge then is how do you do this, how do you make this happen and, Barry, I felt that with my experience and the credibility of the Best Buy turnaround, I could add my voice and my energy to call this necessary foundation of business and capitalism around purpose and humanity and provide like a guide for any leader at any level frankly who is keen to move in that direction but like the rest of us, we would help. And so, that was the genesis of the book and the subtitle of the book is leadership principles, right, for the next era of capitalism and the book is full of very concrete examples and stories and illustrations. There’s questions at the end of each chapter that people can use to reflect and act at their company. So, that’s the book. RITHOLTZ: Speaking of the book, it got a terrific review from all — of all people, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos. How did that come about, how did Bezos give you a review and what’s the relationship like between Best Buy and Amazon these days? JOLY: Sure. Best Buys has always sold Amazon products because we think about Amazon as the retailer, of course, as a cloud company but Amazon is also a product company, right? They have the Kindle and, of course, all of their Echo products. And Best Buy have always sold Amazon’s products in the stores. Other retailers say it otherwise but we felt these were great products and we’re here to serve customers. I got to know Jeff firstly through the business council. Both of us were members there on the executive committee and once, I was invited to discuss our turnaround and how we had approached that transformation and Jeff was in the first row and being very kind. But then we did this significant partnership where I think it was in 2018. Amazon gave Best Buy exclusive rights to Fire TV platform, which is their smart TV platform, to be embedded into smart TVs. So, any smart TV with the Fire TV embedded in it, Best Buy is going to control that. It’s only going to be sold at Best Buy or by Best Buy and Amazon. And when we did the announcement for this deal, we did it in a store in Beverly, Washington, and Jeff came and we had some media there and Jeff said, TV is a considerate purchase. You got to see the TV. Best Buy is the best place in the world we you can do this. That’s why we’re doing the partnership and we built this stress-based relationship. And, of course, the media was — this was a jaw-dropping moment and Jeff is a very generous man. It’s interesting because it raises another question which is how do you think about competition. As you lead a company, do you obsess about competition or do you obsess about your customers and what you can become. And that’s one of the things that Jeff and and I share which is you obsess about your customers and becoming the best version of yourself you can be. Of course, at Best Buy, we look at Amazon. We wanted to — actually, in the sense, we neutralize them, right, because same prices, same great shopping experience and we ship as fast as they do. So, let’s call it a draw on the online business and then we have unique asset. And so, you’re not obsessed about your competition. In fact, in some cases, you partner with them and I think the world — other than the COVID pandemic, there’s another pandemic in the world which is the fear or the obsession about zero-sum games. The only way that Amazon could win is if Best Buy loses or vice versa. The only way this podcast can be successful, Barry, is if you win and I lose. That’s crazy, right? You get to collaborate and create great outcomes and I think in this world as leaders, we have to think about how we can create when win, win, win outcomes for our customers, our employees, our vendors, the community and ultimately, their shareholders. RITHOLTZ: And to put some flesh on those bones, some numbers on it, in 2007, before the financial crisis, Best Buy had done about $35 billion in revenue. In 2020, they were somewhere in the neighborhood of 47 billion and this year, I think the company is looking for an excess of 50 billion. So, clearly, that’s been heading in the right direction. Let’s talk a little bit about your experience on other boards. You’re in the board of directors of Johnson & Johnson and you’re on the board of directors at Ralph Lauren. What have you learned from those firms that were applicable to Best Buy and what do you bring to the table for those companies? JOLY: Yes. So, I joined — the first board I joined was Ralph Lauren in 2009 and I was the CEO of Carlson Companies, which was Carlson Wagonlit Travel, TGI Fridays and then a bunch of hotels, Regent and Radisson. The reason why I was interested in joining another board was to try to become a better CEO in the relationship with my board and sitting on somebody else’s board, you can see the needs of the board and then you can see how the CEO and their team are dealing with you. So, that was a great experience because when you become CEO and you deal with the board, you have zero experience, right, dealing with the board. So, that’s one of the things you learn on the job. So, that was a great way for me to learn. And these two companies, J&J and Ralph Lauren, they’re two amazing companies. J&J, I joined recently. I joined about 18 months ago. And so, watching Alex Gorsky and his team navigate the pandemic, their Credo-based approach. I mean, they’re the inventor of stakeholder capitalism before (inaudible), right, with their Credo that they created in 1943 that’s focused on all of the stakeholders. They’re one of the most innovative companies. So, they show the value of doing meaningful innovation for the benefit of, in their case, their patients. This is a wonderful entrepreneur. The company was founded in ’67 and it’s a great company, one of the most iconic brands on the planet. So, how do drive this and how do you balance left brain and right brain and, of course, enjoying cooperating with Patrice Louvet, the CEO, who is a terrific guy. And so, learning — I’m like a sponge, I love learning (ph) from others. What I bring, I would frame it along the lines of what I was looking for my board to do when I was CEO and I was not looking for the board to give me all of the answers and do my job, right? But I use the board — I wanted — I build a board that would give me complementary skills. So, I wanted to have the best people on the board that would have skills that would be additive to our management team and use the board as a sounding board to — I would get 80 percent of the value of the board meeting in preparation to the board meeting. And then getting reaction at the sounding board. When you are in the weed, sometimes, you’re missing something and then being able to access unique expertise from my board. So, what I try to bring on these boards is I try to be a resource for the management team, a sounding board, and helping them with their most important issues. I really enjoyed that. I’m in the state now where I started a new chapter as you highlighted, I’m no longer a CEO but it’s a matter of giving back and helping the next generation of leaders be the — become the best version of themselves they can be. So, I do that through boards and through executive education at Harvard Business School, also coach and mentor of a number of CEOs and executives. So, it’s — I just love doing that. RITHOLTZ: So, let’s talk a little bit about what you’re doing now. Tell us about the class you’re teaching at Harvard. JOLY: So, on Monday, August 30th, that is the first day of school for the incoming MBA class. So, I’m one of the professors in the first year. I teach marketing, which is about — it’s focused really on how do you grow a company focusing on the customers. So, that’s one of the things I do. I’m also part of the faculty that’s — as a program for new CEOs. So, twice per year with a small bunch of new CEOs, I did this when I became CEO, that come here for three days and we try to help them out. I’m also part of the faculty that’s doing a program called Leading Global Businesses and last but not the least, I’m really passionate about this, we’re designing and we’re going to pilot program for companies and then also in the MBA program called Putting Purpose to Work and Unleashing Human Magic. So, many companies on this purpose journey today. And so, there’s going to be a series of workshops for the top 30 people, custom programs, one company at a time, and we’re going to try to support them in their journey. We’re doing our first pilot this fall and to look forward to learning from that experience. And I think we’re just in the early innings of that new era of capitalism. So, so much to learn. I’m super excited to be part of that journey with a number of companies. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. I have to ask you the obvious question, is your book a book you assigned to your students? What do you have them read? JOLY: So, HBS is a school where there’s really not, for the most part, mandatory reading of any books. So, I know that last year, before the book was established, my wonderful Section E from the MBA program, they all got a copy of the manuscript and they had great conversations, too. Sometimes, the book gets distributed to the participants of the executive education programs. But in the MBA, there’s little mandatory reading. It’s all about, as you know, the case study methodology, which is a wonderful way to learn because it’s hard to learn just from reading. Reading, I mean, I encourage people to read the books for sure but it’s by practicing that you really learned, right? So, that’s the HBS way. RITHOLTZ: To say the very least. And one of the things that Bezos specifically mentioned was that he thought your turnarounds at Best Buy was going on eventually become a Harvard Business School case study. What are your thoughts on that? JOLY: Well, we’re actually working on that with Professor Gupta and it’s going to be taught for the first time. This is going to be fun, right? It’s going to be the last case of the marketing class in December. And so, of course, in my section, it’s going to be ironic. I’m going to be Professor Joly and I’m going to be one of the protagonists. There’s been other cases on Best Buy but this one is going to be much on the turnaround and transformation. So, that’s going to be fun. I’ve also taught it — we’ve also taught it in some of the executive education programs. So, Jeff – I know Jeff is right, there’s a Best Buy case now at Harvard Business School. RITHOLTZ: Really, really quite interesting. So, you mentioned purposeful leadership. Let’s delve into that a little bit. How does one become a purposeful leader who’s focused on creating the sort of environment where others can flourish and perform at their best? JOLY: Yes. This is, for me, such an important information and I grew up believing that as the leader, what was important was to be smart, right, where I went to school and to — some of the best schools and in the early years of my career, this is the left brain would highlight being the smartest person in the room. I’ve learned over the years that this is not what drives great outcome over time. I had an entire reflection and we slowed down. One of the things that is important to do is reflect on why do we work. Is work markedly a mixed reputation, right? We work — is work a punishment because some dude send in paradise, right, or is work something we do so that we can do something else that’s more fun or is work part of our fulfillment as a human being, part of our quest for meaning, right, to talk about Victor Frankl. And one of the things that I really invite myself to do and every leader to do is reflect on this. What’s going to be the meaning of my life professionally? How do I want to be remembered? One of the things we ask the CEOs to do in the CEO program in Harvard is write your retirement speech or with my wife when I — when we coach or mentor CEOs, we ask them to write their eulogy. What would you like other people to say on that day when you’re not here to listen? And I think this is so meaningful because people talk about the purpose of the corporation. I think it starts with our individual purpose, right, because motivation is intrinsic, right? And so, how can you lead others if you cannot lead your life and yourself? For me, that’s the beginning. And very practical, one of the turning points in our journey at Best buy, Barry, was every quarter, we would get together as an executive team for an offsite and one day, I asked every one of the executive team members to come to the offsite with a picture of themselves when they were little, maybe two or three years old. We got some really cute pictures, Barry, I can tell you that and over dinner, we spent the evening sharing with each other our life story and what drives us in life, what’s the meaning of our life. And what came out of that discussion, several things, one is we realized that all of us were human beings, not just a CFO or CMO or CHO, and that, with a couple of exceptions, all of us had the same kind of goals in life, which is it is the golden rule, do something good to other people. And that was transformational because we said, well, we’re the executive team of Best Buy. At that time, Best Buy — we had saved Best Buy and it was — where do we go from here? Why don’t we use Best Buy as a platform to do something good in the world and become a company that customers are going to love, employees are going to love, community is going to love and, of course, shareholders are going to continue to love. And so, there’s a similar idea in my mind which is connecting what drives us as individuals with the purpose of the company and the thing for companies that are embarked on the purpose journey, they write down their purpose but if they just try to cascade it down and communicate it to everybody and say, why don’t you — why aren’t you excited about this new purpose, right, it doesn’t work. We really have to start with what drives every individual and the company and then you realize that, yes, what is your role. So, in the book, I talked about the five Bs of purposeful leadership. The first B is be clear about your — what we are talking about, be clear about your own purpose, be clear about the purpose of people around you and how it connects with what you’re doing at the company. The second one is be clear about your role as a leader. It’s not to be the smartest person in the room but to create the environment in which others can be the best version of themselves. And, of course, if you’re leading a significant company and Best buy has more than 100,000 people, the only thing that happens is the thing that you decide that you come up with, you know it’s going to go far, right? So, it’s all about creating this environment which is significant mind shift. It’s also about — yes, Barry? RITHOLTZ: I was going to say, I’m struck by your comments and this comes through the book about showing vulnerability, inspiring people, embracing your humanity. I think back to the former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch, whose nickname was Neutron Jack for how frequently he would lay off people and close divisions and fire other executives. When you were putting your philosophy to work at Best Buy, were you aware that this is a radical break from what had come before you? JOLY: Yes. And to quote — so, to go back to France in 1789, at the moment of the Storming of Bastille, there is Louis XVI asked La Rochefoucauld, is this a revolt, and La Rochefoucauld’s response says, no, sire, this is a revolution. And I think that’s what it is and it’s really shifting things. People are not the problem. They’re the source and they’re also the ultimate goal. And I think that most people agree with this, Barry, the challenge is not agreeing with this now, I think it’s really doing it and it’s — I can speak from experience. If you were to look at my face, you would see all of these scars on my face. Learning from experience and trying to get better at this is a lifelong journey of learning to be vulnerable. I was raised — being taught that I — you couldn’t say I don’t know and now, in the world we live, did you have a manual for the COVID pandemic, did you have a manual for back-to-the-office, Barry? No. So, it’s clear that we don’t know. So, we have to be able to say my name is Hubert and I need help and we’re going to work together to figure it out. So, there’s a C change in leadership, meaning from a place of purpose and with humanity and a great deal of humility. RITHOLTZ: So, I want to talk about the pandemic in a moment. I want to stick with this revolution that you mentioned. There’s a quote from the book that I really like, quote, “The Milton Friedman version of capitalism got us here. But now, this model is failing.” Explain to us how it got us here, why it’s failing now and what comes next. JOLY: I used this to highlight the idea which mainly has been Milton Friedman’s, only I get was the context when he spoke. But the obsession with profits being the only thing that matters is proven to be poisonous and excessive focus on profit is poisonous and there’s several reasons for this. One is when we look at the reported profit of the company — by the way, if anybody believes that U.S. GAAP really tries to equate economic performance, study your accounting again, it’s not even trying, it’s a set of principles. There’s many things that GAAP profit does not capture, including your negative impact on the environment or how well your sales force is trained. The other thing is that it focuses on an outcome. So, in medicine, the (inaudible) analogous is my MD was focused on my temperature, right, and I don’t want a doctor that’s purely focused on my temperature because maybe he’s going to put the thermometer in the fridge or in the oven, right, depending. I want somebody who’s going to be interested in what’s driving my health and try to help me get healthy. And so, we got confused by this obsession and that was (inaudible) and, of course, there’s extreme cases. Enron is one of them but — where we lost track of why we’re on this planet and responsibility with doing the right thing. So, this new model, the reinvention of business probably going back to some of our roots, right, with the idea that business is here to purse enabled (ph) purpose. And this is not about socialism, this is about doing something good in the world that could be responding to needs of customers in a way that’s responsible. It’s about putting people at the center embracing all of the stakeholders in a harmonious fashion, refusing zero-sum games and treating profit as an outcome. I think that’s the formula that’s employed by some of the best companies on the planet. And as leaders, we need to go back to that and to learn new things because we’re so influenced by some of the techniques we learned last century, including this top-down management approach and using it extensively. So, that’s something you’re going to learn over time. There’s research by the MIT that shows that financial incentive deteriorates performance, which is the opposite of what we’ve learned, right? But if you feed somebody with carrots and sticks, beware because you’re going to get a donkey, right? RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: And in a world where you need creativity and people to be their best, motivation is going to be intrinsic. So, that’s what you need to be able to touch and get to the environment where people want to be their best and make a meaningful contribution in their work. So, I think this is a very exciting phase. This is an urgent phase because I’m concerned probably like you and many others that we have a few ticking timebombs and I have three wonderful granddaughters. I want to do my best to try to, quote-unquote, “make the planet” be a better world, right, than the current trajectory. RITHOLTZ: And this is very consistent, I have a fuller understanding of your philosophy that profit should be an outcome and not just the goal in and of itself. You’ve really put some meat on those bones. JOLY: Yes. Thank you, Barry, and there’s practical implications of that again and starting your monthly business meetings or even your board meetings with people and organization and then customers and business and then basically (ph) with with financial results. You should take care of the first two, the profits will follow. So, it’s a significant practical and philosophical transformation. Talking about quotes here, we quoted Milton Friedman, but I love this quote from the Lebanese prophet, Kahlil Gibran, who said that work is love made visible. RITHOLTZ: That’s a wonderful quote. And let’s talk a little bit about visibility of some of the changes you did. By the time you stepped down from the board of directors in June of last year, Best Buy’s board of 13 directors had, for the first time ever, a majority of women and three African-American directors. Tell us how you brought about this increase of diversity. What about diversity throughout the rest of the company and what was the impact of so much inclusion and a shift away from the older homogenous types of boards? JOLY: I think, Barry, it’s clear for every one of us today that having diversity is going to get to a better business outcome and I do believe that has there been Lehman brothers and sisters instead of Lehman brothers, we would have had a different outcome. But if you also take it a very practical fashion, in one of our stores in Chicago that’s in the Polish neighborhood, if the blue shirts don’t speak Polish, they’re not going to sell much. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: Or when we had Brazilian tourists in Orlando, the blue shirts didn’t speak Portuguese, they were not going to sell much. So, having diversity of every dimension, talent, skills, profiles, gender, race, the country’s color is changing very rapidly, it’s becoming black and brown, we have to represent — it’s very simple, we have to represent the diversity of the customers we serve. If we don’t, bad things happen. And so, there’s a business imperative, there’s also a moral imperative when we see the state of the country. So, from a gender standpoint, as I said, I have three granddaughters, I want them to have the best opportunities, and why would it make sense to only recruit from a quarter of the population, right? RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: The board’s — I’ll say the board’s composition was a great place to focus now. It’s not the only one. When we rebuilt the board study in 2013, we want to have the best skills. We were determined to be diverse. So, we had an early focus on gender diversity and when I started to focus more on ethnic diversity, probably starting in 2016, 2017, I met — I had a great meeting with Mellody Hobson of Ariel Investments and … RITHOLTZ: Sure. JOLY: … she’s now the Chair of Starbucks, everyone knows Mellody, she’s amazing, one of the things she told me is that people cannot be who they cannot see. And so, starting at the top and having a board that would signal the direction was important. So, what’s really — and changing the composition of the board is not that hard with only 10 or 12 or 13 people, how hard can it be? So, we told the headhunter don’t bother giving us resumes of non-black directors, right, and if you believe that you are unable to find great black candidates, well, say that’s OK, we won’t have a problem with that. We’ll just work with another firm. It’s not a problem. And so, we recruited three amazing directors and we got them on the board that they’ve concluded (ph) in this direction and I think it makes a huge difference. And, of course, Best Buy is headquartered in Minneapolis and following the killing — the murder of George Floyd, it’s pretty simple, if you — if the city is on fire, right, if the community is on fire, you just can’t open stores, right? You can’t run a business. RITHOLTZ: Right. JOLY: So, in this country, we have this big racial issue that has been going on for centuries. I think generation has the opportunity to end systemic racism and that’s something we, I think, business can play a big role in this. So, that was determined and that’s what we did. RITHOLTZ: Let’s jump to our favorite questions that we ask all our guest starting with tell us what you’re streaming these days, give us your favorite Netflix or Amazon Prime, what’s keeping you entertained during the pandemic? JOLY: I have so much electronic equipment in our place that I’m doing a lot of streaming. I love — I always listen to music. I’m a movie buff. I have a collection of probably 800 movies on my (inaudible) setup. Our favorite I would say recently has been “Good Doctor.” I think that’s Season 5, it’s starting at the end of September. We’re very excited about this. And then from a podcast standpoint, I like listening to HBR’s Idea Cast. That’s a weekly – a great weekly podcast. Whitney Johnson has a great leadership podcast called “Disrupt Yourself.” And then I have to mention, there’s a young teenager, well, teenager would be young anyway, right, but let’s call him a teenager, Logan Lin has got a FinanZe podcast that focused on the Z generation. My God, the guy is so cool. So, everybody joins and downloads FinanZe spelled F-I-N-A-N-Z-E and that’s Logan Lin. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. We hinted at some of your mentors but let’s jump into that in more depth. Tell us some of the people who helped to shape your career. JOLY: There’s so many, Barry. Jean-Marie Descarpentries, a client of mine, had this big influence on me teaching me so much about how to put people first and treating profits as an outcome. There were two great friends, yes, who happened to be monks in a religious congregation in the early ’90s. That was a turning point. They asked me to write a couple of articles with them on the theology and philosophy of work which is where I got a lot of my roots in terms of work as part of our search for meaning as individuals, as human beings. It changed my perspective on work. Another turning point, too, in my early 40s, you could say throughout the book, it was at the top of my first mountain, right, had been a partner at McKinsey & Company. I was on the executive team of Vivendi Universal, by many measures., I’ve been successful, right, except I think the top of that first mountain was very dry which was not fulfilling. There was no real meaning. So, I call it my midlife crisis, right? So, instead of going on to an island, I did — I stepped back and I did the spiritual exercises of Ignatius of Loyola. So, you could say the founder of the Jesuits, of course. You could say he was one of my mentors that was really helpful to help me discern my calling in life, which today or since then has been to try to make a positive difference on people around me and use the platform I have to make a positive difference in the world which is what I’m doing now teaching and mentoring and so forth. And then we mentioned Marshall Goldsmith, my first coach and a good friend. Later on, I also worked with Eric Pliner at YSC. When the board — so, Marshall was doing my annual — having that board with my annual evaluation and the board realized that Marshall and I were such good friends and said, we need somebody more objective now. And we got Eric Pliner, who is now the CEO of YSC, worked with me but also his firm works with every one of our executives and helps us with executive team’s effectiveness and that was quite transformative. You should have spent more time earlier on not just on building the right team but enhancing our team effectiveness and I learned a lot working with Eric in that journey. RITHOLTZ: Let’s talk a little bit about everybody’s favorite question, tell us about some of your favorite books and what are you reading right now. JOLY: I read three books this summer. The first one is by Rakesh Khurana who’s now the President of Harvard College and it’s called “From Higher Aims to Hired Hands” which is the history — exactly for me, the history of business education in the U.S. over the last 120 years and how the business school curriculum were saved and how — and why he believes and I do believe as well that we need to evolve it not just learning techniques but also with — it’s not just about learning something or learning to do something, it’s also learning to be, which is I think an entire journey. I also read “Caste” by Isabel Wilkerson and a book by my colleague, Tsedal Neeley, “Remote Work Revolution” which is, of course, a very timely book. Best book ever read, I have to mention Marcel Proust being French, “In Search of Lost Time.” It’s only 3,000 pages. So, if you have a minute or two, I encourage you to get to it. Victor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning” is another favorite. And you mentioned the Marshall Goldsmith’s “What Got You Here Won’t Get You There.” And finally, I have to mention my wife’s book called “Aligned: Becoming the Leader You’re Meant To Be” and her name is Hortense Le Gentil. It’s one of the best leadership books that I’ve ever read and, of course, a little bias maybe. RITHOLTZ: Maybe you’re a little bit bias. So, you work with grad students and college students, what sort of advice would you give to a recent college graduate who is interested in a career either as an executive or leadership or even in retail? JOLY: I think the advice is the same as we give the new CEOs is write your retirement speech or even better, write your eulogy. And I know my good friend John Donahoe, who’s now the CEO of Nike, did this when he graduated and he’s always kept it. And I understand he goes back to it every year and it’s hard. (Inaudible) between the ages of 26 and 34, early in your adult life, you don’t necessarily know everything but try to write it and see what journey you want to be on and how you want to be remembered. That would be one plot. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. And our final question, what do you know about the world’s of leadership and executive management today that you wish you knew a couple of decades ago when you were first getting started? JOLY: Well, there’s so much over the years. I think it has to do with profits being an outcome not the goal. It’s about importance of looking at drivers of performance. It’s about my role as a leader is not to be the smartest person in the room but to create the right environment. Not about being perfect. Nobody’s perfect. And I think the quest for — maybe I’ll finish with this, the quest for perfection can be very dangerous, can be evil, right, because if you’re trying to be perfect, guess what, you’re not going to be successful. You’re going to be incredibly demanding and harsh with people around you because you expect them to be perfect. And so, you have to be laxed and be kind with yourself and others around you and be able to open up and share what you are struggling with, understand what they’re struggling with and help each other out. That’s the — I think to me, that’s — it’s such an important consideration. The quest of perfection can be very dangerous. Be kind to yourself. During the pandemic, we learned so much, right? We used to fly around Barry, long time ago on planes, right, and we were told by the steward or the stewardess, if the oxygen mask comes down, put it on yourself first before you help others. So, as we continue to go through challenging time, taking care of yourself as a leader, making sure you meditate, you reflect, you exercise, you ask for help either from your personal board of directors, your best friends, that’s the key thing, that’s going to be the way that we can then help others. So, take care of yourself first. RITHOLTZ: Quite interesting. We have been speaking with Hubert Joly, former Chairman and CEO at Best Buy and currently a lecturer at Harvard Business School. Thank you, Hubert, for being so generous with your time. If you enjoy this conversation, be sure and check out any of our previous 376 former discussions that we’ve had. You can find those at iTunes, Spotify, Acast, wherever you feed your podcast fix. We love your comments, feedback and suggestions. Write to us at mibpodcast@bloomberg.net. You can sign up for my daily reads, you can find those at ritholtz.com. Follow me on Twitter @Ritholtz. I would be remiss if I did not thank the crack staff that helps put these conversations together each week, Charlie Vollmer is my audio engineer extraordinaire, Atika Valbrun is my project manager, Paris Wald is my producer, Michael Batnick is my researcher. I’m Barry Ritholtz. You’ve been listening to Masters in Business on Bloomberg Radio   ~~~   The post Transcript: Hubert Joly appeared first on The Big Picture......»»

Category: blogSource: TheBigPictureSep 27th, 2021

The world"s biggest carbon-removal plant just opened. In a year, it"ll negate just 3 seconds" worth of global emissions.

Companies are developing technology that sucks carbon dioxide out of the air. But scientists say it can't be scaled up fast enough. "Orca," Climeworks' new facility in Iceland, can capture 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. Business Wire via AP The world's biggest carbon-capture plant - which sucks carbon dioxide out of the air - just opened. A UN report says carbon capture technology is necessary if the world wants to be carbon neutral by 2050. But many experts think the tech is too expensive and not scalable in the next few decades. See more stories on Insider's business page. Framed by a backdrop of volcanoes, a semi-circle of gigantic fans in Iceland are sucking in air, super-heating it, then filtering out the carbon dioxide.This carbon capture and storage facility, named Orca, turned on two weeks ago after more than 18 months of construction. The fans are embedded in shipping container-sized boxes, and once the carbon dioxide is separated, it gets mixed with water then travels through snaking, fat tubes deep underground, where the carbon cools and solidifies.Through this process, Orca can trap and sequester 4,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year - making it the largest facility of its kind in the world (though there are currently only two running)."Think of it like a vacuum cleaner for the atmosphere," Julio Friedmann, an energy policy researcher at Columbia University who attended the plant's ribbon-cutting ceremony, told Insider. "Nothing else can do what this tech does."According to the latest report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), carbon capture and storage is a necessary part of our best-case climate scenarios. But currently, facilities like Orca only negate a sliver of global emissions.Climate scientist Peter Kalmus has done the math: "If it works, in one year it will capture three seconds worth of humanity's CO2 emissions," he wrote on Twitter.-Dr Peter Kalmus STOP LINE 3 (@ClimateHuman) September 9, 2021Put another way, Kalmus told Insider, "at any given moment, it will capture one 10-millionth of humanity's current emissions.""It's remarkable to me it is being considered as part of those plans," he said of the IPCC report.'Probably the most expensive solution' Equipment used to capture carbon dioxide at a coal-fired power plant owned by NRG Energy in Thompsons, Texas, on January 9, 2017. Ernest Scheyder/Reuters The Orca facility works differently than the carbon-capture technologies built into some power plants, steel mills, and industrial facilities. Those collect the carbon produced in the manufacturing process before it enters the air. It can then be converted into materials like concrete or stored underground.More than 20 facilities worldwide currently do this, most of which are in the US. But that simply prevents more carbon from accumulating in the atmosphere. Orca, by contrast, is an attempt to deal with the greenhouse gas that's already up there.This technology, known as direct air capture, is in its infancy. The Swiss company Climeworks, which built Orca, has the only operational game in town; its other plant is in Switzerland. Before that, the technology had only been used on a small scale in spacecraft and submarines.Two other plants are in planning phases: The Canadian company Carbon Engineering, which is backed by Bill Gates, started designing a similar facility in northeastern Scotland three months ago. It also plans to start construction on a a plant in Texas next year. Each of those facilities could remove up to 25 times more carbon per year than Orca. A Climeworks facility for capturing carbon dioxide atop the roof of a waste incinerating plant in Hinwil, Switzerland, July 18, 2017. Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters But as with many emerging technologies, direct air capture is expensive. Christoph Gebald, Climeworks' co-founder, told the Washington Post that it costs at least $600 to capture one metric ton of carbon dioxide, since super-heating the air takes a lot of energy.That cost would need to drop to one-fourth its current level to bring it in line with technologies like wind and solar in terms of their carbon abatement - the degree to which they reduce emissions. To sell carbon commercially - like to beverage companies making fizzy drinks - the price would have to get even lower, probably between $65 and $110 per metric ton.Friedmann thinks a drop to below $200 is likely by 2030, and a drop to $100 two decades after that. By that point, he said, the market for carbon removal market - companies paying to abate their emissions - will have grown significantly.But even at that $100 price, removing all of humanity's annual carbon emissions would cost more than $5 trillion per year, according to Gates' book, "How to Avoid a Climate Disaster." That would require 50,000 Orca plants."It's probably the most expensive solution," Gates wrote. Icebergs melting near Ilulissat, Greenland. Ulrik Pedersen/NurPhoto via Getty Images There's also the question of timing. The IPCC report says that without capturing significant amounts of carbon over the next 30 years, it will be impossible to get humanity to net-zero emissions by 2050 - and, consequently, to limit warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.But Mathew Barlow, a climate scientist at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, said three decades isn't enough for the technology to be deployed widely."There's no possible way for it to scale up on that timescale," Barlow, who contributed to the IPCC report, told Insider. "We're at the point where you need to get the tech off the shelves, not be building it out."'Fossil-fuel companies love carbon capture'Plants like Orca do, however, out-perform their natural counterparts - trees. "The Orca facility does the work of 200,000 trees in 1,000 times less space," Friedmann said.What's more, once a facility like this stores its carbon, it's locked away. If trees burn, the carbon they've absorbed gets released. A reforestation project in Leiria, Portugal in 2018. Carlos Costa/Getty Images But trees capture carbon at a much lower cost of $50 per metric ton.Kalmus thinks carbon capture ultimately distracts the world from other solutions that would make a bigger dent in emissions, like investment in renewables and regulations targeting the fossil-fuel industry."Fossil-fuel companies love carbon capture because it really does let them off the hook," he said.Friedmann, though, thinks it's possible to expand carbon-capture infrastructure enough to make a difference. If the Senate's infrastructure bill passes in the House, it would allocate $3.5 billion toward direct air capture facilities in the US. Elon Musk also announced this year that he's funding a $100 million carbon-capture contest."We now know that we can do it," Friedmann said. "Now we're just haggling over price and literally asking how much we're willing to pay to save the Earth."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderSep 25th, 2021

First Financial (FFBC) Signs Agreement to Acquire Summit

First Financial (FFBC) agrees to buy Summit, the fourth-largest independent equipment financing platform in the United States. First Financial Bancorp. FFBC agrees to acquire the fourth-largest independent equipment financing platform in the United States, Summit Funding Group. The completion of the deal, subject to customary closing conditions, is expected in the fourth quarter of this year.First Financial has an excellent record of strategically deploying excess capital to buy and, thus, grow additive specialty lines of business in a disciplined manner. The buyout of Summit will complement the strategy.The acquisition of Summit is expected to be accretive to First Financial's earnings per share by mid-single digits in 2023 (the first year post-integration). Thereafter, on a run-rate basis, the deal is expected to be accretive to earnings by low-double digits.Archie Brown, First Financial's president and CEO, stated, "We are very excited to join forces with one of the most widely respected companies in the equipment finance sector. In combining the scale and product breadth of First Financial with Summit's leading nationwide position in the equipment finance sector, we are ideally situated to capitalize on a significant growth opportunity."Brown added, "As an existing banking partner of Summit, our intimate understanding of the business and management team gives us a high degree of confidence that our combined value proposition will resonate in the market."Summit's founder and CEO, Rick Ross, said, "With First Financial, we are joining a like-minded partner who is well-positioned to assist Summit in unlocking significant growth, while enhancing profitability through immediate funding synergies and sharing a commitment to credit performance excellence."Upon the deal closure, Summit will become a subsidiary of First Financial Bank. The current leadership of Summit will continue their positions.Over the past six months, shares of First Financial have lost 5.7% compared with the 5.8% decline of the industry. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Currently, First Financial carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Inorganic Growth Efforts by Other FirmsSeveral companies from the finance sector are undertaking consolidation efforts to counter the low-interest-rate environment along with the heightened costs of investments in technology.A couple of days ago, United Bankshares, Inc. UBSI announced the completion of its merger deal with Community Bankers Trust Corporation. This June, United Bankshares entered an all-stock deal to acquire Community Bankers, the parent company of Essex Bank.The buyout has brought together two high-performing banking companies, and bolsters United Bankshares' position as one of the largest and best-performing regional banking companies in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. The combined entity will now operate across 250 locations in opportunistic markets in the United States.Last month, CVB Financial Corp. CVBF, the holding company for Citizens Business Bank, announced that Citizens received regulatory approvals from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation to complete its previously announced merger agreement with Suncrest Bank. The stock-and-cash deal worth $204 million is expected to close on or about Jan 7, 2022, subject to the satisfaction of all remaining closing conditions.In an effort to expand its presence, CVBF announced an agreement and plan of reorganization and merger in July, according to which Suncrest bank would merge with and into Citizens. The acquisition is the second-largest in CVB Financial's history.Citizens Financial Group, Inc. CFG has also completed its previously announced merger with JMP Group LLC. Citizens Financial announced the all-cash deal in September in a bid to augment its capital market capabilities.The buyout is expected to foster growth, diversify Citizens Financial's capital market platform, and provide greater scale in key verticals like healthcare, technology, financials and real estate. Breakout Biotech Stocks with Triple-Digit Profit Potential The biotech sector is projected to surge beyond $2.4 trillion by 2028 as scientists develop treatments for thousands of diseases. They’re also finding ways to edit the human genome to literally erase our vulnerability to these diseases. Zacks has just released Century of Biology: 7 Biotech Stocks to Buy Right Now to help investors profit from 7 stocks poised for outperformance. Recommendations from previous editions of this report have produced gains of +205%, +258% and +477%. The stocks in this report could perform even better.See these 7 breakthrough stocks now>>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report First Financial Bancorp. (FFBC): Free Stock Analysis Report CVB Financial Corporation (CVBF): Free Stock Analysis Report United Bankshares, Inc. (UBSI): Free Stock Analysis Report Citizens Financial Group, Inc. (CFG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacks1 hr. 49 min. ago

BNY Mellon (BK) Pershing Agrees to Buy Optimal Asset Management

BNY Mellon's (BK) Pershing signs agreement to acquire direct indexing solutions provider Optimal Asset Management. The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation's BK subsidiary, Pershing, agreed to acquire direct indexing solutions provider, Optimal Asset Management, Inc. The completion of the deal, subject to customary conditions, is expected by the end of this year.Since the announcement of the agreement, shares of BNY Mellon have lost 1.3%.Optimal Asset Management has cutting-edge software that provides customizable direct indexing solutions to investors seeking personalized portfolios aligned to their values.Notably, the acquisition will become part of BNY Mellon Pershing's newly launched business unit, Pershing X. This October, the Pershing X platform was launched within BNY Mellon's Pershing to design and build innovative solutions for the advisory industry.Pershing X is set to transform the advisory marketplace by helping firms attract new clients, better serve existing clients, and, thus, grow assets under management (AUM). Clients using Pershing X's solutions are likely to benefit from access to enterprise offerings provided by BNY Mellon Wealth Management and Investment Management.Jim Crowley, Pershing's CEO, stated, "The acquisition of Optimal Asset Management is the latest step in our Pershing X buildout, which aims to fuel growth by helping clients solve the challenge of managing multiple and disconnected technology tools and data sets. As part of our continued efforts to provide clients with innovative offerings, we're delighted to now be able to offer Optimal Asset Management's direct indexing capabilities to our advisory clients within Pershing, as well as to our institutional and retail clients within BNY Mellon's Investment Management business."Pershing X's president, Ainslie Simmonds, said, "We're thrilled to welcome Optimal Asset Management's founder Dr. Vijay Vaidyanathan and his talented team of software architects to Pershing X. Optimal Asset Management will help advisors at our client firms improve relationships and grow their business."Vijay Vaidyanathan, the founder and CEO of Optimal Asset Management, commented, "We're excited about joining Pershing X and the possibilities that we can jointly deliver to clients seeking customized direct indexing solutions. We are proud of the reputation we have built at Optimal Asset Management and the industry innovation we've delivered."Our TakeFor BNY Mellon, its largest source of revenues is fee income (constituting more than 80% of total revenues). This July, the company agreed to acquire fund management technology provider Milestone Group in an effort to boost its digital offerings and core capabilities.BNY Mellon's global expansion initiatives, robust AUM balance and prudent expense-management efforts are expected to continue aiding financials in the near term.Over the past six months, shares of BNY Mellon have gained 7.8% against a 2.4% decline recorded by the industry. Image Source: Zacks Investment Research Currently, BNY Mellon carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today's Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.Inorganic Growth Efforts by Finance CompaniesSeveral companies from the finance sector are undertaking consolidation efforts to counter the low-interest-rate environment along with the heightened costs of investments in technology.Last month, CVB Financial Corp. CVBF, the holding company for Citizens Business Bank, announced that Citizens received regulatory approvals from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and the California Department of Financial Protection and Innovation to complete its previously announced merger agreement with Suncrest Bank. The stock-and-cash deal worth $204 million, announced this July, is expected to close on or about Jan 7, 2022, subject to the satisfaction of all remaining closing conditions.In an effort to expand its presence, CVBF announced an agreement and plan of reorganization and merger, according to which Suncrest bank would merge with and into Citizens. The acquisition is the second-largest in CVB Financial's history.Citizens Financial Group, Inc. CFG has completed its previously announced merger with JMP Group LLC. Citizens Financial announced the all-cash deal in September in a bid to augment its capital market capabilities.The buyout is expected to foster growth, diversify Citizens Financial's capital market platform, and provide greater scale in key verticals like healthcare, technology, financials and real estate.Likewise, in an effort to broaden its capabilities for institutional investors and investment management clients, SEI Investments Company SEIC acquired a global portfolio intelligence platform company, Novus Partners.SEI Investments' chairman and CEO, Alfred P. West, Jr., stated, "The financial services landscape is ever-evolving. Our markets continue to face an unprecedented pace of change, and we continuously seek opportunities to stay ahead of and manage this change. By making strategic investments in our solutions and workforce, we drive growth and help our clients make confident decisions for their futures." 5 Stocks Set to Double Each was handpicked by a Zacks expert as the #1 favorite stock to gain +100% or more in 2021. Previous recommendations have soared +143.0%, +175.9%, +498.3% and +673.0%. Most of the stocks in this report are flying under Wall Street radar, which provides a great opportunity to get in on the ground floor.Today, See These 5 Potential Home Runs >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation (BK): Free Stock Analysis Report CVB Financial Corporation (CVBF): Free Stock Analysis Report SEI Investments Company (SEIC): Free Stock Analysis Report Citizens Financial Group, Inc. (CFG): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 7th, 2021

Dave Chappelle will headline Netflix comedy festival despite employee walkout over transphobic content

The uproar at Netflix over Dave Chappelle's comedy special "The Closer" is a lesson for other leaders, diversity consultants say. Netflix's handling of employee complaints over Dave Chappelle's "The Closer" has spiraled into a full-blown controversy.Mathieu Bitton Dave Chappelle will perform at a Netflix comedy festival despite recent controversy.  Dozens of Netflix workers walked out over the company's handling of a Chappelle special in October. Leadership and diversity experts say there are key takeaways from the uproar. With its array of titles that highlight the experiences of people from underrepresented backgrounds, Netflix has positioned itself as a pioneer of representation and a rival to Hollywood. But the company's reputation for championing diversity has now been called into question by its handling of the controversy that followed the release of Dave Chappelle's hour-long comedy special "The Closer." In the stand-up act, which premiered on October 5, Chappelle asserted opinions many viewed as inflammatory, particularly when the LGBTQ community bore the brunt of his jokes. Chappelle compared the genitals of trans people to Beyond Meat or Impossible burgers while later saying he's a friend of the LGBTQ community. The special prompted swift and widespread backlash.In an internal emailed response to the controversy, Netflix's co-CEO Ted Sarandos defended "The Closer," citing the company's commitment to creative freedom. He wrote, "We do not believe this content is harmful to the transgender community." Dozens of Netflix employees and a handful of top talent, including "Queer Eye's" Jonathan Van Ness, staged a virtual and in-person walkout in response in October. The controversy is once again in the news as Netflix announced Monday Chappelle will headline the company's comedy festival next year. Fortune 500 leadership and diversity consultants said Netflix's leadership could have de-escalated or avoided this crisis altogether by working with trans and queer communities as opposed to positioning itself at odds with them. There are two major lessons other companies can learn from this crisis, the diversity consultants said: how to lead with empathy and how to seize the opportunity to make a positive difference moving forward. Netflix's response showed a lack of understanding of what it means to be transgender in America today, said Sean Ebony Coleman, a DEI strategist and founder of the LGBTQ community center Destination Tomorrow. "The CEO's response shows why representation matters, because there clearly needs to be a bit more diversity when it comes to the LGBTQ and trans community in his circle," said Coleman, who is a transgender man. "It would stand to reason that the people who are connecting with him on this topic aren't in harm's way. They aren't the most marginalized."   Engage with employees on sensitive issues Coleman said the employee outrage and walkout at Netflix showed that the company's leadership hadn't been engaging in enough conversations with employees or consumers from marginalized communities. "Talk to these people," Coleman said. "It's not just at Netflix. I think other leaders should see who's represented in their circles and who's not, and make sure they have those voices at the table." Coleman said that if he were consulting with the streaming giant, he would establish a national advisory board of all trans and gender-nonconforming people to partner with the company's leadership. Jon Henes, the CEO of the leadership consultancy C Street, said Netflix missed a chance not only to avoid conflict, by talking with employees and community members prior, but also to establish itself as a leader in the trans community. "Imagine if Netflix had embraced the opportunity to engage the LGBTQ+ community," Henes said. "The dialogue could have brought people together and strengthened their brand."Dozens of Netflix employees walked out.JP Mangalindan/InsiderLead with empathy Susan Harmeling, a professor of DEI at USC Marshall's School of Business and the founder of Equitas Advisory Group, a DEI consulting firm, said Netflix's leaders should have led with more compassion and understanding for the transgender community and for employees. "These people are hurting. Their lives are threatened on a daily basis," Harmeling said. Research by the nonprofit Human Rights Campaign found that 2021 was on pace to be the deadliest year yet for trans and gender-nonconforming Americans. "Since Netflix has this broad audience, let's come up with solutions," Coleman said. "Those solutions could be donating time and money to an organization that is directly working to deal with trans and gender-nonconforming folks. It could be working with people who are doing policy work around all the laws that are being passed that impact trans children and trans athletes."Learn from your mistakes In the wake of the backlash, Sarandos told The Wall Street Journal he "screwed up" in how he handled employee complaints that the special was transphobic. Both Henes and Harmeling said an apology was the right move since it showed a willingness to change and created an opportunity to move forward. "But it was probably a little too late, quite honestly," Harmeling said. She added that she thought Netflix should do a review "from top to bottom" of its culture to assess whether employees felt seen and heard.A Netflix spokesperson shared this statement with Insider: "We value our trans colleagues and allies, and understand the deep hurt that's been caused. We respect the decision of any employee who chooses to walk out, and recognize we have much more work to do both within Netflix and in our content."This story was originally published in October 2021.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 7th, 2021

TotalEnergies" (TTE) Offshore CLOV Phase 2 Starts Production

TotalEnergies (TTE) further increases hydrocarbon production from African assets with the start-up of the CLOV Phase 2 project, offshore Angola. TotalEnergies SE TTE, along with the Angolan National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency, announced that it has started production from the CLOV Phase 2 offshore Angola. This project is located nearly 87 miles (140 kilometers) from the Angolan coast in water depths of nearly 3600-4,600 feet. This CLOV Phase 2 project has an estimated reserve of 55 million barrels of oil equivalent (boe).The CLOV Phase 2 is connected to the existing CLOV FPSO (Floating Production, Storage and Offloading) unit, and production of hydrocarbon from this project will gradually touch 40,000 boe in mid-2022. In May 2021, TotalEnergies started production from the Zinia Phase 2, another area under the same Block 17, and production from this region is also expected to reach 40,000 barrels of oil per day by mid-2022.The offshore Block 17 is being operated by TotalEnergies with a 38% interest along with Equinor EQNR with 22.16%, ExxonMobil XOM with 19%, BP plc BP with 15.84%, and Sonangol P&P with 5%.TotalEnergies’ Global PresenceTotalEnergies has one of the best production growth profiles among oil super majors, characterized by an upstream portfolio with above industry-average exposure to faster-growing hydrocarbon producing regions of the world.TotalEnergies, taking into consideration the OPEC quotas and contribution from start-ups, expects total production for the fourth quarter in the range of 2,850-2,900 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day (Kboe/d). In third-quarter 2021 TTE produced 2,814 kboe/d, up 4% year over year.During third-quarter 2021, hydrocarbon production from TotalEnergies’ African assets was 537 Kboe/d, up 0.8% sequentially. This new start-up will further increase hydrocarbon production from TTE’s African assets. This CLOV Phase 2 project is in sync with TotalEnergies’ strategy of focusing upstream investments on low-cost projects.Improving Global Hydrocarbon DemandThe global slump in demand for hydrocarbons caused by the pandemic outbreak but vaccination drive and better medical knowledge to deal with the virus have changed the uncertain scenario of 2020. Despite the threat from new variants, improving international travel and opening up of economic activities have resulted in an improvement in global oil demand.Per the U.S. Energy Information Administration (“EIA”) report, 98.9 million b/d of petroleum and liquid fuels were consumed globally during October 2021, reflecting an increase of 4.5 million b/d from October 2020. EIA forecast that global consumption of petroleum and liquid fuels will average 97.5 million b/d throughout 2021, which reflects a 5.1 million b/d increase from 2020. EIA further expects that the global consumption of petroleum and liquid fuels will increase 3.3 million b/d in 2022.Such a positive movement in the global demand for hydrocarbons is likely to benefit Equinor, ExxonMobil and BP, among others having widespread operations across the globe. The long-term (three to five years) earnings growth of Equinor, ExxonMobil, and BP is currently pegged at 49.6%, 14.1%, and 13.7%, respectively.The Zacks Consensus Estimate for 2021 earnings of Equinor, ExxonMobil, and BP has moved up 0.3%, 6.5%, and 11.2%, respectively, in the past 60 days.Price PerformanceYear to date, TotalEnergies’ shares have outperformed the industry.Image Source: Zacks Investment ResearchZacks RankTotalEnergies currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here. Investor Alert: Legal Marijuana Looking for big gains? Now is the time to get in on a young industry primed to skyrocket from $13.5 billion in 2021 to an expected $70.6 billion by 2028. After a clean sweep of 6 election referendums in 5 states, pot is now legal in 36 states plus D.C. Federal legalization is expected soon and that could kick start an even greater bonanza for investors. Zacks Investment Research has recently closed pot stocks that have shot up as high as +147.0%. You’re invited to immediately check out Zacks’ Marijuana Moneymakers: An Investor’s Guide. It features a timely Watch List of pot stocks and ETFs with exceptional growth potential.Today, Download Marijuana Moneymakers FREE >>Want the latest recommendations from Zacks Investment Research? Today, you can download 7 Best Stocks for the Next 30 Days. Click to get this free report BP p.l.c. (BP): Free Stock Analysis Report Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM): Free Stock Analysis Report Equinor ASA (EQNR): Free Stock Analysis Report TotalEnergies SE Sponsored ADR (TTE): Free Stock Analysis Report To read this article on Zacks.com click here. Zacks Investment Research.....»»

Category: topSource: zacksDec 6th, 2021

Jeff Bezos donates over $400 million to help save the planet he blasted off from just months ago

Jeff Bezos turned his attention to matters on Earth by announcing 44 grants to a range of groups fighting climate crisis totaling $443 million. Jeff Bezos laughs as he speaks about his flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard into space during a press conference on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Jeff Bezos' Earth Fund donated $443 million to 44 climate groups on Monday. This is part of his commitment to spend $10 billion by 2030 to fight the climate crisis. Bezos recently used his fortune to send himself to space and has been criticized for focusing too much on space travel. Jeff Bezos left his fellow humans on Earth for about 15 minutes in July when he shot himself up to the edge of space. But that doesn't mean he's leaving his home planet behind.On Monday, the founder of Amazon announced a $443 million donation to organizations focused on climate justice, nature conservation, and tracking climate goals. Bezos' organization, the Bezos Earth Fund, wrote in a press release that it awarded 44 grants to organizations that fit that criteria, including $140 million to President Joe Biden's Justice40 initiative, which helps fight climate change in disadvantaged communities, along with $51 million to support land restoration in the US and Africa.These grants are part of Bezos' $10 billion commitment to his Earth Fund to fight climate change — funds of which he promised would be fully disbursed by 2030."The goal of the Bezos Earth Fund is to support change agents who are seizing the challenges that this decisive decade presents," Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund, said in a statement. "Through these grants, we are advancing climate justice and the protection of nature, two areas that demand stronger action."As the world's second richest person, Bezos has been using his money to not only fight the climate crisis — his fund gave $791 million to 16 climate organizations last year — but to venture into space. On July 20, Bezos boarded a rocket made by his aerospace company Blue Origin and spent about three minutes in outer space — a form of travel, and way of life, he anticipates will become the norm."Over centuries, many people will be born in space. It will be their first home," Bezos said during a recent conference. "They will be born on these colonies, live on these colonies. Then, they'll visit Earth the way you would visit, you know, Yellowstone National Park." After his space flight, Bezos also expressed the need to preserve the Earth and move the "polluting industry to space," adding that his quick trip "reinforces my commitment to climate change, to the environment.""We live on this beautiful planet. You can't imagine how thin the atmosphere is when you see it from space," Bezos said in July. "We live in it, and it looks so big. It feels like, you know, this atmosphere is huge and we can disregard it and treat it poorly. When you get up there and you see it, you see how tiny it is and how fragile it is."The billionaire has been criticized for focusing too much on outer space when there are many pressing problems down here on Earth. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, for example, recently criticized Bezos for his fixation on space travel while managing to avoid paying his fair share in taxes."The richest guy on Earth can launch himself into space while over half the country lives paycheck to paycheck, nearly 43 million are saddled with student debt, and child care costs force millions out of work," Warren tweeted. "He can afford to pitch in so everyone else gets a chance." But Bezos responded to claims he doesn't focus enough on pressing issues on Earth, saying at the same conference that those critics miss the fact that "we need to do both, and that the two things are deeply connected."Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 6th, 2021

Check out these 21 pitch decks that startups used to raise millions to disrupt media and advertising

They're pitching solutions to automate ad creation, improve the user digital experience, and more. Matthew Goldhill Investors are pouring money into advertising, media, and marketing startups. These startups are capitalizing on changing consumer habits, automating ad creation, and more. Check out these 21 pitches to see how these startups sold their visions to VCs and other investors. See more stories on Insider's business page. Investors are pouring money into startups that are trying to disrupt advertising, media, and marketing.Insider has been tracking these startups that are using tech to capitalize on changing consumer media habits and marketers' desire to reach new audiences and ensure their ads are working.Check out these pitch decks that they've used to sell their vision and raise millions from PE and VC investors.They range from tools that measure digital ad performance to platforms for people seeking out online entertainment.Digital ad networkUK-based Picnic says digital ads are rife with fraud and perform terribly. Its solution: mobile ads inspired by social media features like stories and carousels that actually engage readers. It claims its ad formats boost ad performance for brands and bring in more revenue for online publishers.Now it's expanding to the US with help from $3 million in Series A funding it just raised from Guinness Asset Management, along with existing angel investors.Check out the pitch deck that helped UK digital advertiser network Picnic raise $3 millionDigital user experienceBusinesses have scrambled to update their digital operations in the pandemic, creating an opportunity for UX startups like Uniform that help companies customize their user online experience.Uniform just raised $28 million from Insight Partners, Array Ventures, and Elad Gil.Check out the pitch deck that this startup that helps advertisers customize their digital user experience used to raise $28 millionAudio adsUK-based adtech firm AudioMob offers audio ads that appear in mobile games. It pitches the ads as "non-intrusive" because they don't interrupt the gameplay, the ads only play if a user's device is set to a certain volume, and they don't rely on hypertargeted tracking techniques.It just raised a $14 million Series A round from investors including Makers Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Sequoia Capital, and Google, to grow its team and expand to new products.See the pitch deck that helped audio ads firm AudioMob raise $14 million from investors including Makers Fund, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and GoogleVideo editingToch.ai is an India-based startup that aims to democratize video editing, arguing that the technologies to produce and distribute videos require time-consuming, manual processes, and existing video editing software can be pricey.Toch.ai has raised $11.75 million in Series A funding led by Moneta Ventures to support an expansion into bigger markets like the US.See the pitch deck that helped a video-editing startup raise $12 million to take on Adobe and expand into the USContextual advertisingContextual advertising has become a buzzy area in adtech as the sector shifts away from the precision-targeting and tracking of individual users. Founded seven years ago by two former Googlers, Seedtag specializes in contextual advertising — using data and artificial intelligence to place ads within relevant publisher content that users should be more likely to interact with. Seedtag just raised a $40 million funding round, led by Oakley Capital. See the pitch deck that helped contextual advertising firm Seedtag raise $40 million. The European adtech company now plans a US expansion.Ad automationDan Pantelo started a performance marketing agency in college and pivoted to software after discovering that creative testing was the most important and time-consuming part of making ads.Today, his marketing technology startup Marpipe claims to help advertisers figure out which ads perform best by automatically testing hundreds of variations.Marpipe just raised $8 million in Series A for a total of $10 million raised to date.The key pitch deck slides that helped an ad automation startup raise $10 millionFreelance consultingCatalant CEO Patrick Petitti.Catalant TechnologiesInvestors are pouring millions into platforms like Catalant Technologies that connect companies to independent advertising and consulting professionals, a need that's growing as people quit in the pandemic.Catalant has raised more than $100 million by pitching itself as an alternative to consulting giants like McKinsey.See the key slides a staffing platform used to raise more than $100 million from investors like Morningside CEO Gerald ChanMarketing strategyAd agency vets Grant McDougall, Liza Nebel, and Matt Gross started BlueOcean in 2019, when they saw an opening to use machine learning to simplify market research and tell marketers how they and their competitors were performing. Now, they count Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Bloomingdale's, and Diageo as clients.The software-as-a-service startup just raised $15 million in Series A funding from private equity firm Insight Partners.Pitch deck reveals how an AI startup that helps brands like Google and Microsoft plan their marketing raised $15 millionData management toolsGoogle and Apple's moves to clamp down on third-party cookies and the rise of online shopping have advertisers clamoring for help managing all their customer data so they can effectively market to them.One such company is 4-year-old Amperity, which sells software that clients like Starbucks, Patagonia, and Crocs use to manage stats from sales, email, e-commerce, and loyalty card programs.Amperity has raised $100 million in its Series D from existing investors including Tiger Global Management, Declaration Partners, and Madrona Venture Group, for a total of $187 million.Here's the pitch deck that helped a marketing tech startup raise $100 million at a $1 billion valuation to help brands manage their dataOut-of-home advertising platformOutdoor advertising is coming back after being crushed during the pandemic, and adtech startup OneScreen.ai is hoping to cash in with a platform for brands to search, buy, run and measure their out-of-home ad campaigns.OneScreen just raised $1.2 million in pre-seed funding in a round led by Florida-based fund TechFarms Capital with other investors including HubSpot cofounders Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah, Wayfair's alumni fund Wayfund, Lola.com CEO Mike Volpe, and BuySellAds.com CEO Todd Garland.See the pitch deck that Google, Hubspot and Wayfair alums used to raise $1.2 million to build the 'Amazon of out-of-home advertising'Consumer data-collectionTracer started in 2015 as a unit of Gary Vaynerchuk's ad agency VaynerMedia that automatically collects and organize data that isn't personally identifiable. Led by Tracer co-founder and CEO Jeffrey Nicholson, it also offers free consulting services. It started by helping VaynerMedia oversee hundreds of millions in ad buys for clients like Oreo maker Mondelez; today, clients include other ad agencies like Labelium; Condé Nast; and pharma giant Sanofi.Tracer recently raised $9.9 million in seed funding led by big names like former Walmart and Amazon exec Marc Lore and NBA star Kevin Durant's firm Thirty Five Ventures.Read the pitch deck a Gary Vaynerchuk-backed data startup used to raise $10 million from investors like Walmart's ex-ecommerce CEOBuilding lifetime customersAs people do more of their shopping online, marketers are trying to get them to become repeat customers.Former Paypal and Facebook product and data analytics manager Emad Hasan says his startup Retina helps brands like Dollar Shave Club and Madison Reed acquire and keep customers by building lookalike audiences based on companies' order history and shopper attributes.It just raised $8 million in Series A funding from Alpha Intelligence Capital, Vertical Venture Partners, and others. This investor deck helped a former Facebook product manager raise $8 million to help brands boost customers' long-term valueData-buying toolsNick Jordan founded 5-year-old Narrative to let advertisers buy data without the need for data brokers like Epsilon and Acxiom that can be known for not disclosing their data sources or what cut they take.The marketing-tech firm makes money by taking a cut of data sales and through larger software as a Service (or SaaS) contracts where marketers pay monthly fees for data.Narrative in September raised $8.5 million in a Series A funding round led by G20 Ventures and which included Glasswing Ventures and MathCapital, bringing its total funding to $14 million.Here's the investor deck that helped startup Narrative raise $8.5 million to help marketers buy data safelySupport for online sellersAdtech vet Paul Palmieri joined Tradeswell as CEO based on his experience as a VC investor, where he saw dozens of DTC companies whose businesses weren't scalable.Tradeswell is a SaaS platform that consolidates brands' marketing, retail, inventory, logistics, forecasting, lifetime value and financial information. Its pitch is that it gives brands insights so they know what to sell to whom, where, and at what price.US e-commerce is set to be worth $1 trillion by 2023, according to a recent report by Insider Intelligence's eMarketer, and Tradeswell says it can help traditional and DTC brands save millions of dollars in outsourced contracts and boost their sales.Tradeswell recently raised $3.3 million in seed round funding from Signalfire and Construct Capital.This investor deck helped an entrepreneur raise $3.3 million to build 'the Bloomberg terminal' for online sellers Ad performance toolsBrandTotalBrandTotal is a marketing analytics company that pitches advertisers on the premise that most digital and social media ads are now "dark," or visible only to the people they're targeting. It joins other businesses that promise greater visibility into digital advertising such as Pathmatics, which measures how much brands spend on Facebook and other platforms.BrandTotal co-founder Alon Leibovich said the company uses AI to track ads and help advertisers understand their competitors' strategies. This pitch has helped BrandTotal win business from big brands like L'Oréal and raise $12 million in a Series B funding round, bringing its total funding to $20 million. Canada's INcapital Ventures led the latest round along with Maor Investments, Glilot Capital Partners, Flint Capital, KDC Media Fund, and FJ Labs.This investor deck helped startup BrandTotal raise $20 million to date to help advertisers like L'Oréal see how their digital ads are workingE-commerce advertising servicesBrands are increasingly becoming advertising platforms, giving rise to a cottage industry of adtech companies that help marketers build their own ad businesses.One such firm is 9-year-old adtech firm Adzerk, which is rebranding as Kevel. EMarketer reports that e-commerce advertising will be a $17 billion market this year. Retailers like Walgreens, Walmart, and Instacart have led the charge, but Kevel sees an opportunity for other types of brands to build ad businesses of their own.In December, Kevel raised $11 million in a Series A round led by Fulcrum Equity with Commerce Ventures, MathCapital and Food Retail Ventures also participating.A digital ad firm just raised $11 million to help brands like United Airlines and Ticketmaster build their own ad businessesTargeted ad toolsID5Google's and Apple's moves to clamp down on privacy and digital-ad targeting have been a boon for startups trying to find workarounds like identity solutions.One such firm is ID5, a European startup that helps advertisers find audiences to target and make sure people don't repeatedly see the same ads. It makes money from licensing its ID to adtech companies for a monthly fee that ranges from $5,000 to $30,000, CEO Mathieu Roche said. The company gives away its technology to publishers to grow adoption of the ID.ID5 closed a $6 million Series A funding round in March from Alliance Entreprendre, Progress Ventures, and 360 Capital Partners. The 4-year-old company has raised a total of $7.5 million.Read the pitch deck that a startup used to raise $6 million to save targeted advertisingPrivacy compliance helpNew privacy regulations are springing up around the globe, and publishers and marketers are turning to technology companies to stay on the right side of these laws and avoid huge fines.One of the companies capitalizing on the increased focus on data privacy is Sourcepoint. Founded by adtech vets Ben Barokas and Brian Kane, the US-based technology company has a platform that lets publishers and advertisers get legal consent from people to use their data.Sourcepoint recently raised $17 million in additional funding, led by new investor Arrowroot Capital, bringing its total funding to $47.8 million since it launched in 2015.The pitch deck used to raise $17 million for a startup that helps advertisers and publishers comply with privacy lawsReal-time market researchMatt BrittonAgency veteran Matt Britton pitches his consumer intelligence startup Suzy as an always-on digital assistant like Siri or Alexa for marketers. It has a consumer panel that lets marketers conduct surveys and research on subjects like product development and ad effectiveness testing.He just raised $50 million in Series D after closing a $34 million Series C last year, bringing its total raised to $100 million.H.I.G. Growth Partners, an affiliate of H.I.G. Capital, led the round, with Rho Capital Partners, Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments, Foundry Group, and Triangle Peak Partners also participating.See the pitch deck a market research startup that's trying to rival Qualtrics and SurveyMonkey used to raise $50 millionLivestreaming tools for creatorsLivestreaming startup Restream was founded in 2015 to help gaming content creators grow their reach by livestreaming to Twitch and YouTube at the same time.It's since expanded to serve musicians, politicians, influencers, publishers, non-profit organizations, and other businesses and says its goal is to democratize broadcasting. Restream said half its 2.5 million users are now non-gamers. Most of its users are nonpaying, but it sells subscriptions from $19 to $299 per month that come with features like the ability to record streams and access to more customer support.Restream announced in August that it had raised $50 million in fresh funding from investors including Sapphire Ventures and Insight Partners.Read the 14-slide pitch deck that helped livestreaming startup Restream raise $50 million amid the pandemic Video streaming subscriptionsCuriosityStream is a 5-year-old streaming service founded by former Discovery Communications founder John Hendricks. It went public in fall 2020 through a reverse merger with Software Acquisition Group, a SPAC led by Jonathan Huberman, who formerly led video adtech firm Ooyala.CuriosityStream is differentiated from other streaming services in that it focuses on factual content like documentaries and features, with more than 3,100 titles available. It reported 13 million paying subscribers buying monthly and yearly subscriptions ranging from $3 a month to $70 a year.The deal with Software Acquisition Group gave CuriosityStream $180 million in cash.The investor deck that CuriosityStream used to secure $180 million to take on rival video streaming servicesReaching online sports fansOvertimeOvertime wants to be the next ESPN, but for social media.It started 2016 by Endeavor vets Dan Porter and Zack Weiner with a focus on high-school sports and athletes and has expanded into areas including esports. Overtime captures game highlights through people it pays to film events and also creates original programming and events. It distributes content mainly on social platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok. Its core business is making money from ads, sponsorships, and merchandise, and projects making $200 million in annual revenue by 2024.It recently raised $80 million from investors including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, rapper Drake, and Reddit cofounder Alexis Ohanian, The Wall Street Journal recently reported.Leaked pitch deck shows how sports-media startup Overtime plans to reach $200 million in revenue by 2024Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: topSource: businessinsiderDec 6th, 2021

Ferguson: Omicron Sounds The Death Knell For Globalization 2.0

Ferguson: Omicron Sounds The Death Knell For Globalization 2.0 Authored by Niall Ferguson, op-ed via Bloomberg.com, On top of an intensifying cold war between the U.S. and China and other seismic changes, the rapid spread of Covid-19’s newest variant could finish off our most recent phase of global integration. “Somewhere out there,” I wrote here two weeks ago, “may lurk what I grimly call the ‘omega variant’ of SARS-CoV-2: vaccine-evading, even more contagious than delta, equally or more deadly. According to the medical scientists I read and talk to … the probability of this nightmare scenario is very low, but it is not zero.” Indeed. Little did I know, but even as I wrote those words something that appears to fit this description was spreading rapidly in South Africa’s Gauteng province: not the omega variant, but the omicron variant. As I write today, major uncertainties remain, but what we know so far is not good. People are emotionally predisposed to look on the bright side — we are all sick of this pandemic and want it to be over — so it pains me to write this. Nevertheless, I’ll stick to my policy of applying history to the best available data, even if it means telling you what you really don’t want to hear. First the data: South African cases were up 39% on Friday, to 16,055. The test positivity rate rose from 22.4% to 24.3%, suggesting that the true case number is rising even faster. A Lancet paper suggests that Omicron is likely by far the most transmissible variant yet. There are three possible explanations for this: A higher intrinsic reproduction number (R0), An advantage in “immune escape” to reinfect recovered people or evade vaccines, or Both of the above. An important preprint published on Dec. 2 pointed to immune escape. South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases has individualized data on all its 2.7 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the pandemic. From these, it identified 35,670 suspected reinfections. (Reinfection is defined as an individual testing positive for Covid-19 twice, at least 90 days apart.) Since mid-November, the daily number of reinfections in South Africa has jumped far faster than in any previous wave. In November, the hazard ratio was 2.39 for reinfection versus primary infection, meaning that recovered individuals were getting Covid at more than twice the rate of people who had never had Covid before. And this was when omicron made up less than a quarter of confirmed cases. By contrast, the same study found no statistically significant evidence that the beta and delta variants were capable of reinfection. And, crucially, at least some of these new infections are leading to serious illness. On Thursday, the number of Gauteng patients in intensive care for Covid almost doubled from 63 to 106. Data from a private hospital network in South Africa that has over 240 patients hospitalized with Covid indicate that 32% of the hospitalized patients were fully vaccinated. Note that around three-quarters of the vaccinated in South Africa received the Pfizer Inc.-BioNTech SE vaccine. The rest got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Yet these are not the data that worried me the most last week. Those had to do with children. Between Nov. 14 and 28, 455 people were admitted to hospital with Covid-19 in Tshwane metro area, one of the largest hospital systems in Gauteng. Seventy (15%) of those hospitalized were under the age of five; 117 (25%) were under 20. And this is not just a story of precautionary hospitalizations. Twenty of the 70 hospitalized toddlers progressed to “severe” Covid. Up until Oct. 23, before experts estimate omicron began circulating, under-fives represented only 1.8% of cumulative Covid hospital admissions in South Africa. As of Nov. 29, 10% of those now hospitalized in Tshwane were under the age of two. If this trend holds as omicron spreads to advanced economies — and it is spreading very fast, confirming omicron’s high transmissibility — the market impact could be much bigger than is currently priced in. Unlike with the delta wave, many schools would return to hybrid instruction, parents would withdraw from the labor force to provide childcare and consumption patterns would again shift away from retail, hospitality and face-to-face services. Hospital systems would also face shortages of pediatric intensive care beds, which have not been much needed in prior Covid waves. South Africa’s top medical advisor Waasila Jassat noted on Dec. 3 that hospitalizations on average are less severe than in previous waves and hospital stays are shorter. But she also noted a “sharp” increase in hospital admissions of under-fives. Children under 10 represent 11% of all hospital admissions reported since Dec. 1. Here’s what we don’t know yet. We do not know how far prior infection and vaccination will protect against severe disease and death in northern hemisphere countries, where adult vaccination rates are much higher than in South Africa (just 24%). And we do not know if omicron will prove as aggressive toward children in those countries, especially the very young children we have not previously contemplated vaccinating. (Because South Africa has limited testing capacity, we do not know the total number of under-fives infected with omicron in Gauteng, so we do not know what percentage of children are falling sick.) We may not know these things for another week, possibly longer. So panic is not yet warranted. Nor, however, is wishful thinking. It may prove a huge wave of mild illness, signaling the final phase of the transition from pandemic to endemic. But we don’t know that yet. Now the history. First, it makes all the difference in the world whether or not children fall gravely ill in a pandemic. Covid has so far spared the very young to an extent rarely seen in the recorded history of respiratory disease pandemics. (The exception seems to be the 1889-90 “Russian flu,” which modern researchers suspect was in fact a coronavirus pandemic.) The great influenza pandemics of 1918-19 and 1957-58 killed the very young as well as the very old. The former also carried off young adults in the prime of life. The latter caused significant excess mortality among teenagers. Up until this point, Covid was the social Darwinist disease: It disproportionately killed the old, the sick and the gullible (the vulnerable people who allowed themselves to be persuaded that the vaccine was more dangerous than the virus). A hundred years ago, many experts would have hailed such a disease for the same reasons they promoted eugenics. We think differently now. However, emotionally and rationally, we still dread the deaths of children much more than the old, the sick and the foolish. The moment children become seriously ill — as has already happened in Gauteng — the nature of the pandemic fundamentally alters. Risk aversion will be far higher in the Ferguson family, for example, if its youngest members are vulnerable for the first time. The second historical point is that this may be how our age of globalization ends — in a very different way from its first incarnation just over a century ago. The first age of globalization, from the 1860s until 1914, ended with a bang, not a whimper, with the outbreak of World War I. Within a remarkably short space of time, that conflict halted trade, capital flows and migration between the combatant empires. Moreover, the war and its economic aftershocks strengthened and ultimately empowered new political movements, notably Bolshevism and fascism, that fundamentally repudiated free trade and free capital movements in favor of state control of the economy and autarky. By 1933, the outlook for liberal economic policies seemed so utterly hopeless that, in a lecture he gave in Dublin, even John Maynard Keynes threw in the towel and embraced economic self-sufficiency. Now, there is an argument (made by my Bloomberg colleague and occasional editor James Gibney) that the pandemic will not kill globalization. I am not so sure. Defined too broadly, to include any kind cross-border interaction, the word loses its usefulness. Yes, there were all kinds of “transnational networks in science, health, entertainment,” as well as increasingly ambitious international agencies between the wars. But the fact that (for example) the Pan European movement was founded by Richard von Coudenhove-Kalergi in the 1920s does not mean that the subsequent decades were a triumph of European integration. There was a great deal of international cooperation and cross-border activity between 1939 and 1945, too. That does not mean that the 1940s were a time of globalization. For the word to be meaningful, globalization must refer to relatively higher volumes of trade, capital flows, migration flows and perhaps also cultural integration on a global scale.   On that basis, globalization peaked — or maybe “maxed out” would be more accurate — in around 2007. Calculate it how you like: Whether the ratio of global exports to GDP, the ratio of gross foreign assets to GDP, global or national migrant flows in relation to total population, they all tell the same story of a sustained rise of globalization hitting a peak around 14 years ago. The economic historian Alan M. Taylor has long argued that we should measure globalization by looking at current account imbalances, which tell us when a lot of trade and lending are happening. On that basis, too, globalization peaked in 2007. Even Before Covid, Trade and Lending Were Trending Down Source: Our World in Data from Maurice Obstfeld and Alan M. Taylor, "Global Capital Markets: Integration, Crisis, and Growth," Japan–US Center UFJ Bank Monographs on International Financial Markets; and International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database. Note: The data shown is the average absolute current account balance (as a percentage of GDP) for 15 countries in five-year blocks. The countries in the sample are Argentina, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, U.K., U.S.. Since the financial crisis of 2008-9, however, the volume of world trade has flatlined relative to the volume of industrial production. The U.S. current account deficit peaked in the third quarter of 2006 at -6.3% of GDP. The latest read? -3.3%. The same story emerges when one turns to migration. The foreign-born share of the U.S. population rose rapidly from its nadir in 1970 (4.7%) to a peak of 13.7% in 2019. But the rate of growth clearly slowed after 2012. It remains below its historic peak of 14.7%, back in 1890. Data for net migration similarly point to peaks prior to the financial crisis. Net emigration from South Asia peaked in 2007, for example. So did net immigration to the United Kingdom. Not-So-Open Borders Source: United Nations Population Division What about cultural globalization? My guess is that peaked in 2012, which was the last year that imported films earned more at the Chinese box office than domestic productions. The highest-grossing movie in the history of the People’s Republic is this year’s “Battle of Lake Changjin,” a Korean War drama in which heroic Chinese troops take on the might of the U.S. Army—and win. (Watch the trailer. Then tell me globalization is going to be fine.) What has caused globalization to recede? Let me offer a six-part answer. First, global economic convergence. This may come as a surprise. An influential story over the past two decades was Branco Milanovic’s thesis that globalization had increased inequality. In particular, Milanovic argued in 2016 that “large real income gains [had] been made by people around the median of the global income distribution and by those in the global top 1%. However, there [had] been an absence of real income growth for people around the 80-85th percentiles of the global distribution.” He illustrated this argument with a famous “elephant chart” of cumulative income growth between 1988 and 2008 at each percentile of the global income distribution. On closer inspection, the elephant was a statistical artifact. Strip out the data for Japan, the former Soviet Union and China, and the elephant vanishes. The story Milanovic’s chart told was of the decline of ex-Soviet and Japanese middle-class incomes following the collapse of the USSR and the bursting of Tokyo’s bubble in 1989-90, and the surge of Chinese middle-class incomes, especially after China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. The real story of globalization turns out to be a sustained reduction in global inequality as Chinese incomes caught up rapidly with those in the rest of the world, combined with big increases in national inequality as the “one percent” in some (not all) countries got a whole lot richer. At the heart of globalization was what Moritz Schularick and I called “Chimerica”—the symbiosis between the Chinese and American economies that allowed American capital to take advantage of low-cost Chinese labor (offshoring or outsourcing), American borrowers to take advantage of abundant Chinese savings, and American consumers to take advantage of cheap Chinese manufactures. It could not last. In 2003 Chinese unit labor costs were around a third of those in the U.S. By 2018 the two were essentially on a par. In that sense, the glory days of globalization were bound to be numbered. For as Chinese incomes rose, the rationale for relocating production to China was bound to become weaker. Secondly, and at the same time, new technologies — robotics, three-dimensional printing, artificial intelligence — were rapidly reducing the importance of human labor in manufacturing. With the surge of online commerce and digital services, globalization entered a new phase in which data rather than goods and people crossed borders, even if the Great Firewall of China partly cordoned off China’s internet from the rest of the world’s. Chimerica, as Schularick and I argued back in 2007, was in many ways a chimera — a monstrous creature with the potential to precipitate a crisis, not least by artificially depressing U.S. interest rates and inflating a real estate bubble. When that crisis struck in 2008-9, it was the third blow to globalization. For those who suffered the heaviest losses in the United States and elsewhere, it was not illogical to blame free trade and immigration. A 2015 study by the McKinsey Global Institute showed clearly that people in the U.S., U.K. and France who saw themselves as “not advancing and not hopeful about the future” were much more likely than more optimistic groups to blame “legal immigrants,” “the influx of foreign goods and services,” and “cheaper foreign labor” for, respectively, “ruining the culture and cohesiveness in our society,” “leading to domestic job losses” and “creating unfair competition to domestic businesses.” The only surprising thing was that these feelings took as long as seven years to manifest themselves as an organized political backlash against globalization, in the form of Britain’s vote to exit the European Union and America’s vote for Donald Trump. Dani Rodrik’s famous trilemma — which postulated that you could have any two of globalization, democracy and sovereignty — was emphatically answered in 2016: Voters chose democracy and sovereignty over globalization. This was the fourth strike against “the globalists,” a term invented by the populists to give globalization a more easily hateable human face. The financial crisis and the populist backlash didn’t sound the death knell for globalization. They merely dialed it back — hence the plateau in trade relative to manufacturing and the modest decline (not collapse) of international capital flows and migration. The fifth blow was the outbreak of Cold War II, which should probably be dated from Vice President Mike Pence’s October 2018 Hudson Institute speech, the first time the Trump administration had taken its anti-Chinese policy beyond the confines of the president’s quixotic trade war (which only modestly reduced the bilateral U.S.-Chinese trade deficit). Not everyone has come to terms with this new cold war. Joseph Nye (and the administration of President Joe Biden) would still like to believe that the U.S. and China are frenemies engaged in “coopetition.” But Hal Brands and John Lewis Gaddis, John Mearsheimer and Matt Turpin have all come round to my view that this is a cold war — not identical to the last one, but as similar to it as World War II was to World War I. The only question worth debating is whether or not, as in 1950, cold war turns hot. There is no Thucydidean law that says this is inevitable, as Graham Allison has shown. But I agree with Mearsheimer: The risk of a hot war in Cold War II may actually be higher than in Cold War I. Nothing would kill globalization faster than the outbreak of a superpower war over Taiwan. (And “The Battle of Lake Changjin” is blatantly psyching Chinese cinemagoers up for such a conflict.) The decoupling of the U.S. and Chinese economies would almost certainly have continued even if the sixth blow — the Covid pandemic — had not struck. It has been astounding how little the Biden administration has changed of its predecessor’s China strategy. However, the pandemic has delivered the coup de grace — “a brutal end to the second age of globalization,” as Nicholas Eberstadt put it last year. True, the volume of merchandise trade has recovered even more rapidly in 2021 than the World Trade Organization anticipated back in March. But the emergence of a new, contagious and lethal coronavirus has caused a collapse of international travel and tourism. The number of passengers carried by the global airline industry plunged by 60% in 2020. It will be not much better than 50% of its pre-pandemic level this year. International tourist arrivals are down by even more this year than last year — close to 80% below their 2019 level. In Asia, international tourism has all but ceased to exist this year. Meanwhile, both the U.S. and the Chinese governments keep devising new ways to discourage their nationals from investing in the rival superpower. Didi Global Inc., the Chinese Uber, just announced it is delisting its shares from the New York Stock Exchange. And the pressure mounts on Wall Street financiers — as Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio discovered last week — to wind up their “long China” trade and stop turning a blind eye to genocide in Xinjiang and other human rights abuses. Next up: the campaign to boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. Strikingly, a growing number of Western sports stars and organizations such as the Women’s Tennis Association are already willing to defy Beijing — in the case of the WTA by suspending tournaments in China in response to the disappearance of the tennis star Peng Shuai, who accused a senior Communist Party official of sexually assaulting her. China’s leaders should be even more worried by a recent Chicago Council of World Affairs poll, which showed that just over half of Americans (52%) favor using U.S. troops to defend Taiwan if China invades the island — the highest share ever recorded in surveys dating back to 1982. Last month I asked a leading American lawmaker how he explained the marked growth in public hostility toward the Chinese government. His answer was simple: “People blame China for Covid.” And not without reason, as Matt Ridley’s new book “Viral” makes clear. For the avoidance of doubt, I do not foresee as complete a collapse of globalization as happened after 1914. Globalization 2.0 seems to be going out with a whimper — or perhaps a persistent cough — rather than with a bang. Income convergence and technological change were bound to reduce its utility. Having overshot by 2007, globalization settled at a lower level after the financial crisis and was less damaged by populist policies like tariffs than might have been anticipated. But the advent of Cold War II and Covid-19 struck two severe blows. How far globalization is rolled back depends on how far the two phenomena persist or worsen. Maybe — let us pray — the alarming data from Gauteng will not imply a major new wave of illness and death in the wider world. Maybe the omicron variant will not, after all, be that nightmare variant I have feared: more infectious, more lethal, vaccine-evading, not ageist. But omicron is only the 15th letter in the Greek alphabet. In all of Africa only 7.3% of the population are fully vaccinated and there are countless immunocompromised individuals with HIV. Even if omicron turns out to be, like delta, a variant we can live with, there is still some non-zero chance that at some point we get my “omega variant.” In that scenario, the pandemic does not oblige us, weary as we are of it, by ending, but recurs in a succession of waves extending for years. One begins to wonder if China will ever lift its stringent restrictions on foreign visitors. Under such circumstances, I see little chance of Cold War II reaching the détente phase earlier than Cold War I.   In addition to applying history, I have come to believe that we should also apply science fiction, on the principle that its authors are professionally incentivized to envision plausibly the impact of social, technological and other changes on the future. (Fact: an Italian sci-film called “Omicron,” in which an alien takes over a human body, was released in 1963.) No living author is better at this kind of thing than Neal Stephenson, whose “Snow Crash” coined the word “metaverse,” and whom I got to know — appropriately via Zoom — through my friends at the Santa Fe Institute. When Stephenson and I met for a late-night Scotch at a bar in Seattle a few weeks back, we swiftly found common ground. Never have I seen a longer list of wines and spirits: We could have scrolled down on the iPad the server handed us for an hour and still not reached the end. Eventually, we found the malt whisky. And immediately we agreed: Laphroaig — the standard 10-year-old version. Stephenson’s latest novel is “Termination Shock.” Buy it. You will be catapulted into a future Texas of intolerable heat, man-eating hogs, and other nightmares, the effect of which will be to make your present circumstances seem quite tolerable. Part of Stephenson’s genius is his use of the throwaway detail. “RVs,” he writes, were “already at a premium because of Covid-19, Covid-23 and Covid-27.” It’s not really part of the plot, but it stopped my eyeballs in their tracks. And remember: He predicted the metaverse. In 1992. Tyler Durden Mon, 12/06/2021 - 05:00.....»»

Category: worldSource: nytDec 6th, 2021

Shellenberger: The Real Threat To Banks Isn"t From Climate Change, It"s From Bankers

Shellenberger: The Real Threat To Banks Isn't From Climate Change, It's From Bankers Authored by Michael Shellenberger via substack, Over the last two years, some of the world’s most powerful and influential bankers and investors have argued that climate change poses a grave threat to financial markets and that nations must switch urgently from using fossil fuels to using renewables. In 2019, the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco warned that climate change could cause banks to stop lending, towns to lose tax revenue, and home values to decline. Last year, 36 pension fund managers representing $1 trillion in assets said climate change “poses a systemic threat to financial markets and the real economy.” And upon taking office, President Joe Biden warned government agencies that climate change disasters threatened retirement funds, home prices, and the very stability of the financial system. But a major new staff report from the New York Federal Reserve Bank throws cold water on the over-heated rhetoric coming from activist investors, bankers, and politicians. “How Bad Are Weather Disasters for Banks?” asks the title of the report by three economists. “Not very,” they answer in the first sentence of the abstract. The reason is because “weather disasters over the last quarter century had insignificant or small effects on U.S. banks’ performance.” The study looked at FEMA-level disasters between 1995 and 2018, at county-level property damage estimates, and the impact on banking revenue. The New York Fed’s authors only looked at how banks have dealt with disasters in the past, and what they wrote isn’t likely to be the final word on the matter. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and most other scientific bodies predict that many weather events, including hurricanes and floods, which cause the greatest financial damage, are likely to become more extreme in the future, due to climate change. And in February, The New York Times quoted one of six United States Federal Reserve governors saying, “Financial institutions that do not put in place frameworks to measure, monitor and manage climate-related risks could face outsized losses on climate-sensitive assets caused by environmental shifts.” But the Fed economists looked separately at the most extreme 10 percent of all disasters and found that banks impacted not only didn’t suffer, “their income increases significantly with exposure,” and that the improved financial performance of banks hit by disasters wasn’t explained by increased federal disaster (FEMA) aid. In other words, disasters are actually good for banks, since they increase demand for loans. The larger a bank’s exposure to natural disasters, the larger its profits. Happily, the profits made by banks are trivial compared to rising societal resilience to disasters, which can be seen by the fact that the share of GDP spent on natural disasters has actually declined over the last 30 years. While scientists expect hurricanes to become five percent more extreme they also expect them to become 25 percent less frequent, and now, new data show global carbon emissions actually declined over the last decade, and thus there is no longer any serious risk of a significant rise in global temperatures. Banking Against Growth The real risk to banks and the global economy comes from climate policy, not climate change, particularly efforts to make energy more expensive and less reliable through the greater use of renewables, new taxes, and new regulations. “For policymakers,” warned the three economists writing for the New York Fed, “our findings suggest that potential transition risks from climate change warrant more attention than physical disaster risks.” While they may seem like outliers, they are far from alone in expressing their concern. The second half of the quote by the Fed governor about climate change, which was hyped by The New York Times, warned that banks “could face outsized losses” from the “transition to a low-carbon economy.” (My emphasis.) And, now concern is growing among members of Congress about the dangers of over-relying on weather-dependent energy, with some members citing the New York Fed’s report after The Wall Street Journal editorialized about it last week . Proof of the threat to the economy from climate policy is the worst global energy crisis in 50 years. Shareholder activists played a significant role in creating it, according to analysts at Goldman Sachs, Bloomberg, and The Financial Times, by reducing investment in oil and gas production, and causing nations to over-invest in unreliable solar and wind energies, which has driven up energy prices, and contributed significantly to inflation. And yet a crucial Biden Administration nominee for bank regulation has openly said she would like to bankrupt firms that produce oil and gas, the two fuels whose scarcity is causing the global energy crisis. Progressive academic, Saule Omarova, nominated by Biden, said recently that “we want [oil and gas firms] to go bankrupt” and that “the way we basically get rid of these carbon financiers is we starve them of their source of capital. Biden nominee Saule Omarova said she wants to bankrupt energy companies Omarova is not an outlier. The Biden Administration’s Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) is advocating 30 new climate regulations that should be imposed on banking. Many analysts believe the US Securities and Exchange Commission will require new regulations. The goal is to radically alter how America’s banks lend money, the energy sector, and the economy as a whole. And former Bank of England chief, Mark Carney, co-chair of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, has organized $130 trillion in investment and said recently that his investors should expect to make higher, not lower, returns than the market. How? In the exact same way Omarova predicted: by bankrupting some companies, and financing other ones, through government regulations and subsidies. Former Bank of England head Mark Carney Carney created the Glasgow Financial Alliance, or GFANZ, with Michael Bloomberg, and they did so under the official seal of the United Nations. “Carney said the alliance will put global finance on a trajectory that ultimately leaves high-carbon assets facing a much bleaker future,” wrote a reporter with Bloomberg. “He also said investors in such products will see the value of their holdings sink.” What’s going on, exactly? How is it that some of the world’s most powerful bankers, and the politicians they finance, came to support policies that threaten the stability of electrical grids, energy supplies, and thus the global economy itself? The Unseen Order Three of the largest donors to climate change causes are billionaire financial titans Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Tom Steyer, all of whom have significant investments in both renewables and fossil fuels. Tom Steyer, Michael Bloomberg, and George Soros Soros is worth $8 billion and recently made large investments in natural gas firms (EQT) and electric vehicles (Fisker), Bloomberg has a net worth of around $70 billion and has large investments in natural gas and renewables, and much of Steyer’s wealth derives from investments in all three main fossil fuels—coal, oil, and natural gas — as well as renewables. All three men finance climate activists and politicians, including President Biden, who then seek policies — from $500 billion for renewables and electric vehicles over the next decade to federal control over state energy systems to banking regulations to bankrupt oil and gas companies — which would benefit each of them personally. Bloomberg gave over $100 million to Sierra Club to lobby to shut down coal plants after he had taken a large stake in its replacement, natural gas, and operates one of the largest news media companies in the world, which publishes articles and sends emails nearly every day reporting that climate change threatens the economy, and that solar panels and wind turbines are the only cost-effective solution. Soros donates heavily to Center for American Progress, whose founder, John Podesta, was chief of staff to Bill Clinton, campaign chairman for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, and who currently runs policy at the Biden White House. So too does Steyer, who funds the climate activist organization founded by New Yorker author Bill McKibben, 350.org, which reported revenues of nearly $20 million in 2018. The most influential environmental organization among Democrats and the Biden Administration is the Natural Resources Defense Council, NRDC, which advocated for federal control of state energy markets, the $500 billion for electric cars and renewables, and international carbon markets that would be controlled by the bankers and financiers who also donate to it. In the 1990s, NRDC helped energy trading company Enron to distribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to environmental groups. “On environmental stewardship, our experience is that you can trust Enron,” said NRDC’s Ralph Cavanagh in 1997, even though Enron executives at the time were defrauding investors of billions of dollars in an epic criminal conspiracy, which in 2001 bankrupted the company. From 2009 to 2011, NRDC advocated for and helped write complex cap-and-trade climate legislation that would have created and allowed some of their donors to take advantage of a carbon-trading market worth upwards of $1 trillion. NRDC created and invested $66 million of its own money in a BlackRock stock fund that invested heavily in natural gas companies, and in 2014 disclosed that it had millions invested in renewable funds. Former NRDC head, Gina McCarthey, now heads up Biden’s climate policy team, and Biden’s top economic advisor, Brian Deese, last worked at BlackRock, and almost certainly will return at the end of the Biden Administration. Money buys influence. In 2019, McKibben called Steyer a “climate champ” when Steyer announced he was running for president, adding that Steyer’s “just-released climate policy is damned good!” And in 2020, McKibben wrote an article called, “How Banks Could Bail Us Out of the Climate Crisis,” for The New Yorker, which repeated the claim that extreme weather created by climate change threatens financial interests, and that the way to prevent it is to divert public and private money away from reliable energy sources toward weather-dependent ones. Forms filed to the Internal Revenue Service by Steyer’s philanthropic organization, the TomKat Charitable Trust, show that it gave McKibben’s climate activist group, 350.org, $250,000 in 2012, 2014, and 2015, and may have given money to 350.org in 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020, as well, because 350.org thanked either Steyer’s philanthropy, TomKat Foundation, or his organization, NextGen America, in each of its annual reports since 2013. At the same time, McKibben’s motivations are plainly spiritual. He claims that various natural disasters are caused by humans, that climate change literally threatens life on Earth, and is thus “greatest challenge humans have ever faced,” a statement so unhinged from reality, considering declining deaths from disasters, declining carbon emissions, and the total absence of any science for such a claim, that it must be considered religious. McKibben first book about climate change, The End of Nature, explicitly expressed his spiritual views, arguing that, through capitalist industrialization, humankind had lost its connection to nature. “We can no longer imagine that we are part of something larger than ourselves,” he wrote in The End of Nature. “That is what this all boils down to.” Indeed, for William James, the belief in “an unseen order” that we must adjust ourselves to, in order to avoid future punishment, is a defining feature of religion. Climate change is punishment for our sins against nature — that’s the basic narrative pushed by journalists, climate activists, and their banker sponsors, for 30 years. It has a supernatural element: the belief that natural disasters are getting worse, killing millions, and threatening the economy, when in reality they are getting better, killing fewer, and costing less. And it offers redemption: to avoid punishment we must align our behavior with the unseen order, namely, a new economy controlled by the U.N., bankers, and climate activists. Unfortunately, as is increasingly obvious, the unseen order is parasitical and destructive. When Nuclear Leads, the Bankers Will Follow The unseen order of bankers, climate activists, and the news media is so powerful that it is difficult to imagine how it could ever be challenged. The financial might of the climate lobby covers the wealth not only of billionaires Soros, Steyer, and Bloomberg, but also $130 trillion in investment funds, including many of the world’s largest pension funds, such as the one belonging to California public employees. The climate lobby’s political power is equally awesome, covering the entirety of the Democratic Party and a significant portion of the Republican Party, and most center-Left parties in Europe. Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emanuel Macron, and U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm And all of that is sustained by cultural power, which has led many elites to view climate change as the world’s number one issue, has convinced half of all humans that climate change will make our species extinct, and has served as the apocalyptic foundation for Woke religion. But serious cracks in the foundation are growing. The global energy crisis has revealed for many around the world the limits of unreliable renewables, with European governments having to subsidize energy to avoid public backlash, President Biden and other heads of state opening up emergency petroleum reserves, and all nations begging OPEC to produce more energy. The blackouts and rising unreliability of electricity in California, along with the work of the pro-nuclear movement over the last 6 years, has resulted in a growing number of Democrats supporting nuclear energy. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm last week publicly urged California Governor Gavin Newsom not to close California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant, the signature nuclear plant Environmental Progress has been trying to save since 2016. Democratic support in particular for nuclear is growing. And alternative media including Substack, podcasts, and social media platforms are increasingly providing a counterweight to the mainstream news media, exposing a huge number of issues that the media got wrong in recent years, and amplifying alternative voices. Nowhere is the change occurring faster than in Europe, where energy shortages are affecting heating, cooking, and electricity supplies in ways that undermine the legitimacy of the banker-led climate efforts. In Britain, private energy companies have gone bankrupt, forcing the government to bail them out. For-profit energy companies, like banks, ultimately depend on taxpayers, who are also voters. Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who led her nation’s exit from nuclear energy, acknowledged that Germany had been defeated in its anti-nuclear energy advocacy at the European Union level, and that nuclear would finally be recognized as low-carbon. And French president Emanuel Macron, under pressure from the political right as voters look to elections next year, gave a passionate speech in favor of nuclear energy last month, announcing $35 billion for new reactors. As the world returns to nuclear, policymakers, media elites, and climate advocates will be increasingly confronted with the question of why consumers and taxpayers will benefit from a global carbon trading scheme and more weather-dependent renewables, particularly at a time of declining global emissions from the continuing transition from coal to natural gas, reduced deforestation, and increased reforestation. Simply building more nuclear power plants means there is no climate change justification for weather-dependent renewables, which actually require greater use of natural gas, in order to deal with the high amount of unreliability. Nuclear power goes with slow and patient capital. The obvious funders of a nuclear expansion in the West would be the pension funds, which need the secure return on investment that major construction and infrastructure projects provide, and which unreliable renewables, as the energy crisis shows, do not. And though the news media is currently ignoring the New York Fed’s report, reporters will not be able to continue spreading misinformation about climate change indefinitely. Increasingly, they, and thus policymakers and the public, will be forced to confront facts inconvenient to their narrative, including that humans are adapting remarkably well to climate change, that renewables make energy unreliable and expensive, and that only nuclear can achieve sustainability goals of reduced emissions, material throughput, and land use. As people ask, “How Bad Are Weather Disasters?”, not just for banks, but for all of us, the answer will increasingly come back, “Not very.” *  *  * Michael Shellenberger is a Time Magazine "Hero of the Environment,"Green Book Award winner, and the founder and president of Environmental Progress. He is author of just launched book San Fransicko (Harper Collins) and the best-selling book, Apocalypse Never (Harper Collins June 30, 2020). Subscribe To Michael's substack here Donate to Environmental Progress Tyler Durden Sat, 12/04/2021 - 21:30.....»»

Category: blogSource: zerohedgeDec 4th, 2021

SCOTT GALLOWAY: Jack Dorsey has finally stepped down — and a new era of "superapps" is dawning

"An executive who spends 90% of his time running another company ... looked like a recipe for poor shareholder returns. Spoiler alert: It was." Jack Dorsey onstage at a bitcoin convention on June 4, 2021 in Miami, Florida.Joe Raedle/Getty Images Scott Galloway is a bestselling author and professor of marketing at NYU Stern. The following is a recent blog post, republished with permission, that originally ran on his blog, "No Mercy / No Malice." In it, Galloway describes superapps and why they matter both short-term and long-term. Finally.Two years ago I wrote a letter to the chairman of Twitter calling for Jack Dorsey to be replaced as CEO. Or, more to the point, for the board to appoint a full-time CEO. An executive who spends 90% of his time running another company and plans to spend half the year on a different continent looked like a recipe for poor shareholder returns. Spoiler alert: It was.This past February, as there were now directors on the board acting as fiduciaries, I predicted Dorsey would be replaced by the end of the year.Scott GallowayBetween the day @jack reclaimed the CEO position and the day he resigned (six years), Twitter's stock increased 33%. The S&P 500, Facebook, and Google rose by 121%, 283%, and 447%, respectively.My next prediction? Twitter will be acquired by the end of 2022, most likely by SalesForce or a fintech company like PayPal or Stripe with inflated currency. Jack could also reunite his sister-wives — in a man-bites-dog scenario, the company formerly known as Square could acquire Twitter. Why? For the same reason it's now called Block. superapps.A superapp offers a suite of internet services on one platform. Block already boasts an armament of superapp services: peer-to-peer payments (CashApp), crypto and stock trading (also CashApp), lending (AfterPay), food delivery (Caviar), music streaming (Tidal), and its core merchant-payment platform (Square). Building social into the platform is the logical next step to becoming America's first superapp.I wrote about superapps last week in New York magazine, and excerpts from that article appear below. It was timely: superapp stories have been in the news ever since.Square changed its name to Block — this was announced 48 hours after Dorsey exited Twitter. "Square" will be reserved for the merchant-payment business; the three-dimensional moniker encapsulates all its various products. Twitter would give Block even more dimension.ByteDance (TikTok's parent company) invested in iMile, a last-mile courier service that connects mostly Chinese e-commerce companies to consumers in the Middle East. Dance videos are just the bait — commerce is the hook, and ByteDance is building services for more than limber-limbed teens.Grab, the "everyday everything app" from Singapore, made its public debut yesterday after a $40 billion SPAC deal. It's the biggest SPAC to date, though the stock fell more than 20% by the closing bell.Indian superapp Paytm IPO'd with a $20 billion valuation — the largest public listing in the nation's history. However, however … it, too, shed more than a fifth of its value on the first day of trading. Then slid further before maybe finding solid ground at $14 billion.In sum, it's getting crowded in the superapp lobby. The competition in India now includes: Amazon Pay, Google Pay, WeChat, and PhonePe (owned by Flipkart/Walmart). Southeast Asia also hosts many players: Gojek, Line, Sea Limited, Tokopedia, Zalo, and more.And for good reason. The superapp market is the digital Iron Throne. superapps live on mobile, and mobile is the internet in emerging markets. India, for example, has three times as many cellular subscribers as the U.S., and Indians spend 17% more time per day on their phones.Scott GallowayLong term, however, it's the world's largest economy that is the biggest prize. A platform that services every aspect of the consumer experience in any market will be one of the most valuable companies in that market. The firm that establishes superapp leadership in America will be the most valuable company in history. Some thoughts below, with excerpts from our piece originally published in New York magazine on November 24, 2021.The metaverse is best described as a consensual hallucination between Mark Zuckerberg and the media — a fantasy that we'll trade pleasurable activities in the physical world, like cooking and dating, for nausea-inducing hours in a virtual realm full of legless avatars. To most ordinary people, the Facebook CEO's aspiration to be the god of a universe we can enter only by affixing a prophylactic to our heads seems megalomaniacal. They're correct. However, every time you hear Zuckerberg say metaverse, swap in superapp and the plan sounds less stupid.A superapp is a single mobile app that offers basic services including chat and payments, along with a suite of "mini-apps" from third parties, ranging from stores and restaurants to government agencies. Westerners aren't familiar with them, but across much of Asia, superapps are the internet. The largest is China's WeChat, possibly the most used piece of software on the planet. On WeChat, you can find a date, hail a cab, pay utilities, even get divorced. An app reaches super status when it knits together a critical mass of services, makes them so easy to toggle across that, even if they aren't as good as sole-purpose apps, the app becomes your OS for your digital life. The more services, the less reason to ever leave.Scott GallowayA superapp can start small: WeChat began in chat; Indonesia's Gojek started in ride hailing; and in India, Paytm was originally for buying prepaid mobile minutes. All eventually expanded from their niche and snowballed to dominance. The economics of superapps are powerful — and possibly inexorable. I'm convinced that constructing a U.S. superapp is the strategic-imperative of the next decade and could result in the first $5 trillion company.Already, there are a host of companies looking to replicate the Asian model — but to do so, they'll have to get past Apple and Google, the nearly hegemonic mobile-OS providers, which are investing billions to prevent a superapp from inserting itself between consumers and the OS. The radical transformation of Apple under Tim Cook has been a decade-long project to extend the company's ecosystem to nullify the potential for a superapp to sit on top of iOS. It explains why Apple now offers both credit and debit payment systems, why you can use your Apple ID to sign in to a huge range of third-party services, and why Cook is giving Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston hundreds of millions of dollars to produce an inferior version of Murphy Brown.​​Who are the strongest challengers to Apple and Google? Most apparent, the other Big Tech behemoths, Amazon and Facebook/Meta, who aim to leapfrog by building alternative interaction paradigms, a pretentious way to say "voice" (Amazon) and "VR" (Meta). And while they are both trying to skate to where the puck is headed, Meta is on thin ice with a portal that makes you nauseous. Voice is underhyped, and VR overhyped.The likely epicenter for aspiring superapps is fintech. Payments in particular: PayPal, which owns Venmo, and Block né Square. And new fintech unicorns are being birthed weekly, including crypto-based businesses that are also in a position to leapfrog with long legs of capital, vaulting over the entire existing financial system. Fintech companies that reach scale have valuable infrastructure, acquisition currency in the form of overheated stock, and trust. Traditional Big Tech leaders, social media companies especially, have burned through acres of PR heat shields over the past years, relentlessly assaulted by bad press as they ask people to come for teen depression and stay for insurrection. Fintech has been (relatively) unscathed. Plus, these companies begin their assault from higher ground: payments.Payment processing is the foundation of a superapp. It's the glue that integrates core features with those provided by third parties on the platform, and it gives users the convenience of not needing to enter credit-card information across apps and sites. A shift in the arbitrage of attention, from ads to the more potent payments business, promises to fuel a historic merger-and-acquisition binge that will reshape the array of industries that tech derisively labels "content." The likely biggest acquirers will be in finance — not just start-ups but Wall Street's Old Guard, whose imminent panic will manifest in M&A banker fees.Financial-services firms are already expanding into new markets. Not long ago, American Express acquired the reservation service Resy. There was a brand logic to that deal, as AmEx has long offered concierge services. In addition, JPMorgan recently purchased the Infatuation, the restaurant-review site and owner of Zagat, which is considerably more curious. In March, Square paid nearly $300 million for the music streamer Tidal, prompting a wave of WTF? coverage. You'll know the superapp conquest has hit another level when Jack Dorsey combines Square with the other company he used to stop by on Wednesday and Friday afternoons, Twitter, and offers useful services.I've lived through half a dozen of these techno-social transitions, from the PC era to "dot-coms" (ask your parents), through mobile and social, and now this. Every shift has created more wealth than the one before — but also levied more harm. One thing they all had in common is that we never really saw them coming. In hindsight, these things look obvious, but none of these transitions have manifested as we expected. For the most part, they're worse. The difference now is that we can see superapps coming. In Asia, they're already here. As consumers, investors, and political leaders, we have a chance to do better. To set the stage for competition and empowerment, not co-option and enragement. Whether our future is mediated by Siri, Alexa or by Meta, it doesn't need to be a world of addiction and exploitation. The virtual world isn't "it is what it is," but what we make of it.Life is so rich,Scott GallowayP.S. Making predictions can be dangerous. It might put you in the Twitter crosshairs of Elon Musk. Yet I persist. Join my free Predictions livestream on December 7. You probably won't regret it.Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

The 4 best resistance bands for building strength and muscle rehabilitation

Whether you're building muscle or rehabbing an injury, these are our top tested picks for resistance bands with handles, resistance loop bands & more. Prices are accurate at the time of publication. Resistance bands are as effective as free weights at building muscle and strength. The best resistance bands won't snap, roll, or irritate your skin, and come as a set for more choices. Our top pick, TheraBands, are latex-free, highly versatile, and won't snap over time. Resistance bands are an incredibly diverse and affordable addition to your home gym set-up. They can be used therapeutically for muscle rehab and stability training, or in lieu of dumbbells for serious strength building."There are literally thousands of exercises you can do with a resistance band, with the band placed in numerous patterns around the body," Keaton Ray, PT, DPT, CSCS, physical therapist and co-founder of MovementX, Inc in Portland, OR tells Insider. As a certified barre and mat pilates instructor myself, I've tested a lot of resistance bands to help challenge and build muscle. And studies show they really do work for building strength and mass (more in that in our FAQ section, below). Different types play toward specific goals and movements — looped bands and fabric bands provide resistance for more restrictive movements (clam shells, glute bridges), while the more versatile resistance bands with handles rival the work dumbbells do for compound movements (bicep curls, rows, lunges). We also prefer a resistance band set for more versatility.At the end of this guide, I lay out what types of resistance bands there are, how to use resistance bands, and everything you should consider when buying one. Until then, here are our top picks among the many resistance bands I've tested.The best resistance bands:Best resistance bands overall: TheraBandBest resistance loop bands: Fluidity Best fabric resistance band: Sweat The TechniqueBest resistance bands with handles: SPRI Total Body Resistance KitBest resistance bands overallTheraBand resistance band set is ideal for both rehabilitation and strength building.KBYC photography/ShutterstockTheraBand Non-Latex Resistance Bands are super versatile for both therapeutic use as well as strength training, and they're thin and lightweight enough to take anywhere.Pros: Latex-free, lightweight, extremely versatile in function, inexpensive, resistance band setCons: Not super heavy resistanceTheraBands were my first experience with resistance bands and I've never looked back. Incredibly thin and lightweight while somehow maintaining their strength and durability, this resistance band set does an excellent job helping you develop muscle strength.I've used them around my thighs during squats and between my arms while working my triceps, but the possibilities (and potential muscle groups) are virtually endless.Rather than being permanently looped, TheraBands are one straight piece of latex-free rubber, which makes them highly versatile. You can still tie the band together to make it a looped band, or grip it or wrap it around your hands to use it like a resistance band with handles. There are also eight levels of resistance to choose from, and this set comes with the three mid-level weights, which offers you a range of lighter therapeutic work to strength building. Whether you're making your barre workout just a bit harder or using them for some quick HIIT moves, TheraBands do the trick. That said, if you're looking for serious resistance, you may need something a bit heftier.They're also highly durable — while they look as though they'll snap at any moment, I've had mine for years and they're only just starting to show small tears. My old gym also used these, and despite constant usage by hundreds of clients, the TheraBands withstood the test. They're also latex-free, which is great for folks with allergies or sensitivities. They're highly portable and fit in a small, included carrying case, making them great for travel. --Lulu Chang$17.39 FROM AMAZON$17.39 FROM WALMARTBest resistance loop bandsFluidity resistance loop bands are ideal for short ranges of motion.FluidityFluidity bands are durably looped for building strength on small range-of-motion movements, and made with natural latex, which is gentle on the skin and eco-friendly.Pros: Eco-friendly, non-toxic, durableCons: Individually sold, only three levels of resistance available, no travel bagResistance loop bands are ideal to provide strength-building or rehabilitation-level resistance on smaller ranges of motion, like looping them around your quads to build strength during clamshells or during squats to keep your knees tracking outward. They're also a great addition to your warm-up routine as they help provide low-weight activation to your muscles during moves like with lat pulls and crab walks.Fluidity resistance loop bands are one of the most durable resistance bands I've found. They're made of 100% natural rubber latex, which is a non-toxic and eco-friendly material. As a certified Barre instructor, I have encountered several scenarios where students reacted to the synthetic latex in most bands, but natural latex is much more sensitive on the skin. The bands are also 60 inches by 6 inches, which makes it a great option for any rehab or stretching exercises you may want to perform. These resistance loop bands are sold individually and you have three resistance levels to choose from. This is nice if you have a separate pack you're looking for a single addition to, but I do wish Fluidity sold a pack of all three for more versatile use. That being said, the resistance levels are well-balanced; when I tested this out on the lightest Fluidity flat band, I estimated the resistance to be anywhere between 8-10lbs. $12.00 FROM FLUIDITYBest fabric resistance bandsSweat The Technique makes durable, reliable fabric resistance bands great for glute exercises.Sweat The TechniqueThe Sweat The Technique Ultimate Booty Band Set is made of fabric so they won't stretch over time and fit a wide range of body sizes, and I loved the strength of these bands and the fun colors.Pros: Washable, durable, fit a range of bodies, resistance band setCons: Limited range of motion making them not ideal for all workouts, contain latex, no washing/care instructionsFabric resistance bands are great as they take much longer to stretch out over time compared to rubber bands, and they won't snap in half. Fabric resistance bands are also washable so they're easy to clean, they don't curl up like rubber resistance bands, and they fit a wide range of body types comfortably.Since fabric bands are stronger than latex bands, they also offer more resistance. That means they're less ideal for warm-ups or therapeutic use, but they're an excellent option for shorter ranges of movement like squats or hydrants. I like Sweat The Technique's fabric bands in particular because, for starters, they're a female- and Black-owned company. What's more, when I tested these over bare legs and over workout pants, I was pleasantly surprised the bands didn't move at all during the workout. Unlike with other bands, I didn't have to fidget with or adjust them. But made from a spandex, polyester and latex blend, they still have enough give to make them easy to get on and off.You can buy just a single band or a full resistance band set. I like the Ultimate Booty Band Set, which comes with a medium and heavy option in a sleek travel bag; however, I do wish this set came with a light and an extra heavy option to better accommodate progression over time. The brand does offer the Long Power Band Set, which has more resistance options. However, these are longer and more ideal for stretching, powerlifting, or pull-ups, and less ideal for glute work, which is what most people want a highly-resistant fabric band for.  Best resistance bands with handlesSPRI Total Body is one of our favorite resistance band sets and the best resistance bands with handles we’ve found.SPRIThe SPRI Total Body Resistance Kit comes with five levels of resistance up to ultra heavy, and includes accessories like ankle straps and door attachments, making it an incredible value for about the price of a single dumbbell.Pros: Super versatile, comes with multiple attachments, durable productCons: Handled resistance bands can be a bit confusing if you are a beginner Working out with resistance bands can build similar strength gains to resistance training with free weights, reports a 2019 study in SAGE Open Medicine The SPRI Total Resistance Band Kit includes five bands that range from very light to ultra heavy. I found this spectrum to be incredibly diverse and helpful when I used them to workout, and a great deal for the price. The set also comes with two handles, one ankle strap, and one door attachment, adding to the diversity of what moves you can do with this equipment.Obviously, it can be a little annoying to stop the flow of your workout to swap the handles onto a new resistance band, so you do have to be a little more strategic about pairing exercises that require similar weights. But considering all this kit comes with, it has great value. That's especially true if you want to add some strength training to your current workout regime but don't want to invest in a pricey set of dumbbells.$29.98 FROM SPRI$29.98 FROM AMAZONWhat else we consideredAlyssa Powell/Business InsiderWhat else we recommendPure Energy Fitness Kit ($68): Although I did like this kit, it was too expensive for me to recommend to the average reader. However, it does come with ankle weights (which probably contributes to the higher price), and it's made with natural latex and free of other problematic materials like PVC, BPA, and lead phthalates. What we don't recommendGymbandit ($14): I love the colors of these bands and the variety of resistance strengths, but they curled up during my workouts and the lighter resistance bands started to tear after a few sessions with clients.How I testedAs a certified barre and mat pilates instructor, I tested out several resistance bands during my weekly barre and workout sessions with clients. I also incorporated these bands into my own at home workouts. Specifically, I looked at: Durability of the band: The best resistance band won't snap or tear with time and will offer the same amount of resistance, use after use. Scalability with your training: A resistance band set should progress with you and your workouts, so it's smart to look for bands that offer a variety of resistance levels. Comfort during a workout: A lot of flimsy resistance bands will curl around your legs or ankles during a workout, which can be annoying. I prioritize bands that stayed flat and in place, and those that didn't irritate my skin or rubbed against it too much with movement.Affordability: At the end of the day, we're looking to make an investment and to avoid having to replace bands several times during the year.What to look for in a resistance band setWhen shopping for bands you are going to have a couple of options depending on the style of workout you are looking to perform. You will first need to consider if you want a latex or fabric band, these options typically come as a loop band. Latex bands can be beneficial if you are looking to perform a variety of moves because they are less restrictive. You can get a wider range of motion with these bands. For example tricep extensions should be performed with a latex band instead of a fabric band. If you are looking to do shorter ranges of motion like squats or squat tap outs a loop band is more ideal. Another thing to consider is if you prefer bands with interchangeable handles or fixed handles. Interchangeable handles allow you to change the resistance so you can tack on additional weight either by adding more resistance or switching your handles to a band that offers more resistance. Bands with interchangeable handles can become complicated especially when you are crunched for time and looking to squeeze a quick workout. If more time permits this is an excellent option for adding to your cardio routine or working out at home. Bands with handles also allow you to mimic some moves that are performed on weight machines at the gym like a lat pull down.Take into consideration the level of resistance for either rehabilitation, muscle activation, or strength building. Rehabilitation centers around stability training. For this, you want bands that are light enough, don't cause any pain, and let you control your movement, Dr. Ray explains. If a band provides too much resistance, you won't be able to achieve a full range of motion in the exercise you are performing, she adds.If you're looking to build mass or strength though, you'll want heavier resistance and a few different options so you can progress resistance levels. While going too heavy too soon can cause injuries and muscle imbalances, not using enough resistance also won't build muscle effectively. For weightlifters, Dr. Ray suggests incorporating light-to-medium bands into your warm up and cool down. This will help to activate stabilizing muscles which in return will provide a safer and more productive weightlifting session. The thickness of a band is also an important consideration especially if you are looking to build strength in your workout routine. I have noticed the thicker the band, the higher the resistance. I have also discovered that many bands that are marketed as heavy or extra heavy are actually not very thick, and that nearly always translates to poorer resistance. Lastly, is the price point. If you are looking to stay within a specific price range, opting for a single durable band with more versatility (like a band with handles or a flat band) might be a better choice in comparison to one single loop band. FAQsDo resistance bands really work?Yes, resistance bands work to both build strength back slowly after an injury, and, for weight lifters, to build strength as effectively as dumbbells. Dr. Ray adds resistance bands help add load to movements (aka, weight beyond just body weight), which research shows helps build muscle. "For example, a squat with a theraband around your knees is much more effective at building muscle and stability than a side-lying clamshell or leg lift," she explains.Dr. Ray also points out that because resistance bands are so low impact, they're a great way to start strength training for the first time. This is also what makes them ideal for rehabilitating from an injury or specifically targeting deep stabilizing muscles on a recovery day. Of course, for the most well-rounded functional fitness, you want to challenge your muscles in different ways, so you should also use dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, to build strength in addition to band exercises. What types of resistance bands are there?There are several types of resistance bands that include:Figure 8 bands: Ideal for strengthening your arms, chest, shoulders, and back with either single arm and double arm workouts. It can also be used for a total body workout as well as focusing on your lower body with leg and glute exercises. Loop bands: These bands are great for activating muscle groups which help to improve muscle balance, control, and stability by simply waking up under-active muscles. Therapy bands: Therapy bands are good for rehabilitating muscles and offering a lighter resistance when dealing with an injury. Mini Resistance bands: These are smaller loop bands ideal for traveling, keeping in your gym or a set at the office. Also a great option for those that like to workout when far away from home. Ring bands: Can be used for stretching and/or intensifying a workout by utilizing the rings in the band. Lateral bands: Padded ankle cuffs connected to a resistance tube provides additional resistance when doing lateral conditioning exercises. Fabric bands: These bands are made from fabric and often include a strip of non-slip material which helps keep them in place. Excellent for short ranges of movement.Pull up bands: This type of band can help you achieve a pull-up. How do beginners use resistance bands?Resistance bands are ideal for building strength in beginners to resistance training since they tend to be much safer than free weights. Start by using a lighter band and work your way up to heavier resistances over time. If the resistance starts to get too comfortable, it's time to increase the resistance. Aim to switch your bands every month or sooner. As your strength increases, opt for a heavier band or add more repetitions to an exercise. Dr. Ray suggests starting with 3 sets of 10 repetitions of any exercise. If these are too hard, you need a lighter resistance band. If they're easy, grab a heavier one.A few moves you can try to get you started include a high plank with leg lift (modification come down to your knees and perform the leg lift one side at a time), modified side plank with leg lifts and fire hydrants. Where should resistance bands be placed? This depends on what muscle groups you are working. If you want to target your glutes, for example, place the band around your legs just above your knees; then, perform squats or lateral tap outs. This helps provide control and resistance when you lower into the squat. You can also loop the bands around your forearms or above your elbows to provide resistance to your upper body, or around your ankles for lower body exercises."You can get creative with where you place the band on your body, or you can anchor it to the wall," Dr. Ray adds. Looping a band around an anchored bar or handle, like a door handle at home or a squat rig at the gym, is another way to provide resistance.Are resistance bands good for therapy?One of the most common use for resistance bands is for rehabilitation or muscle therapy. During rehab, you need to start contracting muscle tissue and moving your joints through gentle ranges of motion. This helps to lower inflammation, increase blood flow, and stimulate healing, Dr. Ray explains.Light resistance bands are very helpful here, since they're very gentle on your body but allow your muscle fubers to work against gentle force and begin the slow process of regrowing muscle fibers.By the end stage of tissue recovery, you'll start to progress away from resistance bands and begin loading tissues with heavier weights that more closely mimic activities such as carrying heavy groceries or lifting your children. This should always be done under the direction of a physical therapist so you don't damage your tissue, muscles, and joints further.How often should you use resistance bands? Use resistance bands at the same frequency you would dumbbells or any other form of weight. Like with any workout, it's a good idea to allow your body to rest in between each session if you are working the entire body.Another option is alternating between the upper and lower body a few times a week. This allows the muscle fibers to rebuild and become stronger without causing harm. Read the original article on Business Insider.....»»

Category: smallbizSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

How Migrant Surge At The Border Fuels Massive American OD"s From Tiny Grains of This Killer Drug

How Migrant Surge At The Border Fuels Massive American OD's From Tiny Grains of This Killer Drug By Vince Bielski, published originally in RealClearInvestigations.com On a September afternoon, Allyssia Solorio wondered why her energetic young brother hadn’t emerged from his bedroom in their Sacramento, Calif., home. When she opened his door, she saw 23-year-old Mikael leaning back on his bed with his legs dangling over the side. She rushed to her brother and shook him, but to no avail. He was dead. A counterfeit pharmaceutical pill laced with illicit fentanyl had killed him. Mikael Tirado was one of an estimated 93,331 overdose fatalities in the United States last year – an all-time high. Nearly five times the murder rate, the deadly overdose toll was primarily caused by fentanyl, a highly lethal synthetic opioid. It’s manufactured mostly by Mexican cartels with ingredients imported from China, and then smuggled over the southwestern U.S. border. Fentanyl has been arriving in larger quantities each year since at least 2016. The cartels are taking advantage of law enforcement weaknesses and policy failures to smuggle record amounts of the lethal drug into the United States, according to interviews with half a dozen current and former drug and immigration agents. While a lack of screening technology to find contraband at ports of entry and an inept U.S-Mexico campaign to cripple the cartels are longstanding issues, there’s also a new one: the flood of migrants across the border that the Biden administration has done little to stop. Former law enforcement officials say the cartels are orchestrating the surge, overwhelming the capacity of agents to pursue drug smugglers. They can freely enter Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California carrying fentanyl while agents are diverted to the time-consuming duty of apprehending and processing migrants. Frustrated border agents and their union have been calling on Congress to send reinforcements. But help is not on the way. The administration’s upcoming budget request doesn’t include funding for more Customs and Border Protection agents. In September, tensions boiled over after President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris lashed out at agents on horseback in response to videos showing them blocking Haitians crossing the border. Harris compared the incident to the mistreatment of slaves, an inflammatory accusation that the union strongly denied, saying no migrants were hit or hurt. The administration is pivoting away from law enforcement and embracing a public health approach to the fentanyl crisis. It has proposed spending $11.2 billion – a huge increase over last year – to expand substance abuse prevention, treatment and recovery services. Fewer addicts would mean fewer deaths from fentanyl. But curbing opioid addiction is very challenging. The vast majority of substance abusers avoid treatment, according to researchers, and only about one-third of those receiving long-term medical care fully recover. These success stories, however, will be offset if the supply of fentanyl continues to boom and fuel more addiction. “Drug treatment is very important, but you can’t treat someone in the morgue who just died from fentanyl poisoning. It’s too late,” says Derek Maltz, the former director of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s special operations division, which primarily targets cartels. “We have to vigorously attack the production labs in Mexico and increase border security on our side.” Cartels have turned to fentanyl because the super-potent powder is cheap to produce, making it more profitable than heroin, says Eric Triana, an assistant special agent in charge at the DEA division in New York. Two of Mexico’s most powerful crime groups – the Sinaloa and Jalisco New Generation cartels – manufacture the synthetic drug in rustic clandestine labs. In the U.S., the powder is mixed with heroin to stretch supplies. To boost sales, cartels have more recently increased production of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. They are made with fentanyl but labeled to look exactly like legitimate medications such as Percocet, Vicodin and Xanax. Cartels are increasing production of counterfeit pharmaceuticals. Above, a seized pill press. Flickr/DEA The fake pills, which are promoted and sold on social media platforms as real pharmaceuticals, are priced to sell at a discounted rate of about $20 each. They have brought the dangers of fentanyl to mainstream America, with victims belonging to every age, class and racial group. Nationwide, DEA agents seized an unprecedented 9.5 million fake pills -- some portion of that total in every U.S. state in the first nine months of 2021, or more than the last two years combined. That prompted the agency to issue a rare public safety alert in September. Fentanyl’s potency – at 50 times the strength of heroin – is what makes it so deadly. Two milligrams, which can fit on the tip of a pencil, can kill. But cartels don’t take precautions to make sure the pills aren’t lethal. DEA analysis found that 40% of the seized pills had a potentially deadly dose. “I saw the devastation that heroin brought to Baltimore as a young police officer,” Triana says. “But fentanyl is a more potent deadly threat. It’s frightening.” Crime groups have gained complete control of the Mexican side of the 1,950-mile border, directing the flow of both migrants and drugs. The Gulf Cartel runs the region around Brownsville, Texas, and moving west to California, the Cartel of the Northeast, Juarez Cartel and the Sinaloa Cartel have staked out turf, says Victor Avila, a former supervisory special agent with Immigration and Customs Enforcement who specialized in human and narcotics trafficking. Diversion Game at the Border They operate openly as if they were the Mexican military. Jalisco New Generation Cartel, which has recently expanded operations, even slaps a “CJNG” logo in big letters on its military-style trucks and uniforms as part of a show of force. The Jalisco cartel increasingly operates like a military force. (Above, a purported convoy.)  Twitter/@jaeson_jones The surge of migrants that began in 2019 and accelerated after Biden took office has been a boon to these violent enterprises. The migrants are coming from Eastern Europe and Africa as well as Central and South America, lured partly by the administration’s policy that allows unaccompanied children and families to stay in the states while they apply for asylum, according to border agents who have interviewed them. In addition to paying cartels between about $2,000 and $9,000 each to cross, migrants are also used as decoys in drug smuggling operations. Equipped with encrypted communications and satellite technologies, crime organizations are precisely orchestrating the timing and location of the border crossings of large migrant groups as part of a diversion tactic, several officers say. Dozens of agents are forced to leave their posts guarding many miles of the border and at checkpoints on roads to assist with apprehensions of the groups. The cartels work with spotters in the Halcon network to identify these wide security gaps along the border and send drug smugglers on foot through them undetected. A Call for More Agents “The illegal alien flows are so big that the Border Patrol has to leave hundreds of miles of border unprotected,” says Avila. “This absolutely means more fentanyl has been entering the country in the last few years.” The smugglers make their way across tough terrain to one of hundreds of stash houses located near roads in the border region. The drugs are then placed in cars and driven through often unguarded checkpoints and across the country. Rather than pursue these smugglers, many Border Patrol agents are handling the crush of migrants entering the U.S. They apprehended more than 1.7 million this fiscal year, or six times the 2017 number. (That doesn’t include the hundreds of thousands who got away, according to Border Patrol estimates.) Agents deport most of the single adults. But they have to assist in transporting, processing, housing and feeding the unaccompanied children and families who are placed in border patrol facilities for weeks before they are released into the U.S. to pursue asylum claims. In the busiest border areas, such as Texas’ Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio, as many as 30% of agents are pulled from the frontlines to deal with the migrant overflow, says Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council. Texas is trying to fill the security void by deploying hundreds of state troopers and the National Guard in Operation Lonestar, a $1.8 billion effort. They have seized 127 pounds of fentanyl this year through early September. The Trump administration was able to tamp down the number of migrants crossing the border by forcing them to remain in Mexico while they applied for asylum. Biden ended that program, calling it inhumane, and the administration is now fighting a court order to reinstate it. Judd says as long as Biden’s asylum policy is in place, the Border Patrol, which has about 14,000 field agents covering both coasts and both land borders, needs thousands more to help secure the Southwest flank. Pleas to congressional leaders for help, made by Judd’s union and former Border Patrol chiefs, have gone unheeded.   “If you are not going to change the policy, then give me more manpower to stop the drugs,” Judd says. “But Democrats control Congress, and while some of them are fairly good on border security, it isn’t a priority for a majority of them.” So far this year, CBP has redeployed 400 agents from the northern and coastal areas to the southern border – not nearly enough to fill the gaps, Judd says. In a statement to RealClearInvestigations, a CBP spokesperson said the agency continues to evaluate the need for more agents and pointed to drug busts as evidence of strong enforcement. Border and customs agents seized 10,000 pounds of fentanyl this fiscal year, according to agency data. That’s five times the catch in 2018. But agents say more seizures actually indicates that more of the deadly drug is entering the country since they have only been capturing an estimated 10% to 15% of the total. Most of the fentanyl is pouring over the Southwest border at the U.S. ports of entry, particularly in California, a favorite route for smugglers. The challenge for customs agents at the controlled inspection ports in four states is very different than the cat-and-mouse pursuits of the Border Patrol: How to find illegal contraband in vehicles without slowing trade with Mexico worth hundreds of billions of dollars each year. The San Ysidro port in California between San Diego and Tijuana is the busiest land border crossing in the Western Hemisphere. The 70,000 vehicle passengers headed north every day through the port have to wait in long lines of traffic for an hour, on average. Nearby, the thousands of commercial trucks that go through the Otay Mesa port daily have even longer waits. Legal trade and travel occupy patrols at ports of entry like San Ysidro (above), which smugglers exploit. AP Photo/Gregory Bull Customs agents are in a fix. They are under pressure to efficiently clear trucks from Mexico carrying fruits, vegetables, electronics and other goods for entry into the U.S. But that priority to avoid costly commercial delays is in constant conflict with the need to stop and search the vehicles for illicit goods. More often than not, smugglers get waved through without a search. “Transnational criminal organizations take advantage of the chaos and clutter at the ports of entry that are dealing with so much legitimate trade and travel,” says Victor Manjarrez, a former Border Patrol supervisor and now a security expert at the University of Texas at El Paso. Cartels have the confidence to go big at the border. In August, a Mexican tractor-trailer driver attempted to cross at Otay Mesa with 2.8 tons of methamphetamine and fentanyl hidden among plastic household goods. Agents scanned the cargo using an X-ray-like machine and saw what they described as “anomalies” inside the trailer. Then a canine team sniffed out narcotics worth $13 million. It was the largest ever meth bust along the border. Customs agents would arrest more smugglers if they were equipped with basic scanning technology used in the huge Otay Mesa seizure. It helps them quickly make better decisions about which vehicles to inspect manually, a process that can take hours. CBP says it has been deploying more large-scale scanners at ports of entry in the last two years. Remarkably, only 15% of trucks were scanned at Southwest ports of entry in 2019, according to a CBP report. And less than half of them received any formal inspection because customs agents have to move too rapidly through the snarl of waiting traffic, says Manjarrez. Many of the 328 U.S. ports also need to be expanded and modernized to reduce wait times to allow for more inspections. The Biden administration is asking Congress for $660 million for upgrades, or enough to improve only a handful of the old ports. Otay Mesa’s $144 million expansion plan alone would absorb almost a quarter of this new funding. “It’s really only a down payment for what is needed,” Manjarrez says. ‘Hugs, Not Bullets’ in Mexico More agents and technology would “absolutely make a bigger dent” in the flow of fentanyl over the border, Manjarrez says, but not stop it. Agents say Mexico also has to begin targeting the hundreds of cartel production labs to further cut the supply. “Destroying the labs has to be a top priority because, without them, the cartels can’t continue to kill our kids,” says Maltz, the former DEA organized crime specialist. But President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador ended Mexico’s military campaign against cartel leaders two years ago. Soldiers captured and killed many kingpins, but the crackdown also unleashed a reign of violence that Lopez Obrador pledged to blunt. The populist president is pushing his “hugs, not bullets” agenda to reduce poverty in the hope that it will eventually curb the appeal of drug smuggling. Meanwhile, the cartels, facing little government resistance, have continued to expand their hold on territory and corrupt lawmakers, according to Vanda Felbab-Brown, a scholar focusing on nonstate armed actors at the Brookings Institution. The clout of the cartels was made clear in 2020 when U.S. agents arrested a former Mexican defense secretary for taking bribes to protect the ultraviolent H-2 Cartel. Outraged officials pressured the U.S. to return Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda to Mexico where prosecutors promptly exonerated him. The more lasting damage to drug enforcement came when Mexico passed a law in response to Cienfuegos’ arrest. Maltz says it froze DEA’s operations in Mexico by requiring agents to pass sensitive intelligence through a central foreign affairs office that they believe is corrupt.   “The cartels control Mexico. All of it,” says Avila, the former ICE agent who survived gunshot wounds in an ambush with a cartel. “They are running a parallel government.” The U.S. Plays Nice With the U.S. drug enforcement imperiled, Felbab-Brown has called on the Biden administration to “get tough” with Mexico. In January she urged the administration to use financial support as leverage to compel Mexico to target mid-level cartel operatives and their corrupt government protectors to avoid the bloodshed that comes with taking down bosses. But the State Department is taking a conciliatory position, essentially backing Lopez Obrador’s economic development strategy in an agreement between the two countries announced in early October. The Biden administration has been conciliatory toward Mexico, but not its own mounted agents. AP Photo/Felix Marquez At a joint press conference, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the countries had relied too much on security forces to try to weaken the cartels. Over the past decade the U.S. has spent $3 billion to arm and train the Mexican military and police as part of the Merida Initiative. During that time, drug trafficking into the U.S. increased. A new agreement will replace Merida, making job creation in poor communities and drug treatment and prevention top priorities, Blinken said. The countries did agree to pursue the cartels, particularly by curtailing the illegal supply of U.S. arms into Mexico and money laundering activities. But the prosecution of cartel members isn’t the priority. Mexico Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said the success of the agreement won’t be measured by how many drug lords go to jail.   The administration’s strategy has plenty of backers in the criminal justice and public health professions. “I'm sympathetic to the argument that Mexico is on the border with the largest consumer of fentanyl and cocaine in the world,” says Bryce Pardo, a drug policy specialist at Rand Corp. “We could do more to reduce our insatiable appetite for drugs.” In the meantime, more fentanyl smuggled into the U.S. means more deaths. Triana, the DEA special agent, estimates that the number of overdose fatalities this year will either be on par with or exceed 2020’s. Allyssia Solorio, the sister of the Sacramento man who died from fentanyl, has become an activist to raise awareness of the dangers of the illicit drug. The former postal worker says law enforcement must play a larger role. “President Biden can do a lot more to shut down the smuggling of fentanyl over the Mexican border,” she says. Tyler Durden Thu, 12/02/2021 - 23:20.....»»

Category: personnelSource: nytDec 3rd, 2021

How ‘Subscribe to Me’ Became the Future of Work

Creators are bumping up against the limits of the platforms they use In August, Savannah’s entire monthly income was at stake. OnlyFans, the social media platform where she built her career, making an average of $2,000 a month from subscribers, had just announced it would be removing content like hers from the site. But there was little she could do about it. She remembers thinking: “OK, well, this is another Thursday, I might as well finish my Chick-Fil-A, and I’m just gonna chill here and wait for us to get some sort of response.” Savannah, 24, is part of a vibrant, supportive community of online sex workers that underwrite OnlyFans’s considerable financial success; it’s now valued at over $1 billion. But in a move that may foreshadow changes to come, that community was shaken when OnlyFans announced it would be banning explicit content on the site. “The sky falls on OnlyFans, like, every three or four months,” Savannah says, wryly. [time-brightcove not-tgx=”true”] She could’ve gotten a more standard job when she graduated from college in 2020 with a business degree—maybe at a bank, as a mortgage loan officer. But while career-hunting, she was working three part-time jobs and her boyfriend at the time suggested trying out OnlyFans. She opened an account in January 2020, posting sassy videos and photos that showed off her passion for Star Wars cosplay and her cheeky sense of humor to attract subscribers. “It was nerve-wracking,” Savannah admits. At first, the subscribers just trickled in; she made $80 that month. Then the pandemic lockdowns started, and Savannah’s online star began to rise. “It was an extreme case of right place, right time,” she says. “Everyone was suddenly locked inside. And they were horny. And it just all came together.” By September 2020, she had earned enough money to buy her own house—a goal that had always seemed elusive with a traditional career path. “I never, ever thought that I would be stable enough to buy a house, period, in my lifetime,” she says. That sense of stability was put to the test by the new August policy—briefly. OnlyFans backtracked just days later. For many, online sex work is easy to ignore or view as the internet’s titillating sideshow. Historically, though, the conditions of sex work serve as an indicator of the health of a society, and the inconclusive OnlyFans incident could predict the future of the growing digital creator economy and its workers. Annie Flanagan for TIME“Not only has it absolutely changed the trajectory of my life forever, but I have fun, I’m my own boss,” says Savannah. Savannah considers herself half sex worker and half “online creator,” a burgeoning and nebulous category of workers who have turned to online platforms to profit off their talents and speak to niche audiences. But the creator economy that took off around 2011 with YouTube has evolved as creators seek autonomy over their intellectual property and freedom from brand sponsorships and social media restrictions. Writers, gamers, academics, sex workers, chefs, athletes, artists: anyone with a point of view, or a video to share, has flocked to sites like Twitch, OnlyFans, Patreon and Substack in hopes of selling their skills directly to their fans. A September study from the Influencer Marketing Factory estimates some 50 million people around the world participate in this economy, broadly—that’s a third the size of the entire U.S. workforce. The study valued the creator market north of $100 billion in 2021. Direct subscription creators are a fraction of that, but a rapidly growing one. There are over a million creators on OnlyFans; streaming platform Twitch boasts over 8 million active streamers; Patreon, which hosts pay-to-view visual and written content, says it has over 200,000 active accounts. And the money generated by this new class keep going up, with OnlyFans announcing it has facilitated over $3 billion in payouts to accounts since their founding five years ago. Patreon says its creator accounts have racked up over $2 billion. Twitch’s in-app purchases neared $200 million in the first half of 2021 alone. Creators skew Millennial and Gen Z; digital natives are, after all, more prepared to capitalize on and take risks online. One study from research firm PSFK suggested that over 50% of Gen Z Americans are interested in becoming an “influencer” as a career. But some of the most successful subscription creators—historian Heather Cox Richardson, musician Amanda Palmer, photographer Brandon Stanton, and model Blac Chyna—are in their 30s or older, and were well established in their careers before selling their skills online, a fact that lends the subscription creator economy more credence. These days, Savannah—who goes by Savannah Solo on her Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and OnlyFans pages—counts hundreds of thousands of subscribers to her public profiles, and 6,500 paying subscribers to her more risqué content on OnlyFans. She doesn’t want to stop. “Not only has it absolutely changed the trajectory of my life forever, but I have fun, I’m my own boss, I wake up and I put on makeup and I wear a stupid costume and make fun content. You can decide if you want to be a persona—or if you just want to be yourself,” she says. But, as she has learned in August, the reality of a creator career is more complicated. Annie Flanagan for TIMESavannah looks through OnlyFans messages while laying at home on Oct. 18. The problem with platforms The job title “creator” is a new invention, born in the past decade thanks to the rise of self-publishing opportunities. First there was YouTube, the ür-influencer platform. Then came Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These web2 behemoths offered anyone the ability to build a fanbase with little more than an internet connection (and, for the most successful, access to a way to photograph or video themselves). At first, little money was transferred into the hands of the creators; success in the form of wide viewership was a badge of honor, not a moneymaking scheme. That changed with the rise of models in which creators received a cut of advertising associated with their content (like pre-roll video ads on YouTube) and sponsored content and ambassadorship programs (like many of Instagram’s influencer programs). This kept content free for fans while still paying the creators—and it’s the model that still dominates the market. But positioning image-conscious brands in between fans and creators who value authenticity is not always a natural fit. Brands drop creators when they post something the brand doesn’t like. Creators lose autonomy when they spend all their time crafting sponsored content. Enter the paid social media model, in which audiences can contribute directly to their favorite creators. “From the creators’ point of view, it gives them more control and empowerment,” says OnlyFans CEO and founder Tim Stokely, about the potential for direct-to-creator paid social media to be the economic engine of the online future. The company is famous for featuring sex worker creators like Savannah, but Stokely is pushing the platform’s PG accounts, where users can subscribe to a chef’s cooking videos or a trainer’s workouts. Read More: Why OnlyFans Suddenly Reversed its Decision to Ban Sexual Content Twitch was early to this game, launching in 2011. “The digital patronage model we see popping up today in other iterations exists because of Twitch’s early entry in and focus on the creator economy,” says Mike Minton, Vice President of Monetization at Twitch. Twitch prefers to consider itself a “service” rather than a platform: it serves creators with access to audiences and monetizes their viewership, and serves fans by making it easy to watch and contribute. But it’s not all profit for creators. Hidden in the slick appeal of be-your-own-boss social media entrepreneurialism is the role of the platforms themselves, and sticky questions of ownership. Twitch, for instance, provides the necessary infrastructure for popular gamers to stream hours of high-resolution content to mass audiences of live viewers. But it also takes a 50% cut of any subscriptions. OnlyFans says the 30% it takes helps offset the costs of the security and privacy features that adult content in particular requires. Patreon takes from 5 to 12%, depending on your plan; Substack takes 10%, minus processing fees. Consummate middlemen, these companies have created low barriers to entry while still gatekeeping, at least financially. “There’s a history of artists being taken advantage of, and artists have to keep criticizing and keep skepticism at a high level,” says Jack Conte, CEO of Patreon. “I think that’s mission critical. Artists have to be educated, and choose wisely and watch platforms carefully.” Patreon, for its part, offers its users full access to their email lists in an attempt to offer greater control over their audience relationships. Patreon has had its share of controversy: a 2018 kerfuffle surrounded their choice to ban certain politically-extreme voices from the platform; payment snafus and hikes in processing fees have ruffled feathers; and their current content policies exclude sexually explicit work, to the frustration of some. The company is eager to try to keep up with creator-favored trends, however, announcing plans to integrate crypto payments and considering developing “creator coins,” and developing a native video player to more directly compete with YouTube. Stokely doesn’t try to promise financial stability or freedom to OnlyFans’ million-plus creators, especially given the complications of banking regulations (on which the company blamed the brief August ban of sexual content). He knows that change is inevitable, but he does promise one thing: OnlyFans will not become “littered with paid posts and adverts” like the free platforms. Annie Flanagan for TIME“I wake up and I put on makeup and I wear a stupid costume and make fun content. You can decide if you want to be a persona—or if you just want to be yourself,” Savannah says. Navigating an unsteady landscape Writer and musician Amanda Palmer, 45, is intimately acquainted with the challenges of creative autonomy. Palmer, the frontwoman of indie rock duo the Dresden Dolls, extricated herself from an album deal a decade ago, choosing to embrace independence—with all its financial risks—and gather income from her fans directly. “There’s been a general shift in consciousness, that people are no longer scratching their heads when an artist or a creator comes to you directly and says, Hey, I need 10 bucks,” she says. “You’re seeing it in right wing podcasting. And you’re seeing it in feminist journalism on Substack. And you’re seeing it with musicians and gamers on Patreon, and you’re seeing it with porn stars on OnlyFans.” Palmer started a Patreon in 2015, where she now posts bits of music, videos and blog posts to 12,000 paying subscribers. The direct, monetized line of communication with her fans has meant she could weather the pandemic storm—when she couldn’t play live concerts—using honesty and openness in the content she shares as bartering coin for their cash. She says she has made over $5 million in subscriptions to support her creative endeavors, although her net profit mostly just pays rent and living expenses. Still, it has been an effective solution to the conundrum of monetizing fame and artwork for a niche audience. Read More: The Livestream Show Will Go On. How COVID Has Changed Live Music—Forever Palmer’s experience with Patreon is a prime use-case for the company: a non-major artist finds financial freedom through direct-to-consumer content sharing. “Because of what’s happened over the last 10 years, there’s now hundreds of millions of creative people who identify as creators, putting their work online and already making a lot of money and want to be paid and want to build businesses,” Conte says. “Patreon is tiny; compared to the amount of creators in the world, we’re a speck.” But with $2 billion in payouts over the years, it’s proved to be a meaningful speck for a collection of creators. Conte says that about half the money that Patreon processes goes to creators who are making between $1,000 and $10,000 per month. “It’s not Taylor Swift rich, it’s not Rihanna rich. It’s a middle class of creativity: a whole new world of creators that are being enabled by this,” he says. It’s a group like Palmer: people who have a specific viewpoint, a built-in audience and an effective grasp on how to optimize their dynamic with fans. Still, even Palmer, who has “very warm feelings” about Patreon, recognizes that it can’t be trusted forever. “I’ve been ringing the warning bells for years about how dangerous it is to get into bed with a for profit company, and use them as the only avenue to reach your audience, right? Because it is dangerous, because at any moment, Facebook can take that away from you, at any moment, Patreon could sell up to Facebook and decide to change all of the rules of engagement. I really hope that doesn’t happen. But there are no guarantees in this dog eat dog tech world,” she says. “In order to protect myself, I always keep a lot of phone lines open with my community.” Annie Flanagan for TIMESavannah looks through photos with her assistant Cay. Healthy skepticism, and solidarity In her Instagram photos, Jahara Jayde doesn’t look real: technicolor eyes, luminous, airbrushed skin, ears elongated into elven tips. In her five-plus-hour Twitch streams every evening, though, she’s a bit more human, video chatting in real time with her thousand-plus viewers and slurping noodles from an unseen bowl as she plays Final Fantasy XIV through her dinnertime. When she streams, it’s just her and her subscribers. But she has discovered how vital it is to have a community of creators in this business, too. Twitch averages nearly 3 million concurrent viewers; in 2020, people watched nearly 20 billion hours of content on the site. By nature of its freewheeling live video DNA, it’s a place that is hard to regulate and populated by a wide array of characters. “I deal with racism on all of the platforms,” says Jahara, a 30-year-old BIPOC woman, citing in particular a recent influx of “hate raids” targeting BIPOC and LGBTQ+ creators on Twitch. Some creators even led a day-long streaming boycott to draw attention to the issue. Twitch has had to regulate the use of certain words and emotes (their version of custom emojis) in user chats in order to limit problematic language and content. Because of—and despite—that, Jahara has built a keenly supportive, tight-knit community that is expanding the definition of what it means to be a gamer or a creator, and who gets rewarded for the work. She’s a member of The Noir Network, a collective of Black femmes who work in content creation and help each other navigate the often-confusing Wild West of digital work, one that she is committed to continuing with. She loves the work, she just wants to make it better. Read More: The Metaverse Has Already Arrived. Here’s What That Actually Means Jahara didn’t mean to become a full-time gaming streamer when she first tried out Twitch in August 2020; she was already a business analyst with a side gig as a Japanese tutor, making use of her college degree. But soon she was gaining steam with eager subscribers: she got 300 in a month, more than enough to start monetizing her streams. “I was like, Oh, maybe I could be good at this,” she says over the phone from her home in Arizona. After just four months on Twitch, Jahara quit her day job. These days, thanks to Twitch’s subscription system, she brings in about $2,000 a month. With her tutoring clients, who she picked up because of her Twitch, she’s now matching her prior income. “And it’s awesome, because it’s doing the two things that I absolutely adore,” she says. “Ever since I was a little kid, my dad used to bring me into his room and talk to me about how I should work for myself, and the entrepreneurial spirit,” she says. She surprised herself by being able to take his advice. She has the freedom to be herself professionally, the flexibility to take care of her four-year-old daughter in the mornings before preschool, and the hope that her fiancé will eventually be able to leave his job as a manual laborer to support her online presence full time. (He already takes and edits all her photos, and does her marketing.) To her, it feels good to be a part of something. “I get a lot of messages, parents and teens and kids that tell me, like, ‘My daughter saw your photos, and her friends told her that she couldn’t copy that character because it’s not the same color as her, but now she’s excited to do it,” Jahara says. “People tell me that they feel more comfortable, they feel represented and they feel seen just by being able to see my face in the space. It wasn’t something that I expected when I set out for it. But it’s something that definitely keeps me going every day.” It’s networks like that one that have helped organize and provide a modicum of power to creators who are learning as they go. Longtime adult performer Alana Evans, 45, has an inside view of how this works; as president of the Adult Performance Artists Guild, she has helped hundreds of performers navigate issues with tech platforms including Instagram, Tiktok, and, of course, OnlyFans. “I was seeing hundreds of performers lose their pages, for very obscure reasons; you would be given an email that had vague reasons as to why maybe you were deleted, and they were absorbing all of their money,” she says. She and her organization have been able to help many rehabilitate their accounts. But these days she preaches the gospel of diversification, and of making sure that performers do their due diligence about who owns and profits from the platforms they share on. Beyond that, Evans has her sights set on the big picture: working through legal avenues to classify anti-sex-work restrictions, like those set by payment companies, as “occupational discrimination.” It’s only once they deal with the banking side of things, Evans explains, that online sex workers will be able to participate in the creator economy fully and safely. Read More: U.S. Workers Are Realizing It’s the Perfect Time to Go on Strike Creators in the music industry are trying to find power by banding together, too. By day, David Turner, 29, is a program manager at the music streaming service SoundCloud. By night, he publishes a weekly newsletter, called Penny Fractions, that goes into the nitty-gritty of the streaming industry; it’s been his pet project for over four years now. After publishing with Patreon for a few years, Turner realized only a small segment of the most popular creators were truly generating the income the platform touted. “They don’t care about me,” he says over the phone from Brooklyn. Now, Turner hosts his newsletter on an independent service and serves on the board of Ampled, a music services co-op whose tagline is “Own Your Creative Freedom.” Collectivization, as Turner sees it, is the safest way for this next generation to protect themselves from the predations of the market. Other decentralized social platforms like Mastodon and Diaspora, music streaming services like Corite and Resonate and sex-worker-backed sites like PocketStars have popped up to provide alternatives to the more mainstream options. Their selling point: bigger payouts to creators, and opportunities for creators to invest in the platforms themselves. But mass adoption has been slow. If the calling card of the independent platform is their bottom-up approach, that is also their limiting factor. By nature, they are scrappier, less funded and less likely to be able to reach the wide audiences that the top user-friendly sites have already monopolized. Annie Flanagan for TIMESavannah dresses up in Star Wars cosplay as Padmé. The future for creators When OnlyFans made its policy change in August, collectivization is what got sex workers through. Alana Evans helped lead the charge. To Evans, who has been in the industry for decades, it was just the latest iteration of exploitation from more powerful overlords. She saw her community speaking up against the change—particularly on Twitter, where sex workers and performers quickly renounced the policy and began proactively publicizing their accounts on other, friendlier platforms. To her surprise, their vocal opposition worked and OnlyFans moved quickly to find a solution. But Evans knows that this latest golden era of online work is already ending. “The writing is on the wall,” she says. Even successful creators like Savannah have begun actively promoting accounts on alternate platforms like PocketStars and Fansly. They know no solution, and no single site, will be forever. “The advice I’ve been given is to expect it all to crumble, and to have to rebuild again,” Savannah says. That advice isn’t specific to OnlyFans; it’s echoed by Amanda Palmer about Patreon, and Jahara about Twitch. As platforms inevitably seek a better bottom line, the creator workforce has no choice but to trust the tech companies will do right by them. In the meantime, they’re taking a note from the labor movement that has risen up in other industries this year: solidarity works......»»

Category: topSource: timeDec 1st, 2021

Luxury furniture retailer to open Madison Avenue showroom

Iconic luxury furniture and rug retailer Ben Soleimani has signed a lease for the brand’s first Manhattan showroom in New York City at 601 Madison Avenue, announced retail brokerage MONA.  The two-year deal includes 4,226 s/f of ground-floor space, 4,270 s/f of second-floor space, and 3,858s/f on the lower level. The space was formerly... The post Luxury furniture retailer to open Madison Avenue showroom appeared first on Real Estate Weekly. Iconic luxury furniture and rug retailer Ben Soleimani has signed a lease for the brand’s first Manhattan showroom in New York City at 601 Madison Avenue, announced retail brokerage MONA.  The two-year deal includes 4,226 s/f of ground-floor space, 4,270 s/f of second-floor space, and 3,858s/f on the lower level. The space was formerly occupied by Tourneau. Soleimani was represented by MONA co-founder and CEO Brandon L. Singer. 601 Madison “Ben Soleimani is a true visionary known for his exquisite taste and best-in-class rugs, and his Los Angeles showroom and direct-to-consumer business attract sophisticated customers from across the globe. When he approached us to help him find space for his first Manhattan outpost, we hit the ground running,” said Singer. “We are so thrilled to welcome him to New York City in one of the world’s premier retail corridors.”  Landlord J-2 LLC was represented by William Abramson and Matthew Olden of Buchbinder & Warren. The post Luxury furniture retailer to open Madison Avenue showroom appeared first on Real Estate Weekly......»»

Category: realestateSource: realestateweeklyNov 30th, 2021