May 4 2003 RICHIE HAVENS The concert season at A

first_imgMay 4, 2003RICHIE HAVENS: The concert season at Arcosanti started with a wonderful performance by Richie Havens. [Photo: Henry Diltz & text: sa] For each concert/dinner combination, the audience is invited to arrive before dinner for a special tour. [Photo & text: sa] The cafe is nicely prepared for the concert dinner. Set-up crew and serving staff [from left] Roma Tre student Francesca Venturoni, April workshopper Robert Clyde, maintenance staff member Gwen Birk, Roma Tre student Chiara Voicu and Italian Project staff member Matteo di Michele. [Photo & text: sa] Chef Jim Powell directs the set-up of the serving line. The menu for the evening is: Chickenbreast sauteed with Rosemary and Thyme, Tempeh sauteed with Cilantro and Cremini Mushrooms, Jasmine Rice, Eggplant roasted in Olive Oil and steamed Asparagus with roasted Red Pepper Sauce. The dessert was Rasberry Sorbet served with Anise and Mint Dark Chocolate. [Photo & text: sa] The serving crew is in place and ready for action. [Photo & text: sa] Appreciative comments could be heard throughout the diningroom. Dinner was delicious. [Photo & text: sa] Richie Havens arrived in the early afternoon and spend some warm-up time with his accompanist Walter Parks. [Photo & text: sa] [Photo: sa] [Photos: sa] The concert was well received. Richie Havens entertained the crowd with thoughtful songs and some very funny stories. It was a pleasure to attend another well organized event at Arcosanti. [Photo & text: sa]last_img read more

Liberty Globals satellite unit UPC DTH has now

first_imgLiberty Global’s satellite unit, UPC DTH, has now surpassed 800,000 customers in Europe – a more than 60% increase since the formation of the division in 2010.Liberty provides satellite TV services in Central and Eastern Europe operating under the brand names freeSAT in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, UPC Direct in Hungary, and Focus Sat in Romania.UPC DTH claims that it continues to expand its channel portfolio and has brought 18 new international and local channels, many in HD, to its customers over the past 12 months.“To mark the milestone of surpassing 800,000 customers, UPC DTH awarded its 800,000th customer, Elena D. from Bucharest a Focus Sat customer with one year free service,” said UPC DTH.“In addition, UPC DTH has announced a competition starting Wednesday, October 21, with a year’s free service available to a total of five winners across the four operating countries.”last_img read more

Satellite operator Eutelsat now claims to offer mo

first_imgSatellite operator Eutelsat now claims to offer more than 1,000 channels in high definition, following the launch of Chinese channel CGTN HD in Europe earlier this month.Eutelsat said that HD TV continues to gain ground across its broadcast satellites, with 240 HD channels launched in 2016 – equalling the total number launched during the previous two years.HD take-up was particularly strong at Eutelsat’s flagship Hotbird position, with HD channels now accounting for almost one in four channels in the line-up.Eutelsat attributed this to progressive HD adoption by public broadcasters like Rai and CCTV; new premium pay TV content in flagship platforms including Sky Italia, Polsat, nc+ and Nova; and a wave of new free-to-air channels like Euronews HD and Al Jazeera English.Eutelsat said that its Hotbird neighbourhood now has a total of 250 HD channels, up 25% year-on-year.The other two neighbourhoods it highlighted as notable for “exclusive content and market leadership” were: its 7/8° West position over the Middle East and North Africa, which has almost 150 HD channels, up 40% in a year; and its 36° East position, serving Russian and African markets, which has 114 HD channels, up 14%.Eutelsat’s commercial and development director, Michel Azibert, described last year as a “tipping point for High Definition TV across our portfolio of video neighbourhoods, culminating in a new landmark of 1,000 channels, many of which are exclusive to Eutelsat”.“We are fully equipped to accommodate this accelerating pace and to work closely with broadcasters as they transition to an enhanced viewing experience.”Eutelsat’s 1,000 HD channel mark was reached following the launch of CGTN HD, the news and current affairs channel of China’s CCTV media organization. This represented CCTV’s first move into HDTV in Europe.last_img read more

Good day And welcome to another week  We had som

first_imgGood day. And welcome to another week.  We had some great weekend weather which I took advantage of watching my son’s football game Saturday and daughter’s soccer and field hockey games yesterday.  None of the games resulted in wins, but I enjoyed myself in spite of the outcomes.  The labor data here in the US provided the equity markets with a pleasant outcome Friday as stocks ended the week on a positive note.  The dollar didn’t have such a good week, dropping just over one and one half percent vs. the major currencies.  This week will be dominated by the FOMC meeting here in the US and the German constitutional court ruling on the other side of the pond.But we will start with a recap of events on Friday.  The US labor department reported the biggest decline in factory jobs in two years, contributing to a disappointing increase in payrolls during August.  The US economy added just 96,000 jobs last month after a revised 141,000 increase in July.  The median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a gain of 130,000 jobs.  Factory payrolls declined by 15,000 workers last month and was the major contributor to the drop in jobs.  Details of the report showed the workweek shrank, and the number of industries hiring new workers plunged to the lowest level in almost three years.  Definitely not a good sign for the prospects of the unemployed factory workers, and exactly what the current administration didn’t want to see.  A lot was made of the rebound in the auto industry, but the data showing manufacturing jobs have decreased throws cold water on that line of thought.But the President and his supporters can still point to the unemployment rate which dropped to 8.1%.  Yes, the number of people working dropped, at the same time the unemployment rate also dropped.  Much like last month, the unemployment rate and monthly jobs data seemed to be in conflict.  But unlike last month when the difference was blamed on inconsistencies in the generation of the reports, this month’s conflict could be more easily explained.  Americans are leaving the workforce at a faster pace than they are entering it.   368,000 Americans left the labor force last month, most of them giving up looking for new work.  The participation rate, which shows the share of working-age people in the labor force, fell to 63.5% from 63.7%.  There are currently fewer working-age people in the labor force than at any time since September 1981.  That one piece of data is a great indicator of just how bad things are here in the US.The labor data have increased the odds of action by Bernanke this week.  The Federal Open Markets Committee will be meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, and the Chairman is expected to announce another round of stimulus for the markets during his press conference Thursday morning.  During my presentations out in San Francisco, I shared my thoughts that there was just slightly higher than a 50% chance of another stimulus announcement this month.  I felt it was just too close to the Presidential election for the Fed to act; as they try to avoid the appearance of being too political.  But Chairman Bernanke has pointed toward the stagnant labor market as the key to further stimulus, and Friday’s report should provide him plenty of cover to avoid looking too political.  The markets are certainly expecting Bernanke to announce another round of stimulus; I saw a survey this morning which put the odds of another stimulus announcement this week at 99%!!The question now is exactly what will Bernanke announce.  Some now believe he will model his new program off of the ECB’s, announcing unlimited additional bond buying.  This would allow the Fed to continue purchasing bonds until they feel the economy shows more definite signs of recovery.  The advantage of this program, as shown by the reaction to the ECB’s announcement last week, is that the markets can’t question the ability of the central bank to take action.  But unlike the ECB program which is solely aimed at sovereign debt within 3 years, the Feds new program will likely be aimed at mortgage debt with longer maturities.  Another difference is that the ECB won’t buy bonds unless a country asks for a rescue, and then the bond purchases will come with austerity commitments by the country seeking help.  The Fed’s quantitative easing program won’t have any austerity measure tied to it, in fact it is more of an ‘anti austerity’ program adding to our deficits and debt in the interest of stimulating growth.Friday’s labor report and the resulting increase in expectations for another round of stimulus led to a rally in gold and treasuries and a continued fall in the value of the US$. Investors, worried about the inflationary impact of additional stimulus measures, took gold to the lofty levels it was trading at back in March.  While prices moved down a bit going into the weekend, gold is still firmly entrenched in an upward trend and certainly looks like it will challenge it’s former highs.The dollar lost ground vs. most of the major currencies on Friday, ending a week in which the dollar index fell over 1.5%.  I guess the ‘Chuck is off the desk rally’ held true again.  In years past, whenever Chuck is off the desk for an extended period, we always seem to have a currency rally, and last week’s dollar action was a confirmation of this pattern.  As I explained last week, the reason for the fall in the US$ is a fairly simple case of supply and demand.  The Fed will be creating a whole lot of dollars which it will be using for the bond purchases, and this increase in supply will eventually lead to inflation.  It may not be reflected immediately in the price of goods and services, as international investors still seem to have an appetite for the freshly minted currency.  But eventually the demand will slacken, and at that point we could see a spike in inflation.  Bernanke has told us he is aware of this risk, but he is convinced the Fed can pull the newly created dollars back out of the markets as fast as he is adding them.  I guess we will just have to wait and see if he is correct, but the markets are starting to hedge their bets.The ECB action last week helped the euro push above the $1.28 handle, but it gave it back and is hovering just below it this morning.  Concerns over the German Constitutional ruling due out this week, combined with renewed concerns in Greece put a lid on the appreciation of the single currency.   The German court is expected to give its ruling on Germany’s participation in the European Stability Mechanism on Wednesday.  The court is expected to allow for Germany’s participation, but currency traders are worried they may put stipulations on any future participation of Germany in European bailouts.  Both German Chancellor Angel Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble are confident the German court will allow the establishment of the ESM, allowing the bailouts to continue.Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is due to meet officials from the ECB, IMF, and EU today.  Samaras failed to secure an agreement to the 11.5 billion spending cuts required for the release of the next round of rescue funding.  After this year’s two elections, Samaras is operating with a minority government and must get his two coalition partners to agree to the austerity measures.  At least one of the two is demanding the cuts be combined with growth measures. “The recession is deep and if these measures aren’t accompanied by growth measures, they will be ineffective,” according to Greece’s Democratic Left leader Fotis Kouvelis.  “Our European partners need to know that Greeks can’t take anymore.  Nothing can be taken for granted.”  Sounds like we could be in for some more volatility in Greece.  We warned you that the rollercoaster ride of the euro isn’t over yet, so just make sure you are strapped in!The Canadian dollar rallied to a yearly high this morning after a report showed employment in our northern neighbor rose faster than forecast.  Canadian employment rose by 34,300 jobs in August, offsetting a decrease of 30,400 the month before.  The unemployment rate remained at 7.3%, right on target with median forecasts.  While the number was definitely a positive sign, the Canadian economy is expected to remain in a slow growth mode.  Last week the Bank of Canada left the key interest rate unchanged at 1% in an effort to encourage investment and consumption to drive growth.Carney has reflected a hawkish tone, as increases in the prices of commodities which make up the majority of Canada’s exports threaten to push up Canadian inflation rates.  The increase in commodity prices caused the BOC to reiterate that interest rates may have to be raised in order to prevent inflation from accelerating.  Following last week’s BOC meeting, Carney said “some modest withdrawal of the present considerable monetary policy stimulus may become appropriate.”  Higher interest rates would give even more support to the Canadian dollar, sending it to new yearly highs.The Australian dollar moved lower in early European trading after a report showed China’s imports slowed.  Both Canada and Australia have commodity driven economies, and the commodity markets are dependent on strong demand  from China.  A report released earlier today showed China’s imports slid 2.6% in August from a year earlier, the first decline since January.  The same report showed Chinese exports rose 2.7% and a different report showed production increased 8.9%.  The Chinese President sounded a warning, saying China’s economic expansion faces ‘notable downward pressure’.The pace of the global economic recovery is going to be dependent on Asia, as both the US and Europe’s economies continue to struggle.  So the news that Chinese imports slowed are worrying.  China has been slowly changing from an export driven economy into one driven more by internal consumption, so the slowdown in imports is concerning.  And concerns regarding the Asian growth prospects were heightened further with the release of Japanese GDP measures which showed the economy grew at just .7% during the 2nd quarter, less than the preliminary reports which predicted a 1.4% increase.  The median forecast of economists was right in the middle of the two figures at 1%.  The spending which was necessitated by last year’s earthquake and tsunami helped push GDP up slightly, but that spending is now over and gridlock in the Japanese parliament is preventing any additional stimulus.  There is a good chance the Japanese economy could slip back into contraction in the 3rd quarter.  I continue to warn against investments in the Japanese yen, and actually look at it as one of the currencies which could fall the most as investors start to move back into higher yielding currencies.To recap. Friday’s monthly jobs reports showed a US economy which is still struggling to recover, and put the possibility of a stimulus announcement by the Fed at almost 100%.  The future of the ESM (and therefore the euro) rests in the hands of a German Constitutional court which is expected to rule later this week.  But the court is widely expected to rule in the euro’s favor, and the single currency continued to rally.  The possibility of another round of stimulus had gold rallying along with the commodity currencies.  The loonie hit a yearly high but the Australian dollar moved lower after a Chinese report showed imports decreasing.  Japan’s GDP came in at ½ of what was originally predicted, and further stimulus isn’t in the cards for the Japanese yen.Currencies today 9/10/12. American Style: A$ $1.0353, kiwi .8106, C$ $1.0239, euro 1.2781, sterling 1.6009, Swiss $1.0562. European Style: rand 8.1789, krone 5.7822, SEK 6.6390, forint 223.04, zloty 3.2178, koruna 19.177, RUB 31.7243, yen 78.28, sing 1.2365, HKD 7.7559, INR 55.3875, China 6.3377, pesos 12.9622, BRL 2.029, Dollar Index 80.336, Oil $96.46, 10-year 1.67%, Silver $33.6925, Gold $1,734.57, and Platinum $1,596.75That’s it for today.  Tough loss for both our football teams this weekend.  Mizzou looked good for the first three quarters in their opening SEC game vs. Georgia, but just couldn’t hang with the dawgs at the end of the game.  And the St. Louis Rams dropped their season opener during the final 10 seconds of the game played up in Detroit.  My son’s high school team got routed on Saturday morning after their game Friday night was delayed because of a storm which rolled through during the first half.  Not a good football weekend, but I enjoyed it still as the weather was absolutely fantastic Saturday and Sunday.  The trading floor has a new look this morning as workers installed several new desks over the weekend to keep up with our growth.  Things are a bit cozier now and I’m sure the noise volume will increase as we put butts in all the new seats; but that is what I like about being out on the floor, all the noise and activity are what makes it a trading floor.  Gone on a bit long this morning, so I will just thank all of you readers for sharing your morning with me.  Hopefully this will be a Marvelous Monday and a great start to your week!Chris Gaffney, CFA SVP & Director of Sales T. 314-951-1619 EverBank World Markets 8300 Eager Road, Ste. 700, St. Louis, MO. 63144 EverBank.comlast_img read more

The presence of Juul ecigarettes in high schools

first_imgThe presence of Juul e-cigarettes in high schools across the country is increasing — and so is Juul Labs’ lobbying presence in the nation’s capital.The company, which bills its product as “a satisfying alternative to cigarettes,” spent $750,000 on lobbying during the last three months of 2018, according to lobbying disclosure forms filed with Congress on Tuesday. According to the filing, Juul advocated on the issue “regulation of e-cigarettes and vaping products designed to improve the lives of adult smokers.” This most recent filing was also the first quarter when Juul indicated it lobbied to support legislation that would stop businesses from selling tobacco products to people younger than 21.The company started its D.C. lobbying operations during the second quarter of 2018, though it only spent $210,000 then. It has increased its spending in the two quarters since.”We have grown our D.C. team to engage with lawmakers, regulators, public health officials and advocates to drive awareness of our mission to improve the lives of the world’s one billion smokers and to combat underage use so we keep JUUL out of the hands of young people,” Juul spokeswoman Victoria Davis said in an email to NPR. “As we said, the numbers tell us underage use of e-cigarette products is a problem that requires immediate action.”The Food and Drug Administration cracked down on stores selling e-cigarettes to minors in September of last year, declaring use of the products had reached “epidemic” levels among America’s youth. The Center for Disease Control says 1 in 5 high school students used e-cigarettes in 2018.In addition to regulatory issues, Juul also indicated it lobbied on tariffs of products manufactured in China. Because of filing procedures, it is unclear how much of its lobbying spending went toward this issue versus e-cigarette policy.The company’s lobbying roster includes Jim Esquea, who was assistant secretary for legislation in the Department of Health and Human Services during the Obama administration. (The FDA is part of HHS.)Juul also used outside firms to influence legislation, as companies commonly do. These included S-3, Empire Consulting and Sims Strategies.After Juul’s lobbying boost in the most recent quarter, Juul came in as the fourth-highest spending cigarette manufacturer. Other top companies included Altria Group ($3.2 million spent on lobbying), Philip Morris International ($1.2 million) and Reynolds America ($790,000). Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.last_img read more

Labours shadow work and pensions secretary has pl

first_imgLabour’s shadow work and pensions secretary has pledged to transform the social security system from one that “demonises” benefit claimants to one that is “supportive and enabling”.Debbie Abrahams told Labour’s annual conference in Brighton that the social security system was failing sick and disabled people, and she reminded her party that the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities had concluded last month that the government had caused a “human catastrophe” by cutting disabled people’s support.Abrahams repeated the party’s pledge, included in this year’s general election manifesto, that a Labour government would legislate to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into UK law.She later said that the party was also in the process of setting up a new social security commission, whose conclusions on how to reform the benefits system would feed into the party’s policy-making process.Abrahams (pictured, right) told a fringe meeting hosted by the PCS union that Labour wanted to “transform social security” and “make it something people can value”.She said Labour’s vision was “to make sure the social security system is there for every one of us”.She said Labour wanted to replace the work capability assessment and the personal independence payment (PIP) assessment with a more “personalised, holistic support programme”.And she said that the government’s new Work and Health Programme was “just a way of making even more regressive cuts”.Abrahams said the party had started some of the “groundwork” for setting up the new social security commission, and that “central” to it would be “ongoing dialogue” with disabled people’s grassroots groups such as Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle.She told another fringe event at the conference, organised by the Fabian Society and the disability charity Scope: “How will we achieve our target of halving the disability employment gap? It certainly isn’t going to happen through the Work and Health Programme, is it.”She said Labour would be publishing its ideas before the autumn budget, and that the party needed to ensure that disabled people supported its proposals.Abrahams said: “Again we will be coming back to you, saying is this going to work, what do you think of this, this has worked in Sweden, will it work in the UK, it’s worked in Australia, but again, will it work in the UK?”And she suggested that some policies could be piloted in Greater Manchester or London, where there were greater devolved powers for local government.Abrahams also said that the party was carrying out a review of the Access to Work scheme, which was “absolutely inadequate at the moment”, and she added: “We are reviewing it with the intention of being able to expand it.”After hearing how one disabled man at the fringe event had faced discrimination in the workplace, she said: “We need to get to the core of why we have such difficulties with employers. It is about cultural changes.“We do need to ensure that we are shifting attitudes with employers.”The event also heard from disabled presenter and producer, and YouTube star, Jessica Kellgren-Fozard, who said that “every single disabled person” she knew had had problems with the PIP assessment process, and all had found it “degrading”.She said: “We need to be focusing on giving disabled people independence in more than just name, and that includes financial independence.”Kellgren-Fozard also said that disabled women were twice as likely as non-disabled women to face domestic abuse, usually at the hands of their carers, but they were “tied” to them through the benefits system.She said: “They can’t get away. You can’t get a second job and store some money up. You don’t have your own money anymore.”She added: “Money is a massive part of independence. I am an adult and I want to be treated like that, I don’t want to be thought of as a child, a dependent, a problem, or a burden, ever.“I think that is what we really need to be working for here, to give people independence in more than just name.”Ellen Clifford, a member of the national steering group of Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC), told the PCS fringe event that welfare reform had been introduced by New Labour under Tony Blair and the process had been “accelerated by the Tories”, and was designed “to reduce spending and cut the welfare bill”.She said DPAC would like to see a system that was designed “to meet the needs of those who are unable to earn a living through waged labour”, with “an acceptance that there will always be some people who are unable to engage in the labour market and earn a living of their own, not due to their own fault… but because of very real concrete barriers that they face”.And she said: “We need to end the influence of private insurance companies who are there for their own profit-making reasons, and stop ploughing millions of pounds into helping them find ways to trick disabled people out of benefit entitlements.”Clifford said that cuts to disabled people’s support – such as social care and Access to Work – were pushing disabled people out of employment.Catherine Hale, lead researcher on the Chronic Illness Inclusion Project, told the same fringe meeting that the government’s continuing benefits freeze was “one of the key drivers of increasing levels of poverty in the UK”.She said that public support for the campaign to lift the pay cap on public sector workers meant it would be the ideal time to push for an end to the benefits freeze.She said: “If we are really going to resist the Tory attempts to divide the workers from everybody else, would it not also be the right time to fight for an end to the benefits freeze, so we are showing equal value to workers as to people on benefits?”And she urged politicians to consult with disabled people on reforming benefits assessments, rather than “doctors and so-called experts” who “really have no idea about the lived experience of disability and what are the real barriers to work that people with certain types of impairments face”.She added: “You really need to draw on disabled people’s expertise on capability for work.”last_img read more

The 10 FastestGrowing New or Redesigned Apps in 2018

first_img July 18, 2018 Image credit: Mixmike | Getty Images The era of ‘Angry Birds’ is over. Add to Queue The 10 Fastest-Growing New or Redesigned Apps in 2018 Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. Apps 3 min read Editorial Interncenter_img Enroll Now for $5 Madison Semarjian Forget the useless, though wildly popular and entertaining, apps that previously filled up our smartphones or computers. People now want apps with function and purpose.Here are the fastest-growing new or recently redesigned apps of 2018, according to business app platform Zapier, which compiled the data using its platform.1. DiscordNostalgic for the days you stayed up late playing The Sims and messaging with your friends? Discord is a voice and text chat app that connects more than 14 million daily players in the gaming community through video and audio.2. Things 3If you need help organizing your busy schedule but don’t have a personal assistant, check out Things 3. This award-winning personal task manager app can help you get things done and achieve your goals in an organized manner.3. LeadpagesNot your typical email marketing service, Leadpages helps you create customized landing pages, webinars and ads to generate leads. It focuses on growing your email list, then links to a third-party site, such as MailChimp, to send your campaigns to those that signed up.4. KlayivoKlayivo pulls in data from your ecommerce platform, point-of-sale software or other marketing tools and helps you create highly targeted and super-relevant email, Facebook and Instagram marketing. You can set up automated trigger emails for when customers sign up, abandon shopping carts and check out.5. SquareSquare handles all of your company’s digital finances. With four different platforms (Payments, Point of Sale, Payroll and Capital), Square helps you track all of your money on your smart device. Compatible with both Apple and Android, you can make customer transactions, pay employees and fund your company.6. SalesflareIf you feel like you waste too much time updating your CRM, Salesflare is for you. A CRM that basically fills out itself, Salesflare inputs data for you so you can focus on making sales. It reminds you what follow-ups are the most important and who talked to what customer, so your team can efficiently work together to increase profit.7. CodaIf you want to build your own website instead of relying on Squarespace or Weebly, Coda lets you hand-code with a little help. It edits your text to make sure your coding is in tip-top shape.8. LandbotLandbot creates a Chatbot for you within minutes that lives in your website and enhances your customer’s experiences.  9. ClickUpClickUp’s easy-to-use product management software keeps your team productive, efficient and headache-free. It lets you integrate with more than 1,000 other services, such as Slack and Zapier, to keep everything your company needs in one convenient place.10. GhostA modern-publishing toolbox, Ghost helps you create and manage an online blog or publication. It edits, manages content, schedules, builds proper SEO and more, all through its simple platform. Learn from renowned serial entrepreneur David Meltzer how to find your frequency in order to stand out from your competitors and build a brand that is authentic, lasting and impactful. –shares Next Article Fireside Chat | July 25: Three Surprising Ways to Build Your Brandlast_img read more

The Impossible Burger Is Coming to Burger King

first_img White Castle was just the start: Impossible Foods is now partnering with Burger King, launching the Impossible Whopper for a test starting today at 59 Burger King outlets in St. Louis, Missouri. It’s an entirely different burger to the sliders served at White Castle, and that means there’s more Impossible Burger non-meat involved.It’s equal parts silly April Fools’ teaser and actual product launch at the U.S.’s second-largest burger chain. For now, the company is staying quiet on whether there’ll be a nationwide roll-out. The Whopper launch comes after another regional debut: a Philly Cheesesteak that’s currently exclusive to, well, Philadelphia of course.If it’s been a while since you’ve had a Whopper, or you’ve been vegetarian for a while, the Impossible Whopper includes a flame-grilled, (improved) plant-based burger patty, with lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion toppings. Oh, and don’t forget the mayo and ketchup. This story originally appeared on Engadget Add to Queue For now, the company is staying quiet on whether there’ll be a nationwide roll-out. Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Image credit: Impossible Foods via engadget Fast Food Mat Smith 1 min read –shares The Impossible Burger Is Coming to Burger King April 1, 2019 Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. Next Article Register Now »last_img read more

Podcast Cannabis Investing Tips for NonMillionaires

first_imgPodcast Get 1 Year of Green Entrepreneur for $19.99 Image credit: Codie Sanchez Podcast: Cannabis Investing Tips for Non-Millionaires 15+ min read Jonathan Small Next Article Add to Queue May 23, 2019center_img Cannabis stocks are all the rage. IPOs valued at billions of dollars are popping up on Wall Street and the Canadian Stock Exchange, and private equity funds are investing multiple millions in cannabis companies.If you’re watching all this from the sidelines, wondering if you’re missing out on a golden opportunity but not sure what to do about it, you’re not alone. Many potential investors believe they don’t have the cash to get in the game, and in some instances they’re correct. Due to regulations, many funds are not even permitted to accept investments for less than $200,000.On this week’s Green Entrepreneur podcast, we talk to Codie Sanchez, a partner at Cresco Capital Partners, about how to invest in cannabis companies even if you don’t have a lot of cash. This is a full transcript of our interview. Related: Why Former NBA Star Al Harrington is Betting On CannabisYou started your career with lots of spreadsheets and more traditional investing, and have now transitioned to the cannabis industry and business. I’m curious to know why you made that change.I think there might be some parallels to a lot of people’s story in this space in that once you figure out investing, and particularly if you’re trained to do it, once you figure out how to find dislocations in markets – something where everything just doesn’t fit together perfectly so that people smarter than you and who have more money than you do can take advantage of it – when you see those dislocations, you learn to jump on them quickly. In investing we call this arbitrage. That’s when something typically costs less than it should or costs more, and you can take advantage of those things happening.So I saw that happening in this space. I’m certainly no genius or clairvoyant in it; it really just came down to the math and looking at math in this space as an investor and saying there’s a real, tangible generation of wealth creation event happening here.But I have to say that probably math would not have been enough if I was going to call my mom and tell her I was going to go into the cannabis game. [laughs] It was a little bit deeper than that.I started off my career, even before I was traditionally investing at firms like Goldman or State Street or Vanguard or doing some of the venture stuff, I was actually an investigative journalist. I don’t know if we talked about this before, but I worked at the U.S.-Mexico border. We were writing stories about human trafficking and drug smuggling.Wow, that’s intense. What part of the border?The part that you would probably know is right across the border is a place called Juárez, [across] from El Paso, Texas.Yes, it’s notorious.Exactly. They call it Ciudad de la Muerte, the city of death. It’s a pretty tough place to be young and female. Thy have hundreds and hundreds a year of murdered women there for some reason.But what that taught me, besides to be relatively jaded, is that as an investigative journalist you really don’t take anything at face value. You have to question everything, find the root of why things happened, and then dig deeper. You really can’t let stigma get in the way, or people’s assumptions; otherwise you’ll never write a good story.This tendency taught me to do this deep diving, and that’s when I got to the math, and also a little bit of the heartstrings. I think anybody in this space has a story – and I know you’ve shared some of yours too – about the impact that it’s had. I dug into that a little bit in particular with veterans, which we can talk about later. We fund an initiative called Texans for Veterans, which is trying to give veterans in Texas access to research and medicinal marijuana.How many times in your lifetime do you get a chance to be a part of a generational wealth creation event where there’s massive dislocation so little guys can play too, because the big guys aren’t all allowed to with their legal background, and then in tandem you get to make a huge impact – I think in multiple areas, but certainly with mental health and veterans, which I’m very aligned with since my partner is one.Your partner is a veteran?Yeah. My significant other. He’s active duty military right now, in the Navy.Has cannabis made an impact in his life?No, they’re very, very highly regulated. He does some particular things for the military in which that’s not allowed. Actually, for the military overall, if you use cannabis, you can lose your VA benefits, be fired. There are huge repercussions. But what he and I both have done is be a part of this nonprofit that essentially is trying to push for access for veterans.He’s the first one to say, “Gosh, if I could use it, I absolutely would,” for the chronic inflammation that you get from being deployed so many times, and certainly from – everybody comes back with some type of hyperawareness and certainly that stress that comes from being in a warzone.And you’ve seen firsthand that cannabis has helped veterans with those symptoms you’re talking about?Oh, absolutely. There’s one gentleman whose name is Keith who’s a bronze medal winner. He served in three different branches of the military, lifelong veteran. He was actually here in D.C. when the Pentagon was hit and was one of the first responders because he was a trained nurse. He’ll very publicly say – so I can say his name – that without cannabis, he doesn’t know if he’d still be around because of the opioid cocktails that they were giving him. He just wasn’t reacting well to them. He had a lot of anger and anger issues.Now with cannabis, he has a lovely family and wife and a cute dog. I think, while that is not quantifiable because there’s not enough research on it, there is certainly a lot of qualitative human interaction that you can see that it makes a differenceI know there’s no such thing as easy money, but I think people who are not necessarily directly involved in the industry, whether they’re touching the plant or not touching the plant, might have some interest in investing, at least, in the industry. That is what you do. Your clients are generally big spenders, right? To get into your fund – tell me a little bit about the fund that you work with.It’s called Cresco Capital Partners, and it’s a private equity or growth equity fund in the cannabis space. What’s interesting is due to the regulations around a lot of how these funds are structured, they actually mandate that you have higher minimums, typically because you’re only allowed so many investors in the fund and they have to be accredited. So even if I wanted to allow everybody in at $5 or $10, it’s very hard to do that at this stage.Now, that changes, and as you get more funding you can create a more complex fund business. But at this stage, this is our second fund, which is $55 million. The first one was around $25 million. We have co-investments, so we’re probably right around somewhere like $100 million in assets. The minimum is $200k, so that does make it difficult for everybody who wants to invest. It’s still one of the lowest in the space. I’ve tried to keep it lower. It’s an administrative nightmare to do so.Image credit: Codie SanchezBut I think the whole point of this industry is democratizing access, right? I think that’s what we’re going to talk about today – how to do that, whether it’s investing with somebody like us, or ramping up to invest with somebody like us, or doing it on your own. We can talk about all of the above and how I started investing in cannabis.Let’s talk first of all a little bit about what you do with the money that people invest with you. Who has Cresco invested in and some of the companies that are under your purview?This is where I get excited. There’s nothing more fun than giving the lifeblood, which is capital, to really incredible organizations. In this industry in particular, it all moves so fast, you get to see what that money does that you give these companies quickly and all the people you’re able to serve one way or the other.We’ve invested in a lot of interesting companies. We’ve had about seven exits thus far, which means companies that have been sold or gone public or done some sort of merger. We invested in some names probably people know, like Acreage, one of the biggest companies out there, who’s had a little bit of news.They recently merged or were acquired by Canopy Growth.Yeah, for a tiny amount, $3.5 billion. We’ll see. It’s the right to buy them, so it’s pending that legalization happens – but you covered that well.Then we invested in GTI, which other people probably know. We invest in a company called Ebbu that was bought by Canopy Growth for just shy of $500 million. We invested in another company called Form Factory, which was also sold. That one’s interesting. It’s kind of a co-packing business and a branding company. And then we have lots of up-and-coming companies in the portfolio, like Prohibited, which is a big media company. You guys have done stuff with them. I think that company is fascinating because they’re doing brands too and leveraging this medium platform to maybe figure out who will be the future brands of cannabis. And then we invest in another company called Sublime. Great product.I love their music.Oh, the music? [laughs] Well, these guys are not of the ’90s. They were probably born around that time period. But they do these little things called Dosies, which are micro-dose, almost. They look like Tic-Tacs. They’re manufactured by the same manufacturer of Tic-Tac to do the candy coating that they do. So they taste like orange Tic-Tacs, and they’re great for sleep. My grandmother has a problem with her hip and she can’t sleep, so she uses Dosies now. I got turned onto it. One of my partners, who’s another woman and a mom, said after you have kids you really never sleep again, and these helped her. So I thought it might work for my grandma, too.You oversee a $100 million dollar fund. I’m sure you get pitches all day long. What are some of the main things that you look for in a company? I’ll tell you one thing, my inbox never gets to zero, that’s for sure. We’ve screened over 1,800 companies and hundreds a year, and what we look for is twofold. One, we’re not seed stage, meaning we don’t invest on the early side of the business like a tech company might when there is no revenue yet or no product. We invest in the growth equity space. Typically we’re looking at companies that are already generating anywhere from $1-$20 million in revenue. We need them to be revving a lot in order for us to invest.We definitely are interested in companies that first and foremost – which I think any good investor will tell you –you’re really betting on the team. The idea is important, but as any entrepreneur knows, there are going to be pivots, there’s going to be heartbreak, there’s going to be backstabbing. It’s like Lifetime TV if you want to go run a company. You have to pick people that are resilient to do it. So we do a ton of time on due diligence on the teams. I was just talking to a big MSO today, actually, and one of the sales points for them –That’s a multi-state operator, for those taking notes at home. Good one. The thing that sold me was they are a multi-state operator and their COO is one of the smartest operators I’ve ever seen. That’s always a good trick if you’re looking to invest: figure out, can they actually operate? Because cannabis is not a simplistic business. It’s highly complex. You want to make sure you have somebody that can handle it. Let’s get to the million dollar question, which is: I don’t have a million dollars, but I want to be a player in this business, or at least I want to invest in this business. Where do I start? What do I do? If I know that a lot of the really successful funds such as yours have a pretty high bar of entry, unless I have $200,000 – which I don’t. I think the goal here is to do just that, to get your seat at the deal-making table and to get you deals and access into the space that really outstrips your network. The secret is, I really believe wealth is made on the private side. If you look at anybody who has accumulated wealth – not just rich, but real wealth – it’s because they’ve done investing either on real estate or in their own company on the private side. That’s just the “why” of this even mattering.Explain that a little bit to me. On the private side, meaning they’re not public companies that they invest in? It’s very hard to make generational wealth or real wealth by investing in public stock markets. You can see that very quickly. Say you put all the faces from the Forbes 100 list, billionaires out there, on one page. What you would notice if you went through all their bios is not a single one of them made their money from smartly investing in public stocks.The brilliant Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn, they only move when they have three things. The first one is an unfair advantage. For instance, Carl is an activist  . He can go bother the founders of the company until they make changes to the actual company and make him money. So you need an unfair advantage in some way.Your unfair advantage, Jon, might be that you have really incredible deal flow because all these entrepreneurs want to pitch you all the time. So you might be able to see trends and know people and be a connector because of all this deal flow that you see.So one is your unfair advantage. That’s what you need. The second thing that you need is intimate knowledge. Not insider knowledge. You can’t have anything illegal. But you need intimate knowledge of the industry, the company, whatever you’re investing in. You really can’t get that with public stocks because otherwise it would be insider information. So intimate knowledge meaning you have some access to their financials, or just that you know an industry intimately?I believe access to their financials or access to the actual founders or access to their actual distributors. Something beyond what the news and Jim Cramer could scream at you on CNBC. So you need that.Then the third thing that you need is the ability to affect the outcome. That’s how we invest on the private side because by giving them capital, we can talk to them about how they’re going to exit, who’s going to buy them, if we could help them structure the exit on the backend, all of that.Those three things are really key to massively investing. But we’re talking at a super high level. We’re not all going to have that on Day 1, but you should always have that in the back of your mind. It’s why I’m really worried about anybody who’s a price speculator.What does that mean?Price speculator basically means – everybody knows about the cryptocurrency crisis. The housing crisis really was no different, and there was also the internet bubble, and then if we go way back there was tulip mania, which was where people were paying hundreds of dollars for a tulip bulb. Nuts.It’s all the same thing, though. It’s all called price speculation, which basically means people invest in something just because they think the next guy is going to buy at a higher price and they’ll be able to sell after he gets in. But they don’t believe that there’s real value in what they’re investing in. They’re price speculating that the price is going to go up no matter what.We’ve got to be careful about that. There’s a little bit of that in cannabis, so on the public side I’m really cautious about investing. We talk about price a lot. Warren Buffett talks about that too.It seems really out of whack right now on the public side, the valuations of the companies. Yeah, I think so. I think you’re nailing it. I don’t have a crystal ball. If I did, we’d be on my yacht while we’re recording this podcast. But what I think is important to think about on the public side, or any time valuations or the price of stocks is concerned, is it might be really exciting the numbers that they’re at, and they might do all the things they need to do in order to grow into that price, but I’m always looking at the downside.Does it make sense for the top 10 cannabis stocks to be worth 4x more than the top 10 biotech, tobacco, pharma, or healthcare stocks, from a price-to-sales perspective (which just means the price that they’re worth versus how much they actually sell)? I would say I don’t know. It’s a growth industry; it could be, but probably not. The key to investing there is always buy low, sell high, and train your brain on that, to focus on price first before excitement.You gave us the three attributes or the three keys to think about and ways to position yourself. You had also mentioned you need to make relationships, you need to network outside of your network. How do you recommend doing that?Codie: I think there are a couple different ways. One, if you want to invest, in my opinion, or if you want to do anything – say you want to play baseball. The first thing that you should probably go do is watch a baseball game. Then you should probably go try to play a baseball game amongst you and your friends. Then you should probably try to figure out who are the reporters that cover baseball. Then you should probably try to go to three or four conferences of people who are talking about baseball or selling baseball gear or something related to baseball.It’s not dissimilar to investing. You go where the game is played. In cannabis, in my opinion, that would be places like ArcView, which is kind of like AngelList, if you know what that is. AngelList is where you can go and invest in lots of different startups, but at very low dollar amounts. ArcView is similar but for cannabis, and they also have conferences. So I think you go to a couple ArcView conferences, you join that.They should be, in my opinion, getting smart. They’ve got to listen to all the podcasts on Green Entrepreneur, and then go over to CannaInsider podcast, and then go and look at some of the investor intelligence reports like Cohen. Don’t spend a lifetime; do this in a weekend. You can binge-listen to a couple podcasts, binge-read all the investor intelligence on MJBiz or Green Entrepreneur or Cohen.Then you start reaching out. Then you try to go to an ArcView event. Schedule one. Then you email all the speakers at the ArcView event. Give yourself a timeline. You have 30 days to get smart on it.What’s crazy is, after you do those three things – listen to a ton of podcasts, read as much as you can about the industry, and then get hooked up to an industry group and go to one of their conferences – you are smarter than 90% of the population on cannabis.What’s the conversation you have with these people that you connect with through ArcView or these different platforms that you have recommended? Is that the moment when you present yourself, about who you are and what you have to offer?I think you have to first have a belief that I’ve found to be true across every industry I’ve been in, which is that if you go where the game is played because you want to be in the game somehow, you will have opportunities presented to you that you never otherwise would.That’s my promise to you. If you do these three things and you go to where the game is played with a curious and open mind and dig in, you’re going to have stuff come up that you didn’t exactly realize how the opportunity was presented to you, and you wouldn’t have picked it exactly this way, but it’s even better than you thought.If you have that belief, then when you go, I think there are two things that are super important. One is curiosity. We’re all egoists, right? I like to have my ego stroked. I’m sure you do [laughs] Never. But the truth is, if somebody comes up to me and says, “Codie, I’ve been reading your stuff, listening to your podcast here, I saw you speak here, and I’m really curious as to what you meant here” or “I’m really curious, what do you think about this?” or “how would you enter this space?” or “why did you do this particular move?” – those small, tailored questions to somebody’s ego, showing that you’re truly curious, not faking it – that goes really far. If you do that to five or ten people, the likelihood is you have two to three to four who want to engage with you. So that’s where I’d start. Curiosity.But then I think the second thing you’ve got to do if you actually want to get in – I just interviewed an analyst today, actually, for our firm. The way he came to me was similar to this. Reached out, said he had listened to a few things. But he did something different that I loved, which was “I’ve been doing research and analysis on the space. I’m in grad school right now and did some models on vertically integrated companies” — which are companies like Acreage, let’s say.So he said, “I did some research on these guys. Would that be useful to you?” I was like, “Huh, that’s interesting. Yeah, sure, I’ll take a look.” I looked at it. The models were actually really good, so I followed up with him. Right now I’m looking at the lab testing space, for example. Every time somebody wants to sell you cannabis, they’ve got to go make sure that they take it to a third-party lab to see if it has any sort of pesticides in it or if it actually is THC at the level that they say it is. I’m interested in that space. So I said, “Why don’t you try to apply your thought process to this lab space?” He did it, did a great job, and I’ll probably offer him a job.So that second key is not what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. If you provide value to people who are in positions of power, that is so rare – so rare – that they are going to want you in their circle.Right. There’s an example of somebody who might not have had $200,000 to invest in the fund, but had an expertise that you appreciated and needed.Absolutely. And if you’re an employee in a fund, you get an allowance where you can invest much less, so you don’t have to put in $200k if you actually work at one of these funds. Even if you’re in admin.What are some common mistakes that you see people making?First is be careful with public stocks. If you’re going to do it, be fine losing the money and be prepared for a lot of volatility. I say that because there are also some great public stocks, so I’m not saying you shouldn’t do it; just be cautious.The second thing I see people do that makes me nervous is they just go and invest in one company right off the bat. Everybody’s raising for cannabis something or other these days. Even if it’s just the $1,000 that you have to invest, it’s really risky to throw that out there. It’s called angel investing, but it’s risky to do that with the first couple companies you’ve seen especially.So I think the biggest thing you’ve got to get used to if you want to be an investor is saying “no” upfront. You’re like the hot girl at the bar. “No, no, no, no.” You want to go on a lot of first dates, but you don’t want to get married to somebody – you don’t want to give them your money – until you’ve gotten a feel for this weird industry and how to do some investments. Don’t make your first investment when it’s been given to you.And Lord, I made some bad investments when I first started, so don’t feel bad if you did. But I think they say that the best way to make a million dollars in angel investing is to start with three, which is the same for vineyards too.So diversify. Do a fund.Yeah, do a fund. ArcView is the only one that I know of in the cannabis space. I don’t want it to feel like I’m doing a commercial for them. But you can go to these angel investing groups. The goal that I had when I first started investing was to invest alongside somebody that’s smarter than I amHow do you do that? Well, you can go to something like ArcView and listen to all of the companies pitch. It’s like YCombinator, which is famous in tech circles as being an incubator. Go to ArcView, listen to everybody pitch, and then see and ask them what other investors are investing in their company besides you. Then you very easily reach out to those people and say, “Hey, I’m Codie and I’m looking to invest in XYZ Cannabis Company too. Do you have a minute to talk so I can understand why you’re investing?”Once you are in the investing circle, it’s much easier to get doors open for you. So invest alongside people that are smarter than you. You can do that by starting at something like ArcView, or I think you can do that in a fund structure.Or you can do that by following some of the big names in this space, like what is Steve DeAngelo investing in? He probably has interesting insight, being in this industry for a long time. What is Jonathan investing in? He’s seen a lot of different cannabis companies. So look for those influencers and then see if you can get a little piece of the pie and put in a small amount of what you can.Should we apply the same sort of criteria that you apply when you’re looking at companies? You said that you say “no” a lot. What are some red flags that you would say “no” to? What would you see in a company that you would be like, “no”? Or what should I see in a company where I might have second thoughts? I think when you’re an early angel investor, you should never invest in a company that doesn’t have revenue. There’s too much deal flow, especially in cannabis, there’s too many companies to invest in somebody that has never made a dollar. So I would not do that. Look for companies that at least have a couple hundred thousand dollars to a million plus in revenue.What you’ll be amazed by is they’ll take your money – you might not have much, let’s say, but if you can provide some other type of value, some sweat equity – these startups are usually strapped for cash and for help. So you can probably even leverage your sweat equity a little bit there. But I would start with don’t invest if they’re pre-revenue. I think that’s way too much risk upfront.Then I would say also, be really careful about investing in friends who are not absolute rock stars who have already done this before. Maybe they had already run an alcohol distribution company, so now they’re going to go into cannabis distribution. That makes a lot of sense. But otherwise, be careful about funding friends early on, before you really know how to analyze if they’re capable or not. That’s where a lot of people lose money.You said that you want to make sure that you like the team and are impressed by the team that is running a company. Will you have that kind of access as somebody who’s new to the game? It’s not like you can call up every CEO. You’ll have access because of who you are and your status in the industry, but how does one – should you just do your own research online? How do you find out more about who these people are?One way you can get access is through special purpose vehicles. What a lot of people do when they don’t want to invest or don’t have a ton to invest is they might pool their assets. It’s pretty inexpensive. You create an LLC, which basically costs nothing online these days, and that LLC allows you – say you have $10,000 that you could invest, and a couple other people have $10,000 that they could invest, and you pool it together and now you have $100,000.You can make yourself sound very fancy. “I am in charge of Cannabis, Inc., which is an LLC of investors in the cannabis space. We’re analyzing companies.” So with very little work and with very little money, you can actually get a seat at the table and say “We have $100,000. We’re looking to deploy it, and maybe it’s with your company.” Then you can get better access, certainly.Or you can join into somebody else’s syndicate or join angels groups. There’s CannaAngels – almost every city has a cannabis angel network, and if you join one of them and you pool all your resources together – but you don’t have to do the actual work – then you can get real access.How quickly will you see an ROI?Well, in cannabis it’s been faster than it typically is. Most venture capital or private equity funds are 5-year funds, so your money’s locked up for 5 years with a 2-year extension, meaning they can extend that 5 years by 2 years if they want to. That’s typically because it takes that long for a company to have a liquidity event, which means when they sell or you get your money back in some way.So the typical thought is 5 to 7 years, which I know to all of us who use Uber Eats and expect our food to get delivered in 7 minutes, seems like an eternity. [laughs] But that’s standard. If you’re going to do this, it has to be long money, and in my opinion, you have to want to learn and make money.Our first fund, we returned the capital in 3 years because cannabis is moving so fast. But that is what draws people to public stocks, I think, a lot. It’s short-term, there’s an ability to make money, and it’s a lot more rewarding to that endorphin-heavy brain of ours that wants immediate feedback loops. If you’re seeing it too quickly, there might be something going on here that’s not right?In my opinion, yeah. I don’t like price speculation, which I think is entirely what crypto is about. I think blockchain is different, but yeah. You always worry if you’re at an airport somewhere and the shoeshine guy is giving you stock tips about cannabis companies or about cryptocurrency companies.The stock market is really there to help investors beat inflation over the long term. You earn your 10% per year, which helps you beat inflation, and compounding investing over time leads to you making enough money to retire, theoretically. So I’m always nervous if the stock market is looked at as an immediate cash cow. That’s probably not sustainable.As far as the type of cannabis companies to invest in. Tell me the top 3 that you should be looking at and top 3 that maybe you should pass on?I got offered a really interesting deal in Colombia, actually, by descendants of Pablo Escobar to grow cannabis in Colombia [laughs] I passed on that one. But in all seriousness, cultivation is something that I worry about as the price of flower or the actual cannabis smokeable plant goes down. That’s just natural. It is a plant and it is agriculture, so that’s going to happen as the markets get more efficient. So I’m not running to give money to people who are purely doing grows. I would stay away from that. I don’t think I’m the only one doing that.I would stay away from brands that are not amazingly executed and with the ability, proven and actual, to scale. There’s a lot of little micro-brands around, and I think many of those will die a death of a thousand papercuts with California regulations and others. So be careful about that space.I also think I would be careful about any sort of tech that mimics something that’s done by a company outside of the cannabis space. People say to me, “I’m going to be the oracle of cannabis,” and my response is, “Oracle will be the oracle of cannabis.”I wouldn’t do that because eventually this game will change and those companies – perhaps they get bought, and there are some instances where that could be the case. But I’m hesitant of that space. So those would be the three I would stay away from.And the three that seem to have a lot of opportunity?Up until now — and I think it’s still the case — multi-state operators have done incredibly well. They’re out there doing a land grab, trying to grab as many different dispensaries and the grows associated with the licenses in each state for them.So these are cannabis brands that operate in many different states because they have, like you said, dispensaries and grows in a bunch of different states? Exactly. It’s not dissimilar to a company that distributes, like Whole Foods for instance, across multiple state lines and grows all their own produce and has a ton of white label brands and everything, like you see in Whole Foods. Not dissimilar entirely for these multi-state operators. Those I think are going to continue to have a lot of value, if done really well and if they scale. I think the small one-off operations I wouldn’t be as interested in.The second space that we’re really focused on is everything to do with biotech in this space and the ability for cannabis to be used for medicinal purposes, whether that’s biosynthesis or being able to actually create cannabis in a lab through things like yeast or algae. It’s way above my paygrade from a science understanding perspective, but we have somebody on the team that that’s their specialty, so they dive into those companies. So I think anything in biotech and that sector could be really interesting if you get the real plays. Then the third area is really well-executed brands who are able to scale nationally and hopefully globally. We’ve made a few of those bets in the brand space, but gosh, we have to see a lot.Explain to our audience exactly what you mean by brands in this context.That basically means who’s going to be the Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Frito-Lay, Blue Moon of cannabis. These are cannabis brands that will become household names, hopefully. We don’t really have any of those right now. I don’t really think you could argue that there is a nationally recognized cannabis brands I can’t tell you the amount of times I get pitched, individual small CBD brands or THC brands, and they might have really nice packaging or make you feel good – I mean, a lot of times it’s the same product. We’re all dealing with the same brands, so why is this one product going to break out as opposed to the other hundred that I get pitched? It’s very hard as an investor to know. Is it the people attached to it? It’s the difference between RC Cola and Coke. How do you know which is the one that’s going to stand outSometimes it’s very hard to tell whether it’s all hype or if there’s something real there. What would be your way to dig a little deeper?First, I would want to see real revenue. If we’re dealing with a company like Sublime, for instance, we’re talking about double-digit millions in revenue, so then you know that there’s something there. They’re able to operate, people are buying these companies.Then the second thing — I have two good friends that run a company called Windy Hill Brands, and they sold an alcohol company that I’m blanking on, but it was something Moonshine, to the guys who created Deep Eddy Vodka. They’re just brand geniuses. So one of the things is having people in your corner who understand this space.The most important part there is also their ability to distribute. I’ve made mistakes before in investing in brands – not at Cresco, but when I was investing at different venture funds. There was a brand that I loved and I wanted this product to exist in the world, but I realized that the management team didn’t have the distribution chops. So they weren’t able to get it on the shelves of Whole Foods, for instance, or CVS or whatever the case may be – and they didn’t have that crazy sales drive to do it.What you really need in the brand space is it’s all about your distribution, and can you actually get your product in the hands of the distributors, or can you get your product, through ecommerce, sold online in a big way? A lot of founders are pretty lazy about getting their sales out in that way, and they want to do some of the fun stuff. Nobody likes cold calling.Say you have no money to invest in cannabis. Not a dollar. I’ve totally been there; my dad didn’t get to go to college, so I remember having nothing to invest and worried about my debit card not going through.The one thing that you can do is look for sweat equity into these companies. That is basically where you start doing all the stuff we talked about – meeting people, reading about it, reaching out to them via email – and then you say, “I’m Codie,” for instance, and say I’m a graphic designer. “I could do some graphic design work for you. You don’t have to pay me. I’ll just do it for you, but how about I work for some percent ownership in the company, and you pay that to me over this time period?”Or you could say, “I, Jonathan, am really good at copywriting because I’m a journalist. Why don’t I help you write some of your copy for your website or to your clients, and in exchange for that you give me some equity?” So there are certainly ways to use your skillset as your capital. I would think about that. If you google “sweat equity,” you’ll get a million different ways to do it.That’s great advice. Is it helpful to make a list of what you have to offer? Like, are you a graphic designer, are you a good publicist? What are a lot of these companies looking for?I think everything. Totally all of them are looking for help from a marketing – the two things that almost every company needs immediately is sales, so they need somebody to go out and bring them more revenue, and they need help with marketing. They need, just like you said, people to pitch publishers, people to write copy. Social media somewhat, because social media is tricky in this space. But yeah, somebody who’s good with social media in a way that won’t get them banned from Instagram. Exactly. And you can always say, “What are things that you need to have done that are terrible, that you don’t want to do? I’ll do that.” You can also offer it more broadly if you don’t have a direct solution.I would say what they don’t need is like “I’m really good at strategy. Let me give you strategy.” Nope, we’re executing. We don’t have time for third-party strategy. So that’s probably not as useful. But introductions to capital, sales, marketing, graphic design, anything like that is really valuable to a startup. Would you recommend having a formal agreement with a company? What I would be concerned about is that – most people are good people, but there’s going to be some bad apples, and they’re going to take advantage of you and then sell and not give you anything. Should you have some sort of contract with them?Yeah. We all watched the Facebook story, right? How I’ve done it in the past, before I was a bigger investor, was I would have a little something drafted up. Again, you can find this online, like a sweat equity contract.But essentially I would have a little contract that basically says “Codie is going to provide the following services. For these services, she is going to be given X percent of equity,” for them to fill in – and it’ll be vested, which means I actually own it – “over a 6, 12, or 18 month period,” whatever period you choose.But what I would say upfront is, “Hey, why don’t I do this for you, work for you for the next 30 days for $free.99? Free, totally. I’ll do this work for you for 30 days. I believe in what you’re doing. This is the contract that I’d like to sign at the end of 30 days for me to keep helping you like this. Does that sound good?” Typically they’ll be good on that front. You might get burned once, but you’re going to learn a ton, and then you’ll learn who not to trust next time.I think in tandem with that, then you can actually start adding some cash components of it. Once they see your work and how useful you are, if you crush it for them, people don’t want that to stop. Entrepreneurs aren’t stupid. So if you’re doing good work and you had your little equity thing drawn up, you can ask for cash as well so you’re not slaving away for free for 5 years.  –shares Entrepreneur Staff Want to invest in the cannabis industry but barely have enough to buy your own weed? Cody Sanchez of Cresco Capital Partners has suggestions. Subscribe Now Editor in Chief of Green Entrepreneur Green Entrepreneur provides how-to guides, ideas and expert insights for entrepreneurs looking to start and grow a cannabis business.last_img read more

Samsung to Cap Note 7 Battery Charge Via Software Update

first_img Samsung to Cap Note 7 Battery Charge Via Software Update Register Now » –shares Image credit: Reuters | Kim Hong-Ji Next Article This story originally appeared on Reuters Free Webinar | July 31: Secrets to Running a Successful Family Business Add to Queue 2 min read September 14, 2016 Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., which has urged users of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone to turn them in due to fire-prone batteries, said it will perform a software update in South Korea that limits the devices’ charge to 60 percent.The move comes as Samsung, the world’s biggest smartphone maker, also ran local advertisements apologizing for a recall that is unprecedented for a company that prides itself on its manufacturing prowess.It has not decided whether to implement similar software upgrades limiting battery charging in markets other than South Korea, a company spokeswoman said.The software update, which will be automatic, will begin at 2 a.m. local time on Sept. 20, Samsung said in a statement.The firm has sold 2.5 million Note 7 phones in 10 markets including South Korea and the United States that are subject to the recall.Samsung plans to begin offering replacement phones with safe batteries on Sept. 19 in South Korea.A series of warnings from regulators and airlines around the world has raised fears for the future of the flagship device, pushing Samsung shares lower.South Korea’s markets were closed on Wednesday for a public holiday.($1 = 1,124.7700 won)(Reporting by Tony Munroe and Se Young Lee; Editing by Edwina Gibbs) Learn how to successfully navigate family business dynamics and build businesses that excel. The firm has sold 2.5 million Note 7 phones in 10 markets including South Korea and the United States that are subject to the recall. Reuters Samsunglast_img read more

Uber Hopes to Fly Around Commuters in 10 Years

first_img Image credit: Reuters | Uber/Handout 2019 Entrepreneur 360 List 50shares Uber Hopes to Fly Around Commuters in 10 Years Uber Next Article This story originally appeared on Reuters A vertical takeoff and landing aircraft (VTOL) leaves a heliport in an artist’s rendition released by ride-sharing company Uber in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 27 2016. It sounds like the opening sequence to’ The Jetsons,’ but Uber sees flying rides as feasible and eventually affordable.center_img Flying commuters like George Jetson could be whizzing to work through the sky less than 10 years from now, according to ride-services provider Uber, which believes the future of transportation is literally looking up.Uber Technologies Inc. released a white paper on Thursday envisioning a future in which commuters hop onto a small aircraft, take off vertically and within minutes arrive at their destinations. The flyers would eventually be unmanned, according to the company.It sounds like the opening sequence to The Jetsons, the 1962 U.S. cartoon about a future filled with moving sidewalks, robot housekeepers and spaceflight, but Uber sees flying rides as feasible and eventually affordable.Uber already offers helicopter rides to commuters in Brazil. The company plans to convene a global summit early next year to explore on-demand aviation, in which small electric aircraft could take off and land vertically to reduce congestion and save time for long-distance commuters, and eventually city dwellers.Others have also envisioned such aircraft, akin to a helicopter but without the noise and emissions. Vertical take off and landing aircraft have been studied and developed for decades, including by aircraft makers, the military, NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration.Uber is already exploring self-driving technology, hoping to slash costs by eliminating the need for drivers in its core business of on-demand rides. On-demand air transport marks a new frontier, set squarely in the future.Uber’s vision, detailed in a 97-page document, argues that on-demand aviation will be affordable and achievable in the next decade assuming effective collaboration between regulators, communities and manufacturers.Ultimately, using VTOLs for transport could be less expensive than owning a car, Uber predicted.Such on-demand VTOL aircraft would be “optionally piloted,” Uber said, where autonomous technology takes over the main workload and the pilot is relied on for situational awareness. Eventually, the aircraft will likely be fully automated, Uber said.Hurdles include battery technology. Batteries must come down in cost and charge faster, become more powerful and have longer lifecycles.Regulatory hurdles must also be solved such as certification by aviation regulators as well as infrastructure needs, such as more takeoff and landing cites.Uber plans to reach out to stakeholders within the next six months to explore the implications of urban air transport and share ideas before hosting a summit in early 2017 to explore the issues and solutions and help accelerate urban air transportation.(Reporting By Alexandria Sage; Editing by David Gregorio) 3 min read Add to Queue Reuters The only list that measures privately-held company performance across multiple dimensions—not just revenue. October 28, 2016 Apply Now »last_img read more

The First Emerging Tech Connector In Vietnam – YellowBlocks – Announces 100

first_img ARBigDatablockchaincloudElite1010NewsVRYellowBlocks Previous ArticleAd Fraud Hits Digital Agencies and the Courts: Major Brands Pull Nine-Figure Ad Spend While Litigation, Refunds and Chargebacks Give Ad Market a Black EyeNext ArticleNimble Now Selling Its Simple CRM for Office 365 Globally Through Microsoft’s New Commercial Marketplace The First Emerging Tech Connector In Vietnam – YellowBlocks – Announces 100 Global Partners In The Unprecedented Tech Cruise PRNewswire6 days agoJuly 17, 2019 YellowBlocks was founded in 2018 as the first emerging tech ecosystem connector for Vietnam. As the platform for collaboration for AI/ML, Blockchain, Cloud, BigData, IoT, AR/VR.., YellowBlocks is hosting an unprecedented event in Vietnam, The #Elite1010 Emerging Tech Cruise, with key stakeholders in the ecosystem. The event is taking place on July 19th, 2019 on the luxurious Saigon Sensation Cruise at the heart of Saigon.Marketing Technology News: VaaS and USB are Helping to Drive Growth in the Video Conferencing & Collaboration MarketFor the last five years, Techboom has put Vietnam on the watch list of global firms. The tech ecosystem is breathing change and innovation, a new chapter for Vietnam begins. In addition to being a tech-outsourcing destination, Vietnam is hungry and ready for R&D, technology innovation, and advanced product development.During the exclusive networking night, YellowBlocks will announce the list of 100 global partners featuring public sector, private sector, academic groups and tech startup community including global and local top names such as European Blockchain Hub, Startup Vietnam Foundation, SGInnovate, Viettel, Microsoft, Advantage Austria, Nhipcaudautu (The Business Review), Forbes, VnExpress, Topica, RMIT University, CIO Academy Asia, Saigon Innovation Hub, Schoolab.Marketing Technology News: DTiQ Launches Enhanced Video Analytics CapabilitiesDavid Lang – Key Advisor for YellowBlocks – shared, “After 40 years in the US and the last 12+ years of advising Fortune 100 companies on digital transformation, I come back to Vietnam at this golden time with a deep passion to elevate Vietnam to the world stage. If we can create a trusted-platform to connect all the players in the emerging technologies ecosystem, we can unleash the power of Vietnam. As the pioneer connector in Vietnam, YellowBlocks surely has caught my attention because of their global vision and local insights from Day 1.”Doan Kieu My (Kimiko), Founder of YellowBlocks, shared, “Our mission is to Connect the Connectors. Our vision is to become the gateway to Vietnam and the world for emerging tech ecosystem. This flagship event marks our commitment to bring our partners and advisors closer in the unprecedented format.”Marketing Technology News: Speedcast and In Aria! Networks Join Forces with Telespazio on Large-Scale, High-Capacity Video Serviceslast_img read more

Zeus launches Tie Layer polymer solution for medical device manufacturers

first_imgFeb 1 2019Zeus Industrial Products, Inc. (Zeus), a leading polymer extrusion manufacturer and material science innovator, has launched its latest polymer solution for medical device manufacturers. “Tie Layer” is an ultra-thin thermoplastic coating applied over a catheter liner during catheter construction. The coating creates a melt-bondable substrate that improves adhesion to both the liner and the catheter jacket during the reflow process.Zeus developed Tie Layer to reduce delamination between materials that are otherwise not melt-compatible for bonding. Delamination is a challenging failure mode in catheter construction and carries both risk and cost burden for many device manufacturers. Detection typically occurs during final testing, after production of the complete catheter assembly, resulting in significant final product yield loss.More importantly, delamination can lead to failures in the field and product recalls. By creating a stronger bond between the outer catheter jacket and inner liner, Zeus’ Tie Layer solution enhances and increases consistency in catheter performance and ultimately improves patient safety. Also, it reduces inspection requirements, increases product yield, and lowers manufacturing costs. Reduced cost and improved performance make Tie Layer a true total solution in catheter design and manufacturing.Zeus’ Tie Layer solution follows on the heels of another recent innovation. The company’s new FEP 2:1 heat shrink offers a pure FEP heat shrink in a ratio larger than current 1.3:1 or 1.6:1 options. The expanded capability of this Class VI approved product minimizes the need for manual stretching and makes covering uneven and angular surfaces easier, faster, and more reliable.Zeus will showcase both new solutions at Medical Design & Manufacturing (MD&M) West, the largest conference in North America for global medical device professionals. The event will take place February 5-7, 2019 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Zeus is exhibiting in booth 3113.Comments Source:https://www.zeusinc.com/company/news/zeus-introduces-tie-layer-polymer-solution-to-enhance-catheter-performance Improving patient safety and reducing manufacturing costs represent top priorities for the medical device industry. For over 50 years, Zeus has developed and delivered polymer solutions that help address these concerns. Our latest Tie Layer innovation creates a melt-bondable surface to improve adhesion and allows our customers to elevate the performance of their devices.”Matt Allen, Sr. Global Endovascular Market Manager, Zeus Industrial Products, Inc. Tie Layer will allow us to expand the Zeus portfolio of products and services to the markets we currently serve and enhance our already best-in-class polymer solutions. Because this process is applied to a variety of substrate materials, it will also unlock new opportunities and applications in both the medical and industrial markets.”Daryl Leach, Director of Global Market Management, Zeus Industrial Products, Inc.center_img Quick FactsRelated StoriesImprove Patient Safety with Tie LayerZeus introduces new MRI-compatible LCP monofilament for vascular interventions Zeus’ new Tie Layer solution is a thermoplastic polymer coating as thin as 0.0001″ (0.0025 mm), allowing devices to maintain their overall profile. Tie Layer was developed to improve the bonding of liners to materials that otherwise are difficult to bond, such as polymer jackets, metallic braids, coils, and hypotubes. Tie Layer can be applied to legacy and next-generation PTFE liners and other substrate materials. The ultra-thin coating is available in various durometers, as well as Class VI approved materials including Pebax®, nylons, and polyurethanes. Multiple durometer options allow design engineers to tailor the performance of the finished catheter. By creating a stronger bond between the outer jacket and liner, Tie Layer enhances catheter performance, improves patient safety, increases yield, and reduces manufacturing costs. Zeus provides medical device manufacturers unmatched capabilities, including the highest quality rating in extruded PTFE liners in the widest range of sizes, the thinnest walls in the world, the shortest lead times in the industry, and the largest capacity available. Now we offer a Tie Layer coated liner that addresses the market’s need for reducing or even eliminating delamination. Our new Tie Layer solution provides product designers and engineers with an excellent option for addressing these challenges.”Bob Chaney, Senior Vice President, Global Sales & Marketing, Zeus Industrial Products, Inc.last_img read more

Researchers find little evidence for connection between Chinese Famine and T2DM epidemic

first_imgReviewed by James Ives, M.Psych. (Editor)Mar 26 2019The Chinese Famine of 1959-61 has been widely interpreted as an important contributor to later epidemics of Type 2 Diabetes Mellitis (T2DM), but in re-examining 17 related Chinese studies researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health and Leiden University Medical Center, found little evidence for this association. The paper is published in Nature Reviews Endocrinology.”Most Chinese studies were limited in using appropriate age-balanced controls,” said L. H. Lumey, MD, professor of Epidemiology at Columbia Mailman School. “Therefore, establishing a firm connection between prenatal famine and T2DM in future studies in China will require significant improvements in study design and execution.”Related StoriesStudy: Antidepressants reduce mortality by 35% in patients with diabetesObese patients with Type 1 diabetes could safely receive robotic pancreas transplantDiabetes patients experiencing empathy from PCPs have beneficial long-term clinical outcomesTo demonstrate the limitation in the Chinese studies, the researchers re-analyzed published data using several control groups. With age-balanced controls, no increases were seen in T2DM.Lumey and colleagues further determined that studying just pre-famine births as controls could suggest a ‘protective’ effect of famine on later health outcomes. Studies from both the Dutch Famine and the Chinese Famine show that increased body size in adulthood has important implications for T2DM after prenatal famine exposure. “However our studies of the Dutch famine have not yet examined if changes in DNA methylation in individuals exposed during gestation could lead to ‘intergenerational’ effects, on the grandchildren, large enough to explain the increased obesity and hyperglycemia in China today,” said Dr Bastiaan T. Heijmans of Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.Because of limitations in study design and the original analyses of the Chinese studies it is an open question if the famine has significantly contributed to the current epidemic in China. And accordingly, it is also not yet possible to make firm statements regarding the long-term impact of direct exposure or the intergenerational impact of indirect exposure.”The current T2DM epidemic in China represents an enormous public health challenge,” noted Lumey. “Public health efforts for prevention and treatment should therefore focus now on well-established risk factors for overweight and obesity, especially the increased intake of energy dense foods and sedentary lifestyles that affect the entire population, regardless of early famine exposure.” Source:https://www.mailman.columbia.edu/last_img read more

Redstone family blocks move to dilute its CBS vote power

CBS sues to block effort to ‘force’ merger with Viacom This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. © 2018 AFP National Amusements Inc said the move was designed “to safeguard against unlawful action by CBS and its special committee” which had been moving to weaken the control of Shari Redstone, daughter of the ailing 94-year-old former chairman Sumner Redstone.Under the new bylaws, any change in voting power would require a “supermajority,” according to a statement from National Amusements.The holding company said it acted to head off “the irresponsible action taken by CBS and its special committee,” claiming it “put in motion a chain of events that poses significant risk to CBS.”CBS said the move “provides further evidence of why we concluded that we had no choice but to file our action in the Delaware courts, in order to protect the interests of all CBS shareholders. “It added that “we are confident in our position and look forward to presenting our case in court.”The family holding company owns around 10 percent of the equity of CBS but its special voting shares give it approximately 80 percent of the voting power.National Amusements took the action days after CBS filed suit alleging that Shari Redstone was seeking to “force” a merger with rival Viacom on unfavorable terms.The two sides were headed for a court hearing on a CBS request for a restraining order against Shari Redstone ahead of a board meeting Thursday.CBS said its board committee had recommended a special dividend that would have the effect of diluting the voting power of the Redstone family.The lawsuit alleges that Shari Redstone is seeking to force through a merger of CBS and media rival Viacom “on terms that are contrary to the best interests of the public stockholders.”Redstone’s court brief called the CBS effort a “brazen attempt to disenfranchise a controlling stockholder” and said the holding company “does not have, and has never had, any intention of replacing the CBS Board or taking other action to force a merger.”The lawsuit is the latest drama involving the media-entertainment empire built by Sumner Redstone, whose fitness and mental status have been questioned in legal proceedings.A decade ago, Sumner Redstone split CBS and Viacom but retained control of both media firms through his holding company.Shari Redstone, acting on behalf of her ailing father, effectively controls both firms through National Amusements’ special voting shares.A separate legal clash ended in 2016 when Viacom chief Philippe Dauman agreed to step down and drop his lawsuit alleging a power grab by Shari Redstone in the absence of her incapacitated father. Shari Redstone, who controls CBS through the family holding company National Amusements, denounced a “brazen” effort by the media firm’s board to dilute her voting shares Explore further Citation: Redstone family blocks move to dilute its CBS vote power (2018, May 16) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-redstone-family-blocks-dilute-cbs.html The struggle over the future of CBS Corp. took a new twist Wednesday as the holding company for controlling shareholder Shari Redstone said it revised the bylaws of the media group, a move aimed at heading off an effort to dilute her voting power. read more

Researchers make a twoneuron network

first_imgA single neuron on a microplate (SEM image) and two adjoining neurons that were physically connected. Credit: 2018 Shoji Takeuchi, Institute of Industrial Science, The University of Tokyo The human brain is an exquisitely complex, organic CPU, made of trillions of connections between many billions of neurons. Understanding such a complicated organ is a massive scientific undertaking, and researchers often use simplified models to uncover small pieces of the neurological puzzle. Provided by University of Tokyo More information: Shotaro Yoshida et al, Assembly and Connection of Micropatterned Single Neurons for Neuronal Network Formation, Micromachines (2018). DOI: 10.3390/mi9050235 Explore further This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. In a report published in Micromachines, researchers at the University of Tokyo Institute of Industrial Science describe their new method to create one such model using microscopic plates to connect neurons together one cell at a time.Research into the brain typically involves the use of in vitro cultures, which are collections of neurons grown together in a dish. A culture represents, in effect, a highly pared-down version of a brain that can be chemically or electrically manipulated. While cultures are indispensable to neurological research, they suffer from considerable limitations.”In vitro culture models are essential tools because they approximate relatively simple neuron networks and are experimentally controllable,” says study first author Shotaro Yoshida. “These models have been instrumental to the field for decades. The problem is that they’re very difficult to control, since the neurons tend to make random connections with each other. If we can find methods to synthesize neuron networks in a more controlled fashion, it would likely spur major advances in our understanding of the brain.”The researchers took advantage of recent insights into how neurons behave; namely, that geometric shapes can guide neurons, telling them where and how to grow. In this case, the team used a synthetic neuron-adhesive material to make a microscopic plate. The plate is circular with two protruding rectangles, somewhat resembling a bead on a tight string. They found that this shape guides neurons to grow in a very defined way: When placed on the microplate, a neuron’s cell body settles onto the circle, while the axon and dendrites—the branches that let neurons communicate with each other—grow lengthwise along the rectangles.”What was especially important in this system was to have control over how the neurons connected,” Yoshida adds. “We designed the microplates to be movable, so that by pushing them around, we could physically move two neurons right next to each other. Once we placed them together, we could then test whether the neurons were able to transmit a signal.”Neurons communicate with one another through synapses, specialized structures that let chemical messengers travel from one neuron to the next. Using a technique to visualize the parts of a synapse, the research team found that the microplate-riding neurons were indeed able to form these communication hubs. What was more, the hubs were functional: when one neuron lit up with electrically charged ions, its partner lit up at precisely the same time.While the team aims to further refine the system (only a small fraction of neurons could be successfully connected through working synapses), the results of the study suggest an important step forward in using microplates for research.”This is, to the best of our knowledge, the first time a mobile microplate has been used to morphologically influence neurons and form functional connections,” lead investigator Shoji Takeuchi concludes. “We believe the technique will eventually allow us to design simple neuron network models with single-cell resolution. It’s an exciting prospect, as it opens many new avenues of research that aren’t possible with our current suite of experimental tools.” Interconnected cells-in-a-dish let researchers study brain disease Citation: Researchers make a two-neuron network (2018, May 23) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-05-two-neuron-network.htmllast_img read more

Saudi hackathon seeks hightech fixes to hajj calamities

first_imgFuelled by caffeine, pizza and adrenaline, sleep-deprived programmers in a marathon Saudi contest this week explored high-tech solutions to prevent a repeat of past calamities in the annual hajj pilgrimage. Prince Mohammed’s Vision 2030 reform plan seeks to shift the economy of Saudi Arabia—the world’s top crude exporter—away from oil dependency towards other sources of revenue, including religious tourism.The scheme for the post-oil era aims to draw six million hajj pilgrims annually. Additionally, the kingdom hopes to attract another 30 million pilgrims to umrah, a lesser pilgrimage to Mecca that can be completed during the rest of the year.Last October, Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund announced plans to set up two investment companies to develop infrastructure in Mecca and Medina, in a bid to accommodate the increasing numbers of Muslim pilgrims.Last year’s hajj passed without major health or safety upsets, but a politicisation of the hajj remains a concern amid regional rivalries.Saudi Arabia and its allies are also embroiled in a political boycott of neighbouring Qatar, which denies accusations of fostering close ties with Iran and backing extremism.”For the Saudi ruling elite, its custodianship of the two holy sites is arguably more sensitive this year in the wake of the heightened tension in the region,” Ulrichsen said. Participants from across the globe took part in the 36-hour competition “This (hackathon) will enrich that experience, will give us plenty of solutions and ideas that we can actually adapt and invest in,” she told AFP. Explore further Four Saudi men sought to design sensors for garbage bins that would alert cleaners when they are full to avert any hygiene scare.And another group of Saudi women scrawled algorithms and programming codes on a whiteboard to design an app to help non-Arabic speakers translate instructions into multiple languages without an internet connection.With nearly 3,000 programmers—who ate and slept at the venue—organisers said Saudi Arabia had broken the Guinness World Record for the largest number of participants at a hackathon.While their solutions are still untested, the event, which ended on Friday and offered cash prizes of around two million riyals ($533,000), was billed as an invention marathon by organisers.”We aim to upgrade the experience of hajj for all pilgrims from all over the world,” said Nouf al-Rakan, chief executive of the Saudi Federation for Cyber Security and Programming, which organised the event. Around 3,000 programmers attended the three-day hackathon in Jeddah, organisers said In a cavernous hall in the Red Sea city of Jeddah, thousands of software professionals and students competed in the kingdom’s first-ever hackathon, a coding festival ahead of the world’s largest pilgrimage later this month.The hajj, expected to draw more than two million pilgrims to Mecca this year, represents a key rite of passage for Muslims and a massive logistical challenge for Saudi authorities, with colossal crowds cramming into relatively small holy sites.Launching headlong into 36 hours of software development, the participants from across the globe battled sleep deprivation to crowd source answers to a key question that has long vexed hajj organisers—how to avert future deadly disasters.A group of five Saudi, Yemeni and Eritrean women, all in their 20s and covered head-to-toe in the Islamic niqab, hunched over their laptops to design an app for paramedics to speedily reach people in need of medical attention using geo-tracking technology.If multiple emergencies arise at once, the women hoped their app would help prioritise the most pressing cases.Two Pakistani professionals paired up with two East Asian students to develop a “virtual leash” application to locate relatives lost in the sea of humanity by using bluetooth wristbands. Citation: Saudi hackathon seeks high-tech fixes to hajj calamities (2018, August 5) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-saudi-hackathon-high-tech-hajj-calamities.html Participants compete in Saudi Arabia’s first ever hackathon on August 1, 2018 ahead of this year’s hajj pilgrimage Filipino Muslims urged to delay hajj due to MERS © 2018 AFP This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. ‘Modernising narrative’Saudi Arabia’s custodianship of Mecca and Medina—Islam’s two holiest sites—is seen as the kingdom’s most powerful form of political legitimacy. But a series of deadly disasters over the years have prompted criticism of the Sunni kingdom’s management of the annual pilgrimage, most notably from arch rival and Shiite powerhouse Iran.In September 2015, a stampede killed up to 2,300 worshippers—including hundreds of Iranians—in the worst disaster ever to strike the pilgrimage.Earlier that month, 100 people were killed when a construction crane toppled into a courtyard of Mecca’s Grand Mosque.The tragedies prompted scathing criticism from Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who said the Saudi ruling family did not deserve to manage Islam’s holiest sites. “I imagine the Saudi authorities are very anxious to avoid a repeat of past mishaps that could reflect badly on the ‘modernising’ narrative around Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute in the US. Organisers said the hackathon’s aim was to find high-tech ways to make the hajj safer and more efficientlast_img read more

Facebook flags users who try to game factchecking effort

first_img Facebook nixes Brazil pages, profiles that spread fake news Facebook acknowledged Tuesday it has developed tools to identify users “indiscriminately” flagging fake news as it refines its effort to combat misinformation. Citation: Facebook flags users who try to ‘game’ fact-checking effort (2018, August 21) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-08-facebook-flags-users-game-fact-checking.html © 2018 AFP Facebook says it has a ranking system that identifies users who “indiscriminately” flag fake newscenter_img Explore further But the leading social network disputed as “just plain wrong” a Washington Post report that it has developed an overall “reputation score” for its users as part of the initiative.Facebook said it has developed “a process to protect against people indiscriminately flagging news as fake and attempting to game the system” which relies in part on how often a user reports something as fake despite verification by fact-checkers.”The reason we do this is to make sure that our fight against misinformation is as effective as possible,” Facebook said in a statement.Users who report what appears to be bogus news are given a standard probability score of from zero to one depending on how reliable they are when it comes to reporting posts that are untrue, according to the social network.The rating is one of many “signals” used to prioritize flagged posts sent to be reviewed by fact-checking teams.But Facebook said the Post report was misleading because it did not create a “unified score” to rank the overall trustworthiness of its users.Over the past 18 months, Facebook and other online platforms have stepped up efforts to combat the spread of false news with the intent to manipulate the platforms.Part of the challenge battling bogus content is that some people report posts as false simply because they disagree with stories, or in efforts to wrongly discredit them, according to the social network.Repeatedly reporting accurate information to be false at Facebook would skew a users reliability rating toward zero in the ranking system.Facebook last month shut down 32 fake pages and accounts involved in an apparent “coordinated” effort to stoke hot-button issues ahead of November midterm US elections.The US intelligence community has concluded that Russia sought to sway the vote in Donald Trump’s favor, and Facebook was a primary tool in that effort, using targeted ads to escalate political tensions and push divisive online content.Facebook has since made a priority of preventing the social network to be used to spread misleading or outright deceitful messages aimed at influencing politics. This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more