Posts tagged with "Business Insider"

SEC charges Hollywood actor with operating $690M Ponzi scheme based on fake Netflix deals

April 8, 2021

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has obtained an asset freeze against Los Angeles-based actor Zachary Horwitz (also known by the stage name Zach Avery) in connection with an alleged Ponzi scheme that raised over $690 million, Business Insider reports.

The U.S. regulator said in a Tuesday statement that Horwitz allegedly lied to investors that he and his company were buying film rights and reselling them to Netflix and HBO. In reality, his company had no business relationship with the entertainment giants and relied on fake emails to fool investors.

According to the SEC statement, Horowitz and his company, 1inMM Productions, promised investors returns in excess of 35%, and for years paid supposed returns on earlier investments using funds from new investments.

“We allege that Horwitz promised extremely high returns and made them seem plausible by invoking the names of two well-known entertainment companies and fabricating documents,” said Michele Wein Layne, director of the SEC’s Los Angeles Regional Office.

In addition, Business Insider reports, Horwitz misappropriated investor funds for his personal us,—using victims’ money to purchase a $6 million property in Beverlywood, California.

The US Justice Department separately issued a statement saying that the FBI arrested Horwitz on Tuesd, April 6. Horwitz was criminally charged with raising $227 million over the course of about five years that has yet to be repaid as part of a scheme in which he claimed he would acquire rights to films that Netflix and HBO would then distribute abroad, particularly in Latin America, the statement said.

Research contact: @BusinessInsider

You can use Yelp to report businesses that aren’t enforcing social distancing and mask use

January 13, 2021

Businesses that do not enforce social distancing or that do not require their employees to wear masks now can be reported in a new Yelp update that launched on Tuesday, January 12, Business Insider divulged this week.

Yelp users can specify what type of pandemic precautions a business is—or is not—taking by answering survey questions on the business’ page or through the edit button on a company’s COVID-19 updates section.

What’s more, businesses on Yelp will either receive a green check mark or orange question mark to indicate whether they are following COVID-19 guidelines.

Multiple customers must report a business within 28 days for it to appear on the company’s page.

Yelp said that every decision the company has made to date to prioritize COVID-19 information on its site has only increased consumer interest.

“This new update further highlights how businesses have adapted to keep their customers safe, and aims to instill confidence in consumers to continue supporting local businesses,” Yelp’s Head of Consumer Product, Akhil Ramesh, said in the announcement.

Businesses with multiple locations only will receive feedback based on each individual location—and will not be rated overall. Yelp also plans to send users notifications when a company updates its COVID-19 information.

The review aggregation site has actively updated coronavirus data on the app since the pandemic started. In June, Yelp launched its coronavirus safety section where companies were able to update their pages with their own COVID-19 information.

Research contact: @businessinsider

More than 170 top U.S. business leaders urge Congress to certify Biden’s Electoral College win

January 6, 2021

More than 170 American business leaders signed a letter on January 4 urging Congress to certify the result of the presidential election without delay, Business Insider reports.

Signatories included Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO David Solomon; Microsoft President Brad Smith;  BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink; Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla; James Zelter, a co-president of Apollo Global Management; and Lyft CEO Logan Green.

Congress is scheduled to certify the result on Wednesday, January 6—thereby confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. President Donald Trump has so far refused to acknowledge that he lost the election.

The Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit organization and major business advocacy group, published the letter on Monday. “This presidential election has been decided and it is time for the country to move forward,” the letter said. “President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris have won the Electoral College and the courts have rejected challenges to the electoral process.”

According to Business Insider, the leaders added that “attempts to thwart or delay this process run counter to the essential tenets of our democracy.”

Biden and Harris deserve respect and bipartisan support as America faces “the worst health and economic crises in modern history,” they said.

The letter said that Congress should certify the electoral vote and that “there should be no further delay in the orderly transfer of power.”

But at least 140 Republican House members are planning to vote against certification, two representatives told CNN last week.

Trump and other Republicans have tried to overturn the result of the election, pushing false claims of voter fraud.

Over the weekend, Trump pleaded with Georgia’s secretary of state in an hourlong phone call to “find” additional votes to overturn Biden’s victory in the state.

Biden won the 2020 presidential election with 306 electoral votes, flipping five states that voted for Trump in 2016.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Last-minute Trump Administration law will enable restaurant owners to pull wait staffers’ tips

Dece4mber 24, 2020

One of the final pieces of legislation rolled out by the Trump Administration will reportedly allow restaurant bosses to save money by taking tips away from their serving staff to help pay “back-of-house staff” such as cooks and dishwashers, The Daily Beast reports.

According to Business Insider, the new rule was published on Tuesday, December 22, by the U.S. Department of Labor.

“This final rule provides clarity and flexibility for employers and could increase pay for back-of-the house workers, like cooks and dishwashers, who have been excluded from participating in tip pools in the past,” said Wage and Hour Administrator Cheryl Stanton in a statement released by the DoL. “Newly allowed tip sharing may incentivize the inclusion of these previously excluded workers and reduce wage disparities among all workers who contribute to customers’ experience.”

Restaurant managers and owners would not be permitted under the law to keep any portion of the tips for themselves.

The new rule won’t take effect until after President Donald Trump leaves the White House, so it’s possible that President-elect Joe Biden could work to rescind it. Tipped staffers can earn as little as $2.13 an hour in wages from their employer.

Research contact: @thedailybeast

J. Crew promotes the head of Madewell to take over the company, as CEO exits after ‘brutal’ year

November 26, 2020

J. Crew Group has named Libby Wadle—the head of its popular casual-wear division, Madewell—as its next CEO, the company announced in a press release  on November 24. Wadle will replace outgoing CEO Jan Singer , who took over the struggling retailer last January— after short stints as CEO of Victoria’s Secret and Spanx.

The private-equity-backed J. Crew, which emerged from bankruptcy in September. has seen extensive turnover at the top level, with Wadle becoming its fourth CEO in under four years, Business Insider reports.

Longtime CEO Mickey Drexler stepped down in 2017 as J.Crew fell out of favor with consumers ;and he was succeeded by Jim Brett, who lasted just 17 months before stepping down in November 2018 amid a clash over the company’s direction. After Brett’s departure,  the retailer went more than a year without a CEO until Singer’s appointment in January.

“Moving forward as a company under unified leadership, we will harness the power of our collective platforms and talented teams to ensure our brands can continue to inspire and grow,” said Wadle, who has spent the last 16 years in senior leadership roles at various J.Crew brands.

Wadle takes over as economic fallout from COVID-19 has ravaged brick-and-mortar retailers, but J.Crew’s sales had been declining even before the pandemic hit. In May, J.Crew became the first major retailer to file for bankruptcy as a result of the pandemic, reaching a deal with its lenders to convert about $1.65 billion of its debt into equity, according to Business Insider.

“The continued executive turnover at J.Crew adds to the turbulence of an already brutal year for the retailer. The brand’s turnaround, which was in process during 2019, is now more challenging given the ongoing disruption in apparel spending, as the pandemic continues to radically alter US consumers’ shopping habits,” Moody’s VP Raya Sokolyanska told Business Insider in a statement.

Research covntact: @businessinsider

Walmart offers extra provisions for fur babies—including insurance and dog-walking services

November 13, 2020

Walmart is digging deeper into the pet services game, the company announced on November 12. The retail giant is launching Walmart Pet Care, an “omnichannel pet care offering that makes holistic care easy, simple, and affordable for the 90 million pet owners who shop at Walmart,” according to a report by Business Insider.

Pet-related services now include Walmart’s first-ever pet insurance plans via insurance provider Petplan. The company also is collaborating with pet-services company Rover to pair owners with local pet-sitters and dog-walkers.

“We’re on a mission to help families live better — and that goes for pets, too,” Melody Richard, merchandising vice president of Walmart’s pets category, said in a statement sent to Business Insider. “Especially as adoption rates soar as a result of the pandemic and more people become pet owners, this was the perfect time to launch expanded services in Walmart Pet Care for our customers.”

The pet services industry has exploded in recent years, Business Insider says, as consumers continue to spend more and more on their animals.

“Maybe 30 years ago, pets were in someone’s backyard,” Kristen Peck, CEO of animal medication company Zoetis, told the audience at the Business Insider Global Trends Festival in October. “Then they came into the house. And I’d say five-to-10 years ago they ended up on your bed. Why does that matter? The closer they get to you, the more you invest in their healthcare, and the more their health impacts you.”

And this isn’t the first time that Walmart has dipped its paw into the pet services business. The Arkansas-based retailer currently stocks 1,800 pet products, and hosts a number of in-store vet clinics. Last year, the company launched Pet Rx, a service focusing on prescriptions for pets.

Insurance plans now offered in collaboration with Petplan will offer “pet parents” the chance to save on veterinary bills, streamline pet care appointments, and access up to $1,000 worth of free online virtual vet appointments. Additionally, Walmart customers using Rover will receive a $20 store gift card after completing their first and fifth Rover appointments.

“Through Rover, pet parents can quickly and easily book pet sitters and dog walkers from over 300,000 providers in their communities across the country,” a Walmart spokesperson said. “Walmart is working with Rover to provide customers with convenient pet sitters and dog walkers that match each pet, lifestyle, and budget.”

Research contact: @businessinsider

Bulletin to stress eaters: Krispy Kreme, McDonald’s offer free ‘noshes’ on Election Day

November 4, 2020

More than 90 million Americans voted early or by mail this year. But, with the U.S. presidential election on track to have the highest voter turnout since William Howard Taft was elected in 1908 with a 65% turnout, that still leaves over 100 million who should be hitting the polls on November 3.

And for most Americans—whether they are going to the polls or watching the results vigilantly—that could mean a very stressful Election Day. However, Business Insider reports, help is on the way.

If stress eating is your thing, several food chains are offering freebies that will take away the pain—among them:

  • Krispy Kreme is giving customers free doughnuts. The chain also is handing out “I Voted” stickers, in case customers voted early or by mail.
  • McDonald’s is offering a free Apple Fritter, Blueberry Muffin, or Cinnamon Roll with the purchase of coffees starting on Election Day. The “post-Halloween” deal will last from November 3 through November 9.
  • Boston Market is giving away free sliders from 9 p.m. until close nationwide, with no additional purchase necessary. The chain launched its new late night menu in October.
  • McAlister’s Deli is doing a buy-one-get-one-free sandwich deal to celebrate National Sandwich Day, which also falls on November 3. Customers need to sign up for the chain’s rewards program to access the deal.
  • Chili’s $5 Presidente Margarita deal is ending on Election Day. Customers can use the hashtag #PresidenteForPrez for a chance to win free Chili’s for a year.

Taking advantage of one or more of these offers could give Americans something to “chew on,” besides the election results.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Apple now will replace your faulty, crackling AirPods for free

November 3, 2020

In response to mounting complaints, Apple has announced that the company and its authorized providers will replace customers’ crackling AirPods Pro earphones for free.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant said it had become aware of “sound issues” on some of its units. These issues include staticky or crackling noises, and Active Noise Cancellation failing to work as expected. Therefore, Apple has authorized what amounts to a “recall.” Apple said either itself or its dealers will replace the headphones—either one at a time or as a pair, Business Insider reports.

In line with that policy, Apple has created a support page  for the AirPods Pro exchange program.  The free replacement policy lasts for two years after you first buy your AirPods Pro earphones, and does not apply to other AirPod models, the company said.

Apple is reportedly planning to launch two new pairs of AirPods next year, including a redesigned and smaller version of the AirPods Pro.

Research contact: @businessinsider

Verizon launches $44 million ‘upskilling program’ for Americans who wants to land an in-demand job

October 23, 2020

Telecommunications giant Verizon is investing $44 million in an upskilling program to help Americans unemployed by the coronavirus pandemic, as well as Americans looking for better jobs, Business Insider reports.

Currently, applications are being accepted for residents of Dallas, Las Vegas, Memphis, Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, Spartanburg, SC, and Washington, DC. The program will start in November and expand to more cities in 2021.

People who are Black or Latinx (a gender-neutral alternative to Latino or Latina), unemployed, or without a four-year-degree will be given priority admissions.

To deliver the program, the company is partnering with two nonprofits focused on workforce development, Generation and JFF, to launch the initiative.

It will train those in need to get jobs like junior cloud practitioner, junior web developer, IT help desk technician and digital marketing analyst.

The upskilling program is part of Citizen Verizon, Verizon’s recently unveiled responsible business plan that includes a goal of preparing 500,000 people for jobs of the future by 2030.

Digital upskilling has increased during the pandemic as millions of Americans look for in-demand jobs, Reuters reported.

In addition to Verizon, Business Insider notes, Amazon,  PwC,  IBM,  and  AT&T have launched major upskilling programs to retrain their workforces or attract new talent in recent years.

Research contact: @businessinsider

A chief economist says McConnell expects Trump to lose the election—so he won’t force a stimulus vote

October 19, 2020

Mitch McConnell won’t risk his position as Senate majority leader by forcing through a stimulus bill now, because he expects President Donald Trump to lose next month’s election, Ian Shepherdson, the chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics in the United Kingdom, said in a webinar on October 15.

“I think McConnell expects Trump to lose, and therefore, for him to spend political capital to support Trump by forcing through a bill which would put his own leadership position at risk after the election, to me, doesn’t make any sense,” Shepherdson said, according to a report by Business Insider.

“It’s always wise to do things from McConnell’s personal perspective, because that’s how things operate in the Senate. He has enormous personal power, and he wants to be leader again, even if he has to be a leader in the minority,” he said, alluding to the potential that Democrats could win a majority in the Senate next month.

House Democrats have put forward a $2.2 trillion plan, but McConnell has described it as “outlandish” and said the amount was too high.

On Thursday, he signaled that his limit is $500 billion, Business Insider said. “My members think what we laid out—a half a trillion dollars, highly targeted—is the best way to go,” he said. “So that’s what I’m going to put on the floor.”

To pass a big relief bill, Shepherdson said, McConnell would end up dividing his own party, since about 15 to 20 Republicans oppose a deal at or above $1.5 trillion.

But he ultimately wouldn’t push Republicans to agree, because “splitting the party is death to the leader,” Shepherdson said. He cited examples of the Republican leaders John Boehner and Paul Ryan, who also faced contentious splits within the GOP.

“There will be no bill of any size until after the inauguration,” Shepherdson said. “Here we are, in mid-October, looking at money not flowing until mid-February. That means a real void for the economy. It means potentially some very nasty growth numbers.”

Shepherdson added that market volatility around the rising or falling chance of a new stimulus bill had been “an accident waiting to happen.”

He said he expected a multitrillion-dollar bill by the end of January.

“The bill that I think will pass in February will be enormous. It will be $2 trillion-plus. It might even be the $3.3 trillion that the Democratic majority passed in May which was then ignored by the Senate,” he said.

But he said he didn’t expect the two chambers of Congress to work together before then. “That means leaving something positive for Biden to start with, and that’s not the mindset of Republicans in the Senate,” he said.

Research contact: @businessinsider