Posts tagged with "CNBC"

Medtronic posts design specs for ventilator to combat coronavirus

March 31, 2020

Medical equipment company Medtronic announced on March 30 that it would publicly share the design specifications for a ventilator product, in order to enable other companies to explore producing it rapidly to help meet demand driven by the novel coronavirus.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the company posted online the design documents, service manuals and other information for its Puritan Bennett 560, which is sold in 35 countries. The company plans to post software code and other information shortly.

What’s more, the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports,  Medtronic will get an assist from automaker Tesla Inc., which will convert a New York production plant to churn out medical devices instead of solar power cells.

Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak discussed the partnership in an interview with CNBC, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on Twitter, “Giga New York will reopen for ventilator production as soon as humanly possible. We will do anything in our power to help the citizens of New York.”

Medtronic has ramped up production of another of its ventilators in recent weeks, the Puritan Bennett 980.

“By openly sharing the PB 560 design information, we hope to increase global production of ventilator solutions for the fight against Covid-19,” said Bob White, executive vice president and president of the Minimally Invasive Therapies group at Medtronics.

Ventilators are needed for people severely ill with the coronavirus who have trouble breathing on their own. Hospitals and state officials have increased orders for the machines, and manufacturers have boosted production, but some health experts say there may not be enough to meet a surge in cases in coming weeks.

Research contact: @WSJ

Udacity offers one month of free tech training during COVID-19 crisis

March 27, 2020

Online learning platform Udacity is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by offering free tech training to workers who have been laid off, furloughed, or are sheltering in place, due to the crisis.

On March 26, the Mountain View, California-based company announced on its blog that it will offer its courses—known as nanodegrees—free for one month. The average price for an individual signing up for a nanodegree is about $400 a month, and the degrees take anywhere from four to six months to complete, according to the company.

Gabe Dalporto, CEO of Udacity, told CNBC that over the past few weeks, as he and his senior leadership team heard projections of skyrocketing unemployment numbers as a result of COVID-19, he felt the need to act. “I think those reports were a giant wake-up call for everybody,” he says. “This [virus] will create disruption across the board and in many industries, and we wanted to do our part to help.”

Dalporto says Udacity is funding the scholarships completely and that displaced workers can apply for them at udacity.com/pledge-to-americas-workers .

Udacity will take the first 50 eligible applicants from each company that applies, and within 48 hours individuals should be able to begin the coursework. Dalporto says the offer will be good for the first 20 companies that apply and that “after that we’ll evaluate and figure out how many more scholarships we are going to fund.

The hope is that while individuals wait to go back to work, or in the event that the layoff is permanent, they can get training in fields that are driving so much of today’s digital transformation. Udacity’s courses include artificial intelligence, machine learning, digital marketing, product management, data analysis, cloud computing, autonomous vehicles, among others.

The company also announced this week that any individual, regardless of whether they’ve been laid off, can enroll for free in any one of Udacity’s 40 different nanodegree programs. Users will get the first month free when they enroll in a monthly subscription, but Dalporto pointed out that many students can complete a course in a month if they dedicate enough time to it.

Dalporto says. “The great irony in the world right now is that at the same time that a lot of people are going to lose their jobs, there are areas in corporations where managers just can’t hire enough people for jobs in data analytics, cloud computing and AI.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Fitbit data could help predict flu outbreaks in real time

January 22, 2020

That Fitbit on your wrist could be doing a lot more than tracking the strides you make each day: Researchers at the California-based Scripps Research Translational Institute reviewed de-identified data from 200,000 users of Fitbit exercise and activity trackers in five states—and found that they were able to use data like rising heart rates and changes in sleep patterns to predict flu outbreaks in real-time, according to a report by CNN.

Indeed, the scientists were able to calculate the proportion of users falling above set thresholds for average heart rate and sleep duration—and to compare that data to weekly flu rates determined by the Centers for Disease Control—in order to predict flu outbreaks in real time.

The finding shows the potential for the soon-to-be Alphabet-owned brand to predict disease outbreaks —which could open an opportunity to propel Google-sister company Verily’s population health efforts:

With the flu affecting an estimated 35.5 million and driving 490,600 hospitalizations in the US in the 2018-2019 flu season alone, according to the CDC, the ability to predict outbreaks would be welcomed by an already overburdened healthcare system. And the potential savings could be significant: During the 2015-2016 U.S. flu season, an estimated $10.4 billion was spent on direct costs for adult hospitalizations and outpatient visits, according to CNBC.

And should Alphabet get the regulatory go-ahead for its Fitbit purchase, the potential to predict disease outbreaks would be a huge value-add to Verily’s population health efforts.For example, CNN suggests, “We could see Verily integrate health data collected from Fitbit users into its Project Baseline initiative, which is aimed at developing technologies to help researchers architect a map of human health and gain a deeper understanding of prevalent conditions like Parkinson’s Disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.”

However, there are some flies in the proverbial ointment: While promising, the impact of the finding could be lessened due to the limited nature of the data collected — and Alphabet will need to be clear about its data-sharing policies or risk losing more consumer trust if it seeks a partner for future Fitbit endeavors, CNN notes.

What’s more, Fitbit users aren’t necessarily representative of the general population: For example, U.S. consumers who use wearables skew younger and tend to have higher incomes, as eMarketer noted in its Wearables 2019 report, which means there are likely gaps missing in the data collected.

Research contact: @CNN

NutriDrip to offer aging and hangover IV infusions at Wynn Hotels and Equinox

January 16, 2020

At Clean Market, New Yorkers have a wide menu of healthy offerings to choose from, such as “superfood smoothies” and bowls. Also available à la carte: vitamins delivered intravenously at the NutriDrip bar, CNBC reports.

They are not cheap, but the 30-minute IV infusions—administered by medical professionals—are growing in popularity.

And lately, CNBC says, they’ve been attracting new business partners, too, from the Wynn Hotel, which plans to start offering NutriDrip in Las Vegas early this year; to fitness and lifestyle company Equinox. Indeed, Equinox executives Jeffrey Weinhaus and Harvey Spevak were early investors in NutriDrip.

NutriDrip sells 15 vitamin infusions. The classic Nutribody drip aims to support fat loss with a combination of l-carnitine, taurine, vitamin C, and B complex, among others.

There also are popular hangover remedies—Basic Recover, Super Recovery, and Mega Recovery— which range in price from $119 to $199, depending on how much you’re hurting from the night before.

What’s more, the Nutriyouth drip claims the ability to “help stop cellular aging in its tracks” with a mixture of anti-aging enzymes, molecules and vitamins for $599.

Founded five years ago, NutriDrip is looking to expand in 2020 with a Series A funding round in the first half of this year. Executives declined to say how much money they’re looking to raise.

“Over the last three years, IV nutrient therapy, specifically NutriDrip, has grown, at like a 60% to 80% year-over-year growth rate, even while opening new stores,” co-founder Asa Kitfield told the cable business news channel. “So we’re really excited to see what sort of saturation the market can see on like a local and national basis.”

“As many of our guests now expect a more holistic set of wellness options, we have evolved to include broader wellness themes related to functional wellness, physical fitness, and healthy cuisine,” a Wynn Hotel spokesperson told CNBC; adding “providing IV therapy is one more way to help our guests maintain personal wellness routines while they are traveling.”

Celebrities, including Madonna, Rihanna and Simon Cowell, are reportedly fans of IV vitamin treatments, but it’s drawn some controversy.

“Anytime you poke a hole in somebody’s vein, there is some risk that they’ll bleed excessively. There’s also some risk that they will clot excessively,” Dr. David Katz, founding director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center told CNBC. “So the risks are not great. And the risks are not very common, but there are risks, and the only way to justify any risk in medicine is by a greater likely benefit.”

The doctor said there is “minimal evidence that there is any meaningful benefit for most people.”

On the other hand, Kitfield said NutriDrip doesn’t make grand promises about its treatments—but the company and customers clearly believe in its benefits.

“When you look at our business, where 50% to 60% of our revenue comes from regulars, and that’s why we continue to grow, the proof is kind of in the pudding,”Kitfield said.

According to the Global Wellness Institute—a nonprofit that tracks the $4.5 trillion industry—while IV therapy and alternative medicine is a small portion of the overall spending, it’s among the fastest-growing sectors.

Research contact: @CNBC

Giuliani henchman is ready to testify that Nunes aides axed Ukraine trip to avoid tipping off Schiff

November 26, 2019

The dominoes are falling: Lev Parnas, who collaborated with President Donald Trump‘s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani in his efforts to find dirt on 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has offered to testify before the House Intelligence Committee as part of the impeachment inquiry.

Parnas says he is prepared to bear witness that aides to Representative Devin Nunes (R-California.)—who is ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting the impeachment inquiry—dropped a planned trip to Ukraine to obtain dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden in order to avoid alerting House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-California).

Specifically, CNBC reported on November 24 that Lev Parnas plans to tell committee members that aides to Nunes planned to meet with two Ukrainian prosecutors in an effort to obtain evidence to aid Trump’s reelection bid, but abandoned the efforts once they realized that Schiff’s staff would be alerted to the trip.

The offices of Nunes and Schiff did not immediately return requests for comment on Sunday evening, November 24, The Hill reported—noting that Parnas’s planned testimony, if accurate, would implicate Nunes’s staff in the president and Giuliani’s efforts to push Ukrainian officials to open a politically charged investigations into Biden.

Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee have argued that the president’s efforts presented a clear case that he was attempting to solicit foreign interference in a U.S. election, while also allegedly tying up military aid to the country over the issue.

Joseph Bondy, Parnas’s attorney, told CNBC that he hopes the committee will allow his client to testify. Parnas and a fellow Giuliani associate were recently arrested at Dulles International Airport and charged with campaign finance violations.

His client, Bondy told CNBC, wishes to provide “truthful and important information that is in furtherance of justice.”

Research contact: @thehill

People with dyslexia have the skills to future-proof the workforce, research claims

October 15, 2019

Companies can future-proof their workforces by employing people with dyslexia, new research has claimed, according to a report by CNBC.

In a report published Monday, the British consultancy division of Ernst & Young, EY, used data from the World Economic Forum (WEF) and Made By Dyslexia—the latter, a global charity led by successful dyslexics—to outline how such people’s skills aligned with the competencies that would be required in the workplaces of the future.

What exactly is dyslexia? The Mayo Clinic describes it as “a learning disorder that involves difficult reading due to problems identify speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding).” Most dyslexics have above-average intelligence and social aptitude—and, therefore, are able to hide their reading and pronunciation problems without detection in many cases.

Referencing the WEF’s prediction of which skills would be the most in-demand by 2022, EY’s report highlighted how certain capabilities were becoming more and less useful to employers amid the rise of automation.

The need for processing and manual capabilities like time management, reading, mathematical calculations, and active listening were on the decline, according to the report, CNBC notes.

Meanwhile, creative and social skills such as leadership, analytical thinking and technology design—all of which are common in dyslexics—were increasingly in demand.

The report’s authors also highlighted a slew of capabilities and skills typically seen in people with dyslexia that would be vital to all industries by the year 2022.

“Overall, our analysis shows that competencies for a significant number of jobs in the workplace that dyslexic individuals may typically find challenging will largely be impacted by forms of automation,” the report’s authors said.

“In their place, enhanced tasks and new jobs will be created that match closely to the strengths of dyslexic thinking. Dyslexia could provide an opportunity for organizations to bridge the skills gap of the future.”

Earlier this month, CNBC reports, billionaire Sir Richard Branson credited dyslexia for some of his success as an entrepreneur, noting that people with the condition possessed the “skills of the future.”

“My dyslexia has shaped Virgin right from the very beginning and imagination has been the key to many of our successes,” he said in a blog post. “It helped me think big but keep our messages simple. The business world often gets caught up in facts and figures—and while the details and data are important, the ability to dream, conceptualize and innovate is what sets the successful and the unsuccessful apart.”

Research contact: @CNBC

California passes landmark bill requiring gig workers to be treated as employees

September 12, 2019

California lawmakers passed a landmark bill (Assembly Bill 5 ) on September 10 that promises to reshape how the peer-to-peer ridesharing and food delivery industries do business.

The legislation passed in a 29 to 11 vote in the State Senate and now moves on to the State Assembly, where if it passes, it will land on the governor’s desk.

The legislation, which is scheduled to go into effect on January 1, 2020, would require gig economy workers to be reclassified as employees instead of contractors, CNBC reports—affecting the operating plans on which Uber and Lyft base their current success.

But shares of Lyft popped more than 7.8% on Wednesday morning, while Uber climbed more than 4.5% after California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) told the The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he’s still engaged in talks with Uber, Lyft and other gig economy companies about possible negotiations around the bill. Newsom recently voiced his support for the bill, the news outlet said.

Additionally, CNBC says, the bill has received broad support from Democratic presidential candidates—among them, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) and Kamala Harris (D-California), and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D).

The bill has the potential to change the employment status of more than 1 million low-wage workers in California, including those at DoorDash, Postmates, and Instacart. It will make it harder for gig economy companies to prove that their workers aren’t staff, while ensuring key benefits and protections, like minimum wage, insurance and sick days.

But predictably, AB5 has attracted staunch opposition from gig economy companies. In an effort to push back against the bill, Uber and Lyft proposed establishing $21-an-hour minimum wage for drivers in California. The ride-hailing companies, as well as Doordash, have also pledged $90 million on a ballot initiative for the 2020 election that would exempt them from AB5.

Lyft spokesperson Adrian Durbin told CNBC that the bill has the potential to hurt drivers who prefer a flexible work schedule.

 “Today, our state’s political leadership missed an opportunity to support the overwhelming majority of rideshare drivers who want a thoughtful solution that balances flexibility with an earnings standard and benefits,” Durbin said in a statement. ”…We are fully prepared to take this issue to the voters of California to preserve the freedom and access drivers want and need.”

A DoorDash spokesperson said the company was disappointed by the decision, but said it was “committed” to establishing a guaranteed minimum wage, benefits, and other protections for its gig workers.

Representatives from Uber, Postmates and Instacart were not immediately available for comment.

Research contact: @CNBC

Out-of-the-box thinking: There are 175 new mattress brands and too little differentiation

August 20, 2019

If someone had asked us several years ago whether we would be willing to buy a mattress in a box, without seeing it or even stretching out on it first, we would immediately have rejected such a crazy proposition. After all, the best way to buy a new mattress used to be visiting a showroom and sampling the goods.

However, Michael Magnuson, founder of mattress review site GoodBed.com told CNBC recently that there are now around 175 bed-in-a-box companies—and online mattress sales have become a successful and profitable sector of the home goods industry.

Online mattress companies that ship to your front door say that finding the perfect bed might just take a few clicks. But those same industry experts warn that it’s important to look beneath the sheets, the cable network news outlet notes. They say many mattresses being sold are actually very similar formulations—despite how they’re marketed. In fact, they often are manufactured by the same companies.

“The products that you’re buying—there are many similarities and only some minor differences,” Seth Basham, an analyst at Wedbush Securities who covers the mattress industry, told CNBC recently. He said that the core of the mattresses at different companies often use the same foam.  “The different layers— what goes on top of what—can differ. But the big difference is how they’re being sold and marketed.”

Their sales account for 12% of the $16.5 billion mattress industry, though only the top 10 companies make a significant dent, according to Basham. Among the major players are brands like Purple, Casper, Nectar, Leesa, and Tuft & Needle.

The legacy mattress giants like Tempur Sealy and Serta Simmons should be nervous, Peter Keith, an analyst at Piper Jaffray told the news outlet in an interview. Sales units on average at those companies have been down 5% over the past two years.

A survey by the International Sleep Products Association reported that 45% of mattresses purchased in last year were online, up from 35% for purchases in 2017.

The majority of bed-in-a-boxes outsource their manufacturing, according to Magnuson from GoodBed.com. “None of these guys, with a few rare exceptions, make their own mattresses,” he said. “They’re literally calling around to producers saying, ‘we need a finished product and here’s what we think it should look like.’ Sometimes, they don’t even know what they want it to look like.”

The companies that make their own mattresses include Brentwood Home, Brooklyn Bedding, and Purple, Magnuson said. Many of the bigger bed-in-a-boxes do the research and development of the mattresses themselves, which differentiate how they feel.

And companies like Tuft & Needle, Casper and Leesa have layers of foam with proprietary formulas, which means they’re not the same as others.

Most of the outsourcing is to just four major manufacturers, according to Dan Schecter, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Carpenter. He told CNBC that his company makes mattresses for 40% of the mattress industry at 60 factories throughout the country. That includes including roughly 14 bed-in-a-box brands, along with all the traditional players like Tempur Sealy.

“The customer comes to us … they say they want a mattress that does these things against the body, and they would like to have these features and advantages as part of their marketing story. We then create the mattresses that dovetail with what their vision is,” he said.

Schecter said the mattresses produced by Carpenter do not have the same foam formulations, and that the company only agrees to design and manufacture mattresses that are backed by science.

Purple emphasizes the science behind its mattresses, especially its “Smart Comfort Grid” layer, which it says helps to relieve pressure on your body during sleep. Eight Sleep is another company that’s technology-oriented, and touts its mattresses’ dual temperature control and sleep tracking app.

So what’s a tired consumer supposed to buy? Until the market shakes out, that might be a problem.

But all the different offerings might just overwhelm consumers, David Srere, co-CEO of branding agency Siegel+Gale, told CNBC. “It’s the amount of information. There’s just too much,” he said. “If you go online, not only do all of them look alike, but they’re all talking about their different products. If I tell you that my mattress is special because it’s infused with copper gel, does it mean anything to you?”

Research contact: @CNBC

Out of office message: Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns

July 15, 2019

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta said in a press conference on July 12 that he would resign, amid controversy over a hush-hush plea deal that he and his staff made with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, while Acosta was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

According to criminal justice sources in the Sunshine State, there was sufficient evidence at that time to prosecute Epstein for sexual assault against dozens of underage girls, but instead Acosta prearranged a pact with the alleged offender—and did not provide details of the settlement to complainants in the case.

Details of the slimy deal—which allowed Epstein to register as a sex offender, but to work in his office six days a week and only to sleep in jail for 13 months—resurfaced on July 6; when the politically connected Epstein, whose friends in high places have included Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, was arrested again on sex trafficking charges after he returned from France by private plane to the New York City metropolitan area.

Following the arrest, those same sources accused Acosta of “rewriting history” when he stated, “Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the [Southern District of] New York prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”

As the story continued to garner headlines and outrage in the days after Epstein was taken into custody, President Trump remained steadfast in his support of his Labor Secretary, but leading Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren-—as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—demanded that Acosta quit.

Acosta finally made the announcement on Friday morning to reporters while standing next to the president outside the White House, according to a report by CNBC. Trump said that Acosta had called him that morning, and that it was Acosta’s decision to quit.

“This was him, not me, because I’m with him,” Trump said in a lengthy exchange with the press before departing the White House en route to events in Wisconsin and Ohio, said CNBC. “I said, ‘You don’t have to do this.’”

Acosta told reporters that he did not want his involvement in Epstein’s controversy to overshadow the administration’s accomplishments. Acosta said he will officially resign a week after his announcement; Deputy Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella will take his place in an acting capacity, Trump said.

According to the CNBC report, Epstein is accused of luring dozens of underage girls to his Manhattan mansion to give him massages that escalated into sex acts. He is charged in New York with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

Epstein had long been under investigation by both federal and local law enforcement for sex crimes against underage girls that took place from 2002 to 2005 in New York and Florida.

Research contact: @CNBC

Dieticians: Plant-based Beyond and Impossible burgers are no healthier than red meat

July 8, 2019

If you had a regular burger on July 4—but feel a little guilty about not choosing one of the newly popular plant-based alternatives—no worries.

Although the marketers behind El Segundo, California-based Beyond Meat and its competitor, Redwood California-based Impossible Foods, say that their products are better for us than meat, dietitians are not completely sold on the benefits, CNBC reports.

Scientific research has linked frequent consumption of red meat to heart disease and cancer. Beyond’s website claims that animal-based meats lead to a 16% increased risk of cancer and 21% increased risk of heart disease.

In theory, then, eating plant-based imitations of red meat is healthier. However, Alissa Rumsey, owner of Alissa Rumsey Nutrition and Wellness in New York City, told CNBC that—while she believes that we benefit from eating more plants — she isn’t sold on these plant-based options.

“They are not necessarily healthier than beef burgers,” Rumsey, a registered dietitian, said. “They’re totally fine to eat, but there’s no need to replace your beef burger if you don’t enjoy these.”

Rumsey pointed to the amounts of sodium and saturated fat in plant-based burgers, which are roughly the same as those in a traditional beef burger.

What’s more, because both the Impossible Burger and the Beyond Burger are processed foods, registered dietitian Catherine Perez—who specializes in plant-based diets at The Charge Group in Media, Pennsylvania—told CNBC that she still puts them in the “indulgence category.”

The Impossible Burger uses heme from soy plants for a meaty taste and realistic juices, as well as soy protein concentrate. However, processed soy is controversial because it strips out some of the key nutrients found in traditional soy foods like tofu and can contain unhealthy compounds.

The Beyond Burger does not contain soy and instead uses pea protein isolate for its primary protein source.

All three dietitians said that consumers should try to incorporate more whole foods—rather than processed foods—into their meals.

Research contact: @CNBC