Posts tagged with "CNN Business"

Party pooper: Helium shortage forces Party City to close 45 stores

May 13, 2019

The party’s over. Party City is struggling to find enough helium gas to fill balloons—among the company’s most profitable services—and will, therefore, close 45 of its 900 locations in North America this year to make up for lost earnings, CNN Business reports.

Helium is the second-most abundant element in the galaxy, yet supplies have been running short on Earth. Over the past few years, some drillers have claimed to find troves of helium buried underground, but those haven’t always panned out. Party City said it really started feeling the pinch in August 2018.

The company’s mylar balloon sales fell 8% last quarter, dragging overall sales down 1.4% at Party City stores open at least a year. Sales would have risen if not for the Party City’s balloon problems, the company said on May 9.

Filling balloons with helium is among the company’s most profitable services, Barclays’ Matt McClintock told the cable news network. Helium brings people into the store, and those customers usually buy other items instead of purchasing on Amazon or at another store

The good news for Party City is that the company has signed an agreement with a new helium supplier. Party City believes the new supplier can help it return its balloon business back to normal starting in the summer, and it hopes the supplies will last for the next two-and-a-half years.

“We believe this new source should substantially eliminate the shortfall we are experiencing,” said Party City CEO James Harrison in a statement.

The bad news is Party City said its helium shortage will continue through the spring. That’s bad timing: May is a big month for balloons.

“Obviously graduation is a big season for balloons, no doubt about that,” said Harrison on a conference call with Wall Street analysts on May 9.

And once Party City gets its helium back, its new supplier will charge more than its last provider. So it will have to raise balloon-filling prices, CNN said.

Helium still remains cheap, and Party City doesn’t expect the higher prices to hurt sales in the long-run. It may also be able to eat some of that cost over time, Harrison predicted. But he said higher helium prices may be here to stay.

“Over time, will helium come back down in price? Nobody knows. We’ll see,” Harrison said.

Research contact: @PartyCity

Theranos whistleblowers launch advisory group on ethical practices for tech startups

April 4, 2019

March seemed to be “Theranos month” on U.S. television, as network, premium cable, and streaming channels ran stories on the stunning rise and fall of the Silicon Valley company helmed by Elizabeth Holmes—who claimed she had found a way to test for a full range of diseases with a small blood sample and a “magic box.”

Now, Erika Cheung and Tyler Shultz—two former employees who blew the whistle on Theranos—have launched a new organization called Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which seeks to help other entrepreneurs from suffering the same fate as Holmes, CNN reports.

Cheung, who lives in Hong Kong, is the former Theranos lab worker who tipped off the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to look into the blood testing startup.

Shultz, who is the grandson of Theranos board member and former Secretary of State George Shultz, was an ex-research engineer instrumental in helping Wall Street Journal investigative reporter John Carreyrou expose the company, according to the news outlet..

Theranos had a reported $9 billion valuation and employed hundreds of workers who bought into its mission to create a cheaper and more efficient alternative to traditional blood testing methods. After Carreyrou’s initial investigation into the company in 2015, its technology and testing methods started to unravel.

In March 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission settled charges against Theranos and Holmes, over “massive fraud “involving more than $700 million raised from investors. In September, Theranos announced plans to dissolve itself. The company remains the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.

Ethics in Entrepreneurship, which is seeking non-profit status in the United States and Hong Kong, according to CNN, wants to make talking about ethical practices the norm in the startup world. The founders plan to help connect early stage entrepreneurs to ethicists, seasoned entrepreneurs, and other relevant industry experts who can guide them on how to make ethical decisions when building a company. It also plans to make available tools and frameworks for ethical decisions that benefit businesses, employees and consumers.

There were so many instances, even for someone like Elizabeth Holmes, to turn back and say, ‘I’m taking things a little too far here,'” Cheung told CNN Business. “She had many opportunities to — even at the very end, she could have said, ‘OK, I’m sorry. I messed up. I’ll stop processing patient samples and I’m going to get my team together, we’re going to work on this and we’re going to make a good product.’ I don’t think she’s ever said that, until she had to go to court and say those things.'”

The organization is accepting donations on its website to help support the development of resources guides and workshops.

“I do think entrepreneurship can empower people and empower society but we also have to not let things escalate to this degree,” Cheung said.

Research contact: @saraashleyo

A brush with greatness? 1 million people have joined this ‘no-frills’ electric toothbrush startup

January 11, 2019

Step away from the sink. It turns out that most of us stubbornly persist in brushing our teeth the wrong way—without the optimal instruments.

In fact, according to Simon Enever, an industrial engineer who designed the new Quip system along with his friend Bill May, “Years of toothbrush ‘innovation’ [have] barely improved the humble toothbrush and, instead, [have] only served to overshadow the far more damaging, habitual problems that still persist.

“Brushing too hard, not brushing long enough, not brushing twice a day, not replacing your brush, and not going to the dentist are issues that are ignored–yet have far greater impact on oral health than a ‘Bluetooth Ultra Sonic’ toothbrush alone could ever have,” he says, “We set out to address that.”

The two designers spent a year gathering insights from dentists. Enever says he was shocked to learn that the average person brushes his or her teeth for only one minute instead of the recommended two; and that most people wait around nine months to change their worn out electric toothbrush heads, rather than the dentist recommended three months.

Now, CNN Business reports, Quip has 1 million customers to whom it delivers dental education, a streamlined routine, automated upkeep, and $5 rewards for dental visits.

And the price is right. The starter kit costs $25 for a plastic model and $40 for a metal version. For a $5 fee, subscribers are sent a new brush head every three months

For $65 a year, a customer can purchase a prepaid plan that covers a starter set—electric toothbrush, multi-use cover/mount, and a larger toothpaste—and then continue to receive a fresh brush head, an AAA battery, and a large toothpaste every three months.

According to CNN, the battery-operated Quip uses sonic vibrations (where the motor vibrates the bristles back and forth) instead of rotations, providing “a higher level of cleaning.”

Each brushing is automatically programmed to last two-minutes and consists of 30-second intervals so that users can cover each zone in the mouth. Quip is meant to be portable and has a holder that can be attached to the wall with a suction cup.

The first shipment went out in November 2015 and the rest is history.

Research contact: @quip

Open for business: The all-news cable network launches CNN Business out of a San Francisco bureau

October 5, 2018

CNN launched a new website on October 4, dubbed CNN Business, which the cable network says will offer a new look and a new editorial focus—and will be produced out of a brand-new San Francisco bureau.

The goal of the site, CNN said in a formal release, is “to chronicle the digital transformation of business and how it is disrupting every corner of the global economy.” The all-news network says it will do just that “through exclusive interviews and breaking news, new franchises and verticals; and digital video, including an expanded suite of live streaming content.”

Jason Farkas, who has been named the VP and general manager of the business news platform, explained how the idea originated: “To understand business in 2018, we have to recognize that every company is now a technology company,” he said, adding, “At CNN Business, we’re living the story we’re reporting – and transforming how we will cover the future.”

Previously, Farkas oversaw digital video and TV for CNNMoney, CNN Tech, and CNN Media, including serving as executive producer of the Sunday show, Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter. (Note: With the launch of CNN business, the network will sunset CNNMoney.)

 Adding to a suite of bureaus in New York, Washington, Hong Kong, London, UAE, and India with deep expertise in global business—including companies, markets, tech, and media—the new San Francisco office is now open; with reporters covering big tech, startups, venture capital, and cryptocurrency.

Two new verticals within CNN Business will tackle the companies, personalities, and innovations that are driving business forward:

  • Perspectives: Thought leaders in global business, like Melinda Gates, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, Eurasia Group’s Ian Bremmer, and Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman share their insights on the future and opinions on the present; and
  • Success: Heralding achievement in careers, leadership, and strategy, the CNN Business team says it “is digging in on how we can all explore entrepreneurship, chart our career path, and translate wealth into happiness.”

In addition, “a new stream of franchises” will explore the ways in which innovation is impacting the U.S. economy—highlighting features such as:

  • Center Piece: A weekly deep dive feature, ranging from profiles of emerging business leaders and industry trends, to investigative looks at the most consequential companies around the world;
  • Leading Indicator: Through premium video and detailed infographics and articles, this series will provide context to the market’s pertinent data points and trends, arming investors with what they need to know;
  • Risk Takers: A definitive list of leaders making the boldest bets in business— risk takers who took a gamble and changed their company, industry, and the future of business; and
  • ‘United States of Amazon’: A multi-part reporting initiative on Amazon that will provide 10 angles and exclusives over a week about how America’s most ambitious company is changing every aspect of our lives and economy.

In addition to the new franchises and verticals, CNN Business will continue to produce live-stream programming including the freshly debuted “Markets Now,” the network’s weekly live show from the floor of the NYSE, which streams Wednesdays at 12:45 p.m. (ET).

CNN Business will be fully integrated across CNN and CNN International on-air programming, with branded segments fronted by Anchor Julia Chatterley; Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans; Anchor and Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter; and Correspondent and CNN Business Editor-at-Large Richard Quest.

Research contact: Emily.Kuhn@cnn.com