Posts tagged with "Forbes"

Age discrimination alleged at Google: ‘Tell grandpa to pick up the pace’

September 23, 2019

As the Baby Boom generation grows grayer, age discrimination in hiring and “elder abuse” on the job are increasing—even (and maybe, especially) at the top tech companies.

A case in point: On September 5, Rodney Broome, a 72-year-old former hardware test engineer for platform engineering at Google filed a complaint (Case No. 19CV354620) in a Santa Clara Superior Court against the Internet search company, asking for damages and a jury trial—and alleging that the company had engaged in:

  1. Age discrimination;
  2. Harassment based on age;
  3. Retaliation;
  4. Failure to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent and correct discrimination, harassment, and retaliation;
  5. Constructive wrongful discharge in violation of public policy;
  6. Violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing;
  7. Nonpayment of overtime compensation; and
  8. Intentional infliction of emotional distress.

Indeed, according to a report by Forbes, Broome had worked at Google for ten years (starting in 2007) and “everything seemed fine” until he reported in to a new supervisor, Ignacio Mendez, in 2017.

Shortly thereafter, the complaint details, Mendez called Broome both “old and slow” and “grandpa.” He chastised him for being “in retirement mode” and told him he was “a worthless piece of sh*t.”

What’s more, according to the suit, Mendez allegedly mentioned to Broome that he might encounter car trouble. Coincidentally, Broome’s car and house were broken into. It was alleged that Mendez bragged about criminal connections, according to court filings.

Forbes notes in its story that Broome brought this matter to the attention of human resources—but to no avail. The complaint reflects that the harassment only intensified.

In fact, Law.com reports, after Broome complained to his manager’s supervisor, Mendez retaliated with poor performance reviews, cut his bonuses and offered his job to two younger employees. After receiving a written warning, Mendez accused Broome of “ratting him out.”

Subsequent to what he described as physical confrontations and continued abuse, Broome resigned in February 2019. Broom’s lawyer, John Winer of Winer, Burritt, & Tillis in Oakland, California, claims that the case is a blatant instance of age discrimination;and part of a pattern of discrimination and harassment due to the company’s youthful culture.

Winer told Forbes, “I think that Google and other companies are far more focused on earnings than they are on human resource issues.” He added, “Instead of attempting to assure that there is no harassment and discrimination in the workforce, in fact it’s rampant.”

Age discrimination remains a pervasive problem in the workplace, and Google itself recently settled an age bias class action for $11 million after 227 plaintiffs claimed the company engaged in systemic age discrimination, HR Dive reports.m, noting that some experts have called age bias the workplace’s “open secret.”

Employers sometimes engage in unintentionally problematic conduct, including prioritizing recruiting efforts in programs that favor younger workers (such as college job fairs) or creating job descriptions that include age-indicative terms such as “digital native.”

While age discrimination often occurs during the hiring process, it is often not as obvious (or easy to prove) as it is when the complainant already has been satisfactorily employed by a company for a considerable length of time.

As the allegations in this suit show, however, age bias often can be more blatant on the job, HR Dive says. In another recent case, a dental practice in Pennsylvania allegedly fired eight of nine hygienists over the age of 40 at a single location and hired 14 new employees—13 of whom were younger than 40.

Research contact: @Forbes

Popeyes’ chicken sandwich is at the top of the food chain, with a $65 million marketing win

August 30, 2019

Watch out, Chick fil-A! America’s largest purveyor of fried chicken sandwiches now has some significant competition. Popeyes, a quick-service chicken restaurant chain that has been serving its own set of fried chicken fans since 1972, soon may be looking at you in its rear vision mirror.

You couldn’t watch a television news program or scour Twitter or Facebook during the past week without spotting some mention of Popeyes fried chicken sandwich. But how did that translate to marketing value? Awfully well, as it turns out, according to an August 28 report by Forbes.

Apex Marketing Group estimated Wednesday that Popeyes reaped $65 million in “equivalent media value” as a result of the Chicken Sandwich Wars. The firm, based outside Detroit, defines that as the price a company would have to pay to purchase the attention it received for free. Apex takes into account television, radio, online and print news reports, as well as social media mentions.

The evaluation was conducted from Aug. 12, when the sandwich went on sale nationally, through Tuesday evening, August 27—yielding 15 days’ worth of data.

The $65 million figure is nearly triple the $23 million in media value that the sandwich generated in its first few days on sale, according to an earlier Apex estimate.

On Tuesday, Popeyes announced that the chicken sandwich would be sold out by the end of the week at its U.S. restaurants, the business news outlet said..

But the restaurant chain says that it intends to bring back the chicken sandwich as a feature of its regular menu, not simply a limited-time offer.

“It is a permanent menu item,” Dana Schopp, a Popeyes spokesperson, told Forbes on Wednesday.

Eric Smallwood, the president of Apex Marketing, says the chicken sandwich’s media value built relatively slowly in the days right after it went on sale. The big jump in media value came when news outlets began running taste tests comparing the sandwich with other fast food companies’ chicken offerings.

“Popeyes is not top of mind when it comes to fast food,” Smallwood said. But thanks to the chicken sandwich, “now everybody’s looking and asking, ‘Where’s the closest Popeyes?'”

The attention that Popeyes received could not have happened a decade ago without social media, Smallwood said.

As soon as a company launches a promotion that is noticed in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, “it picks up, and it explodes from there,” he told Forbes.

Research contact: @PopeyesChicken

Gatorade launches BOLT24, a ‘functional beverage’ that fuels athletic performance

July 15, 2019

Gatorade is adding to its signature line of sports drinks for the first time in 20 years. The new drink, called BOLT24, is targeted at refreshing and rehydrating athletes—with a no-sugar, high electrolyte, better-for-you beverage formula, Forbes reports.

Fitting squarely in what the beverage industry identifies as the “functional drink category,” BOLT24 is said to contain only 80 calories; and 100% of the daily value of antioxidant vitamins A and C; as well as vitamins B3, B5, and B6. Notably, the product contains no artificial sweeteners or flavors. It delivers electrolytes from watermelon and sea salt.

BOLT24 is described as “the first product in a new platform for the brand,” suggesting that Gatorade intends to produce other, perhaps similar products. The launch this week coincided with the ESPY Awards, one of the biggest nights in sports. It will appear on store shelves across the country, as well as on Amazon, later this summer.

The official statement released by Gatorade’s PR agency reads: “With this launch, Gatorade’s commitment to fueling athletic performance goes beyond the field, supporting athletes’ athletic lifestyle around the clock by providing advanced, all-day hydration.”

According to a report by Mordor Intelligence, the global “functional beverage” category— which includes energy drinks, sports drinks, nutraceutical drinks, dairy alternative-based beverages, fortified juices, and enhanced water—is expected to grow 8.66% in the next five years, topping $208.13 billion by 2024.

The three launch flavors are  Mixed Berry, Tropical Mango, and Watermelon Strawberry. Suggested retail price is $2.19 for each 16.9 ounce bottle.

Research contact: @Forbes

Online education provider Coursera is now worth more than $1 billion

April 29, 2019

Coursera—the Mountain View, California-based online learning platform founded by Stanford professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller in 2012—is now worth well over $1 billion, according to an April 25 report by Forbes.

Indeed, CEO Jeff Maggioncalda told analysts last week that the company had raised an additional $103 million in funding.

“This gives us the resources to more aggressively push on our mission of greater access to quality education and greater opportunity for people who are being left behind in this economy,” he said.

According to its website, Coursera now has 35 million learners more than 150 university partners; and offers over 2,700 courses and more than 250 specializations.

Specifically, at a cost of $49 to $99 per month, Coursera offers 14 online masters degrees, in computer science, business and public health—from schools like the University of Michigan and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. And it just launched its first online bachelor of science degree with the highly regarded University of London.

In addition, its revenue—which Forbes pegged at $140 million in 2018—is fueled in part by partnerships with 1,800 enterprise customers, who use it to provide continuing education to their staffs. They include Adobe, which paid Coursera an estimated $150,000 last year to provide machine-learning courses to its employees.

What’s more, Coursera sealed its biggest deal ever just there months again, when it contracted with the Abu Dhabi School of Government, an entity set up to train 60,000 government employees in digital skills like data science and artificial intelligence.

What’s its secret? Forbes says, that in comparison to more expensive digital degree providers, Coursera does no course production and takes only 40% of tuition. Its marketing costs are low, says Maggioncalda, because it already reaches a huge number of learners.

One example of a low-cost Coursera degree: its online iMBA from the University of Illinois’ highly ranked Gies College of Business, which costs $22,000. Out-of-state students pay $75,000 in tuition for an on-campus degree.

Readers can expect the economical costs and high quality of the curriculum to keep Coursera on high-growth tear.  After America, Coursera’s greatest growth is anticipated to be in India, China, Mexico, and Brazil, in that order.

Research contact: @coursera

On the bubble: PepsiCo to acquire SodaStream in $3.2B transaction

August 21, 2018

PepsiCo and SodaStream International formally announced on August 20 that they have entered into an agreement under which PepsiCo has agreed to acquire all outstanding shares of SodaStream for $144.00 per share in cash, which represents a 32% premium to the 30-day volume weighted average price. The transaction has been valued at $3.2 billion.

The companies said that the deal would enable them to combine PepsiCo’s strong distribution capabilities, global reach, R&D, design and marketing expertise with SodaStream’s differentiated and unique product range—thereby, positioning SodaStream “for further expansion and breakthrough innovation.”

Founded in 1991 in Israel, SodaStream claims to be is “ the number-one sparkling water brand in volume in the world and the leading manufacturer and distributor of sparkling water makers; saying, “We enable consumers to easily transform ordinary tap water into sparkling water and flavored sparkling water in seconds. By making ordinary water fun and exciting to drink, SodaStream helps consumers drink more water.”

The transaction is another step in PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose journey, the beverage and snack food company said—promoting health and wellness through environmentally friendly, cost-effective and fun-to-use beverage solutions.

“PepsiCo and SodaStream are an inspired match,” said PepsiCo Chairman and CEO Indra Nooyi. “[CEO] Daniel [Birnbaum] and his leadership team have built an extraordinary company that is offering consumers the ability to make great-tasting beverages while reducing the amount of waste generated. That focus is well-aligned with Performance with Purpose, our philosophy of making more nutritious products while limiting our environmental footprint. Together, we can advance our shared vision of a healthier, more-sustainable planet.”

For his part, Birnbaum commented, “Today marks an important milestone in the SodaStream journey. It is validation of our mission to bring healthy, convenient and environmentally friendly beverage solutions to consumers around the world. We are honored to be chosen as PepsiCo’s beachhead for at home preparation to empower consumers around the world with additional choices. I am excited our team will have access to PepsiCo’s vast capabilities and resources to take us to the next level. This is great news for our consumers, employees and retail partners worldwide.”

“SodaStream is highly complementary and incremental to our business, adding to our growing water portfolio, while catalyzing our ability to offer personalized in-home beverage solutions around the world,” said Ramon Laguarta, CEO-Elect and President, PepsiCo.  “From breakthrough innovations like Drinkfinity to beverage dispensing technologies like Spire for foodservice and Aquafina water stations for workplaces and colleges, PepsiCo is finding new ways to reach consumers beyond the bottle, and today’s announcement is fully in line with that strategy.”

According to their joint statement, the acquisition has been approved unanimously by the boards of directors of both companies. The transaction is subject to a SodaStream shareholder vote, certain regulatory approval,  and other customary conditions, and closing is expected by January 2019.

A Forbes analysis of the carbonation maker found, “SodaStream had said some time back that the global market for at-home beverage systems has the potential to grow to $260 billion, while the market in the U.S. could generate a cumulative $40 billion. “Of course,” the business news outlet said, “this estimate used the aggressive assumption that these systems will penetrate about 87% of the domestic households, which seems improbable.”

According to small business and marketing advisor Brandon Gaille, the average American consumes 44 gallons of soda every year—a 20% overall decline from peak rates in the 1990s. Sales of sparkling water jumped 8.6% between 2009 and 2011 while soda sales slumped.

Research contact: @Trefis

Amazon Prime may lose members following price hike

May 18, 2018

In late April, Amazon announced that it was hiking the price of an annual Prime membership from $99 to $119. Now comes word that the $20 increase could lose the program more than half of its membership, based on findings of a poll of 1,000 current users conducted by Atherton Research , Forbes reported on May 9.

In fact, fully 59% of Prime members said they would not renew when their current pricing expired. The program offers discounted package delivery, access to movies and TV shows, ad-free music, photo storage, Kindle books, and grocery drop-off services.

To date, Amazon says, it has reaped a record $51 billion in sales and $1.6 billion in net profits from more than 100 million Prime members worldwide.

CFO Brian Olsavsky disclosed the price increase on an earnings call, saying it would take effect on May 11 for new members and affect Prime membership renewals after June 16. “We still feel it’s the best deal in retail,” Olsavsky told an analyst

And the analysts tend to agree: “You’re not gonna see any Mad Max-style boycotts, that’s for sure,” Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants, told Business Insider for a recent story. “People love Prime, and they already feel like they’re in the money by hundreds of dollars because of the savings, so no one feels bashed in the teeth.”

Prime has created an “emotional relationship” between Amazon and its customers, Schiffer added, which, he said,  makes them feel like they’re part of an elite club.

But that relationship could be a problem if members start to feel that Amazon is not fulfilling their end of the bargain for whatever reason. Business Insider recently reported that some Prime members have become dissatisfied by the frequency with which their packages are arriving late.

“Trust is still the bedrock,” Schiffer said. “You can have an emotional connection, and then feel betrayed, and that emotional connection will get severed pretty fast.”

Research contact: @DennisVerde

69% of U.S. voters oppose government shutdown

January 17, 2018

President Donald Trump may trigger a government shutdown on Friday night, January 19—viewing the withdrawal of authority for spending on all federal services as an opportunity “to be seen as a political badass by his … base,” according to an opinion piece in the January 15 edition of Forbes magazine.

“Given the various firestorms that have occurred just this past week,” writes Forbes contributor Stan Collender—referring to “the book, the remark about Haiti and African countries and the hush money paid to a porn star”—“Trump may want to reassure his base that he is still very much in charge by refusing to sign even a simple, clean and short-term extension of the current continuing resolution.”

What’s more, the POTUS is still demanding the wall at the border with Mexico that was a driver of his 2016 campaign. The wall is estimated to cost about $21.6 billion and take more than three years to complete, Reuters reports—and it is the one issue that will prompt the Trump base to support the shutdown..

However, the majority of Americans will not be happy about it: Politico and Morning Consult released survey results just before Labor Day showing that 69% of U.S. registered voters said they believed that members of Congress should “take all necessary steps” to stop a shutdown over the federal budget if possible.

Three-quarters of the nearly 2,000 respondents nationwide said a government shutdown would make them “very” or “somewhat” concerned.

However, that’s with the caveat mentioned above. If the shutdown were to impel the U.S. Congress to fund the wall, then Trump’s based will go for it: When reminded about the wall, more than half (51%) of GOP voters said they “strongly” or “somewhat” supported a shutdown.

Stay tuned.

Research contact: eyokley@morningconsult.com