Posts tagged with "Forbes"

Report: Trump campaign siphoned donor money to his debt-strapped businesses after election loss

February 10, 2021

New financial disclosures have raised myriad questions about the Trump campaign’s post-election spending following #45’s loss to President Joe Biden last November, Salon reports.

Based on campaign finance disclosures, Trump’s re-election campaign spent at least $81,000 in donor money on Trump’s businesses. In addition, the Trump joint fundraising committee—which split its donations with the Republican National Committee—spent another $331,000 in donor funds following the election, according to an analysis by Forbes.

Trump and Republicans plowed millions into his businesses during and after his time in office, Salon notes: All told, the campaign paid at least $2.8 million to the Trump Organization and the joint fundraising committee spent another $4.3 million on Trump’s businesses between January 20, 2017 and December 31, 2020.

Specifically, Salon notes, the joint committee spent more than $300,000 for space, lodging and catering at Trump’s hotel business in the wake of his election loss. The campaign also spent tens of thousands to rent space at Trump Tower after November 3.

The campaign and the joint committee each also separately paid more than $30,000 for air travel to DT Endeavor, a company believed to be owned by Trump.

Trump has as much as $1 billion in business debt that will soon come due. A New York Times investigation into years of his tax returns showed that he has reported hundreds of millions in losses in recent years.

The campaign also reported paying $6,037 to Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem, a Republican who pushed to overturn Trump’s electoral defeat in the state, the Arizona Republic first reported. Finchem, who is not a lawyer, was paid for “legal consulting” in a “recount” effort through a company he did not include in his most recent financial disclosure, according to the campaign’s filings.

Finchem told the Republic that the payment was for costs related to “crowd control and security” for a meeting he held with Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani at a hotel on Nov. 30 about unfounded claims of election-rigging.

He later promoted the Trump rally that preceded the deadly January 6 Capitol riot and was set to speak outside the Capitol that day, according to the Arizona Republic.

Finchem, who said he never got within 500 yards of the Capitol building, posted a photo of a mob of Trump supporters on the Capitol steps, writing that it is “what happens when the People feel they have been ignored, and Congress refuses to acknowledge rampant fraud.”

Now, Newsweek reports, Arizona legislators are considering expelling Finchem from office—claiming he violated his oath and undermined democracy by attending the rally and promoting unfounded allegations of election fraud.

State Representative César Chávez, a Phoenix Democrat, filed an ethics complaint last month, arguing that Finchem’s social media posts “demonstrate beyond any doubt that he was participated in the insurrection in Washington, D.C. and supported others in their efforts.”

The left-leaning watchdog group Accountable.US said the financial disclosure suggested that Trump was “paying state legislators” to join his “two-month crusade to try and stay in power.”

“Mark Finchem must explain this payment from the Trump campaign and how it influenced his official work as a legislator to try and overturn a free and fair election,” a spokesperson told the Arizona Republic.

Meanwhile, Salon reports, while the latest disclosures shed some light on the campaign’s post-election spending, Trump is still sitting on much of the cash he raised from supporters—ostensibly meant to fund his election legal challenges. Trump raised more than $170 million after the election, after bombarding supporters with fundraising appeals; but most of the money went to a fundraising committee he set up after his defeat rather than his legal efforts.

Research contact: @Salon

Uber to acquire alcohol delivery service Drizly for $1.1 billion

February 3, 2021

Uber announced on February 2 that it will acquire Drizly, a Boston-based alcohol-delivery service, for $1.1 billion in stock and cash, in a further expansion of the ride-hailing app’s food delivery arm, Forbes reported. The transaction is slated to close in the first half of 2021.

Founded in 2012, Boston-based Drizly is an online service that claims to deliver beer, wine, and(/or) liquor to the customer’s location within an hour.

After the deal closes, Forbes says, Drizly’s operations eventually will be integrated into the Uber Eats app—Uber’s own food delivery and takeout service—while the standalone Drizly app will remain in place.

Uber said it expects 90% of the purchase price of Drizly will consist of Uber common shares, with the remainder in cash.

Drizly co-founder and CEO Cory Rellas is expected to join Uber in an executive position, according to Forbes.

Uber said Drizly is “fully compliant with local regulations in more than 1,400 cities across a majority of U.S. states.” Seeking Alpha pointed out that buying Drizly fits in with Uber’s strategy of expanding its delivery service business, given that, during the pandemic, huge demand for its Uber Eats unit helped to mitigate losses in its ride-share business.

Research contact: @Forbes

Gatorade bets on rising MLB Star Fernando Tatis Jr. with rare national endorsement deal

December 18, 2020

Major League Baseball has clamored for a breakthrough superstar to capture the public’s attention, ever since Derek Jeter hung up his Yankees cleats in 2014. Pretenders to the throne have come and gone, but the answer might be a 21-year-old, bat-flipping Dominican, who favors frosted dreadlocks, flashy socks, mirrored sunglasses, unbuttoned jerseys—and can’t stop dancing or smiling on the diamond, reports Forbes.

Indeed, the news outlet says, the feisty shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. has played less than a full season’s worth of MLB games for the San Diego Padres—but already is arguably the most electrifying player in the sport. He’s now filling Jeter’s shoes off the field, as the newest athlete on Gatorade’s endorsement roster, where he’ll pitch the brand’s Bolt24 line of products under a multi-year deal.

“We pride ourselves on working with athletes who are championship caliber and are aspirational for kids,” Jeff Kearney, Gatorade’s global head of Sports Marketing, told Forbes. “Bolt24 is breaking some new rules for us, and Fernando is a guy who is writing his own rules of the game.”

Tatis, whose father spent 11 years in MLB, joins NBA star Damian Lillard and up-and-coming golfer Matthew Wolff as Bolt24 athletes. The trio will be featured in a national TV and digital marketing campaign that kicks off next week to promote the low-calorie drink aimed at athletes for around-the-clock hydration, featuring a caffeinated version and one with antioxidants.

It is the latest endorsement for the San Diego Padres shortstop, who broke into the majors in 2019 and drew national attention in August for hitting a grand slam on a 3-0 pitch, breaking one of baseball’s “unwritten rules.” His other deals include Adidas, Hyperice, Mizuno gloves and Victus bats. PepsiCo-owned Gatorade works with several baseball players on a regional basis, but Tatis joins Jeter and Bryce Harper as the only players with national Gatorade endorsement deals over the past two decades.

Research contact: @Forbes

Taylor Swift to re-record songs after music catalog is sold to private equity fund for $300M

November 18, 2020

Singer and songwriter Taylor Swift has confirmed a November 16 report that her music catalogue has been sold to a private equity group without her knowledge or consent—or the second time in two years—dashing her hopes of regaining control over her masters after they were controversially acquired by music mogul Scooter Braun last year.

At the time, Swift described Braun’s acquisition of her catalog as her “worst case scenario,” Forbes reports.

Variety, which first reported the story, say the deal is believed to be worth more than $300 million, with Swift confirming that Shamrock Holdings, an investment vehicle for certain members of the Roy E. Disney family, had “bought 100% of my music, videos, and album art” from Braun.

In  statement shared to Twitter and Instagram on Monday, Swift said she had initially welcomed the prospect of working with Shamrock, before discovering that the agreement meant that Braun and his company, Ithaca Holdings, which acquired her catalog last year would “continue to receive many years of future financial reward” from her master recordings, something she “cannot currently entertain.”

“We made this investment because we believe in the immense value and opportunity that comes with her work. We fully respect and support her decision and, while we hoped to formally partner, we also knew this was a possible outcome that we considered,” Shamrock said in a statement. The purchase is the firm’s first major investment in a music catalog.

Swift also shared a letter she wrote to Shamrock Holdings, in which she said she has already begun re-recording her old music—something she acknowledges will “diminish the value” of Shamrock’s investment, and a move she announced she announced last August.

Photo source: @Forbes

The new ‘Donald J. Trump Presidential Library’ is fake news for his detractors to love

November 17, 2020

It’s been tough for anyone to get an up-close and personal look at presidential history during 2020. From FDR’s family home in Hyde Park, New York, to Ronald Reagan’s commemorative exhibition space in Simi Valley, California, all 13 presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) have been closed since mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sadly, for folks who like to absorb history in person, we’ll likely see fewer brick-and-mortar presidential libraries in the future, Forbes reports. Four years since the 44th president left office, the all-digital Barack Obama Presidential Library isn’t fully open yet. And, while it takes a lot of time to digitize hundreds of thousands of records, NARA supports the digital model chosen by Obama going forward.

Now, considering his reluctance to read, you wouldn’t think that President Donald Trump’s first priority would be a library for posterity. But search the internet for Donald Trump Presidential Library and you will find a shiny new website already achieving killer first-page ranking on Google, Forbes says.

What’s more, this slick operation has a communications team that churns out press releases and thousands follow the DJT Library on Twitter.

Sleekly rendered in WordPress using the classy Musea theme, with an elegant gray Garamond typeface and all-white backdrop, looks and feels like many beautiful museum portals. That is, until you start poking around.

The website invites Americans to explore the COVID Memorial, where a quiet reflecting pool lets visitors “mourn the thousands dead under his lack of leadership.” Oh.

Decorated with “Make America Great Again” signs and Confederate flags, the Alt-Right Auditorium is hosting a movie series including Nazi propaganda and Birth of a Nation. “A silent film which represents the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) as a heroic force necessary to preserve American values and a white supremacist social order,” touts the site, along with a special promo: “2 for 1 tickets available for White Supremacy Wednesday!”

Yes, folks, it’s a hoax —and a rather elaborate, painstaking one at that.

While the project began as the brainchild of a small New York City architecture practice that wishes to remain anonymous, the team quickly “gained an army of curators, writers, designers, and general trouble-makers,” according to the site’s FAQ page.

The Felons Lounge is a shrine to Trump’s indicted cohorts, Forbes informs us.

As satirical spoof sites go, this is top of the line, chock full of custom artwork and clever Easter eggs. Take the library’s physical address at 1 MAGA Lane in Nogales, Arizona. The street is fictional, of course, but Nogales is a real border city that’s been central to Trump’s “build the wall” promise.

And check out the price of admission. Kids and students are free, while there’s a three-tiered structure for adults: $10 for seniors, $25 for U.S. citizens and $50 for immigrants.

Presidential libraries are known for museum-quality exhibits that show off their respective administrations’ accomplishments. Think John F. Kennedy’s Space Program Exhibit, LBJ’s Social Justice Gallery and Reagan’s Berlin Wall Exhibit.

At the faux Donald J. Trump Presidential Library website, permanent exhibits include Tax Evasion 101, where letters spelling “tax paid $750” rise from the floor in bas-relief. There’s a Twitter gallery, of course, as well as a Wall of Criminality that draws lines from Trump to some of his numerous alleged misdeeds.

No doubt, Trump critics will enjoy taking this unflattering virtual tour of his presidency. But while the site is layered with plenty of snark, its take-away is somehow not gleeful, Forbes notes.

For a reminder of why so few Americans are traveling these days, head to the rooftop COVID Cemetery, where an old tweet from Trump supporter Herman Cain, who died of Covid-19, has been blown up to billboard size. It reads, “It looks like the virus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be.”

Research contact: @Forbes


Agent 007’s Aston Martin is rolling off assembly lines again, complete with rear smoke screen and oil slick

July 20, 2020

Everything old is new again: The timeless nature of Aston Martin’s cars is intricately tied to the timeless nature of the world’s most famous secret agent, James Bond. And the synergy between these classic British brands has added substantial value to both, Forbes reports.

Fully functional Bond gadgets make the Aston Martin DB5 an exercise in movie magic..

For Aston Martin, this value can be precisely measured in the market price of past Aston Martins made famous by Secret Agent 007. Interestingly enough, the most famous Bond car—actually, the most famous car of any movie- or TV-related franchise, according to multiple surveys—is the Aston Martin DB5 first featured in the classic 1964 Bond movie, Goldfinger, starring Sean Connery.

Fewer than 900 original Aston Martin DB5s were produced between 1963 and 1965, Forbes notes. And while these models were always associated with the famous Secret Service agent, it wasn’t until the the last 20 years that their market value skyrocketed as Bond fans snapped up surviving examples. In the early 2000s these car sold for well under $100,000. In 2020, they can easily cross the $1 million mark. Unless they are one of the few original DB5 Bond movie cars from the 1960s. One of those changed hands at Sotheby’s last year for $6.4 million.

 Actually, they would have built you one if you were in the right place at the right time last year, according to Forbes. Now, all 25 of these Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Continuation cars have been sold, with the first one rolling off the assembly line in late June.

All 25 Goldfinger Continuation DB5s will be painted the same shade of Silver Birch that Q Branch issued to JamesBond, and all of them will feature working examples of the original DB5 Bond car gadgets. That includes a rear smoke screen and oil slick delivery system, revolving license plates, simulated front machine guns, a bullet-resistant rear shield, simulated tire slasher, and a removable passenger seat roof panel (for ejecting unwanted baddies).

Inside, the classic DB5 cabin is augmented with a simulated radar screen tracker map, telephone, gear knob actuator button, armrest and center console-mounted switchgear, under-seat weapons storage rack, and a remote control for gadget activation.

While the gadgets in these DB5 Goldfinger Continuation cars were quite advanced in 1965, the basic mechanical foundation of these “new” versions remains vintage. They’re all powered by the same 4.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine (shod with triple SU carburetors) and they all deliver their 290 horsepower through a 5-speed ZF manual transmission. Given these cars’ “vintage” level of emissions control and passenger safety equipment it should surprise no one to learn they are not road legal. You can sit in them and play with the gadgets, but don’t take them on any public roads.

Still, if you’re one of the 25 customers (now 24) waiting for your Aston Martin DB5 Goldfinger Continuation series to roll out of the company’s Newport Pagnell factory, you’re part of an elite group. As the product of 4,500 hours of hand-built construction, with meticulous attention expended to recreate the world’s most famous movie car, you’re going to have one heck of a party prop.

And Forbes notes,  if for some reason you do decide to illegally drive the DB5 on the street…well, it does have those rotating license plates.

Research content: @Forbes

‘The doctor is in’: Walgreens to bring Village MD into 700 pharmacy locations

July 9, 2020

It’s a primary care center, a drugstore, and a pharmacy—all under one roof, Forbes reports.

The convergence of sectors within healthcare continued on July 8 with the announcement that Walgreens, the nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain, will open full-service doctor’s offices in up to 700 locations within the next five years in a deal that gives Walgreens a $1 billion equity stake in Chicago-based VillageMD.

Forbes notes that, following a successful trial last year, Walgreens will become the first national pharmacy chain to offer full-service doctor offices co-located at its stores at a large scale—a big step beyond the kiosk-like setups in many Walgreens locations that offer flu shots and some pharmacist consultations.

Rival CVS Health, which owns health insurer Aetna, already has announced plans to expand its HealthHub locations—drugstores that offer more health services and products—by opening 1,500 locations by the end of 2021, according to CNBC.

The Walgreens/VillageMD locations will be staffed by more than 3,600 primary care providers, who will be recruited by VillageMD and also will “uniquely integrate the pharmacist as a critical member of VillageMD’s multi-disciplinary team,” Walgreens said.

The clinics will accept a wide range of health insurance options, offer primary care “across a broad range of physician services,” offer 24/7 care via telehealth and at-home visits—and at least half of the locations will be in medically underserved areas, according to Walgreens.

This rollout follows a trial with five in-store clinics in the Houston area, which produced “very strong results” after opening last November including high patient satisfaction scores, according to Walgreens.

Most of the clinics will be about 3,330 square feet, with some as large as 9,000 square feet.

Research contact: @Forbes

See ya later: Apple envisions the future of eyeglasses

July 6, 2020

Is Apple on a mission to reinvent eyeglasses? Perhaps, and the resulting technology could produce glasses with virtually infinite adjustments to your changing vision over time—never mind bifocal or trifocals for nearsightedness and farsightedness.

“I hear they have 19 different prototypes that they’re working on, which shows the effort that Apple’s doing,” tech analyst Robert Scoble said in a recent TechFirst podcast focused on an Apple patent win. “This is a multibillion-dollar effort going into eyeglasses and thinking through literally everything.”

One part of Apple’s project is better glasses for better vision: exactly what glasses were initially invented for. Another part is significantly more transformational: a complete reimagining of human-computer interfaces.

Essentially, it’s the next major leap in technology platforms—and, along the way, Apple might just disrupt the $120 billion eyewear market in the same way it devastated the Swiss watch industry with Apple Watch.

Indeed, almost every major tech company is now working on smart glasses. Google launched Glass years ago, retains an enterprise version of the product—and just acquired North, a Canadian manufacturer of light, natural-looking smartglasses.

And Forbes reports, Facebook just revealed an early version of its “holographic optics for thin and lightweight virtual reality” in a research report. Amazon has a limited-availability product with Alexa, Amazon Echo Frames.

Part one for Apple seems to be about the basics, according to a patent the company just received: correcting vision.“What they’re wanting to do is you put on a pair of glasses, and it sees inside your eye and bends the optic … in a way that corrects your vision perfectly, so you don’t need to go to an optometrist,” Scoble told Forbes.

The next level is notifications, and it’s what much of the low-end smartglasses space has focused on. With smartglasses notifications, the alert is right in front of your face.

Part three is where the game really changes, Scoble said, and we enter an era of “spatial computing,” virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality.

Now you can compute while riding a mountain bike, or driving a car, or walking to a shopping center,” Scoble says. “You can replace the floor and make it something new, different, like a video game. You can then fly things in the air and they could bounce off the walls like balls, because this thing understands the 3D space it’s in. That’s why we call it ‘spatial computing,’ because you’re now computing as you’re moving through space … no longer are you tied to the little rectangular pieces of glass to compute: you can compute on literally everything.”

“This next paradigm shift is computing that you use while walking around, while moving around in space,” Scoble says.

One unexpected thing it’ll change?

Fashion, because what you’re physically wearing—or even what you actually look like — won’t necessarily limit how you portray yourself to others.

“Facebook is planning on doing all sorts of magic stuff when you meet a friend in the street it’ll go beep and all of a sudden I’ll see your 3D costume that you just bought, something made for you, right?” Scoble says. “I’ll be like ‘Yeah, nice costume’ … in ten years, we’re going to have Burning Man 24 hours a day in the streets?

Which of course will bring an entirely new set of privacy concerns along with it, as every adopter will be wearing cameras and sensors, and major platforms will want a piece of that.

That’s probably one reason why Apple is working so hard right now to be the face of big tech privacy.

Research contact: @Forbes

Airstream leans into possibilities for WFH trend

June 9, 2020

A few months ago, Airstream CEO Bob Wheeler was talking about the possibility of tinkering with some of the most important strands in the DNA of the upscale recreational-vehicle brand, in order to better attract young buyers to its products

But, within the past three months, his mindset has changed: As he seeks the best way for his company to slingshot out of the pandemic, Wheeler is considering how Airstream can facilitate a more permanent form of the work from home (WFH) dynamic that was created during the Covid-19 lockdown.

“From our position, ‘work from home’ means ‘work from anywhere,’” Wheeler recently told Forbes magazine. “A contingent of our [customers] have always worked from anywhere. But how this is happening now opens some exciting possibilities for us on both the retail and commercial side.”

Similarly, he said, more parents may be interested in turning Airstreams into mobile home schools, amid uncertainty about the future of traditional physical schools – at least for this year. “If you have good Wi-Fi at home, that means you can learn from anywhere,” Wheeler said. “I’m excited about potential live-play-work-learn developments that we’re uniquely suited to support, with some product tweaks that we’re working on.”

As the U.S. pandemic started in March, Wheeler and his team projected a 70% April drop-off in Airstream sales. “But our guess turned out to be grossly wrong, in the right direction,” Wheeler said. In fact, Airstream sales fell by only 30% that month and then rapidly rebounded in May.

 “Things have been on fire,” he said. “In the last two weeks, we have seen record retail sales across the country, well beyond anything we could have anticipated … We started to think that the post-Covid travel landscape might stack up really well for RVs. People don’t want to get on cruise ships or airplanes or go into crowded places now. They want to travel in their own home with their own kitchen and bed. But all of that was just theory until we started to see it manifested in the marketplace.”

Indeed, Wheeler told Forbes, he wants to make Airstreams even more appealing as “permanent” homes for work-from-home Americans by, for example, improving wireless internet connectivity in the vehicles. “We’ve had in place for a year a top-shelf connectivity solution with an antenna and 4G Wi-Fi with AT&T, so [owners] can get coverage in many places that they can’t with just a cell phone,” he said. “We’re also looking at satellite uplinks and other things that literally can give people a connection anywhere they go. For a certain set of our customers, that might be a very appealing option.”

And for potential customers who want to home-school kids in an Airstream, Wheeler said, the company has begun looking at “how you partition space differently to create dedicated work spaces for adults and potentially for kids. You can sit at the dinette, but people may need to have a space carved out just for work, for their computers and papers.”

Research contact: @Forbes

Nugg Club: Cannabis subscription boxes hit the market for 2020

June 4, 2020

From makeup and clothing to dirt of the month and scavenger hunt tools, monthly subscription boxes are all the rage. Now, cannabis is about to join the ranks of BarkBox, Ipsy, and StitchFix, Forbes magazine reports.

Nugg Club, which is now available in Los Angeles and Orange County  (pot has been legal for recreational use since 2016 in California), is owned by parent company NuggMD; which claims to be the nation’s leading cannabis-focused telemedicine platform, with 600,000 patients served.

The subscription boxes, Nugg says, “will deliver full-sized, highly-curated and personalized cannabis products directly to the consumer’s doorstep.”

Each box will cost $99 and contain five to seven products valued at just about $250, according to the company. That price is a lot more expensive than the shop-by-mail containers from Iipsy or BirchBox—but is in line with what most millennials spend at a dispensary, Forbes reports.

According to Headset, an analytics service for the cannabis industry, the average basket in California is $68.70 for a little over two items per basket. Through Nugg Club, the customer is effectively receiving five to seven products for the price of three.

Like other subscription services, the boxes are highly personalized. Customers can select the type of product(s) and strain(s) they want to receive in their box with each month’s selection improving based on their feedback. Not the biggest fan of a particular vape flavor? Leave a comment and never see it again. Still have full products a month after the initial box? Deliveries are available every one, two or three months, Forbes notes.

The new Nugg Club cannabis subscription is participating in a market that grew 890% from April 2014 to 2018, and continues to grow. Around 54% of online shoppers say they are members of a subscription box service. Subscription service customers are more likely to be younger Millennials living in college towns or “hipster” areas, two common characteristics of cannabis consumers. According to Headset, millennials alone contribute to roughly 52% of all cannabis sales in the United States.

This type of service adheres directly to aspects of human psychology – a desire for services that are convenient and bring unique products and experiences into our lives. The simple act of opening a delivery ignites the euphoria and excitement of discovering something new. The consumer doesn’t always know what they are going to find, but it’s always a novel product, and that alone is a huge factor in the success of subscription services. That’s probably part of the reason over half of the subscription market is “subscribe for curation” where consumers are surprised by a variety of different items.

As the box goes to launch, Nugg Club is being mindful that we are in the midst of a pandemic. In response to recent studies that report an uptick in depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms among healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients, Nugg Club is offering a limited quantity of $1 boxes to qualifying workers.

Research contact: @Forbes